Press Conference following Talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. January 25, 2007

Thursday, 25 January 2007 00:00

INDIAN PRIME MINISTER MANMOHAN SINGH:

Your Excellency President Vladimir Putin,

Members of the Russian delegation, my colleagues from the Council of Ministers and Government of India, and members of the press,

President Putin’s visit to India is part of the tradition of annual summits between our two countries. His visit today is especially important because he is our main guest as we celebrate India’s Republic Day. We hold President Putin in high esteem and consider him a world leader, statesman and special friend of India. It gives me particular pleasure therefore to wish him a very warm welcome here today.

Our talks today were very useful and productive and once again confirmed that our strategic partnership is based on the deep similarity of our national interests.  

The international situation has undergone great change over the last ten years. But Russia still holds an unchanging place at the centre of India’s foreign policy interests. Based on our longstanding traditions of warm and friendly relations with Russia, we seek to renew our multifaceted cooperation with Russia, thereby giving a new boost to our relations and taking our strategic partnership to new heights.

Energy security is the most important aspect of our new strategic partnership. Russia’s position as a global energy leader is recognised throughout the world. We are looking forward to forming a long-term partnership with Russia in this area. We value Russia’s support in removing the international barriers for nuclear cooperation with India, and we are also grateful for its assistance in expanding our nuclear energy sector. Today we signed a joint declaration on cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. A sign of our growing cooperation is the signing of a memorandum of intent for the construction of four new units at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant. 

The President and I agree that our economic cooperation falls far short of the demands of our strong strategic partnership and the possibilities of the Indian and Russian economies. A joint study group is examining the possibilities for new and comprehensive cooperation, and we have agreed that we will speed up this work.

We held comprehensive talks on our expanding military cooperation. Our military ties are developing steadily and today include areas such as joint research and development, production, marketing, regular cooperation between the different branches of our armed forces and joint training exercises. 

The joint development of a multi-purpose transport plane marks a significant event in our cooperation, as does our interest in developing this kind of cooperation in building a fifth-generation fighter plane.

We have decided to give a new boost to our cooperation in the high-technology sectors, including outer space, science and technology, and communications. A sign of this cooperation can be seen in the signature of new bilateral agreements on broad joint cooperation on the Russian global satellite navigation system, GLONASS.

Mr President, we see your visit today as a milestone in our relations that will lay the foundation for renewing the cooperation between our countries. This lays the base for the road that our relations will follow over the years to come. Allow me once again to welcome you and to ask you now to address the media.

Thank you for your attention.

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to thank the Prime Minister and all of our friends for their initiative to make this visit coincide with India’s state holiday, Republic Day. I would like to take this opportunity to offer my warmest congratulations to the Prime Minister, to all of our Indian friends and to the entire friendly Indian people on this symbolic occasion. 

This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of India’s independence and it also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. The best present for these important political dates is new concrete steps to deepen the strategic partnership between our countries.

This visit has had a very busy programme. My talks with the Indian Prime Minister have just ended. We exchanged views on the main issues on the international and regional agendas and discussed the full spectrum of our bilateral relations.

Our commitment to strengthening our strategic partnership is reflected in the Joint Declaration that we have adopted. 

One of the main subjects of our talks was intensifying our trade and economic ties. Preliminary results suggest an increase of 20 percent in our trade ties over 2006. Our common goal is to expand our business cooperation, take it into new areas and find new and effective models for our work together.

We consider it extremely important to complete the construction of India’s Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

We intend to expand our cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

We also have plans to reach new levels of cooperation in the fuel and energy sector. There are already examples that show the way in this area, such as the Sakhalin-1 project. The first tanker with oil from Sakhalin arrived in an Indian port in December 2006.  

Russian companies are ready to expand their cooperation in this area, in particular through joint construction of oil and natural gas production and transportation facilities in India and the surrounding region.

The Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation is continuing its work. The Business Cooperation Council and the Trade and Investment Forum are due to meet this February in Delhi. 

I agree with the Prime Minister in that a considerable part of our work together lies – and we plan to pay particular attention to this – in cooperation in the high-technology sectors. This includes space and aviation. As far as our space activities go, I particularly want to note India’s involvement in the GLONASS navigation system. Our Indian partners recently put forward the initiative of launching a youth satellite. We think this is an excellent idea. We support it and we are sure that this project will go ahead very soon. This will give our young people, students in India and Russia, the possibility of studying the Sun together, and what could be more unifying and more interesting?

In a further development to the agreements signed in Moscow in December 2005, we signed a protocol today on holding a Year of Russia in India in 2008, and a Year of India in Russia in 2009. I am sure that these events will create broad new opportunities for our business, scientific and cultural communities and our young people to come up with business and creative initiatives. 

As was highlighted in our talks today, the discussion and coordination of key world and regional policy issues has always been an important part of our work together. I stress that we share common or similar positions on the majority of these issues.

I would like to conclude by once again thanking our Indian friends and partners for their warm hospitality and for the very constructive talks that we have had.

Thank you for your attention.

QUESTION: This is a question for both leaders. Russia put forward the initiative of creating a three-sided axis (the Russia-China-India triangle). Could you tell us, please, what the state of progress is with this idea today? And what is your reaction to China’s ‘anti-satellite missile’ test on January 11?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: The Prime Minister and I discussed trilateral cooperation today. We did not discuss the matter in detail, but we noted that it is an interesting and useful format. You all know very well that the studies produced by various international centres working on investment activity show that over the coming decades, India, Russia, China and Brazil will account for a considerable share of the world’s economic activity, and growth in global economic activity will be precisely in these countries. Of course, cooperation between countries such as Russia, India and China should be harmonious, and we need to find ways of working together. Furthermore, we are united by our desire to resolve regional problems in a way acceptable to all sides. We therefore think that there are good prospects for work together in a trilateral format.

As for China’s missile tests, Russia’s principled position is that outer space should be a weapons-free zone. At the same time, I want to note that China is not the first country to have carried out such tests. As far as I remember, the first such tests were carried out in the late 1980s. What’s more, even today we hear military circles in the United States talking about developing plans to militarise outer space. Our position is that we should not let the genie out of the bottle.

MANMOHAN SINGH: President Putin just spoke about our trilateral cooperation. When I was in St Petersburg several months ago as a guest of President Putin, I had a meeting together with the Chinese President and with President Putin, and we had some very useful discussions. The Russian, Indian and Chinese foreign ministers will be meeting next month to look at further possibilities for expanding our work together and ensuring the success of our work on a trilateral basis. Regarding the issue of weapons in outer space, I share President Putin’s view that it should be a weapons-free zone.

QUESTION: I have two questions. Vladimir Vladimirovich, what do you think are the priority areas we should concentrate on over the next two years, and what will dominate, politics or the economy?

And a question for Prime Minister Singh: what is your view on the possibility of investing India’s debts to Russia in the Indian economy, and in what areas could this be done?

MANMOHAN SINGH: Regarding the idea of investing Indian debt to Russia, we have already agreed that we will use these financial resources to expand various areas of our cooperation in joint projects such as the construction of a multi-purpose transport plane and the production of titanium dioxide. We could work in the same way in other areas where we can create new joint ventures.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: What will dominate: politics or the economy? We realise that there can be no effective economic cooperation without political support. But the high level of political trust between our two countries should be converted into economic cooperation. I think therefore that what will dominate will be common sense, common sense that will serve as our base as we work towards harmony between the political and economic components of our cooperation. We have already outlined our business cooperation. It includes the energy sector, hydrocarbons, their exploration, production and transport, and it also includes nuclear energy. This is also closely linked to the political component and will include our work together in the nuclear suppliers group in the IAEA and other international organisations. This also includes our direct and practical cooperation in the construction of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, and perhaps other facilities too. And this includes our work in outer space, aviation, transport and communications in the broadest sense of the word. This also covers our traditional trade and investment activities, and finally also military-technical cooperation and culture, of course. This is plenty to begin with.

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