NEW DELHI, December 5 (AFP): India and Russia on Friday signed an agreement covering the building of four new nuclear energy reactors in southern India, as well as a cooperation accord on manned space flight. Russia becomes the third country to sign an atomic energy agreement with India after a decision in September by the Nuclear Suppliers Group to waive its ban on trade of nuclear technology with India.
The United States and France are the other powers to have signed agreements with New Delhi. The nuclear agreement covers the building of four atomic reactors at Kudankulam in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The value of the deal was not given. Moscow is already building two 1,000-megawatt light water reactors at the site.
...The India-Russia relationship has “withstood the test of time,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a joint press conference with visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev here Friday. The many agreements signed between India and Russia, he said, marked “a new milestone in the history of cooperation with Russia.” Addressing the media after the signing of various agreements between India and Russia, Manmohan Singh said, “It’s a relationship that has withstood the test of time.” He said Russia had consistently supported India in “diverse areas.” Manmohan Singh said the large number of agreements that were signed marked a new milestone in the history of cooperation with Russia, which was also helping India’s “human space flight programme”. He added that dialogue between the two countries had “intensified considerably.” Stating that the terrorist attack in Mumbai “present a threat to pluralistic societies,” the Prime Minister said, “There is much Russia and India can do to promote global peace.”
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Another deal on the sale to India of 80 military helicopters was also signed.
Medvedev is the first head of state to visit India following terrorist attacks on Mumbai a week ago which left over 180 people dead. He has already pledged Moscow’s support to India in the anti-terror fight.
“The terrorist threat is not over for our country,” said Medvedev in an interview with Indian public television. “We are ready to have cooperation (with India) in all areas with the aim of preventing such terror attacks.”
He was welcomed with a full military salute at the presidential palace and then laid a wreath at the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, before heading into talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The string of accords underline that ties between Moscow and New Delhi — which date back to the Soviet Union — continue to be strong, despite India’s desire to also build relations with the United States.
Energy-hungry India has signed cooperation pacts with France and the United States since the ban was lifted, meaning Russia now faces competition in the market.
“We are not scared of competition. Russian technology can compete,” the head of Russia’s nuclear agency, Sergei Kiriyenko, told reporters.
He said it was too early to discuss the possibility of Russia building two more reactors in Kudankulam for a total of eight but said that after Friday’s signing, “We can start talks about new agreements.”
Moscow is also keen to retain its position as India’s main supplier of weaponry amid increasing competition from the United States and Israel.
Russia, which supplies 70 percent of Indian military hardware, has been concerned that its slice of the defence market risks becoming leaner amid disputes over costs and late deliveries.
The wide main streets of central Delhi have been decorated with Russian flags to welcome Medvedev but the visit is taking place under the tightest security with a visible police presence.
The continued strength of ties between Moscow and New Delhi contrasts with the sometimes prickly relationship between Russia and India’s long-time foe Pakistan.
It's pretty clear that since Mumbai, the already strong relationship between India and Russia gained substantial momentum. More military cooperation, more economic cooperation, joint ventures with the most sensitive technologies of nuclear power and space exploration. That's an interesting outcome from the Mumbai attack, don't you think?
Medvedev said in the television interview that current defence cooperation was "not enough" and there needed to be more projects such as the Bramos anti-ship cruise missile jointly developed by the two sides. He said he wanted defence, security and weapons trade between the two nations to develop beyond a simple "buy and sell" relationship towards a fully-fledged bilateral cooperation.
Meanwhile, China has offered (mostly diplomatic) support for Pakistan. Lots of nice words and meteorological gadgets, but nothing like the level of cooperation between Russia and India. Nonetheless, Pakistan seems way short of friends right now, so this token support is something.
And of course, Pakistan has to deal with the US. We're 'good friends.' But, the US also wants to be even better friends with India, a desire especially heightened by Russia and India flaunting their kissy lips. Dammit. This is the kind of thing that makes neocons freak out.
ISLAMABAD: A Chinese envoy has said that Pakistan has acted in an extremely positive way to scale down tension with India.
Chinese Ambassador in Islamabad, honorable Luo Zhao Hui, while talking to media persons after a ceremony here Saturday to handover modern weather equipment to Pakistan, said that his country will extend its full assistance to Pakistan in all sectors including defence.“We have always been helping our brotherly and friendly country and will continue it with the same zeal and gesture in future as well. We shall do more in helping our brotherly and friendly country,” he said.
Ambassador Zhao Hui called for advancement and continuation of the composite dialogue process between Pakistan and India to find solution of the problems through peaceful means, adding that China sees no signs of war between the two countries.
Secretary Defence Syed Athar Ali talking on the occasion said that Pakistan is sincerely fighting against terrorism and would be a part of the war till its logical end.
Earlier, addressing the handing over of modern meteorological gadgets by China to Meteorological Department of Pakistan, the ambassador said his country has multi-dimensional cooperation with Pakistan in variety of fields.
He termed the met gadgets, handed over to Meteorological Department of Pakistan, as “small gift” from people and government of China for their Pakistani friends and said the mutual cooperation and relationship is growing stronger with the passage of time.
Far from damping down tensions between India and Pakistan, the visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the two countries in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks has only added more fuel to the fire.So now India has the two superpowers, neighbor Russia and the US, both jostling each other for preferential status. Condi throws Pakistan under the bus along the way. Poor Pakistan has the brotherly diplomatic support of China along with some new meteorological instruments. This situation is ridiculously unbalanced. Meanwhile, you can always count on wingers to make things worse.
In New Delhi on Wednesday, Rice publicly backed India's demands on Pakistan for tough measures against the alleged perpetrators of the atrocity. The following day, after meeting with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad, she declared that Pakistan was "very focussed and committed" to fighting terrorism, but reinforced the message that the Pakistani government had to provide "unequivocal assistance" to India.
...The media leaks, particularly those by US officials, are aimed at undercutting Pakistani disclaimers and reinforcing American demands that Islamabad take action against elements of the military and the ISI who in the past have backed various Islamist militias. That is the message behind Rice's declaration that the Pakistani government had to engage in "rooting out terrorists and rounding up whoever perpetrated this [Mumbai] attack, from wherever it was perpetrated, whatever its sources, whatever the leads".
In pressuring Pakistan to bow to Indian demands, the Bush administration is recklessly aggravating a volatile situation. The unstable Pakistani government is widely regarded as a puppet of Washington for assisting the US-led occupation of Afghanistan by unleashing the military against anti-occupation insurgents operating from border areas in Pakistan. At the same time, the accusations against the ISI will only compound the tense relationship between the Pakistani government and the military.
Moreover, any concessions by Pakistan to longtime rival India may well be used by opposition politicians to whip up nationalist sentiment. On Wednesday, some 2,000 students protested in Islamabad against Rice's visit to India. There is growing outrage that the US and India are exploiting the Mumbai attacks for their own political purposes. This takes place amid widespread discontent and anger over deteriorating living standards as the Pakistani government implements IMF austerity measures as part of an economic bailout package.
The US stance will only encourage the Indian government to take a more belligerent stand against Pakistan. Speaking in a joint press conference on Wednesday with Rice, Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee declared there was "no doubt" that the gunmen had come from Pakistan. He warned that "whatever the government considers necessary to protect its territorial integrity, safety and security of its citizens, the government will do".
Right-wing Hindu extremist groups are whipping up communal tensions inside India. The fascistic Shiv Sena based in Mumbai has called in its newspaper for the dismantling of "mini-Pakistans" inside India, before teaching "Pakistan a lesson by launching an attack on it". The reference to mini-Pakistanis is a provocative incitement to pogroms against India's large Muslim minority. Despite claiming to be secular and democratic, the ruling Congress Party, which faces national elections next year, has repeatedly bowed to pressure from the Hindu right in the past.In the midst of all this jostling and shoving, "someone" played a dangerous hoax on India and Pakistan that could have triggered a very unfortunate reaction that surely would later have been "regretted." A man posing as India's Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee called and threatened Pakistan's President Zardari. The call was put through without verification, as bizarrely, these two countries do not have a secure line for leaders to communicate with each other. (???) After some high alerts, nothing came of it.
The ratchetting up of tensions on the Indian subcontinent is an indictment of the ruling elites in both countries. Completely incapable of addressing the elementary social needs and democratic aspirations of working people, they are again stirring up communal divisions as a means of shoring up their political bases. The intrusion of the US into this explosive political mixture in pursuit of its own strategic interests—in the first place to consolidate its occupation of Afghanistan—only heightens the danger of war.
Hmm. I "wonder" who would do such a thing?