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Russia set to seal deal with India on S-400 air defense system

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian S-400 Triumph medium-range and long-range surface-to-air missile systems drive during the Victory Day parade at Red Square in Moscow, on May 9, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to seal a deal with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the delivery of Moscow’s most advanced air defense system to New Delhi, the Kremlin says.

Russian news agencies quoted Putin aide, Yuri Ushakov, as saying that the deal would be signed during an upcoming visit by the Russian president to India.

"An agreement on the delivery of S-400 'Triumph' anti-missile defense systems and other deals will be signed as a result of the talks," Ushakov said in the Russian capital, Moscow, on Thursday.

The Kremlin earlier said that the talks with the Indian premier would focus on "a wide range of matters of bilateral relations, especially trade and economic ties."

Putin is scheduled to meet with Modi in the Indian state of Goa on Saturday on the sidelines of a BRICS summit convening the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The S-400 missile system is Russia's most modern air defense system. It can track some 300 targets and shoot down around three dozen simultaneously over a range of several hundred kilometers.

India, the world’s top defense importer, has signed several big ticket deals as part of a 100-billion-dollar upgrade of its military equipment since Modi took office in 2014.

Last month, India formally signed an agreement with France for the purchase of three dozen Rafale fighter jets worth a reported 8.8 billion dollars amid a long-running arms race with neighboring Pakistan.

The deals come amid ongoing tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has accused India of an “unprecedented arms build-up” along the de facto border dividing the disputed region.

Addressing the annual United Nations General Assembly in September, Sharif said Pakistan would “take whatever measures … necessary to maintain credible deterrence.”

Sharif also blamed India for imposing “unacceptable preconditions” for potential peace talks over Kashmir.

Indian paramilitary troopers patrol near the site of a gunfight between the Indian army and suspected militants in Pampore, south of Srinagar, in the disputed region of Kashmir on October 12, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Indian and Pakistani forces have been engaged in fresh clashes along the Line of Control (LoC) -- the boundary which divides Kashmir in two -- over the past months. The two sides accuse each other of provocation.

Over 80 people have lost their lives in the latest wave of clashes.

Kashmir lies at the heart of almost 70 years of hostility between India and Pakistan. Both neighbors claim the region in full, but control parts of it only.

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