Moscow: In a bid to overcome legal hitches that have held up a deal on two new plants at the Kudankulam nuclear power complex over liability provisions, India and Russia on Sunday pledged to "resolve all outstanding issues" related to the project even as they decided to elevate their strategic ties to new levels in defence and other areas.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who met President Vladimir Putin at Kremlin Palace for restricted and delegation-level talks that went beyond schedule by over 90 minutes, told a joint news interaction that the extraordinary history of bilateral relations gave him confidence that the growing convergence of interests and expanding opportunities would take the strategic partnership to "even greater heights".
This was Singh`s fifth annual summit with Putin and the 14th summit between the two countries.
Against the backdrop of hurdles that have come in the way of finalising a deal for two new reactors in Kudankulam, the two leaders pledged to reach an agreement on setting up Units 3 and 4. Russia is opposing the application of liability clauses under a new Indian law.
A joint statement issued at the end of the talks said the two sides agreed to "expeditiously finalise" the General Framework Agreement and the techno-commercial offer for Units 3 and 4 of Kudankulam.
"I conveyed to President Putin our commitment to fully implement the road map on civil nuclear cooperation that was? signed during Putin`s visit to India in 2010," he said.
"We have directed our officials to resolve all outstanding issues at the earliest."
At the news interaction, Putin expressed happiness at the
Russian-made Unit 1 of Kudankulam attaining criticality in July and said it would join the power grid "in the next few hours".
Singh said Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant is an important symbol of the bilateral strategic partnership and they looked forward to commercial power production from Unit 1 shortly and the completion of work on Unit 2 next year.
Both leaders and the joint statement touched on various areas of cooperation between the two sides, including defence, energy, high-technology trade, investment, space, science, education, culture and tourism.
They noted that despite the fragile global economic situation, bilateral trade grew by 25 per cent last year to touch USD 11 billion.
Putin noted the high level of defence cooperation, especially the joint development and production of the fifth generation fighter aircraft and the multi-role transport aircraft.
They also referred to India`s growing interest in opportunities in gas and oil exploration in Russia.
The two countries noted that their stand on international issues like Afghanistan, Syria and Iran were "very close" as India lauded Russia`s role in seeking a peaceful resolution of the nuclear crisis with Iran and the Syrian problem.