DATE=3/20/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=CLINTON / INDIA NUMBER=5-45682 BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE DATELINE=NEW DELHI INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Tuesday, following his return to New Delhi from Bangladesh, President Clinton begins his official visit to India. Mr. Clinton says he wants to use his trip to India to rekindle the relationship between India and the United States -- and to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan. V-O-A's Jim Teeple reports from New Delhi, Mr. Clinton is not expected to spend much time on diplomatic details during his visit to India -- preferring instead to define broad areas where the two countries can cooperate. TEXT: Indians woke up Monday to a front-page letter in the "Times of India" newspaper addressed to them by President Clinton. In his letter, Mr. Clinton says -- after 50 years of missed opportunities -- it is time now that India and the United States become better friends and stronger partners. // OPT // Mr. Clinton also says only India and Pakistan can decide how to protect their security. The president says he hopes both countries will ask themselves if they safer today than before they tested nuclear weapons, two years ago. He urges both countries to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear testing. Mr. Clinton also says he is not going to mediate the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, but that he will urge both countries to respect the "line of control," which divides the disputed territory. // END OPT // Mr. Clinton will meet with India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee Tuesday. Kanti Bajpai is a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University who says India and the United States have agreed to disagree on issues like nuclear proliferation and outside mediation over Kashmir. Professor Bajpai says it is likely that Mr. Clinton will spend his time in India seeking to simply reduce tension in the region. // BAJPAI ACTUALITY // I think the primary goal really is to get India and Pakistan talking, to foster a sense of stability between the two neighbors - and I think to urge India to do something on its side of Kashmir - with respect to the difficulties there - to the violence there. And, to urge Pakistan to play a much more moderate and restrained role on that issue. I think that is the real agenda and I think that has come through loud and clear. // END ACTUALITY // India and the United States will sign three agreements during President Clinton's visit. Two of them are technical in nature. One will establish a joint Indo / U-S science and technology forum to foster the transfer of technology between the two countries and speed up joint research efforts. The other agreement will define areas of cooperation in the fields of energy and the environment. A third document, which is being called a "vision statement," will offer a broad view of areas where the two countries can work together to achieve common goals. Kishen Rana - a retired senior Indian diplomat -- says the agreements are basic but valuable because they show there are definite areas where the two countries can cooperate as equals. Mr. Rana says, too much emphasis is being placed on what Mr. Clinton will achieve from the visit. He says India, too, has an opportunity to achieve something. // RANA ACTUALITY // For a country like India, which would like to be one of the poles in a multi-polar world, there is a need for certain alacrity and certain flexibility in relationships. We have to be able to build alliances and webs of influence in a way which is that is not determined by preconceived notions - and I think this visit will be a demonstration of how we will be able to handle that. // END ACTUALITY // Meanwhile, India's astrologers seem to be divided over whether Mr. Clinton will be able to call his visit a success or not. Astrologers, who believe that the position of the stars and planets influence worldly affairs, have a wide following in India. One astrologer who says the trip will be a success, notes Mr. Clinton arrived on the 19th of the month, which coincides with the day of his birth: 19. Others disagree, saying the time of Mr. Clinton's arrival late Sunday night was not auspicious and, as a result, he will not achieve his stated goals of improving U-S / India ties and reducing tensions in the region. (Signed) neb/jlt/wd 20-Mar-2000 04:57 AM EDT (20-Mar-2000 0957 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .