Tuesday, December 8, 2009

India & Russia agree on Gorshkov price.....

G Sudhakar Nair

India and Russia have reached a broad agreement to break the logjam over the protracted price renegotiation over Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier and the two sides are expected to sign a landmark civil nuclear pact during summit talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Dmitry Medvedev tomorrow.

Seeking to resolve the Gorshkov price issue, an irritant in bilateral ties, the two countries have worked out a general agreement, sources said. A pact in this regard, however, is unlikely to be signed during Singh’s visit.

The Prime Minister arrived here on a three-day visit, his sixth to Russia since 2004, that will also see the inking of three agreements in the field of defence, including one for ending ad-hocism in servicing Russian military equipment.

As a special gesture, the Russian President will host a private dinner for Singh and his wife Gursharan Gaur at his countryside residence in Barvikha outside Moscow.
The path-breaking civil nuclear pact is significant as it will ensure uninterrupted uranium fuel supplies from Russia in the event of termination of bilateral ties in this field for any reason, the sources said.

The agreement is considered by India as a "major improvement" over the 123 pact with the US which provides for not just termination of ongoing cooperation but also for the return to the country of already supplied components and fuel in the event of the accord being scrapped.

Singh, who will hold wide-ranging talks with Medvedev, said in a statement before his departure in New Delhi that he will review the status of bilateral cooperation, including in the key areas of defence, civil nuclear energy, space and hydrocarbons at the annual summit tomorrow.

"The Annual Summit is the principal mechanism for the advancement of our strategic partnership with Russia. This is a partnership based on the solid foundation of long-standing friendship, deep mutual trust and strong convergence of interests," Singh, who will also meet Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said.

Ahead of the visit, Singh voiced confidence of finding a "practical solution" to resolve the problem dogging the Gorshkov deal. India had bought the warship in 2004 for USD 974 million, but Russian shipyard Sevmash hiked the price twice since 2007 and currently demands an additional USD 2.9 billion.

On the nuclear deal, the sources said it is marked by a "forward-looking language" in matters relating to reprocessing, nuclear equipments and transfer of technology. Keen to take the Indo-Russian strategic ties to new heights, Singh said atomic cooperation is a "key pillar" in bilateral relations.

The Prime Minister's entourage was welcomed at the Vnukovo II Airport by a Russian band playing national anthems of India and Russia amid freezing temperatures.
A flurry of snowfall and high velocity winds lashed Moscow as the Indian delegation arrived, with the temperature touching minus 5 degrees Celsius.


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