February 2003 News

Putin urges end to infiltration, wants Indo-Pak talks

5 February 2003
The Daily Times
* Islamabadís role in terror-war praised * 3 bilateral pacts signed

MOSCOW: President General Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday called for a 'new working relationship' with Russia during talks aimed at prying Moscow away from its close alliance with New Delhi.While Russian President Vladimir Putin was open to rapprochement between Pakistan and Russia, he also served notice that Moscow's relations with Islamabad would develop 'without prejudice to our relationship with traditional allies,' a reference to India.Kremlin sources also said Mr Putin urged General Musharraf to crack down on Afghan Taliban remnants allegedly seeking shelter in Pakistan as well as on Muslim guerrillas in disputed Kashmir. Mr Putin made a telephone call to the Indian leadership just as the Pakistani president arrived in Moscow to re-assert Russia's support to New Delhi.Gen Musharraf said 'We have to lean on whatever good we had between our two countries and to create a new working relationship,' adding that poor trade between the two 'had to be rectified'. The talks, scheduled to last an hour, ran more than two hours and fifteen minutes.Mr Putin praised Pakistan's support for the US-led military campaign in Afghanistan. He added that since last year's confidence building summit at Almaty, 'practical work has started on the decisions taken at the summit.'However, on a sourer note, a Kremlin official said on condition of anonymity that Mr Putin stressed to Gen Musharraf that he 'expected Pakistan to put an end to the dislocation of terrorists from other countries who are hiding from prosecution' in Pakistan.And Mr Putin urged Pakistan to take the lead in solving its territorial dispute with India by 'stopping fighters from crossing the line of control into Kashmir,' the Kremlin official said. The Russian leader told reporters he wanted dialogue between India and Pakistan. Gen Musharraf responded that he hoped for 'a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir dispute'.Gen Musharraf had said he planned to urge Russia to play a key role in Pakistan's long-standing argument with India over Kashmir.Military observers here agreed that Gen Musharraf was unlikely to break Moscow's close regional alliance with Delhi. 'Stable Indo-Russian relations are one of the main priorities of our foreign policy,' the Russian defence ministry's official said. But it urged Moscow to adopt a pragmatic approach toward Pakistan so that its vast market would not be lost to regional rivals such as China. Mr Musharraf earlier said he did not want Pakistan's relations with Russia to depend on Moscow's ties with other nations. Following the talks, the Russian and Pakistani delegations signed a memorandum on cooperation between the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Diplomatic Service Academy of the Pakistan, an intergovernmental programme for cooperation in culture, science and education from 2003-2006, and an memorandum of cooperation between interior ministries of both countries. -Agencies


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