Cooperation between Russia and India cannot be regarded as an alternative to relations with other countries, Alexander Yakovenko, who heads the Information and Press Department at the Russian foreign ministry, told Indian media when asked to comment on Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov's upcoming official visit to India. Relations with India "have always been a major direction of Russia's foreign policy and are therefore important to us regardless of how our links with other countries may develop," stressed Yakovenko. "India is a great country and a long-term, if not to say historical, partner of ours." Touching on the Russian-Indian political dialogue, Yakovenko noted that it implied strategic partnership, mutual trust, all-round cooperation, and the proximity of positions the two countries held on major international problems. Speaking about the international aspect of bilateral cooperation, the diplomat said both Russia and India aimed to strengthen global security by means of enhancing the authority of the United Nations Organisation, complying with the norms of international law and respecting the sovereignty of other states, and by urging other major countries of Asia to join international cooperation. The Russian foreign ministry points out the fact that India was one of the first to back Russia's firm position that it was necessary to adhere to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as a guarantee of universal strategic stability. "Likewise, we always feel India's support for Russia's course aimed at maintaining constitutional order in the North Caucasus," added Yakovenko.