SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. It has been a great pleasure to welcome Minister Krishna and his distinguished delegation to Washington. We have had an excellent meeting of the Strategic Dialogue between our two nations covering a wide range of bilateral, regional, and global issues, and I will just touch on a few highlights.
First, I want to put this third Strategic Dialogue into a broader context. India and the United States have a strong foundation of friendship and cooperation. But today we are seeing something new. The strategic fundamentals of our relationship are pushing our two countries’ interests into closer convergence.
By strategic fundamentals I mean not just our shared democratic values, but also our economic imperatives and our diplomatic and security priorities. For example, in order to grow and prosper in today’s world, both the United States and India need an open, free, fair, and transparent global economic system. We both seek security and stability in South Asia and the Asia Pacific. And we both see the importance of a coordinated international response to violent extremism and other shared global challenges.
What does this mean for our partnership? Well, today there is less need for dramatic breakthroughs that marked earlier phases in our relationship, but more need for steady, focused cooperation aimed at working through our differences and advancing the interests and values we share. This kind of daily, weekly, monthly collaboration may not always be glamorous, but it is strategically significant. And that is, after all, what this dialogue is all about.
On the economic front, we reviewed the progress that we’ve made together, and acknowledged there is still more room for growth, investment, and business ties. We need to advance negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty, further reduce barriers to trade and investment in our two countries, create more hospitable environments for companies to do business.
And I was pleased that just yesterday, Westinghouse and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India signed an agreement that will speed construction of new power plants in Gujarat and help India meet its energy needs. I look forward to additional deals involving other leading American companies, including General Electric. And we will work together to ensure these projects are implemented to produce real benefits for citizens and businesses alike.
We also covered a number of serious concerns such as counterterrorism, cyber security, and sustainable development. We discussed cooperation in Afghanistan and the importance of working together with other partners to help build a peaceful and prosperous South Asia. Both the United States and India have signed strategic partnership agreements with Afghanistan to demonstrate our enduring commitment, and today we agreed to move forward with a formal trilateral consultation among our three nations. I told Minister Krishna how much we appreciate India’s efforts in Afghanistan and the region and how much we are looking forward to the investment conference that India will host later this month in New Delhi.
We also discussed the steps that the Governments of India and Pakistan are taking to open up avenues for trade, investment, and movement of people. And I applaud the leadership that Prime Minister Singh and Prime Minister Gilani have demonstrated.
We paid particular attention to the future of the Asia-Pacific region and our strong support for India’s Look East Policy. We will work together through key multilateral institutions such as the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum. And the United States really welcomes India’s support for our participation as dialogue partner in the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation.
And finally, we worked through some of the issues that we have fielded in common because of the concerns about Iran’s continuing search for a nuclear weapon, and India has made it clear that – Iran, like all countries, must live up to their international obligations and, as I reported to Congress this week, India has taken steps to diversify its sources of imported crude by reducing purchases of Iranian oil. We recognize the important energy needs that India has, and we’re working with India, not only to ensure stable oil markets, but to do more to open up other sources of energy for India.
Now, on all these and other key issues, we are working to convert common interests into common actions. And we have to follow through. But I was very encouraged by what we heard today. Things that don’t make the headlines but are so critical, such as yesterday’s first ever higher education dialogue, making it easier for U.S. and Indian researchers, students, faculty to take advantage of the educational resources and opportunities in both countries. And we announced the first eight grant recipients of the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative.
Our Science and Technology Joint Commission are working on improving our linkages in science and engineering and data sharing. We have a new agreement signed in the health area to boost research on diabetes. And, for the first time, we agreed to share the U.S.-India Open Government Platform software that promotes transparency and accountability with a third country partner, Rwanda.
The list is very long and the Minister and I will be making a comprehensive report – he to the Prime Minister, I to the President – of everything that’s been happening in all of the various aspects of this incredibly important dialogue.
But I want to thank my partner and colleague in this work for his leadership and his attention that has translated this idea into a very important reality for both our countries.
FOREIGN MINISTER KRISHNA: Thank you, Secretary Clinton. It is always a pleasure for me to come back to Washington, DC because it is in this city that I have spent a couple of years of my very interesting interaction into American politics. And I had the pleasure of meeting some of great Americans who have led this country subsequently in subsequent years.
And it is always an added pleasure for me, personally, to meet with Secretary Clinton. I always derive so much of comfort and so much of inspiration, if I may say so, Secretary Clinton.
Three years back, we started on this journey of this strategic relationship. And this is the third year in succession that we are representing our two great countries. And let me convey that we had a very productive strategic dialogue. I want to thank all my ministerial colleagues and senior officials for their participation. Our presence here speaks to the extraordinary depth and diversity of our engagement, which is ever increasing. The relationship between our two countries and our two vibrant democracies, one the oldest and the other one the largest. Secretary Clinton and I expressed confidence about realizing the enormous potentials of our economic ties and addressing the concerns on both sides, which I had outlined at USIBC yesterday.
We welcome the tangible progress on about similar nuclear energy cooperation, as was mentioned by Secretary Clinton with the signing of the MOU between NPCIL and the Westinghouse. I think this should put at rest some of the interpretations and some of the confusion that was prevailing in the immediate aftermath after we signed the nuclear accord. But I’m glad that things are now – nuclear commerce is now beginning to expand itself and we hope more Indian and American companies will be involved in the course of the coming months.
We, Secretary and I, support the growing emphasis on defense technology transfers and core development and core production in our expanding defense relationship. I have informed Secretary Clinton of our willingness to receive a team of officials to visit India for the search and recovery of the remains of the MIAs from World War II. Stronger and more effective cooperation in counterterrorism, homeland security, cyber security, and intelligence in recent years is an important aspect of our strategic partnership. India’s interest in further access to Headley and Rana in accordance with our legal procedures for the investigations into the Mumbai terror attack of November 2008 was raised.
We recommend the broad portfolio of cooperation in clean energy. I also sought a liberal U.S. regime for gas exports to India, which would be in our mutual economic and energy security interest. We agreed to strengthen the impressive array of our programs in higher education, health, science and technology, innovation, agriculture, and women’s empowerment. We have made tangible progress in these areas.
As Secretary Clinton has pointed out, our discussions demonstrated yet again our shared interest and convergent views on a range of regional and global issues. We are committed to build Afghan capacity for governance, development, and security, and to unlock its economic potential through regional integration. We again stressed the importance of eliminations of safe havens in Pakistan for Afghanistan’s security and the region’s stability.
We discussed the Gulf region and West Asia, including our concern about the growing violence in Syria. Secretary Clinton updated me on the P-5+1 talks with Iran. I conveyed India’s vital interest in settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue through dialogue. There are six million Indians who live in this region, which is also of critical importance to our economy. We shared perspectives on the profound changes taking place in Myanmar, and also I briefed her on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit to Myanmar.
Friends, we continue to intensify our dialogue on Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean region. As also associated regional architectures, we affirmed our mutual interest in maritime security. Secretary Clinton welcomed India’s growing engagement in the Asia Pacific. I welcomed the U.S. interest in becoming a dialogue partner with IOR-ARC. I’m told that as the current chair, we will take it forward with other IOR-ARC members.
Our meeting today yet again underscored the global dimensions of our relationship and added new momentum to our partnership. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MS. NULAND: Let’s take two questions a side today. We’ll start with CNN, Jill Dougherty.
QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, you and Minister Lavrov of Russia appear to be calling each other liars. In essence, you are saying that Russia is providing helicopters – in fact, the word was used “en route” today – en route to Syria. Minister Lavrov completely denies that; he says they’re providing air defense systems but everything that they are providing does not violate international laws. Then he threw it back at you and said that the U.S. indeed is providing arms and weapons.
So you can’t both be right. Who is?
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, I was very clear yesterday about our concerns regarding the continuing military relationship between Moscow and the Assad regime. We have repeatedly urged the Russian Government to cut these military ties completely and to suspend all further support and deliveries. Obviously, we know, because they confirm that they continue to deliver. And we believe that the situation is spiraling towards civil war, and it’s now time for everyone in the international community, including Russia and all Security Council members, to speak to Assad with a unified voice and insist that the violence stop, and come together with Kofi Annan to plan a political transition going forward.
It is something that we believe is in everyone’s interests, most particularly the Syrian people. And Russia says it wants peace and stability restored. It says it has no particular love lost for Assad. And it also claims to have vital interests in the region and relationships that it wants to continue to keep. They put all of that at risk if they do not move more constructively right now.
And I would emphasize that the United States has provided no military support to the Syrian opposition, none. All of our support has been medical and humanitarian to help relieve the suffering of the Syrian people, a total of $52 million so far. We have also provided nonlethal support to the opposition, including things like communications gear.
So rather than having a long distance debate with my colleague with whom I work on so many issues on a regular basis, I would urge that we follow the lead and request of Kofi Annan and come together to try to implement the pillars of his plan, including a framework for a political transition. And that is what we have been advocating for and that is what I stand ready to do.
MS. NULAND: Next question, Lalit Jha from PTI.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Minister. After three rounds of Strategic Dialogue with the U.S., where is the relationship between the two countries headed towards? A strong relationship between India and the U.S.? What is the signal of masses you are sending the world or the region?
And Madam Secretary, three years ago, you addressed the USIBC, your first speech on India. You have said this is the beginning of India-U.S. 3.0. After your opening remarks today, is it the beginning of India-U.S. 4.0, and what it would look like? And if you – do you agree with recent remarks by Secretary Panetta in New Delhi that India needs to do more in Afghanistan? What is that India needs to do?
Mr. Minister, is – (laughter) –
PARTICIPANT: A fourth question.
QUESTION: Does – India has a redline in Afghanistan which you say to U.S., “No, we can’t do this?” And finally – (laughter) – India has made a request for giving access to Rana and Headley, the two who were involved in the Mumbai terrorist attack. Is the U.S. ready to give them access again? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Do you want to start, Minister? I don’t know where to start. (Laughter.)
FOREIGN MINISTER KRISHNA: Well, where did you start? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. I will take a stab at it because it’s one of those multipart questions that is – let me try.
First of all, as to the Strategic Dialogue, we go from strength to strength. I’m actually quoting the Minister today. Because we believe strongly, and we have evidence to prove it, that our relationship is deepening and broadening. The extraordinary work that has been done between the last Strategic Dialogue and today’s on so many issues, which we will memorialize in our report and certainly make public, demonstrates the depth of cooperation between our two countries. And it’s not only government to government; we’re bringing in civil society, we’re bringing in academia, we’re bringing in the private sector. So I, for one, believe that we may be surpassing 3.0. We may be onto something that is quite unique and very important, and I appreciate your asking.
Secondly, on Afghanistan, I was briefed on the work that India is doing with Afghanistan. We very much appreciate India’s commitment to help build a better future for the Afghan people, helping them with more than $2 billion for development, supporting the New Silk Road Initiative, hosting the investment conference at the end of the month, providing security training and support. I am very pleased that Afghanistan is getting this kind of encouragement and tangible support because it’s in everyone’s interests that Afghanistan be as secure and stable as possible.
With respect to information sharing, it is our policy and practice to share information, and we do that. But I’m not going to go into details because we think that our cooperation on intelligence sharing, on homeland security issues, on counterterrorism, has gotten to a new level. It is very important to both of our countries. But it’s also important that we support the work that is done by our professionals and our experts in protecting both of our countries, and I think we are satisfied that that is occurring.
FOREIGN MINISTER KRISHNA: Well, the Strategic Dialogue that has taken place with the United States in the last three years has been extremely beneficial to India. The tangible outcomes of the broad-based discussions we had and a vast array of issues are listed in the joint statement that has been issued. If I am to list some of the most important areas where we have moved ahead at the third Strategic Dialogue, I would unhesitatingly single out higher education, science and technology, innovation, women’s empowerment, and clean energy.
I was very impressed with the way the Dialogue on Higher Education, which represented not only government but vice chancellor was there and the academia – representatives from the academia were also there. I think this is an important moment in the most positive direction that not only the two governments are involved in the Strategic Dialogue but the civil society. As was put by Secretary Clinton, the civil society is also involved, the academia is also involved, the people are also involved.
So hence, I think this Strategic Dialogue derives its basic strength from this, and we will certainly continue to take this forward. There have been some useful outcomes, then I mentioned about the agreement between the Westinghouse and the NPCIL, and the shared interest and convergent views on a range of regional and global issues that were evident in our talks today. It added – it provided new momentum for our global strategic partnership.
But with reference to Afghanistan, well, India’s role has always been a very constructive approach. Afghanistan falls in the larger neighborhood of India. And we have civilizational, historical, and trade connections and cultural ties with that country and with the people of Afghanistan. And President Karzai, when he came last October to Delhi, we signed a strategic partnership with Afghanistan. And the whole purpose behind that is to convey to the people of Afghanistan that the Afghan problem has to be solved under Afghan leadership.
Yes, they need external support to the extent that is possible. And that external support will not be available to Afghanistan indefinitely. And that is the reason why we have impressed upon Afghanistan and other countries who are well-meaning friends of Afghanistan that we need to equip Afghanistan with a security force which is – which consists of Afghans, which is trained by Afghans – trained by others but basically Afghan-led and Afghan. And so I think we will continue to do that. And then I am sure that Afghanistan will be able to find a solution within the four corners of their constitution, and we wish them well.
MS. NULAND: Next question, CBS, Cami McCormick.
QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, if we could go back to Syria for just a second, I’m wondering how bad have relations between the U.S. and Russia gotten over this. There are some might – who might argue that it’s almost become as much about the U.S. and Russia poking each other than it is about the real issue here. And how has that taken away, in your opinion, from what the real goal is? And you always say diplomacy is key in this area.
And secondly, if Syria is spiraling towards civil war, what does that say about the UN observer mission there? Are you concerned about their safety? Would they remain in there in the same capacity if and when you are ready to say it is a full-blown civil war?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, look, I think that everyone knows we have a very comprehensive relationship with Russia. We have worked well together on a range of important issues in the last three and a half years. The so-called reset that President Obama and President Medvedev led at the beginning of this Administration has been quite constructive and positive for certainly the United States and Russia and the larger world.
We disagree on Syria. Now, it’s not the only issue we disagree on, but it is one where people are being killed every single day, where violence is escalating, where the government has engaged in these brutal assaults against unarmed civilians, including children. We disagree.
And we were encouraged when Russia, along with the other members of the Security Council, supported Kofi Annan’s plan. And we have been working very hard with many nations to translate that plan into tangible steps that can be taken. And it’s clear that the voices of the entire international community need to be clear in the message to Assad, that it is time for him to participate in saving his own country from a downward spiral into even greater violence. And as part of Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s plan, that includes a political transition.
So we’ve had numerous discussions, and we are remaining hopeful that Kofi will be able to bring a relevant group of nations and multinational organizations together to find a way forward. So we will state our position very clearly and support Kofi Annan.
And we do so in part because we are worried about the UN mission. We think that the events of the last week, where UN observers have been put at risk, even in positions where they were attacked either intentionally or unintentionally in the midst of the conflict, are worrisome. And I’ve talked about this last week with Kofi. He does not want to put these brave men and women who are trying to help protect civilians into situations that are absolutely untenable and dangerous to them.
So all of these concerns have to be addressed, and I think it’s time for the international community, including Russia, to come to the table and be constructive in trying to find a way forward.
MS. NULAND: Last question, Narayan Lakshman from the The Hindu.
QUESTION: Thank you. And I have only one question for each of you. (Laughter.)
My first, Mr. Minister, my question is on the economic linkages between India and the U.S., a key pillar of the Strategic Dialogue, where there appears to be pressure on India to open up access to some of its markets more rapidly and also some disappointments with India’s decisions in the nuclear sector, at least until recently, and defense sectors. How would you explain India’s views on these matters? And on the flipside, did you query the U.S. side on concerns that India may have regarding U.S. policies that affect its economic interests?
And Madam Secretary, to you –
SECRETARY CLINTON: One each. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Yeah, just one each. (Laughter.)
When you and Minister Krishna stood at the same podiums in 2010, you described the relationship as an affair of the heart. And since then, however, there have been various ups and downs. And for example, again until recently, slow progress on civ-nuke and India’s concerns maybe about protectionism and the Iran question. So given the strong stand that both these countries have on issues of mutual interest. Do you see any changes that you might propose to the model, so to speak, that the U.S. has for this relationship?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, with respect to affairs of the heart, they usually have ups and downs. (Laughter.) But that does not make them any less heartfelt – (laughter) – or any less of a commitment. And so I feel as strongly today as I did two years ago. And I think that it’s always a temptation to zero in on what the differences are. That is understandable and it certainly is to be expected by the press. That’s part of your job. But whether it’s one country or another or, in particular, India, I always look at the totality of the relationship. And I would be never in a position to say we don’t have differences. How could two great nations with our histories and our political systems – these raucous, incredibly pluralistic democracies – not have differences? That would be quite odd if that were the case.
But there is no doubt that our values and our interests are converging, that we have a view of this relationship that is in keeping with the perspectives and histories that bring us together in the 21st century where we are finding so much more common ground that we are working on together.
So I’m very positive about our relationship, and we will continue to work through the differences as they arise.
FOREIGN MINISTER KRISHNA: Well, I am conscious of the fact that there is a degree of skepticism regarding the prevailing sentiment of business and economic content for our relationship. I have listed some of our pressing concerns in my speech yesterday. I have also been sensitized to the concerns articulated by U.S. business. In times of vulnerability and uncertainty for the global economy, expression of such views are not unusual. However, as I said yesterday, that the Indian economy will restore investors’ confidence and regain the growth momentum.
I have great confidence in the future of our economic partnership. Our ties of trade, investment, and innovation are growing in both directions. Our defense and high-technology trade is ever expanding. Indian plans to invest more than a trillion dollars on infrastructure development in the coming five years will provide enormous business opportunities which the U.S. companies can consider exploiting. Openness and growth in the U.S. economy will also support stronger economic ties. And we have assured everyone who would be interested in making investments in India that there is going to be a level playing field and there will be total transparency.
And with these two parameters being ensured, I am sure that a number of companies from outside India would be willing to participate in this great developmental journey that India is setting on. And I am sure that the United States and India strategic relationship is going to be helpful in this journey.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all. Thank you.