India, Russia set to expand oil, gas cooperation - Indian govt.

Other News Materials 29 June 2006 10:38

(RIA Novosti) - India and Russia are set to foster oil and gas cooperation and will soon announce about new projects, an Indian government statement said Wednesday.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov met with Indian Minister of Petroleum and Natural gas Shri Murli Deora in New Delhi Wednesday, reports Trend.

"India and Russia today emphasized the need for further enhancing cooperation in the oil and gas sector between the two countries," the government statement said. "The two sides agreed to take forward the cordial and fruitful relations in general and in hydrocarbon sector in particular."

Deora said India was looking to cooperate with Russia in bilateral oil and gas projects and with third countries as well.

"India and Russia have a very good experience of working together in the Sakhalin-I project which went on stream last year," Shri Deora said according to the statement. "The Indian companies are also keen to work with Russian companies both in India and Russia as well as in third countries."

Zhukov reaffirmed Russia's interest in an Iran-Pakistan-India $7 billion pipeline project.

He also said new joint oil and gas projects could be announced during an upcoming visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Earlier on Wednesday, Zhukov discussed bilateral trade and economic ties

with Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram. The sides agreed to hold the first session of the Russian-Indian working group in Moscow on July 5-6 to work out proposals to build up bilateral trade.

Earlier this year, Russia and India, which are traditional military partners, agreed to triple trade to $10 billion a year in five years' time.

The two officials also discussed India's rupee debt to the former Soviet Union, which equals $1 billion. Moscow is seeking repayment of the debt through joint investment projects rather than in the form of Indian goods.

During his visit to India in March, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov said Russia was ready for investment projects in India as repayment of the country's rupee debt.

He said the projects could include a joint venture to produce titanium dioxide and a center for servicing Russian airplanes. Space and nuclear energy also offer vast prospects for bilateral cooperation, the Russian government said.

At a meeting with Russian diplomats Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said India was a priority partner.