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India
External Affairs & Defense Minister Jaswant Singh
Press Briefing after Meeting with President Bush and NSA Rice
(Excerpts)
Washington, D.C.
October 1, 2001

EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER (EAM): The meeting lasted over 75 minutes with the National Security Adviser and in that meeting, very graciously, the President of the United States of America His Excellency President Bush also came by and he shared his views with me on the existing situation in our region for almost 40 minutes. We have, of course, exchanged views in regard to the totality of the situation. And in regard to the President’s and Government of the United States’ resolve to fight terrorism, it is my view that the fight against terrorism covers 360 degrees of the azimuth, and cannot be unidirectional. It has to address various manifestations of terrorism going by different names, who readily transform their identity by simply switching from one name to another. The President was kind enough to share with me his views, as also the National Security Adviser. In sum, I found the meeting very useful, very candid, and both the President and the National Security Adviser expressed the view that I should stay in touch with both of them as much regularity as possible, so that India and the United States can continue to interact with each other in the coming days on a very challenging situation, which really challenges the entire civilized world.

QUESTION: (Inaudible)

My understanding is that the fight against terrorism is focused on an organization called Al Quaeda, which in turn has spun any number of terrorist organizations, and if the Taliban regime, which we don’t recognize-our recognition is to President Bahrannuddin Rabbani’s Government - If the Taliban regime harbors terrorist organizations, or it permits terrorist activities, then, I am afraid Taliban has to go.

QUESTION: On terrorist organizations operating in Jammu & Kashmir

EAM: This is an issue that has been discussed earlier… this is an issue which was certainly discussed both with the President as also with the National Security Adviser, though not necessarily and in as much detail as I would be doing tomorrow with others, and, I did point out that it is the same manifestation of terrorism acting under different groups, and India has very severely tested, simply because India continues to act with restraint in the face of most severe provocation, as for example, (this) the most recent attack on the State Legislature of Jammu and Kashmir, which is a deliberate attack to provoke, an act deliberately timed so as to send a message. And, I believe it was a message of defiance, because it has already been admitted that the perpetrators of this crime against the State Legislature and people of Jammu & Kashmir are Jaish-e-Muhammed, and one of the three, one of them was, in fact, an Afghan, his name also we know, and it has been announced from within Pakistan that we have done it, and we will to do it again, and that indeed we will be acting in Afghanistan against the United States too.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

EAM: It would be erroneous of you to say that terrorism has increased because of certain restraint that India has shown. That would be a bit simplistic… India’s fight against terrorism is now almost two decades old. We will continue to engage in this fight. Attempts like Jaish-e-Muhammed’s on the State Legislature of Jammu & Kashmir, we know that this is a ghastly and unforgivable incident. India’s patience is also not finite, but, nevertheless, for you to suggest that this in any sense is a departure or an aberration, no, it isn’t… and the matter did come up for discussion.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

EAM: I would be a misreading of the U.S. position to describe it as limiting fight against terrorism. The President, in his most inspiring address to the Congress and as also in the conversation today, is quite clear and categorical (that) the fight against terrorism can simply not be uni-dimensional… it is against terrorism, not just against one manifestation…in this fight against terrorism, the United States of America is focusing upon just now the Al Quaeda and so far as keeping it’s focus on one particular organization and dealing with that, and thereafter focusing on others... I understand that position about addressing one at a time, but I also spoke quite clearly, about what I call dual purpose terrorism, terrorism which operates under one name in one place and operates in another name in another place… and, so we will continue to do so. About arms supply, though I am aware that along with the lifting of sanctions is also under consideration the question of sanctions under 508 also being lifted these are matters of detail, which I will be attending to in my talks subsequently tomorrow and of course, these sentiments were shared with both the National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice as also with His Excellency the President.

Responsibility of dealing with terrorism inside India, no matter which group it is, is India’s and shall remain India’s. We have been fighting this battle for 20 years now, and we will continue to fight this battle, but, I have no doubt in mind, and I can say categorically, that so far as the resolve of the United States of America goes, in addressing itself to the issue of terrorism globally, that resolve is not uni-dimensional and they will be acting against terrorism in all its manifestation, globally, after they have addressed their primary objective just now.

EAM: We have a concern so far as our Western neighbor goes, but, unlike our Western neighbor, India’s policies are not Pak-centric alone, though I know that Pakistan’s policies is only Indo-centric. And, I have a much larger area of concerns and I address that in totality. I am not going to be deflected from my purpose, we are very well aware of what Pakistan is doing. I have made the US Administration aware of that, and, I am confident that they have taken full note of it.

END