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India - Russia, Joint Statement

November 13, 2003

The Prime Minister of India Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee paid an official visit to the Russian Federation from November 11-13, 2003.

The Prime Minister of India held detailed discussions with the President of the Russian Federation Mr. Vladimir Putin. Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mr. Boris Alyoshin, Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Mr. Igor Ivanov and Defence Minister of the Russian Federation Mr. Sergei Ivanov called on the Prime Minister of India.

The Prime Minister of India and the President of the Russian Federation discussed a wide range of issues of bilateral, regional and international importance. The talks took place in an atmosphere of warmth, friendship, openness, trust and mutual confidence that characteristically mark the strategic partnership between the two countries.

The visit of the Prime Minister of India to the Russian Federation provided continuation to the practice of holding of regular annual Summits between the two countries since the year 2000, when the Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and the Russian Federation was signed. This visit saw the fourth meeting between Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Putin within twelve months. After President Putin's successful visit to India in December 2002, the Prime Minister of India had visited St. Petersburg in May 2003 at the invitation of President Putin to attend the Tercentenary celebrations of the city of St. Petersburg. The two leaders also met in New York during the 58th Session of the UNGA in September this year.

During his present visit to Russia, the Prime Minister of India was accompanied by Ministers and senior officials, besides a 90-member high-profile and well-represented business and industrial delegation from India comprising prominent members and leadership of the apex Indian industry and trade chambers, such as Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Confederation of Indian Industry, Associated Chamber of Commerce and All India Association of Industries.

The Prime Minister of India addressed a meeting of distinguished scientists and intellectuals at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

A ‘Joint Declaration on Global Challenges and Threats to World Security and Stability' was signed by the Prime Minister of India and the President of the Russian Federation during the visit. Based on the profound understanding of each other's interests and concerns, the document has further reinforced the commitment of the two countries to work closely together in meeting the new threats and challenges faced by India, Russia and the world as a whole. A number of other bilateral agreements were also signed to further augment the development of Indo-Russian cooperation in a wide variety of areas of mutual interest.

Both sides expressed satisfaction over the useful practice of holding regular annual Summits, as also the frequent and regular exchanges and interactions at Ministerial and other levels. Both sides recognised the significant contribution that intense bilateral interaction at all levels makes to further developing their strategic partnership and wide-ranging dialogue to mutual benefit. The two sides reiterated the need to further continue, expand and consolidate the excellent political contacts between the two countries. They agreed that focused, detailed and regular bilateral Foreign Office level consultations at regular intervals on a large number of regional and international issues have been particularly meaningful and productive.

Both sides reaffirmed the centrality of a vibrant and robust economic and commercial engagement to their strategic partnership. Both sides agreed that the Joint Declaration on Strengthening and Enhancing Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation, signed during the last summit in December 2002, provided a broad framework as well as a roadmap towards revitalisation of trade and investment ties. The two countries took note of the important developments since the signing of the Joint Economic Declaration. They welcomed the revival and meeting of the Joint Business Council and the holding of an Indian Trade Exhibition, with participation of more than 200 Indian companies, in Moscow in February 2003.

The Joint Economic Declaration had acknowledged the essential central role of the Indo-Russian Inter Governmental Commission (IRIGC) in overseeing and coordinating the implementation of the provisions of the Joint Declaration. Through its nine Plenary sessions and a number of functional meetings of its 12 specialised Working Groups, the IRIGC has proved to be an important vehicle to initiate and promote bilateral cooperation in diverse areas. The two sides welcomed the results of the Commission's 9th Session held in Moscow in May 2003. They positively assessed the developments in various areas of cooperation including rough diamonds, agricultural products and ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy.

The two sides emphasized the need to jointly find new ways and means to further strengthen bilateral trade and economic relations, including by promoting investments and trade as well as removing trade barriers. The leaders agreed to accord high priority to discussing and formulating policies to encourage and facilitate mutually beneficial interaction between the private sectors of the two countries. To this end, the sides agreed to devise a long-term strategic approach taking into account the mutually complementary strengths of the two countries, the changes anticipated in the nature of bilateral economic ties and the emerging trends at the global level.

Hope was expressed that more frequent interaction between the business communities of the two countries would lead to an enhanced level of understanding between them on each other's existing potential and emerging capabilities. The sides agreed to consolidate the practice of organising and participating in exhibitions in each other's countries on a regular basis, especially in key areas of bilateral economic interaction including textiles, leather, information technology and telecommunication, tourism, food processing, tea and tobacco, automobile components, power, construction, etc. Both sides expressed the hope that the visit of a high level Russian business delegation at the invitation of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry during the India International Trade Fair in November 2003 will further catalyse bilateral economic interaction. The two sides also welcomed the re-opening of the office of the Confederation of Indian Industry in Moscow.

Both sides reiterated their decision to hold at an early date the first meeting of an Inter-Governmental Task Force which will study the issue of utilisation of Rupee debt fund payable to the Russian Federation for the credit of the former USSR and the Russian Federation for investments in both countries in mutually beneficial and priority sectors and the issue of settlement of mutual financial obligations. Utilisation of the debt funds for investment purposes will give a new impetus to bilateral Indo-Russian economic cooperation.

Both India and Russia represent expanding market economies that have achieved high growth rates in recent years. Economic growth and rapid globalisation have led to emergence of new capabilities as well as new avenues for meaningful collaboration. In order to enable the business sectors of both countries to grasp new possibilities for cooperation, the sides considered it essential to ensure sharing of information on a regular basis. To this end, the sides agreed to facilitate early establishment of an Indio-Russian Business Centre during 2004 with the assistance of the Joint Business Council and their other apex trade and industry bodies.

The bilateral trade basket has shown encouraging signs of expansion. While both sides have striven to consolidate existing trade in traditional items, there has been growing interest in trading in new items such as engineering goods, automobile and components, plastic products, chemicals, IT and telecom goods. Consolidation and expansion of trade requires understanding of national standards and certification regulations. Such an understanding is also important for encouraging investment. Both sides, therefore, agreed to schedule a joint meeting of the concerned statutory bodies of both countries during 2004 for discussing and harmonising national standardization and certification regulations relevant to trade and investment, with a view to removing technical barriers to trade between the two countries.

The North South Transport Corridor Project has the potential to radically transform the existing connectivity between India and the Russia Federation. Both sides noted with satisfaction the effort exerted towards effective operationalisation of this project during 2003, and underlined their commitment towards acceleration of this process through improvement of infrastructural links and harmonisation and standardisation of procedures. Both sides agreed to strive to actively involve their business sectors in this endeavour.

Enhancement of contacts between the businessmen requires establishment of a mutually coordinated visa regime. Both sides agreed to consider liberalising travel laws for businesspersons of each other's country accredited with their nationally recognised trade bodies. The two sides emphasised the importance of increased people-to-people exchanges in the process of sustaining economic growth and development of their bilateral relations. In this context, they recognised the vast potential to build on the significant increase in the flow of tourists from Russia to India during the past year. Both sides agreed to encourage greater contacts between the tourism and hospitality sectors to sustain the growing interest.

Both sides acknowledged that increased cooperation between financial institutions was crucial to facilitating growth in investment and trade. The setting up of a commercial bank in Moscow by State Bank of India and Canara Bank was welcomed. Both sides expressed their readiness to facilitate the setting up of at least one branch of a commercial bank of India and Russia in each other's markets by the year 2005. They also underlined the need for effective and expeditious use of Lines of Credit extended to the Russian Banks by EXIM Bank of India.

The Indian side reaffirmed its support for early accession of Russia to the World Trade Oraganisation (WTO). The first Indo-Russian Inter-Ministerial Consultations on economic issues and WTO held in New Delhi in March 2003 marked a good initiative and both sides agreed to continue with such consultations in Geneva and in each other's capital. The two sides agreed to strengthen their coordination and cooperation in this regard and to share experience on economic reform and liberalisation in the two countries. Both sides also agreed to continue the process of consultations on various tariff and non-tariff issues relating to bilateral trade.

Both sides reiterated that mutually beneficial cooperation in energy was an area of good potential. In this regard, they welcomed the initiative to set up a Business Dialogue Forum on Energy, which will enable the two countries to regularly exchange views on this vital area of economic activity with the view to, inter alia, evolving a comprehensive joint approach to foster a sustainable and reliable energy future in mutual interest.

Both sides expressed satisfaction over the progress of the project of construction of the nuclear power plant at Kudankulam. Their discussions in this area explored the possibilities of expanding cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The sides expressed satisfaction at the ongoing cooperation in the field of space. Given the existing potential, both sides reiterated their commitment to further expand cooperation for the development of space technology for peaceful purposes. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (Rosaviakosmos) on Cooperation in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes, which charts out future areas of cooperation in this field.

Both sides noted with satisfaction the progress being made in expanded bilateral military technical cooperation, including joint research, development and training, as well as inter-services exchanges. Such cooperation is mutually beneficial and meets the national interests of the two countries, besides promoting peace and stability at regional and international level. They also expressed confidence that the visit of the Indian Defence Minister to the Russian Federation in January 2003, during which he co-Chaired the 3rd Session of the Indo-Russian Inter-government al Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation, and the forthcoming visit of the Russian Minister of Defence to India, expected to take place towards the end of November 2003, will further strengthen their cooperation in this vital area of bilateral interaction. Both sides also welcomed holding of the joint naval exercises by India and the Russian Federation in 2003 and agreed that such exercises and service-to-service interaction should be held on a regular basis.

Both sides expressed satisfaction at the progress of bilateral cooperation in the field of science and technology within the overall framework of the Integrated Long-Term Programme (ILTP). In the series of establishment of joint science and technology centres, they welcomed the signing of the MoUs on the establishment of joint centres on gashydrates and seismology in India. Signing of the Protocol on further cooperation between Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and Government of India's Department of Science and Technology and an Agreement between RAS and Indian National Science Academy will further bolster cooperation in this sphere. It was agreed to keep the focus on specific projects and objectives and to strive for promoting commercial benefits from joint endeavours in the area of science and technology.

Both sides reiterated the contribution and importance of the traditional cultural and people-to-people contacts in consolidating the long-standing and deep-rooted civilisational ties between the two countries. They welcomed the successful organisation of the Days of Russian Culture in India from 1-8 November 2003 and hoped that this event and the organisation of Days of Indian Culture in Russia in 2004 will serve as means of bringing the two peoples further closer. The significance of inter-governmental framework of support for facilitating intense interaction in this sphere, including through Cultural Exchange Programmes, was underlined.

Both sides reaffirmed their keen interest to implement the decision to jointly publish documents on Indo-Russian relations and welcomed the signing of a Protocol between Ministry of External Affairs of India and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation in this regard.

The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on regional and international issues of mutual interest and concern. They noted a high degree of mutual understanding and close identity of views.

India and the Russian Federation are convinced that their strategic partnership has served as a factor in global peace and security. India and Russia, as strategic partners, reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate bilaterally and at international fora towards the establishment of a multipolar and just world order based on sovereign equality of all States, their territorial integrity and non-interference in their internal affairs. Threats to global security and strategic stability should be dealt with taking into account the legitimate security considerations of all States.

Both sides supported the continued disarmament process and multilateral negotiations aimed, inter alia, at nuclear disarmament. Both sides reiterated their commitment to further strengthen their systems of export controls without adversely affecting the peaceful application of dual use materials and technologies.

The two sides acknowledged the importance of the central role of the United Nations in the preservation of world security and stability in accordance with its Charter. They confirmed their opposition to unilateral use or threat of use of force in violation of the UN Charter. Both sides emphasized the need for reform of the UN system to further strengthen it and agreed to work towards promoting an early consensus in this regard.

Both sides agreed on the need to expand the UN Security Council to make it more representative and more effective. Assessing India as an important and influential member of the international community, the Russian Federation reaffirmed its support to India as a deserving and strong candidate for the permanent membership in an expanded UN Security Council.

There was a complete identity of views of India and the Russian Federation on the acute threat posed by international terrorism to the two countries and to international peace, stability and security. Both sides noted with deep concern the growing transnational linkages of terrorist organizations and also the role of transborder organized crime and illicit trade in arms and drugs in supporting terrorism, particularly by financial means.

The sides strongly condemned terrorism everywhere and called upon the international community in accordance with UNSCR 1373 and 1456 to take decisive action against this global menace, and against those who aid and abet terrorism across borders, harbour and provide sanctuary to terrorists and provide them with financial means, training or patronage. They reiterated that international action against terrorism cannot be selective, but has to be uniform, comprehensive, continuous and multifaceted.

Russia expressed support for India's initiative at the UN General Assembly on "measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction”. Both sides expressed their deep concern on the growing risk of the use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists and emphasised the need for wide international cooperation in combating it.

The sides agreed to further develop mutual cooperation and assistance in meeting the threats and preventing acts of international terrorism. They positively assessed the growing cooperation and dialogue between their concerned agencies, including the National Security Council of India and the Security Council of the Russian Federation. They also underlined their resolve to promote cooperation in this area at the United Nations and other international organizations and fora, including the efforts to move further ahead with the draft International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the draft Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism.

Both sides noted that cooperation in combating international terrorism is an important aspect of their strategic bilateral ties. In this context, they appreciated the continued exchange of views and further consolidation of their close cooperation against international terrorism at the recently held meetings of the Joint Working Group on Global Challenges (which has as its precursor the Joint Working Group on Afghanistan) and the Joint Working Group on Combating International Terrorism, established under the provisions of the MoU signed during the visit of the President of the Russian Federation H. E. Mr. Vladimir Putin to India in December 2002.

The Russian Federation supported the steps taken by India in the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir in combating international terrorism. India reiterated its support to the measures taken by the Russian Federation in the Republic of Chechnya for the protection of Russia's territorial integrity and Constitutional order. Having noted the recent Presidential elections in the Republic of Chechnya, an integral part and constituent unit of the Russian Federation, on 5 October 2003, India expressed the hope that their results will lead to the return of complete normalcy in Chechnya.

The two sides discussed the situation in Afghanistan and expressed full support to all international efforts aimed at reconstruction, and emergence of Afghanistan as a peaceful, strong prosperous, united and independent nation. They expressed support for the broad based government led by Mr Hamid Karzai, the President of Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan. Stressing that non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan is a crucial factor in the return of peace and stability, they called upon the neighbouring states of Afghanistan to adhere to their commitments as outlined under the Kabul Declaration on Good Neighbourly Relations signed on 22 December 2002. The two sides expressed concern at the escalation of subversive and terrorist activity by the remnants of Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The regrouping of Taliban with support from outside was seen as a most worrisome development. Concern was also expressed at the large increase in production of narcotics in Afghanistan and illegal drug trafficking.

They reiterated support to the continued important role of the UN in the post-Bonn Agreement processes in Afghanistan, including constitutional and democratic institution building. The two sides agreed that Afghan ownership must be accorded fundamental importance in Afghanistan's reconstruction and institution building efforts. They agreed to continue coordinating their efforts on Afghanistan in international forums.

Both sides reviewed the situation in Central Asia and noted that security and stability in that region is of vital interest to both of them. They supported further progress of Central Asian states along the path of democracy. India and Russia emphasised the importance of the consultations between their Foreign Offices, including in the context of the region's traditional ties and contemporary significance for both of them as regards economic cooperation and challenges and threats to security and stability in the region from phenomena such as extremism and illicit drug trafficking.

Both sides discussed in detail the situation in South Asia. They emphasized the need for Pakistan to implement in full its assurances to prevent infiltration of terrorists across the Line of Control into the State of Jammu and Kashmir and at other points across the border, as well as to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan and Pakistan controlled territory as a prerequisite for a purposeful dialogue between the two countries to resolve all outstanding issues in a bilateral framework as envisaged in Simla Agreement of 1972 and the Lahore Declaration of 1999. The Russian Federation appreciated and supported the peace initiative made by the Prime Minister of India in April 2003 under which High Commissioners have returned to each other's capitals, the Delhi-Lahore-Delhi bus service has been resumed and people-to-people contacts are taking place at non-governmental and business levels. Russia also welcomed further measures announced by India's External Affairs Minister on 22 October 2003 and hoped that Pakistan will come out with a positive response.

Both sides noted the ever-increasing importance of Asia-Pacific Region and stressed the significance of the bilateral and multilateral relations, including in the framework of ASEAN Regional Forum, with the countries of this region in the interest of stability and security in this vast region.

Both sides emphasized the urgent need to restore peace, security and stability in Iraq and to safeguard its unity and territorial integrity. They called for an early transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people and need for continued efforts of the international community to ensure a central role for the UN in political and economic reconstruction of Iraq.

Both sides expressed their concern over the developments in the Middle East. They described the present situation as critical and called upon all concerned for de-escalation and ending the cycle of violence. The sides firmly advocated a negotiated settlement between Palestine and Israel on the basis of the Quartet Road Map to bring about a just and durable peace where both Palestine and Israel live side by side in peace and security.

Both sides reiterated that the strategic partnership between India and the Russian Federation was based on mutuality of interests and shared perceptions. It is aimed at the further development of mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation in diverse areas, and at strengthening international peace, stability and security through joint efforts.

The Prime Minister of India invited the President of the Russian Federation to visit India. The invitation was accepted with gratitude. The dates for the visit will be decided through diplomatic channels.



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