INTERNATIONAL

India, Russia to sign nuclear energy pact

Vladimir Radyuhin

MOSCOW: India and Russia will sign a comprehensive nuclear energy pact next month.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said the pact would be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Moscow in November for an annual summit with President Vladimir Putin.

The agreement would provide for the construction of four additional nuclear units at the Koodankulam power project and lay down guidelines for long-term cooperation in nuclear energy. He said the construction of two Russia-built nuclear reactors at Koodankulam was nearing completion.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee voiced confidence that the nuclear energy collaboration would be expanded.

Mr. Mukherjee and Mr. Zhukov co-chaired the 13th meeting of the Indo-Russian Inter-governmental Commission (IRIGC) for trade, economic, scientific-technical and cultural cooperation here on Friday.

Speaking to the media after signing a protocol of the IRIGC session, the two co-chairmen stressed that the meeting confirmed the strategic nature of India-Russia relations.

The protocol took note of the fact that bilateral trade had increased from $2 billion to $4 billion and was well on target to expand to $10 billion by the year 2010.

New working groups

In an effort to diversify bilateral commerce into high-tech areas, the two sides decided to set up two new working groups – on science and technology and on IT and communications.

Mr. Zhukov said the sides have agreed on the terms of using the outstanding Indian Rupee debt equivalent to $1 billion for joint venture investments in India. Official letters to this effect would be exchanged during the coming India-Russia summit.

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