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Posts Tagged ‘russia’

India, Russia to mull market opening pact; target $20 bn trade

Posted by Admin on December 21, 2010

http://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/article965649.ece?homepage=true

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma talks with Russian Federation's Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov during the India- Russia Forum on Trade and Investments in New Delhi on Monday.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma talks with Russian Federation‘s Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov during the India– Russia Forum on Trade and Investments in New Delhi on Monday.

 

Committed to strengthening economic ties at the highest level, India and Russia on Tuesday agreed to consider a comprehensive agreement in this regard and push bilateral trade to USD 20 billion by 2015.

The two key members of the fast-rising BRIC (Brazil-Russia-India-China) economies recognised potential for mutual investment in the private sectors and viewed bilateral energy cooperation as a key component of their strategic partnership.

A joint statement issued after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev here, said the two sides “agreed to continue their efforts to achieve the strategic target of bilateral trade volume of USD 20 billion by 2015…

“Both sides agreed to consider the possibility of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) taking into account the implementation of the agreements on constituting the customs union between Russia, Kazakhastan and Belarus…,” it said.

The bilateral trade in 2009-10 stood at USD 4.54 billion and the two nations aspire to step it up more than four-fold in the next five years.

India is in the process of dismantling duty barrires through trade pacts with several countries and blocs like Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and European Union.

Such pacts are already under implmentation with ASEAN, Singapore and South Korea.

Russia, as a major energy producing country and India as a big consumer, viewed energy cooperation “as an important pillar of the strategic partnership“.

They also reviewed the ongoing efforts to establish joint cooperation ventures between Indian and Russian companies in the oil and gas sector.

It was agreed that the inter-governmental agreement on cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector signed during the Summit, must serve as a legal mechanism.

This is to expedite governmental clearances on both sides to facilitate the creation and operation of joint ventures.

They would promote specific projects including upstream and downstream activities in India, Russia and third countries.

The two leaders noted that the conclusion of the agreement on simplification of visa procedures would help enhance contacts between the business communities of the two countries.

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AP Interview: CG admiral asks for Arctic resources

Posted by Admin on October 19, 2010

ABOVE NORTHERN ALASKA – The ice-choked reaches of the northern Arctic Ocean aren’t widely perceived as an international shipping route. But global warming is bringing vast change, and Russia, for one, is making an aggressive push to establish top of the world sea lanes.

This year, a Russian ship carrying up to 90,000 metric tons of gas condensate sailed across the Arctic and through the Bering Strait to the Far East. Last year, a Russian ship went the other way, leaving from South Korea with industrial parts. Russia plans up to eight such trips next year, using oil-type tankers with reinforced hulls to break through the ice.

All of which calls for more U.S. Coast Guard facilities and equipment in the far north to secure U.S. claims and prepare for increased human activity, according to Rear Admiral Christopher C. Colvin, who is in charge of all Coast Guard operations in Alaska and surrounding waters.

“We have to have presence up there to protect our claims for the future, sovereignty claims, extended continental shelf claims,” Colvin told The Associated Press in a wide-ranging interview conducted aboard a C-130 on a lumbering flight to the Arctic Ocean.

The advent of Russian shipping across the Arctic is of particular concern to Alaska and the U.S. because “there’s one way in and out of the Arctic Ocean for over half the world, and that’s the Bering Strait,” Colvin said.

The 56-mile wide strait lies between northwestern Alaska and Siberia, separating the North American and Asian continents and connecting the Bering Sea to the Arctic Ocean.

“The Bering Strait will end up becoming a significant marine highway in the future, and we’re seeing it with Russia, the way they are promoting this maritime transportation route above Russia right now, today.”

Warming has facilitated such travel. The National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado reported last month that Arctic sea ice coverage was recorded at a summer low of 1.84 million square miles. It said sea ice melted to the third-lowest level since satellite monitoring began in 1979.

More open water is something Colvin’s veteran icebreaker captains confirm.

They’re also concerned about the state of their fleet.

The Coast Guard has three icebreakers, of which only one — the Healy — is operational. The two other icebreakers, the Polar Sea and the Polar Star — “are broken right now,” Colvin said. Both are docked in Seattle, with the Polar Sea expected back in service next June. The Polar Star isn’t expected back until 2013.

Help could be on the way. A bill that awaits President Obama’s signature would have the government conduct a 90-day review of the icebreaker fleet, looking at possibly renovating the current fleet and building new icebreakers.

Colvin said it’s imperative the Coast Guard has icebreakers operating in the Arctic, and not only to have a presence there to protect U.S. claims.

“We need to have U.S. vessels with U.S. scientists operating in the U.S. Arctic, conducting research,” he said.

Such research was the basis for last week’s flight to the Arctic Ocean, deploying two buoys to collect information from both ice floes and the open ocean. However, the buoys in the University of Washington project failed. The first was not deployed after a malfunction aboard the C-130, and the other did not transmit data after it was dropped out the back of the plane and fluttered to the open water via a parachute.

Icebreakers aren’t the only need for the Coast Guard. It also needs operations in northern Alaska since the closest base is in Kodiak, about 1,000 miles to the south.

“What I’d like to see someday is a hangar in Barrow,” he said of the nation’s northernmost city. It would have to be large enough to house a Coast Guard C-130 and perhaps H60 helicopters.

He bases that need on an incident in October 2008 when the Coast Guard flew one of the cargo planes to theNorth Pole. They had to stop on the way back in Barrow, and left the airplane outside overnight.

Arctic temperatures caused the seals on the propellers to freeze, forcing a four-day delay to fly mechanics to Barrow to change out all the seals.

“That just doesn’t work. We really need a structure that we can put our C-130s in to protect them when we come up here and operate,” he said.

Adventurers going to the opening Arctic are another reality for the Coast Guard. Two years ago, seven people went to the Arctic, including two people who had to be rescued while trying to kayak across the Bering Straight. This year, 18 thrillseekers ventured north. Future rescues are a certainty as more people venture to the Arctic.

“I’m sure people will say, ‘Why are we going to waste U.S. government money on a rescue?'” Colvin said. “But you know, that’s our responsibility, our requirements to rescue anybody that does get in distress.”

This month, Shell Oil said it has applied for one exploration well in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska’s north coast and will seek a permit for a second.

While Colvin said he is always concerned about a possible oil spill, he’s not as wary about oil exploratory operations in the summer months in open Arctic water.

“Open water, summer months, 24 hours of daylight, shallow water, that’s been done successfully throughout the world, I’m not particularly concerned about that,” he said.

“Where I become concerned is year-round production in the winter months up in the Arctic,” Colvin said, adding more science, research and information is needed before moving forward.

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Obama, Medvedev seal deal on nuclear arms pact

Posted by Admin on March 27, 2010

Obama, Medvedev seal deal on nuclear arms pact

Sat, Mar 27 10:33 AM

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sealed a landmark arms-control treaty on Friday to slash their countries’ nuclear arsenals by a third and will sign it on April 8 in Prague.

After months of deadlock and delay, a breakthrough deal on a replacement for the Cold War-era START pact marked Obama’s most significant foreign policy achievement since taking office and also bolsters his effort to “reset” ties with Moscow.

Obama and Medvedev put the finishing touches on the historic accord during a phone call, committing the world’s biggest nuclear powers to deep weapons cuts.

“I’m pleased to announce that after a year of intense negotiations, the United States and Russia have agreed to the most comprehensive arms-control agreement in nearly two decades,” Obama told reporters.

But he could still face an uphill struggle for ratification this year by the US Senate, where support from opposition Republicans will be hard to come by after a bitter fight that ended in congressional approval of his healthcare overhaul.

In Moscow, Medvedev hailed the agreement — which also must be approved by Russian lawmakers — as reflecting a “balance of the interests of both countries.”

Russia made clear, however, that it reserved the right to suspend any strategic arms cuts if it felt threatened by future US deployment of a proposed Europe-based missile defense system that Moscow bitterly opposes.

The agreement replaces a 1991 pact that expired in December. Each side would have seven years after the treaty takes effect to reduce stockpiles of their most dangerous weapons — those already deployed — to 1,550 from the 2,200 now allowed and also cut their numbers of launchers in half.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the new pact sends a message to Iran and North Korea, both locked in nuclear standoffs with the West, of a commitment to thwart nuclear proliferation.

“WE INTEND TO LEAD”

“With this agreement, the United States and Russia — the two largest nuclear powers in the world — also send a clear signal that we intend to lead,” Obama said.

Signaling prospects for cuts by other nuclear powers, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said: “As soon as it becomes useful to do so, the U.K. stands ready to include our nuclear arsenal in a future multilateral disarmament process.”

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called it “a milestone that will promote overall nuclear disarmament,” and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso congratulated Obama and Medvedev on “this historic agreement.”

The treaty adds another chapter in a quarter century of efforts to make the world safer through nuclear arms control, after a 1986 summit between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev laid the groundwork.

Obama and Medvedev will sign the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, a former Soviet satellite now in NATO.

The April 8 meeting will be close to the anniversary of Obama’s speech in Prague offering his vision for eventually ridding the world of nuclear weapons, and should help build momentum for a nuclear security summit he will host in Washington on April 12-13.

The treaty does not impose limits on US development of a missile defense system in Europe, which had been a major sticking point in negotiations. Washington insists such an anti-missile shield would be aimed at Iran, not at Russia.

“Missile defense is not constrained by this treaty,” US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said either side has the right to stop reducing offensive nuclear weapons if the other beefs up its missile defenses — a warning of consequences if Moscow sees a threat to its security.

“DARKEST DAYS”

Obama said the new treaty would help Washington and Moscow put behind them the “darkest days of the Cold War.”

“It cuts, by about a third, the nuclear weapons that the United States and Russia will deploy,” Obama said. “It significantly reduces missiles and launchers. It puts in place a strong and effective verification regime.

“And it maintains the flexibility that we need to protect and advance our national security, and to guarantee our unwavering commitment to the security of our allies.”

The new pact could strengthen Obama politically, building on the domestic political victory he scored this week when he signed sweeping healthcare reform into law.

Obama still faces a fight to get a two-thirds majority for Senate ratification of the treaty at a time of bipartisan rancor after the bitter fight over healthcare and other parts of his domestic agenda.

Republicans have criticized his national security policies and are in no mood to cooperate, especially ahead of November congressional elections where they hope to score big gains.

Despite that, Clinton insisted the prospects were good for bipartisan support for the treaty.

The final deal also signaled improved relations with Russia that had been badly frayed under Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush. Obama needs Moscow onboard for any further international sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

It showed that Moscow and Washington can find a way to work together despite differences over a host of issues from Georgia to missile defense in Europe.

Reuters

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