Council On Foreign Relations Media Conference Call
Subject: Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton's Trip To India
Moderator: Edward Alden, Senior Fellow, Council On Foreign Relations
Speaker: Evan Feigenbaum, Senior Fellow For East, Central And South
Asia, Council On Foreign Relations
Time: 10:33 A.M. Edt
Date: Thursday. July 16, 2009
OPERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your patience in holding. We now have our speakers in conference. Please be aware that each of your lines is in a listen-only mode.
At the conclusion of our speaker's presentation, we will open the floor for questions. Instructions will be given at that time on the procedure to follow if you would like to ask a question.
It is now my pleasure to turn this morning's conference over to Edward Alden.
Sir, you may begin.
EDWARD ALDEN: Good morning. Thanks very much. And thanks to all of you joining us on the call.
I'm Edward Alden. I'm a senior fellow here at the council, and I'm delighted to moderate this call with Evan Feigenbaum who is our senior fellow for East, Central and South Asia. I will introduce him more fully in just a minute.
Many of you, I'm sure, heard Secretary Hillary Clinton's speech yesterday at the Council on Foreign Relations office in Washington. We organized this briefing to help those of you writing about her extremely important visit to India, which begins tomorrow. In her comments yesterday at the council, she said that the agenda that she has for this meeting is, quote, "the most wide-ranging that I think has ever been put on the table between India and the United States."
So this is a very consequential visit.
Evan Feigenbaum, as I said, is our senior fellow for East, Central and South Asia. He was the former deputy assistant secretary of State for South Asia and until January 20th of this year, held the primary responsibility for U.S. relations with India, and, in particular, was closely involved in the final phase of the Civilian Nuclear Initiative, which is probably the most important development we have seen in U.S.-India bilateral relations in some time.
He has just written an excellent backgrounder on the secretary's trip to India that has been -- is about to be posted at the top of the cfr.org web site. So I would encourage you to take a look at that for additional background on this visit.
I am going to turn it over to Evan now for a few opening comments and then we would be delighted to take your questions.
Thank you very much for being on the call here, Evan.
EVAN FEIGENBAUM: Well, thanks very much, Ted, and thanks everyone for being on the call.
Since the secretary is getting on a plane for India today, I thought what I would do is maybe talk about two things at the top before we open it up for your questions and a discussion. The first is just to give you a little bit of an overview on U.S.-India relations, where we were, where we are and that sets up, I think, a little bit about where we have the potential to go. And then, second, I'll say something about the secretary's agenda for the trip and I think the agenda for the trip is now pretty clear based on what she said, what Bob Blake, her assistant secretary for South and Central Asia and her spokespeople have said and that agenda makes sense because, in many ways, it flows on what has been a largely bipartisan agenda for U.S.-India relations for quite some time now.
So, first, just on the relationship more broadly. I think she's in a position to, as I say in this expert brief, reap the harvest of what has been an utterly transformational decade in U.S.-India relations and to see that, you just need to go back about 12 or 13 years and look at how American elite foreign policy opinion tended to think about India, and for that matter, how American elite corporate opinion tended to think about India.
So whether it was diplomats or people sitting in boardrooms, to begin, people tended not to think very much about India at all and when they did think about India, it was almost always narrowly in the context of South Asia and usually hyphenated with Pakistan. So everything was Indo-Pak this or Indo-Pak that. People would talk about Indo-Pak relations, the Indo-Pak nuclear balance, the Indo-Pak force balance, Indo-Pak developments in Kashmir and so on and so forth. And that has changed utterly over the last decade. And it's changed, I think, principally because of changes that have happened in India, most notably the remarkable ways of economic growth that India has enjoyed for quite some time now of as high as eight to nine percent, which have really given India the capacity to act, not just regionally, but globally on a whole variety of issues that are off primary interest to the United States.
But its also changed because of things that have happened in terms of the evolution of American policy thinking. And I think, in a nutshell, you know, Americans across the political spectrum recognize that we live in 2009, not in 1949, much less 1959 or '69. And so countries like India have a capacity as I said to bring to bear on a whole variety of international problems that are relevant to the United States that they simply didn't have 10 or 15 years ago.
And so the United States has been in a mode of looking for partners and look to India as being one of those that are really -- could pool its power with the United States on a whole array of global challenges. And so, both, because of developments that have happened in India, but also because of the evolution of American foreign policy thinking, I think. There's really been a remarkable shift in terms of the level of interest in India, but also the way in which Americans think about India. Its really exploded the boundaries of South Asia and this is the origin of what the Bush administration used to call de-hyphenation. That we weren't going to make U.S.-India relations dependent or contingent or conditional on what was happening in India, in India-Pakistan relations.
And I think that, hopefully, will continue to be the policy of this administration. And you'll see that manifested on the trip.
So what's happened over the last decade is that the three principal obstacles that really were factors that undermined the closer U.S.-India relationship for so long have been removed, and the first of those factors was the Cold War because India's non-alignment, which, I think, by many Americans was viewed as a kind of quasi-alignment with the Soviet Union, didn't fit easily with the American world view, I mean, Americans were locked in a strategic and ideological struggle with the Soviet Union and they were asking countries to choose sides. And so India's non-alignment didn't fit easily with that.
And so what's happened as with the end of the Cold War as India has reassessed its own strategic options and as Indian foreign policy has evolved, India and the United States have found some common ground that, I think, was just unthinkable 10 or 15 years ago.
The second big obstacle was the almost complete lack of economic content of the relationship and that began to change, in large part, as a result of the reforms that began in India in 1991. India, in some respects, is still not so well integrated into the global economy, certainly, not into global supply chains that have linked other Asian economies to the United States. But in terms, for instance, the financial integration where you see Indian corporates have borrowed very heavily abroad, India is much better integrated and it's also true that India has changed some policies that made American investment in India and trade with India very difficult in the past.
And so where once there was very little or no economic content in the relationship, India is now one of America's fastest-growing trading partners. And the last three year span for which I saw data, which was 2004 to '07, the trade relationship doubled from just under $30 billion to around $60 billion. So it's not China, with which the U.S. has a $380 billion bilateral trade relationship, but nonetheless, the trends are clear and that trajectory is really accelerating in a lot of ways.
And then the third obstacle is the nuclear issue, which as everybody knows after India's first nuclear test in the 1970s, really became, in many ways, the principal obstacle to a closer partnership. And I think whatever Americans may or may not have said about the deal, from an Indian perspective, at least, there was a contradiction between American rhetoric about building a strategic partnership with India on the one hand, while making India a principal target of American non-proliferation sanctions on the other.
And so the nuclear deal in many ways removed that obstacle and that happened, in part, because of the U.S. desire to really build a genuine strategic partnership with India, but as you all know because of environmental, energy, commercial and other rationales as well. So without getting into the specifics or the background of the deal, which I'm sure you all know very well, the reality is, really, in many ways, removed the final major obstacle that I think can undermine closer U.S.-India partnership in the past.
And so as a result of that, she's heading to India this week, really, at the back end of a transformational decade. And so with all of these obstacles removed and in a position, as I said, to reap the harvest of that.
So what's the agenda? I think the agenda is going to be broadly consistent with the agenda of the last administration and I think you see that reflected, both in the rhetoric and in the substance. And that reflects and this is a good thing, the essentially bipartisan nature of U.S.-India relations right now on both sides where you saw both NDA and UPA governments in India taking steps to improve the relationship, and you've seen both Republican and Democratic administrations in the United States likewise taking steps to improve the relationship. And to see that in capsule form, you just have to look at the Civil-Nuclear Initiative, which was initiated and negotiated by a Republican administration, but passed a Democratically-controlled Congress at the end of the second term with overwhelming bipartisan support, these overwhelming majorities in the Senate, 86 to 13 in the Senate. Just overwhelming. And I should add with the votes of then-Senators Obama, Biden and Clinton. All of whom are now in the executive branch.
So it's a largely bipartisan agenda, I think, in many ways. And I think she'll be building in many ways on what her predecessors have done.
The agenda as I see it has three basic pillars to it. The first is to complete some unfinished business, which is to say to sign on the dotted line and to complete negotiations on things where the clock basically ran out on the Bush administration and the Singh administration. And the area that stand out for me here are defense and civil space.
On defense, as many of you know, this has been a real growth area in the relationship. U.S. military services and Indian military services exercise together. We have common interests in protecting the global commons, including sea lines of communication. And this has been just a tremendous growth area. And I think American industry also sees India as a potential customer, a very important customer at a time when India is engaged in a modernization program with its military.
But what will enable this kind of relationship, especially on the procurement side, but not just on the procurement side is the completion of three defense-related agreements, one on end-use monitoring, which is kind of verification, one on logistics and on one communications. And all three of these have been under negotiation for a long time. But as the Indian journalists on the phone know they became caught up, particularly in Indian domestic politics, and in one case, there were some technical issues that we needed to work out. And I think, essentially, especially on end-use, she's hopefully in a position to close the deal and sign on the dotted line.
Likewise, in civil space, there have been a couple of civil space negotiations underway and these flow from the next steps on strategic partnership that you may recall go back to the Bush and Singh administrations. But one of these areas was nuclear. Another was space and another was high tech. And on space, one of these agreements was actually fully negotiated, but got caught up in a wrangle about market access for U.S. companies involving another agreement. And so, in any case, she is hopefully in a position to close the deal there, take it over the finish line, and again, sign on the dotted line and initiate some simple space cooperation between the two sides in some new ways.
Other areas of the agenda that the agenda -- not just unfinished business, but where she's in a position to do some new initiatives, but new initiatives that are, I think, consistent with what, as I said, on a bipartisan basis people see as the challenges in India include areas like agriculture and education.
We've had something for a few years called the Agricultural Knowledge Initiative. You'll all remember President Bush went to Hyderabad and talked a lot about agriculture back when he went to India. The U.S. has spent $24 million on this initiative. And I think agriculture is, obviously, a very important interest of the prime minister's. He's talked about a second green revolution and I know the secretary has talked about this.
So I wouldn't be surprised to see some new initiatives on agriculture. It'll be important in my view to do that as a public-private partnership, not just a government-to-government initiative, but in many of these cases, to involve the private sector. And as a former American official, I do hope the administration puts some money behind these things because to make these things credible, they can't just be dialogues. But they need to be dialogues that have an action-driven agenda.
And so I'm very hopeful based on what I've heard that they're going to do that.
So that's the first piece of the agenda. It's unfinished business or new initiatives that build on the agenda that we've seen over the last decade or so.
The second thing as I see it is really to manage disagreement on some important multilateral issues that are relevant to both countries' interests. And these include things like climate, the Doha Round and the international trade regime and some arms control treaties. But I think the most immediate one is climate because we're heading for the Copenhagen Conference in December.
And on the supply side of climate change, which is to say technology-based initiatives, there are interesting things going on in both countries and entrepreneurs are developing green technologies and we've all heard Shyam Saran, the prime minister's envoy for climate talk a lot about innovative initiatives in India in terms of green buildings and technology development.
And so this is very uncontroversial, and indeed, India and the United States are involved together in a whole variety of multilateral technology-based initiatives, things like the international partnership for the hydrogen economy, the international thermonuclear reactor, carbon sequestration initiatives and so on. But on the demand side when you start to get into talk about binding emissions reductions -- as you know, the Indian position and the expressed American position as I understand it -- the administration are quite far apart.
And so one challenge they'll have is to manage disagreements on climate, on Doha, on some of these arms control agreements toward a compromise in the first instance, but then, hopefully, consensus in the final instance. But if they can't do that, at least I would hope to develop some bilateral initiatives in each of these baskets, climate, trade, non-proliferation arms control, that provide a little bit of balance to the relationship amidst the multilateral disagreements. So, for instance, in the climate area, if the multilateral negotiation on Copenhagen is controversial between the U.S. and India, they're going to need to work that toward a compromise, but bilaterally, it would be useful to look at things they might do in terms of renewable energy and a kind of U.S.-India clean energy partnership.
Likewise, in the trade area, there's been a bilateral investment treaty that's been proposed. The Bush administration started to get this ball rolling. There have been some preliminary discussions and I think they're looking to set dates for the next round of discussion.
So the good news is the Obama administration is embracing this, and I think, you know, the ball will really fall to them because the discussions have been very, very preliminary. But a bilateral investment treaty would have things like investor protections in it that would be useful in providing a little bit of extra heft to the trade relationship.
So that's really the second challenge. And then the final challenge and this is the last thing I'll say before we turn to the discussion. I think -- as I said at the beginning that, in many ways, U.S. thinking about India and India's capacity as a result of its economic growth over the last 10 to 15 years really, in many ways, has exploded the boundaries of South Asia. And what that means is that India has a profile and a footprint that extends from, you know, Africa to the Persian Gulf to East Asia, but also that as I go down the list of global issues, as I said, India has capacity to bring to bear in partnership with the United States, as well as individually that really could provide a basis for a much more global partnership between the U.S. and India. And this is something we haven't done in the past. I think in many ways and I say this in the expert brief that Ted mentioned at the outset of the call. The U.S.-Indian discussion, from an American perspective, the least global conversation that we have with, really, any other major power. With our European allies, obviously, we talk about every corner of the Earth, likewise, with Japan; we've developed that kind of conversation. And even with China, we've initiated over the last several years, dialogue on Africa, on Latin America, on Central Asia and on South Asia.
And so it's entirely fitting that the United States and India begin to talk about their common interests around the world, not just in South Asia, but also how to turn those common interests into complementary policies.
And so I would hope that as part of the secretary's second look at the dialogue architecture that they begin to initiate structured dialogues on regions that, as I said, explode the boundaries of South Asia a little bit.
I also hope that the new dialogue architecture doesn't just rearrange the deck chairs because we've had a lot of dialogues on a lot of things over the years, and the challenge is not just to have dialogues, but to make those dialogues a platform for action. And so on things like agriculture, which, as I said, clearly, is very important to the secretary, she's talked about it and her aides have talked about. We've had a U.S.-India agricultural dialogue through the Agricultural Knowledge Initiative or AKI as we used to call it. And the AKI had some successes, but the AKI, I think, wasn't all that it can and should be. And that's partly because an agricultural dialogue needs to focus in many ways on a whole spectrum of issues in agriculture, the science and technology of agriculture, but also the political economy of agriculture, cold chains, supply chains. How to move things from farm to market? And I think that's something that India wants to do as part of the prime minister's emphasis on a second green revolution. They'll find a very receptive United States.
I hope that the administration will do this, not just as a government-to-government dialogue, but as a public-private partnership, in many ways, the most successful U.S.-India dialogue, things like the CEO forum that David Mulford, our former ambassador was instrumental in creating, have been absolutely critical to that. It creates a different kind of conversation that invests our private sectors in the relationship and they're really in a position to do that.
And that really leads to the last thing I'll say, which is the best piece of news about the U.S.-India relationship is that it is one of these relationships that, in many ways, moves forward in spite of government and we have 95,000 Indian students in the United States, which is more than from any country in the world. There are nearly three million Indian Americans, all of whom have relatives back in India that, likewise, are invested in this partnership.
And so, in many ways, that reflects what I see as our most mature partnership, for the United States, the best partnerships are the ones where you can do things government-to-government, but where in spite of government, there are so many exciting things happening in the relationship. And those are our most mature, but frankly for India, you can't say that about all of India's relationships. If you look at something like the India-Russia relationship that's still, in many ways, is an official relationship. It's a government-to-government relationship focused on government-to-government dialogues, defense trade, which is, in many ways, an official area of trade and so on.
So you can't say this about all of India's relationships. You certainly can't say it all about all of America's relationships. And so more and more people are invested in this partnership in ways that I think, as I said, and I'll close where I started, put the secretary in a position to reap the harvest of what has been a very transformational decade and I hope to take the relationship in some new and hopefully more global direction.
So I'll stop there and I look forward to the discussion.
ALDEN: Thank you very much, Evan, for that absolutely superb overview, not just the issues that we'll be on Secretary Clinton's plate for this visit, but of the broader transformation in U.S.-Indian relations in the last decade that as you say sets the context for this visit.
We have a fair number of reporters on the call; it's a very good turnout for this call. So I want to turn it directly over to those reporters for questions for Evan. So I would ask the operator to queue the reporters in and we'll go immediately to questions.
OPERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.
Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, we would now like to open the floor for questions. If you would like to ask a question, please press the star key, followed by the one key on your touch-tone phone now. Questions will be taken in the order in which they are received. If at any time you would like to remove yourself from the questioning queue, please press star, two. Again, to ask a question is star, one on your touch-tone phone.
Our first question will come from Mark Landler, New York Times.
Mark, you may go ahead.
QUESTIONER: Good morning, Evan. Thank you for that. That was terrific.
I wanted to ask you -- taking what you said about the de-hyphenation of the relationship, I do want to ask a bit about Pakistan, and specifically, what you expect the secretary to say to the Indians about the India-Pakistan relationship that, you know, I presume lead to the U.S. goal of the Pakistanis feeling less tense about India, and hence, putting them in a position to perhaps shift more troops over to fight an insurgency rather than be on the Indian border.
Do you expect that to be a significant issue? And what do you expect the Indian response to be if it does come up?
FEIGENBAUM: I always love these conversations because everybody always begins by talking about the historic de-hyphenation of the relationship and then promptly re-hyphenates in the question period.
So thanks for the question. It's going to come up a lot in the press, I presume.
You know to be really candid with you, Mark, I think that the secretary is probably going to steer very clear of that and certainly to steer clear about it in the way that you described and they've made that very clear as recently as the briefing that I saw that Bob Blake did on the record, I think, just yesterday. And from my vantage point, that is a very good thing. That message if she were to do the message in the way that you described would be utterly unwelcome in India, that's been very clear for a long time. And I think it's noteworthy that we haven't seen a lot of that out of the administration, certainly, not in public and I'm not party to what's happened in private.
But I think from an Indian perspective, that kind of message wouldn't be welcomed and so she'd be wise to steer clear of it.
I do think that the U.S. government has taken de-hyphenation quite literally. I was the deputy assistant secretary of State for South and Central Asia responsible for India, but we had a separate deputy assistant secretary of State responsible for Pakistan. So we took that de-hyphenation quite literally, both bureaucratically, as well as intellectually.
And I do think there will be conversation about the region. There's always conversation about South Asia. It is inevitable; I would think that in the discussion, the situation in Pakistan will come up. But I would be surprised if you don't see her steer well clear of that in her remarks.
QUESTIONER: Okay. Thank you.
ALDEN: Thanks very much. Let's go to the next question, operator.
OPERATOR: Our next question will come from Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times.
QUESTIONER: Hi. I'd like to hear what you expect in terms of her conversation with the Indians on the issue of Iran, and specifically, we'll she take up the Indian willingness to help out on economic sanctions, on limiting the export of gasoline to Iran?
FEIGENBAUM: Well, I mean, you know, as I said, part of a more global conversation and a more extra-regional conversation is talking about all of these subjects. So Iran has borne part of the conversation before. But I think, you know, frankly, the Indians are very particular about their relationship with Iran. They like to say that these are two old civilizations. India, like our European allies and many others, Japan and others has diplomatic and economic relations with Iran.
I think that kind of message about sanctions would not be well received in India. And so I think the question is going to be how do things develop? I wouldn't be surprised since it's a subject of mutual interest if she, you know, briefs them on U.S. policies toward Iran and India briefs her on Indian policies toward Iran. But I think the question will be, you know, as they move forward and see the results of the kind of engagement that she talked about yesterday, where are we with Iran in the fall? And then what are the expectations of the United States, a whole variety of countries around the world?
I think, you know, as I said, India hasn't shown any interest in sanctions in the past. I wouldn't expect it India would show such interest were she to raise the subject in that way on this trip.
So I would expect that Iran might come up as part of both sides talking about their policies. But I wouldn't think India would be receptive to that right now.
ALDEN: Evan, just to follow up on that, briefly. Secretary Clinton at the council yesterday when he was talking about the possibility for a greater regional or global role for India, as you mentioned, specifically noted the possibility of global and regional regimes on weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear.
Do you have any sense of what she might have been thinking about in that context? What sort of broader role India might play on the nuclear issue?
FEIGENBAUM: Well, I'm guessing she's -- in the back of her mind is the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. And these are sensitive subjects in India where the Indian position and the U.S. position, particularly on CTBT have not always been consistent.
I think, you know, there have been Indian statements in the past. Prime Minister Vajpayee as I recall said that there could be circumstances under which India would sign the CTBT. But I think that would be very situational and I think one question that the Indians will ask themselves, certainly, internally, is whether the Obama administration even would be able to, you know, sign and then ratify a CTBT through the U.S. Senate.
I think one interesting piece of news on this because there's been a lot of focus in India on whether the U.S. was going to put pressure on India to sign a CTBT. One interesting question would be that the president has done the arms control agreement with Russia, I would be very surprised if the administration sent two arms control agreements up to Congress this year.
So I think my presumption and I'm not an expert on U.S.-Russia relations or on arms control would be that they'll probably send the Russia agreement up by the end of the year, and then next year, you know, various administration officials have made clear they will turn their attention to CTBT.
And so at some point, that's going to have to be part of the U.S.-India conversation, but as its been in the past, but its been a very sensitive and controversial part of the conversation in the past. And I think a lot will be contingent in India.
As for FMCT, my understanding is that that's not really moving forward, in part, because of the positions of China and Pakistan. So, you know, that may or may not comprise part of the conversation.
You may recall that as part of the civil-nuclear agreement, the United States government -- the president had to make a series of determinations under the Hyde Act to Congress and one of these was related to the FMCT and the Bush administration was able to make that determination because of a statement that India made I think at the conference on disarmament.
And so, anyway, I think at some point as I said, arms control, like climate and trade, will be one of those issues, which the U.S. and India have disagreed in the past and we'll have to find ways to manage that disagreement. But, you know, there is -- I don't think necessarily there's any immediacy to this right now, but I'm guessing that's what she was thinking about.
And then more broadly, you know, India has had a position about disarmament and so, you know, there may be other kinds of things that she's thinking about. But I think the Indian reaction would be that she was probably implicitly talking about those treaties.
ALDEN: Very good. Very interesting. Let's go to the next question, operator.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will come from Rebecca Cooper, Exchange Monitor Publication.
QUESTIONER: Hi, Evan. I was actually hoping to get you to talk a little bit more about the Civil-Nuclear Agreement and some of the outstanding negotiations that need to go on, specifically the processing agreement. And do you think that the secretary will also have some conversations about India's nuclear liability law during this visit?
FEIGENBAUM: Sure. Well, I've been a little surprised to read press coverage that says that the Civil-Nuclear Agreement is unfinished because as somebody who -- I directed kind of the coordinating team on the U.S. side at a working level to move the agreement through the board of governors and the NSG.
So from my vantage point, you know, this is an agreement that's signed and sealed. So that phrasing that I've seen in the media of unfinished or incomplete has been a little bit surprising to me and I think incorrect. That doesn't mean, however, that there aren't follow on steps and things to do and you've mentioned some of them. And I think that we need to recognize that there are things that the U.S. side is looking for and things that the Indian side is looking for. And I would describe this as essentially two from each side.
From the U.S. side, it's the naming of sites, which is to say reactor part sites for U.S. firms. And you will recall that we negotiated a commercial letter of intent with the Indian government in which India committed to, essentially, the way the letter reads is at least two sites for U.S. firms with a floor of 10,000 megawatts, electrical in generating capacity.
So the U.S. will be looking to have those sites named in public. And I saw in Bob Blake's on the record briefing that he did that he expressed an expectation that that might happen on this trip.
So that's a good piece of news and that's a simple step that would basically follow on the discussion that's in this commercial letter of intent that the last administration negotiated.
The other thing as you just said is the liability regime, and there you will recall that in the letter, India committed to adhere to the regime. So I expect that that will happen. It requires a series of technical and legal and parliamentary steps in India. So the cabinet committee on security as I understand it has to approve it and then, eventually, requires parliamentary approval. And if I'm not mistaken and I don't exactly know the legal structure in India, but you can fact check this, but I think it requires a few adjustments to atomic energy-related legislation in India.
But anyway, India is committed to adhering and I fully expect that they will. We need to recognize that the focus in the Indian parliament right now has been on the budget. And so I think what we'll need to see is when they come out of the budget session and as they turn to the rest of the government's agenda, what kind of timetable adhering to the convention -- the so-called convention on supplementary compensation, where that fits in the agenda, but I think that will happen.
Then on the Indian side, there are, essentially, two things that India is looking for, one, as you said, is this follow on negotiation on reprocessing, the subsequent arrangement. And this is provided for in the 123 Agreement because the United States granted advance consent to reprocess to India contingent on a few things like constructing the safeguarded facility. Though what the 123 Agreement says in Article 6(3) of the agreement is that the parties have six months from notification where the other side is interested in beginning the negotiation to get it started and then they have a target of 12 months to complete it.
So my understanding is that India has made the request, made that request, I think, in February. And so that would mean that six months out from February, which is about August, that negotiation would have to begin.
So I would expect that we'll see that begin soon. I presume it would be Dick Stratford on the American side who led the 123 negotiation, who lead that negotiation. It'll be tough negotiation as all negotiations are. But so is the 123 and we ended up with a 123 agreement.
So I think all of this talk about how difficult this is going to be, sure, it may be, but that belies the fact that that's what people said about the 123.
So I would expect in the next month or two they'll move forward on the reprocessing agreement. But then the other thing that you didn't mention that I'm sure that India will be looking to the U.S. for is related to the question of licensing, and there are a lot of licensing issues here, licensing of equipment, licensing of technology, DOE, Department of Energy, to some of these licensings for what I think are called A-10 licenses. And then there are also Department of Commerce-related licenses and then there may be some issues related to foreign countries because of technology that -- I don't know enough about nuclear technology, but it may not all be American proprietary.
So my understanding is that, you know, the U.S. government is working hard on that. And so, you know, these are follow on steps and, you know, you talk to people at GE and you talk to people at Westinghouse and they're excited about the prospect of nuclear trade. And so I would expect this is going to go forward, building on this very historic agreement. But that's something that we'll need to continue watching over the next couple of months.
QUESTIONER: Thank you.
ALDEN: Very good. We'll go to the next question.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will come from Chanrakant Pancholi, Overseas India Weekly.
QUESTIONER: Hi. How can we take Pakistan out of the equation while seeking better relations with India? Because we are giving the military and financial aid to Pakistan and Pakistan has an aim to destabilize India in Kashmir and Afghanistan. So -- because we all know in Afghanistan, they are sending terrorists and how the Indian embassy was bombed and we have proof of that. How people from Pakistani territory went to Bombay and tried to destabilize a financial center?
So why do you think that we shouldn't -- because U.S. -- we have a great leeway on Pakistan to stop this terrorism and we can tell them to stop this terrorist activities or we should go there directly and wipe out terrorist camps? Because they will be killing our soldiers in Afghanistan all the time.
So what do you think about this?
FEIGENBAUM: Well, it's interesting you used the phrase; take it out of the relationship. I mean, India and Pakistan live next door to each other. They're both South Asian countries. So India can't take Pakistan out of its neighborhood, and likewise, Pakistan can't take India out its neighborhood. Geography is what geography is.
So the two countries can never take one another out of anything in the sense that you meant it. But I think what de-hyphenation means to the United States, as I said, you go back 15 or 20 years and really the primary content to U.S.-India relations, everything was related to Pakistan and the reality is that we live in a world today where the U.S. has a lot of equities with India. And we have a lot of equities with India at a regional level, at a global level and at a bilateral level.
So the U.S.-India relationship is so much more than all of these issues in South Asia. And I think that's what's happened in the last administration and in this administration and that's what de-hyphenation ultimately really means. I mean, frankly, I noticed that even as we're speaking if you read the Indian press and you see all this press coverage today of the prospects for India-Pakistan talks, the prime minister's possible new initiatives. There's a history of this between India and Pakistan and I don't necessarily think it's for Americans to comment or to get in the middle of this. This is something that India and Pakistan have done quite well themselves when the will is there and when the exchanges are there and the two sides get together, they can do that on their own and they don't need American mediation. They don't need the United States in the middle.
You know, on a broader question of terrorism, you used the word terrorism, you know, the U.S. and India have good counterterrorism cooperation and I expect that will be one area of focus by the secretary on her trip.
ALDEN: Very good. Let's go to the next question.
OPERATOR: Thank you. As a quick reminder, to ask a question is star one. Our next question will come from Lakshmana Rao, India Tribune.
QUESTIONER: Hello. My next question is a follow up of what the last questioner has asked. It is about dismantling of terrorist camps in Pakistan. My country and Pakistan work together to remove those camps and keep the Indian neighborhood as safe as possible because it is a constant threat for India and India is spending a lot of money for its protection. Both countries can benefit by way of removing these terrorist camps.
Why can't the U.S. do something about it?
FEIGENBAUM: Well, the issue of terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan has absolutely been part of the U.S. conversation with Pakistan over the years, and I suspect that will continue to be part of the conversation. The whole question of extremism is one that Ambassador Holbrooke has talked about repeatedly. President Bush talked about it and others have talked about it.
So its been part of the conversation in the past, and I think it will continue to be part of the conversation in the future.
You should take a look at what Ambassador Holbrooke has been saying about this.
ALDEN: Good. Let's go to the next questioner.
OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will come from Kishis Sen (ph), Outlook Magazine.
QUESTIONER: Evan, hi, thanks for doing this. Do you expect Afghanistan to come up in Secretary Clinton's talk in India, India's role in Afghanistan? And is there anything that the U.S. can learn from India's experiences there?
FEIGENBAUM: Well, let me take that in two parts because you asked two questions. On the first, I absolutely expect it'll be part of the conversation. It has been part of the conversation in the past. India, if I'm not mistaken, is the fifth-largest donor of assistance to Afghanistan, you know, that number goes up and down and I think it used to be the ninth and then it was the fifth and that depends, in part, on what happens at all these pledging conferences like London or The Hague.
But the bottom line is that India is a major donor of assistance to Afghanistan. And that has tended to be in economic areas, infrastructure areas, and from an American perspective, that is a good thing. Afghanistan needs all the help it can get and so economic and infrastructure assistance, in particular from India has been very, very welcomed in the United States.
In terms of lessons learned. That's an excellent question, and you know, as I said, we took all this de-hyphenation quite literally. So I was responsible for India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and so on. I didn't do Pakistan. I didn't do Afghanistan. And I don't know enough about internal developments in Afghanistan. But I have no doubt that both sides are sharing lessons learned with one another, and I think that's a good thing.
I noticed that Ambassador Holbrooke has been to Delhi. He, of course, does both Afghanistan and Pakistan and so he's talked about both those subjects there. And I would hope the Indian side is sharing lessons learned because, goodness knows, the United States can learn a lot from the experience of others.
QUESTIONER: Thank you.
ALDEN: Good. Let's go to the next question.
OPERATOR: Thank you. A quick reminder. To ask a question is star, one on your touch-tone phone now.
Well, gentlemen at this time, it looks like we have no further questions in the queue.
FEIGENBAUM: Terrific. Well, I enjoyed it very much.
ALDEN: Very good. Well, thank you. Excellent questions. Thank you, Evan, for a superb overview of what is going to be a very, very interesting visit. And I thank you all for being on the call and good luck with your stories. And as I said, Evan has got an expert brief that discusses many of the issues that were raised in this call today, an excellent resource for you and it's up on our web site at www.cfr.org.
Do you have any concluding remarks, Evan? Or should we stop it there?
FEIGENBAUM: No. I think we can stop it there. Thanks very much for being on the call. I hope to keep in touch with all of you and delighted the secretary is going to India and that U.S.-India relations are moving forward.
ALDEN: Very good. Thanks for doing that, Evan.
FEIGENBAUM: Thanks. Bye-bye.
OPERATOR: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. At this time, the conference is now ended. You may disconnect your phone lines and have a great rest of the week.
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