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Russia turns on TAPS

PRIME MINISTER Manmohan Singh on Friday was full of appreciation for "tried and tested friend" Russia's decision to supply the urgently needed fuel for the Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS). However, both Singh and visiting Russian PM Mikhail Fradkov chose to remain low-key on the deal ? there was no signing ceremony or elaborate mention of the issue ? that has incurred displeasure from the US, with which India is working on a civilian nuclear power agreement.

india Updated: Mar 18, 2006 01:40 IST

PRIME MINISTER Manmohan Singh on Friday was full of appreciation for "tried and tested friend" Russia's decision to supply the urgently needed fuel for the Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS). However, both Singh and visiting Russian PM Mikhail Fradkov chose to remain low-key on the deal — there was no signing ceremony or elaborate mention of the issue — that has incurred displeasure from the US, with which India is working on a civilian nuclear power agreement.

After more than two hours of talks with Fradkov, Singh welcomed Moscow's decision to supply 60 tonnes of uranium to the safeguarded Tarapur 1 and 2 nuclear reactors and said that India envisioned a "substantial increase" in the share of nuclear energy in its overall energy mix.

He expressed confidence that both countries would utilise opportunities to expand partnership in the civil nuclear energy sector, as part of the focus to give "new depth" to the bilateral strategic partnership.

Addressing a joint press conference with the visiting Russian Premier after their talks, Singh said, "We envision a substantial increase in the share of nuclear energy in India's overall energy mix". The Kudankulam atomic power project, being built by Russia in Tamil Nadu, was the "flagship" of Indo-Russian cooperation in the area of nuclear energy, Singh said.

India was "desperately short of hydrocarbon resources," Singh said, and was interested in discussing ways and means of involving Russia, which has a great deal of experience in constructing pipelines, in the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project. He was responding to a question on whether Russia could be coopted in the project.

Fradkov responded by saying that cooperation between India and Russia in energy was "evolving" and if there was a suggestion for Moscow's involvement in the pipeline project, it would be considered. The bulk of the discussions centred on expanding bilateral economic and commercial ties. India's participation in the Russian global navigation satellite project GLONASS also featured in the talks as did the issue of conversion of the Rupee-Ruble debt into more joint ventures in India.

First Published: Mar 18, 2006 01:40 IST