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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Russia, India advance strategic partnership

Russia President Dmitry Medvedev paid an official visit to India on December 4-5. During his two-day maiden trip to India, Russia and India signed 10 agreements involving cooperation in such spheres as space technology, military, nuclear energy, tourism and financial business, including the deal on the construction of four more reactors at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Station (NPS), located at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu, south India. To date, the construction of two reactors has already completed at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project.

In the field of bilateral trade, Russia and India plan to lift their trade volume to 10 billion US dollars by the year 2010.

President Medvedev has been the first foreign head of state to visit India in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks. Right after the terror attacks, the Russian government announced that there was no change in Medvedev's India visit plans. This shows the traditional and real bilateral partnership between Russia and India is deep-rooted and profound.

Russia and India are the traditional alliance. Out of their respective consideration of strategic interests, bilateral ties have been warmed up since the mid 1990s. And bilateral relations between the two countries have experienced sustainable, steady growth after Vladimir V. Putin became the Russian president. In 2000, Putin made his first ever visit to India, during which the Strategic Partnership Declaration was signed and the strategic partnership reached a new height.

In the new international situation and particularly with the global financial crisis as a backdrop, President Medvedev's India trip is of special significance. Due to a drastic drop in global oil prices, Russia's oil exports have been negatively affected. Hence, the expansion of the nation's economic and trade ties with India has become the important contents of the new Russian president's first visit to India.

Nuclear technology and military spheres are superior realms of Russia's India trade. In the field of nuclear matters, Russia and India signed an intergovernmental agreement on the construction of four more reactors, each worth 2 billion dollars. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed the landmark nuclear deal signed with Russia on Dec. 5th as a "milestone in the history of our cooperation"in the sphere of energy.

Meanwhile, President Dmitry Medvedev, who had signed the agreement for Russia to develop four more nuclear reactors in Tamil Nadu, said: "Today we have opened a new page"in bilateral relations.

Russia's swift conclusion of an accord on the construction of four more reactors is also related to exterior factors. In early October, the U.S. Senate voted to ratify the U.S.-India Agreement for Cooperation concerning Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy. The deal would allow India to buy American nuclear reactors and fuel for the first time in more than 30 years. Under such circumstances, Russia would not be able to enjoy the right for monopolizing India's nuclear energy field. So it takes for granted that Russia will ink the deal with India soon afterwards.

Military cooperation poses a vital link of Russia-India ties. Traditionally, India has been a principal buyer of Russia-made weaponry. President Medvedev has attached great importance to cooperation in this sphere and, during his India trip the Russian president cited military cooperation as one of the most crucial fields in bilateral cooperation. What worthparticular mentioning here is that arms Russia has sold to India is always is the most sophisticated and the quality is much higher than that of those weapons it sold to other countries. It also indicates from one aspect an extraordinary strategic partnership forged between Russia and India.

As a matter of course, there are some differences between the two nations. Citing the problem regarding costs for revamping Admiral Gorshko aircraft carrier Russia sold to India, which remains unsettled, the India found it impossible to accept its refit costs, as Russia has raised or increased the quoted prices by a very big margin.

So, it can be acknowledged that President Medvedev's India trip has continued the bid power diplomacy, energy diplomacy and geopolitics diplomacy prompted or spurred by former Russian President Vladimir Putin. This has indeed deepened the Russian-Indian traditional and real strategic partnership and, beyond any doubt, it constitutes a vital cornerstone of Russia's Asia diplomacy.

Source: People's Daily Online

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