Sunday, December 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Gorshkov deal not being signed during Putin’s visit
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 30
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 38-hour-long visit to India beginning December 3 evening will mark a watershed in the emergence of a new India-Russia-China axis and is bound to take Moscow-New Delhi strategic ties to new heights even though the much talked-about Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier deal is not going to be signed during the visit.

Well-placed sources in the Vajpayee government told The Tribune today that last-minute problems have erupted in Gorshkov negotiations and “there is no way that the deal can be inked during Mr Putin’s visit”.

It is understood that the Russians, who are proposing to “gift” the aircraft carrier free to India with the sole condition that its retrofitting would be done by Russia, are quoting the figure of $ 800 million for the retrofitting which India finds too high.

Originally, India was prepared to pay only half of this price but during negotiations, the Indian side showed willingness to go up to $ 500 million. The Gorshkov talks got bogged down on this, the sources disclosed.

“Irrespective of this fact, Mr Putin’s visit is going to be a landmark one which may perhaps pave the way for a new world order. One should not view Mr Putin’s visit through the narrow prism of defence deals signed or not signed. This visit should not be seen from the short-term perspective of arms deals but from the long-term strategic point of view,” a senior official said.

Significantly, Mr Putin is arriving from Beijing at the Palam airport here at 7 p.m. on December 3 after wrapping up a two-day visit to China. On December 5 at 9.15 a.m. he is leaving straight for Moscow.

Both Russia and China are extremely wary of the increasing American influence in the wake of September 11 tragedy and they believe that Washington has used the 9/11 developments to major strategic, political and military gains.

Moscow and Beijing have been watching with concern the growing US military presence in South Asia, Central Asia and among the former Soviet republics as more than half a dozen countries from these regions have allowed Washington to set up military bases since the war against terror started on October 7 last year.

A New Delhi-Beijing-Moscow axis is being seen as a possible effective counter to the increasing US dominance in world affairs.

The sources pointed out that it was not without significance that the Foreign Ministers of India, Russia and China met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York recently.


PM, Putin press conference on Dec 4
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 30
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Russian President Vladimir Putin will address a joint press conference at Hyderabad House on December 4, sources said here today.

Soon after Mr Putin arrives in India on December 3, he would be driven straight to Mr Vajpayee’s official residence for a meeting which would be followed by a private dinner.

Mr Putin would be accorded a ceremonial reception in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan on December 4. From there he would proceed to Rajghat to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi.

Like the former US President Bill Clinton, the Russian President too would be staying at Maurya Sheraton which would be turned into a fortress from the security point of view.

External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha would call on him on December 4 followed by Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes, and Ms Sonia Gandhi.

This would be followed by a formal meeting between Mr Putin and Mr Vajpayee at Hyderabad House.

Mr Putin would call on President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam the same day.

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