Roundtable With Indian and Pakistani JournalistsRichard Boucher,
Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs
March 9, 2006
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I would like to welcome you al here to the Department. It's important to me that we communicate well and you can always try to get to me through Len if I'm around. I hope to be able to travel to the region on a fairly frequent basis, the region being South and Central Asia. I was very pleased to be able to start out by going on the President's trip to India and Pakistan. I think it was a great -- Afghanistan and India and Pakistan. Let me not forget the first stop. It was a great trip from many points of view. I think you've read a lot about it.
But I also had the sad occasion at the end when, instead of going to Islamabad, I went to Karachi to visit with the people that we have there and to talk to them and see what we can do after the killing of David Foy. So it's a reminder of the problems and dangers that do exist out there but also I think the importance of having a U.S. presence, a U.S. presence that tries to work with people, tries to work positively with people not only on the relationships, as we did, but I think if you look at the visits and what the President did as well, it works on some of the things that matters to people's lives, their future, whether it's new technologies, new science or whether it's education and development issues.
I think we're involved with the countries of this region on all planes. We talk about strategic partners, talk about global partners, talk about global issues in this region, and all the global issues are at play. I think we're involved with the countries in this region on many different planes and that's what's exciting about it, that's what's positive about it and that's what I intend to work on with them.
That's enough. That's more than enough. Let's start.
QUESTION: I've got a sort of part philosophical question. When (inaudible) after years of trying, almost about 15 years ago, was able to get legislation passed to establish South Asia Bureau, his rationale was that it was lost in the Near East/South Asian Bureau and you would hardly get an assistant secretary coming and speaking about South Asia. The South Asia Bureau was established. Robin became the first assistant secretary, et cetera. And of course, Steve Solarz's rationale was that India would get sort of major play even though it was South Asia Bureau.
Now we find that in a sense the Central Asian countries have also been included in the bureau and India has been given this much higher profile with Nick and you and the Secretary herself and this whole relationship strategy, partnership, et cetera. But the fact that Central Asia has also been brought into the bureau, can you find that other countries of South Asia -- Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, et cetera -- being dwarfed by the fact that they may not get enough of a profile and you might run into the old idea of, you know, once again the thing that Solarz was fearful about?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Yeah, I think there are a couple of things to say on that. First is, as you point out, you know, we have the wall in every bureau where the pictures of the previous assistant secretaries are there. It's a very small wall. We've got Robin Raphel, we've got Rick Inderfurth, we'll be able to put Christina's picture up, and then there's me. So it hasn't been around for a while.
It's a strategic rationale that has only grown, and with the President's trip, you've seen the way the Secretary of State talks about the region, I think the role that countries in this region have to play is very important.
The attention that we pay to India doesn't in any way detract from the attention that we pay to other countries. Other countries in the region have strong relationships with the United States, have particular sets of problems, different relationships in different places. I think that's one thing the President made clear in his trip.
Central Asia is -- in many ways what we want to do with Central Asia is not to lose the ties with Europe, not to lose the ties with Turkey, not to lose the ties with NATO and the European Union and OSCE, but rather to add some ties with South Asia. I have heard, I think if you go back to the trip that Secretary Rice made last spring to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, we heard from, I remember, President Musharraf and President Karzai all about the possibilities of north-south cooperation in this region. And those are possibilities that strategically have opened up because Afghanistan is no longer an obstacle but rather it's a place that can unite. So whether it's trade goods or electricity or pipelines or ideas or education, there's a lot of things that can flow back and forth between South and Central Asia.
And rather than looking on this as somehow diluting the attention to other countries, I think it just gives us more opportunities. There are things that the countries of Central Asia might want to do with India. There are things that Pakistan might want to do with the countries of Central Asia. There are trade flows and other things. So I see it as a way of putting together a new set of opportunities for everybody and not losing any of the attention that we give to countries now.
QUESTION: I'm sure you've had a chance at least to look at the comprehensive paragraph about human rights situation in Pakistan in the report that was released yesterday. It talks about no improvements, rampant corruption which nothing had been done to address the issue, and all the other major outstanding issues.
To what extent do you think that the buck stops with General Musharraf, who has unique powers that Nawaz Sharif and Benazir did not enjoy or other people, having both the total control of the armed forces and the total control of the civilian regime, what he calls unity of command? So and eight years in the office. So to what extent he may be held responsible for the human rights as identified in the State Department?
We will observe one minute silence. (Laughter.)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Yeah. I mean, he's clearly in charge and I think the way we see it is that he has set a course for Pakistan of what he calls enlightened moderation. This is the right course and we want to see him proceed down that road. We want to see him succeed in moving down that road.
But it's not solely a matter of President Musharraf. There are a lot of things happening in Pakistani society, Pakistani politics, Pakistani institutions, that need to be successful. And these rest on other people as well. So we want to be able to work with people throughout Pakistani society to try to help this general course succeed.
We pay a lot of attention to education, for example. One of the things we announced during the visit was an education dialogue so we can make sure that we're really helping create a modern foundation of education for a modern state. We spend a lot of time on economic opportunity and we've announced an economic dialogue during the visit so that we can help people find prosperity in a modern economy.
So I think our policy is obviously we work with the people in charge and President Musharraf and the course he has set, and we expect to see progress down that course. But overall we're looking -- we want to help Pakistan succeed as a moderate society, a modern nation and a prosperous people.
QUESTION: Just one follow-up because I mentioned corruption. Teachers don't take bribes, to my knowledge. Corruption is essentially related to the government operations, to get things done from the government. So on that aspect, obviously people who are running the show or governing the country (inaudible).
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Corruption is one of the most pernicious problems that afflict any country. The economic studies countries lose 1 to 2 percent of growth per year to corruption. And sadly, in South and Central Asia we have a lot of instances of corruption retarding economic growth, undermining political systems and creating mistrust among people of their institutions. And I think it's one of the most important things that we have to do.
There are ways of getting at it. I don't think there's a simple way of solving the problem. But it is something I think we all need to look at and see what we can do to fight it. Open information, free press, accountability in the press, transparency of government decisions, designing government decisions so that they can be made clearly and easily -- a lot of things go into fighting corruption and I think that will be something we will continue to do very strongly.
QUESTION: Could you tell us about your meetings with members of Congress about the civilian nuclear deal and the concerns that they had? And what's the process now? Does the Administration need to request a mockup and at what point would (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: The legislative process will proceed once legislation is submitted and we've been talking to members of Congress about the kind of legislation that has to be submitted and how it can proceed, so I don't have any definitive answers.
I would say that so far we've talked to a lot of people who are very supportive. They understand that this agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation is an important part of working with India across the board on-- let's call it a 21st century relationship. A lot of what we talked about in India, what the President talked about, what he announced, had to do with new technology and applying new technology to cooperation and development in India. This is an aspect of that, a very important aspect. So I think there's appreciation of that and where it fits in the big picture from members of Congress.
Second of all, I think there's an appreciation of the fact that it's a net plus for nonproliferation. At a time when we see so many other countries violating their obligations, we see India taking on new obligations and going from a situation where only a few reactors are under safeguards to where more and more will be under safeguards.
Third, I think there's an appreciation that this is a way of our helping India develop in terms of its energy needs, of America cooperating with India on meeting -- to meet India's energy needs, both through commercial opportunities as well as the grander opportunities. So I think there's a lot of appreciation of that.
There are certainly questions -- you're familiar with the questions. What does this mean for proliferating countries? And I think I've tried to answer that by saying that it's an important example where countries can take on new obligations and support the international regime. There are questions about -- I'm sure there will be questions about the separation plan, about how thoroughly it provides a safeguarded sector. We think it does a very good job of that. So we'll be talking about that on the Hill as well.
I expect that you'll see legislation submitted soon and then it'll go through the normal legislative process of discussion and possibly hearings, and we'll try to move it as quickly as we can along with some friends on the Hill. There will be a debate and discussion. That's what we do in democracies. But I think we'll do everything possible. Certainly the President and the Secretary are doing -- will do everything possible to see that this agreement passes the Congress and that we get it through the international groups that we want to work with as well.
QUESTION: How soon do you expect to introduce this in the Congress -- legislation?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: We're talking --
QUESTION: You have timeline or you're having any timeline?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Yeah, sometime soon. That's about as close as I can get. We're talking to members of Congress about how it gets submitted and when it gets submitted. There's a recess coming up, right, a one-week or two-week?
STAFF: Yeah, after this week.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Yeah, so during the --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I think it's the middle of this month so, you know, before that or after that. I can't -- I don't know for sure. But there will be a little period when we can't do it, but I think it'll happen fairly soon.
QUESTION: So then after that, what happens? (Inaudible) hearing process (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: The problem is you're asking me -- I'm not deciding these things. These things are decided -- these are procedures in the Congress and they decide their own timetables and procedures. So all I could do at this point would be to guess or predict, and there's not enough grounds for guessing or predicting at this point.
We are hearing from members that they want to take this up, they want to take it up quickly; they understand the importance of it. But I can't at this point -- I haven't heard from them a timetable nor could I predict what it might be.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) U.S. nuclear deal (inaudible) in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 50 years (inaudible). Number two, Pakistan and Afghanistan, it seems that they are at each other's throats on (inaudible). What are you doing to prevent a situation (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I think you heard it best from the President that we see the situations of Pakistan and India as different in the nuclear area. The history is different. The circumstances are different. I think simply put, the economic development of Pakistan is going to be different as well. We are concerned about Pakistan's energy needs. We think there are untapped resources in Pakistan -- coal, for example, energy from Central Asia. There are ways for Pakistan to meet its energy needs that we can certainly talk about and our Energy Secretary will be in Pakistan very soon, probably in the -- probably next week, I think, to actually have a good energy dialogue and discussion with the Pakistani officials about Pakistan's future energy needs and the various sources that we could work on to see that those are met.
So when you have really impressive economic growth like you've seen in Pakistan recently, you do have to think ahead about how you're going to get the energy to continue that growth. But we think that can be done and we're going to certainly sit down and work with Pakistan on that.
But in terms of the nuclear arrangement, no, we don't see anything like that in the cards for Pakistan.
As far as Pakistan and Afghanistan, you know, we recognize there's a lot of history there, but I think both sides recognize as well the overwhelming importance of cooperation. And they have -- they are beset by troubles along that border area, troubles from outsiders, extremists, militants of various kinds that threaten in some cases violence, cause violence and harm to citizens, but also threaten the disruption of society. It's not solely a military problem but it is something where military cooperation is important and you know we have tripartite committees where we work, the three of us together, on those aspects of the problem.
It's also the sort of basic extension of government authority into those areas and the development needs of those areas. One of the things we announced during the trip that we think is very important are the reconstruction opportunity zones where we can work with Afghanistan and Pakistan to really provide employment projects and development in those areas.
I think you sort of asked what can the United States do. I mean, one, we can work with them on the specific problems we face now of violence, insurgents and foreign fighters. Second, we can start working on some of the future projects, the opportunity zones and the economic possibilities in that area. Because I think when both sides really sit down at the table and start working together on meeting their needs in the area, they find that they do have a lot in common. And I think the more practical emphasis we can give to that work, the better we'll all be.
QUESTION: But you don't see it getting (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I don't think so because I see a basic alignment of interests. What Pakistan and Afghanistan need in those areas on both sides of the border are an end to the violence; and end to the foreign presence, Taliban presence, the al-Qaida presence; and opportunities to develop in those areas, economic development, development of society, schooling, things like that. Same things on both sides.
QUESTION: Did Mr. Karzai also give you a copy of the report that he had given President Musharraf (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I think we have an active dialogue with both Pakistan and Afghanistan about all these things. So yeah, we know about the lists and things like that.
QUESTION: Two questions unrelated. Going back to what Aziz was saying about this new Bureau of Central Asia and South Asia, my question is slightly different. Even when you just had a South Asia Bureau, there's a lot of questions as to how you were factoring in China. Now you have an expanded bureau and you have two rising economies in Asia Pacific in totally two different bureaus. So but does that make your job any more complex, complicated, or does is it make it easier for you to look at India and its implications of whatever you do vis-à-vis China?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I think having to deal with almost 2 billion people is probably easier than having to deal with almost 4 billion people. But so I'm kind of glad we don't have China in the same bureau.
QUESTION: No, I'm not asking -- (laughter). I hope not. You wouldn't be sitting in Washington.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: The ratio would be quite different.
You know, it's an interesting question because I spent a lot of my career working on China and specifically the process of economic development and reform and change in China, and I guess I'm sort of steeped in that having run about looking at Chinese factories for 20 or 30 years. I don't want to -- I think the first thing I told myself when I started to work on India and the rest of this region is don't apply the Chinese experience to everybody you meet, try to understand each of these country situations, whether it's the smallest ones or the biggest ones, and figure out what we can do to help people achieve their goals, their goals of economic development, building modern societies, democracies.
I think people automatically fall into this sort of thinking -- two big countries, competitors in some economic fields, must be big strategic competitors. I don't think that's the way the world works anymore. You know, I remember one of the first things I saw when I started reading a lot about this area was Infosys investing in China because they felt, and other Indian companies as well, they felt they could do things by investing in China and having factories or having operations there that they couldn't do just by keeping everything in India. And I think you'll find that that kind of thing works around the region. Big countries together, little countries, people looking for different platforms to produce for different markets. And I think those kinds of opportunities are there as well as the competition. I mean, we compete with China in a whole lot of product areas and it helps us, I think, do better, to stay ahead, to get out of industries where we might not be competitive but really find our value added.
And I think for all the countries of the region that's going to be true. China is a formidable competitor. India is a formidable competitor as well. All the countries in the region are going to have to see what they can do best, where their value added is, how they can really open up opportunity for their people, how they can get rid of bureaucratic delays, how they can improve their infrastructure. China has done a lot of that and may be out ahead in some ways, but other countries have done other things. Other countries have better information environments or better anti-corruption campaigns, things like that. So each country is going to have to do everything it can to compete in the world, but it's better for all of us that they do.
QUESTION: The second one. In your discussions on the Capitol Hill about the civil nuclear agreement, did any members of Congress come up with the thinking, loud or quiet, that, man, it is coming at the wrong time because your man sitting in the White House, there's a lot of political trouble on Capitol Hill. He may not have the kind of political capital to push it through.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I don't think we've really heard that at this point. This is an issue for the nation as a whole. It's an issue where I don't think it's going to divide up on partisan lines, where I think people on both sides of the aisle, both houses, understand that the new relationship with India is very, very important to the United States, to all of us. It's the product of a lot of work by this Administration but also by previous administrations. And I just -- one of the things I read in preparation here was Strobe Talbot's book about his conversations with the Indians on all these subjects and I think that very much helped me understand what we're dealing with now.
So I think we'll find that this is an issue that's very important to a lot of people on the Hill. Everybody I think wants to contribute to the growth of the U.S.-India relationship. There will be questions raised, as there are, about whether this is the right way to do it, whether this is the right way to do it for nonproliferation and other things. I think we have answers to those questions and I hope we'll -- I think we'll find the support we need to do this.
So I don't see it as an antagonistic process. I think it's a process, at least as we've seen it so far, where we don't have so many people sort of coming out against or arguing against; we have people that are asking legitimate questions that deserve legitimate answers. And we'll be doing our best to answer their questions.
QUESTION: Sir, India and Pakistan, they are (inaudible) this composite dialogue (inaudible). How do you see the prospects (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I think I need to leave it to them to characterize it. They've just announced a whole new set of round of meetings which to me looks like a good sign. We've got the buses. We've got the train now. We've got a lot of confidence-building steps.
Our view is that this is all positive. The President was very clear both in public and in private when he met with the Indians and Pakistanis this is something we very much encourage. We certainly admire the way they've gone about this, the progress they've made, and we encourage as much progress as they can make on all the issues, including Kashmir.
The significance of this process as it moves forward can go beyond India and Pakistan. Some of the things we're talking about in terms of regional opportunities, South Asian free trade, regional opportunities for the flow of goods or services or electricity, things like that. Part of it is opening up the opportunities between India and Pakistan as well. So the more this progresses, I think the better we all are, and we're going to continue to encourage it, including solving some really tough issues like Kashmir.
QUESTION: Can you give us an idea of your own impression about the President's trip to South Asia? What do you think about it?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: It was great. It was -- one word -- great. First of all, it was really exciting to be on this trip because anyone who starts in a job like this likes to have all the hard work done before they begin. (Laughter.) And the President and all the preparations for the President's trip, there was a lot of really hard work that went into it. This gave us a direction and agenda, which I can certainly work on.
But personally it was exciting to be there. It was exciting to, frankly, fly in on Air Force One to Afghanistan and to see Air Force One sitting there with the mountains of Afghanistan behind it. It was exciting to be in India when we concluded I think what is a really historic agreement on nuclear cooperation. And the other agreements -- you know, there's a whole long list and maybe people's eyes sort of glaze over when they see all the long list of things that we're doing, but I think the things like Science and Technology Commission and agricultural initiatives -- as I said, sort of this theme of new technologies to serve -- to help improve people's lives. That's going to be a foundation of what we do with India over the long term.
And then Pakistan, you know, this is a vital relationship to us. We came out not only with a strategic piece -- very solid, the strategic partnership and the strategic dialogue -- but also the economic dialogue and the economic steps and then the education dialogue and the education steps. That's a solid set of pillars to build a future relationship with Pakistan on. As I said, our goal is to see Pakistan succeed in all these areas.
QUESTION: Richard, as a follow-up, (inaudible) could you speak a little bit to sort of the vibes and the body language on Air Force One with the President, both going and on the way back, in terms of this, his sort of first trip to South Asia? And of course, in India there was a grandeur; you know instead of having the banquet at one of the banquet halls they had it out in the open among the gardens.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: That was terrific.
QUESTION: And you know, clearly you weren't speaking at a fortress. It seemed that the President was a little bit overwhelmed by the whole thing. Of course, it's not Crawford, the boonies in Crawford. Could you speak to a little bit of the body language and the vibes, particularly on the trip back? Did he come back --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Are you inviting me to say something derogatory about Texas? (Laughter.) I'm not that dumb. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: No, no. Did he come back to the middle of the plane and say, "Boy, was that some thing," you know?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: First of all, I want to stand up for the culture, history and traditions of Texas, lest there be any doubt about that. (Laughter.) I also have to say there's a lot to admire in the culture, history and traditions of the countries that we visited -- Afghanistan, India and Pakistan -- and there's certainly an excitement about how things are done and the things that you see there.
I wasn't with him on the ride back because I took off for Karachi, but at least at the interim stops when we saw the President or what others have told me about his impressions and the impressions of the senior staff is a great sense of excitement, that really if you think about the sort of stuff we've done before with India or particularly the statement of last July, what he really put together on his trip with India was the cement that makes this stuff real. It turned a lot of vision into a reality on this trip in India. And there's a great sense of excitement in doing that.
I think personally, you know, in terms of my interaction with the Secretary and the National Security Advisor and the President, one of the events that people really got excited about was the meeting with the young entrepreneurs down in Hyderabad.
QUESTION: And the kiss.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: And what?
QUESTION: And the kiss he received.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: And the kiss? Oh, yeah. (Laughter.) No, but you know, just meeting with these people and seeing first of all how incredibly well educated and qualified they are both in terms of academic qualifications but what they've done already and just seeing all the ideas that they had. And you know, they weren't shy about telling the President the sort of areas that we could do more to make cooperation better, and the President certainly had a great time in that discussion and just kind of understanding some of the future that way. It was really kind of exciting.
QUESTION: By the way, State Department should hire some body language translators (inaudible) focusing too much on (inaudible).
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: On what?
QUESTION: On body language translators.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Yeah, I don't know. That's an arcane science.
QUESTION: Did you go on Air Force One to Chaklala airport or were you dispatched directly to Karachi? My question is based on --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: No, I went from Delhi. I had commercial flights from Delhi to Lahore to Karachi.
QUESTION: That gets to my question. The question was -- I don't know, we saw the video but you don't have to go on that flight to answer the question. To what extent does security at Chaklala for President's arrival and stay in Islamabad was handled totally right by the Secret Service and other U.S. agencies and the Pakistanis?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: You know, it's --
QUESTION: We didn't see anybody in the video --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Yeah, I didn't watch the video for that. I think the simple answer is it's always a matter of cooperation. It's always a matter of cooperation. There's no way that we can do everything ourselves. So when we tend to work with the local service in whatever country we go to, we do things that we can do and they do things that they can do, and it's a combined effort to ensure security. It was obviously very successful. I think it was important to the President to come in on his plane, coming through the -- you know, in an open manner, to spend the night there and to have a full and normal set of talks with the Pakistani Government. It's a symbol of the kind of normal relationship that we want to see with Pakistan, the kind of productive and constructive relationship and cooperation that we want to see with Pakistan. And in those places like that he wants to go on his plane and spend the night and have a regular round of talks. That's what he did.
QUESTION: Just one follow-up (inaudible) question. You were talking of Hamid Karzai and to the extent that President Musharraf was irritated by, you know, what Mr. Karzai had informed him, but what is your comment on General Abizaid's statement? He said, you know, (inaudible) when he told no country can pressure Pakistan or something like that, at least that's the way the Pakistani papers have portrayed it.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I don't think that was actually the quote that I saw, but General Abizaid -- I think it was fortuitous that he was there first of all to follow up with the Pakistanis and the Afghans now. He's in Afghanistan today or was that yesterday? I can't remember.
STAFF: He was in Pakistan yesterday.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Pakistan, and now he's in Afghanistan, I think. To follow up with them on the President's visit and cooperation and the effort that we all make against terrorism.
You know, the second thing is it was a chance to sort of talk to them both about cooperation in the border areas, and I think basically what he heard from both of them was a positive message of their desire to cooperate and their desire to beat this -- beat the problems --
QUESTION: You mean Afghanistan or Pakistan or both of them?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Yeah, both of them. So I think it was a good way to follow up on the President's visit and to work with them. As I said, I think our concentration is to see what the needs are in those areas and work with both Pakistan and Afghanistan on the practical ways of solving the needs of stopping the violence, building the institutions, providing economic opportunity.
We're going to do a second round, huh? Okay, we've got a few more minutes or so. You guys have the advantage of looking over my head. I thought everybody was interested in me, but you're actually looking at the clock. (Laughter.) Go ahead.
QUESTION: Under Secretary Burns recently talked about the possibility of the number of Indian civilian facilities that are under safeguards to go up (inaudible). Is there a commitment from the Indians to place a certain percentage of future facilities under safeguards?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: It's the way things will proceed. If you look at their separation plan, there's a very clear commitment to place all future civilian thermal reactors and all future civilian fast-breeder reactors under safeguards in perpetuity. That's a very important commitment because as we understand India's program, they intend to build quite a few very large reactors for power needs over the coming years. They plan to build fast-breeders on the civilian side.
And so I think the way we calculate it is you go from a situation where right now I think 19 percent of the reactors are under safeguards to --
QUESTION: 19? One-nine?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: One-nine currently to a -- as soon as the separation plan is implemented, and you know, they have to work it out with the IAEA and things, but that will lead to 65 percent being under safeguards. And over time that's going to rise to 90 percent, almost 90 percent.
QUESTION: So 65 percent by what year?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Well, with the separation plan. With the implementation of the separation plan.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Well, no, the separation plan is sort of a guide to the future. So you know, once they work out the safeguards with the IAEA, there will be 65 percent of the current capacity under safeguards. That's the 14 out of 22 that you read about.
But then as they build new reactors, particularly these are going to be the large power reactors, they're going to be larger, they're going to be civilian, they're going to be power reactors, they're going to be under safeguards. So the percentage under safeguards is going to rise over time because that's where the major thrust of their program is going to be. So over time, yeah, it could go close to 90 percent.
QUESTION: With the development of military facilities (inaudible) that are civilian (inaudible), wouldn't that bring down the percentage?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Yeah, it would if that happened but I don't think that that's the expectation. I mean, India is going to have to inform you about what their plans might or might not be for the military side, but --
QUESTION: Did you get any assurance that that won't happen?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I think we got assurance that the civilian side will be -- you know, that all future civilian reactors, whether thermal or fast-breeder, are going to be under safeguards and that leads to these kind of expected plans.
QUESTION: But there's no restriction on building more military --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: This was not an agreement about the military side. This was an agreement to provide a clearly demarcated and permanently safeguarded sector, nuclear sector, in India where we would cooperate in helping India meet its development needs and to define clearly what would be in the civilian side and to make sure that all those would be under safeguards.
QUESTION: Was there any discussion during the visit on the H1B visas?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Yeah, it did come up. It came up with a roundtable of the young entrepreneurs. It came up with the CEO group. So the older business people, the younger business people all raised it. The President was quite clear. He said those were good for the United States and good for India and we're going to look at that and keep working on it. But I don't think -- we didn't have any new announcements on it, if that's what you're asking.
QUESTION: Who will be initiating action on this? It has to come from Congress or Department of Commerce?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Frankly, I don't know. Maybe me. I better look at it. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: "Boucher announces increase in HIB visas."
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Not today. Not today. Not now. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: "In his first major initiative." (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Did you read New York Times op-ed on the visit (inaudible) India (inaudible) Musharraf (inaudible) and boy, the e-mail around Lou Dobbs, you know, civilian reactors for mangos.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I'm surprised that a business audience wouldn't look at the obvious business possibilities, but anyway that's -- I leave television to television people. I just do facts and policy.
You know, I think it's a little too easy to make comments like that about India got this, Pakistan got that, and to compare them. I mean, let's not fall ourselves into the trap of hyphenation. Let's not think that everything that's right for India is right for Pakistan or everything right for Pakistan is right for India. We need to look at the situations of every country in this region and make sure that we're doing what's best and appropriate there. Pakistan has different needs and different opportunities than India, and the question that should be asked is: Are we helping Pakistan meet its needs? Are we helping the people of Pakistan meet their desires for development, for democracy, for a stable society in which to raise their children? And that's the test that we need to pass on these trips, not whether we've announced 20 things with one country and only 18 with another.
I think the things that we talk about with Pakistan are very appropriate to Pakistan. They meet the needs of Pakistan; as I said, economic opportunity, education, strategic opportunities and cooperation. Our energy dialogue with Pakistan is going to be different than our energy discussions with India. They both need energy. They both have rapidly growing economies. But one shouldn't expect that the energy needs would be met in the same way given different geography, different history, different resource base. So I think the fact that we've made energy a focus, that we have our Energy Secretary going out there very soon after the President, means that we can focus on this in a way that's really appropriate to Pakistan.
I mean, I'm surprised nobody is saying India didn't get any duty free regional opportunity zones. You know, Pakistan did. Well, you shouldn't say that because --
QUESTION: Why didn't we think of that? (Laughter.)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Those opportunities that we're going to work with with Pakistan are going to be different. Nobody says, you know, the United States is working with Pakistan to develop new product lines for export and we're not doing that with India. Well, it's something that's more appropriate to our relationship with Pakistan. So I like to think that we're doing what's right to help the Pakistani people meet their dreams and aspirations and that we're doing what's right to help the Indian people meet their dreams and aspirations, taking into account the different circumstances that each of them face.
QUESTION: If nobody has a question, if I could ask one.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I've got one minute to answer all the rest of the questions but I'll give you shorter answers.
QUESTION: Was the future of NPT discussed (inaudible) saying that no more required or (inaudible)?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: I think the future of the NPT is good. It's still an important treaty. It's an important treaty for all those who participate in it. Different countries have taken different paths. I think the benefits to nations who join the NPT who long ago decided to develop civilian power within the structures of the NPT, or even the countries who 10, 15 years ago gave us nuclear weapons programs, those benefits are very clear and it still offers those benefits.
But I think we also need to look at the opportunity we have now to bring India closer to the international nonproliferation effort to have meaningful participation from India on nonproliferation in a way that hasn't been possible for three decades, whether it's the way India controls its own technology or cooperates with other nations on nuclear matters. This is a great opportunity to bring India into the nonproliferation mainstream and to have their support of nonproliferation goals.
STAFF: Great. Thanks a lot.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY BOUCHER: Okay, thank you all. It's good to see you. We'll do this again but I will also see people individually when they need to and have things, so it's just a nice way to put me in training and show me the breadth of questions I'm going to have to be able to answer. So thank you.
QUESTION: Thanks very much.
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Released on March 10, 2006