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By N.C. Bipindra
Friday, December 16, 2011 (07:33:20)
Tags : Manmohan Singh, India, Russia, India Russia Bilateral Summit, Dmitry Medvedev

PM to focus on energy, economy during India-Russia summit

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Moscow, Dec 16: Amidst political unrest over the Russian parliamentary elections and allegations of rigging, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived here on Thursday evening on a three-day visit for a bilateral summit with President Dmitry Medvedev, during which the two sides will discuss proposals to ramp up their strategic relations and also sign agreements in the fields of defence, health and science and technology.

Manmohan Singh is also slated to meet Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is at the centre of the political storm, today afternoon after the summit.

During the meetings, the two sides are likely to discuss their civil nuclear cooperation, in particular the setting up of units III and IV of the Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu with Russian reactors.

Before leaving for Moscow, Manmohan Singh said in New Delhi that India would seek to substantially expand bilateral trade with Russia from the current $8.5 billion, while enhancing ties in a host of areas such as defence, energy, space technology and health.

The prime minister said his talks with the Kremlin leadership will also cover multilateral issues, notably on ways out of the global economic slowdown.

"I will discuss mechanisms to further expand our bilateral cooperation, particularly in the trade, economic and commercial fields," Manmohan Singh said in his departure statement.

"Our relations encompass diverse sectors, including nuclear energy, defence, space, science and technology, hydrocarbons, trade and investment and people-to-people exchanges," the prime minister said without dwelling on the recent protests over the Kudankulam nuclear plant.

Manmohan Singh said India's bilateral relations with Russia were based on "mutual trust, friendship and shared interests" and encompass diverse sectors, including nuclear energy, defence, space, science and technology, hydrocarbons, trade and investment and people-to-people exchanges.

Bilateral trade amounted to $8.535 billion in 2010, witnessing a 15 percent growth from $7.46 billion in 2009.

The two countries in 2009 decided to target $20 billion worth of bilateral trade by 2015 with a focus on energy, pharmaceuticals, IT, steel, hydrocarbons, aerospace and agriculture.

Manmohan Singh said during his talks with the president, he would also focus on increased consultations with Russia in international forums.

"I will discuss with Medvedev how to further enhance our consultations in international forums like the United Nations Security Council, G20, BRICS as well as the East Asia Summit which Russia has recently joined. I am convinced that the India-Russia consultation on global issues is more necessary today than ever before."

He said he would also hold "in-depth exchange of views with the Russian leadership on the crisis facing the global economy and the political developments in our extended neighbourhood".

This, the prime minister said, included the situation in the "Gulf and Afghanistan and the impact of all this on peace and stability in the world."

"The perspectives of our countries on these developments are marked by a high degree of convergence."

Meanwhile, highly placed government sources in New Delhi said that India is likely to push for a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement with Russia and possibly an economic arrangement with a regional trade forum that Russia is planning with its neighbours like Belarus. (IANS)
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