India against Russia sanctions, to add vigour to ties in Putin-Modi meet

New Delhi: As Russia grapples with a floundering sanctions-hit economy, India Friday set the tempo for Russian President Vladimir Putin's two-day India visit next week, saying that it has clearly spelt out that it "cannot be party" to any economic sanctions against its old friend.

Putin is visiting India Dec 10-11 for the 15th Annual India-Russia Summit during which he would hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Dec 11.

Arriving on Dec 10 night and leaving the following night, Putin is unlikely to address a joint session of parliament, as was planned earlier.

Ajay Bisaria, joint secretary, Eurasia, in the ministry of external affairs, described India-Russia ties as "special and privileged strategic partnership".

He said both countries "have identity or similarity in views on important global issues, including on the threats of terrorism, particularly in Russia and the neighbourhood and on the need to defuse the Cold War like tensions that are increasingly manifesting themselves in global relations".

"India has said clearly that it cannot be party to any economic sanctions against Russia," he said.

India and Russia are to spell out a "joint vision of their relationship for the next 10 years" which will provide a roadmap to advancing the partnership to qualitatively new levels, with strong focus on redefining the economic partnership, he said.

With bilateral trade at $10 billion, the two sides will focus on ways to boost trade during talks that will see around 15 agreements inked, including some between private entities.

Russia, hit by Western sanctions over Ukraine and the falling prices of oil, is looking to other countries to boost its economy.

Modi, who has visited Russia thrice as Gujarat chief minister, had interacted with Putin during those meetings as well as at the BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa - summit in Fortaleza, Brazil in July and also in Brisbane, Australia, last month.

The bilateral talks are expected to see both leaders strike a rapport that would take the relationship forward.

Energy issues, including nuclear and hydrocarbons, would be on the talks agenda as well as defence, with Indian importing around 60 percent of its defence requirements from Russia.

Diamonds are going to be a prominent part of talks as Russia is the world's largest exporter of rough stones and India a world leader in the cutting and polishing industry. Both sides would seek ways to directly trade in diamonds.

Putin's visit comes at the time the World Diamond Conference is being held in New Delhi Dec 11-12.

The visit would also see both sides iron out issues over their defence cooperation, including on the joint Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) project and joint development of Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA).

A final deal on the fifth generation fighter aircraft for production is yet to be inked.

Both sides are also to discuss the BrahMos mini missile by the Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace.

India is also exporting more food items to Russia following the Western sanctions, said sources.

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