India, Russia to increase cooperation in nuclear energy

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New Delhi, Nov 17 (UNI) India is looking forward to strengthening energy cooperation, especially in the nuclear field, with Russia, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said here today.

''Both India and Russia are keen to expand nuclear cooperation.

All the preparatory works have been done'', the Foreign Secretary said, inaugurating an international conference on "Changing Patterns of Indo-Russian Cooperation" at Observer Research Foundation.

Stating that India and Russia already have an "excellent relation", Mr Menon noted that the bilateral trade, however, had not improved according to the potential. "The trade still remains a challenge," he said, adding "though it is positive, that is not enough".

The bilateral trade last year was around five billion dollars.

Explaining the increasing importance of India-Russia relations in a multi-polar world, the Foreign Secretary pointed to the meeting of the Finance Ministers of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries before the G-20 summit which played an important role.

Saying India-Russia bilateral complementarities would only grow in future, the Foreign Secretary said he believed BRIC countries could play an important role in combating the global economic slowdown also.

Mr Menon hoped that the two-day conference, attended by experts from both the countries, would show the path into the future of Indo-Russian relations.

The conference, which will discus various aspects of Indo-Russian relations, including future prospects of India-Russia-China trilateral cooperation and the role of BRIC in international affairs, is being organised by Observer Research Foundation, a Delhi-headquartered public policy think tank, and Moscow based Polity Foundation.

Dr Vyacheslav Nikonov, the president of the Polity Foundation, noted that both Russia and India are growing at a fast pace of round seven per cent despite hardships. "There were neither any confrontations nor big problems between Russia and India. Russia supported India whether it is Kashmir or the Pakistan issue," he said, stressing the potential for improving bilateral cooperation.

Pointing out the importance of the role of BRIC in international relations, Dr Nikonov suggested that the triangle of Russia, India and China could as a strong force.

This conference is a part of the strategic dialogue initiated by Observer Research Foundation and the Polity Foundation in October 2007 at Moscow. The purpose of the conference is to address issues affecting the bilateral relations and suggest measures to further strengthen the cooperation between the two sides.

UNI NAZ JT PK KP1733

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