Direct gas supplies, increased N-power cooperation dominte Russia, India talks

India and Russia have agreed to explore the possibilities of direct overland transportation of natural gas from Russia to India as part of enhanced cooperation between the two countries.

During the 14th annual India-Russia Summit, the two sides noted the importance of diversification of energy exports from Russia through LNG supplies to India, in order to ensure India's long-term energy security.

At the conclusion of a summit meeting between Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the two sides also agreed to increase the number of Russian-designed atomic power plants and ensure India's participation in the GLONASS navigation system.

The two countries also agreed to set up a joint study group to organise long-term supplies of LNG to India from the Gazprom Group portfolio and expressed satisfaction at the increasing cooperation between JSC Gazprom and Indian oil companies.

The summit also marks the operationalisation of the first generating unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, being built by Russia for India, by connecting it to the national power grid.

President Putin said that the second unit of the project is getting ready and would start power generation by next year, while commercial agreement for the remaining four units will be signed soon.

Energy has long been a vital aspect of cooperation between the two powers.

The head of Russian state nuclear monopoly Rosatom, Sergey Kirienko, said that fundamental agreements have been reached on building the third and fourth units, but that there are some legal issues that India should address, possibly referring India's nuclear liability bill.

India and Russia had originally proposed to set up 15 nuclear power generating units to be built in India, including the four to eight units to be set up at Kudankulam.

The two sides acknowledged their mutual desire to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in areas like civil aviation, chemical and fertilizer industry, mining and automobiles.

India-Russia bilateral trade topped over $11 billion in 2012 and the two sides have agreed to further investment collaboration in order to expand bilateral trade.

Areas with significant potential for cooperation include sectors such as oil and gas, pharmaceutical and medical industry, infrastructure, mining, automobiles, fertilizers, aviation, as well as modernisation of industrial facilities in the two countries.

The India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on trade, economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation (IGC) will function as a key mechanism for developing bilateral interaction in the economic and investment fields.

The two sides also agreed to work towards the creation of a joint study group to assess the possibility of signing a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) between India and the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation.

Besides, the two countries said they supported the projects for establishing the BRICS Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement among BRICS states.

The Indian side agreed to consider the Russian proposal to develop a Strategy of Multilateral Economic Cooperation of BRICS member states. They expressed confidence that the forthcoming BRICS summit in Brazil will help strengthen the role of BRICS in the international stage.

They also stressed that the G20 policy coordination process needs to pay more attention to monetary policy in the reserve country currencies in order to protect the international financial system and to prevent destabilization of financial markets.

Russia and India will continue to cooperate in the peaceful use of outer space and agreed to advance it in a pragmatic and steady manner to ensure the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.

In particular, they expressed mutual interest in coordinating actions with reference to the current endeavour of the UN Committee to work out guidelines related to peaceful sustained use of outer space.