Russia opposes veto powers for India

Published December 4, 2004

NEW DELHI, Dec 3: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday expressed his opposition to veto powers for India or any other country seeking to become member of a revamped UN Security Council.

Mr Putin, who arrived here on a three-day visit on Friday morning, said his country supported India's candidature for membership to a recast Security Council. But, he added: "Speaking about the role of veto, we should say that we believe it would be absolutely unacceptable to erode such tools of the UN Security Council."

"Because, otherwise, the UN will lose its weight and its role, changing into some discussion club, some new addition of the League of Nations," Mr Putin told a joint news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

After an initial response of dismissing the idea of joining the UNSC as 'second class' members, Indian officials said on Friday the proposal was being studied. Mr Putin and Dr Singh signed a joint declaration that covered a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues, yet gave little clue about the status of their disagreements on India's proposed arms purchases from the United States.

However, a potentially significant agreement against the weaponization of space appeared to have been left deliberately understated, reversing the stand taken by the previous Indian government.

Then foreign minister Jaswant Singh had rushed to welcome President George W. Bush's May 2001 announcement of plans to deploy a Ballistic Missile Defence system to give the US a shield against alien missiles.

Friday's joint declaration on the issue said that both sides reaffirmed 'their commitment to support efforts to prevent the deployment of weapons in outer space while preserving it for peaceful and cooperative activities aimed at developmental benefits'.

In other phrases that could be noted in Washington, the two countries lauded the recent presidential elections in Afghanistan but also called for supporting 'indigenous' security institutions in the country. Dr Singh said India strongly supported the earliest possible accession of Russia to the World Trade Organization, a demand Moscow had made prior to their summit.

"The two sides support this as an important demonstration of Indo-Russian relations of strategic partnership, and express their desire to develop, after the accession of Russia to the WTO, cooperation within that organization, based on the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit."

The two stressed that their strong bilateral relations had rested on the foundations of political, defence and economic exchanges of a substantial nature. Considering the expanding energy requirements of India, both sides stressed the need for employing resources that were environment-friendly and available in sufficient quantities.

"Nuclear power plants offer a pollution-free and substantial source of energy to provide for the sustainable development. Both sides are determined to continue their cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, incorporating innovative technologies to ensure energy security, with due regard to their commitments to non-proliferation norms," the declaration said.

"Both sides reaffirm that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their means of delivery and related materials, particularly the risk of their falling into the hands of terrorists constitute a threat to international peace and security.

About the format of trilateral meetings at the foreign ministers level of India, China and Russia, the declaration said these could result in social and economic development among the three countries.

The two sides reiterated their support for the reconstruction process in the war-torn Afghanistan. "The sides express their concern at the continuing threat to security, especially in the south and southeastern provinces and also over the continued increase in the cultivation, production and trafficking of narcotic drugs in Afghanistan and underlined the need for effective steps to counteract the drug and terrorist threats.

"The Russian Federation and the Republic of India are convinced that their bilateral cooperation in all forms, and their strategic partnership, contributes to the strengthening of the regional and global goodwill and cooperation."

PUTIN'S INTERVIEW: Arguing strongly against a unipolar world, Russian President Vladimir Putin said differences over the US-led Iraq war had significantly slowed down the global war against terror,The Hindunewspaper said on Friday.

In an interview to the newspaper, coinciding with his arrival here, Mr Putin said: "Differences over Iraq, and they were, I would remind you, rather considerable and existed between the leading participants of the international anti-terrorist coalition, led to a significant slowdown of the development of international anti-terrorist interaction."

Recalling concerns over the sovereignty and security of countries in the wake of the US-led war in Iraq - described as the 'Iraq model' - the Russian president said the Iraq developments had proved that unilateral actions were counter-productive.

"We have repeatedly called our American partners' attention to this reality. And eventually they realized the need to reach a political settlement in Iraq using the UN mechanisms. I believe that the new administration will undoubtedly bear in mind 'Iraqi lessons' when determining its foreign policy."

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