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|July 1, 1998||
'Third party solutions are undesirable in principle and impossible in practice'
Former prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral on Wednesday took strong exception to the joint statement of United States President Bill Clinton and Chinese leader Jiang Zemin on the South Asian security scenario, saying no country can arrogate to itself the right to oversee the security of another.
Speaking at a function in Dhaka, Gujral said the approach of the two countries to the South Asian situation brings to mind the colonial era when the globe was divided into competing zones of influence.
He said India values its relations with China and the United States -- like all genuine friendships it is based on respect for sovereign equality and appreciation of each other's mutual concerns.
This is Gujral's first visit to Bangladesh after stepping down from office.
He said India undertook the nuclear tests because its well-founded security concerns remained unaddressed by the international community.
There is no reason to harbour fears of India engaging itself in any arms race as it does not seek anything beyond a credible deterrent, Gujral said.
The Pakistan government too would be averse to an arms race in the region, he added.
In an apparent reference to third party mediation to resolve the Indo-Pak dispute, Gujral said: "The experience teaches us that our problems are best addressed in a bilateral framework. Multilateral approaches are non-starters. No outsider can ever gain the confidence of the people nor of various agencies and organs that have an interest in the issue. In our subcontinent, third party solutions are undesirable in principle and impossible in practice.''
The former PM also justified the Gujral doctrine, saying it was a 'commonsense' approach.
"Neither India or Pakistan can pack and leave the other. For better or for worse, we are inseparably joined today, tomorrow and for all times to come.''
Meanwhile, China renewed its criticism of India, dubbing New Delhi the cause of South Asia's nuclear arms race and urging it to ease regional tensions.
Its foreign ministry spokesman Tang Guoqiang defended the joint statement by Clinton and Jiang. The two presidents had urged India and Pakistan not to deploy nuclear weapons and to sign "immediately and unconditionally'' a global treaty prohibiting nuclear testing.
"The statement conforms to the common international aspiration for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons,'' Tang said, "There's nothing reproachable.''
India had rejected the appeal and said it needed no outside help in negotiating with either Pakistan or China.
Noting that Pakistan welcomed the statement, Tang said, "I would like to point out that the current situation in South Asia is of India's sole making. We hope the two sides will take measures to ease tensions there.''
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