10/21/2013, 00.00
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Singh-Putin summit to focus on new trade and economic co-operation

At present, India-Russia relations are centred on defence co-operation, but the two countries want to expand them. Syria and Afghanistan are also on their bilateral agenda.

Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Syria will be one of the issues Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will discuss today in the Kremlin. Singh arrived in Moscow on Sunday for his tenth summit with Russian leaders, which is also the 14th Russian-Indian summit.

The two political leaders are set to discuss bilateral military co-operation, the situation in Afghanistan and especially the Syria crisis. They will also sign a number of agreements, including one to expand co-operation in the energy field.

The meeting comes a few months after the Indian Naval Ship (INS) Sindhurakshak, a Russian-made submarine commissioned in 1997, suffered a major fire that that resulted in its sinking at Mumbai's naval dockyard.

In June of this year, Moscow delivered a frigate, the INS Trikand, also built in Russian shipyards and commissioned by India. Next month, the Russians are expected to deliver the Vikramaditya aircraft-carrying heavy cruiser, which almost completed all its tests.

"Bilateral military and technical co-operation is traditionally on the agenda of the summit. Military and technical co-operation with India was and is one of the priority aspects of the Russian-Indian partnership," Putin's press office said in a statement.

Now however, India-Russia relationship will also stress trade and economic co-operation, once its weakest 'pillar'. In fact, for the first time, New Delhi has focused on this aspect in preparing the summit.

Since June, Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma twice visited Russia with large Indian business delegations, first for the St Petersburg International Economic Forum and in September for the 7th India-Russia Trade and Economic Forum, which identified a number of concrete projects.

In October, Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid met in Moscow with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to discuss economic co-operation. 

The Syrian crisis and the situation in Afghanistan, where foreign troops are set to withdraw next year, are also on the agenda.

A joint statement reflecting the two countries' approach to further strategic partnership development, including greater trade and economic co-operation and coordination on pressing international issues, is planned following the high-level meeting, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced.

During his stay in the Russian capital, Singh will also visit the Moscow State International Relations Institute where he will receive an honorary doctorate. After Moscow, the Indian prime minister will fly to China tomorrow on another official visit.

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