Describing India-Russia relations as "a factor of peace and stability" in a changing world, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday left for Moscow on a three-day trip during which the two strategic partners are expected to take "yet another step forward" by signing a framework civil nuclear cooperation agreement.
"I am confident that my visit will be yet another step forward in consolidating our cooperation with Russia and in reinforcing the fact that the India-Russia strategic partnership is a factor of peace and stability in the evolving international situation," Manmohan Singh said in a statement as he left for Moscow.
"This is a partnership based on the solid foundation of long-standing friendship, deep mutual trust and strong convergence of interests," the prime minister said.
Manmohan Singh stressed that "the multifaceted cooperation" between India and Russia has acquired "greater depth and maturity" through joint efforts over the years. "We seek to strengthen these ties further," he said.
Outlining his summit agenda with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Manmohan Singh said he will review the status of "bilateral cooperation, including in the key areas of defence, civil nuclear energy, space, science and technology and hydrocarbons".
"I will also exchange views with the president on key regional and global issues such as terrorism, recovery of the global economy, energy security, climate change, nuclear disarmament and reform of international institutions," he said.
After talks between Manmohan Singh and Medvedev Monday, the two sides are expected to sign an inter-government framework agreement on expanded civil nuclear cooperation and three defence pacts, including one for ending adhocism in servicing Russian military equipment.
Russia actively supported India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) last year and was one of the earliest backers for India re-joining the global nuclear trade. More than a month ago, India announced two sites for new Russian atomic reactors.
Besides civil nuclear cooperation, terrorism and the volatile situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan will figure prominently in the discussions between the two leaders.
India may ask Russia to use its influence to persuade Pakistan to jettison its alleged policy of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy against New Delhi.
Manmohan Singh will also meet Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during whose presidency the strategic partnership between India and Russia was forged in 2000. The two will jointly attend the closing ceremony of the Year of India in Russia Monday evening.
Later, Manmohan Singh and Putin will also meet members of the India-Russia CEO's Council in a bid to give a boost to lacklustre trade ties between the two partners.
"These events symbolize the mutual desire of both countries to enhance people-to-people contacts, and expand our trade and economic engagement, which is well below our true potential," Manmohan Singh said.