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Russia denied visa to Anil Ambani, Anand Mahindra
September 17, 2005 21:20 IST
At a time when India and Russia are seeking to step up business ties, industry honchos Anil Ambani and Anand Mahindra were denied visa by Moscow recently.
Terming visa problem as a major obstacle in improving bilateral business relations, India's Ambassador to Russia, Kanwal Sibal today said: "Some young entrepreneurs from India led by Anil Ambani and Anand Mahindra wanted to have a business meeting in St Petersburg. But their application was rejected by the Russian embassy.
"Finally I had to send a letter of recommendation taking their responsibility during the stay in Russia. But at the same time, I also conveyed to the Russian authorities that these are people who can't go penniless and can take care of me instead."
Referring to the stringent visa norms, he said India was holding talks with the Russian Foreign Office to have a business visa facilitation agreement with that country.
Sibal, however, said that he was not very hopeful of a quick solution to the problem.
"When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Russia later this year for the annual summit, he may take up the issue with President Vladimir Putin," he added.
Sibal said Infosys was very keen to enter Russia, but unless the visa problem was taken care of, people would be apprehensive about making investments as they would have to send people on regular intervals for management or training.
Pointing out that Indian industry was keen to invest in the country, he said Mahindra & Mahindra will be launching their flagship vehicle 'Scorpio' in Russia next month.
Speaking at a Conclave on India-Russia Business Partnerships, Sibal said there was a lot of scope for cooperation in energy sector as Russia was well placed with vast reserves, while India had the funds to invest in oil and gas sector.
"In the next six months if one or two large projects in oil and gas sector materialises, it will change radically Indo-Russia business ties," he said.
India is holding talks with Russia for forging ties in the sector in its quest for energy security and it will be high on agenda when Singh meets Putin in November-December this year.
Sibal also said that India was willing to set aside 75-100 million USD to explore opportunities in the frontier areas of IT, biotechnology and nano-technology.
Regarding the problems faced by Russian businessmen as the bank guarantees of many regional Russian banks were not accepted in India, he said Reserve Bank of India had recognised about 12 banks in that country with whom Indian banks could do business.
Speaking on the occasion M S Rao, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said that the time has come to "put things into action and not just talk."
He was of the opinion that the focus of talks should change from government-to-government level to business-to-business dialogues in the private sector.
Indian government has various schemes under which businessmen can get financial support to undertake travel to Russia, set up warehouses, conduct product study in their
market, and also set up showrooms, he added.
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