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HVK Archives: ARF chief praises Jaswants efforts

ARF chief praises Jaswants efforts - The Times of India

M. D. Malapat ()
July 28, 1998

Title: ARF chief praises Jaswant's efforts
Author: M. D. Malapat
Publication: The Times of India
Date: July 28, 1998

Despite the efforts by big 5, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) refused
to condemn Indian nuclear tests on Monday. India, represented by
Planning Commission deputy chairman also made it clear to the
world that it will not obey diktats about its missile development

"These are sovereign decisions and as a major power, we cannot be
dictated to on matters integral to our security," said a high
official in the Indian delegation. The outgoing ARF chairman,
foreign minister Domingo Siazon of the Philippines, praised Mr
Jaswant Singh for his "able articulation of the Indian

In a move to introduce greater transparency in the workings of
ASEAN-ARF, Mr Siazon made it explicit that "non-ASEAN members"
were instrumental in trying to condemn India, while the ASEAN
view was that "the ARF should not be converted into a forum for
denouncing ARF participants". Thus, the replacement of the
earlier word "condemn" with the diplomatically milder "deplore"
in the final text.

Formally, even China avoided pejoratives in referring to the
Indian tests. Foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan merely associated
himself with the Albright view that nuclear weapons would not
help a country "to enhance its national strength and status".
Both China and the U.S. left it to their supporters-Australia,
Canada, the U.K. and Japan-to attempt to pressurise ASEAN members
into formally condemning India. A united defence of the ASEAN
traditions of consensus and avoiding name-calling by the nine
ASEAN members prevented this group from having its way.

The ARF chairman made it clear that "ASEAN had the primary role
in the ARF" and that efforts to change this would be resisted.
The ASEAN members were noticeably cool towards the efforts of the
U.S. to condemn Myanmar, preferring engagement to isolation. Mr
Siazon also said that ASEAN would not interfere in the Kashmir
issue. "We leave that to braver souls," he joked, in an apparent
jab at the U.S. secretary of state who is believed to be
especially interested in the issue due to the interest shown in
it by her father, Joseph Korbel, five decades ago.

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