Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday hailed Russia as a “time-tested and reliable friend” and said he intends to take the relationship to a higher level.

He gave this message to visiting Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin who met him in New Delhi to convey President Vladimir Putin`s greetings and his desire to work with him to further strengthen and deepen the “special and privileged strategic partnership” between the two countries.

Mr. Modi told Mr. Rogozin that he looks forward to “a productive, substantive and forward-looking” Summit with Mr. Putin later this year.

During the meeting, Mr. Modi described Russia as a “time-tested and reliable friend” which had stood with India in difficult times, a PMO statement said.

He also noted that Russia is a major partner in building India’s defence capabilities, for which that the country enjoys enormous goodwill in India, it said.

The Prime Minister expressed his intention to take the relationship to a higher level, the statement said.

Mr. Modi recalled his visit on June 14 to aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, a refitted version of Admiral Gorshkov which was sold to India, and thanked Russia for its contribution to the realisation of a major milestone in India`s naval capabilities.

Mr. Modi dedicated to the nation INS Vikramaditya when he visited it in the Arabian Sea.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Nripendra Misra, and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval were present during the meeting with the Russian leader.

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