PM to embark on visit to Russia, China from October 20
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Last Updated: Sunday, October 06, 2013, 15:46
  
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will embark on a crucial trip to Russia and China from October 20 during which a number of pacts are expected to be inked in key areas of trade, business and energy.

The first leg from October 20 to 22 in Russia will see the Prime Minister holding talks on important issues such as nuclear cooperation, trade and defence.

Singh will on October 22 travel from Moscow to Beijing where he is expected to articulate India's concerns over trans-border rivers, trade deficit and boundary incidents.

During the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Singh is expected to assure him on concerns over India's nuclear liability law and also on the safety of Russian investments including in telecom sector.

Significantly, after the recently-concluded India Russia Inter Governmental Commission meeting in Moscow, the indications are that the two countries have made progress to clear the nuclear liability issue, crucial for a contract for supply of Russian reactors for Units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP).

It is understood that hectic parleys were on to conclude the tehno-commercial negotiations for the Unit 3 and 4 of KNPP) ahead of Singh's visit and officials are hoping to ink it after the talks between the two sides.

The effort is to basically match India's Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CNLD) Act, 2010 and the internationally and nationally accepted principles.

Another crucial issue would be Russia's investment in telecom sector with Russian giant Sistema last week expressing unhappiness over telecom regulator TRAI's recommendations on spectrum auction, saying it created "ambiguity" and "policy uncertainty" that would adversely impact its investment plans. Singh is expected to assure Russian leader on this front.

Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd, which offers mobile services under the MTS brand, has protested against TRAI recommendations that the spectrum used by CDMA operators should not be auctioned and a part of it be explored for use by GSM services.

The other points expected to figure prominently would be Russian investments in Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and joint ventures in phrama and fertiliser sector with India hopeful of inking some MoUs in these areas.

The two sides would also hold talks on security situation in the region, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan, sources said.

During his China visit, Singh will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang on key bilateral and regional issues, including trans-border rivers, ways to enhance Chinese investments through industrial parks to address trade deficit and boundary incidents.

The two sides are also expected to ink the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement which is aimed to enhance coordination between the armies of the two countries.

The sources also said the talks were on for a possibility of a pact to simplify visa regime.

The two sides are holding negotiations on a draft pact and if there were not many "differences", it could be inked during Singh's visit, they said.

India is also hoping to ink with China a framework MoU for supply of power equipment, apart from a cultural pact, they said.

As it has a huge trade deficit with China, India is pushing China to import more products and greater market access there.

In 2012-13, as per the official figures, India recorded a record trade deficit of USD 40.78 billion with China, compared with USD 39.4 billion in 2011-12 and USD 27.95 billion in 2010-11.

There is a proposal for setting up Chinese business parks in five states --Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka-- which will work like Special Economic Zones.

Singh and Xi would also discuss trans-border river issues. The PM had raised this matter with the Chinese president when they had met on the sidelines of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Durban in March.

The Prime Minister had expressed concern over China's proposal to construct three dams across the Brahmaputra.

Coming after series of incursions by Chinese troops, Singh's visit will also be an opportunity to raise India's concerns with the top Chinese leadership.

This would be Singh's third meeting with President Xi. Both leaders had last met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Russia.

It is the PM's first visit to China after the change of leadership in that country.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, October 06, 2013, 15:39


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