Countries sign military, nuclear pacts, aim to double trade.
NEW DELHI – Close allies since the Soviet days, India and Russia marked the first decade of their strategic partnership with a slew of agreements at their annual summit Tuesday, CNN reported. In their talks, visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reviewed cooperation in military, technical, energy, high-technology and telecommunications. Both pledged to boost two-way trade, an area they accept as a weak part of their multi-faceted relationship.
The two countries aim to achieve a trade target of USD 20 billion by 2015, up from about USD 7.5 billion last year, a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting between the Russian and Indian leaders noted. “The sides recognized that considerable potential exists for mutually beneficial investments by the Russian Federation and India in the privatization programs and programs aimed at fostering technological innovation in their respective economies,” it read. India and Russia share a robust collaboration in defense, with Moscow supplying more than 60 percent of military hardware to New Delhi.
Apart from 11 agreements the two countries signed during the Medvedev-Singh news conference, a contract for joint design and development of fifth-generation fighter aircraft was also being concluded on the margins of the current summit, officials say. India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau and Rosoboronexport will be involved in the proposed project, according to the External Affairs Ministry.
Other pacts the two nations reached sought greater collaboration in a range of fields, such as information technology, hydrocarbons and in the vital nuclear energy sector. At present, two nuclear power plants are being built in southern India with Russian assistance. Talks, Singh noted, were on for the construction of additional Russian-designed reactors.
“Both sides expressed satisfaction with the progress in bilateral cooperation in the nuclear-energy sector and looked forward to further broadening and strengthening ties in this area,” the joint statement said. India attaches a huge priority to its ties with Russia, which it calls a time-tested friend. “Russia is a time-tested friend of India that has stood by us in our times of need in the past. Ours is a special and privileged strategic partnership. It is a partnership that has and will continue to develop independent of our relations with other countries,” Singh remarked.
The two nations forged a strategic partnership in 2000 and have since been holding summits every year. Medvedev’s trip to New Delhi follows similar trade-promoting visits by U.S. President Barack Obama, France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.