Russia wants to consolidate strategic ties with India: Medvedev

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Moscow, Sept 20: Observing that Russia has very "purposeful" relationship with India, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Friday said it would like to consolidate the bilateral strategic partnership and help India in expanding its peaceful nuclear energy programme.

Medvedev's remark came days ahead of the planned commencement of production of the first unit of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP).

The Indo-Russian joint venture project in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu is expected to begin production in the next three weeks. "Kudankulam project is doing well and we would like to increase cooepration with India in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," he said.

The Russian Premier was speaking during a media interaction with Editors attending the 15th General Assembly of Organisation of Asia-Pacific News Agencies(OANA) here.

Noting that Russia has very "purposeful" relationship with India, he said, "we would like to advance this relationship in various fields including by having technical cooperation." "We have done in the past and would continue to do so," Medvedev said, adding, "We are interested in further developing and consolidating our strategic partnership with India."

According to an earlier plan, KNPP-I was supposed to go on stream by the end of August, but missed the target due to a technical snag. The Unit-I had achieved criticality on July 13.

The second unit is expected to go on stream by June next year. KNPP Units one and two are VVER-1000 type reactors being set up with technical cooperation from Russia. Kudankulam is a 2,000 MW project comprising the two units each of which will generate 1,000 MW power.

There is a plan to set up four more units of 1,000 MW each. Once those are ready, the Kudankulam plant will have six reactors in all.

For commissioning the third and fourth units, talks between the governments of India and Russia are in an advanced stage.

Besides Indo-Russian relations, Medvedev also spoke about the situation in Syria, Russia's ties with Commonwealth of Independent States(CIS) and countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Medvedev described the situation in Syria as "very Medvedev described the situation in Syria as "very complicated" and said it should be allowed to find out a peaceful solution to the crisis on its own. "External interference is not acceptable. We will never support it," he said in an apparent reference to US moves to carry out strikes in Syria.

At the same time, the Prime Minister said use of chemical weapons by any one is not acceptable. "Use of chemical weapons by anyone is not acceptable and should be considered as an international crime, he said, adding, "allegations against the Bashir Assad regime should be properly investigated."

Russia has led the opposition against any strikes on Syria by the US or its allies over the August 21 chemical attack near Damascus that Washington blames on government forces and says killed more than 1,400 people.

Pushed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House has agreed to hold fire while Russia and the international community--with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's agreement--draws up a disarmament plan. Assad has reiterated his pledge to cooperate, but insisted he had not been forced to do so by US threats.

PTI

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