Thursday, December 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Dismantle terrorist units, Putin asks Pak
India, Russia sign 8 agreements
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

Fact file

* Both countries condemned those who support terrorism or finance, train, harbour or support terrorists. States that aid, abet or shelter terrorists are as guilty of the acts of terrorism as their perpetrators.

* Special importance to be attached to operationalise the North-South International Transport Corridor.

* Putting in place an efficient visa regime for business exchanges.

* To intensify long-term cooperation in the energy sector which could be extended to other areas, including the Caspian Sea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee exchange an agreement
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee exchange an agreement during a news conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. 
— Reuters photo

Mr Putin shakes hands with Congress President and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sonia Gandhi
Mr Putin shakes hands with Congress President and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI photo

Mr Putin and his wife Lyudmila Putin pay homage at the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi
Mr Putin and his wife Lyudmila Putin pay homage at the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI photo

New Delhi, December 4
The top Indian leadership’s talks with the visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin resulted in a significant progress on wide-ranging issues, including two of immense strategic importance: the India-Russia-China axis and the two countries’ political will to close ranks in fighting the scourge of terrorism.

During the day-long talks Mr Putin had with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha and a host of other leaders, the two countries agreed to enhance intelligence-sharing on Al-Qaida and Taliban cadres and a greater military-to-military cooperation, well-placed sources in the Vajpayee government told ‘The Tribune’ tonight.

The two countries today signed eight agreements, significantly none on defence deals. The Delhi Declaration lays stress on further consolidation of strategic partnership. A Joint Declaration was inked on strengthening and enhancing economic, scientific and technological cooperation. The two also issued a Joint Statement stressing the importance of “Islamabad implementing in full its obligations and promises to prevent the infiltration of terrorists across the Line of Control into Jammu and Kashmir and at other points across the border as well as to eliminate terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan and Pakistan-controlled territory as a prerequisite for the renewal of the peaceful dialogue” between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Later in the evening, Mr Putin minced no words when in his joint press conference with Mr Vajpayee, he backed India’s stand advised Pakistan to not only put a stop to the infiltration of terrorists into India but also “liquidate its entire terrorism infrastructure.” Both Mr Putin and Mr Vajpayee said the Indo-Russian relations by now were reaching “newer targets”, had transcended a buyer-seller relationship and acquired strategic overtones.

On the sensitive question of the much-hyped India-Russia-China axis, a senior official remarked, “The progress on this issue was satisfactory and significant ground was achieved. On such issues, ground is made millimetre by millimetre, not mile by mile.”

Mr Vajpayee, in his opening remarks at the joint press interaction, said both India and Russia strongly opposed terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and pledged to work bilaterally and through international fora to combat the menace. He favoured evolving strong defence mechanisms in tackling terrorism in a coordinated manner.

“The fight against terrorism must not admit of any double standards and should also target the financial and other sources of support to terrorism”, the two countries said in a joint statement, while referring to Pakistan’s continued and open support to cross border terrorism.


Kalam hosts banquet for Putin
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 4
India and Russia today called upon the international community to target not only those who perpetrate acts of terrorism but also those who assist, finance, sponsor or otherwise abet terrorists.
The Russian President inspects a guard of honour in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan
The Russian President inspects a guard of honour in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan during his ceremonial reception. — PTI photo

At a banquet hosted in honour of Russian President Vladimir Putin tonight, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam stressed the need for shedding “double standards” in the global fight against terrorism and said the struggle against terrorism would not succeed if it was not conducted in an integrated manner on a global plane.

President Putin in his speech said, “We are jointly fighting international terrorism which has challenged our civilisation. We are ready to cooperate in promoting human rights, global and regional stability and sustainable development.”

Mr Putin observed that the two countries had always been able to reach an understanding, not because many Russian and Sanskrit words had common roots but because national characters and perceptions of life, spirituality and culture of the two countries also had a lot in common.

Without naming Pakistan, President Kalam said, “Two years ago, on your previous visit to India, you had referred to the ‘arc of instability’ stretching from the Caucasus to South East Asia. The epicentre of this arc is of course, our common neighbourhood.” 


Bridging the business divide
Tribune News Service

The traditional rivalry between two of India’s largest industry associations — the CII and FICCI — was relegated to the background as both the chambers joined hands to organise a special luncheon session for Russian premier Vladimir Putin.

External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, who has interacted with both the business chambers from close quarters during his earlier avtaar as Finance Minister, is well aware of the games of oneupmanship played by the CII and FICCI. Little wonder that a pleasantly surprised Sinha observed that Mr Putin did something which the Indian Government had so far been unsuccessful at — bringing the CII and FICCI together on the same platform.

Late arrival

Perhaps for the first time, the customary ceremonial welcome to a foreign Head of State, commenced behind schedule as Putin arrived about 15 minutes late. While the reason behind Mr Putin’s late arrival is not known, it put to test the administrative skills of Indian officials. For one, it did send the military precision of the welcome ceremony into some kind of a tailspin. President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee stood in anticipation to meet the Russian first citizen. After several minutes, some red faced officials hurriedly organised two chairs beneath the canopy for Dr Kalam and Mr Vajpayee to sit — a rather late realisation considering the fact that Mr Vajpayee’s knees are not in the pink of their health.

Mr Putin’s tryst with keeping behind schedule did not end here as he arrived about 30 minutes late in the special luncheon meeting with Indian industry captains under the aegis of the CII and FICCI. “We had a long and frutiful discussion”, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said as he ushered in Mr Putin into the conference hall of the glittering Maurya Sheraton hotel.

Incidentally, it is learnt that Minister of Small Scale Industry Vasundhara Raje arrived a few minutes late at the airport as Mr Putin set foot in New Delhi, forcing one to wonder whether the Russian premier’s late arrival was a diplomatic tit-for-tat?

Dal Dera Ismail Khan

Putin and his wife were treated to Frontier culinary fare at a private dinner hosted by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee tonight. The culinary fare had a diplomatic connotation too as the Putins were offered Dal Dera Ismail Khan which they liked, sources at the Prime Minister’s residence said. Incidentally, Dera Ismail Khan is the Pakistani place on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border which is infamous for drug smuggling and open arms bazaar. 

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