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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (August 18, 2017)

August 23, 2017

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Namashkar and a very good after noon to all of you. Welcome to my first official press briefing. I have met some of you in the last couple of weeks since I have been here. To those I haven’t met, my name is Raveesh Kumar and I am the spokesperson and Jt. Secretary External Publicity Division in the Ministry of External Affairs. I have taken over this role a couple of weeks ago.

Today I don’t have any announcements to make. So I open the floor for questions.

Question: Mr. Kumar, my question is about Hizbul Mujahidin being actually designated by US State Department. How do you react, do you think this is perhaps another step after Syed Salahuddin was in fact designated, yesterday a statement came in from the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, do you think that statement was perhaps to divert attention because they for the first time talked about Article 35A, debate that is raising in India, they say that they are against any kind of revocation. Could you react please?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Without getting into what the Pakistani spokesperson has said, we welcome the designation of Hizbul Mujahidin that has been responsible for carrying out heinous acts of terrorism and taking innocent lives in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US and as you mentioned that earlier on 26th June, 2017 when Prime Minister was in the US, they had designated Syed Salahuddin who is a self-styled commander of Hizbul Mujahidin as a Specially Designated ForeignTerrorist.

We feel that these designations reflect the joint commitment of India and US to firmly deal with terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and just to add, it is an obligation for everyone to end moral, diplomatic and material support to such internationally designated terrorist entities and individuals. No cause or reason can justify continued profession of support, shelter and sanctuary to such entities and individuals in any manner.

Question:
There is a very heavy flood in Assam and Bihar. We have an agreement with China about sharing of hydrological data and I think we also must have some arrangement with Nepal, so do you have any knowledge that whether both the countries of have shared or cautioned or any joint effort done to check the water or giving any knowledge of flood?

Official Spokesperson, ShriRaveesh Kumar:Dekhiye, aapkoshaayadpataa ho ki Bharat aur China ke beech ek existing mechanism hai aur us mechanism ka naam hai India-China Expert Level Mechanism jo 2006 mein establish huaathaaauriskiaakhiri meeting June 2016 meinhuithii.

2 MoU sign hue hain, ek 2013 meinaurdoosaraa 2015 meinaur is MoUketahatjobhi hydrological data hai on Satluj and Brahmaputra rivers, that is to be shared by China with us. Ye jo data ka period hai 15 May se 15 October kahotahaiharsaalaurismein periodic level par China ka data humse share karnaapadataa hai.

Jahaantakmerijaankaari hai is saal, is Awadhi main, May 15 se lekarabhitakhamare pass China se koi data nahiaayaahai.

Question Contd.: Nepal se koi aisa arrangement hai kya?

Official Spokesperson, ShriRaveesh Kumar:Dekhiye, jaisaaapanepoochhaa, jo is waqtstithi Nepal meinhaiaur Bihar meinbhihai, aapkaoshaayadgyaathogaakihamari External Affairs Minister ne apane counterpart se jo ki Deputy Prime Minister bhihain, unse is baaremein baat ki hai aur ek close coordination cooperation kibaat humane kahihaiaurusiketahat hum kaamkar rahe hain.

Cooperation jo hai, central level par bhi hai, state level par Bihar meinwoapane counterpart se baat kar rahe hain. To is cooperation mein different agencies involved hain.

Question Contd.:
Is Awadhi ke beech mein data denahota hai ya iske baad?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Awadhi ke beech meindenaahotaahai, ye jo interval hotaahaiismeinlagaataardenaahotahai, iski frequency bhi hai, ek din meinkaafibaardenaahotaahai.

Question: Ye data nahimilane se hamaarijobaadh se ladanekitaiyyarithi us par kyaa koi asarpadaa hai?

Official Spokesperson, ShriRaveesh Kumar:Dekhiyemujhelagataahai ki jo frequency haijis se data share karnachaahiye, aisanahihaikibaadhpahlenahiaayaa, badh to aaterahtehainaurharbaaruskaa impact bhi hum jheltehain to is baatkoisase link karna, mere khayaal se premature hogaa.

The question was, what is the arrangement between India and China to share hydrological data. My answer was that there is an existing mechanism which is called Expert Level Mechanism between India and China, which was set up in 2006. The last meeting in this mechanism was held in April 2016 and there are MoUs which are signed between the two countries in 2013 and 2015 under which China is to provide hydrological data during the flood seasons for Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers.

What I shared in Hindi that for this year, as far as I know, we have not received the hydrological data from the Chinese side.

Question:It was day before yesterday when the Chinese media put out a video mocking India’s stand on Doklam issue and they also accused India of seven sins that had a racist tone to it. How do you react to that and as a result of that video there have also been calls from some quarters, some politicians in India to boycott Chinese goods.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I do not want to dignify this video with a comment.

Question:Doklam par jo Bharat karukhhai to is waqtkyastithihai, kya China se baat-cheetjaarihai, aurdoosaraa Bharat kerukh ko kin-kin deshon ne support kiyahaiabhitak, official taur par?

Official Spokesperson, ShriRaveesh Kumar:Dekhiye, ekbaat main bataanaachaahungakiharbaarjobaathogi Bharat aur China kebeech mein, mujhenahilagataa ki hum media kesaamane share karengen. Kuchcheezeinhotihainjinhen media se alagrakhkar handle karnaapadataahai.

It is a sensitive issue and we have to understand that and keep that in mind. Our position on Doklam itself has been articulated several times in the past. There is press release by MEA, there was reply by EAM in the parliament on August 3. We will continue to engage with China, Chinese side to find a mutually acceptable solution. As we have said in the past peace and tranquility in the border area is an important pre-requisite for a smooth development of bilateral relations.

Question Contd.:Kitanedeshon ne Bharat ka support kiyaahai?

Official Spokesperson, ShriRaveesh Kumar:
Usmein main nahinjaaungaa, jaisamainekahaaki is par baatchalrahihai is vishay par main abhinahijaanachahunga.

Question:There are several reports in the International media and here as well that because of the standoff with China, India is tightening rules for trade especially in the telecom business. Is that the immediate impact of what is going on, on the border?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I think it would not be proper for me to comment on this, you will have to contact the concerned ministry for any reaction on this matter.

Question:Could you tell us if the Prime Minister is going to the China for the BRICS Summit and what are the chances of a bilateral meeting between Xi Jinping and Mr. Modi?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:First I have to confirm whether Prime Minister is indeed going to China then I can come to the next step about the meeting. There are established mechanisms about announcements of Prime Minister’s visit to any country. At this point in time I am not in a position to announce and we will share the information as and when we will have it.

Question:You must have seen reports filed by some of our colleagues sitting here, those who have spoken to Japanese Ambassador. He has come out in support of India’s position on Doklam and also so much as to state that China should not try and change the status there. Do we welcome the statements made by the Japanese Ambassador?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We have seen the interview. I think the statement by the Ambassador made in the interview speaks for itself.

Question:Home Minister Rajnath Singh is going to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Meeting, so any information as to how what is he going to deal with and what is the possible agenda? Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:You mentioned about the context about the visit which is for the SCO Home Ministers meeting. The details of the program are still under formulation. As and when we have further details, we will share it with you.

Question:Proclaimed offender ZakirNaik has approached the Interpol saying that he has been targeted by India just because he is a Muslim. How does the MEA look at it and what will be response from India’s side on this particular issue that has been raised by ZakirNaik?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:When did this news come, if you could share …….

Question Contd.:This has come in the Malaysian daily and many other have reported it earlier in the day where it says that he has written a letter to the Interpol, NIA has approached Interpol for a Red-Corner notice and he said that he has never spoken in favor of terror and he has been targeted just because he is a Muslim.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I am sorry I have not seen the report, I can revert to you on this.

Question:
Pakistan has said that Hizbul Mujahidin is a freedom fighting group. It is wrong for US to label them as a terrorist group. Can you give us your response?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I have already mentioned without actually reacting to what Pakistan has actually said. I have said that it is an obligation for everyone to end moral, diplomatic and material support to such internationally recognized terrorist entities and individuals. We welcome the designation of Hizbul Mujahideen as a terrorist organization. All of us are aware the kind of activities they are involved in. All of us are aware what kind of terrorist activities they have conducted in the state of Jammu & Kashmir and frankly the statement which has been made by Pakistan is something which is very strange to say the least.

Question:My question is on Rohingya refugees in India. What is the official word by the MEA, and are you in talks with the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh regarding their deputation back to these countries?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:There is a report which I have seen in different sections of the press about the statement which has been made by Minister of State for Home Affairs. I wanted to clarify that this statement is written a statement which was made by the Minister of State for Home Affairs, in the Rajya Sabha, this was done on 9th August and the statement is very clear.

If you see, I can refer the statement to you, it says as per available data more than 14,000 Rohingyas are registered with UN are staying in India however some inputs indicate that around 40,000 Rohingyas are staying illegally. The Rohingyas are largely located in Jammu,Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi NCR and Rajasthan. Detection and deportation of illegal foreigners is a continuous process. The central government is vested with Powers to detect and deport any illegal foreign national under section 32-C of the Foreigner’s Act, 1946.

The fact that this has been presented in the parliament, one, it would not be proper for me to comment on any parliamentary matter and proceedings and that is where I would like to rest.

Question:There was a report of scuffle between the Indian and the Chinese at the Pangong Tso, now that issue was taken up at the flag meeting but there was a scuffle apparently reportedly some personnel got slapped when there was stone pelting, was this matter also taken up diplomatically?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
I have seen the report in the media. Today, I can confirm that there was an incident at Pangong Tso on 15th august, this was subsequently discussed by local army commanders of the two sides. We feel that such incidents are not in the interest of either side. We should maintain peace and tranquility.

To the second part of the question whether this was taken up at the BPM, normally we do not the divulge the discussions that are taking part as part of the BPM but just to share with you, there were two BPMs which were held recently. One was at the Nathula and other one was at Chushul. BPM, as you know, is an established mechanism for border management between India and China. This mechanism flows from different bilateral agreements and is a part of confidence building measures between the two countries to ensure peace and tranquility.

Question:MerasawaalKulbhushanJadhavkolekarhai. Kya koi naiijaankaarihai, KulbhushanJadhavkolekar?

Official Spokesperson, ShriRaveesh Kumar:Dekhiye agar aapnaiijaankaaridenge to main jawaab de paunga, aap mere se naiijaankaari mat leejiye, aapbataaiyekyaprashnhai, mainjawaabdoongaa.

Question Contd.:KulbhushanJadhavkolekar koi bhitazaaaadaan-pradaanhuahai, koi bhi approach huihaikyaa?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I think what I can share with you, which some of you are aware of is that there was a report about the selection of Ad Hoc judge from the Pakistani side for this case. We have seen reports in the media on the issue. At present we have not been informed officially about this process or matter by the relevant authorities.

Question:Meraasawaalhai, ASEAN Youth Summit jo Bhopal mein ho rahahaiusmeinsaari ASEAN countriesaayiihainaur us par kya development huahai, woaapbatayein.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Bhopal meinjo ASEAN Youth Summit ho rahihai, agar aaphamaari website ko follow kar rahehain, aurhamaare tweets ko follow karrahehain, hamane EAM ka statement share kiyaahai, hamaare Minister of State bhigaye they, unkabhihumne statement share kiyaahai. Factual jaankaarijoaapchaahatehainwoaapako un dono statements mein mil jaayegi, iskealaawaa agar aapko koi details chaahiye, that we can share with you.

Question:Going back to the situation with China, the recent incident at Pangong in which stones were pelted and even rods were used.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I have not confirmed stone pelting, rods use, I am just talking about an incident.

Question Contd.:So just the incident and along with there are reports of higher military mobilization, some of the military exercises which were scheduled for October have been preponed. So in your sense what is the general sense at the LAC, is there something that we need to prepare for, that we are looking at?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:This is something for which perhaps I will have to refer to my earlier statement. I have mentioned to you about the incident at Pangong Tso. I don’t think it should be linked to anything else which is happening elsewhere. On the situation and how troops are being mobilized etc. these are all matters which I would not like to touch upon.

Question: You would have seen in the India media, most television channels have carried it, how Chinese official media has made fun of Indians, you have seen a person wearing a turban speaking in strange Indian accent and this appears to have been deliberately and was disseminated by Chinese official media. How does the government look at something like this?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I think you came in late or perhaps you missed, I already replied to this question and my reply was that I do not want to dignify this video with a comment.

Question:Are you hopeful of a solution on Doklam ahead of BRICS summit?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
This is a very difficult question, I have to be an astrologer to answer this question and since I am not an astrologer, I have to let it pass.

Question:Baadhkitabaahi se poorvi Bharat pareshanhai, aapaneabhikhudkahaa ki is saal hydrological data abhi share nahikiyaagayaahai. Aisemeinjabki China kesaathtanaa-tanichalrahihai, kyaa hum donocheezonkojodkardekhsaktehain?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Mujhelagtahaiki is stage par jo ek existing expert level mechanism hai, usketahatjoMoUshainjinkeandar hum data share kartehainpichhale salon se share karrahehain, maine ye kahaakijahaantakmerijaankaarihai, uskemutaabik, is saalhumne share nahikiyaa hai. Baadhkistithipahlebhiaayihaiaurmujhelagtahaikiisko is sandarbhmeinjodna, filhaal, tarksangatnahihai.

Question Contd.: ………Inaudible………..

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:River ka flow to upar se neechehainna, jo upper riparian states hote hain wo lower riparian states ko data share kartehain.

Question Contd.:Is se judaasawaalhaikikyaaisasepahle ye data hamesha share hotaraha hai?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:JaisamainekahaakiekMoUhai, uska provision hai, usketahat ye data share hotahaiaurjahaantakmerijaankaarihaikikabhi-kabhikisitakneekiwajahkekaaran ye data share nahihotahaiaurisiliye main baar-baarbolrahahoonkijahaantakmerijaankaarihai, us hisaab se nahihua hai, iske technical reasons kyaahai, kyonnahi hua hai, ye agar aapchaahein to main baadmeinpatakarkebataasaktahoonkyonki ye hamari ministry ke under nahiaataahai, iskeliyeekdoosari ministry haijoisko coordinate kartihai.

Question:Just wanted to clarify, is there any uncertainty at all regarding Prime Minister’s visit to China for the BRICS because he is widely expected to go there but you just said that you are not in a position to announce and you have to confirm whether he is going at all?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I just mentioned that for any outgoing Prime Minister’s visit there is a proper mechanism for announcement. It usually comes few days before the visit. At this point of time I don’t have that information which I can announce. Maybe in subsequent briefings, if I have the information then I will share it with you.

Question:Recently Chinese official has said that Bhutan has accepted that Bhutan was inside Chinese territory, then later Bhutan in talk with some news agency denied that they have ever said this to China. But has Bhutan actually briefed India about this that they have not accepted this as Chinese territory?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:We have to go by the statement which was issued by Bhutan, I think on June 29th. Since that statement has been issued there has been no fresh statement, press release issued by the Bhutanese side. In the absence of any statement we have to go by what they have said in that press statement.

Question:My question is about the Rohingya issue again. You already mentioned about the statement but I want to ask that whether the government of the ministry has started doing anything to document the refugees who have been living here and have not been documented yet? Is the government trying to make a roster kind of something?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I think you have to and my request is please go through the written reply of Minister of State for Home Affairs carefully. I have noticed that this statement has been misrepresented in different sections of the media. You go through the statement and you see what is mentioned there, it is not only about Rohingya, it is talking about all illegal nationals who are staying in India. There are existing provisions under which these illegal nationals who belong to different countries and once they are certified that they belong to another country can be repatriated and this is happening with other countries as well.

Question:Away from this Japanese Ambassador’s statement, do we have received any official memo from Japan on Doklam issue and also do we have any dates for Prime Minister Abe’s visit to India?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
On the second question, again I will have to go back to my original formulation that for any outgoing Prime Minister’s visit, especially if the visit is going to take place in 3-4 weeks’ time we normally do the announcements very close to the dates. So at this point of time I have nothing to share on the visit itself.

On the first question, who is supporting us, who has sent a memo is something which I think I will not be in a position to share in this forum.

Question:Aise reports hainki next Republic Day keliye 10 ASEAN countries ke Head of States ko invite kiyagayaahai, kyaaaapbataayengekikitane logon ne accept kiyaahaiaurkitane log us din yahaanmaujoodrahenge?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
Maine bhiaisikuch report suni hai. Dekhiye jab bhi invitation jaataahai, uskebaadek continuing process hotaahai.

There is a continuous process to send out invitations and to get the confirmations and it changes, I won’t say almost every day but there is a regular mechanism through which we keep updating who has confirmed and who has not. I will have to check with the concerned division as to what is the status of confirmations that we have received. That is one, secondly I also need to confirm before that whether and in what format the invitations have been sent to all the ASEAN countries to be the chief guests for the Republic Day Parade in 2018.

Question:If you had any comments or the Indian government had any comments on escalating war of words between the US and North Korea?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I would confine my response to our position on the Korean peninsula itself which we have shared on this forum several times. We do understand the growing concerns of the international community regarding the situation in the region, our position on this matter is clear, it has been consistent, we support peaceful resolution of this issue.

Question:This is regarding the conversation that President Trump and Prime Minister Modi had on August 15 after which the White House put out a readout. Two things related to that. One, can you help us little more about when we can expect the first meeting of the 2 X 2 mechanism which was mentioned there. And also in the White House readout it was said that Prime Minister Modi thank President Trump for his leadership over the North Korea issue in building international support on the North Korea issue. Can you clarify what the Prime Minister said there?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
So there are two linked questions. First is regarding the telephonic conversation which Prime Minister Modi had with President Trump. Apart from the readout which was put out by the White House, let me share with you that it was in the nature of a congratulatory call. President Trump wished Prime Minister on the occasion of 70th anniversary of India’s independence.

In addition the two sides also followed up on the understandings which were reached during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the United States in June 2017. Other bilateral and regional issues were also discussed.

Coming back to the next part of your question which is about 2 X 2, the two countries have several dialogue mechanisms which are in place, which in a way is a reflection of the growing and deepening of our partnership. The 2 X 2 mechanism is an addition to the existing architecture of dialogues which we have and will be conducted between the Defence and Foreign Ministers of the two countries. We feel that there is a growing synergy between the diplomatic and defence establishment of the two countries. Regarding the next meeting, since there are four principals involved, we have to coordinate with each other, look at various options. So that process is underway and once we have more clarity on the dates, we will share it with you.

Question:Would it be possible for you to react on reports that Vietnam has received Brahmos missiles from India?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I am sure all of you in this hall must have already received the clarification from Vietnam on the said matter. The statement was purportedly made by their spokesperson and following that there was a press-release put out by the foreign ministry. They had clarified that their spokesperson did not confirm the sale of Brahmos but only referred to the defence and strategic cooperation between the two countries.

Question: ………….. Inaudible……………

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:It is not correct and that is what I am trying to say that the person who has been quoted, their ministry has already rejected and they are saying that this news item which is running and which is out is incorrect.

Question:I had a clarification on the hydrological data that you spoke about. You said that it stopped coming, when did it stop?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
No, what I said was that as far as I know this year. I have talked about the period, 15 May to October 15. Normally the data is shared during the Monsoon season and there are several technical factors which are involved in the sharing of the data. So I am just talking about this period and frankly I a sharing this without consultation with the Nodal Ministry. As far as I know, this year we have not received this data.

Question Contd.:Nothing at all?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Again I will have to say the same thing, one data, two data, it doesn’t matter but so far, not as yet.

Question:There are some reports in Bangladesh media that EAM would be visiting for joint consultative meeting. I do know that you will not announce the visit but whether any meeting is planned nearby because they are saying this will be in early September?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Again I will have to share the same thing that once I have the information, we will share it with you, which we have been doing, my predecessors have been doing. In such visits the program is always in a state of flux, whether EAM is going to Bangladesh or not, I think I can confirm at a later stage.

Question:Just a small clarification, you referred to two BPMs at Chusul and Nathula, so in the last two months how many BPMs have taken place between India and China?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I do not have that information. I could share about the two BPMs, as I mentioned that this is regular mechanism of confidence building measures between the two sides. This is conducted by the Ministry of Defence, they are the nodal ministry who can give you more information but I referred to these two BPMs because there were certain incidents which were associated.

Question Contd.:But could you please confirm that there was not BPM on 15th of August ………. Inaudible ……….

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I can tell you what I have, let me see. I think there was one which was held on the 16th that I can confirm and there was one which was held at Nathula, perhaps which was a week earlier.

If there are no other questions, we come to the close of this press briefing. Thank you very much.

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