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Russia reassures old friend on new links

Moscow, Nov. 13: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee described the strategic partnership between Russia and India as “being aware of each other’s concerns, tackling them with wisdom... and a desire to work together”.

The two countries demonstrated this by strengthening their traditional economic, science and technology, defence and space ties during the Indian Prime Minister’s visit. They also demonstrated their commonality of view in dealing with regional and international issues in a detailed joint statement. They declared they were convinced that their strategic partnership had “served as a factor in global peace and security”.

Russia more than lived up to the definition of Vajpayee about being sensitive to each other’s concerns. It came out in unequivocal support of the Indian position that there can be no purposeful dialogue with Pakistan until Islamabad implements its assurance “in full” to prevent “the infiltration of terrorists across the Line of Control in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and at other points across the border”.

That this was the basic pre-requisite for peace in South Asia was listed clearly in the joint statement issued at the end of Vajpayee’s visit to Russia.

This sets at rest speculation that increased contact between Russia and Pakistan of late should have India worried. Nothing has changed in the Russian position on Pakistan for any misgivings on India’s part — this was the message that both countries sought to convey today.

The joint statement also said that purposeful dialogue between the two neighbours is possible only when Islamabad “dismantles the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan and Pakistan-controlled territory”. The basic framework for the dialogue, it said, was envisaged in the Simla Agreement of 1972 and the Lahore Declaration of 1999.

The Russian federation has also come out in open support of Vajpayee’s initiatives of April and October 2003, which have resulted in the return of Pakistani and Indian high commissioners in the respective countries, the restoration of the Delhi-Lahore-Delhi bus service and increased people-to-people contact.

At the same time, Russia also supported the steps taken by India in combating terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. India, too, was aware of Russian worries and vulnerabilities when in turn it reiterated its support to the measures taken by Moscow in Chechnya.

While recognising terrorism as a major menace being faced by the international community, in the joint statement the two sides noted “with deep concern the growing transnational linkages of terrorist organisations and also the role of transborder organised crime and illicit trade in arms and drugs in supporting terrorism, particularly by financial means”.

The two countries have demanded action under UN resolutions dealing with the issue “against those who aid and abet terrorism across borders, harbour and provide sanctuary to terrorists and provide them with financial means, training or patronage”. Such international action against terrorism, they said, “cannot be selective, but has to be uniform, comprehensive, continuous and multifaceted”.

The two sides said in the statement that they were convinced that their strategic partnership had served as a factor in global peace and security and reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate bilaterally and at international fora for a more representative multipolar world. Such a world order, they said, would be based on “sovereign equality of all states, their territorial integrity and non-interference in their internal affairs”.

There was also a complete understanding on the importance and centrality of the UN for preserving world security and stability. They declared “their opposition to unilateral use or threat of force in violation of the UN charter” while emphasising the need to strengthen the UN system further.

On its part, while arguing for expansion of the Security Council, Russia “reaffirmed its support to India as a deserving and strong candidate for the permanent membership of the UN Security Council”.

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