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Published:March 7th, 2006 07:12 EST
Interview With Kishore Ajwani, News Anchor and Deputy Executive Producer, Zee News

Interview With Kishore Ajwani, News Anchor and Deputy Executive Producer, Zee News

By SOP newswire

MR. AJWANI: The nuke deal is done and President Bush has himself said that he is not stuck in the past, however most people feel that as far as the India- U.S. relationship is concerned, this makes a big change but big changes bring along apprehensions. What does the U.S. get in the bargain? What more do you expect to see India doing on the Iran front?

SECRETARY RICE: The important thing is to look at the civil nuclear arrangement on its own terms because this arrangement " first and foremost " allows India to be a part of the international consensus about nuclear non-proliferation. India has an excellent non-proliferation record. And this now allows India to approach the International Atomic Energy Agency for India-specific safeguards for its civilian nuclear program. That should open the way for India`s ability to cooperate in the technologies that are developing rapidly on the nuclear side " technologies, by the way that should allow us to make reactors that are, developed of a by-product of plutonium, which then has proliferation risk for nuclear weapons. It should also help India into the world of civilian nuclear power for energy supply.

We all know that this is a rapidly growing economy. Everyone wants India`s economy to grow. But it`s very dependent on hydrocarbons, very dependent on energy sources that are scarce and that are very expensive. And so that`s really the purpose of this. But it takes place in the context of a new relationship between the United States and India, one that recognizes India`s emergence as a strategic partner, as a global partner, and we do look forward to global cooperation with India as the world`s largest democracy, to help promote peace and democracy and stability.

MR. AJWANI: I know that the Iran question is rather sensitive. Would you say that the gas pipeline proposal made this come faster, basically?

SECRETARY RICE: I don`t think it made this come faster. But it is just another sign of the importance of the diversification of energy supply. The United States faces the same problem that India does. We also have a growing economy. We also have an economy that is very dependent on hydrocarbons for our sources of energy. And we all know " as we`ve seen the spike in the price of oil over the last few years " that we need to find alternative energy supply. And so clean nuclear energy, which also has a good effect on the environment, this is very important. The President has made proposals that would allow countries to have civil nuclear power " all kinds of countries to have civil nuclear power " so this is something we`re very interested in, regardless of what happens with the gas pipeline.

MR. AJWANI: Does this mean that the U.S. accepts India`s expectations to have a credible nuclear deterrent?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, this is a sovereign Indian decision. But, of course, the United States continues to be an active party and defender of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the non-proliferation regime. This is about the future, about the ability of India to tap into the benefits of civilian nuclear energy, and the benefits that might come technologically for the world from India`s participation.

MR. AJWANI: The President next goes to Pakistan. Given that you think General Musharraf is America`s best bet in Pakistan, what more do you expect from him in the war against terror?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, General Musharraf has been a tremendous ally in the war on terror since September 11. We need to remind ourselves that he himself has been the target of Al Qaeda assassins multiple times. Pakistan was a country that was becoming infiltrated by extremists after the Afghanistan events, of the fall of Afghanistan. And so, he has been a very good partner, and Pakistan has been a very good partner.

We obviously all must fight the war on terror more robustly. We are working with President Musharraf to -- those areas of Pakistan that have largely been ungoverned, for many, many years, where the Pakistani Army and Pakistani Frontier Forces are now really active in trying to fight Al Qaeda. But our relationship with Pakistan is also broad. It`s a relationship that extends to work to help improve the Pakistani economy, to help improve the opportunities for education, the opportunity for women-owned businesses.

So, just as our relationship with India is broad and deep, and on the basis of the relationship with India, so, too, does the Pakistani-U.S. relationship have its own basis. We like to say that we don`t have an "Indo-Pak" relationship. We have a Pakistani relationship and we have an Indian relationship.

MR. AJWANI: Is that a change?

SECRETARY RICE: I think over the years, yes. There was a time when Americans had trouble mentioning Pakistan without mentioning India, or mentioning India without mentioning Pakistan. That isn`t the way that it should be. They should be relationships on their own terms. And, we, of course, are very supportive of improvement in the Indian and Pakistani relationship that has also come about through the composite dialogue.

MR. AJWANI: Does this mean in the future that they might also get this type of deal?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think that everyone knows that this is not the state that Pakistan is currently in. Again, we take these things on their own terms. But we will continue to have excellent relations with Pakistan, excellent relations with India, and again to encourage good relations between the two.

MR. AJWANI: But given India`s non-proliferation record and Pakistan`s record?

SECRETARY RICE: Everyone knows that there have been concerns here in terms of proliferation with Pakistan. Pakistan itself is aware of that, and we are working with Pakistan to improve the situation on proliferation there, but this is not the time for such an arrangement with Pakistan. What we have, though, with Pakistan, is an excellent relationship " excellent relationship military to military, certainly excellent relationship in the war on terrorism, good economic relationship. But again, we`re going to take these relationships on their own terms. We do work very hard, and encourage good relations between the two. And I want to congratulate the courage of, or to affirm the courage of Prime Minister Singh and of President Musharraf for improving the relationships between the two. I think when the populations get accustomed to good relations, as they have over the last couple of years, really starting with Prime Minister Vajpayee, and now with Prime Minister Singh, it`s not going to be possible to go back.

MR. AJWANI: Coming back to India, where do you see India coming first, a permanent seat in the Security Council or is the G-8?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we will see. The Security Council " we understand India`s aspirations for a Security Council seat. It has been our view that the Security Council will reform, and we support an enlarged, more representative Security Council, a Security Council that looks like 2006 " not 1945 " is going to be very important to the future of the U.N.

But we`ve also been concerned that we not become so focused on Security Council reform, that the other reforms in the U.N. " some of which don`t have the same headline value " reforms like management reform, reform of the Peace Building Commission, which did take place, or the creation of the Peace Building Commission. We need reform of the Human Rights Commission to a Human Rights Council that really can defend human rights, something that both India and the United States defend very strongly.

So we do believe that there should be Security Council reform, but it needs to be in the context of broader reform. We`ve laid out criteria, which I think there are many countries that criteria, including India.

MR. AJWANI: Finally, many women in India look up to you (inaudible). What makes you the most powerful woman in the world?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh my goodness, I`m not sure. I`m not going to take on that title. I`m very fortunate. I`m lucky that I`ve found something that I love to do in life. I was supposed to be a great concert pianist, and luckily, I learned, or figured out early enough that I was a pretty good pianist, but not good enough to go all the way to the top. But I found that I loved the study of international politics. I loved the study of Russian and the Soviet Union. And then I was --

MR. AJWANI: Things like ice-skating?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, ice-skating? I wasn`t really a very good ice skater. But I worked awfully hard at it. I trained and trained, and worked very hard, but " The thing that I think is, I`ve been lucky is because that I had terrific parents. Very often, people look at your accomplishments and they say, "oh, you`ve accomplished this," or "you`ve accomplished that." Everything that I`ve accomplished, I think, has been because I had parents and family who were determined that I would have every opportunity. I also have a very deep faith in God, and I`m just fortunate that I`ve landed in a place where I enjoy what I`m doing, and I hope where I can make a difference.

MR. AJWANI: What would you say to parents of girls in the under-privileged sections of Indian society? How can they dream of becoming the Condoleezza Rices of India?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the most important element in anyone`s progress is education. If children can be well-educated, if they can see that their horizons are not limited by the circumstances in which they were born, then you`re going to have many, many successful children in India who may come from modest, or even humble circumstances. My parents were both teachers, and they valued education tremendously.

I`ve had the great honor and the great pleasure of teaching many Indian students who studied in the United States at Stanford University. And they were always well prepared and they worked very hard. This is an educational system that has a lot to offer at every level. It is important, though, that any educational system be available, not to just those born of privilege, or those born of modest circumstances, but really to the poorest of children. And teaching children to read early " parents who, even if they themselves are not educated, want their children to be educated, and demand that their children be educated " I think that`s really the way that people in India will progress, and it`s the way that people in the United States progress, too.

MR. AJWANI: When are you coming to India next?

SECRETARY RICE: I hope very soon again. We`ll see, but I`ll tell you, each time that I come I want to stay a little longer and get to see more of the country. This is a fantastic country " wonderful history, wonderful culture, a warm and welcoming people " and, like the United States, a great multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy. India has a lot that it can teach the world about how people from many different backgrounds and many different heritages live together. And the way that they live together is that they live in a great democracy. That`s a lesson that a lot of the world could listen to these days.

MR. AJWANI: On that note, thanks for coming to India, and thanks for being on Zee News.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. It was great to be with you.