SMK to visit Russia today; Gorshkov tops agenda

 
Krishna and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Sobyanin will co-chair a meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission (IRIGC) on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation on Wednesday.

His maiden visit to Moscow as external affairs minister comes close on the heels of Defence Minister A K Antony’s tour of the country. Besides meeting his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Krishna will call on President Dmitry Medvedev.

Sources said the civil nuclear cooperation would also be on the agenda during Krishna’s visit.  “The Gorshkov deal is always on the agenda between India and Russia, because it is very important for our defence,” said an official of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

The refit of Admiral Gorshkov is one of the several multi-billion dollar military projects that New Delhi has entered into with Moscow. But the deal is mired in controversy due to the escalation of cost. The issue was also raised when Antony met his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov in Moscow last week. “We have got assurances from the highest levels of Russian leadership that Moscow would do the needful to ensure that our interests in the Admiral Gorshkov deal would be protected, and the delivery of the aircraft carrier would not be delayed,” said the MEA official.

The 15th IRIGC meet will review the implementation of the recommendations of the bilateral working groups for cooperation in trade and economy, energy, metallurgy and mining, science and technology, IT and communication and culture. Krishna’s visit is expected to give a boost to bilateral trade and investment. India and Russia have set a bilateral trade target of $10 billion by 2010 and $ 20 billion by 2020. He will also visit Uzbekistan during his three-day tour.

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