India and Kazakhstan are poised to consolidate on their strategic partnership as they are expected to sign an inter-governmental framework agreement on civil nuclear cooperation and some other pacts when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh undertakes a visit there on Friday.
Singh, who will travel to Astana from here as part of his two-nation tour, will also discuss with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev ways to enhance two-way trade and forging closer physical connectivity.
The inter-governmental agreement on cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy will be among at least six pacts that the two countries are expected to sign during Singh's two-day visit as part of an endeavour to consolidate on the strategic partnership put in place in 2009.
India and Kazakhstan already have civil nuclear cooperation since January 2009 when Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Kazakh nuclear company KazAtomProm signed an MoU during the visit of Nazarbaev to Delhi.
Under the contract, KazAtomProm supplies uranium which is used by Indian reactors.
The inter-governmental agreement will broad-base the cooperation and is expected to cover aspects like research, technology transfer and exploration of uranium in Kazakhstan, which is known to have one of the richest reserves of the nuclear fuel that India needs in increasing quantity, sources said.
Construction of small and medium capacity nuclear plants could also form part of the agreement for which negotiations have been going on for nearly two years.
Ever since the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG) ended India's 34-year-old isolation in 2008 by giving a one-time waiver to have cooperation in civil nuclear field, it has signed such civil nuclear agreements with a number of countries including the US, France, Russia, Canada, Argentina and Mongolia.
However, while discussing the future cooperation in the nuclear field, Singh and Nazarbaev are expected to keep in mind the recent radiation scare in Japan after tsunami struck there and learn lessons from it.
During the visit, a pact will also be signed between state-run ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) and Kazakhstan's national oil firm KazMunaiGaz JSC under which the Indian company will acquire 25 per cent stake in the Satpayev block in the Caspian Sea.
The pact will provide for exploration and production of oil from the Satpayev block which is spread over 1,582 sq km and is believed to have 1.75 billion barrels of reserves. OVL is expected to invest to the tune of USD 400 million in the block.
An agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty is also expected to be signed between the two sides.
Singh and Nazarbaev are also expected to discuss ways to enhance bilateral trade and a target could be fixed. Bilateral trade in 2010 was around USD 313.8 million, after an increase of around 23.8% over USD 253.4 million in 2009.
The two countries are also likely to firm up some exchange mechanism in the field of cinema as part of ways to increase cultural ties.