Wednesday, October 4, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India, Russia forge strategic tieup
From Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Oct 3 — Imparting a qualitatively new character to the historic bilateral ties, India and Russia today forged a strategic partnership that proposes structured cooperation in the fields of nuclear sciences, defence, space and in the fight against international terrorism, separatism, religious extremism, organised crime, and illegal drug trafficking.

Russia also declared its unstinted and unqualified support for India’s permanent membership of an expanded United Nations Security Council.

The Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the two countries was signed here by the visiting Russian President, Mr Vladimir Putin, and the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, after they held one-to-one dialogue followed by delegation-level talks.

Addressing a joint press conference immediately after the signing of the declaration, Mr Putin hoped that India and Pakistan would take “concrete and specific” efforts to restart their stalled dialogue.

“We express the hope that concrete specific efforts will be applied to renew the process of negotiations (between New Delhi and Islamabad) in order to weaken the military and political tension in the region”, Mr Putin said.

Mr Putin said regional issues figured prominently during his summit-level talks with Mr Vajpayee. Both sides expressed “similar approaches” to resolve regional issues like the crisis in war-torn Afghanistan, he said.

Mr Putin said the agreements signed today would yield “rapid and good results” and strengthen the age-old relations between the two countries.

Mr Vajpayee declared the historic Indo-Russia Declaration of Strategic Partnership he signed with the visiting Russian President was not directed against any third country. He said the document was a “firm and long-term commitment” to further strengthen the close cooperation between the two countries. “It is not directed against any third country”, he said.

Mr Vajpayee also said New Delhi and Moscow had decided to evolve a common strategy to solve the vexed Afghan problem to bring peace in the war-torn region. “It has been agreed to evolve a common strategy to solve the problem in Afghanistan”, Mr Vajpayee said.

Mr Vajpayee said the declaration also laid importance on issues of political, economic and international aspects. Supporting India’s claim for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council, Mr Putin said Moscow was of the view that New Delhi was a “strong and deserving candidate” for it.

Expressing concern over growing international terrorism, the Russian President said the two countries intended to coordinate efforts with specialised agencies to combat it. “We are also intending to coordinate our efforts on military and political activities,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the two countries had agreed to upgrade military cooperation and the Indo-Russian inter-governmental commission would be chaired by Defence Ministers of the two countries. Both Mr Vajpayee and Mr Putin said the two countries had similarities of views on a wide range of issues which came up during the parleys.

Mr Vajpayee said Mr Putin had given him an invitation to visit Russia which he had accepted.

Stating that the proposed expansion of the UN Security Council also came up for discussion with Mr Putin, Mr Vajpayee said, “We welcome Russia’s unqualified support for India’s candidature”.

He said the major challenges facing humankind in the new millennium included international terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and trans-border crime. “We condemn the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy”.

Mr Vajpayee said the two countries’ cooperation in the areas of peaceful use of atomic energy was proceeding “satisfactorily”.

He described Mr Putin’s first ever visit to India as a “milestone” in Indo-Russian relations which would give a major impetus to bilateral relations at the beginning of the new millennium.

Mr Vajpayee said New Delhi wanted to see Moscow as a strong and confident state and an important constituent of the multipolar world order.

Based on mutual understanding and long-term confidence in each other, the five-page declaration envisages elevation of bilateral and multi-faceted ties to an “even higher and qualitatively new level”.

India and Russia have also decided to upgrade the bilateral military technical cooperation by raising the level of Indo-Russian inter-governmental commission on military technical cooperation to the level of the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, on the Indian side and the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Ilya Klebanov, on the Russian side.

An agreement to this effect was signed separately.

On the political front, the two sides have agreed to convening annual summit-level meetings, closer cooperation at the UN and joint initiative on key international and regional issues.

The declaration is based on “non-participation in any military-political or other alliances or associations or armed conflict directed against the other side, or in any treaties, agreements or understandings infringing upon independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity or national security interests of the other side.”

They also agreed to intensify efforts at strengthening international peace and security, general and complete disarmament and systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally with the ultimate goal of eliminating these weapons.

In the field of defence, the agreement incorporates consolidation of defence and military technical cooperation in long-term perspective and deepening service-to-service cooperation.

The two countries agreed to jointly cooperate to fight the menace of international terrorism, separatism, organised crime and illegal trafficking in narcotics. They also agreed to cooperate in rendering mutual legal assistance in civil and criminal matters and on issues relating to extradition and other areas.

Later in the evening, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and the National Security Adviser, Mr Brajesh Mishra, elaborated the importance of the declaration and significance of the talks between the Russian President and the Prime Minister, saying that negotiations for the purchase of arms like the aircraft carrier Admiral, T-90 tanks and SU-30s were going on.

On the Afghanistan issue, Mr Mishra said the two countries had decided to set up a joint working group to evolve a common strategy. The setting up of a JWG on Afghanistan will figure in the joint statement that the two countries have decided to issue tomorrow.

On the issue of bilateral cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, Mr Mishra said there was already cooperation in this field and further discussions for enlarging cooperation were going on.

Pakistan did figure in the discussions between the two leaders, Mr Mishra said adding that Mr Putin explained the circumstances in which he had sent a special envoy to Islamabad with a letter for Pakistan Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf. Mr Mishra said, “We are satisfied with what Mr Putin told us about Pakistan.”


India, Russia resolve to combat terrorism

NEW DELHI, Oct 3 (PTI) — India and Russia today declared their resolve to combat international terrorism, aggressive separatism and religious extremism.

Speaking at a banquet in his honour tonight, visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin joined his host K.R. Narayanan to term terrorism as an antithesis of democracy and of peaceful co-existence.

Saying that “recipes of the past” like taking global decisions unilaterally should be given up, the Russian President called for an equitable partnership to prevail in international affairs.

Mr Narayanan said, “terrorism financed by drug-trafficking has become a new source of subversion in the world. The international community should resolve itself to eradicate this scourge”.

“Terrorism, sponsored from across our borders”, had taken the lives of thousands of our innocent citizens, he said without naming Pakistan.

Stating that the main challenge before India and Russia was economic development to meet the aspirations of the people, he said, “We also face another major challenge from the forces of international terrorism, religious extremism, drug trafficking, organised crime and separatism”.

Conveying gratitude to Russia for its “clear and consistent” support to India’s candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security Council, the President said it was necessary to reform and restructure the UN so that it reflected the realities of the world.

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