Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks expected to focus on defense, nuclear and space cooperation.

Modi began his visit on Wednesday when he had a private dinner with Putin.

Speaking at the start of the talks in the Kremlin on Thursday, Modi lauded Russia for being "a reliable friend" who has "always stood by us."

Russia and India have shared close ties since India gained its independence in 1947, when Moscow was a key ally and the main arms supplier to New Delhi.

Indian officials have said that Putin and Modi would discuss more arms purchases for India and joint manufacturing projects.