Tuesday, September 19, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM’s no to curbs under CTBT
Favours debate in Parliament
From Hari Jaisingh

FRANKFURT, Sept 18 — The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, said today that India would not accept anything that goes against the country’s interests.

Talking to mediapersons accompanying him on his 13-day visit to the USA, Mr Vajpayee said the sanctions imposed by the USA after the May 1998 Pokhran underground tests were deliberately not raised during his discussions with the US President.

He said in any case the sanctions didn’t come in the way of strengthening and enlarging Indo-US bilateral relations. Mr Vajpayee emphasised that the sanctions were not linked to domestic politics.

On signing the CTBT, he said he would like a debate in Parliament for evolving a consensus.

The Prime Minister said any talks with Pakistan must be purposeful. “If the talks are not constructive no purpose would be served”.

Mr Vajpayee said the Indo-US relation had suffered a setback because of the cold war. “There is no pressure from the USA to sign the CTBT. I would like the signing of the CTBT to be discussed in its entirety in the Indian Parliament.

Asked if he had pressed Mr Clinton to declare Pakistan a terrorist state, Mr Vajpayee replied that Washington knew India’s views.

The Prime Minister recalled that Pakistan-based militant outfit, Hizbul Mujahideen, had declared a ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir but subsequently withdrew it.

‘‘There is no need to say from where the proposal for the ceasefire was given as well as withdrawn,’’ he said.

Other countries agreed that this was a setback and a stumbling block in the path to talks, Mr Vajpayee said, adding that ‘‘we tell our friends to tell Pakistan to make the atmosphere conducive for talks.’’

Describing his visit to Washington as successful, the Prime Minister said it had given a new turn to the bilateral relationship.

Mr Vajpayee said he talked to Mr Clinton at length on the issue of terrorism and it was decided that the two countries would step up their cooperation to deal with the menace. ‘‘Some steps will be taken soon’’, he said.

He said he would be discussing the issue of terrorism with Russian President Vladimir Putin who visits New Delhi next month.

PTI adds: The Prime Minister declared that India would not accept any restrictions under CTBT which could put shackles on taking independent and sovereign decisions on strategic matters but would continue to work for a consensus on signing the treaty.

“There were apprehensions that I would be pressurised in Washington into agreeing to sign the treaty. But these doubts had no foundation and there is no change in the stand,” he said.

Maintaining that there was no question of either side imposing a decision on the other, the Prime Minister drew attention to the joint statement issued after his talks with President Clinton which said that each side would take decisions on nuclear non-proliferation in their supreme national interests.

“This means that India is free to take decisions in its national interests,” Mr Vajpayee said.

After a might halt here, the Prime Minister will leave for Delhi tomorrow afternoon.Back



India, USA can change world
Clinton’s toast to Vajpayee
From A. Balu

WASHINGTON, Sept 17 — In a climax to the four-day visit of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to Washington, President Clinton and the visiting Indian leader tonight toasted to the “close and abiding friendship” of the peoples of the USA and India and to the “enduring partnership” of the two great democracies.

It was bonhomie at its best as the two leaders spoke at a glittering banquet President Clinton hosted at the White House in honour of Mr Vajpayee.

Both the President and the Prime Minister drew repeated bursts of laughter and applause from over 500 guests present at the dinner as they engaged themselves in light-hearted comments about the growing friendship between their two countries.

“Don’t forget, whether we are in California or Calcutta, we all want to be a crorepati,” President Clinton said. “Now for the culturally challenged Americans among us, that is from India’s version of “who wants to be a millionaire”.

President Clinton expressed gratification that with Mr Vajpayee as leader, “We have together built the strongest and most mature partnership India and America have ever known.”

It was more than a slogan for the Americans to say that “India’s success will be our success, and that together, India and America can change the world,” Mr Clinton added.

The Prime Minister told President Clinton that he was greatly touched by the latter’s participation in the dedication of a memorial of Mahatma Gandhi in Washington on Saturday. The memorial, he said, was a profound symbol of the unity of values of Indian and American societies.

Mr Vajpayee said it was testimony to President Clinton’s courage and leadership that he “dared to cross the territory of doubts” to reach out to the hearts of the Indian people. “And it is a tribute to your efforts that the manner in which we approach each other is being fundamentally transformed.”

Both Indian and American officials have hailed the visit of Mr Vajpayee as highly fruitful, saying that it has succeeded in giving further momentum to the relations between the two countries.

In a press statement on Saturday, Mr Vajpayee expressed confidence that the coming years would see this relationship grow, imbued with new content, greater understanding and enhanced cooperation.

Mr Vajpayee’s health had been a matter of concern to Indian officials, but the Prime Minister managed to go through a hectic schedule of engagements, and was in great form as he addressed a rally of Indian Americans on Saturday night, buoyed up by the rousing reception he received from fellow Indians.

In an interaction with representatives of Washington’s think tanks on Thursday, Mr Vajpayee outlined five fundamental propositions on which India’s approach to Pakistan was based. These were one, religion or sword shall no longer be used to redefine boundaries, two, this is the age of reconciliation, not of conflict, three, whether it is Jammu and Kashmir or Ladakh, the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir were tired of violence and bloodshed, four, it is time to stop the bloodletting and time for healing wounds in Jammu and Kashmir, and five, India is prepared to heal the wounds of the humanity.

The Prime Minister emphasised that the USA and India would have to work together in joint endeavours for the pursuit of regional and international peace and stability and prosperity.


Clinton, Vajpayee exchange gifts

WASHINGTON, Sept 18 (PTI) — Before leaving the glittering banquet given by us president Bill Clinton and the First Lady Hillary Clinton, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee presented them with a glass sculpture of Ganesha, the mighty remover of obstacles and heralder of prosperity.

It was titled “Revered image in glass,” and was by artist Anjolie Ela Menon, described by a White House press release as “one of the foremost artists of our time.”

It is part of a special series. The form of Ganesha, it noted, was an artist’s delight and was used extensively in Indian art.

The hosts’ gift to Vajpayee was a Tiffany’s hand-crafted sterling silver cache pot with an engraved inscription. It features an etched border design inspired by a cornice found in the President’s oval office and an etched floral design taken from the green and red rooms of the White House.

The flower in the centre is a dogwood blossom, a tree found in the President’s home state of Arkansas and other states. The Presidential seal is engraved at the bottom of the Tiffany silver piece. The cache pot was designed exclusively as a gift for President Clinton to present on the occasion of an official visit. Every American President has had a signature gift to give during his tenure.

The official gift for members of the Indian delegation was a watercolour portrait with an inscription commemorating the official visit of the Indian Premier to Washington.


A lavish menu

WASHINGTON, Sept 18 — Here’s what the White House kitchen dished out for Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at an official dinner in his honour hosted by U.S. President Bill Clinton on Sunday, a banquet attended by a record 698 persons.

The menu for the dinner was: Darjeeling Tea Smoked Poussin, Chilled Green Pea and Cilantro Soup, Marble Potatoes, Wild Copper River Salmon, Red Kuri Squash and Rice Bean Ragout, Swiss Chard Custard, Garlic-Chanterelle Emulsion, Young Greens and Herb Salad.

The dessert comprised Mango and Banner Lotus, Litchis and Raspberry Sauce. The wines comprised Wolffer Vineyards Chardonnay “Estate” 1997, Callaghan Vineyards “Buena Suerte Cuvee” 1997, Tualatin Estate “Semi Sparkling” Muscat1999. — IANS

PM in Frankfurt

FRANKFURT (Germany), Sept 18 (PTI) — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee arrived here today for an overnight halt on his way back home from a nearly fortnight long trip to the USA. Mr Vajpayee left Washington last night after attending a banquet hosted by President Bill Clinton in his honour.Back

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