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|March 22, 2000|
Narayanan upstages Clinton in several US newspapers
A P Kamath
'Indian President rebukes Clinton,' said The Washington Times while the Houston Chronicle's headline asserted: 'India's President takes Clinton to task.'
While newspapers like the San Francisco Examiner ran the Associate Press story with the headline, 'Clinton Presses for Peace in India' and focused on his speech in Parliament, the remarks of President Kocheril Raman Narayanan during a state banquet found prominent place in several publications including The Washington Post.
'President Clinton yesterday failed to persuade India to give up nuclear weapons and he drew a remarkable rebuke from his hosts,' the conservative Washington Times wrote.
'He was told he could not mediate India's dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir, where at least 35 Sikhs were massacred on Monday. Mr Clinton's description of Kashmir, made in February, "as perhaps the most dangerous place in the world" was ridiculed to his face by Indian President Kocheril Raman Narayanan.
"These alarmist descriptions will only encourage those who want to break the peace and indulge in terrorism and violence," Narayanan said in his toast at a state dinner in honor of Mr Clinton.'
The Chronicle also led the story with the 'rebuke' element.
'Despite new ethnic slaughter in Kashmir and India's refusal to make significant concessions in its nuclear weapons program,' wrote Cragg Hines in the Chronicle, 'India's head of state sternly took President Clinton to task Tuesday night for repeatedly calling South Asia "the most dangerous place in the world."
The Chronicle added late in the story that neither Clinton nor American officials thought the remarks were a big deal.
It quoted a senior administration official, arguing that Indian leaders resent official US commentary on their regional disputes, saying: "It doesn't faze us."
The Post, which mentioned the remarks after some six paragraphs in the story added: 'Clinton seemed to take no notice of Narayanan's remarks, and administration officials later shrugged them off as a minor venting of frustration. But while many Indians obviously were pleased the American president is making an extended trip to their country of more than 1 billion people, it was clear that the world's two largest democracies still disagree on some key issues despite improving relations in recent years,' the Post article said.
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