M A I N   N E W S

President Putin begins three-day visit today
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2
Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to arrive here early tomorrow morning for the fifth annual Indo-Russian Summit during which a host of agreements and Memoranda of Understanding are expected to be signed, though differences persist between the two countries on Russian entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The problem on the WTO front lies in various reciprocal trade concessions that an aspirant member has to go through with each WTO member separately.

India, a WTO member, has reservations and concerns on how the various reciprocal trade concessions are to be worked out — like the entry of Indian textiles and tea into Russian markets. The Indian concerns on these issues still remain to be worked out.

The agreements to be signed during the visit include an umbrella agreement on peaceful use of outer space and a visa exemption regime for diplomats and officials (to be extended later to businessmen and tourists), a senior official said.

Besides, three MoUs on banking relations between the two countries will also be signed under which eight Russian banks will start having direct linkages with their specific Indian counterparts.

Besides, a “twinning agreement” vis-a-vis Mumbai and St Petersburg (the hometown of Mr Putin) will also be signed, which will bring the two major cities together.

During his three-day official visit, Mr Putin will meet the entire top Indian political leadership, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani.

Significantly, Sonia Gandhi will attend a lunch tomorrow being hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Hyderabad House in the honour of Mr Putin.

She will also attend Mr Putin’s Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture at Vigyan Bhavan in the evening.

Political sources said Ms Gandhi had spent a lot of time on preparation of her talks with Mr Putin, indicating that both she as well as the UPA government were prepared to go the extra mile.

Another important area of disagreement between the two countries is the IPR Clause with regard to the defence deals.

Russia has been insisting on the Intellectual Property Rights Clause (IPR) for quite some time, so much so that Moscow had sent a draft to New Delhi for consideration some two years ago. The draft is still pending.

Meanwhile, the Russian and Indian Defence Ministers today held talks here under the banner of “Joint Commission on Military and Technical Cooperation till 2010”.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said with the decision to step up investments in the BrahMos project, the Russian stake in the joint venture company would go up from 50 to 60 per cent.

It is proposed to produce 360-370 missiles per year and also market it together in third world countries.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |