NEW DELHI: When India and Russia got together on Saturday before the BRICS Summit they were like long lost friends, who needed to spend some time together to accommodate each other’s concerns as evident in the joint statement where they affirmed “zero tolerance” for terrorists and their abettors.
The Indo-Russian ties got a major shot in arm with the inking of 16 big ticket pacts ranging from defence to energy. The cementing of ties come at a crucial juncture as India saw Russia getting uncomfortably closer to Pakistan, and Moscow cringed at the tight embracing of Washington by New Delhi.
Not taking each other for granted any more, Prime Minister Narendra Modi used a Russian proverb to describe the bilateral ties spanning over seven decades. “One Old Friend is better than two new ones,” Prime Minister Modi said as Russian President Vladimir Putin could not suppress a smile.
It was clear that the two leaders have ironed out the irritants in the bilateral ties that were cropped up as New Delhi was caught in a diplomatic bind as its “all-weather” friend was gearing up for first military drill with Pakistan as its Army base in Uri was under attack by terrorists supported from across the border. Touching upon India’s concerns about cross-border terrorism, Prime Minister Modi said: "Russia's clear stand on the need to combat terrorism mirrors our own. We deeply appreciate Russia's understanding and support of our actions to fight cross-border terrorism that threatens our entire region. We both affirmed the need for zero tolerance in dealing with terrorists and their supporters."
President Putin also said that the countries were working in tandem to counter terrorism.
The joint statement issued by the two countries after the completion of the 17th Indo-Russian Annual Summit is a testimony of the commitment of India and Russia to the relationship despite forging ties with other countries. The lengthy statement sought to accommodate issues important for both the countries – nuclear energy, defence, cross-border terrorism, India’s bid to become member of the UN Security Council and Nuclear Suppliers’ Group; and Russia’s concerns about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and cessation of hostilities in Syria.
On countering terrorism the two countries underlined the need to deny safe havens to terrorists and stressed “the need to have a strong international legal regime built on the principle of ‘zero tolerance for direct or indirect support of terrorism’”. India also took notice of the unconditional condemnation of the Uri terror attack by Russia. India also expressed satisfaction at Russia understanding its interests and reservations about holding exercises with Pakistan, which “sponsors and practices terrorism as a matter of State policy".
"We are satisfied that Russia understand India's interest and they will never do anything contrary to India's interest and I think there was a strong meeting of minds on this subject," Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said addressing a press conference in Goa after the conclusion of the India-Russia bilateral Summit.
Ahead of proposing a reconstruction fund for Syria, India also found its views converging with Russia as far as the war-torn country was concerned. Both sides stressed for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the country within the ambit of the UN Security Council’s resolutions. “Both Sides underlined the necessity of strengthening the cessation of hostilities, delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged areas, and the continuation of intra-Syrian dialogue under UN supervision. India recognized Russian Side's effort towards achieving a political and negotiated settlement of the situation in Syria,” the joint statement read.