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Modi to Putin: Russia trusted friend of India in hour of need

Moscow: India sees Russia as a reliable friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin as the 16th annual summit between the two countries got underway here on Thursday.

After exchanging greetings at the start of the talks with the Putin, Modi said India and Russia were now cooperating in the international and political arenas more actively, TASS news agency reported.

The prime minister said he saw Russia as a reliable friend that had always supported India at difficult times, adding that his country aimed to continue its strategic partnership with Russia.

Putin, on his part, said that Russia and India were consistently and confidently developing the strategic partnership.

“I am pleased to note, and I am happy to do that, that we are consistently and confidently developing the privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia,” Putin said.

The Russian president noted that the bilateral relations were developing in all directions – in international politics, economy and the humanitarian area.

He added that a number of issues required special attention, “especially in today’s challenging economic environment.”

According to Putin, Modi’s visit was very timely and would make it possible to “synchronise watches” on the main areas of cooperation between the two countries.

Modi also offered his condolences to Putin over a terrorist attack against a Russian A-321 passenger airliner in the Sinai and the downing of a Su-24 warplane over Syria saying the Indian people were mourning together with Russia.

Russian Kogalymavia Flight 9268 came down about half-an-hour after leaving the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh while on its way to St. Petersburg in a terrorist attack on October 31. All 224 people on board the plane were killed.

In another tragic development on November 24, a Turkish F-16 fighter jet brought down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber, which, Ankara alleges, violated the country’s airspace near the Syrian border. The Russian defence ministry said the warplane was flying over Syrian territory and had never violated Turkey’s airspace.

Ahead of Thursday’s talks, Modi laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier located by the Kremlin wall in the Alexandrovsky Garden.

Earlier in the day, Modi visited Russia’s National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC), also known as EMERCOM, in Moscow and was given a rundown on how its works.

Modi and Putin are scheduled to meet a delegation of Indian and Russian CEOs in the Kremlin.

Modi will address a gathering of Friends of India and also meet members of the Indian community in Russia.

Modi arrived in Moscow on Wednesday and was hosted for a private dinner by President Putin.

(With inputs from agencies)

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