|HOME | NEWS | HEADLINES|
|July 7, 2000|
US committed to get Pak to negotiating table
Rifat Jawaid in Calcutta
American Ambassador in India Richard Celeste said on Friday that his country was committed to get Pakistan to conduct a bilateral dialogue with India. He was addressing a press conference at the USIS library in Calcutta.
Recalling US President Bill Clinton's recent visit to the subcontinent, Celeste said Clinton "spoke very eloquently of the importance of encouraging dialogue and, hopefully, reconciliation between India and Pakistan".
"We were very encouraged by Prime Minister [Atal Bihari] Vajpayee's bold decision to go to Lahore and join with then [Pakistani] prime minister Nawaz Sharief to attempt to hammer out a process at least to address a full range of issues between India and Pakistan.
"We applauded that move then and we intended to support the Lahore Declaration and initiative. However, we were dismayed by the actions in Pakistan that led to Kargil and called on Pakistan to encourage the withdrawal of 'people' from Kargil to restore the Line of Control. When the President was here, he articulated what we call the four R's -- respect for the Line of Control, restraint, reduction of violence and renewal of dialogue. And I would say those four R's are still very much our hope for the subcontinent. We will do everything we can to encourage Pakistan to help create an environment in which dialogue can take place to reduce the level of violence, and we will hope that dialogue can be renewed," he said.
On Vajpayee's proposed visit to America, Celeste said he was looking forward to a return visit by the Indian prime minister to Washington mid-September. He, however, added that dates for his visit were yet to be announced.
Celeste expressed hopes that Vajpayee's visit to the USA would further cement Indo-US ties, especially in trade and investment, science and technology, law enforcement, fighting terrorism, energy and environment.
"Virtually any sector that we can identify. The only place there is going to be an inhibition would be in military relationship. That is built around our ongoing dialogue about non-proliferation. But otherwise I see this to be a robust, growing partnership," Celeste said.
In response to a question from rediff.com on whether the US Senate's refusal to approve the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty had come as a setback to Clinton, Celeste said his country was prepared to wait as long as necessary for it. He also said the US had no intention to force India to sign the CTBT.
"I think the President made clear that the decision to sign the CTBT is a sovereign decision that will be arrived at by the Government of India. We hope that at some point, India will choose to sign the CTBT. Obviously, we hope they will choose to do so sooner rather than later, but that is a decision for the Government of India.
"As for the US Senate's decision not to ratify the CTBT, I don't treat it as a rejection at this stage. It was clear that the politics of consideration of the CTBT had as much to with the personal feelings of the members of the United States Senate about President Bill Clinton as it did with the merits of the CTBT. But as the president pointed out when he was here, we still have work to do on CTBT in the United States.
"We make no bones about it. We tried to answer questions that were raised in the United States Senate. Many of those may be questions that the Government of India is going to address. We believe that the issue of CTBT is not a bilateral issue between the United States and India. The CTBT was originally an Indian idea, adopted by the United States. The father of CTBT is Rajiv Gandhi, not Bill Clinton, and it is ironic that it is America today that is trying to convince India about CTBT rather than the other way round," he said.
Asked about the US stand on India's candidature for a permanent berth in the UN Security Council, Celeste reiterated his government's assertion that the Security Council has to be reformed and expanded. He recalled that the US and India had agreed that reform is essential. But he added that there was not yet a consensus on the exact dimensions of the reform.
"I believe... the United States... has not taken a view to support specific candidates for the Security Council as permanent members other than Germany and Japan, principally because these are the next two biggest contributors to UN. But beyond that we have not taken a position on candidates. I believe that when it comes time to do so, India has a very compelling case to make as the world's largest democracy representing one-sixth of the people of the planet. That decision will be made with many factors in mind. And those factors like where are we on our non-proliferation agenda, where are we on our trade agenda, where are we on other matters, where we have mutual interests, and sometimes where we have disagreements," he said.
Celeste was full of praise for the Jyoti Basu government in West Bengal and said the commissioning of the $ 51.7 billion Haldia project was bound to change the state's economic scene. He also commended the state government's efforts to boost the information and technology sector.
SINGLES | NEWSLINKS | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEATHER | MILLENNIUM | BROADBAND | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK