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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 December, 2004, 23:01 GMT
Putin backs India's UN seat bid
Russian President Vladimir Putin waves during his visit to India
Putin offered tax incentives to India's high-tech firms
Russia's leader has said India should become a veto-wielding member in the enlarged UN Security Council if reforms to the world body go ahead.

President Vladimir Putin gave the assurances on the second day of his three-day visit to India.

He spoke after his Friday's remarks were interpreted in the local media that Delhi should not have veto powers.

Mr Putin also urged Indian computer software firms to set up offices in Russia, pledging tax breaks.

India is our candidate number one in terms of enlarging the geographical representation of the Security Council
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Mr Putin's visit to India is aimed at reviving the robust trade the old Cold War allies enjoyed in the past.

On Friday, President Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed a joint declaration on the nations' strategic partnership and agreed deals on enhancing people to people contacts and bilateral trade.

The two nations also have a history of exchanging military technology.

But our correspondent says Delhi's decision to buy weapons from countries like the US, Britain and Israel has hurt the Russians and Mr Putin's visit should largely be seen in this backdrop.

Security Council

"I am convinced that permanent seats on the Security Council should have veto power, otherwise it would be a one-sided reform of the UN," Mr Putin told reporters in Delhi.

Russian MiG-29 combat jet
Russia is India's largest supplier of military hardware

"If we agree that future permanent members of the Security Council should have no veto, the next step would not be giving these countries veto power but rather abolishing the veto.

"The loss of this instrument for the United Nations would mean a loss of credibility of this organisation in the world," the Russian president added.

Mr Putin backed a bigger role for India on the council on Friday but was unclear on Delhi's call for veto powers.

Russia is one of the five veto-wielding nations in the 15-member council.

A decision on the UN's reform is expected next September to reflect post-Cold War realities.

In turn for Moscow's position, India said it supported Russia's entry into the World Trade Organisation.

High-tech offer

President Putin also offered tax incentives to encourage Indian computer software companies to set up joint ventures in Russia.

"We should set bolder objectives... I see the foundations of a strategic partnership in high-technology projects," Mr Putin told a gathering of business leaders during a visit to the southern technology-hub of Bangalore.

"We could jointly develop new high-technology products and market them to third countries," he said.

On Friday, the two countries signed a range of business deals they hope will boost bilateral trade by billions of dollars over the next five years.

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