India-Russia trade does not reflect close political ties, says President

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FOCUS ON TRADE: President Pratibha Patil with her Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, at the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow on Thursday.
FOCUS ON TRADE: President Pratibha Patil with her Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, at the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow on Thursday.
Vidya Subrahmaniam and Vladimir Radyuhin

Keen on further advancing strategic cooperation in different fields: Medvedev

MOSCOW: Concern over the unfulfilled potential of bilateral trade dominated the discussions between President Pratibha Patil and her Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev at the Kremlin on Thursday. Ms. Patil told Mr. Medvedev that great values informed “our unique bilateral relationship.” She said Russia and India had defied the dictum that ‘there are no permanent friends but only permanent interests.’

“The bonds between India and the Russian Federation are special and enduring and founded on civilisational and historical ties between the two countries,” Ms. Patil said.

Mr. Medvedev stressed Russia’s strong commitment to strategic partnership with India. “We are keenly interested in further advancing and deepening Russian-Indian strategic cooperation in different fields.”

The relationship had survived the ups and downs in the fortunes of the two countries and had been unaffected by the global downturn. The bilateral trade may grow by 20 per cent this year, amounting to $8.4 billion, the Russian Economic Development Ministry said on Thursday. The two countries are on target to achieve a $10-billion turnover next year. Yet the situation on the trade front did not “reflect the close political ties” and remained below potential, Ms. Patil said. “We need to ponder over why our economies should be satisfied with the current level of trade volumes,” she emphasised. The private sectors in both countries needed to be more involved in trade.

Mr. Medvedev agreed that economic ties were a “core basis for our interaction in all other fields.” Priority areas for bilateral cooperation included energy, metallurgy, machine building, nuclear energy and science-intensive industries, he said.

Indian officials said the two leaders noted the importance of defence ties though specific deals were not discussed. A top Russian defence industry official announced that the two sides would sign an agreement on the upward revision in the price for the Gorshkov aircraft carrier in mid-October.

Mr. Medvedev pointed to “identical or close views” the two countries shared on most problems. He specifically said terrorism “poses a big problem both for India and Russia.” “We are open for the closest possible cooperation in this sphere with our Indian friends,” he said.



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