Transcript of Foreign Secretary Mr. Shivshankar Menon - U.S. Under Secretary of State Mr. Nicholas Burns conversation on US, India and the World at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC
February 22, 2007
JESSICA MATHEWS: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m Jessica Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. And it’s a great pleasure to welcome all of you here. It’s my very special pleasure and privilege to welcome our two distinguished guests: Foreign Secretary Shankar Menon, on the occasion of his first official visit to the United States, and an old friend, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns who has been a great friend of the endowment for a long time, and whom we’ve had the pleasure of welcoming here before. It’s great to have you back here. Mr. Secretary, I hope your visit is proving very successful, and I hope this will not be the last time we can welcome you here at the endowment.
This afternoon’s meeting is an unusual format, and one we think will be particularly interesting and revealing for all of you, and fun for the participants. As many of you know, the endowment is in the process of undertaking a fundamental redefinition of its own mission. From our beginnings as America’s oldest international foreign policy think tank, we have embarked on a journey that will one day make us – we hope – the world’s first truly global think tank. We’ve begun it by opening new offices in Beijing and Beirut, and next month in Brussels, in addition to our headquarters here in Washington and our office of long standing of 14 years in Moscow. One day, we hope to extend the Carnegie presence to New Delhi as well.
Our journey of transformation, however, is not just about opening new offices, but rather it’s fundamentally about the way research is done and the way foreign policy is both analyzed and made. It is rooted in the conviction that in an increasingly globalized world, a single national outlook is necessarily too restrictive. We think that effective public policy research and effective public policy must be a genuine two-way street with analysis and deep local knowledge and insight, which is made possible by a sustained presence on the ground as its basis. And so, today’s format is very much a metaphor of what we are doing and trying to become.
So you can understand why I particularly look forward to this conversation about the United States, India, and the world. I am glad that the endowment has the honor of hosting this unique event. What we’re going to do is listen to the two secretaries each speak for five to ten minutes, and then Ashley Tellis, the distinguished senior associate at the endowment will moderate a discussion among the two secretaries, and then we will throw it open to all of you. At the end, we will finish a little before our scheduled closing time to allow time for a press conference and to which any of you who wish to stay are certainly invited, although it will be speaking roles for members of the press.
So with that, let me turn the microphone over to Secretary Menon, and welcome you once again to the endowment. Thank you for being here with us.
SECRETARY SHIVSHANKAR MENON: Thank you. Thank you very much. I am impressed to see so many of you here, some old friends. I guess this is an unusual format. First time, I’ve done this. But I think the ease of this probably reflects the ease of our engagement, the way we have now started to work with each other. We’ve learned to work with each other. I am honored to be here, to be among you.
I’ve just been here two days, and it’s been a really hectic two days, I think, because of the transformed nature of our relationship. We’ve had some very good discussions, all of yesterday, and we found the time just wasn’t enough. We, today, have a full spectrum engagement between India and the U.S. And this transformed relationship, I think, is evident in all the subjects that we discussed. I mean, I could go through a long list, but most of you here I think know the subjects better than we do.
I found it really quite impressive to see not only the quality of what we were doing, but how what we were doing was relevant for India, for the U.S. For India, I think because the question really should be why weren’t we doing this before? How come we have come to the full spectrum engagement today? The straightforward answer is that we have leaders with a vision of what we should be doing together, of our place in the world, what we want to be, and a vision of how important India-U.S. relations are. But it also is more. I think it reflects the fact that India has changed, the world has changed. India has changed very rapidly in the last few years. But we, today, together, have capabilities that we didn’t have before.
So we have what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh likes to call partnership of principle and pragmatism. It’s a coincidence of principles – I mean, you know here are two greatest democracies in the world working together; we both have open markets; we want to open ours further. There is a lot more that we need to do. We are trying to build a knowledge economy in India; you are a knowledge economy. And there is so much complementarity; there’s so much that we can do that in a sense, the U.S. is today very, very important, central almost to India’s own development aspirations. And that’s a very important part of what we were doing. We were discussing an agricultural knowledge initiative, for instance; we have an energy dialogue; we’re talking about various sectors – civil nuclear energy also – energy security. These are all issues where we’re talking about things that are of direct relevance to the way we see ourselves developing in the world.
But what’s also changed is the world around us. That has changed so rapidly and so quickly that wherever I look, whether it’s in our immediate neighborhood, subcontinent, Asia, or on the bigger global issues, I see convergence. And I think that came out very clearly yesterday when we were talking, and in the other conversations one has had. Here again, one could go through a long list, but I think what struck me was that we came at these problems, these issues, and the broader the issue, the longer term it was, actually almost the more the convergence. So that actually gives me hope for the future. It seems to me that this is something that is going to grow and that will become stronger and stronger as we move along.
As we see the world changing, us changing, I think we have opportunities today that we’ve never had before, and I’m glad that we’re determined to take them, that we’re determined to do whatever we can. I’ll turn this over to you, rather than going through my list of issues. And then maybe we could talk about them one by one.
NICHOLAS BURNS: Shankar, thank you very much. And ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I first want to thank Jessica Mathews and Ashley Tellis, and I want to thank Carnegie for the invitation for Foreign Secretary Menon and I to share the stage. And just to congratulate Jessica, what you’ve been able to accomplish here at Carnegie, this great vision of becoming a global think tank, badly needed in an interconnected world, and we’re very proud that an American institution has this capacity to reach out well beyond our shores. So we respect what you’re trying to do and support you very much.
I also want to say, as I look out in the audience, two very good friends of mine and predecessors of mine, Mark Grossman, Arnie Cantor (sp), I see. I hope Tom Pickering is not here; if he is, Ambassador Pickering, good afternoon. But good to see both of them. And I should say, on this issue of India, I think Mark Grossman was a pioneer for the United States of America, as someone who really understood very early on the strategic importance of India to the United States. And after that terrible event, the tsunami just a day after Christmas in 2004, it as Mark who led the American government effort to work with India and Japan and Australia in the immediate assistance. So I just wanted to pay that tribute to Mark, and to Arnie, very distinguished predecessors. And to say to Raminder Jassal who is the very great deputy chief of mission of the Indian mission here how glad we are to work with him.
I would just add my voice to Shankar’s in saying that it’s interesting to say the two of us sitting up here together. I don’t think you would have seen this at Carnegie in 1997 or 1987 or 1967 or ’57. We had the ultimate unfulfilled relationship, the United States and India. If you go back and trace the development of the relationship between our two countries, ever since the independence of India after partition in 1947, there was always this feeling in the United States that India should be a natural partner; and I believe that Indians felt that way about our country in the early years. And yet, we never quite managed, through successive American and Indian governments, to achieve that.
And I do think it was the vision of President Clinton in the mid-1990s to say that India should be this kind of global partner of the United States. And when President Bush came into office in 2001, just to give you an American perspective, I think he doubled the bet, and he said it will be. And it was through Bob Blackwell and David Mulford, our two outstanding ambassadors in Delhi, through Mark Grossman, Secretary Powell and Secretary Rice. I think President Bush made sure that all of us involved in the relationship were going to try our very best to try to vault it forward and develop a more strategic, comprehensive global basis for the partnership.
And Shankar and I met for several hours yesterday before lunch, and during lunch, and after, and it was really quite extraordinary the breadth of the dialogue between us. Prime Minister Singh and President Bush have essentially written for us a framework, which is truly global, not just bilateral or regional, and which is about as broad as any relationship that we have in the world today. I think on July 18th, 2005 when the prime minister was here for that very historic visit, he and President Bush agreed on essentially joint ventures between the two governments in 16 different areas – space research to joint space cooperation and flight, to a true engagement on energy, to a new CEO forum of a different type than we’d ever done before with any other government, which has worked very well for both of our governments.
Shankar met the secretary of Agriculture today and talked about our hope that we could participate in a second green revolution in India, as the prime minister and his government attempt to modernize the agricultural sector, and as we think that our land grant universities in our Midwest can play a role in that at the request of the Indian government. Shankar met with the secretary of Commerce today, and we have a hi-tech, very much export-driven relationship, where I hope that we in government can essentially get out of the way and lower the barriers to trade and investment, and allow our companies to do what they can do so well. I was in Hyderabad in mid-December and saw this happening, saw the extraordinary number of American joint ventures in Hyderabad. The biggest Microsoft office outside of Redmond, Washington, in Hyderabad, and you can really see there, as you can see in Bangalore, and many other Indian cities, the promise of this knowledge engagement between the United States and India, and especially between our private sectors. So we are committed to this relationship.
I think right now, the United States considers India without any question one of our most important global strategic partners. I would say, just as an American citizen, thinking ahead 20 or 30 years, I would hope that Americans would be able to say 10, 20, 30 years from now, India is one of our two or three most important partners in the world bar none. And I think it will be in an increasingly complicated, complex, and multilateral driven world, where the challenges will largely be ones of connecting countries to deal with multilateral challenges. I think India and the United States are seeing not just our intersection of values as the two greatest democracies in the world, but in the intersection of interests, which are driving our two governments to see each other as natural partners.
I would just say one word about this bilateral engagement. There is no question that the symbolic centerpiece of it has been our civil nuclear accord. And it’s a year and a half past the time when the prime minister and president decided that we would break free from 30 years of conventional wisdom that had separated us, that had prohibited our industries from working together, that put us at cross purposes on the great non-proliferations debates of the last three decades. And they had the boldness and the courage politically to break away from the easy restrictions that have been imposed upon us, and that we had actually imposed upon ourselves. And I think we corrected a mistake that we had made many years ago, and we have now made it possible, through the bipartisan support of the Democratic and Republican leadership in the House and Senate of the United States, through those very dramatic and sizeable votes in the autumn. We are making it possible now for the United States to be the sherpa of India, as India will gain universal international approval in the nuclear suppliers group for free nuclear cooperation in fuel, and in nuclear reactors for the future. This will bring enormous benefits to India. And it will bring enormous benefits to the United States of America. It’s in both of our interests to do that. So we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished.
We’ve got a little bit ways to go now, in completing our bilateral accord, and then in seeing India go forward with the IAEA and the nuclear suppliers groups. But we’ve pledged to be India’s supporter in this process, and I think we’ve been a good friend to India.
And I would just say two more things before we get to the conversation and engagement with this audience. I think what is also remarkable about the development of this partnership over the last several years is the fact that on a regional basis in South Asia, India and the United States are now working together politically in a way we have not worked together before, going all the way back, in 60 years time. I think one of the great changes that I’ve seen in America’s national security consciousness, and the way we view the world.
And I saw this – I was away for eight years as a diplomat in Europe, and came back to this place to take up Mark’s baton in 2005 – the newfound strategic importance of South Asia. There is no question that South Asia is a place of vital strategic engagement for our country – success in Afghanistan, our truly vital partnership with Pakistan, and our strategic vital partnership with India. And that is new over the last ten years or so for both the Clinton and Bush administration, and it has changed the way we see the opportunities positive and negative in the world.
And the way that we work together with India, just in the last past two years, in Bangladesh where I know India and the United States are sending the same message – democracy, success through elections, political stability, rejection of terrorism and violence in that very large and important country. I know we’re sending the same message, in fact, we’re working together in Sri Lanka, where we’re trying to convince the government and the Tamil Tigers to engage in a true negotiation. Of course, we Americans don’t deal with the Tamil Tigers because we think they’re a terrorist group responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians. We work with the government and hope the government can see it’s way forward to make that bridge to negotiations. And in Nepal, where the United States and India are both helping internationally to manage this transition from one system to another, but with democracy at its center and with non-violence at the center. And I think it’s the quality of what we’ve been able to do as partners in those three issues that is really a step forward for our two countries.
And finally, I’d say my final comment would be that a strong bilateral partnership, a strong regional partnership, the true strategic engagement comes globally. There are few countries that can manage a global agenda in the way that India and the United States can, given the size of our countries, given our vision, and given the power of our societies – our private sectors as well as our governments. And as America looks around the world, we need democratic partners in a very dangerous world. And we see India as one of our most valued partners.
Prime Minister Singh and President Bush were the first two world leaders to champion Kofi Annan’s new project for democracy, the two first contributors to support a global effort to promote democracy in countries where it does not now exist. Our two countries are in the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS and we’re putting our money and efforts behind that. Our two countries are saying that democratic capitalism can and must exist with a fight for social justice and poverty alleviation, whether it’s in our own countries and our own parts of the world, but also specifically in Africa, in South Asia, and in Latin America.
Our two countries, I think, are the two countries that can lead a revitalization of the United Nations system with a new secretary general. And we Americans certainly understand that we can’t live without the United Nations, that we need to have a positive outlook towards the United Nations, that we shouldn’t seek to always speak about what’s wrong with the United Nations, but try to support it positively. And you’ve seen this Indian-American engagement in supporting Ban Ki-Moon, in supporting UN reform, and I think particularly in trying to revitalize UN peacekeeping which is so important in Africa where no other country or organization can do what the United Nations can do.
And this multilateral engagement will extend itself in the future, I’m convinced, to tackle the most important issues before us. If the future global agenda is going to focus on global climate change, on defeating trafficking of women and children, on defeating the narco-traffickers, international crime cartels, and defeating terrorist groups - India and the United States are both victims of terrorists – and keeping them away, those terrorist groups, from chemical, biological, and nuclear technology, which would be truly dangerous, if that’s the coming global agenda, then we need a multilateral approach to be successful and our two countries are well positioned to be in the center of that effort. So I see an intersection of interests, as well as the foundation of an intersection of values. And we Americans, in our government, and I think beyond in the Congress, you can see it and you can feel it. You can feel that this partnership is one that is decidedly in our national interest, and we suspect that’s the same for the Indian government people as well.
ASHLEY TELLIS: Let me take the liberty of asking both of you, each of you, one question that builds on the themes that you flagged. Secretary Burns, you mentioned correctly that the civil nuclear agreement has been the pinnacle, the symbolic pinnacle of everything you’ve achieved so far. And yet, you also indicated that there is so much that is yet to come, because this partnership has a foundation that is often not seen from the outside and not appreciated as much from the outside. Could you speak to two areas, which are likely to become important in the next year – the prospects for counterterrorism cooperation between our two countries and the prospect of defense cooperation?
MR. BURNS: I’d be happy to do it very briefly, and I suspect we’ll get some conversation from the audience on this. When Shankar and I sat down yesterday to take account of where we are and where we’re going, I said it was the opinion of my government that having successfully fought the good fight in the United States to convince the Congress and the American people that we ought to break free from our conventions on civil nuclear cooperation and go forward. We thought that the next horizon would be dominated by two issues.
First, can the United States and India join together, both in South Asia and beyond to be partners in the fight against terrorist groups wherever they are, whether they’re global terrorist organizations or regionally based? Because both of us are victims and, unfortunately, potential victims of terrorism. And we certainly feel in Washington there is a lot more that our two countries can do to cooperate together on an intelligence and national basis to be successful together.
Secondly, it seemed to us that the next frontier would also be in military relations. I know that former Defense Secretary Bill Cohen and former Undersecretary of State Tom Pickering were both in India at the Bangalore Air Show recently. We had the largest ever American industry presence at Bangalore. We have put our best foot forward to show that whether it’s on the technology basis, whether it’s on a doctrinal basis in terms of the strategic dialogue, increased exercises and training experiences for our navies, our air forces, and our armies, there is a lot that our armed forces can and should be doing together in disaster relief, in international peacekeeping, because we have democratic armed forces under civilian control. We are peaceful nations and we seek to preserve peace and stability, both where we live in our own regions, but globally.
And so we felt that those two areas, counterterrorism cooperation and military and defense cooperation were the next horizons for this relationship, where there was room for growth. And we put that thought forward yesterday, and we sure would like to work with the Indian government on that basis.
MR. TELLIS: Secretary Menon, let me ask you one question, again based on the theme that you touched on, which is the growing partnership in areas that go beyond the bilateral – international institutions and international regimes. Can you say something to how India now looks at the prospects of working with the United States to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime, an issue that became very much in public attention as the result of the civil nuclear agreement?
SEC. MENON: Well, I think that’s an area that we discussed yesterday. It is related to our bilateral civil nuclear understanding as well to the implementation of that. Over the last few years, you have seen that we have harmonized essentially our export controls on the non-proliferation side, whether it’s for weapons of mass destruction or whether it’s for the delivery vehicle, with the best international standards. In some cases, we think we’re even better. Our record, we think, speaks for itself. And we have an interest, as India, we have an interest actually in non-proliferation which is deep and abiding. And this is something where we intend to work together to see how we can realize this, because this is going to be, and already is, one of the biggest dangers in the future.
As Nick said, the issues of the future are the ones that we really see eye to eye on, and we have to work together. India is ready to be a partner in the development of a new non-proliferation consensus. And I think we do need one. I don’t think it’s enough to go back to the old ways, to the tried ways, because they haven’t succeeded. I think that’s apparent to most of us that we need to work together to develop a new international consensus. And that’s something that we look forward to doing with our partners, and that’s something that I think we’ll do.
Just to add to what Nick said, we looked at where we can go over the next year, over 2007, and how we already have a transformed relationship. But we thought we could take it to a newer level and a higher level if we were to work on defense, on counterterrorism. A lot of the global issues we’re already working on, but we’re going to see how we can add new impetus to that. Democracy, for instance, is a big issue; pandemics is an issue that cuts across; energy security. We’re approaching it in various ways, bilaterally but also internationally. Yesterday, when I started the day actually discussing issues like this with Undersecretary Dobriansky, human rights – these are issues where we have natural affinities; we have very similar approaches to them.
And for me, the amazing thing is the synergy across these issues where this is very unusual in a partnership. In a partnership, normally, you just pick one or two where you think you have common strengths and common interests. But all of yesterday and today has convinced me that this runs across the board. So it’s really a question of how much effort and skill and time can we devote to each of these issues? The potential is tremendous. But I think right now, our priority is to get the civil nuclear understanding done quickly and all that goes with it, and to make sure that as the Indian market opens, American companies have an equal chance and an open chance there in the process of competition. And I think that’s what we will do right away; that’s our immediate priority. But there are all these other fields available to us to work together, and we look forward to doing that.
MR. TELLIS: Thank you very much. What I intend to do is to open it now to the floor so that these 118 odd individuals who are here today get a chance to interact with you. I will simply recognize you as you raise your hands. Do us the favor though of identifying yourself so that the secretaries can recognize who you are. And then, I will just leave it to the two of you to jump in as required on the question. So I want to assure you that everything that has happened so far has not been scripted. This is not a quartet, and they haven’t practiced their parts. This is a jazz riff, so we basically just play it as we go along. So let me – yes, ma’am.
Q: Nina Donahey (sp), Fox News. Secretary Burns, if I could just take the liberty of asking not about India, but about Iran, as it’s in the news today. Obviously, the IAEA report is out; it’s concluded that Iran did not comply with the December resolution. Secretary Rice has said therefore that prospects of another resolution is very, very real. Can you respond to that?
MR. BURNS: I’d be happy to. This is an issue, of course, where we’ve had a longstanding discussion with the Indian government. Of course, we have different perspectives because we live in different parts of the world and have a different history to our relations with Iran. But I think there has been a tremendous international effort over the last two years to send one message to the Iranians. And that is that all of us I think are comfortable and would want to help promote the development of the civil nuclear industry in Iran. The Iranian people deserve that and have a right to it. But none of us around the world, with the possible exception of Syria and Cuba and Belarus would like to see Iran become a nuclear weapon state. And so, Mohamed ElBaradei’s report today – the IAEA report – was decidedly conclusive about Iran. It is not meeting its commitments to the IAEA; it is not allowing the requisite number of inspectors to visit the enrichment processing plant at Natanz. Iran has not met the conditions of the UN Security Council Resolution 1737. It has not suspended its enrichment program.
I know what you’ll see next. You’ll see an effort by Russia and China, United States, Britain, France and Germany, to now develop a second Security Council resolution. Secretary Rice had good discussions in Berlin this morning with the Russian and German foreign ministers and Javier Solana. They have agreed to now meet. In fact, I’ll be going off to London on Monday to meet with the other countries to help write that resolution. I expect work in the Security Council will start following that. And we would expect to see Iran repudiated again by the United Nations Security Council for the fact that it won’t come to the negotiating table. It is effectively thumbing its nose at the international community by proceeding with its experiment to string together a cascade –(audio break, tape change) -- all of us in a multilateral format. We want that day to come, and if the Iranians would just meet the conditions that the Security Council has established, all the members of the Security Council, they’ll have that negotiation, and Secretary Rice has said that she will lead the American delegation to that negotiation.
So it’s Iran’s refusal to talk which right now has gotten Iran in a lot of hot water, and I think what you’re finding is Iran is increasingly isolated, and we hope Iran is going to choose negotiations because if it doesn’t, it’s just going to see an escalation of the financial sanctions, the Chapter 7 sanctions, and all the efforts that are being made now by international banking institutions, by the EU, by the Japanese government, to start to restrict the ability of those countries – of the inclination of those countries to deal on a business-as-usual basis with the Iranians.
So we hope the Iranians will choose negotiations. And beyond the Perm-5, remember that Brazil and Egypt and Argentina and Japan and India voted with the Perm-5 countries a year ago, two weeks ago, at the IAEA, to urge Iran to choose diplomacy and choose negotiations.
MR. TELLIS: Yes?
Q: I’m Raghobir Goyal for India Globe and Asia Today. A question for both of you. It was, first of all, a great session, and my question is that, Mr. Secretary, now India and U.S. are the best allies or the best relations they have in, I think, 50-plus years, don’t you think that United States needs a good friend at the U.N., and don’t you think, Mr. Secretary, that India deserves the United Nations Security Council’s seat today than ever? And for both of you, sir.
MR. BURNS: I think I’ll let Shankar lead on that, and I’ll follow.
SEC. MENON: My answer is simple: Yes. (Laughter.)
Q: (Off mike.)
SEC. MENON: That’s a different question.
MR. BURNS: Let me say it this way – let me – it’s a very good question. I think we’re seeing a much greater effort by India and the United States to engage each other at the U.N. and to be partners with the U.N. And we Americans understand that the U.N. institutions can’t forever reflect the world as it was in September and October of 1945 – that there has to be a modernization, not only of the effectiveness of the General Assembly but of the Security Council. And we have been open to ideas that would lead to a modernization of the Security Council, of its membership. We haven’t yet, of course, spoken fully to that issue, and we haven’t yet seen a realistic proposal to modernize because I think our view is that among the various institutions of the U.N., the one that’s working exceptionally well is the Security Council.
And so we wouldn’t want to see some dramatic expansion in the numbers of countries becoming permanent members. We would favor, as Secretary Rice said I think as early as her second month as secretary of State, a gradual but also modest expansion in the membership. We’ve been open to that. We have of course looked at all the various proposals and there hasn’t been one that’s been successful. So I think we’ll have to wait and see before the United States pronounces itself, on that issue specifically, a successful – or a solution that’s proposed that has the ability to garner 128 votes in the General Assembly, which is what you need to get to change the rules and procedures of the Security Council.
Now, having said that, there is no question that India is playing, and shall continue to play, a bigger role globally. And you’ve seen India now be invited – having been invited to the last several meetings of the G-8 countries in St. Petersburg, in Scotland before that, and the United States wishes very much to see India play that role in the future – play a much larger role in all these great international institutions that are at the heart of the international system.
Q: Thank you very much. I’m Daryl Kimball with the Arms Control Association. For what it matters, I think India should have a seat at the Security Council too, but that’s not what my question is about. My question is about the ongoing –
SEC. MENON: I didn’t either. (Chuckles.)
MR. BURNS: You didn’t –
Q: You didn’t find that either, no.
But my question is about the ongoing talks about the civil nuclear energy deal, which of course is yet to be seen whether this is the right course to go. And I understand that there continue to be some differences between the two sides about the details of the so-called 123 Agreement, and I understand that the Indian side delivered recently a response to an earlier U.S. draft, and the Indian officials have publicly been saying that they would like to have programmatic consent rights on U.S.-origin material for reprocessing or enrichment. Indian officials have said they’re not happy with the provisions in the Henry Hyde Act that essentially set up a termination clause if India resumes nuclear testing, and India is insisting on India-specific safeguards, which I would like Secretary Menon to maybe elaborate on because it seems – it’s difficult for me and many others to understand how India-specific safeguards can be made consistent with U.S. law, which requires permanent, facility-specific safeguards on the civil facilities and on the materials that the IAEA Board of Governors has to approve. So my question is what are those India-specific safeguards you’re talking about?
And for Secretary Burns, it seems to me the U.S. law doesn’t give your side very much room to compromise on these issues. How do you see the two sides squaring the circle on these still-important issues?
SEC. MENON: Just to be clear about where we are on the civil nuclear understanding, it seems to me we have the understanding already. That was done between the two leaders. It was done in July 2005; it was done in March 2006. So our job now is to put it on paper; of actually expressing it in legal terms. That’s never easy, even if you have a basic understanding of what you’re doing. But it’s not our job now to try and renegotiate that in the terms, in the words that we put into the 123.
The India-specific safeguards agreement is something we will discuss separately with the IAEA, and we’re going through that process. We’ve started those discussions. We hope to work it through. Whether that is compatible with U.S. law, what relationship it has to U.S. law, is something I can’t answer, quite frankly. That’s something – we will work that out, and the U.S., as a member of the board, as a member of the IAEA, will be as much a part of that whole process as the others on the board and in the IAEA. And that’s something that I think Nick will have to speak to.
But as far as I can see, there is nothing in the basic understanding between us in – of July 18th, March 2nd that contravenes either Indian law or U.S. law. I think that’s clear. And if what we are doing is legal in both our systems, I don’t see a problem. I think it’s really just a test of the ingenuity of how we actually express this. I know how efficient we are and how quickly we can do it, and the quicker the better, as far as I’m concerned, because it is an important sign, I think, of our willingness to think outside the box to transform this relationship, and to start dealing with each other and talking in new ways, which reflect the new reality.
MR. BURNS: I agree very much, Daryl, with Shankar. The big issues have been decided. You know, we’ve crossed the highest mountains in these negotiations. And it’s important to remember what happened in July ’05 and March ’06. In both instances, we literally negotiated to the very final minute in the anteroom before we walked in – the two foreign ministers and their aids – to see the two leaders. And in both instances, it was the prime minister of India and the president of the United States who made the agreements themselves.
So we have crossed over the biggest issues, and they’ve been decided, not always seeing the subsequent steps in which we are now immersed as diplomats, to be a mere codification of what has already been decided.
And so you mentioned the 123 talks – I’m optimistic. Shankar and I had a good discussion yesterday about the 123 talks. I’ll likely go to India in a couple weeks’ time to continue that. And I think we will get those done because the big issues have been decided and we’re going to be creative diplomats to find a way to square circles, which is what we’re paid to do. I don’t worry about that.
We also, the United States government, we support the Hyde bill. This was a very good process. We started out in March and April of last year with a healthy degree of skepticism from both houses and both political parties. I think we were able to overcome that skepticism. We were certainly. We were able to accommodate a lot of good ideas from the House and Senate, frankly some that we hadn’t thought of that I think strengthened the bill, and we fully support what the Democratic and Republican leadership did in the autumn, and we’re very proud of it.
So now the process is we’ll complete our 123 Agreement. India will go on, I’m sure, to complete its IAEA safeguards agreement. We’ll take that to the NSG. We will be successful in the NSG, I’m certain of it, after having consulted with all the countries in the NSG the way we have. And then the Congress of the United States, in our system, will have one more chance to vote on a majority basis, and if we are true to the Hyde agreement – and we will be – then that vote, I would hope, would be positive. And if we can do all that by the end of 2007, Shankar and I can retire – (laughter) – and ride off into the sunset. I think we can. I don’t think we’re going to have to have a major problem in doing that, but it does take time, as Shankar mentioned, to get through the legal technicalities and the technical technicalities, and we’ll do that.
MR. TELLIS: Okay. Please write your memoirs when you get to that point. (Laughter.)
Tesi (sp), please.
Q: Tesi Schaffer from CSIS. It’s lovely to see you both and to see you together. I wanted to ask about an issue that both of you cited as the next horizon, and that is terrorism. What kind of cooperation do you envisage as being kind of the heart and soul of how India and the United States work together on this issue? Are you thinking primarily of operational things, training, capacity building, financial controls? Are you looking more in bilateral terms or more on the U.S. and India as part of the mobilization process for a larger effort? Is there a particular regional focus to this? Are you looking mainly globally? Help us understand a little bit where you think this effort is going.
MR. BURNS: Tesi, I’d say just very briefly that from an American perspective, we see India and the United States as having a common interest in trying to thwart terrorism in our own regions and globally, and we’re both victims but we’re also powerful countries with strong societies who should be able to surmount this challenge.
So I would – what have we done effectively with Japan, with the European Union? There are two agreements that we have that have worked rather well that might provide some kind of intellectual template for what India and the United States could do together.
Most of the attention of the world is focused on the hard side of the fight against terrorism: military action. But that’s actually just a small part of the international effort. What we’ve done well with Japan and some of the other Asian countries and with the EU is we’ve had intelligence cooperation, we’ve had law enforcement cooperation, we’ve been able to use our economic systems to dry up the ability of terrorist groups to launder their money through our financial systems, and we’ve had diplomatic cooperation to keep terrorism as a leading issue, whether it’s bilaterally, regionally or globally.
And I think if India and the United States can do that, and if we can do it in a way that meets the interests of both of our countries, we will have succeeded because those are the four areas outside of military action that are going to be the heart of the effort against terrorism. Military action will be sporadic. It’s not usually the way to fight terrorism. It’s these four areas. And we see India as a victim of terrorism in its own region, and if we’re going to be a friend of India, we have to respond to that and assist India. And I know we expect the same in return. As American faces this threat, we want friends like India to be supportive of us in these very practical ways.
SEC. MENON: My simple answer to what you said is all of the above because I think we have to deal with both sides of the issue – both the supply side and the demand side, unfortunately, which means we have to, I think, deal with the causes of terrorism, do it through intelligence cooperation, do it through knowing the enemy, and then seeing how we can actually make it hard for the terrorists to survive to do what they’re doing to us.
As he said, we’re both victims, but we’re also capable of dealing with this, and we are going to have to deal with this issue. There is no way that we can avoid this. We’ve had a terrible incidence of it just last week in India, of terrorism. And that kind of thing I think only renews our determination to fight it and not to succumb to it. But that’s an area where I think we think that there is potential for us to actually increase our cooperation and do a lot more together.
MR. TELLIS: Deepti?
Q: Hi. Deepti Choubey; I’m with the Nonproliferation Program here at the Carnegie Endowment. And, Secretary Menon, considering the huge responsibility that comes with being a nuclear power, what is India’s plan to join with and help the international community in confronting the most serious challenges to the nonproliferation regime? You’ve talked about this. New consensus on nonproliferation? Could you further elaborate what that effort looks like and what role you see for India on that in issues like disarmament?
And Secretary Burns, you’ve talked about a coming global agenda that includes the intersection of WMDs and terrorism. What are your hopes for what the Indian relationship will yield on nonproliferation challenges that have to do with state actors?
SEC. MENON: Well, on disarmament, I think the goal is clear: universal, complete disarmament of nuclear weapons. That’s what we would like, but obviously that’s not happening tomorrow. And there are things we can do before that which we think are worth talking about, agreeing among the states that have nuclear weapons, and among the rest of the international community because we think everybody should have a say. This is everybody’s survival that’s at stake here.
Last year in the United Nations General Assembly we introduced a paper on how we see this process going forward, starting with simple things like de-alerting, things like that. But more than that, moving on to a commitment, to no first use, for instance; that would be very useful; that would help. And there’s a whole series of other steps that could be taken. But this is a conversation, which I think has been going on for a long time. I think our minds have been focused much more clearly on the issues concerned in the last few years as the threat of the spread of these weapons increases and becomes – as it becomes more and more likely. And that’s something we look forward to talking about with the United States as we go forward.
We don’t think anybody has a single answer. We can tell you our views, but these are just our views. What’s going to work? I don’t know. It’s something we have to work out together. And this, unfortunately, is not something that just one of us or just the two of us can do together. It’s something that’s going to need much more. That’s why we speak of a new international consensus on nonproliferation.
MR. BURNS: One of the arguments that we made to the Senate and House last spring and summer was that by breaking with the taboo and by bringing India into the mainstream of the nonproliferation system in the way that we’ve suggested we should do it, that actually strengthens the International Nonproliferation effort, and we believe that we’ve taken an important step.
And if you look at some of the problem states in the world now – North Korea and Iran are two good examples – it’s ironic that at various times – you know, for instance, Iran has been in the system but been cheating inside; India has been outside of the system but playing by the rules. And so, the message to the Iranians and North Koreans is, if you actually play by the rules, if you are a responsible steward of nuclear technology, if you actually abide by what the IAEA wants you to do, which neither North Korea or Iran have done, then there is way forward in the international system.
And so it was ironic because a lot of people asked us at the beginning of this process, isn’t this a bad message, the India-U.S. nuke deal, to the North Koreans and Iranians? We saw it in exactly the opposite way. And I think that recent events have proven that. The North Koreans now have taken a step forward in the six-party process, and we want to see them continue to meet their commitments to us.
The Iranians are well on the outside and are largely being repudiated by the international system, and I think we’re very grateful for the support that India has given us, the six parties and North Korea, and frankly very grateful for what India done on the Iran question. Now, I think it’s also important that we hold India to the same standard we hold any other country that has relations with Iran that trades with Iran. All of our European allies have diplomatic relations with Iran and trade with it. Japan has diplomatic relations and trades with it, and there has been a quality in our debate of asking India to meet bars that no one else is meeting. And so if you establish a level playing field and ask all of our friends to send the right message to Iran and not to have a business as usual relationship, I think India has met that, and we’ve been very satisfied with the cooperation that we’ve had.
Q: Kumar from Amnesty International. Mr. Burns, you mentioned that you have common message, same message to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, but you missed Pakistan. I wonder if the both of you have the same message to Pakistan on – (inaudible) – human rights nuclear issues.
Second part of the question, in case if there is a change of comment, which is definitely going to take place here in about a year and a half too, and the same way on India, how will this relationship be affected if there is a change of comment on both sides?
MR. BURNS: I missed that. Same way in India?
Q: No, I mean, once it may, I mean, down the road, two years, three years – (laughter) – we don’t know, you never know, people lose power – (laughter)
MR. BURNS: I would say that, I wouldn’t link these issues, and I didn’t link them and purposely didn’t link them. On Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, there’s a human rights imperative, there’s a counter-terrorism imperative, and there’s an imperative for stability that runs through each of them, and in which India and the United States have found some common ground and have tried to use our respective positions to preach stability, peaceful resolution of disputes, attention to human rights, in each of the countries. I didn’t list Pakistan there because I don’t think it’s accurate to say that India and the United States have some kind of a joint approach towards Pakistan. India has a unique relationship, and Sean (ph) Carr can talk about that.
We have a unique relationship. Pakistan is one of our most important partners worldwide in this fight against al Qaeda, against the Taliban. We have a strategic relationship with President Musharraf, and so one of the successes that we think we’ve arrived at in this administration is that we’ve effectively dehyphenated America’s policy towards South Asia. We used to have a relationship towards India-Pakistan. We now have a strategic partnership with Pakistan – with India – and we have a very close working relationship and partnership with Pakistan. But they’re very, very different. And you saw when President Bush went to South Asia last year, to Afghanistan and then India and then Pakistan, the agenda was very different in each place, the words were different, the rhetoric was different, but the commitment of our country to a good relationship with all three was there. And so I purposely didn’t group Pakistan with the other three because I think it’s an entirely different set of affairs.
SEC. MENON: Just to try and answer your question, our relationship with Pakistan, you know, it’s gone up and down. Right now, it’s changing. It’s evolving rapidly. So far in the last three years, it’s been in a positive direction. But our goal in this is really to have good neighborly relations with Pakistan, but to achieve that today, we see several issues that we need to deal with. We need to deal with terrorism, we need to deal with pending issues; we’ve listed them all. We have a way of dealing with them today which we didn’t have in the past. We have a composite dialogue with Pakistan. In the middle of March, I hope to go and meet the Pakistani foreign secretary and talk to him about these issues.
We would like to have a Pakistan that’s peaceful, prosperous, at peace with itself on our border. It’s in our interest as India. We need a peaceful – (inaudible) – if we are to grow, at the eight to ten percent that we want to grow our economy at. So it’s in our own interests to seek a better relationship with Pakistan, to seek a resolution of our issue, of all issues that there are between us, and we will certainly do that.
Now, to the extent that the international community, the international environment helps this process, and it has been helping this process over the last few years, we welcome it. But we are going to make this effort anyway in our own interest with Pakistan. And so, to your question, I hope that answers your question because I am still a bit confused about the question.
Q: Howard Wiarda from CSIS. Let’s assume that I’m a Henry Kissinger-ish geopolitical thinker, and I’m sitting in Beijing as a Henry Kissinger grand strategic thinker, and I’m a balance of power thinker. And I look around at my map and I see a new, invigorated United States-Japan relationship, and now suddenly a new United States-India relationship, and I start to think this has major implications, not just in terms of bilateral relations but globally. And maybe I think that calls for a new alliance with Russia or a new alliance with Pakistan or – (inaudible). Could you comment both on how you see this relationship beyond the bilateral matters affecting global politics and also how you think it might affect alliance relations in the Asian part of the world?
MR. BURNS: You know, from the moment you stood up and said the word Kissinger, we both looked at each other and knew exactly where you were going with that question – (laughter) – because, you know, it’s probably the most frequently asked question of certainly me when people ask about India, why are you doing this? Are you doing this to contain China? And the answer is no.
The U.S.-India partnership is going to be global based on the intersection of our interests of two democratic countries. It’s going to be very different, I would imagine, than our respective relations with China. Sean (ph) Carr is an expert on China. Our view is that China, it’s not possible to contain China in the conventional sense, nor is it desirable. We’ve established a very different construct. Bob Zoellick, our former deputy secretary, said about two years ago we ought to work with China on a global basis but also encourage China to be a stakeholder in the international system. So we’re beginning to see that happen.
I would say that United States relations with China are as good in the political realm right now than in any time since modern China, communist China was created in 1949. Difference of opinion about human rights and religious rights within China, problems and challenges on the economic side with our trade imbalance, with international property rights, but a beginning convergence of a way to work together on a political side.
Examples: North Korea. I was in Beijing in November to try to put forward the notion that there ought to be a way to stimulate the six party talks, and my good friend Chris Hill has carried all the water and done such a brilliant job for us. Why did we succeed last week? In large part, because China took the lead, because China used its influence with North Korea, because China worked a common purpose with the United States. And the way we worked together, Chris Hill and his Chinese counterpart, was truly new in our relationship.
Second example, Iran. China and the United States, for a year and two months, have been partners in trying to convince the Iranians to negotiate with us, both of us, together, and the Russians and others, and we sponsor a Security Council resolution to sanction Iran, together. We’ll be together in London on Monday, when I meet with my Chinese counterpart to talk about a second resolution.
Third example, Sudan. President Hu Jintao was in Khartoum just two weeks ago, and he put forward a point of view which was remarkably similar to the American point of view: please, President Bashir, allow the African Union and the United Nations to come in with a hybrid joint peacekeeping force, to protect the people of Darfur against the Janjaweed militia and the Sudanese military.
And so we don’t have a perfect relationship, the U.S. and China, but we have a growing global relationship, and our view is that our relationship with India stands on its own. We have this relationship because of the mutual interests between us, but it’s not meant to contain China.
SEC. MENON: I’d only add that I don’t think these relationships are mutually exclusive or that this is in any way meant to change our engagement with China, which has been going on for several years and has shown very positive results in the nature of our relationship. I think it’s a different world from the time when this kind of Kissingerian analysis worked, maybe in a bipolar world, maybe that it was a zero sum game. I don’t think it is anymore.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh likes to say that there’s enough space for the rise of China and India simultaneously, and I think that’s true. I think this is a different kind of world we’re working in, where what we do with each other, what we do in our own interests together does not necessarily have to be negative or seen negatively from Beijing. I don’t see why it should be.
Q: Selig Harrison, Woodrow Wilson Center. Mr. Secretary, I was somewhat surprised that you stopped with no first use and de-alerting –
SEC. MENON: I can go on – (chuckles) --
Q: I wish you would, because Article VI envisages a bargain in which non-proliferation depends upon the existing nuclear powers, making a good-faith attempt to reduce gradually their own nuclear weapons. We did that up to 1991. It has stopped. And I wonder how India would feel about – whether India is going to tell the United States and Russia, with both of whom it has very strong relationships, that it would like to see the beginnings of a reduction of nuclear weapons and a return to nuclear arms control, and would India be prepared to take part in that process of nuclear arms reductions at some point?
SEC. MENON: That’s precisely what we have said. I think our views are no secret to anybody else. We have been saying it for some time -- since Rajiv Gandhi’s plan for the nuclear-free world in 1988, and ever since then, I think – and that’s exactly what I said just now. I said the goal is a world free of nuclear weapons, and the only way you can there is by reducing the weapons.
We would be quite ready – as part of a verifiable, clear agreed time frame, which leads the world to that goal, we would be quite ready to put our weapons on the table, too, but I think it’s – unfortunately, as I said, it’s not up to us. I think it’s something that we need to agree among ourselves, and not just the states that have nuclear weapons -- also the international community as a whole.
Our views on this are clear, and you know, as long as we approach this problem as a normative problem – what do you want -- I think you will get very strong, clear statements from all of us, but they would all be different, and that’s precisely the problem: how do you try and reconcile that and still arrive at this goal, which we are all committed to, whether in terms of Article VI in the NPT or in -- as we would say, in the special session – the first special session on disarmament, where we thought there was the clearest statement of what we should be doing.
Do you want to add to that?
MR. BURNS: I think you have done it. (Laughter.) You have answered Selig’s question.
MR. TELLIS: I had promised Secretary Burns and Secretary Menon that I would get them out of here by 5:30 because, as you can imagine, they have utterly packed schedules. What we had planned to do was to give them 15 minutes to take questions from the press, and what we might be willing to do is – do you have a preference? Should we just continue this – giving the press priority?
MR. BURNS: Happy to do it. That’s – whichever way you –
MR. TELLIS: Okay. I would be happy to recognize questions from members of the press, and if we don’t get those, then we will just continue this, but –
MR. : (Off mike, laughter.)
MR. TELLIS: Excellent, excellent. But please, let’s – we will just continue in the way imagined. Yes, Dan.
Q: Dan Horner, from McGraw Hill nuclear publications, and I would also like to ask about the nuclear deal -- a general question for both ambassadors, and then a clarification from Ambassador Burns, if I could.
On the general question, the statement made that the big issues have been resolved, and these are essentially technical codification, but similar statements were made almost a year ago, and predictions that the agreement would be wrapped up within a couple months, so it would seem then that the fact that it hasn’t indicates that the differences over things like the language on fuel assurances and nuclear testing are actually significant differences between the two sides, and isn’t that the case? If you could just address that. And then, the clarification that – Ambassador Burns said the nuclear deal corrects a mistake – if you could just clarify what exactly the mistake was. Was it the cutoff of the fuel supplies? The tariff for after the Indian test, or the requirement for the full scope of safe guards, or the NPA, or what exactly was the mistake that was being corrected? Thanks.
MR. MENON: Well, on the first question, I think one of the necessary conditions was to have the Hyde Act. So if you start measuring time, I think you should really start the clock from December. Otherwise, I accept the accusation that maybe we are not efficient enough. Maybe we should have been quicker, we should have been better at our jobs, but what we are doing is something unprecedented. It’s something we have never done before, and so you must give us a chance to be careful, to think it through, to work this through together. The important thing to remember is that we are doing this together and that the basic understanding is clear. I don’t think there is any renego