Lally Weymouth interviews Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, the Copenhagen Climate Summit, trade, and India-Pakistan relations.
NEW DELHI -- Wearing white robes and a blue turban, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appeared relaxed this week as he discussed his upcoming state visit to Washington. Singh, 77, will meet President Obama next week at a time when many Indians fear that Obama will focus less on India than did previous American administrations, particularly as the U.S.-Chinese relationship grows in importance. Singh sat down in his Delhi residence with Newsweek-Washington Post's Lally Weymouth to discuss terrorism, trade and why it is critical that the United States not abandon Afghanistan. Excerpts:
You are President Obama's first official state visitor. What would you like to accomplish in Washington?
We are strategic partners. We have good relations. But there is a new administration in America. So it is appropriate that I should renew our partnership.
Will you and the president announce any new initiatives? How might India and the United States cooperate in the future?
We have a landmark agreement with the United States on nuclear cooperation. We would like to operationalize it and ensure that the objectives for the nuclear deal are realized in full. My hope is that we can persuade the U.S. administration to be more liberal when it comes to transferring technologies to us. The restrictions make no sense. India has an impeccable record of not participating in any proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. So that's my number one concern.
I also think that India and the United States could be partners in refocusing our attention on an equitable, balanced global order.
What does that mean?
We would like to strengthen energy cooperation with the United States -- [in] clean coal technology and in renewable energy resources. Similarly, there is concern for food security. We would like to have a second Green Revolution in our country -- therefore, cooperation in the field of agriculture, in science and technology, in health, and in dealing with pandemics.
How do you see Afghanistan?
I hope the United States and the global community will stay involved in Afghanistan. A victory for the Taliban in Afghanistan would have catastrophic consequences for the world, particularly for South Asia, for Central Asia and for the Middle East. Religious fundamentalism in the 1980s was used to defeat the Soviet Union. If this same group of people that defeated the Soviet Union now defeats the other major power, this would embolden them in a manner which could have catastrophic consequences for the world.
We [in India] of course have more immediate concerns. We are victims of terrorism and the extremist ideologies of the type that the Taliban represent. If this is not checked, this could destabilize our country.