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Remarks En Route to New Delhi, India

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
En route New Delhi, India
October 3, 2008

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we're on our way to India and then to Kazakhstan. We'll talk about Kazakhstan on the way there. But I'm very much looking forward to going to India, really to just affirm the extraordinary progress that we've made in U.S.-Indian relations under the visionary leadership of President Bush and Prime Minister Singh. I think this is a relationship that is now - has now a firm foundation to reach its full potential.

In bilateral terms, of course, the Civil Nuclear Agreement is important and I - but I think we can now draw a line under that and talk about the breadth of this relationship. And really, in everything from defense cooperation to educational cooperation to agricultural and economic cooperation, this is a relationship that is very strong and broad and deep. And it's, of course, a relationship that's based first and foremost on values; the Indian and American democracies, both great multiethnic democracies. With all of the excitement and cacophony that comes with that, it is really an extraordinary moment for U.S.-Indian relations.

We also can now move from this foundation to global issues. We are working together on Afghanistan. We've worked together on humanitarian relief, as evidenced in what we did at the time of the Indonesia events. And there is much more that the United States and India can do together. So I look forward to going and spending, unfortunately, a short time in India. But I think it does show that the relationship is now ready to move to this new level and to exploit all the things that we can do together.

QUESTION: Are you going to actually - ma'am, are you going to sign the agreement? And does the agreement on the nuclear cooperation serve, in any sense, as a model for other countries that might do a similar deal?

SECRETARY RICE: I think India is really sui generis. It is a state that has had - really, very good proliferation record. Obviously, it posed some challenges because of its strategic nuclear programs, but I think what you saw in the IAEA Board of Governors, in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and ultimately, in the Congress, is a recognition of what Mohamed ElBaradei has said, which is that bringing India and Indian civil nuclear programs and facilities and their future into the IAEA framework is a win for the proliferation regime as a whole. I think India is, in many ways, sui generis in that regard.

The - in terms of what we signed, look, there are a lot of administrative details that have to be worked out. This was only passed in our Congress two days ago. The President is looking forward to signing the bill, sometime, I hope, in - very soon, because we'll want to use it as an opportunity to thank all of the people who have been involved in this. That means the U.S.-India - the Indian American community, the U.S.-India business community, and the diplomats and others who have been involved.

So, you know, we're working through administrative details, but I'm going to draw a line under this one way or another, because this is now time - it's time to put the historic agreement, say that that's done, and move on to what else we can do, because we've got a very broad relationship.

QUESTION: So it may or may not be signed during this trip? It's being worked out at the last minute.

SECRETARY RICE: It's got to be worked out at the last minute, because there are so many administrative issues --


SECRETARY RICE: -- that we have to deal with.

QUESTION: I don't understand what the administrative issues are. What -- could it be --

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the - for instance, we have to enroll the bill

QUESTION: All right.

SECRETARY RICE: --when it comes over from the Congress. So look, the important thing about this trip is to talk about the next steps in the U.S.-India relationship, not the last step, which I feel we, in some ways, put a line under that when we talked about in the State Department, so we'll see.

QUESTION: Does the President have to sign before you can sign? Is that what--

SECRETARY RICE: The President does not have to sign before I sign. But we're working through the details of this. I'll let you know. But the whole purpose of this trip is to move forward, not to look at where we are.

QUESTION: Could I ask you a question about North Korea? Did Chris Hill achieve anything in his most recent visit? Has he completed his visit?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm sorry --

QUESTION: Has he completed his --

SECRETARY RICE: I talked to Chris this morning. He's leaving Pyongyang. As you might imagine, we will wait until he's in - on his way back to have a full discussion of this and I'll see him Monday morning.

QUESTION: Anything positive so far?

SECRETARY RICE: We did not discuss or characterize his visit there. As I said, he called me from Pyongyang. And we'll review where we are when I see him on Monday morning.

QUESTION: Back to the India nuclear cooperation deal. You need the Indians to sign a convention on liability, limiting damage if there's an accident before U.S. businesses can really benefit from this. How soon do you think that will happen? Or is that one of the things you have to work out with the Indians?

SECRETARY RICE: We have a letter of intent from the Indians that we believe is a very firm set of commitments and a framework for making sure that our businesses can do business in India. So I'm satisfied about the details of all of this. This really is about administrative matters, not about the substance of it.

QUESTION: During the debate on the Hill, there was talk about what's to keep them from testing again. Do you think it's part of your mission on this trip to talk to them about that again and talk - say - you know, deliver a warning message of any kind about, you know, not testing?

SECRETARY RICE: I think we've been very clear about U.S. views on this issue. The Indians have a lot at stake here. And they have made very clear that what they want to do is they want to move on to civil nuclear cooperation. And I think they understand the grounds on which we've done this. The United States is going to remain true to its commitments under the Hyde Act and true to the commitments that President Bush has made to President Singh. And I know that the Indians will do the same.

Anything else? Okay.

QUESTION: I did have actually another question, if you didn't mind.


QUESTION: The Administration has mentioned that it is reviewing its strategy in Afghanistan, Pakistan. I haven't personally heard what you have said on that topic, though. Do you think that the strategy needs to be, in some way, changed or firmed up in some way?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we are, in fact, reviewing where we are. I think it's only appropriate that we do so. We have a lot of new factors, including a new Pakistani Government that we're working very closely with, including an obvious uptick in Taliban activity, likely coming elections in Afghanistan next year, likely the increase - well, not likely - the increase in American forces that Secretary Gates has announced. And while I think there's been a lot of progress in a lot of the country, everybody continues to be concerned about the South, and then to a certain extent, the Southeast. So it's a good time to review that strategy. I think we've learned a lot of lessons.

One of the things that's come out of this review - I think you recognize - is that we believe that the number of Afghan armed forces, the Afghan army, needs to be increased. We're also - I've asked the State Department that we take a hard look again at how the PRTs are operating in Afghanistan. We've had a lot of experience now and a lot of success with a larger civilian component to the PRTs, where you can have better integration in a COIN strategy of the military strategy and the reconstruction strategy. Ironically, the PRTs were born in Afghanistan and I think they've done a very good job. But we've learned some things from the way that they operated in Iraq. And I think we want to go back and look at those lessons because the - Afghanistan is going to be a - is going to have a decentralized political and economic structure. We've spent a lot of time, rightly, making certain that there is - that we're working toward a really functioning central government that can extend its writ into the provinces.

But I personally feel that we have not done as much as we need to, to improve local governance, to improve the relationship between local governance and traditional structures, like the tribal structure. And so I think it's a good time to review all of those - all of those issues.


QUESTION: How can the Indians help you most in Afghanistan? Is it the intelligence about the movement of militant groups in (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: No. First of all, India has a very good relationship with Afghanistan and is a good neighbor for Afghanistan, has significant investments in Afghanistan. And so it's really in the context of being part of the coalition of states that really want to see a stable Afghanistan and are contributing to it. Obviously, we have information-sharing as well. But I would emphasize the political and economic support for Afghanistan. And by the way, that's a discussion I would hope to have in Kazakhstan, as well. Because Afghanistan is in the future and it's another element of what we're trying to do.

Afghanistan in the future is going to have to be regionally integrated to be successful economically. And so when you think about - we tend to think about the regional problems that are there because of the FATA and the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but there is also, in the future, a regional integration strategy with the Central Asian states and India and, ultimately, Pakistan and Afghanistan having close economic and logistical ties.

QUESTION: Was India and Kazakhstan represented at the Friends of Pakistan the other week in New York?

SECRETARY RICE: No. I said Kazakhstan concerning Afghanistan was the point.

QUESTION: Sorry, yeah.


QUESTION: How much of your message in India is "Buy American?"

SECRETARY RICE: You know, it's not. I'm confident that the United States will - American companies will compete with - we're free traders. And we believe that American companies will compete. Now, what we have done, I think, is to demonstrate that the United States was willing to take a strategic step that has made it possible for India to enter a new realm in terms of its ability to cooperate and to be integrated into what is a global industry that is bigger than just nuclear reactors. Nuclear technology and technological cooperation are - there are a lot of associated industries. And so I think the Indians recognize that the United States took that strategic step and help India get through the NSG and the IAEA and so forth.

But ultimately, what American companies are really asking is an opportunity to demonstrate their capability and what they can do. And that's what we expect that they will do.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) defense contracts? You did talk about a --


QUESTION: (Inaudible) business -- military --

SECRETARY RICE: No, we are actually in discussions with the Indians about military sales. That's in another channel and it'll continue as well.

QUESTION: How - does the nuclear deal - in any way, does it smooth the way for sales?

SECRETARY RICE: No. Look, what the Indian deal - what the --

QUESTION: (Inaudible) in some ways or --

SECRETARY RICE: What the civil nuclear deal does is that it removes, for India, a barrier to full integration on a whole range of technologies. But more importantly, I think it is symbolic of a relationship with India that's now at a very, very different level. And at that different level, one would expect that economic relations, defense relations, a whole range of relationships, including business relationships, will flourish. But they'll flourish on their own terms. But, yes, the framework for U.S.-India relations is significantly different than it was when President Bush and Prime Minister Singh took this on in 2005.

Okay, thanks.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Is the military bit part of your talks? Like, you know, the --

SECRETARY RICE: You know, remember, the defense minister was just in Washington a little while ago. He will continue to have those discussions with Bob Gates. Obviously, the United - the State Department is party to them because we do the political-military side. But those are broad discussions that are going on between the defense ministries.

QUESTION: Okay, thanks for that.



Released on October 3, 2008

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