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Carrier, Haripur on table
Putin

New Delhi, March 11: India and Russia will ink defence and civil nuclear co-operation pacts worth $10 billion tomorrow during Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s day-long “working visit” to New Delhi.

The discussions will include India’s recent offer to Russia to build a nuclear power plant in Haripur, Bengal.

The two countries will sign defence deals worth $4 billion, including the renegotiated pact on aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, which is undergoing a refit at Russia’s Sevmash shipyard. The pact was delayed because of disagreement over the warship’s price.

Yesterday, the cabinet committee on security cleared the fresh price of $2.35 billion for the aircraft carrier, which India has renamed INS Vikramaditya and had originally contracted for $974 million.

Other defence contracts likely to be discussed include a $1.2-billion deal for 29 MiG-29k maritime fighters and the joint development of the stealth Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). India is also likely to press for access to Russian nuclear-reprocessing technology to take forward civil nuclear ties.

“We are aiming to take forward our bilateral co-operation in strategic sectors like hydrocarbons, civil nuclear energy, space and defence. The two leaders will also be holding discussions on energising our trade and investment ties,” foreign ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said.

The two sides are looking to increase their bilateral trade from the current $7.5 billion to $20 billion by 2015.

In 2008, India and Russia had signed an agreement on the construction of additional nuclear power plants at the Kudankulam site and of Russian-designed nuclear power plants at new sites in India.

“I may add that recently it was decided to offer an additional site to Russia at Haripur in West Bengal,” Prakash said.

India may also demand a stake in the Sakhalin-3 project in Russia’s Far East and the gas-fields in east Siberia and Yamal peninsula.

ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas investment arm of state owned ONGC, may sign an agreement with Russian gas monopoly Gazprom OAO, which is developing the Yamal field, sources said.

OVL has 20 per cent interest in the Sakhalin-1 project and wants an agreement with Russia’s Rosneft to jointly bid for Sakhalin-3.

Putin will meet President Pratibha Patil and Sonia Gandhi. He will lead a team of several ministers and senior officials, including Deputy Prime Ministers Sergei Ivanov and Sergei Sobyanin.

A 15-member business delegation will be accompanying them, their interests ranging from diamonds to aviation.

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