29 Sep : India and Russia today took a significant step in cementing their strategic ties as they agreed to extend the tenure of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) by another ten years on the expiry of its present term in 2010.
After signing the protocol on IRIGC-MTC here today with his Russian counterpart, the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony, at a joint press conference, said that an apex committee will be formed to iron out problems on a fast-track basis on different issues related to ongoing and proposed projects for acquisition, joint development and production, joint defence R&D and interaction between the defence forces of both countries including joint exercises. He further said that the apex committee, jointly headed by Defence Secretaries of both countries, would meet atleast once in six months and its first meeting will be held in Moscow before the visit of the Russian President in December 2008.
Describing Russia as a ‘trusted partner’ Shri Antony said Indo-Russian relations have stood the test of time. Replying to a question on the existing bilateral defence cooperation, he said that it has been decided to procure 347 T-90 tanks from Russia. Another 1,000 tanks would be manufactured in India under transfer of technology. On the delay in acquisition of Gorshkov aircraft carrier, Shri Antony said the Indian side has considered the Russian demand for an escalation in price. “The same has been considered and would be placed before the cabinet for consideration,” he added. .
The Russian Defence Minister Mr. Anatoly Serdyukov said the defence ties between the two countries are transforming from a vendor-seller relationship to joint development and production partnership. .
Earlier, in his opening remarks to the IRIGC-MTC, Shri Antony stressed on the need to promote joint exercises, training and frequent exchange of delegations. “The early conclusion of the Status of Forces Agreement would provide the framework to hold mutually beneficial joint exercises regularly,” he added. Shri Antony pointed out that defence cooperation remains the cornerstone of Indo-Russian bilateral relations. “A major part of our defence inventory is of Russian origin, and continues to remain so even now,” he said. .