President George W Bush gave a round-table interview to journalists from India and Pakistan. The interviews were under embargo, which some of them broke (and which those who didn’t or were’nt invited made a big deal of). C Raja Mohan tried to spin it away and in so doing sunk to new lows. The Dawn covered up a slur. All this of course, does not mean that Bush was not funny — even when he tried to be.
He started off by trying to undo some semantic damage he did in his earlier speech at the Asia Society
I do want to make something clear in the speech I gave today. I said that — as to the Kashmir interest — issue, America supports a solution that is acceptable to all sides. As you might recall in my remarks, I said, “to both sides.” I would like the record to be so that the world hears me say, “all sides.” I fully understand that the deal has to be acceptable to the Indians, Paks, as well as the citizens of Kashmir. [The White House]
And ended up sounding offensive to both Indians and Pakistanis. According to C Raja Mohan, the Indians should forgive him for this, because so much is the trust between India and the United States, that Bush’s exact words don’t matter. At the rate at which Raja Mohan is going, his own words will stop mattering soon.
Q Do you consider India to be a responsible nuclear nation?
THE PRESIDENT: I do, particularly when they signed the IAEA safeguards, and they have a separation between their military and their civilian nuclear parts of their government. [emphasis added]
Ahem. Yes, of course. It’s India he’s talking about.
Q Why has the U.S. not questioned A.Q. Khan, whose activities intersect proliferation and terrorism?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we were the nation that exposed the conspiracy to deal with — more than the conspiracy, the activities, let me rephrase that — we were the nation that exposed the activities of sharing technologies, sensitive technologies, nuclear weapons-related technologies.
A correct sentence for Khan remains a difficult affair.
Q Is the U.S. more comfortable dealing with dictators and monarchs?
THE PRESIDENT: Do what now? Do I feel comfortable doing what?
Q Dealing with dictators and monarchs?
THE PRESIDENT: Do I feel comfortable dealing with them?
Q No, the U.S.
THE PRESIDENT: The U.S. feel comfortable with dealing with dictators?
Q And monarchs.
THE PRESIDENT: And monarchs? Well, I mean, I’ve got a great relationship with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain. (Laughter.) She’s a lovely lady and a great figure in a country that’s an important ally. And, of course, that monarchy is very supportive of a free and open and democratic system.
He handled that one well.
Q Between a cricket match and a Bollywood movie, what would a —
THE PRESIDENT: Cricket match and a —
Q You like watching?
THE PRESIDENT: What was the second?
Q It’s between a Bollywood movie and a cricket match.
THE PRESIDENT: I’m a cricket match person. (Laughter.) I appreciate it. As I understand it, I may have a little chance to learn something about cricket. It’s a great pastime. (Laughter.)
Little chance that he’ll find pretzels in India, so that’s all right.