September 23, 2020
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Press Briefing

'India-Pak Tension Easing'

The likelihood of a conflict between the two countries is lessening, says the US Defense Secretary.

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'India-Pak Tension Easing'
Revelant excerpts of the News Briefing by Secretary Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

And last, we visited India and Pakistan. The military situation on the ground and the respective levels of alert has really not changed notably. However, there is a clear perception that tensions are easing and that the likelihood of a conflict is lessening. Both nations have taken some initial steps that, while not definitive, are having a positive effect. The leaders of both countries are increasingly aware that tension in the region is hurting them economically, and there is no question but that that's the fact. Fear of war discourages international investment, to the detriment of the economies of both country (sic) and certainly the people of both countries.

There are several risks ahead in the period we're now entering, including the possibility, of course, of a terrorist act beyond the control of either party, which could be misunderstood and conceivably provoke a reaction. I -- we raised that issue with both countries, and I think they're sensitive to it. Both India and Pakistan indicate a desire for continued U.S. involvement and appreciated the efforts that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair and others have been making.

Q: Mr. Secretary, some of my caustic brethren are accusing the Bush administration of checkbook diplomacy in trying to defuse the tensions between India and Pakistan, sort of a one-two punch; Deputy Secretary of State Dick Armitage went over with foreign aid books in his pocket. What did you offer in the way of military hardware to both countries? And what is it going to cost us in terms of U.S. dollars? And that includes sensors, if you will.

Rumsfeld: There's no decisions with respect to sensors. That's something that I believe was raised in another country. I was asked about it. It was discussed. To the extent that it's possible -- and that's a technical question that remains very much open -- to the extent it's possible to do something useful in that regard, I suppose people might be wiling to do so. But checkbook diplomacy, I think, is essentially an inappropriate comment. I don't know that Rich Armitage went over with a checkbook, and I know I didn't. So I think it's a misunderstanding or mischief, one of the two.

Q: Can you tell us what you offered, though, in the way of hardware, if any, to both countries?

Rumsfeld: Absolutely nothing. To the extent any hardware is being discussed, it's being discussed at a lower level; it was not part of my agenda.

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