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During SCO annual summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin vouched for a visa-free travel deal with India while speaking to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday. 

Modi and Putin spoke earlier today on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in this Silk Road city in Uzbekistan. 

Noting that Russian people have great interest in India’s rich history and ancient culture, Putin said, as qouted by Russia's official news agency TASS, "we propose accelerating the process of negotiations towards an agreement on visa-free tourist travel."

During the talks, Modi noted that Moscow and New Delhi have been together for several decades and thanked Putin for assistance in evacuation of thousands of Indian students from Ukraine after Russian troops launched a "special military operation" against the neighbouring country in February.

Russian President Putin wishes PM Modi

The Russian President also wishes PM Modi ahead of his birthday.

“I would like to wish India all the best. I also know that tomorrow, my dear friend, you are about to celebrate your birthday. As per the Russian tradition, we never offer Congratulations in advance. So, I cannot do that right now," Putin said.

“But I would like you to know that we know about that. And we wish you all the best. We wish all the best to the friendly Indian nation and we wish prosperity to India under your leadership," the 69-year-old Russian president said.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif listening, PM Modi on Friday addressed the annual summit of the eight-member bloc. 

The SCO was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001 by the presidents of Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Over the years, it has emerged as one of the largest trans-regional international organisations. India and Pakistan became its permanent members in 2017.

Following today's meeting, the SCO Heads of State Council adopted statements for cooperation in areas of climate change, reliable, sustainable and diversified supply chains, and on ensuring global food security and international energy security.

(With inputs from agencies)

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