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Tuesday, August 17, 1999
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‘Meeting ground’ must for India, Pak
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Aug 16 — The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, today said there was a need to find a "meeting ground" between India and Pakistan and his government would make efforts in this direction.

Addressing a press conference here after releasing the common manifesto of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Mr Vajpayee, when asked about the rigid positions adopted by the two countries on holding talks, said, "A meeting ground will have to be found".

The Prime Minister also said that a decision to sign the CTBT would be taken only if there was a national consensus. He said even if his government was voted to power, there was a need to involve the Opposition in the process. "We are trying to evolve a national consensus and we want the Opposition to be a part of this process," he said.

To a question on whether including the issue in the manifesto and securing the people’s vote on it would have made things easier, Mr Vajpayee said despite this he would want the Opposition to be part of the process.

The Prime Minister dismissed allegations that the government was going slow on the Bofors case and said it was awaiting the last set of papers from the Swiss court. The files are moving and it was only a question of time before the government got hold of all the details. Once the papers arrived, the government would ask the Central Bureau of Investigation to charge sheet the accused.

On the entry of the Janata Dal (United) into the NDA and its absence at today’s function, Mr Vajpayee said the matter was being discussed and it would be sorted out.

When asked if the Samata Party leader, Mr George Fernandes, was present at the NDA meeting as the member of the JD (U), the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr Pramod Mahajan, intervened to clarify that Mr Fernandes was there as the Convener of the NDA.

On the NDA’s stand to have a moratorium on contentious issues instead of burying them, Mr Vajpayee said, "We have taken a very definitive step. We will wait for further developments".

The Prime Minister asserted that the new government would implement the legislation on debarring people of foreign origin from holding high offices at the earliest. He said this was mentioned in the common manifesto.

On the stability of the coalition government, Mr Vajpayee said after the exit of the AIADMK, there was stability. "We learn from experience," he added.

To a question on whom he considered as his rival candidate so far as the prime ministership was concerned, Mr Vajpayee said, "Yeh teda sawal hai (this is not a straight question)".

On the NDA’s decision to project him as the sole campaigner and whether Mr Vajpayee would be an issue in the elections, the Prime Minister said the NDA would project the performance and its agenda. On the manifesto carrying only his photographs, Mr Vajpayee jocularly remarked he would find out from the printers how it happened.

The Prime Minister emphatically denied that there were "large scale" incidence of violence in many parts of the country, including Gujarat. He said, "On the whole, the communal situation was satisfactory. There were some localised incidents in Gujarat and the state government had successfully contained them," he added.

When asked what his government had done for the socio-economic uplift of the minorities, Mr Vajpayee said many schemes had been drawn for the purpose, but the previous governments had not done enough.

On the presence of the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader, Mr Farooq Abdullah, at the NDA function, especially in the wake of the BJP fielding candidates against the NC in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Vajpayee said Mr Abdullah was there as an "honoured" guest. He said the National Conference had all along supported the NDA government.back


India can make neutron bomb’

MUMBAI, Aug 16 (PTI) — India has the capacity to build a neutron bomb according to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman, Mr Rajagopala Chidambaram.

Indian nuclear scientists, after the Pokhran-II tests, can design and make nuclear weapons of “any type or size,” he told PTI in an interview.

Neutron bomb, which is a battlefield weapon, is a low-yield thermonuclear device where the neutron producing fusion process dominates over the fission trigger. It is not difficult to build such a device, Mr Chidambaram said.

India, which exploded a hydrogen bomb and four fission devices under the Thar desert in May last year and declared a moratorium on further tests, has not stopped its nuclear weapons research, according to senior officials of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).

Meanwhile, authorities said analysis of rock samples obtained from drilling at the Pokhran test site had now been completed.

Mr Chidambaram said the analysis had established beyond doubt that the hydrogen bomb did explode, producing an yield as per design. (There were some reports in the West that only the fission trigger worked and that secondary fusion fuel failed to explode).back

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