NEW DELHI – Russian President Vladimir Putin (search) sharply criticized the United States on Friday, accusing it of a double-standard in fighting terrorism and questioning whether any election in Iraq can be democratic when fighting is raging in the country.
Putin, who has been angered by U.S. and European denunciations of the Ukraine (search) election as rigged unacceptable, began a three-day visit to India with continued criticism of Washington, saying it seeks a "dictatorship of international affairs."
"Even if dictatorship is wrapped up in a beautiful package of pseuo-democratic phraseology, it will not be in a position to solve systemic problems," Russia's Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying in a speech Friday night in New Delhi.
Putin, who has been critical of the United States for going to war without international approval, warned that the fighting in Iraq was threatening the possibility of a democratic vote slated for Jan. 30.
"All this will definitely call in question the possibility of holding honest and democratic elections in Iraq early next year," he said.
Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (search) signed a joint declaration that called for ending "political expediency" in the global fight against terrorism. The declaration made no reference to any country.
But in an interview in a Hindu newspaper, Putin said the United States and European nations practiced double standards by allowing into their countries some Chechen rebels whom Moscow considers to be terrorists.
Britain has granted refugee status to Akhmed Zakayev, an envoy for rebel leader and former Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. lyas Akhmadov, a former Chechen foreign minister, has been granted U.S. asylum.
"We cannot have double standards while fighting terrorism and it cannot be used as an instrument of a geopolitical game," Putin said at a public lecture.
Russia and India signed agreements on exploring peaceful uses of outer space, easing visa rules and India's inclusion in a Russian-promoted global navigational satellite system.
The two countries also signed eight other agreements that focused on cooperation in energy and banking, academic research, and cultural and economic exchanges between India's financial hub, Bombay, and Putin's home town, St. Petersburg.
"These decisions will make a significant contribution to the future of Russia-India relations," Putin said.
The countries, which have close relations dating back to the Cold War, also discussed new investment to commercially produce the Brahmos, an anti-ship missile developed jointly by India and Russia. The missile has a target range of 180 miles and can carry a 660-pound conventional warhead. It can be launched from ships, submarines, planes and land.
Putin will fly to Bangalore, India's software capital, on Saturday.