Moscow, Oct 13: Long-term allies India and Russia have pledged to increase economic and energy cooperation.
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukhov told a joint news conference here that they have identified new areas for a quantum increase in bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
Their comments came after both leaders concluded the plenary of the 13th session of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission (IRIGC) on trade, economic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation.
"Both Deputy Prime Minister (of Russia) and myself had substantial discussions relating to trade, commerce, investment, energy, science and technology, services, metallurgy and culture. We also identified new areas such as high technology, nanotechnology for a quantum increase in our bilateral trade and also in economic cooperation," Mukherjee said at the end of his three-day visit to Russia.
Mukherjee said the historically close ties between the two countries were not completely reflected in the quantum of trade.
"Currently, our bilateral trade stands around four billion U.S. dollars. Although we can derive some satisfaction from the fact that this trade has been increasing steadily in the recent years. We all recognise that it is well below the potential. Accordingly, we have discussed steps for strengthening our trade and economic cooperation during this session of IRIGC, he said.
The two sides aim to boost trade volumes to 10 billion dollars by 2010.
The 12th Session of the Inter-Governmental Commission was held in New Delhi in December 2006.
There are five Working Groups (WGs) under the Commission – on (i) Trade and Economic Cooperation; (ii) Mines and Metallurgy; (iii) Energy; (iv) Science and Technology; (v) Tourism and Culture.
These WGs meet over the year to review progress since the last year in their respective fields.
After the Cold War alliance between Moscow and New Delhi collapsed together with the Soviet Union, Russia has maintained a "strategic partnership" with India, supporting its Asian ally's quest for a bigger international role.
The Kremlin has promised to back India's ambitions to become a permanent U.N. Security Council member, if a decision is made to expand the current five-member group that includes the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China.