India, Russia to discuss trade, military tech ties

Written by Huma Siddiqui | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 30 2013, 07:25am hrs
Two high-level Indo-Russian meetings will take place in Moscow early this week, which will set the stage for the 14th annual summit between the two countries.

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid will be in Moscow on October 2 for co-chairing a meeting of the India-Russia inter-government commission on trade, economic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) along with his Russian counterpart.

About 10 days later, another IRGC meeting on military technical cooperation (IRGC-MTC) will be held in Moscow to be co-chaired by the defence ministers of both countries.

While the dates are being firmed up for the meeting, officials told FE a wide range of defence cooperation issues are going to be on the agenda of the IRGC-MTC meeting, which will include Indias plans to take a second nuclear submarine on lease from Russia.

The two meetings will also cap the very close and intense diplomatic engagements between the two sides for 2013. The agenda for the delegation-level talks is packed with issues pertaining to defence, space, science and technology, energy, trade and investment.

Both India and Russia have scheduled the two IRGC meetings close to the 14th annual summit, which besides being preparatory in nature would be decided on major agreements that could be inked when the leaders of the two countries formally meet in Moscow on October 21, pointed out officials.

According to Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman of the MEA, Indo-Russian bilateral trade stood at $8.9 billion, marginally above from a figure of $7.5 billion in 2009. In 2009, the two sides set the target of achieving $ 20 billion in bilateral trade by 2015.

Several big-ticket bilateral agreements are expected to be signed when Prime minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladmir Putin meet.

These would likely pertain to the fields of energy, infrastructure, culture, people-to-people contacts, business and trade and possibly defence, sources said.

In the wake of India looking West for defence hardware, Russia has offered to set up manufacturing facilities in the country for joint production of military hardware and reached an understanding for setting up two major projects in a joint venture for producing civil helicopters Ka-226T for medical, rescue and other purposes.

The recent incident involving the INS Sindhurakshak submarine will also come up for discussions. The submarine is under warranty period till January 2014.

The Kudankulam nuclear energy plants 3rd and 4th units, roadmap of Indo-Russian joint project of BrahMos missiles and concrete steps to boost bilateral trade are also on the agenda.