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SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It has been a great pleasure for me to receive my colleague, Mr. Singh, the Foreign Minister and Minister of Defense of India. We have had a good discussion, as we always do, of items of interest to both of us.
On this occasion, I took the opportunity to express condolences of the American people and my personal condolences over the events that took place in Kashmir yesterday, that terrible terrorist act, that heinous act, that killed innocent civilians and also struck at a government facility. It is this kind of terrorism that we united against. I also expressed my condolences to my colleague over the loss of Indian citizens at the World Trade Center, reaffirming once again that it was an attack not just against the United States but against the world.
I thanked him also for the support that India and the Indian people have given to us in this time of difficulty. We are very grateful for that support, and we are very grateful for the good wishes of the Indian people and the expression of support that we have received from the Prime Minister. So, my colleague, it is again a pleasure to have you here.
MINISTER SINGH: Thank you very much. Well, really, I cannot improve upon what my colleague has just said. As always, it has been a great pleasure. We had a very good discussion.
India's commitment to values that we share with the United States of America, to democracy, to free speech, to freedom of individuals, to a certain way of life of which terrorism is the very antithesis, and our commitment to stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States of America for these values in this fight against terrorism is in no fashion any less than anyone else. We deeply, deeply grieve at this great tragedy that was visited upon the United States of America.
And as a gesture of solidarity, as a gesture of unity with the United States, therefore the Prime Minister commissioned me to carry two urns which I presented to the Mayor of New York; one of waters from nine of the most famous rivers of India, and then soil of India, with the request that whenever a memorial is built there, these be placed at the memorial as a gift and a contribution of the people of India, as between two natural allies, we continue to fight this new menace that the world is now confronted by.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, has the administration been working on or come close to unveiling a new comprehensive plan for peace in the Middle East, including US unequivocal endorsement of statehood? Was that plan sidetracked by the events of September 11, and is that plan or some new version of it going to be unveiled soon?
SECRETARY POWELL: You speak of a plan. We have had a plan since the administration came into office in January, and that plan was to do everything we could to get violence down to the lowest possible levels in the region and then, once we had the Tenet Plan completed, to embark upon the Mitchell Plan, which would bring us to a point through confidence building and a cease-fire so that we begin negotiations again between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
As the President said this morning, there has always been a vision in our thinking, as well as in previous administrations' thinking, that there would be a Palestinian state that would exist at the same time that the security of the State of Israel was also recognized, guaranteed and accepted by all parties. That vision is alive and well, and we hope that it will come about as a result of negotiations between the two sides. So, in that regard, there is nothing new. And, in fact, as you heard earlier, reflects statements also made by Prime Minister Sharon as recently as last week.
We are always reviewing what we can do, how we can make our statements clearer, and I am always considering what statements I can make in order to make sure people understand the American position. But the events of September 11 don't really play into this. We were hard at work before the 11th of September in trying to help in the region, and we are hard at work after the 11th of September.
In fact, immediately after the tragedy of 11 September, I was on the phone the very next day trying to reenergize activities so we can get into the Mitchell plan.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, let me ask you, sir, a question. Do you agree with the Indian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Jaswant Singh, what he said yesterday at the White House, that this is the same group, same organization, same kind of people, but running in different names all over the world, including in India?
Now, as far as this bombing in India is concerned, some officials in India blame Pakistan; if you agree with that?
And also, if you are ready to close down -- or I would say that until you close down all the terrorist centers, training centers, in Pakistan, we can never have peace in the area.
SECRETARY POWELL: We are against terrorism. This clearly was an act of terror. And as the President made it clear in his statements and in his speech the week before last, we are going after terrorism in a comprehensive way, not just in the present instance of al-Qaida and Usama bin Laden, but terrorism as it affects nations around the world, to include the kind of terrorism that affects India.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? When you talk about the initial war on terrorism and getting Usama bin Laden and his network, do you include freedom fighters on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control in Kashmir, many of whom train in Usama bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan, as those who need to be eliminated? Will you get tough on the Pakistani Government to do something about that, or is there a difficulty here because of Pakistan's role?
And, Mr. Foreign Minister, as the US is working very closely with Pakistan right now in the war against terrorism, do you think that President Musharraf can be trusted as a full partner in the war against terrorism?
SECRETARY POWELL: We are going after the al-Qaida network, in its various manifestations, and Usama bin Laden and his lieutenants who are in Afghanistan, in the first instance. And as I said previously and the President has said repeatedly, we are going to be conducting a campaign that goes after terrorism, and we'll use many tools -- financial tools, intelligence, law enforcement, diplomatic and political tools -- to accomplish the mission that the President has set before us.
MINISTER SINGH: If the leadership of Pakistan and if Pakistan were to abandon the path of violence and of terrorism and join the rest of the international community in its fight against this evil, it would be a development that India would welcome. Why not?
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.
MINISTER SINGH: Thank you very much.
Released on October 2, 2001
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