Tuesday, June 20, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India seeks French support

Paris, June 19 (PTI) — India and France would discuss ways and means to tackle international terrorism and New Delhi had sought Paris’ support to bring a comprehensive global convention to counter the menace, Union Home Minister L.K Advani said here today.

“The biggest threat to India’s internal security has been Pakistan’s proxy war in which the principle ingredients have been infiltration, subversion and terrorism,” Mr Advani who is here on a two-day visit, told reporters.

“While the Indian government must exert (pressure) to see that these threats are contained, there is a need to build a strong world opinion against international terrorism” and in this context, the Home Minister said, India would hold discussions with France and Britain.

Advani, who is on a three-nation visit, arrived here yesterday from Israel after completing a four-day visit to that country. In Paris, he would hold discussions with his French counterpart Jean Pierre Chevenement

Mr Advani said going by the outcome of earlier interactions with the French officials, he was confident of getting Paris’ support for the India-sponsored convention on international terrorism at the UN.

Terming the present status of Indo-French relations as “very good”, he said “throughout a period where we did seek international support and the manner in which France has endorsed our stand on so many issues is a matter of great satisfaction.”

Mr Advani sought to downplay reservations voiced by some separatist groups in Kashmir over talks with New Delhi and expressed optimism about a dialogue with them.

Asked about reservations expressed by some militant groups over the planned talks, Mr Advani told reporters here that “these are public statements. Informally we have been in touch. I am optimistic (about talks).”

The militant groups have been told that “we are willing to discuss with you any of your grievances within the four corners of the Indian constitution,” he said.


Speight says Indians can join govt

WELLINGTON, June 19 (DPA) — Fiji rebel leader George Speight, who has been holding the government hostage at gunpoint for over a month, said today that he was ready to make concessions, prompting hopes of an early end to the crisis, news reports said.

In negotiations on a settlement of the hostage crisis with the military, now ruling under martial law, Speight backed off his earlier demands that he be appointed prime minister in an interim civilian government.

It was the biggest concession Speight has made since storming Parliament with six gunmen on May 19 and taking Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and 30 members of his government as hostage.

Following talks with armed forces head Commodore Frank Bainimaramara, Speight said they had agreed on tribal chief Ratu Josefa Iloilo taking over as president to oversee the establishment of an interim civilian government to restore normalcy to the country.

In another significant concession to his previous position, Speight said he was prepared to compromise and accept some ethnic Indians in the interim government if they were nominated by the President, though he would prefer it comprised only indigenous Fijians.

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