India's proclaimed support for the statement by President Bush on the unilateral reduction of the US nuclear potential does not mean that it [India] has abandoned its previous stand on this issue, a spokesman of the Indian Foreign Ministry told journalists on Thursday. What we supported lies in the sphere of our interests on different issues, the diplomat said. In his words, India spoke up in support of the unilateral reduction of the US nuclear forces and its retreat from the dominant orthodox views of the nuclear threat. India also welcomed the striving of President Bush to get rid of the past, especially the heritage of the Cold War era. It also welcomed the US resolve to wage dialogue and consultations and to cooperate with concerned countries in the attainment of this goal. The diplomat said that India fully supports the idea of talks with friends and allies, voiced by Bush, and is waiting impatiently for the visit of US Secretary of State Richard Armitage to New Delhi, where he plans to discuss a new framework of ensuring security and stability that would reflect modern realities. At the same time, the official Indian support for the new US doctrine of ballistic missile defence caused a negative reaction in some political quarters and was criticised by the Indian media. The main opposition party, the Indian National Congress (I), denounced the official support as dangerously immature and irresponsible. Nathwar Singh, member of the Congress' working committee who heads the international department of the party, told journalists that such hasty reaction did not meet the interests of India in any way. He expressed surprise that only India deemed it possible to praise the new nuclear policy of President Bush without analysing it in detail. Nathwar Singh pointed out that nearly all other countries, including close allies of the USA, reacted to this US proposal very coolly. The Times of India criticised the country's foreign office for disregarding Washington's decision to deploy the NMD system and its call for burying the 1972 ABM Treaty. The US NMD system is being pushed forth by those forces in the US establishment which were stopped from implementing the Star Wars programme of the Reagan administration, the newspaper concludes.
Two ballistic missiles attacked the US Navy destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) from the territory of Yemen. The destroyer came to the aid of the hijacked Central Park tanker of Zodiac Maritime