Pres. Clinton's visit to India

Topic started by Mani M. Manivannan on Thu Feb 17 15:19:56 .
All times in EST +10:30 for IST.


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release February 16, 2000


The East Room

2:25 P.M. EST

Q Mr. President, next month you're going on a trip to India
and Bangladesh, but not Pakistan. What can Pakistan's military rulers do
to get you to reconsider?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I haven't decided whether I'm
going to Pakistan, or not. I have decided that I am going to India and
Bangladesh, and I will make a decision about whether to go based on what I
think will best serve our long-term interests in non-proliferation, in
trying to stop, particularly, the arms race, and trying to help to promote
stability, democracy and a resolution of the conflict between India and

I hope that my trip will serve to highlight to Americans the
importance of that region to us, and the very real danger that a conflict
between India and Pakistan not contained is one of the most significant
security threats to the interests of the United States in this new century
-- and, I might say, a tragic situation.

You know, we -- I think one of the reasons we've been able to
play a meaningful role in Northern Ireland is we have so many Irish
Americans here. I think one of the reasons we've been able to play a
meaningful role in the Middle East is we have a lot of Jewish Americans and
a lot of Arab Americans. I think we forget that among all the some-200
ethnic groups that we have in our country, Indian Americans and Pakistani
Americans have been among the most successful in terms of education level
and income level. They have worked and succeeded stunningly well in the
United States and, astonishingly maybe, had good contacts with one another.

And I think the United States should be more involved there, even
though I think that they'll have to work out this business of Kashmir
between themselves. Unless we were asked by both parties to help, we can't
get involved. We've been -- in every other case we're involved, it's
because both parties have asked us to be involved.

But I will make a decision about where to go and what to do based
on what I think will further our long-term goals. And I have not reached a
final decision.

Q Mr. President, I would like to follow up on Steve Holland's
question. You said that it's up to India and Pakistan to settle the issue
of Kashmir and that they have not asked the U.S. to help mediate that
dispute. If India and Pakistan both ask the United States to get involved
to try to help mediate the issue of Kashmir, would the United States be
willing to do that?

THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely. I would. Why? For the same reason
we've been involved in Northern Ireland and the Middle East. Because,
number one and most importantly, it is a hugely important area of the
world. If the tensions between India and Pakistan on the Indian
subcontinent could be resolved, it is my opinion, based on my personal
experience with people from India, people from Pakistan and people from
Bangladesh, that the Indian subcontinent might very well be the great
success story of the next 50 years.

You're talking about people who are basically immensely talented,
have a strong work ethic, a deep devotion to their faith and to their
families. There is nothing they couldn't do. And it is heartbreaking to me
to see how much they hold each other back by being trapped in yesterday's
conflicts -- number one.

Number two, like Northern Ireland and the Middle East, this
country has been deeply enriched by people from the Indian subcontinent,
and I think we might be, because of our population, in a position to make a
constructive contribution. But if they don't want us, it won't be doing
any good; we'd just be out there talking into the air. And I'm not in for


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