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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (November 03, 2017)

November 03, 2017

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Namashkar, Good Afternoon. Thank you all for joining me today for this press briefing. I have one announcement to make and that is regarding the visit by Prince of Wales to India.

Prince of Wales Charles Philippe accompanied by Duchess of Cornwall Camila Parker Bowls will be on a two day visit to India on Wednesday 08 November 2017. This is a part of the 10 day four nation tour to Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and India. This visit will be the ninth visit of the Prince of Wales to India who visited India eight times before in the following years 1975, 1980, 1991, 1992, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2013.

The visit is aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between the two nations. The Prince is scheduled to meet the Hon’ble Prime Minister and discuss a wide range of issues including that of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting which will take place in April 2018 in the UK. Climate Change, Sustainable Development Goals, Economic Cooperation and other bilateral issues will also come up for discussion. We will be putting this up on our website and you can get it from there.

This is the only announcement that I had, now I open the floor for questions.

Question: Beete kuch samay se Pakistan mein bhi aur Bhaarat mei bhi jo prisoners they unko exchange kar rahe hain, rihaa kar rahe hain to kyaa ye manaa jaaye ki aadhaar baatcheet ka taiyyaar ho raha hai? Kyaa aane waale mahino mein Bharat aur Pakistan ke beech baatcheet shuru ho sakti hai?

(From last some time prisoners from both sides in India and Pakistan are being exchanged or released, so can we believe that the base for talks is being prepared? Is it possible that in the coming months talks between India and Pakistan can resume?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
Dekhiye is baat ko us tarah itna extend karna mujhe nahi lagta ki sahi hai. Jo bhi release of prisoners hai ya release of fishermen hai aur sometimes release of children bhi hote hain, wo dono taraf se hote rahte hain. Kabhi humne bhi kiyaa hai, jaise main aapko bataaun ki abhi pichhale week 68 Indian prisoners ko unhone release kiya tha aur humne is saal. This year we have secured the release of 370 Indian prisoners from Pakistani jails. Isliye ye release ya rihaa karne wala jo hai ye chalta rahta hai. Mujhe nahi lagta ki is baat ko us conclusion tak le jana chahiye.

(See, I don’t think it is right to extend this thing to that level. Whatever release of prisoners or fishermen, sometimes even of children, is done it is done by both sides. We also did it at some point of time. Like I can tell you that last week they released 68 Indian prisoners. This year we have secured release of 370 Indian prisoners from Pakistani jails. So this release of prisoners is a continuous process and I don’t think we should take it to that particular conclusion.)

Question:There are some disturbing reports coming out of United States. In New Jersey there have been posters been distributed for local election where there are a lot of racists remarks have been made and particularly against Indians and also other Asians. Now some of them are American citizens, there are also people who are still Indian citizens and living in New Jersey. Now is anything being done, has the Consul General in New York being alerted? Can you tell us a little about it?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
Thank you for the question, in fact I briefly watched the report on your channel as I was coming here. You see for me to comment on online hatred will be virtually impossible. There are a lot of things which are being said online some positive, some negative but I can just share with you.

Question Contd.:Posters have been distributed.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
That is what I am saying now, since you have brought it to my notice I will have to check with my Consul General and ask him what is going on and maybe I can share the information with you at a later stage but I can only share with you the relationship which we have with the Government of the US and also the relationship which we share between the two people. I think they remain very strong, very committed and we’ll look forward to further strengthening this relationship.

Question:Any update on attack on Indian students at Milan, Italy or any communication between the Italian Government and Indian Government regarding this?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I can share with you that the matter is under investigation by the local authorities and the moment this news came to us EAM was first to tweet, she asked for a report from Consul General. There were two students who were attacked on two different days Vikram and Bala, if I am not mistaken.

What is important is the speed with which we acted in this incident and since then the Consul General has already met the two students. We also send an official to visit them in the hospital. We have promised to extend all possible help. We have also taken it up with the local authorities in Milan. At the same time our embassy in Rome has also taken it up with the Foreign Office in Italy, so the point which I am trying to make is the speed and responsiveness of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Consulate and the Embassy in case of such an incident.

Question Contd.:What was the response of Italian government?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
I think it was a law and order incident, it was a case of robbing and hitting. As I mentioned that since we have already taken it up with Italian government, Italian law enforcement agencies we have not officially heard anything from them but I am sure embassy is in regular touch with them.

Question: We have already read your statement regarding Maulana Masood Azhar. Would you like to comment further on that particular issue?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:You will have to specify what exactly you want me to further comment on. You have seen the statement, right? Is there any aspect which is not clear in the statement then I can answer?

Question:Specifically on this issue, we have heard from the Chinese foreign ministry today and just to paraphrase them, they say we want good ties with India we are ready to work with India in view of the new neighborhood diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. Where does this initiative stand at this moment, have we given up on seeking a UN ban on Masood Azhar, if so what are we going to do about it, going forward?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Thank you very much for your question. We have to see how the process works and if you know this was under the UNSCR 1267, you know that there are 15 members who are part of UNSCR. I think for the last two times one country was putting on technical hold, this time they have put a block. Our reaction to the block is already in the public domain. I think the decision by a country to block a consensus should not be seen as an end to counter terrorism efforts. What is important is it does not in any way take away our resolve to fight terrorism, it does not in any way take away our resolve to work with likeminded countries who are coming together increasingly to end the scourge of terrorism.

Question:A related question on Hafiz Saeed. There are reports and speculation that it almost eminent that perhaps in few weeks he may be released after six months of house detention and day before yesterday for the first time Astar Ashaf Ali who is Attorney General of Pakistan has sealed an envelope which apparently is evidence against Hafiz Saeed. Any communication with Pakistan on that aspect and do you feel that enough efforts have been put by Pakistan to crush terror, specifically on Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hafiz Saeed?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:No, I think the second part of your question is very simple to answer. Of course we feel that Pakistan has not put any effort at all in crushing the terror or dismantling the terror infrastructure which exists in its territory. You know that Hafiz Saeed is an internationally designated terrorist by United Nations. He was the mastermind of 2008 terror attack in Mumbai and many other attacks. It is the responsibility of the government of Pakistan not to allow him space to conduct cross-border terrorism, not to give him space to indulge in terrorist activities, cross border terrorism against any other country.

Question:Pakistan ke Videsh Mantralay pravakta ne ek bayaan mein kahaa ki jo American Videsh Mantri aaye they Rex Tillerson, to unhone madhyasthata ka prastaav diya tha, Bharat ke saath, Kashmir ke mudde par aur unhone kahaa ki wo to iska swaagat karte hain aur Bharat is se bachata hai aur bhaagta hai. Aapki pratikriya aur kya vaakai mein Rex Tillerson ne aisa koi prastaav diya tha, Bharat ke saath baatcheet mein bhi aisa koi mudda utha tha, Kashmir mein madhyasthata ka?

(In a statement by the spokesperson of Pakistani Foreign Ministry it was mentioned that when American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently visited Pakistan then he offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir. He said they welcome this move but India has always been shying away from this. What is your reaction to this and was this issue of mediation really discussed during the discussions with Rex Tillerson?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Rex Tiller jab yahaan aaye toh do cheezein hui. Ek to hamare Videsh Mantri aur Rex Tillerson ka ek saajha press statement hua tha aur dono statement mein kahin bhi aisa koi zikra nahi hua ki US ne Bharat aur Pakistan ke beech madhyasthata ki koshish ki hai. Jo humne uske baad statement bhi issue kiya hai usmein bhi aisi koi charcha nahi hui toh main nahi maanta jo khabar aap Pakistan ke hawaale se bataa rahe hain usmein koi bhi sachhai hai.

(When Rex Tillerson visited India then two things happened. One was a joint statement by our External Affairs Minister and Rex Tillerson and in that statement it was mentioned nowhere that America tried to mediate between India and Pakistan. And after that we also issued a statement, there was not such discussion in that statement also so I don’t find any merit in the news which you have mentioned with reference to Pakistan.)

Question:Malaysian government has given permanent resident status to Zakir Naik and they have also said that India has not raised this issue with the Malaysian government. What is your comment on that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:You see any formal request where we are seeking the assistance of a foreign government in cases of extradition, it requires a legal process internally first. At this stage I can share with you that we are nearing the completion of this exercise and once this exercise is complete then very soon we will make an official request to the Malaysian government on this matter.

Question:Do we have an extradition treaty with Malaysian government?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Yes.

Question:American Congress mein kal ek prastaav aayaa thaa jismein dono partiyon ke sansadon ne ek US administration se bola hai ki aap China se Tibet ke masle par baat keejiye aur Tibet ke pratinidhiyon aur Dalai Lama se bhi baat karein taaki Tibet ke masle ka samaadhaan ho sake. Bharat Sarkar is par kya sochati hai?

(There was a motion in American Congress by senators from both the parties in which they asked US administration to discuss the issue of Tibet with China and the representatives of Tibet and Dalai Lama also so that the issue of Tibet can be resolved. What does government of India think about it?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
Is par hum kuch nahi sochenge. Ye American Congress mein aayaa thaa, China aur Tibet ke beech mei aaya tha ya to aap America government se poochiye ya Chinese government se poochiye. Ye dono ke aapas ki baat hai. Jaisa maine pehle bhi kaha hai ki hum chahenge ki do deshon ke beech chaahe wo Bharat ya koi aur desh ho ya America aur China ho, unke aapas ke sambandh achhe rahe, madhur rahe, hum yahi kamna karege par ispe meri koi khaas tippani nahi hai.

(We would not think anything about it. This was brought in American Congress and it was about China and Tibet, so you must ask this question to either American government or Chinese government. It is a matter between the two of them. As I had said earlier also that we wish that relations between two countries whether it is between India and any other country or it America and China, the relations between them should remain cordial and friendly. I do not have anything particular to say about this.)

Question:What is the exact nature of request that you plan to make to Malaysia, is it for extradition, what exactly are you seeking?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I will have to again repeat exactly what I have said without specifying what it would be. I have said that when we are going to seek assistance of a foreign government in such cases we have to complete our own internal legal process. I said that our legal internal process is nearing completion. Once this process is complete then we will make an official request to the Malaysian government very soon.

Question Contd. :
What about the internal legal process? Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Internal legal process, I think before you seek, this is my understanding, to get somebody you have to complete your own process within the legal framework. It involves legal consultations by MEA with the concerned ministries and departments.

Question Contd.:……………. Inaudible …………………

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
I am just saying that once the legal process nears completion at our end we will make an official request to the government of Malaysia. Maybe in the next few days or couple of weeks it would be clear what would be the nature of that request.

Question:There were two leaders who met the Prime Minister today from Armenia and Latvia, can you give us some read out what transpired?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Thankfully I have taken notes today. I can share with you that there are two leaders who are visiting India, the Prime Minister of Latvia and the President of Armenia. They are visiting to attend the world food summit which was inaugurated earlier today. They had meetings with the Prime Minister earlier today afternoon. Essentially the discussions focused on expanding bilateral relationship.

With Latvia the focus was on cooperation in the IT sector, they are quite strong in the IT sector and also the food processing sector, higher education. There are 1000 Indian students who are studying in Latvia. We were also told that Indian studies in Latvia is very popular especially in Ayurveda and Yoga. We also have very good cooperation with Latvia on the international forums.

With Armenia Prime Minister met the President of Armenia and again the discussion focused on bilateral issues. Armenia has strength in mines, gold, copper, they also have diamond. They were also keen to work together in the food processing industry. They are also a big importer of our pharma products. So some discussions took place as to how we can take this forward. There is an ongoing cooperation between Armenia and India in the ICT sector. We have set up an ICT center in Yerevan and some discussion took place as to how this can be upgraded.

Question:Aapne kaha ki China ke stand ke bawjood aatankwaad se ladne ki hamaari katibaddhata pe koi asar nahi padega. Aise mein ye jaananaa jaroori ho jaataa hai ki jab block kar diya gayaa hai to Bharat ke paas kya vikalp uplabdha hain?

(You said despite the stand by China there would be no effect on our commitments to fight terrorism. So it becomes necessary to know when it has been blocked, what avenues are available to India now?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Jahan tak aatankwaad se ladne ka vikalp hai, dekhiye aapko pata hoga ki Masood Azhar ka jo organization hai wo to already banned hai. Ab is block se hamari jo katibaddhata hai aatankwaad se ladane ke khilaaf us par koi bhi asar nahi padega, wo zaari rahegi. Ismein bahut se desh hamse jude hain aur aagey bhi judate rahenge aur hamaari jo ek resolve hai to ensure that the territory of India remains safe, that we all remain safe, that continues.

(See, as you would be aware that the organization of Masood Azhar is already banned. Now, from this block there would be no effect on our commitment to fight against terrorism, it would continue. Many countries have joined us and will be joining us in this fight and our resolve to ensure that the territory of India remains safe, that we all remain safe, that continues.)

Question:Do you have any official information about Zakir Naik in Malaysia, if yes, what action has been taken, if no, what next?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Iska kaafi had tak jawaab mere pehle answer mein hai. Jab main bol raha hoon ki hum unse take up karenge, iska matlab ye ekdum jaahir hai ki wo wahin par hain.

I think this makes it very clear and very evident that Zakir Naik is in Malaysia and we will take up the matter with the Malaysian government.

Question:Japan ke Videsh Mantri ne haal mein chaar deshon ka gathjod banaane ki baat kahi, America, Japan aur Bharat ke saath. To is par hamaari or se aadhikaarik pratikriya kya hai?

(Recently the Foreign Minister of Japan spoke about making a group of four nations namely, Australia, America, Japan and India. What is our official response in this regard?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
Picchali weekly briefing mein maine is par aadhikaarik pratikriya de di hai aur aap hamaari website pe dekh sakte hain.

(We have provided our official response in this matter in our last weekly media briefing and you can visit our website to find more about that.)

Question:Prime Minister Mr. Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Haseena are supposed to inaugurate a new train service between India and Bangladesh. Could you share with us the details of the program?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I don’t have much details. I can tell you that this would be the second train which will be inaugurated. One is already operational between, I think,between Calcutta and Dhaka and this would be inaugurated between Calcutta and Khulna, if I am not mistaken. I think the inauguration is going to take place on the 9th of November but instead of guessing I would rather send you the details later.

Question:There are speculations that India has cancelled the Inter-Ministerial meeting with Ukraine that was to be held on 1st of November apparently under pressure from Moscow. Is that correct because Mr. Akbar was expected to travel to Ukraine and he hasn’t traveled so far, whereas you hosted Ukrainian Minister recently.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
You are aware that there exist an agreement on the establishment of India-Ukraine Inter-Governmental Commission. You are absolutely right that this meeting was supposed to take place. In fact, MoS M J Akbar was supposed to go to Ukraine on the 1 – 2 November for this meeting. What I know is that at the last moment there was some urgent pre occupations of the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, he had to go somewhere and that is how the meeting had to be postponed from their side. So essentially it was because of scheduling issues, we are reworking the dates and hopefully sometime in the first half of next year we will have this meeting. I can also share with you that the Foreign Minister of Ukraine Mr. Pavlo Klimkin he was in India in early October and he actually had a very good meeting with our External Affairs Minister.

Question:The King of Bhutan has visited India. I just wanted to know he has met the leadership of India and was there any specific discussion on Doklam and what is the sense that you got from him about Bhutanese expedience of Doklam stand-off?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:The sense that I got from this visit is that India and Bhutan enjoy an exceptionally special relationship, and exceptionally close relationship which is very clear from the media reports. It is very clear from the meeting which he had. You would have seen the press release which we have issued day before yesterday on the visit. Both sides discussed diverse topics during the meetings which we had and I can only tell you that all issues of mutual interest were discussed.

Question:In the last briefing in response to the question on quadrilateral dialogue you had also said that there are several other dialogues going on including the India-China-Russia dialogue. So is there any possibility of India-China-Russia dialogue in the near future?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I can’t announce at this stage but maybe very soon we will make an announcement.

Question Contd.:Last time it was to be held in New Delhi and the Chinese Foreign Minister didn’t come to India.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I think as far as I understand the meeting is being scheduled quite soon but exact dates etc. we will be sharing all that closer to the date.

Question Contd.:
The Chinese Foreign Minister tour?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
Yes.

Question:Before I ask the question can I just ask a follow up of the question asked before about Masood Azhar, when you look at the issue relationship in totality the blockage of Masood Azhar’s ban, the China’s opposition to India’s quest for membership of NSG, the CPEC corridor, Doklam stand-off. Where do you think this relationship might be headed, how does India propose to break this deadlock as it were, number one. Number two, in the last press conference you spoke about how we could expect an update from you on Hamid Nihal Ansari, the Indian national languishing in Pakistani jail, could you give us a status update on him and when was the last India sought consular access to Hamid Nihal Ansari?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
Let me take the second question first which is an easier one. WE have sought consular access for Hamid Nihal Ansari 52 times. So far we have not been granted access and these requests have been made formally and through demarches. We of course demand that Hamid Nihal Ansari should be released. We have also demanded that the government of Pakistan should ensure his safety and security. We still await the response of the government of Pakistan on our demarche.

Coming back to the first question. I think in the past few months and especially after Prime Minister’s meeting with President Xi in Xiamen you have seen our press release, you have seen our statement that the two sides should look forward to the relationship. We are approaching this relationship in that spirit and of course the efforts will continue between the two sides at different levels to ensure that the relationship which we have is strengthened.

Question:On Masood Azhar, did you convey your disappointment to China through diplomatic channels in Delhi or Beijing?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
The decision about the block happened sometime last night around 8 or 9 pm. As we have indicated and mentioned in this briefing earlier that on this issue we have taken up the matter with the Chinese government and the Chinese side at different levels including at the highest level. So our concern, our point on this is very well known to the Chinese side.

Question:You said that your concerns were conveyed to the top most level of Chinese leadership. If you could just specify when these meetings took place?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:In diplomatic interactions how many meetings take place and at what level, that is not something which I can share in this forum but we have mentioned in the past that any issues of concern are taken up with the other country. They are taken up at different levels the sidelines of meetings bilaterally as well and similarly this issue has been taken up with the Chinese side earlier before this issue was put on technical hold and there has been an ongoing discussion with Chinese side on this.

I don’t see any other hand so this briefing comes to a close. Thank you very much for coming.

(Concludes)

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