New Delhi, Oct. 3: Ukraine, considered “persona non grata” in India for many years, made a re-entry into the country with a flourish — three different agreements and a promise from Delhi to allow Kiev to tap the Indian market in the power, steel and defence sectors.
Leonid Kuchma, the first Ukrainian President to visit Delhi in eight years, marked his country’s re-entry here by making all the right noises, especially in an area to which India is most sensitive — its relations with Pakistan.
During his meetings with the Indian leadership, including President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and foreign minister Yashwant Sinha, among others, Kuchma towed the line that Delhi expected him to.
At the meeting with Sinha, Kuchma was told about India’s concerns about cross-border terrorism and the current relations with Pakistan. The foreign minister said Delhi was always in favour of a dialogue with Islamabad but it could not begin “while the gun of terrorism was pointed at India’s head.”
Kuchma made it clear that disputes between India and Pakistan could only be resolved bilaterally, “in the spirit of the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration”.
It was Ukraine’s decision to supply TAT-UD battle-tanks to Pakistan that led Delhi to put its relations with Kiev in the deep freeze. By today’s gesture, the Ukrainian President was trying to make it clear to Delhi that the two sides should recast their bilateral ties.
The two sides are expected to come out with a joint statement tomorrow where they would highlight their resolve to jointly fight global terrorism and their desire to broadbase their bilateral relations. Ukraine is likely to support India’s candidature for the UN Security Council, while India will support Ukraine’s entry into the WTO.
Earlier in the day, the two sides signed three agreements — one on shipping, another on mutual legal assistance and an extradition treaty.
Kuchma, who arrived here with a 30-member business delegation, said his main focus was economic cooperation. He addressed captains of Indian industry at a joint gathering of the CII and Ficci during the day, where he stressed on the need to enhance trade ties between the two countries.
Kuchma will visit Bangalore where he will visit Infosys and Wipro, India’s two leading information technology firms.
The two sides today identified steel and power as areas of future cooperation. Ukraine has promised to supply coke oven batteries for India’s steel plants and also help in the modernisation of the units.
A specialist delegation from Ukraine would arrive here in the next few months to firm up specific projects for cooperation.
Ukraine is known for its expertise in gas turbines and Kiev will submit tenders for setting up projects in the power sector in the near future.
The science and technology joint working group will meet in Kiev over the next few months to discuss joint ventures in the heavy engineering sector.
Cooperation in the defence sector also came up for discussion between the two sides. Ukraine and Russia have jointly offered to set up projects for the AN-70 military transport aircraft.