India, Russia sign nuclear, space pacts

India & Russia invigorated their time-tested partnership by signing a slew of pacts.

New Delhi: India and Russia Friday invigorated their time-tested partnership by signing a slew of pacts, including two nuclear accords, that are expected to take their civil nuclear cooperation to a new high.

They also signed an agreement in the area of civilian space exploration.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks for around two hours with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, who is on a 22-hour visit to India, to accelerate their cooperation across a range of areas spanning civil nuclear energy, space, high-technology to defence, hydrocarbons, trade and telecommunications. The two sides signed five agreements in the presence of two leaders.

Besides reviewing bilateral relations, the two sides also discussed a cluster of regional and global issues, including counter-terrorism, the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the upcoming Nuclear Summit in Washington and the international financial crisis.

They signed an umbrella nuclear agreement on peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Initialled during Manmohan Singh`s trip to Moscow in December last year, the umbrella nuclear accord promises to open more avenues of nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

The two sides also signed another pact on serial construction of Russian designed nuclear reactors.

"This is one of our major, far-reaching, promising areas of interaction," Putin said while video-conferencing with Indian businessman in Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi.

Cooperation with India in nuclear energy will include not only building reactors and supply of the fuel, but also waste disposal, he said.

Addressing concerns of safety, Putin said the new generation of nuclear reactors developed in Russia have been used in several sites in his country and are considered among the safest in the world.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) signed a agreement with Russian Space Agency for production of satellite navigation system.

The two strategic allies also sought to boost their economic cooperation by signing two pacts on import of fertilisers.

The two sides are now aiming to more than double their current $7.5 billion bilateral trade to $20 billion by 2015.

"There is political will on both sides, but we need support from the captains of industry," the Russian Prime Minister said.

"We should think about the future," he said, adding that commercial ties must expand into areas such as energy, banking and information technology.

"Cooperation in hi-tech is the priority for us," Putin said. "The Russian government is ready to directly support this activity, with the help of additional financial assistance, if need be."


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