Russian President Medvedev begins talks with Indian leaders

Russian President Medvedev begins talks with Indian leadersNew Delhi, Dec 5 : Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is on a three-day visit to India, has begun talks with Indian leaders.

Prior to that, Medvedev, accompanied by Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, visited Raj Ghat, Mahatma Gandhi''s mausoleum to pay homage.

Earlier, Medvedev met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and held talks with him on a wide range of issues.

Friday''s meeting comes ahead of Summit-level talks between the Russian President and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Apart from cooperation in areas like defence, security and arms trade, the two sides will explore new areas of technology exchange and joint ventures as indicated by the Russian side, besides looking for ways to further expand trade and economic ties.

The hallmark of Medvedev''s maiden visit will be nuclear cooperation, after India got the mandatory NSG waiver and a safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

The two countries are expected to sign eight agreements, including a Civil Nuclear Pact under which Russia will build four additional atomic reactors in Tamil Nadu.

Medvedev is scheduled to meet Vice President Hamid Ansari, Leader of the Opposition L K Advani and the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. In the evening, Medvedev, along with President Pratibha Patil, will attend the closing ceremony of the ''Year of Russia in India. He will later attend a banquet hosted by President Patil.

On Thursday, President Medvedev said Russia might lease out nuclear-powered submarines to India as part of deepening defence ties.

The two countries are also expected to share views on combating terrorism with Medvedev already having offered full-fledged cooperation to India in this regard in the wake of deadly Mumbai terror attacks.

Russia and India have seen a growth in bilateral trade this year, which increased in the first nine months of 2008 by 41.6 per cent to 3.8 billion dollars year-on-year.

The last Russian-Indian summit was held in November 2007, when Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh visited Russia. (ANI)