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September 8, 2000
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Vajpayee urges US to end sanctions

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has urged the United States to do away with economic restrictions, as these did not serve the mutual interests of the two countries.

Speaking at a meeting of the Asia Society, Vajpayee said that given the potential of mutual benefit of close co-operation between India and the US, ''it is for you to judge how far such restrictions served our mutual interests,'' he said.

He said that economic restrictions had no purpose other than being irritants in bilateral relations. "We feel, as do your policy makers, that India and the US are natural allies."

Vajpayee said that the visit of US President Bill Clinton to India was truly historic. "It is my belief that when the history of India-US partnership is written, the six-month period between March and September this year beginning with Mr Clinton's visit to India and culminating in my return visit, would be seen as the defining moment.''

Referring to his government's economic reform policies, the prime minister said, ''We will continue to make our markets more conducive to enterprise and initiative. We will continue to invest in people, who are the greatest resource and strength. In short, the course we have charted hinges on the twin goals of economic growth with social equality.''

Regarding apprehensions that India was slow to change, he said, ''We are a diverse democracy and we need to carry the people with us. Efforts are being made in this direction and we are confident of success.''

Vajpayee said that India today was a nation on the move. The momentum for progress had started gathering speed. ''Nowhere is this more pronounced than in industries that will shape global economic relations in future, industries that are also prime movers of Indo-US relations -- information technology, knowledge-intensive industries, entertainment, communications and services.''


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