Putin against foreign interference in Kashmir
4 October 2000
New Delhi: The collective will of Moscow and Delhi to combat the menace of the ''terrorist international'' with its dangerous global spread - India was as much a victim of it in Kashmir as Russia in Chechnya - was emphasised by the Russian President, Mr Vladimir Putin, here today. Speaking in some detail on the Kashmir issue, he spelt out the Russian view, barely different from the Indian position. The points he made were: ''Kashmir has been the cause of tensions between India and Pakistan'', ''foreign interference should be stopped,'' the issue should be resolved ''on a bilateral basis through compromise'', and there must be ''unconditional respect for the Line of Control.'' The MPs gathered in the Central Hall of Parliament, where he was addressing a joint session of both Houses, applauded in appreciation of Russia''s understanding of the Indian perspective. Yesterday, the two countries had expressed their willingness to act together in relation to the developments in Afghanistan. Today Mr. Putin took forward the declared strategic partnership between the two countries saying the relations with India had been and would remain ''the top priority of Russian foreign policy.'' ''Terrorist international'' Mr. Putin departed from the prepared text to share important and ''absolutely true and verified information'' underlining the nature of global terrorism. It was often ''the same individuals, the same terrorist organisations,'' who were ''conducting terrorist acts from the Philippines to Kosovo, including Kashmir, Afghanistan, and Russia''s Northern Caucasus.'' It was an unambiguous reference to Russia''s problems in Chechnya (although he did not mention it directly) and India''s in Kashmir in what he had described as the success of the ''terrorist international''. But it was time to combat it decisively, he fully supported the Indian proposal to create a consolidated front against global terrorism and added that the participation ''of all interested states was welcome.'' This was Mr. Putin''s last major engagement in Delhi. In the morning the Leader of the Opposition, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, had called on him along with Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mr. Natwar Singh, and after addressing Parliament, Mr Putin called on the President, Mr. K. R. Narayanan, to bid him farewell before departing for Agra, from where he will go to Mumbai and then on to Moscow. Historic relationship All the speakers at the hour-long event recalled the historic and long-established ties between India and Russia, with Mr. Putin noting the ''warm feelings'' the people of the two countries have for each other. Contacts had taken place ''at the highest levels'' over decades, he said, remembering that Mahatma Gandhi had corresponded with Leo Tolstoy, recognising him as his ''spiritual mentor''. Even though a summit-level meeting had not taken place for the last seven years, Mr. Putin reassured India that ''nothing has changed'' for bilateral relations remain as strong as ever. In fact, he referred to India''s positive experience in running a democracy, as a source of strength while appreciating India''s commitment to principles in the area of international relations.