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|July 4, 1998||
Vajpayee steps up diplomatic offensiveGeorge Iype in New Delhi
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is sending key interlocutors abroad to step up the pace of India's diplomatic offensive against international pressure to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in the wake of nuclear tests.
Former prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral will meet United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York on July 8 to explain India's security concerns and South Asia's security scenario after India and Pakistan exploded 11 nuclear bombs in May.
The former prime minister will be the first Indian leader to brief the top UN official after the nuclear tests.
Gujral's UN mission is significant as last month India refused to hold talks with Annan's special envoy, Assistant Secretary General Alvaro de Soto who was on a South Asia visit.
Gujral, who is chairperson of Parliament's Standing Committee on External Affairs, met Vajpayee for more than an hour on Saturday morning. Vajpayee is reported to have asked him to brief Annan on India's security policy.
In fact, the former prime minister is meeting Annan on an official UN programme.
Gujral is one of the five-member international group of eminent persons set up by the UN secretary general to study and report on the situation in Algeria.
But Gujral told Rediff On The NeT that the UN secretary general has scheduled an exclusive meeting with him to discuss the Indo-Pak nuclear tests and the security situation in South Asia.
''I will forcefully address India's stand especially on Kashmir and explain our security concerns to the UN secretary general,'' the former prime minister said.
En route to New York, Gujral is scheduled to visit London where he is expected to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair and a number of prominent members of parliament.
Official sources said Vajpayee's key aide and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Jaswant Singh will hold a second round of talks with US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbot in Frankfurt next week.
When Singh met Talbott in Washington last month -- before the US formally imposed economic sanctions against India -- he had invited the top US official to visit India.
But Talbott has declined to pay an official visit to India at this juncture as the fallout of the nuclear tests and the diplomatic rhetoric between India and Pakistan are yet to subside.
Therefore, Singh reportedly has plans to catch up with Talbott in Frankfurt which the latter will visit from July 8.
The US and the other permanent Security Council members have been pressing India to sign the CTBT and refrain from any further deployment of missiles in the region.
Though India has rejected the demand, diplomatic analysts believe the Vajpayee government might soon offer to convert its moratorium on nuclear testing into an international obligation.
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