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Dr Singh leaves for Moscow
December 04, 2005 15:40 IST
Last Updated: December 04, 2005 15:42 IST
Embarking on a three-day visit to Moscow, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said India and Russia hoped to build a long-term partnership in energy security and he would explore with President Vladimir Putin ways to enhance trade and investments.
In a statement before his departure, Dr Singh, who will be meeting Putin for the fourth time this year, said he looked forward to reviewing all key aspects of bilateral ties, during wide-ranging talks with the Russian President. Dr Singh was seen off at his Race Course Road residence by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and other ministerial colleagues. Describing the Indo-Russian relationship as an important factor in the creation of a secure and stable multipolar world, Dr Singh said, "My mission is to work with our Russian friends to reinforce the already strong framework of this important relationship." Dr Singh said his visit to Moscow for the annual summit-level interaction with President Putin was a 'signifier of the importance we attach to India's relations with Russia'. He added that he was honoured his visit was taking place exactly 50 years after the country's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru paid his landmark visit to the then USSR, setting the two nations on the path to an enduring strategic partnership. "This partnership is a cornerstone of India's foreign policy and the declared priority for both our countries," he said. Marked by warmth, trust and mutual confidence, the bilateral relationship is underpinned by a mutuality of interests across the broadest spectrum of cooperation and promoted the shared goal of peace and prosperity for all, he said. "Our defence partnership - by far the most prominent facet of our interaction - continues to grow at a satisfactory pace. We hope to build a similar, long-term partnership in the field of energy security, covering a range of energy sources," he said. The two sides will sign four agreements, including the military Intellectual Property Right pact and another to amend the Indo-Russian Military-Technical Programme till 2010 to enhance and expand strategic partnership relations. The space agencies of the two countries will also sign a Technology Safeguard Agreement to operationalise the 2004 pact on the joint use of space-based Global Navigational Satellite System to provide for joint development of new generation navigational satellites and their launch from India, aided by Indian launch vehicles. India's Indian Space Research Organisation and the Russian space agency, Roskosmos, will ink an agreement on cooperation in solar physics and geophysical research. Ahead of his visit, Dr Singh in an interview to a Russian daily observed that 'the Indian-Russian dialogue in various spheres has reached an unprecedented level of intensity'. On the energy cooperation front, India is considering participating in Sakhalin-III oil and gas project and bidding for exploration blocks in the Siberia region, besides being keenly interested in equity partnership with Russian oil majors like Gazprom. India has already acquired a major stake in the Sakhalin-I oil and gas project by investing $ 2.7 billion. Moscow is interested in participating in the construction of transnational gas pipelines between Iran-Pakistan-India as also Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan and India. The two countries have grown from a vendor-client relationship in defence cooperation to one aimed at joint research and development and marketing of products, as is being seen in the case of the jointly-produced Brahmos cruise missile. A Joint Study Group has been set up to look at increasing trade volumes and establishing new partnerships.Both Indian and Russian banks have shown interest in setting up branches in the two countries. India has urged Russia to liberalise the visa regime, especially for business and tourism purposes, and this is expected to be taken up during the discussions. Dr Singh is accompanied by National Security Adviser N K Narayanan, Principal Secretary T K A Nair, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar. Given the broad-ranging agenda of bilateral issues, the two sides have agreed to prepare a 'check-list' during the visit to monitor the progress made in the implementation of various decisions. The Indo-Pak peace process and recent developments in this regard are also likely to be discussed between Putin and Singh in the context of talks on regional and global issues. The summit-level discussions will include defence cooperation in joint development of new-generation platforms, including the fifth generation fighter, multi-role transport aircraft and a deal on new stealth frigates. The two leaders will also hold parleys on key global issues, including United Nations reforms and UN Security Council expansion, Iraq, Iran nuclear issue, fight against terrorism and Central Asia including the narco-threat and regrouping of Taliban in Afghanistan. Furthermore, Dr Singh will be conferred with an honorary professor degree by the Moscow State University. Complete coverage: PM in Russia
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