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Transcript of Prime Minister's press conference at the Willard Intercontinental in Washington, DC

Washington, DC
April 13, 2010 

Opening statement by PM

I have concluded my visit to Washington DC for the Nuclear Security Summit.

As I said earlier, India welcomes the initiative taken by President Obama to focus the attention of the international community on nuclear security. This is an important issue for us because without ensuring security we will not be able to harness nuclear energy for our developmental purposes.

We are satisfied with the Communique and Work Plan that have been adopted by the Summit. India participated actively in the preparatory process.

I have announced that India will establish a Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership. This will be owned and managed by the Government, but will be open to international participation in terms of academic exchanges and R and D efforts. This initiative is the next logical step in India's engagement with the world after the opening of international civil nuclear cooperation with India.

India's statement at the Summit outlines our approach to the issues of nuclear security, nuclear terrorism, clandestine proliferation and global disarmament.

After listening to the world leaders at the Summit, I feel a sense of vindication of India's position. The intersection of international terrorism and clandestine proliferation affects our security directly. The concerns that we have been expressing for decades on the dangers of proliferation and risk of nuclear materials finding their way into the wrong hands are today finding widespread acceptance.

When India called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons in the 1950s our voice was not heeded. Today the world is veering around to the vision we had put forward of a world free from nuclear weapons. The world is beginning to see merit in pursuing universal, non-discriminatory and complete nuclear disarmament. We will continue to persevere in our efforts in this direction.

During my stay I had bilateral meetings with President Obama, President Nazarbaev, Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel.

I had fruitful discussions with President Obama on a host of issues relating to our bilateral relations, the regional situation, and the world economy. We look forward to hosting President Obama in India later this year.

My discussions with President Sarkozy, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Harper focused largely on the future role of the G20 in the post-crisis phase of the global economic recovery. I will be visiting Canada for the next G20 Summit in June. I conveyed to President Sarkozy that we are looking forward to his visit later this year to India.

Question and Answer Session

Q-1. How satisfied are you about the outcome of your bilateral meetings? 

Ans:  As far as the nuclear security summit is concerned the outcome is satisfactory from our point of view. The concerns which we have been voicing about nuclear security, about proliferation, and about nuclear terrorism, they have been taken notice of by the international community and the communique reflects that. So form that angle we are satisfied with the outcome. As for the bilateral discussions are concerned they covered a wide range of issues, mostly relating to the future work programme of the group of 20. this was an exchange of views as to how the work of the G-20 should proceed in the months and years to come.

The world is now witnessing a recovery though the speed of recovery – there is still a question mark with regard to the working out of a framework for sustainable recovery and also the reform of international institutions including the security Council and the Bretton Woods institutions, the working of the financial system, the need for regulation, whether one size fits all or there should be allowance for different stages of development. These are the issues which have to be taken on-board and I expressed our concern about these issues. 

Q 2. Why should India bring its complaints to US about Pakistan instead of using its own leverage to straighten it out. Do you agree with the broad sentiment of the analysts that you shared better relations with President Bush than Present Obama? 

Ans: Well I have a very good relationship with President Obama. So I think there should no confusion on that point. There is no question of our taking our complaints against any country to another forum. Ultimately India has to tackle problems it faces on her own but international sentiment and international opinion does matter and if anyone asks about how is the bilateral relation between India and Pakistan working out, I explain our perspective and which is an open secret. I have said that on more than once that Pakistan if it takes credible steps to bring the perpetrators of the horrible crime of 26/11 to book and that’s minimum that we expect from Pakistan and if Pakistan does that we would be very happy to begin talking once again about all our issues.

Q 3 & 4: Prime Minister Gilani told the media that he invited you to Pakistan and that you accepted the invitation and secondly the controversy about Shashi Tharoor and how do you react to that?

Ans : As far as the invitation from Prime Minister Gilani is concerned, I am hearing it for the first time. But I did run into him twice and we exchanged pleasantries and in fact I complemented the Prime Minister on the passage of the constitution amendment bill which makes the Prime Minister more powerful personality in Pakistan’s political system but beyond that there was no serious discussion on any other issues.

And as far as what you have mentioned to me, I have heard about these things. I don’t have all the facts before me and when I go back I will get all the facts and in the light of those if any action is necessary I think that would be the proper way to proceed. I cannot go by hearsay or what is in various columns of the news- papers.

Q –5. Problem of clandestine nuclear trade – no new measures.

Ans: We have been voicing our concern with regard to proliferation and the clandestine activities of nuclear trafficking. Well the world used to listen to us but this is the first time that the international community has sat together –47 countries to recognize that these are genuine concerns. So I think that’s a matter of some satisfaction as far as India is concerned..

Q 6. President Lula is visiting Iran on May 15th , you also have been invited, do you plan to go to Tehran? 

Ans:  India has good relations with Iran. Iran is our neighbour and as far as going to Tehran is concerned, I have no plans. In any case I cannot make plans to travel at short notice and I have commitments in India but India will be represented at that conference. 

Q 7. You and President Obama share a personal rapport. But does it really translate into concrete actions as far as the two administrations are concerned? 

Ans : In matters relating to state craft I think one should not jump prematurely into conclusions which are not warranted by the facts on the ground.

Q 8. In your meeting with Obama, you forcefully expressed the issue of cross border terrorism. With US constraints in the War on terror in Afghanistan, how do you expect action?

Ans: Well I hope that what I said to President weighs considerably with the administration but I am not an astrologer. I cannot predict what will be final shape of things to come.

Q 9. US - Pak civil nuclear deal ?

Ans: Who am I to interfere with what goes on between the United States and Pakistan. That’s a matter for these two countries to consider.

Q 10. Meeting with President Obama – we have been told Iran figured and did the US sanctions resolution at the SC come up. And with president Sarkosy as well. 

Ans: I said to the President that we do not favour Iran’s nuclear weapon ambitions. I also said to him that as a signatory of NPT Iran is entitled to all the rights of members who have signed the treaty regarding to the peaceful use of atomic energy. On the issue of sanctions I said to him as far as we are concerned we don’t think sanctions really achieve their objective. Very often the poor in the affected country suffer more. As far as the ruling establishment is concerned, they are not really affected by these sanctions in any meaningful way. Beyond that there was no discussions.

Q 11. What do you hope to achieve in Bhutan when you meet Gilani?

Ans: Well it is still time to think about meeting in Bhutan. I think when we reach there, we will cross that bridge.

Q: 12. After the bilateral between President Obama and you, are you confident of getting access to Headley?

Ans: I raised that matter with the President. He did mention to me that he is aware of the legal position and that we will get access to David Headley.

Q 13. What more action are we looking for from Pakistan?

Ans:  We all know that there are still people who are named as part of the conspiracy. They are roaming around freely and I do not want to name any one individually but that’s the reality and these are facts which are borne out not by our investigations and our intelligence but by the intelligence of our friendly countries. We would like Pakistan to at least bring all these perpetrators of these horrible crimes to book and do so effectively.

Q 14. There is a perception that Indo-US relations are in drift? What direction did you give in the bilateral?

Ans:  We have a multi faceted relationship. The economic content of the relation is important. There are several other dimensions. We work together in many regional fora. So it is not a single track operation. The United States is a super power. It is a very important player in global affairs. We look forward to working with the United States to find practical, pragmatic solutions to the problems which the world faces.

I believe these issues in South Asia can be resolved and should be resolved by meaningful bilateral dialogue. I do not feel there is a role for any outside force to come in. 

Q-15. Prime Minister has said that he needs more evidence against the Lashkar-e Tayeba. 

Ans:  First of all I don’t see there is any need for further evidence about the role of the Lashksar – e Tayeba. I think Prime Minister Gilani – I would hate to enter into an argument with him in a press conference. The American intelligence and American forces have themselves pointed out the role of the Lashksar-e Tayeba and their links to Al-Queda. So I do not think there is any need for me to produce additional evidence to Prime Minister Gilani about the role of the Lakshar –e- Tayeba, Hafeez Sayeed, Ilyas Kashmiri and Zakeeur Rehman are playing in fanning of terrorist acts directed against India.

Q 16. Issues to be taken with China in Brazil?

Ans: We have the border problem and that problem is to be resolved. We are working very hard to find practical, pragmatic solution to that problem. But we both recognize that it will take time. And both of us have agreed that pending the resolution of the border issue, peace and tranquility should be maintained along the line of control and by and large that is the situation that remains on the ground. As far as India’s relations with China are concerned, the economic content of the relationship has increased very significantly. China is today probably India’s largest trading partner. There are large Chinese investments in our country. There are large investments in China. On the economic front the relationships is moving in the right direction and at the Copenhagen conference India and China worked very closely to organize their position and there is now a recognition in China that in multilateral issues there is a similarity of approach between India and China and that both countries can gain by working together.

Q 17. President Obama defended Pakistan saying their nuclear installations/ weapons are safe?

Ans: As far as our views are concerned you have to read my statement that gives our views on the matter.