Ms. Nirupama Rao: Their Excellencies Foreign Minister of the
Russian Federation and the External Affairs Minister of India will now address
the Press Conference.
Jaswant Singh: Thank you. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, Good Evening. It’s my great personal pleasure and also honour to yet again be receiving His Excellency the Foreign Minister of Russia and I am very happy that he has come to India. We had a fruitful and a comprehensive and an extremely beneficial discussion, wherein we have not only covered bilateral issues, issues of regional importance but also global developments.
I am sure that the visit also takes place in the back drop of the fact that following upon President’s Putin’s visit as also the Prime Minister’s visit, it’s part of the strategic partnership that exists between India and Russia, it's also part of the preparations that the two of us will be setting in motion for His Excellency Mr. Putin’s visit to India later. But before I say any thing further I would invite my friend and distinguished visitor to share his thoughts with you.
Igor Ivanov Thank you very much. First of all I would like to thank my friend, Minister of External Affairs of India for his hospitality to receive us on Sunday. Well the events in the world are developing very rapidly and therefore there is a necessity for regular maintenance of contacts and exchange of views especially between such two countries. There is strategic partnership between India and Russia. We have appreciated this establishment of high level political dialogue between our two countries, especially between the leaders of our countries.
Yesterday, we had the opportunity to exchange views and discussed the current status of Russian-Indian relations, as well as the process of implementation of arrangements that were achieved during the latest summits when President Putin visited India and Prime Minister Vajpayee visited Moscow last year.
In accordance with our assessment the relationships are developing dynamically and positively and we are satisfied with them. At the same time the newest issue where we have pay great attention is the trade and economic relations because the level of trade between our two respective countries is not meeting the capabilities and potential. In the coming days meeting will be held of the Inter-Governmental Commission on trade and economic relations and the participants of this meetings will in detail study this issue of trade and economic relations. We have had a very detailed exchange of views on the most international problems.
As regards the principal issues Russia and India are standing on the same
ground. This is related first of all to the issue of combating international
terrorism and together with my dear colleague and respected friend the Minister
of External Affairs of India we have signed a statement on these problems. This
is related to the issues of strengthening strategic stability, settlement of
regional conflicts. We have a common position to strengthen the role of the
United Nations in international affairs. Naturally, particular attention was
paid on the settlement of problems in Afghanistan. Both Russia and India have
actively collaborated and interacted in this field and we intend and will
continue to do so to achieve and try to find such a settlement of the situation
in Afghanistan in order to ensure the well being of the local people and not to
allow any threat to emit to the frontiers of Afghanistan and its neighbours.
Now I would like to thank once again the Minister of External Affairs for the constructive and the dialogue with lot of contents during today’s negotiations. Thank you once again.
Jaswant Singh: Thank you Mr. Ivanov. The Joint Statement that we have signed is being distributed and in addition I am of course entirely, fully not only endorse but agree with what my good friend, distinguished visitor had said that it is rare and unanimous the views between India and Russia on both regional and also the global situation today and we intend to continue to work together as part of the strategic partnership that exists between our two countries.
Q: Mr. Ministers could you tell us whether the issues of strategic stability were discussed in your talks and what exchange of your views resulted in?
Jaswant Singh: Well, I will answer it. Firstly it was discussed. We are clearly of the view. First of all, I shared with His Excellency, my friend, that there is a deep admiration for the statesmanship and the vision that is being demonstrated by President Putin as also by the Foreign Minister and by Russia in addressing this issue of global importance. We do entirely support cuts in the weapons of mass destruction but we believe that these cuts must be accompanied by methods that are very foolproof and irreversible. Otherwise we would be defeating the purpose of moving in this direction. We of course endorse and support the movement towards a new strategic framework which can be only through dialogue, and through a large complement of international community, sharing in it as possible.
Question: (Satinder Bindra, CNN). My question is addressed to Minister Ivanov. Has any defence deal been discussed in this trip. There has been some talk in the Indian media about India leasing two nuclear powered submarines and long-range bombers. Has this talk come up? Can you confirm this and will this come up during Mr. Klebanov’s visit later?
Igor Ivanov These questions were not the subject of today’s negotiations. At the same time I would like to emphasize that military and technical cooperation between India and Russia is developing and these relations are developing within the framework of international commitments and obligations and we believe that the military and technical cooperation is a component of our wider cooperation in all other spheres.
Question: (Voice of Russia) Which regional problems were discussed during the meeting.
Jaswant Singh: Well, region is self-defined. We did discuss and spent sometime on questions for example, relating to terrorism, on questions relating to Afghanistan and we believed that terrorism which is now much more a international and global issue and developments in Afghanistan though regional have global and international repercussion and they must be addressed. Both these, terrorism and developments in Afghanistan must be addressed and we have a continuing dialogue in this regard between India and Russia and the Joint Statement is quite explicit on both these issues.
Igor Ivanov We are about to continue our talks now and naturally we will discuss other regional problems including the situation in the Middle East, the situation with the Iraqi settlement and other issues which are of concern and which we intend to work on together.
Question: (Ms. Aunohita, Times of India): My question is addressed to both the Ministers. In the context of discussing strategic stability did the issue of US presence in Central Asia and the issue of trilateral cooperation between China, India and Russia come up?
Jaswant Singh: I will answer this first. There really two questions here. The US presence is part of the presence of the international coalition forces against terrorism, which is present, not just simply in Afghanistan and other countries of Central Asia and also in the north Arabian Sea. So far as the trilateral cooperation, this is not any formal axis of three countries, if India, China and Russia have on occasions discussed issues and arrived at opinions about international developments, this is not as a part of any formal trilateral agreement. This is much more as part of the continuing exercise of exchanging views on important international issues between three important Asian countries.
Igor Ivanov It was addressed to both of us. I would like to say that I share what the Minister Singh has just said.
Question: Russian News Agency: As this is known, you have got a message by President Putin to Prime Minister Vajpayee. Could you please tell us the contents?
Igor Ivanov Our today’s meeting was planned as a working meeting of the two Ministers. I have emphasized that we maintained constant permanent contact and that these kind of personal meetings are very important and I have no written message to Prime Minister Vajpayee in my hands. I only conveyed a message to Prime Minister, that we are interested in further development and strengthening of our strategic partnership.
Question: (Mr. Jayaram, IANS) My question is to the Foreign Minister of Russia. There had been reports in the international media that thousands of Taliban activists had been airlifted from Afghanistan to Pakistan after the intervention by the international coalition in Afghanistan. How does Russia view these developments? Do you have independent information on this?
Igor Ivanov Well your question is quite just, because it is true that not only Russia but also other countries have this question unanswered about the whereabouts of the majority of those who supported Taliban and participated in the Al-Qaida activities once. Well it is hard to say with full certainty where these activists of Afghanistan are, where the majority of them dispersed to other countries, neighbouring countries including Pakistan. But they are still there. They have not disappeared and not been destroyed and therefore the international community should continue their efforts in order not to allow their rebirth. I believed that it is necessary to strengthen the entire coalition and continue our efforts to combat this evil which is presented by the Taliban and the Al-Qaida network and this is emphasized in our statement that this fight cannot be and should not be and is not limited to the territory of Afghanistan only.
Jaswant Singh: Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen of the press.