Interview
Robert O. Blake, Jr.
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
New Delhi, India
October 22, 2010


QUESTION: Sir, my first question to you is on the issue of David Headley. Both India and the United States hail our friendship a lot, but what kind of friendship is this when we get to hear reports that David Headley’s wife had perhaps given private information of his terror links to the United States and perhaps the information was not conveyed to India in time? The U.S. perhaps had information on Mumbai terror attack which would not be shared with India. What do you have to say on this?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: The United States counterterrorism cooperation with India has been one of the brightest spots in our very positive cooperation overall, and I can assure you and I can assure your viewers that we have a policy that whenever we have specific information that indicates there may be a terrorist attack somewhere we act immediately to share that with our friends. That is particularly so with India.

We were horrified by the attacks that took place in Mumbai. We already had a quite detailed intelligence cooperation going before that. That has since expanded because it is so important, because our partnership with India is so important to us.

So your viewers should be assured that whenever we have any kind of specific information we will act immediately to share it, and we have done so on numerous occasions in the past.

QUESTION: How would you respond to the reports that perhaps David Headley’s wife had given private information on David Headley’s terror list?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Again, I don’t want to get into the specific details because those are obviously quite sensitive, but just to say that whenever we have specific information we make it a practice to share that immediately because we know people’s lives are at stake.

QUESTION: So on the subject of terror that emanates from Pakistan, only yesterday we saw terrorists [inaudible] up to the city of [inaudible]. And there are reports of Osama bin Laden [inaudible] in Pakistan. The [inaudible] still has [inaudible] with [inaudible]. What do you have to say about that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: What I have to say on that is that we have a very important effort underway in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, and we understand that we are not going to be able to succeed in our goal of dismantling and disrupting the al-Qaida network in Afghanistan without the assistance of Pakistan. Many of those have taken refuge in the border areas of Pakistan.

So we believe it is very much in our interest to help the government of Pakistan, to provide it with the counterinsurgency and counterterrorism capabilities that it needs to deal with that threat.

But I think what your viewers should understand is that if anything has really changed from the Bush administration to the Obama administration, it’s been that we have significantly ramped up civilian assistance to Pakistan. $7.5 billion over five years, which is quite an important amount.

We are providing new military assistance, but that military assistance again is going to be used in the border areas against those groups that are --

QUESTION: I’m sorry. India still suffers from [inaudible] from Pakistan.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Let me just finish. It’s also to be used against groups like LET -- Punjab-based groups that not only are targeting India, but are targeting the United States. After al-Qaida itself, we think that LET is one of the most dangerous groups in the world, so it’s very much in our interest to push Pakistan to deal with these groups, and that’s what we are doing.

We have a dialogue that’s going on right now in Washington, the strategic dialogue, and this is very high on the agenda.

QUESTION: Sir, on the subject of outsourcing, Indian authorities have actually taken it up with the American administration. Do you think any resolution can be reached on this issue in favor of India?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Let me just say that I think what everybody needs to understand is that there has been tremendous growth in trade and investment between our two countries. Trade has more than doubled over the last five years. There was a little bit of a blip because of the recession. And certainly there are going to be tensions on things like outsourcing. But the overall message is the tremendous growth that has taken place and the tremendous promise of future growth because of our knowledge-based economies, because of our civil societies, our scientists, our business people, and the tremendous innovation that is taking place both in India and in the United States. That is really going to drive continued economic progress in both of our countries and is going to really drive continued very strong growth in trade and investment. I think that’s going to be one of the most important messages coming out of the President’s visit, will be the concrete benefits that are accruing to the people of India and to the people of the United States from this relationship.

QUESTION: Thank you so much. It was nice talking to you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE: Thank you so much.

[This is a mobile copy of Interview With Star TV]