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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

President Bush Delivers Key Speech of South Asian Trip

Aired March 3, 2006 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.
I'm Miles O'Brien.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Carol Costello in for Soledad.

O'BRIEN: We're awaiting the main speech of President Bush's South Asian trip, expected to begin in just a few minutes.

We'll bring it to you live from India as soon as it happens right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

President Bush set to make a key speech in India just minutes from now.

CNN with complete coverage, of course.

Suzanne Malveaux in New Delhi.

Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

And John Roberts in Washington.

We'll start with Suzanne in New Delhi -- Suzanne, do we have a preview of what the president is about to say?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do.

As a matter of fact, there are three different areas.

First of all, he's going to be talking about, on the economic front, the need to, of course, lower tariffs, open trade. There's a $10 billion trade deficit that the U.S. has with India. The president wants to turn that around.

On the military front, the critical importance of India in this region, with neighbors like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran; the need and the cooperation between the United States when it comes to efforts in bioterror, cyber terror, as well as airport security. And then finally, he's going to be talking about the political front. He is going to hold up India as a model of democracy, really, to the rest of the world, and specifically to this region.

He is going to be talking about the multi-cultural, multi- religious aspect of the society, the fact that they live in peace. This is all a part of what the president argues is a new strategic relationship with India, one that he feels Americans will benefit from -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Suzanne Malveaux in New Delhi.

Thank you -- Carol.

COSTELLO: The cornerstone of the president's war on terror has been the war in Iraq. But the increase in violence has changed some of the thinking there. It could have an affect on U.S. troop levels in Iraq.

For that, let's head to the Pentagon and Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr -- good morning, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Carol.

Well, now General John Abizaid and General George Casey, the two top commanders in the war in Iraq, are expected to report to Washington next week to talk to the White House, the Pentagon and Congress about the future, about U.S. troop levels in Iraq. They are beginning to form their next round of recommendations about whether troop levels can come down below the 135,000 there right now.

Two schools of thought, Carol.

Some in the military say yes, Iraqi forces held up during this period of sectarian conflict, so it shows they can take the job on and more U.S. troops can come home. There are other generals, high level commanders, who say no, wait until some of this all settles down and try and determine really what the long-term picture is.

They do believe Iraq will get past this period of unrest, but if the worst, if the worst were to happen and there was civil war, the nightmare scenario, the 135,000 U.S. troops in Iraq still on the sidelines wouldn't be enough to get involved, wouldn't be enough troops to do much about it. And, in fact, that nightmare scenario is U.S. troops might actually have to pull out of Iraq -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon for us this morning.

O'BRIEN: The president appears to be poised to use India as a model, a democracy, the largest democracy in the world, where many religions are able to coexist and where the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well.

CNN's senior national correspondent, John Roberts, is in D.C. to give us a sense of some of the themes -- it appears, John, that the president will hold India up as a model, I think not too subtly. He's talking about this could work in Iraq, as well.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, but, you know, one of the problems is, is that, you know, Iraq is just in the nascent steps of democracy and some people say that there's been a low level civil war going on there. I mean, don't forget, India has had longer than 50 years since the partitioning by the British to try to get its act together and there's still a lot of unrest in India in certain areas.

In terms of what this speech could possibly do for the president here at home, I don't know that it really addresses his problems here. And if you look at our CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll that came out just the other day, there's a very troubling number for President Bush. You know, despite the fact that his numbers were bad on the economy and bad on Iraq, he always had the American people with him on the fight against terrorism.

Look at the old numbers from February. Fifty-four percent of people approved of what he was doing to fight the war on terror, whereas 43 percent approve. Those numbers are beginning to flip around. You know, fewer than a majority of Americans, 47 percent now approve of the way he's handling the war on terror. Forty-nine percent disapprove now.

The majority of Americans still believe that he shows strong leadership, but it's just a -- it's a bare majority. It's now 52 percent. And his overall approval rating has now dipped below 40, 38 percent.

Now, what sort of, you know, effect could that have on him?

Well, in terms of this upcoming election, it's going to be fought on national security and if Republicans in Congress don't think his numbers are big on national security, they may start distancing themselves from him -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Well, maybe they already have, given their -- the way they've sort of distanced themselves on this whole issue of the management of the ports.

That poll happened in the context of the port deal being announced, that the United Arab Emirates would, in fact, propose a deal to manage some key U.S. ports, correct?

ROBERTS: Correct. Yes.

But at this point what I'm picking up from some very prominent Republicans is that they're just checking him on this particular issue and that this isn't going to spread across-the-board in terms of the trust level with the president.

But there's no question that the people at the White House have, you know, they're almost like the gang that can't shoot straight, and when they do shoot straight, they don't tell people about it for 24 hours.

But the problem could be that they're suffering a real fatigue there, that they're burned out, that they need to bring in some new blood. A lot of those people have been in the White House since the president won election and they were working with him on the campaign well before that. And the burnout factor at the White House is extremely accelerated and there is a good chance, according to a lot of people I've talked to, that these people are just so tired they can't keep their finger on the game anymore. O'BRIEN: Well, you know how it works there and how long those days are. And to continue on into your sixth year, I mean most second administrations have wholesale changes just, if nothing else, for that reason.

ROBERTS: Oh, most first-term administrations have wholesale changes at about the two, two-and-a-half year mark, you know? We saw a couple of people leave -- Karen Hughes and Ari Fleischer. But since then, other than people who have been thrown overboard, like the former Treasury secretary and a couple of others, there hasn't been a lot of changes.

You know, for a White House chief of staff to work as long and as hard as Andrew Card has is pretty much unprecedented. You know, he gets up, he's in the White House every day at 5:30, he doesn't go home until 8:00 or 9:00 at night. How long can you keep up that pace and really remain focused?

O'BRIEN: The bionic chief of staff, maybe.

John Roberts in Washington, thank you very much.

The speech just a few minutes away, 8:15 Eastern.

AMERICAN MORNING, of course, will bring it to you live and we will have some analysis for you after, of course.

Let's get the headlines.

Kelly Wallace with that -- good morning, Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles.

And hello, everyone.

A curfew in place in Baghdad aimed at trying to curb some attacks there. There has been a recent up tick in violence since that Shia mosque was attacked last week. Last night, at least 18 workers were killed when gunmen targeted two factories east of Baghdad.

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco just can't catch a break. In some newly released transcripts, Governor Blanco is heard saying that the New Orleans levees were intact after Hurricane Katrina hit when really they had already been breached.

Meantime, former FEMA chief Michael Brown is now slamming Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff over their reaction to the disaster. Brown says Chertoff should step down and he stood by that statement when he spoke with Miles just a bit earlier right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR: He has not grasped what needs to be done. I mean by not -- by letting FEMA be torn apart as it was, by sending me to Baton Rouge and saying that you've got to keep your butt in a chair in Baton Rouge and run a disaster from there, I think, is just naive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Finger pointing continuing six months after the disaster.

A growing controversy to tell you about in a Colorado classroom after a teacher compared President Bush to Adolph Hitler. He also criticized U.S. foreign policy. The teacher, Jay Bennish, says he was just trying to stimulate some debate. He's been placed on administrative leave. Some students walked out to protest his suspension. Others said they were opposed to the teacher's remarks.

And who will take the stage on Oscar night if the film "Crash" picks up an award? Well, it seems a lawsuit was filed against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences by a man claiming to be one of the producers of the film. He says its title was changed, which means he's not eligible to take the stage if the movie wins. The Academy declined to comment on the suit on Thursday.

That's sort of an interesting issue there. For a fascinating movie, Miles and Carol.

I don't know if you both saw it, but it was just incredible.

COSTELLO: Ah, yes.

Yes, but a little controversy probably is actually good for the Oscars.

WALLACE: Well, no, it is. It gins up all that publicity, right?

COSTELLO: It sure does.

WALLACE: OK.

COSTELLO: Thank you, Kelly.

WALLACE: Sure.

COSTELLO: Let's head to Atlanta to check in with Chad -- good morning.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Carol.

(WEATHER REPORT)

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Chad.

MYERS: Sure.

O'BRIEN: Any moment now, we are expecting President Bush's speech to begin in India.

There you see the scene. Live pictures now from New Delhi.

We'll have it for you live as soon as it happens.

Back with more in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Live now to New Delhi and the president.

Let's listen.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Thank you. Please be seated. Distinguished guests, namaste.

(APPLAUSE)

Laura and I have been looking forward to this visit for a long time, and we're delighted to be in India.

Over the past two days we've been grateful for your kind reception, touched by your warm hospitality, and dazzled by this vibrant and exciting land. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the Indian people. I'm honored to bring the good wishes and the respect of the world's oldest democracy to the world's largest democracy.

(APPLAUSE)

Tonight we stand on the ruins of an ancient city that was the capital of an Indian kingdom thousands of years ago. Today it is part of a modern Asian city that is the capital of one of the world's great nations.

(APPLAUSE)

At the heart of a civilization that helped give the world mathematics, cutting-edge businesses now give us the technology of tomorrow. In the birthplace of great religions, a billion souls of varied faiths now live side-by-side in freedom and peace.

(APPLAUSE)

When you come to India in the 21st century, you're inspired by the past, and you can see the future.

India in the 21st century is a natural partner of the United States because we are brothers in the cause of human liberty. Yesterday, I visited a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, and read the peaceful words of a fearless man. His words are familiar in my country because they helped move a generation of Americans to overcome the injustice of racial segregation. When Martin Luther King arrived in Delhi in 1959, he said to other countries, "I may go as a tourist, but to India, I come as a pilgrim."

(APPLAUSE)

I come to India as a friend.

(APPLAUSE)

For many years, the United States and India were kept apart by the rivalries that divided the world. That's changed. Our two great democracies are now united by opportunities that can lift our people, and by threats that can bring down all our progress. The United States and India, separated by half the globe, are closer than ever before, and the partnership between our free nations has the power to transform the world.

(APPLAUSE)

The partnership between the United States and India has deep and sturdy roots in the values we share. Both our nations were founded on the conviction that all people are created equal and are endowed with certain fundamental rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion. Those freedoms are enshrined in law through our written constitutions, and they are upheld daily by institutions common to both our democracies -- an elected legislature, an independent judiciary, a loyal political opposition, and, as I know well here in India, a lively free press.

(APPLAUSE)

In both our countries, democracy is more than a form of government, it is the central promise of our national character. We believe that every citizen deserves equal liberty and justice, because we believe that every life has equal dignity and value. We believe all societies should welcome people of every culture, ethnicity and religion. And because of this enduring commitment, the United States and India have overcome trials in our own history. We're proud to stand together among the world's great democracies.

The partnership between the United States and India begins with democracy, and it does not end there. Our people share a devotion to family, a passion for learning, a love of the arts, and much more. The United States is the proud home of more than two million Americans of Indian descent, a figure that has more than tripled over the last 20 years. America is honored to welcome 500,000 Indian tourists and businesspeople to our country each year. And we benefit from 80,000 Indian students at our universities, more than we have from any other nation. Many Americans have made tremendous contributions to my country in technology and medicine and business and countless other fields.

When I meet with the United States Congress, I talked to a brilliant Indian American who represents the state of Louisiana. I've returned the salute of Indian Americans who defend my nation in battle as members of the United States Armed Forces. And on a sad morning three years ago, we learned that a brave astronaut born in India had been lost aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. I know that India will always be proud of Dr. Kalpana Chawla, and so will the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

Americans are spending more time in India, as well, and it's easy to see why. India is rich in history, culture, and activities -- from the mountains of Delhi to the holy sites of Varanasi, to the studios of Bollywood. Today I met with a fascinating group of students and farmers and entrepreneurs in Hyderabad -- plus it was exciting to be in the hometown of Sania Mirza.

(APPLAUSE)

To encourage more travel and more contact between our people, the United States intends to open a new consulate in Hyderabad. We'll also build a new state-of-the-art American Center here in Delhi. By taking these steps we'll continue to strengthen the ties between our two countries, our two democracies.

At the start of this young century, the United States of America and the Republic of India are working together to achieve two great purposes, to expand the circle of prosperity and development across the world, and to defeat our common enemies by advancing the just and noble cause of human freedom.

Our first great purpose is to spread prosperity and opportunity to people in our own land, to millions who have not known it. The freedom that sustains India's democracy is now bringing dramatic changes to India's economy. Thanks to your country's wise economic reforms and advances in technology, unprecedented opportunities are coming to India, and you are seizing those opportunities.

India's innovative people have begun to look outward and connect to the global economy as never before. Today, India has more cell phones than land-line phones. And all that separates a business in Bangalore from a business in Boston is an e-mail, a text message, or video conference. Indian entrepreneurs have used these new connections to meet the demands of consumers and businesses all across the globe. As a result, your economy has more than doubled in size since you opened up your markets in 1991. You've dramatically raised the living standards of your citizens. India's middle class now numbers 300 million people, more than the entire population of the United States.

America welcomes India's economic rise, because we understand that as other nations prosper, it creates more opportunity for us all. In a free economy, every citizen has something to contribute. That is why trade is such a powerful engine of prosperity and upward mobility. When markets are opened and the poor are given a chance to develop their talents and abilities, they can create a better life for their families, they add to the wealth of the world, and they can begin to afford goods and services from other nations. Free and fair trade is good for India, it's good for America, and it is good for the world.

In my country, some focus only on one aspect of our trade relationship with India: outsourcing. It's true that some Americans have lost jobs when their companies moved operations overseas. It's also important to remember that when someone loses a job, it's an incredibly difficult period for the worker and their families. Some people believe the answer to this problem is to wall off our economy from the world through protectionist policies. I strongly disagree. My government is helping Americans who have lost their jobs get new skills for new careers. And we're helping to create millions of new jobs in both our countries by embracing the opportunities of a global economy.

We see those opportunities here in India. Americans who come to this country will see Indian consumers buying McCurry Meals from McDonald's, home appliances from Whirlpool. They will see Indian businesses buying American products like the 68 planes that Air India recently order from Boeing. They will also see American businesses like General Electric and Microsoft and Intel who are in India to learn about the needs of local customers and do vital research that makes their products more competitive in world markets. The United States will not give into the protectionists and lose these opportunities. For the sake of workers in both our countries, America will trade with confidence.

(APPLAUSE)

India has responsibilities, as well. India needs to continue to lift its caps on foreign investment, to make its rules and regulations more transparent, and to continue to lower its tariffs and open its markets to American agricultural products, industrial goods and services. We also hope India will continue to work to ensure that its own people are treated fairly by enforcing laws that protect children and workers from trafficking and exploitation and abuse. By enforcing its laws and educating its people and continuing to open up its economy, India can assure that prosperity and opportunity of a growing economy reaches all segments of India's population.

The world also needs India's leadership to open up global markets. The Doha Round of trade talks at the World Trade Organization provides the greatest opportunity to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and boost economic growth in both our countries. The United States has been pushing for an ambitious agreement on services and manufacturing and agriculture. Prime Minister Singh and I share the goal of completing the Doha Round by the end of this year, and we'll work together to achieve this goal. By completing Doha we will help build a world that lives in liberty, and trades in freedom, and grows in prosperity, and America and India will lead the way.

(APPLAUSE)

By leading together, America and India can meet other global challenges, and one of the biggest is energy. Like America, India's growing economy requires growing amounts of electricity. And the cleanest and most reliable way to meet that need is through civilian nuclear power. Last summer in Washington, America and India reached an agreement to share civilian nuclear technology and to bring India's civilian nuclear programs under the safeguards of the International Atomic Agency. In our meetings this week, Palestinian Singh and I agreed on a plan to implement this historic initiative. Our agreement will strengthen the security and the economy of both our nations.

(APPLAUSE)

By applying the most advanced technology and international standards to India's civilian nuclear program, we will increase safety and reduce the risk of proliferation. And by helping India meet its energy needs, we will take the pressure off the price of fossil fuels for consumers in India and America and around the world. We'll help India be good stewards of our environment, and we will strengthen the bonds of trust between our two great nations.

(APPLAUSE)

America and India are also cooperating closely in agriculture. The United States worked with India to help meet its food needs in the 1960s, when pioneering American scientists like Norman Borlaug shared agriculture technology with Indian farmers. Thanks to your hard work, you have nearly tripled your food production over the past half- century. To build on this progress, Prime Minister Singh and I are launching a new Agricultural Knowledge Initiative. This initiative will invest $100 million to encourage exchanges between American and Indian scientists and promote joint research to improve farming technology. By working together the United States and India will develop better ways to grow crops and get them to market, and lead a second Green Revolution.

(APPLAUSE)

America and India are pursuing an historic agenda for cooperation in many other areas. We're working together to improve education and conservation and natural disaster response. We're cooperating closely in science and technology. And to promote the ties between American and Indian scientists, we're establishing a new $30-million science and technology commission that will fund joint research in promising areas like biotechnology.

(APPLAUSE)

We're working to improve health by confronting the threat of avian flu, reducing the spread of malaria and tuberculosis, and eliminating polio in India. Our nations also share the global challenge of HIV/AIDS. India must confront this challenge directly, openly, and at all levels of society. And as you do, America will be your partner in turning the tide against this terrible disease.

(APPLAUSE)

The United States and India have ambitious goals for our partnership. We have unprecedented opportunities in this world. We can look to the future with confidence because our relationship has never been better. America and India are global leaders and we are good friends, and when we work together, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

(APPLAUSE)

The second great purpose is to confront the threats of our time by fighting terror and advancing freedom across the globe. Both our nations have known the pain of terror on our home soil. On September the 11th, 2001, nearly 3,000 innocent people were murdered in my country, including more than 30 who were born in India. Just over three months ago, terrorists struck the Parliament House here in Delhi, an attack on the heart of Indian democracy.

In both our countries, people have struggled to understand the reason for terrorist assaults on free societies. We've begun to learn some of the answers. The terrorists are followers of a violent ideology that calls for the murder of Christians and Hindus and Sikhs and Jews, and vast numbers of Muslims who do not share their radical views.

The terrorists' goal is to impose a hateful vision that denies all political and religious freedom. Those terrorists lack the military strength to challenge great nations directly, so they use the weapon of fear.

When terrorists murder innocent office workers in New York or killed shoppers at a market in Dehli or blow up commuters in London, they hope these horrors will break our will. They target democracies because they think we are weak. And they think we can be frightened into retreat. The terrorists have misunderstood our countries. America and India love our freedom. And we will fight to keep it.

When your prime minister addressed the U.S. Congress, he said this: "We must fight terrorism wherever it exists because terrorism anywhere threatens democracy everywhere." He's right. So America and India are allies in the war against terror.

After the attacks of September the 11th, the Indian Navy provided vital support to Operation Enduring Freedom by relieving American ships securing the Strait of Malacca, and we thank the Indian Navy.

Today, our nations are cooperating closely on critical areas like bio-terrorism and airport security and cyber security. Our military cooperation is stronger than ever before. America and India are in this war together. And we will win this war together.

In the long run, the United States and India understand that winning the war on terror requires changing the conditions that give rise to terror. History shows us the way. From the east to west, we've seen that only one force is powerful enough to replace hatred with hope, and that is the force of human freedom.

Free societies do not harbor terrorists or breed resentment. Free societies respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors. Free societies are peaceful societies. As your first prime minister, Prime Minister Nehru, once said, "Evil flourishes far more in the shadows than in the light of day." Together, America and India will bring the light of freedom to the darkest corners of our earth.

Nearly 60 years have passed since India mounted a courageous fight for a free country of your own. American people stood with you in the struggle for freedom. President Franklin Roosevelt was one of the first world leaders to support India's independence.

Through the decades, India has built a strong democracy in which people from different faiths live together in freedom and peace. India has a Hindu majority and one of the world's largest Muslim populations. India is also home to millions of Sikhs and Christians and other religious groups.

All worship freely in temples and mosques and churches all across this great land. Indians of diverse backgrounds attend school together and work together and govern your nation together. There's a multiethnic, multi-religious democracy. India is showing the world that the best way to ensure fairness and tolerance is to establish the rule of law.

The best way to counter resentment is to allow peaceful expression. The best way to honor human dignity is to protect human rights. For every nation divided by race religion or culture, India offers a hopeful path. If justice is the goal, then democracy is the way.

The world has benefited from the example of India's democracy, and now the world needs India's leadership in freedom's cause. As a global power, India has an historic duty to support democracy around the world. Afghanistan, which I just visited on Wednesday, the world is beginning to see what India's leadership can accomplish.

Since the Taliban was removed from power, India has pledged $565 million to help the Afghan people to get back on their feet. Your country has trained national assembly staff, developing a similar program for the assembly's elected leaders.

You recently announced that you'll provide an additional $50 million to help the Afghans complete their national assembly building. After so many years of suffering, the Afghan people are reclaiming a future of hope and freedom, and they will always remember that in their hour of need, India stood with them.

India is also showing its leadership in the cause of democracy by co-founding the Global Democracy Initiative. Prime minister Singh and I were proud to be the first two contributors of this initiative to promote democracy and development across the world.

Now India can build on this commitment by working directly with nations where democracy is just beginning to emerge. As the world's young democracy takes shape, India offers a compelling example of how to preserve a country's unique culture and history while guaranteeing the universal freedoms that are the foundation of genuine democracies.

India's leadership is needed in a world that is hungry for freedom. Men and women from North Korea to Burma to Syria to Zimbabwe to Cuba yearn for their liberty. In Iran, a proud people is held hostage by a small clerical elite that denies basic liberties, sponsors terrorism, and pursues nuclear weapons.

Our nations must not pretend that the people of these countries prefer their own enslavement. We must stand with reformers and dissidents and civil society organizations and hasten the day when the people of these nations can determine their own future and choose their own leaders. These people may not gain their liberty overnight, but history is on their side.

Tonight, I will leave India to travel to Pakistan, another important partner and friend of the United States. There was a time when America's good relations with Pakistan would have been a source of concern here in India. That day has passed.

India's better off because America has a close relationship with Pakistan. And Pakistan is better off because America has a close relation with India. On my trip to Islamabad, I will meet with President Musharraf to discuss Pakistan's vital cooperation in the war on terror and our efforts to foster economic and political development so we can reduce the appeal of radical Islam.

I believe that a prosperous, democratic Pakistan will be a steadfast partner for America, a peaceful neighbor for India, and a force for freedom and moderation in the Arab world.

The advancement of freedom is a great story of our time. In 1945, just two years before India achieved independence, there were fewer than two dozen democracies on earth. Today, there are more than a hundred. And democracies are developing and thriving from Asia to Africa to Eastern Europe to Latin America.

The whole world can see that freedom is not an American value or an Indian value. Freedom is a universal value. And that is because the source of freedom is a power greater than our own. Mahatma Gandhi said, "Freedom is the gift of God and the right of every nation." Let us remember those words as we head into the 21st Century.

In a few days, I'll return to America, and I will never forget my time here in India. America is proud to call your democracy a friend. We're optimistic about your future. The great Indian opponent (ph) Tagore once wrote, "There is only one history. The history of man." The United States and India go forward with faith in those words. There's only one history of man, and it leads to freedom. May God bless India.

Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: The president of the United States in New Delhi addressing the crowd there. Considered a key speech on his trip of South Asia. He will make his way now to Pakistan, as he referenced in his speech.

Focusing on the war on terror and on freedom and democracy and how democracy in India has allowed that country to prosper economically and has allowed many groups of separate religions to live in peace, making that point obviously, to the world as the U.S. continues its efforts in the country of Iraq which, of course, now stands on the cusp of civil war.

Watching this speech for us from Washington, CNN's senior national correspondent, John Roberts. John, was that the speech you expected?

ROBERTS: Yes. I mean, absolutely. He hit on all the right things in terms of America's increasingly close relationship with India. But, you know, there's a few ironies in the whole thing. Of course, the president speaks about India being the largest democracy in the world. And, in fact, it is, and people living in peace together. But let's not forget, though, that there's that huge problem in the northern part of India with Kashmir. There's been three wars that have been fought with Pakistan over it. They've almost gone to war a couple of times in the last few years over it again. And certainly that's a real point of contention.

India also has this incredibly divisive caste system where you have a lot of people on the top who are increasingly prosperous and a lot of people at the bottom who probably have less than they had just a few years ago. So there's certainly some problems there.

Also, when he's talking about democracy in the region, there's another irony in that today he is heading to Pakistan, which six years after General Musharraf took power there, still has yet to see a presidential election. He still is, in effect, a military dictator. It's just that it's pretty advantageous for the United States to be good friends with Musharraf because he's helping them out in the war on terror.

And the deal that he signed in India certainly is going to create some problems for Pakistan. You remember back in 1998 when the two of them were trading nuclear tests, the United States sort of gave both of them the cold shoulder because they had not signed on to the nuclear proliferation treaty and they were pursuing nuclear weapons.

Well, now the president has signed this deal with India to say, "OK, you don't have to sign on to the nuclear proliferation treaty, but we're going to bring some of your reactors" -- I think 14 out of 22 of them -- "under civilian control. We're going to designate those as civilian reactors, and they'll have to be open to inspection."

But then, at the same time, India gets to pursue its nuclear weapons program and also has a provision where it can continue to build these so-called fast breeder reactors, which are great at making plutonium for nuclear bombs. Now, Pakistan is going to say, "Well, wait a second. Now, how can you treat India that way and you're going to keep a lid on our nuclear program?" So there's definitely some tensions there.

And not only will there be tensions between Pakistan and India over this nuclear deal, but there's going to be tensions between the president and Congress, which eventually has to approve this whole thing. There's a lot of members of Congress who are saying, "Hey, this is kind of hypocritical to be able to say to India, 'You can have your nuclear program,' whereas, we are trying to put the thumb on Iran to say, 'You can't have your nuclear program.'"

And other countries of the world will argue, "Well, if there's a carve out for India, there should be a carve out for us. India is being seen as a very unique situation, and the reason why it's unique is because allowing India to become stronger and acquire nuclear weapons is an effective counter-balance to China. But many people think that that's a dangerous game to play, particularly in as volatile a region as India is in. O'BRIEN: John Roberts in Washington. Thank you very much -- Carol?

COSTELLO: Andy is "Minding Your Business" in just a minute.

Also, later on AMERICAN MORNING, we'll meet a young woman doing her part to fight a troubling epidemic among African-American women. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us for his special series, "Fit Nation." Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back. Let's check some other stories. Kelly Wallace in the newsroom. Good morning, Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles. Hello, everyone. A curfew in place in Baghdad aimed at curbing attacks there. As you might know, there's been a recent uptick in violence since that Shiite mosque, one of the holy sites in Iraq, was attacked last week. Last night, at least 18 workers were killed when gunmen targeted two factories east of Baghdad.

The Patriot Act making its way now through Congress. The Senate voted to approve the terror-fighting law. The House now expected to approve the measure next week. President Bush has said he will sign it into law.

He's admitted to accepting nearly $2.5 million worth of bribes. Now he'll do the time. Former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham is set to be sentenced today. Prosecutors are asking for a ten-year sentence.

And actress Jessica Alba is angry about some new exposure she's getting. "Playboy" magazine put her on this month's cover. She appears in a bikini looking fabulous -- I think I want to say -- next to the 25 sexiest celebrities. Alba says the picture was used without her consent, and that it implies she posed nude for the magazine. She wants "Playboy" to pull the issue or she will sue. So we'll be following that story. But she looks amazing. That's all I can say to that one.

COSTELLO: There is an argument out here about whether "Playboy" should have put Jessica Alba's picture on the front of the magazine. I'm saying if she didn't give her permission, she should not have. You're saying?

M. O'BRIEN: I'm kind of grassy (ph) to all of this. I think the whole thing is made up.

(CROSSTALK)

M. O'BRIEN: That's my theory. They got in cahoots and they said, "You know what? You pretend like you're made, and we will put the magazine -- and the magazine will be all over CNN."

(CROSSTALK) COSTELLO: OK, we're way deep into conspiracy theories this morning. Let's talk about a former clothing executive, because he is on the front lines of an environmental battle. That's interesting.

ANDY SERWER, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "FORTUNE": Yes, it is, Carol. A couple of far-out stories for you this morning. First of all, battles between environmentalists and utility companies are nothing new. But this is one with a twist.

A guy named Douglas Tompkins the North Face Clothing Company -- and he has three clothing companies -- moved down to Chile in 1991, took $170 million of his own money, and bought thousands, tens of thousands, almost 200,000 acres of land and formed a nature preserve.

Well, guess what? Andessa (ph), a giant utility from Spain, wants to build a mega power plant down there, $4 billion power plant nearby, and string huge electrical wires all across the preserve. Guess what? Mr. Tompkins and his wife are not at all happy.

Here's a map. It's down in Patagonia, Chilean Patagonia, which is absolutely stunning country. I'd really love to go someday. And he's saying, "Look, would you put power wires through the Grand Canyon?" Good question.

M. O'BRIEN: But he's not in the United States anymore.

SERWER: That's right. And also, you know, they really need power desperately in Chile. In fact, this has some of the most highest power costs.

COSTELLO: Well, why can't they bury the line?

(CROSSTALK)

SERWER: Well, they're going to dam up rivers as well, so he's concerned about that. But Ted Turner also owns land near there. Of course, the founder of CNN.

COSTELLO: Maybe they can join forces.

SERWER: They probably will be. And then the Chileans won't know what hit them.

Another company, another far-out story to talk about. This concerns far-out executive Patrick Byrne, the CEO of a company called Overstock.com, which is a discount retailer on the net. His father happens to be the chairman, Jack Byrne, a respected insurance executive.

But he says he's sick of his son's antics. His son thinks that short sellers -- which are people who are betting this company's stock will go down -- are in cahoots with journalists. And he goes on these rants where he talks about sith (ph) lords, cocaine abuse. It starts talking Star Trek. And he doesn't make a whole lot of sense, quite frankly.

O'BRIEN: Kind of like Paula Abdul some.

SERWER: Yes. His father says he's on a jihad. So there's a lot of very interesting language going on here. And stay tuned. Watch this one. It's going to be good.

COSTELLO: You know, I'm coming to believe that having lots and lots of money does something to your head.

SERWER: I'll never know.

O'BRIEN: I'd like to try it to see if I go insane.

SERWER: Give it a hand. Give it a whirl.

O'BRIEN: I think I might be the guy that can handle it.

SERWER: Yes.

O'BRIEN: It's been six months since Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and we're still seeing signs of business trying to come to life. One of New Orleans' most popular neighborhood restaurants now in a new location far away, Baton Rouge. For the man who runs it, it's good enough for now, but he would like to get back to where he belongs. Candy Crowley has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOMMY MANDINA, OWNER, "MANDINA'S RESTAURANT": Come on. This is my daughter. She's the boss. All right. Welcome to Mandina's.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Tommy Mandina grew up living over the restaurant on Canal Street in New Orleans. Now he walks through what remains, water-ravaged history.

MANDINA: It's been in my family since the turn of the century. It started off as a grocery store. Then, in 1932, my daddy and uncle took it over with my mama and made it a small neighborhood family restaurant.

CROWLEY: In pre-K New Orleans, before Katrina, as many as 500 to 600 people would come through Mandina's on the weekends for the roast beef or the oyster sandwich, for the Miss Hilda (ph) old fashion and the conversation.

MANDINA: Give me two points, the doc, the judge, and a number of other people would all stand around the corner of the bar in the evening, get a cocktail, talk about politics.

CROWLEY: You do not have to go far to see what he remembers. Welcome to Mandina's Baton Rouge, just 80 miles up the road from New Orleans. His partners found the space and talked him into opening up. His employees needed the work. He needed the money. And as Mandina notes, Baton Rouge is where the people are. He didn't start out planning to stay, but it began to feel familiar, and there is comfort in that. MANDINA: They order what they used to order in New Orleans, you know, like an old-fashioned, a Miss Hilda old-fashioned, named after my mother. And I've got to go make it, otherwise it's not right.

CROWLEY: And with a Miss Hilda or two, or even without, there is political talk, New Orleans style.

MANDINA: Five storms come a year to Louisiana. Do you evacuate every time? Come on, man. Build the damn levees right and we won't have to evacuate.

CROWLEY: Baton Rouge has been very, very good to Tommy Mandina. The parking lot is gridlocked, the tables fill as soon as they empty, the people are great. He wants to stay, but he wants to go.

MANDINA: I'm trying. But it's not home. Let me just say that. I want to go home, all right? Make no mistake about that. We belong on Canal Street. But I love this town, and it's been wonderful being here.

CROWLEY: Mandina seems the embodiment of New Orleans, ultimately depressed and determined. Somewhere between happy to have survived and furious with what he lived through.

MANDINA: Maybe the government will see this. And then maybe we can get some people down here to fix this damn levee system.

CROWLEY: He's on the road somewhere between what was, what is, and what he wants it to be.

MANDINA: Give me about eight months. You be back?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, good. He miss that roast beef!

MANDINA: You miss the roast beef?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, best roast beef in New Orleans!

MANDINA: Eight months, baby!

CROWLEY: Tommy Mandina is somewhere between one restaurant and two.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Baton Rouge

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Good job, candy. As you can see, Tommy's customers want him back as badly as he wants to be back. He plans to fulfill that promise as soon as he can. We'll keep you posted.

COSTELLO: We sure will. Top stories coming up. Gunmen kill at least 18 people in Iraq. President Bush's approval ratings hovering near record lows.

Former FEMA director Michael Brown says Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff should resign. The so-called bandit facing sentencing. And Hollywood gets ready for its big night. We'll make our fearless Oscar predictions. That's just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: One trip south of the border was all it took for an Alabama to decide she wanted to spend the rest of her life there. Mexico has become a haven for many self-described gringo retirees. Jennifer Westhoven has more in the latest installment of "Life After Work."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NANCY HOWZE, RETIRED IN MEXICO: I have the most delightful, beautiful life. I'm just a little person from Alabama, and I get to live this wonderful life every single day.

JENNIFER WESTHOVEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nancy Howze had never even been to Mexico when a friend of hers said, "Why not retire south of the border?" Now she's living the good life after leaving her real estate job back in Birmingham.

HOWZE: One of the things that is so wonderful about the community of people that live San Miguel is that everybody is warm and welcoming. We're all people who have left friends and family behind, so that gives us a common -- it's like a level playing field, so to speak, when we all arrive. And people are very helpful to tell you, "Well, now, this is how you do this."

WESTHOVEN: Set in the mountains four hours north of Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende is home to thousands of American retirees. The warm weather, vibrant arts community, and affordable household help make this town particularly attractive to those who want something different. Like Nancy. She has a driver, a cook, and a maid and says they bring her closer to the Mexican community.

HOWZE: I'm often included in things, personal things, in my staff's lives. Like the baptism of their children, or quincinera (ph). I personally love the peace and quiet and tranquility. Because, for me, it's now like I have everything. I couldn't imagine a better life.

Jennifer Westhoven, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: I can't either. Before you fill out those Oscar pools, you want to watch our Oscar predictions. "Us Weekly's" Bradley Jacobs tells us his picks. He's got a pretty good track record with these things. Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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