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Russia, India Discuss Ways to Fight Terrorism - 2003-06-16

The Russian foreign minister has held talks with Indian leaders on bilateral cooperation and the fight against terrorism. The Russian official gave a similar anti-terrorism message to Pakistan.

Russia and India have been allies since the Cold War years, and Moscow is the largest supplier of military hardware to India.

Following talks with the Russian foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha said relations between the two countries remain close. "Our political relationship is excellent, and we have complete understanding on major issues," Mr. Sinha said.

Mr. Ivanov welcomed the recent initiatives for peace between India and Pakistan, and offered Moscow's support for efforts to mend relations between the two South Asian rivals.

He arrived in New Delhi after talks with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad, where he praised steps by Pakistan to curb the activities of terrorist organizations in that country. Islamabad in turn pledged not to aid Muslim rebels in Chechnya, who are fighting a separatist war against Russia.

In New Delhi, Mr. Ivanov said he also hoped Pakistan would crack down on Islamic militants waging a separatist insurgency in Indian Kashmir. He said Moscow will judge Islamabad not by its public statements, but its "real actions and deeds."

He repeated that Russia is strongly opposed to terrorism in all its forms, and says all countries must end support to militant groups.

The two sides discussed the need to boost their economic relationship. Bilateral trade has declined to $1.4 billion per year from more than $4 billion before the breakup of the Soviet Union. Indian Foreign Minister Sinha said that situation must be rectified.

"We have agreed that new initiatives are called for in order to boost the trade and economic ties between our two countries. There is also a need for increasing mutual investments," he said.

Mr. Ivanov told reporters it was up to India to decide if it wants to contribute peacekeeping troops to Iraq. Senior U.S. defense officials are in New Delhi, trying to persuade India to send troops.