News



DATE=5/6/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-231771
TITLE=INDIA / CHINA / L
BYLINE=DOUGLAS BAKSHIAN
DATELINE=NEW DELHI
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  INDIAN DEFENSE MINISTER GEORGE FERNANDES SAYS HE FAVORS 
TALKS WITH CHINA, DESPITE HIS EARLIER REMARKS THAT BEIJING IS THE
GREATEST POTENTIAL THREAT TO INDIA'S SECURITY.  V-O-A NEW DELHI 
CORRESPONDENT DOUGLAS BAKSHIAN REPORTS.

TEXT:  MR. FERNANDES SAYS HE IS COMMITTED TO DIALOGUE WITH CHINA 
AND BELIEVES THIS WILL BRING A SATISFACTORY SETTLEMENT BETWEEN 
THE COUNTRIES. 

IN A STATEMENT FROM THE ANDAMAN ISLANDS, MR. FERNANDES ATTEMPTED 
TO DISMISS WHAT HE CALLED A FEELING THAT HE DOES NOT SUPPORT SUCH
A DIALOGUE. 

HIS REMARKS FOLLOW AN INTERVIEW ON INDIAN TELEVISION SUNDAY IN 
WHICH HE SAID CHINA IS THE GREATEST POTENTIAL THREAT TO INDIA'S 
SECURITY.  HE ALSO SAID CHINA HAS MILITARY AND NAVAL 
INSTALLATIONS CLOSE TO INDIA AND HAS STOCKPILED NUCLEAR WEAPONS 
IN TIBET ALONG THE INDIAN BORDER.  THE DEFENSE MINISTER SAID 
INDIA NEEDS TO TAKE TOUGH DECISIONS TO COUNTER THE THREAT FROM 
CHINA.

CHINA TUESDAY REACTED SHARPLY TO MR. FERNANDES' COMMENTS, SAYING 
THEY HAVE DAMAGED THE ATMOSPHERE FOR IMPROVING TIES BETWEEN THE 
TWO COUNTRIES.  A CHINESE SPOKESMAN DESCRIBED AS "RIDICULOUS" THE
ARGUMENT CHINA IS THE BIGGEST THREAT TO INDIA. 

INDIA AND CHINA FOUGHT A BRIEF WAR IN 1962, BUT RELATIONS BETWEEN
THEM HAVE IMPROVED STEADILY IN RECENT YEARS.  BOTH COUNTRIES SAY 
THEY ARE KEEN  TO RESOLVE A BORDER DISPUTE THAT STILL PERSISTS 
AND TENSIONS HAVE EASED ALONG THE BORDER AREA. 

MR. FERNANDES HAS A REPUTATION AS A TOUGH-TALKING MINISTER IN 
INDIA'S NEW GOVERNMENT.  LAST MONTH, HE ACCUSED CHINA OF MILITARY
INCURSIONS INTO THE NORTHEASTERN INDIAN STATE OF ARUNACHAL 
PRADESH.  HOWEVER, HE LATER SOFTENED HIS POSITION AFTER PRIME 
MINISTER ATAL BIHARI VAJPAYEE EXPRESSED UNHAPPINESS. AND CHINA 
CALLED HIS REMARKS UNFOUNDED AND UNFRIENDLY. (SIGNED)

NEB / WD / WD



06-May-98 7:05 AM EDT (1105 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.