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India
External Affairs & Defense Minister Jaswant Singh
Secretary of State Colin Powell
Media Availability
State Department
Washington, D.C.
October 2, 2001
2:36 P.M. EDT

SEC. POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

It's 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 are 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're very grateful for that support, and we're 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's again a pleasure to have you here.

MIN. SINGH: Thank you very much.

Really, I cannot improve on what my colleague has just said. As always, it has been a great pleasure. We've 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's.

We deeply, deeply grieve at the great tragedy that visited upon the United States of America.

And as a gesture of -- as a gesture of unity with the United States, that therefore, the prime minister commissioned me to carry two urns, and which I presented to the mayor of New York, one of nine -- of waters from nine of the most famous rivers of India, and then soil of India, with a 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.

Thank you.

SEC. POWELL: Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, has the administration been working on and come close to unveiling a new comprehensive plan for peace in the Middle East, including the U.S. unequivocal endorsement of statehood? Was that plan sidetracked by the events of September 11th? And is that plan, or some new version of it, going to be unveiled soon?

SEC. POWELL: Well, you speak of a plan, but we've 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 Mitchell 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, it 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'm always considering what statements I can make in order to make sure people understand the American position.

But the events of September 11th don't really play into this. We were hard at work before the 11th of September on 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.

(Cross talk.)

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 here or the same kind of people, but running at different -- in different names in all of 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're 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.

SEC. 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 to after terrorism in a comprehensive way, not just in the present instance of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, but terrorism as it affects nations around the world, to include the kind of terrorism that affects India.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can I follow up on that? When you talk about the initial war on terrorism and getting Osama 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 Osama 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? And is -- or is there a difficulty here because of Pakistan's role?

And Mr. Foreign Minister, as the U.S. 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?

Thank you.

SEC. POWELL: We are going after the al Qaeda network in its various manifestations and Osama 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.

MIN. 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?

SEC. POWELL: Thank you.

MIN. SINGH: Thank you very much.

END