India-Russia ties based on long-term interests, says PM as he leaves for Moscow

November 14th, 2007 - 10:29 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Nov 11 (ANI): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that India’s “multifaceted bilateral cooperation” with Russia is based on long-term interests, and the strategic partnership between New Delhi and Moscow is an “enduring bond of friendship, which has strong historical roots.”

In his departure statement before leaving for Moscow on a two-day visit by a special Air India flight-Tanjore 747, Singh that India’s relations with Russia have traditionally been a factor of peace and stability in the region and beyond.

“I am convinced that the strong fundamentals of mutual trust and a shared world view on regional and global issues would continue to bring our two countries closer together in a dynamic international environment,” he said.

Pointing out that the year 2007 is the 60th year of the establishment of India-Russia diplomatic relations, Singh said: “As we rejoice in our joint accomplishments during the six decades of unbroken friendship, we also stand committed to further deepen our partnership in the fields of trade and investment, defence, energy security, science and technology, space and other areas of mutual benefit.”

“I look forward to continuing my discussions with President Putin to further strengthen India’s relations with Russia. I will convey to him the high priority that India attaches to its partnership with Russia, and the benefits that this partnership has brought to our two peoples,” he added.

Singh expressed confidence about his visit leading to a reaffirmation of their joint endeavour towards creating greater economic prosperity and a secure, stable and peaceful world order.

Singh embarked on the two-day visit for summit-level talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

The visit, which is coming at the invitation of Putin, is in continuation of annual Summit meetings between India and Russia institutionalised since the first visit of Putin as President to India in October 2000.

During his visit, ways to improve bilateral trade, expand energy cooperation and fine-tune defence ties are expected to be outlined in several bilateral pacts to be signed by the two sides.

The visit, in particular, is expected to envisage upgrading the predominant buyer-seller relationship between India and Russia in the defence sector to a new level of joint partnership for co-developing state-of-the-art future weaponries.

Both countries decided to co-develop and produce the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) during Indian Defence Minister A K Antony’s October visit to Russia, and it is expected that Singh’s visit would further strengthen military ties.

It is expected that India would hammer out a deal to acquire nuclear-powered Akula-II submarines from Russia on a lease for 10 years next week.

The deal, which could be worth over Rs 2,000 crore, (508 million dollars) would help the Indian Navy to fill the vacuum till India’s indigenously developed nuclear submarines are inducted.

The last Summit-level talks were held in New Delhi during the Russian President’s visit on January 25-26 this year, when he also participated as Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations. Since then, a series of high-level visits have taken place between the two countries to strengthen bilateral cooperation in various areas.

Yesterday, Singh said that Russia has a “special and unique” place in India’s foreign relations.

In an interview with the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, he expressed the hope that bilateral cooperation in the fields of defence and energy security would continue to grow in the future.

“India and Russia have enjoyed close ties of friendship and partnership over the last sixty years. Russia occupies a special and unique place in India’s foreign relations. Our time-tested relationship is based on deep mutual trust and understanding,” Singh said.

Expressing optimism on the future of bilateral strategic partnership between the two nations, he said, “Indo-Russian relations will grow to great heights.

However, if media reports are to be believed, bonhomie in bilateral ties has been missing in recent time in the wake of reported protocol breaches.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov comments bilateral cooperation between Russia and India “is normal” had added to this.

“Not everything is smooth in the moods, but I would not give it any serious importance,” Losyukov was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS.

Indo-Russian trade are below expectations and the volume was about 112 billion dollars with the balance of trade being in favour of Russia. Bilateral cooperation in nuclear energy is expected to chart a new course during Singh’s visit amid reports that the two countries will sign an agreement for building four more nuclear reactors in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.

As per the existing Memorandum of Understanding, the ongoing nuke cooperation covered construction of two 1,000 mw nuclear reactors in Kudankulam.

There is ongoing dialogue and exchange of views between the two governments on various issues of mutual interest. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee met his Russian counterpart on October 24 in Harbin (China) on the sidelines of India-Russia-China Trilateral Foreign Ministers Meeting and on August 1 in Manila on the sidelines of ARF/ EAS meetings.

The two Foreign Ministers also participated in BRIC (Brazil-Russia-India-China) Foreign Ministers Meeting in New York on 24 September and India-Russia-China Trilateral Foreign Ministers Meeting in New Delhi on February 14, 2007. National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan paid a visit to Russia on August 27-28 and the Acting Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Valentin Sobolev visited India on October 28.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony also visited Russia on October 17-19 for the 7th Session of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation, which was co-Chaired by Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. During the visit, the two countries signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement on Cooperation in the Development and Production of Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft.

This year, the Integrated Long Term Programme for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (ILTP) between India and Russia has completed 20 years of fruitful work. A Joint Council of the ILTP, which was co-Chaired by the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, Prof. CNR Rao, was held in Moscow on October 11-12.

During the meeting, the two sides concluded a Memorandum of Understanding on the setting up of three new joint centres of excellence on non-ferrous and rare metals, bio-medical technology and accelerators and lasers. There is ongoing cooperation in the space sector in terms of implementation of various inter-Governmental agreements under an umbrella agreement on cooperation in outer space for peaceful purposes signed in December 2004.

Karan Singh, President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, visited Russia from October 7-10 to discuss preparations for the ‘Year of Russia’ in India in 2008.

Earlier, during the visit of Putin to India in January, the two sides had signed a Protocol on holding ‘Year of Russia’ in India in 2008 and ‘Year of India’ in Russia in 2009. The ‘Year of Russia’ will be inaugurated in early 2008 and the year-long programme will include exhibitions, trade fairs, seminars, book fair, film festivals, industry interactions, fashion and food events and various cultural performances.

In 2007, India and Russia will also commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries (13 April). In this regard, a Plan of Major Events adopted during Putin’s visit to India in January is being implemented.

The Prime Minister is expected to return home in the early hours of Tuesday. (ANI)

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