December 2002 News

Putin in India, asks Pakistanis to end support for the militants

4 December 2002
Amy Waldman
The New York Times

The Russian President, Vladimir V. Putin, joined Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today urging Pakistan to abandon its support for Islamic militants who strike India and to oppose the use of force to resolve the situation with Iraq.

At the end of a day with talks in New Delhi, the two leaders signed an agreement - the Delhi Declaration - for the "further consolidation of strategic partnership" between India and Russia, whose cold war friendship has endured in its aftermath.

They also issued a joint statement calling for Islamabad "to eliminate terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan and Pakistan-controlled territory as a prerequisite for the renewal of the peace dialogue" between India and Pakistan.

Both India and Russia are facing Islamic insurgencies - Russia in the republic of Chechnya, and India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

"Such measures should be directed also against those states. entities and individuals who support, fund or abet terrorists or provide them shelter or asylum to engage in cross-border terrorism," the statement said, apparently in a reference to Pakistan. "There should be no double standards in the fight against terrorism."

While both countries have expressed concern that Iraq maintain no weapons of mass destruction, their leaders today expressed reservations about the notion of American military action there.

"Both sides strongly opposed the unilateral use or threat of use of force in violation of the United Nations Charter as well as interference in internal affairs of other states," a joint statement released at the end of the day's talks said.

It continued: "It was stressed that the comprehensive settlement of the situation around Iraq is possible only through political and diplomatic efforts in strict conformity with the rules of international law only under the aegis of the United Nations."

Mr. Putin said last weekend that Russia was concerned that Pakistan's nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of bandits and terrorists. He repeated the same concern today. "we should strengthen non-proliferation efforts and then everything should be done to settle all disputes, including the dispute between India and Pakistan," he said.

The India-Russia summit meeting focussed on a range of defence, strategic and economic issues between the two countries, who were close during the cold war and retain strong military links.

"The military and technology cooperation between India and Russia is acquiring a new quality," Mr. Putin said.

He also said that Russia would continue to cooperate with India on developing nuclear energy.

The two countries signed seven other agreements in areas like counter-terrorism and information technology.


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