Dec 4, 2008

World - India, Russia to ink nuclear pact, step up anti-terror efforts

New Delhi, Dec 3 (IANS) Russian President Dmitri Medvedev comes to India on his maiden visit Thursday - a trip that will see the two countries renew their old ties by inking a civil nuclear cooperation accord and stepping up anti-terrorism cooperation.

With the Nov 26 Mumbai terror strikes overshadowing this scheduled trip, intensifying counter-terrorism cooperation is set to dominate the agenda for talks between the two countries.

Medvedev, who begins his three-day visit Thursday, is the first foreign head of state to visit the country after the brazen terror strikes in Mumbai killed 183 people, including 22 foriegners.

Medvedev will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday on a wide spectrum of bilateral, regional and global issues, including civil nuclear cooperation, counter-terrorism and the intensification of economic, energy and defence ties between the two countries.

'Several documents are expected to be signed/adopted by the two countries during the visit,' the external affairs ministry said, announcing the visit Wednesday night.

The two countries are expected to sign a pact on civil nuclear cooperation, that was initialed early this year but had to wait for the formal signing for the green signal from the IAEA and NSG.

The NSG finally gave a nod Sep 6 that led to India signing nuclear accords with the US and France. Russia will be the third country with whom India will be signing a civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

The pact envisages Russia building four additional reactors at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu.

Medvedev has lauded India's response to the Mumbai terror attacks and pledged to step up counter-terrorism cooperation with the country.

He telephoned Manmohan Singh last week and underlined his desire to step up counter-terrorism cooperation with India.

Another issue likely to dominate the talks will be the sale by Russia to India of a Soviet-era aircraft carrier, the 44,570-tonne Admiral Gorshkov, which is being refurbished by a Russian firm.

The two sides are likely to resolve issues relating to pricing as Russia has more than doubled the original price of the carrier to over $2 billion.

Boosting trade ties will be another focus area.

Russia and India plan to increase trade to $10 billion by 2010 from this year's expected level of $7 billion, and diversify economic cooperation, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said here Wednesday

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