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|July 17, 1998||
No decision to lift sanctions taken, clarifies US
The Clinton administration has sought to remove the impression, fostered in certain circles in New Delhi as well, that the United States is on the verge of lifting the economic sanctions on India and Pakistan in the wake of a senate amendment on the subject.
''Let me be very clear. We are seeking authority to waive sanctions. There has not been a decision by the United States to eliminate the sanctions imposed as a result of the India and Pakistani tests in May,'' States Department official James Rubin said on Thursday.
He said there had been some ''unfortunate'' interpretations of the amendment, passed by the senate on Wednesday, authorising the US president to waive non-military sanctions up to an year.
Rubin said, ''We want authority to waive sanctions so that we would have flexibility in our dealings with India and Pakistan to help us meet our objective (of nuclear non-proliferation).''
He said the amendment would only provide authority to waive the sanctions for a limited period of time. ''We are not walking back from our sanctions policy towards India and Pakistan, or lifting or easing, and nor is it correct that lifting or easing of sanctions is imminent,'' he added.
''If granted waiver authority of the type now under consideration,'' Rubin explained. ''The administration would not -- I emphasise the word not -- be prepared to use such authority in whole or in part until there has been substantial progress toward achieving the goal set forth in the United Nations Security Council permanent five members' (P-5) declaration of June 4 in Geneva and the Group of Eight (G-8) developed nations' statement on June 12.''
These documents had inter alia asked India and Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty immediately and without condition.
''So, we are seeking authority should we, as a result of the work that Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott's doing, be able to see changes in the positions of the India and Pakistani governments that yield substantive progress towards the goals set forth by the permanent five.''
Then, and only then, would we be in a position to consider waiving in whole or in part the sanctions that are now in place, he remarked.
Talbott, who has been appointed lead official to talk to India and Pakistan on the aftermath of their nuclear tests, would be in New Delhi and Islamabad next week for further talks with leaders of the two countries.
Later, in reply to a question during his press briefing in the White House, its spokesman Mike McCurry said, "I think we believe that the sanctions that have been invoked have had some real impact in both India and Pakistan."
In reply to another question, he said some exemptions had been permitted in the narrow area of commodities for humanitarian reasons. ''But, I don't think it would be accurate to say that they've largely been removed.
''And, I think that the degree to which India and Pakistan have both suffered in the eyes of the world community because of the decisions that they made with respect to testing is in itself a disincentive for countries to pursue (nuclear) programmes,'' the White House spokesman added.
He said, ''We obviously are going to have to watch very carefully to see how other countries respond.''
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