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Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (May 03, 2018)

May 04, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Good afternoon friends and welcome to this weekly press briefing. After my briefing there will be a curtain raiser on the visit of Hon’ble Vice President, his first overseas visit. Before we move into the Q&A session, I have one important announcement to make and that relates to the official visit of the External Affairs Minister to Myanmar on May 10-11 which is part of the ongoing high level interaction which we have with the government of Myanmar.

During the visit EAM will hold discussion with the Myanmar leadership on various bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest. They are expected to also review the progress made on the decision taken during the last visit of Prime Minister to Myanmar in September 2017 to reinforce our bilateral relationship. Several key agreements covering diverse aspects of our bilateral relations are expected to be signed during this visit and as in the past we will keep you updated with the program once the visit gets underway. So that is the announcement that I had and now the floor is open for questions.

Question: Does the MEA an official position regards to recently restarted Neemrana dialogue, does it has a position, first of all, at all?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We have seen the reports which have come in the section of press. This is a meeting between two civil societies, this is meeting which is part of people to people exchange and if you recall I have mentioned in the past that the functional exchanges between the two sides have continued and is actually a part of normal process between the two countries. So there is nothing new which we see in this dialogue, I think it is the part of normal process.

Question: You talked about External Affairs Minister’s visit to Myanmar, can you just give us some details about we have promised some money and also some houses to Myanmar for repatriation of the Rohingya refugees, what is the progress on that? And are we also extending some credit lines or some more facilities to facilitate repatriation of Rohingyas at the earliest?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: As I mentioned there are certain agreements which will be signed during the visit of the External Affairs Minister, so I don’t want to share those details at this point of time. Our position which we have taken on the displaced persons, I think that has been articulated by me from time to time.

Broadly, if I can mention, they have two elements. One of course we have shared that the normalcy in the Rakhine state will be restored with the return of the displaced persons i.e. once they return to their state and that is a very important component of how the normalcy can be restored. But at the same time we have also mentioned that a long term solution is the socio-economic development of the Rakhine state.

We have also said that we welcome the agreement which has been signed between Myanmar and Bangladesh for the return of displaced persons. But the details of what exactly will be discussed, for that I think you will have to wait till the visit of External Affairs Minister.

Question:There are also reports of Prime Minister going to Nepal. Something you can share about that visit?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I can only share that this visit of Prime Minister to Nepal will be taking place on 11 – 12 May, 2018. Apart from Kathmandu the possibility of a visit to Janakpur and Muktinath is being explored. At this point of time we are working on various other elements of program, in fact our advance team is still in Kathmandu as we speak. So there are certain elements that are still being tied up. We will of course make a formal announcement of the visit which will have more details about the different places and cities which PM is going to visit as well certain other elements of the program. We will have a formal announcement coming in very soon.

Question: During Prime Minister’s visit to Wuhan, one of the outcomes, I believe, was India and China will be working on joint projects in Afghanistan, at least one economic project or something like that. Could you give us some more details of what kind of project is this, where, any details at all?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: After the meeting we had issued a detailed press release and there was also a press interaction by the Foreign Secretary where we mentioned that the two leaders exchanged views on long term and overarching issues of bilateral and global interests. I can confirm that this topic, which you just referred to, did come up for discussion between the two sides regarding a joint economic project in Afghanistan.

Now we are at a stage where both sides will have to continue discussions to identify specific projects as part of this understanding. So at that moment, at that point in time, given the nature of the visit and the nature of the discussion, it did not focus on specific project which two sides should do. That will be discussed subsequently when the two sides meet as and when in the near future.

Question: China visit ke dauran kya Pradhanmantri Modi aur Chinese President ke beech mein Economic Corridor aur Chabahar ko lekar koi baatcheethui thi? (Was there any discussion between Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President on the issue of Economic Corridor and Chabahar port during the China visit?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Jaisa Foreign Secretary ne bataya aur humne bhi apni press release meikaha hai ki us visit mein kisi bhi specific issue par baat nahihui. Humnekahatha ki is par overarching long term objective ke tahat discussion hua tha aur kinhi bhi specific muddon par us samay discussion nahi hua tha. Isiliye main batanachaahunga ki jin discussions ki aap baat kar rahi hain wo nahi hue they.

(As was said by Foreign Secretary and also mentioned in our press release that during the visit no specific issues were discussed. We have said that discussions took place on overarching issues with long term objective and nothing specific was discussed during that time. Hence I would like to say that the issue which you are referring were not discussed.)

Question: During Prime Minister’s visit to China both the leaders also decided to issue strategic guidance to their militaries. Can you elaborate on this?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Strategic guidance has been explained very clearly in the press release and it is self-explanatory. But I think there was a discussion on how the two sides can properly manage the bilateral relationship from the strategic and long term perspective. When I say strategic communication, I think this is basically in order to build trust and understanding between the two militaries. These are basically broad guidelines, now below that how the two militaries are going to take it forward from these broad overarching directions, these are operational matters and I think which will be discussed between the two militaries and decision will be taken by them.

Question: Pakistan Prime Minister has officials to forcefully pursue the Indus Water issue. So what is the state of Indus Water issue, at what stage is this issue?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: From this forum, I have mentioned time and again whenever the meeting of Indus Water Commission takes place, in fact the last meeting took place in Delhi you know this is an ongoing negotiation which keeps happening. This is a part of treaty between India and Pakistan that you discuss the matters which arise out of the Indus water, so these discussions are ongoing. This is not something which you resolve in a day and I think there is a mechanism and dialogue takes place at regular interval. If I am not mistaken it is twice in a year, once in India and then the other in Pakistan.

Question: Mera sawal Pakistan kolekar hai. Abhi haalmein jo dono deshon ki civil societies ki ko meeting hui, jo aapnekaha ki wo chaltirahti hai, kya Bharat Sarkar ki Pakistan ko lekarneeti mei koi badlaavaaya hai, kya Pakistan ki taraf se neetimeinbadlaavaaya hai aatankvaad ko lekar jo rukhtha Bharat ka ki jab tak Pakistan usko support dena band nahikarte, vaartanahi karenge. Kya ye varta ka aadhaartaiyaar kar rahi hai civil society dono deshon ke beech?

(My question is related to Pakistan. Recently there was a meeting between the civil societies of both countries which you said is a normal process. So has there been a change in the policy of India with regard to Pakistan, which is till Pakistan stops support to terrorism there would be no dialogue? Does this dialogue between civil societies is creating a ground for talks between the two countries?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Mujhe nahilagtaaisikoaadhaartaiyaar karne waali baat hai. Jaisa mainekaha ki kuch exchanges hote hain jo normal process hote hain aur jo civil society ka exchange hota hai. Waise agar aapdekhen to DGMO level par bhi mulakathotirahti hai, iska ye matlabnahi hua ki koi badlaav ho raha hai ya koi aadhaarbanayajaa raha hai. Hamarajo stand hai Pakistan ko lekar wo bahut hi clear aur consistent hai. Humnebaar-baarkaha hai ki wo jo terrorists aur terror infrastructure ko support kar rahe hain to humnekaha hai ki, "Terror and Talks cannot go together” to usmein koi bhi badlaavnahi hai, koi bhi dilution nahi hai aur hum apnijagah par bilkulkaayam hain.

(I don’t think there is something related to creating ground from talks. As I said that there are certain exchanges which are normal and the exchange of civil society is one of them. If you see meetings at the level of DGMO are regularly held but that does not mean that there is change or some ground is being created. Our stand regarding Pakistan is very clear and consistent. We have said time and again that Talks and terror cannot go hand in hand. So there is no dilution or change in that and we are firm in our stand.)

Question: Have a question related to one just asked. You said that this is the part of normal process between the two countries. So should we construe that this has got the blessings of the two governments because there were reports that the teams of the military veterans and other academics will submit reports to their respective governments. And you have just said that it is a part of the normal process between the two countries, so should we read between the lines that this has got the blessings in some manner of the two governments?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: What you read between the lines is up to you. I cannot indulge in speculation from this forum. As I mentioned, if a group of Indians is going to Pakistan to take part in dialogue, the only thing they need is a visa from the Pakistani side. I will leave it at that. As I mentioned that it is something which is a part of the normal process, the dialogue between civil societies, people-to-people exchange and that is what has happened.

Question: Aaj hi Pakistan se JeetendraArjanwar ki waapasihui hai. Kya aap is baare mein aur jaankari de sakte hain?

(JeetendraArjanwar has returned from Pakistan today only. Can you give more information on that?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Haan, maine bhi wo tweet dekha to is baare meinhamare Pakistan ke High Commission ne kiya tha, par abhi mere pass poori detail meiniskijaankarinahi hai. Tweet mein unhone explain kiya hai ki kis circumstances mein us shaksh ki Bharat waapasihui hai. Unhone kaha hai ki ismein kaafi log involve they, par background ki jaankarimujhe abhi nahi hai.

(I have also seen the tweet made from our High Commission in Pakistan regarding this but at this moment I don’t have complete details with me. They have explained in the tweet the circumstances under which this person has returned to India, they have said that a lot of people were involved in this but I don’t have background information on that yet.)

Question:…………… Inaudible ……………..

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Jaisa mainekaha ki hum baarunse request karte hain aur isko take up karte hain. Kai baarhumne is issue ko take up kiya hua hai, aur us status mein abhi koi change nahi hai.

(As I said we request them again and again and take up this issue. We have taken up this issue many times with them and there hasn’t been any change in it’s status.)

Question: Does the revival of so called Neemrana Dialogue meet with the approval of MEA, unofficially or officially?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I will not get into that. Again I will not get drawn into a debate on a dialogue between two civil societies. As I mentioned that the two civil societies on the two sides decided to meet, this is part of the normal exchange between the people of the two sides, between the civil societies of the two sides and that is where I will leave it.

Question: This is regarding Venezuela. Do we have a position on the sanctions that have been imposed on Venezuela in the context of Venezuela offering us oil at 30% discount if bought in crypto currency?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Has anything happened recently because I think the position we have on Venezuela is the same.

Question Contd.:This is context of Venezuela offering to sell us oil at 30% discount.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I am not aware of any change in our policy. I am not aware of the report which you are referring to either.

Question: Anything on Nirav Modi, has the Hong Kong authority responded and they were reports in media also that apparently he is now in New York, any update?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You see, I cannot indulge in speculation as there are reports of him being in many countries. As far as MEA is concerned we come into the picture once we receive a specific request from our agencies vis-à-vis a particular country. When it happened vis-à-vis Hong Kong, we shared the matter and information with you. At this point in time, so far we have not received any specific request our agencies regarding this case and as and when any request come to us, we act on that.

Question: You announced that his passport was to be revoked, so the question is was the passport revoked and did the Government of India inform all the international authorities about it, like the embassies and the High commissions that he should not be allowed to travel?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: That is the part of normal process, in fact I have announced that his passport was revoked because he did not reply to the letter which we had sent to him. Now the normal process is once you revoke the passport then you inform all the PIA agencies, Passport Issuing Authorities, like all the High Commissions, so this is part of the normal process, which we do.

Since there are no more questions, this briefing comes to a close. Thank you all.

(Concludes)

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