Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised his "close friend" Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, when they said they would work to boost military, commercial and energy ties.
The leaders met on the first day of Russia's economic forum in the city of Vladivostok, on the Pacific coast, an annual event since 2015 while Moscow seeks to strengthen relations with Asia amid tensions with the West.
"I am very grateful to my close friend Vladimir Putin for this opportunity," Modi said at a press conference after the talks and a tour of a shipyard.
"We have reached a new stage in collaboration," he said, adding that the pair discussed "unprecedented" mutual investment in the oil and gas industries.
A joint statement called for cooperation in the military and technological fields, with the possibility of creating joint ventures in India to develop and manufacture civil aircraft.
He also called for a reorganization of the United Nations Security Council to reflect the "global realities" of a multipolar world.
For his part, Putin greeted his "great friend, Mr. Modi" and said that India was "our strategic partner."
"Special attention was paid to trade and economic cooperation in the talks," he said, although the details of the main trade agreements were not immediately announced.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would also visit Vladivostok, along with Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga, and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
But Putin was spending most of his time on Wednesday with Modi, who in an interview before the meeting talked about the "special chemistry" he shared with the Russian leader.
"With each meeting with President Putin, we get closer and our relationship grows," he told the newspaper. Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
Modi said that mutual ties also extend to nature, since every year "Siberian cranes migrate to my home state, Gujarat."
The Indian leader said he wanted to talk about tiger conservation with Putin, a big cat lover.
After warmly shaking hands upon Modi's arrival, the two men boarded a Russian navy patrol boat and headed for the Zvezda shipyard about 40 kilometers through a bay from Vladivostok.
India is a key customer for Russia's arms industry and trade between the two countries amounted to approximately $ 11 billion in 2018.
Russia and India in 2015 signed a $ 1 billion deal to jointly manufacture Kamov Ka-226 military helicopters, part of the "Make in India" initiative to encourage foreign companies to manufacture their products there. But the agreement has been repeatedly delayed.
India, a major global importer of weapons that seeks to modernize its armed forces, wishes to produce more on its own soil, and in March launched a joint venture with Russia to manufacture AK-203 assault rifles.
Rostec, the umbrella corporation that controls Kamov, is "hopeful" that the summit can launch the helicopter project, said its director of international cooperation, Viktor Kladov, last week.
Last year, India bought Russia's S-400 advanced air defense systems for more than $ 5 billion, with deliveries to be made in 2023, defying US sanctions warnings to countries that buy Russian weapons.