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MSNBC chat with Indian ambassador.

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    MSNBC chat with Indian ambassador.

    Transcript of Ambassador Naresh Chandra's live chat on MSNBC
    September 7, 1999

    The Hon. Naresh Chandra has been India's ambassador to the United
    States since 1996, and is a former senior advisor to India's Prime
    Minister, and served in many other government posts. This chat comes
    just as India embarks on nationwide elections, and on the heels of a
    confrontation with Pakistan, the other nuclear power in the region.

    Naresh Chandra: Hello, I'm happy to have this opportunity and I'm
    Ready to take your questions now.

    MSNBC: What are the defining issues in this election, and can we
    Expect to see substantial change from the next government?

    Naresh Chandra: The main issue concerns resolving economic questions.
    They are in the forefront, followed by security, and law & order.
    Underlying all that is the strong demand by different factions for
    better standard of living and education and health.

    Question: Dear Naresh Chandra, Do you plan to split Kashmir between
    India and Pak. or annex the entire state, as should be?

    Naresh Chandra: What we wish to do is provide the best we can for the
    people of Jammu & Kashmir. There is a division today in the shape of
    a Line of Control and maintenance of sanctity of this line is part of
    the obligation of Pakistan. We have an interest to sit down and
    discuss and resolve differences through negotiation and dialogue.
    What we are trying to do is to ensure proper conditions for a
    meaningful dialogue. For this we have to
    see that the Line of Control is maintained and terrorist activity
    avoided to maintain proper atmosphere for resolving the issues as
    provided in the Shimla Agreement.

    Question: What do you think is preventing US from declaring Pakistan
    as a terrorist state (Now even Russia is blaming Pakistan for aiding
    and abetting terrorism)

    Naresh Chandra: The thrust of your question is correct, but there are
    a number of factors which are taken into account before US makes a
    final decision. There is a lot of evidence about what Pakistan is
    doing for recruiting, training and encouraging terrorist outfits to
    operate in neighboring countries. We feel there is sufficient
    evidence for taking action but it is for US Administration to make a

    Question: What are the areas in which India and US can work together
    when the new Government is elected next month? Is there any high
    optimism prevailing towards an outstanding growth in business as well
    as security relationship between the two biggest democracies in the

    Naresh Chandra: We have had very good progress in our trade and
    investment relations since 1991-92. We are sure that this is going
    to be a very productive area. We have also been having a strategic
    dialogue at a high level. These discussions are going on and both
    sides have been able to narrow down differences. I think there is
    much better understanding now in US about India's security concerns
    and the great role that India can play as a very responsible factor
    for peace and stability in Asia and the world.

    Question: At this point in time, how close is India and Pakistan to
    engaging in all-out war? And do you feel if war breaks out, what role
    will your nuclear stockpiles play?

    Naresh Chandra: I don't think India and Pakistan are close to war. We
    are going through elections now. There are a whole lot of conditions
    to consider. I would give a very low probability to an outbreak of
    war. The probability of use of nuclear arms is next to nothing

    Question: Could you briefly explain the Pakistan conflict and
    possibilities for a resolution. Is international assistance or
    mediation needed/anticipated?

    Naresh Chandra: The way things are going, it is for the two big
    nations like India and Pakistan to sit down and resolve differences
    bilaterally. Unfortunately, what is happening is that Pakistan has
    been attempting to attract mediation by use of force, terrorism and
    escalating violence. We have the Shimla Agreement framework and there
    is no reason why all issues,
    including Jammu & Kashmir cannot be discussed and resolved. Some
    people in Pakistan are trying to create the impression that mediation
    is essential, otherwise violence would continue and increase.
    Friendly countries should not fall for this gambit. Indeed, they
    have made it clear that this gambit
    would not succeed.

    Question: Ambassador Chandra, If Pakistan were to use nuclear weapons
    against India; would India retaliate by using nuclear weapons? Thank

    Naresh Chandra: We are not going to be the first to use nuclear
    weapons. If any nation attempts to use them against us then we will

    Question: India is about to become the second nation on earth to
    achieve a population of 1 billion. Is India near the breaking point
    in terms of food production, medical care, etc.?

    Naresh Chandra: I think the population needs to be properly managed
    and controlled. Higher population is not a goal we're trying to
    achieve. But on the other hand, our food production have ensured that
    there is no problem with availability. There have been vast
    improvements in healthcare. Some states
    have done very well. In many areas there is need for improvement.

    Question: We haven't heard much about S. Gandhi's foreign policy
    ideas. Do you have further information?

    Naresh Chandra: Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is the president of the Congress
    party. Their foreign policy does not require much of a change from
    the current one. The policy direction was broadly established at the
    time of Nehru and has continued. I think they are focusing on good
    neighborly relations, meaningful bilateral relations with Pakistan,
    firm commitment to global disarmament etc.

    Question: Why can't India draw closer to the U.S.? With China growing
    in power and Pakistan no longer a bulwark against the USSR, isn't
    that in both country's interests?

    Naresh Chandra: I think from our side we have always attempted to
    maintain as much progress as possible in strengthening India-US
    relations. We should now be able to work together much more. We feel
    that with the dissolution of the old USSR and the opening up of the
    Indian market the chances are even greater. We wish for better
    relations with China, our great neighbor to the North.
    We also don't look at Pakistan as an enemy or even as permanent
    adversary. We would like to cooperate with all the people in our
    neighborhood. We have a large number of Indian-American families who
    act as a bridge between India and US. This has been extremely helpful
    in strengthening this relationship.

    Question: The Shiv-Sena group are adamantly opposed to Sonia...if
    She is elected, will there be violence?

    Naresh Chandra: No, I don't think there will be violence. The parties
    have their own agenda. It is for the voter to decide and the election
    results prevail. Our law and order is strong enough to control
    violence, if any.

    MSNBC: India has been giving haven to the Dalai Lama, yet trying to
    improve their relations with China. How can these two be reconciled?

    Naresh Chandra: It's somewhat difficult and what we've done is while
    giving and ensuring sanctuary to a great person like the Dalai Lama,
    at the same time there's been an understanding, the Dalai Lama
    doesn't carry on political or anti-China activities in India. I know
    some sections in China might not like this, but I think it's been a
    wise arrangement and after all is said and done, the government in
    Beijing has accepted the position.

    MSNBC: Do you think India will ever win a seat on the UN Security

    Naresh Chandra: Yes, I think it would. It's not a case of putting up
    a line of argument or making a strong case. What has to be seen is
    India has no aggressive design on any country. It has always come
    forward to take part in UN peacekeeping operations. India has also
    proved despite its diversity it can rule according to law in a
    democratic manner. We have also shown that the Indian people are
    capable of contributing in every field of human activity including
    science and technology. It will be extremely
    odd if 1/6 of the human race with such potential and history is kept
    out of the Security Council in the 21st century. Without India the
    Security Council would not be properly representative.

    Question: Nixon declared India a provocateur for siding with
    Bangladesh against Pakistan. Can India trust the US to be fair-minded
    in this dispute?

    Naresh Chandra: About President's Nixon's determination, we have some
    evidence that at the time the view in the Congress was not in favor
    of Pakistan. Kissinger has admitted this and said that it was not
    perhaps a very wise policy at that time. Now on Kargil, the US has
    acted as much in its own interest as for India. I think the present
    US policy on cross-border
    terrorism, etc, is quite strong, and in the best interest of all

    MSNBC: A lot of technical folks are coming to work in the U.S. What
    can India do to maintain it's own high-tech industry in the face of
    this exodus?

    Naresh Chandra: There has been some exodus, but there has also been
    some return. Therefore, we have derived some benefits also. We have
    been keeping an eye on it but since we have thousands of trained and
    technologically qualified persons, the drain is not high enough to
    hurt India's interests. With this kind of exchange of technical
    personnel, we have derived much mutual benefit in the growth of
    high-tech business between India and US.

    MSNBC: Final Thoughts...

    Naresh Chandra: I would like to thank all of you for your questions.
    We are in the process of general elections and the exercise will show
    that we have a strong democratic tradition. Thank you and good