President Pratibha Patil today embarked on her maiden visit to Russia seeking to consolidate the relations between the "close friends and partners" in the changed global geo-political situation.
She will also travel to Tajikistan during her week-long two-nation tour.
Patil, who is leading a large delegation including Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, was seen off at the airport by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee besides other dignitaries.
During her four-day stay in Russia, she will hold talks with President Dmitry Medvedev on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will also meet her.
Ahead of her visit, Patil said India "is committed to develop relations of close and large-scale bilateral cooperation and partnership with Russia."
In an interview to Russian news agency Itar-Tass, she underlined that "despite the serious situation and changes that emerged over the past decades in the global geo-political situation, India and Russia remain close friends and partners, while our desire to consolidate our relations are constantly confirmed at top political level."
Describing Russia as a "reliable friend that passed the test of time", she hoped the bilateral ties will be further strengthened with her maiden visit to that country.
India has a "firm feeling of emotional attachment to Russia", she said.