DATE=3/27/2000 TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP TITLE=ASSESSING THE CLINTON TRIP NUMBER=6-11747 BYLINE=ANDREW GUTHRIE DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS TELEPHONE=619-3335 INTERNET=YES CONTENT= INTRO: President Clinton is home from his trip to South Asia and early press assessments of the journey are coming in. We get a sampling from __________ in today's U-S Opinion Roundup. TEXT: Even before he left the United States, many papers were suggesting that the trip was long overdue, no matter what it achieved. They pointed out that it has been 22 years since a U-S president, Jimmy Carter, visited India. The fact that Mr.Clinton does not have much in the way of a concrete achievement to show for his visit to Bangladesh, India and Pakistan did not prevent many papers from saying that they are glad that he went. Newsday on New York's Long Island writes: VOICE: If President ... Clinton expects any significant breakthroughs to follow his state visit to India and Pakistan, the subcontinent's two surly antagonists, he will be sorely disappointed. But if the results include U-S acknowledgement of this region's growing political and economic importance, and a sobering reminder of the dangers of a nuclear standoff -- and if he gets a reciprocal gesture in return -- then [Mr.] Clinton can consider his tour of this volatile region a modest but gratifying success. It's not what builds historical legacies, of course, but it will be a respectable showing for a lame-duck president. TEXT: In Florida, the Orlando Sentinel is pleased that President Clinton is pressing for peace in both the Mideast and in South Asia, whatever his motives. VOICE: President Bill Clinton's latest round of Middle East peacemaking has drawn the criticism that he's just seeking a positive legacy. He denies it. Whether that's Mr. Clinton's goal or not ignores the real issue -- taking advantage of a rare chance to press for peace. .... People should bear in mind that the window of opportunity to make progress toward peace never opens too wide in the Middle East. And it tends to slam shut at any sign of the slightest tension. Now it's open. Israel and the Palestinians have resumed their negotiations. ... The United States should take advantage of every opportunity. TEXT: For its part, the New York Times is a bit disappointed that the results of the president's journey did not bear much fruit. VOICE: This past weekend demonstrated the limits of presidential diplomacy, even at a time of great American influence around the world. Bill Clinton's efforts to further peace in South Asia and the Middle East proved frustrating and unproductive. Mr. Clinton's Saturday meeting with Pakistan's military leader, General Pervez Musharraf, and his talks yesterday with President Hafez al-Assad of Syria accomplished little because neither interlocutor was in a mood to do business. TEXT: Taking a more hopeful, but also a somewhat longer view, is the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. VOICE: [President] Clinton's South Asia journey could yield huge long-term benefits for global stability. No region of the world contains more promise and peril than South Asia. President Clinton's journey to Bangladesh, India and Pakistan demonstrated the United State's recognition of the importance of promoting social and economic progress, democracy and regional peace for global stability and prosperity. ... The crux of his message was that the United States stands ready to help because it is in America's interests to support democracy and expand trade in South Asia. TEXT: The Chicago Tribune salutes the president for telling the Indians some things they did not want to hear - including the fact that the nuclear capabilities of India and Pakistan make the region "the most dangerous place on earth." VOICER: Diplomatic niceties aside, [President] Clinton was absolutely right to give that realistic appraisal ... and to tell Indians what they didn't want to hear, like it or not. He also was appropriately blunt about the dangers of India's and Pakistan's longtime conflict over the border region of Kashmir, which the president fears could escalate into a nuclear war now that both countries have openly tested nuclear weapons -- in 1998. ... Indians bridle at the thought of colonial rule, and India values its independence and does not take kindly to Westerners telling it how to behave -- especially Westerners from the world's last superpower and largest nuclear power. /// OPT /// [Mr.] Clinton used his vaunted powers of persuasion to praise India's achievements and outline joint interests it shared with the U-S to promote freer trade, better jobs, a cleaner environment and a more vigorous fight against drugs and terrorism. But he made his wisest challenge when he asked Indians to realize that nuclear weapons won't necessarily make them more secure. /// END OPT /// TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of press reaction to President Clinton's trip to South Asia. NEB/ANG/KL 27-Mar-2000 13:59 PM EDT (27-Mar-2000 1859 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .