India, Russia set to sign nuclear accord next month

November 17th, 2008 - 6:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) India and Russia are set to expand their nuclear cooperation as they deepen their ties in a changed international context, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said here Monday. “We hope to expand civil nuclear cooperation. All the formalities are done,” Menon told diplomats and strategic experts here ahead of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s maiden official visit to the country next month.

The foreign secretary was alluding to a civil nuclear cooperation agreement that the two countries plan to sign during Medvedev’s visit here early December.

The proposed agreement, which was initialed early this year, envisages Russia building four additional reactors at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.

Menon thanked Russia for supporting India in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) that led to the resumption of global civil nuclear commerce with New Delhi after a gap of three decades.

Menon was inaugurating a two-day seminar, organised by the Observer Research Foundation and Unity of Russia Foundation, that brings together experts and diplomats of both countries to explore changing patterns of India-Russia relations.

The nuclear accord with Russia follows similar agreements signed with the US and France over the past two months.

Describing the relations between India and Russia as unique that have “stood the test of time”, Menon said the two countries have steadily deepened their ties despite shifts in international power relations and in their relations with other countries - a veiled reference to India’s growing strategic ties with the US.

Underlining the “ever-increasing congruence” on global issues between the two countries, Menon said Russia was an important strategic partner of India in myriad areas, including defence, energy, hydrocarbons, science and technology and space.

“India and Russia have identical views on the sources of the problem in Pakistan,” Menon said while referring to the growing common perception between the two countries on regional issues.

“Our strategic partnership extends to all areas of endevour,” Menon said, and added that he was optimistic about the future of India-Russia relations in days to come.

Menon, however, stressed that despite strong bilateral ties across the spectrum, there is a lot that needs to be done to scale up trade and investment between the two countries.

“Bilateral trade is now close to $5 billion. It’s positive, but that’s not enough,” he said.

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