Washington — Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in the middle of a five-day state visit, says he and President Reagan agree on the concept of nuclear disarmament but disagree on the methods.
In addressing a joint session of Congress Thursday, Gandhi, 40, also said the United States must resume its role as a leader in international economic cooperation to encourage developing nations like India to progress.
The State Department said Thursday the United States is willing to sell armaments to the world’s largest democracy but Gandhi, in a meeting with a small group of reporters, said his country is not interested in buying weapons because the United States has not been a reliable supplier of spare parts and other equipment after the main purchase.
The Soviet Union is India’s principal weapons supplier. The prime minister, who succeeded his mother Indira when she was assassinated Oct. 31, told the “small group of reporters he and President Reagan agree on the need for nuclear disarmament but that they disagree on the ways to do it.
He said Reagan “believes that the Strategic Defense Initiative (of a space based missile defense system) is the right route, but we feel for it doesn’t really help.”
Gandhi stressed the principles of nonalignment and Peaceful coexistence in his address to Congress, saying, ‘We are opposed to the polarization of the world into rival military blocks.”
He also cited an “urgent” need for greater international economic cooperation, saying the United States had played a leading role in the past but, “Recent years have seen sad erosion
in this commitment. “Congressional assistance is drying up at a time when. It is needed most. Trade barriers are going up. The livelihood of millions .in the developing countries is in jeopardy,” Gandhi said in a call for more U.S. participation in economic development assistance for Third World countries.
Gandhi would like to see greater access to U.S. markets for Indian fabrics, tea, manufactured goods and USS. Technology.
His visit to Washington is surrounded by unprecedented security involving an estimated 10,000 Secret Service, State Department and District of Columbia police and dozens of cars, motorcycles and helicopters.
The chief concern is a large Sikh community in the United States that has organized protests during the prime minister’s visit.
Article extracted from this publication >> June 21, 1985