U.S.-India RelationsRichard A. Boucher, Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs
Remarks to the Television Press
New Delhi, India
March 5, 2008
Assistant Secretary Boucher: Let me just give you a shorter version of what I need to say about the overall visit. This visit is part of a regular pattern of consultations we have between the United States and India and we’re working very hard together in any number of areas: the education front, the business front, consular -- visas, getting people back and forth. There are a lot of great things going on in the US.-India relationship, a lot of real momentum established, I think, deep momentum, that’s going to carry us forward.
We’re also working on some very high profile important opportunities, one of which is certainly the U.S.-India civil nuclear arrangement. We’re waiting to hear now from the Indian government as far as its conversations with the International Atomic Energy Agency. We all know that there are very tight deadlines now, there are a lot of things we have to do. I’d just like to say the United States is ready to move forward as soon as the Indians are as well. So we have a real opportunity here. We do want to move forward quickly so that we can put all the pieces in place and get this thing done.
But I’m here to look at the entire relationship, and as I said, I think we have a very broad, deep and solid relationship that’s moving forward in many areas.
With that, I’ll take a couple of questions.
Question: Sir, first of all you spoke about students and how important they are for both countries. There is a lot of concern in India can you talk about a large number of students being killed in the United States on university campuses. Is there nothing either government can do about it, there is enormous concern. First, can you tell us something about that?
Secondly there is also some concern regarding the Hyde Act. The Indian government has said (inaudible). Can you clarify about the Hyde Act and where it stands?
Assistant Secretary Boucher: On Indian students, I think we have to remember there are over 80,000 Indian students in the United States. It’s a big country. We welcome the students. We’re very glad to have them with us. We think we help with their education and we help with U.S.-India relations as well. It is very very sad and unfortunate that things do happen in the United States and we know a few Indian students have entered into, encountered very bad circumstances. Some have died. It’s very sad whenever that happens. We do try to take care of the families and the people involved. But unfortunately, it’s a big country, a lot of things happen. And with this great number of students there will be a few cases of people who meet unfortunate circumstances.
As far as the Hyde Act goes, I think it’s important to remember the Hyde Act is domestic U.S. legislation. The Hyde Act determines to some extent what we can do in our government. Its main function is really to allow this kind of cooperation. So in that way the Hyde Act is the enabling legislation. It lets us go off and conclude an agreement with India. So the fundamental purpose of the Hyde Act is to allow us as a government to go off and conclude that arrangement that we have done with India and to finalize it. That’s how we’re operating. That’s what we, American diplomats, are operating under.
The agreement between the United States and India is the 123 Agreement. That’s what binds India or what puts the United States and India within the same framework. That agreement is something that we both intend to carry out fully in accordance with its own terms. But I don’t frankly see a contradiction between the two. What I have to do in my law governs my behavior, is completely consistent with what we are going to do, what we are doing with India in terms of the international agreement that governs what we both do together.
Assistant Secretary Boucher: I wouldn’t say that. I think, first of all, Indian officials are going to have to characterize their own political posture right now. We do understand the political realities in both places and I think Indian officials understand our political realities. So I want to try to understand theirs. But when you just sit down and look at the pieces that we need to get International Atomic Energy Agency approval, that takes a few weeks. We need to get Nuclear Suppliers Agreement approval, that takes a couple of months. We need to get the documents ready and up to our Congress. That can take a little while, too. And then we need to give our Congress sufficient time to consider the final package. That takes a month or two as well. You start adding these things up and we’re kind of playing in overtime right now.
There’s an awful lot of work to do and not a lot of time. I think everybody understands that reality. As I said, as soon as the Indian government’s ready to go ahead, we are too.
Assistant Secretary Boucher: The 123 Agreement is pretty clear on that. U.S. law is pretty clear on that. I don’t want to start speculating about different circumstances.
Assistant Secretary Boucher: Let me say that U.S. law and the agreement are consistent in that regard. I don’t want to start speculating on what might happen under different circumstances.
Assistant Secretary Boucher: I think there will always be questions raised in the NSG. These are countries that are very immersed in non-proliferation matters. They’re very committed to non-proliferation. They’ve always been used to a certain way of doing things, and this agreement is a little bit different. But I think fundamentally we believe this is a good agreement for non-proliferation. It brings India into harmony with the international non-proliferation effort. It adds to the overall non-proliferation effort in the world, as well as being good for India, good for the United States, good for all the countries that are involved in nuclear commerce, nuclear developments around the world.
So I think in the end everybody will find it beneficial, but I do recognize there are going to be a lot of questions asked and I think answered along the way. So I think we have to have a certain amount of patience with the countries in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and just be ready to answer all their questions, which are legitimate questions, but which I think have very good answers.
Assistant Secretary Boucher: I don’t know what China’s position’s going to be at this point.