|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Dr Singh stresses importance of Indo-Russian ties
Sheela Bhatt on board Air India One | December 04, 2005 22:09 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on his way to Moscow for a three-day official visit, said, "Energy security is very high on my priorities. There have been some interesting developments between India and Russia. We are partners in Sakhalin-1. I will discuss with Russian President Putin how can we enlarge our co-operation in energy."
Dr Singh responded to a range of questions on his way to Moscow. He is accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan , Principal Secretary T K A Nair, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, Dr.Anil Kakodkar, Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy and Dr G Madhavan Nair, Secretary, Department of Space.
According to his media advisor, Sanjaya Baru, senior ministers are not accompanying him because of the ongoing session of Parliament.
Dr Singh, a man of few words, is not very forthcoming when talking about controversial issues but his press interactions remain interesting and important because, in a few words, he gives enough clues to read between the lines.
Therefore, it was no surprise that when asked about Oil and Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar's pet project of ' Pan-Asian gas grid' linking Russia, China, India and Iran, Dr Singh merely said, "I haven't studied it in detail."
In a significant statement, he expressed optimism about much talked about India-US nuclear agreement. When asked if in the event of an India-US nuclear deal reaching a block, is India looking at Russia to provide nuclear fuel, Dr Singh said, "We will cross the bridge when we reach it. Both the US and we have appointed a working group on both sides, we are chalking out the details and I think things will work out the way we wanted them to."
He added, "Co-operation with Russia in nuclear energy has already come to stay. The Koodankulam project is being built with Russian help. Co-operation in the field of nuclear energy is an ongoing one and there is scope to expand it in the years to come."
He said, "India is in favour of regional and multi-regional co-operation to tackle the problem of energy security. Therefore, in principle, India is in favour of all arrangements to promote co-operation to resolve the problem of scarce energy resources."
When asked about the role played by Indian businessmen in Indo-Russian co-operation, Dr Singh uncharacteristically said - "Indian businessmen are somewhat lazy. There may be some problems on the Russian side - visas and some other things. But Russia is one of the fastest growing economies and they are increasingly becoming market-oriented. It is the responsibility of Indian businessmen to explore, more effectively, the possibilities that exist doing business within Russia."
"Maybe our businessmen have not spent much time and resources in exploring the possibilities of Russian market," he added.