Moscow — Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi left the Kirghizia capital of Frunze for home on Sunday at the end of a six day visit hailed by the Communist Party daily Pravda as “an important landmark” for cooperation between the two nations.
Devoting one third of Pravda’s Sunday review of international affairs to Gandhi’s stay, commentator Boris Averchenko lauded the visit as “a considerable event” and emphasized the “deep roots and rich traditions” of Soviet Indian relations.
He recalled that the Soviet Union had been a consistent friend of India, helping the Asian nation develop its basic heavy industry and assisting all stages of its development.
Friendly relations between the two nations “are maintained on the basis of equality and mutual respect, on the identity or proximity of the two countries’ positions on the basic problems of our times,” Averchenko said.
The emphasis on Soviet assistance to India was characteristic of comments in the staterun media during Gandhi’s stay, which began Tuesday with a lavish official welcome and included two sessions of talks with Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
Averchenko said the talks “have left a marked imprint on the traditional friendly relations between the two countries and became an important landmark along the lines of their further development and deepening.”
Soviet media trumpeted Gandhi’s visit throughout his stay in apparent efforts both to woo the leader of the world’s largest democracy and to underline the importance of his ties to Moscow.
The visit, Gandhi’s first official trip abroad since his mother was assassinated last fall, indicated Soviet Indian relations will remain close.
In speeches and at a Wednesday press conference, Gandhi avoided any direct criticism of Soviet foreign policy and voiced support for several of Moscow’s disarmament proposals.
He condemned outside interference in any country’s affairs, but followed his mother’s line by not specifically mentioning or attacking Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.
The Soviet Union has given key economic, political and defense support to India over the past two decades. Allowing the Indians to pay in rupees, Moscow has sold New Delhi heavy industrial projects and sophisticated weaponry.
In 1971, during the last Indo Pakistan war, when the United States was leaning toward Pakistan, the Soviets backed India with votes and vetoes at the United Nations.
Economic ties were cemented during the current visit with Gandhi and Gorbachev signing agreements granting billion dollar Soviet industrial credits to India and outlining economic and technical cooperation until 2000.
Gandhi is scheduled to visit the United States next month and, while criticizing U.S. arms policies and attitudes toward Pakistan at his Wednesday press conference, has made a careful effort at good relations with both superpowers.
Article extracted from this publication >> May 31, 1985