Indian-Russia ties reach new high
By Harihar Swarup
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s three-day visit to Moscow has been significant in three ways. Firstly, he visited the Russian capital right after Parliamentary elections and on the eve of Russian Presidential elections. The visit took place two months before an important occasion — the 65th birth anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. Also the practice of annual summit has played a major role in the evolution of trustworthy partnership.
Bilateral ties with Russia are a key pillar of India’s foreign policy. India views Russia as a time-tested, truth-worthy and reliable strategic partner.
Since the signing of the ‘declaration on India-Russia strategic partnership, in October 2000 (during visit of the then President Putin to India), there has been a qualitative strengthening of the relationship.
During the visit of President Medvedev to India in December 2010, it was mutually decided to elevate the bilateral relationship to the level of a “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership’’.
The fact that Indo-Russian ties stood the test of the time — was reflected in Dr Manmohan Singh’s wide ranging talks with the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
India and Russia noted with satisfaction the successful promotion of cooperation in the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and reaffirmed their commitment to the highest standards of safety of nuclear
The two sides recognized the competence and rich experience of Russian organisations in design and technical assistance and of Indian organisations in the construction of nuclear power plants and their technical expertise. The two sides looked forward to the early commissioning of the first two units at Kudankulam.
As regards construction of Units 3 & 4 at the Kudankulam site, as envisaged in the “Inter-Governmental Agreement on Cooperation in the Construction of Additional Nuclear Plants Units at the Kudankulam site as well as in the Construction of Russian Design Nuclear Power Plants at New Sites India” of December 5, 2008, the sides noted with satisfaction that the discussions on the text of the Protocol for grant of State Credit by the Russian Federation to India had been finalized and that negotiations on the techno-commercial offer on the construction of Units 3 and 4 were in an advanced stage. The sides reiterated their commitment to the agreements reached previously on the construction of Russian design nuclear power plants at new sites in India.
Later, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India will make operational the Russian-built Kudankulam power plant in Tamil Nadu “in a couple of weeks”, much ahead of the March 2012 deadline for the 1,000 MW-capacity unit –I to begin commercial operations.
The Prime Minister made the announcement at a joint press conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev here soon after their 12th summit even as Indian authorities are still struggling to convince local villagers that the nuclear plant is safe.
“I am confident that in a couple of weeks we should be able to go ahead in operationalising Kudankulam-I and, thereafter, in a period of six months, the Kudankulam-II,” he said when asked about a deadline to operationalise the plant.
The prime minister also said that India and Russia had concluded negotiations on the terms and conditions for the Kudankulam units III and IV and they looked forward to moving ahead in their bilateral nuclear energy road map they signed in 2010.
Alluding to the villagers’ protests against the nuclear plant, he said there were “temporary problems” in view of “some agitations” due to their concerns over the safety of the plant and its impact on their livelihood.
“We are confident we will be able to persuade some persons that their concerns are adequately taken care of and that our nuclear plants are safe and sound and there is nothing to worry about,” he said. “That’s a commitment both India and Russia will honour.” (IPA Service)