India's Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf have said they are "interested in direct contacts". Russian President Vladimir Putin said this in answer to a RIA Novosti question.
On Tuesday he held in Alma Ata /Kazakhstan/ two separate meetings with the leaders of India and Pakistan.
At the same time, the two leaders "differently understand" conditions for arranging direct meetings, Putin said. But, "there is a desire for such contacts", noted the Russian president.
Putin also stressed that the Pakistani president and the Indian prime minister assured "they are not going to use force" for settling the conflict.
The fact that the president of Pakistan and the prime minister of India have come to Alma Ata to participate "in the general discussion at the common table" is a good sign, said the Russian president. It means that the two leaders "have a goodwill to resolve the amassed questions peacefully".
Putin noted that both the sides "have voiced considerations which can only be interpreted as the mood for the settlement of problems by peaceful means".
Russia hopes that relations between India and Pakistan will develop in this way, said the Russian leader.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969