PM Modi pays homage at Piskarovskoye Cemetery in St Petersburg, will meet Russian President Putin later

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 01 June 2017, 01:31 PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, the two leaders are expected to sign a host of agreements, with all eyes on a deal to build with Russia's help the last two units of India's largest nuclear power plant.

On his arrival in St Petersburg on Wednesday night (IST), PM Modi tweeted, "Reached the historic city of St. Petersburg. Looking forward to a fruitful visit aimed at cementing India-Russia relations."

On Thursday, PM Modi first paid homage at Piskarovskoye Cemetery at 10:20 AM.

Later he will attend a restricted meeting with President Putin, which be followed by working lunch. At around 4 PM, local time, PM Modi will participate in CEOs forum and then will proceed to ink agreements with Russia and release press statements. 

At the end of the day, President Putin will honour PM Modi with a private dinner at 7 PM.

The two sides are expected to ink 12 agreements in wide-ranging sectors, including in science and technology, railways, cultural exchanges and other business areas between private parties also, in addition to a “vision statement” that the two leaders will release.

Read | Modi's four-nation tour: India, Spain sign 7 agreements during PM's visit

The focus, however, will be on the agreement on a line of credit for building Unit 5 and 6 of the Kundankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu. 

The reactors are being built by India’s Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and Russia’s Atomstroyexport company, a subsidiary of Rosatom, the regulatory body of the Russian nuclear complex.

The nuclear deal, if signed, would be the centrepiece of the summit, the second time in eight months after their last bilateral in Goa in October 2016.

If signed, the two units of the plant, with the capacity to produce 1000 MW of electricity each, will significantly boost the country’s nuclear power generation. The current nuclear power generation capacity of all 22 nuclear power reactors is 6780 MW.

In October 2015, a joint statement between Modi and Putin promised the signing of a General Framework Agreement on the nuclear units by December 2016. After an inter-ministerial group cleared the project, it was sent to the Prime Minister's Office for approval. But, sources said, the Credit Protocol, or a line of credit that Russia was to provide, proved to be a hurdle.

“There is a lot of mutual trust and personal chemistry between the two leaders that has developed over the last three years,” Pankaj Saran, India's ambassador to Russia, told PTI.

At the summit on Thursday, “the leaders will take stock of the current relationship and discuss a blueprint for a vision of the future,” he said.

India's traditional ties with Russia dating back to the days of Soviet Union have been complicated by Moscow's growing economic and political alliances with China and Pakistan.

However, Saran said India's relations with Russia are independent of its ties with Pakistan.

“Our relations with Russia is on a different pedestal and we have a full agenda between us that is important to both of us. We have clear understanding of our core concerns and vital security interests,” he said, hours before Modi was to arrive from Spain.

Read | PM Modi-Russian prez Putin meet: Officials working overtime to iron out nuclear pact details


First Published: Thursday, June 01, 2017 10:23 AM
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