India, Russia to sign civilian nuclear deal in December
Russia and India Monday laid the groundwork for a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement, paving the way for the signing of the pact during Russian President Dmitri Medvedev's visit to New Delhi in December, officials and news reports said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held discussions with his counterpart, Pranab Mukherjee, in the Indian capital, which focussed on the nuclear agreement, officials in the Indian foreign ministry said.
Under the bilateral nuclear cooperation pact, Russia would build four atomic reactors in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the IANS news agency reported, quoting Indian diplomatic sources, reported dpa.
The pact was agreed upon during a visit of former Russian president Vladimir Putin last year and follows similar agreements New Delhi has signed with the United States and France.
It would be the third bilateral nuclear pact India would ink after the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) in early September lifted its embargo of nuclear commerce with New Delhi.
"We discussed prospects for future bilateral cooperation in the [civilian nuclear] field," Mukherjee told reporters at a joint press conference with Lavrov.
According to Indian officials, Medvedev would make his first official visit to India starting December 3.
Mukherjee conveyed India's appreciation of Russia's support in the NSG.
"India has an impeccable record on non-proliferation," Lavrov said.
"That is why we supported India in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and in the NSG," he added, referring to the UN's international nuclear watchdog.
"India is a very responsible player in the international arena," Lavrov said while reiterating Moscow's support for New Delhi's candidacy for the UN Security Council. "India is very powerful in economic terms and has political clout."
Lavrov, who made a daylong visit, held talks with Mukherjee on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues, including UN reforms, and bilateral and multilateral efforts to tackle the global financial crisis and terrorism.
Lavrov also met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The Russian minister flew back to Moscow Monday evening.