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Joint Press Interaction of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and U.S. President Bush

New Delhi
March 2, 2006

PRIME MINISTER: May I ask Sheila Bhatt?

QUESTION. Thank you Mr. Prime Minister. Thank You Mr. President. Sir, since you have said that the Indo-US Nuclear Cooperation Agreement is on, we would like to know from you that how are you going to ensure India’s concerns and Indian scientific community’s concerns regarding non-stop supply of fuel and also protecting India’s three phase nuclear research programme?

Mr. President, I have a question for you too Sir. Everybody is saying that India and the US are natural allies. You have also said many times that our strategic partnership is based on common, shared values. Then why the oldest democracy is reluctant to allow the largest democracy for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. This is an issue that India would like to hear from you more Sir.

PRIME MINISTER:  You have asked me about the nuclear agreement. As I mentioned, we have reached a mutually satisfactory understanding with regard to carrying forward the process that was outlined in July 18 statement which I and President Bush signed. An important step forward is the preparation of a separation plan, which separates the civilian nuclear programme from the military programme. That phase has been successfully completed. Now it is for the US to go to the Congress for necessary amendments in US laws, also the US will approach the Members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and thereafter we will also have to go to the IAEA for India’s specific safeguards. So we have made very satisfactory progress and I thank the President for his initiative. But for his leadership, this day would have probably not come so soon.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you for your question on UN Security Council. I am not surprised that you’ve asked it. I gave an interview to a representative from the Indian media in Washington D.C. prior to my trip and that was one of the questions I was asked. My answer hasn’t changed, by the way - which is this. When we support UNSC reform and we are interested in different ways to reform the United Nations Security Council, my concern on law, however, is that if we only stick to the UNSC reform, we miss the opportunity to reform the United Nations overall. So our position is to make sure that reform overall looks forward. As we think of the best way to reform the Security Council, United Nations is a very important international body and it’s one that does however require better accountability, and accountability on how we spend money, accountability on getting results. You know one such area as an example is the Human Rights Commission. Human Rights Commission needs to be reformed in a way that actually is able to achieve significant results on behalf of the world. So we are open minded and we are listening, but what we don’t want to do is to have a Security Council reform measure that causes the other reforms not to go forward. 

QUESTION: There are reports of multiple bombings in Karachi, Pakistan outside the US Consulate, as well as the Marriott Hotel. What can you tell us about this, its impact, your trip, your visit to that country and how does this speak of Pakistan’s or even Musharraf’s ability to contain terrorism?

Ans. First of all, I have been briefed on the bombings. We have lost atleast one US citizen in the bombing - a Foreign Service officer and I send our country’s deepest condolences to that person’s loved ones and the family. We also send the condolences to the people of Pakistan who lost their lives. Terrorists and killers are not going to prevent me from going to Pakistan. My trip to Pakistan is an important trip. It’s important to talk with President Musharraf about continuing our fight against terrorists. After all, he has a direct stake in this fight. Four times the terrorists have tried to kill him. Prime Minister and I talked about the need to continue working together to fight the scourge of terrorism. People - terrorists killing innocent lives just like that. They have no conscience, we cannot negotiate with them, we cannot reason with them. They must be brought to justice. The bombing that took place prior to my trip is an indication that the war on terror goes on. And that free nations must come together to fight terrorism. The way to defeat terrorism in the short run, is to share intelligence and to take action. The way to defeat terrorism in the long run, is to defeat their ideology of hate with an ideology of hope and that’s democracy. The great thing about being here in India is a perfect opportunity to remind the world that it is possible for people of different religions to live peacefully together. This is precisely what this grand democracy has shown the world and my resolve has never been stronger about protecting our people by working with other nations. To answer the call of history, and the call of history is now to stand strong in the face of these terrorist attacks and we will.

QUESTION:  Indrani Bagchi. – President Bush two questions for you. First on the nuclear deal. How do you plan to sell the agreement to a very powerful non-proliferation lobby? Second on the issue of terrorism in the context of today’s bomb blasts in Karachi. How do you propose to work with India on terrorism considering India considers that the epicentre of terrorism is in Pakistan?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, one way we will work together on terrorism is to share intelligence services, share information, the way to defeat terrorists in the short term is to anticipate and react to their motives and their actions, to get intelligence. We are involved in a different kind of war. It’s a war where people hide, plot and plan and all of a sudden emerge and kill and so it requires a different response. A part of the response is to commit our intelligence services to sharing information. We spent some time talking about that issue today. As well, I bring the same message to President Musharraf that we would continue to work with the President, sharing information to bring terrorists to justice. Terrorism is not prevalent only in this part of the world, it is prevalent in the Middle East as well. In the long run, terrorism will be defeated by giving people hope and opportunity and purge the systems of the Government which breed resentment and as a result of that resentment provide opportunity for these killers to retreat.

In terms of convincing the Congress, first thing I would say to our Congress is that our relationship is changing to the better. Sometimes, the desire to get rid of history. Short term history shows that US and India were divided. We didn’t have much of a relationship and as a result there are laws on the books that reflect that. Now our relationship is changing dramatically. People in United States have got to understand that trade with India is in our interests, that diplomatic relations with India are in our interests, that cultural exchanges with India are in our interest. One another thing is that it helps make their case of course is that there are a lot of Indian Americans making important contributions to our country. And we welcome those contributions. I think there need to be more student exchanges between our countries. I think we are expanding HB1 visas for Indian scientists, engineers, physicists and people in our country. What I am trying to explain to you is that it is a changing relationship and part of that change is going to be how to deal with the nuclear issue. Proliferation is certainly a concern and a part of our discussions. We have got a good faith gesture from the Indian Government that I would be able to take to the Congress. But the other thing that our Congress has got to understand that it is in our economic interests that India have civilian nuclear power industry to help take the pressure off the global demand for energy. Obviously, nuclear power is a renewable source of energy and the less demand there is for non-renewable source of energy like fossil fuels, the better off it is for the American people. Increasing demand for oil from America, from India and China, related to a supply that is not keeping up with the demand causes our fuel prices to go up and so to the extent that we can reduce demand for fossil fuels, it will help the American consumer. So there are several ways for me to make the case which I can’t be lining up for you now, but this is what I’ll be telling our Congress.

QUESTION:  Following up on this just a touch. What kind of message Sir, does it send to the world that India which has been testing as late as 1998 nuclear testing and has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? Is this the reward for bad behaviour? Some critics suggest that what kind of message does it send to other countries that are in the process of developing nuclear technology? Why should they sign the NPT, if India is getting a deal without doing so Sir? 

PRESIDENT BUSH: What this agreement says is things change, times change, that leadership can make a difference and I was telling the world, sending the world a different message from that what used to exist in people’s minds. I have always said that this is going to be a difficult deal for the Prime Minister to sell to his Parliament but he has shown great courage and leadership and difficult for the American President to sell it to our Congress. Because some people just do not want to change with the times, I understand that. But this agreement is in our interests. And therefore, Gentlemen, I am confident that we can sell this to our Congress in the interest of the United States. At the same time, make it clear that there is a way forward for other nations to participate in civilian nuclear power in such a way as to address non-proliferation concerns. India has chartered the way forward. You heard the Prime Minister talking about going to the IAEA. So that group exists to help safeguard the world from proliferation. Because listen….. I proposed the processing agreements. That stands in stark contrast to the current nuclear theology that we shouldn’t reprocess for proliferation concerns. I don’t see how you can’t advocate nuclear power in order to take the pressure off our own economy, for example, without advocating technological development reprocessing because reprocessing will help the environmental concerns with nuclear power. There will be less material to dispose. So I am trying to think differently. Not to stay stuck in the past and recognize that by thinking differently together on nuclear power we are going to achieve some important objectives. One of which is less reliance on fossil fuels. Second is to work with our partners to help both our economies grow. And thirdly is to be strong on dealing with non-proliferation issues. 

Thank you Mr. Prime Minister, it’s been a joy.

Thank you very much Mr. President, we have made history today.