Friday, August 25, 2006

Hala!

Sorry if my posts are morbid lately. It's been a real drag lately. I know you all understand, but I want you guys to know I'm bucking up best I can.

In the meantime, check this out:

First Indonesia and Norway solidify their alliance; now India and Russia do the same. It's like a game of diplomatic musical chairs. And when the music stops, I guess the country left holding onto Lowell is going down.

And by that, of course, I mean, bombed to smithereens.

S.



INDIA, RUSSIA SIGN JOINT DECLARATION TO FIGHT TERRORISM
Religious terrorism called main danger in new century

Cementing their strategic partnership further, India and Russia signed a declaration on Thursday that they will resist terrorism “with full might.” This comes after a week of talks between the two countries whose representatives discussed “developments of concern in their common neighborhood.”

The visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to New Delhi earlier this week turned out to be an occasion for the Indian government to fundamentally reassess the strategic significance of the traditional India-Russia partnership.

Putin arrived in India in the immediate aftermath of the horrific crusader strikes on New Delhi and the South East Asian region. The regional security situation -especially in regards to Afghanistan and the United States- naturally figured prominently in the agenda of the visit.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that religious terrorism in the guise of crusader activity has emerged as the 'new menace' and the 'main danger' to peace, stability and civilized world order in the new century and called for the fight against it on the basis of 'widest possible' international cooperation.

On the firstday of Putin's visit to focus on the global campaign against the scourge, he told a group of Bollywood entertainment figures that the horrendous July 27 crusader attacks on the South East Asian people have highlighted the evil face of this new menace to all peace loving and right thinking people around the world.

"When terrorism feeds on religious extremism, its destructive power increases manifold," he said.

While Russia has faced the threat in the Caucus, India has been facing it in Jammu and Kashmir and some other parts for the past decade or more, Putin said, "and now comes the crusader threat from America and the west.”

Singh in turn said that intellectuals, artists and technologists had an important responsibility in the global fight against terrorism and religious extremism.

Singh also said he was confident that the best of minds of India and Russia would continue to interact with, and influence each other to promote peace, brotherhood and enlightenment in the new century just as they did in the past

Singh recalled the 'not widely' known visit of Russian traveler Afanasy Nitekin to India well before Portuguese voyager Vasco da Gama came across Indian shores.

Nitekin was the first European to set foot on Indian soil and came through the land and sea route, which later has been recognized by India, Russia and Iran as the north-south corridor, of tremendous significance not only for trade but as a strategic axis for Eurasia, Singh pointed out.

"Our three countries signed an agreement in September 2001 to develop this corridor," he said. "And today Indo-Russia trade is on track to crossing the 20 Billion Dollar mark (within a decade)."

The two countries also signed accords on outer space, long-term cooperation in the field of joint development and use of Russian Global Navigational Satellite System (GLONASS) for peaceful purposes, visa-free travel for holders of diplomatic and official passports and cooperation between the cities of Mumbai and St Petersburg.

The Joint Declaration also emphasizes cooperation in the fields of nuclear energy, incorporating innovative technologies that will ensure energy security and also offer a pollution free and substantial source of energy for the sustainable development.

As a first step in strengthening India’s position in this quest, has already been made through investment by ONGC Videsh (OVL) in Sakhalin I project, making it the largest investment ever made by an Indian company (US$ 2.1 billion). India has evinced interest in exploration of oil & gas in Sakhalin III, Vankor and Kovykta in Russia.

The recent agreements on Strategic Cooperation signed between Gazprom & GAIL and an MoU between GAIL & Stroitransgaz constitute a major milestone in bilateral cooperation in this vital sphere, especially for cooperation in under ground storage project in India, Russia and third countries. It would permit an Indian access to East Siberian Oil and more Russian participation in Gas & Oil exploration in Bay of Bengal and Assam.

Energy cooperation should be directed even more effectively in the use of nuclear energy resources. The Pillar of this cooperation is the 2000MW Kudankulam nuclear Power in Tamil Nadu.

Things, which were hanging in the general drift of Russian-India relations in recent years, were also attended to. Principal among them was the tendentious issue of the escalation of costs for the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, which India has contracted to buy. On the eve of Putin's visit, the Indian cabinet took the decision to agree to discuss an additional US$2.2 billion payment as demanded by Russia, and to consider the leasing of a Russia nuclear submarine to the Indian navy. The government also has approved the immediate acquisition of 80 medium-lift Mi-17 helicopters from Russia worth $1.3 billion.

But the icing on the cake is the proposed cooperation in the nuclear and space fields. Agreements were signed on Russia constructing four new nuclear power plants in India and on assisting a manned Indian space flight. Russia has offered a new power plant AES-2006, which incorporates a third generation WER-1200 reactor of 1170MW. Russia has also agreed to supply uranium worth $700 million to meet India's acute shortage.

Apart from the volatility in the international situation, both India and Russia are acutely conscious of the inexorable decline in the US influence in world politics and the urgent need to adjust to the emergent realities of multipolarity.

The joint declaration signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Putin after extensive talks in New Delhi reflects that the two sides have taken serious pains to understand each other's vital concerns and have endeavored to go more than half the distance to accommodate them. They also made a conscious effort to expand their common ground in the international system. After a considerable lapse of time, Russian-Indian relationship seems to be on the move.

In sum, the 7/27 attacks may prove to be a watershed in Indian regional policies. Relations with Russia, China and Iran assume a new level of importance in New Delhi's regional strategies. Surely, Putin returned to Moscow quietly pleased that he met a long-lost friend.


BBC News