SM Krishna heads to Russia, Uzbekistan
New Delhi: External Affairs Minister SM Krishna heads to Russia on Tuesday on a three-day visit that will see the two sides take steps to boost economic ties and try to iron out differences over issues like the pricing of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov.
He will proceed to the gas-rich Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan from there.
This will be Krishna`s first visit to Russia since becoming foreign minister nearly five months ago.
Issues relating to the delivery of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, which India is buying from Russia amid a controversy over its repeated cost escalation, and civil nuclear cooperation will be discussed during the visit, an official source said.
The visit is expected to bolster bilateral trade and investment which have remained much below potential despite robust relations between the two countries in other areas. India and Russia have set a bilateral trade target of USD 10 billion by 2010. It is currently estimated to be around USD 8 billion.
Krishna will co-chair the 15th joint commission meeting with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Sobyanin in Moscow on Wednesday that will discuss an entire spectrum of the time-tested India-Russia friendship.
Called the Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC), it involves meetings of six joint working groups dealing with trade and economy; energy; metallurgy and mining; science and technology; information and communication technology; and culture and tourism.
Krishna will call on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and also meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
The talks will set the stage for the visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the annual summit in Moscow in December.
Officials accompanying Krishna to Russia are hopeful that the visit will further energise relations between the two countries.
During the visit of Defence Minister AK Antony to Moscow last week, the two countries agreed on two military pacts, including a 10-year deal on weapons, aircraft and maintenance contracts which is estimated to be over USD 5 billion.
Krishna will be in the Uzbek capital Tashkent Friday. Besides meeting his Uzbek counterpart, he will call on President Islam Karimov.
The energy-rich Central Asia has moved up India`s foreign policy agenda with frequent high-level visits from the Indian side to the region in the past few months. President Praibha Patil visited Tajikistan last month. Krishna visited Turkmenistan over a month ago.
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