Visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday oversaw the signing of an agreement to sell to India 42 Su-30 jets in kit form as the Kremlin scrambles to retain ties with its Soviet-era arms purchaser.
The agreement comes after India – the biggest importer of military hardware among emerging nations –– had earlier this year rejected Moscow’s bid to supply its traditional ally with 126 multi-role combat aircraft in a deal worth about $12 billion.
The two leaders sought to play up progress in bilateral ties, stressing they withstood the test of time.
“Our cooperation with India in the military technical sphere has reached an unprecedented level,” Medvedev said in comments released by the Kremlin.
After the talks the two leaders oversaw the signing of an agreement to “render technical assistance in the organisation of production of the SU-30 plane,” the Kremlin said in a statement without providing further details.
The Kremin said ahead of the signing the two sides had planned to ink an agreement to supply India with 42 Su-30 jets in kit form that would be assembled in India.
After talks in Moscow with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Singh said that his country plans to start up a Russian-built nuclear power plant within weeks. He said the first two reactors at the Kudankulam plant were close to being activated.
The power station in the southern state of Tamil Nadu is one of several planned power projects that are seen as vital to plugging huge electricity shortages that have damaged economic growth.
However, protests by local people against the power station gathered pace after the Fukushima accident in Japan in March.
“We are confident that we will be able to persuade some of these people that their concerns are adequately taken care of, that our nuclear plants are safe and sound and there is nothing to worry about with regards to their safety,” Singh said.
“I am therefore confident that in a couple of weeks we should be able to go ahead with operationalising Kudankulam, and thereafter, by a period of six months, Kudankulam 2.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2011.
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