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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (August 01, 2019)

August 13, 2019

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Namaskar, good afternoon and welcome to this weekly press briefing. I don’t have any announcements so we can straight move to Q&A session.

Question: This is with regards to the information coming in from Pakistan that it has offered consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav for India, what are the modalities that have been worked out, has India responded to that offer and when is this consular access going to be made available to India?

Question: The reports are also coming in from Pakistan that a Pakistani officer will also be present in the room when the consular access will be given, is India agreeing to this thing and at what level consular access representation will be made from the Government of India, like who would be representing and who would be going for the consular access?

Question: It is slightly unrelated because there were reports again from Pakistan where they claimed to have under detention another Indian alleged spy, is there any update?

Question: If you could just explain what the modalities really were and what are the objection that India really has because what we are given to understand is that while Pakistan has announced the date for consular access is tomorrow, modalities still have not been worked out?

Question: Is this offer of consular access is on the basis of any new request from the Indian side or it is on the basis of old request or on the basis of ICJ verdict? And related to this is another one, will any Indian advocate be allowed in that consular access?

Question: Pahle jab Kulbhushan Jadhav ka parivaar pahle gayaa thaa to Pakistan mein jis tarah kii stithi banii thii to kya is baar consular access sweekar karne ke pahle Bharat ye ensure karnaa chaahega kii kisii tarah se misbehave naa ho?

(Before accepting the request for consular access would India like to ensure that the misbehavior meted out to the family of Kulbhushan Jadhav when then went earlier to meet him doesn’t happen again?)

Question: Ye bhii kahaa gayaa hai kii Bharat se samvaad ka intezaar hai aur informally communicate kar diyaa gayaa hai kuch, to iske maddenazar kuch communication huaa hai yaa nahi huaa hai?

(It is also said that Pakistan is awaiting communication from India and something is informally communicated, so has there been any communication or not in this regard?)

Question: What we are hearing is that Pakistan has attached some conditionality with offer for consular access, does this go against the verdict of the ICJ?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You see I am going to disappoint almost all of you. I am not getting into the modalities of what is being discussed. I can only tell you that we have received a proposal from Pakistan. We are, at this point of time, evaluating the proposal in the light of the judgement of the International Court of Justice. We will maintain communication with Pakistan in this matter through diplomatic channels. So I don’t think this is appropriate channel for me to get into the kind of modalities which is being discussed between India and Pakistan.

Dekhiye main ye bataanaa chaahungaa ki Pakistan ki taraf se jo hamaari taraf proposal aaya hai us proposal ko hum abhi evaluate kar rahe hain aur evaluate kar rahe hain jo International Court of Justice ka judgement thaa, usko maddenazar rakhate hue.

Ismein jo hogaa hum Pakistan ke saath jo raajnayik channel hai uske through hum unko iskaa jawaab denge.

Question: Kal tak kii kya ummeed hai kyonki ye khabar aa rahii thii kii kal consular access dene kii baat hai?

(What are the expectations for tomorrow because it is being reported that consular access is offered tomorrow?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Jaisa maine kahaa ki hamaaraa jawaab jaayega aur hum jo evaluate kar rahe hain unke proposal ko International Court of Justice kii guidelines ke tahat kar rahe hain aur hamein dekhanaa hogaa hamaaraa jawaab kya hoga. Iske aage is maamle par is forum se main nahi bataanaa chaahungaa, jo bhi hamaaraa reply hogaa Pakistan ko wo hum diplomatic channel se denge.

(As I said we will send our reply. We are evaluating the proposal against the guidelines of the verdict of International Court of Justice and we will see what we should reply. I would not like to say anything further in this regard from this forum and whatever our reply, it will be communicated to Pakistan through diplomatic channel only.)

Question: Kab tak aapkaa jawaab jaayega, kal tak jaayegaa yaa parson tak jaayega?

(By when will you be sending your reply, by tomorrow or day after tomorrow?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Aisaa nahi hai, unkaa proposal aayaa hai to hamaaraa jawaab bhii jaayegaa aur samay se jaayegaa.

(It is not like that, when we have received their proposal we will definitely send our reply and it will be send on time.)

Question Contd.: …………. Inaudible…………..

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Jaisaa maine kahaa ki unhone proposal diyaa hai aur uskaa reply hamein denaa hai.

(As I have already said, they have sent a proposal and now we have to reply to that proposal.)

Question: They have proposed the consular access on Friday?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Wahi to main bol rahaa hoon ki unkaa proposal aayaa hai aur hamein unke proposal mein kyaa hai usko evaluate karne ke baad, International Court of Justice ke verdict ko maddenazar rakhate hue, hamein unko reply karna hai. Ye reply jo bhi hogaa Pakistan ko wo hum diplomatic channels ke through karenge. Main is platform se us par, modalities mein kyaa hogaa, unhone kyaa kiyaa hai yaa nahii kiyaa hai main uskaa jawaab yahaan se nahii denaa chaahataa.

(That is what I am saying, we have received a proposal from them and we have to evaluate that proposal in light of the guidelines of the verdict of International Court of Justice and send a reply to Pakistan. Whatever this reply will be, it will be given through the diplomatic channels only. I do not want to give any information from this platform regarding what will be the modalities of it, what they have said or not, I do not want to answer from this forum.)

Question: Is there any update on the claimed arrest of another Indian, alleged spy?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Frankly speaking we do not react to unverified media reports, since we have not heard anything from Pakistani side on this, so I would not like to react to it.

Question: There are reports that the former VP of Maldives has been arrested in India, if you have any information on that, does the MEA has been informed? And secondly Vietnamese sources have said that the Chinese forces are trying to disrupt the ONGC exploration process procedure in South China Sea, if you have any reaction on that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I have just seen a couple of reports in the media about the reported arrest of the ex-Vice President of Maldives. We are trying to ascertain the veracity of these reports. In due course we will contact the State Government and find out if these reports are indeed true and then we can update you.

On the Vietnam issue, we have standard position. We have a position which has been very clear and consistent. You are aware that we have very significant economic and trade interests which are passing through the region, I think the figure which I have is that almost 55% of our trade is through this region. Accordingly we have genuine and legitimate interest in the peace, stability and predictability of access to major waterways in the region. So any normal activity which we engage in such waters, we expect that normal international laws should be followed.

Question: What implication will this Sino-Vietnamese military tension have on our oil exploration in that region, what are implications and have both Vietnam and China in touch with India on this, have they explained their position?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: As I mentioned that there is no change in our position and I think from this very platform I have articulated our position and it has been done in the past as well, so I will leave it at that. If you want to look at our position I think it is available on our website.

Question: United States has resumed military assistance to Pakistan. You have any comment on that.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Your question is factually incorrect. It is not factually correct that they have resumed military assistance but I can tell you that we have taken up the matter with the US Ambassador here in Delhi as well as with the Government of United States in Washington through our Ambassador. We have expressed grave concern over the US military assistance to Pakistan. What we have been told by the US side is that the proposed sale does not indicate any change in the US policy of maintaining a freeze in military assistance to Pakistan.

You must have seen their press statement where they have said that this is intended to enable the US to continue technical and logistical support services to assist in the oversight of operations of F16 aircraft in Pakistan’s inventory and this is something which they have already put out in the public, but yes we have taken up the matter both here in Delhi and in Washington.

Question: Any update on the Indians on those ships i.e. Grace 1 and of course the British tanker under detention by the Iranians, any update on that or consular access?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You are aware that for Grace 1 we got the consular access to all the 24 member crew. We got the consular access on 24th July, a three member team from the High Commission of India met them and as I indicated that we found them to be calm and composed. They are in touch with their family members. What we are doing subsequently is that we are maintaining close touch with the Gibraltar Port Authorities and the shipping company to ensure the early release and repatriation of all Indians and we are pursuing the matter very closely.

On Stena Impero, in the last briefing I said that the consular access could be happening any time and in fact it happened on the same day, so on 25th July a team from the Embassy of India in Tehran and also our consulate in Bandar Abbas, they met all the Indian crew members. They enquired about their well being, they found that all the crew members were in good health, they are doing well, and they also have sufficient stores of water, food and medicine. We were also informed by them that they have spoken to their family members. Our embassy in Tehran, we are closely in touch with Iranian authorities, we are trying to see how we can secure the release as early as possible.

Question: Again on the escalating situation on the South China Sea actually, so has Vietnam approached India and apprised India about the situation because some of the Chinese ships have come pretty close to Indian exploration projects, oil rigs, where India is exploring oil. So have we stopped exploration of oil or we are continuing with it?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I am not aware of stopping of exploration of oil. As I mentioned that our position on this matter is clear and we stick to that position and to the best of my knowledge I don’t think there is any stopping of the oil exploration.

Question: The RCEP Ministerial is taking place in Beijing tomorrow. There have been countries which have been egging India to finally conclude the RCEP agreement but India has been very clear in its stand so far. So in this meeting what is the Indian side likely to articulate?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Please note that the lead ministry in this case is the Ministry of Commerce. Your question about what we expect and what is going to be our approach, I think you will have to address it to the Ministry of Commerce.

Question: External Affairs Minister is already in Thailand and he is meeting ASEAN foreign ministers and also East Asian foreign ministers. So in that meeting, has the issue of Vietnam been raised or is he intending to raise the issue?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: With whom?

Question Contd.: With the Foreign Minister of ASEAN.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Frankly I am not privy to the meeting you are referring to. I can only share with you that EAM is in Bangkok,Thailand today. He is having a packed engagement and there are three multilateral meetings for which he has gone there. The ASEAN-India Ministerial meeting which has taken place, then you have the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers meeting and you have ARF, actually four, and then 10thMekong-Ganga Cooperation Ministerial Meeting spread over today and tomorrow.

I can only tell you that he already had meetings with at least eight Foreign Ministers i.e. the Foreign Ministers of Thailand, New Zealand, EU, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, UK and as I entered the room I think he was in meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister.

I am not aware about the details of the meeting. At some point of time we will share with you if there is anything significant which has been discussed in the meeting. There are other meetings scheduled later in the day, there are few meetings scheduled tomorrow as well.

Question: ……………… Inaudible……………..

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: That is what I am saying, I have mentioned the meetings which have taken place. You see multilateral engagements are very tight so it is very difficult to announce the meetings in advance. So as and when there is an opportunity he is meeting the foreign ministers.

We expect some meetings to take place later in the evening and maybe two or three meetings tomorrow morning. As and when they happen, we will keep you informed.

Question: Pakistan ki jail mein Gulam Farid naam ka ek Indian national hai aur uski family ne kuch din pehle EAM se mulaakaat kii thii, to kyaa us baare mein Pakistan se jaankaari maangi gaii hai aur unki family ko kya update kiyaa gayaa hai?

(There is a Indian national Gulam Farid in Pakistani jail whose family had met the EAM few days ago. So have we sought information from Pakistan regarding this and has his family been updated in this regard?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Mere khayaal se jo bachhaa Malerkotla ka hai. Is maamle mein hum lagaataar Pakistan ke saath follow up kar rahe hain aur jaisaa ki hum Pakistan mein aur jo Indian qaidi hain aur jo hum unke liye karte hain wahi hum is case mein bhi kar rahe hain. Jahaan tak hamaari jaankaari hai isakaa jo sentence thaa wo October 2018 mein complete ho gayaa. Uske baad lagaataar humne Pakistan ko kahaa hai ki iskaa sentence complete ho gayaa hai aur aap isko jald se jald rihaa keejiye aur hamaaraa Pakistan ka High Commission is baat ko lagaataar pursue kar rahaa hai aur unpar is baat ke liye dabaav banaa rahaa hai.

(I think the child is from Malerkotla. We are continuously following up with Pakistan in this regard and in this case also we are doing the same which we do in cases of other Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails. As per our information the sentence of this person was completed in October 2018. After that we have continuously asked Pakistan to release the person at the earliest as his sentence was completed. Our High Commission in Pakistan is continuously pursuing the case and creating pressure to get the early release.)

Question: Kulbhushan Jadhav ki family last week Delhi mein thii, to kyaa EAM se unki malakaat huii thii?

(Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family was in Delhi last week, did they meet with the EAM?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Meri jaankaari ke hisaab se aisi koii mulaakaat nahi huii hai.

(As per my information there was no such meeting.)

Question: Ramesh Warwaani jo Pakistan ki Tahreek-e-Insaaf ke sadasya hain aur Hindu MP bhi hain wahan Parliament mein, unhone TV9 se interview mein ek baar fir se kahaa hai ki Sindh aur Punjab mein bandook kii nok par dharm parivartan karvaayaa jaa rahaa hai, is baabat Imran Khan ne baatein kahin thii abhii haal mein US mein. Is maamle ko Bharat ne kai baar uthaayaa bhi hai pahle lekin kis tarah se isko uthaa sakte hain aur kis had tak uthaa sakte hain kyonki kahin na kahin fir internal maamlaa ho jaataa hai kyonki Pakistan bhi Bharat ko lekar tippaniyaan kartaa hai to Bharat use alag nigaahon se dekh saktaa hai, to is par kyaa kuch kiyaa jaa saktaa hai?

(Ramesh Warwani who is associated with Tahreek-e-Insaaf party and is a MP in the parliament of Pakistan, he has said in an interview to TV9 that forced conversion are taking place in Punjab and Sindh provinces. Imran Khan has also said things regarding this recently when in US. India has raised this issue earlier also but how can we raise this issue and to what level we can raise this issue because somewhere it becomes an internal issue as Pakistan also makes remarks regarding India, so what all can be done in this regard?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Is maamle ko humne pahle bhi uthaayaa huaa hai aur Pakistan kii jo treatment hai unke minorities ke khilaaf aur is baabat humaare jo mantri hain unhone bhi bayaan diyaa hai, hum logon ne bhi kahaa hai ki Pakistan ko apni minorities ke treatment mein badlaav laanaa padegaa, unko equal treatment denaa hogaa aur jahaan bhi humko opportunity milta hai aur khaaskar international forums mein hum is baat ko bilkul saamne rakhate hain.

(We have raised this issue earlier also regarding the treatment of minorities in Pakistan. Our minister has made a statement regarding this, we have also said that Pakistan needs to change its treatment towards its minorities, they need to give equal treatment to them. Whenever we get the opportunity we have raised this issue and especially in international forums we have definitely put this issue forward.)

Question: Just a quick question. When are the next round of US-India trade talks scheduled, we recently had their Assistant USTR visiting us, when is the next talks and is any of our ministers going to travel to US any time soon?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: See, I think the visit of our Commerce and Industry Minister which ideally should come from the relevant ministry, I mean I can only talk about people who are from our ministry. I can only share with you that we are approaching the matters related to trade in a very positive and constructive manner.

We are aware of the understanding which was reached between our Prime Minister and President Trump that the two sides should meet as quickly as possible and in fact following the Leader’s meeting just few weeks back the officials of the two sides met here in Delhi. They engaged in discussion on the broad contours of the commercial and economic ties.

On the visit itself exact dates etc. I think you will have to contact the relevant ministry.

Question: You just mentioned that we have taken up the matter of this assistance on F16 operations and you said that we have expressed grave concerns both in Delhi and in Washington. Can we say that a formal protest has been lodged with the US on this issue?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I had to say what I had to, I mean what word you want to use in your headline tomorrow, I leave it to you.

Question Contd.: But is it tantamount to a formal protest?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I have said what I had to and I think you can draw your own conclusion but it is up to you.

Question: How many ships are held captive there in the Iranian zone by the Iranian authorities and Gibraltar authorities and how many Indians are there?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You mean total ships?

Question: No, held captive there, and also there are some reports that 5 Indian ships have been impounded.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I have no information about any such report. I have mentioned about Impero, I have mentioned about Grace 1, if you want to know about other ships, I can share with you some of the other information that I have with me. So there is another ship called MT Riah in which there were 12 crew members and 9 crew members have already been released. In fact they have already returned to India with the help of our Embassy there and our Mission is now in touch with concerned Iranian authorities to make sure that the remaining three crew members are released.

Question: Pakistan today has summoned senior Indian diplomat condemning the ceasefire violations from Indian side and I think that such type of ceasefire takes place if there is a provocation from Pakistani side. So had India also lodged any protest to Pakistan on ceasefire violations or what are the details on this?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I am not aware of something happening today, I am aware that we had made a strong demarche with the Pakistani side just a couple of days ago and that was on the killing of an innocent Indian civilian in an unprovoked act of firing by Pakistan forces and we did tell them that this was against all established norms of humanitarian and professional military conduct. We feel that Pakistan, despite repeated reminders from our side, continues to resort to ceasefire violations and we told them to adhere to the 2003 ceasefire understanding for maintaining peace and tranquility along the LoC and the international border.

Question Contd.: Pakistan has summoned today an Indian diplomat.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I am not aware of that. On the ceasefire violation I remember that they had summoned our Diplomat last Friday but not aware of this today. But in any case, I mean even if it has been done, basically when we react and when it is in retaliation to Pakistan’s effort to violate the ceasefire along the IB and the LoC.

Question: Is it true that 3.30 pm tomorrow is the time for the meeting, the consular access?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: As I said, I will not be able to share such information from this platform.

Question Contd.: And one Pakistani diplomat is going to be present.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: It doesn’t help, I am not going to share anything from this platform.

Question Contd.: But if you have confirmed then what is the harm?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: All I have to say is that you will have to wait till we respond to the Pakistani side through diplomatic channels.

Question: Kal teen baje ke pahle respond kar denge?

(Would you respond by tomorrow 3:00 pm?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Ab dekhiye agar hogaa to aapko pataaa chal jaayegaa.

(If there is a reply you will definitely get to know for sure.)

Thank you very much, thank you all for joining.

(Concludes)

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