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|December 2, 1998||
Clinton announces easing of sanctions on eve of Sharief's visit
US sanctions imposed against Pakistan and India following their nuclear tests earlier this year were yesterday eased on the orders of US President Bill Clinton, the White House said.
Clinton, on the eve of a White House visit by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief, waived a number of sanctions provisions until October 21 of next year.
Complete details of which specific sanctions were eased and which remain in force was not immediately available, but it was anticipated Clinton's action would allow US loans and investments and US backing for lending by the International Monetary Fund.
''Not all have been eased,'' a White House official said. ''But a decent amount have been.''
The official said the easing of sanctions was in recognition of India and Pakistan attempting to ease tensions on the subcontinent.
Clinton is expected to press the Pakistani prime minister to ascribe to the international nuclear test ban treaty and hold back on further nuclear weapons development, spokesman Joe Lockhart said.
Sharief was also expected to meet today with treasury secretary Robert Rubin and with officials from the IMF and World Bank.
The president's decision will permit US commercial banks as well as the US Export Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Trade Development Agency to resume lending to Pakistan and India until October 21, 1999.
Though commercial banks would be allowed to lend money to India's government and private companies, the US would continue to oppose the World Bank loans for non-humanitarian projects.
However, in case of Pakistan it had made a one-time exception to allow it to borrow from the IMF to help it meet its foreign exchange crisis.
It has paved the way for the IMF to resume payments on a 1.56 billion dollar loan to Pakistan suspended after the nuclear tests.
The US also supported the IMF's bailout package for Pakistan involving a loan of 5.5 billion dollars. The move would also allow military officers from the two countries to receive US training.
Clinton's action reflected progress in US negotiations with India and Pakistan aimed at restraining their nuclear programmes, restricting their nuclear and missile exports and generally reducing tensions in South Asia, according to US officials.
The US Congress, in October gave Clinton limited authority to waive some sanctions imposed on India and Pakistan. He will have this power only for a year.
The US had made known to New Delhi and Islamabad the decision last month itself under the new congressional authority.
Meanwhile, the US is insisting that the two countries sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, agree not to deploy nuclear capable missiles and aircraft, tighten their export controls on nuclear and missile technology and agree to a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons pending the negotiation on an international treaty on the subject.
Prime Minister A B Vajpayee and Sharief, in their speeches at the UN General Assembly in September last, had promised to adhere to the CTBT.
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