NEW DELHI: India and Russia have agreed to increase engagement of their defence industries and to expedite establishment of a AK-203 assault rifles factory at Amethi during defence minister Rajnath Singh’s Moscow visit on Thursday. India’s time-tested partner has also assured it that it will follow a policy of ‘no arms supply to Pakistan’, following India’s request.

Singh and his counterpart Gen. Sergey Shoigu discussed ongoing defence projects at Thursday’s meeting, where India conveyed its appreciation for the timely Russian response to requests for weapon systems and Russia said that it supported Indian security interests.

“Both sides welcomed the advance stage of discussions for establishment of an India-Russian joint venture for the production of AK-203 assault rifles, considered one of the most modern weapons for the infantry. It provides a very positive basis for further engagement of Russian defence industry in Make-in-India,” a defence ministry spokesperson said. Both sides have “welcomed the advance stage of discussions for the establishment of an India-Russian joint venture for the production of AK-203 assault rifles.”

As ET had reported, the joint venture faced a hiccup due to pricing concerns but it was resolved with the setting up of a high-level committee of the defence ministry. MoD officials said that Russia has assured a substantial participation in the forthcoming Aero India Exhibition to be held in February in Bangalore.

The bilateral meeting coincides with the naval exercises off the Straits of Malacca over the next two days. Singh said that the exercises demonstrated the “common interests of both countries in maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region”. “There was substantial commonality in positions with respect to challenges at the regional and international levels in the areas of peace and security, reflective of the deep trust and confidence that both sides enjoy as Strategic Partners,” officials said.