In an act symbolizing the revival of close ties between two former Cold War allies, Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov kicked off a two-day visit to India March 30 with the signing of an agreement to set up a "hotline" between Moscow and New Delhi. The dedicated phone link, which will connect the Indian prime minister and the Russian president, had been disconnected following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Primakov, the first Russian foreign minister to visit India, described New Delhi as one of Russia’s highest priority partners. That view was echoed by Russian officials in Moscow, who said that the two countries held identical views on a number of important regional issues, including the conflicts in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Primakov also went out of his way to emphasize that Russia’s warming relations with India would in no way affect Moscow’s ties to Beijing, which are also close. He said that Moscow had called on India to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but did not indicate whether he had raised those issues during his talks with Indian leaders. (Reuter, March 30)
…Keeps its Distance from Pakistan.