US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata to explore investment opportunities in the state. Before the meeting, Mrs Clinton was at a session at the La Martiniere School for Girls speaking to a cross-section of the people of Kolkata. The session was moderated by NDTV's Group Editor Barkha Dutt.
Here are the highlights of what the US Secretary of State said at the session:
(Below statements are not exact quotes but summarize the discussion and its highlights)
NDTV's Barkha Dutt to Clinton:
- This is very exciting for me to have this chance to back in this wonderful city after so many years.
- I was last here in 1995 honouring the work of Mother Teresa.
- The relationship between our two democracies is going to define the kind of future we have.
- Increasingly also, our strategic interests are aligned. India is taking on more responsibilities which is good news.
- India's 'look-east' policy will be central to the growth of the whole Asia-pacific region.
- India stands in a strong position to help the people of Burma as they navigate their way through economic and political reforms.
- Heart of India-Us relations is the people-to-people relationships.
- I discovered Tagore in college and have been a fan ever since.
- I have probably been asked everything in my long and public life. So please feel free to ask me anything...
The argumentative Indian - but Bengalis are very argumentative and opinionated (loud cheers from audience)
- My husband and I are argumentative ourselves from time to time
- I leave here and go to Delhi, so by the time I get home, I think it will be a week of carrots-and-celery (diet)
- My husband and I have a great affection for India.
- I was in Chennai last time... and I am coming from China to
Bangladesh...seemed very appropriate to stop right here in Kolkata.
- Economic potential of East India is so great...but also its geo-political
significance is being increasingly recognized. US wants to be partner
with the entire country. This is my way of demonstrating our commitment
to this part of the country.
- I think its a great tribute to India that the entire political development of this country is demonstrating the power that is at the core of the Indian dream.
- Clinton on being thought of as formidable: I don't think of myself as that but others do...it can be advantage sometimes or a disadvantage.
- I know how difficult it is for women to be elected anywhere. When I meet a woman who has broken through those barriers, we share a common bond of having gone through the fire of electoral politics.
- I want to know from the Chief Minister of West Bengal here vision of the future... I come with a belief that India can compete with anybody, anywhere...
- The more open India becomes over time..the greater the rise
in standard of living and opportunity.
- But I also understand politics and how these decisions can
- So I will raise US desire to open market to multi-brand
- Enormous experience can be brought to India on supply-chain
management, on developing relationship with small producers. The benefits
may not be immediately perceived.
- We need to find win-win solutions for everybody.
- We have to work together as the international community on resolving water issues. Unless water is put on a priority list, it can lead to a lot of dislocation.
- We want to have a greater debate on the issues of FDI and civil nuclear cooperation.
- Increasingly, around the world people are trying to substitute ideology or partisan politics, with what I have been calling for ... which is evidence-based decision making.
- We've made it clear to the government that under the legislation that was passed, it would be difficult for US companies to participate. We're still discussing this and hoping there's a way to work it out.
- (Asked why women are not in top political positions in US) Women have held top positions politically in your country in a great display of women empowerment for decades. But you still have a lot of women who need to be educated, who don't have basic protection in families and communities to fulfil their own human destiny.
- We have broad base of education, but we still have a pretty hard glass ceiling that has not been broken at the presidential level
- And we don't have commensurate percentage of women representation in Congress
- Quotas for women has worked well here...but it would not work in my country.
- (Hillary on being President) I was very excited to run for President. I was very honoured and pleased with votes I got. But our system is very difficult to navigate, for men and women, but particularly for women.
- There are two races: money race and vote race
- I am flattered (about possibility of running for 2016) but I feel it's time for me to get off the high wire.
- I would like to wander India without streets being closed, a lot of security...
- (On US pressure on India to reduce oil imports from Iran) Arms race in region feared as Iran pursues nuclear program. It would also cause great threat to Israel. We wanted to persuade Iran to change its policy- it was already violating international obligations, was under international sanctions, was signatory to non-proliferation treaty.
- We have international consensus...pressure has brought Iran back to negotiating table...without sanction and pressure, Iran would not have returned to negotiating table. The reason why India, China Japan, and the Europen Union who are primary purchasers of Iran oil are being asked to lower their supply is to keep pressure on Iran. Saudi Arabia and others are putting more oil into the market.
- India understands use of diplomacy to resolve this threat and is working to lower purchase of Iran oil...we hope they will do even more. We believe this is part of India's role in the international community. Its not just what the US is doing and asking, its what the international community is doing and asking. There is adequate supply (of oil) in the market...
- Iran is state sponsor of terrorism, like recent example in India. The problems with Iran go far beyond even its region. They were recently engaged with bomb-building in Thailand
- I want people in India to understand that we have noting against the Iranian people. President Obama reached out to the Iranian people but we have had no reciprocity.
- (On Outsourcing) It's been going on for many years. It's part of our economic relationship with India. Advantages have benefited parts of our country...and there are disadvantages to improve skills of our own people.
- (On the ad with Obama targeting outsourcing) It's an election campaign..so there's need to talk about what is on people's mind. It's legitimate issue. President Obama has been very clear that we need to improve our own exports.
- We want to disable Al Qaeda. We believe Zawahiri is in Pakistan
- You have to go after those who are trying to kill you. You have to be focused on that.
- I authorised 10 million award for Hafiz Saeed who was responsible for attacks in Mumbai
It may take longer than we like but we will stand with you and trying to make that happen. India and US are greatest rebukes to religious extremism.
- (On famous photo of her with President Obama tracking Osama raid in Abbottabad) When I saw photo, I had no idea when it was taken. But later we thought the photo taken around the time when one of our helicopters had a problem. It was a very stress-filled moment.
- We had to get the women and children out of the house so they would not be in danger...very proud of what the Seals did for that...
- (On criticism) When you have as much experience as I have, you either figure out how to deal with it...or you don't get out of bed in the morning.
- I think it has become easier to deal with....criticism comes with the territory, you want to take it seriously but not personally.
- No two people agree withe everything, but we talk about everything. I am very confident about the relationship between India and US going forward.