Russia sees India as long-term partner in energy sector
|Iran pipeline vital for energy security, regional cooperation: Manmohan|
Moscow: Russia sees India as a "long-term partner" in the energy sector and is looking to vastly expand the scope of the bilateral relationship in the field of oil and gas exploration and production, Russian President Vladimir Putin said here on Tuesday.
In a joint press conference to mark the end of the sixth annual summit between India and Russia, he appreciated India's equity participation in the Sakhalin-I project and said the new Indian expressions of interest in further developing oil fields in Sakhalin — which require an overall investment of $10 billion — are "a clear indication of the fact that this has been a very successful beginning."
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Sakhalin-I as India's "most important overseas investment."
Asked about the Iran-India gas pipeline, Dr. Singh said the project made sense from the perspective of both energy security and regional détente. "India's needs for commercial energy are increasing very rapidly ... and [our] dependence on the outside world will increase," he said. "Therefore, we are in need of exploring the possibilities of utilising gas which is available in our neighbourhood in Iran for our development purposes. I think the overall demand picture is very encouraging and I believe if the countries of the region get together, this gas can become an important source of promoting regional cooperation."
The Iran nuclear issue also figured in the discussions between the two leaders, said Mr. Putin. "We did hope that our Iranian partners will comply with all commitments and undertakings they have given, even unilaterally." He added that neither Russia nor India believed the potential for the International Atomic Energy Agency closing the Iran dossier had been exhausted. Dr. Singh expressed the hope that the issue would be resolved within the framework of the IAEA.
On the economic and trade front, the Prime Minister announced the decision to set up a joint working group to examine the feasibility of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between India and Russia.
He said he had assured Mr. Putin that India supported Russia's accession to the World Trade Organisation and that a bilateral Accession Agreement would be concluded at the earliest.
To a question about trilateral cooperation between Russia, India and China, Mr. Putin said the three countries were interested in "directly contributing to peace and stability in the Asian region." He welcomed India's membership — as an observer — in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
Dr. Singh described Russia, India and China as being among the fastest developing economies of the world and said bilateral and trilateral initiatives were needed to exploit the full potential of cooperation.