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September 14, 2000
US Congress asks for lifting of anti-India sanctions: PTI
T V Parasuram in Washington
The United States Congress on Thursday passed a resolution urging lifting of all the remaining sanctions against India, coinciding with the visit of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Washington.
Senior administration officials, commenting on the resolution, however, were adamant over continuing to link lifting of the sanctions, including even development loans, to India's signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
The resolution welcomed Vajpayee and accepted that it was in mutual interest to expand and strengthen relations while intensifying cooperation on major issues.
Benjamin Gilman, Republican chairman of the International Relations Committee, and the ranking Democrat on the committee, Congressman Sam Gejdenson sponsored the resolution.
The part of the resolution, the administration still does not accept, is asking Washington to consider removing of "existing unilateral legislation and administrative measures imposed against India which prevent normalisation of bilateral economic and trade relations."
However, they said, "We can guarantee you we are looking at what we can do in this regard. We are making progress."
At the same time, officials said the remaining sanctions linked to CTBT include not only prohibition of direct military sales and licences for export of ammunition but also restrictions on multilateral institution loans (mainly from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank) relating to "non-basic human needs."
Reiterating the administration's hardline attitude towards India on the non-proliferation front, despite greater goodwill than before on other issues, officials said, "We do believe it is important to make progress on the non-proliferation agenda, and we believe we will reach that objective".
"We do want to emphasise that on the issue of CTBT, what we most want to see is a decision taken by India (to sign the treaty) because it is in India's interest to see no further testing by any nation in the world. That is the key issue. It is not whether we have ratified it (the US Senate unceremoniously rejected it)," they added.
The signing of the CTBT is a decision, as US President Bill Clinton said when he was in Delhi, for India to make. But the right answer for India is to sign the treaty as it was in its interest, officials said.
"We believe India should play a leadership role on this issue. We hope India will reach that decision as soon as possible. We will certainly encourage Prime Minister Vajpayee and External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and others to continue their efforts to develop a national consensus that would allow a CTBT signature (by India). This is a part of our agenda", they said.
The officials asserted Indo-US relations has matured enough in the last two years to permit the two countries to agree to disagree on some important issues while looking for a way to agree and still get on with the other parts of the agenda.
rediff.com has assigned Associate Editors Amberish K Diwanji and Savera R Someshwar to cover Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to the United States. Don't forget to log into rediff.com for news of this historic visit as it happens!
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