NEW DELHL India, Feb. 7, Reuter: The major threat to Asian Pacific security is the Soviet military buildup, Canadian External Affairs Minister, Joe Clark said today.

Speaking at a luncheon hosted by James Harris, Canada’s High Commissioner in New Delhi, Clark said the best way for Moscow to ease regional tensions would be for it to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

“The brutal occupation of that country, should it continue, will give the lie to any Soviet protestations of good intent in southwest Asia”, he said.

India is the Soviet Union’s closest ally in South Asia and his mainly Indian audience heard Clark’s remarks in silence, with mild applause at the end of his speech.

The Canadian Minister, here on a six day visit during which he signed a bilateral extradition treaty with India, made a wide-ranging foreign policy statement emphasizing that along with the United States, Asia was the most important region for Canada’s exports.

“Canada has very important interests in Asia’s stability, in its prosperity and openness, in its positive disposition towards the West”, he said, adding that two way trade with India alone reached’660 million dollars (Canadian) in 1985 and was expected to rise further.

Clark told the audience: “From a Canadian perspective, the major threat to the security of the Asia Pacific region as a whole is the Soviet military buildup. This Soviet threat, particularly the naval threat, extends through and beyond the region and is indeed an element of a global pattern.”

Clark welcomed recent speeches favoring detente in Asia made by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who received a warm welcome when he visited here last November. “But” he said, “a distinction must be made between expressions of intent on the one hand and constructive action on the other”.

On the new extradition treaty, which India hopes will prevent Sikh freedom fighters from taking refuge in Canada, Clark told his audience: “My government is absolutely determined that Canada shall not be used as a haven for terrorists”.

“The number of newcomers from India intent on using violence to achieve political aims in their country of origin is small indeed. Nonetheless, we take these people very seriously”.

Article extracted from this publication >>  February 13, 1987