Moscow: Russia and India stressed their strategic partnership on Monday, agreeing to boost military ties and cooperate in the civilian use of nuclear technology, but gave few details.
“We have discussed the key aspects of our economic and military-technical cooperation,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the start of their official talks in the Kremlin. The two had met for an informal dinner late on Sunday.
“We look into the future with optimism,” Medvedev said. “We will witness the signing of a whole range of important documents reflecting our strategic partnership in its entire diversity.”
The two delegations later signed agreements on “military-technical cooperation”, a term routinely used by the Kremlin to refer to arms sales, for the period 2011-12 and agreed that Russia would build more nuclear reactors in India.
Russia and India, which agreed the outlines of a 10-year weapons deal in October that could be worth at least $10 billion (Rs46,400 crore today), are building a modern supersonic fighter aircraft invisible to radar such as the US F-22 Raptor stealth fighter.
Officials said before the talks that Singh might sign weapons orders, including a $1 billion deal for 80 Russian Mi-17 helicopters and contracts for fitting Brahmos missiles to Russian-made Sukhoi fighter planes.
Stronger ties: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (left) shakes hands with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow on Monday. Atul Yadav / PTI
Medvedev and Singh both expressed support for greater cooperation in the civilian use of nuclear energy. The nuclear deal could significantly increase atomic fuel exports from Russia to India and would lead to the construction of more Russian reactors in India, both sides said.
“Today we have signed an agreement which broadens the reach of our cooperation beyond the supply of nuclear reactors to areas of research and development, and a whole range of areas of nuclear energy,” Singh said at a Kremlin news conference.
Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom, said Russia next year would commission the first reactor at an Indian nuclear power plant in Koodankulam in south India.
Settling an issue that had troubled relations between Moscow and New Delhi, Russia said on Monday it would finally deliver a refurbished aircraft carrier to India. India has been upset in recent years by long delays in the delivery of the refurbished Soviet-era carrier Admiral Gorshkov under a $1.6 billion contract.
“Discussions between India and Russia on the delivery of the Admiral Gorshkov have been finalized, and the deal will be accomplished,” a Kremlin official told reporters on condition of anonymity.