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Indian article grossly distorts comments: PM

Indian article grossly distorts comments: PM

Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that an article which appeared in an Indian newspaper was a gross distortion of her comments to a visiting journalist, and released the transcript of her relevant comments.

She said that her interview expressed New Zealand's long term friendship with India, and its desire to grow the relationship.

Helen Clark said her comments repeated New Zealand's long term advocacy of nuclear disarmament and its preference as a matter of principle for countries to sign treaties which advanced nuclear disarmament.

Specifically Helen Clark did not say that "We will tell India to sign the CTBT. India will always find New Zealand as the dominant voice for nuclear disarmament," as the journalist alleged.

What Helen Clark did say was:

"Well as a matter of principle New Zealand likes countries to sign the limited test ban treaty and we are well known for strong advocacy of nuclear disarmament. And certainly there have been times when I've been Prime Minister there's been enormous concern here about the possibility of nuclear war between India and Pakistan which we find extremely distressing. So India will always find New Zealand a voice for moving closer to nuclear disarmament not further away from it."

Helen Clark did not say as alleged by the journalist that the Kashmir "dispute forced India and Pakistan to go nuclear."

When asked "Do you think (New Zealand) can work with India towards ensuring non proliferation and to curb weapons, the spread of WMDs, do you think India can also act as a responsible nuclear power?", she replied:

"I hope we can work with India. I think that the resolution of this issue in many ways lies with the resolution over Kashmir. That's been the flashpoint. If that issue had some resolution I think the pressures on both India and Pakistan around nuclear weapons would diminish."

Helen Clark said that the allegation in the article made by an anonymous source in Wellington that her remarks may have been "following the advice of an MP of Pakistani origin" were ridiculous and offensive.

She had never discussed either Kashmir or nuclear weapons on the sub-continent with Dr Choudhary and noted that the journalist had made no effort to interview Dr Choudhary during his visit.

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