OTHERS

Take concrete steps for talks, U.S. tells Pak.

WASHINGTON, MAY 7. The United States has asked Pakistan to take ``concrete steps'' for the resumption of a ``productive dialogue'' with India and a return to the Lahore spirit with the proviso that there would be ``no more Kargils''.

Stressing that a solution to the problems in Kashmir would have to be ``home grown'' and not exported from outside, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Karl F. Inderfurth, said efforts being taken by New Delhi to address Kashmiri concerns were a positive development that would produce beneficial results over time.

In an interview to PTI, Mr. Inderfurth, in charge of South Asian affairs at the U.S. State Department, spoke of a new relationship with India, emphasising that Pakistan was not a factor in this. ``The differences between India and Pakistan are obvious. Right now we have more opportunities to pursue with India, and frankly, right now we have many more concerns about the direction Pakistan is heading. But we are not making a choice between either and we are not attempting to tilt in this relationship. We would like to see the word `tilt' consigned to a historical period that we have gone beyond.''

Mr. Inderfurth expressed the hope that Pakistan would take ``concrete steps that would allow a productive and serious dialogue'' to be resumed with India.

The assurances Pakistan should give India for the talks to take place was to be determined by the two sides, he said, recalling that the President, Mr. Bill Clinton, had made it very clear ``we are concerned and we see ourselves playing a supporting, encouraging role''.

Asked whether the U.S. had any views on the opinion expressed by some about a possible option of the Line of Control becoming the border between India and Pakistan, Mr. Inderfurth said: ``I don't think it will serve any purpose for me, on the record or even on background or off the record, to engage in a discussion about the possible settlement.''

On U.S.-India relations, Mr. Inderfurth said what Mr. Clinton did during his visit to India was to change the terms of the relationship. ``Even though it is now over a month since the President was in India, that trip continues to resonate. But we are not stopping there.''

He said he was reviewing the agenda for the meetings the Undersecretary of State, Mr. Thomas Pickering, would have with the Indian Foreign Secretary, Mr. Lalit Mansingh, at the end of this month. Discussions were on between the two capitals about the most convenient date for the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to Washington.

Terms for lifting sanctions

Changing topics, he said the sanctions under which development loans worth $ 1.5 billions were pending at the World Bank due to U.S. opposition, would be lifted when India ``signed'' the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Drawing a distinction between signing the CTBT and taking time to ratify it, Mr. Inderfurth said India's signature would be a clear statement of intent.