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India and Argentina Tuesday signed 10 agreements, including one for civil nuclear energy cooperation, and pledged to triple their bilateral trade to $3 billion by 2012.
Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner arrived here Tuesday and held extensive discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday. A joint statement released after the meeting.
This was the first visit to India by a head of state from the South American nation in 15 years,
Ten agreements were signed by the two sides after the official meeting, which included one for cooperation in civil nuclear energy.
The joint statement said that both countries with a 'long tradition in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, have reiterated their intention to develop, promote and cooperate in this field in accordance with their respective international obligations and commitments'.
Addressing a meeting of Argentine and Indian business leaders, Kirchner said that her country had probably the best developed nuclear energy sector in South America.
'Our state agency is producing reactors for countries like Algeria, Egypt and now there is a good possibility to bag orders in the Netherlands, where we are competing with French companies,' she said.
The joint statement hoped that 'they will make use of the synergies existing between the two countries and the vast experience of their nuclear scientists and technologists.'
'The two leaders shared the view that civil nuclear energy can play an important role as a safe, sustainable and non-polluting source of energy in meeting rising global demands for energy,' said Kirchner.
After coming back into the nuclear mainstream in 2008, India has signed agreements with several countries for increasing production for nuclear energy in the country.
Besides, both countries also expressed their interest in furthering trade ties which have grown exponentially in recent years, from $694 million in 2003 to $1.3 million in 2008.
'The two sides agreed that the bilateral trade target should be $3 billion by 2012,' said the joint statement. The visiting leader added that she was sure this target would be 'surpassed'.
The two key areas that Kirchner termed as ripe for cooperation were food and energy. On the agriculture front, Argentina has seen triple figure growth, with one of the highest productivity in oilseeds. In fact, oilseeds form 70 percent of India's imports from Argentina.
'In the context of encouraging greater trade between the two countries, both leaders agreed that efforts should be made to facilitate the entry of Argentine agricultural and agro-industrial products into India and the entry of Indian pharmaceutical products into Argentina,' said the joint statement.
Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju pointed out to Kirchner at the business meet that Indian pharmaceutical companies faced a lot of difficulty in exporting completed products. 'This is despite the fact that Argentine pharma companies import most of their raw materials from India,' he said.
On the political front, both countries agreed to work towards a 'strategic partnership' which will cover global issues of common concern.
'In order to achieve concrete results flowing from their dialogue the leaders directed their foreign ministries to energise their consultations and work out a plan of action,' he said.
Later in the evening, Kirchner attended an official banquet in her honour hosted by President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhawan. She also met other senior leaders, including Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani, during the day.