| Russian President Vladimir Putin is pulled back by an unidentified aide as he heads for his car without bidding farewell to Prime Minister AB Vajpayee after an official welcoming ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan. (AFP)
New Delhi, Dec. 4: Russian President Vladimir Putin today humoured a New Delhi that briefly forgot its manners yesterday, saying what the host wanted to hear by asking Pakistan to dismantle its “whole” terrorist infrastructure.
Russia also made the complete cessation of cross-border terrorism the “pre-requisite” for resumption of talks between the South Asian neighbours — a condition Delhi has been insisting on.
Signing the Delhi Declaration with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Russian President stressed on “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”.
A line that could gall Pakistan was also squeezed into the declaration. “States that aid, abet or shelter terrorists are as guilty of the acts of terrorism as their perpetrators,” the declaration said.
Late tonight, Pakistan’s new Prime Minister, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, dismissed Putin’s concerns. “Pakistan does not believe in terrorism. We know what is best for us. I don’t want to blame Mr Putin for making such statements while sitting in India,” Jamali told reporters in Islamabad.
Putin had arrived in Delhi last evening, but minister-in-waiting Vasundhara Raje and foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal, who were held up by work and a traffic snarl, were missing from the reception line-up initially. However, the two sides glossed over the wrinkle today.
Putin held substantive talks with the Indian leadership at the Hyderabad House this afternoon where he signed the Delhi Declaration to outline the goals the two countries hope to reach.
Putin described the Delhi Declaration as a “political document” that will help consolidate the strategic partnership between India and Russia.
The Russian President said he wanted the two South Asian neighbours to end their hostilities and normalise relations. But he lobbed the diplomatic ball into Pakistan’s court, making it clear that the onus to create the right atmosphere for the talks lies with the Pervez Musharraf regime in Islamabad.
Putin made no bones about the fact that he was airing a well-established Indian line. “In many aspects, our attitude with India coincides. And this has happened not by any accident, but by the constant and regular dialogue,” he said.
An agreement to set up a joint working group to combat terrorism was also signed. The group will help exchange information and train each other’s personnel to deal with terrorists.
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