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Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 13:50 GMT
Press hails new era in ties
Bill Clinton welcomed in state arrival ceremonies
The visit symbolises a new start - even if differences remain
India's press hailed the significance of Bill Clinton's visit while drawing attention to the real differences between the countries and, in some cases, condemning the way in which the visit was being conducted.

India's largest circulation daily, The Hindustan Times, said that the new post-Cold War India-US relationship was a vast improvement on what went before.
Anti-Clinton demonstrator
Not everyone was pleased to see the president
"To the 'natural allies' of today, to use (Prime Minister) Atal Behari Vajpayee's words for Indo-US relations, the memories of that unfriendly past seem more and more unreal with each passing day," it said.

However, the newspaper warned against the US considering itself a superior partner in the relationship.

"Before the partnership is established, Washington will have to realise . . . that it has to be one between equals," it said.

"The US, because of its preponderant position virtually since World War One, is not used to such relations, but it has to get used to it."

'Too ready to please'

The influential South India daily The Hindu, citing cases of beggars being cleared from the streets for the visit, suggested that an unequal relationship might already be developing.

The excessive anxiety to please and present a sanitised picture of India to our guest is not the mark of a country that has been free for more than half a century

The Hindu
"The excessive anxiety to please and present a sanitised picture of India to our guest is not the mark of a country that has been free for more than half a century," a commentary in the newspaper said.

"It is instead the mark of a country that still carries from its colonial past many symbols of deference and obsequiousness."

The independent daily Asian Age said that Delhi was "under siege" and low-level US functionaries were "throwing their weight around".

"This will not earn us respect but disdain," it said.

"We must act with pride and serenity."

Differences stressed

There were no illusions about the major policy differences which would surface in the visit.

The Hindu warned the Indian Government not to play down the importance of the nuclear issue.

"The Indian side would be deluding itself if it does not take into account or underestimates the strength of the sentiments against India's `historic mistake' - Washington's description of the 1998 nuclear tests - or America's passion for conflict prevention in the subcontinent," it said.

Get tough with Pakistan

Clinton was urged to take a tough stand during his visit to Pakistan, both on Kashmir and the internal situation.

At least Mr Vajpayee can ask Mr Clinton to read the riot act on cross-border terrorism to his security partner General Pervez Musharraf

The Asian Age
The Asian Age said that Vajpayee was wrong to oppose Clinton's visit to Pakistan and that it had presented him with an opportunity.

"Now, at least Mr Vajpayee can ask Mr Clinton to read the riot act on cross-border terrorism to his security partner General Pervez Musharraf," it said.

An editorial for News India-Times said that Clinton should use the visit to call for elections in Pakistan, rather than just make vague pleas for democracy.

"There is no need to coddle dictators," it said. "America must take a strong stand."

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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Clinton in South Asia
Click here for a guide to President Clinton's tour
Key stories:
What did the trip achieve?
Protecting the president
South Asia's nuclear race
Clinton and the Kashmir question
Economic ties:
Americans eye South Asia
India's high-tech hopes
Features:
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 Kashmir: Should Clinton mediate?

See also:

21 Mar 00 | South Asia
Clinton condemns Kashmir killings
21 Mar 00 | South Asia
Eyewitness: Outpouring of grief
20 Mar 00 | South Asia
Kashmir: Can the US help?
14 Mar 00 | South Asia
Protecting the president
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