New Delhi, Sep 29 : India and Russia today agreed to extend the term of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission for Military-Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) for another ten years -- till 2020, leading to a further strengthening of ties between both countries.
Russia's Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov today met his Indian counterpart A K Antony for one-to-one talks and later co-presided over a session of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission for Military-Technical Cooperation.
Antony termed today's meeting of the IRIGC-MTC as very successful, and was hopeful of it having a positive outcome.
"India attaches great importance to relations with Russia. Moscow has been New Delhi's old and trusted friend and both the countries want to strengthen the relations," he said.
"We want to expand the relations to new areas as the inter-governmental panel's term expires in 2010 and in principal we decided to extend the commission's term for the next 10 years till 2020," Antony added.
The Russian Defence Minister said: "In 2010, the term of IRIGC-MTC expires in 2010 and that is why a delegation came to draft a new program after 2010 in which particular attention will be on scientific research and joint production."
"The participants discussed the implementation of a joint program for military-technical cooperation up to 2010, and preparations for its further extension. The Russian party has introduced a new draft agreement for the next 10 years," Serdyukov said.
"Our strategic partnership has to be dynamically developed and the issues of joint exercises and joint development have been taken up successfully," the Russian Defence Minister added.
To avoid delay in decision-making and to speed up the implementation of various projects, Antony said both sides agreed to establish a joint working group at the Defence Secretary level to coordinate the work of the intergovernmental commission.
"Today, we took a decision to have an apex body at the highest level with Indian Defence Secretary and his Russian counterpart meeting at least once in six months so that all the pending issues are sorted out urgently," he said.
Antony emphasized that Indo-Russian relationship has now reached from buyer-seller to co producer in the field of design, development and scientific research.
Indo- Russian inter-governmental commission sessions are held annually and alternate between New Delhi and Moscow. The previous meeting took place in the Russian capital in October 2007.
The participants have discussed proposals related to about 200 joint projects, including the modernisation of the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier (formerly the Admiral Gorshkov) for the Navy, the transfer of technology (ToT) for the licensed assembly of T-90 tanks in India, the production of BrahMos missiles and the purchase of Smerch MLRS by India.
The meeting also discussed joint production, joint development and production of systems and platforms, interaction between the two armed forces and military technical cooperation. By Praful Kumar Singh