Thursday, May 17, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Kashmir issue bilateral
Malaysia backs India’s stand
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

On Board The Prime Minister’s Plane, May 16
In a major development, Malaysia has veered round to the Indian point of view that the Kashmir issue should be resolved peacefully and bilaterally.

This was stated by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee while talking to mediapersons today during his flight from Kuala Lumpur to Delhi at the end of his four-day visit to Malaysia.

Mr Vajpayee said he had had detailed discussions with his Malaysian hosts on the issue of Kashmir. There had been certain statements from Malaysia in the recent past which created the impression that Malaysia was in favour of tripartite talks on the Kashmir issue. But during their talks with him, Malaysia had accepted the Indian position that Kashmir could only be resolved peacefully and bilaterally. Malaysia also appreciated the fact that for India Kashmir was an issue of national integrity and which also impinged upon communal harmony. Malaysia was against all forms of terrorism, including religious terrorism and state terrorism, and strongly condemned it.

Mr Vajpayee said he had informed his Malaysian hosts that India had taken a number of steps to improve relations with Pakistan. Even a one-sided ceasefire had been ordered in Kashmir but to no avail so far. Unless cross-border terrorism ceases, India could not be expected to hold talks with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

Mr Vajpayee said he was fully satisfied with his visit to Malaysia. His visit was a reaffirmation of India’s “Look East” policy with a special focus on countries in the ASEAN region. He visited Vietnam and Indonesia in January and was likely to visit Singapore later in the year. The Vice-President will shortly be in Cambodia on his return from the G-15 Summit in Indonesia.

Relations between India and Malaysia were not only historical and civilisational but also had a strong contemporary political and economic content. They also had common concerns about the security of the region and of the world. He was of the view that his visit to Malaysia would rejuvenate India’s relations with that country which had become rather static in recent years. A number of commissions had been set up in the field of defence, industry etc but no meeting had taken place in many years.

Mr Vajpayee also sought to allay the impression that his visit to Malaysia had been overshadowed by the contoversy over the hike in the duty on palm oil imports from Malaysia. “This was not so. They have to sell oil and we have to buy oil. So where is the problem? We have already agreed to review the hike in duty on palm oil imports from Malaysia”.

Referring to the contract bagged by India for the construction of a $ 1.5 billion rail track in Malaysia, the Prime Minister said it was one of the biggest contracts ever signed by India. In comparison, the issue of palm oil duty was a small matter.

Referring to the failure to sign an extradition treaty with Malaysia which would have fecilitated the extradition of the Bofors pay-off accused Quattrochi to India for trial, Mr Vajpayee said he had hoped to sign the treaty during his visit but he was told that there were certain legal hitches which would take some time to resolve.

On globalisation, he said both Malaysia and India shared the same views, similar apprehensions and anxities. A meeting would be held between the representatives of the two countries to study the implications of the WTO.

He also discussed the problems of the Malaysians of Indian origin against the background of the fact that there were recently riots against them in Malaysia. He was informed that it was a minor local incident and that the situation was now under control. He had also asked his Malaysian hosts about the absence of any memorial to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in that country. He had now asked some of the Indian associations in Malaysia to raise a memorial to the national hero. The Indian government would help them in any way it could.


India committed to N-free world: PM
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Kuala Lumpur, May 16
The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, said today that India respected the status of South-East Asia as a nuclear weapons free zone and, as a nuclear weapon state, India was willing to convert this recognition into a de jure commitment.

Speaking on “India and ASEAN - Shared Perspectives” at the Institute of Diplomatic and Foreign Relations here on the concluding day of his four-day visit to Malaysia, the Prime Minister emphasised that the security of India and that of the ASEAN were closely interlinked. “We believe that a multi-polar world order would provide the best guarantee of equal security for all states”, he emphasised.

For decades after its independence, India had been campaigning for nuclear disarmament. Instead, much of the world went along with a discriminatory NPT, which preserved the right to nuclear weaponisation of a few countries, even while keeping the rest in a permanently disarmed condition.

The nuclear weapon states showed no intention of implementing Art VI of the treaty, which committed them to nuclear disarmament in a phased manner.

Unfortunately, non-nuclear states effectively connived with them by subscribing, in 1995, to an indefinite extension of this hopelessly flawed treaty. India had then to draw its own conclusions.

Three years ago, India decided to conduct nuclear tests, based on an objective evaluation of its security environment, and to create for India the necessary strategic autonomy and space. In doing so, it did not violate any treaty, agreement or understanding to which it was a party.

There was better understanding in the world today of India’s decision to maintain a minimum credible nuclear deterrent. “We have declared a unilateral moratorium on underground explosive tests.We have a declared policy of no first use, and a commitment never to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.We have proved that India is neither a proliferation threat nor an exporter of sensitive nuclear or missile technology. This cannot be said to be true of all parties to the NPT. Our approach is further underpinned by our abiding commitment to the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world,” he said.

He added, “ We are conscious of the striving for a new security structure in the world, moving away from obsolete Cold War constructs. We are engaged in a process of dialogue and consultation with our friends and partners to help shape a new security environment free of confrontation and tension. Our security dialogue with ASEAN can also include this theme”.


Cabinet expansion in fortnight: PM
Tribune News Service

On Board The Prime Minister’s Plane, May 16
The much-awaited expansion of the Union Council of Ministers will take place within a fortnight.

This was announced by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in a talk with mediapersons today during his flight from Kuala Lumpur to New Delhi at the end of his four-day visit to Malaysia.

The Prime Minister said there were certain vacancies in the Union Cabinet which had to be filled. Certain new appointments would also be made. He indicated that the expansion would take place before he underwent an operation for the replacement of his second knee scheduled for June 6 in Mumbai. The Union Cabinet has several vacant slots following the resignation of Mr George Fernandes, Ms Mamata Banerjee and Mr Ajit Panja in the wake of the Tehelka tapes disclosures. Two PMK ministers had also withdrawn their support to the NDA government.

Mr Vajpayee said the elections to the five state Assemblies held last week had produced mixed results.

Asked if the swearing in of Ms Jayalalitha as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu despite the fact that she had been convicted in a serious offence, did not indicate a lacunae in the legal system, the Prime Minister said there were several such shortcomings in the system.

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