Clinton, Rao Urge ‘New Partnership’
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The first official U.S. visit by an Indian prime minister in seven years concluded with calls for a new partnership of the two democracies built on expanding cooperation, shared goals and economic growth.
″Today we begin what I hope will be a very close working relationship as our two countries forge a stronger partnership,″ President Clinton said after two days of talks ended Thursday.
A joint statement issued later said the president and prime minister ″called for a new partnership between India and the United States″ made possible by the end of the East-West Cold War.
It was released by the Indian media center prior to this morning’s departure for New Delhi by Rao’s entourage of more than 100 Indian officials, business leaders and press corps. Prior to Washington, they visited New York, Houston and Boston.
Agreement on the wording of the joint statement was reached Thursday evening, a State Department press officer said. That was hours after the Clinton-Rao meeting characterized by officials on both sides as largely for getting acquainted.
The idea was to establish a relationship so that the president and prime minister in the future would find it ″easier and more natural for them to work together so they can pick up the phone when they’ve got a problem, or if there’s a vote at the U.N. or some such,″ said a senior U.S. administration official, briefing reporters on the condition of not being identified.
Krishnan Srinivarsan, Indian foreign secretary, said Rao instructed him to tell reporters he and Clinton had a 50-minute one-on-one meeting covering a wide range of issues and ″the prime minister found the talks extremely fruitful, positive, friendly and warm.″
They agreed that ″democracy, respect for human rights and economic liberalization provide the best foundation for global stability and prosperity in the post-Cold War era,″ said the statement.
″They promised to cooperate in the search for solutions to global challenges posed by weapons of mass destruction, AIDS, environmental degradation, population growth, poverty, international terrorism and narcotics trafficking.″
Seeking to demonstrate agreement on goals if not means, the statement said Clinton and Rao ″offered their strong support for efforts toward the non- proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery and toward their progressive reduction with the goal of elimination of such weapons ...″
Rao said he was not pressed during his visit to sign the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty. When asked about reports in India that Clinton would twist his arm on such issues, the 72-year-old leader said, ″My arm is absolutely intact, the president didn’t even touch it.″
Rao told a news conference for Indian and Indian-American media, ″nobody asked me to sign a treaty that is on its way out ... it’s coming up for review.″
He said India has long made it clear that it is ″out of the question″ for his country to accept the treaty ″in its present form,″ which India considers discriminatory. The remark about next year’s treaty review was taken by some as opening the door to possibly resolving the long Indo-U.S. disagreement over the issue.
The two agreed India and Pakistan should negotiate bilaterally ″to resolve outstanding issues″ including the dispute over violence-torn Kashmir, as envisaged in an Indo-Pakistani agreement concluded two decades ago at Simla, India, the statement said. India blames Pakistan for fomenting violence in Kashmir by arming dissidents.
Clinton noted Thursday, however, that the State Department has found insufficient evidence of Pakistani support for the rebels to warrant putting Pakistan on the U.S. list of nations supporting terrorism.