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Tuesday, May 26, 1998 Published at 20:28 GMT 21:28 UK

World Bank delays big loans to India

The loans postponement follows global protests at India's nuclear testing

The World Bank has delayed a decision on whether to approve more than $860m in loans to India, following the country's two series of nuclear tests earlier this month.

The bank says the decision was taken in response to requests from several of the 24 executive directors and board members who wanted the issue postponed.

[ image: US has 17% of World Bank votes]
US has 17% of World Bank votes
The United States and the European Union were thought to oppose the loans as part of sanctions put in place because of the tests.

Officials from the US Treasury say their representative at the meeting had been instructed to oppose the package and the European Union had also pledged to delay consideration of the loans in response to India's nuclear tests.

The US holds around 17% of the World Bank votes.

[ image: Pokhran - where nuclear tests were carried out]
Pokhran - where nuclear tests were carried out
BBC Correspondents say that although the bank has not always been able to stop other loans in the past, it seems likely that the bank's management has decided to delay the vote on the package to avoid a possible confrontation within the executive which includes a representative from India.

They say the US can be expected to maintain the pressure on the World Bank to ensure that the loans remain stalled, at least until India pledges to sign the comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The loans were intended to support four major projects including a renewable energy programme and the development of a national electricity grid for India.

The World Bank says no new date for consideration of the loans has yet been fixed.

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