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Russian President Arrives for State Visit to India
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in New Delhi late Tuesday evening for a three-day state visit to India, during which he is scheduled to discuss a variety of issuesof mutual concern with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and other senior officials.

The two sides are expected to sign a host of agreements including Delhi Declaration on further strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries and others on cooperation in anti-terrorism and on boost of economic and trade, scientific and technological cooperation.

Putin, who flew in New Dehli from China, was received at the airport by Minister of State on Foreign Affairs Vashndhara Raje and other senior Indian officials.

The Delhi Declaration, to be signed by Putin and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, would outline cooperation between the two countries in combating terrorism as well as covering a wide range of security and political fields, Indian Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal informed the media in New Dehli on Monday.

Another key document to be signed by the two leaders is Declaration on Economic Cooperation, the first economic document to be signed by top leaders of the two countries with an aim to impart a new dynamism to bilateral relations.

Indian media reported that the two sides were also discussing accords for sale of Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, speeding oflicenses for production of SU-30 MKI fighters in India and supply of nuclear submarines to New Delhi.

India, which has made a 1.7 billion US dollar investment in Russia's Sakhalim Islands, would explore more investment possibilities in the energy sector elsewhere in Russia and CentralAsia, Sibal said.

However, trade between the two countries is far from satisfactory with two-way trade around 1.5 billion dollars annually.

After a ceremonial reception on Wednesday morning by Indian President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the Russian leader would have a hectic schedule with a formal meeting with Vajpayee followed by delegation-leval talks covering the entire gamut of bilateral relations besides regional and international issues of mutual concern, Sibal said.

He will call on President Abdul Kalam and Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and hold meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Lall Krishna Advani, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha and Defense Minister George Fernandes on Wednesday, according to the time schedule issued by the External Affairs Ministry.

As part of defense cooperation, which has been an important element in Indo-Russian relations, Moscow has provided New Delhi with Mikoyan-gurevich MIG-29 Fulcrum air-superiority fighters, Sukhoi SU-30-K and SU-30-MKI flanker multi-role warplanes.

However, supply of Tunguska self-propelled anti-aircraft guns and SAM missile complexes, one tanker, two MK877-EKM submarines, three MK 11365 frigates, Kamov KA radar-picket helicopters and some other weapons and combat-hardware models were part of implementation of the bilateral military-technical cooperation program until the year 2000, the Press Trust of India (PTI) said.

Moscow has also undertaken to transfer specific production licenses and to help master production of some of its weapons at Indian enterprises.

India has been examining more than 350 contracts including that for the production of Amur-1650 submarines to a Russian license, delivery of Smerch (Tornado multiple-launch rocket systems and warship munitions).

Official sources in New Dehli said that the two sides were also negotiating the creation of India's own airborne warning and control system on board Russia's A-50 aircraft.

Putin is undertaking the visit to India at the invitation of Vajpayee as part of their decision to hole annual meeting to carry forward their bilateral political dialogue.

The Russian president visited New Delhi in October 2000 while Vajpayee paid a state visit to the Russian Federation in November last year.

Vajpayee described Putin as a "trusted friend" on Monday, saying that he favored further extension of strategic partnership between the two countries in the changed international scenario.

(China Daily December 4, 2002)

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