August 10, 2020
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'That Whole Story Will Calm Down'

Excerpts from DoD News Briefing with US defense secretary on Musharraf's Newsweek interview

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'That Whole Story Will Calm Down'
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Mr. Secretary, since you returned from India and Pakistan, few things have changed. One, India is still saying that infiltrations have not stopped on the border. And two --

India is saying what?

That the terrorist activities on the border did not stop. The Indian prime minister has said that infiltrations did not stop on the border. And General --

Could I just comment on that?

Yes, sir.

I don't think anyone ever thought they could be stopped instantaneously. They have been drawn down substantially, and I think both sides have agreed to that. But there already were militants and terrorists that had crossed the line, and there undoubtedly are people who will continue to try to cross the line, quite apart from the efforts of the Pakistan government and the Indian government to stop it. It is a very rugged, difficult line of control between those two nations.

And sir, General Musharraf said that he never told his two top-level, high-level visitors from the U.S., Deputy Secretary Armitage and Secretary Rumsfeld -- that's you -- that permanent -- that the infiltration will be stopped permanently. Now -- in a Newsweek interview. Now what is the real story, Mr. Secretary? What did -- he told you, or what he -- what do you know about this Newsweek story?

Well, I know quite a bit about it. The deputy secretary of State met with the senior leaders of both countries, and some eight or 10 days later I did as well. And the -- there's been an interview in Newsweek that is now being compared with things that other people have said -- not me, but others. And my guess is, in another week or 10 days, that whole story will calm down, and people will sort it out and find that there's probably not a big difference between what people are saying.

Sometimes things get carried in the press in a way that they look like there's a stark contrast. I had that experience in India and Pakistan myself, where I in a press briefing said that there were smatterings of information about something, but not hard evidence of the presence of certain types of people in certain places, which I won't reexamine. I went to the next town and said exactly the same thing, and it was carried in three or four papers that Rumsfeld had retracted what he'd said the day before. And it was -- the words, if you look at them side by side -- you were -- some of you folks were there -- the words are just almost identical, and there was no retraction. People see and hear what they want.

So I'm not in a position to comment on -- I wasn't in the interview, so I can't say what he said. But my guess is, in a day or two or three, it'll all kind of calmed down.

But sir, finally, can you just assess from your visit that -- will this war take place or not?

Oh, there's an easy one. (Laughter.) When did we decide everyone gets three questions? (Light laughter.)

Look, war is with a million people staring at each other, it is not a happy prospect. I have said what I believe. I have met with the senior leadership of both of those two countries very recently. I have been impressed that each one recognizes that their economies are being damaged by the level of tension, that the people of their countries are being damaged by the level of tension, that the difficulty of maintaining forces in high alert from a million people looking at each other across that border is stressful on the forces and cannot be sustained for a long period without damage, and that each of those countries recognizes the power of the weapons they have. And I expect them to continue to manage their affairs in a responsible way. And I wish them well. It's a -- it has been a tense situation. And I think that each side has now taken a few steps to somewhat lessen those tensions, and that that's been a good thing.

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