New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh embarks 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.
While 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.
The 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 licences.
The Moscow visit October 20-22 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 Tamil Nadu.
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 an 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 persons.