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Natwar in Moscow on four-day visit

October 26, 2005 00:57 IST

In the run-up to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's summit meeting in Moscow, External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh arrived in Moscow Tuesday on a four-day visit to chart out new pathways for cooperation in nuclear energy, trade, economic, science and technology and other key areas.

Singh will meet President Vladimir Putin and hold wide-ranging talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on the entire gamut of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Emphasising that India and Russia shared "time-tested" friendship which has become a strategic partnership, he said the close ties have been further cemented by people-to-people contacts and a myriad of cultural exchanges.

Coinciding with the visit, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said Russia highly values "intensive and trustful" political dialogue with India, reflecting mutual readiness of the two countries to strengthen and expand their strategic partnership.

At the Moscow international airport where he arrived after a brief stopover in Frankfurt, Singh was received by the Director of the Second Asia Department of Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Massarsky, Indian ambassador to Russia Kanwal Sibal, Russian Ambassador in New Delhi Vyacheslav Trubnikov and other senior government officials.

Expressing delight at his new visit in Moscow, Singh said last time he had accompanied United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, while on this occasion he will co-chair the 11th session of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission Wednesday along with Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov to set the economic agenda of the Indo-Russian summit on December 5-6 when Dr Singh will chalk out with Putin the future direction of bilateral ties.

Singh is accompanied by officials of the Departments of Commerce, Economic Affairs, Science and Technology, Ministries of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Steel, Coal and Indian banks, who will take part in the IRIGC session to review the cooperation programmes.

In Moscow, Singh will also represent India at the Council of Heads of Governments meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

"India feels that there can be meaningful cooperation amongst SCO countries in the areas of trade, investment, development of financial institutions, banking linkages, energy and transport," Singh said on his arrival in Moscow.

Singh is scheduled to hold wide-ranging discussions with Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on India's energy security, including continuation of Moscow's support for the revision of Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines to open access to civilian nuclear technology in the wake of breakthrough in India's talks with the US.

Besides looking for the ways to boost trade in traditional commodities, the two sides would focus on developing their economic interaction in knowledge-based high technologies, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said.

He named Indian investments in Sakhalin-1 offshore oil and gas field and construction of Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu with Russian assistance as the "convincing examples" of successful development of Indo-Russian economic interaction in the post-soviet era.

By Vinay Shukla in Moscow
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