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New Delhi: Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin on Saturday held wide-ranging talks with a focus on further boosting the bilateral defence and security ties through joint manufacture and co-development of key military platforms and weapon systems.

Official sources said various aspects of the defence relationship between the two countries were discussed threadbare during the delegation-level talks with an aim to enhance the cooperation further. Sitharaman apprised Rogozin about various policy initiatives taken by the government to encourage the domestic defence industry and added that Russian companies can take advantage of the reform measures and share defence technologies for manufacturing of military equipment and platforms.

In a major step towards defence indigenisation, the Indian government had in May unveiled a “strategic partnership” model under which select private firms would be engaged along with foreign entities to build military platforms such as fighter jets, submarines and battle tanks. Russia has been one of major suppliers of arms and ammunition to India.

However, it has been a long-standing grievance of armed forces that the supply of critical spares and equipment from Russia takes a long time affecting maintenance of military systems procured from that country. India has been conveying to Moscow the need for having a robust and reliable after-sales support mechanism with regards to serviceability of Russian-origin equipment.

In the meeting on Saturday, both sides also reviewed status of ongoing negotiations for the supply of a number of military platforms by Russia to India. Rogozin arrived in New Delhi on Saturday on a day-long visit. In sync with their robust defence ties, the two countries had in October held the first mega war game involving armies, navies and air forces with a focus on anti-terror cooperation. It was for the first time India participated in a tri- services exercise with a foreign country.

Earlier in the day Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also met Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin in the national capital on Saturday. This is the seventh meeting between Swaraj and Rogozin. The EAM was elated while welcoming the Russian delegate. While addressing the meeting, Swaraj said, “These increasing talks and exchanges between the two countries are exemplary of positive signs between the two countries.” “It has happened for the first time that in a single year all the members of the Cabinet Committee for Security have taken Russian tour,” she added. The Prime Minister has met the Russian President at least two times this year which includes his meeting with the President on the sidelines of East Asia Summit.

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