Sunday, September 17, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

USA, India vow to fight terrorism
Clinton rebuffs Musharraf, rules out mediation in Kashmir

From Hari Jaisingh

WASHINGTON, SEPT 16 — India and the USA today took a major step to combat terrorism with a specific focus on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and narcotics traffic and its “connection” with international terrorist organisations.

The Joint Working Group set up in the wake of the visit of President Bill Clinton to India in March this year will meet in New Delhi on September 25 and 26. This will be the second meeting of the group after its June parleys in Washington.

The highlight of the talks between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and President Bill Clinton at the White House on Friday was the rebuff the latter gave to the Chief Executive of Pakistan, Gen Pervez Musharraf, who had proposed mediation on the Kashmir issue in his address to the United Nations millennium summit earlier this month.

A senior White House official made it clear that “it is not up to America to resolve this issue, that the USA is not a mediator and that we do not intend to put an American plan or an American negotiator out there.”

One thing that came out unequivocally from the joint statement issued at the end of the Vajpayee-Clinton talks and the subsequent Press briefings by both sides was that there could be no “military solution” to the Kashmir question and that it will have to be resolved bilaterally through peaceful means.

The Press briefing by the White House spokesman was sharp, clear and candid. Mr Bruce Riedel, Senior Director, National Security Council, voiced America’s concern about the connections between certain elements in Pakistan and the goings-on in Kashmir and said Pakistan had a role to play both in resolving the Kashmir problem and in helping to defuse tensions there.

In this context, Mr Rick Inderfurth, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, regretted that Pakistan had not taken enough steps to ensure “sufficient diminution in the level of violence in Kashmir.”

Mr Riedel clarified that it would be a “mistake” to read too much into the US President’s use of the word “core” and said the solution to the Kashmir problem “is best advanced through the four points: restraint on both sides, respect for the Line of Control, denunciation of violence and a return to a dialogue at the appropriate time when the atmosphere is correct.”

During his briefing to Indian mediapersons, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh agreed with a questioner that it was becoming increasingly clear to observers here that Jammu and Kashmir was not a mere territorial dispute since it was “a microcosm” of Indian society which was multi-ethnic and multi-religious.

On the proliferation issue, the USA has accepted the Indian government’s position that it will “continue its voluntary moratorium on nuclear tests until the CTBT comes into effect.” In this regard Mr Inderfurth hoped that New Delhi would work to build a “national consensus” and clinch the issue.

On India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council, the US spokesman said India “will obviously be a candidate”, a strong candidate” but added this was not a subject of a great deal of discussion.

Both Mr Vajpayee and Mr Clinton also reviewed various global issues, including the goings on in Russia and China. They discussed the spiralling oil prices and the impact on both developed and developing countries.

The US spokesman maintained that America’s relationship with India was not a “zero sum game” and said the Chinese-Pakistani cooperation on missile and nuclear programmes did not figure in the discussion between the two leaders.

The two countries have, however, agreed to enlarge cooperation with a view to strengthening the UN’s peace-keeping mechanism.

The joint statement issued on the occasion of Mr Vajpayee’s official visit actually provides a broadbased framework to establish “a closer and qualitatively new relationship.”

It commits the two countries “to further enhancing mutual understanding and deepening cooperation” across the full spectrum of political, economic, commercial, scientific, technological, social and international issues.

On widening cooperation in respect of hi-tech trade issues, the joint statement binds the two countries to working towards building “a wider international consensus” on information technology.

It also pledges their commitment to bridging the “digital divide” so that the benefits of IT help economic and social development of both the rich and the poor.

The joint statement acknowledges that India’s economic reforms and the two countries’ complementary strengths and resources “provide a strong basis for expansion of economic ties.”

In fact, three contracts for American companies to undertake power projects were signed during Thursday’s Indo-US commercial dialogue. The US Department of Energy has signed an agreement with India’s Power Ministry resuming bilateral consultations on energy-related problems.

The USAID has finalised five agreements, including some on microfinance programme. The Export-Import Bank has reached three accords, including a memorandum of understanding with a special focus on the financing of small and medium-sized enterprises.

A wider thrust is proposed in the areas of biotechnology, civil aviation, trade and finance. The issues of double taxation and textiles are high on the agenda.

The statement acknowledges the contribution of the Indo-US community in providing a “bridge of understanding” between the two societies. In this context, it makes a pointed reference to the setting up of a Global Institute of Science and Technology with the help of business leaders of Indian origin who have raised over half a billion dollars.

It is proposed to set up world class research universities in India. These institutions will cooperate with US universities. Such people-to-people initiatives will be encouraged to help enrich the two “talented and diverse societies.”

The sweep of the joint statement is wide-ranging. It seeks to broaden, deepen and diversify the Indo-US relationship with a view to moving it to a “higher plateau.”

The joint statement reiterates the commitment of the two countries to harness their cooperation in scientific and economic sectors for evolving “a new partnership to fight hunger, disease, pollution and other global challenges of our time.”

Mr Jaswant Singh hailed the whole exercise and described it as “a new road” of tomorrow’s Indo-US relations.



* India and the USA reinforce bilateral cooperation for combating terrorism as both countries are targets.

* Increased dialogue on security and non-proliferation issues, including defence posture, to narrow differences on these important issues.

* India reaffirms, subject to its supreme national interests, voluntary moratorium will continue till CTBT comes into effect.

* India and the USA to keep up Asian security dialogue to strengthen mutual understanding.

* Tensions in South Asia (read severely strained Indo-Pak relations) can only be solved by the nations of South Asia through peaceful means.

* USA rules out mediation on Kashmir problem thus rebuffing Pakistan’s chief executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf.

* Bilateral trade environment to be improved to promote investment and strengthen global financial and trading systems.

* Contributions of Indian-Americans in providing bridge of understanding between the two societies recognised.

* Satisfaction expressed on joint consultative group on clean energy environment and establishment of science and technology Forum.

* Digital divide to be bridged so that benefits of information technology have impacts on rich and poor.


Ganesha for Bill, diamonds for Hillary
Tribune News Service

WASHINGTON, Sept 16— Diamonds are forever. This is perhaps why Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, chose to acknowledge the American hospitality with glittering souvenirs.

Diamond jewellery worth more than Rs 3 lakh has been gifted by the Prime Minister during his current tour to the USA. And, not surprisingly the diamonds have been given to the leading ladies in the USA.

The first lady, Ms Hillary Clinton, who has played a key role in cementing Indo-US ties was presented with a specially crafted diamond bracelet. It was during the first term of President Bill Clinton that Hillary played a key role in asking him to depute Commerce Secretary Ron Brown to tap the vast potential that existed in India. The diamond bracelet was Mr Vajpayee’s way of acknowledging her role.

Vice-President Al Gore’s wife, Tipper, who too could land up in the White House after the Presidential elections, was another lady to be treated to Indian diamonds. Mr Vajpayee presented her exquisite diamond bangles.

The key woman in President Bill Clinton’s administration, Ms Madeline Albright, received an equally respectable gift— a sparkling diamond necklace.

The President and his men were not disappointed either. Mr Vajpayee carried a sculpted Ganesha, enclosed in a glass case and estimated to cost more than Rs 5 lakh, for Mr Clinton.

The first couple’s only child Chelsea, who has a strong interest in India and is an art lover, received a painting by Anjolie Menon and a book on Indian art.

Vice-President Gore was gifted a pair of silver globes with the Ashoka Chakra embossed on them while Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott received a specially made silver tray.

There was something for everybody in the US President’s team. In fact 400 items were carried by Mr Vajpayee as souvenirs for his hosts.

This included silver elephant cardholders, artefacts with Meena work and a large number of leather-crafted books titled “Three decades in Parliament”, written by Mr Vajpayee.

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