Index

DATE=10/05/00

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=INDIA/RUSSIA (L-O)

NUMBER=2-267489

BYLINE=ANJANA PASRICHA

DATELINE=NEW DELHI

CONTENT=

INTRO: Russian President Vladimir Putin has concluded a three-day official visit to India with a call for boosting business ties, and a commitment to expand nuclear energy cooperation. Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, the Russian leader spent the last day of his Indian visit in Bombay - the country's financial capital.

TEXT: President's Putin's last stopover in India was at the country's premier atomic research facility, where he offered to cooperate with India on nuclear power generation.

He told scientists gathered at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center in Bombay that Russia is helping India build a two-thousand-megawatt power plant in the Tamil Nadu state of Southern India.

India wants to build more nuclear power plants to lessen its dependence on expensive oil imports. But its plans have been hampered by current international rules on the transfer of nuclear technology to India following its 1998 nuclear tests. Russia's offer will help New Delhi to get the nuclear reactors.

President Putin also told a large gathering of Indian business leaders in Bombay that it is time to halt the slide in bilateral trade between the two countries. He said the Russian economy is stabilizing and urged businessmen to use the opportunity offered by the liberalization of the economy.

He said Russia is ready to buy more traditional Indian products, such as tea and tobacco. Agreements are also being worked out for sale of Russian diamonds to India, which is the world's biggest importer of these gems. India cuts and re-exports the diamonds.

President Putin asked New Delhi to relax anti-dumping legislation concerning Indian goods.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, two-way annual trade between the two countries has dwindled to just one-point-six-billion dollars. It remains to be seen if President Putin's visit will lead to stronger investment ties.

Meanwhile, a joint statement issued at the end of President Putin's visit stressed Moscow's and New Delhi's common interests in combating terrorism. Both countries have called for firm measures against the Taleban regime in Afghanistan, which they said - supports international terrorism.

President Putin is the first Russian leader to visit India in seven-years. Both countries were close allies in the Cold War era. That relationship dwindled in recent years. During this visit officials from both sides emphasized their ties now would be based on common interests, such as trade and regional stability. (SIGNED)

NEB/AP/RAE