INDIA’S RELATIONS-WITH OTHER COUNTRIES AT PRESENT
Indo-US Relations—After President Bush took over in January 2001, he assured India of continued improvement in ties. In early May 2001, the US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage visited India and the Vajpayee government used the opportunity to reaffirm its broad endorsement of US plan for a “new strategic framework” —including its controversial National Missile Defence programme.
US Assistant Secretary of Stare for South Asia, Christina Rocca, visited in mid-July, 2001 and signaled the broad contours of Bush Policy. She stressed that the US wants to have bilateral relations that we are truly bilateral and not to view the relations with one country through the prism of the third country.
On August 8, the visiting US trade representative Robert Zoellick announced 540 million worth to tariff concessions for Indian export to the USA. It was also decided to set up a bilateral trade policy-working group. US Secretary of State Collin Powel visited in October, 2001 and assured India that its war on terrorism would indeed address the menace that India has been battling in Jammu & Kashmir.
On November 9, 2001, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited Washington and held talks with President Bush over wide-ranging issues, including the ongoing global campaign against terrorism. This was the first summit-level talk between the two leaders. During the talks, President Bush held out an assurance that US would wage a joint battle against terrorism in all its forms, but studiously avoid going into specifics of Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism in J &K. He also declared his commitment to develop “fundamentally different relationship” with India.
Indo-Russia Relations—In February 2001 Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov visited India. During his visit a deal for supply and manufacture of T-90S Main Battle Tank of India was signed. Russia also agreed to allow licensed production of 140 Sukhoi-30 MK-1 planes by Hindustan Aeronautic Ltd. The deal, worth more than three billion US dollars, is the largest contract in Indo-Russian Defence Corporation.
Later, during Defence Minister Jaswant Singh’s visit to Moscow on June, 6, 2001, Russia offered to India the largest ever Defence package. Russia has also offered joint production of a fifth generation fighter plane to further enhance the operational capabilities of the armed forces of both the countries. Protocols signed during the visit have helped to elevate the Defence ties to a new level.
Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee visited Moscow on November 3, 2001. The declaration signed by the two leaders condemned “all States without exception” that aid or shelter terrorists, and called upon UN to pass a comprehensive convention on the problem, to give a legal basis to the war against terrorism. An update declaration of strategic partnership was also signed, which will “elevate the multi-faced ties between the two countries to a qualitatively new and higher level”.
Prime Minister Vajpayee also confirmed India’s intention to purchase the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, for the Indian Navy. Among the several agreements signed during the visit was a MoU on implementing the Russian designed Kudankulam nuclear power project in Chennai. A MoU with top educational institutions was also signed, which will further help to boast Indian studies in Russia. The two leaders reached an “identical” position on post-Taliban regime in Afghanistan. They agreed that the rebellions must play a post – Taliban role and the members of the Taliban excluded.
India-Pakistan Relations—A summit level meeting was held between Indian Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, at Agra, on July 15-16,2001. However, after two days of the concentrated discussions, India and Pakistan could not agree on a set of words that would describe their respective core concerns—cross-border terrorism and Kashmir-well enough to satisfy both.
The statement at the end of the day the MEA spokesperson said: I am disappointed to inform all of you that although the commencement of a process and the beginning of the journey which has been destination of an agreed joint statement has not been reached.”
Earlier, on July 14, 2001, Gen Pervez Musharraf was received ceremoniously at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Later in the day he paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat and also visited his ancestral home in the Old City of Delhi, the Naharwali Haveli.
In the end, while Pakistan blamed India’s refusal to accept Kashmir as the core issue, India blamed the General for playing to the gallery, rather than to better ties. The only positive point of the whole exercise was the agreement to keep meeting. Before leaving for Islamabad, President Musharraf invited Prime Minister Vajpayee to visit Pakistan.