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|July 10, 1998||
South Block expects little from Jaswant-Talbott dialogueTara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
India has once again rejected the US's argument that its weaponisation programme will threaten the security environment in South Asia and trigger an arms race in the region that will jeopardise world peace.
Senior officials in South Block told Rediff On The Net that New Delhi's cogent explanations about the endangered regional security scenario, especially from across the Indo-China border, was not being accepted by the US which wanted India to unconditionally sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The US also wanted it roll back and cap its nuclear programme and desist from continuing its weaponisation programme which also included the deployment of Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles.
However, India had categorically rejected the US-led Western point of view on the security scenario in South Asia as it amounted to a "callous disregard of New Delhi's legitimate security concerns", the officials pointed out.
Washington was apparently allergic to New Delhi's concept of a minimum nuclear deterrent which entailed the deployment of its nuclear-tipped missiles. It was in this context that the meeting between Jaswant Singh, the prime minister's special envoy, and US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott was being keenly watched.
As the Singh-Talbott meeting in Frankfurt was inconclusive, the two will meet again in New Delhi on July 20-21.
However, the officials pointed out, Washington's position on the matter was known and, therefore, it would be unrealistic to expect any vital breakthrough, they said.
It was emphasised that in order to demoralise New Delhi and ridicule its achievement in the nuclear and missile fields, a concerted campaign had been unleashed by a section of the Bill Clinton administration comprising anti-India elements. But this was a pathetic attempt to browbeat New Delhi, the officials said, adding that no external power could force India to make any compromises regarding its security.
The officials also underscored that India was keen to continue the dialogue with its neighbours to de-escalate regional tensions for which a series of steps had been undertaken by the government, including an offer by the prime minister to his counterpart in Pakistan to conclude a no first-strike agreement. It was pointed out that India would continue the ongoing efforts to normalise the situation across the Indo-Chinese border.
Meanwhile, South Block is monitoring the developments in Washington where a large number of Americans have voiced their dissatisfaction over the sanctions imposed on New Delhi by the US following the recent nuclear tests. A non-governmental organisation, a US 'Think-Tank', today deplored the US sanctions on India and urged the five nuclear powers to accept India, Pakistan and Israel into the exclusive nuclear club. It also urged the nuclear power states to cut down and eventually eliminate their nuclear arsenal so that the world to be a better place to live in.
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