India and Russia on June 1 reaffirmed their 'special and privileged strategic partnership' and signed five pacts, including a crucial agreement on setting up two more atomic power plants at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin discussed ways to smoothen bilateral relations during Modi's visit to Russia. The pacts were signed in St Petersburg when Modi was there for the 18th India-Russia Annual Summit as well as the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. The two countries were also marking 70 years of establishment of the diplomatic relations.
These decisions were taken during wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which covered issues like terrorism, increasing trade and investment. Addressing the media jointly with Putin after the talks, Modi said the relation between India and Russia has been unwavering based on "mutual love, respect and strong trust".
The highlight of the day was India and Russia concluding a much-awaited pact for setting up the last two units of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant with Moscow's help. The General Framework Agreement and credit protocol for units five and six of the Kudankulam nuclear plant was among the five pacts signed. Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Russia's JSC Atomstroyexport - a subsidiary of Rosatom, the regulatory body of the Russian nuclear complex, will build the reactors. Each of the two units will have a capacity to produce 1,000 megawatt (MW)of power. One 1,000 MW nuclear power plant in Kudankulam is operational while another 1,000 MW capacity plant is expected to go on stream later this year. Two others of equal capacity are under construction. India's current nuclear power generation capacity is about 6,780 MW.
A joint statement noted that the economies of India and Russia complemented each other in the energy sector and both countries will strive to build an 'energy bridge'. It said the future of India-Russia cooperation holds great promise across a wide spectrum covering nuclear power, nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear science and technology.
Traditionally, India and Russia have shared a close relationship that dates back to the days of the Cold War, when the US tilted toward India's neighbour and archrival Pakistan. Much of India's military hardware is still of Russian origin though India has diversified its defence procurement with major purchases of military hardware from the US, Israel and France.
On its part, Russia has been concerned at the rapidly warming ties between India and the US, including the recent signing of a military logistics agreement. India's concerns vis-a-vis its once 'trusted strategic partner' include its present tilt towards China with which India has a difficult relationship mainly due to an unsettled border dispute and Beijing's close ties with Pakistan. Last year, Russia held its first ever military exercises with Pakistan, raising concerns in India.
Once seen as on the same page vis-a-vis concerns on terrorism emanating from Pakistan and Afghanistan, currently there are divergences between New Delhi and Moscow on that issue as well, with Russia favouring a role for the rebel Taliban in a future Afghanistan against the rise of the Islamic State (IS) in the war-torn country. That Russia did not back India's demand to name two Pakistan-based terror groups as perpetrators of terrorism against India last year at the eighth annual Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit did not go down well with India. Putin tried to assuage some of India's concerns. "We do not have any tight (military) relations with Pakistan. We are respectful toward all Indian interests." He added, "No matter where terror threat comes from, it is unacceptable and Russia will always support India."
There is no other country in the world that Russia has "deep cooperation" in delicate areas such as missiles, Putin said adding, Russia's "trust-based" ties with India will not be diluted by Moscow's growing ties with Pakistan and others. The statement also said that India and Russia were looking to expand trade from the current $7.7 billion level to $30 billion by 2025.
India and Russia have agreed to set up joint ventures for manufacturing aircraft and automobiles as the two nations look to boost trade and economic ties. Putin, after summit talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said Russian-Indian economic cooperation is returning to a trajectory of fast growth.
"We both have a stake in consolidating this positive trend," he said. "Our talks are always held in a warm and friendly atmosphere, and are always substantive and productive. This time was no exception." Putin said agreements made in the Saint Petersburg Declaration outlines steps to further deepen bilateral cooperation in the political, economic and cultural spheres.
"Encouraging the growth of trade, improving its structure, and expanding industrial cooperation constitute our key priority," he said. Bilateral trade, he said, was declining in recent years but has reversed this year. It rose by 29 per cent in the first quarter of 2017.
"As of today the sides have agreed a list of 19 projects aimed at establishing joint ventures for transport infrastructure, new technology, including pharmaceuticals, aircraft and automobile manufacturing, the diamond industry, and agriculture," he added.
After summit talks, the two leaders witnessed the signing of an agreement on intellectual property, a master framework agreement on building two units at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, a programme of bilateral cultural exchanges for 2017-2019, an agreement on a feasibility study for a high-speed link between Nagpur and Secunderabad, and a memorandum on cooperation between joint stock company Alrosa and India's Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council. Russia's cumulative investment in the Indian economy exceeded four billion dollars, and Indian investment in Russia is eight billion dollars. "All these facts show that Russian-Indian economic cooperation is returning to a growth trajectory, and we both have a stake in consolidating this positive trend," Putin said.
Putin said the cooperation was not limited to direct supplies of the latest Russian military equipment to India. "The assembly of high-tech military products has been set up in India with Russia's participation. We agreed with the Prime Minister to continue to jointly develop and manufacture modern weapons systems.
"We in Russia are proud of this capital we have developed together," he said. He also said it was important to move from simply trading goods to more sophisticated forms of cooperation. "We invite our partners to localise production in Russia. We know Prime Minister Modi's idea regarding projects in India in areas where we can support each other and exchange modern technology."
Businessmen of the two nations can create new, high value-added products and build production chains, including for promoting their goods and services on third country markets, according to Putin. "On the agenda we have the launch of promising joint projects in fundamental areas for the economy and high-tech sectors such as nuclear energy, the aerospace sector, and biotechnology. We need to look to the future, and the future is about harnessing the common potential of both countries."
Article Source: http://www.abcarticledirectory.com
The writer is a retired Professor in international trade - Tried and Trusted Partnership . For more information visit: www.dailypioneer.com/columnists
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