NEW DELHI, India Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, returning Sunday from a surprise visit to Moscow, praised the Soviet Union’s nuclear arms proposal as “very good and positive” and said Washington should consider it seriously at next month’s superpower summit.
Gandhi, speaking to reporters on arrival, also indirectly criticized U.S. efforts to include human rights and Afghanistan in next month’s summit in Geneva.
He supported Moscow’s attempt to strictly limit the summit talks to disarmament, saying, “Disarmament is the primary issue which is threatening the world today. We feel that disarmament must be the primary issue for that conference. Everything else is diverting the attention . . .”
Commenting on Soviet Leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s recent proposal for a total ban on space weapons and a 50percent cut in a strategic arsenals, Gandhi said, “We feel it is a very good and positive proposal . . . it must be looked at seriously and considered seriously.
“Disarmament is an extremely complicated issue, and it’s difficult for us to comment on the merits of particular proposals,” Gandhi said.
“But on the face of it, the proposal that the Soviets have made isa very big proposal… We have not seen such a proposal before and any such proposal needs long periods of deliberation.”
The Prime Minister, who had been scheduled to return here Saturday from the Netherlands, broke with his itinerary and went to Mos cow for unscheduled talks with Gorbachev.
He told reporters that he discussed disarmament, the Geneva summit, South Africa and Pakistan’s nuclear program with Gorbachev.
Gandhi, accompanied by his wife Sonia and senior Indian officials, returned after a 13day foreign tour which also took him to Britian, the Commonwealth summit in the Bahamas, Cuba and the United Nations.
He said South Africa and Pakistan’s nuclear program are two major differences between India and the United States.
Gandhi said that Pakistan President Mohammed Zia ul Haq assured him in New York last week that Islamabad had no nuclear weapons. “I am not totally convinced of that assurance,” he said.
The Indian government has repeatedly accused Pakistan, its opponent in three wars since 1947, of attempting to make a nuclear bomb, Islamabad has denied it. India exploded an underground nuclear device in 1974 but says it is not building atomic weapons.
Gandhi said Reagan told him that India and Pakistan should begin talks soon on nuclear nonproliferation “so that a point of no return is not reached.”
But he denied news reports that he and Zia had agreed to begin technical discussions on the nuclear issue.
He said he and Zia only discussed ways to “increase cooperation and confidence” between the two countries. Earlier reports said the two sides agreed to expand trade and stem cross border infiltration.
Article extracted from this publication >> November 1, 1985