India set to ink N-deal with Kazakhstan

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, who is on a three-day visit to Kazakhstan, held discussions on a deal for civilian nuclear cooperation with his counterpart Kanat B Saudavayeb.

"I am pleased to say that India and Kazakhstan have a strong congruence of views on major regional and international issues," External Affairs Minster S M Krishna said at a joint press interaction along with Saudabayev.

Krishna, who arrived here yesterday, said very good progress has been achieved during discussions to deepen cooperation in all sectors like hydrocarbons, oil and civilian nuclear energy.

The Indian leader also met Prime Minister Karim K Massimov and President Nursultan Abishyevich Nazarbayev.

There are technical discussions taking place between both the sides on a civilian nuclear cooperation and they are close to completion.

"We are close to finding a final umbrella agreement on the civilian nuclear cooperation. It is a win-win situation for both the countries," Lata Reddy, Secretary East, Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters after the meetings.

As part of the deepening cooperation, India will look for supply of natural uranium, investments by Indian companies in mining and construction and supply of small nuclear reactors with Indian technology.

India said its relationship with Kazakhstan was based on a strong congruence of views on major international and regional issues, including terrorism, but accepted that the level of bilateral trade is much below potential.

"I am pleased to say that India and Kazakhstan have a strong congruence of views on major regional and international issues. Both our countries are strongly opposed to terrorism," Krishna said.

Regarding cooperation in the oil sector, Reddy said the government was happy with the progress of discussions on India's participation in the Satpayev oil block.
India has already signed an umbrella agreement for this purpose during President Nazarbayev's visit to New Delhi in January 2009.

"We have been assured of an internal agreement between the Kazakhstan oil ministry and the Indian Petroleum ministry after which and agreement would be signed between ONGC Videsh and the Kazakh oil company," the official said.

Krishna thanked Kazakhstan for steadfast support to India in its fight against terrorism, specially after the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

Discussions in several other promising areas like thermal power, plants, transportation and banking are in an advanced stage, he said.

Krishna, however, said the level of bilateral trade between the two countries is much below potential.

"Strategic partners and growing economies like India and Kazakhstan should have bilateral trade of several billions of dollars. Business community from both countries should engage more actively each other," he underlined.

The Indian leader said the two sides have identified a roadmap in which specific sectors and projects have been identified for time-bound implementation.

Kazakh Foreign Minister Saudabayev said the country was interested in India's participation in the investment development programme.

Krishna said Indian companies were looking more seriously at Kazakhstan not only in terms of trading but also "taking up projects, collaborating with Kazakh companies to establish joint ventures in the area of power production and infrastructure".

India possesses technology as well as skilled human resources. India also has significant foreign exchange reserves which it could positively consider to invest in Kazakhstan.
This is the first bilateral visit by an Indian Foreign Minister to Kazakhstan.

India underlined the need for the export of Kazakh crude oil to India. "For crude oil, India will prove to be a good market and we have already expressed interest in a crude oil agreement," said Reddy.

India has been importing crude oil from Kazakhstan since 2008 but in very small quantities, Indian Ambassador to Kazakhstan Ashok Sanjanhar said. India is also interested in investing in gold mining.

Apart from this, India and Kazakhstan today signed a cultural exchange agreement.

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