Medvedev reaches out to Gen Next

WikiLeaks expose could damage relations between countries

Interactive mood: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) faculty and students listen to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s speech using translator’s headphones in Mumbai on Wednesday. AFP

If Pakistan was the hot topic during Obama’s interaction with the college students last month, it was WikiLeaks that became the highlight during Medvedev’s interaction.

Replying to a question from an IIT student, Medvedev, who was dressed casually in an open-neck shirt and jacket, said diplomacy was essentially a “quite activity” and the secret diplomatic cables published by the website could damage relations between countries.

“I see that it has pluses and minuses. May be all the issues discussed by diplomats should not be made public quickly,” Medvedev said in Russian, which was translated in English by an interpreter.

Medvedev was condescending when he said the WikiLeaks would cause no harm to his country.

Asking diplomats to be cautious about using words, the Russian leader said those engaged in diplomatic activity should realise that sooner or later, their correspondence in the form of cables or letters would become public.

For Medvedev, the visit to IIT Mumbai was rekindling  old relationship between the two countries. It was the former Soviet Union, the predecessor state of Russia, which helped India set up this institution in the 1950s. It was half a century ago that Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev planted a sapling on the campus grounds, before becoming the head of the Soviet Union. “Doubtless the ties that were established back in the 1950s have not disappeared. They used to be stronger," Medvedev said.

The hour-long interaction was held at the IIT’s newly constructed Convention Centre, where around 200 students and about 75 faculty members were present.

 Each participant was provided with a headphone so that they understood Medvedev, who spoke in Russian. The institute wore a festive look to the delight of the visitor, as its annual cultural festival “Mood Indigo” is currently on.

 Medvedev also visited IIT's nano-technology lab and took a look at the facilities there. He was taken around by IIT director Devang Khakhar. Medvedev was presented with a copy of a book “Monastery, Sanctuary, Laboratory: 50 years of IIT Bombay”, written by Professor Rohit Manchanda.

 Replying to a question on nuclear disarmament, Medvedev said total disarmament is impossible in the near future and efforts are needed to achieve a global consensus on the issue.

 Medvedev, while supporting Iran’s right to peaceful use of nuclear energy, criticised it for not allowing IAEA to inspect its nuclear installations.

Medvedev cited Afghanistan that is currently “in a very difficult situation. But is it possible to implement a US or Russian political model in Afghanistan?" he asked rhetorically, replying the question in one word, “No”.

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