Russian president to seal N-deal with India
Apart from backing the anti-terror fight after the Mumbai attacks, a cornerstone of his visit to New Delhi will be the signing of a new accord for Russia to build four new nuclear reactors to generate energy in southern India.india Updated: Dec 04, 2008 14:05 IST
President Dmitry Medvedev was Thursday to arrive in New Delhi for a visit expected to see Russia agree to build India new nuclear reactors and give its backing to the anti-terror fight after the Mumbai attacks.
A cornerstone of his visit to New Delhi, whose strong ties with Moscow date back to the Soviet Union, is to be the signing of a new accord for Russia to build four new nuclear reactors to generate energy in southern India.
Defence ties will also be discussed in the two-day visit, with Moscow keen to retain its position as India's main supplier of weaponry amid increasing competition from the United States and Israel.
But the trip is shadowed by the Mumbai attacks a week earlier in which suspected Islamic militants left nearly 200 people dead in coordinated strikes on India's financial capital.
The attacks brought back unwelcome memories for Russia of deadly sieges carried out by militants from the southern region of Chechnya.
The visit is taking place under the tightest security. The credentials of staff at the Sheraton Hotel where Medvedev is staying have been checked and Russian secret agents are already in the city, the Hindustan Times reported.
The Russian leader, whose visit was planned well before the attacks, is set to be the first foreign head of state to visit the country after the bloodshed in Mumbai. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited on Wednesday.
Medvedev was due to arrive in India at around 7:30 pm (1400 GMT) Thursday and he is due to meet figures including President Pratibha Patel, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the head of the ruling Congress party Sonia Ghandi.
"We are planning on Friday to sign a bilateral agreement foreseeing the construction of four new reactors at Kudankulam and also cooperation in new areas," said Russia's nuclear agency chief Sergei Kiriyenko, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.
Moscow is already building two 1,000-megawatt light water nuclear reactors at Kudankulam and can now construct more after a group of nuclear supplier states in September lifted a ban on India shopping for nuclear technology.
Russia is the only foreign country working in India to expand the country's nuclear energy programme.
The continued strength of ties between Moscow and New Delhi contrasts with the sometimes prickly relationship between Russia and India's longtime foe Pakistan.
Adding another common element, Medvedev is a keen exponent of the Indian art of yoga and has boasted of his ability to stand on his head.
Trade is also strengthening, with the two countries increasing trade volumes by a third each year and on course to reach a 2010 target of trade worth 10 billion dollars, according to the Kremlin.
But Russia, which accounts for some 70 percent of Indian military hardware, has been concerned that its slice of the defence market risks becoming leaner amid disputes over costs and late deliveries.
The sale by Russia to India of a refurbished Soviet-era aircraft carrier, the 44,570-tonne Admiral Gorshkov, which has been marred by a price dispute, is set to be discussed on the visit.
First Published: Dec 04, 2008 13:56 IST