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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (September 29, 2017)

September 29, 2017

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Good afternoon all. I have two read outs. The first read out is on the visit of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the CEO of Afghanistan and his visit to India. We have actually shared a lot of information on the visit. There was a press release yesterday issued by the Prime Minister’s Office on his call on the Prime Minister. We have also issued a press release just before the visit was about to start but few meetings have taken place on which we have not been able to share information, so I’ll just go through this read out.

Today is the second day of his visit. He is accompanied by the Minister of Commerce, Minister of Public Health, Minister of Energy, Minister of Economy, Deputy Foreign Minister besides other senior members of the Government of Afghanistan. Yesterday Dr. Abdullah called on the President and met the Prime Minister. External Affairs Minister called on Dr. Abdullah and hosted a lunch in his honor.

Dr. Abdullah also participated in India-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Show which was inaugurated on the previous evening i.e. on 27th September by Finance Minister Shri P Gajapathy Raju. CIM Shri Suresh Prabhu spoke at the show along with Dr. Abdullah on 28th September morning. Today in the morning Dr. Abdullah delivered 24th Sapru House lecture on Regional Peace building at the ICWA.

Both sides positively assessed the recent developments in bilateral relations including the outcomes of the recently concluded meetings of the Strategic Partnership Council on 11th September that was co-chaired by the Foreign Minister of the two countries. The New Development Partnership was described as paving the way for the new generation partnership in development cooperation between the two countries aimed at community development, infrastructure creation and human resource and capacity building in Afghanistan.

Views were exchanged on several issues, some of the issues have been covered in details in the Prime Minister’s Office press release. Both sides condemn the continuing acts of terror and violence in Afghanistan including the recent attack at the Kabul airport which had delayed the arrival of Dr. Abdullah to India. It was agreed that the issue of safe havens and sanctuaries need to be addressed effectively. Views were also exchanged in regional and global developments of mutual interest.

MoU on technical cooperation on police training and development was signed and formally exchanged at the meeting between the Chief Executive and the Prime Minister. This has created an enabling framework for training and capacity building for Afghan national police personnel in various fields in addition to India’s ongoing assistance for Afghan national defence and security forces.

Some discussion also took place on trade and economic cooperation, better connectivity was emphasized upon, both sides expressed determination to strengthen air-freight corridor and also welcomed the steps being taken to operationalize the Chabahar port including the forthcoming supply of wheat to Afghanistan from October 2017. Afghanistan was invited to participate in the International Solar Alliance Summit being held in India in December 2017 and also to the World Food Processing Show being held in November 2017 in India that would enable the Afghan businessmen to engage with international market.

So this was the read out on the still ongoing visit of the Chief Executive of Afghanistan. I have another read-out on the India-EU summit. This is the 14th India-EU summit taking place on 6th October and the President of the European Council Mr. Donald Francis Tusk and the President of the European Commission Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker will be on a working visit to New Delhi from 5 – 7 October, 2017 to hold the 14th India-EU Summit.

President Tusk and President Juncker will be accompanied by a high level delegation including EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Mrs. Federica Mogherini. EU is India’s largest regional trading partner with bilateral trade in goods standing at USD 88 billion in 2016. EU is also the largest destination for Indian exports and a key source of investment and cutting edge technologies. India received around 83 billion USD FDI flows from Europe from 2000 till 2017 constituting approximately 24 percent of the total FDI inflows into the country during the period.

India and EU are also strategic partners since 2004. The 13th India-EU Summit was held in Brussels on 30th March, 2016. The 14th Summit aims to deepen the India-EU Strategic partnership and advance collaboration in priority areas for India’s growth and development.

So this is the second read out and now I am open to questions.

Question: This is pertaining to the remarks of Khwaja Aasif, the Pakistan Foreign Minister at the Asia Society. He talked about so called prisoner swap that "NSA” has suggested and he talked about Kulbhushan Jadhav. We have spoken to Afghan NSA and he has denied such remarks, he said that that wasn’t discussed in the meeting which took place on 21st, but do you think this is a deliberate ploy to divert attention from state sponsored terror and also at the same event he spoke about how Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar are liability for Pakistan. Do you think that Pakistan had failed to act against these liabilities?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Normally I would not comment on a purported conversation between two personalities but in this case I will make an exception. You have already seen the press release which has been issued by Afghan National Security Advisor’s office. If you have gone through the press release it seems that this is one more addition to the long list of imaginary lies and stories which have been created by Pakistani establishment. You have seen what happened at the UNGA, how a fake picture was being shown to be from India and it turned out to be from another country.

Question: ………..Inaudible………

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You see, I think our position on such terrorists and terrorist network in Pakistan remains the same. They tried to project it in a different way but our position on the terrorists which are operating out of Pakistan and the terror infrastructure which exists, we have time and again asked Pakistan to not allow these terrorists to operate to destroy, dismantle the infrastructure which exists there.

Question: According to the Myanmar Army a lot of Hindu graves have been found. First, are you in touch with Myanmar’s government over this issue and second, on 3rd October I believe there is a diplomatic community is going to visit the location, is India also going to be a part of that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We have seen the press reports about these graves, we have also looked at the statements which were issued by the State Councilor’s office. I can say that we condemn terrorism in all forms. We emphasize that there is no justification to any act of terrorism whatsoever which targets civilians in this conflict. WE do hope that the authorities will be able to bring to justice the perpetrators of the crime. WE hope that the families of the victims will be extended all possible assistance so as to instill a sense of security and return of normalcy.

I am aware that the government of Myanmar have extended an invitation to the diplomatic core to visit the effected region. I am aware of the some of the media personalities from India being part of that. I am not sure about the participation from our side and at what level, whether our mission is participating or not but I can get back to you.

Question: The Bangladesh government wants India to play a larger role in resolving this Rohingya Refugee issue. Is India looking at mediating between Myanmar and Bangladesh in actually coming to a solution to this 8 lakh refugees that have entered Bangladesh?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: If you notice the press release which has been issued by our High Commission in Bangladesh. We are focusing on the humanitarian assistance under Operation Insaaniyat and we have sent out three sorties of relief material. We are calling it family packs, thousands of packets have been delivered. These packs contain essential items which can be used by the families who have been displaced and who are in Bangladesh. The two countries are in close touch, they are coordinating the situation which is developing out of the arrival of displaced persons in the country. We are committed to assisting in Bangladesh and extending our full support in handling this issue.

Question: Mera sawaal bhi Myanmar se hi judaa huaa hai. Rohingya aatankiyon ke chalte jo Hindu maare gaye hain Myanmar mein wo tasveerein abhi Zee News ne dikhaayin aur hamaare reporter bhi wahaan par gaye hain. Myanmar Sarkar ne jaisaa kahaa hai ki Rohingya aatankiyon ne hatyaa kii hai to kyaa Videsh Mantraalay ke paas iski official taur par Myanmar ne jaankaari di hai ki un Hinduon ko kinhone maaraa aur jo wahaan par abhi bhi peedit hain, kya Videsh Mantraalay unko koi madad Myanmar bhej rahaa hai kyonki Bangladesh ko to aapane madad bheji Rohingya ke liye?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye, jaisa maine kahaa ki iske baare mein hamaare paas press vigyapti aayi thii State Councilor ke office se. Iska matlab ye hai ki jo wo bol rahe hain unke hisaab se ye saare jitne bhi mass graves mile hain aur usmein jinka shav milaa hai wo saare Hindu they. Maine jo aapko abhi iske pehle bataayaa ki hamara aur Myanmar ka jo relation hai usmein hamne ye kahaa hai ki kisi bhi yuddh mein aur kisi bhi situation mein agar innocent civilians ki jaan jaati hai, unko displace honaa padtaaa hai to ye bahut dukhad hai, ye bahut khedjanak hai aur ye humne unko appropriate level par ye bataayaa hai.

Jaisa maine kahaa ki jo displace hokar aa rahe hain aur jaisa maine abhi aapko kahaa ki hum ummeed karte hain ki jo log maare gaye hain unki families ko poori sahaayta aur poora muaawaja jo bhi hota hai, wo diya jaayega.

Question: My question is on Father Tom who returned yesterday. He says there is goodness in everybody. As MEA spokesperson do you endorse his statement or does it not amount to give some sort of certificate to the abductors?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Father Tom is a very learned person, he is a priest and he spent almost more than one and a half year in captivity and in his interaction yesterday with the media he did say that there is goodness in everybody. You know it is a philosophical statement, it is not related to any foreign policy so I think I’ll leave it to your interpretation how do you want to interpret it. If I say yes, it could be my personal opinion but I can’t say that as the spokesperson of Government of India.

Question: There has been an upswing in India’s military and defence cooperation with Afghanistan in the last two years. We have already supplied four military helicopters to Afghanistan and Afghanistan has been pressing for more military hardware supply by India. So had this issue actually figured during the talks that Afghan CEO had with Indian leaders?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I had a read-out on the visit of the CEO and I did mention that several issues were discussed. On the defence cooperation itself, you are aware that India is involved in the training of Afghan security forces. This time we have signed an MoU which will provide a framework for the training of Afghan policy personnel as well. But yes I think all these issues, I mean bilateral cooperation, the new development partnership, they were discussed during the visit of the Afghan Chief Executive to India and also in the previous meeting when we have the strategic partnership council during the first or second week of September, all these issues came up for discussion.

Question: The senior Russian officials are telling us that Afghan government in Kabul is in no position to defeat the Taliban and they are basically saying that the status quo has been reached as far as the strength equation between the Taliban and the Afghani government of Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah is concerned. So in this context to you think that by investing so much into Kabul this is the right way to go ahead and would you also say that you would like to engage the Taliban at least in some sort of dialogue if others are also doing it?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: This statement was made by, as you mentioned, a senior Russian official. I think you will have to ask him and perhaps also ask the Afghanistan side whether they agree with this assessment or not. I can only share with you that we are in touch with Afghanistan and we are also in touch with the Russian side regarding the situation in Afghanistan.

Just to share with you that recently, in fact just few days back, we had the Russian President Envoy for Afghanistan Mr. Zamir Kabulov, he is an ex-Ambassador to Afghanistan. He is also the director of Second Asia Division which looks after India in the Russian foreign ministry, he was in Delhi for consultations. He met a lot of officials including from the Ministry of External Affairs, so we are coordinating positions, we are exchanging views on the situation with a number of countries including Afghanistan and Russia.

Question: Bharatiya vyaapaari Kulbhushan Jadhav ke baare mein jo aakhiri jaankaari hamein mili wo us video ke jariye hamein mili thi, uske baad hum logon ne counsellor access ki baat ki. Ab jabki Pakistan ke Videsh Mantri kuch is tarah ki baatein kar rahe hain jo ki adla-badli ki taraf isharaa karta hai, hum aapse ye jaananaa chaahenge ki Kulbhushan Jadhav tak access ke liye hum logon ne jo prayaas kiye, jo requests hamaare pending hain, kya us vishay mein ko Pragati hui hai?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye adalaa-badali ki baat to maine khaarij hi kar dii, wo to betuki baat thii jo aayi aur gaii, kahaan se kaun bol rahaa hai wo to pataa hi nahi chalaa aur jiske saath baat hui unhone khud khaarij kar diya isko, to uski baat to hum karein hi naa.

Main sirf ye bataanaa chaahungaa ki jo updated status hai Kulbhushan Jadhav ke case mei wo kyaa hai. Jaisa aap logon ko pata hogaa ki 13 September ko humne jo apnaa written memorial hai usko International Court of Justice mein submit kiya. Ye jo hai jo hamaaraa oral submission humne pehle kiyaa thaa usi ko build kar ke aur usi ko humne likhit roop mein International Court of Justice ko produce kiyaa hai.

Pakistani Sarkaar ko 13 December tak samay diya gayaa hai apna counter-memorial submit karne ke liye. Abhi ye stithi bani hui hai, uske baad kaise kis taraf hum log move karte hain wo hum aage share kar paayenge aapke saath, is stage par nahi. Jaisa abhi maine bataaya ki wo matter to International Court of Justice ke under hai, to jo bhi hoga wo usi se flow karegaa.

Question: In the morning, there was a lecture of CEO Abdullah Abdullah and he was telling that there is no good Taliban and bad Taliban. India also thinks the same, so is there any way out, who will Afghanistan or whom will India talk to in Afghanistan and is there any rehabilitation plan for Afghanistan people who want to come to the main stream of Afghanistan because there is a gap on this count that every country is donating to Afghanistan but whoever is out of the whole mainstream, how they will be re-inducted in the main stream, is there any plan discussed?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you Akhilesh Ji. Today the speech which was delivered by Dr. Abdullah at the Sapru House, it was an open event and after the speech he also answered several questions. I wish that you would have addressed this question directly to him and got it from his mouth. He made speech and mentioned about certain things. We do agree and we have endorsed this in the past that we do not distinguish between a good Taliban and a bad Taliban. We have condemned terrorism in all forms but this is a question which relates to his speech. I wish you would have asked him because there was a press interaction after that speech.

Question: All of a sudden China ordered all the activities of North Korea should be shut down. So in that case what India is thinking, is it supporting?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Again I have to say the same thing, when it is a matter which relates between any two countries it is best addressed to them but I can give you my position. Our position on the recent missile testing by North Korea and we have said, as in the past, that we continue to deplore such actions by North Korea. We continue to say that it is a matter of deep concern that TPRK has once again acted in violation of international commitments which goes against the objective of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

We do call on DPRK to refrain from such actions which adversely impacts peace and stability in the region and beyond. We are also concerned about the proliferation aspect of nuclear and missile technologies which has adversely impacted India’s national security.

If there are no more questions, then this press briefing comes to a close. Thank you very much for coming, thank you once again.

(Concludes)

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