New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said that India would seek to substantially expand bilateral trade with Russia from the current $8.5 billion, while enhancing ties in a host of areas such as defence, energy, space technology and health.
Ahead of his departure for Moscow on Thursday for the annual India-Russia Summit at the invitation of President Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister said his talks with the Kremlin leadership will also cover multilateral issues, notably on ways out of the global economic slowdown.
"I will discuss mechanisms to further expand our bilateral cooperation, particularly in the trade, economic and commercial fields," Manmohan Singh said in his statement ahead of his departure on the three-day visit.
"Our relations encompass diverse sectors, including nuclear energy, defence, space, science and technology, hydrocarbons, trade and investment and people-to-people exchanges," the prime minister said without dwelling on the recent protests over nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu being built with Russian assistance.
In Moscow, the prime minister he is to hold a summit meet with President Dmitry Medvedev on issues such as nuclear energy and hydrocarbons, apart from overseeing the signing of several pacts covering defence, health and science and technology fields.
Manmohan Singh said India's bilateral relations with Russia were based on "mutual trust, friendship and shared interests" and encompass diverse sectors, including nuclear energy, defence, space, science and technology, hydrocarbons, trade and investment and people-to-people exchanges.
Bilateral trade amounted to $8.535 billion in 2010, witnessing a 15 percent growth from 7.46 billion in 2009.
The two countries in 2009 decided to set a target of $20 billion worth of bilateral trade by 2015 with a focus on the fields of energy, pharmaceuticals, IT, steel, hydrocarbons, aerospace and agriculture.
The prime minister, who will be in Moscow till Saturday, will also hold a one-on-one meeting his Russian premier Vladimir Putin, who is at the centre of a political storm in the country over allegations of rigging in the Duma polls Dec 4 following which protests have erupted on the streeets of Moscow and other cities across Russia.
Manmohan Singh said during his talks with the president he would also focus on increased consultations with Russia in international forums.
"I will discuss with Medvedev how to further enhance our consultations in international forums like the United Nations Security Council, G20, BRICS as well as the East Asia Summit which Russia has recently joined. I am convinced that the India-Russia consultation on global issues is more necessary today than ever before."
He said he would also hold "in-depth exchange of views with the Russian leadership on the crisis facing the global economy and the political developments in our extended neighbourhood".
This, the prime minister said, included the situation in the "Gulf and Afghanistan and the impact of all this on peace and stability in the world."
"The perspectives of our countries on these developments are marked by a high degree of convergence."