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NEW DELHI: The defence ministry is expected to decide on Tuesday the finalisation of a deal worth over 5,000 crore with Russia for the manufacture of 7.5 lakh AK 203 assault rifles. This comes weeks before Russian president Vladimir Putin's visit to India 

The Russian designed AK-203 will be manufactured in a unit in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. The deal had been delayed for some years over issues including the issue of transfer of technology but according to two people familiar with the development, matters are close to resolution with the deal near finalisation.

Putin is expected in New Delhi on 5 December to hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 6 December. India and Russia have instituted an annual dialogue since 2000, with the New Delhi talks being the latest in that series. The India visit is a seen as a rare outing for Putin since the covid-19 pandemic began.

The two countries are also expected to hold their inaugural “2+2" dialogue ahead of the Modi-Putin talks. Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh are to sit down with their Russian counterparts Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoygu ahead for the “2+2" talks as well as the inter-governmental joint commission meeting, one of the people cited above said.

The India-Russia “2+2" meeting was agreed to during a phone call between Modi and Putin in April. Russia is the fourth country that India will be holding joint foreign and defence ministerial talks with – the others being the U.S., Japan and Australia.

The two countries, seen as partners for decades, are also expected to sign agreements in the areas of technology and trade during Putin’s visit.

One of the pacts expected to be signed is a logistics support pact – along the lines of agreements India has with Japan and the US.

Earlier this month, Dmitry Shugaev, the director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC), was quoted as saying that Moscow has begun deliveries of the S-400 surface to air missile system.

This is a closely watched development given that India’s acquisition could attract sanctions by the United States under CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act).

Coordinating positions on Afghanistan is another issue expected to be on the talks table between Modi and Putin.

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