Indo-Russian relations “have gained enormously in strength” over the past decades, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said ahead of his visit to Russia for an annual bilateral summit on December 15-17.
These relations “rest on a firm footing, and I see them expanding and diversifying in new areas in the future,” Dr. Singh said in an interview to Russian media carried on Thursday by main newswires and newspapers here.
Dr. Singh described Indo-Russian relations as “special and privileged partnership” that produces steady benefits to both countries in “defence, space, hydrocarbons and nuclear energy.”
India and Russia are expected to sign half a dozen agreements covering defence, energy and trade during their 12th annual bilateral summit. Dr. Singh emphasised the need to galvanise commercial ties between the two countries.
“I believe the time has come to place a much greater focus on the economic aspects of our relationship,” he said. “Our trade and commercial cooperation needs to be become more contemporary and reflective of our capacities.”
One way to do this is to help industry master new technologies jointly or separatedly developed in our two countries.
“Both sides are also working to put in place a system to ensure rapid commercialization of R&D that is being done in laboratories. This includes the establishment of India-Russia Centres of Science and Technology in each other countries,” the Prime Minister said.
The Russian part of the centre was inaugurated in Moscow just hours before the PM’s flight landed in Moscow.
The Prime Minister assured Russia that India would fulfil all its commitments on bilateral nuclear cooperation while according top priority to safety issues and concerns raised by people in Kundankulam.
“As far as India-Russia cooperation in the nuclear field is concerned, this will continue and we will fulfil our commitments,” he said. “India has always regarded Russia as partner who was with us in times of difficulty and even when there were restrictions on nuclear commerce with India.”
Dr. Singh praised Indo-Russian defence cooperation as “an important pillar of our strategic partnership” and “an essential link in our multifaceted relations.” He described Russia as “a most reliable partner” in defence.
The Prime Minister noted convergence of views between the two sides on international issues like the revival of the global economy, cooperation within BRICS, the situation in West Asia and North Africa and the challenges in Afghanistan.