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Statement by the Prime Minister on arrival at New Delhi

October 1, 1998
New Delhi

Statement by Prime Minister on arrival in New Delhi on October 1, 1998

I have just returned from a visit to New York for the UN General Assembly and Paris for a bilateral visit.

During my visit to New York from 23-28 September 1998, I addressed the United Nations General Assembly on 24 September 1998. I reiterated our commitment to universal and non-discriminatory global nuclear disarmament and our earnest desire to work with all other countries particularly the Nuclear Weapons States to eliminate this category of weapons of mass destruction. Regarding CTBT, I conveyed our preparedness to bring our ongoing discussions with key interlocutors to a successful conclusion, so that the entry into force of the CTBT is not delayed beyond September 1999. Our views on the growing menace of terrorism, which transcends, national boundaries are finding increasing resonance in the international community. Another issue that I highlighted was the need for a new international dialogue on the future of the global economy involving both developing and developed countries. Our position of these issues, which are of contemporary relevance, has been welcomed by international community and media.

I had productive and friendly talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. We approved the understanding arrived at Durban by our delegation on the modalities of the dialogue process. Foreign Secretary-level talks will begin on 15 October 1998 in Islamabad and will be followed in Delhi. We agreed to commence direct bus services from Lahore to New Delhi. This will facilitate greater people-to-people contact. We also agreed to hold discussions on purchase of electricity by India and Pakistan. I believe that a new beginning has been made in our relations with Pakistan.

I met a number of opinion-makers of the US and shared our perceptions and concerns with them. I also spoke at the Asia Society where I explained my vision of India and Indo-US relations. I have sensed a growing understanding for our security concerns. There was a growing feeling that Indo-US relations need to be revitalised which we welcome.

I also met a cross-section of the Indian-American community. They were very supportive of India and expressed their desire to contribute to its development. I visited the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan. An agreement on publishing the Encyclopaedia on Hinduism was signed in my presence. I also met a number of prominent members of the US business community and reiterated our commitment to economic reforms. They appreciated the steps taken by my Government to expedite decision-making and facilitate the implementation of investment proposals. They emphasised the importance they attach to India, and conveyed their desire to see the early removal of economic restrictions on cooperation between India and the US.

I was in Paris on 29-30 September. The visit was both substantive and productive. This was my first bilateral visit to a P-5 country since assuming office six months ago. I had extensive discussions with President Chirac as well as Prime Minister Jospin and his senior cabinet colleagues dealing with Finance. Defence and Education Research and Technology. I also met with a wide cross-section of French decision makers including legislators, members of the Indo-French Forum and captains of French industry. My visit was a continuation of the process of developing the new relationship with France, set in motion by the visit of President Chirac in January 1998 as the Chief Guest during the Republic Day celebrations in the 50th year of our Independence. I am confident that this visit will further consolidate this new dimension in our bilateral relationship. President Chirac and I have decided to initiate a strategic dialogue between the two countries. He has nominated Mr. Errera as a French special envoy and I have nominated Principal Secretary Brajesh Mishra as the Indian Special Envoy. Both countries share a perspective that the new world order has to be a genuine multi-polar world order. Our bilateral relationship is poised to grow in the coming months in a multi-faceted manner. A large number of high-level visits have been planned. I have also invited Prime Minister Jospin who has agreed to visit India in the near future.