New Delhi: In a special exclusive interview to NDTV, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid gets candid on his new role, the lessons from the execution of Ajmal Amir Kasab's death penalty and China's new passports that show Arunachal Pradesh as part of China.
Here are the highlights:
On being the new Minister for External Affairs
Trying to give a clear message that I am not breaking off from my other engagements; in sartorial terms you have to make adjustments.
It's different, exciting and challenging and now we'll see how one does.
On Kasab's execution
As far as Pakistan, is concerned, some signals are satisfying. It could not have been easy for them. We understand it; at the same time we hope they understand their compulsions.
We must grow towards a more meaningful relationship
On letter to Pakistan
We did what was possible. I do not go back on what we said yesterday.
The important thing is they knew what was happening, we wanted the family to be informed, which they could have done
Not something on which we should stand in ceremony, have rigid ego positions.
No one has claimed Kasab's body to my knowledge.
Request of his family wanting Kasab's body is one thing, request of any other well-meaning body is another matter. If such a request is formally made, it will be considered. (on Ansar Burney's offer to pay for Kasab's body to be sent to Pakistan to his family)
Other terrorists who were killed on 26/11 were also buried in our country in unmarked graves as there were no takers for their bodies as well.
Matter of returning body will be considered on merit.
On Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visiting Pakistan
Every time we take a decision, our strategic safety concerns is not the only factor, other factors to be looked at as well.
Not prepared to guess on PM's visit to Pakistan.
Prime Minister will ask us to provide inputs when he thinks he's ready, we should not anticipate.
We should leave it to PM whenever he is ready.
Window is closing in due to elections in Pakistan , our own elections not very far away.
The window is small, sometimes you can fly through a small window. Sometimes you have a large window but can't go through.
On Hafiz Saeed
Haven't given up on Hafiz Saeed.
Can't expect immediate relief and reaction on some issues but you have to continue striving.
Unless we know entire story and make people accountable for what they did, question mark will remain on security of our citizens.
On China issuing new passports with watermark of map showing Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as part of China
We have issues with China, we have a history and everyone knows that. Sometimes you disagree and sometimes you agree to disagree.
We as a nation have opted for an enlightened view of relation as a beneficial relation with China. Both countries have come to this conclusion.
We've put in place conflict resolution methods as well, that's quietly inching forward but definitely moving forward.
Limited signals from China is encouraging and positive and good.
A new generation of leaders is taking charge in China. We are getting an encouraging response from them. Prima facie we should trust them and welcome them and put our best foot forward.
Some things are explicit. Some things each side gets used to because other side has been doing it for a while.
Every country has its own style, takes a call according to circumstances as they exist.
We have accepted much more of a multi-lateral approach.
We will ensure our flags of disagreement are put up immediately when something happens.
Nothing calls for us to be disagreeable.
You don't want to let anything hold rest of the relation hostage unless, at that moment it becomes something significant on which you have to take a firmer opinion.
On the Gaza conflict
We said disproportionate use of violence and force is not correct.
Some may say criticism is not good enough, but what more can we do when we believe in non-interference in sovereign states.
People should not pose as mediators unless invited.
On the former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) questioning the national auditor's estimates of presumptive loss figure of Rs. 1.76 lakh crore in the 2G spectrum allocation.
I would ask the same question, wish he had said It earlier, why now?
Unfair for us to dissect the CAG, some in Parliament may be doing so, but they have more freedom as ministers than I have.
For us to put CAG through the scanner is not fair, just take whatever is coming at face value, factor that into pre-conceived notions people had all these months and then come to a conclusion.
On Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi is the face of the party but he's not the only face
Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister are also faces of the party.
What Rahul Gandhi will do, will be his decision. How he wants to move forward is his call.
We should respect him for being rational and careful.
He's a commander, there can be 3-4 commanders.