June 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India
Pak yet to respond: Advani
Washington, June 10
After the meeting, Mr Advani said the relationship between the two countries was not merely a “marriage of convenience but that of strategic importance” to the two countries. Mr Bush was appreciative of the initiatives taken by Mr Vajpayee and he hoped that Pakistan would respond positively. In fact, the kind of relationship between India and the USA was purposely reflected in the National Security Strategy document of the USA prepared in September last year.
“The relationship between India and America is moving in the right direction, as is apparent in the co-ordination and co-operation the two have in the field of defence, in respect of terrorism and sharing of intelligence information”, he added.
Mr Advani was at a meeting with the US National Security Adviser, Ms Condoleezza Rice, when Mr Bush walked in and stayed on for 30 minutes.
To specific questions if cross-border terrorism was discussed and if opening of dialogue was at the initiative of the USA, Mr Advani said: “We did express our concern but not anything specific. Pakistan’s response to India’s gesture has to be judged from the response in the field. Ours is a large democracy and we have to ensure security of our country on our own”.
Mr Bush reportedly informed Mr Advani that he would take up the concern expressed by India with Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, who is visiting the US later this month. He is scheduled to meet the President at Camp David.
On sending Indian troops to Iraq, as requested by the USA, Mr Advani said the matter had been discussed by the Cabinet Committee on Security and there were certain objections and clarifications that India had sought from the USA. A team from Pentagon would be visiting New Delhi on Monday next to hold talks and respond to the querries put by India.
India and the USA have shared intelligence information in the past and will continue to do so in future too. “We have handed over some papers to the US. My Director of Intelligence Bureau, Mr K P Singh, is with me and this issue was also discussed with the Attorney-General, Mr John Ashcroft”, earlier in the day. Asked if there were any differences between the meetings he had with Mr Ashcroft and Ms Rice, the Deputy Prime Minister replied that the talks with the two officials were “complimentary” to each other. In fact, the matters of defence co-operation between the two countries were earlier discussed with the Secretary of Defence, Mr Donald Rumsfeld, on Sunday.
The common refrain over the talks Mr Advani has had here since Sunday is that even if there was US “pressure” on India for talks and the goodwill gesture of Mr Vajpayee was at the instance of Mr Bush, the Deputy Prime Minister had not “succumbed” to any such pressure. He had explained at length his perception and how India viewed cross-border terrorism, as there was not much difference in the ground realities since the January 2002 visit of Mr Advani here. He had visited here then at the invitation of Mr Ashcroft and discussed terrorism and internal security. Today, he not only extended his invitation to Mr Ashcroft but also gave him more documentary evidence to impress upon the USA that Pakistan was still not sincere in its efforts to contain Islamic fundamentalism, training militants and exporting terrorism.
Mr Advani today again extended an invitation to Mr Bush to visit India. Mr Vajpayee had also impressed on the US President to visit India. “I told the President that he should make the trip at the earliest, as later he will get lost in the election campaigns”.
Besides Mr Advani those who attended meeting included Home Secretary, R.N. Gopalaswami, IB Director, K.P. Singh, Secretary, Deepak Chopra, OSD Ajay Prasad, the Ambassadors of India and the USA, Mr Lalit Mansingh and Mr Blackwill, respectively.
During the day, Mr Advani had a meeting with the US “think tank” at the residence of the Ambassador, Mr Lalit Mansingh, where scholars and experts from Brookings Institution, Woodrow Wilson Centre, Centre for Strategic and International Studies and the Centre for International Policy etc., had an interactive session. Mr Advani is reported to have explained to the group India’s perspective of the geo-political scene with focus on Pakistan’s state policy to terrorism. In this context he remarked that one who burns his lips with milk even takes buttermilk after carefully blowing into it.
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