India, Russia ink nuclear deal; nine other agreements

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 6 2008, 07:06am hrs
India and Russia on Friday strengthened their ties further by inking 10 agreements, including a pact on civil nuclear cooperation and decided to intensify their cooperation in combating terrorism.

The agreements signed in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev were in diverse areas ranging from space and defence to finance, human space programme and tourism. The new Russian President is accompanied by a host of officials and businessmen from various state-run and private agencies and companies.

Describing the agreement on civil nuclear cooperation as a new milestone in bilateral relations, Singh told a joint press conference with Russian President who is on a three-day visit, here, The signing of the agreement on civil nuclear cooperation with Russia marks a new milestone in the history of our cooperation with Russia in the field of nuclear energy.

Under the agreement, Russia will build four additional atomic reactors in the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu. Russia agreed in January 2007 to help India in the construction of four energy blocks at the atomic plant in Kudankulam and nuclear power plants at new sites in India.

Separately, OAO Tvel, the Russian nuclear-fuel monopoly, agreed to deliver fuel worth $700 million to other Indian power stations.

Singh, after signing a joint declaration with Medvedev, said both the countries have taken yet another step forward through joint action in human space flight programme.

Russias space agency signed a new document with ISRO on cooperation in space exploration, which includes plans to send two Indian astronauts to space on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2013.

Observing that both countries have decided to increase the trade volume to $10 billion by 2010, Singh said they discussed the possibilities of greater cooperation between Indian and Russian companies, both in upstream and down stream sectors.

The two leaders also discussed military cooperation, including technology transfer, T-90 tanks and issues concerning creating and selling or leasing nuclear powered submarines.

The two countries signed accords on the sale of 80 MI-17V-5 helicopters to India and cooperation in areas including space exploration, financial markets and tourism.

According to Rosboronexport officials, the helicopter deal is worth more than $1 billion.

The Russian leader expressed hope that the arms agreement would be extended for the next 10 years. Our prime task is to move from buy-sell to joint production and development in missile and aircraft development, he said.

Some issues remain, but there are not many of them, Medvedev said. We have agreed that we will keep these issues under joint control and well fully cooperate with each other.

Russia and India have seen a growth in bilateral trade this year, which increased in the first nine months of 2008 by 41.6% to $3.8 billion dollars year-on-year.

The two countries plan to increase trade to $10 billion by 2010 from this years expected level of $7 billion, and diversify economic cooperation in the future.

Both the countries, partners in the BRIC nations, which also include China and Brazil, are looking to boost trade to $10 billion by 2010. The visiting leader, last month in Sao Paulo said that the BRIC countries should play a greater role in shaping up the new global financial architecture.

Also, Russian companies plan to enter into the exploration and extraction of natural resources with Indian partners, he said. The two sides are keen to develop relations in areas such as metals, machine building, pharmaceuticals, space, biotechnology and information technology.

Russias Statistics Service earlier said accumulated Indian investment in Russia totaled $821 million, including $718 million of foreign direct investment. Russia invested $18 million in India in the first half of 2008.

Both countries agreed that in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks efforts should be intensified against supporters and perpetrators of terrorism.