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Transcript of Media Briefing on PM’s visit to Sweden and UK

April 13, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Good afternoon once again. I have a panel of Jt. Secretaries who will brief us on Prime Minister’s visit to Sweden and the United Kingdom from 16 to 21April. Basically there are four components to the visit. The visit to Sweden has two components, a bilateral component and there is also a India-Nordic Summit which is taking place, the first India Nordic Summit. Then in UK there is the bilateral component which will be followed by the Prime Minister’s presence at the CHOGM summit.

I have with me Jt. Secretary (Central Europe) Subrata Bhattacharjee, Jt. Secretary (UNP) Rudrendra Tandon and JS (Europe West) Nagaraj Naidu to brief us on different aspects of the visit. We will start chronologically, we will start with Sweden, the bilateral component as well as the India Nordic Summit. Then we will move on to the bilateral visit of Prime Minister to UK and finally to the CHOGM summit.

Jt. Secretary (Central Europe) Subrata Bhattacharjee: Good afternoon every one and thanks for joining the media briefing. On the invitation of Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven Prime Minister of India will undertake his first visit to Sweden on 16 – 17 April, 2018. During the visit Prime Minister will have a number of bilateral meetings in Sweden additionally India and Sweden will co-host an India Nordic Summit that will be attended by all other Nordic Prime Ministers.

Nordic region consists of five countries namely, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway. Prime Minister will have bilateral meetings with four other Nordic Prime Ministers as well.

Prime Minister will arrive at Stockholm on Monday 16 April evening. There is no official program on that day. Next day i.e. Tuesday, April 17, Prime Minister will have a number of meetings. He will have an audience with His Majesty the King of Sweden and a meeting with Swedish PM who will host a lunch for Prime Minister.

Prime Minister along with Swedish Prime Minister will attend a round table with Swedish CEOs. Both PMs will address the CEOs. In the evening the Prime Minister will meet the vibrant Indian community in Sweden before his departure for London.

The visit to Sweden gains significance for a number of reasons. This will be a visit to Sweden by an Indian Prime Minister after three decades, the last one being by the Indian Prime Minister in 1988. India and Sweden have close ties and share common views on many global issues. Sweden is our valuable partner in our development and investment promotion initiatives. In the recent past Hon’ble Rashtrapati Ji went to Sweden on first ever state visit in 2015.

Swedish PM Löfven visited India in February 2016 and participated in the Make in India week in Mumbai along with a strong business delegation. PMLöfven takes keen interest in building strong economic ties with India. In October 2017, he participated in Make in India Sweden 2017, an event organized in Stockholm. Sweden’s investment in India have crossed a timeline of 115 years.

Ericsson has been in India since 1903. So Swedish companies like Ericsson, Volvo, ABB, Tetrapak, IKEA and H&M are some well-known names in India. There are over 170 Swedish companies that have invested $1.4 billion since 2000. Indian companies are not lagging behind, nearly 70 Indian companies have established their presence in Sweden. India-Sweden annual bilateral trade stands at around $1.8 billion. Sweden is home to more than 20,000 Indian diaspora as well including around 2000 Indian students studying in various institutions.

On the same day on April 17, Swedish PM and our Prime Minister will host an India Nordic Summit. The summit is entitled "India-Nordic Summit – Shared Values Mutual Prosperity” and scheduled to be attended by all Nordic Prime Ministers. India has substantial economic ties with Nordic countries. Annual India-Nordic trade i.e. with all five Nordic countries, is about $5.3 billion. The cumulative Nordic FDI to India has been $2.5 billion. The Nordic region represents a prosperous society with high incomes and a strong focus on quality and innovation. They rank high in Human Development Index. Three Nordic countries namely Denmark, Sweden and Finland are members of the European Union. The other two Norway and Iceland are members of the four country block, European Free Trade Association known as EFTA.

For India Nordic countries are potential source for clean technology, environmental solutions, port modernization, cold chain, skill development, innovation etc. They could be our ideal partners for many flagship programs. Swedish and Finnish Prime Minister participated in Make in India week in Mumbai in February 2016. Other than that Smart City, Clean Ganga, Swachh Bharat, Skill India are some of the other flagship programs to which Nordic countries can contribute significantly.

On the other hand India has a large market and a vast pool of talent and skills. India as a potential market for Nordic technologies and a capable supplier of goods and services for Nordic population. These complementarities and the unique strength of India and the Nordic countries have attracted entrepreneurs from both sides. Given the similarities in characteristics and ease of mobility across Nordic it is also important to look at all Nordic countries as a region andnot separately as five different entities. Taking note of the synergies existing between India and Nordic countries we intend to develop a pan Nordic view of India’s ties with the Nordic region.

Accept of high level visits especially from India to Nordic countries at Prime Minister level have been few. Stand alone bilateral visits by Prime Minister of India have only been to Sweden in 1988 and to Denmark in 2009. Additionally in 2006 our Prime Minister visited Finland for India-EU Summit, thus the current visit also serves the purpose of high level exchange between our Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of all five Nordic countries. As I said earlier apart from meeting all Nordic Prime Ministers together in the summit, our Prime Minister will have separate bilateral meetings with each of the Nordic Prime Ministers. Thank you.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you. Nagaraj, over to you.

Jt. Secretary (EW), Shri K Nagaraj Naidu: Good afternoon everyone. India and UK have a very modern partnership and which is bound by historical ties. We have established strategic ties in 2004. This is one of the visits that we are looking forward to. We had a series of visits from the UK side to India. If you look at when David Cameroon was the Prime Minister, he visited India three times. We had Prime Minister visiting UK in November 2015 and we have Theresa May having her first visit outside the EU to India in November 2016. So you can see that the high level visits have been at a very frequent pace.

Looking at the overall engagement, this is an old relationship and which is matured. We have a number of ongoing institutional mechanisms in place. On the finance side where we get to meet at the Finance Minister’s level. On the trade and economic, there is a regular interaction between the trade ministers we have dialogues at the level of National Security Advisor, we have an ongoing cyber dialogue. We have a dialogue at the policy planning level and the Defence Secretaries get to meet very frequently. We also have a dialogue at the Home Secretary level, we have a very rich science & technology engagement which this particular visit will really look strengthening at. So technology will be an underlying theme of this visit.

If you look at the way we have engaged with the UK on trade and economic side, it is a rich economic engagement. Our bilateral trade is at about $13 billion, our services trade, which is also very strong, is about $7.2 billion. If any of you didn’t know, we are also a very large investor in the UK. As a matter of fact we are the 4th largest investor in the United Kingdom and we are the second largest job creator. So we have created over 1,10,000 jobs so that is very significant.

If you look at the UK in India, among the G20 countries they are the largest investor. From 2000 to 2017 UK has invested about $25 billion. It is the fourth largest investor in this country so economic wise, technology wise we are seeing a lot of ongoing cooperation with the UK. This particular visit, there are two themes that you could look at. One theme is what we are trying to call it is "The Living Bridge” meaning all people from all walks of life in both India and in the UK have contributed to the strengthening of this engagement. So Prime Minister in this visit will be meeting scientists, artists, scholars from across all spheres of activity. Our engagements are such that we will introduce these ongoing connections and place this relationship and encourage the youth or the next generation to an even vibrant engagement going forward. So what you will be seeing in this visit is something called as the Living Bridge that we will be talking about.

The second one will be a lot of tech focus. Tech focus because we are looking at 21st century, we are looking at new age areas of engagement between the two countries, whether it is Big Data, whether it is Artificial Intelligence, whether it is healthcare, whether it is the concept of digitization and how do we apply it to various spheres of activity whether it is healthcare where we see a lot of partnerships going on. So I think these two elements will be the highlight of the bilateral visit, the Living Bridge and the tech partnership.

To give you a very brief idea, Prime Minister is arriving into the UK in the night of 17 April. The bilateral visit is a daylong which will happen on the 18 April. We will have a bilateral meeting in the morning at about 9:00 to 10:00. After which the engagement will be with the Prince of Wales, we will be visiting the Science Museum where there is an ongoing exhibition which is the 5000 years of Indian science and innovation. All the contribution made by India in the field of Science will be displayed and at various points we will have Indians, or British origin Indians or British who have contributed to certain areas of activity and Prime Minister will introduce each one of them, so that will bepart of the morning program at the Science Museum.

We will also be launching the Ayurvedic Center of Excellence, the All India Institute of Ayurveda is going to sign an MoU with the College of Medicine in UK, so that will be another program. In the afternoon, there is a venue called the Cric Institute where again Prime Minister and Prime Minister Theresa May will be having a series of events at this particular venue. We will be meeting Indian scientists who are working on Cancer research, who are working on Malaria and other tropical diseases. We will also have the CEOs forum where we will meet CEOs of both countries.

Apart from that we are looking at announcing the India-UK Tech Alliance which will comprise of young CEOs from both countries who have done exceptionally well in the tech space. We will also be meeting a few young Indian innovators who have won awards and who also received funding from the UK side, these are start-ups to expand their activities. So the afternoon bit will be meeting scientists, CEOs, young tech entrepreneurs. So that is the activity at the Cric Institute…..inaudible….Some of the deliverables we are still negotiating but the deliverables are in the area of Clean Ganga. We are looking at something on the skill side.

As I told you we are looking into announcing something in the tech space, there is an MoU that we are looking with NASSCOM and Innovate UK. We are also looking at an MoU between NITI Aayog and its counterpart in the UK, again in the area of innovation. So all put together we are looking at around 10-12 deliverables and a joint statement. I would leave it at that. Thanks.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you Nagaraj. Now JS(UNP) who will brief us on India’s participation at the Commonwealth Summit.

Jt. Secretary (UNP), Shri Rudrendra Tandon:Thank you. So after the bilateral segment that gets over on 18 April, Prime Minister will participate in the CommonwealthHeads of Government Meeting on 19 and 20 April. This year it is the United Kingdom that is hosting the CHOGM Summit because it is taking charge as the Chair in office for the next two years from Malta.

This summit, like all summits, is organized around two segments i.e. the executive session, which is a formal part of the summit. It is a structured agenda and the interventions are around the table. This is the formal part of the summit. This is followed on the 20th by the retreat. The retreat is an opportunity for the Commonwealth Heads of Government to discuss what they chose to discuss. This is usually done in an informal setting that has no preset agenda so quite frankly we don’t have any particular idea what exactly will be discussed in the retreat.

The summit is formally structured around the theme "Our Common Future.” And this underlies the sentiment that exists in the Commonwealth grouping that we are increasingly a tightly networked world who either prospers together or suffers together and therefore it is very important to work out activities for collective action. That would broadly summarize the CHOGM summit and PM’s participation in it.

A brief word about India’s approach to the Commonwealth. In the multilateral space for us the Commonwealth is a very unique multilateral grouping. It comprises of a very diverse set of 53 countries ranging from small island developing states to some of the most advanced industrialized countries of the world and they all come together because of their shared commitment to democracy, peace and justice and the promotions of citizen’s rights.

So in multilateral space this is a very unique body because there are very few multilateral bodies that are explicitly organized such enlighten humanist principles. However the Commonwealth has over the years also acquired a niche position in the development space of the international system. It has a very strong international voice particularly on developing country issue and more particularly on the developing issues that impact small states and small island states in the Pacific, in the Caribbean, in the Indian Ocean.

Over the years it has also acquired some capacity to render assistance to these countries and it is this dimension of the Commonwealth, its focus and its specialization on the development issues that impact small island states, small states, that is of particular interest to India because as you know these are countries distributed and located in the Pacific and Indian Ocean, in Caribbean, in Africa, in Latin America with whom we have close ties since the time we are independent and of course in some cases historical ties predating independence. That pretty much summarizes what I have to say.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Now the floor is open to questions.

Question from Wion: The question is on the India Nordic Summit. What is the idea of having this summit and of course who proposed this idea and what are the deliverables we are expecting from this summit?

Jt. Secretary (Central Europe) Subrata Bhattacharjee: As I mentioned when I did my briefing that we felt the need to look at the Nordic as a region. These are five different countries but they are much integrated. The ease of movement, the mobility within the countries, not only movement of people, movement of capital, movement of ideas, movement of technology and similarity between them helps us to look the the whole region as one block. So the idea of having an India-Nordic Summit is primarily driven view of ours.

This is of course the first time we are doing the India-Nrodic Summit. The theme as I said is called The India-Nordic Summit – Shared Values Mutual Prosperity. So we are looking largely at the economic issues, how we can make progress on that and this is will be an occasion and opportunity for the six Heads of Government to meet and share ideas, express their views. So definitely something more will come out of it. There is much we can do about India Nordic region as I mentioned, I don’t want to clutter my response with a lot of data.

Question Contd.: …………. Inaudible …………

Jt. Secretary (Central Europe) Subrata Bhattacharjee: No such decision has been taken. Let us take the first step and see how the dignitaries, the leaders meet and what they plan next. So I don’t want to speculate on that.

Question from News Nation: Mera sawaal CHOGM summit kolekar hai. Maujudaparipekshmein ye dekha ja raha hai ki UK aur Russia ka sambandh wo behadnichale star par hai aur zaahirtaur par dono ka rift sabkesaamne hai. Chemical weapon ka use Syria mein hua hai, aisa manaja raha hai. To CHOGM summit ke dauran agar, UK ki taraf se Russia ke khilaaf koi sanction aata hai ya fir koi aisa prastavaata hai to Bharat ka stand kya hoga, khastaur par kyonki hamaresambandh UK aur Russia, dono se hi behtar rahe hain?

(My question is related to CHOGM summit. Currently it can be seen that UK – Russia relations are at their lowest and obviously their rift can be seen by everybody. It is also being said that chemical weapons have been used in Syria. So during the CHOGM summit, if there is a proposal from UK for sanctions or some such proposal then what would be the stand of India especially when our relations have been good with both Russia and UK?)

Jt. Secretary (UNP), Shri Rudrendra Tandon: I don’t think we should speculate what are other Commonwealth countries are likely to do or not do. I am aware of the press article that appeared today but quite frankly this wouldn’t be the right place for me to speculate as to what may happen if something does happen. So I think that should do.

Question from Tribune: Considering that the last two times India boycotted the CHOGM summit for different reasons, what is it that you are hoping this time that the Prime Minister is able to take to the table from Indian perspectives? For Maldives that has walked out of CHOGM, is that issue going to come in any form, is that something that India has discussed because if you say that the organization stands for democracy and justice, it is not reflected there as far as the Indian reaction so far is concerned.

Jt. Secretary (UNP), Shri Rudrendra Tandon: Thank you very much. In so far as to what we hope to gain by PM’s participation, I think you need to situate our engagement with the Commonwealth in the broader perspective of our multilateral effort around the world. You would have noted that India has been gradually stepping up at the entire range of its multilateral engagement. The most obvious manifestation of that is of course the United Nations. But we are also stepping up in the SCO, we are also stepping up in the ASEAN and you should see our engagement in the Commonwealth within the framework of that broader perspective.

We hope that we can use Prime Minister’s participation in the CHOGM as an opportunity to explore the manner in which we step up our engagement with the Commonwealth. As I told you the Commonwealth has this specialty of looking after the interests, of advocating the interests of small states, small island developing states. This is a category of country in the international system that is of particular interest to India given our close ties with them and of course our historical links with them.

In so far as the Maldives is concerned, of course it is regretful that as a member of Commonwealth I can tell you from the preparatory phase that there is general sentiment that you shouldn’t lose members in a grouping but beyond that I have nothing to add for Maldives.

Question from The Hindu: Do we have an idea yet of the Prime Minister’s bilateral meetings during the Commonwealth summit in particular has there been any request from the Pakistani side or from our side for a meeting between Prime Minister Abbasi and Prime Minister Modi?

Question: When Prime Minister is going to Sweden, there is a very famous gun in Sweden called Bofors, is there any talk about Bofors or any future defence cooperation. And my question to Mr. Tandon, what we were hearing that India may figure as a central part of CHOGM, so has there been agenda that India will be one of the key players of CHOGM in the future?

Jt. Secretary (UNP), Shri Rudrendra Tandon: In so far as the possible bilateral meetings on the margins of the CHOGM, from the first reading of the scheduling it is a very packed summit. So if at all there will be bilateral meetings, it will be probably on the first day but even that first day is completely packed. So at this junction we really don’t have an idea of any of the bilateral meetings of Prime Minister.

We do look at it as an opportunity to interact with the Heads of Government of small states, small island states so prima facie that would be the emphasis of our interaction because this is the most appropriate to do so.

Jt. Secretary (Central Europe) Subrata Bhattacharjee: On the Sweden part, yes India gives focus to strengthen its defence capability and Sweden has some strength in that. But beyond that I cannot speculate whether any particular issue will be discussed between the two Prime Ministers.

Question from Republic TV:
My question is about economic offenders. On the sidelines of G20 Prime Minister Modi and Theresa May have spoken about the return of economic offenders and there was a tweet also which was put out by the Ministry of External Affairs. So is this going to figure prominently in the talks and are we going to discuss ways on how we can expedite the return of offenders like Vijay Mallya. Mr. Bhattacharjee, my question about Saab and the Gripen deal, this is atime when we are looking at fighter aircrafts. So defence naturally would it be a big component of talks between India and Sweden and will there be any kind of engagement or dialogue or some sort of meeting with the CEOs of these companies, especially like Saab?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Before I pass it on to next question let me remind you of a very old rule that still exists, which is one question per person so that we can accommodate as many people as possible.

Question from ABP News: Recently Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland said and she indicated one of the agenda item for the CHOGM is the leadership reform for the CHOGM as an organization. Does India support the India of Presidency of CHOGM more equitable, more representative and making democraticallyelected leaders as President of CHOGM?

Jt. Secretary (UNP), Shri Rudrendra Tandon: There is no President of CHOGM, there is Head of the CHOGM, Her Majesty, The Queen, not the British Crown. Her Majesty, The Queen is the Head of the Commonwealth. Decisions regarding who will be the head of the Commonwealth is taken only by the Commonwealth Heads of Government. They are the only people who are in power to decide who would be the Head of the Commonwealth.

But having said that I must tell you that there is great admiration for what service Her Majesty, The Queen has rendered the Commonwealth. We must not forget that it was under her headship that the Commonwealth has undergone this remarkable transformation from what it was in the past to multilateral organization that speaks for the smallest states in the international system. So there is no President and the Heads of Government always decide who the Head will be.

Jt. Secretary (EW), Shri K Nagaraj Naidu: On the question of economic offenders, let me be very clear that the agenda includes all issues and all issues will be taken up by the both sides. At the same time the issue of economic offenders is more of the domain of the Ministry of Home Affairs and there are two ongoing dialogues, one at the level of the Home Secretary and one at the level of the Minister. Minister Rijiju was in UK just in January this year and this issue was discussed at great detail and the legal process is on its way. There are lawyers on both sides and this case is being addressed. All extradition cases are being dealt with. At the same time if this issuecomes up, surely we will discuss it at great length.

Jt. Secretary (Central Europe) Subrata Bhattacharjee: On the issue of Saab and Gripen, Saab has shown serious interest in manufacturing Gripen fighter aircrafts in India under Make in India program. I am aware of that. This issue is primarily dealt by Ministry of Defence but you would have seen from the Media reports that Ministry of Defence is now asking for the RFI (Request for Information) from the prospective bidders who want to respond to that. So I am sure Saab qualified for that but beyond that I don’t have other details.

As far as PM’s interaction with the CEOs, as I mentioned, there will be one interaction, a round table, in which both Indian PM and Swedish PM will participate and address the gathering and some of the CEOs from the gathering, select few, would get to speak very briefly and put across their view point. That is the broad idea but I don’t have the list of the CEOs. With the Swedish side our Department of Industrial Policy and promotion will work out the list but in any case the round table does not envisages any one to one meeting with any CEOs and our Prime Minister. It is a general round table. Thank you.

Question from Zee News: CHOGM ke manch par kya Bharat terrorism ka mudda bhi uthayega, Pakistani support for terrorism, wo mudda bhi uthayega aur CHOGM mei jo sabhi countries ke Heads se jo bilateral meeting hai, kya bilateral meeting mein bhi ye muddauthega, aur isi ke saath juda ye sawaal hai ki aapnekaha ki us din PM ka schedule packed hai, Pakistan ke PM ke saath koi meeting pre plan nahi hai, to kya aagekhula hai option, kya mulakaat ho sakti hai?

(Would India raise the issue of terrorism on the CHOGM platform,and raise the issue of Pakistan’s support for terrorism in the bilateral meeting with the Heads of Governments of CHOGM. And a related question is, you said that the scheduled is packed, but is there any possibility of a meeting with the Pakistan PM, is that option open, if it is not pre-planned?)

Question: With National interest always on top of his mind is the Prime Minister likely to bring up the issue of Kohinoor in the bilateral meetings?

Question: What is the progress on the issue of taking back the illegal immigrants from the UK?

Jt. Secretary (UNP), Shri Rudrendra Tandon: On terrorism, the fact that the international community needs to get together to combat terrorism is important part of our overall multilateral diplomacy but you must remember that we use different platforms for different purposes. So tackling the issue of the global counter terrorism effort is best done at the United Nations. The Commonwealth, as I told you, focuses on developing country problems and keeping that focus is important so it wouldn’t be appropriate.

Having said that a lot of society related work is done within the Commonwealth so activities that help in preventing violent extremism and that whole series of activities that are contemplated by the member state, that is the focus in this Commonwealth. This is a standard thing, preventing violent extremism using education, using social groups, community, elder intervening, these are activities that are promoted within the Commonwealth.

Jt. Secretary (EW), Shri K Nagaraj Naidu: The returns issue is very important, you would note that we now have a national portal which enables identification of nationality, so that is already in place and we discussed this with the UK side and we have arrangement in place that ensures that as and when somebody is identified as to be illegal and his status has also been certified by the Indian side, there is a way we take that person back.

So this is already in place and the agreement that we are looking at is a continuation of what we have agreed before. Even though it ended in 2014, since 2014 till now, it is still being implemented because the process is in place. So essentially anybody is identified and his identification is proved that he is Indian so we have a proper procedure in place to take that Individual back. We are looking at the renewal but there is also new elements that keep getting added to any agreement so it will be a little updated version.

The Kohinoor issue is well known, it has been answered in the parliament many times. Our position as such remains the same. You can look at the most updated parliamentary question and our response is available even on the MEA website. Its an issue of Ministry of Culture and if we have somebody coming back to us and asking what is the status we will definitely go back to UK through it.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you Joint Secretaries and thank you all for joining. With this we conclude this special press briefing. Thank you.

(Concludes)

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