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India On G-8 Agenda

President Clinton said Friday he would seek a "strong and unambiguous" denunciation of India's nuclear ambitions from world leaders at a three-day summit. But other countries signaled there would be no united front on economic embargoes.

As the eight leaders opened their annual meeting, India's prime minister announced his nation had a "big bomb." The disclosure followed five surprise nuclear tests this week that have rocked this gathering of the world's seven richest countries and Russia.

The United States and Japan had taken the toughest actions in response to India's bomb tests, cutting off all economic assistance except for humanitarian purposes.

But Britain threw cold water on the idea of sanctions, which are strongly opposed by Russia and France.

"We don't envisage G-8 economic sanctions along the lines of what the Americans have been discussing," said Alistair Campbell, spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Britain, usually America's most reliable ally in international confrontations, has said it wants the summit instead to express only dismay with India, which once was the crown jewel of the British empire.

Mr. Clinton also urged genuine political reform in Indonesia, saying the "loss of life and other destructive developments have been heartbreaking."

He declined to address a question on whether Suharto should step down. "The question you ask is one the Indonesian people have to decide. What we do believe is important is that the president find a way to open a dialogue with all those in society, and that it lead to genuine social and political reform," Mr. Clinton said.

With Hashimoto at his side, Mr. Clinton adopted a less critical stance on Japan, a country his administration repeatedly has accused of not doing enough, as the world's second largest economy, to combat the Asian financial crisis.

"The economic package the prime minister has announced is significant and will have a positive impact, and I know he looks forward to implementing it," Mr. Clinton said, adding, "We believe that some steps still have to be taken on the banking reform front."

Hashimoto said that for the Asian economies to recover, both the United States and Japan need to be "as open as possible" on trade matters. He said he expected the United States to make some concessions on deregulation. "This is a two-way dialogue," Hashimoto said.

In between G-8 summit meetings, Mr. Clinton strolled alongside a canal near the International Convention Center, shaking hands, and chatting with onlookers in brilliant sunshine.

He settled into a balcony seat at the Malthouse Pub with a beer and packet of fries. Bill Scott, a 66-year-old Birmingham native nodded approvingly after his chance pub encounter with the president.

"He's the sort of chap you can sit and talk to all night. Just quiet and unassuming," Sott said.

After his walking tour along a canal, Mr. Clinton told reporters that it was clear why Prime Minister Blair, host of this year's conference, chose to hold it in this central England city.

But he bemoaned the fact that the reporters traipsing behind him had to work and couldn't enjoy.

"You didn't even get a beer, did you?" Mr. Clinton asked.

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