Statements by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee
Moderator: Ladies and Gentleman of the Press. Namaskar. We present you the honorable Defense Secretary of the United States and honorable Defense Minister of India. Honorable Defense Minister of India will make an opening statement.
Mr. Mukherjee: In fact, Ladies and Gentleman of the press I am just going to say literally two words to welcome Secretary Rumsfeld. This is his first visit after President Bush has been re-elected with a substantial popular mandate. We welcome his visit. We had very useful discussions of mutual interests but because of the paucity of time we would not have time to interact with you and he will make just opening remarks and thereafter we shall have to allow him to leave. Mr. Secretary.
Mr. Rumsfeld: Thank you so very much Mr. Minister. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be here and have an opportunity to meet with the Minister of Defense. I should point out that one of the first things that I did when I became Secretary of Defense four years ago was to meet with the representative of the Indian Government to express my conviction that it was important that our two countries developed a stronger and stronger cooperative relationship over the past four years. We have been working to do that. We have had numerous discussions and exercises and exchanges of various types. The military to military and defense-to-defense relationship is a strong one and something that we intend to see is further knitted together as we go forward in the months and years ahead. As you know, I was in Afghanistan for the inauguration of the first popularly elected President in the history of that country and I wanted to take the opportunity to come over and meet personally with the Minister of Defense of the world’s greatest democracy and the largest democracy. We have had excellent discussions this morning. As the Minister says we have run over our time by a good segment. But we have discussed all of the kinds of things that are important to our two ministries and I thank you so very much for your warm hospitality and look forward to other opportunities to meet. I have invited the Minister to come to the United States where we can have additional and more leisurely discussions. Thank you very much.