New Delhi: Seeking to scale up strategic and economic ties, India and Russia on Monday signed a clutch of agreements, including a pact on promoting direct investment, and made "good progress" in resolving issues related to units III and IV of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.

READ MORE: India, Russia sign BrahMos deal

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin held wide-ranging discussions, including intensification of economic ties, defence ties, civil nuclear cooperation and the evolving Asian order.

Manmohan Singh described Putin as "a valued friend of India and the original architect of the India-Russia strategic partnership". The two sides signed a slew of agreements in diverse areas, including cultural exchange, investment and foreign office consultations. Negotiations for the construction of Units III and IV at Kudankulam have made good progress, Manmohan Singh said after the talks.

Putin is currently on a day-long visit to India for the 13th annual summit with Manmohan Singh.

"Russia considers India as one of the most deserving and strongest candidate for the permanent member of the expanded UN Security Council and supports its decision to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)," Yury Ushakov, Putin's foreign policy aide, said, according to RIA Novosti.

Russia and India celebrate the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year. Russia-India trade is expected to reach a record high of USD 10 billion by the end of the year."The negotiations will contribute to the broadening, deepening and improvement of cooperation. A number of agreements will be reached," Ushakov said, adding "I'd rather not anticipate the events, but you will see the results of the negotiations".

Putin is also to meet President Pranab Mukherjee as well as Congress Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj. Defence deals worth $7 billion are expected to be inked. The highlight will be a contract, worth around $4 billion, to buy additional Sukhoi 30 MKI fighters equipped with the BrahMos cruise missiles, an Indo-Russian joint venture.

India has already signed a pact for delivery of 80 Mi-17 V5 helicopters, of which 42 have already been inducted since February this year. Russia accounts for over 60 percent of India's military hardware. On the trade front, the two sides are expected to reiterate the target for scaling up bilateral trade to USD 20 billion.

RDIF and SBI ink pact for USD 2 bn fund

Russian sovereign wealth fund RDIF on Monday inked a pact with State Bank of India for setting up a USD 2 billion investment consortium aimed at actively promoting investments between the two economies.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and State Bank of India would each invest up to USD 1 billion in the consortium, the Russian sovereign wealth fund said in a statement.
The entities would team up to facilitate access to long-term capital in Russia and India and actively promote mutual investments.

India, Russia sign defence deals worth USD 3 bn
Boosting their military ties, India on Monday inked deals worth around three billion US dollars with Russia to procure 42 new Su-30 MKI combat aircraft and 71 Mi-17V5 medium-lift helicopters.
The contracts for acquiring these weapon systems were signed during the 13th India-Russia Annual Summit after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin here. With this contract, the number of Su-30MKIs in the IAF would go up to 272 in next four to five years with 170 of them already at present in the force.

At the Summit meeting, a joint venture agreement was also inked between Elcom Systems Private Ltd. and OAO "Vertoleti Rassi" (JSC "Helicopters Russia"), which aims to set up a modern industrial facility for manufacturing  Russian Mi and Kamov choppers in India.

Under one contract worth around USD 2.2 billion for licence production of 42 Su-30MKIs, Russia will deliver technical kits to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to assemble them here.


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