NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said his "successful" state visit to Russia augmented India's strategic ties with the country, with the high-level bilateral talks stirring "forward" movement on defence, nuclear energy and space cooperation.
On his first official visit to Russia that began on May 7, Mukherjee, in a statement said: "I have just concluded a successful visit to Russia... this was a most memorable visit, which has helped deepen our strong and mutually beneficial relationship with Russia."
In Moscow, the president represented India in the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Victory Day (May 9) commemorating the Russian people's triumph in the the Great Patriotic War, as the Russians call the Second World War.
Describing India's contribution in the war as "significant", Mukherjee noted that while the occasion commemorated "the bravery and indomitable spirit of the Russian people", it also remembered "the sacrifices of Indian soldiers in the most defining struggle of the 20th Century".
"By joining the commemorative events related to the War and the terrible human suffering that it caused, India has reiterated its solemn commitment to peace and our resolve to avoid war and conflict. We also re-affirmed our abiding solidarity with Russia...," he added.
On the occasion, a 75-member contingent from the Indian Army's Grenadiers infantry regiment also took part in a military parade at Moscow's Red Square.
Mukherjee, who was accompanied by union minister Manoj Sinha as well as senior officials, held talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on May 9 to review progress on bilateral issues as well as measures to "further enhance deepen our relations".
"My visit also reflects the importance that India places on its strategic partnership with Russia. President Putin reiterated his strong commitment to further enhance ties with India, which are marked by an exceptional level of mutual trust," he said, adding the two sides were "happy" with progress on implementing the measures agreed upon at the Annual Summit in New Delhi in December 2014.
"There is forward movement on defence, nuclear energy and space cooperation. We have made tangible progress in our economic and commercial cooperation in sectors ranging from hydrocarbons, fertilisers, diamonds and agricultural products," he said.
The two countries, Mukherjee said, were committed to operationalising the International North South Transport Corridor, to connect India with Russia through Iran and the Caspian Sea, while working to finalise the joint study group on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between India and the Eurasian Economic Union.
During his visit, Mukherjee also inaugurated the "Namaste Russia" cultural festival and was also conferred an honorary doctorate by the Russian Diplomatic Academy.
Seven institution-level memoranda of understanding (MoUs) in higher education were concluded while a Network of Indian and Russian Universities to institutionalise cooperation between universities and institutions of higher learning on the two sides was also established.
The president exhorted the Indian community in Russia, the "living link" between the two countries, to continue their efforts to strengthen and diversify the bilateral relations.
He said it was a "matter of satisfaction for me to pay my tribute at the statue of Rabindranath Tagore at the Friendship Park in Moscow" on the poet's birth anniversary, while another highlight was the opportunity to interact with Russia's leading Indologists, whose work "has benefited the understanding of India both in Russia and the wider world".
Mukherjee also interacted with other world leaders including from China, the Czech Republic, Vietnam, Mongolia, Palestine, Kazakhstan and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Mon, who were also present at the Victory Day celebrations.