India, Russia hold talks; Sistema, Putin’s visit discussed

Wednesday, Nov 5, 2014,21:19 IST By metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | India and Russia today discussed ways to enhance cooperation in key areas of energy and trade, as also important outstanding issues requiring immediate attention including the concerns of Russian giant Sistema.
During the 20th meeting of the India-Russia Inter- Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC), co-chaired by External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, the two sides also talked about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit in early December.
During his visit, Putin will hold a summit meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Commission reviewed the progress on a broad spectrum of bilateral issues including trade, economic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation and suggested actions for realising the full potential of this important relationship.
The Commission took note of important outstanding issues requiring immediate attention and recommended early resolution of such issues amicably in tune with the spirit of traditional friendship and mutual trust between the two countries, the External Affairs Ministry said after the meeting.
In the meeting, the Russians raised issue of Sistema, which has a joint venture with Shyam TeleServices Ltd. that provides CDMA Mobile and Data services under the MTS brand and wants to expand its operations beyond the current 8 circles. MTS was the only bidder for the CDMA spectrum in March 2013 auctions and won spectrum to operate in 8 circles – Delhi, Kolkata, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh (West) and West Bengal out of total 22 circles for Rs 3,639 crore.
The company already had its operations running in Rajasthan service area. However, MTS brand has approached Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), saying it wants to invest in India and participate in upcoming spectrum auctions to expand operations in more telecom circles, contrary to TRAI’s earlier view that there should be no auction of CDMA airwaves.
Some other important decisions of the Commission include a Joint Study Group for the proposed agreement between India and the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation for trade in goods and services.