Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to use this occasion to thank the Indian leadership once again for their invitation to visit this country. On my colleagues’ behalf, and on my own, I express my gratitude for their heartfelt hospitality and warm welcome.
Today’s meeting continued Russian-Indian cooperation with top-level contacts. This is a long-standing practice in our relations. Today’s meeting was exceptionally important and fruitful. It continued our dialogue on the essential aspects of our international policies. The negotiations confirmed that the long-term national and geopolitical interests of Russia and India coincide. They confirmed our shared opinions on the problems we must tackle in the 21st century.
We signed a package of important bilateral agreements in many areas of cooperation. The Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the Republic of India and the Russian Federation was the fundamental document. It establishes the entire range of our bilateral contacts. The meeting was summed up in a joint statement reflecting Russia and India’s coordinated positions on the most topical global and regional problems.
Both countries expressed their desire to boost trade and economic contacts. Active cooperation will go on in the fields of military technology, science, culture and others.
When key international problems came under discussion, Russia and India determined to what extent their goals and interests were compatible. We are willing to join hands on such major problems as the establishment of a democratic world order, building up international security and safeguarding relevant agreements, including the ABM Treaty. We also agreed to cooperate on regional problems, such as Afghanistan. We have identical stances on such matters as combating international terrorism, religious extremism, international crime and drug trafficking. We discussed reforming the United Nations, as well. As I want to stress once again, Russia regards India as a strong and worthy candidate for permanent membership of the UN Security Council. We also touched upon the situation in South Asia. We expressed our hope that practical efforts to resume Indian-Pakistani talks would continue, helping to reduce regional military and political tensions.
I once again express my profound satisfaction with the achievements of our constructive talks, and stress that the long-established and time-tested partnership of Russia and India is an essential aspect of Asian and global stability.
The Hindu: India and Russia have just signed the Declaration on Strategic Partnership. What is its meaning and how will it be implemented?
The declaration refers to cooperation at the regional and international levels. Important developments are under way in our region in Afghanistan. The Indian and Russian leaders talked about this. What measures might the declaration imply?
Vladimir Putin: We attach great importance to the document we signed today – the Declaration on Strategic Partnership. It means to us that India and Russia are beginning a long-term partnership, and we believe that is extremely important. India has proved itself over a long time to be a democracy and a reliable partner of Russia. And I can assure you that Russia behaves similarly towards India. Our two countries’ geopolitical interests largely coincide.
How are we going to implement this declaration? You might have noticed before its signing that our colleagues were exchanging a package of documents signed practically before your eyes. That is only a part of what we intend to sign and what we intend to work together on. Several dozens of treaties and agreements are being drafted. They concern many areas of our cooperation, they are not just sheets of paper – a lot of practical work in the fields I mentioned in my statement has gone into these agreements.
Now, as for the Afghan problem and everything connected with it. We see it as a manifestation of a much broader international problem. Our Indian partners share this opinion. We think the centre of the international terrorist danger has, to a great extent, shifted to that part of the world. That is why we are determined to coordinate the efforts of all government bodies, the secret services among them, against international terrorism, coordinate our military and political activities and our efforts on the international stage.
RIA NOVOSTI: A package of documents was signed today in addition to the Declaration on Strategic Partnership. They concern important commercial and economic issues and cultural exchanges, and they promise to strengthen and develop bilateral ties. How soon can we expect to see practical results?
Vladimir Putin: Some of the documents signed today, in fact, continue cooperation in fields in which teamwork has been going on for a long time. For instance, our scientific and technological partnership was based on a long-term programme that lasted until 2000. We now intend to sign an agreement that will be valid up to 2010. Our partnership is extremely dynamic in this sphere as well as some others, and its fruits are there for all to see. Other fields will see practical results even before the end of the year in other fields where we will increase the number of our joint efforts several-fold. Our bilateral trade turnover has hit the $1.6 billion mark. I am not going to cite figures here, but I am sure it will grow further even before the year is out. The strategic scope of our partnership will certainly be promoted by ambitious infrastructure development projects, such as the construction of the South-North transport route. We also look forward to practical results in other spheres, such as energy, metallurgy, high technologies, space exploration and medicine.