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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Media Availability in Singapore

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
May 31, 2002

(Media availability in Singapore after bilateral meeting with Minister of Defense of India George Fernandes.)

Wolfowitz: I had a good meeting with Minister of Defense Fernandes. We share some of the same concerns on terrorism infiltration. Just let me say he is an impressive man, by the way, with a very impressive background. I knew some of it. I actually learned just now that he ran for Parliament in 1976 or '77 when he was in prison, chained in manacles and won the second largest electoral majority in political history. He is obviously an enormously courageous man with broad experience and without characterizing the details, he certainly gave an eloquent description of the problem as seen by India.

And I simply tried to emphasize our basic points that we share their concern about terrorism and infiltration. We believe terrorism is unacceptable, no matter what causes are said to justify it. But we also believe that a war would be somewhere between terrible and catastrophic and something that really must be avoided.

He confirms that they are making plans for Secretary Rumsfeld to be in India June 9th and of course, Richard Armitage would be going 6th and 7th to India and Pakistan. Maybe, it is just as well, I don't have a lot of time because I don't want to start stepping on their line.

This is extremely sensitive period obviously in U.S. international diplomacy with respect to South Asia. And I think I said to you folks earlier -- I believe this has the highest priority in the Bush Administration now, but it is not only our concerns, it should be the concern of every country in the region.

Q: Did you talk about anything else besides Pakistan?

Wolfowitz: No, we also talked about developing defense relationship between U.S. and India. I think very high level of satisfaction on both sides, and we are working together and cooperating with one another in a straight-forward way that is brand new and that serves the interests of both countries.

But the main subject was in fact the crisis between India and Pakistan. We also talked more generally about the region, about this conference. I was very pleased that he managed to come here in spite of the pressures he's under and expressed the same view. You heard me express that security in this Pacific region is critically important and conferences like this, even if this is a small contribution, it is important.

And I was very pleased he took the trouble to come because I think India has an important role to play in this larger scene. I also believe it is one more reason to work for peaceful resolution of the dispute between India and Pakistan because the more India gets mired into that conflict, the more they're going to be handicapped in playing a larger role. I think I better called it quits there because I am already a few minutes late. Singaporeans don't like lateness.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you talked about both India and Pakistan carrots and sticks. What carrots and sticks would/did you offer?

Wolfowitz: It is offering -- as I said I don't want to step on Armitage's line or Rumsfeld's. Thank you.

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