Moscow: India and Russia on Friday condemned in strong terms the existence of "safe havens" for terrorism, asserting that states that "aid, abet or shelter" terrorists were as guilty for such acts as their perpetrators.

In a joint statement issued after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the two countries said there was no justification for any act of terrorism and all states needed to combine efforts to vanquish the menace.

"They strongly condemned the existence of safe havens and sanctuaries for terrorism, and reiterated that States that aid, abet or shelter terrorists were as guilty of acts of terrorism as their actual perpetrators," the statement without naming any country.

It said India and Russia being pluralistic states were especially vulnerable to acts of terrorism "which are attacks against the values and freedoms, enshrined in their societies".

Both sides reaffirmed that international terrorism is a threat to peace and security, a grave violation of human rights and a crime against humanity.

They also reaffirmed that the United Nations had a central role in the combat against international terrorism and called for an early adoption of the UN's draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

Taking into account the fact that illicit drug trafficking had become one of the main financial sources of international terrorism, the two sides stressed on the importance of joint bilateral and multilateral efforts in the fight against it.

Support to Afghan peace process

India and Russia on Friday extended their support to Afghanistan in its quest to establish a democratic state free from terrorism, outside interference, as they backed Kabul's overtures for dialogue with "armed opposition".

An Indo-Russian joint statement issued after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's talks with Russian leadership said, "Both the countries expressed concern over escalation of extremist activity throughout the territory of the country, including previously relatively peaceful provinces, drug production growth, and unresolved socio-economic problems."

"The sides expressed their readiness to continue promoting the establishment of Afghanistan as a peaceful, democratic and independent state, free from terrorism, outside interference and drug-related crimes, with a sustainable economy," it said.

Supporting the transfer of responsibility for the situation in the country to the National Security Forces, the sides urge to intensify efforts to build up their capacity.

The sides believe that the international military presence in Afghanistan should be linked to the security situation on the ground. Afghanistan has stepped up efforts to engage with Taliban amid reports that authorities are giving a nod for the establishment of an office by the insurgent group in a Muslim country.

"India and the Russian Federation support the efforts taken by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to establish a peaceful dialogue with the armed opposition, provided that the process goes on under the Afghan leadership and that the fighters meet the redlines enunciated by the international community: the recognition of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, renunciation of violence and breaking with al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations," the statement said.
They consider it necessary to continue the UN Security Council sanctions regime as an essential anti-terror tool.    

"The sides noted with satisfaction the growing global understanding of the important role played by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan neighbouring states, states and organisations of the region, and urge to focus the efforts in the region on the development and improvement of sound structures of regional cooperation, like the SCO and SAARC amongst others.    

They expect that the international community in their efforts in this regard will respect the decisions taken by the countries of the region in the framework of these organisations," the statement said.

India to get 42 Sukhoi fighters

Russia will provide an additional 42 Sukhoi frontline fighters to India under an agreement signed on Friday, taking the bilateral defence cooperation to new heights.

With this pact, the total number of acquired or contracted aircraft by India in various stages of manufacture of the frontline SU-30 MKI fighters increases to 272.

The agreement for the upgraded Sukhois was signed by Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and Russian Federal Service for Military-technical Cooperation Director M A Dmitriev in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Dmitry Medvedev after their talks at the 12th annual Indo-Russian Summit at the Kremlin.

The pact, which was among the five agreements initialed between the two countries, came against the backdrop of a crash of an Indian Air Force's Sukhoi-30 near Pune.

The mishap, in which the two pilots ejected safely, raised some technical questions and also led to the grounding of the entire fleet of 120 planes pending investigations.

An Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) and a general contract were signed in 2000 for the manufacture of 140 Su-30 MKI aircraft by HAL. A 2007 protocol envisaged manufacture of a further 40 aircraft.

Earlier, 50 Su-30 aircraft were purchased in phases prior to the signing of the IGA and the deliveries started in the late 90s.

The new version is expected to include a new cockpit, an upgraded radar and certain stealth features to avoid radar detection.

Significantly, the upgraded Sukhoi-30 MKIs will be able to carry a heavier weapons load, especially the airborne version of the Brahmos cruise missile. India is also looking to upgrade most of its SU-30 MKIs in the long run.

The first delivery of the upgraded Sukhois is expected in 2014 and the last by 2018.

According to present projections, India plans to phase out 120 MiG 21s by 2017 and with the MMRCA still not a done deal, the SU-30 MKI fleet will be the mainstay.

At their joint press conference, Medvedev said Indo-Russian Military-Technical Cooperation has reached "unprecedented levels" while Prime Minister Singh said this has reached 'qualitatively new levels."

Russia backs Indian bid for UNSC seat

Russia on Friday backed India's bid for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council as well as its aspirations to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a regional security grouping.

Moscow, one of the five veto-wielding members of the UNSC and one of the founders of the SCO, expressed it support in a joint declaration issued after the 12th annual India-Russian Summit between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Dmitry Medvedev in the Kremlin.

In their joint statement, both Medvedev and Singh underscored that the UNSC reform should be carried out in way to make it "more representative and effective" in countering the existing and new challenges.

In this context, Moscow is for giving New Delhi a permanent seat in an expanded UNSC, the Kremlin said.

PM congratulates Putin

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday congratulated his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the victory of his party in December 4 parliamentary polls, widely perceived by the West as 'rigged'.

According to the transcript of the initial remarks at their meeting provided by the Russian Prime Minister's Office, Singh said: "permit me to congratulate you and the people of Russia on successful State Duma elections and the victory of United Russia party."

The ruling United Russia had obtained 238 seats in the 450-strong State Duma polls, down sharply from the 315 seats it won in the elections in 2007.

Putin, 59, who is set to reclaim the presidency in 2012 elections, is facing one of the biggest challenges to his 12-year rule amid massive protests against him following the polls, which has been described as "rigged" by the West.

Singh, who is here on a three-day visit to attend the 12th annual bilateral summit, after his wide ranging talks with President Dmitry Medvedev had a meeting with Putin.

Singh also wished success for the Putin in the presidential polls.

He said in India Putin is seen as a 'special friend' and 'architect' of the privileged strategic partnership between the two countries.

Welcoming Singh in his office, Putin underscored that the relations between Russia and India are not undergoing any changes in essence; they are only developing and moving forward.