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July 21, 1998


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Talbott mission designed to bring India, Pak into non-proliferation fold

C K Arora in Washington

The Clinton administration has spelt out the objectives of Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott's mission to New Delhi and Islamabad which include efforts at bringing India and Pakistan back into the international non-proliferation consensus.

His other goals are: to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan and, at the same time, address their security concerns.

''That is what Deputy Secretary Talbott is doing. That is our view on international opposition to the nuclear tests and the subject of American sanctions.'' says State Department spokesman James Rubin.

The US, he said, certainly would like the two countries to resolve their problems peacefully. ''I think that is a view it would be hard to imagine anyone could disagree with.''

He disagreed with those who argued the US had begun to lose support for the economic sanctions that the Clinton administration had imposed on India and Pakistan after their nuclear tests in May.

''With respect to sanctions, we as a result of our sanctions legislation and a result of implementing that legislation, have sent a powerful message to the world that to test nuclear weapons is to cause the isolation of your country,'' Rubin said.

He said there was no question in ''our minds that both India and Pakistan have felt the sting of sanctions.''

''Last week we did not seek to end sanctions, and some may have breathed a premature sigh or relief. All we sought was authority from Congress to have the flexibility to act if India and Pakistan were to change their positions and to join in one way or another the CTBT and other international regimes,'' he said.

"We have not taken the view that sanctions should be suspended in whole or in part. On the contrary, these sanctions remain in place, they are tough sanctions. They have obviously stung in India and Pakistan, and that is as it should be because the decisions were taken that we opposed,'' he said.

With respect to international support, Rubin pointed out, ''I would say this -- the international community has rallied in an unprecedented way around a very concrete set of requirements first laid out in the permanent (P-5) meeting that was held in Geneva, reiterated in the meeting in London, and reiterated in a number of Security Council resolutions and acts of condemnation by the organisation of American states, by European organisations like the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.

''So there's been a sweeping condemnation by the whole world of India and Pakistan, and clearly they are uncomfortable, as they should,'' he added.

''The question now is what can we do to work with them to try to get them out of the holes that they've blown up for themselves, and to try to improve the climate by getting them to move in the direction that we're seeking,'' he said.

Rubin said he agreed with Senator Joseph Biden that the sanction pendulum has swung too far. ''There is a tendency for people to think if they just impose a sanction, they can solve a problem, it's not that simple, as we have learned in many cases.''

However, he said ''that doesn't mean, on the other hand, that sanctions are ineffective all the time. It means that greater care needs to be applied in using the tool, that we have to bear in mind the one overarching principle that for sanctions to be effective, they are more effective the more they are supported around the world. Unilateral sanctions, while sometimes making people feel good, don't actually do good.''


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