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Putin Warns Against 'Double Standards' on Terrorism

Putin Warns Against 'Double Standards' on Terrorism

Author: Clara Ferreira-Marques
Publication: Reuters
Date: November 9, 2001

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that any double standards in the international fight against terrorism could split the global coalition formed after the September 11 attacks on U.S. landmarks.

Putin was addressing journalists after Kremlin talks with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who has embarked on a tour of allies to ensure Delhi's voice is heard on the makeup of any future Afghan government. The Russian leader said after their talks that India's views had to be taken into account.

''A policy of double standards could result in a split of the common international position, and given the seriousness of the situation, this is inadmissible,'' Putin told journalists.

Putin was responding to a question about whether the fight against terrorism applied to areas other than Afghanistan -- including Kashmir, divided between Pakistan and India, and Russia's own separatist Chechnya region.

''There cannot be good and bad terrorists, our terrorists and others,'' Putin said. ''All those who have resorted to arms in order to resolve political disputes, all those organizations, all those structures and individuals who carry out those policies should not be tolerated.''

Putin has often argued that Russia is combating the same international terrorist menace in Chechnya that was behind the attacks on the United States.

Vajpayee, who signed a declaration on terrorism with Putin, called for greater efforts against those resorting to violence.

''The international community cannot tolerate states which assist, support and harbor terrorists and use terrorism as an instrument of their state policy,'' Vajpayee said.

India accuses key U.S. ally Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism in the Indian-held part of Kashmir and is keen to ensure that Pakistan does not dictate the makeup of a new Afghan government.

AGREEMENT THAT INDIA MUST BE HEARD

Putin said that as a regional player India's standpoint was important. But he said Vajpayee had agreed with the principle of discussing Afghanistan's future within the ''six-plus-two'' group organized by the United Nations -- which includes Russia, the United States and Afghanistan's neighbors, but not India.

''We reached agreement with the Indian prime minister that a six-plus-two arrangement can and should be employed, but at the same time India must have the opportunity to be more involved,'' Putin said. ''The Indian voice must be heard when solving the problem of Afghanistan.''

Both Russia and India have fully backed U.S.-led strikes against Afghanistan, which is refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born militant suspected of being the mastermind behind September's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Russia and India, longstanding allies during the Cold War, have passed through a period of cooler relations since the collapse of the Soviet Union. But since Putin's arrival in the Kremlin, Russia has rejuvenated ties with what was traditionally a key military and trade partner.

During Vajpayee's visit, the two countries have proceeded with an agreement on nuclear cooperation first signed when Putin traveled to India last year.

The accord includes construction of the Kudankulam power station in southern India, a $2.7 billion project funded by the Indian government and by soft credits from Russia.

Vajpayee said India's $1.75 billion investment in the Sakhalin-1 oil project off Russia's Pacific coast underscored improved cooperation. Officials in Delhi expect the venture will provide between 2.5 and five million tons of crude annually.

Vajpayee will visit President Bush in the United States and attend a session of the U.N. General Assembly before flying to London to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair.
 


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