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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (May 10, 2018)

May 10, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Good afternoon and welcome to this weekly press briefing. I have an announcement to make regarding Prime Minister’s official visit to Nepal starting tomorrow.

Last week we have issued a press release in this regard. He will be on a state visit to Nepal on May 11 and 12 at the invitation of Prime Minister of Nepal Rt. Hon’ble K P Sharma Oli. I will just go through the program elements especially for those who are planning to visit Nepal for Prime Minister’s visit.

This will be Prime Minister’s third visit to Nepal since 2014. He had earlier traveled to Nepal for bilateral visit in August 2014 and for the SAARC Summit in November 2014. Prime Minister will visit Kathmandu, Janakpur and Muktinath. PM will be arriving in Janakpur on 11 May which is tomorrow. We propose to leave tomorrow morning and the first stop will be Janakpur.

Darshan at JankiMandir will be followed by a civic reception which will be hosted by the Mayor of Janakpur at Barbigha Ground. PM will then leave for Kathmandu in the afternoon of tomorrow. There will be a call by the Foreign Minister of Nepal which will be followed by a ceremonial reception at Tundikhel Ground. PM will also call on President of Nepal Bidhya Devi Bhandari and Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun. This will be followed by bilateral talks between the two Prime Ministers.

PM Oli will also host a dinner in honor of Prime Minister in the evening of 11th May. So that basically concludes Prime Minister’s engagement for tomorrow.

On the morning of May 12 Prime Minister will visit Muktinath and then he will come back to Kathmandu and then he will offer prayers at PashupatiNath temple. Later he will meet leaders of various political parties of Nepal. This will be followed by a civic reception which will be hosted by the Mayor of Kathmandu in honor of the visiting Prime Minister and then PM will depart for India after the civic reception.

During the visit the two Prime Ministers will jointly lay the foundation stone, which will be done remotely, of 900MWArun III Hydro-power project in Nepal with an investment of INR 6,000 crores. Arun III is the largest hydropower project to be undertaken in Nepal. The project is being implemented by SJVNL India.

So this was the announcement that I had, now the floor is open for questions.

Question:
Can you share any information regarding the Indians abducted in Afghanistan?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We had issued a press release if you remember. Actually not a press release but my response to queries. At this stage I can share with you that we are in touch with the Afghan authorities in this matter. Our External Affairs Minister as well as our National Security Advisor had telephonic conversations with their counterparts and we have requested all possible assistance from them.

You would appreciate that this is a sensitive matter as lives of seven Indians is involved therefore I would not like to share much on where we are at this moment of time in a public forum.

Question: There were reports yesterday that Baglan province had actually fallen to Taliban in fresh violence that has erupted there. Does this add to the worry, have we been able to establish any contact, is there any basic detail other than this that you might want to share and if you could say something on External Affairs Minister’s visit agenda to Myanmar?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Any other query on Afghanistan, then I will take all of them together.

Question: When the NSA had spoken to his Afghan counterpart on this issue so primarily what was conveyed to them?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: In the telephone conversation both the EAM and NSA basically requested all possible assistance from the Afghan authorities in whatever manner it was possible. And in fact if you might have seen the press statement issued by the Afghan Foreign Minister where he mentioned that all possible assistance in this matter will be extended.

Coming to first question, I mentioned that we are in touch with different people who are involved in this exercise through the Afghan government. I would not like to get into the details of the people and authorities with whom we are in touch with. It is a sensitive matter and I would leave it at that.

Now to the question related to Myanmar, EAM has just left in the morning and as we speak she just concluded her call on the President of Myanmar. This is a part of the high level engagement between the two countries as I had mentioned in my press release. Just to add to that, we plan to sign seven documents during this visit.

The list of documents will be shared with you all later this evening once they are signed. They cover different aspects of our bilateral relationship like capacity building, there is also an MoU which we plan to sign on the renovation of a Pagoda and she is also going to call on the State Councilor later this evening as well as the Commander in Chief of the armed forces.

Question: There have been reports in the Pakistani press about an investigation against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for laundering of $5 billion to India. How would you respond to these reports?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Are you referring to the notice that was issued by NAB?

Question: Yes.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You see this is an allegation which I think we don’t have to respond. I think it is something which has to be responded by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Question: The American Sanctions Act, CAATSA is likely to impact on Indo-Russian defence exchanges. How India is dealing with the situation?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: There are several such proposals and issues now which have been announced by the US government. I can only tell you that there are existing forums that exist between India and US to address all such issues. There have been visits which have taken place, recently the Foreign Secretary was in US and all issues which are of concern to us have been raised with the US side.

Question: Since the withdrawal of US from the Iran Nuclear deal by Trump, what are the apprehensions and are there going to be any talks or is India in touch with the Iran at a high level on this particular matter because earlier when the sanctions were there India was asked to reduce the oil supplies from Iran, what apprehensions you have?

Question: Would it impact collaboration in the Chabahar Port if any, could you give some details on that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Basically the announcement which we made on this matter yesterday, we have emphasized that all parties should engage constructively to address and resolve the issues that have arisen out of JCPOA and we have always supported a peaceful resolution through dialogue and diplomacy.

You would appreciate that it’s too early, I think it is too early in the day. We are closely monitoring the developments. We are assessing the implications which this might have on our interests. At this stage I can share with you that the Government will take all necessary measures which are required to safeguard our interests. I am sure you must have seen the FAQs which has been brought out by the Treasury Department of the US in the matter. I think that basically gives a lot of details about this matter.

The response to the Chabahar is the same. We will take necessary measures which are required to safeguard our interests. It is too early to analyze and come up with the implications of the withdrawal of the US from the JCPOA.

As there are no other questions, I conclude this weekly briefing. Thank you all for joining.

(Concludes)

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