India, Russia to hold trade, n-liability talks Monday

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 14, 2012 11:10 hrs

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) Ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit here, India and Russia are set to address some contentious issues like differences over civil nuclear liability, and discuss ways to intensify trade when Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin holds talks here next week.

Rogozin and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Monday will co-chair the 18th session of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC).

The talks will firm up the agenda for the annual summit talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Putin Nov 1.

Rogozin will also call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and co-chair the India-Russia Forum on Trade and Investments with Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma.

Bilateral trade increased to $8.8 billion last year. The two sides are looking to scale up trade exchanges to $20 billion by 2015.

During the talks, the two sides are expected to discuss issues relating to application of India's civil nuclear liability law to Units III and IV of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.

The talks between Krishna and Rogozin will also explore finding a mutually acceptable deal on the units III and IV of the KNPP, which have been bogged down in divergent perceptions over India's civil nuclear liability law.

Russia has contended that the civil nuclear liability law should not apply to these units as the agreement on them predates the 2010 civil liability law, and could be seen as "grandfathered" by the original 1988 agreement.

But India has made it clear that its national law is paramount and cannot be subverted. Moreover, New Delhi feels that making an exception for Russia will amount to diluting its civil nuclear law which will encourage the US and France to seek similar exemptions.

In July, the nuclear officials of India and Russia had signed a protocol in Moscow for Russian units III and IV. Russia has agreed to extend export credit amounting to $3.4 billion.

If the liability issues are resolved, a final agreement on Units III and IV could be signed during the visit.

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