US bids to avert Asian arms race

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PRESIDENT Bill Clinton yesterday condemned the recent nuclear tests by India and Pakistan as "self-defeating, wasteful and dangerous", and called for a concerted international approach to avert a new arms race in the subcontinent, writes Mary Dejevsky in Washington.

He also announced his intention to renew most favoured trading status for China for another year, praising its contribution to regional stability.

India has cited what it saw as an increased threat from China as one reason for its decision to proceed with the nuclear tests last month.

Mr Clinton spoke to reporters shortly before Secretary of State Madeleine Albright set off for today's meeting of "Big Five" foreign ministers in Geneva. The ministers of the existing nuclear powers - the US, China, Russia, France and Britain - are to discuss a joint response.

Mrs Albright reiterated yesterday that there could be no question of admitting India and Pakistan to the "club" of nuclear states. Britain's Secretary fo State for Defence, George Robertson, on a visit to Washington, said the two countries had to be prevented from becoming fully-fledged members of the nuclear club as this would seem "almost to reward" them for the step they had taken.

Letters, page 20