Moscow: India has said there is “steady progress” on Indo-Russia civil nuclear energy cooperation and the second unit of the Kudankulam project is “progressing satisfactorily” towards commissioning as the two countries aim to boost their strategic ties in spheres of space and energy.
President Pranab Mukherjee, in Russia on a five-day visit, yesterday held a 45-minute meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a “wide-ranging review of our bilateral cooperation”, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement today.
“On civil nuclear energy cooperation, there has been steady progress. The Kudankulam Nuclear Project-2 (KKNP2) is progressing satisfactorily towards commissioning. Contracts for supply of equipment for KKNP3 and 4 have been concluded,” the statement quoted Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar as saying in a media briefing yesterday.
“We had also in December constituted three Joint Working Groups to discuss different aspects of nuclear cooperation to take the level of cooperation to a higher plane. One of the three Joint Working Groups has already met; two others are likely to meet very soon,” he said.
Jaishankar added that a number of steps were being taken to boost space cooperation as well as in energy. “On space cooperation, the Heads of our two Space agencies have drawn up a concrete plan for reinvigoration of our space cooperation, including marking in a suitable manner the 40th anniversary of the launch of Aryabhatta from the then Soviet Union.
“On energy cooperation it was noted that Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC)'s investment in Sakhalin-1 (oil field) had been very successful. Its MoU with Rosneft for exploration on the Arctic Shelf is being progressed,” Jaishankar said.
GAIL's contract for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) supply to India has entered into force, he added. During their meeting, the two presidents focussed on initiatives that were launched at the summit meeting in December, 2014 when Putin was last in India. On defence, both the Presidents noted that progress had been made in government-to-government cooperation in various areas.
“There was recognition that we had moved to an era of joint development and manufacturing. It was clear to us that the Russian defence industry was very keenly interested in pursuing projects under our ‘Make in India' initiative,” the Foreign Secretary said.
The leaders agreed that the two countries needed to work hard to achieve targets of USD 30 billion in trade and USD 15 billion for investment.
On whether the presence of both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mukherjee has led to a further strengthening of the Russia-India-China (RIC) block during the commemoration, Jaishankar said India's presence in Moscow should not be read in a trilateral context.
“I think the reason why so many Heads of Governments and Heads of States are here, including our President, is that this is a very important day for Russians. “We are here frankly because of Russia. We are here to recognise the Russian contribution and to sort of signal to the Russian people that on this day which is so important for you we are here with you,” Jaishankar said.