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Press Briefing En Route to India

Secretary Colin L. Powell
En Route To New Delhi, India
March 15, 2004

SECRETARY POWELL: I hope this works okay. Welcome. The first leg of this trip will be India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. I'm looking forward to my conversations in India. So much has changed since my last trip here in the summer of 2002, when we really were at the height of a -- still at the height of a crisis. And now, in both India and Pakistan, my focus will be on the bilateral relationship we have with each of them, the U.S.-India relationship and the U.S.-Pakistan relations.

With my Indian colleagues, I'm sure we'll have good discussions on the NSSP, next steps in the strategic partnership, which was announced by the Prime Minister and the President in January. And we think this is an important milestone in our relations. We've also had considerable improvement in military to military relations, as well as in trade. Trade is up some. I know -- I think the statistics are something like 19% in 2003. And I'll want to talk to my interlocutors about what more can be done with respect to trade liberalization on the part of India, so that we can see more American exports going to India. Prime Minister Vajpayee announced some important economic incentives in January with respect to tariff and tax policies, and we hope that they will continue to move in that direction. I'm sure we'll also talk about the improving relationship between India and Pakistan, which essentially is being conducted between the two parties as it should be. And for those of you who haven't noticed, we are arriving in the midst of the India-Pakistan cricket matches, which are going on, and that's quite a difference from 18 months to two years ago.

In Pakistan, the focus will also be on U.S.-Pakistan relations and we'll be talking about the economic component of that relationship, as well as all other aspects. We have been able to relieve a considerable portion of Pakistan's debt burden to the United States over the last couple of years. You remember I used to kid you all the time that Musharraf always was emblazoning across my forehead, "debt relief, debt relief." We've gotten a bit of relief and we'll also be working with the Congress on an aid package for Pakistan. I'm sure we will review the situation in Afghanistan and both places, and especially in Pakistan and ask for greater action along the Afghan-Pak border.

And, of course, we'll also talk about non-proliferation activities and I look forward to engaging President Musharraf in a full discussion on the A.Q. Khan matter and what they've learned from Dr. Khan. We've had quite a bit of information passed on to us already, which has given us new insight into the whole proliferation network of A.Q. Khan and others around the world. And it'd be helpful to have a good discussion with President Musharraf on this matter.

In Afghanistan, I look forward to seeing President Karzai again and taking a look at how things are coming with respect to getting ready for the elections, the registration of voters, how the central government is coming, with respect to withdrawing authority and power from regional governors, making the tax base -- putting a tax base on a sounder footing because of the collections from the provinces. And I'll also be discussing with President Karzai the security situation, the role of NATO as it expands it's work in Afghanistan and we'll have a chance to discuss the donors' conference that's coming up in a few weeks time, which, I am -- I'm planning to attend. That's a shorthand of where we are for these three countries. And I'll just take it to questions. We've got to keep it short because of dinner.

QUESTION: Could you give us your assessment of the outcome of the Spanish elections and whether or not this can fairly be called a victory for the terrorists?

SECRETARY POWELL: It's a victory for the Socialists. I haven't had a chance to analyze fully the results or to see the commentary from Madrid. I spoke to Minister Palacio last night, but she was at her -- she was at home up at Toledo and we didn't have a long discussion. So I really haven't had a chance to analyze it.

Terrorism has to be defeated and I don't think the Spanish people are any more inclined to give any encouragement to terrorists or to give terrorists the slightest impression that they are not going to be engaged fully by the Spanish government no matter who is the Prime Minister, what party has formed the leading coalition. Spain has been beset by terrorists for many decades and they have been fighting terrorism long before it got on the international screen with 9/11. And you can see the outrage shown by the Spanish people over what happened last Thursday. So, how that may or may not have affected the election, I can't say, but the one thing I'm quite sure of is that the Spanish people remain committed in the war against terrorists.

QUESTION: How much have the Indians done to put in place export controls that would allow for further cooperation on high-tech space nuclear energy?

SECRETARY POWELL: They've started to put in place some controls. There's more that they have to do. We'll be discussing that tomorrow with them as we try to enter phase one of the NSSP and we'll also be offering them an opportunity for detailed discussions. But let me talk to you about that after I've had my conversations tomorrow.

QUESTION: If I could go back to the Spanish elections and the Iraq question, will the results of the elections mean that we're going to be more likely to seek another UN resolution before June the 30th? And, what's the latest on whether the UN's going back in to help the Iraqis, whether the Governing Council will invite them in? Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: We have always had under consideration another UN resolution as we got closer to the 1st of July. I know what the Socialist Party in Spain was saying before the election. We'll wait to see what they say now, but it's always been in the realm of consideration for another resolution. You are fundamentally changing the circumstances on the 1st of July and it may be quite appropriate at that point then to update 1511 and 1483 and 1500, but principally 1511. So we'll just have to examine what kind of resolution and when we might need it. With respect to the UN, we're still in discussions with the Governing Council, CPA, State Department, NSC, all of us trying to structure a correct role, a proper role for the UN to play as we move forward in setting -- to set up the interim government. We believe that the UN does have a role to play and we're having conversations with the Governing Council about it now. But it hasn't been completely resolved as to the exact role they might play and when they could play the role.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, are you going to allow the Governing Council to veto Brahimi and his participation?

SECRETARY POWELL: I didn't say that he is up for veto or not. I said we are in discussions with the Governing Council about how best the UN should play that role. It's between the Governing Council, CPA, us and Secretary General Annan to determine how the roles should be played. So, it's -- it's a matter that's under consideration now. But the Governing Council does -- some members of the Governing Council -- have reservations about the UN role and we'll work our way through that.

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about what we need to learn on Pakistan's investigation of the non-proliferation situation? Is there something that needs to be known further on this trip, and Pakistan has added F-16s to its request for military assistance. What's our attitude toward that request?

SECRETARY POWELL: On the second point, I think it's well known that the Pakistanis have always wanted F-16s and we have it under consideration. But we've taken no decision, made no decision with respect to the provision of F-16s. On the first question, with respect to what you should be looking at, I will be seeking to learn from President Musharraf, and the others I speak to, what else they may have learned about the network that I have not yet been made aware of through normal intelligence channels. And, certainly, I will be interested to see whether there is any involvement of past officials or any official involvement in any of this over the years. And I think that is something that the Government of Pakistan should look into and I think is looking into. And as the international community examines this whole problem of A.Q. Khan, I think the international community would want to see a full answer with respect to his activities. And I think President Musharraf has that as his goal. I'm sure we'll talk about it.

QUESTION: Do you have any more information about whether Al Qaeda is responsible for the Spanish bombing? And second, on Pakistan, you mentioned you wanted greater action along the border. Can you specify what action you want?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have nothing further with respect to Al Qaeda, ETA, not yet. You are following that debate as well as I am, as I can. And since leaving last night, I received no additional information.

Pakistan has undertaken a number of operations recently along the border, the -- I think it's called the FATA regions, and we just want to see them do more of that. We want to see if they can do a better job of apprehending Taliban persons who we might be able to identify for them. And anything that can be done to stabilize the situation along the border and allow -- give U.S. operations on the Afghan side of the border all the assistance that they can from the Pakistan side of the border.

QUESTION: Yeah, just a follow-up on the F-16s, is the U.S. more open now to at least allowing Pakistan to have spare parts for their aging F-16s, that they apparently need parts for?

SECRETARY POWELL: We're reviewing the whole military program with Pakistan. That is another component of it, but we've made no decisions yet. And when we do, we will let you know.

Released on March 16, 2004

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