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Transcript of Media Briefing by Foreign Secretary during PM's visit to UK

April 18, 2018

Good afternoon friends and welcome to this special briefing on Prime Minister’s visit to UK.

This is a second leg of Prime Minister's visit.Yesterday Prime Minister had a very intensive engagement in Sweden and we had issued a press release regarding his engagement yesterday.Today the briefing is going to be on Prime Minister’s bilateral visit and for this I have with me the Foreign Secretary, the High Commissioner of India to UK and Joint Secretary (Europe West) Sri Nagaraj Naidu.Since we are running short of time, there may not be sufficient time for many questions.Maybe we can take one or two but we will see how it goes.So, now I invite the foreign secretary to make his remarks.

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen!

Let me apologize first for the delay in coming.We were stuck in the London traffic.This is the first visit that the current Prime Minister is making for a Commonwealth summit and it is also, it follows upon another first, yesterday was the first summit between India and the five Nordic countries and this visit to London for the Commonwealth summit is at the invitation of Her Majesty the Queen and some of you perhaps know his Royal Highness Prince Charles was in India also in connection with this, last year.He was received late last night at the airport by the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Boris Johnson as a special gesture, Foreign Secretary Johnson conveyed to Prime Minister that, the British Government was eagerly awaiting his arrival in Londonand that they attached importance to India as a major country in the Commonwealth. This morning the day commenced with restrictive meeting between the two Prime Ministers and this is the first major engagement at the Prime Minister level between Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister May, after the elections in the United Kingdom last year.That was followed by a visit to the science museum, where his Royal Highness Prince Charles personally showed the Prime Minister around the exhibition covering 5000 years of Indian Science.One of the exhibit which was of particular interest was the Bhakshali manuscript.This is a manuscript which is the earliest recorded manuscript which has the numberzero (0) and is attributed to a period roughly 5 to 800 years before the common era.Thereafter, the two dignitaries inaugurated the Ayurveda center of excellence, which would be located in the University of West Minister and this agreement was signed yesterday between the All India Institute of Ayurveda and the college of medicine in the United Kingdom.At the same science museum event, the Prime Minister also met a number of personalities who constitute a living Bridge, a living bridge between India and the United Kingdom in various fields and this in fact the phrase which our Prime Minister coined in 2015 to symbolize the fact that there is a group of people in both countries which are living and working and which constitute living bridge in exchanges between the two countries and which in the sense spans the entire relationship as it is evolved over the last 70 years since India's Independence.

The Prime Minister also paid a floral tribute at the Basaveshwara statue which is on the banks of the Thames across West Minister and then this afternoon we are just returning from the event at the Crick Institute where again, Prime Minister was received by Prime Minister May and of course as you know that the Crick Institute is a leading Centre for Medical Research so, Prime Minister May showed Prime Minister Modi cutting edge research which is being done on cancer as well as on malaria and Prime Minister May also spoke to a number of researchers, many of whom are Indian nationals.Both the Prime Ministers then attended the technology demonstration and also launched the India-UK Tech alliance and met a number of young Technology entrepreneurs at this event.While at the Crick both Prime Ministers also addressed the CEO forum. On the Indian side it is led by Shri Ajay Piramal, on the UK side by Mr. Jerry Krimston, head of Standard life UK and the Prime Minister will shortly be having an audience with Her Majesty the Queen.

And then to close the day he will interact in a diaspora event in about an hour and a half which is "Bharat Ki Baat, Sab KeSath”,and then of course the official dinner to be hosted by the Prime Minister of the UK.

Let me very quickly go over the main issues covered in the meeting between Prime Minister May and Prime Minister Modi and I will have to be a bit brief because of time.The first issue covered was trade and investment, of course, they had a fairly wide ranging discussion on a number of issues,that included both bilateral issues and international issues.Under trade and investment both the Prime Ministers were satisfied that a joint trade review had been held and Prime Minister May spoke of the keenness of the United Kingdom to have a free trade agreement (FTA) or at least to begin free trade agreement negotiations, free trade agreement negotiations with India. Prime Minister said that we are ready to do so and Prime Minister also emphasized that it needs to be a balanced agreement and it needs to be an agreement which has mutual benefit in it.The Prime Minister of Great Britain showed our Prime Minister that during this implementation period the period between the United Kingdom leaving the European Union and that is until the end of 2020, Indian companies would continue to enjoy the same benefits as before BREXIT,this was important for us and the Prime Minister gave this assurance to our Prime Minister.

In the context of trade and investment,our Prime Minister also raised the question of easier mobility for Indian professionals and others citing their contribution to the economy of the United Kingdom.These are visa issues, work permits and so on. Prime Minister May acknowledge the contribution that Indian companies and professionals are making.We are in fact the second largest job creator among foreign countries and we will continue to discuss this issue further.The Prime Minister also spoke of the continuing importance of London as a financial Centre post BREXIT in the context of Indian companies continuing to use London and the London stock exchange and the Prime Minister welcomed the investor response for the masala bonds which have been floated on the London stock exchange.And as you would know from the joint statement which has been released, the Global green energy fund, about 120 million pounds each of the two countries will put in there with additional funds to be raised on the London stock exchange, which will be used for funding Green Projects, renewable energy and so on, which is a new initiative and which both the Governments considered important in the current priorities that they have on climate action.

The second issue that was discussed was the issue of terrorismand the Radicalism.The Prime Minister described extremism, radicalism, terrorism as a rising challenge for both countries and for countries across the globe and of the need to strengthen the already good cooperation between the two countries and it was agreed that one area where we need to enhance cooperation substantially is in the cyber security field and as the two Prime Ministers discussed, this is a continuing dynamic process because when you deal with the cyber threat, within hours that solution is overtaken by some other cyber problem and therefore there was a need for dynamic cooperation between the two countries.It was important for us when Prime Minister May also said that on the issue of terrorism Britain stand as a strategic partner with India and is ready to expand cooperation.There was also a reiteration on the part of the British Prime Minister of the keenness of the UK to have greater defence cooperation with India.The issue of economic offenders was also raised and this was among the number of counselor issues that were raised andhave already covered the issue of mobility of professionals and students and the like.

And viewswere also exchanged on current International and multilateral issues and in this regard it's important to note that both Prime Ministers agreed that rules based international order should be preserved in today's interconnected world that we should respect the United Nations, the multilateral system and have a rules based international order.

I would like to request my colleagueHigh Commissioner, if he wishes to add any further details either to that meeting or to subsequent programs on which he will be able to say some words.

Thank you,

Thank you Foreign Secretary,

I think The Foreign Secretary has been quiet detailed in describing what has happened, the visit of the Prime Minister. I just wanted to reiterate one thing on the technology side that the Foreign Secretary referred to the demonstration at the Crick Institute,there is considerable importance being attached by both sides to technology, innovation and R&Dand these Tech initiatives have been in and if you recall the Prime Minister Maywent in November 2016, there was a Tech Summit held in Delhi and nowthere was announcement that another Tech summit may be held in the autumn of 2018.Just UK-India Tech alliance that was announced today includes agreement between NASSCOM and TECH-UK.Of course, there was some announcement from UK side they want to create a UK-India Tech hub in India and UK- India Tech cluster partnerships. Pune being one City being identified as a possible hub, then advanced manufacturing center and lastly the FintechRocketship awards.As you are aware there have been some cooperation in the Fintech sector and the city of London is practically strong in that.So,I think this would further supplement the very wide ranging cooperation that exists between our two countries.

Thank you

The CEOs forum that the Foreign Secretary touched upon,it was a CEOs very important mechanism where we get leading businesses from either side to discuss amongst themselves and come up with recommendations for the Government in fact for the Prime Minister of both the countries and considerable importance have been attached to these meetings. So, at the Crick Institute itself, the two Prime Ministers heard a presentation report from both the coaches,Jerry Krimstonand Mr Ajay Piramal and then responded to the points raised by the two sides, the CEOSs and its important because these are people on the ground who face issues or come up with suggestions which are very relevant,so I think lot of importance is being attached to that considering there are economic and commercial partnership is actually quite good, potently our investment partnership are one of the largest investors UK into India, the fourth largest investor and we are third largest investor here,and so it's a cost cutting relationship and lot of importance being paid to enhance this partnership on the economic and commercial side.So, there was some discussion on that and both the Prime Minister responded with their views on suggestions made and agreed to follow up on recommendations made by the CEOs.

Thank you!

Thank you Sir

We have time for maybe few questions.Please identify yourself and one question per person


Foreign secretary, mein Pranay Upadhyay hun ABP news se aur aap ne jaisa abhi jikar kiya ki Britain ke Pradhan mantri Theresa May ke saath restrictive meeting mein Pradhan Mantri ne economic offenders ka mudda uthaya. Agar aap thoda elaborate kar payen ki kis tarike se Pradhan mantri ne ye mudda uthaya aur kya assurance unhe in British Prime Minister ki taraf se is mamle pe mila, khas taur par un economic offenders ko chahe Vijay mallaya ho, Lalit Modi ho, jo Britain mein panah le ke baithe hein, kya aage aisa na ho paye, kya assurance mil payahai?

(Foreign Secretary, I am Pranay Upadhyay from ABP news and as you discussed just now in the restrictive meeting held with the the Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, our Prime Minister raised the issues related to economic offenders. Can you elaborate a bit and tell how the Prime Minister took up this issue and what assurance he received from the British Prime Minister, particularly for those economic offenders like Vijay Mallaya, LalitModi, who have taken asylum in Britain, so that the same is not repeated in future and what assurance we could receive? )

Are there any other questions on this subject, on the subject of economic offenders?

Yes please!

On the same topic! Similar Topic

Not audible

Q-Sir, I am Ashok Raj working with ANI.

Is there any agreement or any paper work handed over like our evidence related to economic offenders?

Answer: I think I have already touched upon this issue by saying that the number of counselor issues were discussed including the issue of economic offenders. I am not at liberty to go beyond that point.In all such visits documents are never exchanged.These are prime ministerial visit.So I will leave with that.

We can move on question


What extraordinary measures the Prime Minister might take in response to the rape cases that have been highlighted recently as well as to address the fundamental problem. I have two specific questions, one is we have not received the response so far.We were hoping to hear from them at Bharat Ki Baat, because the Prime minister has asked for questions to be posted and hence we sent the questions and the second point is all eight 8 of 9 confirmed people who wereallocated tickets at the event have not been sent their tickets.Now I understand,its not a high commission event, I understand the organizers are different but there is the Indian Prime Minister who is speaking, why have our ticket allocation not been sent to us? Why our voices are being suppressed? Are we not allowed to ask the Prime Minister questions?

This is a Press Conference about India British relations and the Prime Minister visit to the Great Britain.These are not questions which I can answer.

But Sir this is a UK based organization representing Indian students.Least if we can be told while we have not received our tickets?

Seewhy are you pre judging, what the Prime Minister may or may not say in a asked time.Why don't you wait.

But sir we haven't been allowed to enter the premises.

As the foreign secretary said

Number 1 : This is not the forum to ask this question.Please ask the people who organized the event.We obviously are not going to answer that question for you but as regarding the issues that you have raised, please wait and see. I mean if your issues are not addressed then come back to the high commission, we will be happy to try and see how we can address them,perhaps right now I think let's focus on the visit, which is being very successful till now and lot of things happening.But, I understand but this is a Press Conference on Prime Minister's visit and the interaction with the UK Government.Lets leave it at that right now.

Thank you

Sir, I am AkhileshSom from RajyaSabha television.

After BREXIT, we are hearing that there will be lot of opportunity for Indians in UK.So, how do you think that this issue cropped up between the talks and also that any talk on the visa issue that you can share with us though you have mentioned it?

Answer: Well both sides agreed that there are new opportunities for economic cooperation. I presume that is why Prime Minister May have proposed discussions, comments on free trade agreement and as I explained Prime Minister said that it is important to have a free trade agreement that is balanced and mutually beneficial and obviously in our case that means services sector, which is important and that includes movement of persons and movement of natural persons including for job opportunities and for studies and for the students.

So these issues were discussed, obviously once the discussions begin, these subjects will be discussed in greater detail. But I think the whole issue of Ease of Doing Business as well as access for Indian companies and Indian professionals to the United Kingdom will form part of that discussion.

Yes please

Question Namaskar Sir,Mein Zee news se Amit Prakash hun. Aaj tamam aise muddon pe bat-chit hui jo aap bata rahe the. Terrorism ko le kebhi ek mudda thaaurwo agenda meinthaki us par bhi bat-chit hogi. Summit meinbhi is par bat-chit honihai. Kya global terrorism ko le ke bhi aaj ki kisi meeting mein ya khas taur par Prime Minister ki UK ke Prime Minister ke saath jo meeting thi, Koi bat-chit terrorism ko le kebhi hui hai aaj?

(Namaskar Sir, I am Amit prakash from Zee news.Today discussions took place on all those issues which you were telling. There was an issue related to terrorism and it was part of the agenda, so that it could be discussed upon. It is going to be discussed at the Summit also. Were there any talks today on global terrorism in the meeting held between our Prime Minister and Prime Minister of UK?)

Answer Haan, jaisa meine kaha aatankwad pe to baat hui hai aaj. Dono pradhanmantri ke bich mein sehmati hai ki is aatankwad ke mudde pe dono deshon ko aur karna chahiye aur vishwa mein bhi ek consensus banna chahiye ki aatankwad sirf Bharat ke liye ya UK ke liye khatra nahin hai. Ye puri duniya ke liye, pure vishwa ke liye khatra hai. Is sandarbh mein aap ko bata dun ki kal indo-nordic summit mein panchon Nordic Pradhan mantriyon ke saath ye bat uthi thi aur wahan bhi Pradhan Mantri ne kaha tha ki kya hum Vishwa ke taur pe ek comprehensive convention international terrorism ko abhi tees saal ke bad aage nahin badha saakte hein kya? Hum sabko ikaththa aake comprehensive convention international terrorism ko UN mein pass karna chahiye kyonki ye khatra sirf ek ya do deshon ke liye nahin hai, ye vishwa ke liye khatra hai.

(Yes, as I told you, today discussions were held on terrorism. Both the prime Ministers agreed upon that both the countries have to do a lot more on the issue of terrorism and a consensus should be reached amongst the world because terrorism is not dangerous only for India and UK. It is dangerous for the entire world. In this regard I want to inform you that this topic was raised in the Indo-Nordic summit with the prime ministers of all the five Nordic countriesand there our Prime Minister asked can’t we extend the comprehensive convention on international terrorism beyond thirty years? We must all come together and get the comprehensive convention on international terrorism cleared by the UN because this is not dangerous only for the one or two countries but the entire world.)

The Gentleman in the third row

Question: How did the two Prime Ministers terms the question of Syria and the recent strikes They got different views. India calling for entire region and wanted to go for immediate discussion.

Answer: I think something in the joint statement is agreed position but well this was not a major discussion between the two Prime Ministers. I think the issue was that our Prime minister said that use of Chemical Weapons anywhere and under any circumstances is not acceptable, but that is necessary to establish the facts and there after it is necessary to work within an international rules based order to resolve issues but beyond that the joint statement reflects the joint or agreed position between the two countries.

Question: Not audible

Answer: Well, I don't think that we discussed what was happening everywhere else in the world, I think the two Prime Ministers agreed that the opportunities exists for both India and the United Kingdom to have a free trade agreement to take advantage of the economic opportunities and to take advantage of a globalized world. As far as visas are concerned I am sure there is scope for improvement. I think that is quite obvious,there is scope for improvement.But the visa issue was discussed in the context of the free trade agreement and it mean to ensure that Indian professionals and Indian students can move freely into the United Kingdom for work or study and at present in that context that the visa issue was raised.

Aditi from PTI! Question: We were told that a dozen MOUswere going to be signed and one of them, very key one was on illegal immigrants which was to be renewed.If you could just update us on exactly how many MOUs will be signed and whether this one was included there?

Answer: Well I think we issued a fact sheet but I will ask my colleague to speak about that. As far as the MOU you are referring to, it is under discussion.There will be a meeting, I think at the level of home secretary and home minister, perhaps the end of next month and I presume we will continue to discuss at that time. Thank you very much!

With this we conclude our special briefing, we are really hard pressed for time and perhaps some of you have to be there at the venue.

Thank you all for joining!.


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