Saturday, March 18, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Some sanctions may go
Curbs on dual-use items to stay
From Aziz Haniffa

WASHINGTON, March 17 (IANS) — While some economic sanctions on India may be eased during President Bill Clinton’s visit, the White House has made it clear that dual-use technology items and those with possible military application would continue to remain under embargo unless New Delhi joins the non-proliferation regime.

Karl Inderfurth, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, told reporters at the Foreign Press Centre here that the administration intended to exercise further presidential waiver authority to lift some sanctions against India “to allow projects that are in our mutual interest — environment, energy, economic — to move ahead.”

On the Entities List, Inderfurth said, “We have taken action over the past several weeks to reduce the Entities List by one quarter of those on the list, (and) perhaps even more importantly, changed the licensing procedure for these exports from a presumption of denial to a presumption of approval. That actually has the most practical effect for opening up more commerce in that respect.”

The US sanctions were slapped on India after its May 1998 nuclear tests, which prompted Pakistan to retaliate with its own test explosions. The Entities List includes firms the US suspects of having links with India’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

Inderfurth said, “We will continue to have concerns about those entities that have direct nuclear or missile-related activities and those we will continue to be discussing.”

National Security Adviser Samuel Berger, at a briefing at the White House, was more blunt, saying “to get at the heart of the sanctions, or the sanctions that relate to anything that has any military application, we would like to see progress in the four areas I’ve talked about — adherence to the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty), strong export controls, agreement to negotiate with others, a fissile material cut-off and restraint in its nuclear programme.”With regard to India’s articulation of a doctrine of limited nuclear deterrence, Berger said Washington had “urged them (Islamabad and New Delhi) to implement a policy that does limit the expansion of these programmes.”

Asked if there’s anything that the administration can or will hold out as an offer to encourage them to exercise restraint, Berger said, “These are decisions that the two governments are going to make or the two peoples are going to make based upon their own perception of their own self-interest. I don’t think there’s a carrot that you can talk about. There are sanctions, obviously, that remain in effect.”

On the question of how hair-trigger both New Delhi and Islamabad are, Berger said, “Well, neither side has deployed nuclear weapons and that’s an important step not taken. There are obviously further steps that could be taken that would de-escalate the level of tension and put these weapons farther out of reach, which we would like to see.”

UNI adds: On Thursday, Mr Clinton thrust the contentious non-proliferation issue into the centre of agenda of his India and Pakistan visit next week, asserting that he would “not accept the nuclear status of the region and move on.’’

“And I’ll stress that narrowing our differences on non-proliferation is important to moving toward a broader relationship,’’ Mr Clinton said in a videotaped message to the Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference here.

“There are those in the region who hope we will simply accept its (region’s) nuclear status quo and move on. I will not do that,’’ he said, explaining that he would make clear to India and Pakistan that “a nuclear future is a dangerous future for them and for the world.’’

Later, at a press briefing on the visit, Sandy Berger was asked to explain the President’s statement earlier in the day that he would not accept the nuclear status quo in India and Pakistan.Back


Clinton to ask for mercy for Sharif

WASHINGTON, March 17 (DPA) — President Bill Clinton will ask for a pardon for Pakistan’s deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when Mr Clinton visits the country for a controversial short visit at the end of next week, the President’s Security Adviser has said. Mr Clinton will also speak to Pakistani people in a television speech, the security chief, Mr Samuel Berger, said.

Mr Clinton leaves tomorrow on a one-week trip to Southern Asia. He will visit Bangladesh on Monday, spend almost five days in India and will then fly to Pakistan for five hours on Saturday.

Mr Berger said that if Mr Sharif was found guilty and condemned, Mr Clinton would plead “that he be not executed”.

In his speech to the Pakistani people, Mr Clinton would address all points of dispute, including that nation’s nuclear programme, the conflict with Kashmir and the fight against terrorism, Mr Berger said.

Meanwhile, the USA has criticised Pakistan for slapping a nationwide ban on open air public rallies and strikes ahead of President Bill Clinton’s half-day visit to Islamabad next week.

State Department spokesman James Rubin yesterday said the U.S. side had also raised concerns about detainees held for months without charge and that human rights would be on the agenda of Mr Clinton’s meeting with Pakistan’s military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf.

General Musharraf ousted a democratically elected government in a bloodless coup in October last year and the West has taken a wait-and-see attitude toward his pledge to clean up corruption, revive the economy and bring “real democracy” to Pakistan.Back


Delhi bans protest rallies
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, March 17 — The party for the US President, Mr Bill Clinton’s visit is all set to begin and the organisers are worried over the prospects of demonstrators playing the spoilsport.

For an already overworked police force in the Capital, working out the security arrangements for the world’s most protected leader has been a daunting task and it has decided not to permit any demonstrations during his visit.

This decision has become a bone of contention with the Left parties objecting to the “undemocratic” decision of the Delhi Police.

Irked over the ban on protest demonstrations, leaders of the CPM and the CPI today said they would express their displeasure over the decision by being absent during Mr Clinton’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament on March 23.

The leaders of the two parties along with those from the Republican Socialist Party, the All-India Forward Bloc and the CPI-ML preferred not to call their action a “boycott” of Mr Clinton’s visit but a demonstration of their irritation at the “undemocratic” act.

“Mr Clinton will face protests wherever he travels in the country and massive demonstrations will be organised in Agra, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Mumbai come what may,” the leaders declared at a joint press conference.

A CPM leader, Mr H.S. Surjeet, drew a parallel in the government’s action to what was happening in Pakistan. “The Pakistan government has banned all political meetings and rallies a few days ago. There is a military regime there. Is the BJP-led government following in their footsteps?”, he asked. The government’s attitude gives the impression that “we are stooges of imperialism”.

Mr Prakash Karat of the CPM, Mr D. Raja of the CPI, Mr Abani Roy (RSP) and Mr Debabrata Biswas (AIFB) said they had a written a joint letter to the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K.Advani. They have alleged that the ban imposed by the Delhi Police was presumably done with the approval of the Home Ministry and demanded that the government adopt a “democratic attitude”.

The demonstrations by the Left parties apart, the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party, headed by Mr Shabir Shah, has also decided to hold a protest march to the US Embassy here on March 21 to focus world attention on the Kashmir problem.

The striking lawyers are also planning to demonstrate during Mr Clinton’s visit to highlight their cause.

The Jana Natya Manch, one of the members of the committee against US imperialism, also condemned the refusal of the Delhi Police to allow protest meetings to be held during Mr Clinton’s visit.

The ban on demonstrations is not the only point of debate in the Capital. An organisation called “Yugantar” has raised a stink about the operation of fountains with untreated sewage water during Mr Clinton’s visit.

The threats by the demonstrators notwithstanding, the police was on high alert today with senior officials giving the final touches to what they said was going to be a foolproof security.

While the proximate security of Mr Clinton would be the sole responsibility of the US security officials, the Delhi Police would be in charge of the outer ring security cover.

Police control room vehicles have been stationed at strategic points in the city and the area outside the plush Maurya hotel, where Mr Clinton would be staying, has been sanitised. A combing operation has been launched to track “dubious” characters in various slum areas and other parts of the city.

Police sources said they did not want any “unpleasant scenes” during Mr Clinton’s visit and any breach of security rules would be dealt with a stern hand.Back

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