Thursday, March 23, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Clinton offers to mediate in talks
From T.V. Lakshminarayan
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, March 22 — The US President, Mr Bill Clinton, today advised India to move towards nuclear non-proliferation and begin a dialogue with Pakistan to establish a “working relationship” with it.

He also hinted that India and Pakistan could involve Washington in their mediation if need be and cited the example of the Kargil war where Washington pressurised Islamabad to retreat to their side of the Line of Control.

Doing some plainspeak before a joint sitting of members of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha at the Central Hall of Parliament, Mr Clinton said: “In a nuclear stand-off there is nothing more dangerous than believing there is no danger”.

The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, was also equally candid when he said “our decision to maintain a minimum credible nuclear deterrent is prompted by a realistic assessment of our security compulsions even as we continue our traditional policies of acting with restraint and responsibility. Our defence posture has always been defensive in nature. We are aware of the importance that you attach, Mr President, to the subject of non-proliferation”.

Mr Vajpayee said India still remained committed to a world free of nuclear weapons and believed that this was the way to enhance global security. “We, however, find that our environment continues to witness proliferation of nuclear weapons and missiles. Such proliferation continues with impunity”.

Mr Clinton in his speech cited the example of his own country during the cold war when the USA and the Soviet Union came close to a nuclear war and added: “We learnt deterrence alone cannot be relied on to prevent accident or miscalculation”.

Saying that India’s nuclear policies, inevitably had consequences beyond its borders: eroding the barriers against the spread of nuclear weapons, discouraging nations that had chosen to foreswear these weapons, and encouraging others to keep their options open, the President added “but if India’s nuclear test shook the world, India’s leadership for non-proliferation can certainly move the world”.

Referring to the commitment of the two countries to forego nuclear testing in the future, Mr Clinton said he believed that they could do more. “I believe that both the nations should join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; work to launch negotiations on a treaty to end the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons; strengthen export controls”.

He said at a time when most of the world was moving toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, there was a need for the two countries to work closely to resolve their differences on nuclear proliferation.

The President said he did not presume to speak for India or tell it what to decide.. “It is not my place.” “Only India can determine its own interests and only it can know if it truly is safer today than before the tests.” He however, added that “if we make progress in narrowing our differences, we will be both more secure, and our relationship can reach its full potential”.

Turning to India’s relations with Pakistan, Mr Clinton said he shared the Indian Government’s concern about the course its neighbour was taking, its disappointment that past overtures had not always met with success and its outrage over recent violence. “I know it is difficult to be a democracy bordered by nations whose governments reject democracy”, he added.

Mr Clinton, however, said he believed that India had a special opportunity as a democracy to show its neighbours that democracy was about dialogue. “It does not have to be about friendship, but it is about building working relationships among people who differ”.

Quoting late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that “you don’t make peace with friends”, Mr Clinton said engagement with adversaries was not the same thing as endorsement. “It does not require setting aside legitimate grievances. Indeed I strongly believe that what has happened since your Prime Minister made his courageous journey to Lahore only reinforces the need for the dialogue”.

The US President said he could not think of any other enduring solution to this problem other than dialogue.

Making it clear that he had not come to South Asia to mediate the dispute over Kashmir, Mr Clinton said only India and Pakistan could work out the problems between them. “I will say the same thing to General Musharraf in Islamabad”, he added.

“But if outsiders cannot resolve this problem, I hope you will create the opportunity to do it yourselves, calling on the support of others who can help where possible, as American diplomacy did in urging the Pakistanis to go back behind the Line of Control in the Kargil crisis”, he said.

He reiterated that this should be a time for restraint, for respect for the Line of Control and for renewed lines of communication.

Addressing this challenge and all others would require India and the USA to be closer partners and better friends, and to remember that good friends out of respect, are honest with one another. “And even when they do not agree, they always try to find common ground”, he said.

Mr Clinton said the USA wanted India to be strong, secure, united, and prosperous as he had found during his time as President of America that “it is the weakness of great nations, not their strength, that threatens our vision for tomorrow”.Back


Clinton pushes for open trade
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, March 22 — The US President, Mr Bill Clinton, today made a bid to hardsell globalisation and the connection between labour, environment, and trade and development to Indian Parliamentarians here.

Rounding off his last official engagement in the Capital this afternoon, Mr Clinton, in his address to the joint sitting of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha in the Central Hall of Parliament chose to speak at length on these contentious issues and forcefully put forward US views on the subject.

Talking on the advantages of globalisation, he said in the old economy, location was everything while in the new economy, information, education and motivation were everything — and India was proving it.

Ever since India liberalised its markets, it had one of the ten fastest growing economies in the world and with the rate of growth within its grasp, India’s standard of living could rise by 500 per cent in just 20 years, he said.

“Globalisation does not favour nations with a licensing raj. It does favour nations with a panchayat raj. And the world has been beating a path to your door”, the US President said.

Mr Clinton defined four major challenges that India and the USA needed to meet together to carry forward their partnership in the years to come.

The first of these was to get the economic relationship between the two countries right. The USA was proud to support India’s growth as its largest partner in trade and investment and “we want to see more Indians and more Americans benefit from our economic ties.”

The second challenge he said was to sustain global economic growth in a way that uplifts the lives of rich and poor alike, both across and within national borders. He said there was considerable disparity in the world with one part of the world living in the information age and the other not even reaching the clean water age. “It is unacceptable, it is intolerable, thankfully, it is unnecessary.

He said the solutions to these problems lay in investing in education and literacy so that “children can have soaring dreams and the tools to realise them”.

He also spoke about the empowerment of women saying when they have access to knowledge, to health, to economic opportunity and to civil rights, children thrive, families succeed and countries prosper. In this regard he cited the example of Kerala where inroads had been made with regard to empowerment of women.

Quoting Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Mr Clinton also highlighted the need for Governments to stand by those struggling for human rights and freedom around the world. He said the launch of the Community of Democracies in Warsaw this summer at the initiative of India and the USA was a step in this direction.


Left boycotts Clinton’s address
Tribune News Service and PTI

NEW DELHI, March 22 — The Left parties and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) boycotted President Bill Clinton’s address to both Houses of Parliament today in protest against US policies.

Around 85 MPs belonging to the CPM, CPI, RSP, Forward Bloc, RJD and the CPI(ML) stayed away.

Meanwhile, protests against Mr Clinton’s visit continued here today with activists of extreme Left outfits observing an “anti-imperialism day”. They also held a protest march and demonstrations against his visit.

About 200 CPI(ML) activists, including its General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya and lone Lok Sabha member Jayanta Rongpi, courted arrest at the Parliament Street police station.

The CPI (ML) activists marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar and shouted anti-Clinton slogans. They carried placards saying “Clinton go back” and “Down with Saffron collaborators” and broke the police barricades at Parliament Street before courting arrest. They were later released.

Earlier, addressing the activists, Mr Bhattacharya made a scathing attack on the “Vision-2000” document signed by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Mr Clinton yesterday.

“This is basically an American vision imposed on India. Mr Clinton has provided the spectacles and Mr Vajpayee is looking through it. One may call it saffron vision seen through borrowed American glasses,” he alleged.

Others who courted arrest included CPI (ML) politburo member B.Sivaraman and party leaders Swapan Mukherjee, Raja Ram, Kumudini Pati, Rajendra Pratholi and Ranjit Abhigyan.

Republican Socialist Party (RSP) leader and MP Abani Roy also joined the CPI (ML) protest march.

Workers of Platform Against US Imperialism, which include CPI(ML) New Democracy, CPI(ML) Red Flag, Janshakti and Jan Hastakshep, also held an anti-Clinton demonstration at Jantar Manter.Back

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | In Spotlight |
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
119 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |