Indo-Russian nuke pact fails to materialise at Manmohan-Putin talks

November 14th, 2007 - 10:36 am ICT by admin  

Moscow, Nov 12 (ANI): Visiting Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin today did not come up with the much-awaited comprehensive bilateral civil nuclear cooperation pact during their nearly two-hour-long Summit-level discussions in the Kremlin.

Addressing a joint press conference a few hours before concluding his day-and-a-half visit to the Russian capital, Dr. Singh in a matter of fact manner said: “India and Russia enjoy extensive cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy, and have done so for many years.”

“Russia is building two nuclear reactors in Kudankulam in Tamilnadu and is supplying fuel to the nuclear power station. When President Putin visited India in January 2007, we signed a Memorandum of Intent for the construction of four nuclear power reactors in Kudankulam,” he added.

Dr. Singh further went on to say that, “We look forward to expanding our cooperation with Russia in the civil use of nuclear energy in the future.”

When asked when India would be approached the IAEA and the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for approvals for the delayed US-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement, Dr. Singh said, “As regard to the question of when we would be going to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), this is a matter subject to discussion with the coalition partners back home. It is a process of evolving a broad base national consensus, which is still on.”

The Prime Minister further went on to reveal that he had thanked President Putin for Russia’s steadfast support in supplementing India’s nuclear energy programme, and for Moscow’s assistance in lifting international restrictions on nuclear cooperation with India that are still in place.

India was expected to sign a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Russia, which would have expanded the present nuclear collaboration between the two countries.

The pact was also expected to have a separate component on the construction of four additional nuclear units in Kundankulam, Tamil Nadu.

In October this year, when Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov visited New Delhi, he had said that the pact would be finalised during Dr.Singh’s November visit to Moscow.

However, of the four bilateral agreements signed today, the nuclear pact was not one of them.

Stating that Indo-Russian relations are based on a strategic partnership that has stood the test of time, Dr. Singh focussed on the economic aspect, terming it as the ‘bedrock of the strategic partnership’.

“This is the eighth annual summit between India and Russia and my fourth visit to Russia as Prime Minister. I am extremely satisfied with my discussions with President Putin. They were characterized by warmth, cordiality and unanimity on all issues of mutual interest,” he said.

“There has been substantial forward movement on many of the issues that we had discussed at our last Summit in January. We held wide-ranging discussions and identified areas for further cooperation between our two countries,” he added.

“Defence cooperation is one of the pillars of our strategic partnership,” Dr. Singh said, adding that recent agreements between the two countries to co-develop a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and Muti-role Transport Aircraft show the major steps taken forward in this direction.

He said that both sides have agreed to redouble their efforts to achieve a bilateral trade target of 10 billion US dollars by 2010.

“We had a constructive discussion on regional and global issues. There is a mutuality and convergence in our interests. We highly value Russia’s role in international affairs and its global leadership on key issues,” the Indian Prime Minister said.

Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said that the meeting between President Putin and Prime Minister Singh lasted for two hours and he characterised it as “very warm”. He said the discussions included a review of developments in Pakistan, Iran and the neighbourhood, besides looking at ways to enhance bilateral cooperation in the defence, energy and space sectors.

The joint press conference took place in the Malakite Room of the Kremlin. The two leaders were cordial, but did not exchange any words in front of media.

Their body language was stiff and formal.

The hall itself has pillars made of Malakite and portraits of former Russian emperors. The lobby has ornate chandeliers and frescos depicting the 1854 Crimean War. The hall was restored during the presidency of Boris Yeltsin. (ANI)

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