The Guardian October 11, 2000


Putin visits India

The recent visit of the Russian President Vladimir Putin to India has 
gone off almost unnoticed by the Australian media, but the communique 
adopted following talks with the Government of India is another important 
link in the relations between Russia and India. While every press statement 
made by Clinton receives top billing in the Australian media, the 
statements and developments in relations between other countries seem to be 
of little interest.

The Putin visit to India followed joint India-US discussions at the UN 
Millennium Summit early September. A joint US-India statement signalled the 
willingness of the right-wing government of India to enter into a strategic 
relationship with the US.

According to Harkishan Surjeet, the General Secretary of the Communist 
Party of India (Marxist) the Indian Prime Minister's visit to Washington, 
"reaffirmed the craven attitude of the BJP-led government. The Indian Prime 
Minister and Foreign office repeatedly sought to emphasise that India would 
be happy playing second-fiddle to US interests and was reversing its 
earlier foreign policy of peace, non-alignment and anti-imperialism.

"The `Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and Russia', on 
the other hand, seeks to impart a qualitatively new character and long-term 
perspective to their relations and to actively develop them in political, 
economic, trade, scientific, technological, cultural and other fields, in 
the years ahead."

Welcome development

"The Indo-Russian declaration is a welcome development", says Surjeet, "but 
it would be foolhardy to conclude that the Vajpayee dispensation [indicates 
that India] has fully woken up to the dangers of going in for a strategic 
partnership with the USA or has decided to make any radical change in its 
foreign policy perceptions. But it cannot ignore the existing realities of 
the world situation, particularly our region.

"The disintegration of the Soviet Union altered the world situation 
radically, with the balance of forces tilting temporarily in favour of 
imperialism", says Surjeet. "It is against this international setting that 
the Russian President's visit to India took place."

The declaration signed by the two governments calls for foreign office 
consultations on issues of mutual concern, international peace and 
security, nuclear non-proliferation, non-participation in any military-
political or other alliances, treaties, agreements or understandings 
infringing upon the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity or 
national security interests of the other side.

The declaration also calls for strengthening close cooperation in matters 
of trade, economic, scientific and technological and cultural co-operation, 
promotion of bilateral trade, lowering of tariff barriers, expansion of 
bilateral trade etc.

Closer ties

"Closer ties between the two countries", says Surjeet, "will help both 
countries meet the threat posed by the fundamentalist Taliban capturing 
power in Afghanistan. On the Kashmir issue also, Russia has stood by the 
Indian view point.

"The Indo-Russian declaration injects a new freshness in the traditional 
friendly relations that both the countries have been maintaining for years. 
It attains added significance in a world situation where US imperialism is 
trying to push forward its agenda both in the military and economic spheres 
and subjugate nations and capture markets.

"In the present situation, the joint declaration will go a long way in 
inspiring the developing countries that a unipolar world is a temporary 
phenomenon, and the world will have to be multipolar. In this respect, the 
visit of Russian President Putin acquires great significance", concluded 
Surjeet.

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