(RIA Novosti) - Russia's president arrived Thursday in India hoping to strengthen Moscow's economic and military ties with its traditional partner in Asia.
According to Sergei Prikhodko, a presidential aide, Vladimir Putin will meet Indian leaders and representatives of business circles to discuss future cooperation in energy, space exploration, machine-building, IT technology, medicine and biotechnology.
Although India is a key buyer of Russian weaponry, overall trade has been fairly low in recent years, totaling $2 billion annually, reports Trend.
The presidential aide said: "The level of our relations is such that Russia and India are ready to make a transition from pure trade relations - buying and selling goods - to the creation of joint ventures in various spheres, especially in the hi-tech industry."
A Kremlin source earlier said Russia and India had formed a research group to prepare a program for developing economic cooperation, with the goal of boosting bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2010.
"We will focus on implementing large infrastructure projects," the source said.
During his two-day official visit, the Russian leader is expected to sign agreements on the construction of additional reactors for the Kudankulam NPP and of new nuclear plans in India under Russian designs, as well as setting up a Russian-Indian joint venture for the production of titanium dioxide and other titanium products.
Russia has also invited India to participate in the Sakhalin III project in the Far East and the development of the Vankor oil and gas fields in Siberia's Krasnoyarsk Territory.
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who arrived in India ahead of Putin's visit, has already signed a host of arms deals with New Delhi, including an agreement on the licensed production of Russian RD-33 jet engines and the joint development of a military transport plane.
The existing Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation program, which lasts until 2010, lists up to 200 projects worth a total of around $18 billion, according to Russia's Defense Ministry.
Russia is also hoping to win a tender on the supply of 126 fighter jets for the Indian Air Force. It faces strong competition from the United States, Sweden, and France, but Russia's MiG corporation says the MiG-35 Flanker F air superiority fighter has a number of competitive advantages.