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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (June 06, 2019)

June 07, 2019

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Welcome to the weekly media briefing and good to be back in my routine. I have an important announcement to make and then we will get into the Q&A session.

The announcement relates to the visit of the External Affairs Minister to Bhutan. External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar will be visiting Bhutan from 7th to 8th June, 2019. This will be External Affairs Minister’s first visit abroad as EAM and it reflects the importance that India attaches to its bilateral relationship with Bhutan, a close friend and a neighbor.

During the visit Hon’ble Minister is expected to receive audience with His Majesty, the King. He will call on luncheon Dr. Lotay Tshering Prime Minister of Bhutan and also meet his counterpart Lyonpo Dr. Tandi Dorji, Foreign Minister of Bhutan.

We will issue a press release immediately after this briefing. The visit of EAM to Bhutan is in keeping with the tradition of regular exchange of visits and views at the highest level between India and Bhutan. So that was the announcement, now I open the floor to questions.

Question: The SCO meet is going to happen next week, the Pakistani Prime Minister will be there, Indian Prime Minister will be there, is there any likelihood of meeting between both the leaders, also on Kartarpur, any headway being made because we know it was postponed last time but any new dates now?

Question: The Pakistan Foreign Secretary is in town, any formal or informal meetings, either a talk to Mr. Jaishankar or Mr. Gokhale scheduled? And also is there a possibility of a pull-aside at the SCO meet between the two Prime Ministers?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: The second question is very easy to answer, the visit of Pakistani Foreign Secretary is a personal visit and there is no meeting being planned with any of the Indian officials.

On the query regarding the possibility of a meeting between the two Prime Ministers, to the best of my knowledge there is no bilateral meeting being planned between Prime Minister and Prime Minister of Pakistan on the side lines of the SCO Summit.

On Kartarpur, you are aware that we have shared our concerns. First thing is that we remain committed to realize the long pending demand of the Indian pilgrims to visit the holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib. We want them to visit in a safe, secure and easy manner but you are also aware that we have shared our concerns and sought clarifications and reports that controversial elements have been appointed by Pakistan to a committee associated with this project and also we have sought some clarifications from Pakistan on some of the key proposals which we had forwarded at the last technical meeting. We are still awaiting a response from Pakistan and I think once we get a response then I will be able to answer that question.

Question: Any confirmation on Mike Pompeo visiting New Delhi, just before the G20 and secondly, I believe Dr. Jaishankar has spoken to the French Foreign Minister, any details that you could share on that front?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: On the second question I think the External Affairs Minister has already tweeted about his conversation with the French Foreign Minister. I have no further details. It was more on the nature of a congratulatory call, these calls are very brief where you exchange pleasantries and not too much in detail about the bilateral relations as such but yes, that is what I have.

High level exchanges between India and US has been a very important component of our bilateral strategic partnership. And even in the past when there have been visits both from India and the US. There has been a kind of proper procedure under which it has been announced. Once we have more, kind of a, firm grip on the details, on the dates etc. I think then we will share that with you but till such time you will have to bear with us.

Question: Former EAM Sushma Swaraj had said that a decision on oil from Iran would be taken once the new government comes to power. Now can you give us an update on Iran oil situation, the imports came down to zero but now that we have a new government in place, what is the thinking on Iran oil?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I am afraid I don’t have much of an update today. I can only share with you that there has been not much change from what I had spoken earlier. The fundamental principle remains that whatever decision we take it will based on commercial considerations, it will be based on energy security and on our national interest.

Question: Some media reports said that the Indian government is concerned about the security of data if Huawei is allowed to participate in the 5G network deployment. A top official saying that the data of Indian citizens and details might be compromised or accessed by Chinese establishment. So could you clarify what is Indian government’s position about this?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I am not aware of any statement made by any Indian official on record on this matter. I am not sure if I have read it that an Indian official has made a comment that the data of the Indians will be stolen if the company which you are mentioning will come to India so I am not able to respond.

In any case, from here sitting as the spokesperson, it is difficult and respond to press reports unless there is a confirmation, somebody goes on record and makes a statement, it is difficult for me to respond.

It is difficult for me to respond to press reports. If somebody has gone on record, if you can share the name of the gentleman, person, ministry then perhaps it will be easier for me to respond.

Question: Has the dates for Mr. Pompeo’s visit to India have been finalized?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No, as I said that once the dates are decided then we will share it with you. Normally those dates are shared not too well in advance. Once there is a confirmation and then we will share that with you but still I must tell you that this is the general protocol we follow for any high level visit not only between India and the US but between India and any other country.

Question: Pakistan ke raksha budget ki katauti ko hum kis nazariye se dekh rahe hain, kya ye Pakistan ki bankruptcy ke kaaran hai ya koi naii rananeeti aapko lagti hai?

(How are we looking at the reduction in the defence budget of Pakistan, is it because of the bankruptcy of Pakistan or is there some kind of strategy behind this?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye, bahut mushkil hai mere liye is par react karna. I think ye sawaal aap unse poochhein jinhone budget mein katauti kii hai. Mujhe nahi lagta ki ye mere liye uchit hoga ki main unke budget ki katauti ke baare mein yahan se baith ke tippani karoon.

(See, it is very difficult for me to react on this. I think you should ask this question to those who have slashed their defence budget. I don’t think it is proper on my part to be sitting here and comment on the deduction of their defence budget.)

Question: Sir aapne bataya ki Bishkek mein Prime Minister Modi aur Imran Khan ki mulaakaat ka koi prastaav nahi hai lekin, jab Smt. Sushma Swaraj Videsh Mantri thii, chunaav se ek din pahle unki mulakat Pakistan ke Videsh Mantri se ek informal meeting wahan huii thii, us meeting kya kuch charchaa huii thii, kya aap kuch bata sakte hain?

(Sir, you have informed that there is no proposal of any meeting between our Prime Minister and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Bishkek. But when the former EAM Sushma Swaraj went there one day prior to the general elections she had a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan there. What was discussed in that meeting, can you throw some light on that?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Mujhe lagta hai ki pahle bhi humne clarify kiya hai ki Bishkek mein koi meeting nahi huii thii, koi informal meeting nahi huii thii aur ye maine pahle bhi clarify kiya hai. Jo aapne photo dekha, wo ek holding room ka hota hai jismein koi bhi formal meeting mein jaane se pahle aap ek jagah jaa kar baithate hain aur aapne dekha hoga ki usmein doosare foreign minister bhi baithe hue hain, to ye kahna galat hoga ki wahan par koii aupchaarik ya anaupchaarik meeting huii thii aur chunki meeting huii nahi thii to ye batana kii meeting mein kya hua, ye to aur bhi jyada speculative hai.

(I think we have clarified it earlier also that there was no meeting in Bishkek, neither formal nor informal and we have clarified it. The photo that you saw is that of a holding room where you go and sit before any formal meeting and you must have seen that there were other Foreign Ministers were also sitting over there. So it would be wrong to say that any formal or informal meeting took place there and since there was no meeting it would be even more speculative to talk about what happened in that meeting.)

Question: Hafiz Saeed ko kal Lahore ke Gaddafi stadium mein us namaz ka netratv nahi karne diya gaya jo wo har saal karte they aur uske baad zahreeley bayaan bhi dete they. Aap ise conciliatory gesture maante hain ya aap maante hain ki ye ek eyewash hai aur bahut kuch kiya jaana baaki hai?

(Yesterday Hafiz Saeed was not allowed to lead the namaz offered in the Gaddafi stadium which he used to do every year and after which he would make scathing statements. Do you consider this as a conciliatory gesture or mere an eyewash and so much more needs to be done?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye, Pakistan ki taraf se jo humne reports dekhe aur sune hain ki kaafi kuch kiyaa jaa raha hai lekin ye dhyan mein rakhne waali baat hai ki jo wo steps kar rahe hain, hamari jo demand hai ki wo irreversible hain ki nahin. Aur ye jo steps ho raha hai wo sirf dikhawa ke liye hai ya genuine ek action hai terrorism ke khilaaf aur jo unke desh mein terror infrastructure hai, jo wahan par log khule aam ghoom rahe hain, wo unke khilaaf action lene laayak hai ya nahi hai. Ye aapne pahle bhi dekha hoga, humne bhi pahle bahut baar dekha hai, doosare occasions par bhi dekha hai ki is type ke actions ke baad, koi uska follow up nahi hota, ye reverse ho jata hai.

(We have seen the reports from Pakistan that a lot of things are being done but the point to be noted, and which is our demand also, that whether these steps are irreversible or not. Whether these actions are mere a formality or is there a genuine action against terrorism and the terror infrastructure where such people are roaming freely there, is that enough to take action against them. You must have seen it earlier also just like we had also seen the same many a times that after such actions there is no follow up and these actions are reversed.

So Pakistan now needs to walk the talk what they have been saying, they will have to do it now.

Question: Wuhan second summit kab hoga aur kya iske liye Maharashtra ke kisi shahar ko identify kiya jaa raha hai?

(When the second informal summit like Wuhan will be held and if any city of Maharashtra is being considered for the same?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Ab main kya bataoon, maine pahle bhi kaha hai ki dekhiye ek to main bata doon ki jo doosari informal summit honi hai, ye tai hai ki India mein honi hai. Pehli informal summit jo Wuhan mein huii thii, hamare Pradhanmantri Ji ne President Xi ko nyota diya thaa ki doosari summit India mein honi chaahiye, unhone nyota sweekar kiya hai. Ye baat tai hai ki jo agli informal summit hai wo India mein hogi.

Ab hum dono desh jo raajnayik avam aur jo channels hote hain, uske through hamein ek to date tai karna hai, doosara ye bhi karna hai ki kahan hona hai. In dono baton par abhi charchaa jaari hai aur jaise hi hamaare pass kuch details aur information aati hai hum aapke saath share karenge. Itna main bata doon ki abhi iske baare mein koi confirmation nahi hua hai ki abhi is date ko ya is venue par ye summit hogi.

(See, first let me tell you that the second informal summit that is planned, it is for sure that it will be held in India. First informal summit which was held in Wuhan, our Prime Minister extended an invitation to President Xi that the second informal summit should be held in India only and he had accepted the invitation. So it is decided that the second informal summit will be held in India.

Now we diplomatic person of both the country have to decide one, the date for the informal summit and second the place of the summit. Discussion are on for both these things and as soon as we get some details or information we will share it with you. Let me tell you this much that neither the date nor the place of the second informal summit is decided yet.)

Question: American Rashtrapati Donald Trump ne Bharat ka preferential trade treatment khatm kiya hai aur iska announcement kiya hai. Kya Bharat retailiatory tax/tariff lagane ke baare mein vichaar kar raha hai ya filhal aisa koi proposal nahi hai?

(US President Donald Trump has made the announcement of ending the preferential trade treatment for India. Is India mulling over imposing some retaliatory tax/tariff or there is no such proposal at this moment?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Mujhe lagta hai ki aap ek aur step aagey chale gaye. Itna main bata doon ki ye sabko jaankaari hai ki ek naye cabinet ka gathan hua hai aur is mudde par Sarkar ke andar aur saath saath America ke saath hamare discussions chal rahe hain aur kisi bhi rishtey mein aur khaskar jo itna vishaal to breadth of relationship hai, jisko hum kahte hain ki US ke saath strategic partnership hai. Economic ties mein kabhi-kabhi aise mudde aate hain aur ye mutually resolve bhi ho jaate hain. Is samay main itna hi kahna chaahunga ki is par charcha chal rahi hai, Sarkar ke andar bhi aur US ke saath bhi aur jaise humare pass kuch update aayega hum iske baare mein aapko jaankaari denge.

(I think you have gone one step ahead too many. Let me tell you that it is known fact that a new cabinet has been formed and this issue is being discussed both in the government along with the US also. And in any relationship especially when it has such a vast breadth which we call as our strategic partnership with the US, sometimes such issue come up in our economic ties and which are mutually resolved also. At this moment I would only like to say that discussions are ongoing about the issue, both inside our government and with the US administration also and as soon as we get any update we would share information with you.)

Question: Are you completely ruling out any meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of SCO or there is some kind of possibility?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: See, again I have to repeat the exact statement which I gave earlier which is, to the best of my knowledge I am not aware of any bilateral meeting being setup or organized between Prime Minister and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Bishkek on the sidelines of SCO Summit.

Question: Just a follow up on the question about the Wuhan summit. Any meeting under the high level mechanism is likely to be scheduled and for that EAM is likely to visit Beijing?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Since the Wuhan summit and especially since the broad strategic direction was given to the two government by the two prime ministers there have been a series of high level visits including at the ministerial level and I think a visit has taken place at the level of defence minister, at the level of commerce and industry minister, EAM had also visited, their foreign minister also visited India last year for the India High Level Meeting. So this has already taken off and I think in the next half of the year we can see more exchanges between the two sides including at the level of foreign ministers.

Question: Are we going ahead with the plan to purchase and acquire S400 missile system and is this going to be on the table, what is the strategy of tackling US sanctions, what is the way out?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No, I really can’t share with you how are we going to tackle the whole thing. You know the background, you know that we already have a contract which had been signed and you already know that the steps are being undertaken to implement the contract. We are engaged and we have engaged with the US administration as well as Congress on the issue of CATSA. We have strategic partnership with both US and Russia and defence cooperation between India and the US is an important component of our strategic partnership and also with Russia it is also a very important component of what we share.

So this is where we are at this point of time and I don’t think I can answer beyond that.

Question: Aaj operation Blue Star ki barsi hai to aise mein Pakistan mei bhi jo anti-India element hain unhone bhi lagaataar naarebaazi bhi kii hai, usmein wo shaks bhi hai Gopal Singh Chawla jisko ki Kartarpur Corridor Committee mein member banaane ko lekar aap logon ne objection kiya thaa. Kis tarah se isko aap dekh rahe hai, ek baar fir wo anti-India movement chalaa raha hai?

(Today is the anniversary of Operation Blue Star and as such the anti-India elements in Pakistan have also raised slogans against India and that also includes Gopal Singh Chawla against which India had raised objection for making him a member of the Kartarpur Corridor committee, once again he is flaming the anti-India movement.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Hamara stand to bahut hi clear hai ki hamne pahle bhi kahaa hai ki Bharat ke virodh mein jo shaksh hai, jo group hain unko Pakistan panaah deta hai. Hamne pahle bhi kaha hai ki Pakistan ko unke khilaaf action lena chaahiye. Hum ummeed karte hain, demand karte hain, aur ye bhi aisi cheez hai jo international norms ke andar aati hai.

(Our stand is very clear which we have reiterated earlier also that Pakistan gives refuge to persons and groups which indulge in anti-India activities. We have said it earlier also that Pakistan should take action against them. We expect and demand it and this is something which is as per the international norms also.)

They are obliged to take action against groups which have been designated by the UN.

Hum expect karte hain agar wo serious hain is maamle mein ki Bharat ke saath rishtey sudhaarne chaahiye to jo anti-India forces hain, jo wahaan se operate karte hain, jinko wo panaah aur sheh dete hain, uske khilaaf wo action lein.

(We expect that if Pakistan is serious in its attempts to improve relations with India then it is imperative that Pakistan takes action against anti-India forces which operate from Pakistan’s soil and to which Pakistan offers refuge.)

Question: Raveesh Ji, America ke Rashtrapati Trump ne ek interview mein jo kaha hai ki America ki hawa sabse saaf hai aur Bharat ko paryavaran kii swachhataa kii samajh nahi hai. Kis tarah se Bharat isko dekhata hai?

(In one of the interviews President Trump has said that the air in the US is the cleanest and India does not has any understanding of cleanliness. How does India react to this?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Frankly, ye tweet abhi tak maine dekhi nahi hai lekin, under ministery of environment and forest, jo bhi steps humne liye hain towards climate change aur jo hamare pradhanmantri ne iske liye ek lead liya hai mujhe lagta hai ki ye sabke liye bahut hi clear hai.

(Frankly speaking I have not yet seen this tweet yet whatever steps we have taken under the aegis of Ministry of Forests and Environment towards climate change and our Prime Minister has taken a lead in this issue and I think this is very clear to everyone.)

India is at the forefront of fighting climate change. India is at the forefront of fighting for a cleaner and greener planet and I don’t think I can really comment on specific comments made by the other leaders.

Question: My question is CATSA related. The first payments for the S400 systems are going to be due soon. Just wanted to get a sense from you about the payment method which has been sorted out, how we are going to pay the Russians?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Normally I do not entertain questions on CATSA simply because it relates to Ministry of Defence. Now these are very specific matters of defence acquisition and payment etc. and this is something which you have to address to Ministry of Defence. I can’t really say as to when and to what extent payments have been made.

Question: Kitna samay aur chaahie un teeno bhagodon ko desh mein waapis lane ke liye kyonki udhar ka court paisa kha raha hai pata nahi, India ka bhi kha raha hai aur unko extension kara de raha hai?

(How much more time is required to bring back all the three fugitives because I don’t know if the court there is taking bribe or the court here is taking bribe and they are getting extension.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye aapne teeno ka naam liya hai to answer mera kaafi lamba ho sakta hai lekin broadly main itna bata doon ki ek to mujhe nahi lagta ki mujhe ispar comment karna chaahiye ki kisne kya khaya, ye mera kaam nahi hai, aur mujhe nahi lagta ki ismein sachhai hai but ye main bata doon ki jo hamari commitment hai, hamari jo commitment hain economic offenders aur fugitives ko baahar se Bharat lane ki wo bahut strong hai, hum us par chal rahe hain, saath mein cooperate kar rahe hain aur hamein lagta hai ki hamein kaamyaabi milegi.

(See, you have taken the name of all the three fugitives so my reply could be a bit long but broadly let me tell you that one, I don’t think I should comment on who had taken what, this is not my job and I don’t think there is any truth to this however let me tell you this that our commitment to bring back the economic offenders and fugitives is very strong, we are working in that direction and cooperating and we believe we will be successful.)

Thank you very much.

(Concludes)
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