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USIS Washington 
File

15 May 1998

PREVENTING SOUTH ASIAN ARMS RACE FOCUS OF CLINTON AT G-8 SUMMIT

(Responding to India is not in Pakistan's interests)  (630)

By Wendy S. Ross

USIA White House Correspondent



Birmingham, England -- President Clinton says he hopes the leaders of
the world's major industrial countries plus Russia participating in
the May 15-17 G-8 summit will help find a way to deter Pakistan from
detonating a nuclear device.


The subject of India's underground detonation of five nuclear devices
May 11-13 figured prominently in Clinton's May 15 bilateral
discussions with the leaders of Japan and France.


"An arms race on the Indian subcontinent in nuclear weapons is not in
the interest of sustaining the future of Pakistan," President Clinton
told reporters as he sat down for talks with Japan's Prime Minister
Ryutaro Hashimoto.


Acknowledging that Pakistani leaders are "under a lot of pressure" to
detonate a nuclear weapon of their own, Clinton said he hopes a way
can be found to make it "politically possible" for Pakistan "not to go
forward" with such a test. "If we work hard we might be able to find a
way that the Pakistani people would also support, to avoid this,"
Clinton said.


"It would be a great act of statesmanship and restraint" on Pakistan's
part if it did not respond to India's actions, he said. "When you put
yourself in Pakistan's position, you can imagine the overwhelming
political pressure that must be building up on them at home."


Clinton said "the Pakistanis have a genuine grievance, a legitimate
grievance against the United States" on the matter of F16 fighter
planes that the United States sold to Pakistan but never delivered,
even though Pakistan had paid for them.


The reason is that U.S. law affecting the sale of such planes changed
after the transaction with Pakistan had been initiated and paid for.
"Because of the later findings, we couldn't deliver the planes but
they couldn't get their money back," he said, indicating that he is
working on a way to resolve this.


Later in the morning, as he sat down for luncheon talks with France's
President Jacques Chirac, Clinton again said he hopes the world
leaders attending the G-8 Summit "can convince Pakistan not to engage
in testing" of nuclear weapons in response to India.


"I'd like everyone to sign on to the Comprehensive Test Ban and work
together to reduce the nuclear threat. There are ways for a great
nation to preserve its security without nuclear weapons and that's
what I want to focus on," Clinton told reporters.


The luncheon, hosted by the French President, included National
Security Advisor Samuel "Sandy" Berger and Deputy National Security
Advisor James Steinberg.


Following India's underground nuclear tests, President Clinton moved
quickly to impose a number of congressionally mandated economic and
military sanctions on India.


Clinton phoned Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to urge
restraint and sent Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and US
General Anthony Zinni to Islamabad to talk with Pakistani leaders.
Talbott is expected in London May 17 for the bilateral meeting between
Clinton and Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin.


National Security Advisor Berger told reporters in Germany, where
Clinton stopped before coming to Birmingham, that the United States
would seek a strong statement of condemnation of India's action at the
Group of Eight summit.


Berger said the President talked while in Germany with Chancellor
Helmut Kohl about India's tests. Clinton hopes other countries "will
both make their views known in very clear and unequivocal terms and
also take tangible steps to manifest those so that the consequence of
this is significant" and will deter other countries from similar acts,
Berger said.


White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry told reporters late May 15
that he does not know if there is an effort by the G-8 leaders to
address the question of sanctions against India.


He pointed out that Japan "has taken steps" to register its
displeasure with India's action, and others may be considering steps
too. He said "President Clinton wants to see a good, sober discussion
of this issue this evening" when all eight leaders meet together for
their first summit discussion.


McCurry said Clinton "joins in the expression that (Britain's) Prime
Minister (Tony) Blair has made that there should be some statement of
condemnation for the course that the government of India has pursued."


But McCurry said the leaders at the G-8 Summit "are not in a position
to do much except discuss an issue and then make some expression based
on their discussions."