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'Indo-Russia ties exemplary in many ways'

August 12, 2011 15:58 IST

Describing Indo-Russian ties as "deep-rooted and exemplary", India's top diplomat in Moscow has said the bilateral cooperation in fields of civilian nuclear energy and defence is the key pillar of the strategic partnership between the two countries.

"Our partnership is time-tested, deep-rooted and exemplary in many ways. It extends beyond close and regular political interaction at the Summit and other levels, to long-term cooperation in such key areas as space, defence, nuclear energy and science and technology," Indian Ambassador Ajai Malhotra told Russia's official Information Telegraph Agency of Russia-Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union news agency ahead of the Independence Day.

Noting that the two reactors at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant are nearing completion, he said negotiations for the construction of two more are underway as per an agreement signed in March 2010 during Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's New Delhi visit, which set the road map for future cooperation.

"Our impressive cooperation in the nuclear energy field represents an important component of the long-term energy security partnership we envisage with Russia, based on the twin pillars of our existing cooperation in nuclear energy and expanded cooperation in the hydrocarbon energy field," Malhotra said.

He stressed that Indo-Russia military-technical cooperation is progressing well and is "one of the important pillars" of bilateral special and privileged strategic partnership.

"We will continue to promote cooperation in these sectors as a matter of high importance. We will exert effort to see that trade and investment in priority sectors, such as oil and gas, pharmaceuticals and information technology, reflect the size of our economies and our complementarities in those sectors."

Malhotra said that Russia remains India's largest partner in military-technical cooperation and vice-versa, and there are good prospects for further cooperation in a long-term perspective.

"Projects underway relate to aircraft, helicopters, infantry combat vehicles, jet engines, warships, missiles, rockets, tanks, ammunition and other specialised equipment. We have also recently put in place new mechanisms such as long-term contracts for supply of spares, with in-built price escalation clauses," he said.

Responding to a question about the problem of Russian vendors meeting the deadlines in the delivery of spares and equipment, Malhotra said it should be seen in the context of rather extensive and varied bilateral military-technical cooperation.

"Such delays are of significance to our security calculus and are duly raised by us at appropriate institutional levels in Russia. Concerns over delivery dates are shared, discussed, and solutions found. This aspect is being jointly, thoroughly, and continuously monitored," he said.

"We appreciate the special care being devoted to this important issue by the Russian leadership."

He said the defence cooperation is being regularly addressed via a large number of dedicated Working Groups, with residual concerns being reviewed by senior official level mechanisms, such as the High Level Monitoring Committee co-chaired by Indian Defence Secretary, which last time met in Moscow in June.

Malhotra noted that high level service-to-service interaction also provides inputs to the Inter-Governmental Commission co-chaired by the two defence ministers, which meets annually to take an overview of bilateral defence ties.

Observing that bilateral military-technical relationship has transformed over the years from a simple buyer-seller relationship into one involving joint research, development and production of sophisticated defence systems, Malhotra said the BrahMos cruise missile is a fine example of this growing trend.

"Besides BrahMos, the manufacture of T-90 tanks and SU-30MKI fighter aircraft are also being undertaken in India. We are also cooperating in the joint development of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft and a Multi-role Transport Aircraft. These joint design and development projects for new weapon systems and platforms are also evidence of a dynamic defence relationship," Malhotra said.

To further cement strategic partnership between the two countries, the cooperation would also be enhanced in such fields as biotechnology, nanotechnology, medical sciences, agro-chemicals, and meteorology, he said.

"We will support initiatives that enhance people-to-people exchanges, such as between our entrepreneurs, journalists, youth, academics, parliamentarians, artistes and others. We will also encourage greater exposure to each other's latest achievements, so as to see that we are not bound by out-dated mindsets and stereotypes," Malhotra said.

He said that the recent easing of Indian visas to the Russian tourists and businessmen will facilitate this.

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