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Press Availability at Vibrant Gujarat

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Mahatma Mandir, Gandhinagar
Gujarat, India
January 11, 2015

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SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. I want to begin by thanking Prime Minister Modi for his very generous welcome here to the Vibrant Gujarat Summit. And I particularly am grateful to him for the personal engagement, for the thorough discussion that we had on issues in the bilateral relationship, as well as for the preparation for President Obama's visit here. And I'm very grateful for the focus and critical thinking that he brought to this discussion over the last day-and-a-half.

It's a pleasure for me to be back in India less than six months after leading our strategic dialogue inNew Delhi. I'm particularly grateful for the opportunity to have taken part in as energized and, literally, vibrant discussion as that which has been taking place here with so many businesses and partners engaged in this dialogue. It's a pleasure for me to be able to visit the State of Gujarat, which has a very special significance to Indians, is the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, and today, the home state of the Prime Minister.

During the past two days, I've been able to meet with a lot of CEOs. I've met with many American CEOs today, I met with a lot of Indian CEOs yesterday, and others, and many women entrepreneurs. And I witnessed firsthand our -- the reality of this transformation that has taken place in a visit that I just made this morning to the Ford Plant, the Ford Motor Plant. I also had productive discussions with Prime Minister Modi and his team as we prepare for President Obama's visit to India later this month. And I know the President is very excited about being the first United States president to be honored as the chief guest during Republic Day commemorations, and also the first sitting American president to visit India twice while in office. And I think -- we think -- I know he does, and I do -- we share the belief that that fact, this second visit, after the very successful visit of the Prime Minister to Washington, really says a lot about the value that both countries place on the criticality of our relationship.

For the Indian people and the American people there is a sense of shared excitement and possibility. Over nearly 30 years of working on these issues, I can tell you that I've seen the ups and downs of our relationship. I think, as a Senator in the 1990s, I brought the first Senate-led trade mission here. And at that time I met with a Finance Minister Singh. And the reforms were just taking place. And I've seen, personally, the incredible transformation that has taken place since then.

What has become very clear is that this is a moment when the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy are really finally beginning to capitalize on our connections to one another, and on the promises that we have been talking about for some period of time.

During my discussions with Prime Minister Modi and with other Indian officials, we reviewed the progress of our economic relationship. We also reviewed the steps necessary to take it to the next level. I know many of you have heard talk about the promise of this relationship for many years. As I've said, I've heard it myself. But the fact is that now it is really being implemented. And we are beginning to break through on the kinds of things that are necessary to accelerate economic investment in both ways. One of them is for governments to have an attitude that is open and ready to embrace these kinds of decisions, and to move for them.

I think the Ford Motor Company is spending $1 billion to turn its new auto plant here inGujaratinto a regional manufacturing plant. You couldn't have a more graphic statement about this transformation than that. Indian investment in the United States has grown from just over 300 million to 9 billion, and U.S.investment in India has risen from 2.4 billion to 28 billion. So, the facts are speaking to the reality of this change that is taking place.

Obviously, we can do more to enhance this economic relationship, and we intend to continue, both of us, to work at those instruments and those decisions, those choices that can help to make that happen.

The Prime Minister and I also discussed challenges that, if solved, do have an ability to take our

relationship even further. Yesterday I had the privilege of addressing the opening ceremony of the Vibrant Gujarat and the CEO Conclave with Prime Minister Modi, and I spoke at some length about climate change and energy, clean energy, particularly, because it offers an enormous amount of economic opportunity to all of our people, both of our countries.

Having already met with Prime Minister Modi now three times during his tenure, I know that the Prime Minister not only understands, but is committed to policies which will deal with climate change. And that's why he has already announced ambitious plans to scale upIndia's renewable power programs. And it is why also, when he was the governor, when he was running the State ofGujarat, he took steps then to implement some climate change policies.

It's also why we've had the ability to have a good cooperative relationship on these issues, including our ongoing research and deployment partnership on clean energy, and work to support the Prime Minister's vision of supplying 24/7 power to the poorest communities of India. The President and the Prime Minister has a very ambitious plan to try to make sure that every home inIndiais going to have electricity within a specific period of time. We believe there is a great deal that we could do to work together to achieve that very important goal.

And we hope to expand these programs in the coming months. And we are committed to working withIndiato reach a landmark climate change agreement inParisat the end of this year. And I know this will be a topic of President Obama's conversation with the Prime Minister, and a focus of the conversations that will take place, as well as the defense agreement, as well as the civil nuclear agreement, as well as the economic partnership. So those are four very specific areas where we know we want to try to make some progress.

We are also working together to safeguard maritime security, freedom of navigation, and overflight throughout the region. And we are strengthening our partnership to combat terrorism, piracy, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And we are committed to deepening the regional dialogue on key political and security issues.

For bothIndiaand theUnited States, investing in each other's success is, frankly, in both of our interests. It is really a smart, strategic bet for both countries. And I don't think it's a coincidence that Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, former Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, and I, all of us, came toIndiaduring Prime Minister Modi's first 100 days in office. It is no coincidence that I am now back in India so early in his tenure, or that President Obama will be back here, the first President of the United States to visit India twice while sitting in office. We are all invested in this relationship because we recognize what this moment offers to us, but also what it demands of us. And as we continue to deepen our partnership and transform how we collaborate, I am convinced thatIndiaand theUnited Stateswill create a healthier, more secure, and more prosperous future, and not just for one another, but, indeed, be able to have an impact on policies that will affect the world.

Before I take your questions, let me just say a quick word, if I may, about our good friends inFrance. As soon as I heard about the plans for the march that took place yesterday, I asked my team to figure out what the earliest is that I could travel toParisin order to show, once again, to reaffirm the connection between theUnited Statesand our oldest ally. And so, I will be traveling there on Thursday, and be there Friday, part of Friday. And I want to emphasize that the relationship withFranceis not about one day or one particular moment. It's an ongoing, long-time relationship that is deeply, deeply based in the shared values, and particularly the commitment that we share in freedom of expression.

And, as I said on the first day, and as the President said on the first day that these terrible events took place, it will take -- no single act of terror, no two people with AK-47s, no hostage-taking in a grocery store is ever going to prevent those who are committed to the march for freedom to continue to march and to ultimately see all people enjoy their rights, and to be able to share the protections that come with that freedom.

The President and our Administration have been coordinating very, very closely with the French on FBI matters, intel, law enforcement across the board, and we will continue to make available any assistance that may be necessary. For the United States, that relationship is a constant, and it is ongoing. And I look forward to having a chance to share thoughts with my friends inFrancepersonally, when I get there.

So, on that note, I would be delighted to take any questions.

MODERATOR: The first question will be from Matt Lee of the Associated Press.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Notwithstanding what you've just announced, that you will be going toParis on Thursday and Friday, the fact of the matter is the Administration did not have anyone at a senior level at the march. I realize that Attorney General Holder was inParis, but did not attend it. And there has -- did not attend the march -- and there has been -- the Administration has come under some criticism for not sending an appropriate or a high-level person, whether it was you or someone else, the President, the Vice President.

I am wondering, one, if you think that that criticism is fair and, whether you do or not, whether or not it was a mistake for the Administration not to send a high-level delegation to some -- to an event that attracted so many world leaders and so many people. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Matt, let me just say, as I said before, theUnited States has been deeply engaged withFrance from the moment this horrific event took place. I personally -- I think I must have been one of the first people in the world to have gone out publicly and spoken to the people of France about this, to our shock and horror and our very, very strong connection with the French at that moment. And the President also went out within hours and spoke about it.

And we have offered, from the first moment, our intel, our law enforcement, and all of our efforts. And I really think this is sort of quibbling a little bit, in the sense that our Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, was there in March. Our ambassador was there in March. Many people from the embassy were there in March. And I believe that, as everybody knows, I have been here inIndiafor a prior planned event. I would have personally very much wanted to have been there, but couldn't do so because of the commitment that I had here, and that's important to keep those kinds of commitments. But that is why I am going there on the way home, to make it crystal clear how passionately we feel about the events that have taken place there. And I don't think the people ofFrancehave any doubt aboutAmerica's understanding of what happened, about our personal sense of loss, and our deep commitment to the people ofFrancein this moment of trial.

MODERATOR: The next question will be from Pam Dockins of VOA.

QUESTION: Thank you. A two-part question. First of all, later on in the week, you have talks withIran's foreign minister ahead of the next round of nuclear talks. What are your expectations for the next round of talks? And, secondly, you spoke to the new President of Sri Lanka. What are your expectations for that country's new government, given there has been so much criticism about human rights abuses in that country?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me take the second part of the question first. I did talk to the new president, and expressed our belief that the transfer of power took place in the way that we had hoped it would. I talked to the prior president, to his predecessor, only days ago about the importance of maintaining a peaceful process, no matter what.

And so, it is good that the people ofSri Lankahave been able to have an election that has been accepted, and which has resulted in a peaceful change of power. Now, that said, there are still real challenges in Sri Lanka, and we offered very immediately to engage in a dialogue to begin to work at guaranteeing that the problems with respect to human rights, the problems with inclusivity, challenges with respect to governance, are going to be addressed. And we will engage in that conversation from this moment forward, and hope that we can now forge a different outcome inSri Lanka. The election, hopefully, will become a demarcation point for a new moment, a new chapter, a new set of opportunities for the people ofSri Lanka, who have been challenged greatly by the absence of that kind of governance opportunity. And we are very hopeful that, in the days ahead, we can make some progress on all fronts.

With respect to the talks with the Foreign Minister of Iran, we are at a juncture where most of the issues are now getting fleshed out and understood. And I think it's important for him and for me to take stock of where we are, and to be able to instruct our teams appropriately, based on that conversation, as they meet in the days immediately after our meeting. So, I would say that the meeting is calculated to take stock, number one, and to provide direction to our teams, number two. And to, hopefully, be able to accelerate the process to make greater progress. And that's, very simply, what we're trying to do.

MODERATOR: The final question will be from Tushar Prabhune from Times of India.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the Prime Minister. So, how do you think that -- how much would (inaudible) gain from this fresh energy that has been fused in the new U.S. ties, in terms of U.S. investments flowing in on (inaudible) campaign, or easing (inaudible) for Indians coming there?

And the second part of the question, what do you think more needs to be done, in terms of policy or anything to attract more investments from U.S.?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you. That's a good question, and I appreciate it very much. I think, first of all, I'm impressed by what I have seen here at this Vibrant Gujarat conference. The numbers of businesses, the enthusiasm, the energy of people, the excitement of people for the possibilities of engagement in entrepreneurial activity, not just with theUnited States, but worldwide, is palpable. You can touch it. And it's very impressive to see this. It's also very impressive to see as many partner companies --Canada,Japan, others -- who are here, all of them part of this same effort to maximize our economies, and to try to provide new opportunities for our people.

Now, I think Gujarat, obviously, has an opportunity to gain significantly, becauseGujarathas already been taking initiative, with respect to this. Prime Minister Modi made his reputation here, inGujarat, and he did it by building efficiency, by trying to make government make decisions faster, by trying to streamline bureaucracy, trying to simplify and get decisions made. If that can be extrapolated to the rest ofIndiaand, indeed, to other dealings with other countries, we all benefit. Everybody benefits.

Businesses want confidence in the decisions they make where to allocate capital. Capital works best with confidence. And if you have confidence that you can get a decision made about your building, or about your -- the pipes that you need for electricity, or the provision of electricity, or that you will have working standards and other things that will be understood, all of these things are critical to the ability of the chief executive officer to make the decision to locate in a specific place.

I think the Prime Minister made it very clear that he wants to move rapidly to do things that haven't been done that need to be done in India. India needs a great deal of infrastructure development. We all do. We need it, too. There are ways for each of our countries to benefit the other, by building on our experience, by making our experts and experienced firms available to each other in order to try to deal with these kinds of opportunities.

And I think, already, you are beginning to see this. The billion-dollar plant I just visited is the second plant, the second motor plant. There will be 30,000 jobs created down the food chain through those plants, and they will be providing unbelievable numbers of cars before long, which will be changing life for people, not just here, but where those cars are exported to, ultimately. So, that's a model for what is happening.

I also noticed, as I passed the Ford Plant, across the way was Hitachi, and across the way from there was Palmolive. So it's happening. And I think that this kind of gathering, and the focus of the Modi Government on streamlining and moving things forward, increasing transparency, increasing accountability, moving to make decisions faster, all of these things are going to have a profound impact on people's decisions as to whether or not to invest, and how fast business in the business community will be able to grow.

And we are already seeing more cooperation between the United States and India on these kinds of things. You've got clean energy cooperation, civil nuclear we're trying to work on, our defense relationship. We've got oceans issues. We have space issues. We're involved, I think -- we have the Mars working group that's developing cooperation between the MAVEN and the MOM missions to enhance the scientific study of Mars, we're working on that together. We've established $1 billion in a joint export-import bank. And the Indian Renewable Energy Agency is financing to support made-in-America renewable goods and services for clean energy projects to India.

This is happening. There is a lot unfolding at this moment. And my visit, and the upcoming visit of President Obama are opportunities to continue to think ambitiously and clearly about clean energy, security, inclusive development, trade, investment, all of the things that Gujarat has already been a pioneer in laying the path for. And I think the opportunities are just enormous.

MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all very much, appreciate it.

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