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Clinton Reaches Out To New Generation In India

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Clinton Reaches Out To New Generation In India

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Clinton Reaches Out To New Generation In India

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

Renee Montagne is on assignment in Afghanistan. Linda Wertheimer is sitting with us this week. And Linda, welcome to back the program.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

Thank you very much. It's an honor and a privilege, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's great.

WERTHEIMER: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also traveling. She is visiting India. She came with plans to announce deals that will boost U.S. military and nuclear sales to the world's largest democracy. And in a moment we'll hear the Indian perspective on Clinton's visit.

INSKEEP: We begin with the secretary's outreach to a new generation of Indians. She sat down with students and NPR's Michele Kelemen was listening.

MICHELE KELEMEN: About 700 students packed an auditorium at Delhi University to hear Secretary Clinton's ideas for much broader and deeper U.S.-Indian relationship. She says that the dialogue now covers everything from regional security issues and nuclear nonproliferation to fighting hunger and climate change.

Secretary of State HILLARY CLINTON: We've differences of history and tradition, of perspective and experience. But what has occurred in the last 15 years between our two countries in a bipartisan way, starting with my husband, continuing with President Bush, and now with President Obama is a very exciting new approach to our relationship and to the futures we wish to build.

KELEMEN: But she's also gotten a taste of how independent minded this country remains - take the issue of climate change. India's environment minister made clear yesterday that he doesn't want to be pressured by the United States to agree to legally binding limits on the country's greenhouse gas emissions. The Obama administration's special envoy on climate change is staying in New Delhi to work on this issue some more. And Secretary Clinton, today, tried to make the most of that very public dispute.

Secretary of State CLINTON: And so, I thought it was an incredibly important exchange. We understand the difficulties that each of our countries face in trying to deal with climate change. So now let's see if we can together find some creative solutions. So on issue after issue, I think both the president and I are committed to, you know, truly respecting the views of others.

KELEMEN: As is often the case when Secretary Clinton meets with students, several asked her about U.S. politics and how far apart she is on foreign affairs with her new boss. Clinton said that the Democratic primary campaign just amplified slight differences. She seemed to enjoy the interaction.

Ms. RAGINI NAYAK (Former President, Delhi University Students Union): I'm Ragini Nayak, former president of Delhi University Students Union. And please madam if you could, in the hindsight, remember that India has had a women prime minister as early as in the third decade of its post-independence era while America has been deprived - if I can say so…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. NAYAK: …of the same privilege.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Secretary of State CLINTON: You can say so do me.

Ms. NAYAK: …and on…

(Soundbite of laughter)

KELEMEN: But perhaps the lightest moment came when the Secretary was asked about cultural differences between the two big democracies. She said it's time for Indians and Americans to get over the stereotypes promoted by their movies and television.

Secretary of State CLINTON: You know, if Hollywood and Bollywood were how we all lived our lives - that would surprise me. And yet it's often the way our cultures are conveyed, isn't it? You know, people watching a Bollywood movie in some other part of Asia think, you know, everybody in India is beautiful and they have dramatic lives and happy endings.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Secretary of State CLINTON: And if you're to watch American TV and our movies, you think that we don't wear clothes and we spend a lot of time fighting with each other.

(Soundbite of applause)

KELEMEN: The secretary spent the whole weekend doing this sort of public diplomacy and, as she joked, eating too much Indian food, she's clearly hoping that this sort of personal contact will pay-off in the future if she can manage to get this fast growing global power to be a closer partner with the U.S.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, New Delhi.

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