India, Russia sign 10 pacts, progress on nuke front



New Delhi: Bolstering their multi-faceted ties, India and Russia on Monday signed 10 agreements in diverse areas and made "good progress" in resolving related to the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.

The pacts included those on promoting direct investment and Sukhoi aircraft.

In the context of the planned 2014 withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan, India and Russia also agreed to cooperate closely to combat extremism and drug-trafficking in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin held wide-ranging discussions, including on their economic and military ties, civil nuclear cooperation and the evolving Asian order.

"We deeply value Russia's steadfast friendship and support for India, unaffected by global developments. This relationship has a special place in the hearts and minds of Indians, and India remains committed to further deepening it," said Manmohan Singh after the talks.

In a veiled allusion to differences over the application of civil nuclear liability law to units III and IV of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu, Manmohan Singh said: "Negotiations for the construction of units 3 and 4 have made good progress."

The Prime Minister reiterated India's commitment to implementing the roadmap for cooperation in the nuclear energy sector signed during Putin's visit in 2010 as then prime minister of Russia.

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.

India has indicated it is ready for price escalation but has made it clear that it will not compromise its civil nuclear liability regime. The price negotiations for units III and IV are to be decided by a techno-commercial panel.

The two sides signed a slew of agreements, including defence, investment and cultural exchange, and foreign office consultations.

The defence ties, the bedrock of India-Russia relations, received a boost with a military-technical contracts for delivery of 71 Mi-17V-5 helicopters.

An order to procure 59 Mi-17 v5 MLH was agreed to in February 2010, which was subsequently increased to 71.

Another important pact for delivery of 42 technological kits for SU-30MKI aircraft licensed production was also signed.

The Protocol-II on licensed manufacturing of additional 42 SU-30MKI aircraft units was signed during annual summit in 2011.

With economic ties not keeping pace with strategic ties, the two sides signed a pact to promote direct investment, which envisages investments up to $2 billion in important bilateral projects or companies.

Pointing to untapped potential in areas such as pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, mining, steel, IT, civil aviation and telecommunications, Manmohan Singh and Putin asked inter-governmental and business level groups to recommend specific steps for enhancing bilateral trade and investment flows.

On the strategic plane, India's concerns over terrorism in the region found full support from Russia. Both resolved to combat extremist ideologies and drug trafficking in Afghanistan.

"We reviewed the developments in Afghanistan and agreed to work together against threats posed by extremist ideologies and drug trafficking," said Manmohan Singh.

IANS