India and Russia held their 15th Annual Summit talks here with the two sides expected to ink major agreements later in the field of energy, defence and trade.
The talks between Prime Minster Narendra Modi and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin are being held at Hyderabad House.
It is the first full-fledged summit between India and Russia after the Modi government took office in May.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted: “Beginning with smiles. Prime Minister @narendramodi & Prez @KremlinRussia begin annual summit talks in New Delhi.”
Putin, who arrived Wednesday night on a 24-hour visit, was welcomed by Modi via Twitter, saying he looked forward to a “productive visit that will take India-Russia ties to newer heights”.
Modi tweeted his welcome in Russian and then in English.
He wrote on his official Twitter handle that he is “delighted” to welcome Putin to India.
Modi said, “The bond between the people of Russia and India is very strong. Our nations have stood by each other through thick and thin”.
“Times have changed, our friendship has not. Now, we want to take this relation to the next level and this visit is a step in that direction,” Modi wrote.
The summit talks are alternatively hosted by Moscow and New Delhi.
Last year the talks were held in Moscow in October and attended by then prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Putin’s visit comes at a time when the Russian economy is buffeted by Western economic sanctions over Ukraine and falling oil prices that has led to a sharp tumble of the rouble.
India has already laid the ground for taking forward the ties by stating clearly that it “cannot be party” to any economic sanctions against its old friend.
After the delegation level talks, both sides are to witness the inking of agreements and there will be press statements by both the leaders.
Putin, who brought along with him a 15-member team of top business honchos, will attend an interaction with CEOs at the same venue.
He will then inaugurate the World Diamond Conference at Vigyan Bhavan, and later meet President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the evening before leaving for home at night.