India and Russia, on Monday, reaffirmed their strong bilateral relations and pledged to "resolve all outstanding issues" related to the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu. Russia has been opposing the liability clauses which India is seeking to apply to nuclear power plants under its new Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during their meeting in Moscow October 21, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
After the meeting between Russian President Valdimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Kremlin Palace, which extended beyond schedule by over 90 minutes; both leaders pledged to soon reach an agreement on setting up Units 3 and 4 in Kudankulam. They said officials had been directed to sort all outstanding issues.
All hopes of reaching a formal agreement on Monday, however, were dashed, as the Russian side wanted to relook at the liability obligations in the agreed documents. Resulting from the "last-minute hurdle," the formal announcement of an agreement was not possible on Monday.
India's controversial nuclear liability law has delayed the country's civil nuclear cooperation with the U.S. and is threatening to delay the potential deal with Russia to set up two more nuclear reactors (Units 3 and 4) at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant complex.
A joint statement issued after the summit-level talks said, both Russia and India agreed "to expeditiously finalise" the General Framework Agreement and the techno-commercial offer for Unit 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.
The meeting between the two leaders comes at a time with the Russian-made Unit 1 at Kudankulam attained criticality in July and is expected to join the power grid soon. The Unit 2 at Kudankulam, also being built with Russian assistance, is expected to be completed by next year.
At press meet after the meeting, Mr Putin expressed happiness that Unit 1 had attained criticality and will be connected to the power grid, "in the next few hours."
The Indian prime minister, meanwhile, said he "conveyed to President Putin our [India's] commitment to fully implement the road map on civil nuclear cooperation that was signed during his [Putin's] visit to India in 2010."
Terming the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant as an important symbol of bilateral strategic relations between the two countries, Dr Singh said, officials of the two countries have been directed "to resolve all outstanding issues at the earliest."
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