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Exchange With Reporters at the Dedication of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial

September 16, 2000

India-U.S. Relations

Q. Mr. President, how would you describe the visit, overall, of the Indian Prime Minister? What has this visit meant to Indo-U.S. relations?

The President. Well, I think it's been a great success. It sort of rounds out our efforts to take a different turn in our relationships, to deepen and broaden them. As I have said many times, I am profoundly grateful for the reception that I received from the Prime Minister, the Government, and the people of India when I came with my daughter and my mother-in-law a few months ago.

I hope that this change in partnership goes beyond my service, into a whole new era of partnership between India and the United States.

You know, one thing I didn't mention a moment ago is that, in addition to the Government of India, Americans who are of Indian heritage also contributed to this magnificent memorial. There is probably no country outside India that has been more enriched by Indians than the United States. So that's another reason, and I think it's important we continue to go forward together.

Mahatma Gandhi

Q. Mr. President, has Mahatma Gandhi made an influence on your life, sir, in any way?

The President. Well, when I was a boy, actually, I was a profound admirer of Martin Luther King, and I began to read all his writings. And when I read that he was so influenced by Gandhi, then I began to read about Gandhi. I was, I don't know, 17, 18, or something like that.

H-1B Visas

Q. Mr. President, since you talked about the Indian contribution—about immigration, H-1B visas, does your administration want to do something?

The President. Let me say this, the number of H-1B visas will be increased in this Congress, I believe. I'll be quite surprised if it isn't. The issue is, how much will it be increased by, and can we use the occasion of increasing the quotas to get some more funds from the companies that are hiring people for the training of our own people, who could also do these jobs— the people who are already here—if they had training? So there's no question that we're going to increase the visas.

India-U.S. Relations

Q. Mr. President, the fact is, you said you're very excited; it was a very positive visit. In concrete terms, where do you see the alliance going now? Where in concrete terms do you see India and the United States as natural allies going ahead?

The President. Well, I hope in the years ahead we'll be better economic partners, better political partners. I hope we'll work together through the United Nations and other international forums. I hope we'll both be able to help to turn back what could otherwise be a dangerous tide of proliferation of dangerous weapons, not just nuclear warheads on missiles, either, chemical weapons, biological weapons. I hope we'll be able to turn that back.

And I hope some day that there will be some constructive role we could play as a partner in working with India and others to bring peace on the subcontinent.

Q. Will you be a strategic ally? Will we be a strategic ally?

The President. We've done enough talking today. [Laughter] If you want to ask the Prime Minister a question—[laughter]——

Travel to India

Q. Mr. President, do you see yourself going back to India after post-Presidency?

The President. Absolutely. Absolutely. I hope I'll be able to go back to India for the rest of my life. I don't mean permanently, but I mean to keep going back, always.

NOTE: The exchange began at 11:04 a.m. in a park at Massachusetts Ave. and 21st St. NW., near the Indian Embassy. In his remarks, the President referred to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee of India; and the President's mother-in-law, Dorothy Rodham.

William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters at the Dedication of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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