India, Russia to firm up Putin visit agenda

India and Russia are expected to iron out differences over civil nuclear liability issues.

Updated: Oct 11, 2012, 19:16 PM IST

New Delhi: India and Russia are expected to iron out differences over civil nuclear liability issues and discuss ways to intensify trade when Russia`s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin holds talks here next week.

Rogozin and External Affairs Minister SM Krishna will co-chair the next meeting of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) on October 15, an External Affairs Ministry official said on Thursday.

The talks will set the agenda for the annual summit talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin on November 01.

Rogozin will also call on Manmohan Singh.

The two sides will be discussing the entire gamut of issues relating to trade and economic relations.

Bilateral trade increased to USD 8.8 billion last year. The two sides are looking to scale up ties to USD 20 billion by 2015.

During the talks, the two sides are expected to discuss issues relating to application of India`s civil nuclear liability law to Units III and IV of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.

All issues, including this one, will figure in the discussions, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told reporters here when asked whether the issue of civil nuclear liability will figure in the discussions.

The talks between Krishna and Rogozin will also explore finding a mutually acceptable deal on the units III and IV of the KNPP, which have been bogged down in divergent perceptions over India`s civil nuclear liability law.

Russia has contended that the civil nuclear liability law should not apply to these units as the agreement on them predates the 2010 civil liability law, and could be seen as "grandfathered" by the original 1988 agreement.

But India has made it clear that its national law is paramount and can`t be subverted. Moreover, New Delhi feels that making an exception for Russia will amount to diluting its civil nuclear law which will encourage the US and France to seek similar exemptions.

In July, the nuclear officials of India and Russia in Moscow had signed a protocol for Russian units III and IV. Russia has agreed to extend export credit amounting to USD 3.4 billion. If the liability issues are resolved, a final agreement on Units III and IV could be signed during the visit.