NATIONAL

Sonia arrives in Moscow to a grand reception

SPECIAL GUEST: Congress president Sonia Gandhi being received by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister AlexanderSaltanov on her arrival at the Moscow airport on Monday. PHOTO: PTI

SPECIAL GUEST: Congress president Sonia Gandhi being received by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister AlexanderSaltanov on her arrival at the Moscow airport on Monday. PHOTO: PTI  

Visit hailed as ``fresh proof of the strengthening of strategic partnership"

Vladimir Radyuhin

MOSCOW: United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi arrived here on Monday on a four-day visit as Russian President Vladimir Putin's personal guest.

Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov and Deputy Railway Minister Vladimir Yakunin gave her a red-carpet reception at the VVIP Vnukovo-2 airport. External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh is accompanying her.

Ms. Gandhi will meet Mr. Putin in St. Petersburg on Wednesday. In Moscow, she will interact with Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and address a function at the elite ``Centre of National Glory of Russia.

India's Ambassador to Russia Kanwal Sibal described the visit as ``an exceptional gesture of friendship on the part of President Putin that reflects the high importance both sides attach to their relations.'' The level of reception is the highest Ms. Gandhi has been given abroad.

On Monday Ms. Gandhi paid a visit to a place in Vladimir Region east of Moscow where her father had been kept as PoW during World War II.

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