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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

President, Indian Prime Minister Address Press

Aired November 9, 2001 - 11:36   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Here is that interruption by the president and the Indian prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, on his visit to the White House. This certainly is a critical relationship that we are seeing between the United States and India. Pakistan is right in the middle of this as well. We have seen many times the dignitaries who make the trip to Central Asia, to Islamabad. It seems just about every time the leading dignitaries also go to Delhi to meet with the Indians, to make sure they are on the same page.

Here is the president.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Prime Minister, welcome to the United States.

It is my honor to welcome the prime minister of India to the White House for a series of discussions. My administration is committed to developing a fundamentally different relationship with India -- one based upon trust; one based upon mutual values. After all, the prime minister leads a nation that is the largest democratic nation in the world.

I look forward to working to foster ties that will help both our economies. Trade with India is going to be an important part of our growth in the future. India's got fantastic ability to grow because her greatest export is intelligence and brainpower, as our country has learned over the last decades.

We have lifted sanctions on India so that our relationship can prosper.

We will fight terrorism together. Our initial discussions focused on terror -- the battle against terror. And the prime minister understands that we have no option but to win.

And he understands that there is a commitment -- there needs to be a commitment by all of us to do more than just talk. It's to achieve certain objectives: to cut off the finances; to put diplomatic pressure on the terrorists; in some cases, to help military; but in any case, stand firm in the face of terror.

We also talked about the need to make sure humanitarian aid reaches those who hurt in Afghanistan. And we discussed a post- Taliban Afghanistan that enables the country to survive and move forward and one that represents all the interests of the people of Afghanistan.

Over lunch, I look forward to talking about a new joint cyber- terrorism initiative and a civilian space cooperation program as well as discussing our mutual concerns about energy and the ability to conserve it as well as to have plentiful supplies as we go into the future.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, I am extremely optimistic about our relationship.

It's an important relationship for our country, and I welcome you to the United States. Thank you for coming.

ATAL BEHARI VAJPAYEE, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA: Thank you, Mr. President, for your kind words. It is a pleasure to be here, to continue the practice of regular dialogue which India and the U.S.A. have established in recent years.

I was happy to be able to possibly reiterate our sympathy, solidarity and support for the American people in the aftermath of the terrible events of September 11.

We admire the decisive leadership of President Bush in the international coalition against terrorism. We also applaud the resilience and resolve of the American people in this area of trial.

This terrible tragedy has created the opportunity to fashion a determined global response to terrorism in all its form and manifestations, wherever it exists and under whatever name.

I assured President Bush of India's complete support in this. At the same time, as multi-religious, pluralist democracies, we should clearly spread the message that the war against terrorism is not against any religion but against terrorists whose propaganda misuses religion

President Bush and I had a very good conversation which we will continue over lunch.

In the last few months, there has been an intensive interaction between our two countries on a wide range of political subjects. We have moved forward on the dialogue architecture and on defense cooperation.

The resumption of the bilateral defense policy group should promote technical (ph) cooperation in defense and security.

The joint working group on counterterrorism has made good progress. And we have agreed to launch a joint cyber-terrorism initiative.

Economic and commercial relations are expanding. We've agreed to broaden the bilateral economic dialogue to include new areas of cooperation. Both of us agree that the synergies and complementarities between our two countries should be more fully exploited.

We discussed the urgent need for a political order in Afghanistan which will be broadbased and representative and friendly with all countries in its neighborhood. Equally important to sustain international assistance for rehabilitation and reconstruction work in that country. We agreed that India and the U.S.A. in partnership with other countries, will work toward these goals.

Today, the president and I continued face-to-face the dialogue which we have been conducting over the last 10 months on the phone and through letters.

It has been an extremely rewarding experience.

To sustain the momentum of the dialogue, I have reiterated to President Bush my invitation to visit India. I look forward to receiving him in New Delhi.

Thank you.

BUSH: The prime minister has agreed to take a couple of questions and so have I. I think I will start, Mr. Prime Minister, with Poigner (ph) the Associated Press man, I think.

QUESTION: Before meeting with you today, the prime minister told The Washington Post that the U.S. was not prepared for the war in Afghanistan, which he said was less than satisfactory and slacking. The Saudi foreign minister, who you are meeting with later today, told the New York Times that you can't be an honest broker in the Middle East peace process until you meet with Arafat. Is it helpful that your coalition members are airing their gripes in public? And what will you say to them about these charges face to face?

BUSH: Well, the prime minister and I had a very good discussion about the progress we're making on this particular part of the war against terror. He understands what I understand, that we're just only beginning to fight terrorism in Afghanistan. I assured him exactly what I've been assuring the American people, that I've got the patience necessary to achieve our objective in the Afghan theater, and that objective is to bring the Al Qaeda to justice and to make sure that Afghanistan has got a stable form of government after we leave.

I also told the prime minister that we're achieving our military objectives. This is a different kind of war. It's a war that matches high-technology weapons with people on horseback. It's a war in which the enemy thinks they can hide in caves and we'll forget about them. It's a war that's going to take a deliberate, systematic effort to achieve our objective.

And our nation has not only got the patience to achieve that objective, we've got the determination to achieve the objective. And we will achieve it.

I appreciate the candid discussions we have with our coalition partners. I think it's important that we have these discussions, and the prime minister and I had such a discussion. And I was glad to be able to make the case as to why we're going to be successful.

Having said all that, you know, all the newspapers stories and all that business, I will tell you, our coalition has never been stronger.

QUESTION: Mr. President...

BUSH: Excuse me for a minute, please.

The coalition has never been stronger. I'll make the case tomorrow at the United Nations that the time of sympathy is over.

We appreciate the condolences. Now is the time for action. Now is the time for coalition members to respond in their own way, and the prime minister of India understands that, and he is responding.

And the Saudi Arabian government understands that, and they are responding as well.

Mr. Prime Minister?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: This is a question for President Bush. Sir, why are there two laws in this world, one for America and one for the rest of us?

BUSH: Why is there -- excuse me -- two...

QUESTION: Two laws in this world, one for America and one for the rest of us. When terrorism hits America, you go halfway across the world and make war in Afghanistan. But when we suffer terrorism, you ask us to be restrained. Is an Indian life less precious than an American life?

BUSH: I think there's one universal law, and that's, terrorism is evil. And all of us must work to reject evil. Murder is evil, and we must reject murder.

When the terrorist attacks took place on October the 1st, I strongly condemned them, and I will continue to condemn them. And that's -- excuse me.

Our coalition is strong because leaders such as the prime minister fully understand that we must reject terrorism in all its form and murder and all its causes in order for the world to be peaceful.

(CROSSTALK)

BUSH: Excuse me, please, sir.

QUESTION: With the aviation security bill still languishing on the Hill, why won't you agree to making baggage screeners federal employees? What's the hold up here?

BUSH: I think that I've asked for the Senate and the House to come up with a plan that will work, that will not only make sure that, as we transition to a new system, that there is security for the American people, that in the long run there is security people. And I believe progress is being made.

Like yourself, or like your question implies, it would be nice to have had the bill done yesterday. But sometimes democracy doesn't work quite that fast.

But the negotiators are working hard to come up with a bill that I can sign. And I believe they will come up with a bill that I can sign.

He House had a version, the Senate had a version, and now they're reconciling their differences. I don't believe they're that far apart, nor did I believe they were that far apart when the process began.

And I think that, from what I'm told, progress is being made. and for that, I'm grateful.

Mr. Prime Minister?

QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, was India's concerns with cross- border terrorism specifically reflected in your talks with the American president? And have you achieved some headway in convincing him that countries that are part of the problem cannot be part of the solution?

VAJPAYEE: This question of cross-border terrorism has been engaging our attention in both the countries. Recently, a bomb attack was made on the legislative assembly of the Jammu (ph) in Kashmir.

Even Pakistan realized that it was a case of terrorism. We have to fight terrorism in all its forms. We have to win this battle against terrorism. There is no other option.

BUSH: That's the two-question limit. Thank you all for coming. Our food is getting cold. The prime minister is hungry and so am I.

Mr. Prime Minister, thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. President, when are you going to visit India?

BUSH: As soon as possible, I am going to India.

HEMMER: I didn't think they would take another question, and indeed they didn't. Atal Behari Vajpayee, there at the White House meeting with President Bush today. Off to lunch at this point. The president earlier said we have no option but to win.

At one point, a reporter asked if there is a double standard for U.S. reaction, the president saying there is ununiversal law with regard it terrorism: Terrorism is evil, in his words. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has standing by patiently at the White House and joins us now.

Secretary O'Neill, good morning to you.

PAUL O'NEILL, TREASURY SECRETARY: Very nice to be here. Thanks.

HEMMER: I understand you are about to have lunch with the president. What will you talk about? One assumes topic A, at this point, is the Senate committee yesterday that passed that economic stimulus package, one that went to $67 billion. The White House said hold the line at $40 billion. What's the stance now?

O'NEILL: Quickly, to respond to your opening, lunch today is with the president and the prime minister, so I'm sure we will talk about India and Indian economics and the Indian help in our fight against terrorism on every front, including financial.

With regard to the question about yesterday's action, the Senate Finance Committee, it's kind of, frankly, a pathetic spending bill. It's not responsive at all to what the president said we needed to do, which is to create 300,000 new jobs, which is what his proposal would do. I think it is not at all that Senate Finance Committee bill, passed on the straight party line vote, would produce any new jobs at all.

It provides new American money to buy more bison meat to put in warehouse, and to encourage conversion of poultry waste into energy. Some of these things may be useful to do but don't have anything to do with stimulating the economy.

HEMMER: There is some rather interesting reaction coming out of that Senate committee. Olympia Snowe, a Republican from Maine, sad she was disgusted by it. Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana, said, and I'm quoting now, "It's what business leader and economists tell us what they want, that will work for them. It hits the mark" -- his words. Is he off the mark?

O'NEILL: I don't know, buying bison meet and cauliflower and the rest of that -- if he can find an economist that says that is stimulus, I will invite him down to the White House and buy him a big lunch.

HEMMER: Tell us where is the compromise in all this, if it indeed you are $27 billion apart.

O'NEILL: We are going to get together. The president is prosecuting this war against terrorism, and it looks to me like at the Democratic Party leaders have decided to be percent with the president offshore and to play a conventional party politics at home. This is not the right thing to do. Getting our economy growing at a good rate is important to being able to prosecute the war overseas, so we need to get rid of bipartisanship, we need to get rid of this politics as usual, we need to give the president the $75 billion worth of real stimulus that he asked for, and we need to do it next week. HEMMER: We will watch it. Secretary of the treasury Paul O'Neill, enjoy lunch. Thanks for hanging out and being patient with us.

O'NEILL: Nice to be with you. Thank you.

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