Prez leaves for Russia, Tajikistan

Prez leaves for Russia, Tajikistan


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presents a bouquet to President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on the occassion of her departure on a visit to Russia and Tajikistan in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI

She will also travel to Tajikistan during her week-long two-nation tour.

Patil, who is leading a large delegation including Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, was seen off at the airport by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee besides other dignitaries.

During her four-day stay in Russia, she will hold talks with President Dmitry Medvedev on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will also meet her.

Ahead of her visit, Patil said India "is committed to develop relations of close and large-scale bilateral cooperation and partnership with Russia."

In an interview to Russian news agency Itar-Tass, she underlined that "despite the serious situation and changes that emerged over the past decades in the global geo-political situation, India and Russia remain close friends and partners, while our desire to consolidate our relations are constantly confirmed at top political level."

Describing Russia as a "reliable friend that passed the test of time", she hoped the bilateral ties will be further strengthened with her maiden visit to that country.
India has a "firm feeling of emotional attachment to Russia", she said.

India's partnership with Russia is based on mutual trust, friendship and all-round cooperation and the visit would further consolidate the "deep and abiding" friendship between the two countries, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said on the President's visit.

"Our wideranging cooperation on defence, nuclear energy and space formed the solid bedrock" of ties with Russia, Rao said adding both countries shared a common interest in pursuing peace and stability in the 21st century.

Several high level exchange of visits have taken place between the two countries and during the visit of Russian President's visit here last year, a number of important documents were signed.

Cooperation in the construction of additional nuclear power plant units at Kudankulam site as well as in the construction of Russian designed nuclear power plants at new sites in India was among the agreements initialled.

Defence relations between the two countries have a historical perspective and the cooperation has not been restricted to a buyer-seller relationship but extended to joint research and development, training and service to service contacts.

Energy sector is an important area in Indo-Russian bilateral relations. ONGC-Videsh Limited has acquired 20 per cent stake in the Sakhalin-I oil and gas project in the Russian Federation and has invested about 2.8 billion dollars in the project, one of the largest investments by India abroad.

The bilateral trade in 2007-08 was USD 3.41 billion, highly favourable to Russia.

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