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India, Russia to manufacture military choppers


The Ka-226 chopper of Russia.

MOSCOW (PTI): In a major push to their strategic ties, India and Russia on Thursday decided to expand cooperation in various sectors as they signed 16 pacts, including on joint manufacture of 226 military helicopters and construction of 12 atomic plants with involvement of local companies in India.

After extensive talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined the need for the world to unite against terrorism "without distinction and discrimination between terrorist groups and target countries", an apparent reference to sources of the menace like Pakistan.

Sharing concern over terrorism, the two sides pressed for joint fight against the global menace "without selectivity and double standards", said a joint statement issued after the talks between the two leaders.

Putin conveyed Russia's "strong support" to India's bid for permanent membership of the UN Security Council, saying it is a "deserving and strong candidate that can bring an independent and responsible approach" within the world body.

The discussions covered a wide range of issues including terrorism, cooperation in the fields of defence, security and energy and ways to enhance trade and investment besides facilitating easier movement of people.

After the talks, the two sides signed 16 agreements.

One of these was an agreement on manufacture of Kamov 226 helicopter in India, which, the Prime Minister, said is the first project for a major defence platform under 'Make-in-India' programme.

With regard to nuclear energy, Modi said the pace of cooperation is increasing and progress is being made on 12 Russian reactors at two sites in India.

Putin said Unit-II of Kudankulam atomic plant in Tamil Nadu, being built by Russia, will be commissioned within weeks and negotiations are at an advanced stage for Unit III and IV.

The Indian side also requested the Russian side to share with it any information relating to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said Russia conveyed to Indian side that it will look into the matter.

Asked whether the purchase of Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems was finalised, Jaishankar refused to share details saying as a policy matter, decisions on acquisitions are not made public.

Last week, Indian Defence Ministry's top acquisition council had cleared the purchase of Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems at an estimated cost of Rs 40,000 crore.

With regard to the defence cooperation, the Prime Minister said the Inter-Governmental Agreement on manufacture of Kamov 226 helicopter in India is the first project for a major defence platform under the 'Make-in-India' mission. "It is rightly with our most important defence partner," he added.

"We have made progress on a number of other defence proposals. These would boost defence manufacturing in India and India's defence readiness with next generation equipment," Modi said.

Summing up his talks with Putin, he said, "We have laid the foundation of the future character of this strategic partnership."

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