Index

September 13, 2000



State Department Foreign Press Center Background Briefing

Subject:  State Visit of Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Attributable to Senior U.S. Officials

Location: The Foreign Press Center, Washington, DC



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: Let me just begin with calling attention to
something that -- two things that have taken place today. One, a
resolution was passed, House Resolution 572, by a voice vote,
welcoming the prime minister to the United States for this visit, and
expressing the sense of the House that it is in the interest of both
countries to expand and strengthen relations, intensify bilateral
cooperation on a whole broad range of issues. And we were very pleased
to see that welcoming House Resolution adopted.


Q:  Who sponsored it?



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: The chief sponsors were Mr. Gilman and Mr.
Gejdenson, and I think there were 23 co-sponsors. I do not have that
list. But anyway, that is an event that took place today. And, of
course, that is very appropriate since tomorrow the prime minister
will be speaking to a joint meeting of the House and the Senate.


Secondly, the prime minister has arrived. He arrived at 2:30 this
afternoon at Andrews. There was a welcoming committee of myself and
Ambassador Celeste and our Chief of Protocol Mary Mel French; other
officials from the State Department. And then he went to Blair House
where he had his arrival ceremony with the national anthems of the two
countries played, and he is at Blair House now.


Tomorrow he will address a Joint Session of Congress, and he will meet
with leaders of the House and the Senate. He'll be going back and
forth, the Senate and House side.


[Senior U.S. official] was just out at National Airport welcoming
External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, who came down separately.


So tomorrow there will be -- it will really be a congressional day for
the prime minister. And we can get you more detailed information on
that. I'll leave that to (name of background briefer deleted) to give
you, recognizing there's always some little slippage, you know, from
meeting to meeting, but we will get you what we can.


And on Friday morning he will have his official arrival at the White
House on the South Lawn -- arrival ceremony; brief remarks at the
White House. There will be the reception, then there will be a
restricted meeting between the two leaders, then there'll be an
expanded meeting. And then there will be a luncheon at the Department
of State, hosted by Vice President Gore. I think you all know that by
now. There'll be a joint press conference in the afternoon. That
evening there will be a dinner for the prime minister by the National
Association of Manufacturers.


On Saturday, he will dedicate the new Gandhi Memorial, and he'll
attend receptions in his honor here in Washington. And on Sunday
evening, he will be hosted by the President and Mrs. Clinton at a
White House dinner. It will be the last official dinner of the
president's presidency, so there's a great deal of poignancy there.
And he is -- the prime minister will leave later that evening and
depart from Andrews Air Force Base.


So it's a very full schedule and, clearly, we are delighted that he's
here and that he's making this visit.


Now, let me mention a couple of things that we expect from the visit.


I'm going to ask [senior U.S. official] to discuss that from the
President and White House standpoint. But let me just mention a couple
of things very quickly.


Something -- and I'm going to steal a line, if you will, from Sandy
Berger, when he said, after the visit in March, that what the
President did in India was to change the terms of reference of our
relationship with India. The terms of reference have changed. And I
was reading in the press clips today a couple of other comments that
were made; one at the Brookings Institution, at the press briefing
there, where Richard Haass, who I think will be one of those think
tank people -- I didn't mention this, but the prime minister will have
think tank people come to Blair House to talk with him. Richard Haass
says that the two countries are in the process of redefining their
post-Cold War relationship. That's another way to describe what we are
doing right now. And why this visit right now, what we're doing is to
-- and this is another comment by one of the experts -- is that we are
using diplomacy to further "institutionalize" this new U.S.-Indian
relationship.


So that's what we're doing. [Other senior U.S. official] will explain
it in terms of what we hope to accomplish with this visit, but those
are the things that we're doing; and quite frankly, those things could
not wait until next year or beyond. We wanted to seize the moment; to
capture the momentum that we had with the president's trip to India in
March, and to build on that during this administration and to see that
relationship strengthened, built upon, so that it would move into the
next administration and beyond.


Now, I'm going to do something -- I'm going to pass out something to
you which you might consider to be old news, but indeed, it is very
current. I'm going to pass this out to you. This is the joint
statement, the vision statement, issued after the -- or at the time
of, in March, the president's visit to New Delhi, that he and Prime
Minister Vajpayee signed. And I'm doing that because, not to test you
on its contents, because I'm sure you all know it very well, but to
emphasize the continuity between last March and this September,
between that vision statement and the institutional dialogue and what
we have been doing since, and what we hope to accomplish with this
visit.


The institutional dialogue is a way of describing how we will go about
achieving this vision of our relationship. And for those of you who --
I think many of you know most of this but probably not all of it.
Since March -- I just want to run through a quick list of those
things, which we have been doing that relate to the institutional
dialogue. Obviously the two leaders are meeting again. I don't think
that there has been a case in U.S.-India relations where that has
taken place -- two high-level meetings of this nature in the same
year.


We have had -- in terms of our foreign ministers, foreign policy
dialogue, we've had three different meetings of Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright with External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh; one
in Warsaw, one in -- at the ARF in July, and then, most recently, in
New York yesterday as part of the Community of Democracies Initiative.


We have had foreign office consultations -- another element of the
institutional dialogue. Undersecretary Pickering went to New Delhi in
May, and we just had the second round of those consultations between
Undersecretary Pickering and Foreign Secretary Mansingh at the end of
August and beginning of September. The counterterrorism working group
first met in New Delhi in April, and Ambassador Sheehan will lead the
delegation to India in September, later in September.


The coordinating group on economic dialogue: now, this is very
important because economics and commerce investments will be a
centerpiece of this visit. This coordinating group as spelled out in
the institutional dialogue was to be handled by the White House on our
side and the prime minister's office on the Indian side. That has
meant our director for the National Economic Council Gene Sperling,
and on the Indian side Principal Secretary Brajesh Mishra and very
ably assisted by N.K. Singh. Gene Sperling traveled to New Delhi
within the last 10 days. And under that coordinating group, the
various other elements of our economic relationship -- the financial
economic forum, the commercial dialogue, and the working group on
trade -- are proceeding, and there will be meetings here in Washington
of our ministers dealing with those issues.


We have also had our meeting on the joint consultative group on clean
energy and the environment. The science and technology forum, which
was referred to in the institutional dialogue, was formally launched
in New Delhi on July 20th. And the first forum meeting will probably
be held in November.


All of those elements relate to the institutional dialogue. And I may
be a little bit tedious, but I'm trying to let you know that we are
proceeding, and we think at a very important pace, of putting that
institutional dialogue into effect.


Other events, meetings, agreements since the president was there,
there was the visit of FBI Director Louis Freeh. As you know, a legal
attache office has been established in New Delhi, something that we
had long discussed with Indian governments and now have accomplished.
There has been a meeting here in Washington of Secretary Shalala from
Health and Human Services with her counterpart to sign an agreement on
a variety of health issues, including cooperation on HIV-AIDS. We're
moving forward on a mutual legal assistance treaty. Those negotiations
have not completed, but you'll see reference to that when we report on
the outcome of this summit meeting. We had a joint licit opium poppy
survey agreement that has been signed. This was done in June. For
those working in the service of our government, there was a spousal
work agreement signed. The GLOBE agreement, which is Global Learning
and Observation to Benefit the Environment, an environmental
agreement, has been signed by the Indian government on August 25th;
something, I might add, that the vice president has been very deeply
involved in. So I'm sure he is quite gratified by that.


So those are the things that we have been doing on a whole range of
issues. And you remember, we have been saying consistently that we
wanted to have a broad-based relationship with the Indian government.
I don't think anything could underscore that point more dramatically
than to -- I've just given you that list of those meetings and things
that we have done since March. And we are going to continue that up
through and including this visit and to the end of this
administration. And we are convinced that the next administration will
build upon them.


Now, what I'd like to do is now turn to [senior U.S. official] to
discuss what we hope to accomplish on this visit. And then I think we
can go to questions and answers, although after this perhaps, [other
senior U.S. official], if you have any comments, and if there's
anything that you want to say --


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: I will be brief, because I know you want to get to
your questions. And [senior U.S. official] has covered much of the
ground already.


But let me say in simple terms the president is very excited about
this visit. And he's very excited because he sees this as the
culmination of a process, which he's been working on for eight years.
From his first election, and particularly since his reelection he has
wanted to change the terms of reference between the United States and
India to find a whole new paradigm for this relationship to take place
in. The message he is giving to his team and to the American people --
and I think you heard that message when he was in India -- is that on
virtually every issue that matters to Americans when they think about
their foreign policies in the 21st century, India is already an
important player and will be an even more important player as the
century begins, whether it's global peace to global warming to the
eradication of poverty to fighting AIDS. Whatever it is, India is
today a big part and will be an even bigger part. And the relationship
between the United States and India must be broad enough and deep
enough to allow all of that to happen.


He is particularly excited to have the opportunity in one year to have
reciprocal visits, which is quite unusual. It is a first in the
U.S.-Indian relationship. It puts a dramatic end to the 22-year
drought before of a president going to India. We didn't have as long a
drought in prime ministers coming here, but I think that drought is
now soaked thoroughly. It's also a way of helping to further the
institutionalization of this process. You heard all the various
meetings at different levels, which have occurred.


There's another way, too, though, to look at the institutionalization
of this, which is that the president and the prime minister now pick
the phone up and call each other from time to time. Sandy Berger calls
his counterpart, Mr. Mishra, on a regular basis, and he talks, not
just about events of the day, but the direction of U.S.-Indian
relations. And for those of us who have followed U.S.-Indian relations
for the last four decades, that's a sea change, and a sea change in
the right direction.


In addition to finalizing some economic agreements, which Gene
Sperling started, and we which we hope will be finished up in the next
day or so, and to taking kind of a temperature check on how well these
other institutional engagements have gone, I think the bulk of the
discussion between the two leaders will be focused around the same
kind of issues that were focused on when the president went to New
Delhi. There'll be, I'm sure, a review of key global trends; what's
going on not just in South Asia, but globally; results of meetings
like the Millennium Summit, the Community of Democracies; events and
trends in China, in Russia, in the Middle East -- they will cover all
of those things, at least in brief terms.


They will discuss the common concerns we have about fighting
terrorism. And the president, I think, has gone out of his way this
year on a number of occasions to underscore his sympathy and support
for India in its struggle against terrorism, whether it's hijackings
to Kandahar, or whatever.


They will talk about the political dynamics on the South Asian
subcontinent.


I think the president's position on these issues is well known to you
from what he said in India, and what he's repeated in a recent
interview. The main thrust of it will be how do we get this
relationship going not only to the stage it is now, but to even bigger
and more important stages.


And I want to highlight here the involvement of two other players.
Both the first lady and the vice president, as you know, are engaged
in very intense political campaigns. And yet both of them have found
it very important to take time from a very hectic political schedule
to be here and to be a part of this and to give their own stamp of
endorsement and support for this paradigm change, for this change in
the terms of reference.


The Vice President does not normally host luncheons of this caliber --
usually the Secretary of State has that honor -- but he felt in this
case it was particularly important that he be there. And as [senior
U.S. official] also pointed out, this will be, barring last minute
changes, which we are known for, the last official dinner hosted by
the first lady at the White House.


And I would leave it there and take your questions.  



Q: May I ask you one question that you did not address, and that is
the prime minister, in his speech to the Asia Society, he pointed out
that sanctions -- (inaudible) -- kind of natural alliance we want to
establish with you in the United States. He especially mentioned that
in his Asia Society speech. I was wondering what you can say will be
the issue of sanctions? Will there be any good-faith (vita ?) spoken
about consolidation, institutionalization, et cetera? Will there be a
sort of a good-faith move all the sanctions, or most of it, will be
lifted as sort of a sign of this modus vivendi that's taking place?


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: I think that clearly, we are searching, as I
mentioned, for a broad-based relationship, and I think that we have
demonstrated in our remarks that we have now reached that point. In a
broad-based relationship, that does not mean that all issues are in
agreement or that all differences have been resolved, and clearly, the
issues relating to our security and nonproliferation agenda and the
restrictions on our relationship through the remaining sanctions,
these are things that we will continue to address, and they will
certainly come up in the discussions that we have. But they will be
part of a large agenda, but they will certainly be addressed.


We had hoped that there would have been more progress on the issue of
CTBT. We had hoped that it would have been possible to address CTBT in
the last session of the Parliament, and it has offered, again, that
that will take place at the earliest possibility.


We will continue to discuss these matters. I feel quite confident that
these will be discussed in the joint statement that will be issued.
I'll talk about the joint statement again in a moment, to let you know
what to expect there at the end of the visit. And we have said that
until we do make more progress on our nonproliferation agenda that our
relationship will not reach its full potential, and the Indian
government is quite aware of that. So this is in the category of "work
in progress."


Q: So, bottom line, there won't be a lifting of sanctions during this
visit?


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: I think that most of you know, but let me just make
sure you do know, that since the sanctions, when American sanctions
were imposed in May of 1998, that the president has waived a number of
these sanctions under the authorities that he has received from
Congress. Since that time, there have been a number of waivers issued
allowing resumption of OPIC investment insurance, programs of the
Trade and Development Agency, Export-Import Bank, IMF, the
International Military Education and Training, U.S. commercial bank
lending to the Indian government, USDA agricultural credit guarantees,
a number of environmental and conservation programs; and, prior to the
president's visit to India in March, the president waived sanctions,
allowing us to pursue a number of economic and environmental programs,
including the Financial Institution Reform and Expansion Program --
the so-called FIRE program. So a number of steps have been taken in
this regard.


And as a practical matter, those remaining restrictions are in the
area of our military relations, specifically a prohibition on direct
military sales, licenses for munition list exports. We do continue to
have a multilateral restriction on non-basic human needs lending by
international financial institutions. But that should give you a
better sense of actually where we are on that.


And as you have heard me say on a number of occasions, our desire is
to move to a sanctions-free relationship. We do not like sanctions and
restrictions any more than the Indian government, and we believe we
are headed in that direction. We're not there yet, but we're headed in
that direction. And I believe that we now have the type of
relationship, one that is mature enough, that we can accomplish that
over time. And I think this visit will contribute to that, that
ongoing effort.


So I'm optimistic about this, and I think that -- I mean, as you will
see in the congressional resolution, there is a reference there to the
question of remaining restrictions. I'll just read you what it says.
"Resolved: that the United States should consider removing existing
unilateral legislative and administrative measures, imposed against
India, which prevent the normalization of U.S.-Indian bilateral
economic and trade relations."


Well, I can guarantee you that we are looking at what we can do in
that regard.


Q:  Not to --



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: And we're making progress.



Q:  Not to belabor the point, but --



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL:  But still --



Q: Yeah. Well, Senator Brownback, you know, he's had the Brownback I,
II, and almost III and IV, he's raised --


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL:  And he --



Q: And he has been very disappointed, and he said that he hoped that
when the president visited India in March, that the sanctions would be
lifted. And this is something he has been hammering away at. And he's
been talking about the fact --


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL:  No, no --



Q: -- that I hope that when he comes -- when Prime Minister Vajpayee
comes, that they will be lifted.


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: Well, we have a difference with Senator Brownback
on this matter, not in the objective or goal; we too want to see
sanctions lifted. So we are in agreement in principle. The question is
how we get there.


We do believe that it is important to make progress on a
nonproliferation agenda. And as we do that, we will reach that
objective.


And I do want to emphasize, on the issue of CTBT, what we most want to
see is a decision taken by India because it is in India's interest to
see no further testing by any nation in the world. That's the key
issue. It's not whether or not we have ratified. We had a setback in
that regard, but it's one we intend to address again in the future.
But the signing of CTBT is a decision -- as the president said when he
was in New Delhi, this is a question for India to decide. And we
believe that the right answer is to sign because it's in India's
interest to see no further testing.


And we would like to see India join us and the other almost 160
nations that have signed that treaty, because we believe that's a side
of this issue that India should be a part of and to play a leadership
role. We hope that India will reach that decision as soon as possible,
and we will certainly encourage Prime Minister Vajpayee and Foreign
Minister Singh and others to continue their efforts to develop a
national consensus that would allow a CTBT signature.


But this will not -- I saw -- there was one reference on CTBT, that we
are "fixated" by this issue. This is a part of our agenda, but we have
a large agenda. Okay.


And could I ask if -- (to colleague) -- do you want to add anything?



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: The only thing I would add is that this
relationship has matured enough in the last two years that we can
continue to agree to disagree about some important issues, while
looking for a way to agree, and still get on with other parts of the
agenda.


Q: To what extent -- (inaudible) -- the security situation in South
Asia, the situation in Kashmir, and the absence of any (inaudible
word) dialogue between India and Pakistan will figure in the talks
between the two leaders?


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: Well, this certainly will be a subject that they
discuss, just as they discussed it in New Delhi last March. We would
like to see an improvement in the situation. I think the president
laid out our basic principles.


I was struck today to read -- no, I don't read just the Hindustan
Times -- in Reuters, the head of the Indian Army, General Malik,
saying that ultimately Kashmir has to have a political solution and
that the only way this problem can be resolved is through a political
solution. That's certainly the principle that the president was
enunciating. We have been encouraged by some of the moves that have
happened over the course of the last several months. I think the prime
minister's decision to release some prisoners and the enthusiasm with
which he greeted the cease-fire initiative by the HM.


But we still realize, I think all of us, that there's quite a distance
to go; that we are not there yet; that we continue to need to see
respect for the line of control, restraint, renunciation of violence,
creation of an atmosphere in which dialogue can go forward.


I'm sure that the president will want to hear what the prime
minister's assessment of the situation is, and want to hear now he
thinks he is going to move forward. He's taken some significant
political risks over the last several years: going to Lahore,
exercising restraint -- (inaudible), exercising restraint on a number
of occasions, including the first of August. And I know that the
president would want to encourage him in what he's done, and probably
share with him some of his thoughts.


The president has a lot of experience in trying to find political
paths forward on very difficult issues like this. And certainly one of
the things we have learned over the last several years is that you've
got to expect setbacks on the road. But you cannot let those setbacks
keep you from trying to find a way forward. And I think they will have
a good discussion on that.


Q: (Inaudible) -- in relation to Kashmir also due to, as I well
remember, respect for the wishes of the people of Kashmir?


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL:  That's correct.  Yes.



Q: According to the reports, China is still continuing selling arms or
supporting Pakistan, the military dictator there, and terrorism is on
the rise, cross-border terrorism, that he -- (inaudible) -- talk in
New York at the U.N., and also at the Asia Society, that cross-border
terrorism must stop. And China supports Pakistan. Now, there are not
sanctions against China or against -- I mean further, and there are
still sanctions against India; I mean, why not sanctions against
China?


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: That's a factually inaccurate statement. There are
sanctions on China, and I think that our colleagues in
nonproliferation, Mr. Einhorn, can spell those out. There have been
sanctions placed against China for many technology transfer issues.
And again, since I am -- (comments on briefer's identity not
transcribed) -- and not EAP Asian Assistant Secretary, I will let them
and Mr. Einhorn do that. But we can get you that information.


But on the issue of continued concerns of the U.S. government with
respect to transfers and missiles and the rest, this was -- and I saw
a report in the New York Times -- one of the subjects that the
president, in his meeting with Jiang Zemin did raise.


So we're aware of these concerns. We're certainly aware of the
concerns of the Indian government about the level of violence in
Kashmir, and it is something that we have raised directly with the
authorities in Pakistan and -- with the purpose of saying that for a
dialogue to begin, we do believe that more positive conditions on the
ground must be created.


Now, one will have to be realistic in assessing that situation on the
ground, but if there's movement in the right direction, if it is
creating that favorable environment which would indicate seriousness
and sincerity in what the sides are doing, then we would hope that
would lead to a resumption of dialogue.


Q: Are you implying that the fact that the desired atmosphere is not
being created is for any -- because Pakistan is not doing enough? Are
you saying that there is violence on the ground because this violence
emanates from Pakistan? Is that what you're saying? I mean, that's
what I understood you to say, to be saying, that -- (inaudible) --
emanates from Pakistan.


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: It is not so much for us to determine whether or
not enough has been done. It's very much for the parties themselves to
determine. Clearly, the Indian government does not feel that there has
been enough improvement on the ground to justify a return to dialogue
after the great disappointment of Kargil. So we will continue to
encourage. We do believe that Pakistan has a role to play in the -- in
lowering the level of activity around the Line of Control. Clearly,
the cross-border shelling is an example of that. We think that that is
important, to see that reduced. And we believe that Pakistan has
influence, which it can use.


Now, clearly there are groups operating in Kashmir that are almost
certainly beyond the control of any single government or entity, but
again, we believe that Pakistan has an important role to play here,
and we have urged it in virtually every way, through public statements
as well as through confidential channels, to use that influence. We
think that both sides have steps they could take to create that more
positive environment. And that's why, as (briefer name deleted)
mentioned, the release of certain Kashmiri prisoners, and the positive
response by the Indian government to the Hiz-bul Mujaheddin cease-fire
offer, and the steps then taken by the Indian government were
important ones. But we remain concerned about the situation in Kashmir
itself, and indeed, we remain concerned about the tragedy of the
Kashmiri people. At some point, that will have to be addressed, and we
hope it can be sooner rather than later.


Q: Since we always talk of the president's legacy, and since we're on
background, can you let your guard down for a moment and talk a little
informally about what you feel about your legacy? This whole thing has
happened right towards the tag end of -- the tail end of the second
term of the present administration. I don't think -- I don't know if
either of you or the ambassador will be in a Gore or a -- a Gore
administration, certainly not in a Bush administration.


Q: Got a great resume!  (Laughter.)



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: I think he's saying we're has-been -- (inaudible
word). (Laughter and off-mike banter.)


Q: But really, I mean, [senior U.S. official], I think, has been in
this area for years now.


Q:  And you certainly have good references in -- (off mike).



Q:  We'd like to hear on, you know, on background, how you feel.



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: I don't know about [senior U.S. official], but I
don't think the final chapter has been written yet on this
administration's involvement. I wouldn't mind responding to that at
some point, but we're not there yet. We still have more work to do.
You don't see any lame ducks walking around here. (Laughter.) And I
can assure you that there isn't a lame duck, despite the references,
in the White House; that the eagle will continue to soar until his
last day in office. And we will do what we can to help that. So -- did
you like that? (Laughter.)


Q:  Is it a walking duck?



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL:  No.  It's an eagle.  A soaring eagle.



Q:  That quacks like a duck.



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: But I will say, just in that regard, there is no
question that one must take into account that there is less time left
in this administration now to accomplish all that the president and we
would like to have accomplished in South Asia. I think there have been
some rather remarkable advances in U.S. policy in the region, some
enormously interesting and important things have occurred during this
last three years, and I think that they have fundamentally altered our
approach to the region. But I think that we have time left, with this
trip and possibly some other trips that we are looking at before
January 20th. So let's do the legacy --


Q:  Don't write them off.  (Laughter.)



Q:  Yeah.



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL:  Don't write us off.



Q:  Plenty more copy.  Plenty more copy.



Q: I assume the Secretary may be going there later in the year, I'm
told.


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: I would not make the assumption, but that's under
consideration. That's under consideration, as are other cabinet level
visitors.


And let me broaden this out. We have been talking here India-specific
because of the visit of the prime minister. This is a regional policy
as well. The president, of course, visited both Pakistan and
Bangladesh. There are other countries in the region that the secretary
has indicated an interest in visiting. So, you know, we're going to
continue this.


My hope, though, is that, quite frankly, that the -- going back to
what we were discussing a moment ago about regional tensions in
Kashmir and the rest, that the parties will be able to, if I can put
it this way, take advantage of President Clinton's presence and
experience, because he, I think more than any president in recent
memory, has engaged the region and the problems of the region and,
indeed, the opportunity of the region. I don't think any president can
equal that, and he wants to stay engaged until his last day in office.
And I hope that the parties will be able to take advantage of that.


Q: But didn't he leave South Asia to the last year of his second term
-- (inaudible) -- India, and tell us the difference between the first
term and -- (off mike).


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: Let me say this. First of all, I read in the
Washington Post this weekend that the chief of staff, Mr. Podesta, has
banned the use of the "L" word by any of us. (Laughter.) We won't
approach the "L" word.


Q:  "Lame" or "Legacy"?  (Laughter.)



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL:  Any "L" word.



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL:  Which is the "Legacy" word.



Q:  "Legacy"!  (Laughter.)



Q:  They've banned two words:  "L" and "D".  (Laughter.)



Q:  I think it's just --



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: As I said at the beginning, one of the goals this
president had from the day he was elected, but particularly in his
second term, was to change the nature of this relationship. And I
think he with the support of the very strong team - Ambassador Celeste
on the ground, [senior U.S. official] here and others have done that.
And it's a source of pride to him. And I for one felt a sense of
accomplishment coming in to work today and seeing the Indian flag all
over downtown D.C. We have changed this relationship, and we've
changed it in a better way, and it's a big deal. The two most
important democracies in the world and how they interact with each
other, how they deal with -- (audio drops) --


(Audio break)



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: (Continues) -- a solid enough foundation that it
will endure. Obviously none of us can speak for either Vice President
Gore or Governor Bush, but I think if you look at the words that they
themselves have used, at what many of their advisers, whether it's
Condee Rice or Leon Feurth, have said about this relationship, there
is no argument in this country now about going back in U.S.-Indian
relations. There is a bipartisan consensus about going forward.


Q: But isn't the problem really with Pakistan? For instance, they feel
that they are being left out of this entire dialogue that is going on
vis-a-vis South Asia. So when will the relationship with Pakistan also
improve? There I mean -- (inaudible) -- of an improvement in relations
with --


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL:  Can I say something on that, please?  



General Musharraf just said recently -- I saw this, it was in the Jang
newspaper, what, two days ago -- when asked whether U.S. priorities in
South Asia had changed and whether it had affected Pakistan, General
Musharraf admitted the fact that U.S. priorities had actually changed
in South Asia, namely that South Asia is a higher priority for the
United States. However, he said it absolutely did not mean that the
United States had marginalized Pakistan in any way. He said that the
U.S. is transforming its relations with India for the sake of its
bilateral interests, but he added Pakistan had not lost its
significance, either. We fully agree. He has done more to refute the
notion of tilt and marginalizing than we could possibly do.


General Musharraf has made it clear that he recognizes that the United
States will pursue its national interests, including its relationship
with India, including in the area that I mentioned earlier --
economic, commercial trade, which will be a highlight of his visit. He
recognizes that, but he also wants to make certain that it isn't a
choice or a zero-sum game here, and we totally agree. We do want to
improve our relations with Pakistan, we do want to maintain our
long-standing friendship with Pakistan. The president's visit there
was designed in part to reinforce that point, and we will continue to
deal at a high level with Pakistan. In fact, just the day before the
president sees the prime minister here, Secretary Albright will be
meeting with Foreign Minister Sattar in New York. So we believe that
General Musharraf's comments in this regard are right on the mark and
that -- (inaudible) -- not forgetting your other very large neighbor
in South Asia.


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be here before elections, following
up on that dialogue, which we will try to strengthen, make more
important, which will also be another way of underscoring the overall
change in the U.S. relationship with South Asia.


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: Let me do one last thing because I think -- I know
that [other senior U.S. official] has to get back to his office, and
so do I. We're going to be busy over the next few days.


We will have a joint statement issued at the end of the prime
minister's visit with President Clinton. I think we'll be doing this
on Friday, officially on Friday. We have a draft; can't pass it out --
(laughter) -- can't do that yet. It's supposed to be finalized.


Q: When will you be giving this joint statement? Can you give us the
mechanics? The joint press conference is going to be at 3:30 in the
afternoon on Friday?


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: Yeah. We normally issue these things at the
conclusion of the visit, probably after the press conference.


Q:  After the press conference?



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL:  There is no hard and fast rule on this.



Q: No, what I'm saying is, from the morning session up to the press
conference, what we can file will be just the opening remarks? Will
there be a background briefing at the White House after the talks,
after the one-on-one?


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL:  I'm sure there will be.  We usually have a --



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: Yeah, but I think we will let the leaders speak
first.


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: Oh, okay. I think this would be career enhancement
-- (laughter) -- to let our boss talk first!


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL: I just want to call attention to one very important
part of this visit, which I think has been referred to somewhat, but I
want to underscore the sort of the last comment. The joint statement,
by the way, will not try to recreate the wheel. We have already a
Vision Statement for the 21st Century and an institutional dialogue.
This will be in the nature of reaffirming the earlier statements, it
will be in the nature of calling attention to what has occurred since
March. It will highlight the prime minister's visit, the
accomplishments, which we look forward to going into with you in some
detail. This is not, as I think you know, fully understand, just a
goodwill visit; this has serious substance to it, and you will, I
think, probably know more than you would perhaps want to know about
that on Friday.


But it is also designed to do something very important, and this will
be referred to in the joint statement, where the leaders will pay
tribute to the contributions of the Indian American community in
providing a bridge of understanding between the two societies and in
strengthening the ties of commerce and culture between the two
countries. More will be said on that. But keep in mind that we do see
the enormous contributions being made by Indian Americans in this
country and, as it says, as a bridge between our two societies and, I
might expand upon that, the South Asian-American community. But these
Indian-Americans are showing in so many ways -- in commerce, in
culture, and in so many fashions, so many ways, how important they are
to our country and as a bridge. So that's going to be a focus. And
that, of course, will be something that will be highlighted at the
dinner that the president and Mrs. Clinton will host, also at the
luncheon that the Vice President will host. So this is an important
centerpiece.


SR. U.S. OFFICIAL:  Okay, thank you.



SR. U.S. OFFICIAL:  I have copies for you all of the schedule.