N-deal in bag, India, Russia to focus on anti-terror steps Friday

December 4th, 2008 - 5:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Dec 4 (IANS) The signing of a civil nuclear accord is set to dominate Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s maiden visit to India starting Thursday. But in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, the spotlight has now turned on counter-terrorism cooperation. Medvedev, who arrives here Thursday night on a three-day visit, is the first foreign head of state to visit India after the brazen terror strikes killed 172 people, including 22 foreigners.

Medvedev will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday on a wide spectrum of bilateral, regional and global issues, including civil nuclear cooperation, counter-terrorism and the intensification of economic, energy and defence ties between the two strategic partners who have enjoyed strain-free ties for decades.

A pact on civil nuclear cooperation, that envisages Russia building four additional reactors at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu, will be inked Friday in the presence of the two leaders.

A wide-ranging protocol on cooperation in trade, economic, scientific, technological and cultural sectors is also expected to be signed.

Manmohan Singh will thank Russia for its unflinching support in ending India’s nuclear isolation at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), official sources said.

The nuclear pact was initialled early this year but had to wait for the formal signing for the green signal from the IAEA and NSG.

The NSG finally gave a nod Sep 6 that led to India signing nuclear accords with the US and France. Russia will be the third country with whom India will be signing a civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

With the Mumbai terror attacks underlining the danger of global terrorism, India and Russia are also set to intensify their cooperation in combating this threat to peace and security in the region.

Russia has viewed with concern the rise of Islamic radicalism and extremism in Central Asia and former Soviet provinces. It is likely to bring some concrete counter-terrorism proposals on the table Friday, the sources told IANS.

Medvedev telephoned Manmohan Singh last week and underlined his desire to step up counter-terrorism cooperation with India. He has lauded India’s response to the Mumbai terror attacks and pledged to step up counter-terrorism cooperation with the country.

Another issue that is likely to see a breakthrough is the sale by Russia to India of a Soviet-era aircraft carrier, the 44,570-tonne Admiral Gorshkov, which is being refurbished by a Russian firm.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Manmohan Singh Thursday gave its seal of approval to an agreement reached between the two sides to resolve the pricing issue within three months as Russia has more than doubled the original price of the carrier to over $2 billion.

The two sides are also expected to focus on intensifying sluggish economic ties between them that has suffered due to a host of problems, including visa problems for businessmen.

Russia and India plan to increase trade to $10 billion by 2010 from this year’s expected level of $7 billion, and diversify economic cooperation.

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