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Transcript of Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson in Washington on Prime Minister’s visit to USA (April 1, 2016)

April 02, 2016

Official Spokesperson (Shri Vikas Swarup): Good afternoon friends and welcome to our final briefing of the day on the Nuclear Security Summit. I have with me Shri Amandeep Gill, our Joint Secretary (Disarmament & International Security Affairs). Since Prime Minister’s intervention is about to start, I will not be able to take any questions. I will just make a couple of statements. I will brief you on Prime Minister’s meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron. Aman will then brief you on the Nuclear Security Summit and we will wrap it up at that.

Joint Secretary (Disarmament & International Security Affairs) (Shri Amandeep Singh Gill): Good afternoon, good to see you again.

The Summit deliberations have continued after the plenary session on national actions. The focus at the working lunch was on international cooperation and institutional coordination. The Heads of the IAEA, the United Nations and INTERPOL addressed the leaders, and this animated the conversation on the contribution of five institutions - the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the INTERPOL and then two partnerships, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the G8 Global Partnership. With the exception of the last institution, India is a member of the other four.

The Summit has taken note of the action plans that have been negotiated for these five institutions. These action plans will be released this evening and they contain specific steps, specific priorities that the participants in the NSS process would pursue in these institutions.

Now becoming a little more India-specific, Prime Minister is underlining our contribution to the IAEA since IAEA plays the central coordinating role on nuclear security issues. We mentioned in the morning that India would be contributing a million dollars to the IAEA. There is an IAEA Ministerial Conference happening in December this year, the second such conference. By successfully institutionalizing Ministerial level interaction on nuclear security, the IAEA is ensuring that the political momentum of the Nuclear Security Summits is sustained and the 150 plus members of the IAEA are able to engage on this issue at a senior level.

India is also underlining the role of the INTERPOL. The IAEA has primary focus on materials, on illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive material whereas the INTERPOL is the primary agency for law enforcement related cooperation. The individuals who are suspected of nuclear trafficking, the foreign terrorist fighters who may link up with nuclear traffickers, all these are part of the INTERPOL databases. As we mentioned in the morning, India would be working with the INTERPOL to organize an event on countering nuclear smuggling. This would be a follow-up to an international conference that the INTERPOL organized in Lyon on this particular topic.

We will also be hosting an event of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. This is a partnership of nearly 90 countries that was set up in 2006 and is jointly chaired by Russia and the United States. India has been a member. This is a partnership that focuses on practical cooperation, on experience sharing, on tabletop exercises and other ways of enhancing capacity to deal with nuclear security threats.

There was mention also of the UN Security Council Resolution 1540 in these discussions. India believes that that is a very important mechanism to ensure that non-state actors do not get access to nuclear material and nuclear technologies and that countries around the world strengthen their export control measures.

Finally I would like to mention the importance we attach to the UN’s role as a universal platform to bring together different strands of work on nuclear security. The UN is also the forum where India moves every year a consensus resolution on WMD terrorism. As you know, in recent months there has been a broader focus going beyond nuclear terrorism on to other parts of the weapons of mass destruction spectrum, chemical weapons, possibly biological agents. There has been use of chemical agents in the Syria-Iraq sector by a non-state actor. So, our platform and our future work would also focus on this broader threat.

Let me stop there and hand it back to Vikas.

Official Spokesperson: Thank you Aman.

I will now brief you on the bilateral meeting that Prime Minister had with Prime Minister David Cameron of the U.K. It was a very warm meeting. Both leaders recalled their meeting in November in the U.K. when Prime Minister had gone there on an official visit. Prime Minister in fact said he very fondly remembered his U.K. visit. The event at Wembley had become part of history in fact. And he said that ties with the U.K. had since then become richer and deeper. He said the possibilities are increasing, especially on the economic side, and how we can encash those depends on us.

In this context, both the leaders reviewed the decisions that had been taken during Prime Minister’s visit to the U.K., in particular the decision to launch the Rubicon’s at the London Stock Exchange with Prime Minister Cameron expressing happiness that it was proceeding very well.

He also said that we need to increase our partnership in defence. Prime Minister said that high-tech defence production had now been opened up to 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment; India had skilled manpower, cheap labour was also available; as such, the U.K. can become a very important partner in the Make In India initiative, particularly in the defence sector. Prime Minister also recalled that the U.K. had participated in the International Fleet Review as also in the Defence Expo.

The two leaders then discussed some of the other pending issues between them, especially stepping up cooperation in anti-terrorism. Prime Minister also raised the issue of Tier-2 visas for ICT companies. He said that skilled professionals should not find it difficult to come to work in the U.K. And in this context the recommendations made by the Migration Advisory Committee could cast a negative light and we need to find a solution. Prime Minister Cameron promised to take a look at it. He said that we do not want to disadvantage bona fide IT companies but at the same time we would also want to ensure that the U.K. system is not misused. So, this I think was broadly the discussions between Prime Minister David Cameron and Prime Minister Modi.

Because many of you had asked me questions regarding the decision on Masood Azhar by the UN-1267 Committee, I will read out a statement.

"We are disappointed that a technical hold has been put on India’s application to designate terror leader Mohd. Masood Azhar in the United Nations Security Council committee established under UN Security Council Resolutions 1267, 1989 and 2253. We find it incomprehensible that while the Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed was listed by the UN Security Council committee established under UNSCR 1267, 1989 and 2253 as far back as 2001 for its well known terror activities and links to the Al Qaeda, the designation of the group’s main leader, financer and motivator has been put on a technical hold. The recent terror attack in Pathankot on January 2 has shown that India continues to bear the dangerous consequences of not listing Masood Azhar. Given the global networking of terrorist groups, this has implications for the entire international community. It needs no emphasis that the UN Security Council 1267 regime is an important building block of the UN Global counterterrorism strategy that should aim to protect all member states and their citizens from the activities of terror groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and its leader Mohd. Masood Azhar. Its working methods based on the principles of unanimity and anonymity is leading the committee to adopt a selective approach to combating terrorism. This does not reflect well on the determination that the international community needs to display to decisively defeat the menace of terrorism.”

Question: Can you give us a copy of this statement?

Official Spokesperson: Yes, we will be putting it out in the website also.

Question: Anything by Cameron on Brexit?

Official Spokesperson:
There were discussions on various other issues also. As I said, I have briefed you on what I could brief you.

Question: On Prime Minister’s meetings with President Obama last evening you tweeted a large number of pictures where they were seen intensely discussing something. Can you throw some light on what they discussed, what issues came up?

Official Spokesperson: Actually I have not had time to discuss with Prime Minister on what they spoke about but hopefully once I have an opportunity of discussing with the Prime Minister, I could brief you in my next briefing.

Question: Since there is no other briefing, could you just give us a bit of an idea on whether there would be some suggestion from India on taking this initiative of nuclear security forward in some manner? That is a question for Aman. And you mentioned about India hosting some summit of 90 participants. Could you just elaborate a bit on that?

Joint Secretary (Disarmament & International Security Affairs) (Shri Amandeep Singh Gill): I think what I said was that there is a global initiative to combat nuclear terrorism which is a partnership of around 90 countries. So we have offered to host a meeting of that in 2017. It is a group that is called the Implementation Assessment Working Group. So, it assesses the overall work of that partnership. That is what India will host.

Your other question was about a follow-up to this summit process. There have been different ideas that have been put on the table in terms of follow up. I mentioned to you the most popular idea which is that a follow-up should be institutionalized through the IAEA’s Ministerial level conferences. These are held every three years. The first one was in July 2013 and the next one is in December 2016. That is one institution where there will be follow-up. Then there will be smaller groups working on more specific issues. In the morning I mentioned that one of the gift baskets we will be joining is of contact group in Vienna where some of the technical expertise, this feeling of community, the feeling of working together that has been put together through this summit process, would be capitalized.

Official Spokesperson: I think Prime Minister is just about to speak. So, I have to leave now.

Question: Is there any progress on India’s aspiration to become a member of NSG in the …(Inaudible)… ?

Joint Secretary (Disarmament & International Security Affairs): Let me put it this way. This summit is not about export control regimes but we continue to make progress in our conversations with participating governments or members of the NSG and we will keep at it.

Question: …(Inaudible)… between Modi and Abe?

Official Spokesperson: Yes, we do expect a meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Abe.

Than you.
(Concluded)

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