Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen,
First I would like to sincerely thank our Indian friends for their warmth and hospitality.
Today we had a series of meetings and talks with the Indian Prime Minister and his colleagues, ministers and opposition leaders. I am pleased to note that we do not have any doubts about the development of relations between India and Russia. There is a national consensus on the issue. And my colleagues and I were pleased to find a similar attitude in India. A few words about the results of our work.
First of all, a declaration on further strengthening the strategic partnership between Russia and India has been signed. That political document provides a solid basis for the development of our relations in every area.
We have signed a joint declaration on the strengthening and development of economic and scientific-technical cooperation, as well as a number of other bilateral documents.
By strengthening the legal foundation of bilateral relations we are taking a major step towards developing a strategic partnership between our countries. We have a common goal of making the world we live in more just, democratic and secure.
Considering the complicated international situation, our constant and trusting dialogue takes on a special significance. Our many-sided cooperation is a key positive factor in world politics.
Our positions are identical on many issues. These issues are above all ensuring strategic stability and security, the fight against international terrorism, extremism and separatism and transnational crime. Our assessments of the situation in Afghanistan are in many ways similar.
We have exchanged opinions on the situation surrounding Iraq. We paid serious attention to the developments in Southern Asia. Russia firmly and consistently supports the normalisation of Indian-Pakistani relations. That position was reaffirmed during my meetings with the Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Musharraf of Pakistan in Almaty in June of this year.
Russia welcomes the actions of the two countries aimed at lessening the tensions in the border areas and in the region as a whole. In particular, the recent decision of India and Pakistan to withdraw part of their troops from the border.
At the same time I am convinced that to stabilise the situation further, full compliance with all the obligations of the parties is necessary. I think it is very important that Islamabad not only takes measures to cut the routes for the penetration of Kashmir militants across the control line into the state of Jamma and Kashmir, but do much more to reduce the whole terrorist infrastructure operating in that region.
During the talk we had a thorough discussion of the development of bilateral ties. The priorities here include trade and economic cooperation, especially the more active promotion of promising joint projects and programmes.
Large-scale and long-term work has already begun in the energy, oil and gas and some other spheres. I am referring to the construction of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, prospecting for and extracting hydrocarbons in the Bay of Bengal and joint participation in the Sakhalin-1 project. We intend to expand interaction in hi-tech and science-intensive areas.
The military-technical cooperation between our countries is assuming a new quality. Today it includes not only supplies of Russian weapons and military equipment to India, but joint research and development of promising projects.
The development of the business infrastructure, including interbank cooperation, is on the agenda. We attach great significance to interregional cooperation.
The joint declaration on strengthening and developing economic and scientific-technical cooperation outlines some other tasks. I hope and believe that we have every opportunity for successfully working together to implement all that we have agreed upon.
Question: Can the relations between Russia and India be seen as a model of strategic partnership in the modern world?
Vladimir Putin: You may have noticed that in my statement to the press I have said that our views are practically identical on many issues. That is true and not accidental. It is based on our common views of key aspects of our interaction, and our national interests. An awareness of this underlies the current state of bilateral relations. We are highly satisfied with the present state of Russian-Indian relations and we are assured of the prospects for our cooperation. In that sense it can be said that Russian-Indian relations fully meet the definition of strategic partnership.
Question: What is Russia going to do to ensure that Pakistan stops using terrorism as a political instrument?
Vladimir Putin: We do believe that this is a problem we all have to face up to. The name of the problem is the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their possible use by terrorists. Looking at it from the angle you have suggested I would answer your question in the following way. First, we must instill into global public opinion the idea that it is a real threat. Second, we must strengthen the international structures for preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Third, everything must be done to resolve all the disputes, especially between India and Pakistan, by peaceful means. Fourth, it is necessary to create a system of international guarantees that would ensure, among other things, the national interests of Pakistan itself. That would provide the basis for solving the problem you have referred to.
Question: What needs to be done for trade and economic relations between Russia and India to achieve a level that matches the current high level of their political dialogue?
Vladimir Putin: I agree with the Prime Minister’s description of the state of our trade and economic ties. In practical terms, we should move along several paths. It is necessary to improve the business infrastructure. That includes communications, transport, the financial infrastructure and information. It is necessary to pass on to other, more profound forms of interaction in the field of investments and joint production and developments in science-intensive areas. We agreed on that today. I think there is an understanding between the two sides regarding the most promising areas of cooperation.
Question: To sustain India’s economic growth additional energy is required, and nuclear energy is one of the cleanest types. Is Russia prepared to continue cooperating with India in the field of nuclear energy and in the building of civilian nuclear reactors? And was this question raised during the negotiations and what will be the reaction of the world community regarding this issue?
Vladimir Putin: First of all, I agree with your assessment of the future of nuclear energy. Second, we have discussed our cooperation in this field in detail. Third, we are successfully working with India in this direction. Fourth, we are working within international rules and are committed to fulfilling our international obligations. Next, we believe that all the rules need to be improved, including in this sphere. Finally, we are ready, willing and determined to develop our cooperation with India, including in the field of nuclear energy.