RUSSIA: India and Russia are against "outside influence" in the internal matters of any nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday during which they discussed ways to bolster cooperation in trade and investment, oil and gas, nuclear energy, defence, space and maritime connectivity.
Modi, who arrived in Russia on a two-day visit during which he will also attend the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), is the first Indian prime minister to visit the Russian Far East Region.
"We both are against outside influence in the internal matters of any nation," Modi said in a joint press meet with President Putin after their talks.
His remarks came against the backdrop of tension between India and Pakistan after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status.
India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution was an internal matter and also advised Pakistan to accept the reality.
Russia has backed India's move on Jammu and Kashmir, saying that the changes in the status are within the framework of the Indian Constitution.
The two leaders held the delegation-level talks at the India-Russia 20th Annual Summit after a two-hour tete-a-tete on board a ship, aimed at strengthening the special and privileged relationship between the two sides.
They discussed ways to bolster cooperation in trade and investment, oil and gas, mining, nuclear energy, defence and security, air and maritime connectivity, transport infrastructure, hi-tech, outer space and people-to-people ties.
Prime Minister Modi said a proposal has been made to have a full-fledged maritime route between Chennai and Vladivostok.
A Memorandum of Intent was signed between India and Russia on the development of maritime communications between Chennai and Vladivostok.
"Due to the increasing localisation of nuclear plants being formed with the cooperation of Russia in India, we are also developing a true partnership in this field," he said.
"The India-Russia friendship is not restricted to their respective capital cities. We have put people at the core of this relationship," he added.
The Prime Minister said that Russia will help train Indian astronauts for the manned space mission -- the Gaganyaan project.
The two sides signed 15 agreements/MoUs in areas such as defence, air, and maritime connectivity, energy, natural gas, petroleum and trade.
"The friendship and support between both the countries is growing with full speed...Our special and privileged strategic partnership has not only benefitted our countries but also it has been used for the development of the people," Modi said.
"Both of us have taken our relationship to a new level based on cooperation and support which has resulted in not only quantitative changes but qualitative changes as well," Modi said.
On his part, Putin said India is one of the key partners of Russia and the relationship between the two states is of "strategic and special privileged nature".
"We placed our priorities on trade and investment cooperation last year. Our bilateral trade grew by almost 17 per cent and mounted to USD 11 billion. There is every condition that it will grow further up," he said.
He said it is a common goal of the two sides to reach an agreement to establish a free trade area between India and the Eurasian economic union.
Noting that Russia is a reliable source of energy supplier to India, Putin said, "Last year we have shipped 3.3 million tonnes of oil to India, almost 550 thousands of tons of oil products and 4.5 million tones of coal.
He said the flagship joint project is the cooperation in the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.
"The first two units are already operational. The work for the third and fourth unit are going as per schedule," he said.
Underlining the cooperation between India and Russia in technical and military areas, Putin said, "We are successfully implementing our bilateral programme on military and technical cooperation up to 2020. We are working to update it to extend to another 10 years."
Earlier in his opening remarks at the summit held on the sidelines of the EEF, which Russia has hosted since 2015 to boost partnerships with Asian countries, Modi said Russia is an "integral friend and trustworthy partner" of India as he praised President Putin's personal efforts on expanding the special and privileged strategic partnership between the two countries.
Modi expressed his gratitude to President Putin and people of Russia for conferring Russia's highest civilian award on him.
"This demonstrates the friendly relations between the people of our two countries. It's a matter of honour for the 1.3 billion Indians," he said.
Prime Minister Modi was named for the 'Order of St Andrew the Apostle' award by Russia in April for his exceptional services in promoting bilateral ties between the two countries.
The award is the highest state decoration of Russia.