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Friday, December 4, 1998
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Clinton keen to visit India, Pak
Sharif's claim dismissed

WASHINGTON, Dec 3 (PTI) — President Bill Clinton has turned down Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif’s plea for U.S. mediation in resolving Islamabad’s outstanding problems with New Delhi, including Kashmir, unless India preferred it, and urged Mr Sharif to roll back his country’s nuclear programme.

At a summit meeting at the White House yesterday, Mr Clinton rejected Mr Sharif’s plea for a more "effective U.S. engagement" in facilitating a solution of the Kashmir issue unless India, which has consistently opposed third-party mediation on the issue, expressed a preference for it.

In their 25-minute meeting without aides, President Clinton appreciated Pakistan’s willingness to sign the comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT) by September, 1999, but said Islamabad needed to do more before Washington could further ease sanctions, highly placed sources said.

"The President re-affirmed our view that more progress needs to be made on these issues before we remove all sanctions that have been put on Pakistan in the wake of the tests," Mr Bruce Riedel, Senior Director, South Asian Affairs National Security Council told mediapersons.

The U.S. officials present at the two-hour delegation-level talks that preceded the one-to-one meeting between the two leaders said little progress had been made with both leaders breaking no new ground.

Mr Clinton also asked Mr Sharif to help bring from Afghanistan, Saudi exile Osama bin Laden alleged to have masterminded the August bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, to face justice.

Speaking to mediapersons shortly before the summit, President Clinton said he would readily mediate between India and Pakistan if both sides asked for it.

"That’s work that I always like to do. I’ve enjoyed my opportunities to work with parties in West Asia and in northern Ireland. But it only works when both parties wish the U.S.A. to be involved. Otherwise, we can’t be effective."

"There is no case in which we have injected ourselves into a dispute in the absence of an agreement between the two sides", he said.

He, however, commended the ongoing dialogue between the two South Asian neighbours. "Let me say that I have been very encouraged that the governments have resumed their direct conversations. I think it is very hopeful."

"The potential for prosperity and global influence of India and Pakistan is unlimited if the Kashmir issue is resolved, they reconcile to each other and focus on a positive future. I would do anything I could to resolve it," he said.

Speaking about the U.S. proliferation concerns, he said, "All of you know of my concern to do everything we can do to end the nuclear competition in South Asia, which I believe is a threat to Pakistan and India and to the stability of the world."

At the photosession, Mr Sharif said he hoped that his visit would "remove all misperceptions in bilateral ties."

Mr Clinton also said he hoped to visit the sub-continent next year but implied it would depend on the progress made on the CTBT issue. "I’ve looked forward to it for a long time and I hope I will be able to go. Obviously, I hope that the treaty (CTBT) would be signed."

Speaking to mediapersons after his meeting with President Clinton, Mr Sharif alleged that India was making preparations for another test. "I hope they don’t do it because that will further aggravate the situation in South Asia," he said.

But U.S. officials dismissed Mr Sharif’s statement, saying they had no reason to believe it.

During their talks, President Clinton offered to resolve a dispute over Pakistan’s abortive bid to buy F-16s from the USA.

Under the proposal, New Zealand will lease or eventually buy the planes, with part of the money shifted to Pakistan. However, New Zealand, is yet to take a decision on this, officials said.

The planes were not delivered to Pakistan after Washington imposed restrictions on sale of military equipment because of Islamabad’s nuclear weapons programme, despite receiving a payment of $ 658 million for 28 such planes.

The USA later repaid $ 157 million to Pakistan.

In Islamabad Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad said Pakistan had proposed to the U.S.A. to appoint a "special envoy" to South Asia to put, "vigour into its peace keeping and mediatory role in the volatile and nuclearised region."

Briefing mediapersons on details of the talks, he said Mr Sharif wanted the U.S.A. to play a "more active role" on Kashmir but President Clinton despite showing his willingness to do so noted that India had never accepted third-party mediation.

Mr Ahmad said the Clinton-Sharif meeting covered the whole range of US-Pakistani ties as well as regional situation in South Asia in the context of security and non-proliferation issues.

Sharif drew President Clinton’s attention to the "centrality of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute to peace and security in nuclearised South Asia," Mr Ahmed said.

"In fact it is the Jammu and Kashmir dispute which has caused proliferation in South Asia," Mr Sharif told President Clinton.

But Mr Ahmad made clear that "no treaty was signed nor exact date or time fixed for doing so" in an obvious attempt to dispel doubts that Pakistan was going to sign the CTBT.

According to an ANI report, American security forces yesterday denied six Pakistani journalists entry into the White House, who wanted to cover the Nawaz-Clinton talks.

As the scribes proceeded towards the White House to collect their passes, a list of six mediamen who accompanied Mr Sharif was given to White House officials. The latter did not permit them entry.back


No room for third party mediation: PM
Tribune News Service and PTI

NEW DELHI, Dec 3 — The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, said today that the Foreign Secretary-level bilateral talks between India and Pakistan had yielded positive results and firmly rejected Islamabad’s demand for the third-party mediation on Jammu and Kashmir.

Replying to a series of supplementaries in the Rajya Sabha, the Prime Minister stressed that after Pokhran- II nuclear tests there was a greater awareness in Pakistan that all outstanding issues could only be resolved through bilateral negotiations.

In an obvious reference to the Pakistan Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif, seeking the US mediation on the Kashmir issue during his meeting with the US President, Mr Bill Clinton, in Washington yesterday, Mr Vajpayee said: "There is no place for any third-party negotiations in Indo-Pak relations".

"The Simla Agreement commits both countries to develop relations and resolve differences peacefully through direct and bilateral negotiations", he further said.

He said after the Pokhran nuclear tests, several countries, whether from G-8 or G-5, agreed with "our view that Kashmir is an integral part of India and there is no question of any third party mediation".

"We should condemn the Pakistan’s efforts to seek the third party mediation", he said.

On the ongoing Indo-Pak talks, Mr Vajpayee said discussions had continued in spite of the Pak firing at the borders. The firing did not mean that the talks should not continue... but "we are keen that firing should also cease", he said.

Measures had been taken to promote people to people contacts, the Prime Minister said adding that simplification of the visa rules for artistes and businessmen and a Delhi-Lahore bus service were on the anvil.

On the issue of power purchase from Pakistan, Mr Vajpayee said in the first phase between 400 MW to 500 MW of power could be obtained. India could expect up to 2000 MW of power from Pakistan to meet its power requirement under an agreement to be signed soon, he pointed out.

Replying to the main question by Rahasbihari Barik, Mr Vajpayee said: "India seeks to develop peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan through optimally developing the many possibilities of fruitful and mutually-beneficial cooperation, building confidence and addressing outstanding issues through direct, bilateral relations."

"We believe that this objective can be achieved only through a direct, sustained and composite bilateral dialogue, the government has taken positive and forward-looking steps to initiate and continue this process," he added.

He said as part of this composite dialogue, the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan met in Islamabad from October 15 to 18 October for discussions on peace and security, including confidence-building measures, and Jammu and Kashmir.

"In the discussions, we made it clear that the entire Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the Indian Union and that this legal status does not admit of any change," he said.

The Prime Minister said it was also emphasised to the Pakistan side that their active instigation and sponsorship of terrorism was incompatible with their declared commitment to developing peaceful and cooperative relations.back

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