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PM arrives in St Petersburg for G-8 session

By Archana Masih in St Petersburg
Last updated on: July 16, 2006 22:32 IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday arrived in St Petersburg, Russia for the G-8 summit.

He was received at the Pulkovo-I Airport by St Patersburg's Vice Governor Lobko Viktor Nikolaevich and senior Russian and Indian officials.

Later in the day, the prime minister held separate meetings with Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula and leaders from other G-8 outreach nations -- South Africa, China and Mexico -- besides Congo and Kazakhstan.

He discussed issues that would come up on Monday during their meeting with the G-8 nations -- US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Japan and Canada.

The meetings with the outreach countries were described by official sources as cordial and friendly as all the nations had more or less a common view on the issues confronting the G-8, including global terrorism.

Earlier, pointing out his agenda for the summit, the prime minister had said that energy security, education and the fight against infectious diseases were the three main themes of the G8. 

"We have a lot to do nationally. In the world we live in, international cooperation on a global scale is essential to meet formidable challenges like HIV, Malaria, TB and educational backlog in Africa and Asia," he told media persons.

On energy security, Dr Singh said that a more predictable supply arrangement needed to be worked out at the global level so that the quest for energy security became a reality. He also said that this provided India an opportunity to sensitize the world leaders about its concerns in regard to terrorism.

"This is a concern (of the world economy) that world leaders shared with India, as terrorism anywhere and everywhere is a threat to the civilized way of living and no cause is great enough to justify the killing of the innocent men, women and children. We would impress upon world leaders that they must stand united with India in this war against terrorism," he said.

On the concluding day of the G-8 summit, Dr Singh will meet United States President George Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

The meeting with Bush is slated for Monday morning and is expected to last 40 minutes.

"With President Putin, I would hold comprehensive discussions on a wide range of issues. Russia has agreed to supply fuel for the Tarapur plant and I wish to thank President Putin for that same. We will also review our cooperation in economic and other areas of mutual concern," Dr Singh said, adding, "Our cooperation in the field of agriculture, science and technology is moving in the right direction and I see enormous possibilities of strengthening our economic relationship."

India will also take part in a tripartite meet involving Russia and China. India is expected to use the opportunity to explore joint cooperative action in dealing with issues like terrorism, energy security and related matters. On whether the issue of terrorism would be specifically discussed during his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Putin, Dr Singh said he would like to work towards building a 'truely multi-polar world.'

"We would like to work towards building a truly multi-polar world with greater power sharing and greater weight being given to countries of Asia in the management of the international order, whether political or economic," Dr Singh added.

On whether the terror attacks in the run-up to the G-8 summit were aimed at sending a signal, Dr Singh said, "Obviously, this is an attempt to destablise our economy since Mumbai played an important role in the recent economic reforms drive."

It was also known that any attempt to disturb the normal functioning of Mumbai would have an adverse affect on the industry, investment and enterprise, he said, contending that the attempt was to derail India's economy.

The prime minister is accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran. India's Ambassador to Russia Kanwal Sibal will be part of the Dr Singh's delegation.

With Agency inputs

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Archana Masih in St Petersburg