Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (R) applauds as Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee (C) greets Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (L) following a signing ceremony for several agreements in New Delhi yesterday. Russia signed landmark accords with its traditional ally India on issues ranging from nuclear energy to space as Medvedev met Indian leaders in a bid to bolster ties. Photo: AFP
India and Russia signed a civilian nuclear deal yesterday that would see Russia build four nuclear reactors for power-starved India.
The deal was inked during a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia.
"The signing of the agreement on civil nuclear cooperation with Russia marks a new milestone in the history of our cooperation with Russia in the field of nuclear energy," said Singh.
Manmohan Singh hailed a landmark nuclear deal signed with Russia on Friday as a "milestone in the history of our cooperation" after meeting here with Medvedev.
The allies also finalised an accord that could see New Delhi send a man and eventually its own manned craft into space, with the Indian premier describing ties with Moscow as a "vital anchor of our foreign policy."
"It is a relationship that has stood the test of time, a relationship based on strong mutual trust," Singh said alongside Medvedev after the signing ceremonies.
Medvedev praised the agreements as opening a "new page" in relations. He was to leave New Delhi later Friday, earlier than scheduled, to join the mourning for the death of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, his spokeswoman said.
The nuclear deal was the third such agreement India has signed after a decision in September by the Nuclear Suppliers Group to waive its ban on trade of atomic technology with New Delhi.
The United States and France are the other powers to have signed agreements with New Delhi but Russia remains so far the only state actively involved in building reactors in the country.
The nuclear deal will see the building of four new nuclear energy reactors in Kudankulam in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
The deal follows the conclusion of a landmark nuclear deal between the United States and India earlier this year, which opened the way for nuclear trade between India and other nations.
India has faced a nuclear trade ban since its first atomic test in 1974 amid its refusal to sign international treaties designed to limit the illicit spread of such materials.
The Indo-Russian deal to build four reactors in southern India had been agreed on in January, but could not be ratified until the international Nuclear Supplier Group agreed to lift the atomic ban.
The two countries have close ties dating back to the Cold War. Russia has traditionally been India's largest arms suppliers and has built several reactors for India in the past.
This was Medvedev's first visit to India as president.
India is eager to expand its nuclear energy sector to help fuel its rapidly growing but energy starved economy.
Russia becomes the third country to sign an atomic energy agreement with India after a decision in September by the Nuclear Suppliers Group to waive its ban on trade of nuclear technology with India.
The United States and France are the other powers to have signed agreements with New Delhi.
The nuclear agreement covers the building of four atomic reactors at Kudankulam in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The value of the deal was not given.
Moscow is already building two 1,000-megawatt light water reactors at the site.
The two sides also signed an accord that envisages Russia sending an Indian cosmonaut into space in 2013 and then launch a manned Indian spacecraft in 2015, officials said.
The signing ceremony, attended by reporters, coincided with a visit to New Delhi by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Medvedev is the first head of state to visit India following the Mumbai attacks a week ago in which suspected Islamic militants killed 172 people. He has already pledged Moscow's support to India in the anti-terror fight.
"The terrorist threat is not over for our country," said Medvedev in an interview with Indian public television. "We are ready to have cooperation (with India) in all areas with the aim of preventing such terror attacks."