M A I N   N E W S

India, Russia come closer
Manmohan Singh, Putin sign 10 agreements
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3
India and Russia today moved closer vowing to reconcile their positions on two contentious issues of Russian entry into the WTO and New Delhi according market economy status to Moscow.

Visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin after his summit-level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also signed a Joint Declaration emphasising the strategic partnership between them. The two countries also signed 10 agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen bilateral cooperation in banking, energy, space exploration, navigation and visa sectors.

On his part, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured Mr Putin that India would support Russia’s early entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and accord it the market economy status for the purpose of anti-dumping measures.

Besides, India and Russia also agreed to resolve within five months the intellectual property rights (IPR) with regard to defence supplies. The two countries had already agreed on the broad principles. The IPR would be respected with regard to all future defence equipment supplies, Dr Manmohan Singh said in his joint Press conference with Mr Putin. However, the existing agreements would run their course as agreed earlier.

Mr Putin said his country supported India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and wanted reorganisation of the UN.

In response to a question as to whether Russia favoured veto power for India in the Security Council, Mr Putin said: “...But speaking about the role of veto and other tools present in the UN, we should say that we believe it would be absolutely unacceptable to erode such tools of the UN,” Mr Putin said.

“Because, otherwise, the UN organisation will lose its weight and lose its role changing into some discussion club, some new addition of the League of Nations,” he said.

Mr Putin said “India is our strategic privileged partner...And speaking from the point of view of geographical representation...India is number one.”

“Our position is in preserving the United Nation’s universal character and serving as a tool for the resolution of all the problems of the modern world.”

“Beyond any doubt there should be no deterrents in the rights of the members of the Security Council. I think that would have been a destructive approach. We have to show flexibility taking into account the interests of all participants in the process. Thats how I have described to you our position,” Putin said.

The Joint declaration emphasizes the strategic partnership between Russia and India and stresses the need for a new international architecture based on a multi-polar world. A substantial and new emphasis on economic relations including the field of energy, IT and banking has been made.

Apart from the Joint Declaration, the following 10 agreements and MoUs were signed between India and Russia today:

1. An umbrella agreement on cooperation in the field of exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes which will replace the 1994 agreement between the two countries on cooperation in the field of exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.

2. Agreement on long-term cooperation in the field of joint development and use of Russian global navigational satellite system GLONASS for peaceful purposes. This agreement provides a framework for cooperation in areas relating to the development, operation and utilization of the global satellite navigation technologies (GLONASS).

3. Agreement on visa free travel between India and the Russian Federation for mutual travel by holders of diplomatic and official passports

4. Cooperation agreement on cooperation between the city of Mumbai, Republic of India and the City of St. Petersburg, Russian Federation which will facilitate cooperation between Mumbai and St Petersburg City in the field of trade, economy, industry, tourism, culture and education.

5. MoU between ECGC and Exim Bank and Vnesheconom Bank to establish a framework for cooperation between the business, trading companies in supporting and encouraging trade and investments between India and Russia.

6. MoU on cooperation between SBI and Sber Bank to facilitate direct banking relationship between the Indian and Russian companies.

7. MoU on Cooperation between Canara Bank and SBER Bank to facilitate commercial and bank-to-bank payments

8. Strategic Cooperation Agreement in the energy sector which covers cooperation in relation to exploration and delivery of natural gas in Russia and India and third countries.

9. MoU between GAIL and STROITRANSGAZ which envisages underground storage project in India, Russia and third countries.

10. MoU between GAIL and Skochinsky Mining Institute [Russia] which covers development of pilot project on lignite gasification in Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, transfer of technology and training.

The accords were signed after wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin here on bilateral issues as well as international developments. The two leaders had a restricted meeting, followed by delegation-level talks.

Dr Manmohan Singh said defence cooperation was an “important pillar” of the joint collaboration ventures between the two countries. The two countries had resolved the problem with regard to the supply of spares by Russia to India. The Prime Minister said the defence ties had now been transformed from merely being a buyer-seller relationship to joint research and development, joint ventures and joint production.

On market economy status to Russia, the Prime Minister said: “I have conveyed to President Putin that we stand by the commitment made by former Prime Minister Vajpayee in this regard... Russia will be treated as a market economy in any future anti-dumping investigation,” Dr Singh said. On Russia’s entry into the WTO, Dr Manmohan Singh said: “I have conveyed to President Putin that we will fully support Russia for its early entry.”

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