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Secretary Powell: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's been my great pleasure to receive and welcome Home Minister Advani. We have had a good exchange of views. We began by concentrating on what we both agree is the strength of the relationship between the United States and India, and how both sides are committed to strengthening the relationship even more in the months ahead. President Bush is committed to expanding the depth of our exchanges with respect to economic activity, military cooperation, all of the areas of interest that two great democracies would have in common with one another.
We of course talked about the campaign against terrorism, and I committed to the Home Minister, as the President has committed to the Prime Minister and I have to the Foreign Minister on many occasions, that this is a campaign against all forms of terrorism. It is a campaign to which the United States and the President are committed with patience and persistence, and we will work with all of our friends to remove this scourge from the face of the earth and as a threat to civilization.
We reviewed the situation of Afghanistan and the progress we have made, how terrorism is being defeated there, and how a new government is being brought into being to provide hope to the people of Afghanistan, and we committed ourselves to reconstruction efforts. We also talked about the situation that exists between India and Pakistan, and I indicated to the Home Minister that the United States was very hopeful that this situation could be dealt with through political and diplomatic means, and we were lending all of our efforts to that end. But it has to include a condemnation of terrorism of any kind, because it is no longer acceptable in the 21st century for nations to live under this kind of threat.
So I was pleased to receive the Minister, and I now invite him to say a word or two, and then we can take one or two questions before he has to make his next appointment.
Minister Advani: Thank you. Friends, I am extremely grateful to the United States Government, personally to Mr. Ashcroft, the Attorney General, for having invited me to visit the United States. My responsibility in the Indian Government is to look after internal security, and so the issue dominant on my mind has been naturally the threat of terrorism.
But as the Secretary of State just now said, the years 2000, 2001 and 2002 now have been years where cooperation between these two great democracies of the world has been constantly expanding. It would be my endeavor to see that during my five days in Washington and New York it's not merely the immediate issue of international terrorism that I speak about, but also to see that this broadening base of cooperation between the United States and India continues to (inaudible) further.
On the question of terrorism, I would like to compliment the United States, its President, Mr. Powell and all other leaders of government who have taken a kind of a lead in mobilizing world opinion against terrorism. And my discussions today with Mr. Ashcroft, Mr. Powell, Mr. Richard Haass have been extremely useful, extremely fruitful, and give me confidence that we together would be able to stamp out terrorism from all parts of the world.
Thank you, friends.
Question: Can you elaborate on the purpose of your trip to India and Pakistan, and what are you hoping to achieve there?
Secretary Powell: I am going to the region to participate in the Reconstruction Conference on Afghanistan in Tokyo on the 21st of January. And since I was in the region, I decided that I would visit India and Pakistan, and perhaps other places in the region, to consult with my colleagues in those two countries and to see if I can make a further contribution by my presence toward resolving the situation that currently exists, the crisis that currently exists in a peaceful manner.
Question: Mr. Secretary, I understand Mr. Minister is carrying a list of 20 terrorists that India is wanting from Pakistan, or they are based in Pakistan. And what do you have to say about those terrorists, whether you are going to ask General Musharraf to hand over those terrorists based in Pakistan to India? And also, finally, sir, if both of you are satisfied from what Mr. Minister wanted or India wanted from the United States, the way US condemned terrorism in Israel? Because there is a revolving door -- well, like you said, there is a revolving door in Palestine; there is also a revolving door in Pakistan, sir.
Secretary Powell: With respect to the list of 20, I have seen that list and I know that President Musharraf has the list. We have discussed the list with him. I know he is examining it, and I hope he will take appropriate action on the list. But it is in his hands.
Yes, we have discussed it and I know that the Home Minister also discussed it with Attorney General Ashcroft earlier. I will let the Minister comment on the second half of your question with respect to expectations from the United States.
Minister Advani: Frankly, I have nothing more to add to what I have already said because, at this point, I regard cooperation between our two countries to stamp out international terrorism as very important. I may also mention that I have invited the Attorney General, Mr. Ashcroft, to visit India, and he has kindly accepted the invitation.
Question: The United States has consistently said that it does see President Musharraf taking credible steps against terrorism, but the Indians have not exactly seen it that way and say that they have yet to see credible steps. Do you see -- was there a large gap between the two sides in your meetings today with the Indians? Are they giving Musharraf any credit at all?
Secretary Powell: I think President Musharraf has taken some steps. He has arrested the leaders of the JEM and the LET. He has closed down offices. He has spoken out against terrorism. He has also arrested other individuals. But I think there is room for additional work on his part. We are looking forward to the speech he will be giving later this week, which I think will be a powerful signal to his nation and to India and the rest of the world. But it's not just the speech. We will be looking to see what additional action he has taken.
I believe he has taken quite a bit of action in recent months, but as you well know, the Indians believe more action is required, and we will see what happens in the days and weeks ahead. But I think it is in the interest of all of us to continue to do everything we can in our power to solve this in political and diplomatic channels, and not let it go to conflict. The problem will not be solved by a conflict in South Asia.
Question: Mr. Secretary, obviously the situation is on a hair trigger. What message are you giving both sides to try to prevent this from escalating any further into a potential nuclear war?
Secretary Powell: I think both sides understand that it is a dangerous situation whenever you have two armies in proximity to one another and both are mobilized. But both sides understand the seriousness of this confrontation and they are working with us to try to find a peaceful solution through political and diplomatic channels and to avoid war.
Question: Mr. Secretary, when you talked to Arafat, did you talk about the attack on the Israelis?
Secretary Powell: (Nods affirmatively)
Question: You did? Thank you.
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