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Russia offers India 4 nuclear reactors to cement ties

Russia offers India 4 nuclear reactors to cement ties

Old Cold War allies Russia and India sought to reinvigorate their friendship, with visiting President Vladimir Putin offering to build four new nuclear reactors for the energy starved South Asian nation.
Putin also proposed giving India broader access to Russia's energy riches in a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Thursday, at the start of his two-day visit.
"Although there has been a sea change in the international situation during the last decade, Russia remains indispensable to India's foreign policy interests," Singh said after the meeting.
The close ties shared by Moscow and New Delhi during the Cold War _ when Russia was the principle arms supplier to India _ waned after the Soviet Union collapsed and India opened up its markets to the rest of the world. The non-military trade has slackened, but the two leaders vowed to boost it.
"We hope the high level of political trust should be converted into economic opportunity. We hope to harmonize the political and economic aspects of our relationship," Putin said.
Singh said energy cooperation was at the center of the new "strategic partnership."
Officials from the two nations signed deals on energy, scientific and space cooperation on Thursday.
Russia has been eager to reassert its traditional role as the chief supplier of nuclear technology and know-how to India in the wake of a landmark civilian nuclear cooperation deal between New Delhi and Washington last year that opened the door to U.S. companies' prospective expansion in India's nuclear market.
Russia is currently building two 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactors in the southern town of Kudankulam and a memorandum of understanding inked Thursday said the four new reactors would be built at Kudankulam and other sites. It did not outline a timetable or other specifics.
Russia has in the past stood by India, supplying it with reactors and fuel even as it was denied Western technology for its refusal to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
However, the reactor deal would depend on the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a 45-member coalition of countries that regulate the world's atomic trade, lifting its restrictions on India's access to nuclear technology, the two countries said in a joint statement.
Putin also promised to give India broader access to Russia's vast hydrocarbon wealth.
At the sidelines of Putin's visit, India's state owned Oil & Natural Gas Corp. signed a deal with Russia's state-controlled OAO Rosneft to jointly bid for exploration and refining projects, ONGC said in a statement.
India is already a shareholder via state-run ONGC Videsh Ltd. in the Sakhalin-1 oilfields, which have started production, and Putin said it could be offered a share in the prospective Sakhalin-3 project.
Energy cooperation is vital for India, which has struggled to supply adequate power to its burgeoning economy that has grown at more than 8 percent in recent years. Despite India's rapid recent development, power cuts remain frequent across the country.
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Associated Press writer Nirmala George contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-05-09 22:07 GMT+08:00