India, Kazakhstan ink civil nuke cooperation pact

Last Updated: Saturday, April 16, 2011 - 15:31

Astana: Embarking on an ambitious roadmap to
consolidate their strategic partnership, India and Kazakhstan
on Saturday signed seven pacts, including a framework agreement in
civil nuclear field and a stake-sharing accord in oil sector,
with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying there was "vast
potential" for cooperation in all areas.

At wide-ranging talks between Singh and Kazakh President
Nursultan Nazarbaev, the two sides also decided to work for
pushing the bilateral trade, which was currently as low as USD
300 million, through engagement of governments and business
communities and diversifying to non-oil sectors like pharma,
agriculture and IT.

The two leaders discussed a host of issues during their
talks, which were first restricted and then delegation level,
covering bilateral matters and international issues like
developments in Libya and other North African countries and
Afghanistan.

Summing up the talks, Singh said in a statement to the
press that there was "solid and substantive outcome" that will
help build on the strategic partnership forged during the
visit of Nazarbaev to India in January 2009.

The two sides signed an inter-governmental agreement for
Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, that envisages
a legal framework for supply of fuel, construction and
operation of atomic power plants, exploration and joint mining
of uranium, exchange of scientific and research information,
reactor safety mechanisms and use of radiation technologies
for healthcare.

After the talks, the Kazakh President announced that his
country would supply India with 2100 tonnes of uranium and was
ready to do more.

India and Kazakhstan already have civil nuclear
cooperation since January 2009 when Nuclear Power Corporation
of India Limited (NPCIL) and Kazakh nuclear company
KazAtomProm signed an MoU during the visit of Nazarbaev to
Delhi. Under the contract, KazAtomProm supplies uranium which
is used by Indian reactors.

Ever since the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG) ended India`s
34-year-old isolation in 2008 by giving a one-time waiver to
have cooperation in civil nuclear field, it has signed such
civil nuclear agreements with a number of countries including
the US, France, Russia, Canada, Argentina and Mongolia.

Another highlight of the talks was a package of three
agreements signed by India and Kazakhstan in the hydrocarbon
sector. Under these, ONGC Videsh Limited would acquire 25 per
cent stake in Satpayev oil block in Caspian Sea.

The two sides also signed a Mutual Legal Assistance
Treaty, with the Prime Minister saying that they had agreed to
intensify dialogue in counter-terrorism and drug trafficking.

A Joint Action Plan for Furthering Strategic Partnership
was also unveiled which outlines the projects to be undertaken
by the both sides during 2011 and 2014 in a range of sectors,
including civil nuclear energy, hydrocarbons, cyber-security,
IT, high-tech and pharmaceuticals.

As part of enhancing ties in the field of IT, Singh said
he had offered to set up a joint IT Centre of Excellence in
the Eurasian University in Astana.

He said he had also conveyed India`s interest to benefit
from the Customs Union among Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus.

In his opening remarks at the delegation-level talks,
Singh said India attaches very high importance to its
relations with Kazakhstan and "there is a vast potential for
cooperation" between the two countries.

On his first official visit here, Singh told the Kazakh
President that he had "come to the great country" to "build on
the success" of his landmark state visit to New Delhi in 2009.

He hailed Nazarbaev as a "very distinguished world
leader" and congratulated him again for his re-election,
saying it was "a tribute to confidence reposed in your
leadership by the people of Kazakhstan."

Nazarbaev said the current bilateral trade did not
reflect the real potential and Kazakhstan was interested in
expanding ties in all areas and particularly identified
energy, high-tech and pharma as sectors holding promise.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, April 16, 2011 - 15:31

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