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India, Russia to open up space, nuclear tech areas

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 17: India and Russia today (Mar 17, 2006) agreed to strengthen cooperation in space and nuclear technology areas and decided to explore new avenues in trade and economic sectors as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appreciated Moscow for 'positively responding' to India's requirements for nuclear fuel supplies to the Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS).

The Prime Minister who held discussions with his Russian counterpart Mikhail Fradkov, extending more than an hour and followed by delegation-level talks, said the two countries would also shortly conclude an agreement allowing investment of funds from the Rupee Debt Account in India.

Although there was no formal announcement of signing of any agreement for supply of Uranium for Tarapur I and II, Dr Singh's statement confirms Russia's supply of nuclear fuel for the TAPS.

Sources said Russia would supply 60 tonnes of nuclear fuel for the TAPS which was in danger of being shut within the next few nonths for want of fuel.

The two countries also signed various documents including two related to jointly launching the Global Satellite Navigation System (GLONASS), giving practical shape to the agreement already signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to India in December 2004.

The GLONASS, the Russian alternative to the US Global Positioning System (GPS), provides for launching of Russian navigation satellites from the Indian spaceport with the help of Indian rockets.

Addressing a joint press conference after the talks, the two Prime Ministers said there were immense possibilities for cooperation in various sectors including IT, Nano-Technology, Trade and Investment and Business-to-Business ties.

Dr Singh said a Joint Study Group (JSG) would find ways of strengthening bilateral relations and exploring areas of cooperation in various sectors including IT and Nano-Technology.

Mr Fradkov said the two had held substantial discussions on bilateral and multilateral issues and tried to narrow down gaps on issues of trade and economic relations.

''We have set up a task force for business-to-business interaction. Hopefully we can find answers to issues which remain...We are discussing specific issues and trying to address these,'' he said adding that trade, commerce and investment were high on their agenda.

He said both countries needed to take some ''rapid and extra-ordinary'' measures to boost trade and investment. ''We can't be satisfied with what we export or import from India.'' He identified technology, aircraft services, construction of roads and airports for joint venture cooperation.

Dr Singh said India envisioned a substantial increase in the share of nuclear technology in India's overall energy mix. ''We see the Kudunkulum project as a flagship of our cooperation in this area. I am confident that both countries will utilise opportunities to expand partnership in civilian nuclear energy cooperation.'' Observing that energy security was one of the principal themes of the G-8 Summit in St. Petersburg in July, to be Chaired by Russia this year, Dr Singh said he had accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin's invitation to attend the Summit.

He described the formation of the India-Russia Trade and Investment Forum as a valuable step forward in revitalising trade and economic relations and said the two countries aimed at expanding bilateral trade to ten Billion Dollars in the next five years.

A Joint Study Group has been formed to recommend ways to achieve this goal and examine the feasility of signing a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

''We will soon conclude an agreement allowing investment of funds from the Rupee debt Account in India,'' he said.

Asking the business communities of the two countries to develop greater interaction, Dr Singh said private sector partnerships must be the new cementing force between the two countries.

He said greater facilitation of business travel would help in this regard.

Replying to a question, the Russian Prime Minister said this should be done in a comprehensive manner and considered in a package to avoid illegal immigration.

Once back home, he said he would issue proper instructions in this regard.

The Russian Prime Minister who arrived here yesterday, is leaving for home this evening.

Dr Singh said the growing economies of the two countries offered considerable scope for cooperation in energy, IT, Bio-Technology and high-technology commerce.

Alongwith trade, these sectors must supplement the ''excellent cooperation'' between the two countries in political, strategic and defence sectors.

Describing Russia as a close and tried and trusted friend, he said India looked forward to working closely with Russia bilaterally and mnultilaterally.

''Ours is a strategic partnership based on trust, confidence and abiding convergence of national interests,'' he added.


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