Alexander Lukashevich: "The cultural cooperation and humanitarian exchanges is a traditional area of relations between our countries". Source: RIA Novosti / Alexander Kudenko
The Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is in Russia this week. Could you brief us on his visit?
I can say that on October 2, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov will be holding talks with Salman Khurshid. In addition, the Indian minister will participate as the co-chair of the 19th meeting of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC). The commission’s co-chairman on the Russian side is Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.
What is the likely agenda of the talks between the foreign ministers?
The focus of the foreign ministers meeting is a review of the implementation of the agreements reached during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official visit to India in December 2012, the preparation of the upcoming high-level contacts and for the ministerial meeting of the RIC (Russia, India and China). Current bilateral and international issues will also be discussed. Particular attention will be paid to the situation in Syria, the Middle East and North Africa, cooperation with the framework of the UN, as well as in the BRICS and the SCO.
How is the Russian-Indian cooperation in business and trade progressing?
Since 2000, the bilateral trade volume has increased six-fold. A positive momentum could be maintained even during the global financial and economic crisis. In 2012, the trade turnover reached a record high of $11 billion, compared with $8.9 billion in 2011, thus an increase of 24.5 percent. Of particular note is that high-tech products dominate the mutual trade turnover. According to preliminary estimates, the volume of trade in 2013 will exceed that of the previous year.
The construction of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant can be called a successful example of the Russian- Indian partnership. This year, the physical start up of the station’s first unit took place and work is under way to start its commercial operation. The second power-generating unit is in the final phase of construction. The most reliable and advanced technological solutions in the field of peaceful uses of atomic energy are implemented in the construction of the Kudankulam plant.
Could you describe the IRIGC’s contribution to the development of bilateral cooperation?
The IRIGC has played a key role in bilateral cooperation. At the 18th meeting of the commission in New Delhi on October 15 last year the main directions of cooperation and future joint projects were approved. Significant progress was made, especially in nuclear power, metallurgy, mining, jewellery, chemical industry, pharmaceuticals, automotive, banking and financial services, science and technology and tourism.
In the course of the IRIGC’s next meeting, priority projects of bilateral cooperation will be identified. The top priority goals include the development of economic relations through investment and joint ventures, implementation of agreements in innovative and high-tech sectors (biomedical, nanotechnology, information and communication technologies). A special emphasis is placed on the modernization of the economy. The Russian-Indian Forum on Trade and Investment held in St Petersburg on September 20, contributed to the promotion of bilateral cooperation in these areas. More than 100 delegates, including heads of leading Russian and Indian companies participated in it. We expect that the first meeting constituted within the IRIGC, the Indo-Russian Working Group on priority investment projects, which will be held in Moscow on October 2 to be meaningful and fruitful.
How is the Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation progressing at the present stage?
Bilateral cooperation is developing steadily. This year on June 29, the Indian side was handed over another frigate, built at Russian shipyards at our partners’ orders. In November, the Vikramaditya heavy aircraft carrier, whose testing is almost complete, will be handed over to the Indian Navy. Joint projects in developing a fifth generation fighter, a multi-role transport aircraft, and BrahMos cruise missiles are being carried out successfully.
What can be said about the Russian-Indian contacts in the cultural and humanitarian fields?
The cultural cooperation and humanitarian exchanges is a traditional area of relations between our countries. As part of the Festival of Indian Culture in Russia colourful activities are planned in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Veliky Novgorod, Ufa, Kazan, Vladimir, Yaroslavl, Kislovodsk and Rostov-on-Don. Next year, a Festival of Russian Culture will be held in India.
First published in Russian on the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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