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Monday, 21 September, 1998, 23:22 GMT 00:22 UK
Pakistan and India feel US nuclear pressure
Pakistani protest against CTBT
Many Pakistanis object to their country signing CTBT
The United States is renewing its efforts to persuade India and Pakistan to freeze their nuclear weapons programmes.

President Clinton met the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, on Monday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.

Later in the week there will be further negotiations in Washington with the Indian Prime Minister's special envoy, Jaswant Singh.

Some progress reported

Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz
Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz: "We are now discussing a post-nuclear phase"
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told Mr Clinton that he would make a "positive statement" on the nuclear test ban during his address to the UN, US national security advisor Sandy Berger said following the meeting.

But Mr Berger declined to comment on whether that statement would include an announcement that Pakistan was ready sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), as had been urged by the US.

During the meeting Prime Minister Sharif pointed out to the President the critical economic problems Pakistan was facing due to the sanctions, imposed following its nuclear weapons tests.

"We cannot take a decision as long as there is this atmosphere of coercion and economic sanctions," Pakistani Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad told reporters, but added:

"We have received assurances that the United States is doing everything possible to remove that atmosphere."

He also said that Pakistan had no objection in principle to signing the CTBT, but earlier the Pakistani permanent representative at the UN office in Geneva, had "categorically denied" that the signing of the CTBT was on the agenda for the talks with the US.

The United States would like India and Pakistan to abandon their nuclear weapons programmes, but, according to American officials, this is unlikely to happen, therefore Washington is now pushing to prevent the operational deployment of such weapons, especially near the India-Pakistan border and to persuade the two countries to sign the CTBT.

The Foreign Minister of Pakistan Sartaj Aziz told the BBC the nuclear issue cannot be viewed in isolation.

"Our basic point is that the nuclear agenda can't be divorced from the security concerns of both countries," he said.

Indo-Pakistani talks

On Wednesday the Indian Prime Minister Atal Bohari Vajpayee will have talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in New York.

In an interview to the US magazine "Newsweek" Mr Vajpayee said he hopes the meeting would lead to an improvement of relations with Pakistan.

"We... need to work together to address our differences in a rational and realistic manner," he said.

India under pressure

Indian Prime MInister Atal Bohari Vajpayee
Indian Prime MInister Atal Bohari Vajpayee may have a tought time during the Assembly
The BBC Delhi correspondent Daniel Lak says Mr Vajpayee is expected to come under pressure from the UN Assembly on the nuclear issue.

The Indian prime minister may face a censure by the General Assembly, a resolution calling for peace and disarmament, or at least lower tension in the subcontinent.

India may also come under pressure on the issue of Kashmir.

The dispute over its territory is considered by India as a strictly bilateral issue to be resolved after negotiations with Pakistan.

But the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has again mentioned Kashmir in his annual report to the General Assembly.

BBC News
Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz: " As long as we have a 'threat perception' then we will go slower"
BBC News
Diplomatic Correspondent Barnaby Mason: "The Americans have more limited aims in the negotiations"
See also:

06 Jul 98 | Analysis
04 Jun 98 | Analysis
21 Sep 98 | Americas
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