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   Mr. Rajiv Gandhi addressed his first press conference... (October 13, 1987)

Mr. Rajiv Gandhi addressed his first press conference in Vancouver last night.

"Mr. Prime Minister," a correspondent of the Montreal Star asked him, "we understand there is sever drought in large parts of India and the people are without food. How are you tackling this?"

Mr. Gandhi smiled, then replied: "It is our view that the Commonwealth should impose economic sanctions on the military junta in Fiji in order that it understands the feelings of this august world body on its ethnic policies."

A correspondent of the Tanzanian Times caught the Prime Minister's eye: "Mr. Gandhi, large tracts of northern India have been eroded by floods and miles and miles of farmlands are under water. Is your government trying to find any permanent solution to this recurring tragedy?"

Mr. Gandhi looked serious, then said: "I have already had one meeting with your Prime Minister today and I am having one more tomorrow morning, we are jointly going to press for further and total isolation of South Africa and its racist regime. I can assure the frontline states that in this matter they can count on total support by India."

A correspondent of the Melbourne Gazette asked his question: "Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, have you any plans to break the deadlock in the Punjab situation which has been drifting along for several years now? If so, what?"

Mr. Gandhi looked into the TV cameras, looked away, then said: "We do not want to interfere into the affairs of the big powers, but when the world is threatened with nuclear holocaust, it becomes the concern of all nations. Indian is wedded to the policy of peace and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. And we will do whetever we can to bring the major powers to subscribe to this. I have already had one extended meeting on the subject with the Canadian prime minister."

A correspondent of Nigerian Television and Radio asked: "Mr. Prime Minister how long are you planning to station the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka?"

Mr. Gandhi smiled and said: "I have had several sessions with Soviet leaders and our officials are preparing our brief for my meeting with President Reagan later. We intend to put up for interpretation of the Soviet attitude to him. You will understand that I cannot say anything beyond that without upsetting the East-West balance."

A correspondent of The Guardian, London, asked: "Mr. Gandhi, has your government made up its mind on the purchase of Hunter Hawks and is it true that it is shopping for more armoury?"

Mr. Gandhi looked concerned, then said: "Indian is going to raise its voice against the protection offered by the EEC countries to its industries. I have already talked to Mrs. Thatcher about this and I would like to make it quite clear that India is going to take the lead in this matter."

As Mr. Gandhi stepped out of the press conference hall, one of his aides told him: "Sir, you covered the entire international situation very well. We will play it back on Doordarshan tonight."

 
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