Index

March 21, 2000

PRESS BRIEFING BY SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT

5:45 P.M. (L)

                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                            (New Delhi, India)
___________________________________________________________________________
                                   ____
  For Immediate Release                                          March 21,
2000


                             PRESS BRIEFING BY
                   SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT

                              Maurya Sheraton
                                                 New Delhi, India


5:45 P.M. (L)


     MR. LOCKHART:  Hello, everyone.  Welcome to this afternoon's briefing.
Joining us this afternoon is the Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright,
who will give you a sense of the day and then take your questions.

     Okay, obviously I have to stand up here and talk for a few minutes, so
-- a funny thing happened on the way to the Sheraton --

     Q    How's the food, Joe?

     MR. LOCKHART:  It's fabulous.  How have you found the accommodations,
Bob?  (Laughter.)  Anybody else want to --

     Q    How's the President's mood?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Upbeat.

     Q    And now --

     SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:  Good afternoon everybody.  As the President said
this morning, this day is long overdue.  After more than 50 years of missed
opportunities, we are taking steps necessary to elevate, improve and
regularize the relationship between the world's two largest democracies.
India and the United States have always had a host of common interests and
shared values, but now we're talking about how we can work together with
mutual respect to further them.

     The vision statement that President Clinton and Prime Minister
Vajpayee signed this afternoon reflects that.  It highlights our new
initiatives to promote democracy around the world; to expand trade and
investment, especially in technology areas; and to cooperate on global
issues such as climate change and fighting infectious diseases, including
tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

     Of course, security and peace issues are essential, and instability
and conflict in South Asia and the spread of weapons of mass destruction
are increasingly causes of global concern.  The President has not been
asked to mediate the dispute between India and Pakistan.  He didn't come
here to do that.  But he is urging both sides to exercise restraint, and
calling for the renewal of a dialogue.

     We've all heard the awful news this morning from Kashmir.  There is no
explanation or motive in history, law, religion or policy that can offer
the slightest justification for this kind of brutality.  Our thoughts and
prayers are with the survivors and families of the victims.

     This latest tragedy in Kashmir underscores the urgency of finding a
peaceful solution to the conflict.  There can be no military solution.  It
also underscores the importance of restoring respect for the line of
control.  For so long as this simple principle is violated, there will be
no real hope for peace.

     Today President Clinton and Prime Minister Vajpayee also discussed how
India could pursue its security requirements without leading to a costly
and destablizing nuclear and missile arms race.  As the President indicated
during this afternoon's press conference, we will continue to work at
narrowing our differences with India on nonproliferation issues, including
tighter export controls and joining the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Significant progress on this front will allow India and the United States
to realize the full potential of our relationship.

     Finally, President Clinton and Prime Minister Vajpayee talked today
about ways to institutionalize the relationship between our governments so
that our strengthened relations continue to grow even stronger in the years
ahead.  They agreed that the United States and India should hold regular
bilateral summits, and the Prime Minister accepted the President's
invitation to Washington.  And we look forward to that visit.

     Tomorrow morning the President will address the members of the two
Houses of India's Parliament.  As he did today with the Prime Minister, the
President will make the case for building a dynamic and lasting partnership
between the United States and India.  He'll talk about our profound respect
for India's achievements over the years in building democracy, in managing
an extraordinarily diverse society and embracing economic openness.
     He'll call for greater trade and investment between our two countries,
and he'll make the case for labor rights and the environment without
favoring developed nations over developing countries in trade matters.
He'll argue that greater cooperation between us is necessary to address
global challenges.  And as he did today, I expect he will ask for India's
leadership in moving the world away from nuclear weapons proliferation.

     And on the conflict between India and Pakistan, I expect he'll again
stress that violence, like the brutal attack last night in Kashmir cannot
resolve the conflict.

     Now I'll be happy to take your questions.

     Q    Madam Secretary, did you hear anything new, or did the President
hear anything new today on the nuclear rivalry between India and Pakistan,
and whether India would do anything specifically to restrain its program?

     SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:  Well, I think that they had a good discussion and
it was an important part of the discussion.  I think they both understood
that it was a tough issue, but that, in effect, a lot of the past patterns
of behavior have been cleared away and that we still have a lot of work to
do on the specifics, and that, in fact, we were going to proceed according
to a work plan to get a lot of the -- to see what we could do to resolve a
lot of the issues.

     But I believe it was a useful discussion because the two leaders have
not had it face to face, and it was important for them to do so.  And what
I got out of it was that they understood that there was work to be done; we
had different views, but work to be done.  But both of them I think also
felt a dedication to moving the world in a peaceful direction.  I found
that the dialogue generally was about the necessity for creating greater
stability.

     Q    The President said in the news conference that there is no threat
of war in Kashmir and that the dangers have been overstated by the United
States.  Is the President reassured that there is, in fact, no threat of
war there and that it's not as dangerous as he thought?

     SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:  Well, I think that everyone is concerned about
the continued tension and the Prime Minister certainly does not deny that.
Nobody in this region does.  And I think that what was very important was
the President making quite clear again about the need for the respect for
the line of control, for there to be renewed dialogue on it and that there
really could not be any solution to this in a military way, that there had
to be a political dialogue.

     But my sense out of the discussion was that they both obviously agree
that it's a difficult and tense situation, and events such as the one
during the night, which we have all condemned, are very troubling.

     But the President urged restraint, respect for the line of control,
dialogue -- renewed dialogue and the need to solve the issue
diplomatically, and not militarily.

     Q    Madam Secretary,    India's leaders are saying that what the
President said today on Kashmir represents a significant shift in U.S.
policy and an endorsement of India's policy on Kashmir, and away from
Pakistan.  How true is that?

     SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:  I would not interpret it that way.  I think our
policy is what it was when we came here and what the President has said
many times and things that I have said in my speeches, and that what the
problem here is, is that the story of Kashmir is a long and sad one, and
that it is a conflict that has been -- and I'll just say what I said in my
speech -- that has been fundamentally transformed, because nations cannot,
must not attempt to change borders or zones of occupation through armed
force.  And now that they have exploded nuclear devices, India and Pakistan
have all the more reason to avoid armed conflict and to restart
discussions.

     So I think that our position is the same.  The President has made
quite clear, and I'll say it again, that it's very important to respect the
line of control, show restraint, renew the dialogue, and not try to solve
this militarily.

     Q    Back to the nonproliferation question.  Before you left
Washington and before the President left Washington, you both said that you
will sort of press India on the nonproliferation issue and, even though
it's not going to be held hostage, that some sort of resolution of this
issue is essential for improved relations.  The Indians are sort of
spinning that there has been a come-down in the U.S. position with regard
to nonproliferation.  Has there been a come-down, or are the benchmarks
still sort of mandatory, and the criteria for the resolution, and some sort
of modus vivendi between Washington and New Delhi?

     SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:  Well, let me put it into context.  Obviously, the
nonproliferation issue is very important, and we have said that it's
difficult for the relationship in the long run if we are not able to
resolve it.

     But what I believe that this visit of the President's has done is to
make clear the depth and breadth of our relationship with India.  What he
wanted to do by coming here almost a quarter of a century after the last
President had been here was to talk about the fact that there was a huge
and varied relationship that we can have with the world's largest
democracy, and that we ought to be talking about issues that are beyond and
around the nonproliferation issue -- about science and technology.

     I signed an agreement on that today.  We're going to be having a
scientific counselor at the Embassy again.  We're talking about
environmental issues.  We're talking about HIV/AIDS.  We're talking about
the huge business opportunities here in India -- the very large -- the
highly educated population of Indian Americans -- a whole host of other
issues.

     So that I think that what this trip has done is not change in any way
the way we feel about the nonproliferation issue.  And the President was
very clear about our position on it and that work has to continue on it.
But I think what we've seen here and I hope that the Indians have seen is
that our subjects of discussion are very large and very important, that we
want to have -- and I think the real world the President kept using over
and over again is a respectful relationship with India; that we are two
huge democracies that need to respect each other, and because we do, be
able to tackle the tough problems -- and nonproliferation is certainly one
of them.

     Q    The Prime Minister said today, he laid the blame for these
killings squarely on Islamabad.  One, does the United States blame Pakistan
for these killings?  Does the United States hold Pakistan responsible for
those killings?  And, two, the President said that he could not expect the
dialogue to move forward unless there was an absence of violence.  Does
that not give the enemies of peace an effective veto over the peace
process?

     SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:  Well, first of all, it's very -- we don't know
where this happened and at this stage have no further information on it.
And what the President has said is that the parties themselves have to
begin the dialogue.  They are the ones that have to decide when -- he did
not come here in order to mediate it, but he did say that there had to be a
dialogue and a solution to this -- a renewal of dialogue and a solution to
this through diplomatic means.  But the parties themselves are the ones
that have to make those decisions.

     Q    Madam Secretary, can you say that with the presidential visit
here to India after 22 years, that a new chapter has been written in
India-U.S. relations now?  What can you -- how can you describe today
India-U.S. relations, and tomorrow after you leave from here for
Washington?

     SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:  Well, first of all, I do hope that we can all say
that there was the beginning of a new chapter; that, by President Clinton
coming here and having the types of meetings that he's having and his
intensive, really intensive look at all of the aspects of India, or as many
as he can possibly fit in, show a whole new way, approach and, as I said, a
respect for India's culture and history and India's democracy.

     I hope that as we leave, that the message will be one that would show
that America sees huge opportunities for increasing our relationship and
dialogue and, at the same time, that we do what we normally do, which is
that the United States is a country that tells it like it is -- when we
have problems with our friends, we let them know.  And that is what the
President did here.  We are able to praise the good things and make a point
of saying that certain areas need improvement.

     And I hope that the Indian people will see the President's trip as a
way of opening a relationship that has been long overdue, and that the
oldest democracy and the largest democracy have a great deal in common.

     MR. LOCKHART:  Okay, we'll take one more here.  George?  George?
We'll take one more.

     Q    Madam Secretary, following up on Susan's question to you, and
Terry's to the President earlier, did you hear anything at all from the
Prime Minister or other Indian officials that has you and the President no
longer feeling that this is one of the most dangerous regions in the world,
and the possibility of war is a very real one?

     SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:  Well, I think we continue, obviously, to be
concerned about what is going on in the region.  All one has to do is to
read.  However, I think that the President was encouraged by the fact that
he had a good discussion with the Prime Minister about various aspects of
the problem, and that there were the possibilities of resolving it in
peaceful ways.  After all, this was a Prime Minister who went to Lahore.

     And I think that the President listened carefully.  But again, he has
no illusions about the difficulties of the problem.  The Kashmir problem
has gone on a long time, and the events overnight were very difficult, and
clearly exacerbate the situation.  And the nonproliferation problems are
real.

     On the other hand, I think that the President felt that having the
kind of discussion that he had with the Prime Minister and the other
discussions that he will have, at least make clear to all those that have
listened to him and all the things that he's heard, that he believes that
there is a way to solve this through diplomacy and not through military
means.

     MR. LOCKHART:  Thank you.  Thank you.

     SECRETARY ALBRIGHT:  Thank you.

     END  6:00 P.M. (L)