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|September 26, 1998||
US sets tough conditions for lifting sanctions
C K Arora in Washington
The Clinton administration has set tough preconditions for lifting its sanctions on India and Pakistan, apparently to set at rest speculations about their withdrawal after Prime Minister A B Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharief expressed their readiness to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
''Broadly speaking, we have made clear that in order for sanctions to be lifted, there has to be substantial progress across the board on the matters of concern to us,'' State Department spokesperson James Rubin said in Washington yesterday.
He said these concerns had been laid out in the declaration of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the council resolution 1172, which called upon Pakistan and India to adhere to global nuclear non-proliferation norms and to settle their differences through dialogue.
Rubin said, ''There has to be substantial progress on the goals set forth in several areas and I would be happy to detail more specifically those goals for you, including the actual signature and ratification of this CTBT as a goal a restraint regime covering the nuclear weapons and their means of delivery, an export control system, a moratorium on the production of fissile material pending negotiation of the treaty and direct talks between India and Pakistan.''
''These are essential components of those international statements. What we are looking for is substantial progress across the board in those areas. And so, that is what we would regard as sufficient to consider suspension of sanctions provided we receive that kind of flexibility and authority from congress which we now do not have,'' he added.
He made these observations when his attention was drawn to a reported Pakistani statement that it would sign the CTBT if sanctions were lifted. The spokesperson was also asked whether in their discussions with the US government, the Pakistanis had insisted on lifting of the Pressler and Glenn amendments and other sanctions on them.
Rubin replied, ''We don't normally discuss what another country is secretly or privately discussing with us. We talk in generalities on such a matter. I hope you wouldn't want us to reveal what another country said, what would be the point of having a private discussion if we just told you about it?.
''As far as what the Pakistani's position is,'' the state department spokesperson said, ''I would encourage you to contact the Pakistani embassy and they, I'm sure, will be happy to answer your question.''
Another correspondent asked, "Is there a chicken and egg problem here? In other words, you seem to be saying that there must be substantial progress before the sanctions can be lifted. The Pakistanis are saying that if they (the US) won't lift the sanctions they (the Pakistanis) won't make any concessions.
''I'm not sure that's an accurate representation of the Pakistani view, but let me say this: If we had reason to believe that there was going to be substantial progress -- and it would be up to us to measure that across the board --- then we... could well seek authority -- or have already received that authority -- and act to suspend sanctions.
''I've described the goals. I didn't say that each of those goals had to be fully met. I said that there has to be substantial progress towards them. That's the kind of problem that diplomats are very good at working out is how to make sure that things go in parallel so that both sides' objectives can be met. But before we would even reach that point we would need to believe there was progress across the board and not simply in one area,'' he remarked.
Asked about the possibility of visit to the region by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright this year, either with or without President Clinton, Rubin said, ''I don't have any new information with respect to travel.''
He, however, said, ''I know the president is going to have to review this matter with his advisors in the coming days and, as the secretary said yesterday, there was some progress, but significant progress still is yet to be achieved and that discussion will have to be had before one can report on any future travel plans.''
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