India and Russia on Friday sealed agreements in the defence and strategic spheres, besides taking steps to extend their partnership in new areas such as energy and fertilizers.
In all, the two sides signed five agreements — two each in the nuclear sphere and fertilizers and one in the civilian space segment — in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the visiting Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin.
Several other pacts were signed on the sidelines, including supplementary agreements on the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov to finalise cost and technical issues, and a deal in the military aviation sphere that includes the purchase of more naval version MiG-29 fighters. Commercial level agreements were signed between Gazprom and ONGC; NPCIL and Atomostroy export (for the next two units at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu); and Alrosa and Diamonds India Limited, besides two between companies also engaged in the diamond sector.
“The range of agreements points to the diversification of our ties,” pointed out a Foreign Office official.
Both sides had discussions on regional and global issues and agreed to intensify consultations on Afghanistan and the challenges posed by terrorism and extremism in the region.
“In the run-up to and during Prime Minister Putin's visit, we finalised several important and long pending defence cooperation projects which will deepen our longstanding partnership in this vital sector. We have signed the Inter-Governmental Agreement on Cooperation in Atomic Energy and agreed upon a road map for construction of nuclear power plants. An MoU for bilateral cooperation in Russia's satellite navigation system has been agreed upon,'' Dr. Singh said in a statement shortly after concluding delegation-level talks with Mr. Putin.
Dr. Singh also referred to the agreement on strengthening cooperation in hydrocarbons through greater collaboration between gas companies. “We have identified information technology and telecommunications as focus areas for our future economic cooperation,” he added.
Exhaustive discussions between officials from both sides closed deals pending for months and years, identified new areas of cooperation and narrowed divergent views in some areas. “We should not see this visit as a one-off affair. Rather, the discussions today are a continuation of the dialogue that has been taking place nearly every month between specialised delegations. We have several military agreements that have been in the pipeline for a long time. We also have another MoU in energy that takes discussions on this subject forward. Space and nuclear cooperation are the other areas where, like energy, there has been steady progress,” said the official.
Describing Mr. Putin as the “architect” of the strategic partnership between India and Russia, Dr. Singh said India owed a “deep sense of gratitude” to him for bringing the two countries closer to each other. Mr. Putin made the first of his five visits to the country a decade ago and since then was the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in 2007. On his visit to Moscow in December last year, Dr. Singh was closeted with the former two-term Russian President, both sides discussing ironing out the wrinkles in bilateral relationship and expanding their cooperation.