India and Russia are expected ten agreements in various fields during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit for the annual summit with President Vladimir Putin to strengthen strategic ties between the two countries.
The summit would be the fourth since 2000, when Putin took over as president. Earlier this year, the two leaders had met in St Petersburg in May and in New York in September during the UN General Assembly.
Landing in Moscow on Tuesday night on the first leg of his three-nation tour after an eight-hour long flight with a detour to avoid Pakistani airspace, Vajpayee was received at Vunkovo airport by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Alyoshin and Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov, senior officials and Indian Ambassador K Raghunath. He was given an inter-services ceremonial guard of honour on the tarmac.
Shortly after his arrival, the prime minister attended a private dinner hosted by Putin at his sprawling Novo-Ogoryovo woodland estate on the banks of Moskva River on the city's outskirts.
Vajpayee will hold formal talks with Putin on Wednesday. The prime minister is leading a high-level delegation that includes External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha and National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra.
"My discussions with President Putin and other representatives of the Russian leadership will cover major global and regional political and economic developments," Vajpayee had said in Delhi before embarking on the visit that would also take him to Tajikistan and Syria. The visit is in keeping with the agreement between "our two countries to have annual summit meetings, so that we can constantly review and build on the progress in various elements of our strategic partnership."
In all, the two sides are expected to sign ten agreements on cooperation in the fields of science and technology, space, industry, establishment of an Indo-Russian Centre for earthquake research, joint publication of bilateral archival documents and inter-banking arrangements. India is keen to acquire more Russian nuclear power reactors but the persistent problem is Moscow's international obligations under the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an issue similar to the one confronting France.
There would also be discussions on the purchase of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov but a deal is not on the cards.
A top Kremlin aide Sergei Prikhodko said the other issues to be discussed would be Iraq, Afghanistan and the United Nation's role in world affairs.
Faced with the challenge of bolstering the flagging trade, the prime minister has taken along about 90 Indian businessmen representing the Confederation of Indian Industry, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM) and UK-based NRIs. On Thursday, he is scheduled to interact with members of the Moscow-based Indian community and business leaders.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov will call on the prime minister during his stay in the Russian capital.
On Thursday, he leaves for Dushanbe.