DATE=3/23/2000 TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP TITLE=CLINTON IN INDIA NUMBER=6-11742 BYLINE=ANDREW GUTHRIE DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS TELEPHONE=619-3335 INTERNET=YES CONTENT= INTRO: President Clinton is visiting South Asia this week, spending four days in India. He is the first U- S president to visit the sub-continent in 22 years, and many commentators here are noting the trip is long overdue. Generally the president is getting good reviews for the trip so far, and we get a sampling now from ___________ in today's U-S Opinion Roundup. TEXT: The president has been appealing for calm in the region, telling the Indian parliament and top government officials that the dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir threatens the whole world - and not just South Asia - with nuclear war. Indian President K. R. Naraynan was unusually frank in his response to Mr. Clinton's claim that the region was the most dangerous in the world. But the New York Times says it is actually helpful that the Mr. Clinton has been as frank as he has been in addressing the situation on the Indian subcontinent. A lead editorial praises President Clinton for his "blunt talk" in the world's most populous democracy (India). VOICE: President Clinton has paid his hosts in India the ultimate compliment this week. He has spoken to them candidly. Precisely because of the uneasy state of Indian-American relations, there was little to be gained from platitudes. In private meetings, public statements and a speech to Parliament yesterday, the president instead cut to the main point: emphasizing the vital importance of India's and Pakistan's turning back from their nuclear arms race and trying to resolve their differences peacefully. Indian leaders politely disagreed with much of what Mr. Clinton said. That was to be expected. But the exchange was healthy, and it could open the way toward progress in the future. /// OPT /// If Mr. Clinton can coax India and Pakistan to consider reciprocal steps to ease tensions - a reduction in Indian forces in Kashmir in return for a cutoff of Pakistani aid to the rebels - the visit this week will have been valuable indeed. /// END OPT /// TEXT: The Wall Street Journal also generally approves of Mr. Clinton's performance on the visit, with one major reservation. VOICE: There is much expertise the U-S might offer the subcontinent, if only the Clinton administration would stop harping on the comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which of course his own Senate has rejected, rightly, as unworkable. Mr. Clinton is right to encourage India and Pakistan to return to a process of opening up links begun when India's prime minister traveled to Lahore by bus last spring. But it can't be forgotten that there are substantial forces on both sides of the divide who will work to sabotage any such progress, as they did last year. The main prerequisite ... for peace today is a stable democracy, and that's where Mr. Clinton's energies would be best concentrated. TEXT: For the view from Texas, we turn to this editorial in The Dallas Morning News: VOICE: He cannot afford to join India's leaders in the pretense that the rest of the world has no interests to defend in Kashmir. Not when Kashmir is the world's most dangerous nuclear flash point. Not when Kashmir causes Pakistan to ally with Islamic fundamentalists, who promise to help recover the province but who also threaten Pakistan's stability and U-S security. Not when Indian soldiers and police consistently violate human rights in Kashmir. The massacre Tuesday of dozens of Kashmiris by Islamic separatists underscored the conflict's international character, since it evidently was timed to coincide with Mr. Clinton's visit. ... Mr. Clinton can't force India and Pakistan to abjure their recklessness over Kashmir. But he is right to try every lever in the effort. TEXT: The Sun in Baltimore is also cheered by the president's visit to what it feels is a far too neglected region in American diplomacy. VOICE: President Clinton's five days in India should cement a new relationship with the world's second-most populous country and largest democracy. It was time for official Washington to see India in a new light. ... India, like China, looms as a great power of the 21st century. /// OPT /// It is leaping stages of industrial development. Its not-so-secret strength in the information age is its brain power. Its newest booming exports are software services and professionals working in the United States and Europe. India remains a massively poor country plagued by high mortality and crushing poverty. This hides the growth of an immense professional middle class. And while developing expensive nuclear weaponry and maintaining cold wars with China and Pakistan, India has remained the Third World's most notable democracy. ... Mr. Clinton's stay ... is the first presidential visit to India in 22 years and long overdue. /// END OPT /// TEXT: That concludes this sampling of editorial comment on President Clinton's current trip to India and neighboring nations in South Asia. NEB/ANG/JO 23-Mar-2000 16:01 PM EDT (23-Mar-2000 2101 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .