Millennium Post

India to Russia: We can have joint 3rd country N-projects

Moscow: India and Russia can work together in third countries in various fields including nuclear energy and talks are presently in a preliminary stage, India's Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran said here on Friday. India has signed an agreement with Bangladesh for civil nuclear cooperation, under which India has extended expertise and project support for its Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) which will be built with Russian technology.

Bangladesh's first NPP is equipped with two VVER reactors of 1,200 megawatts each. These reactors are similar to the Kudankulam NPP in Tamil Nadu. In an interview with the state-run TASS news agency, Saran, who has recently been appointed the Deputy National Security Advisor, also touched upon the subject of the Rooppur NPP in Bangladesh.

Asked about how exactly is India going to participate in the NPP, he said that the trilateral agreement provides various options for India's participation in the Rooppur NPP including training of personnel, participation in construction work, supply of equipment and ensuring security. "The companies will have to negotiate the exact format of cooperation," the envoy said.

To a question of a possibility of other joint projects in a third country being considered by Moscow and Delhi, Saran said that both sides are of the same opinion that they can work together in third countries in various fields including Nuclear Energy and Oil and Gas sphere. "The talks are presently in a preliminary stage," he said.

India, not being a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), cannot participate directly in the construction of atomic power reactors. But Indian companies can be involved in construction and installation works and in the supply of equipment of non-critical category.

India will also not abandon the purchase of the S-400 air defence missile systems from Russia despite US pressure as New Delhi is committed to all its military-technical cooperation with Moscow, Saran added. India has concluded price negotiations with Russia for a nearly Rs 40,000 crore deal to procure S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems for the Indian Air Force, officials in New Delhi said last month.

India will not back out of buying S-400s. Military-Technical cooperation between India and Russia was discussed during the informal meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi last month, Saran said. The envoy said the date for the annual bilateral summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Putin has not been announced but he expects it to take place sometime in October in New Delhi.

"We are committed to all our agreements in this sphere, including purchase of S-400. India has a long history of military-technical cooperation with Russia based on trust and mutual benefit. There is no change in the approach of India to our partnership in this field," Saran said.

Asked if Russia could expect signing of an agreement on supply of S-400 by the end of this year, the Indian envoy said he would not like to fix any time-frame. "I can only say that we have achieved significant progress in the negotiations," Saran said.

Officials in New Delhi have said that India and Russia are now trying to find a way out to evade the provisions of a US law that seeks to punish countries and entities engaged in transactions with the defence or intelligence establishment of Russia.

Both sides are now looking at ways to insulate the deal from the sanctions announced by the US against Russia under its Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The US had announced sanctions against Russia under the stringent law for its alleged meddling in the American presidential election in 2016.

CAATSA, which came into effect in January, mandates the Trump administration to punish entities engaging in significant transaction with the defence or intelligence establishment of Russia.

Asked about the reason for organising the informal summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Putin, Saran said that the summit was characterised by a special personal chemistry between the two leaders.

"The reason for this unscheduled meeting was that both sides wanted to exchange opinions on key global and regional issues including development of situation in Afghanistan, Syria and Iran as well as to discuss matters of bilateral interest. "Today relations between India and Russia are important not only for our two countries but also for the region and the whole world. And we would like to build a multi-polar world where India and Russia will contribute to global stability," the ambassador added.

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