Interview With NDTV (India)

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
ITC Green Center
Gurgaon, India
July 19, 2009

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, first, thank you for your time today in the middle of a packed day. How does it feel, so far?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Very well. I am so happy to be back in India. And I had an especially rich experience in Mumbai, both personally, as well as from my job as Secretary of State, and the important relationship that our two countries have. And I am looking forward to the rest of my day today, and then the meetings that I will have tomorrow.

QUESTION: I want to start with asking you something that I know a lot of Indians want to know, and they're confused about.

Indians tend to feel sometimes that Washington draws a kind of equivalence between India and Pakistan. It's like a hyphenated relationship, that Americans can't seem to talk about India and Pakistan without using them in the same sentence. And India has been trying to de-hyphenate this relationship. Do you believe now that this is a de-hyphenated relationship?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I believe it stands on its own merits, that the relationship between the United States and India is one of the most important in the world, and certainly for our future.

As you know, I have a great deal of personal interest in making sure that our two countries, our two democracies, are working together across the range of issues that we both have to confront. So, for me -- and I know for President Obama -- this is a relationship that we consider a core, critical relationship. And it is not in any way connected to any other relationship.

QUESTION: Now, I heard you speaking so much about how Washington believes that there has been a new commitment from the Pakistan government dealing with terrorism. So I would ask you a more specific question.

There are a lot of concerns in India that terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba or the Jaish-e-Mohammed, the men who control them continue to be out, not in prison -- like Hafiz Sayeed, for example. Is this a matter of concern to Washington, that men who are known to control terrorist groups are not behind prison, or not behind jail bars?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, certainly the whole issue of terrorism, and the syndicate of terrorist groups that we see in Pakistan are of great concern to us. My point is, though, that I think that the Pakistani government and, more importantly, the Pakistani people, are much more concerned and committed to their own fight against this syndicate of terrorism today.

I have watched this evolve over the last six months, and there is a level of understanding as to the threat that these groups pose internally in Pakistan. And the national government appealed, as you know, the release of Sayeed.


SECRETARY CLINTON: So, I think you're seeing steps. Now, there is much more to be done. We all know that. And I am both encouraging and expecting to see more action taken.

QUESTION: I'm sure you have been following some of the press reporting here on the Egypt joint statement. A lot of uproar in India. You wrote about how it's time for India and the United States to encourage Pakistan in fighting extremism. Some Indians would ask you, "Why is that our job?"

SECRETARY CLINTON: Because I think that the historic instability of the Pakistani democracy and government has obviously had adverse effects for India. Take the United States out of the equation. The more stable that Pakistan is, the safer India is. And so, it seems to me that it is in India's interest to hope for a stable, functioning government in Pakistan that is ready, willing, and able to take on the threat of terrorism.

From the United States' perspective, we know that the people who planned the attack against us on 9/11 are in Pakistan.


SECRETARY CLINTON: So, we have a very personal and real interest in both working with the Pakistani government and with others, like-minded, in trying to support their efforts. We know that it's difficult for them. We know that it has been a challenge for the current government in Pakistan to sort of make the case. But now they are doing it. And I think that is in all of our interests.

QUESTION: One of the things I know worries the Indian government when they negotiate with Pakistan is that there is confusion over who is in control. India assesses there are many multiple centers of power in Pakistan. Does Washington share that assessment? Do you believe the civilian government has the authority it needs to negotiate peace?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, what I have seen is a very clear acceptance by the military and the intelligence groups in supporting civilian control. There is no appetite -- at least as we speak today -- for a return to a non-democratic military government.

Now, are there multiple sources of power in any country? Yes, there are. And the --

QUESTION: But more so in Pakistan than --


QUESTION: -- in other countries.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there are other countries --


SECRETARY CLINTON: -- that have the equal challenge. But it is, again, I would argue strongly, in our interests -- namely, India and the United States -- in shoring up democracy in Pakistan, and in sharing information.

I thought one of the most important points in the agreement or statement that came out of Sharm El Sheikh was a recognition that India and Pakistan, in their governmental capacities, should be sharing more intelligence. Now, that would be a huge step. It takes a lot of trust on both sides to be able to do that. But if there is now a common understanding of a common threat, it would be in the interest of all of us that we try to promote greater cooperation.

QUESTION: One of the things you’ve mentioned in the past is concern about whether the nuclear weapons in Pakistan should not fall into the wrong hands. Is it your assessment that there is some danger of that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is -- our assessment is the assessment of other governments, that at this time the nuclear weapons structure is well controlled. Now, that is something that we all are concerned about. It's one of the reasons why I will also be talking with my Indian counterparts about how, together, we can do more to prevent the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction into rogue states or non-state actors, like al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

QUESTION: In that context, would you like to see India signing on to the CTBT or the NPT?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would like to see us work for a 21st century non-proliferation regime. We, the United States, will continue to do everything we can to strengthen the NPT, and there will be a conference about that next year. But I understand the long-standing concerns by the Indian government. And, really, no matter who is in government, it is a national concern.

But what I want to discuss with my Indian counterparts -- with the prime minister and others -- is, what can we do together to act against proliferation? And I have been very impressed by the comments that a number of Indian officials have made about new ways of thinking, and approaches that we want to explore together.

QUESTION: Does it concern you, though, that India has resolutely refused to sign on to the CTBT so far? Is that a matter of concern?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the United States hasn't, either.


SECRETARY CLINTON: So I can't very well be pointing one finger at India without having four more point back at me.

QUESTION: Exactly, exactly.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But the Obama administration is committed to trying to get the CTBT passed by our congress. And I think that that would be an option, of course, for the Indian government. But I can understand other countries that haven't yet signed up saying, "Well, if you're going to be encouraging us, what are you doing?" And we are trying very hard to set it up so that we can get that done.

QUESTION: Now, S.M. Krishna, the Indian foreign minister whom you will be meeting, was at the summit in Egypt recently, and met with the Iran foreign minister, congratulated him on the election results. Is Washington concerned about the difference in perception, in terms of what is happening in Iran? There is also, of course, always talk of an Indo-Pak-Iran pipeline. We don't know if we're ever going to see the day when that actually happens. But is Iran an area of difference between Washington and Delhi?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I want to explore with your government their perceptions of Iran. I mean, we clearly see what happened in the elections as very troubling. And we are joined in that perception by many other countries. We think the irregularities in the election, the violence, suppression of legitimate protests and demonstration -- we listened to the voices coming from within Iran from some very prominent officials and clerics as giving credence to our view.

So, I want to understand the perceptions that India has of Iran. We are very much worried about Iran becoming a nuclear weapons power, both on the grounds that Iran has demonstrated a tendency to support terrorist networks, to oppress their own people, to interfere in the internal affairs of other states. But also what that would mean for an arms race within the Middle East, which would be incredibly dangerous and destabilizing.

QUESTION: Does it concern you that Delhi has a different view?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it -- I am not concerned yet. I want to understand what it is, and why it is held. I know there are long-standing relations between India and Iran that go back, you know, a very long time. But where we are today with the behavior of Iran, and some of the actions that are taken are concerning to me. And I would like to understand better how India sees it.

QUESTION: Now, you have been meeting with the business community here. Outsourcing is such a big issue for the Indian business community. We all remember President Obama's great message of "say yes to Buffalo, no to Bangalore." Is this an unavoidable protectionism, given the global economic --

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it's a friendly competition.

QUESTION: Friendly?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think so. I mean, you know, we are competing with words and with laws, not with any other means.

But certainly, especially in a global recession, every country is going to want to make sure that we have enough jobs for our people. What President Obama has said is that we do not want a return to protectionism. When the congress passed a provision in our stimulus bill, he said that it would not be enforced if it were not WTO-compliant. So he has really tried to speak against protectionism and to make sure that our administration does not in any way give credence to it.

So, we have to figure out how we’re going to work together. Outsourcing is a concern for many communities and businesses in my country. So how we handle that is something that, you know, we are very focused on doing in a way that doesn't disrupt the great flow of trade and services that go between our countries.

QUESTION: On a more possible note, you know, you said in your speech in the Council of Foreign Relations, you joked actually, and you spoke about how some ground had been lost because of the foreign policy of the previous regime. You compared it to your broken elbow and said it's getting better every day.


QUESTION: I know Indians want to know how is President Obama's administration going to be good for India, because although President Bush was quite unpopular across the world, Indians believe he was good for India.

So, what assurances do you give to the Indian people that Obama and you will love Indian people just as much?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think if we look at the modern relationship between India and the United States, I am very proud of the fact that it started under my husband, and the kind of steps he took to open doors and have people-to-people diplomacy, as well as government-to-government. And I give President Bush credit for focusing on our relationship, our bilateral relationship.

I was, as you may know, the co-chair of the India Caucus in the United States Senate. So I strongly supported and worked for the civil nuclear deal.


SECRETARY CLINTON: So, I think you have a bipartisan demonstration from the United States of our commitment to an expanded relationship between us. And we will be announcing in the next day a very broad, comprehensive strategic dialogue between the United States and India that I will lead, along with Minister Krishna.

So, I want everyone in India to know that the Obama administration is very committed to broadening and deepening our relationship in every way. We are going to continue to implement the civil nuclear deal, but we want to work on climate change and clean energy and health and education and agricultural productivity, and so much else.

QUESTION: Just finally, because I know you're in a big rush, what memories are you going to carry back? And what are you going to carry back in your shopping bag?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, two good questions. I have already so many memories. When I met privately with the staff of the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, and you know, talked with chefs and bellmen and maintenance people and maids and managerial employees who had been there during the horrible terrorist attacks, and had saved lives and had put themselves at risk and not only – I’ve met some who are still showing the injuries from what happened to them --


SECRETARY CLINTON: -- but also lost lives. The manager, who is bravely continuing with the leadership of the hotel and the renovation of the old part that was so damaged, lost his wife and two children.


SECRETARY CLINTON: It was an incredibly emotional experience. And it brought back memories for me of the days following 9/11 when, as a senator, I met with so many who had lost their loved ones and who were traumatized by that.

But I will also remember going to SEWA and seeing the faces of the women, the rural women, who not only are making money, but acquiring confidence and security because they believe in themselves.

And today, as we are doing this interview in one of the most energy efficient buildings in the world, built right here, outside Delhi -- and it's a beautiful facility, and as I said in my remarks it's a monument to the future. India has so many monuments that are reflective of a glorious past, but this is a monument to the kind of future that India is building.

QUESTION: And you do know that there are two dishes at the Bukhara Restaurant named after President Clinton and Chelsea.


SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, and I hope some day to have my own dish.

QUESTION: Are you going to get any down time so they can create a Hillary Platter?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I would like that very much.

QUESTION: Well, it has been a privilege to talk to you. We wish (inaudible) --


QUESTION: -- know you have a busy day.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.

QUESTION: Have a great trip.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It is my pleasure, thank you.

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PRN: T9-8