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We will 'directly help' India build N-reactors: Putin
V S Chandrasekar in Moscow | January 23, 2007 13:07 IST
Last Updated: January 23, 2007 17:57 IST
Ahead of his visit to New Delhi, President Vladimir Putin has disclosed that Russia will help India 'directly' in the construction of atomic energy facilities, declaring 'we stand ready to support our Indian friends'.
Cooperation in the construction of new reactors, supply of nulcear fuel and transfer of reprocessing technology are on the anvil during the Russian leader's visit starting a day prior to the Republic Day at which he will be the chief guest.
"We intend to help India directly in the construction of atomic energy facilities for peaceful use. On top of that some of our companies are very much interested in acquiring large contracts for construction of new facilities," he said during the 90-minute interview in the ornate Kaminiy Hall at the historic Kremlin.
In a clear statement that Russia will pursue India's case in the Nuclear Suppliers Group for ensuring supplies of fuel, Putin said 'on various occasions we provided India with nuclear fuel. And we will help India settle her problems in international affairs with the proviso that Russia will abide by international obligations'.
The 55-year-old leader, however, politely refused to go into the detials of the agreements expected to be finalised othe nuclear issue and the on sale of multi-role transport aircraft and the fifth generation fighter jets to India.
"This is exactly what we are going to discuss there. Do you want me to tell the whole story? Then what should we do in the course of our negotiations," he said when asked whether more reactors are likely to be set up in the Russian-aided Kudankulam project in Tamil Nadu and whether agreements would cover supply of fuel and reprocessing technology.
"All of that is already processed. Anyhow, our Indian partners are fully aware that Russia has always been, is and will continue to be a reliable partner," he said.
During the visit, Russia is expected to finalise agreements on giving four more reactors in the Kudankulam project.
During the interview, Putin spoke warmly of the bilateral relationship, saying India and Russia 'have been time-tested partners and friends and we will continue to be just that in future'.
He also strongly supported India's bid for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council, criticised infiltration into India from across the border and spoke of his liking for Indian food.
"In Moscow and St Petersburg I have visited Indian restaurants. I will not not try to articulate the names of the Indian dishes because I am afraid I will make mistakes. But I like them and will try something exquisite for which your chefs are renowned," he said.
When asked whether agreeements for expansion of civilian nuclear cooperation was possible during the visit, he said, "My attitude is positive. We proceed from the assumption that each country has a right to non-discriminatory recourse to energy resources."
The Russian President said there was need to set up a net of international centres for enrichment of nuclear fuel under the auspices of international organisations, first being the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"Within that framework of those centres, it is our position that equal democratic and non-discriminatory recourse should be ensured and, secondly, this procedure should be certainly done for all countries with strict meeting of the requirements and demands imposed by the international organisations," he said.
Recalling the association between the two countries in the field of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, Putin, whose visit will also mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relationship between India and Russia, declared that his country was aware of the Indian leadership's plans to expand that sector.
"We stand ready to support our Indian friends, certainly with the proviso that Russia will fulfill the obligations and commitments made in the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. To do that we are negotiating both with the Indian partners and with the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group," he said.
Referring to his visit to mark the twin-celebrations, the Russian leader said, "I am going to participate not only in festivities but also to do my work. Naturally we will discuss all these problems, which is one of the main subjects to be tackled in our negotiations."
"I am confident that these talks and discussions will be very useful. At any rate they will promote further expansion of cooperation," he added.
Asked about the Indo-US nuclear deal, he said Russia does not not go by what other countries do - "We are proceeding from our bilateral relationship with India."
Asked whether Russia would take up India's case at the NSG, he said, "This has exactly been the agenda of experts of our countries who are involved in the NSG. We found the possibility of nuclear supplies being made earlier with regards to nuclear fuel deliveries. We will be constructing nuclear facilities in India. Our experts have been working constantly on the problems jointly with Indian partners in order to set out proper conditions which will be conducive to development of nuclear programmes of India. So there has been a very thought-out approach to addressing this issue."
Asked about cooperation in the defence area, whether there was possibility of sale of medium range transport aircraft and fifth generation fighter jets to India and their joint production, Putin said the matter would be discussed.
"We will discuss the question of supplying existing hardware. We will also talk about joint production of transport aircraft," he said.
As regards the fifth generation jet fighters, Putin said,"We can talk about joint efforts in its production. I would like to see that our talks on this specifically culminate in positive results. Our Indian partners have expressed interest in all these tracks concerning this project and I see no no ground why we should beck off on our part."
"The package is virtually agreed upon. When I referred to the strategic partnership, I certainly referred to our interaction in defence and technological fields. This is a very sensitive area that requires high level of mutual trust, which we have achieved," he said.
"The very specific feature of our interaction has to do with the fact that we have moved from the simple paradigm of seller-buyer relationship to jointly work on products. This fully refers to our successful BrahMos project which has to do with naval missile systems," he said.
Putin said of late the two countries have taken certain steps which would allow them to further develop cooperation - "This relates to setting up of facilities on India territory, which will be engaged in the repair work and servicing of equipment. Thus, we are talking of complete change in possible cooperation here -- of joint efforts in production, sales and repair."
Asked about the possibility of production of defence products in third countries, he said, "Naturally we are talking about such an end product, which will be in demand in the international markets of military hardware. But also these products could be used by our forces in India and Russia."
To a question on India and Russia engaged in counter-terrorism efforts and on Pakistan, the Russian President said the anti-terrorism aspect of the interaction was very pertinent and was confident something positive would come out it - "Unfortunately, it (terrorism) used to be, continues to be and will be with us."
Relations between India and Pakistan, he said, were a more complicated issue - "We have always come out against infiltration of militants to the territory of India, no matter where they might originate from, including Pakistan. We are proceeding from the need, which is to unconditionally abide by the law of the territorial integrity of states."
He hailed the agreements reached between India and Pakistan for normalising relations and said 'we will continue to make our contribution to a settlement there'.
On the issue of the reforms of the United Nations and India's bid for a seat in the Security Council, Putin said the UN was a unique instrument to deal with international issues and 'naturally the structure and principles applied within the organisation should meet the requirements of the day'.
"Therefore, naturally we would hail more full-fledged participation in the UNSC. Moreover, that would serve the interest of our country too. I am sure that having India being a permanent member of the Security Council, we would get another reliable ally in that forum, especially on the basis of our special support," he said.
Now, he said, the question was how the reforms would be carried out.
First and foremost, this should be done without breaching the existing principles and rules and the end result should be upgradation of the efficiency of the organisation than its downgrading.
The decision should be found along the lines of a broad consensus, he said, without hazarding a guess on when it could be accomplished.
"We should work as long as it takes to get that result. This is not not a situation where anyone would approach matters hastily. One needs to be patient. When it might happen nobody is in a position to tell you right now now. But if you work vigorously we will get the results," he said.
On problems regarding difficulty in getting long-term multiple Russian visas, Putin said the two countries were engaged in resolving them, but felt there was need for reciprocity in dealing with it.
It was discussed during his previous visit to India. The foreign ministers of the two countries were in touch working on facilitation and simplification of visa regimes, he said.
"And certainly the best way to tackle the problem will be to first simplify the visa regime of specific categories of individuals, including those of the business community. Naturally the international practice being such questions are to be addressed on reciprocity basis. And that should be made an approach in both the countries," he said.
When asked how fast it could be done, the President said there was mutual understanding between the two countries on the issue and he was sure they would achieve results.
On the upcoming visit, he recalled that in 2000, the two countries had signed a declaration on strategic partnership and said the principles laid down in that partnership have been fulfilled.
"I believe that not only the governments have been close but the people were moving closer. And this has been happening because we have many commonalities and a lot of common ground between the two countries," he said.
He said in a variety of problems both the countries were natural allies - "And I am confident that the upcoming visit will make it possible to take a few more steps forward in strengthening our strategic partnership."
He said the two countries had serious plans in hi-tech, space research, aviation, construction of ships and energy, including nuclear energy.