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Russia, India Sign Strategic Partnership Deal - 2002-12-04

Russia and India have signed a new strategic partnership pact to consolidate their long-standing friendship. They have also vowed to combat terrorism, and have signed new agreements to enhance their defense and economic ties.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who is on a state visit to India, has also urged Pakistan to end support of Islamic insurgents in Indian Kashmir.

After a summit meeting between Mr. Putin and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, the two leaders said they share common ground on international issues such as Iraq and global terrorism.

In a joint declaration, both countries said they want a diplomatic and political solution to the crisis over efforts to disarm Iraq. They said they strongly oppose any unilateral military action against Iraq.

India and Russia also expressed their determination to take preventive and deterrent measures to meet the threat from what they say are "the roots of terrorism in their common neighborhood."

Both countries say there should be no double standards in battling the threat. Both countries are confronting Islamic militants - India in Kashmir, and Russia in Chechnya.

At a news conference, Mr. Putin called on India and Pakistan to honor commitments to help reduce tensions in the South Asian region. Speaking through an interpreter, he also urged Islamabad to fulfill promises to crack down on terrorism.

"My opinion is that in this case it is not only important that Islamabad would cut the ways of infiltration of militants to Kashmir through the control line to the state if Jammu and Kashmir, but would also increase its work to liquidate the whole terrorist infrastructure acting in this region," he said.

India and Russia have also expressed their determination to revive economic ties, and signed several agreements looking at ways in which trade between the two countries can be increased from its present annual level of $1.5 billion.

In a meeting with Indian businessmen, Mr. Putin called on them to increase investment in Russia, and establish joint ventures.

The two countries are also stepping-up defense cooperation, and several important arms deals are under negotiation.

Russia and India are long-time allies. This is Mr. Putin's second visit to India in two years, and is expected to further boost their strategic partnership.