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India, Russia Boost Traditional Ties

At the start of a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to New Delhi, India and Russia have reaffirmed their commitment to a strong relationship. The countries say they will give new momentum to their long-term friendship by expanding military and business ties.

After a two-hour meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the meeting had set new milestones in the relationship.

"We are very grateful to President Putin for his deep personal involvement and interest in cementing the close and friendly relations between our two countries," said Manmohan Singh.

President Putin replied that relations between the two countries remained close, despite the recent change in India's government.

"Through all the agenda, through all the items discussed, we have come to the full understanding on both sides," he said.

Prime Minister Singh said India will continue its strong defense relationship with Russia, but the focus will turn to the research, development and production of high-technology weapons. During the Cold War, India used to buy more than two-thirds of its military hardware from what was then the Soviet Union, but that share has been declining in recent years.

The two men also agreed to look for ways to increase bi-lateral trade, and they discussed energy and oil deals. Energy-starved India wants to boost investments in Russia's oil sector.

India agreed to support Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization, and Russia will support India's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

India and Russia have been close allies since the Cold War days. Mr. Putin's visit was part of annual summit the two countries have been holding since 2000.