External Affairs & Defense Minister Jaswant Singh
Interview with Judy Woodruff on CNN Live
October 2, 2001
12:26 P.M. EDT

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now, India's minister for external affairs and defense. His name is Jaswant Singh.

Mr. Minister, thank you for being with us.

When you hear the Taliban ambassador say, we need evidence, is he making a good point? Should the United States be providing this evidence to the Taliban?

JASWANT SINGH, INDIA'S MINISTER FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS: I don't think one requires much evidence about killings, about death, or much evidence about what happened and who caused it to happen until the September 11th. You must surely understand what the United States of America grievously experienced on September 11th is something that we in India have been going through for the last 20 years or thereabouts, and all of this about evidence of who killed who. In the region, we know clearly who is perpetuating these acts, what lies at the heart of it, and how it is to be dealt with.

WOODRUFF: Well, are you saying that you believe without a shadow of a doubt that Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network was behind what happened on September 11.

SINGH: Yes, of course, absolutely.

WOODRUFF: How do you believe that? Have you seen the evidence that the United States is sharing now with other countries?

SINGH: No, I, firstly, it would be difficult to answer the first part of your question, for obvious enough reasons. Secondly, we've seeing the evidence, we have been living with the evidence for nearly about 20 years in India. We don't have to see the evidence on every fresh incident.

WOODRUFF: So you are saying you don't need to see anything new. But what I'm asking is, is the kind of evidence that the United States is providing persuasive evidence?

SINGH: Indeed. I believe that the evidence that already exists, and if you are ready to recognize the evidence, then you don't need to see any pieces of paper, but if you are not ready to recognize the evidence, then no matter how many reams of paper are presented to you, you will not recognize it. WOODRUFF: Is the United States going about its response to what happened, Mr. Minister, correctly?

SINGH: I am not here to judge what the United States does or does not do. But I do believe that what has occurred on September 11th is a kind of as defining an ideological divide, as occurred earlier some 50 years back, when Winston Churchhill spoke of descent of the Iron Curtain from the Triast (ph) to the Baltic, and the beginning of the Cold War and the divide of the world in two really competing hearts. The world today stands divided between those who stand for democracy, who stand for freedom, who stand for a certain basic human values, a value system, and those that wish to take the world back to what 11th century, 7th century, where woman had no place, where children have no education.

I am sorry, it is as clear a divide as that.

WOODRUFF: Mr. Minister, for those that don't know India's recent history, what is it about the Bin Laden network, the Al Qaeda network that you know has been connected to India's own difficulties with militant groups operating in Kashmir?

SINGH: For example, what you call militant groups are terrorist organization. I can name several of them straight away: Alash Karatiber (ph), Jashe Mohammed (ph), Al Bades (ph). All of these I believe because don't get enough time to watch television and your own company CNN has listed on television. These are directly a byproduct of Al Qaeda. They are operating as terrorist groups in India, not simplify in the state of Jamul Kashmir. We know they have linkages and support from Pakistan and continue to do so. So these are for us realities, facts of life.

WOODRUFF: Let me just finally ask you, Mr. Minister ...


WOODRUFF: Are you absolutely persuaded that the U.S. in fighting terrorism is going to going to also go after these terrorist groups that have been tormenting your country for so long?

SINGH: I see that the United States really has no option. You cannot fight a menace like terrorism, as the president of the United States said, on a global scale, you cannot simplify address one manifestation of it and leave the others alone, because all others will turn back and do exactly -- heaven forbid that it should happen -- but they will do almost the same as has been happening earlier in India or elsewhere. Once in New York is enough. Let it not be repeated.

WOODRUFF: India's Minister for external Affairs and Events, Mr. Jaswant Singh, we thank you for being with us.

SINGH: Thank you.