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Reactions vary across Asia to Clinton’s trip

SHARE Reactions vary across Asia to Clinton’s trip

President Clinton's visit to China highlighted touchy issues across Asia - perhaps nowhere so much as in India, which bristled at statements Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin made on nuclear weapons.

Tibetans were divided over whether the trip helped or hurt their cause. Japan watched everything warily. South Korea saw the summit as a promising sign for a treaty with North Korea.India was most alarmed by Clinton and Jiang's agreement not to aim nuclear missiles at each other.

"If Beijing decides not to target Washington . . . India would be China's prime enemy," Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes was quoted as saying in Jane's Defense Weekly.

Clinton and Jiang also urged India and Pakistan to make "firm commitments" not to deploy nuclear weapons and to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, immediately and unconditionally.

India's Foreign Ministry accused Clinton and Jiang of speaking with the arrogance "of a bygone era."

India has been accused of stepping up the South Asian nuclear arms race with nuclear tests in May that longtime rival Pakistan answered with tests of its own. India said it made the move because of security threats from China and Pakistan, with whom India has fought four wars.

Pakistan called on Washington and Beijing to mediate competing claims to Kashmir. India has resisted outside interference in the territorial dispute that has been at the heart of the Pakistan-India rivalry for five decades.

The summit also put the spotlight on Tibet, which China seized in 1950. The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetans, applauded Clinton for asking China to begin a dialogue on Tibet.

But other Tibetans announced plans for a demonstration next week expressing concern that Clinton did not press for Tibet's independence.

For Taiwan, Clinton's public reiteration that Washington will not support its entry into the United Nations was seen as a setback to Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui's drive for greater international recognition. But Taipei welcomed Clinton's pledge to continue arms sales to Taiwan.

In Japan, there was concern that China's ties with the United States were overshadowing Tokyo's close relationship with Washington.

South Korea indicated that improving U.S.-China relations could have a positive impact on the Korean Peninsula.

No peace treaty has been signed ending the 1950-53 Korean War, only an armistice. The United States fought on the South Korean side, while China intervened on behalf of North Korea. The two Koreas, the United States and China have held talks to secure a permanent peace, but the last round broke down in March in Geneva.