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Joint Press Conference by External Affairs Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and US Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice

New Delhi
December 3, 2008

External Affairs Minister of India (Mr. Pranab Mukherjee): Good evening, friends in the media, and Your Excellency Dr. Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State.

This evening I have just concluded discussions with Her Excellency Dr. Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State. She has specially come to express the solidarity of the United States of America with India in the wake of the heinous attack by terrorists who struck in several locations in Mumbai last week. We greatly appreciate this gesture, Madam Secretary, and I welcome it.

I informed Dr. Rice that there is no doubt that the terrorist attacks in Mumbai were perpetrated by individuals who came from Pakistan and whose controllers are in Pakistan. This is an assessment that is widely shared by the international community. I briefed Dr. Rice on the discussion we have had with the Government of Pakistan following the Mumbai terrorist attack and our expectation of cooperation from them to ensure that the terrorists and organizations who perpetrated these attacks are arrested and brought to justice. We expect all friendly governments and the international community to ensure that this happens.

I have also conveyed to Secretary Rice the feeling of anger and deep outrage in India following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which were preceded by similar terrorist attacks in other major cities of India earlier this year - in Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi - and now in Mumbai. Almost 350 innocent lives have been lost in these attacks, and more than 733 people injured, of course, in the six incidents.

Government of India is determined to act decisively to protect India’s territorial integrity and the right of our citizens to a peaceful life with all the means at our disposal. We look forward to the international community’s cooperation in our longstanding struggle against terrorism.

I would now like to invite Secretary Rice to make her observations.

Thank you.

US Secretary of State (Dr. Condoleezza Rice): Thank you very much, and thank you Minister. I have not expected to return to India as Secretary of State following my visit here just a couple of months ago. But I come because the President of the United States, the American people want India to know that the United States stands in solidarity with the people of India. I come with condolences for those who have lost their lives, for those who have been maimed, for their families, for the people of Mumbai for the ordeal through which they have just been, and for the people of India.

I think that Americans, perhaps as well as any, understand the feelings that run so deep at a time like this, having experienced the attacks of September 11. We certainly understand that there is a strong demand for bringing the perpetrators of such a crime to justice, and a deep desire to prevent any further attacks from taking place.

Minister, I came also to pledge the cooperation of the United States in both those tasks. We are going to work very closely with you in any way that we can to try and to get to the bottom of what happened and then to help you to act on that, but also recognizing that in matters of terrorism it is not just a matter of the punishment of the crime that has taken place, it is also a matter of preventing these terrorists who continue to plot and plan from perpetrating further crimes and further attacks.

I know too how difficult it is to take information and to make it into knowledge and then to be able to act on it. I have said that the United States also has a good deal of experience in the kind of terrorism fight and how one has to organize differently for that kind of terrorism fight. I know, Minister, and I have spoken with the Home Minister, that you are looking at reforms here in India as well. I applaud, for instance, the Prime Minister’s emphasis on terrorist-financing and other ways to trap these killers.

I also want you to know that the United States believes strongly that having lost our own citizens in this attack…this is a matter of concern not just because of our relationship with India but because American lives were also lost. And so it is a matter of deep concern. And in that we have made very clear that we expect all responsible nations to participate and cooperate in bringing these perpetrators to justice, and that Pakistan has a special responsibility to do so and to do so transparently, fully, urgently; and that is a message that we have delivered. I have noted that President Zardari has pledged the cooperation of the Pakistani Government. It is a new civilian Government and we fully expect that those pledges of cooperation are going to be carried out and carried out fully.

Minister, I know that this is a very difficult time for the people of India, people of Mumbai. But I hope that it is a time also when you can feel the sense of solidarity and support that is there in the international community, from your friends. I was just in Great Britain. I know that the British are helping too. I hope that you know more than anything that you are not alone in this fight. There are many of us who have experienced this terror, and we stand united in our determination to defeat them.

Thank you.

MEA Official Spokesperson: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Two questions will be taken from each side. Kindly introduce yourself and your organization and indicate whom the question is addressed to.

Question (Ms Parul Malhotra, CNN/IBN): Good evening. I have a question to each of the Ministers. Mr. Mukherjee, Sir, your Government has made it very clear, has in fact warned Pakistan of a pause in the bilateral relationship if Pakistan does not deliver on your demands. Today we have heard President Zardari actually rule out the deportation of twenty or twenty-one most wanted Indians and Pakistanis. How do you respond to that? Will you actually take action after this snub?

Ms Rice, do you see this statement from the President as evidence of cooperation? There are two parts of this question. My second question would be, you say you extend support and solidarity to the Indian Government. Would your Government be willing to support any Indian military strikes into Pakistan on those terror camps in self defence?

External Affairs Minister of India: So far as Government of India is concerned, what action will be taken by the Government will depend on the response which we have from the Pakistan authorities. We have given demarche. I am expecting the response. After obtaining the response, whatever Government will consider necessary to protect its territorial integrity, safety and security of its citizens, Government will do that. Thank you.

US Secretary of State: The response of the Pakistani Government should be one of cooperation and of action, and that is what we expect. We have been sending that message. In all responses, whether they are responses of Governments around the world or the response of the Indian Government, the goal should be to make certain that the investigation gets to the bottom of what happened; that the perpetrators are brought to justice; and that there is enough information and a depth of understanding so that an effort can be made to prevent further attacks.

The hard thing about terrorism is that it is not simple law enforcement. It is not a matter of waiting until a crime is committed and then you punish the perpetrators. The long pole in the tent, the effort has to be to prevent. And that is what we are going to help India, and others are going to help India. And we believe Pakistan has an essential role to play in this to make certain that these terrorists cannot continue to operate and operate in this fashion.

Any response needs to be judged by its effectiveness in prevention, and also by not creating other unintended consequences or difficulty. But we are going to work very closely over this time and, as I said, we are focused with India on both bringing the perpetrators to justice, and on preventing further attacks. I just want to underscore again, Americans were killed in this attack as well. It is a special concern to the United States.

Official Spokesperson: I solicit your cooperation. Kindly restrict yourself to one question.

Question (Ms Ann, Associated Press): A question to each of you. Madam Secretary, can you be more specific when you say that this attack was different and you are asking for a different kind of response from India and Pakistan? What specifically about it tells you that it is distinct from previous terror attacks? And, do you see the hand of Al Qaeda anywhere in it?

And Mr. Minister, I understand that just today some explosives were found in the train station in Mumbai. They had apparently been there for a week. What confidence can the Indian people have that you have found all that there is to find and that they are safe?

US Secretary of State: I did not mean to suggest that there have not been other attacks; there have been. My point was concerning the sophistication of this attack, the way in which it was carried out, the targets that were obviously simultaneously attacked. And that in itself I think is somewhat different than attacks that have been seen in the past. But the response has to be the same which is, the perpetrators have to be caught, they have to be brought to justice, and there has to be a maximal effort on preventing further attacks.

As to Al Qaeda, let me be very clear, we are not saying that Al Qaeda is the perpetrator here, and I want that to be very much understood. All of it suggests the sophistication of it which reminds us that these extremists – and there are no good terrorists, they are all extremist and they all have to be dealt with – are perhaps learning from each other; they move in the same circles. But clearly the sophistication of the attack was really what I was addressing.

External Affairs Minister of India: Of course, in intensity and modality there is a difference. But essentially it is the continuation of the series of attacks which India received just this year. I mentioned in my statement the number of cases where the attacks have taken place. And I believe there is a design. The targets of the attack were either the important tourist centres like Jaipur, national capital Delhi, financial capital Mumbai, if not capital but a very important place from the point of view of science and technology, Bangalore. Therefore, there is a design to strike at the developmental, scientific, and economic ability of the country. And these are just not sporadic or accidental. Thank you.

Question (Mr Manish Chand, IANS): This question is addressed to Madam Secretary of State. Madam, you are traveling to Islamabad tomorrow. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has blamed non-state actors for terrorist activities in the region. India believes that some of these elements continue to be patronized by sections of the Pakistani establishment and could be responsible for the Mumbai mayhem. In such a situation, how should India and the United States cooperate in dealing with terrorism flowing from Pakistan? And also, did the Indian side present some evidence, solid evidence, to you linking Pakistan-based elements to Mumbai blasts? Thank you.

US Secretary of State: Well, I am not going to speculate on what might be found when investigations are complete. I do know that the Pakistani Government under President Zardari has pledged its complete cooperation, and that it needs to be transparent in that cooperation. The fact is that non-state actors sometimes operate within the confines of the state, on the territory of the state. When that is the case, then there has to be very direct and tough action against them. So, that is really the issue here. I think we need to let the facts lead where they may. The investigation is still under way. It can be done with as much forensic help as is needed from international parties. I know that Britain has expressed the desire to help. We have expressed the desire to help. But what we really need to do is to let the leads go where they may without premature speculation of how this might have actually taken place. But non-state actors, that is still a matter of responsibility, if in fact it somehow relates to your territory.

Question (Ms Sylvia, AFP): Madam Secretary, how are you going to improve the intelligence sharing between India and Pakistan? Do you have any special step in mind or a regional mechanism? And, Mr. Minister, what would you think about such a mechanism with the US as a partner?

US Secretary of State: Well I think the key here is that we have to think very less about what mechanisms there may be and more about just getting the job done. I think that there is a lot of information that various parties have concerning what happened on this attack. As the forensics go forward to look at what happened in the actual attack on the scene and people are interviewed more information will become available. I do not think we need to worry so much about a specific mechanism. I do think we need to make certain that there is proper coordination. And this can be done, you know, through regular channels of the various parties. So, I do think the United States and others have a lot to add.

Let me just make a point. Everybody needs help. The United States has needed help in intelligence sharing, in cooperation. This is not a matter that any country handles on its own. The very nature of this terrorist threat is that it crosses borders. The very nature of this terrorist threat is that it locates different elements in different parts of the world. So, when we talk about cooperation, we are talking about something that is inherent in the nature of dealing with a terrorist threat that is global, not confined to a particular area. And so, there is not really anything new in that sense. India and the United States have been cooperating. We have been cooperating with Great Britain when there have been threats against Britain or against the United States. We are …(inaudible)… that sometimes required cooperation with India. So, we have developed contacts for doing this. That we are going to do it in a more intensive and urgent manner because again I want to emphasize that yes, it is extremely important to bring these people to justice, but it is really important that we remember that when you are dealing with terrorists your goal is to also have prevention very much in mind.

External Affairs Minister of India: We have a mechanism in which we share the intelligence with the USA and also with other countries. The importance of sharing this mechanism is more now because terrorism is to be fought collectively by the international community. It is not confined to one country. Terrorism has no limit, either geographical or otherwise. It is the biggest menace to the world peace and tranquility in the post-cold war era. Therefore, it requires united action by the entire international community. And for that, intelligence sharing is an important input. Thank you.

MEA Official Spokesperson: Thank you. This brings the event to a close. Thank you for coming.