Visiting Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes brushed aside international criticism Thursday by reiterating that New Delhi is stepping up efforts to gain a national consensus on signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a global pact to prohibit nuclear testing. Speaking at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Fernandes maintained that both Parliament and the people of India have been committed to CTBT discussions. “There has been a dialogue currently going on among political parties, between the government and the parties and on the national level also,” he said. “There hasn’t been any delay. I believe after Parliament gets into the next session (which is to begin in the third week of February) this issue will gain greater momentum.” Fernandes also expressed concern that Tokyo’s economic sanctions on India following New Delhi’s nuclear test in May 1998 may strain efforts to improve bilateral relations.

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