Richard Wolf, USA Today: Secretary Clinton, I would like to ask you in particular about the latest underwear bomb plot in Yemen and how that relates to other terrorist issues in Pakistan involving Ayman al-Zawahiri, involving Hafiz Saeed; and your thoughts also on the rise of the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan; whether you feel that the efforts against terrorism are indeed still working or there is something else needed.
Hillary Clinton: Richard, that is obviously an incredibly important question that is on the minds of not only our Government but of course the Indian Government because we both know the tragedies and losses that come with terrorism on our soil. So, we have increased our cooperation between India and the United States and we are going to continue to do everything we can not only to prevent terrorists from carrying out their evil acts of violence but also to try to convince people not to be recruited into terrorism which is a very much of a dead end, literally and figuratively, when it comes to pursuing any kind of political or ideological aims. In democracies like ours people should be in the market place of ideas. If they have views, they should put them to the test of the debate, the dialogue and the political process.
With respect to the plot that was discussed in Washington, as the White House said, the device did not appear to pose a threat to the public air service, but the plot itself indicates that these terrorists keep trying, they keep trying to devise more and more perverse and terrible ways to kill innocent people. And it is a reminder as to why we have to remain vigilant at home and abroad in protecting our nation and in protecting our friendly nations and peoples like India and others.
With respect to the question on the terrorist groups that still operate out of Pakistan, we are committed to going after those who pose direct threats to the United States, to Afghanistan, and to our allies in Afghanistan. We are also cooperating closely with India regarding the threats that emanate against them.
The 166 people killed in Mumbai during that horrific terrorist attack in 2008, included six Americans. So, as part of our Rewards for Justice Programme we have offered a ten million dollar reward that could lead to the arrest or conviction of Hafiz Saeed for his role in those attacks. Our Rewards for Justice offer demonstrates our seriousness in obtaining additional information that can withstand judicial scrutiny, and that leads to arrest or conviction, and brings the perpetrators and the planners of the Mumbai attacks to justice.
This effort that we are pursuing is not just about the United States. Combating violent extremism is something we all agree on, and we need to do more, and we look to the Government of Pakistan to do more. It needs to make sure that its territory is not used as launching pads for terrorist attacks anywhere including inside of Pakistan because the great unfortunate fact is that terrorists in Pakistan have killed more than 30,000 Pakistanis. So, it is very much about the people of Pakistan and their right to go to a market, or go to a mosque, to live their lives.
We need stronger, more concerted efforts on behalf of Governments and societies against the scourge of terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic, it is a losing tactic. But we have to prevent as much death and destruction as possible as we uproot and destroy these groups and convince those whom they recruit, that that is no longer a decision that should be made.
Abhisar Sharma, Aaj Tak: Secretary Clinton, it is interesting that you talk about the ten million bounty on Hafiz Saeed. My question to you is that, in order to sound politically correct in Pakistan, is the US indulging in doublespeak on the issue of Hafiz Saeed? I would like to draw your attention to what Ambassador Munter said in Islamabad that there is no exclusive bounty on Hafiz Saeed.
And my question to Foreign Minister Krishna is, did you raise this issue because this is contrary to the things that were told to our Government by the US Ambassador in India?
Hillary Clinton: I am sorry, I do not really follow your question. We have a Rewards for Justice Programme that we have used quite successfully for a number of years. It has led to evidence and information and tips that we have used to bring terrorists to justice. We have used it in Pakistan; we have used it around the world. So, this is not unique; this is not a special case.
We wanted to raise the visibility and make it very clear that the United States had reason to believe that Hafiz Saeed had been one of the principal architects of the attack against Mumbai. And, therefore, we wanted to send an unmistakable message of solidarity with India, but not only with India solidarity with people everywhere who will not tolerate the continuation of terrorism and want to see terrorists brought to justice wherever they may be.
S.M. Krishna: Secretary Clinton has come out I think very eloquently as to how the United States has made up its mind to fight terrorism across the board. Even in our discussions this morning over breakfast we did talk about terrorism, and all that terrorism brings into this region and to the other regions of the world as well. Hence, India and the United States have strong cooperation on combating terrorism. In addition to the growing intelligence exchanges and cooperation, we also have a Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism, Counter Terrorism Cooperation Initiative, and a Homeland Security Dialogue. So, we always keep in close contact, and thereby we are trying to checkmate terror from wherever it emanates.
Shaun Tandon, AFP: I wanted to follow up a little bit on the comments on Iran, its nuclear programme, and about oil. Madam Secretary, in your conversations here in India, are you confident that India is doing more? You commended Indian efforts. Do you think India has done enough to become exempt from the sanctions that will come into place on June 28th?
Mr. Foreign Minister, if I can follow that up, do you agree with the strategic view of the United States when it comes to Iran, the idea that Iran is a global threat? And do you agree with the use of a domestic US law to try to influence Indian policy on this?
Hillary Clinton: Let the Minister go first.
S.M. Krishna: In the contemporary context that is a very important question. Iran is a key country for our energy needs. But we have to look at the Iran issue beyond the issue of energy trade. In the first place we have to think about the security and stability in the Gulf region. India has vital stakes in the Gulf region. Six million Indians live and work in the Gulf region and beyond. It is one of the critical destinations of our external trade - over 100 billion US dollars in exports, and over 60 per cent of oil imports, and a major source of remittances. There are ties of religion, culture and civilization that bind us to the region. There is turbulence in wider West Asian and North African region with uncertain outcomes. Hence, we have a strong interest in peaceful and negotiated settlement of issues relating to Iran’s nuclear programme. Our position on the nuclear issue has been clear, and it has always been consistent.
With respect to our energy, we are dependent on imports to meet bulk of our requirements. India’s imports are growing on an average by about ten million tonnes annually. Given our growing demand it is natural for us to try and diversify our sources of imports of oil and gas to meet the objective of energy security.
Since you asked a specific question about Iran it remains an important source of oil for us, although its share in our imports are declining which is well-known. Ultimately, it reflects the decision that refineries make based on commercial, financial and technical considerations. We have discussed our position and our perspectives on energy security, and these discussions will continue. As far as India is concerned, we subscribe to and rigorously implement the UN Security Council Resolutions. This issue, however, is not a source of discord between our two countries.
Hillary Clinton: Shaun, as the Minister said, the United States and India share the same goal. We both want to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And India has been a strong partner in urging Iran to live up to its international obligations and to use the P5+1 talks that began again in Istanbul and will meet again this month in Baghdad to demonstrate unequivocally the peaceful intent of its nuclear programme. As I said in Calcutta yesterday, we do not believe Iran would be back at the negotiating table unless there had been the unrelenting pressure of the international sanctions. And this pressure must stay on if we want to see progress toward a peaceful resolution.
So, we commend India for steps its refineries are taking to reduce imports from Iran. We have also been consulting with India and working with them in some areas on alternative sources of supply. So, we have had a very good discussion of these issues during my visit. Our Energy Coordinator, Ambassador Carlos Pascual, will be here with an expert team next week to continue these consultations. But there is no doubt that India and the United States are after the same goal.
Ashish Singh, Star News: My question is for both Secretary of State Ms. Clinton and for External Affairs Mr. S.M. Krishna.
Madam, to you first. Both of you discussed Afghanistan issue also. Could you, Madam, say in your assessment how you see the current situation of Afghanistan? And after the western forces start pulling out from Afghanistan, what role do you see India playing in Afghanistan? And to you, Sir, could you also respond to the same question as to what role do you see India playing in Afghanistan after western forces start pulling out from Afghanistan?
Hillary Clinton: First let me say that our consultations with India and Afghanistan are very substantive and helpful. As you I am sure recall, India entered into a strategic partnership with Afghanistan last year. We have just signed our Strategic Partnership Agreement when President Obama went to Kabul to do so with President Karzai. We have made clear that we intend to remain an active presence in Afghanistan. We will support Afghanistan’s security and stability. We will contribute to building their capacity in their Government, and enhancing their economic growth and development. I think that the phrasing you used is technically perhaps correct that after 2014, the NATO ISAF mission of combat will end. But the United States and NATO will maintain a commitment of security and development support. That will continue. I think the details of that are being worked out on our side, speaking just for the United States, with the strategic agreement. And now we will negotiate a security agreement.
There are a couple of milestones up ahead. At the NATO meeting in Chicago in about two weeks there will be a reaffirmation of our commitment to Afghanistan, both to the transition to Afghan-led security and then after 2014. The Indian Government will host a private sector conference to encourage more private sector investment in Afghanistan in June. Japan will host a donor conference to encourage more philanthropic contributions and government contributions in July. So, the international community is very engaged. I think we all understand that it is imperative we continue to work together to provide as much support for a stable, secure Afghanistan moving forward.
S.M. Krishna: Afghanistan has made significant progress in the last decade. The United States has made enormous contribution. Afghanistan is at a crucial juncture as it begins to assume greater responsibility for the governance, development and security. The most important signal that the international community has to give is a strong, sustained commitment to Afghanistan. With that, I am confident that Afghanistan will become a sovereign, independent, united and economically viable state capable of defeating terrorism, and resisting interference from outside. We see the US-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement in that spirit.
We will continue to support Afghanistan on the basis of our own Strategic Partnership Declaration of October, 2011. Elimination of safe havens in Pakistan is indeed vital for success in Afghanistan and regional security and stability. We remain supportive of any reconciliation effort that is fundamentally acceptable to us as long as it is led and owned by Afghan people, that upholds the redlines and embraces all sections of Afghan society, and that does not fritter away the gains of the past decade. The international community along with India wishes Afghanistan all well.
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