Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russia President Vladimir Putin showed fantastic bonhomie on Thursday as India and Russia held a wide-ranging bilateral and looked to further ties as leaders of both the nations met on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Hours after a similar meeting with China's President Xi Jinping, PM Modi was accompanied by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and other top officials as talks were held with the Putin-led delegation on a range of important issues.
PM Modi thanked President Putin for his wishes on the former becoming the Prime Minister for a second consecutive term and expressed his sincere gratitude to Russia on behalf of India for maintaining close ties which date back a long way.
Terming Russia as an "all-weather friend" of India, PM Modi said, " We (India) are looking forward to several other summits where we would meet again and I call for greater cooperation between the two nations. India has maintained close ties with Russia from the very beginning as they have always been a constant support for India and have appreciated all the concerns put forward by India", he added.
During the bilateral meet, discussions relating to defence procurement, greater economic cooperation, ways to tackle the sanctions imposed by the US on Russian hardware, Afghanistan among other issues are said to be the key areas of discussion. Russia has always appreciated India's terror concerns as both nations have a lot of commonalities in tackling terror issues.
Describing the meeting between the two leaders as 'brief but rich', the Foreign Secretary of India, Vijay Gokhale, briefed the media after the talks. President Putin recognized the personal contribution of PM Modi in strengthening the ties between both the nations. He invited PM Modi to attend the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in early September, the annual bilateral summit of both the nations.
The Foreign Secretary provided a comprehensive update:
"The two leaders reviewed trade and investment relations between the two nations and noted that it was on the upward trajectory. A new area of focus reviewed by both nations was the Arctic region oil and gas and a delegation from the oil and gas ministry has had discussed with Russia in the previous month."
"The leaders discussed the use of skilled manpower in the region, as it was underpopulated. The secretary also announced that a Strategic Economic Forum will be held in July and India will be represented by the Niti Aayog chairman. A Russia-India inter-government consultation was also on the cards before September."
"However, there were no defense-related talks, though, the Indian Prime Minister thanked Russia for the transfer of knowledge and the push for Make in India in the manufacturing of AK 203 rifles in Amethi."
"Both leaders were impressed with the progress as PM Modi informed President Putin that the first batch of orders was already out. Another area of interest displayed by President Putin was the modernization of the Indian Railways especially the Nagpur-Secundrabad line."
The meeting concluded with both leaders assuring that they would meet and hold further discussions at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan in October.