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DATE=2/1/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=CLINTON-INDIA-PAKISTAN NUMBER=5-45359 BYLINE=DAVID GOLLUST DATELINE=WHITE HOUSE CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The White House has announced that President Clinton will make a long-delayed trip to South Asia the week of March 20th. He will stop in India and make an unprecedented visit to Bangladesh. But administration officials say a decision is still pending on whether Mr. Clinton will go to Pakistan. V- O-A's David Gollust reports from the White House. TEXT: Mr. Clinton will spend several days in India on the first visit by a serving U-S President since the then-President Jimmy Carter went there in 1978. The President has long wanted to make the journey. But plans have repeatedly been stalled by developments in the region, including the Indian nuclear weapons tests in 1998 that were quickly matched by neighboring Pakistan. In an exchange with reporters as he met congressional leaders here, Mr. Clinton said it is important for the United States to engage the world's largest democracy, even though India has failed to sign the nuclear test ban treaty as sought by the administration: /// CLINTON ACTUALITY /// Just as I believe we have to engage China that has a political system very different from ours, we have to engage India that makes decisions that sometimes that we don't agree with, but is a great democracy that has preserved their democracy -- I must say -- against enormous odds. We have an enormous common interest in shaping the future with them and I'm looking forward to it. I think it's unfortunate that the United States has been estranged, and if not estranged, at least has had a distant relationship with the Indians for too long. /// END ACT /// White House officials left open the possibility that the president may also visit Pakistan. Relations with that country have been strained by the overthrow of civilian rule there last October, and by reports of links between Pakistan's military and the Kashmiri group blamed for the hijacking of an Indian jetliner in December. A spokesman said if the president were to visit Pakistan, the administration would first have to see what he termed "significant movement" on combating terrorism, weapons non-proliferation and the restoration of democracy. The advisability of a Pakistan visit has been a matter of debate among both senior administration officials and U-S South Asia scholars Stephen Cohen, a senior fellow at Washington's Brookings Institution, told V-O-A Mr. Clinton should make at least a brief stop to express U-S concerns directly to military leader General Pervez Musharraj, and by extension to the Pakistani people: /// COHEN ACTUALITY /// I think there should be a proportionate trip, that is engagement with the Pakistanis shouldn't be quite on the same lavish scale that I would expect the India trip would be. But I do think we have serious business to conduct with the Pakistanis. And the president needs to talk to them directly and also tell them - tell the Pakistani people - that we do support a return to democracy, we do want a restoration of civil liberties in Pakistan and economic reform and cleaning up some of the corruption. /// END ACT /// Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution. William Taylor, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said presidential visits to both South Asian powers are "long overdue" in light of their nuclear competition and worsening dispute over Kashmir. He strongly rejected the idea of making a Pakistan visit conditional, or threatening to put Pakistan on the U-S list of countries supporting terrorism. /// TAYLOR ACTUALITY /// They're not going to deal with us when we deal with hubris and arrogance, labeling other countries to be certain things. You can't do that with Pakistan. Let's deal with Pakistan. Let's try to modify this sort of interim government of Pakistan, try to influence it -- not stiff-arm it and cut off dialogue. /// END ACT /// However James Phillips, research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, says Mr. Clinton should refrain from visiting Pakistan unless it confronts terrorism in a serious way, not only in Kashmir but in the broader South Asian region: /// PHILLIPS ACTUALITY /// In a perfect world, it would be appropriate for him to visit Pakistan automatically when he visits India, because both are long-time rivals in the sub-continent. But at the current time, U-S-Pakistani relations have been strained by allegations that the Pakistanis support terrorism -- not only some of the Kashmir separatists but also in Afghanistan with the Taleban, and of course the Teleban's support of Osama Bin Laden. So those are very important issues that should be cleared up before the president goes. He should pass by (skip) Pakistan unless it makes good-faith efforts to crack down on terrorists in its own backyard. /// end act /// James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation. One administration official told V-O-A there is a "fairly good chance" Mr. Clinton will stop in Pakistan but will not go without some expectation of results. No President has gone to Pakistan since Richard Nixon visited in 1969 - evidence the Brookings Institution's Stephen Cohen says, that the United States has "grossly neglected" the Asian subcontinent. (Signed) NEB/DAG/gm 01-Feb-2000 16:36 PM EDT (01-Feb-2000 2136 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .