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June 16, 1998


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US keen on imposing sanctions

C K Arorain Washington

The Clinton administration intends to implement its nuclear-related sanctions against India and Pakistan along with efforts at facilitating a dialogue between the two countries to restore normalcy in the South Asia.

''We are willing to follow the letter of US law with respect to sanctions and also pursue those types of measures that we think can bring these nations into dialogue and de-escalate tensions and conflict,'' White House spokesman Mike McCurry said.

He made these remarks when asked as to how far the US was willing to go against the two countries.

He was also asked about the possible impact of the Asian economic crisis on the economies of India and Pakistan, particularly when they were under the US sanctions.

''Well, I think the Asian financial situation could conceivably have a broad impact in the United States and throughout the industrialised nations, but it has much more to do with the overall status of the economies in the region and not specifically the sanctions policy with respect to India and Pakistan,'' he added.

In reply to a question, McCurry said he was aware of a legislation pending before Congress seeking to attenuate the sanctions on Pakistan by allowing government credits for wheat sales to that country.

''I know the administration is supportive of those efforts. Our view is that it's not our goal to use food exports as a tool in our sanctions policy. On the contrary one of our goals in implementing these sanctions is to minimise the humanitarian impact on the people of India and Pakistan,'' McCurry added.

''Obviously, we share the concern that a cut-off of export credit could adversely affect US farmers. But this is an example of what happens sometime when the inflexibility of sanctions as an instrument applies -- there needs to be a way to go back. But the justice department is determined that there is no flexibility under the Glenn amendment,'' he added.

When asked whether President Clinton would support efforts in Congress to begin to lift the sanctions, McCurry said, ''Well, there are other countries that have found ways of bringing economic leverage to bear on both India and Pakistan,'' he added.

''But our law is our law, and it functions as it does. And we look for ways, if we need to find ways, to ameliorate some aspect of sanctions -- particularly in this case with respect to wheat sales, we can attempt to do that,'' he added.

He, however, said, ''The broader issue may be is what is the utilitarian effect of sanctions imposed unilaterally and I think there's a good healthy debate that needs to be had on that point.''


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