M A I N   N E W S

Arms, energy, trade high on Putinís agenda
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 24
When Russian President Vladimir Putin holds the seventh Indo-Russian summit with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Hyderabad House here tomorrow, the two sides are expected to take their ties to a new level.

The traditionally close and durable Indo-Russian ties had of late seemed to be getting marginalised in the face of Indiaís emergence as a major power on the international radar and New Delhiís rollicking relations with the US, China, Japan and the European Union. Now it is time for the two giant nations to carry out the correction and deepen their bilateral relations comprehensively.

It is felt one significant correction in the Indo-Russian relations was made more than six years ago when the two countries signed the Declaration of Strategic Partnership during Putinís visit to India in October 2000.

Diplomats from both sides are convinced that tomorrowís summit talks will yield a substantive and concrete outcome in such diverse fields as civilian nuclear energy, space, defence, science, advanced technology, energy, trade and culture.

An indication of how Putinís visit is going to be extra special came when India and Russia strike new arms deals - for licensed production of Russian aircraft engines in India and the joint development of a new transport plane. India has bought arms worth more than $ 30 billion in the past 40 years from the Soviet Union/Russia. China is another major buyer of Russian defence armaments, though Moscow has made it clear to New Delhi that it has throughout ensured in its defence deals with Beijing that the Chinese do not pass on Russian arms to third countries (read Pakistan).

From the Indian point of view, Russian cooperation in Indian civilian nuclear energy production would be very high on the agenda as it will enable New Delhi to increase the share of nuclear power in its energy requirements. The Russians are building two nuclear power plants in Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu). It is expected that Russia will sell several nuclear reactors to India, though such a development will have to wait till the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) allows the international community to have nuclear commerce with India.

Two other high points on the bilateral agenda would be intensification of energy and trade ties. India is very keen on Sakhalin -III project, though the same canít be said about Russia. 



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