India, Russia to ink nuclear, defence pacts; AfPak on agenda

Monday, December 20, 2010

NEW DELHI - India and Russia are set to sign over a dozen agreements, including key pacts on jointly producing a multi-billion dollar jet fighter deal and building more Russia-aided nuclear reactors, when the leaders of the two countries hold talks here Tuesday.

Moving beyond traditional areas of cooperation like defence, the two sides will also focus on doubling their bilateral trade to $20 billion by 2015 and expand their consultations on the volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan region during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s two-day visit starting Tuesday.

Accompanied by a large business delegation and senior ministers, Medvedev arrives early Tuesday, his second visit to India in three years, for an annual summit meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The visit coincides with the 10th year of the establishment of strategic partnership between India and Russia who are looking to explore new areas to redefine their time-tested partnership in tune with shifting global realities.

Manmohan Singh and Medvedev will Tuesday discuss a range of bilateral and international issues including the expansion of civil nuclear cooperation, the intensification of bilateral economic ties, global terrorism and the international financial crisis.

The Russian leader will also go to Agra and Mumbai Wednesday. In Mumbai, Medvedev will stay at The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, one of the targets of Pakistani terrorists in November 2008, and pay homage to victims of the savagery.

He will visit the Indian Institute of Technology, Powai, and go to the Film City where he will interact with Bollywood stars.

The two leaders are set to exchange views on closer cooperation on stabilizing Afghanistan and explore ways of working together in the light of planned withdrawal of US troops from that country in July 2011.

More than 15 agreements are expected to be signed.

The Russian leader is expected to forcefully underline Moscow’s commitment to support India’s bid for permanent membership in the UN Security Council.

Ahead of his visit to India, Medvedev described the India-Russia ties as “a privileged partnership” characterised by “close interaction in international affairs as well as by large-scale and multi-faceted trade, economic, scientific, technological and humanitarian ties.

Saying “high technology is at the top of our agenda”, he announced that an integrated programme of cooperation in the areas of science, technology and innovation for till 2020 will be signed.

“Major cooperation areas include energy including nuclear energy, metallurgy, oil and gas production, transportation and outer space exploration. We have identified a number of long-term projects in these areas,” he said.

Last week, Russian ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin said the much-awaited deal on the joint production of the cutting edge fifth generation jet fighter and an agreement on Russia building more 1,000-MW nuclear reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu are expected to be signed.

A bilateral agreement to offer signals from the Glanost satellite is under negotiation. India’s interest in participating in the Sakhalin 3 gas exploration project is likely to be figure in discussions.

The envoy said Russia was upbeat about building 14-16 nuclear reactors in India over the next few years, but asked New Delhi to bring its civilian nuclear liability legislation in line with global norms.

Medvedev, however, hoped that the two sides plan “to resolve the relevant problems in a constructive way through negotiations.

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