India, Russia agree to create energy bridge

New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) India and Russia on Tuesday agreed to create an “energy bridge” with the possibility of gas pipelines for direct gas delivery from Russia to India.

“…Both sides launched an industry level Working Group – led by Gazprom, the biggest Russian gas company, and a consortium of Indian oil and gas companies – for creating an ‘energy bridge’ between the two countries through possible gas pipelines for direct gas delivery from Russia to India,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement following the 22nd Session of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) here.While External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj headed the Indian delegation in the talks, the Russian side was led by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.The meeting was held in the run-up to the annual bilateral summit to be held between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Goa on October 15.

According to the statement, connectivity was a major theme during the discussions.”Implementation of the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) project and the launch of the ‘Green Corridor’ project for customs facilitation are major steps towards better connectivity and trade facilitation,” it said.

“Cooperation between Indian and Russian railways in the field of dedicated freight corridor, modernisation of railway stations, and training of railway personnel emerged as a new area to broaden cooperation in transports & logistics.”

According to the statement, the commission also directed ministries and departments concerned to focus on key sectors in the trade and investment spheres to finalise concrete outcomes by the forthcoming summit in October 2016.

“India and Russia reiterated their strong desire to further broaden their strategic cooperation with emphasis on key sectors such as nuclear energy, space, modernisation, high technology, disaster management, and supercomputing,” it stated.

India-Russia cooperation in nuclear energy reached a new milestone with the dedication of Unit 1 of the Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu by Prime Minister Modi and President Putin last month.

“Both sides renewed their commitment to work together on remaining stages of Kudankulam 2,3,4,5 and 6; and other projects through localisation under the Make in India programme,” the statement said.

Cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector also figured during the talks.

“Indian companies are closely engaged with Russian partners to develop cooperation under the Russian ‘Pharma 2020 Programme’,” the statement said.

“On the sidelines of the Commission’s meeting, an Indian company Wockhardt and a Russian company PharmEco have signed an agreement for joint project for insulin production in Russia under the Pharma 2020 Programme.”

Student and faculty exchange, cultural cooperation and tourism were also discussed.

“There has been 20 percent increase in the number of Indian students studying in Russia, while there has been 14 percent increase in Russian tourists visiting India in recent months,” the statement said.

India and Russia will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and the erstwhile USSR (now Russian Federation) next year.

“A series of activities are being planned to celebrate this important milestone,” the statement said.

“There will be a new emphasis on promoting cooperation among various states in India and federal regions in Russia, especially the Far East region of Russia- as attractive investment destinations.”

Tuesday’s meeting comes in the wake of the India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue held here last month.

–IANS

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