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India, Russia Call for Comprehensive Anti-Terror Campaign - 2002-02-04

India and Russia have called for a comprehensive international battle against terrorism and have discussed military cooperation. The Russian foreign minister has ended a two-day visit to India and has gone on to Afghanistan.

After discussions between Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, both countries issued a joint statement saying there should be no room for "double standards" in the fight against terrorism.

Both leaders say the al-Qaida group has extensive links with terrorist networks in other regions of the world. They say these groups must also be targeted in the international battle against terrorism.

Mr. Ivanov said the battle against terrorism must not be confined to Afghanistan, because al-Qaida and Taleban fighters continue to pose a threat to other countries in the region. "Not only Russia, but also other countries have this question unanswered, where the majority of those who supported Taleban and participated in the al-Qaida activities went to," he said. "It is hard to say with full certainty whether they are still in Afghanistan, or the majority of them dispersed around other countries, neighboring countries, including Pakistan. But they are still there. They have not disappeared and got dissolved and, therefore, the international community should continue their efforts not to allow their rebirth."

Both India and Russia are battling Islamic separatist revolts, Russia in Chechnya and India in Kashmir. The two countries have expressed concern about the possibility of al-Qaida fighters taking refuge in these regions after fleeing Afghanistan.

Russia has also backed India's demand that Pakistan must do more to crack down on militant groups leading a separatist revolt in Kashmir. The joint statement issued by the two countries says Pakistan's sincerity in fighting terrorism could only be judged by concrete action it takes, on the ground.

Mr. Ivanov also met Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes. Both countries have been discussing the possibility of stepping up defense cooperation.

India wants to lease two nuclear submarines and long-range bombers from Russia. The issue is expected to be discussed when Russia's deputy prime minister, Ilya Klebanov, visits India later this week. Moscow is New Delhi's largest supplier of defense equipment and has supplied much of its modern warships, fighter aircraft and tanks.

From New Delhi, Mr. Ivanov went to Afghanistan. It is the first high-level Russian visit to the war-ravaged nation since the former Soviet Union withdrew its troops from the country in 1989.