Russia flays Pakistan over 26/11, backs India for UNSC, NSG (Roundup)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

NEW DELHI - Underlining their “privileged strategic partnership,” India and Russia Tuesday inked a raft of agreements worth billions of dollars, including a contract to jointly build advanced stealth jets. Russia also asked Pakistan to bring the authors and perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack to justice.

Setting a target of doubling bilateral trade to $20 billion by 2015, the two sides agreed to focus on upgrading the economic content of their relationship, which has not kept pace with their strategic partnership.

Russia called for the elimination of “safe havens for terrorism and violent extremism present in Afghanistan and Pakistan” and also agreed to expand consultations on Afghanistan.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who began his two day-visit to India Tuesday, reiterated support for New Delhi’s bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. He noted that India was a “strong and deserving candidate”.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh explained what Russia meant for India.

“Russia is a time-tested friend of India that has stood by us in our times of need in the past,” he said. “Ours is a special and privileged strategic partnership. It is a partnership that has and will continue to develop independent of our relations with other countries.”

Medvedev’s trip tops visits by leaders of the US, Britain, France and China in recent months.

“Russia wants India to have a permanent seat in the UN Security Council if the decision to expand the organ is taken,” Medvedev told journalists at the end of two-hour delegation-level talks with Manmohan Singh.

“The two sides agreed that all terrorist networks must be defeated. They called upon Pakistan to expeditiously to bring all the perpetrators, authors and accomplices of the Mumbai attacks to justice,” said the joint statement.

In response to a question from IANS, Medvedev did not mention by Pakistan by name but stressed that “no civilised state can hide terrorists”.

“Terrorists are criminals. They, of course, should be punished. No modern civilised state can hide terrorists. They are subject to punishment.”

Added Manmohan Singh said: “India and Russia are both victims of terrorists… We should cooperate in information sharing and intelligence sharing and devise effective counter-terrorism strategies.”

Russia backed New Delhi’s full membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and the two sides discussed setting up “additional nuclear reactors” at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.

But no formal announcement was made amid Russian concerns about aspects of India’s civil nuclear liability law.

Manmohan Singh, however, said that discussions have progressed on the construction of Russian-designed nuclear reactors at Kudankulam.

Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of the state-owned nuclear company Rosatom, is building two 1,000 MW reactors in Kudankulam in collaboration with the Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL). It is in negotiations to build two more reactors of 1,000 MW each. The deal is almost finalised but will be signed later, official sources said.

The two countries signed a pact on giving India access to high precision signals from Glonass, the Russian rival to American GPS that could help in effective integration of New Delhi’s military land, air and sea assets.

The Manmohan Singh-Medvedev talks covered a host of issues including the expansion of civil nuclear cooperation, intensification of economic ties, global terrorism, and reforms of international financial institutions.

Eleven agreements were signed in the presence of Manmohan Singh and Medvedev. Eighteen pacts were signed on the margins of the third summit between the two leaders that led to an all-encompassing joint statement entitled “Celebrating a Decade of the India-Russian Federation Strategic Partnership and Looking Ahead.”

Ending speculation, the two sides signed a preliminary design contract (PDC) to build a fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) that will have the capability to launch air-to-air, air-to-surface and air-to-ship missiles.

The design contract is valued at $250-300 million, but it kicks off a set of arrangements that could potentially mean $30 billion of business.

Russia backed India for membership in the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC).

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