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Tuesday, September 8, 1998
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Clinton may defer visit to India

NEW DELHI, Sept 7 (PTI) — The US President Mr Bill Clinton, may defer his visit to India with New Delhi unwilling to accede to Washington’s demand for signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) immediately and unconditionally, informed sources said today.

New Delhi’s position on the CTBT was outlined by Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Brajesh Mishra who categorically stated that India was not close to signing the treaty.

Mr Clinton’s visit, which was put on hold soon after the Pokhran tests in May, is unlikely to come through this year as the timeframe indicated by Washington for India to sign the treaty and firm up his programme had already been overshot, the sources said.

The American President’s visit to Pakistan, slated during his South Asian tour, has already come under a cloud.

Nuclear tests carried out by Pakistan, its hesitation to sign the CTBT and last month’s US Cruise missile strikes on suspected terrorist camps in Afghanistan which angered Islamabad are factors which are raising doubts on Mr Clinton’s visit to the country, the sources said.

Significantly, Prime Minister’s special emissary Jaswant Singh had an unannounced airport meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in Washington last Thursday shortly before leaving for Delhi.

Official sources did not give details but merely said this was in continuation of the fourth round of the Indo-US parleys on nuclear issue held in Washington last month.

The meeting took place amidst reports that Washington was trying to get India commit itself to the CTBT to pave the way for President Bill Clinton’s visit to India next month.

"The trip", Mr Clinton’s National Security Adviser Sandy Berger said, "is very much tied to what they agree to do."back

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