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Press Release on visit of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to New Delhi

New Delhi
May 11, 2001

Mr. Richard Armitage, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, on a one-day visit to New Delhi as a Special Emissary of President Bush, called on the Prime Minister, met the Minister of External Affairs & Defence and also the National Security Adviser and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister.

Mr. Armitage handed over to Prime Minister Vaipayee a letter from President George Bush accepting the Prime Minister's invitation to visit India. President Bush has conveyed to the Prime Minister that he looks forward to the visit in the context of efforts to broaden the relationship between the United States of America and India. He also conveyed his intention of working closely with Prime Minister Vaipayee, to promote common interests in Asia and the World.

Mr. Armitage's visit was for consultations on international security issues following the policy announcement by the US President on May 1, 2001. Mr. Armitage elaborated that the US proposals were, in fact, the outlines of a 'New Strategic Framework' comprising four elements namely nonproliferation, counter-proliferation, missile defence and a reduction in US strategic nuclear arsenal. He then elaborated the rationale of these components and emphasised that missile defence is only one element of the proposed framework. The Government, while appreciating Mr. Armitage's presentation of the US position conveyed that it looks forward to continuing further such exchanges in future. As a departure from the norms of the Cold War, the proposed new Strategic Framework, based upon consultation and cooperation rather than confrontation is a welcome development.

Government, therefore, also welcomed the announcement of the United States to continue these close consultations with its allies, friends and other interested countries. The External Affairs Minister (EAM), while discussing these issues emphasised the need to not unilaterally abrogate bilateral compacts like the ABM Treaty of 1972 or other similar international commitments. It is India's expectation that the United States will continue to be guided by this spirit of dialogue, consultation and cooperation.

The EAM also conveyed to the visiting Special Envoy, India's expectations that the United States would pursue its plans in a manner that enhances regional and international stability and security. In particular, the Government welcomed the intention of the United States regarding reduction in, and de-alerting of, nuclear weapons. We treat this as a step towards a winding down of the nuclear arms race.

The EAM conveyed that managing the transition from the present regime of 'launch on warning' and 'hair trigger alerts', to a cooperative 'New Strategic Framework' would challenge 'the will and commitment of the international community. That is why the Indian approach of 'no first use', 'non-use against non-nuclear weapon states' and 'de-alert' provides an alternative and reliable mechanism for moving into a new global security order.

The visit also provided an opportunity to review a wide range of bilateral regional and international issues. Both sides expressed satisfaction at the pace of progress in Indo-US relations since the assumption of office by President George W. Bush and reaffirmed their commitment to making them more productive.