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Address by US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, Christina B. Rocca, Confederation of Indian Industry, New Delhi, May 14, 2002

The following are excerpts from US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Christina B. Rocca’s speech in New Delhi. During her speech she stressed on the transformation in relations between the United States and India, especially following the global war on terrorism and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. She owed the success of the Bonn Conference that established an interim government in Afghanistan to co-operation between the two countries. On the progress made by the US-India Joint Working Group on Counter-terrorism she said the two countries had broken new ground across the full range of counter-terrorist efforts, including in intelligence sharing, training, financing terrorism and money laundering, border security, and cyber-terrorism.

"Before I begin my formal remarks, I would like, on behalf of my government, to condemn unequivocally the terrorist attack in Jammu this morning. It is just this type of barbarism that the war on terrorism is determined to stop. I express my sympathies to the families of the victims."

Distinguished members of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Ladies and Gentlemen: Thank you for asking me to speak to this distinguished gathering. I am pleased to have this opportunity to talk to you about the transformation in relations between the United States and India. Our two democracies are working together more intensely than ever before to make the world freer, more peaceful, and more prosperous.

Over the past several months, the US and India have built a vibrant relationship in the war against terrorism. This began immediately after the September 11 attacks on the United States, when Prime Minister Vajpayee and other Indian leaders offered their help ungrudgingly and generously. This offer was a splendid act of solidarity with the American people at a time of urgent need.

South Asia is a key front in the global war on terrorism. And India has been a vital ally in the campaign to destroy the Al-Qaida organization, extract it from its safe havens and end its predations against the Afghan people. Dismantling the structure of extremism and terror must go hand in hand with addressing and eliminating its root causes. Achieving these goals in South Asia has involved diplomatic efforts on many fronts:

The diplomatic cooperation between India and America in pursuit of these goals has been unprecedented in our relationship. We have worked together in the UN to build support for UNSCR 1373 and the India-sponsored Comprehensive Convention Against International Terrorism. Our co-operation has contributed to the arrest of hundreds of terrorists around the world. The United States and India have moved in unison to strangle the financial assets of terrorists and well over 100 nations have issued blocking orders and frozen assets used to finance their attacks.

Moving from diplomatic efforts against terrorism to the more practical aspects of our struggle, I am pleased that US-India counter-terrorism cooperation is rapidly maturing. The US-India Joint Working Group on Counter terrorism predates 9/11 and continues to expand and deepen. Convening for the fourth time in January, the US and India broke new ground across the full range of counter-terrorist efforts including intelligence sharing, training, terrorism finance and money laundering, border security, and cyber-terrorism.

On broader law enforcement issues, we also are steadily increasing the number of our joint activities. We signed a new bilateral treaty last October providing for cooperation and mutual legal assistance, that makes it easier for American and Indian law enforcement agencies to tackle international crime.

As the two top centers of development of computer software in the world, India and the US are natural partners in another front of the war against terrorism – cyber terrorism. Just over two weeks ago our two countries held their first formal consultations on how to combat new emerging threats to our critical national infrastructures. The talks involved representatives of government agencies as well as academic experts and marked the start of a regular interaction on cyber security. Our professional-level dialogue, conducted, from here on, through the new US-India Cyber-Security Forum, will be continuous as we work to protect both Indian and American societies from the threats of cyber attack. We will hold the next JWG in Washington in July.

The success of the Bonn Conference that established an interim government in Afghanistan owes much to US-Indian cooperation. Working together, American and Indian negotiators convinced Afghan participants to reach agreement on the Bonn Accords. But Bonn was just the beginning. Afghanistan will require constant and intense international attention and support in order to overcome the legacy of more than 20 years of violence.

Accomplishing this task will be exceedingly difficult for the Afghans, even with outside help. India-US collaboration will play a crucial role in meeting the challenge of restoring stability in Afghanistan. India, like the United States, has been a major contributor of relief and reconstruction assistance for that blighted country.

An even greater challenge, and one I anticipate with real optimism, is to repeat our mutually supportive diplomatic efforts for all of South Asia, the adjoining regions of Southeast Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East, and the world as a whole, including close cooperation within the UN system. The United States and India remain co-chairs of the Community of Democracies and will continue to work together to promote democracy throughout the world. Our collaboration can only make the world a safer and more just place.

The US-India relationship is entering an exciting phase, a period of transformation which, if properly managed, can bring great benefits to both our countries. This will require constant attention and hard work. I think India and the United States have demonstrated their willingness to do this hard work, to overcome difficulties and keep our eyes on the benefits for us both. I am confident that together we will succeed.

Thank you.

14 May, 2002

Source: Ministry of External Affairs





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