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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (July 13, 2017)

July 13, 2017

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Namashkar Mitron! Aap sabakaa swaagat hai.

Good afternoon friends, you are very warmly welcome. We are meeting after some time because of the intervening visits. I do not have any prepared statement or announcement to make but I do have, to supplement an information which we issued earlier at the day. This is aboutthe unfortunate fire tragedy in Najran Saudi Arabia. We had circulated to you, electronically, most of you would have received, the names of 11 Indian worker who unfortunately passed away in the fire incident yesterday morning in Saudi Arabia.

The state affiliations of the last two individuals were not available at that time we sent the information to you. Now those are available. Number 10 on the list that you have Mr.Subedar is from Punjab and number 11 Mohammad Wasim is from Uttar Pradesh. So out of eleven that makes it 5 from Uttar Pradesh, 3 from Kerala and 1 each from Bihar, Tamil Nadu and Punjab.

As we had also mentioned our consulate is extending all possible help. Official has been deputed to be there, they are also in touch with the Governorate of the Najran region which is quite far, about 900 kms from Jeddah, but we are in touch with the local authorities as well as the hospital to ensure that all possible assistance and treatment is extended to the injured who are there. There details are being obtained and also our consulate will be assisting in the early repatriation of the mortal remains and completing other formalities with employers. So that is the piece of information on this tragic incident which I thought I should supplement because we had circulated the information. I have no further information and announcement from my side, the floor is now open for questions.

Question: This is on China. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson yesterday tried to bring in Kashmir into the whole controversy in the Sikkim region that the stand of that we are having and he said the because of Kashmir, the entire region is disturbed. Would you like to comment on that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay:
It is not fair on my part to comment on another official’s comment however, we have seen the report and our stand is absolutely clear. As far as I recall the report that I have seen on the remarks that you referred to mention something about the Kashmir issue being central to the peace and stability, you all very well are aware and as not only the government but as Indians, all of us know that at the heart of the matter is really the issue of cross-border terrorism perpetrated on India, including on the people of state of Jammu & Kashmir.

So really the matter is cross-border terrorism in our region, emanating from a particular source is threatening the peace and stability of not only India but peace and stability of the entire region and the world. So that is where we stand. As far as Kashmir itself is concerned, you know that the government’s position has been very consistent and clear. We are ready to and we have been ready to have dialogue with Pakistan among other issues, on Jammu & Kashmir but in a bilateral framework. So that position of addressing all issues with Pakistan including the Jammu & Kashmir issue in a bilateral framework has not changed.

Question: There have been some unusual claims in the Pakistani media that in the state of Jammu & Kashmir there are some chemical weapons being used, any reaction to that? And there are some counter-claims also that Hizbul Mujahidin indeed is using chemical weapons, they are thinking of using that and if I may, any update on Kulbhushan Jadhav?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay:
You are right, the claims are not only unusual but they are completely baseless and incorrect. India is against the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere in the world. In fact it was quite surprising for us to see that what the government of Pakistan was saying essentially. They had taken the cue or they had taken a leaf out of the book of Lashkar-e-Taiba on those ridiculous comments and I cannot comment on it. I leave at you to draw your own conclusions as to what it implies if a government is reading from the text books or statements by internationally banned terrorists organizations.

On Kulbhushan Jadhav, there is a process which is on in the International Court of Justice. Last time we spoke about it we mentioned that there will be a memorial or a submission by India by 13th and then the court had given certain timelines for India as well as to Pakistan, that process is under way, those things are being done and in terms of consular access to us for Mr. Jadhav, I think there is no progress on that as far as my information is concerned and also on the visa for the family including hismother. I think there is no change in the position that was prevailing when we spoke on this last time.

Question: Abhi Pakistan media mein report aa rahi hai kii Pakistan foreign office ne bayaan diya hai ki wo consider kar rahe hain Kulbhushan Jadhav ki maa ke visa ko lekar, to abhi aapane to clarify kiyaa lekin kyaa koi diplomatic channel ke jariye kyaa abhi tak ye suchanaa nahi aayi hai?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Hamaare paas is tarah ki koi bhi suchanaa nahi hai. Maine bhi wo media report dekhi hai jo aap keh rahe hain ki unki briefing mein abhi thodi der pehle hi unhone kahaa hai, shaayad Pakistan ke electronic media mein ye khabar hai, hamne bhi usko dekhaa hai lekin diplomatic channels ke maadhyam se is tarah ki koi bhi jaankaari hamaare paas nahi hai.

Question: Bharat aur China ke beech jo conflict hai Doklam area mein wo lagaataar banaa huaa hai, yahaan tak ki Foreign Secretary ke jo bayaan aaye us se bhi China ittefaaq nahi rakhataa hai aur zaahir taur par China ki taraf se lagaataar ye dabaav ban rahaa hai ki Bharat apani senaa ko wapas bulaaye, uske baad hi stithi wahaan par saamaanya ho sakti hai. Hum kin maadhyamon se koshish kar rahe hain ki wahaan par stithi badtar naa ho, yaani yuddh ke haalaat na banein aur kyaa Bharat ki taraf se abhi tak kadam uthaaye gaye hain?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Aapko sab logon ko pataa hai ki BRICS leaders ki jo an-aupchaarik bhent hui thii, Hamburg mein G20 Shikhar Sammelan ke margins par, usmein Pradhan Mantri Modi aur Rashtrapati Xi Jinping ke beech, BRICS leaders informal meeting ke baad, ek samvaad hua thaa jismein unhone bahut saare muddon par baat kari thi.

As we had said a range of issues were discussed, as far as Doklam area issue is concerned, we have diplomatic channels available, the embassies are there in both countries and those channels will continue to be used.

Question Contd.: ……………Inaudible…………..

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay:
As I said diplomatic channels will continued to be used.

Question: Tomorrow the Home Minister is presiding over a meeting on Jammu & Kashmir and China and the Home Ministry said that the Foreign Minister will also be present and the Foreign Secretary. Can we confirm if they will be briefing the opposition? And what were the range of issues that were discussed between the Prime Minister and President in five minutes?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Your question is about range of issues or five minutes or both.

Question: Ministry of Foreign Affairs actually denied it, they were asked three times, you must have seen that exchange and they said there was no bilateral meeting and then they said there was no meeting at all. It seems as if they are not even conceding the range of issues were discussed.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay:
As far as the meeting that you asked about tomorrow, there is perhaps a meeting, perhaps I am saying because I still don’t have any written word on that but I have understood that there is a meeting tomorrow in the afternoon. I do not know where it is, I think may be it is called by Home Minister or Home Minister will be present in the meeting. The External Affairs Minister will also be present in the meeting, but that is the information I have, I do not know what subjects it is going to deal with. But there is a meeting that I have learnt of in which External Affairs Minister will be present tomorrow.

Your other question was about range of issues, I would only refer you back to the information that we put out the same afternoon after the meeting we had tweeted, there was a picture that we tweeted, there was a brief text that we had put in which we had said that at the BRICS leaders informal meeting at Hamburg, on the sidelines of G20 summit, the informal meeting was hosted by China, Prime Minister Mode and President Xi had a conversation on a range of issues. It is not for me to comment as to what grounds the two leaders covered. There was a conversation between them, there was a range of issues that was the subject matter of that conversation.

Question:
Just want to know if the NSA is visiting China on 26th of this month?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay:
I don’t have information on that at this moment, I can check.

Question: The type of statements that are coming from China, almost every day some statement is coming that is provocative and that is also threatening to war. From Indian side nothing is coming that can assure the people of India about what is the situation. So what is your take on that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: I heard your questions but the two aspects, I don’t fully understand it as to what do you mean by Nothing is coming from the Indian side that can assure the people of India and to the extent that I understand it, I don’t agree with your assertion. The reason is very simple, you have seen our statement that we had brought out last month and we have clearly laid out position and our approach, both the things have been very clearly laid out on that.

We had also referred to how the two governments have been engaged over the past few years in addressing this important issue and also how we wish to address this issue in future, the whole boundary matter and tri-junctions. We had also mentioned the relevant understandings between the two countries. Now you would have seen, or heard of received the text of Foreign Secretary’s speech which he delivered at Singapore.

Since you are already familiar with them I don’t need to repeat it to you but he has referred to the understanding between the two leaders or what we have referred to as Astana Consensus and the two points in that and which is essentially again underlines the approach that we are following in this regard. So we are very much seized of the matter, we are very much sure of the approach that is being taken and that’s where it stands.

Question: Recently the Sri Lankan government has passed a new fishing bill to prevent Tamil Nadu fishermen from fishing in the traditional waters in Park Bay, So Tamil Nadu government has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lodge strong protest against this move. So any steps taken by the government?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay:
As far as I understand the question, you are saying the Sri Lankan government has passed a resolution.

Question Contd.: It is called fishermen bill, where it says to confiscate the fishing vessels and imprisonment for two year and fine up to 50 thousands.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: for fishing in their territorial water, so what would be your question?

Question Contd.:
The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has written to the Prime Minister and expressed concerns that this will affect our fishermen and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to launch a strong protest over this move.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: The two governments have been engaged in discussions about the fishermen issues for a very long time, you are aware of the history, whenever there is an incident in which Indian fishermen are apprehended or the boats are apprehended, we work with the Sri Lankan Government and in most cases we are able to secure early release of the fishermen and also boats, from time to time.

Now, from what you are saying, I understand, I don’t have information on this particular bill but I will need to check on that, what the provisions are but if it is about their own territory, then I don’t think what should be the reason for your question. I will check about this particular bill and if there is any supplementary information, I can come back to you.

Question: Is there any update on the missing Indians in Mosul?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Thank you very much for your question in fact you are aware that as you said the Minister for State for External Affairs, Gen. V K Singh is in Iraq, he went to Erbil and last night he had reached Baghdad. In Erbil he met a number of local authorities, a number of senior officials in those authorities, and in Baghdad, to the best of my information so far, he has met the Iraqi Foreign Minister Dr. Ibrahim al-Jaafari and he has handed over to him a letter from the External Affairs Minister addressed to the Foreign Minister of Iraq.

When we had issued our remarks on the developments we had obviously welcomed the liberation of Mosul. It is a significant development, it represents a brave victory by the Iraqi forces, assisted by the coalition on the forces of evil and destruction which Daesh represent and we had also mentioned about the missing Indians. The visit of Gen V K Singh is basically in this context, the liberation of Mosul and our conveying that India remains steadfast in its support to Iraq in their fight against terrorism and also of course our concern about missing Indians.

Mosul is still a city where the process is continuing after the announcement of the liberation of the city. So as and when we have any information coming out from there regarding these 39 missing Indians, we will let you know. At the moment we remain engaged very sincerely and very seriously at a high level. Our Ambassador has been alerted, our Consul General in Erbil has been alerted. We have also requested the Iraqi authorities and they have confirmed to us that they have sensitized their forces and security agencies about the presence of Indians and if they see any Indians, not just these 39 Indians but any Indians, we have requested them to inform us, our Ambassador or our Consulate General.

We have also requested Iraqi authorities to alert the airport so that just in case some Indians appear at the airport so our embassy and consulate should be informed. So we have covered all these four possible grounds, possible points, the Iraqi authorities, our Ambassador, our Consul General, the airport, so whichever way if any Indian appears there, we hope to get the information about that.

Question: Does the MEA has any reaction on the meeting that took place on Saturday between the Chinese envoy and Mr. Rahul Gandhi? That is one, and a related question, you have spoken that you are dealing with China through the diplomatic channels to find a way out but after that statement that you issued about two weeks ago, what is the situation on the ground at Doklam, does the stand-off continue, is there a force accretion, can you tell us something about the situation on the ground?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay:
As far as your first question is concerned, MEA does not deal with foreign embassies, I mean in the sense of commenting on their activities, events or engagements. And I certainly don’t deal with political parties. I deal only with government of India, my responsibility in terms of interaction with you people is what the government does, my own ministry does.

As to the second question, I would take you back to what we have said earlier that what we issued the statement that we issued in the end of June, like you said two weeks ago, I would remind you that there was a conversation on a range of issues between the two leaders at Hamburg and also the fact that the diplomatic channels remain available to both sides.

Question: Did the Doklam issue also figure in that conversation between President Xi and Prime Minister Modi?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: I would leave it to your imagination and common sense to summarize what should be covered in the range of issues.

Question: During the G20 there was a bilateral between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the British counterpart, specifically on economic offenders which obviously we mean Vijay Mallya and Mr. Modi. So can you give us the inner, the finer details and how does it helps India’s cause when it comes to getting back Vijay Mallya?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Well the Prime Minister, as we had put out, we understand the importance of this matter not only for economy but from the information point of view, from professional point of view from all of you who cover the MEA beat, so we had put out the information right then mentioning that the Prime Minister had raised the issue of escaped Indian offenders with Prime Minister May and had requested the cooperation of United Kingdom.

The facts on that which you are aware of that there is a process for extradition of Mr. Mallyaunder way. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has referred the matter to their Home Office and now there is a matter which is going on in the courts. There is a court which is seized with the matter in London, so that process is underway and it is sub-judice.

Prime Minister Modi raising this matter with Prime Minister May itself is an indication of the importance that the government attaches to bringing back economic offenders who have escaped India back to the country to face justice back in India.

Question: Is there any MEA planning to revoke Zakir Naik’s passport?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Look this is a matter strictly for the law enforcement agencies or investigating agencies to comment upon. What I can mention to you is that we have received a request in this regard from the concerned agency a few days ago, we have taken action on that, request to revoke the passport. There is a process for such steps which needs to comply with rules and regulations and the prevalent law. Under those provisions, under that law we had taken the action and whenever there is more information with us, we can come back to you.

Question: You referred to the June 30th statement of the Indian government on the Doklam issue and in that as well you referred to how in the past India and China have resolved similar situations. The Foreign Secretary also referred to the past ability of India and China to resolve these issues through dialogues. But the following day the Chinese Foreign Ministry suggested that the current incident is very different from past instances, in a sense pointing out that in their understanding just the routine way we have resolved the past issues may not necessarily work. What is your view on that, will the way in the past we have resolved these disputes be enough to resolve this current situation?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: The thing really is that we have accumulated a lot of experience from the past, both sides, in addressing a number of matters. You know it and it has been said not merely by us but by others also that the border has been peaceful and that is a result of the efforts that both the sides have put in in maintaining tranquility at the border. So I would not like to comment on what others say in this regard. I would like to confine myself to what is the approach of the Government of India, what is our thinking in terms addressing a dispute or addressing a situation that we are dealing with right now.

And obviously I am not an astrologer so I can’t predict tomorrow but I can certainly tell you that the approach that we had underlined and put out at the end of the last month, that continues.

Question: Abhi Congress kesaansad Rahul Gandhi Chinese envoy se milane ke pehle kyaa sarakaa rko soochi tkiyaathaa?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay:
Nahi, mujheaisi koi jaankaarinahi hai.

Question: In the meeting with Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister, the matter regarding father Tom was also discussed. How are we pursuing this matter?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay:
Thank you very much for asking this question. We had informed the media that day also through a press release, in fact the discussions with the Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were extremely cordial, were very wide ranging and they covered a number of issues, of course the current situation in the Yemen and region and the relations between India and Yemen.

On the issue of father Tom which EAM had raised with the Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, they mentioned two things, one that he is alive, according to the information available to them and that they are making all possible efforts for locating him and for his early release. So I would say that this was a very encouraging assurance from the Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and they assured that they will continue to extend all cooperation to us in securing the early release of father Tom.

Question: I want to go back to the issue of China. Yesterday the People’s daily published an editorial which was reproduced from September 1962 which broadly says that what India is doing is way beyond what China could tolerate and therefore India should be prepared for dire consequences. So when read together with the recent statements and remarks made by the
Chinese Foreign Ministry what do you make of this so called heightened rhetoric on the part of China?
Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: It is really not for me to comment on the editorials or opinion pieces appearing in the media, as you know we don’t normally do it. This matter that we are dealing with is a serious matter, it has implications for us, for a number of reason and therefore we remain engaged in addressing this matter. We have outlined our position, we have outlined our approach and that is all I would say in this regard.

Question: Aapne kahaa ki China ke saath gatirodh ko khatm karane ke liye diplomatic channels ke jariye baat-cheet ho rahi hai. China ka ek stated position hai jismein unhone kahaa hai ki Doklam kshetra mein Bharatiya faujon ka jaanaa galat hai aur kisi bhi baat-cheet ke liye ek pre-condition hai ki wo apni faujein waapis kare. To kyaa aap ye kahanaa chaah rahe hain ki China ne apni us stithi ko revise kiyaa hai aur is gatirodh ko khatm karane ke liye Bharat ke saath baat-cheet ke liye taiyyaar ho gayaa hai?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Maine jo kahaa wo aap samagrataa mein dekhein. Maine ye kahaa ki humne picchhale mahine ek vigyapti jaari kari thi jismein ki situation ke upar jo hamaaraa nazariyaa hai usko humne prastut kiyaa tha, jo uske sambandh, us particular situation ke baare mein aur larger issue ke baare mein jo hamaaraa nazariyaa hai, hamaari jo approach hai, usko humne prastut kiyaa thaa.

Uske baat maine kahaa ki conversation huaa thaa range of issues par Prime Minister Modi aur President Xi Jinping ke beech mein BRICS leaders ki an-aupchaarik mulaakaat ke baat, Hamburg mein 7 tareekh ko, aur fir maine kahaa ki diplomatic channels remain available, wo uplabhdh bane hue hain.

To ismein ye kahnaa ki kyaa ho raha hai aur kyaa nahi ho rahaa hai wo mujhe nahi lagataa ki is waqt main us baare mein koi comment karanaa chaahungaa. Lekin main aapase ye jaroor guzaarish karungaa ki aaj jo bhi maine kahaa usko aap samagrataa mein dekhein.

Question: China ke saath hui baat mein Bhutan ka bhi role aa rahaa hai to ab tak Bharat ko Bhutan ka kyaa rukh dekhane ko milaa hai? Aisi report aai thii ki China ne usase vivaad mein kuch exchange ki bhi baat kahi hai ki ek taraf ka hissaa aap le lein, ek taraf ka hamein de dein?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Ye bilkul uchit nahi hai mere liye ki main is tarah ki antar-kriya mein kisi doosare mitra desh Bhutan, jisake saath hamaare sirf mitrataa ya padosi ke sambandh nahi hain balki bahut vishisth sambandh hain. Usane kyaa nazariyaa liyaa hai, is tarah ki atakalbaazi par koi tippani karoon, pehle to wo atakalbaazi hi apne aap mein theek nahi lagati aur us par koi tippani karna to aur bhi galat hai, leking main sirf aapkaa dhyaan aakarshit karanaa chahunga Government of Bhutan ne jo ek press vigyapti jaari kari thi is situation ke baare mein, aap usko dekh sakte hain.

With that we come to the end of today’s interaction. Thank you very much.

(Concludes)

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