Keen to enhance trade with Kazakhstan: Manmohan Singh

April 16th, 2011 - 12:49 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Astana, April 15 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on a visit to Kazakhstan, said Friday that India is keen to enhance trade between the two growing economies particularly in the energy sector like the construction of oil refineries.

Ahead of his talks with President Nursultan Nazarbaev Saturday, Manmohan Singh said the bilateral trade at less than $300 million was regrettably below potential and had immense scope for expansion.

“I will review the status of bilateral cooperation and discuss the roadmap of our future bilateral cooperation,” Manmohan Singh told a group of Kazakh journalists soon after he arrived in Astana after a three-day trip to China.

“We are also keen to cooperate with Kazakhstan in construction of oil refineries and other downstream and upstream projects in the energy sector,” said the prime minister.

“Regrettably, bilateral trade has not picked up to meet our expectations primarily due to lack of direct land connectivity,” he said.

Manmohan Singh said the implementation of the International Transport Corridor project connecting Kazakhstan with India would provide one way for faster and cheaper movement of goods between the two countries.

He said he was looking forward to continuing cooperation with the energy-rich Central Asian country in civil atomic sector and described hydrocarbon sector as a strategic segment for ties between the two nations.

The prime minister said that negotiations on a pact of 25 percent stake in Satpayev oil block in the Caspian Seat to India’s ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) were concluded smoothly. The pact is likely to be signed Saturday.

He said that the effect of conventional sources of energy on environment had forced India to explore alternative sources as an “urgent imperative”.

“India, being one of the largest global consumers of energy, has also been exploring alternative sources of energy, including solar and wind power,” he said.

Noting that his government wanted comprehensive review of the safety of India’s nuclear plants, Manmohan Singh said: “We look forward to our continuing cooperation with Kazakhstan in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy”.

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