Joint Press Interaction by External Affairs Minister Mr. S.M. Krishna andUS Secretary of State Ms. Hillary Clinton
July 20, 2009
Official Spokesperson (Vishnu Prakash): Good evening and welcome to the joint press interaction. EAM will be making an opening statement. Next Secretary of State would be making a statement. Sir the floor is yours.
External Affairs Minister (Shri S M Krishna): -- Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, it is my pleasure to welcome her Excellency, Secretary of State of the United States of America, Madam Hillary Clinton and distinguished members of her delegation.
Secretary Clinton is no stranger to India. Her deep and abiding interest and commitment to India has helped shape the US policy of close engagement with India. Secretary Clinton not only had a key role in the founding of the India Caucus in the US Congress, the largest congressional grouping focused on strengthening relations with any foreign country, but she has been a staunch and sincere advocate of the strengthening of US-India relations.
She was one of the key supporters of the historic agreement between our two countries on Civil Nuclear Cooperation which was realized through a bipartisan effort in the US Congress and the desire to add qualitative substance to the US-India relationship.
Our talks covered a comprehensive agenda encompassing the full range of global and bilateral issues of mutual concern and interest.
India and the United States of America regard each other as global partners. Our two democracies can play a leading and constructive role on the global level in addressing the urgent global challenges of our times. The agenda of our dialogue today reflects this global dimension of our partnership. With that vision to guide our path, we have created new forums for meaningful dialogue on climate change, disarmament and non-proliferation. We also recognize the importance of ensuring that the steps planned to revive the global economy should safeguard the priorities of sustainable development and the goals of poverty alleviation in the developing world. Ours is a shared commitment to a rule-based multilateral trading system and we will continue to speak out against protectionism. Cooperation, trade and investment between India and the United States can play a constructive role in the revival of the world economy.
We have held useful discussions on the situation in our region. In our discussions today, she and I also reaffirmed the unequivocal commitment of both our countries to resist the threats to our two democracies from the scourge of terrorism.
In our bilateral partnership, Secretary Clinton and I have focused on the new agenda for US-India “3.0” in which we will build on the excellent economic and political partnerships that already exist, redefine some of our dialogues to make them more result oriented and create new dialogues for achieving shared objectives in areas of mutual interest.
Our Governments have concluded three important agreements (i) on creation of a Science & Technology Endowment Board (ii) a Technical Safeguards Agreement which will permit the launch of civil or non-commercial satellites containing US components on Indian space launch vehicles and (iii) we have agreed on the end-use monitoring arrangements that will henceforth be referred to in letters of acceptance for Indian procurement of US defence technology and equipment.
The new dialogues that Secretary Clinton and I announce today - on health, education, science & technology and women’s empowerment – will impact positively on areas of vital interest and concern to the daily lives of our two peoples.
We have issued a Joint Statement on all these initiatives. A fact sheet on the new bilateral dialogue architecture has also been put out. We will now have frequent high level contacts to reinforce these dialogues.
Before I invite Secretary Clinton to say a few words, I would like to say what a pleasure it has been to receive her here; I am more than confident that with her commitment and leadership of the dialogue process from the US side and our equal enthusiasm and commitment, the initiatives that our Governments will work on will benefit both our peoples.
US Secretary of State (Mrs Hillary Rodham Clinton): Thank you so much Minister Krishna for the warm welcome that your country has shown me and for the very productive conversations that we have had today.
As I told the Minister and Prime Minister Singh earlier, I have come to India deeply committed to building a stronger partnership between India and the United States, a partnership based on common interests, shared values and mutual respect. President Obama and I share this commitment, and he sends his greetings. We believe that cooperation between our two countries will be a driver of progress in the 21st century.
Since I arrived here, people have asked me, “Can you pledge to maintain the positive US-India relations that President Clinton and President Bush worked to build?” And I tell them that I can pledge more than that. We will work not just to maintain our good relationship but also to broaden and deepen it. To that end, our Governments have agreed to a strategic dialogue built on the five pillars in our Joint Statement. Minister Krishna and I will co-chair this dialogue and we have asked senior officials across both of our Governments to take the lead on each of these subjects.
A significant part of the President’s Cabinet will participate - the Secretaries of Agriculture, and Trade, and Energy, and Education, and Finance, and Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security and more. We do not, however, intend for this to be a dialogue between Ministers, or even between Governments, but between our nations and our peoples, our scientists and business leaders, our civil society activists and academics, charitable foundations, farmers, educators, doctors, entrepreneurs, and the whole range of each of our countries. Nor do we see this dialogue simply as a forum for discussing important issues. We believe it must be a forum for action; that the Indian people and the American people share many traits; and one of them is that we like to roll up our sleeves and get things done. We look to this dialogue to deliver results that will benefit the people we represent as well as regional and global progress.
We have shown progress already by finalizing important agreements today including an End-use Monitoring Agreement that will pave the way for greater defence cooperation between our countries and a Technology Safeguards Agreement that will set up commercial partnerships in space, as well as a science and technology agreement.
I am also pleased that Prime Minister Singh told me that sites for two nuclear parks for US companies have been approved by the Government. These parks will advance the aims of the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, facilitate billions of dollars in US reactor exports, and create jobs in both countries, as well as generate much needed energy for the Indian people. We hope that India will be able to approve the liability legislation that will enable our US companies to seize these important opportunities.
These meetings today were a very productive precursor to the new strategic dialogue. We discussed every important matter, particularly our shared efforts to fight terrorism and violent extremism. We talked about pragmatic approaches to climate change and clean energy and how we can build on areas of common ground while narrowing areas of disagreement, moving toward Copenhagen. We will do our part to confront the threats that we face and we will hope to deepen the commitment that both of us already have to meeting these threats.
We discussed our common vision of a world without nuclear weapons and the practical steps that our countries can take to strengthen the goal of nonproliferation. And I affirmed the Obama Administration’s strong commitment to completing all of the remaining elements of our Civil Nuclear Deal.
We also know that both of our countries play a critical role in the G20 discussions about how to spur global economic growth and recovery, expand trade and commerce, reduce protectionism, and create fair global trading rules. Each of our countries, as you would expect, have different perspectives about the problems we face and how we will solve them. But as the oldest democracy and the largest democracy in the world, we believe we can work through these differences in our perspectives and focus on shared objectives and concrete results. I hope that an expanded partnership between the US and India will be one of the signature accomplishments of both of our Governments. And I plan to make this a personal priority, Minister Krishna.
As a sign of the importance of this relationship to the United States, I was pleased to extend an invitation earlier today to Prime Minister Singh from President Obama, inviting Prime Minister Singh to Washington on November 24th for the first state visit of our new Administration.
At a time when the headlines are filled with challenges, the relationship between the United States and India is a good news story. And I believe, Minister, that it is going to get even better. Thank you very much.
Official Spokesperson: Thank you, Madam Secretary. The Ministers would be happy to take two questions from each side. When your name is announced please introduce yourself and your organization. I would also request that you may please limit yourself to one question either to the External Affairs Minister or to the Secretary of State.
Question: Mr. Krishna, there have been dramatic developments in the 26/11 case today with Ajmal Kasab confessing in court; and it seems to be like the pieces of a jigsaw falling into place with a number of developments over the last few days - the Pakistani dossier, we understand the Indian side has been very pleased with that, the charge-sheet in the case. Do you think that finally some substantial steps are being taken by Pakistan with regard to this case?
And Madam Secretary, I wanted to ask you whether it is your Administration’s policy to prevent the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technology at the Nuclear Suppliers Group. If so, do not you think that that would undermine the spirit of the nuclear deal?
External Affairs Minister: Thank you very much. We would like to have a friendly relationship with Pakistan. We would like to be good neighbours. India is willing to do everything possible to make that happen. But, unfortunately, the attacks unleashed on Mumbai caused a great setback to the Composite Dialogue which was going on between India and Pakistan. Well, since then at the highest level there have been political exchanges. Prime Minister of our country has spoken to the President of Pakistan. Very recently he has had an interaction with the Prime Minister of Pakistan. As a result of that we look forward that when the United Nations General Assembly meets there would be an opportunity for the Foreign Ministers of these two countries to continue this dialogue.
US Secretary of State: As I understand your question, it was whether we oppose the transfer of processing and enrichment technology, well, clearly we do not. We have just completed a civil nuclear deal with India. So, if it is done within the appropriate channels and carefully safeguarded, as it is in the case of India, then that is appropriate. But we are very much opposed to unauthorized and inappropriate transfers that unfortunately can take place by certain countries or non-state actors doing so. So, there is a right way to do it and there is a very wrong way. We are seeking the advice and suggestions from India about how we can prevent the unauthorized and dangerous transfer of nuclear technology and material which poses a threat to the entire world.
Question: Madam, there has been an accumulation of grim news in Afghanistan this month. There was a capture of the American soldier, there was the Taliban video of him in captivity, there was a bit of fast-rising death toll among coalition forces, the number of American troops killed this month already is the highest for any month since the war began almost eight years ago. I wonder if you take the responsibility for a diplomatic failure to get more assistance and support from allies and coalition partners. And if I may ask you a related question on Pakistan, you said just today that some of the people associated with the 9/11 attacks are hiding in Pakistan. Today the Pakistani Government denied that. I wonder if you could just say what makes you so sure that they are in Pakistan.
US Secretary of State: To the first question, it is deeply regrettable and tragic that we have had the loss of life by our Marines and soldiers in the last week since they have aggressively pursued the Taliban in Southern Afghanistan. We are very concerned about the kidnapping of our American soldier, and are working to do all we can to obtain his safe release. But I think it is unfair to link the tragic loss of Americans in the battle against the Taliban and their associated terrorist allies with a failure by our allies. The last weeks also brought the largest loss of life for British soldiers. Others of our allies are engaged in combat not only in the South, but are upholding the line in the North. And I think that the commitment by ISAF and others to support this offensive against the Taliban is commendable. We are bearing the brunt of the battle because we have put more troops into it. But we are very grateful for the contributions and the sacrifice of so many who have come to the aid of Afghanistan and the Afghans themselves who are also on the frontlines sacrificing to try to bring peace and stability to their country. This is a very difficult battle. But it is one that we feel must be waged and we have a strategy that the President has approved and we are implementing it.
With respect to the location of those who were part of the planning and execution of the attacks of 9/11 against our country, we firmly believe that a significant number of them are in the border area of Pakistan. We have conveyed that to the Pakistani Government and others. We are actively looking for additional information that would lead us to them.
Question: Madam Secretary, as far as the Bush Administration was concerned and now the new Obama Administration is concerned, we have seen that there is a sense of feeling that this new Administration is more concerned and inclined towards deepening its relationship with China and Pakistan. Do you share that thought? What is your comment on that?
US Secretary of State: My comments have demonstrated very clearly the significance and importance of our relationship with India. We enriched this relationship to broaden and deepen it as partners already on the world stage. What we have outlined today will be a significant expansion of our bilateral relationship. We also have a very important set of issues that we are pursuing with Pakistan, with China, and with many other countries around the world. But I do not think you can understate the significance of our relationship as two democracies. We understand the difficulties of decision-making in democracies; and we respect the vibrancy of each other’s democracy. That is a much stronger base for a relationship than any other in the world because it is democracies that are able to expand an understanding of common interests and show mutual respect; and that is what is at the core of broadening relationship between us.
Yes, of course, we have relations with other countries. You know, the United States is called upon to act globally every single hour of every single day. But, as the invitation to Prime Minister Singh - the first State Visit in the Obama Administration – demonstrates, we are very committed to this relationship.
Question: Secretary Clinton, did you specifically discuss, either with External Affairs Minister Krishna or with Prime Minister Singh or with other Indian officials, the possibility of restricting exports of gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran?
The other day you told us that you were looking forward to hearing the perspectives of Indian officials and appeared to differ somewhat on the threat of the possibility of Iraq getting a nuclear weapon. Did you hear anything on that that estranged your views on the matter?
US Secretary of State: There is no difference between us on our position. Prime Minister Singh is on the public record as saying that India does not want to see Iran obtaining nuclear weapon. They have exactly the same position as we do. In the discussions today and the discussions to come, we are going to be exploring with India their approach and perspectives toward Iran, and any advice that they can contribute to what is now an international consensus that the danger is posed to global stability, if Iran were to become a nuclear weapons power. So, there is a lot to discuss and we intend to do so. But, our policy is in sync. Neither of us wants to see Iran obtain nuclear weapons.
Official Spokesperson: Thank you. The interaction now draws to a close.