Medvedev responded positively to further ties in energy sector: Manmohan
India and Russia on Monday inked six pacts aimed at invigorating their relationship that had endured a lukewarm phase in recent years. Apart from the path-breaking civil nuclear energy agreement, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev presided over the signing of three pacts in the military sphere to resolve the existing irritants as well as take the relationship into the realm of joint development and production. They also agreed on a cultural exchange programme over the next two years and a credit line for facilitating bilateral trade.
With consolidation in existing areas of cooperation sought to be strengthened by the agreements, both countries also identified energy, pharmaceuticals and Information and Technology and communications as new thrust areas. All three years have seen impressive growth in recent years that has ensured healthy growth rates in investment and trade despite the global recessionary conditions. It was also decided to triple the modest bilateral trade of $ 7 billion to $ 20 billion in the next five years.
“We reiterated our keen interest in expanding cooperation in the hydrocarbons sector. We have been encouraged by Mr. Medvedev’s positive response to further concrete steps in the energy sector,” said Dr. Singh after spending quality time with the Russian leadership beginning with a quiet dinner at the Russian President’s Dacha (countryside retreat) on Sunday night followed by an hour of restricted consultations with him the next day.
Dr. Singh also confabulated with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, again in a restricted format, and later both leaders briefly attended a meeting of the CEOs’ Forum where South Block had ensured the attendance of 10 out of its 12 members from India Inc.
At a joint press conference, both Dr. Singh and Mr. Medvedev emphasised the importance of intelligence sharing, securing a Global Comprehensive Convention on Counter-Terrorism and using instrumentalities to pressure countries giving shelter to terrorist activity.
In the area of co-development and production, both sides revitalised an agreement on multi-role transport aircraft signed in 2007. India and Russia as well as some of its friendly countries need such aircraft to fulfil a variety of roles and the cooperation arrangement would pare margins that are invariably associated with third party design and manufacturing.
The expected decision to extend military technical cooperation for another decade was also inked while yet another initiative to streamline the supply of spares for the Russian-origin equipment was the third military pact to be signed.
Despite declaring pharmaceuticals as a focus area, both sides could not come to an agreement on setting of standards for drugs exported from India. Russia wanted a pact of this nature to avoid the recent seizure of fake drugs in some Indian consignments. Both sides were also unable to agree on a solution to the non-recognition of several Russian degrees in India that had considerably reduced the student population as compared to the Soviet era.
The restricted meetings between Dr. Singh and Mr. Medvedev and Mr. Putin also saw detailed discussions on the need to consolidate nationhood in Afghanistan, the situation after the recent elections, terrorism in the country and its interrelationship with Pakistan and the Iran issue.