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August 31, 1998


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US links lifting of sanctions to non-proliferation

The United States has linked the lifting of its nuclear-related economic sanctions against India to the progress in the on-going high-level talks between the two countries on security and non-proliferation issues.

Speaking at the Indian-American forum for Political Education in Washington on Saturday, Assistant Secrertary of State for South Asian Affairs Karl F Inderfurth promised the withdrawal of sanctions as soon as possible, insisting that the process was dependent on the outcome of the talks between Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Prime Minister A B Vajpayee's special envoy Jaswant Singh.

He declined to say anything on the progress in the fourth round of the talks which took place here on August 24. ''We are quite anxious to keep the substance of this diplomatic process quiet and confidential, and have, to a large degree. The stakes are very important, the rewards of success will be high,'' he observed.

''In this regard, I can also say that the esssence of what we are trying to do can be summed up in one word: reconciliation. We are trying to reconcile the vital national interests of the United States and the interests of the entire world in nuclear nonproliferation with the vital national interests of India and Pakistan, respectively,'' Inderfurth observed.

He said: ''We've not asked either country to do anything if it feels It is contrary to its self-interests. We are working with both governments to identify as clearly as possible what each believes are its core interests. We are looking for common ground to build on areas of agreeement and find some ways to manage differences where we do not agree.

''As a result of this diplomatic exercise, I can say that we're making progress in defining principles that will underpin our relationships in the post-tests environment, in laying out our non-proliferation and other objectives, and in discussing the steps and activities that we believe will be necesssary to get us there,'' he added.

Inderfurth said: ''Our strong desire is to re-establish the co-operative, broad-based relationship with India that we had envisioned before the events in May. We had hoped for and were working towards increasingly close and beneficial ties across wide spectrum, including trade and investment, energy partnership, science and technology cooperation and a joint approach to serious global issues, including the environment, and health-related concerns, that face both our countries.''

''All our efforts would have been highlighted by the President's visit to South Asia in November,'' he remarked.

He said: ''The President was and remains very interested in travelling to the region, but will do so when circumstances permit his visit to look to the kind of relations we hope will characterise the 21st century. We and the Indian government agree that the President's visit should take place in a positive environment and we will work towards ensuring this outcome.''

He said he was glad that more than three months after the nuclear tests, he was able to report that New Delhi and Islamabad had acted to cool tensions and address international concerns.

Inderfurth said both had declared a moratorium on further nuclear testing and had taken a more cautious public line on their future nuclear and missile programmes, including deployment. Both had taken necessary steps in Geneva to participate in negotiations towards a fissile material cut-off treaty, both had restated their long standing national policies of not exporting sensitive nuclear or missile technology, which is of fundamental importance to the international community.

''We do, however, hope for more progress, not only on security and non-proliferation issues, but in addressing the underlying causes of tension in the region,'' he added.

He noted with regret that Prime Minister Vajpayee's meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Colombo during the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation summit did not break the logjam, preventing the resumption of the senior level dialogue between India and Pakistan, something that has been urged by their friends in the world community.


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