PM's Russia visit: N-issue tops agenda

PM's Russia visit: N-issue tops agenda

Singh leaves for Moscow tomorrow

PM's Russia visit: N-issue tops agenda

Nucleus of friendship

The agreement is expected to be finalised during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Moscow beginning on Sunday and will give New Delhi a safeguard against unforeseen disruptions of supply of fuel and technology from Russia to the ongoing projects in India.

Delhi and Moscow are also expected to ink an umbrella agreement for maintenance of the defence equipment Russia has supplied to India. Though Singh may take up the issue of delivery of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov during his talks with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, New Delhi does not expect any breakthrough in the impasse.

“Cooperation in the field of nuclear energy has been a very important pillar of our cooperation with Russia and we have identified new sites for collaboration with Russia for nuclear power projects,” Singh said in an interview to Russian media. The transcript of the interview has been released by the Ministry of External Affairs.

Noting that New Delhi and Moscow have a long history of close collaboration civil nuclear programmes, Singh said new opportunities were opening up in this sector and India would like to see greater Russian participation in its nuclear energy expansion programme.

Singh and Medvedev will hold the annual India-Russia summit on Monday. Diplomatic sources on Friday said Delhi and Moscow might finalise extension of the long-term defence cooperation programme beyond 2010. Singh and Medvedev will also discuss supply of four more Russian reactors for the nuclear power station at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu. During Medvedev’s visit to India in December last year, Delhi and Moscow had inked an agreement for supply of additional reactors.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and its Russian counterpart Atomstroyexport are currently collaborating for installation of two reactors in Koodankulam.

India and the then United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) had in 1988 inked the deal for collaboration for the nuclear power project in Koodankulam.  But the project was in limbo for almost a decade due to the break-up of the USSR as well as for objection from the US, which stated that Delhi-Moscow collaboration for the nuclear power plant went against the 1992 terms of the NSG.

Singh will attend the closing ceremony of the ‘Year of India in Russia’ in the new hall of Bolshoi Theatre on Monday.