India eyes oil, defence deals, Russia looks to boost trade

Both leaders might discuss improving supply of rough diamonds by Russia to India.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published: December 11, 2014 2:04 am

The plan to chart out a 10-year vision statement – aimed at giving a fillip to India-Russia ties by bolstering cooperation in defence, nuclear power and hydrocarbons – would be high on the agenda of the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

As many as 15 to 20 pacts for both the government and the private sectors are expected to be signed during the day-long visit by the Russian leader, who was scheduled to arrive here on Wednesday night. He would leave on Thursday night after meeting his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee.

An oil and gas pipeline from Russia to India – on a route similar to the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanstan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline – would also be on the agenda.

Sources said while Putin would make a push to boost trade relationship between the two nations in the face of western sanctions, Modi would pitch for “Make in India” and try to woo Russian investors.

The two leaders are scheduled to reach Hyderabad House at around 11.30 am for a one-on-one meeting, which will be followed by lunch. Talks will continue after lunch with the delegation members joining in.

With Putin’s visit coming one-and-a-half months ahead of US President Barack Obama’s trip, the Indian side wants Russians to commit potential investments in defence and nuclear power sectors. One of the key elements of the vision statement could be joint development and production of the components for building nuclear power plants, the sources said.

They said specific discussions are likely to take place on various key projects, including the ambitious Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme.

Putin and Modi would meet for their first annual summit on Thursday, although it would be their third meeting this year. The annual summit has been taking place since 2000 alternately in Moscow and New Delhi.

Ahead of his visit, Putin had termed ties with India as “privileged strategic partnership”, and said construction of new nuclear plants besides military and technical cooperation was high on the agenda for talks. He said Russia was keen to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India and involve ONGC in oil and gas hunt in the Arctic.

In the nuclear energy sector, Russia might offer to set up 20-24 nuclear energy production units in India against previously agreed 14-16 plants.

Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin said the two countries soon would start negotiations for setting up the fifth and the sixth units of the Kudankulam nuclear power complex and might also sign a technical pact for units three and four during the President’s visit.

Both leaders might also discuss improving supply of rough diamonds by Russia to India. Russia is the world’s top producer of rough diamonds and India is one of its largest importers. The two leaders would also inaugurate the World Diamond Conference here on Thursday.

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