Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in India to hold talks with the country’s officials, aimed at enhancing defense and trade ties with India. Heading a delegation of several senior ministers and military officials, Putin arrived in New Delhi on Monday. He held a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier in the day. The two leaders are expected to sign arms deals. "President Putin and the Indian prime minister have met and will be signing the agreements soon," said an official in the prime minister's office without giving further details. In an article for the Hindu newspaper, Putin wrote, "I would like to stress that deepening of friendship and cooperation with India is among the top priorities of our foreign policy."
"The strategic nature of partnership between India and Russia is witnessed by the unprecedented level of our military and technical cooperation," Putin said before his visit, adding that "the joint development of advanced armaments rather than just purchasing military products" would be key to future Moscow-New Delhi relations.Putin also said bilateral trades between Russia and India would be doubled by the next three years. "Our trade turnover has overcome the consequences of global crisis, and in 2012 we expect to reach record numbers, over USD 10 billion. Our next goal is to reach USD 20 billion already by 2015," he said. Meanwhile, Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said Friday that India was committed to strengthening and enhancing this relationship, both on economic and strategic ties". Potential arms deals in the course of Putin's visit would involve a USD 3.77-billion deal for 42 Su-30MKI fighters, a USD 1-billion refurbishment deal for older Su-30MKIs already used by India's Air Force and a deal to produce fifth generation Sukhoi fighter jets. India is one of Russia's major partners and its number one arms importer. Russian-made military equipment accounts for 70 percent of Indian arms supplies. YH/SZH