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|June 22, 1998||
Clinton administration slowly veering around to the Indian point of view
Within the Clinton administration, realisation is growing that if relations are to be repaired with New Delhi, India's position may have to be accommodated.
''We agree that they will be an important global power in the 21st century,'' the Washington Post has quoted a senior administration official as having said.
He said, ''We are trying assiduously to take into account the Indian worldview,'' a view which, according to him, includes resentment that ''China, a communist country with a long history of nuclear proliferation, is in favour with the Clinton administration while India, a democracy with no record of nuclear proliferation, is taking an international drubbing.''
This official said some in the administration, seeing India only through the perspective of nuclear proliferation, wanted to do more to curb its aspirations to be a nuclear power. But others are more eager to put aside the administration's anger and sense of betrayal and resume efforts to build a constructive relationship with the South Asian giant.
''There still is danger here of further steps by (India or Pakistan) that could move us closer to a truly catastrophic event,'' the daily quoted White House National Security Adviser Samuel R Berger as having told its editors and reporters on Wednesday.
He said, ''But we have to keep in mind our long-term interest in the way India evolves. Listen to the president as he talked about the tests, he talked about the greatness of India and the potential of India and the tremendous benefits that could come from a closer relationship with India.''
With the passing of Cold War attitudes, the daily pointed out, the Clinton administration had committed itself to building better economic and political ties to an India that was opening up its markets. Secretary of state Madeleine Albright went to India to advance that cause late last year, and Clinton was planning to visit this fall, a plan that is now officially described as ''under review.''
Albright and other officials were furious when the tests were announced, not just because they challenged the international consensus Washington had been building against further tests by anyone, but also because officials of the Bharatiya Janata Party had assured the Americans that no tests were imminent -- even though their party campaigned on a pro-nuclear platform, says the daily.
''The Indians embarrassed Bill Richardson,'' a state department official said, referring to the then US ambassador to the United Nations, who visited India and Pakistan just before the tests. ''They made him look foolish to the Pakistanis, because he went to Islamabad saying the Indians had assured him of a policy of restraint.''
Indian Ambassador to the US Naresh Chandra, in an interview to the daily, said the US response to India's tests had been misinformed and counterproductive.
He and other Indian officials said India acted out of legitimate security concerns, prompted by the Chinese support for Pakistan's nuclear programme, and that India rejects sermons from countries that have their own nuclear arsenals.
Chandra said, ''India sees China aiding Pakistan, militarising Tibet and cementing ties with the military government in Burma -- in effect encircling India at the same time it is being courted by the United States. Should India live in constant trepidation?'' he asked. ''To expect a people who constitute one-sixth of mankind to be outside the network of nuclear guarantees that others have, is not acceptable.''
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