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|July 20, 1998||
Indians talks tough at Indo-US talks
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
The ministry of external affairs expressed optimism about the talks on Monday between visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Jaswant Singh.
Senior South Block officials said India had not budged from its stand on the weaponisation programme and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. They said the Indian delegation had reiterated New Delhi's concerns about the security scenario in South Asia after the evident military link between China and Pakistan.
This was why the Indian leadership went ahead with the weaponisation programme, and why it had decided not to allow third-party mediation on the Kashmir issue, the US team was told.
The officials said when Talbott's team called for India to sign the CTBT to prevent an arms race in the region, the Indian side expressed its helplessness in the present security scenario. However, since the MEA statement said the "discussions were marked by a spirit of working together to find common ground and to narrow gaps in their governments respective perceptions" indicated the two sides had agreed to continue the dialogue in Washington in late August.
Asked to comment on the MEA spokesperson's claim that there had been "forward movement" at Monday's talks, one official said, "You have to read between the lines." He did not elaborate.
Talbott and his delegation also met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Union Home Minister L K Advani and Defence Minister George Fernandes later today.
Advani underscored Pakistan's continuing and active encouragement to the militants in the Kashmir valley, providing substantial evidence, government officials said.
Vajpayee appraised the US delegation of India's perception of regional security and why New Delhi refuses to sign the CTBT unconditionally. He also conveyed New Delhi's inability to agree to third-party mediation in Kashmir.
Fernandes stressed that New Delhi cannot stop weaponisation as long as Pakistan aims nuclear missiles at Indian cities and that external pressure would not be appreciated till there was a qualitative improvement in the security of the region, the official said.
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