Astana, Apr 16: Embarking on an ambitious roadmap to consolidate their strategic partnership, India and Kazakhstan today signed seven pacts, including a framework agreement in civil nuclear field and a stake-sharing accord in oil sector, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying there was “vast potential” for cooperation in all areas.
At wide-ranging talks between Singh and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, the two sides also decided to work for pushing the bilateral trade, which was currently as low as USD 300 million, through engagement of governments and business communities and diversifying to non-oil sectors like pharma, agriculture and IT.
The two leaders discussed a host of issues during their talks, which were first restricted and then delegation level, covering bilateral matters and international issues like developments in Libya and other North African countries and Afghanistan.
Summing up the talks, Singh said in a statement to the press that there was “solid and substantive outcome” that will help build on the strategic partnership forged during the visit of Nazarbaev to India in January 2009.
The two sides signed an inter-governmental agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, that envisages a legal framework for supply of fuel, construction and operation of atomic power plants, exploration and joint mining of uranium, exchange of scientific and research information, reactor safety mechanisms and use of radiation technologies for healthcare.
After the talks, the Kazakh President announced that his country would supply India with 2100 tonnes of uranium and was ready to do more.
India and Kazakhstan already have civil nuclear cooperation since January 2009 when Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Kazakh nuclear company KazAtomProm signed an MoU during the visit of Nazarbaev to Delhi. Under the contract, KazAtomProm supplies uranium which is used by Indian reactors.
Ever since the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG) ended India's 34-year-old isolation in 2008 by giving a one-time waiver to have cooperation in civil nuclear field, it has signed such civil nuclear agreements with a number of countries including the US, France, Russia, Canada, Argentina and Mongolia.
Another highlight of the talks was a package of three agreements signed by India and Kazakhstan in the hydrocarbon sector. Under these, ONGC Videsh Limited would acquire 25 per cent stake in Satpayev oil block in Caspian Sea. The two sides also signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, with the Prime Minister saying that they had agreed to intensify dialogue in counter-terrorism and drug trafficking.
A Joint Action Plan for Furthering Strategic Partnership was also unveiled which outlines the projects to be undertaken by the both sides during 2011 and 2014 in a range of sectors, including civil nuclear energy, hydrocarbons, cyber-security, IT, high-tech and pharmaceuticals.
As part of enhancing ties in the field of IT, Singh said he had offered to set up a joint IT Centre of Excellence in the Eurasian University in Astana.
He said he had also conveyed India's interest to benefit from the Customs Union among Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus. In his opening remarks at the delegation-level talks, Singh said India attaches very high importance to its relations with Kazakhstan and “there is a vast potential for cooperation” between the two countries.
On his first official visit here, Singh told the Kazakh President that he had “come to the great country” to “build on the success” of his landmark state visit to New Delhi in 2009. He hailed Nazarbaev as a “very distinguished world leader” and congratulated him again for his re-election, saying it was “a tribute to confidence reposed in your leadership by the people of Kazakhstan.”
Nazarbaev said the current bilateral trade did not reflect the real potential and Kazakhstan was interested in expanding ties in all areas and particularly identified energy, high-tech and pharma as sectors holding promise. PTI