M A I N   N E W S

7 pacts inked; India gets stake in Kazakh oil block
Ashok Tuteja writes from Astana

India and Kazakhstan on Saturday signed seven key accords, including one on cooperation in the civil nuclear energy field and another for joint exploration in the oil and gas sector, and condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and those who supported the menace.

The other five accords were: joint action plan for further strengthening strategic partnership (road map), MoU between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) and the Kazakhstan Computer Response Team, treaty on mutual legal assistance in civil matters, agreement for cooperation between the agriculture ministries of the two countries and an agreement between their health ministries.

Kazakhstan rolled out the red carpet for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is the first top world leader to visit the Central Asian nation following the reelection of President Nursultan Nazarbayev for a fourth consecutive term. With his victory coming close on the heels of widespread pro-democracy protests in West Asia and North Africa, the Kazakh leader left no stone unturned to demonstrate his democratic credentials by inviting the envoys of nearly 50 countries to the Akorda Presidential Palace for the ceremony to accord welcome to Manmohan Singh, leader of the largest democracy in the world. However, from India’s point of view, it is obviously the nuclear accord that is being considered the singular achievement of Manmohan Singh’s two-day visit to Kazakhstan. The agreement comes a month after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which has raised concerns in India too about the safety of nuclear facilities. But New Delhi believes there is no alternative to nuclear energy to meet the country’s growing energy needs.

Under the Indo-Kazakh nuke accord, Kazakhstan would supply 2100 tonne of uranium to India by 2014. “India proposes to increase its civil nuclear power five times in the coming years. We are ready to provide all assistance to India in this field,” the Kazakh President said at a joint press with Prime Minister Singh after wide-ranging talks between the two leaders. The umbrella nuclear accord envisages a legal framework for mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, including fuel supply, nuclear medicine, use of radiation technologies for healthcare, reactor safety mechanisms, exchange of scientific and research information, exploration and joint mining of uranium, design, construction and operation of nuclear power plants.

India and Kazakhstan had signed an MoU in the field of civil nuclear cooperation in January 200 but that was between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and the Kazakh nuclear company, KazAtomProm. The one signed today is an inter-governmental agreement.

The agreement on cooperation in the oil and gas sector signed between the ONGC Videsh Limited and Kazakh national company Kazmunaigas gives effect to the transfer of participating interest of 25 per cent in the Satpayev Block from the Kazakh firm to the Indian company. The Satpayev exploration block, located in the Kazakh sector of the Caspian Sea, covers an area of 1482 sq km and is at a water depth of 6-8 meters. It is situated in a highly prospective region of the North Caspian sea and is in close proximity to major discoveries. The block contains two prospective structures, namely Satpayev and Satpayev Vostochni (East) with 256 million metric tonne in estimated hydrocarbon resources.

In his statement to the media, Manmohan Singh said there was “complete meeting of minds” between India and Kazakhstan on all vital issues on bilateral and global importance. Later, the PM also met Kazakhstan Prime Minister K Massimov. In a joint statement, the two countries noted with satisfaction the establishment of cooperation between ISRO and the National Space Agency of Kazakhstan.





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