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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > What the Secretary Has Been Saying > 2005 Secretary Rice's Remarks > March 2005: Secretary Rice's Remarks

Remarks en Route to India

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
March 15, 2005

SECRETARY RICE: All right. Well, welcome to the trip to Asia. We're almost there. This is going to be an opportunity to exchange views with the important countries, important players, in a region that is itself in the midst of tremendous change. It's a region in which economic prosperity obviously has been achieved over a number of years but where democratic progress has also been very much on the march. If you looked at this region a couple of decades ago, or even 15 years ago, you would not have seen the configurations that you see today.

It's also a region in which the United States has probably its best relations with each of the powers that it's ever had. For instance, with India we clearly have a broader and deeper relationship than we've ever had and I look forward to having a chance to talk with the Indians about continuing to broaden and deepen that relationship. We've had a national security dialogue with the Indians that has produced a set of concrete developments in the first phase and we intend to press the second phase as aggressively as we pressed the first.

Also, India is emerging as not just a regional power but as a global power. We saw that in the work that we were able to do with India in the Core Group for the tsunami relief. And I think there are many more opportunities -- economic, in terms of security, in terms of energy cooperation -- that we can pursue with India. And I look forward to having those discussions.

One of the things that we've been able to do is, in a sense, to continue to continue to de-hyphenate the relationship with Pakistan because at the same time that our relations with India have been moving forward we have the best relations with Pakistan that perhaps we've ever had as well, deepening our cooperation with Pakistan in the war on terrorism, supporting President Musharraf's efforts to modernize Pakistan, supporting efforts for Pakistani education and also the liberalization of the Pakistani economy. And so our ability to have good relations with India and good relations with Pakistan, I think, has helped also the two states to have good relations with each other as they have become, in a sense, both of them on the right side in the war on terror, determined not to allow extremism to overtake them.

The third stop, and one that I'm really very much looking forward to, is to go to Kabul, to Afghanistan. It's my first trip to Afghanistan and it's very exciting to see what's happened there. The presidential elections, they're getting ready for parliamentary elections. So I think everybody has enormous respect for President Karzai and what the Afghans have been able to achieve. And obviously it's an been extremely close relationship with the United States over these past few years since the overthrow of the Taliban. And so as I said, my own sense of personal excitement is very high about having a chance finally to see Kabul.

We'll continue to talk with the Afghans about reconstruction, about building an economy there, because that can be self-sustainable, about self-sustaining, about the problems that they continue to face, continuing in the war on terror, and of course on the counternarcotics side as well.

Then we'll go to Northeast Asia, and again I would just repeat what I said at the beginning. We have relations that are extraordinarily good with each of the parties. With Japan and South Korea our alliances are stronger that they have ever been. We're modernizing them in terms of the nature of our military presence in both of those countries. They've become more than regional alliances, with South Korea and Japan participating in the stability functions in Iraq.

And all of this comes at the same time that, of course, we are trying to improve our relations and have improved our relations with a rising China. There is no doubt that China is a major factor, perhaps the major factor, in the changing face of Asia and it's a good thing that the United States has a constructive relationship with China. Obviously, it's a constructive relationship but it's a relationship in which we have some differences and we'll continue to talk to the Chinese about religious freedom, about human rights, about the need to push forward toward a future in which its economic openness puts it into a rules-based system in the international system and that China continues to play on a level playing field, so issues like intellectual property rights.

So it's a broad and big agenda because this is a broad and critically important region, but I very much look forward to having a chance to talk with the leaders of these countries and to get back to the President so that we can continue to advance these relationships.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, do you expect that the Cross-Straits tension of the last few days will be a major focus of your discussions in China and in the region? And also, do you think that this may have some effect on an end -- on the European decision to end the arms embargo?

SECRETARY RICE: I can't speak to the second question. It’s obviously, the Europeans are examining this issue. They know very well our views on the arms embargo, that this is not a time to end the arms embargo. It's a time when Asia is in transition, when the military balance needs to be maintained. It's a time when human rights concerns continue coming out of Tiananmen, which was the original reason for the arms embargo. But I would hope that it would at least remind the Europeans that there are still serious security issues in this region and indeed in the Cross-Straits in particular.

I'm certain that we will discuss the Cross-Straits issues. The United States has a kind of upright anchor position, if you will, here. It's our responsibility to say to both the parties that unilateral moves that increase tensions are really not helpful, and the anti-secession law, as it's called, is not helpful in reducing Cross-Straits tensions and therefore we have said to the Chinese that we would have hoped that this would not have been done.

Now, it doesn't mean that they can't continue to try to improve Cross-Straits relations, that talks shouldn't continue on the links between Taiwan and China. I'm sure that investment continues and it's important that we recognize that they need to continue to pursue these positive goals and we'll encourage continuing to pursue the positive goals. But our "one China" policy and the three communiqués and the responsibilities under the Taiwan Relations Act really demand that the United States make clear to both parties, China and Taiwan, that unilateral moves are just not helpful.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, on the North Korean issue. Today, I think the North Koreans gave you a kind of welcome to Asia. They issued a statement and it was the Foreign Ministry saying that they may have to increase their nuclear arsenal for two reasons: to maintain what they call the balance of military power in the region and also to prevent a U.S. attack. Is this just bluster?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, every time I've talked about North Korea, I've refused to try to get inside North Korea's -- the psyche of the North Koreans to understand exactly what they're trying to say. I do know that they've been told, and told in no uncertain terms by the President of the United States, I've said it, Secretary Powell said it before, that the United States has no intention of attacking North Korea, of invading North Korea. The North Koreans have been offered through the six-party framework security guarantees that would, in effect, put that into a more formal arrangement.

So the issue is are the North Koreans prepared to do what the -- their important neighbors have demanded of them, which is to end their nuclear weapons programs, to do that verifiably and irreversibly, and to do it in the context of a six-party arrangement which has all of the important stakeholders at the table. And so that's the issue and I don't think the North Koreans should be allowed to change the subject.

QUESTION: A year ago, Vice President Cheney went to East Asia and said, "Time is not on our side on the North Korean issue." And since he's made that statement, the North Koreans have been able to produce enough plutonium for another nuclear weapon. There's not -- there's only been one meeting of the six-party talks. Are we getting to the point where we need to say that the six-party talk process is broken or about to be broken and there are other steps that need to be taken in order to deal with this situation now?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the time in which this has transpired is also a time in which North Korea's isolation from its neighbors has deepened. If you look back just a short time ago, a couple of years ago, the North Koreans were talking about normalization of relations with Japan. There was thought that that might be possible. They had had a successful visit in Russia at the, in, I think, 1999 or 2000. The South Koreans were in a very active posture vis-à-vis North Korea.

And in fact, when Jim Kelly first went to North Korea, his intention had been to talk about a bold vision of what relations could look like for North Korea with the rest of the world, including with the United States. But because the North Koreans decided to break their commitments under the Agreed Framework and to pursue another path to a nuclear weapon, we had instead to get back to the problem of North Korean nuclear weapons.

So in that period of time, the unity of message and purpose of the six-party -- of the five parties in the six parties, has been very clear, and the Chinese most especially saying that there needs to be a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula, everybody working toward that goal, and the North Koreans continue to deepen their isolation.

I am here to discuss what we do about the -- to get the six-party talks moving forward, to see what the ideas of the various parties are to try and move them forward. But the six-party framework is the best and most reliable way to deal with the North Korean program because it has all of the important neighbors at the table. What the North Koreans would like is to get into a bilateral discussion with the United States so that, one by one, they can cut separate deals on this issue, and we're not going to allow them to do it.

QUESTION: Just a -- sorry, if I could just quickly follow up on that. I mean, the South Koreans however have continued economic progress with the North Koreans and now they're, you know, it's not like, well, our unity of purpose is entirely together there. Are you going to ask the South Koreans to --

SECRETARY RICE: The South Koreans live next door to the North Koreans and we have never said to the South Koreans that they shouldn't try within that framework to try and improve their -- the tension -- the level of tension between the two sides. We've never said that to the South Koreans. But the relationship, I think, is not moving as rapidly as it once was and the South Koreans continue to be very wary of and concerned about a North Korean nuclear weapon and they've let the North Koreans know that.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I just wanted to know how far are you going to push the President's global message of spreading democracy and freedom, particularly when you go to countries like China, and indeed Pakistan with President Musharraf still wearing a military uniform.

SECRETARY RICE: The President said that democracy would be central in our dialogue with every country in the world, and it will be. When I go to China, I will talk about human rights, about religious freedom, about the view that -- our view that the greatest creativity comes when people are allowed to be creative, not just in their economic life but in their political life as well, and that those ultimately have gone together in just about every circumstance that you can think about. And certainly, I'll talk to the Chinese about that.

And in Pakistan, we fully expect President Musharraf to be committed to a democratic path for Pakistan. We recognize that he's done a lot in terms of educational reform, that he's tried very hard to rid Pakistan of the kind of extremism that, frankly, three or four years ago threatened to make Pakistan a state that was a supporter of terrorism and a state where extremism had taken in a very large foothold.

So, of course, we'll have that discussion and the President has had that discussion with President Musharraf. We expect the -- we expect a commitment to a democratic path for Pakistan.

QUESTION: Back to China. How concerned are you with the incredible level of military, increased military spending in China, double-digit growth every year?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, certainly, the military spending is concerning because it is taking place at a time when China has not -- when the Cross-Straits issue is not still resolved and in which the United States has certain commitments to a peaceful resolution of that Cross-Straits situation.

So, yes, it is concerning. I will say that there are several ways to deal with it. Perhaps the most important is to recognize that the United States has very strong alliances in the region that are alliances that bring stability to that region at a time when the Chinese role is changing.

Now, we don't have any desire to have the alliances or our posture be a posture against China. China can emerge as a constructive force in Asia. China is going to be a major influence in this region, one way or another, because it's big and it's economically growing to be very powerful and it's going to be both a regional and a global player.

The question is: Is it going to be constructive? And therefore, our goal is to enhance the chances for a constructive role for China through engagement with China on security issues like the six-party arrangement, to engage with China when we can on other global issues. For instance, China has peacekeepers or police in -- rather police trainers in Haiti, but also to recognize that the United States is an important force for stability in the region through the strengthening of our alliances with Japan and South Korea and paying attention to the (inaudible) and maintenance of our own military forces and their sophistication and modernization.

Okay, thanks, got to go.

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Released on March 15, 2005

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