MEA Official Spokesperson (Shri Vishnu Prakash): Good afternoon. Welcome to the Joint Press Interaction. The External Affairs Minister Shri S.M. Krishna would be making an opening statement. Next, Secretary of State Mrs Hillary Clinton will be addressing the media.
I would like to invite the External Affairs Minister to please address the media. Sir.
External Affairs Minister of India (Shri S.M. Krishna): Your Excellency Secretary of State of the United States of America Mrs. Hillary Clinton, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a great pleasure to welcome you, Madam Secretary, back to India, on the second anniversary of your first visit as Secretary of State.
You have been a steadfast friend of India, unwavering in your commitment to India-U.S. strategic partnership. And, you have been a champion of causes that have touched the lives of millions, especially weak and the vulnerable, around the world.
Two years ago almost to this very day in Delhi, we announced the Strategic Dialogue. The Strategic Dialogue is the bedrock on which we are building our global strategic partnership that would be one of the defining relationships of the 21st century. This is the vision of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and President Obama.
I thank you for bringing a very impressive delegation. I would also like to thank my colleagues and some of the top officials in the government for joining us in this dialogue. Their presence reflects the depth of our engagement and the diversity of our cooperation.
Ladies and gentlemen, Secretary Clinton and I met for two and a half hours and then continued our discussions over lunch. We reviewed our bilateral relations. We discussed our vision and ambitions for the relationship. And, we discussed a broad range of regional and global developments.
We expressed satisfaction at the momentum in our relationship and all round progress in our cooperation. We welcomed the maturity and mutual confidence in our relationship.
We have expanded our political consultations, touching on all major issues and regions of the world. Our intelligence and counterterrorism cooperation has deepened. Our nonproliferation partnership has grown. We are working towards expanding bilateral economic ties.
There are extraordinary examples of our cooperation to harness the power of science, technology and innovation to address challenges in the realm of healthcare, education, environment, clean energy and agriculture.
Our two governments have instituted a number of innovative programmes for advancing our cooperation in clean and renewable energy and energy efficiency. We are pleased with our progress in this area.
We are creating opportunities for our youth and empowering our people. And, now we are extending the benefits of our cooperation to other countries in areas like food security.
We reiterated our commitment to taking forward civil nuclear energy cooperation on the basis of full implementation of mutual commitments. We were reassured that United States reaffirmed its commitment for full civil nuclear cooperation. I expressed appreciation for our ongoing engagement and full support of the US for India’s full membership of the four export control regimes and our expectation of progress in tandem on the four regimes. We discussed UNSC reforms and India’s permanent membership of a reformed UN Security Council.
We stressed the importance of defence cooperation in our strategic partnership and expressed satisfaction at the progress we are making in defence cooperation, including in defence trade and collaborations, through our various bilateral defence mechanisms.
While we lauded the growth in trade and investment flows in both directions, we also acknowledged that there was enormous potential for further expansion. We have agreed to resume negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty. I also took the opportunity to convey to Secretary Clinton the concerns of our IT companies in sending their professionals to execute projects and conduct business in the United States. I highlighted that Indian IT companies are contributing to the US economy through investments, employment and supporting US competitiveness. I also requested Secretary Clinton to consider a Totalisation Agreement with India. I thanked Secretary Clinton for her assurance that she will work with the concerned US agencies to seek an early and satisfactory solution for the students affected by the closure of Tri-Valley University.
I expressed our sincere appreciation for the solidarity and support extended by President Obama, Secretary Clinton and the people of the United States after the recent Mumbai terrorist attack.
We had good discussions on terrorism in our region, both during the dialogue and in other meetings on the margin. We resolved to intensify our cooperation to fight terrorism. Both sides remain committed to comprehensive sharing of information on the Mumbai terror attack of 2008.
We have also increased our engagement in the important area of cyber security. We are pleased with the MOU for cooperation between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) and the U.S. CERT.
We discussed the challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and our efforts to address them. We agreed to remain in close touch as the transition phase gets underway in Afghanistan. We also discussed our efforts for reconstruction, development and capacity building in Afghanistan. We acknowledged that regional trade, transit and commercial activities in South and Central Asia would benefit Afghanistan and support regional stability and prosperity. We underscored the importance of elimination of terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan for regional stability and security and for Pakistan’s future.
We discussed our shared interest in peaceful and stable Asia, Pacific and the Indian Ocean region, and the evolution of an open, balanced and inclusive architecture in the region. We will continue to work together, and with other countries, towards this goal through various mechanisms, such as our bilateral dialogue, the regional forums and our trilateral dialogue with Japan. Secretary Clinton and I will continue this engagement in the ARF meeting later this week.
India has vital interests and strong relationships in the Gulf, West Asia and North Africa. Last week, India and the US launched our West Asia Dialogue. Today, Secretary Clinton and I expressed the hope for the fulfillment of the aspirations of the people of the region and for early restoration of peace and stability. Secretary Clinton briefed me on the Libya Contact Group meeting in Turkey last week. We agreed to remain in touch as the situation evolves in the region.
This was a truly productive and comprehensive meeting, consistent with our strategic partnership and the extraordinary breadth of our engagement. Today, we were able to highlight not only the tangible and meaningful progress that we are continually making, but also indentified goals and set priorities for the future.
We are in the midst of our monsoon season – a time of renewal and rejuvenation. So, today, Secretary Clinton and I reaffirmed and renewed our commitment to build a strong global strategic partnership and invigorate our cooperation with a new momentum.
Madam Secretary, I wish you a good visit to Chennai. I think you will be the first Secretary of State to visit Chennai. So, that is going to be a very important visit. And all the best for you in the coming days. Thank you.
US Secretary of State (Mrs. Hillary Clinton): Thank you very much Minister Krishna and thank you to all the members of the Indian Government who are joined with us today in this very productive meeting.
The Minister has provided a comprehensive overview of our discussion in the areas of economic partnership, clean energy, climate change, science and technology and so much else. I also want to mention the emphasis we placed on counterterrorism and homeland security that is obviously an issue that is first and foremost on all of our minds after the bombings in Mumbai last week. And again let me convey on behalf of the United States our deep sympathy and our outrage to the people and Government of India, and pledge our support to you in your fight which is also our fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
Today I want to just emphasise three of the issues we discussed because I can only echo what the Minister said about the depth and breadth of our conversation. He at the end referenced the monsoon season and I have to say it felt like we were in a monsoon with all of the many issues and reports that were being made by our officials outlining the extraordinary progress that has occurred. And there will be a Joint Statement released which will detail in probably more specifics than one can grasp everything that this Strategic Dialogue Partnership has already accomplished.
But let me just quickly reference trade and investment because we think as much progress as we have made, both the United States and India can take further steps to reduce barriers, open our markets and encourage new business partnerships to create jobs and opportunity for millions of our people while strengthening both of our nations’ economic competitiveness.
Secondly, on security cooperation we are deepening and expanding our efforts and making great strides together on behalf of counterterrorism but also with respect to maritime security, we believe strengthening our military-to-military ties including through the sale of defence technologies will assist the Indian and American militaries to work together in a constructive way on everything from patrolling the seas, combating piracy, providing relief to the victims of natural disasters.
And finally with regard to our civil nuclear agreement, this represents a major investment by both of our countries in this critical bilateral relationship. We need to resolve those issues that still remain so we can reap the rewards of the extraordinary work that both of our Governments have done.
These opportunities along with the others that the Minister referenced are within our reach because of the intensive work that we have undertaken in the last two and a half years built on the years before going back into the 1990s. We are building habits of cooperation and bonds of trust. And we are standing on a firm foundation. And we believe that we can do even more work to ensure that this important dialogue leads to concrete and coordinated steps that will produce measurable progress for the wellbeing and betterment of the Indian and American people.
As President Obama has said, we believe this relationship will be a defining partnership of the 21st century, and we wholeheartedly support the rise of India as a regional and global leader. I will be tonight and tomorrow when I will speak at greater length on our view of India’s role in the region and the world. We believe that this incredibly important partnership between us is strengthening us and equipping us better to meet the challenges ahead.
So, again Minister, thank you for your leadership and the hard work of your colleagues; and I want to thank my colleagues in Government as well that the real winners of our enhanced partnership and our Strategic Dialogue will be the people of our two countries. And that is what we hope to see in the years to come that will better the lives of men, women and children who so richly deserve and merit that kind of future.
Official Spokesperson: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
The External Affairs Minister and Secretary of State would be happy to take two questions from each side. I would request you to please limit yourself to one question either to the Secretary of State or the External Affairs Minister. The first question goes to the American side.
Question (American Media): Madam Secretary, the talks between India and Pakistan seem stuck in this stop-start mode with one of the many problems being the fact that after the Mumbai attacks Pakistan is still stalling on prosecution. To your mind, is Pakistan doing everything it can to combat terrorism? Are you exerting pressure on them?
Secretary of State: William, first let me say that we are encouraged by the dialogue occurring between India and Pakistan. I was briefed on the recent developments today by the Foreign Secretary and also discussed with both the National Security Advisor and the Minister. And we think this is the most promising approach to encourage both sides to build more confidence between them and work to implement the kinds of steps that will demonstrate the improved atmosphere that is so necessary for us to deal with the underlying problem of terrorism.
From the United States perspective, we do see Pakistan as a key ally in the fight against terrorism. We have made the point repeatedly to our Pakistani colleagues that terrorists threaten both of us and terrorists have actually killed more Pakistanis in bombings of mosques and markets and attacks on police stations and government buildings than Americans. And so we recognize that Pakistan must act on its own behalf first and foremost to protect its own territory and sovereignty and to protect the lives of the people of Pakistan. And we have made it clear that we want a long-term relationship with Pakistan based on common interests including a mutual recognition that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists anywhere. And when we know the location of terrorists whose intentions are clear, we need to work together in order to prevent those terrorists from taking innocent lives and threatening our institutions of the State.
During my visits to Pakistan including my most recent one we have made it clear to the Pakistani Government that confronting violent extremism of all sorts is in its interest. We do not believe that there are any terrorists who should be given safe havens and free pass by any government. Because left unchecked, if the consequences of that kind of terrorist activity and intimidation can become very difficult to manage and control. So, both in the interest of Pakistan’s own future, in the interest of an improved relationship between Pakistan and India and in the interest of regional stability, we are working with and we will continue to work with the Government of Pakistan to try to tackle this mutual threat.
Question (Indian Media): Madam Secretary, about three years ago India got a clean waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group. But last month’s NSG meeting has raised apprehension that India might again be subjected to discrimination when it comes to transfer of sensitive technologies like the ENR. Can you, Madam Secretary, today set the record straight on the NSG’s intentions and since the Indo-US nuclear deal is at the heart of this issue, can you also clarify whether the US will provide the ENR technology to India?
US Secretary of State: Let me begin by saying that the United States remains fully committed to expanding our civil nuclear cooperation with India. I was one of the two co-chairs of the India Caucus when I served as a Senator from New York and I worked very hard to achieve the landmark legislation in our Congress that was then matched by a similar legislation in yours. And we have made it also clear that we strongly support India’s full membership in the four export control regimes including the Nuclear Suppliers Group in a phased manner.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group Clean Waiver was an important joint accomplishment for both our governments and we stand by it. Nothing about the new enrichment and reprocessing transfer restrictions agreed to by the Nuclear Suppliers Group members should be construed as detracting from the unique impact and importance of the US-India civil nuclear agreement or our commitment to full civil nuclear cooperation. But I have to add that we are looking forward to India ratifying the convention on supplementary compensation for nuclear damage during this year, before the end of this year, and we would encourage engagement with the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that the liability regime that India adopts by law fully conforms with the international requirements under the convention. So, we stand by our agreement. Many of us worked very hard for that agreement. We are committed to it. But we do expect it to be enforceable and actionable in all regards.
Question (American Media): This is a question for Minister Krishna. Mr. Minister, what assurances did you receive from Secretary Clinton about President Obama’s plan for Afghanistan? Are you persuaded that Washington will not allow a deal that will leave the Taliban in power? And more broadly, do you feel that President Obama’s plan can work? Or do you think that we should also be working on a plan B?
External Affairs Minister: India has been closely following the happenings in Afghanistan. We have a special relationship with Afghanistan which is civilisational as well as transactional. We have fraternal relationship with Afghanistan. We have impressed upon the United States and the other countries who have made their presence in Afghanistan that it is necessary for them to continue in Afghanistan depending upon the comfort level of the Government of Afghanistan and the President of Afghanistan Mr. Karzai; and it is necessary for the United States to factor in Afghanistan’s ground realities as they see it, so that they can appreciate that Afghanistan would be in a position to defend itself against the terrorists sponsored by Taliban. So, I think in the larger interest of the region that it is necessary for the United States to work very closely with President Karzai and the Government of Afghanistan and thereby create conditions where terrorists do not make any more advances in Afghanistan.
Question (Indian Media): My question is for Secretary of State Mrs. Clinton. Madam, you just pledged support to India in fight against terror with reference to the Mumbai blast that happened on 13th July. My question specifically is, what kind of assistance would US provide to India so that the perpetrators of this 13th July attack are brought to justice? And very specifically, as far as 26/11 Mumbai attach is concerned, three years have passed by and Pakistan has not been able to bring the perpetrators of that attack to justice as well. And there are concerns in India as to how serious is America in following these cases. What would you do, Madam, to assuage our concerns in that matter?
Secretary of State: First let me say that there is a great deal of cooperation ongoing between our two Governments with respect to counterterrorism, not only sharing of information but also very clear operational discussions and planning and investigation assistance and a list of other related matters that we think have a tremendously beneficial impact for both of us because a lot of the terrorist networks that threaten you also threaten us. So, this is a mutually cooperative and essential operational relationship. And in the aftermath of the attacks of 2008 in Mumbai, we made it very clear that there was an absolute international responsibility to cooperate to bring the perpetrators to justice, we have made that equally forcefully clear to Pakistan that it has a special obligation to do so transparently, fully and urgently. And it is US policy that we believe the perpetrators need to be brought to justice and have urged Pakistan to do so. Obviously there is a limit to what both the United States and India can do but we intend to continue to press as hard as possible. In the mean time we are going to increase our cooperation and I think that the fact that our Director of National Intelligence General Clapper is here today is testimony to the importance we place on this. And he has been having a series of very significant meetings looking at how we can do more to protect both of us from the scourge of terrorism.
Official Spokesperson: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
This brings the interaction to a close. Thank you for your presence.