Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to tell you briefly about the results of today’s meeting.
Our consultations today were substantive and fruitful. We have discussed a wide range of bilateral issues, and exchanged opinions on the main problems of world and regional policy. The talks have shown that Russia and India have shared long-term national and geopolitical interests. An important outcome of the meeting is the signing of a whole number of documents that improve the mechanism of bilateral cooperation and strengthen the legal and treaty basis of our interaction.
We attach great significance to the joint Russian-Indian Statement. It reflects the agreed positions of the two countries on the current global and regional problems.
Another joint Statement reflects the position of Russia and India on the issue of strategic stability.
Also today, the Moscow Declaration on Combating International Terrorism was signed. It formulates the basic approach of our countries to such modern threats as international terrorism, regional extremism, transborder crime and some others.
During the course of our consultations we have reviewed the relations between Russia and India in the main areas of cooperation. One of the key areas of cooperation is the trade and economic sphere and we intend to steadfastly build up our efforts and our cooperation in the trade and economic sphere.
We plan to develop our interaction in the scientific-technical, cultural and military fields.
When discussing key international problems, the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and I reaffirmed that our foreign policy principles are practically the same in the overwhelming majority of cases.
We paid much attention to the situation in Southern Asia. Russia would like the emerging political dialogue between India and Pakistan to turn into a permanent constructive process.
We dwelt on the problem of Afghanistan and the future of Afghanistan. We have long had a positive dialogue with India on this issue and we believe that India’s participation in regional problems of this kind can and must be expanded.
In conclusion I would like to note that today’s Russian-Indian Summit in Moscow is marked by the spirit of strategic partnership. We have no doubt that this visit by the Prime Minister and our Indian colleagues, our Indian friends, will contribute to the relations between the Russian Federation and India in all the above-mentioned areas.
Question: Mr President, you have just mentioned the positive dialogue on Afghanistan among the issues you have discussed with Mr Prime Minister. My question is, what positive role do you see for Russia and India in the fast-changing situation in Afghanistan?
Vladimir Putin: India is our long-time partner in dealing with a number of international problems. In addition to global issues that we are discussing with India to work out a joint position in the international arena, we have worked on regional problems for a long time and quite effectively.
In the case of Afghanistan we face both global and regional problems: the global problem is the fight against international terrorism and everything that is related to that fight on the land of Afghanistan. And India of course is a reliable partner because it has long been fighting terrorism and knows what it is all about. Besides, India is part of the region and in that sense it is entitled to and must take part not only in the settlement but it must have a say on the problem of Afghanistan’s future, with due account of the regional nature of the problem and the national interests of India in Afghanistan. We have agreed with the Prime Minister and our Indian colleagues that the “six plus two” mechanism can and must be used, but India must have a chance to participate more actively in the solution of the issues that are on the agenda of that group.
In conclusion I would like to say that for us India is not only an acceptable but a desirable partner because our views on the problems of Afghanistan practically coincide.
Question: Can one expect a real breakthrough in trade and economic cooperation between our countries? And if so, in what areas?
Vladimir Putin: We were immensely satisfied to hear the Prime Minister of India declare that the former decision, whereby Russia was put in the group of countries with a non-market economy, had been a mistake and that this problem would be eliminated from our trade and economic relations before the end of the year. We think that the promising areas of cooperation include energy, its diverse aspects: nuclear energy, hydropower, gas, oil and so on.
Another important area of cooperation is machine-building. I am referring not only to the retooling of the facilities built in India with Soviet technical assistance, but also work on entirely new projects. The Indian and Russian partners must display a maximum of flexibility, looking for new options and formats of interaction, including in the field of financial settlements.
I have to agree with the Prime Minister that we should be more active in the hi-tech areas, the prospects there are very promising. I am referring to information technologies, space exploration, etc.
And finally, there is the military-technical sphere which the Russian and Indian leaderships have always kept under review. The prospects there are good too, and that area of cooperation will develop.
Question: Mr President, because India and Russia see totally eye to eye on the issue of international terrorism will you tell President George Bush during your upcoming meeting and other leaders that the fight against international terrorism cannot be confined to the conflict in Afghanistan, that the whole international community must combat international terrorism and that the issue includes the situation in Kashmir for India and the situation in Chechnya for Russia?
Vladimir Putin: As you have rightly pointed out, our position on the issue coincides with that of the Indian leadership. Surely you have heard our repeated statements about the so-called policy of double standards: we are against any double standards in this sphere. It means that there can be no good and bad terrorists; terrorists cannot be divided into ours and theirs. Everyone who has taken up arms to solve political disputes by force, all these people, all these organisations and entities need to be condemned and the international community must jointly wage an uncompromising fight against them.
As for Kashmir, our position is well known, I have already mentioned it in my statement. We welcome a direct dialogue between India and Pakistan and we very much hope that it will lead to positive results.
We believe that the UN must play a bigger role. In any case, we must together work out the basic concepts, including in the legal sphere, and give an international legal definition of the concept of “terrorism”. The efforts of the international community must be concerted so as not to leave the smallest loophole for terrorists in realising their goals. And the policy of double standards is precisely what can split the international coalition. That is absolutely inadmissible, considering how acute the problem is.
Question: Do you believe that today’s talks and the official visit by the Indian Prime Minister to Russia have put on a practical footing the strategic partnership between our countries proclaimed in a relevant declaration signed in Delhi last year?
Vladimir Putin: The signing of the document a year ago sealing the strategic character of our relations, I repeat, merely committed to paper what was already a reality. Our task today is to invest the strategic dialogue with real content. I have no doubt that the visit of our Indian friends to Russia will help to solve the issue in the best possible way.
In conclusion I would like to say that relationships of this kind are not born on paper, no matter how fine it may look. They are born in real life and are based on mutual interests, and India and Russia have mutual interests.