India and Russia are likely to sign a landmark framework agreement on nuclear cooperation during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s three-day visit to Moscow starting Sunday.
In a statement ahead of his departure, Singh said the summit was the principal mechanism for the advancement of India’s strategic partnership with Russia.
“Over the years, our multifaceted cooperation with Russia has acquired greater depth and maturity through joint efforts. We seek to strengthen these ties further,” he said.
Addressing a conference in the capital on the eve of the PM’s visit, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said: “India’s time-tested relationship with Russia is rock solid and on an upward trajectory.”
Though Rao didn’t give details on the agreement except to say “it was part of ongoing cooperation” between the countries on peaceful use of nuclear energy, sources said the pact would safeguard Russian supplies of nuclear technology and fuel for ongoing projects from disruptions “due to any reason”.
Singh and Russian President Dimitry Medvedev will also discuss the problem of Pakistan-based terrorist groups operating in India and Afghanistan.
PTI quoted Singh as saying ahead of his visit: “We face in the sub-continent the onset of terrorism aided, inspired and instigated by our neighbour.”
Asked about the dispute between the two countries on the price of modernizing INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov), Rao said: “The matter is under active discussion in an atmosphere of cooperation.” Russia has demanded an additional $1.2 billion (Rs 5,760 crore) over the 2004 quote of $1.5 billion (Rs 7,200 crore).
Singh’s visit will also focus on enhancing cooperation in the oil and gas sector. “We will also explore further participation in the Russian hydrocarbon sector, including in Sakhalin 3,” Rao said. ONGC Videsh, the overseas investment arm of ONGC already has a stake in the Sakhalin 2 oil field in the Pacific Ocean, off the east coast of Russia.
Also on the PM’s agenda are talks on joint development of a multi-role transport aircraft, a fifth generation fighter aircraft and an MoU on greater cultural exchanges.
Singh would also meet Prime Minister Vladimir Putin under whose Presidency the two countries had established the strategic partnership in 2000.
Medvedev will host a dinner for Singh in Barvikha, 40 km outside Moscow and the next evening, he will attend the closing of ‘The Year of India’ that is being held in Russia.