India to push for early deals in N-energy, banking with Russia

India is expected to push for early closure of agreements on nuclear energy, fertilisers, banking and textiles sectors at the inter-governmental commission meeting with Russia here tomorrow.

Early agreements on these issues could pave way for key announcements in December when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would travel to Moscow for his annual meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will co-chair the inter-session meeting of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC) with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

Khurshid is also expected to push for a stake for India in the Sakhalin-III oilfields and also make a case for ONGC Videsh Limited for exploring and developing oilfields in Siberia.

Last month, the Cabinet Committee on Security had granted financial clearance for Kudankulam 3&4 at a cost of Rs 20 crore per MW. The Kudankulam 3&4 nuclear power units are of 1,000 MW each and the project cost is estimated at Rs 40,000 crore.

However, officials said that Russia feels that the offer was too less considering the liability costs under Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Law.

"Kudankulam 1&2 has been placed in a certain framework based on a timeline during which we have moved forward and will that remain the same for 3&4 or you have to organise it in a different format. Those are the discussions taking place," Khurshid said.

"But, I dont think in those discussions there is anything there which can be an impediment but there are certain things that you need to converge on so that finally you come to a mutually accepted format," he said.

Another key issue on agenda is the ambitious Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project which India is developing in collaboration with Japan. India has asked Russia to look up for investments in the industrial zones coming up along the corridor.
India is also looking for enhancing textiles exports to Russia and the issue is likely to figure in the talks between Khurshid and Rogozin.

"My visit is focussed entirely on the work we have to do in between the annual summits between the heads of government. Progress has to be examined, many technical issues need to be flagged," Khurshid said.

Rogozin was first appointed the Chair of this process from the Russian side last year when he visited India for an inter-sessional meeting.

Officials said since this was an inter-sessional meeting there would not be any outcomes in terms of documentation or Memoranda of Understanding for these meetings.

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