Monday, February 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India, Russia ask Pak to end cross-border terrorism
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 3
India and Russia have asked Pakistan to take “sustained and irreversible steps” to end cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and create a conducive atmosphere for resuming Indo-Pak dialogue in accordance with the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration.

A joint statement issued at the end of discussions between visiting Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and his Indian counterpart Jaswant Singh said Pakistan’s commitment against terrorism made by President Pervez Musharraf would only be judged by the concrete action it took on the ground.

The two sides emphasised the need for Pakistan to “cooperate in stopping infiltration of terrorists into India, across the international border and the Line of Control, and ending continued terrorist violence in India.”

The statement said: “Sustained and irreversible steps in this direction will create a conducive environment for the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan in accordance with the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration.”

Russia also shared India’s concern over the disappearance of leaders of the Taliban and Al-Qaida and said they might have taken refuge in various countries, including Pakistan. Not only Russia, but several other countries’ questions on the disappearance of thousands of activists of the Taliban and the Al-Qaida remained unanswered, Mr Ivanov said here.

On reports that thousands of Taliban men had been airlifted to Pakistan from Afghanistan after the action of the international coalition in that country, he said it was hard to say where they had dispersed.

The Russian Foreign Minister said it was important that the international campaign against terrorism was further stepped up to eliminate such elements.

Addressing joint press conference with Mr Ivanov, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh said his discussions with the visiting minister were part of the strategic partnership and for preparing the ground for a visit later this year by Russian President Vladimir Putin.


Russia slams ‘double standards’ on terrorism

Munich (Germany), February 3
Russia’s Defence Minister accused his allies of “double standards” today for failing to condemn Moscow’s Chechen enemies as “terrorists” with the same vigour as they had pursued Osama bin Laden.

Sergei Ivanov warned that disagreement over who should be called a terrorist could undermine the coalition in which Russia had joined its old cold war adversaries to combat the Islamist militants the United States America accused of the September 11 attacks.

“What is our greatest concern today is the existence till the present time of double political standards with regard to separatism, religious extremism and fanaticism,” Ivanov told a conference in Munich, whose audience included US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and other western ministers.

“If those who blow up apartment houses in Moscow or Buinaksk in Dagestan are declared freedom fighters while in other countries such persons are referred to as terrorists, one cannot even think of forging a united anti-terrorist front,” he added.

Moscow blames Chechen separatists for the bombings in 1999 in which more than 300 Russians died. But while condemning those attacks, the USA and European powers have also voiced concerns about Moscow’s own military operations in mainly Muslim Chechnya — though criticism has been muted since September 11.

Chechen separatist leaders deny planting the 1999 bombs and have said Russia’s own secret services could be responsible.

Ivanov did not name states practising “double standards” but Moscow has repeatedly accused the west in general of failing to support it in its Chechen wars of the 1990s. It protested last month to Washington, London and Paris over diplomatic contacts with the region’s fugitive elected president, Aslan Maskhadov.

Russia regretted the world community had not agreed to a common legal definition of terrorism, Ivanov said, adding that the 1999 blasts should be equated with the attacks on the USA.

He also said Moscow had irrefutable evidence that Chechen fighters had foreign support, notably through links with the Al- Qaida leader Bin Laden. He also said Chechens had now set up a “hornets’ nest” in the Pankisi gorge in neighbouring Georgia.

The minister warned that unnamed militants could try to attack nuclear installations and power plants, seize weapons of mass destruction and attempt to prompt environmental disaster with actions like blowing up dams.

“Any delay on the part of the world community in taking preventive measures against terror may result in even more horrible consequences,” he said.

“It is easier to prevent a disease than to cure it.”

“Ivanov said the international community had to clamp down on the trafficking of drugs and illegal immigrants which was helping fund extremists, saying too little had been done since the Taliban fell to clamp down on the Afghan drugs trade.

He urged cooperation in developing early warning systems, joint efforts to prevent attacks on nuclear installations as well as pooled resources to eliminate “terrorist organisations and outlawed armed groups”, he said, without elaborating. ReutersBack

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