India to ink pact with Russia for more reactors

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Strengthening ties: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, at a meeting in New Delhi on Monday.
Strengthening ties: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, at a meeting in New Delhi on Monday.

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: India and Russia on Monday agreed to further cooperation in the nuclear sector during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s maiden visit to the country in December. The Foreign Ministers of both countries also signed a protocol outlining consultations between diplomats over the next year.

At a joint news conference, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov said the main purpose of their interaction was to prepare the grounds for Mr. Medvedev’s visit. Mr. Mukherjee expressed the hope that the visit would be a “landmark” in Indo-Russian ties.

The additional cooperation in the nuclear sphere relates to building of more reactors at the ongoing site of India-Russia nuclear collaboration at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu. Both sides discussed the prospects of signing an agreement during the Russian President’s visit. The pact, initialled in February this year, will enable Russia help build four more reactors at the Koodankulam nuclear power plant.

Mr. Mukherjee described the discussions with Mr. Lavrov as “very useful” and said they covered bilateral, regional and international issues as well as the reviewed the progress made in specific areas since the last summit meeting in November last year. “We are satisfied with the overall development of our strategic partnership and the joint cooperative efforts in areas such as trade and investment, science and technology, energy and defence,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

He conveyed India’s gratitude and appreciation of Russia’s support at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and also discussed prospects for greater bilateral cooperation in the nuclear field.

Before statements by Mr. Mukherjee and Mr. Lavrov, the two leaders signed a protocol on consultations between the foreign offices in various areas. “These exchanges are useful for sharing views about development worldwide and promoting mutual understanding and trust,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

Both Foreign Ministers noted the holding of a wide range of programmes to celebrate the ‘Year of Russia in India.’ Mr. Mukherjee observed that such a large series of bilateral programmes were being held for the first time in almost 20 years.

Mr. Lavrov, in his statement, spoke about his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and was confident that both countries were pursuing an “intensive agenda of foreign policy cooperation in all possible formats,” including the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Russia-India-China, Brazil-Russia-India-China and many others.

Russia also reiterated its support for India’s membership at the world high table, including the G-8 and the United Nations Security Council.

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