Monday, March 20, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Clinton arrives in Delhi

NEW DELHI, March 19 (UNI) — Mr Bill Clinton, the first US President to visit the sub-continent in 22 years, arrived here tonight on a three-nation tour of South Asia to give a new dimension to Indo-US relations.

“I was greatly looking forward to this visit,” Mr Clinton told External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh who received him at the airport.

Mr Clinton was accompanied by his daughter Chelsea and mother-in-law Dorothy Rodham and a high-level delegation of senior officials.

As Mr Clinton’s Boeing 747 Jumbo jet, Air Force One, touched down at the air force station at Palam, Chief of Protocol Manbir Singh and American Ambassador Richard Celeste went inside the aircraft to escort the US President down the ladder.

The President wearing a dark suit and Chelsea holding on to him came down the steps and shook hands with Mr Jaswant Singh who introduced Mr Clinton to Minister of State for External Affairs Ajit Panja. Mr Panja greeted him with a bouquet.

President Clinton then shook hands with India’s Ambassador to the USA Naresh Chandra, Foreign Secretary Lalit Mansingh and Mr Alok Prasad, Joint Secretary (Americas).

Mr Celeste’s wife Jacqueline Lindqueste kissed the American President on the cheek.

The President’s limousine, with Chelsea being flanked by her father and grandmother drove away from the technical area soon after to the Maurya Sheraton Hotel where the entourage will stay.

The official programme of Mr Clinton’s five-day visit begins on Tuesday as he will spend the day tomorrow in Dhaka and return here in the evening. He will have a brief stopover in Pakistan on his way back on March 25.

Among those accompanying the US President are: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, National Security Adviser Samuel Berger, Commerce Secretary William Daley and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and eight prominent Congressmen including Gary Ackerman and Frank Pallone. The plane was carrying less than a hundred people.

Several leading American businessmen, including those of Indian origin, are also part of the Clinton entourage.

Three documents would be signed between India and the USA during Mr Clinton’s visit, including a joint statement which would spell out a new “vision” for Indo-US relations.

In Delhi, Mr Clinton would have talks with President K.R. Narayanan, Vice-President Krishan Kant and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Leader of the Opposition, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, would call on him before his address to a joint session of Parliament on March 22.

He would also visit Agra, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

The nearly seven km stretch of road from the airport to Maurya Sheraton hotel where US President Bill Clinton is staying, has been divided into 12 security sectors with about 30 police officials manning each sector.

At the airport, the runway security was taken over by personnel of the US State Department Security Service much before Air Force One landed. Sniffer dogs were deployed to check the aircraft ladder and the vehicle carrying about 40 media photographers.

A convoy of about 40 vehicles took President Clinton from the airport to the hotel. The US President was taken to his hotel in a black Cadillac, flown in from Washington DC.

A senior police official said all manholes along the route had been thoroughly checked for any devices hidden in them.

Several large vans have been kept ready to ferry the staff accompanying the US President to the hotel. Ambulances have also been stationed at the airport.


India to raise sanctions’ issue during talks

NEW DELHI, March 19 (PTI) — India today said it would raise the issue of sanctions imposed in the aftermath of the Pokhran nuclear tests during talks with US President Bill Clinton as they were an “impediment” in the development of long-term ties between the two countries.

“We would raise the question of sanctions. They are an impediment in the relationship between the two countries, including the areas of trade and commerce,” National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra told Star TV.

Replying to questions on the Kashmir issue and cross-border terrorism being sponsored by Pakistan, Mr Mishra said India would welcome pressure from the USA on Islamabad to halt Pak-backed terrorist activities in India.

He made it clear that New Delhi would not agree to the Line of Control (LoC) as the international border between India and Pakistan and would continue to seek the return of the Indian territory occupied by Pakistan as laid down by a 1994 parliamentary resolution.


Dhaka under virtual siege

DHAKA, March 19 (PTI) — Unprecedented security will put Dhaka under a virtual siege tomorrow as US President Bill Clinton becomes the first US President to visit Bangladesh.

Along with police, several thousand paramilitary forces are on guard in the capital city from today, a day ahead of Mr Clinton’s arrival for the day-long visit.

Police, paramilitary Bangladesh rifles and armymen were posted on Dhaka streets as part of security measures, while US security officials, including marines, have already reached here to work out security plans in co-operation with their Bangladeshi counterparts.

Roads leading to the airport have been closed today for a security rehearsal while authorities have made temporary rearrangements in the traffic system in the city for ensuring smooth movement of Mr Clinton’s convoy.

Normal air traffic at the main airport here was to be suspended from late evening. Civil aviation sources said the scheduled operation of flights, including 24 Bangladesh Biman flights, at Dhaka airport would be suspended for nearly 14 hours in two phases.

Abul Hasan Chowdhury, Bangladesh’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said President Clinton was scheduled to arrive here between 10 a.m. and 10.15 a.m. local time from New Delhi for a roughly 12-hour visit.

Mr Clinton will hold official talks with Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina and attend a dinner to be hosted by President Shahhabuddin Ahmed before flying back to Delhi.

Mr Chowdhury said some agreements were expected to be signed between Dhaka and Washington in the energy sector, nuclear power and trade and commerce during Mr Clinton’s trip. He, however, did not give details.

“This is a goodwill visit,” he said.

“The visit is exclusively a formal one. No specific subjects can be discussed during his visit here as in the case of India and Pakistan,” Mr Chowdhury said when asked to elaborate on the issues that would figure in the Clinton-Hasina talks.

DPA adds: Officials removed hundreds of street children and cleared slum dwellers, demolishing their homes along Dhaka’s main streets, as thousands of soldiers and policemen were deployed.

The bustling capital’s many pavement dwellers were told to camp elsewhere as the government ordered a fresh coat of paint for wayside buildings, while walls were washed clean of political graffiti.

The municipal authorities used hundreds of additional trucks to carry garbage out of the city while 500 extra cleaners were hired to sweep the streets.

“The residents have been asked to cooperate in creating a clean Dhaka before President Clinton’s visit,’’ Dhaka Mayor Mohammad Hanif said.

This is the first visit to Bangladesh by a US President since independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Islamic militants set off fireworks in Dhaka to protest against the visit.

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