Thursday, November 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Include India in 6+2 mechanism: Putin
Vajpayee rules out talks with Musharraf
Hari Jaisingh

A Russian pupil of an Indian school in Moscow presents a garland of flowers to Prime Minister
A Russian pupil of an Indian school in Moscow presents a garland of flowers to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee during a meeting with representatives of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness on Wednesday. 
— Reuters photo

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee being received
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee being received by the Indian community and students studying in Russia in Moscow on Wednesday. Indian Ambassador to Russia K. Raghunath (extreme right) is also seen in the picture. — PTI photo

Moscow, November 7
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee categorically said here today that Russian President Vladimir Putin favoured enlarging the ““six-plus-two” mechanism to include India for resolving the crisis in Afghanistan.

Mr Putin has informed Mr Vajpayee that he will speak to other leaders comprising the six-plus-two arrangement, including US President George Bush, the Prime Minister told mediapersons accompanying him at the end of his four-day official visit to the Russian Federation. The Russian President is scheduled to visit the USA for talks with Mr Bush on November 13.

Mr Vajpayee said India and Russia rejected any role for the Taliban, moderate or otherwise, in the post-conflict government structure in Afghanistan.

This was at variance with Mr Putin’s assertion yesterday after signing the Moscow Declaration that he wanted India to play a more active role in Afghanistan without disturbing the six-plus-two mechanism. (While the six are Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Iran, Pakistan and China, the two are the USA and Russia).

Mr Vajpayee insisted that Russia’s support to India in respect of Jammu and Kashmir had not been diluted even though Mr Putin like some leaders of major Western powers desired that New Delhi and Islamabad should have direct talks to reduce tension in South Asia.

He pointed out that when Mr Putin alluded to dealing with terrorism with a heavy hand without making any distinction like freedom fighters or adopting a double standard as evidenced in the case of Pakistan, it amounted to going along with India’s stand on J and K.

Apparently, Mr Vajpayee did not subscribe to the views in certain sections that the Russian Federation was viewing Pakistan differently because of its status as a frontline state in the ongoing US-led war against international terrorism and Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

Despite the entreaties of world leaders that the Indo-Pak dialogue should be resumed, the Prime Minister held steadfastly to the view that no purpose would be served by doing so after the Agra summit fiasco in July.

Mr Vajpayee was emphatic that for any meaningful and purposeful bilateral talks with Pakistan, the agenda had to be firmed up first and the atmosphere had to be made conducive to such parleys. Clearly, the Prime Minister insisted that talking in a vacuum at this juncture would be a futile exercise. He reiterated that Pakistan must stop cross-border terrorism for the bilateral talks to resume.

He said he had conveyed these views to Mr Putin; this was appreciated. India, he stressed, was not interested in public relations but substantive talks covering the entire gamut of bilateral relations rather than making the exercise J and K-centric, a ploy adopted by Pakistan.

Mr Vajpayee affirmed that there were certain crucial elements in the strategic partnership between India and Russia but refused to elaborate because the “time is not ripe” for him to do so.

Responding to questions on Afghanistan, the Prime Minister said he firmly believed that bombing alone would not lead to winning the war against international terrorism. This was also the opinion of the world leaders Mr Vajpayee had spoken to. He emphasised that only effective ground action could facilitate eventual success.

He said he and Mr Putin held similar views about the post-Taliban government in Afghanistan and rejected any role for the Taliban in any future dispensation in Kabul.

In a statement before emplaning for Washington, Mr Vajpayee said his discussions with Mr Putin and other Russian leaders on a variety of bilateral and international relations had helped in expanding the “areas of shared outlook and adding new elements in our strategic partnership.”

The issues discussed ranged from cooperation in nuclear energy, science and technology to trade, economic cooperation and investment which would be the engine for future growth of Indo-Russian ties.

The Prime Minister said: We have made a beginning in bilateral cooperation in the field of energy security through India’s largest foreign investment abroad in the Sakhalin-I oil and gas project.” This process would be institutionalised into a dialogue process on energy security.

Mr Vajpayee had no doubt that the discussions and decisions arrived at with the Russian leadership “will carry us forward to a new level of partnership.”Back

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