Remarks to the PressRichard L. Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State
August 24, 2002
MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS INAM UL HAQ: Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I would like to welcome Deputy Secretary of State Mr. Richard Lee Armitage to Pakistan. We have held discussions on Pakistan-U.S. bilateral relations, as well as on the situation in the region-in particular, the situation of India-Pakistan relations. And I will leave the rest to your questions and to the answers that the Deputy Secretary of State will provide to those questions. Thank you.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Thank you Mr. Minister. I was delighted to be able to engage in those discussions with you and, of course, the Minister of Interior. Just now completing a very full discussion with President Musharraf that covered the full range of, as you suggested, bilateral relations and indeed the India-Pakistan situation.
We were honored to be back. I was able to express the best wishes of President Bush to President Musharraf. President Bush is very much looking forward to welcoming President Musharraf to New York on the twelfth of September and to continue the discussions and the relationship that they've begun to develop.
So I'll just stop there and try to answer any questions that you may have.
QUESTION: Tahir Rathore from NNI. Mr. Armitage, what do you think …how much time can your mission take to diffuse tension between India and Pakistan? And, if you'd also like to share, how much life lost by U.S. troops in Afghanistan?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I'm not sure I understood the second part; we'll come back to that.
The first part of the question: I think you should take careful note of the different circumstances that exist now, compared to a couple of months ago when I was here. Clearly the tensions and the rhetoric are somewhat down at present. And that is why, on this visit, I was able to engage in discussions of the full range of our relationship, to, of course, include the India-Pakistan situation. In that particular situation, the United States has extended its good offices and is prepared to continue to extend those good offices. We want the best possible future for our friends here in Pakistan and in India, and we're going to work as appropriate to bring that about.
The second part of your question was 'lives lost in Afghanistan,' sir? In what context?
QUESTION: U.S. troops. American lives.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: American lives lost? I'm sorry, I don't know the answer. Did something happen today while I've been…?
QUESTION: No, no. I mean, you have been engaged there since October last in that war against terrorism. So, what is the number of lives lost of U.S. troops?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I do not have the figure of lives lost of U.S. troops. I'm sorry, I just don't have it off the top of my head.
QUESTION: While in Delhi, you could not see the Prime Minister and the Indian Foreign Minister. Does that mean that India is not showing any interest in U.S. efforts to diffuse tensions and engage in dialogue at the highest level to sort out this difficult problem?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: No, I did not see Prime Minister Vajpayee, but I saw no indication that India wasn't intent on a continued effort by the United States, the continued good offices of the United States. I would note that each of the discussions that I had in India, to include with National Security Adviser Mishra, went on for extended lengths of time, much beyond the allotted time. So, from the United States' point of view, we were treated splendidly and had a full exposition of all the issues.
QUESTION: Chris Tomlinson, Associated Press. There was a report yesterday that there was an Indian attack on a Pakistani position in Kashmir. Can you verify that this attack took place? And what does it mean for your mission?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I heard about this from press reports yesterday when I was in Delhi, and we engaged in a short discussion where I was exposed to the series of events from Pakistan's point of view. I think the facts on the ground are not something that the United States can judge, particularly as I've been mostly in meetings. But I think the facts will become clearer over time.
As regards my mission. As I said, my mission is a broad one that encompasses the full range of our relationship. I think any violence is regrettable, but I don't think it interferes with this mission in any way. I think it does put an exclamation point on the need for continued good offices to be brought to bear.
QUESTION: Huw Watkin, from AFP. A couple of related questions, if you like: earlier this week, the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan suggested that perhaps there were more Al-Qaida/Taliban in Pakistan than there were remaining in the original theater of operations. So, first to ask you: what is your assessment of Pakistan's efforts towards closing that border - Afghanistan? And, secondly, what is your understanding now, in terms of militants crossing the Line of Control into Kashmir and Pakistan's efforts to prevent that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: On the first question - the efforts of our friends in Pakistan along the western border - I was able to, again, thank President Musharraf and, through President Musharraf, his very excellent army and police forces. We think they're doing a splendid job in very difficult tribal areas. In-country here, the arrests and incarcerations of Al-Qaida/Taliban, etc… is a matter of record, and we're quite delighted with the activities and very complimentary of them.
On the question of infiltration, I can say that nothing has changed from the assurances I was given this past June when I here. There is some obvious infiltration across the Line of Control, but our friends here in Pakistan assured me that this was not something sponsored by the government of Pakistan.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary? Quatrina Hosain from PTV. Talking about infiltration across the Line of Control. Now, India says that that is continuing. President Musharraf has said that Pakistan has done everything it can. Now, that has become literally a precondition for talks in India's stand. So that seems to be a deadlock. Did that come up for discussions in India? And what recommendations are likely to be made on that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, as I indicated last night in Delhi, a full range of topics came up during our discussions in India, to include the question of cross-border infiltration. But I think no one, whether here in Pakistan or in India, feels that the government of Pakistan is solely and completely responsible for activities across the border. I think that, from the United States' point of view, we are concentrating on trying to bring about a situation where there can be a dialogue and the two parties can sit down face-to-face to speak about these matters and to resolve them together.
One more. Sir…
QUESTION: What can you or the United States do to bring these two parties to sit across the table? Because, so far, they have got their stated positions and are not willing to talk. Pakistan says it is willing; India says that unless this infiltration is stopped… What can you possibly do?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well I'm tempted almost first to answer to say that the best that we can do is follow the Hypocratic oath, which is "do no harm"! But beyond that, I think our view is to make sure that, to the extent desirable by both parties, that we accurately communicate both our views and the views of the parties. That we, when requested, offer any advice. We cannot impose a solution, would not impose a solution - could not impose a solution. Ultimately, the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the leaders of these two great countries. But I think, again, the use of the United States' good offices to try to bring about a better situation is appreciated on both sides of the question.
I thank you all very much.