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Rice Interview With Raj Chengappa of India Today

Interview With Raj Chengappa of India Today

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
New Delhi, India
March 16, 2005

(9:15 a.m. Local)

MR. CHENGAPPA: You're seen as someone who is positive toward India. But with the U.S. foreign policy preoccupied with Iraq, the war on terror and the Middle East, there is the perception that the administration may not have the energy left to do something dramatic to boost relations between the two countries in the second term. Is that a fair assessment? Are you here to prove that wrong?

SECRETARY RICE: This is my first stop as Secretary of State in Asia. And this has been a relationship that has really taken off over the last several years. The President has personally put a lot of time and energy into the relationship.

When he was Candidate Bush, he was already talking about the importance of a rising India, a great democracy, a vibrant democracy, obviously now making itself known in the international economic circumstances. And so, given that, the United States has determined that this is going to be a very important relationship going forward and we're going to put whatever time we need into it, and we're putting a lot of time into it. We've achieved a lot.

MR. CHENGAPPA: What is the sort of difference you would like to make in the second term, in terms of relations between the two countries?

SECRETARY RICE: I think we can accelerate the relationship, take it to another level, if you will. The first thing is we've completed the NSSP, Phase I. We need to get legislation from India to go to the completion of the NSSP, Phase II. But there are some very important elements of the relationship that can go forward as we move through the NSSP.

We also hope to enhance our defense cooperation. We have had military exercises. We are in the process of several important technology sales, like the Orion, to India. We are actively engaged in a strategic dialogue. But I think we ought to enhance that strategic dialogue. Our militaries have very, very good relations. Mil-to-mil contacts, military-to-military contacts are very good. But we can now take that and make it into a more strategic dialogue to understand better how India and the United States cooperate to make this a peaceful region and, indeed, to make Asia -- to make the world more peaceful.

MR. CHENGAPPA: There is the perception also that the word "step" is a bit slow and things have been moving rather slowly. Are you looking for a sprint in this NSSP in the second phase as things sort of move much quicker because -- you know, while some of these issues are not getting into the public mind as much as it should?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we need to do a better job of advertising what we're doing. (Laughter.) I think that we both could do a better job. I think the American and Indian populations would be amazed at how much we have achieved in the last few years. And we obviously will talk more about civilian space cooperation, about energy cooperation.

We share with India the desire to have reliable energy supplies for rapidly growing economies. And energy supplies that are indeed environmentally friendly, as well. So this is an area where I think we can make a lot of progress. And, of course, the economic dialogue where India's sprint into the high technology world is quite extraordinary.

You know, I come from the Silicon Valley in California. And it has always been very clear that a lot of the brainpower for the Silicon Valley's high technology has come from India and Indian Americans. India is now able to use that talent here at home, and that's very exciting.

MR. CHENGAPPA: And you know, there is -- despite recent assertions that the hyphenation between India and Pakistan while America is dealing with the region, it appears to be continuing, in some form. And I mean, you are going to Islamabad after this. (Laughter.) Now, what's your view on this? Has this hyphenation really ended? Or how do you view relations between the two and how are you juxtaposing them?

SECRETARY RICE: We really do not consider this an "India-Pakistan" relationship. There is a relationship with India, a great and vibrant democracy with whom we have broad scale economic, increasingly technological and defense contacts, and we have an excellent relationship, of course, with Pakistan, where we have a very important ally in the war on terror, where we have a relationship to try and help with the modernization of that country away from extremism. And they're on different tracks, but obviously occupy the same region.

And so when we have good relations with both countries, and when those countries have good relations with each other, it's a very good thing for the region. But we don't think of them any longer as having to be spoken in the same sentence, so to speak.

MR. CHENGAPPA: What's the difference? I mean, what's the difference that you see in the way you deal with India now, as compared to Pakistan?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, each relationship has its own character. In the case of India, I think we're beginning to develop a relationship that will undoubtedly have global dimensions. And if you look, for instance, at the way that we responded to the tsunami, it was India, Japan, the United States, Australia. I'm told that India was able to deploy ships within 48 hours. This is extraordinary. India is a country with increasingly potentially global reach. And I think you will see us with India doing more across a wide range of not just issues, but a wide range of regions.

Pakistan is an extremely important ally in the war on terror. It has done so much to help to disable al-Qaida. And Pakistan is going through its own internal transformation to a country in which the President has said that extremism and modernity cannot exist in the same body. And so much of what we do with Pakistan focuses on their educational system and trying to help with those economies. But each relationship will be different. But I don't see why they can't be mutually reinforcing for the region.

And I just want to say, we are very pleased with the warming in relations between Pakistan and India. This is one of the best outcomes of the last several years.

MR. CHENGAPPA: Do you see that as a durable process? And why?

SECRETARY RICE: I think the dialogue can be durable. There seems to be a commitment on the part of both political leaderships, which is important. Obviously, the two countries will do better in terms of their economic development and their ability to be prosperous if there are fewer tensions in the region. And it's just -- it's a very good thing. And I know that it sometimes seems to go slowly.

But if you look at where this was three years ago or so, when there were very serious tensions between India and Pakistan, they've made -- you -- you have made a lot of progress.

MR. CHENGAPPA: What do you see the role of U.S. in the way, you know, in dealing with both India and Pakistan and their relations? Do you see a role for the U.S. in any way? And, if so, what's that?

SECRETARY RICE: I've always believed and the President believes this is best done when the parties themselves are committed to it and can carry out this -- and we have watched with a lot of admiration how the parties have been moving this forward. Obviously, if there is ever anything that the United States can do or is asked to do, we would be most pleased to do it. But this is a process that is really only going to have sustainability and durability if the parties themselves --

MR. CHENGAPPA: So you wouldn't think a third party or mediator role --

SECRETARY RICE: I don't think that one appears to be needed. This is a process that is moving along. And, as I said, if at any time the United States is needed, we would be happy to help. But we should be supportive. We are very much pleased with how the parties are dealing with one another.

MR. CHENGAPPA: So if you had to use a word, what would you use in terms of describing the U.S. role in this?

SECRETARY RICE: We are supportive of this and trying to be supportive.

MR. CHENGAPPA: There is a perception, though, that there is an element of double standards in the way U.S. deals with terrorism in the region. And while there's evidence and U.S. intelligence also has their infrastructures intact, there is a perception in India that America is not coming strongly down on Pakistan on this particular aspect. What is your argument on this?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we've been very clear with the Pakistani government that terrorism is terrorism, wherever it is. That, in that sense, there is no cause that can justify terrorism. And, after the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2002 -- is that right? Yes -- we were very active with Pakistan, with President Musharraf, in talking about the need to root out extremism. We have talked with him repeatedly about the situation in Kashmir and the importance of undoing the terrorist infrastructure there -- not just the terrorists themselves, but the terrorist infrastructure. And some progress, I understand, has been made. I think there is less activity across the Line of Control. But more progress needs to be made.

MR. CHENGAPPA: But at the same time, you know, India feels by going ahead with an arms package with Pakistan, you are actually equipping and making this region more susceptible towards conflict, or whatever. Now, how do you juxtapose that with what you've said? I mean, why sell them arms and increase the tensions between the two?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't believe that dealing with the defense requirements and needs of Pakistan has to be a source of tension in the relationship with India. Both countries have their defense needs, both have their defense concerns. And we want to talk with everyone about that.

The issue is, though, that Pakistan is fighting very aggressively in the war on terrorism. If you look at the Pakistani efforts in their own northwest frontier, an area that was basically ungoverned for the history of Pakistan, that has been very tough on the Pakistani military, and it needs to be armed for that.

We sometimes lose perspective, and you have to go back several years, just three or so years, to see a Pakistan that was -- three-and-a-half years, a Pakistan that was supporting al-Qaida through the Taliban, through support for the Taliban, a Pakistan that had not made the kind of statement about the need to end extremism that President Musharraf has made. I think it's possible to argue that that Pakistan was really very dangerous to the region.

And I know, I very often say to my friends in journalism, it's hard when you have to worry about what have you done for world peace today, because of the news cycle. But sometimes we need to step back and say, where were we three-and-a-half years ago, four years ago? And it's a world of difference.

MR. CHENGAPPA: Of course, does that mean you will also sell arms to India? There has been talk of this F-16 sale. Is that serious?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we certainly want to talk with my Indian counterparts about the defense needs here. We are trying to build a defense relationship with India that is broad and where we can, together, look not just at India's needs but understand better the entire balance in the region.

We are, in fact, in several relationships with India now. The P3 Orion is one of those systems that will fairly soon be transferred to India. So there is a lot going on in the defense relationship. In that context, I'm sure we will have broad discussions, and we will see.

MR. CHENGAPPA: So if we want the F-16, you will sell it to India?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think we have to have the -- let's have the strategic discussions and have constructive understanding of the defense needs.

MR. CHENGAPPA: The other issue is the business of A.Q. Khan and many people think of it as the next 9/11 if nuclear, you know, terrorism of this sort begins to spread -- nuclear, not terrorism, but behavior. There is also a feeling that America hasn't come strongly enough on Iran and North Korea. Why is this so?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the best thing about A.Q. Khan is he's out of business. This was a few years ago, when we were watching this black market entrepreneur in the world's most dangerous technologies. You had to wonder how are we ever going to shut this network down. Well, with the help of Pakistan, despite the national hero status of A.Q. Khan, he has been put out of business, a number of his associates are either in jail and about to be prosecuted. We have cooperation with a number of countries to try to make sure that the rest of the network is completely broken up. So we've made a lot of progress.

We also are learning a lot from the intelligence interviews with these people, about how this network operated, about where we need to worry because certain technologies spread. This is not going to be a short-term matter. We are going to have to learn this over a period of time. But the pieces are starting to come together, and we're getting good cooperation from Pakistan.

MR. CHENGAPPA: The other thing is, since you're very close to the President, is there a personal message that you're carrying for him for India? Is there something that you're coming here to convey?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, my coming here, I hope, conveys to the Indian people how much we in the United States, and the President in particular, respect India as a great and vibrant democracy, respect what India has achieved in its economic progress, respect the tremendous potential of India and the Indian people in this knowledge world, knowledge-based economy, and respect India as a partner in international politics, in the international economy. And we believe also in protecting global security.

MR. CHENGAPPA: Would you -- I mean, a presidential visit is long overdue. Are you coming down here to talk? Is there something that we need to do, India needs to do, to sort of push the process forward?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I certainly hope that the President will be able to get here soon. He wants to come to India in the worst way, he does. (Laughter.) And so I hope that at some point, he'll be able to do that. And I hope, too, that the Prime Minister will be able to visit the United States.

MR. CHENGAPPA: Looking at the region, you know, we're surrounded by failing states and problems, you know, whether you look at Nepal or Sri Lanka or Bangladesh and, of course, Pakistan. What is the sort of role you think India should be playing in the region? What do you really have in mind when you have a dialogue with us?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, there are several ways in which India, and then India and the United States together, can help in this region. If you look, for instance, at that arc, that includes Afghanistan. We now have an opportunity in Afghanistan to actually have a stable, democratic Afghanistan in which its neighbors will not be inclined to interfere in Afghanistan politics to try to stabilize their own interests. That's sort of the history of Afghanistan, that there was interference in Afghanistan because people didn't trust a stable Afghanistan with all of its different ethnic divisions.

Now we are seeing the emergence of a unified, stable Afghanistan. We and India have been very engaged in that process with Afghanistan, and I think we will see more of that.

Obviously, in some of the troubled areas that you mentioned, Nepal, we've had very good cooperation since the events, the overturning of the democratic process in Nepal. I was talking recently with our ambassador to Nepal who was back on -- for consultation. And he said that he is in more than daily contact with the Indian and British ambassadors in Nepal and that there is a coordination of policy to try to impress upon the King the importance of returning to a democratic path.

There is more that we probably need to do on Bangladesh which is, I think, a place that is becoming quite troubling. So in the region, there is a great deal that we can do. But I think we'll also see that also internationally, India -- and globally, India will start to play more of a role.

MR. CHENGAPPA: Do you see, you know, India has so far not sent any troops to Iraq or really got itself in war. Do you see that changing now? And what is it that you would expect India to do in Iraq if it had to do something?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't think we're looking at this point to much more in the way of foreign contributors on the ground in Iraq. What the Iraqis want to do is they want to train their own security forces now very rapidly so that security is provided by Iraqis. And they are making some progress. If you look at the elections, the security forces performed very, very well in that election.

And so we are looking to the international community for more training for the Iraqi forces, for more training for capacity building in Iraqi ministries. In some cases, the Iraqi ministries are minister and not much else, because this is a new place. India has a renowned civil service that knows how to run a government and, in fact, knows how to run what is a sprawling, widespread government over a large territory with huge regional differences. That kind of expertise could be very important for the Iraqis. So I think there is a lot that we could talk about.

MR. CHENGAPPA: Given the expanded role that you expect India to play, would you support India's candidature for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council? Why does the U.S. remain ambiguous about that?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we are at the beginning stages of U.N. reform. And the high level panel's report is out, the Secretary General is now engaged in some consultations about that.

We believed always that the reform should be not just Security Council reform but broad reform of the United Nations, and it is going to take some time to put those pieces together. We do believe that, obviously, structures are going to have to change. And so as we look at these structures, let's look at it in the broadest sense.

That said, there are a number of important what we used to call developing countries, now I would call them emerging global actors, who obviously are taking up their place in the international economy, taking up their place in international politics. And structures, international structures, not just the U.N. but others as well, are going to have to take that into account.

MR. CHENGAPPA: And a personal one. What would you like to see of India? Is this your first visit, I'm told?

SECRETARY RICE: It is my first visit, and it's far too short. So when I come back, I expect to see a lot more of India than I'm going to see this time.

MR. CHENGAPPA: Anything particular that you'd want to see or do?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I would love to see all those wonderful historical and cultural sites. I mean, it's just a goldmine in terms of culture and history. And so I'd like to get around to many places.

MR. CHENGAPPA: And the food is okay with you?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, love it. Love it, in fact.

MR. CHENGAPPA: Thank you so much. Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.


Released on March 18, 2005

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