Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will leave today on a five-day visit to
Russia and China, both permanent members of the UN Security Council and
important global players, in what could be his last major foreign tour
before general elections expected in the first half of 2014.
energy, defence and trade are expected to top his agenda in Moscow, an
agreement to prevent face-offs along their disputed frontier and ramping
up trade and investment are on the anvil for Beijing.
back-to-back visits come even as the opposition BJP has been raising the
pitch seeking a probe in the prime minister's alleged involvement in a
scandal involving distribution of coal mining licenses.
Moscow visit from October 20 to 22 would see the prime minister
attending his 10th India-Russia Annual Summit and the fifth one in
Moscow. His summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Monday comes
as both countries are working out a "techno-commercial" agreement on
the third and fourth reactors for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in
Both sides would discuss energy cooperation as Russia
is known to have one of the largest hydrocarbon reserves. OVL, the
external arm of India's ONGC, has investments in the Sakhalin oil fields
and in Tomsk. India is seeking to tap the vast oil and gas reserves in
Russia's Far East and the Arctic zone.
The prime minister would
also be conferred a honorary doctorate by Moscow's Institute of
International Relations. Both sides are expected to ink several
agreements, including one on the exchange of convicted and sentenced
Russia is also seeking the outcome of the probe into the
sinking of the submarine INS Sindhurakshak last month, an informed
source told IANS. The Russian-made Kilo class sub sank after on board
explosions, killing 18 people.
In Beijing, on the second leg of
his visit, the boundary issue would be in focus, including a Border
Defence Cooperation Agreement which aims to prevent face-offs between
troops of both sides along the 4,000-km boundary they share.
Secretary Sujatha Singh, during a briefing Friday, stressed that
maintenance of peace and tranquility on the boundary is an "important
factor" of India-China bilateral relations and forms the "fundamental
basis on which the rest of the bilateral relations can progress".
issue of Beijing issuing stapled visas to two archers from Arunachal
Pradesh is likely to figure in the talks between the prime minister and
his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang. The foreign secretary said Friday
that while both sides need to be given more time to resolve boundary
issues, "we want to reiterate that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and
inalienable part of India".
India is also concerned about China's
plans to build two 1,000MW nuclear reactors in Pakistan. The adverse
trade deficit, which stands at $39 billion, is another issue causing
concern to India. New Delhi is seeking wider access, including for
pharmaceuticals and IT, to Chinese markets.
President Xi Jinping is to host a banquet in honour of the prime minister on Oct 23.
Oct 24, the prime minister would address the Central Party School of
the Chinese Communist Party. He would also meet former premier Wen
Jiabao with whom he shared a special relationship.