On Wednesday Vladimir Putin is to meet President of India Abdul Kalam and to hold talks with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

The main part of the visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to India is beginning on Wednesday.

The president of Russia will meet his Indian counterpart Abdul Kalam and hold talks with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The main talks of the Russian president with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Cabinet members will be held at Hyderabad House - a palace in the centre of New Delhi. For security purposes the high open-work fence around the palace is wrapped in linen which hides the main entrance and the green opening of the internal yard from strangers' eyes.

Putin's meeting with Vajpayee held on Tuesday night was "of an informal nature", Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said. According to him, the meeting's "main keynote" was that the sides "are satisfied with the high level of relations" which are deprived of problems beclouding them.

The Minister noted that the political dialogue between Russia and India was at a high level, and the two countries' stands on the key problems are similar. Russia and India come out for building a multipolar world order and for strengthening international security on the basis of due account for the interests of all countries and for the UN principles. The head of the foreign-policy agency said that the present level of cooperation was "an embodiment of strategic partnership".

Ivanov said that "mainly issues of cooperation in the trade-economic field in which much still has to be done" would be discussed in the course of the Russian-Indian talks on Wednesday. He also noted that the volume of bilateral trade which oscillates at the level of 1.5 billion dollars does not correspond to the two countries' possibilities.

The Russian Foreign Minister also highlighted the prospects for bilateral cooperation in the military-technical sphere, science, education and culture.

On the threshold of the summit the Indian Premier stated in an interview with RIA Novosti and other Russian journalists accredited in India that his meeting with Vladimir Putin would serve to further develop bilateral cooperation in the political sphere, as well as in the economy, trade and investments, science, defence and technologies, space exploration, and the nuclear power industry.

Deputy head of the Kremlin administration Sergei Prikhodko told RIA Novosti that during Vladimir Putin's official visit to India it was envisaged to raise, from among international themes, issues related to consolidation of peace and security in Asia, the post-conflict organisation of life in Afghanistan, the approaches to a comprehensive settlement of the situation around Iraq, and the situation in the Middle East.

Considerable attention will be paid to the struggle against international terrorism, religious extremism, ethnic separatism and the threat of drugs, and to building a solid international-law base for combating these challenges, Prikhodko said.

According to RIA Novosti, the problems of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in which New Delhi is taking "a close interest" will be touched upon in this context at the Russian-Indian talks.

Yet, the Russian Foreign Ministry deems it to be premature to talk of a possibility to expand the SCO by admitting India, since, as diplomats note, "a scheme for admission of new members to the organisation has not been worked out yet." Prikhodko said that the situation in South Asia was likely to be discussed at the talks too. In Russia's opinion, normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan would meet the interests of these states themselves, and would help strengthen stability and security on the South-Asian subcontinent, the Kremlin representative said. Fulfilment by Islamabad of its commitments to stem penetration of militants into the Jamma and Kashmir state across the Control Line and to eliminate the terrorist infrastructure would create necessary prerequisites for resuming the peaceful dialogue between the two countries.

While speaking about the economic component of bilateral cooperation, Prikhodko noted that continuation of the work to implement large-scale projects of Russian-Indian cooperation in the energy sector, metallurgy, civil aviation and space would be discussed at the talks. Besides that, it is envisaged to study the possibilities of broadening mutually advantageous cooperation in new research-intense sectors of the economy.

By RIA Novosti's information, the sides also intend to touch upon interaction in the sphere of military-technical cooperation, proceeding from the idea that India is Russia's second largest (after China) in this sphere.

As Prikhodko said, in the course of Putin's visit to India it is planned to sign joint Declarations on further development of strategic partnership and on strengthening and developing economic and scientific-technical cooperation, and to adopt a joint statement on the results of the summit, as well to sign quite a number of interdepartmental agreements.

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