Sunday, March 19, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

New thrust to Indo-US ties
Marked departure in US stand: Jaswant
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, March 18 — A “vision statement” setting out a new direction in Indo-US relations in economic cooperation, science and technology and other areas of mutual interest will be the highlight of US President Bill Clinton’s visit to India beginning tomorrow.

External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh told newspersons on the eve of Mr Clinton’s visit that the visit would set a new direction to bilateral relations.

The US Ambassador to India, Mr Richard F. Celeste, felt that Mr Clinton’s visit would give an “extraordinary upward lift” to Washington’s trade and investment interests in New Delhi.

“The visit is not simply what the USA can give to us. But what India and the USA can do together as equal nations. There are differences between us but these can be addressed with maturity and mutual respect,” Mr Jaswant Singh said.

The US side was also optimistic that the differences between the two countries could be sorted out with Mr Celeste telling a press conference organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in India that “there was nothing between two friends which can’t be sorted out”.

“We see a growing convergence between the interests of both countries in trade fields and a willingness to work together in areas where we have differences”, he said adding the creation of bilateral institutions would help minimise these differences.

Mr Celeste hinted that the talks between Mr Clinton and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee would be very wide ranging and issues ranging from Kashmir to nuclear non-proliferation could figure in the agenda.

Mr Jaswant Singh while responding to questions on non-proliferation, sanctions, Jammu and Kashmir, cross-border terrorism and possible outcome of Mr Clinton’s visit, reiterated that New Delhi did not want any advice, mediation or facilitation on the Kashmir issue.

On US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s recent comments in Washington, he said it showed a “marked departure” from their earlier position and “shows significant movement” on non-proliferation and better appreciation of New Delhi’s stand on Jammu and Kashmir. He said the USA had, while understanding India’s legitimate security concerns, accepted New Delhi’s contention for keeping a minimum credible nuclear deterrent.

Mr Jaswant Singh said India was committed to global disarmament but it could not accept the contention of some countries that they could keep their nuclear weapons on the ground of security needs and tell India not to do the same. “We will decide in our security interests,” he asserted.

On the US stand that there was a need for “significant progress” by India on non-proliferation issues to realise fully the vast potential of the Indo-US relationship, he said “this is a two-way traffic. It is possible when they understand us and we understand them and both talk as equals.”

On his 10 rounds of talks with Mr Strobe Talbott, the minister said the two countries had narrowed the gap of differences.

On the sanctions imposed by Washington against India, Mr Jaswant Singh said New Delhi had all along maintained that the punitive measures were totally unjustified. “We are not going to plead that the sanctions be lifted. But we will definitely put across our views on it,” he clarified.

Mr Celeste, however, hinted that the remaining sanctions could be lifted with harmonisation of bilateral relations. “Some sanctions are there and I hope that they would be rolled back as we move towards harmonising the situation”, he remarked. Mr Jaswant Singh said the US President’s visit should not be viewed from the point of view of any single issue or being Pak-centric. “He is not coming here to dwell on India’s internal affairs,” he said in response to a question.

On Mr Clinton’s remarks that the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir was the “most dangerous place in the world”, the minister said: “That is President Clinton’s view. We are not in agreement with it.”

PTI adds: Meanwhile, National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra ruled out any rollback of its nuclear weapons programme or delivery systems but said it was ready to discuss with Washington expansion of the scope of export controls if it was necessary to prevent proliferation.

“We can be absolutely clear that there is going to be no rollback of our nuclear weapons programme or delivery systems”, he told Star TV.


Clinton for universal adherence to NPT

WASHINGTON, March 18 (PTI) — US President Bill Clinton has said he would try to bring India, Pakistan, Israel and Cuba into the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, (NPT) which would give a monopoly of nuclear weapons to the big five.

Besides the USA, the big five comprise Britain, France, Russia and China.

“We will increase momentum for universal adherence to the NPT Mr Clinton said at the Carnegie non-proliferation conference in a video address yesterday. The US effort is expected at the next month’s NPT review conference.

India has said it would join the NPT if, by a fixed date, the five powers were prepared to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

The President also made a reference to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) which the US Senate has rejected, saying with the leadership of Gen Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, “we will work hard this year to build bipartisan support for ratification.”

General Shalikashvili is expected to prepare the ground for ratification in the next administration as the issue is unlikely to come up before the Senate during the remainder of Mr Clinton’s term. “I will continue to call the other nations to forgo testing and join the treaty. We must not lose the chance to end nuclear testing forever. We must also take the next essential step — a treaty to cut off production of fissile material,” Mr Clinton added.

Welcoming the convening of the conference to focus on the task of curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, Mr Clinton said: “All of you know how serious this challenge is”.


CTBT not to be signed during visit: Vajpayee

NEW DELHI, March 18 (PTI) — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today ruled out India signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) during the visit of US President Bill Clinton saying that there was no connection between the two.

“We are not going to sign the CTBT during Mr Clinton’s visit, but the issue will be discussed,” he told reporters here at a ‘Holi Milan’ hosted by BJP MP V.K. Malhotra.

Mr Vajpayee made it clear that the CTBT would be among the host of issues that would come up for discussions with the visiting US delegation.

About the differences between India and the USA on CTBT, the Prime Minister said “differences are natural and every country, including developed and developing nations, have their own viewpoint.”

Mr Vajpayee said efforts should be made to see that such differences did not lead to misunderstandings and the doors for dialogue and negotiations should always be kept open.

He said even the USA had started understanding the position of developing countries on the nuclear issue.

He hoped that President Clinton’s visit would be helpful in improving the relationship between India and the USA which had certain shortcomings mainly due to problems due to cold war era.


Visit to disrupt normal life
Police not taking any chances
From Our Correspondent

NEW DELHI, March 18 — With a bomb exploding within days of US President Bill Clinton’s arrival and intelligence reports indicating a possibility of militants striking in the Capital, the Delhi Police has prepared an elaborate plan to make the American leader’s stay here a smooth affair.

However, it could result in severe traffic disruption because of extra security checks which would throw normal life out of gear.

The traffic will be diverted from various roads in New Delhi, Central Delhi and Ring Road due to security reasons. This is likely to result in traffic jams in most parts of the Capital.

There is security threat to the US President from various terrorist outfits, particularly Islamic terrorists led by Osama bin Laden.

Mr Clinton will arrive here late on Sunday. He will leave for Bangladesh early on March 20. He will visit Agra on March 22.

The Delhi Police conducted a security drill at Rajghat, India Gate and many other places in the Capital today. The purpose of the drill was to check the alertness of its personnel, who would be on duty during Mr Clinton’s visit. The leave of all police personnel has reportedly been cancelled in view of the visit.

A senior office of the Delhi Police said the police would not take any chance regarding Mr Clinton’s security as he had threats from various terrorist outfits. Although the inner circle security for the President is being handled by various US security agencies, whose personnel have been camping here for the past two weeks, the responsibility of creating an outer ring of security is vested with the local police.

Senior officers of the Delhi Police have been deployed at important places in the Capital.

According to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Mr Clinton will visit various local sites, attend many official functions and ceremonies which may effect the normal flow of traffic in New Delhi and central districts of the Capital from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In view of the annual examinations of students, the police has advised them to start early from home so that they can reach the examination centres in time.

AGRA (PTI): Just four days ahead of US President Bill Clinton’s visit to the heritage city, 16 persons were injured, three of them seriously, when a bomb exploded in a bus on the Aligarh-Agra road, about 20 km from here, on Saturday evening, the police said.

The bus was on its way from Delhi to Agra via Aligarh when the bomb kept under the seats went off at around 6.30 p.m. The legs of four passengers were badly injured.

Police officials were not prepared to hazard a guess about the identity of those who planted the bomb or the motive behind the explosion.

The explosion set off alarm in the local security circles as Mr Clinton is scheduled to visit the city on March 22.

250 US scribes to cover visit
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, March 18 — An association with the world’s most powerful leader is a dream come true for several corporate entities. Hotels, airlines, cellular phone companies and other organisations who will be providing service to the US President, Mr Bill Clinton, are delighted about it.

Though details of Mr Clinton’s movements are a top secret, hotels like the Maurya in Delhi or for that matter Oberoi in Mumbai have gone to town about the special arrangements they are making for the US President’s visit.

The sprawling “Kamal Mahal” hall at the Maurya has been converted as a media centre for the more than 250 journalists who have descended from the USA to cover their President’s visit. The Centre has 400 extra ISD lines for the foreign journalists and it is equipped with computers, fax machines and other electronic gadgets. The media centre is out of bounds for Indian journalists.

The Oberoi in Mumbai has reported that the US authorities are fully satisfied with the facilities available there. A replica of the White House and a ladies floor in the hotel are their selling point.

«The country’s largest private airline, Jet Airways, is also proud to announce that it will be flying a select international press group accompanying Mr Clinton to the different cities he will be visiting.

The White House has chartered Jet Airways’ Boeing 737 to fly the media from Delhi to Agra and onwards to Jaipur, Hyderabad and Mumbai. The Boeing 737-800, which can seat 154 people will be operated on the airlines famed Club Premier service. The airline said special attention had been given to details such as customised menus, head rest covers and linen. A choice of the finest Indian and continental cuisine would be served during the flight and the special visitors would be presented an exclusively designed commemorative souvenir.

«Coinciding with the US President’s visit, the American Chamber of Commerce in India (Amcham) has also decided to change its profile. The chamber will adopt a new logo and identity and become more proactive in luring investments to India. Amcham has decided to sell India to the rest of the world with an ‘Invest India initiative. The chamber has about 300 members with total investment of close to $ 5 billion. Back

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