U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Home Issues & Press Travel & Business Countries Youth & Education Careers About State Video
 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2006 Under Secretary for Political Affairs Remarks

Interview on the Charlie Rose Show

R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Shabana Azmi, Actress and Social Activist
Washington, DC
March 6, 2006

CHARLIE ROSE: Welcome to the broadcast. As a conclusion to our visit to India, we talk this evening with Nicholas Burns, the undersecretary for political affairs at the State Department, who negotiated the agreement with the Indians.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS,: This deal was meant to do one thing: Take the largest country in the world, soon to be largest by population, which had been completely outside the international mainstream -- we had zero impact on its nuclear facilities. We did not have the ability to have any kind of strategic oversight over its nuclear programs. And they will accept on the majority two-thirds of the nuclear programs, international inspection.

That`s what we set out to do.

Knowing that, in the future, as India builds its nuclear program, the vast majority of what they`re going to do is to increase the civilian side, civil nuclear power. And that will mean, Charlie, that not just 66 percent, but eventually 80 to 90 percent of India`s nuclear program, eventually, say by 2015 or 2020, will come under international safeguards.

CHARLIE ROSE: And we conclude from India with a conversation with actress and social activist Shabana Azmi. We met with her in Mumbai.

SHABANA AZMI, ACTOR: There is in India a feeling for the Muslim that in spite of all the anomalies, I have a stake and a space here. It`s possible for a poor Indian boy to think, my God, I can become like the president of India. I can become a film star like Shah Rukh Khan...

CHARLIE ROSE: That you are.

SHABANA AZMI: ... who is a Muslim -- Shah Rukh Khan, who is a Muslim. I can become....

CHARLIE ROSE: A billionaire like...

SHABANA AZMI: Azim Premji.

CHARLIE ROSE: ... Azim Premji.

SHABANA AZMI: Yes. Or Itzhan Partan (ph), who is this great cricketer. There is a space and a stake there. It works as a secular democracy, in spite of all the aberrations. It works.

CHARLIE ROSE: Burns and Azmi, next.

CHARLIE ROSE: Nicholas Burns is the undersecretary of state for political affairs, the number three job at the State Department. He has been the administration`s point person in negotiating the nuclear deal with India. The agreement, which has to be approved by Congress, is the culmination of a new initiative in American foreign policy. It is an initiative that recognizes global changes brought about by the rise of India and China in Asia. Here is what the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, told me last year in an interview at the State Department.

CHARLIE ROSE: Regarding Nicholas Burns talking to a U.S.-European group in Brussels on May 26th, he said: "The greatest change we will see in the next three or four years is a new American focus on South Asia, particularly in establishing a closer strategic partnership with India. If you look at all the trends -- population, economic growth, foreign policy trends -- there is no question that India is the rising power in the east. I think you will see this as a major force of our president and our secretary of state, and it will be the area of greatest dynamic positive change in American foreign policy."

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: There is no doubt that one of the really biggest changes in recent years is that the U.S.-India relationship is on a fundamentally different footing than it was just a couple of years ago. And we would like to see that go further.

CHARLIE ROSE: I spoke with Nick Burns about the nuclear agreement, Iran and other issues earlier today. It follows our week-long visit to India in February. Here is the interview.

CHARLIE ROSE: Tell me the significance, as you see it, the man who negotiated this deal, for the United States and for India.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I think this deal has a lot of major ramifications to it. First of all -- and they`re all positive. First of all, it`s really India`s coming of age. This is a country that has been a power in its own region, but has not sought to become a global power. But by virtue of its size -- a billion people, it is a democracy -- it now wants to exercise influence on a global basis.

And I think this deal represents India`s coming of age in that respect.

For us, for the Americans, it is a very important agreement, because we`ve had a relationship with India for 59 years, going back to partition and independence in 1947. It`s always been an unfulfilled relationship. It never achieved the promise that I think President Truman and Prime Minister Neru had for it back in `47, but this represents, I think, the high watermark of U.S.-Indian relations. And it means that for the very first time, India is going to be brought out of its isolation as a nuclear country, and we are going to engage with it on civil nuclear power. That means -- if the Congress would agree -- our companies will be able to trade in civil nuclear power, invest. And that hasn`t been able -- that hasn`t been possible for 30 years. So it`s a very important deal, both politically and psychologically, in terms of the larger framework of the relationship, as it is just in terms of the nuts and bolts of business.

CHARLIE ROSE: There are those who look at this and say this a huge bet by the president. He is betting that it will make the world safer rather than more dangerous. He is betting that the Indians, while they still have the right to build up their military capacity in the nuclear field, will also play a prominent role as a world power. And that he`s hoping that the other countries who may want nuclear weapons won`t say, if you just go ahead and do it, the Americans eventually will sign off.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: This is a good bet in our judgment, a very good bet. Here you have a country that is in many ways one of the world`s great democracies. It`s a large country. It`s got a stable political system. It is a country that very definitely has a cross-setting -- set of strategic interests with us, an intersecting set of strategic interests. A country that wants democracy to be developed in the rest of the world. That`s a big change in Indian policy. A country that wants to see both South Asia and East Asia to be stable and peaceful in the future.

And so we`re betting on the fact that Indian democracy is stable and are sure that India is going to be the kind of country 25 to 30 years from now that it is today. And we`re also betting on the fact that India`s enormous needs are in energy. Those billion people need electricity for their homes and businesses. They don`t want to import oil and gas forever. They certainly don`t want to burn coal, because it has such a negative impact on their environment.

They`re looking for nuclear power. And they`re looking for an arrangement whereby they can play by the rules, and for the first time they can come back into the international mainstream in terms of the IAEA. And so, I think this is a good bet and a safe bet for us to make.

But there has been a charge, and you`ve seen it, over the last couple of days that somehow this is going to give the Iranians a club to beat us with.


UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Because the Iranians would be able to say, this argument goes, that if you do the deal for India, why can`t you make this exception for Iran? The answer is very simple. Iran and India are heading in diametrically opposite directions. Iran is a country that is an autocracy, that has a president who believes that Israel should be wiped from the face of the Earth, that has denied the Holocaust, and that has undertaken a fairly radical foreign policy. It is also a country that withheld information about its own nuclear research for 18 years from the IAEA. And it`s now trying to escape the responsibilities it has to the IAEA.

India, on the other hand, is a country that is saying we want the IAEA to come in. We want to have international inspections for the first time. We want to open ourselves up.

CHARLIE ROSE: But only on the civilian, not on the military.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Exactly. We never...

CHARLIE ROSE: So they can build up the military as much as they want to with no international inspections.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: We never set out to arrange a deal that would roll back India`s entire nuclear program over the last 30 years, meaning the nuclear weapons program.

CHARLIE ROSE: But this deal places no impediment on the military.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: It was not meant to. This deal was meant to do one thing: Take the largest country in the world, soon to be largest by population, which had been completely outside the international mainstream -- we had zero impact on its nuclear facilities. We did not have the ability to have any kind of strategic oversight over its nuclear programs. And they will accept on the majority two-thirds of the nuclear programs, international inspection.

That`s what we set out to do.

Knowing that, in the future, as India builds its nuclear program, the vast majority of what they`re going to do is to increase the civilian side, civil nuclear power. And that will mean, Charlie, that not just 66 percent, but eventually 80 to 90 percent of India`s nuclear program, eventually, say by 2015 or 2020, will come under international safeguards.

CHARLIE ROSE: Critics make the following point, that if, in fact, they can get all this civilian technology and fuel from outside of the world -- and we don`t know how many countries are going to give it to them -- that they will be able to take the civilian material that they had and transfer it to the military side and build up the military side.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Yes, I don`t understand that argument. Because right now, India has enough uranium, for instance, domestically, to build a much bigger strategic nuclear weapons program. They are not doing that. India has a very modest nuclear weapons program.

What they want to do is they want to increase the civil capacity of the country to produce electricity through a nuclear power. There is an urgent need for that. And I think you know from your trip to India, this is the biggest issue in India today. How do you take a country and transform its agriculture -- there are 650 million people working the land in India, that is twice the population of the United States -- how do you take this enormous explosion in business growth, in their economy, and how do you give it the energy they need to fuel that economic development? It`s not going to be just nuclear power. They will have to turn to other sources, but nuclear power is a big part of it.

And so, for the critics who say that somehow this deal will allow India to go out and build up its nuclear weapons program, that is not what India intends to do at all. India intends to build the civil side.

CHARLIE ROSE: I don`t think critics are worried as much about what India might do, as they are worried about other countries and what they may do.

Does this drive Pakistan into the arms of the Chinese, because Musharraf went to China and said, I`ve got to have other options? Does it provide an incentive for other countries? Does it say that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is null and void?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I don`t think so. What India is in many ways is an exception. It has to be because of its size and its power.

CHARLIE ROSE: And behavior.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: And its behavior. Where India has non-proliferated nuclear technology now for 30 years, unlike other countries, such as Pakistan. It has not sold on the black market its sensitive nuclear technology to rogue states or certainly not terrorist groups. It has protected it.

And so because of that good record that India has, because of its size, and because it is essentially now saying to the international community, please come in and inspect, on a permanent basis our nuclear facilities, so that Western countries can be assured that when GE or Westinghouse invest in a civil nuclear power plant, it`s only a civil nuclear power plant; it`s not serving the military side.

That`s an extraordinary step forward by the Indian government. The Iranians are not making that offer. The Iranians are saying, you know, we want to develop our nuclear program, weapons program, on our own. The North Koreans are saying the same thing.

India is taking a fundamentally different approach, and we ought to respond to that.

CHARLIE ROSE: It is also said that this deal marks a recognition by the United States that A, India will be a global power, and B, that it has to shift the focus of its foreign policy to Asia, not Europe.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I think there is no question that this deal springs out of a larger strategic ambition that our government and our country have had, to build up a new relationship with India. President Clinton began that in the 1990s, with his very successful overtures to India. President Bush, really since he was running for president in 2000, has had the idea that we had not fulfilled everything we could in the U.S.-India relationship. And his trip last week was meant to signal that India should become in the next several years one of our most important strategic partners in the world. And it is, as you suggest, on a global basis.

As we look to the future, there`s really no question that America`s critical national interests are going to be in large part, but not exclusively, in the Middle East and South Asia, but in Asia in general.

CHARLIE ROSE: Should the Chinese fear that this is the first step in an effort to contain them in their own region?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: No. We have, you know, our relationship with China stands on its own. It`s too powerful a country, too big a country that it can be contained. An we`re certainly not establishing a relationship with India meant to be some kind of counterbalance to our relationship with China. I mean, we`ve got to have a good and productive relationship with China, a way to do business with them, a way to talk to them if we are going to achieve the ultimate goal, which is peace in Asia in the future.

But India is a rising power, as well as China. And what distinguishes India from China is its democratic base, its thoroughly democratic base. And so India has the ability to promote that kind of peace and stability in Asia in the future.

CHARLIE ROSE: You have contact with in your role with the Chinese as well as the Indians. What are they saying about this?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, I think the Chinese are interested in the details of our nuclear -- civil nuclear agreement with the Indians. And we`ll be happy to provide the Chinese with the details. We hope we get Chinese support in the nuclear suppliers group. This is this multilateral agency that represents all the world`s civil nuclear powers. And obviously, China as a neighbor of India -- and they`ve had a complicated past -- is going to watch closely what we do.

But it`s China`s interest to see an expansion of economic ties, private sector growth, not just in China but in India as well. And it is certainly in China`s interest to see the maintenance of a stable balance of power relationship in Asia.

CHARLIE ROSE: But by definition, a growing strategic global power like India is some kind of counterweight to a growing China.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I don`t think the Indians see it that way. You might have asked Prime Minister Singh when you interviewed him for your show, but I think the Indians feel that they are emerging from their period of the last -- for several decades, where they were largely occupied with the affairs of South Asia. They now need a strategic relationship with the United States, and that was pretty much established.

CHARLIE ROSE: Because it was only United States could give them nuclear credibility.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, they need lots of things. For an economy that is growing by 8 to 9 percent a year, they need investment from the United States. They need trade with the United States. We`re their largest trading partner. Boeing just, for example, just landed a $13 billion aircraft deal with the Indians. So they need that.

CHARLIE ROSE: More Indians live in American than any other country outside of India.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Two million -- 2 million Indian-Americans in the United States. They are very successful. A lot of them from Boston, from Palo Alto, are building high-tech bridges back to India. It is an extraordinarily interesting intersection of two cultures.

And I think this U.S.-India relationship is blossoming not just on the government-to-government basis. But look what is happening in the high-tech sector, in education. There are 85,000 Indian students in the United States, the largest number, more than Chinese students. We`re seeing a blossoming of the entire relationship.

But I want to get back to your question. That doesn`t threaten China. The Indians don`t see it that way, and we don`t either. But it has to be that India will play a major role in Asia in the future, as well as the United States. We`re a Pacific power. We`re critical in the balance of power.

And China, India and the United States ought to be able to get along. We ought to be able to trade with each other and keep the peace at the same time.

CHARLIE ROSE: OK. You believe there might be some benefit to U.S.-Indo relationship with the Chinese, because if there are all these ties, somehow something positive comes out and gives you a basis to avoid conflict.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I think that`s absolutely right. You wouldn`t want a situation strategically...

CHARLIE ROSE: Where there was no relationship.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: For the next 50 years where somehow relations had broken down between New Delhi and Beijing, or the United States didn`t enjoy good relations with both.

Now, our relations with China and India will be different, obviously. What is going to cement this partnership with India is the fact that we are both democracies. And that we both believe in the rule of law. And we both believe that democracy ought to be the future in the rest of the world. And that`s I think what is special about our partnership with India.

CHARLIE ROSE: So when you got to Pakistan, which was so vital to the United States in the war against terrorism, what was their reaction?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, obviously, the Pakistanis want to continue to have a good relationship with us. It`s not going to be possible for us to have a civil nuclear relationship with Pakistan of the type that we`ve just announced with India.

CHARLIE ROSE: Because of their behavior in terms of proliferation.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Because of history, because of their proliferation history, that`s right. But there is a lot that we have to do with the Pakistanis. When you look at Pakistan, you see a country where there is a significant al Qaeda presence on their territory, Taliban presence, which is destabilizing not just to Pakistan but to Afghanistan. And the United States has a clear, very strong national interest in sustaining the survival of the government in Afghanistan. So those discussions in Pakistan were not minimalist. They were important discussions that President Bush had about how to continue our work on counterterrorism.

CHARLIE ROSE: The prime minister told me that he had offered to train Iraqis soldiers. Is that going to happen?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: We`d like it to happen. I mean, the Indians do not want to send troops to Iraq. But they are willing to train Iraqi officers and soldiers in India itself.

CHARLIE ROSE: On Iraqi soil or somewhere else.


CHARLIE ROSE: On Indian soil?


UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: ... out of Iraq. Yes, we would like it to happen. We think it would be positive if India stepped up to do that.

CHARLIE ROSE: They are engaged -- this the second largest Muslim population in the world.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: That`s right. That`s exactly right.

CHARLIE ROSE: They`re willing to play a role in terms of whatever kinds of tension may exist between Islam and the West? What role could they play?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I think the role is one of example and history. India has the second largest Muslim population in the world. And while it`s not a problem-free relationship, relations among Muslims and Hindus and Christians and other groups, Sikhs, in India itself -- it is a remarkable country. Much like the United States, it`s multi-religious, it`s multiethnic, but even more so, given the size of the country, and given the wide variety of religious groups there.

Indian Muslims largely have not contributed to the ranks of the terrorist groups around the world that are striking at us and striking at our friends. They -- the president of India is a Muslim. The prime minister of India is a Sikh. And Muslims have a way in their -- they have an opportunity in Indian society to gain the highest office in the land, to be corporate CEOs. There`s opportunity for that community in a way that perhaps doesn`t exist in some other countries.

CHARLIE ROSE: You are hopeful that there will be another green revolution because of this relationship.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Yes. We were present in the 1950s, Norman Borelog (ph) and others, in helping the Indians in this great, great revolution to try to increase food production in this enormous country. And what Prime Minister Singh has asked President Bush to do is can we now work together for a second green revolution. And what we announced in New Delhi was a new $100 million effort, essentially to connect our land grant universities in the Midwest with those Indian technical institutes, to produce this second green revolution that has to occur.

I mean, you and I have talked about the numbers of people here, but for people watching your show -- there are 300 million Americans. There are more than twice that number of Indians who farm the land. And a lot of -- are very poor, this live on $1 or $2 a day. A great percentage of the world`s poor people live in India. And at the same time, alongside those 650 million poor farmers, are 300 million Indians in a new middle class that has sprung up just in the last 10 or 15 years. And that is representing the face in many ways of a new modern India. So it is a fascinating society.

CHARLIE ROSE: And the demographics are very different from China. China has an aging population, and the majority of Indians are young.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Yes, majority of Indians are below the age of 30. And so this is a country -- if you are the Indian prime minister or the opposition leader, you`ve got to have a way to produce more power and more electricity. And that is why they are turning to nuclear. You`ve got to have a way to produce more food and to raise the income levels of those Indian farmers so they can live a decent life. And that`s why they`re turning to us for the second green revolution.

There are tremendous opportunities for our agro businesses, as well as our scientists and professors in the Midwest, at our great universities, to do again with India what they did so successfully 40 years ago.

CHARLIE ROSE: This has to go to the Congress.


CHARLIE ROSE: This nuclear agreement. Already you are hearing people like Ed Markey, the congressman from Massachusetts, saying it is terrible in the precedent it sets for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that that is not worth the gain from a good relationship with India.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: And we respectfully disagree. I have great respect for Congressman Markey. I`m a Bostonian just like he is.


UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: And I know him well.

CHARLIE ROSE: You belong to the Red Sox Society.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: We`re both members of Red Sox Nation.

But let me say on this question, I think that you`ve got to have a very practical way of looking at this question. If you are looking at it from a theoretical viewpoint -- I know some people maybe outside the government are -- you might want to maintain a pristine sense of a nuclear proliferation treaty. But if you are looking at it from a real world perspective, until now, for 35 years, you know how much influence the United States has had on the Indian nuclear program? Zero. And that`s because...

CHARLIE ROSE: Zero. How much influence is that on the Iranian program?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: We`ve had zero there. And now we`ve had...

CHARLIE ROSE: And the North Korean program.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: We`ve had more on the North Korean program, and we are seeking to have more on the Iranian program.

But let me just say on India. So the policy question for the Congress, as well as for the administration, is, do you want to continue for the next 30 years to have no influence, or do you want to have a great deal of influence?

Now, the deal that we achieve with India does not bring 100 percent of its nuclear facilities under international purview, because they are still going to have this nuclear weapons program, which is separate. And they can develop it. But the great majority of those power plants will come under international inspection.

That`s a good deal. If you go to 66 percent or 70 or 80 percent coverage in the future, it`s a far better deal than zero, which is what we`ve had.

CHARLIE ROSE: Let me talk about the Iranians for a moment. There is a quote from you in a piece that`s in "The New Yorker" magazine in which you are quoted as saying the following: "The Iranians have given no indication of a willingness to be receptive, none, since the new president was elected. And you know, Secretary Rice has been saying consistently that we are on a diplomatic track, and we are, but diplomacy has to be hard-edged. I don`t mean war-like; I mean hard-edged. And so we think it is far more likely that Iran is going to respond to isolation, to sanctions and to tough measures like that from the international community rather than just jah-jah (ph). So we believe we have entered a new phase of diplomacy where we have to take the Iranians to the Security Council, where we have to eliminate their transgressions, and countries have to begin to penalize them with sanctions and other punitive measures in order to tighten the pressures around them."

Where does that stand? And if it goes to the United Nations, what are the Russians going to do and what are the Chinese going to do?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: This is a critical week for the international...

CHARLIE ROSE: Thursday in Vienna, there is a meeting.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: That`s right, Wednesday, Thursday of this week, there is a meeting in Vienna. And the IAEA board of governors will meet, and I think they are going to have to assess that Iran is out of compliance with all their international responsibilities.

What the Iranians have done is to begin enrichment research, centrifuge research and development.

CHARLIE ROSE: And they say if it goes to the U.N., we`re going to...

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: And what does that tell you about their intentions? So the Iranians are in a place where they say we have rights, but they don`t want to talk about their responsibilities.

Now, here is a country that everyone mistrusts because of the radical nature of their regime and its policies in the past, and hiding information from the IAEA.

So we`ve got to be smart about this. We`ve got to have a very tough-minded view of Iran. And this deserves to be in the Security Council in New York, because we`ve arranged a remarkable coalition of countries. India, Brazil, China, Russia, the Europeans, Japan, Australia, the United States and Canada, are all in the same group, all speaking with one voice, all saying to the Iranians, essentially, we don`t trust you with nuclear weapons.

CHARLIE ROSE: Yes, but they are not all saying we`re prepared to sanction Iran.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Not yet, no, they`re not. But our view is this, Charlie, that if we get to the U.N. Security Council and there is a big debate, and there is a big international spotlight on Iran, and there is a resolution passed at the Security Council urging them to roll back the nuclear program, return to negotiations with Europe -- and if they don`t respond, then we`ve got to respond. And our view would be in that case, it would be logical that the U.S. and other countries would return to targeted sanctions.

Now, the U.S., since they stormed our embassy and took our diplomats hostage in 1979, we`ve had a full range of sanctions in place. But the Europeans have not. And some of the other countries haven`t. And so in order to get the attention of the Iranians and convince them that they`ve got to roll back, you might have to arrange a coalition of countries -- and I don`t know if Russia and China will be a part of it, I can`t speak for them -- but a coalition of countries that would apply targeted sanctions. Maybe targeted, as Secretary Rice has suggested, at the regime leaders, at their ability to travel to our countries, at their ability to use our financial system.

This is a government, by the way, that is not just seeking nuclear weapons. It`s a government that is the leading sponsor and funder of the major terrorist organizations in the Middle East, a government that has -- that is responsible for some of the worst terrorist attacks against American citizens. So we`ve got a long memory.

CHARLIE ROSE: Speaking of terror, is India going to play a role in the battle against terrorism?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: India does. I mean, India is a victim of terrorism.

CHARLIE ROSE: From the Kashmir.


CHARLIE ROSE: And from fundamental Muslim elements there.


CHARLIE ROSE: But is it going to play a larger role because of this agreement?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I think it will. I mean, the Indians have told us that preventing terrorism against them and against other countries is one of their abiding concerns. And I think it`s another way that India is emerging on a more global basis than it had been before.

CHARLIE ROSE: There is also a report out from John Edwards and Jack Kemp, sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, saying we need to get tougher with Russia. Do we need to get tougher with Russia?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: We need to be realistic about Russia. On the one hand, if you want to have a world that`s peaceful in terms of maintenance of nuclear stability, you`ve got to have a relationship with Russia. If you want to be effective counterterrorism on a global basis, Russia is on our side on that issue.

There will be times when we can work very well with President Putin and his government. There will be other times, and I think you`ve seen a number of them over the last year or two, where we are going to have to say we disagree and we`re not able to work with them.

What we want to see, for instance, in Central Europe this great revolution of 1989 to `91 continue. We want to see nations, if they want, to join the European Union or NATO. Countries like Ukraine and Georgia have the opportunity to do that. I`m not sure the Russians would agree with that statement, but that is our policy. So we don`t have to be shrinking violets. We can assert our national interests when we are opposed -- when we`re opposed to the Russian point of view.

CHARLIE ROSE: What about with respect to Hamas? They just had all these Hamas leaders to Moscow. Are they playing a positive role there?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, we think they gave -- they say they gave, and we trust them when they say this, the right message to Hamas, which is you have to recognize Israel. You have to put aside your tactic of using terrorism and violence to achieve political ends. You have to join the consensus, and that is that there has got to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Hamas hasn`t chosen to do any of that. But the Russians tell us that that was the message they gave.

CHARLIE ROSE: So what is our -- what options do we have with respect to Hamas?


CHARLIE ROSE: And the new Hamas government?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I think that we have set them out. And that is, Hamas needs to understand that there is a united front internationally. Europe, the United States, Japan, Russia, countries that can fund peaceful projects in the Middle East, countries that are critical to the future, that we`ve got one view. If the position of Hamas is Israel should not exist, and that terrorism is a reasonable and rational way to proceed, there will be no relationship between the U.S. and Hamas.

CHARLIE ROSE: The conventional wisdom for the first four years of the Bush administration was, and I heard this in India as well, a sense that we`re not listening to the rest of the world, we`re going our way, you are with us or you are against us. There seems to be today a more willingness to listen to what other countries are saying. If you wanted to make that case, what would be your best evidence?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: I think that President Bush on his recent trip, for example, made it very clear that we`re a country that wants a broad relationship with India. That we`re certainly willing to listen to the Indian point of view on any number of issues. The same is true of Pakistan.

The president has spent and Secretary Rice over the last year an enormous amount of time rebuilding our relations with Germany and France, which needed rebuilding. Reaching out to try to engage the Russians when we can do that. And I think that if you look at what we`re doing, we`re trying to rebuild NATO as a multilateral institution. We`re supporting Kofi Annan`s reform program at the United Nations, another great multilateral institution.

So this charge that somehow the United States is some unilateralist cowboy, I don`t think it at all reflects the reality of what we have been trying to do in the world.

CHARLIE ROSE: What is the future role for NATO?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: You know, a lot of people thought at the end of the Cold War that NATO was dead. Its raison d`etre was to contain the Soviet Union, but now we see that NATO played the key role in Bosnia. We ended the war there in 1995. We ended the ethnic cleansing of a million Muslims in Kosovo in 1999, and now NATO is taking the lead in peacekeeping in Afghanistan. There are 12,000 European soldiers there through NATO. And NATO is in Iraq.

So I think the future for NATO is to be the expression of all the democratic countries of Europe and North America for peacekeeping, for the advancement of democracy, and for an effective multilateral response to all these challenges we face.

CHARLIE ROSE: What do you make of this conflict between Musharraf and Karzai?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: You know, it`s disappointing to see this exchange of words in public. Because Musharraf needs Karzai, and Karzai needs Musharraf. I mean, Afghanistan needs a good relationship with Pakistan. That border is so violent and so troublesome.

But the reverse is true as well. And I think it`s our role, United States, to be a friend to both countries, to bring them together. We would like to see cooperation, obviously.

CHARLIE ROSE: Going into the final day of this nuclear agreement with India, did think you could pull it off?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: We weren`t sure. We weren`t sure.

CHARLIE ROSE: You weren`t sure?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: No, because we had very clear instructions from President Bush and Secretary Rice, and that is if you can get a good deal, get that deal. But if the deal doesn`t measure up, we will walk away from it. And so actually, until the very last moment, we had negotiations the evening that President Bush arrived in India until 1:00 in the morning. We got up early the next morning and had a couple of more hours with the Indians. And Steve Hadley, our national security adviser and I, put our positions forward, but weren`t sure it was going to end up in a deal.

CHARLIE ROSE: The fast breeder reactor is not covered by this.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: All future fast breeder reactors will be covered.

CHARLIE ROSE: But the one in existence today is not covered.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: There are just two small prototypes in existence today. They are not covered. But all the future, all the future civilian fast breeders will come under safeguards.

CHARLIE ROSE: What was -- what was in the end made the deal possible? Was it the fact the president caved, because he was so interested in the strategic initiative, or was it that the Indians...

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: You know, it`s interesting. International politics sometimes comes down to two things. The importance of having a deadline. And the president and prime minister walking into a room to start a meeting was our deadline. It took us a year...

CHARLIE ROSE: To get to that, yes.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: ... to get to that deadline. And sometimes...

CHARLIE ROSE: The clock is ticking.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Yes, the clock is ticking, and it concentrates the attention.

The second is personal relations in international diplomacy. The relationship between President Bush and Prime Minister Singh is a trusting one. And I had hundreds of hours of discussion with Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran. And we built up a relationship of trust between us. And at the end of the day, any agreement is going to come down to trust between two governments. It`s not just what you write in the paper. Do we think the other guy is going to fulfill this? Will he really do it to the best of his ability? And we had the sense that the Indians were serious, that they would commit to this, and they would meet their responsibilities.

CHARLIE ROSE: What do you think the Chinese ambitions are?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: That`s a big question that would require an entirely different interview, Charlie, except to say that China seems focused on its own country. On how to bring all those hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty, into the amazing technological modernization program that some Chinese are now benefiting from. That China wants to consolidate that kind of growth and stability in its own country, and therefore wants a peaceful and constructive relationship with the rest of the world if they can have it.

And our policy -- and our Deputy Secretary of State Bob Zoellick has played a big role in this -- is can China think of itself as part of a corporate board, will it have a stakeholder mentality? Will it understand that for a peaceful preservation of world order for peace, for growth, for business opportunities, all of us have to contribute to that. And sometimes you have to compromise. Sometimes you have to give something. A lot of times, you get benefits.

And China has been so isolated for so many hundreds of years and so fractured as a country, it now has to, as one unit, think about itself, along with the United States and Japan and the European Union and Brazil and South Africa and India, as part of a board that -- of countries that have responsibility for the world.

CHARLIE ROSE: Have they recognized that?

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: You know, that is a good question. It`s an open question. In some ways, in some ways, yes. And certainly we`ve seen in Chinese behavior -- take the North Korea situation, for instance. China has been very helpful to the U.S., to the Russia, Japan, in getting the North Koreans to negotiate, getting them to the table and the frame of mind to want to negotiate. China played a critical role, and that was good to see.

CHARLIE ROSE: Thank you. Great to see you.

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Pleasure, Charlie, thank you.

CHARLIE ROSE: We`ll be back, stay with us.

Released on March 7, 2006

  Back to top

U.S. Department of State
USA.govU.S. Department of StateUpdates  |   Frequent Questions  |   Contact Us  |   Email this Page  |   Subject Index  |   Search
The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.
About state.gov  |   Privacy Notice  |   FOIA  |   Copyright Information  |   Other U.S. Government Information

Published by the U.S. Department of State Website at http://www.state.gov maintained by the Bureau of Public Affairs.