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No scuttling N-programme, says India - The Observer

Observer Political Bureau ()
July 21, 1998

Title: No scuttling N-programme, says India
Author: Observer Political Bureau
Publication: The Observer
Date: July 21, 1998

India and the United States on Monday concluded two rounds of
talks on the issues of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation,
with New Delhi asserting that its demand for building a minimum
nuclear deterrent was not negotiable.

Both sides, however, decided to meet for the fourth round of
parleys later in August in Washington.

Prime Minister's special emissary Jaswant Singh and US Deputy
Secretary of State for South Asia Strobe Talbott termed Monday's
discussions on security-related issues as "constructive," but
also agreed that more rounds of talks were required to reach a

"We have more work ahead of us. which is why we are looking
forward to more talks tomorrow and again late next month," Mr
Talbott told newsmen.

The US delegation reiterated Washington's stand that India should
forthwith sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) without
any conditions.

Asked whether any progress had been made on the CTBT issue, Mr
Talbott evaded a direct reply, saying that "all aspects of both
the bilateral relations and regional and international security
matters were discussed. Both in Washington and Frankfurt and
here, we have established a very wide canvass of what we are
seeking to attain."

Without divulging the details, Mr Talbott said that "the talks
covered a wide range of security issues, arms control,
disarmament, non-proliferation issues as well as regional and
international developments."

Responding to queries about the US President's proposed visit to
India later this year. Mr Talbott said that the visit remained

"President Bill Clinton had before May 11 very much looked
forward to visiting India later this year, but as announced by
the White House and the US Government, his plans are now under
review," he said.

An External Affairs statement said that the two sides exchanged
views on trategic perspectives" on regional and international

Mr Talbott later called on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee,
Home Minister L K Advani and former Prime Minister I K Gujral and
met leaders of Opposition in Parliament Sharad Pawar and Manmohan
Singh at a lunch hosted In his honour by Minister of State for
External Affairs Vasundhara Raje.

The Prime Minister, during the meeting with Mr Talbott, was
informed of the progress made towards removal of problems in Indo-
US relations which surfaced after the Indian nuclear tests.

Mr Talbott gave a letter to the Indian Prime Minister from US
President Bill Clinton.

Mr Vajpayee indicated to Mr Talbott that he would soon send a
reply to President Clinton. Meanwhile, he asked Mr Talbott to
convey his greeting to President Clinton as also the desire of
India to put relations with the US back on an even keel.

Besides Mr Talbott, the US delegation included US deputy
assistant secretary for non-proliferation in the State Department
Robert Einhorn, senior advisor in the National Security Council
Bruce Riedel, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen
Joseph Ralston, assistant secretary of state for South Asia Karl
Inderfurth and US Ambassador Richard Celeste.

The Indian side included Foreign Secretary K Raghunath, Indian
Ambassador to the US Naresh Chandra and joint secretaries in the
External Affairs Ministry Alok Prasad and Rakesh Sood.

Issues relating to access to dual use high technology also
figured during the talks as New Delhi got down to some hard
bargaining with the US side on a wide spectrum of issues relating
to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

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