Index

DATE=2/13/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=INDIA - KASHMIR - U-S (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-259108 BYLINE=ANJANA PASRICHA DATELINE=NEW DELHI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee says his government will not put up with any interference in its internal affairs. Political analysts in New Delhi are linking the Prime Minister's comments to President Clinton's upcoming visit to India. From the Indian capital, Anjana Pasricha has a report. Text: Prime Minister Vajpayee told a group of non- resident Indians visting New Delhi that India will not allow others to "meddle" in its bilateral relations. Prime Minsiter Vajpayee did not refer directly to any particular country. But political analysts say the comment comes in the wake of statements by senior U.S. officials describing the disputed state of Kashmir as a "fuse" and a "tinderbox". President Clinton visits India next month - and officials in New Delhi fear he may raise the issue of India's unresolved dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir. The South Asian neighbors have fought two wars over the Himalayan territory which both claim. International concerns over the dispute have increased since both countries tested nuclear weapons. President Clinton recently referred to Kashmir as a "troubled part of the world" and said he was profoundly concerned over the discord between the two nuclear rivals. He expressed his desire to further the cause of peace between India and Pakistan during his upcoming visit to India. Indian reaction has been to reiterate its policy that New Delhi is committed to a bilateral settlement of the dispute. Foreign Ministry spokesman R.S. Jassal says there is no role for third party mediation in the dispute between India and its neighbor over Kashmir. Political analysts say New Delhi is anxious to play down the issues of Kashmir and nuclear non- proliferation during President Clinton's visit. Independent political analyst Brahma Chellaney: ///Inseret Chellaney act/// The focus of Indian diplomacy is to de-emphasize the two traditional issues that have bedevilled US-Indian relations - one is Kashmir and the other is the nuclear divide between the two countries. But in recent weeks statements by US officials are re-emphasizing both Kashmir and nuclear proliferation. The Indians are sending out a very clear message that while President Clinton is welcome to visit New Delhi, he is not welcome to be a mediator or a peacebroker on Kashmir. ///end Chellaney act/// Indian officials are hoping that the visit of the American President will focus on a new and closer relationship between the two countries, and offer an opportunity to forge a new partnership between the world's two largest democracies. Relations between India and the United States were frosty during the Cold War years -- but they have been moving in a positive direction since then. There have been growing contacts between the two nations, especially in business. New Delhi is hoping President Clinton's visit - the first by a U.S. President in 22 years -- will provide new momentum to the relationship, and will not be clouded by issues such as Kashmir. (signed) NEB/AP/PLM 13-Feb-2000 07:46 AM EDT (13-Feb-2000 1246 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .