'Reinforce nuclear coop with Russia'

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New Delhi, Feb 29: Two former Foreign Secretaries today urged the Manmohan Singh government to intensify civilian nuclear cooperation with Russia, notwithstanding the outcome of the Indo-U S nuclear deal, in limbo due to strong reservations by the left parties.

Mr Lalit Mansingh and Mr Shashank said here that Russia has been a time tested friend of India and had "supported us at crucial times". They stressed the need for developing "strong and sustainable ties" with Moscow in the civilian nuclear technology. Russia has been major partner in this field for many decades and it had helped India to set up several nuclear plants in the past. The diplomats were speaking at a seminar on "Russian Prime Minister Victor Zubkov"s visit", organised by the Unity International Foundation. Minister of State for Planning Dr Rajasekharan, Mr Anrey Sorokin, Deputy Chief of Mission of Russia and former Governor Bhisma Narain Singh also spoke on this occasion.

Mr Mansingh said that 60 per cent of defence equipment used by the defence forces is from Russia. He also stated that ties need to be developed in the energy sector as Russia is a major energy power. Mr Shashank said India should go beyond defence cooperation with Russia and invest in crude oil and information technology.

Mr Sorokin said Mr Zubkov's visit had reaffirmed ties in nuclear energy, hydrocarbons and joint development of new technologies. Russia has agreed to set up banks in India and a joint stock company, he added.

Unity Foundation secretary general Anil said trade ties need to be strengthened and expressed the hope that the two-way trade would touch 10 billion dollars by 2010. He also stated that Dr Manmohan Singh and Mr Zubkov have agreed that the pact on nuclear reactors would be linked to Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) clearance.

Russia has expressed readiness to built four more nuclear reactors in India.

UNI

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