India set to ink Nuke deal with Kazakhstan

India and Kazakhstan on Wednesday inched closer to inking two crucial bilateral agreements, including a key civil nuclear deal, as they agreed to deepen cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector.

Updated: May 12, 2010, 20:18 PM IST

Astana: India and Kazakhstan on Wednesday inched
closer to inking two crucial bilateral agreements, including a
key civil nuclear deal, as they agreed to deepen cooperation
in the hydrocarbon sector.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, who is on a
three-day visit to Kazakhstan, held discussions on a deal for
civilian nuclear cooperation with his counterpart Kanat B
Saudavayeb.

"I am pleased to say that India and Kazakhstan have a
strong congruence of views on major regional and international
issues," External Affairs Minster S M Krishna said at a joint
press interaction along with Saudabayev.

Krishna, who arrived here yesterday, said very good
progress has been achieved during discussions to deepen
cooperation in all sectors like hydrocarbons, oil and civilian
nuclear energy.

The Indian leader also met Prime Minister Karim K
Massimov and President Nursultan Abishyevich Nazarbayev.

There are technical discussions taking place between
both the sides on a civilian nuclear cooperation and they are
close to completion.

"We are close to finding a final umbrella agreement on
the civilian nuclear cooperation. It is a win-win situation
for both the countries," Lata Reddy, Secretary East, Ministry
of External Affairs, told reporters after the meetings.

As part of the deepening cooperation, India will look
for supply of natural uranium, investments by Indian companies
in mining and construction and supply of small nuclear
reactors with Indian technology.

India said its relationship with Kazakhstan was based
on a strong congruence of views on major international and
regional issues, including terrorism, but accepted that the
level of bilateral trade is much below potential.

"I am pleased to say that India and Kazakhstan have a
strong congruence of views on major regional and international
issues. Both our countries are strongly opposed to terrorism,"
Krishna said.

Regarding cooperation in the oil sector, Reddy said
the government was happy with the progress of discussions on
India`s participation in the Satpayev oil block.

India has already signed an umbrella agreement for
this purpose during President Nazarbayev`s visit to New Delhi
in January 2009.

"We have been assured of an internal agreement between
the Kazakhstan oil ministry and the Indian Petroleum Ministry
after which and agreement would be signed between ONGC Videsh
and the Kazakh oil company," the official said.

Krishna thanked Kazakhstan for steadfast support to
India in its fight against terrorism, specially after the
Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

Discussions in several other promising areas like
thermal power, plants, transportation and banking are in an
advanced stage, he said.

Krishna, however, said the level of bilateral trade
between the two countries is much below potential.

"Strategic partners and growing economies like India
and Kazakhstan should have bilateral trade of several billions
of dollars. Business community from both countries should
engage more actively each other," he underlined.

The Indian leader said the two sides have identified a
roadmap in which specific sectors and projects have been
identified for time-bound implementation.

Kazakh Foreign Minister Saudabayev said the country
was interested in India`s participation in the investment
development programme.

Krishna said Indian companies were looking more
seriously at Kazakhstan not only in terms of trading but also
"taking up projects, collaborating with Kazakh companies to
establish joint ventures in the area of power production and
infrastructure".

India possesses technology as well as skilled human
resources. India also has significant foreign exchange
reserves which it could positively consider to invest in
Kazakhstan.

This is the first bilateral visit by an Indian Foreign
Minister to Kazakhstan.

India underlined the need for the export of Kazakh
crude oil to India.

"For crude oil, India will prove to be a good market
and we have already expressed interest in a crude oil
agreement," said Reddy.

India has been importing crude oil from Kazakhstan
since 2008 but in very small quantities, Indian Ambassador to
Kazakhstan Ashok Sanjanhar said.

India is also interested in investing in gold mining.
Apart from this, India and Kazakhstan today signed a
cultural exchange agreement.

PTI