Action against Saeed in Pak's interest: Hillary Clinton

Action against Saeed in Pak's interest: Hillary Clinton

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New Delhi: The following is the full transcript of NDTV's exclusive interview with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Barkha Dutt: Secretary Clinton, thank you for your time today in the middle of a packed day. How has it been for you so far?

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

Barkha Dutt: I want to start with asking you something that I know a lot of Indians want to know and are confused about. Indians tend to feel sometime that Washington draws equivalence between India and Pakistan -- a hyphenated relationship that Americans can't seem to talk about India and Pakistan without using them in the same sentence. India has been trying to de-hyphenate this relationship. Do you think now that this is a de-hyphenated relationship?

Hillary Clinton: I believe it stands on its own merits. That the relationship between the US and India is one of the most important in the world and certainly for our future.

As you know that I have 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 core, critical relationship. And it is not in any way connected to any other relations.

Barkha Dutt: I have heard you speaking so much about how Washington believes that there has been new commitment from the Pakistan government in dealing with terrorism. So I want to ask you a more specific question. There are lot of concerns in India that terrorist groups like LeT, Jaish-e-Mohamad, the men who control them continue to be out, not in prison. Like Hafiz Saeed for example. Is this a matter of concern to Washington that men who are known to control terror groups are not behind prison, not behind jail bars.

Hillary Clinton: Well, certainly the whole issue of terrorism and syndicate of terrorist groups that we see in Pakistan are of great concern to us. My point is though that the Pakistan government and more so the Pakistani people are much more concerned and committed to their own fight against the syndicate of terrorism today. I have watched this evolve over six months and there is a level of understanding as to a threat that these groups pose internally in Pakistan. And the national government appealed, as you know, the release of Saeed. I think you are seeing steps now that there is much more to be done, we all know that and I am encouraging and expecting to see more action taken.

Barkha Dutt: I am sure you must be following a lot of press reporting here on the Egypt joint statement. A lot of uproar in India. You wrote about how it is time for India and US to encourage Pakistan in fighting extremism. Some Indians would ask you, why is that our job?

Hillary Clinton: Because I think the historic instability of Pakistan democracy and government has obviously had adverse affects on India. Take US out of the equation. The more stable Pakistan is, the more 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 US perspective, we know that the people who planned the attack on us on 9/11 are in Pakistan. So we have a very personal and real interest in both working with the Pakistan government and 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 make the case but now they are doing it. And I think that is in all of our interest.

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

Hillary Clinton: Of 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 to return to a non- democratic, military government. Now are there multiple sources of power in any country? Yes they are.

Barkha Dutt: But more so in Pakistan than other countries.

Hillary Clinton: Well, there are other countries that have their equal challenges. And again I would argue strongly, in our interest namely, India and US, in ensuring democracy in Pakistan, in sharing information. And I thought that one of the most important points in the agreement or statement came out of Sharm-el-Sheikh was in recognition that India and Pakistan in their government capacity should be sharing more intelligence. 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.

Barkha Dutt: One of the things you have mentioned in the past is concern over nuclear weapons in Pakistan falling into the wrong hands. Is it your assessment that there is some danger of that?

Hillary Clinton: Well it is our assessment and is the assessment of other governments that at this time the nuclear weapons structure is well controlled. Now that is something that we are all concerned about. It's one of the reasons that I will be talking to my Indian counterparts about how we can 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.

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

Hillary Clinton: Well I would like to see us work for a 21st century non-proliferation regime. We the US would 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 the government, really its a matter of national concern. But what I want to discuss with my counterparts, with the PM and others, is what we can do together to act against proliferation. And I have been very impressed by the comments of a number of Indian officials about new ways of thinking and approaches that we want to explore.

Barkha Dutt: Does it concern you though that India has resolutely refused to sign on to the CTBT so far? Well is that a matter of concern?

Hillary Clinton: Well, the US hasn't either. So I can't very well be pointing one finger at India without having four pointing back at me but the Obama administration is committed in trying to get the CTBT passed by our Congress. And I think that would be an option of course for the Indian government. But I can understand the other countries that haven't yet signed up saying, well, if you are going to be encouraging us, what are you doing? And we are working very hard to set it up, so that we can get that done.

Barkha Dutt: S M Krishna, Indian foreign minister, who you will be meeting, was in Egypt recently and met with the Iran minister, congratulated him on the election results. Is Washington concerned about the difference of perception in terms of what's happening in Iran? There is of course an old talk of Indo-Pak-Iran pipeline...don't know whether we ever going to see if that actually happens. But is Iran an area of distance for Washington and Delhi.

Hillary Clinton: Well, I want to explore with your government their perceptions of Iran. We clearly see what happened in the elections as very troubling. And we are joined in that perception by many other countries. We think there are irregularities in the election, of violent suppression of legitimate protest and demonstration. We listened to some voices coming from within Iran from very prominent officials and clerics as giving credence to our view. 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 the tendency to support terrorist networks, to oppress their own people, to interfere the internal affairs of other states but also of what that would mean for an arms race in the Middle East, which would be incredibly dangerous and destabilising.

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

Hillary Clinton: I am not concerned yet but 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 a very long time but where we are today with the behaviour of Iran and some of the actions they are taking are concerning me and I would like to understand it better of how India sees it.

Barkha Dutt: Outsourcing, such big issue for the Indian business community, we all remember President Obama's great metaphor, say yes to Buffalo and no to Bangalore. Is this an unavoidable protectionism, given the global economic meltdown?

Hillary Clinton: I think it's a friendly competition. 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 that we have enough jobs for our people. What President Obama has said is that we do not want to return to protectionism. When Congress passed a provision in our stimulus bill he said it would to be enforced if you are a WTO compliant. So he has really tried to speak against protectionism and to make sure that our administration in any way gives credence to it. So we have to figure out how we are going to work together. Outsourcing is a concern for many communities and business in my country. So how we handle that is something we are very focused upon, in doing that it doesn't disrupt of flow of trade and services that go between our countries.

Barkha Dutt: You said at your speech in the Council of Foreign Relations, you joked actually, and you spoke how some ground has been lost because of the foreign policy of the previous regime, compared it to the broken elbow and how it's getting better every day. I know India wants to know how Obama administration is going to be good for India. Although President Bush was unpopular around the world, Indians believe he was good for India. So what assurances can you give to the Indian people that Obama and you will love Indian people just as much.

Hillary Clinton: I think if we look at the modern relationship between India and US, I am very proud of the fact that it started with my husband and the kind of steps he took to open door and have people-to-people diplomacy, as well as government-to-government. And I give President Bush credit for focusing on our relationship, on our bilateral relationship. I was, as you may know, the co-chair of the Indian Caucus in the United State Senate. So I strongly supported and worked for the Indian Civil Nuclear Deal. So I think there is a bi-partisan demonstration from the United States, from our commitment to an expanded relationship between us. We will be announcing in the next day a very broad comprehensive strategic dialogue between India and United States that I will lead along with minister Krishna. So I want everyone in India to know the Obama administration is very committed to broadening and deepening our relations in every way. We are going to continue to implement the civil nuclear deal but we want to work on climate change, clean energy, health, education, agricultural productivity and so much else.

Barkha Dutt: What personal memories are you going to carry back and what are you going to carry back in your shopping bag?

Hillary Clinton: Two good questions! I have already so many memories. When I met privately with the staff of Taj hotel in Mumbai and talked with chefs and bell men, 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. I met some who are still showing injuries for what happened to them but also saved lives. The manager who has 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. It was an incredibly emotional experience and it brought back memories for me for days following 9/11, when I was the Senator. I met so many who had lost their loved ones and who were traumatized by that. But I would also remember going to Seva and seeing the faces of the women, who are not only making money but acquiring confidence, 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 is 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 the glorious past, but this is the monument to the future that India is building.

Barkha Dutt: And you do know that there are two dishes that the Bukhara restaurant named after President Clinton and Chelsea?

Hillary Clinton: Yes. I hope someday they have my own dish.

Barkha Dutt: You gonna get any downtime so that they can create a Hillary platter?

Hillary Clinton: I would like that very much.

Barkha Dutt: Well. It's been a privilege to talk to you. We wish it could run longer but we know you have a busy day. So, thank you and have a great trip here.

Hillary Clinton: It's my pleasure.

Barkha Dutt: Thank you ma'am.

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