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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 19, 1994
                       REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                           The Oval Office 

11:40 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Let me say that it's a great honor for me personally and for the United States to welcome Prime Minister Rao and his delegation here.

India is the world's largest democracy, by a long ways; and a very important partner for the United States on many issues, with a very impressive rate of economic growth now and the prospect of a real partnership with our country, spanning not only economic, but many other issues. And I'm really looking forward to our discussions. And I'm delighted that he's found the time to come and be here with us.

Q Mr. President, how much of a hang-up is the issue of the Nonproliferation Treaty and India's resistance to signing it? Will that come up? And do you think there's any way of persuading India to sign this treaty?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we'll have a chance to talk about a number of issues. I think that, as you know, we have a broadbased approach. We're supporting the Comprehensive Test Ban. We want to have the fissile materials production ban. We've got a lot of things to discuss, and we'll have a chance to talk about them.

But he just got here. I don't want to presume upon the conversation that hasn't yet occurred.

Q Mr. President, do you have anything to say to the Kennedys? Do you have any words for the Kennedys? You know, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is --

THE PRESIDENT: Hillary and I have been in touch with Mrs. Onassis in the last several days and are getting regular updates. She's been quite wonderful to my wife and to my daughter and to all of us. And we're thinking about her, praying for her.

THE PRESIDENT: I would like to say it's a great honor for me personally and for the United States to welcome Prime Minister Rao and his party here.

India is not only the world's largest democracy, but a very impressive one -- having preserved democracy through all manner of difficulties and challenges. We are mindful of the profound importance of our relationship with India, and the many aspects of that relationship. And I am looking forward to establishing a good working relationship with the Prime Minister, and to building on that as we go into the future. I'm very hopeful about it.

Q Mr. President, may I ask you a question? The economic reforms in India and the end of Cold War -- what kind of an impact do you think these two events have had on the Indo-American relationship?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it should -- both those things should permit that relationship to grow and to flourish, to deepen, and should permit us to do things that together as leaders in the community of nations, as we work together in the United Nations. And India, for example, has been very constructive in Somalia and Mozambique and other places around the world. So I think we'll have a deeper and better partnership now. And I'm looking forward to building on it, and that's one of the things that I hope to have a chance to discuss with the Prime Minister.

Q Mr. President -- said that this trip was a turning point in Indo-U.S. relations. What do you think? Would it prove to be a turning point?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, if it's a positive turning point, that would make me very happy because I think it's very important that the United States and India have good relations and strong relations. And so I'm hopeful of that.

Let me remind you, we're going to have a time that the press -- at the end of this, where we can both make statements and answer questions. So let's do that after we have a chance to visit.

END12:45 P.M. EDT