Manmohan predicts bilateral ties with Russia will reach “great heights”

November 14th, 2007 - 10:27 am ICT by admin  

In an interview with the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Dr. Singh said that he hoped 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,” Dr. Singh said ahead of hsi two-day visit to Moscow.

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

“The evolution of our relations will be based on the solid foundation of the last sixty years. I see a continuing convergence and similarity of our world views on major international issues,” the Prime Minister said, adding that India saw Russia as its “most important partner” in defence cooperation.

“Russia is the only country with which we have a formal mechanism of an Inter-Governmental Commission for military-technical cooperation, which meets annually under the chairmanship of the two defence ministers. Defence cooperation is an integral element of our strategic partnership. Joint research, development and production of defence equipment will continue to play an important role in strengthening India’s strategic partnership with Russia,” Dr. Singh said noting that many defence contracts between the two nations are at various stages of implementation.

He cited last month’s signing of inter-governmental agreement for cooperation in the production and development of fifth generation multi-functional fighter aircraft (FGFA).

“I am sure that bilateral collaboration in the field of military technical cooperation will continue to grow in the future,” Dr. Singh said.

He also proposed India, with its rapidly increasing energy demands, could become a major guarantor of energy demand for Russia, with its immense proven reserves of oil and gas.

“With India growing at over 8-9 per cent per annum, our energy requirements are increasing rapidly. President Putin has defined energy security as not just security of supply but also security of demand. India can be a major guarantor for energy demand,” Dr. Singh said.

He noted that Indian and Russian oil and gas companies are engaged in discussions to expand their cooperation beyond the Sakhalin-1 project. At the same time, Russian oil and gas companies are active in India.

The Prime Minister named enhancement of power generation capacity as an extremely important objective for India. According to him, India needs energy from all sources, including renewable and nuclear energy.

“We have plans to produce 20,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020. International civil nuclear energy cooperation will enable us to augment our nuclear energy production,” Singh stated.

Ahead of Dr. Singh’s second visit to Moscow in two years, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) met in New Delhi on Thursday to approve a number of significant agreements to be concluded in diverse fields at the eighth summit.

Ways to improve bilateral trade, expand energy cooperation and finetune defence ties are expected to be outlined in the new pacts.

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 Dr. 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.

Dr. Singh is expected to return home in the early hours of Tuesday. (ANI)

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