NEWS SUMMARY (15-05-1998)

Nawaz Sharif grappling with grave problem : US Mission

ISLAMABAD, MAY 16, APP: Senior United States officials said Friday night that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is grappling with the grave problem that has been created by five Indian nuclear explosions and the international community deeply shares his concern. These officials while briefing the press after day long meetings with the Pakistan leadership including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said here Friday night that Pakistan has provided the United States no " wish list " as a quid pro que for not looking after its security interests the way Islamabad wants. The officials said that the present US mission led by US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott was quickly formed and sent to Pakistan in view of the Indian nuclear explosions. The timing is also related to sense of emergency and anguish because of the strong reaction of the international community against the Indian explosions. At the same time G-8 meeting is taking place in Birmingham with the Indian explosions at the top of the agenda. Only hours before the mission departed for Pakistan the US Assistant Secretary of State for this region Karl Inderfurth appeared before the conference and testified the seriousness of the situation created by Indian nuclear explosions. The present mission also aims at confirming that United States will be working with the international community to tackle the situation created by the Indian nuclear explosions. "This is meant to send a message to India , a message which is loud and clear that the international community condemns this action," the officials said.

Strobe Talbott terms his talks with PM as positive

ISLAMABAD, May 16 (APP): US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, head of the US delegation, said Friday that after talks with Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif they have better understanding about Pakistan's view of the situation. Talking to journalists here after a meeting with the Prime Minister on Friday Strobe Talbott said it was because of the hospitality and openness of the Prime Minister who was good enough to explain his country's position. He said, "as you know President Clinton has sent me and my colleagues here to consult Pakistan a good and old friend of the US and to consult in a spirit of total openness and concerned for each other's views. "You also know that President Clinton who speaks for the government and the people of the United States has said that India's tests of nuclear devices is a terrible mistake", he said and added it's obviously a major factor for the security situation in the region as well as for global peace."

Canadian Premier telephones PM, assures support:

ISLAMABAD, May 16 (APP): Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien Friday expressed his sympathy with Pakistan while condemning the testing of nuclear devices by India. The Canadian Prime Minister in his telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from Birmingham where he is attending the G-8 summit, said "We sympathize with you at this hour that India has put you in a difficult position". They have not acted properly, he said. Jean Chretien added "We are going for G-8 meeting now and we are going to take strong notice of this issue." Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif explained Pakistan's position to him and said "we have to look after our national interests." Canada has strongly condemned the nuclear tests by India and has called back its High Commissioner from India.

Pak response to be well considered and in national interest: Shamshad

ISLAMABAD, May 16 (APP): Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed Friday said that a very serious and grave situation had arisen for Pakistan in the wake of Indian nuclear testing but "Our response would however be well considered and in accordance with our national interests and security." The Foreign Secretary, while briefing the participants of the Sixth Round of Annual Bilateral Consultations between Pakistan and France which held here Friday, said the so-called sanctions and condemnation of India's nuclear tests had become totally irrelevant after India had achieved its ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons status. Bertrand Dufourcq, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, led the French delegation to the consultations, while the Pakistan delegation was led by Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad. The two sides held useful discussions on wide ranging issues including Pakistan-India relations, Kashmir, expansion of the UN Security Council, defence and security matters. The Foreign Secretary briefed the French delegation of the grave and ominous situation that has arisen in the region because of Indian nuclear testing.

Nawaz urges international community to understand Pakistan's security concerns

ISLAMABAD, May 16 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Friday urged the international community to understand Pakistan's security concerns in the wake of five underground nuclear tests carried out by India earlier this week. Talking to journalists prior to his meeting with the high level US delegation headed by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott the Prime Minister said, "we are reviewing the situation in detail in perspective of our national security concerns which is most important to us." To a question he made it clear that Pakistan is not wishing any sort of foreign aid at the cost of its national interest, adding, "our every step will be in the larger interest of the country." Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan despite having the nuclear capability did not use it for nuclear explosion, saying "We have the capability but we did not test a bomb for the last 15 to 20 years and, adding, we are in no haste to test the bomb immediately after India has tested its bomb as we are a responsible nation." He said, "since assuming my office in 1997 we started talking to India because I strongly believe in resolving all issues through bilateral negotiations and, adding, I am disappointed by the Indian attitude. Rather than talking to us in finding the solution of all these issues India has resorted to testing bombs", he remarked.

US official holds "good meeting" with Foreign Minister

ISLAMABAD, May 16 (APP): US Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott Friday described his talks with Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan as "very good." "My team is looking forward to more such meetings," the US official said while emerging from a 90-minute talk with Foreign Minister and other senior officials. "It is a difficult time, and it is particularly important that good friends like the United States and Pakistan stay in the closest possible touch to understand each other at difficult times," Talbott told reporters. Talbott refused to respond to further questions, saying he was "being in something of a hurry to meet the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and the Prime Minister." Talbott is accompanied by General Anthony Zinni, Commander- in-Chief of the US Central Command, Karl Inderfuerth, Assistant Secretary of State for Security, and Bruce Riedel, Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton.

Indian nuclear tests: GA President expresses dismay and disappointment

ISLAMABAD, May 16 (APP): The President of the General Assembly has learned "with dismay and disappointment" of a series of underground nuclear tests conducted by India on Monday and Wednesday, says a spokesman for the GA President. Over the past years, there have been encouraging signs in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. With the virtual cessation of nuclear testing and the landmark conclusion of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), the international community has sent "an unambiguous message as to the future course of nuclear non-proliferation." Recognizing that there is a genuine need to de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons, the General Assembly at its current session reaffirmed its commitment to the cause of creating a nuclear-weapon-free world and welcomed a number of recent steps-- unilateral, bilateral and multilateral-taken by States towards promoting the regime of nuclear non-proliferation.