India close to build 10 more nuclear reactors with Russia…

Energy-starved India is to build at least 10 more nuclear reactors with Russia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday after talks with President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi.

“We have outlined an ambitious vision for nuclear energy of at least 10 more reactors,” Modi said at a press briefing.

“It will have the highest standards of safety in the world. It will also include manufacture of equipment and components in India,” he said.

Russia has supplied two reactors to a plant at Kudankulam in southern India under a long-delayed agreement, and has been pushing to supply many more after deals were signed in 2010 and 2008.

Putin’s visit was his first to India since Modi was elected in May, and comes as sanctions-hit Moscow seeks to strengthen energy, defence and strategic ties in Asia.

The president is seeking new markets for Russia’s natural resources as its economy reels under US and EU sanctions over its backing of an uprising in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.

The two countries on Thursday signed 16 agreements including a deal for Russia to manufacture in India one of its most advanced helicopters and a proposal to set up factories to make Russian spare parts for military equipment.

Russia has traditionally supplied 70 percent of India’s military hardware.

India, whose domestic industry struggles to manufacture high-tech arms, is in the middle of a defence spending binge.

Total bilateral trade stands at just $10 billion a year despite strong Russia-India ties that date back to the 1950s after the death of Stalin.