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News conference following Russian-Indian talks

Thursday, 23 December 2010 13:20

PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA MANMOHAN SINGH: Your Excellency, Mr Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation,

Distinguished representatives of the media,

I am delighted to welcome His Excellency President Medvedev to India for the 11th India-Russia annual summit.

Our summit this year marks the completion of ten years of the India-Russia strategic partnership. This is also the third annual summit meeting that I have held with President Medvedev. We deeply value the role that President Medvedev has played in taking forward our relationship.

The tradition of annual summits with Russia symbolises the richness of our relationship with Russia. Russia is a time-tested friend of India that has stood by us in our times of need in the past.

Ours is a very special and privileged strategic partnership. It is a partnership that has and will continue to develop independently of our relations with other countries.

Our talks have been comprehensive and result-oriented. We have signed several important agreements covering a large number of sectors. This reflects our mutual desire to bring our cooperation in other areas at par with our traditionally strong cooperation in the field of defence and nuclear energy.

I am particularly glad that we have concluded an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the oil and gas sector. This is the result of a lot of hard work put in by both sides and it reflects the complementarities between our two economies. We will work towards its implementation to a mutually agreed roadmap.

We welcome the increasing role being played by the India-Russia Forum on Trade and Investment and the CEOs Council.

We have signed agreements in the pharmaceutical and information technology sectors. These are areas which have immense possibility for expansion.

The agreement on visa simplification that has been signed will help to ease travel of citizens of our countries. We also decided to enhance cultural exchanges.

Long before other countries, it was Russia which helped us in the development of our scientific and industrial base. I am therefore very happy that we have renewed the integrated long-term technology programme we demanded to establish an innovation-based technology partnership. In the field of defence cooperation we reviewed the ongoing projects, including those relating to joint design, development and production.

Discussions have progressed on the construction of additional Russian-designed nuclear reactors at Kudankulam. And we have signed an agreement to broaden scientific and technological cooperation in the field of nuclear energy.

We also reviewed the situation in our region and ways and means to further strengthen our coordination on international issues.

We have agreed to intensify our consultations on Afghanistan. We look forward to working with Russia in the United Nations Security Council over the next two years. We will closely cooperate within the BRIC and G20 framework.

Our relations with Russia are a factor of peace and stability in the region and the world. This summit has added even more substance to our collaboration, for which I once again thank President Medvedev and the Government and people of Russia.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Your Excellency, Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our talks with Dr Singh have been intensive and very fruitful. We noted another qualitative change in our relationship. Today we can talk about a privileged strategic partnership, which allows for a highly constructive and friendly dialogue on bilateral and international issues.

Today we have moved forward our trade and economic collaboration, innovation cooperation and humanitarian ties. Our joint statement reflects these achievements and sets out the measures for the development of key areas of bilateral cooperation in the near future and our approaches to collaboration in the international arena.

We agreed to continue active political dialogue, especially at the top level to promote contacts between our ministries and departments. Those contacts are absolutely regular and occur throughout the year.

The development of contacts between our business communities is also vital. A forum has been held in India. We will promote personal contacts and communication between our citizens. Incidentally, the document on easing visa requirements between our countries is a significant contribution to addressing this issue.

Economic issues were a major part of our agenda. We have made good progress in boosting trade, where we have seen a positive trend, particularly when it comes to goods with high added value. Last year, machines, equipment and vehicles amounted to more than half of Russia's exports to India. The trade turnover has also been growing in quantitative terms as well and amounts to $10 billion at present. That is the final figure for this year. However, Mr Prime Minister and I have both expressed the opinion that such a trade turnover does not meet the strategic, privileged nature of our relationship. And we will work hard to increase it, bearing in mind that the objective is to bring it to $20 billion by 2015.

We have also given special attention to innovation cooperation. A comprehensive programme of cooperation in research, technology and innovation until 2020 was signed just now, and a similar programme was implemented over the past 10 years. We have signed a substantial package of documents which covers the Russian-Indian cooperation in the field of new technologies, including such areas as satellite navigation, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. But today we also reviewed other areas of collaboration where we have had a very good start. We discussed major joint projects, including cooperation in energy, nuclear power, oil and gas production, on which we signed a memorandum, as well as space research. We will boost our cooperation in global navigation satellite system GLONASS.

"Multifaceted cooperation between Russia and India not only matches the interests of our states and nations, but also meets the requirements of our time and the entire international context of our relations."

In general, I would like to note that cooperation between our two countries has not been limited to traditional areas of our business interaction, but also involves what is usually referred to as modernisation cooperation. As I see it, this is useful both for the Russian Federation and for India.

We have traditionally strong ties in the humanitarian sphere. We held the mutual culture years in our countries in 2008 and 2009. In 2011, we plan to organise a festival of Indian culture in Russia, and in 2012 a festival of Russian culture in India. I must say that the cultures of our countries enjoy great popularity with our people, and I am confident that these festivals will receive a huge following both in India and in the Russian Federation.

Naturally, we also talked about international issues. We reviewed the prospects for boosting cooperation in multilateral formats. I would like to emphasise separately that Russia considers India a strong and worthy candidate for a seat on the United Nations Security Council if the decision is made to expand it.

During the talks we analysed in depth the reforms of international financial institutions. We have been actively cooperating in the G20 format on this issue. And we also discussed aspects of strengthening security in Asia and the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and our interaction in the BRIC group context. We talked about the situation in Afghanistan and exchanged views on further cooperation in combating terrorism and drug trafficking. Russia welcomed India's accession as a full-fledged member to the Financial Action Task Force against money laundering (FATF) and the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism.

In closing, I would like to emphasise that intensive contacts at the top level on the one hand and relations between ordinary people of our countries on the other testify to the special affinity, friendship and predictability in our relationship. I am absolutely certain that such multifaceted cooperation between Russia and India not only matches the interests of our states and nations, but also meets the requirements of our time and the entire international context of our relations.

I would like to thank our Indian colleagues for their hospitality and fruitful collaboration. We hope to see the Prime Minister in Russia in 2011. The Indian delegation will receive a warm welcome. And, of course, we will continue our talks, which reinforce the privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India.

QUESTION: The Russian leadership has announced its plans to modernise Russia’s economy, which involves creating partnerships with other states in this area. In this context, I would like to ask the following question: could you name some concrete projects which Moscow and New Delhi could launch right now, and can the potential of such cooperation between Russia and India be assessed in financial terms?

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: If I may, I will go first, if this question, as I understand it, was addressed to both of us. We're really looking forward to the modernisation component of our cooperation, and this issue is always on the table, as they say. I would like to emphasise once again that the structure of Russia’s trade turnover can be different with different states, and I must admit that it is not always satisfactory because energy resources often dominate Russia’s turnover. Of course, Russia is a major energy power but that is not our country’s only advantage. When it comes to trade with our Indian friends, over 50% of the turnover is made up of innovative goods and engineering products, which by their nature will always be innovative because they are always evolving, otherwise they just would not fly. This really is very important because our cooperation is innovation-based already now. There are also certain super-innovation areas, such as GLONASS and cooperation in space. We would like to see these areas receive an extra dimension.

Incidentally, we have just signed a document on cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector. This is certainly one of the technological priorities of our country’s and our economy’s modernisation. Our Indian partners have extensive experience in the pharmaceuticals field, whereas we still need to build the foundation for the restoration of our pharmaceutical industry. And we would like to see it develop through cooperation with our friends, in particular, with our Indian colleagues, because the objective of the Russian state today is to create a full-fledged Russian pharmaceutical market saturated with relatively inexpensive and high quality drugs.

There are other areas of high-tech cooperation. Our nuclear cooperation with India is also a high-tech area and we are very pleased that it is developing so productively.

MANMOHAN SINGH: I entirely agree with President Medvedev. There is enormous unexploited potential for the development of our relations, particularly in the area of trade and economic affairs.

Of particular significance in terms of concrete projects is our cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, the hydrocarbons sectors, information technology centres, outer space and what President Medvedev just now mentioned, the immense potential of expanding cooperation in the field of pharmaceuticals.

QUESTION: This question is addressed to the Russian President. Your Excellency, how do you look at the granting of asylum to terrorists, who continue to operate with impunity in our region? And in what ways can India and Russia expand cooperation in combating terrorism, and also in stabilising Afghanistan? I would also be happy if the Prime Minister responded to this question.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Like India, Russia proceeds from the convictions that terrorists are criminals, criminals who commit crimes against innocent people. They are subject to unconditional extradition in order to bring them to justice. Those who harbour terrorists are hiding criminals, and there can be no other position on this issue.

We realise that the extradition process is often quite complex, and it is vital to promote international cooperation among all the states interested in fighting terrorism. And I assume that no normal modern civilised state can harbour terrorists as if they were law-abiding citizens or believe that they will change. They certainly must be punished for the crimes they have committed.

A regulatory framework in the form of bilateral agreements between states must be in place to ensure efficient extradition of terrorists. If such agreements exist, they must be applied. This concerns relations between all states, including the states in this region.

Our cooperation with our Indian partners in this field is productive, open and based on partnership. Unfortunately, both of our countries have suffered a great deal from terrorist attacks, and we are interested in strengthening both the diplomatic and legal aspects of this cooperation, as well as through intelligence and law enforcement components. We will do everything in our power to achieve this.

MANMOHAN SINGH: India and Russia are both victims of terrorism. As such it is a natural synergy of interests in working together to deal with this menace.

The most important means is that we should cooperate in information sharing, in intelligence sharing and in devising an effective counterterrorist strategy.

QUESTION: Mr President, Mr Prime Minister,

The Voice of Russia radio station broadcasts in the FM-band in India and, as far as we know, is very popular here, we receive a lot of letters from Indian listeners. They write that they would like to visit Russia, to study or work there, or just to get to know its culture. An agreement was signed today to ease visa restrictions. Could you please say which categories of citizens it will apply to and how will it benefit Russia and India?

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: We are delighted that Russian radio stations are popular in India and attract listeners. I would like to say that there are many opportunities in our country to get to know Indian culture. We know the popularity Indian films enjoy in Russia, for example.

I would just like to say that our nation has perhaps the greatest admiration for the Indian culture. We even have a satellite channel that shows Indian films 24 hours a day. There is probably no channel like that in any other country except India, but we have one in our country. Therefore, the two nations’ attraction to each other is very great and we are pleased that this relationship is developing.

Of course, the agreement on easing visa restrictions that we have signed today will facilitate the exchange of delegations, youth exchanges, other delegations, and also just personal visits between the people of our two countries. Therefore, I expect that this will give an additional impetus to the dialogue between our nations.

QUESTION: This is for His Excellency Dmitry Medvedev.

Today, both sides signed two agreements on hydrocarbon cooperation. How does Russia view the cooperation between India and Russia in the hydrocarbon sector?

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I told the Prime Minister today that India is a comfortable energy partner for us. This does not apply only to the nuclear energy sector, where we have made significant progress over the past few years, but also to cooperation in hydrocarbons trade. There are some very positive and serious examples of such cooperation. In particular, I am referring to the Sakhalin-1 project. An agreement has just been signed between the Indian state NGC company and Russia’s Financial Corporation Sistema representing private business. I think that this too is an example of productive and fruitful cooperation. Therefore, we are very optimistic about the outlook of this cooperation.

MANMOHAN SINGH: Thank you.

December 21, 2010, 15:00

New Delhi

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