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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by the Official Spokesperson (August 12, 2021)

August 13, 2021

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Namaskar, a very good afternoon to all of you. Wonderful to see you back here. For me this is the first time doing this physical one, at least in this Weekly format. Now, of course, we have had few meetings, few briefings that we have done for special occasions. But unfortunately since last March we have not been able to do this. So I’m very happy that we are now back in this format. Again a very warm welcome to all of you. I don’t really have any announcements yet to make so perhaps we will go straight to the questions. I know most of you, many of you but since we have been out for so long, and we have forgotten the ground rules we shall limit ourselves to one question per person unlike the virtual one. We will try to get as many people as we can, but we have a time limit also. I also apologize we were having some technical difficulties today with the electricity and other problems but I’m glad to see we are up and running. The other comment I would like to just make before we start is, please introduce yourself and the organization, I probably know all of you. So, how do you want to start? Okay, who should we start with? Ladies always. Okay, please.

Kadambini Sharma: I’m Kadambini Sharma from NDTV India. Afghanistan ko lekar Doha mein ho rahi baithak par hai, us par kuchh agar detail aap de paain. (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) There is a meeting in Doha regarding Afghanistan, if you can give some details on that.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Anumaan yeh hai ki Afghanistan par bade question honge (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation) It is expected that there will be many questions on Afghanistan, so instead of taking one by one, Afghanistan related questions, let's start off with it. Go ahead.

Pranay Upadyay: Pranay Upadhyay from ABP News, Bagchi Sahab mera sawal is cheej ko lekar hai ki Afghanistan se jo reports aa rahin hain veh lagaatar disturbing hain. Hamne Kandhar ke baad Majar- e- sharif ka apna consulate bhi vahaan operations reduce kiye hain. Kya kabul mein hamara mission surakshit hai aur aap is security situation ko review kar rahe hain? Kya kabul se bhi team wapas bulae jaane par vichaar kiya ja raha hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) Bagchi Sir, my question is regarding the fact that the reports coming from Afghanistan are constantly disturbing. After Kandahar we have our own consulate of Mazar-e-Sharif where we have reduced the operations. Is our mission in Kabul safe and are you reviewing this security situation? Is recalling the team from Kabul also being considered?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Afghanistan par bade sawal hein. Hum Ek Ek kar ke lete hein. Agar similar sawal puch chuke hein to jarurat nahin hei varna…….(Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation) There are lot of questions on Afghanistan. Let us take them one by one. If the questions are similar then it is not required otherwise I am happy to take them.

Madhurendra: Main madhurendra News nation se. Mera do sawal hai. Ek sawal to yeh ki Bharat ne jo fighter helicopter bheje the, jo helicopter diye the Afghanistan ko, aisee khabaren aa rahee hain ki us par Taliban ka kabja ho gaya hai. Uske baare mein hamari kya jaankari hai. Doosra sawal yeh hai ki jo yahan par minorities hain khas taur par Hindu hain, Sikh hain, un par lagataar hamle ho rahe hain. To kya unke bachaav ke liye koi rescue mission ya kisi tarah ka refugee ke format mein kya unko Bharat la rahe hein? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) I am from Madhurendra from News Nation. I have two questions. One question is that the fighter helicopters that India had given to Afghanistan, there are reports that the Taliban have captured them. What do we know about it? The second question is that those who are in the minority here, especially the Hindus, the Sikhs, are constantly being attacked. So is there any rescue mission for their rescue or any kind of refugee format for bringing them back to India?

Uma Shankar Singh: Main Uma shankar singh NDTV se, mera sawal yeh hai ki jab Taliban ek taraf se ground par kabja kie ja raha hai aur kai saare deshon mein apne delegation bhej ke, jaise cheen bheja aur kai saare deshon mein bhej kar wahaan par apne lie ek maanyata hasil karne ki koshish kar raha hai. Kya hamaaree taraf se kisi star par koi baat cheet shuroo hui ya koi sambhavna hai ya aisee koi mansha hai sarkar ki Taliban ke saath ek contact sthapit karne ki? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) I am Uma Shankar Singh from NDTV, my question is that, when the Taliban is occupying the ground from one side and sending its delegation to many countries like China and sending it to many countries and trying to gain recognition for itself there. Has there been any talks from our side or is there any possibility or is there any intention of the government to establish contact with the Taliban?”

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I think we will do four, five but I missed one or two other people. We will have another round of it. Sorry, anybody else for first round? You want to put something different?

Akhilesh Suman: Sir, India had many projects in Afghanistan…

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: If you could introduce yourself.

Akhilesh Suman: Akhilesh Suman from Sansad TV. India had many projects in Afghanistan that was ongoing. So what are we doing to safeguard those projects, even though we have told our people to come back so who will take care of those projects?

Vinit Dixit: Vinit Dixit these days’ work for portal News Gate. Kya assessment hai hum logon ka ki kab tak Taliban Kabul par kabza ka lega? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) What is our assessment that when will Taliban capture Kabul? Because there are news that Americans are saying that they will overrun in 90 days. What is the assessment of our government?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay, I think I will put a pause here and try to answer some of these questions. And I'm sure Afghanistan will have more queries. Now let me make a few general comments. Let me start with, I think Kadambini you had mentioned. We had here a high level visitor a few days ago, Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani, special envoy of the Foreign Minister of Qatar, for counterterrorism and mediation of conflict resolution. He was here earlier this week from August 5th to 8th. As part of his official engagements he of course met External Affairs Minister, as well as Foreign Secretary. Discussions were held on the situation in Afghanistan, a need for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. He also discussed bilateral relations with Secretary CPV. He had also extended the invitation to India to participate in a meeting in Doha today, 12th. We are participating, our joint Secretary is looking after Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran is currently there, Mr. J.P. Singh. That meeting will include several important stakeholders from Afghanistan. And we'll also discuss further the support of the international community. This meeting is underway today and we will share with you updates once the meeting is over. So that's towards our understanding the stocks that you have had. On the security situation look, it is of concern, It is a rapidly evolving situation. I think a couple of you asked this question as the situation is constantly changing there. News Gate asked about whether we have a timeline, look, I'm not going to get into any such speculation, I have seen the media reports. This is the situation on the ground. We continue to hope that there will be an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire. We are supporting all peace initiatives in Afghanistan; our primary concern is peace and stability in that country and offering prosperous future independent, sovereign democratic. We talked about projects, I think Akhilesh you mentioned. Look, I think it's wrong to term them as Indian projects, I think these are projects that we're done with Indian assistance, Indian support, but they are projects of the government and people of Afghanistan. And once we hand over them, we don't make any claim that ki wo hamare hein (English translation: that they are ours) these are projects that they have, of course, these are very useful and important projects for the development of the people of Afghanistan and we certainly hope that they will not get damaged and will continue to provide the benefit. On the discussions with Taliban, there's a query from Uma Shankar ji as I have mentioned before, we are in touch with various stakeholders and reports about helicopter and security situation has been asked, like I said situation on the ground is evolving, I think you all are aware of the developments that are taking place, we are seeing different reports, the ground situation is difficult to understand, what is accurate report. There was a talk about helicopter, which we had given. It came in the news I understand. Look all I can say is that this is not something for us to comment that wasn't the Indian Air Force helicopter. So, all I can say is this is an internal matter for Afghanistan and I would not like to comment on that aspect. Question on bringing back minorities was asked. I have something here for you on that. And let me mention that we are closely monitoring developments in this regard, we are concerned about the deteriorating security situation. Our mission in Kabul issued an advisory for Indian nationals earlier this week, advising them to return to India via commercial flights. Last year, our mission in Kabul had facilitated the return of more than 383 members of the Hindu and Sikh community in Afghanistan to India and our embassy, our mission Kabul continues to remain in touch with Afghan Hindu and Sikh community members and we will ensure the provision of all necessary assistance to them. I think that covers the first round of questions and, if I miss something, please ask me again. And let me take if there are more questions related to Afghanistan.

Sidhant: Sir, Sidhant from WION. My question is what kind of conversation India is having with the regional countries in terms of Afghanistan, particularly when it comes to talks with Russia and United States on bringing stability in the country.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Srinjoy. Oh sorry you have asked first, please.

Akash Shrivastav: "Mera naam Akash srivastav hei. Sir ye Afghanistan se jo abhi sabhi logon ko nikal ja raha hai, kab tak poori tarah se nikal liya jaega. Main roop se jo Bhartiye hein aur doosri baat Sir, Afghanistan Sarkar ko aur Afghanistani sena ko Bharat kisi tarah ki koi support kar raha hai kya? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) My name is Akash Srivastava. Sir from Afghanistan all the people who are being evacuated right now, how long will it take for complete evacuation? Mainly those who are Indians and secondly Sir, is India supporting the Government of Afghanistan and the Afghan Army in any way?”

Srinjoy: Last month in Doha, the Pakistani army chief, the ISI Chief, and a Major General of the ISI called Major general Hayat, had a late night meeting with two Taliban leaders Mullah Baradar and Mullah Hakim. What it appears is that the Pakistanis seem to be afraid that this civil war, some of it could come over to the side of the Durand Line. Yet of course, they are fully supporting the Taliban in terms of equipment, training, safe havens. So what is your assessment sir? Is Pakistan playing it both ways?

Rezaul: Rezaul from Hindustan Times. I was just wondering, is there a feeling that there are too many processes right now underway on Afghanistan and maybe there is a need for the international community to kind of consolidate these processes and work more in a more coordinated manner. And what specifically can India do right now to kind of shore up the Afghani government? Is there any specific thing that we are looking at any kind of support or you know, anything else? Thank you.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: We got about four question. Anybody this round? Or I will come back for another round if you want. Three of them, then let's wait. I can see a lot more hands. Let me try to take some of these questions. Perhaps they will answer your queries. Look let me take up the issue of evacuation or something was asked. I think there's some confusion on that. We had issued an advisory for Indian nationals to leave Afghanistan back for India through commercial means. There's no formal evacuation mechanism. Separately, Mazar-E-Sharif, our consulate there, we have withdrawn, all India based personnel earlier this week, because of the security situation, this is a temporary measure. And our consulate there continues to be operational with locally recruited staff. So I'm not sure what further details were asked on that element. Sidhant mentioned about what kind of conversations. Sidhant let me just reiterate what we've been saying earlier, we are committed to the long term development of Afghanistan, we would like to see a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan, which is, as our minister was saying, both a peace within and peace outside. We want a ceasefire, we want to preserve the gains of the last two decades, particularly related to minorities and women. And we hope that all stakeholders can find a peace process that takes it forward. And our conversations with all our partners in this are geared towards that objective. And I think I'll leave it at that. On the issue of whether too many processes or otherwise, look, there are multiple efforts going on. I won’t like to speculate on whether too many or not, the objective remains as it is, which is to ensure that there is peace so that we can look at long term development of Afghanistan. Srinjoy asked about the issue of what is the assessment I won't comment on what you prefaced your question with, but we have been saying that, for peace in Afghanistan, we need to ensure that the external, malign influences there do not happen. And, you know, we clearly are aware of how it is happening. And we would certainly hope that all parties, including regional countries there understand this and work towards a situation where Afghans can have a process that is owned by them, controlled by them, led by them, as we have been saying. We certainly don't think that currently that's the situation. We had a query also on how we can support Afghanistan. Look, on the development aspect we have been doing a lot. We have been part of the international community in extending assistance to Afghanistan. But I don't know what exactly specific the query was. There was some arm support query. Look, I think let me just mention that we are of course guided by the strategic partnership agreement that was signed between the two sides in October 2011. I think we are guided by that we would work with that. But I don't have any specific comment on any element of arm support. I think there are speculations; I won’t get into speculative comments that are in the media. Thank you. Some question. Yes, please.

Dharam Prakash Dubey: Mein Dharam Prakash Dubey hun Zee News se, Mera sawal ye hai Sir, ki jis tarah ki khabrein aa rahi hein ki Pakistan ki taraf se kai aatanki bhi Taliban ke saath ladne ke liye bheje gain hein. Yahan tak ki Pakistani army ke kuch jawan bhi sath mein Taliban ke saath ladne ke liye bheje gayen hein, iss tarah ki tamam khabrein hein, to bharat ko is tarah ki pukhta jaankariyan kya international manch par, aantarrashtriye manch par is tarah ki jo Pakistan ki bhumika hei usko uthaega. Kyonki poore is region ko khatra hei, Pakistan jis tarah se support kar raha hai Taliban ko. (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) I am Dharam Prakash Dubey from Zee News, Sir that the kind of news that is coming is that many terrorists have also been sent from Pakistan side to fight with Taliban, even some soldiers of Pakistani Army are also along with Taliban. If there are all such reports, then India must share such concrete information on the international stage, will it take up the role of Pakistan on the international stage, because the whole region is in danger, the way Pakistan supports the Taliban.

Nivedita: Sir this is Nivedita from Financial Express. This is regarding the heart of Asia initiative, which India has been a part. So have the members discuss the current situation? And is it playing a role in, you know, the current crisis?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: There was one more here and somebody else. Just finish with that. And this is the last round of Afghanistan and then we can go ahead.

Bhattacharya: This is Bhattacharya from The Hindu. You have said that India is of course, going to take care of the minorities in Afghanistan, but there are also female lawmakers, NGO workers, human rights workers, translators of Afghanistan, who are also seeking protection. What is the government of India's position on them? I mean, are you open to giving them refuge if they ask for it?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: You mentioned female specifically.

Bhattacharya: Also female lawmakers.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Sorry, somebody else here.

Maha: Sir Maha from CNN News 18. My first question is that since the embassy has asked all Indian nationals there to register with them, do we have a rough figure of how many Indians are still there in Afghanistan? And secondly, US media is quoting anonymous military sources to say that Kabul will fall within three months. Some are even saying within a month. What is India's assessment? And are we working keeping that in mind what happens to our embassy in Kabul then?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay, last. Yeah, please, ma’am.

Geeta Mohan: Geeta Mohan from India Today. In an interview to India Today, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said that there are conditions for India to be part of the talks with the Taliban. And that is impartiality, that India should stop providing Military help to Afghanistan. Your reaction on that.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay, let me take that round of questions. Have I missed anybody, sorry. Yeah. You all get one question. So all of you would use in Afghanistan?

Bakshi: I am Bakshi, in fact, I mean, we have seen that China has also shown great interest in Afghanistan. And by playing the Pakistan guard, they are also playing a role here. So are we also in fact, in touch with China? And is there any scope of engaging with China to just, you know, bring some kind of stability in Afghanistan? As we were talking to all the big powers, he's also China, in touch with the parties that we are also talking to, and is there a way out?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay, let me try to answer some of those queries. Look, I think we are covering similar ground again on some of these issues. Let me take comments via a vis Pakistan. No, I don't want to get into specific comment on that. Let me reiterate what I said Pakistan ya baakee koi bhi Jihadi element is tarah ke, aapane poochha tha na ki isake baare mein ki bahar se aise koi stories hain ki wo log aa rahe hain, taiyaar hain. Dekhiye kafi reports is tarah ke hain. Hamne bhi yeh report dekhi hai par mein reports pe mein respond nahin karna chahunga. Hum yehi chahenge ki agar aisi cheejein ho rahi hein to bilkul band kiya jaye. Pakistan ke role ya bahar ke kisi bhi country ya kisi bhi tarah se koi negative role usmein aagar play kar rahe hein, uski to charcha kar hi rahe hein aur baki logon se is Vishay pe.. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Pakistan or any other jihadi element like this, you had asked that there are many such stories coming from outside, see many reports are like this, we have also seen this report and I will not respond to that report. I would not like to do this, if such things are happening, then it should be stopped completely, if any body or Pakistan is playing a negative role or any country outside or in any way, then we are discussing it .

I can say that world mein sabko maloom hai ki kis tarah ka role ho raha hai aur kis tarah ke concerns unke hain ki Pakistan kee taraf se, Jihadi element kah leejie aatanki element jo idhar Afghanistan mein mein kya kar chuke hain. Ise poori duniya jaanti hai. Hamein bataane ki jaroorat to nahin hai par jaisa aapne kaha ki hamari conversations mein yeh baat aati hai. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) I can say that in the world, everyone knows what kind of role is being played and what kind of concerns they have, say jihadi element from Pakistan side, the whole world knows what they have done in Afghanistan. We need not tell the world but like you said it comes up in our conversations.”

We had some questions about how many Indians in Kabul, look the advisory was about leaving Afghanistan, this registration is usually what we do. I don't have a number for you here. I'm not sure we would like to also discuss it publicly at this point. But all I can say is we would request Indian nationals who happened to be in Afghanistan even now, to look at ways to come back at early, while commercial fights are still going on. You asked about, again, assessment of how fast Kabul will fall. I thought I answered that question earlier. I'm not going to get into speculation such as like that. All I can say regarding our embassy, there were some stories that were shutting it down, not correct. I think that's speculation. We, of course, are monitoring the situation very carefully. But there are no plans as such, of the nature that you mentioned. There was an issue of talks with Taliban, what is our reaction? Look, I just responded to that we are in touch with the various stakeholders who are involved in this including regional countries. I have nothing further to add to that, for the moment. Heart of Asia conference, External Affairs Minister had been there recently. I don't have an update on that process for the moment. But in all our conversations, we have been saying a similar message to all partners, which I have retreated today of how we look at the need to have a stable, prosperous, and democratic Afghanistan and a peace process that works towards that. I also got a query I think about allowing or helping people who want to come back from Afghanistan, female lawmakers, something. Look, I don't want to make general comments, hypothetical situations. Let me reiterate what we are saying that we have facilitated return of large number of members of the Hindu and Sikh community last year, our mission continues to be in touch with them, and we will ensure the provision of all necessary assistance to them. I don't want to say anything further and about China look nothing specific on that. I don't have a specific comment on that. We are, as I said, in touch with all partners, and I leave it at that. Thank you. Yes, please. Not on Afghanistan, I presume. Okay. Moving on.

Ashok: Hi, sir I’m Ashok from ANI. Sir, is there any advisory for the commercial aircraft who operate from other country to India and using Afghanistan air route. As that conflict between Taliban and Afghanistan is going on. So is there a specific advisory for the airlines like Air India?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Sorry, didn't get your question. Are you talking about advisory to commercial aircraft while transiting Afghan airspace?

Ashok: Yes.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Why should we issue that?

Ashok: Is there…

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: You mean for Indian aircraft?

Ashok: Yeah, obviously, Air India and others.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay. Fair enough. But that's back to Afghanistan. Anyway, is there anything else left to Afghanistan which we haven’t answered?

Vandana: I am Vandana, so White House has Issued a statement that they are going to hold a leader summit on democracy. And since Secretary of State Blinken did discuss democracy, it was one of the main topics discussed, one of the important topics, of course, so what is your reaction to this? Because they've given a long thing on that. So how do you see it? Because we've spoken about, you know, governments that are cracking down( inaudible). How would do you see that?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Look, let me just finish with this question. Look, I am not aware of any such advisory on commercial aircraft transiting Afghanistan, I hope it doesn't come to that. Anyway, those who are transiting you said right, transiting airspace, or landing? Right now, I'm not aware of any such advisory, and I don't think anything immediate we're planning but again, we're looking at the security situation very closely. We are monitoring it on regular basis. On the leader, Yes, we have seen reports in fact, yesterday, I think that the Americans announced some leaders summit about democracy. I'll get back to you on that. It's still very recent. And we will check and, we'll come back to you if there is any further on that. Sorry, next. Yes, please.

Shailesh: Sir I’m Shailesh from National Defence. My question is on China. What is the latest update on LAC vis-a-vis China? Is there any timeline drawn for disengagement or de-escalation sir?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Anybody else on China. Okay. Look on that you'd seen the detailed press releases that we issued both after the commander level talks that happened as well as the subsequent press release by the Ministry of Defence on the disengagement in the Gogra area. That disengagement process in that area of Gogra is now complete and both sides are now in the respective permanent basis as was mentioned in the press release of the Ministry of Defence, the landform has also been restored by both sides to the pre standoff period. Both sides have also expressed commitment to take the talks forward and resolve the remaining issues along the LAC in the western sector. Let me just end by saying as you know, we have always maintained that disengagement followed by de-escalation would help our overall relations move forward. I don't have any particular update on timeline, other issues for the moment. Yes, please.

Sanjeev Trivedi: Mah Sanjeev Trivedi News 24 se, Sir ye extradition Nirav Modi ka jahan tak sawal hai, to aab unke Vakil ke dwara ye dalil di gayi hai European Convention of human rights ka hawala dete hue (inaudible) (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) I am Sanjeev Trivedi from News 24, Sir, as far as the issue of extradition of Nirav Modi is concerned, this argument has now been made by his lawyer citing the European Convention of Human Rights (inaudible).

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Ji dekhie yeh jo wahaan par legal proceedings chal rahi hain, ham uska close monitoring kar rahe hein, har roj dekhte rehte hain, kya hai har hafte ka. Issi hafte ye High court ka ek judgement jiska aap jikr kar rahe the. Par main yeh kehna chahoonga, aapne bhi dekha hoga. Aapne do muddon ya do binduon ki baat ki. Aap yeh bhi dekhenge ki High court ne baaki ke teen binduon ko reject kar diya hai jo bade important bindu the, jo ahmiyat rakhte hain. Kintu argument mein unhone kaha tha ki kyon extradition nahin ho sakta hai. Kis vishay se yeh case prima facie case hai aur extradition ho sakta hai aur apeal allow kar di gayi hai. Par sirf yeh do limited grounds pe, do bindu ki jo aapne baat ki. Hum apni taraf se poori jo legal proceedings hain uspe hum jaari rakhenge aur ham koshish to yahi rakhenge, unke saath bhi aur baaki saare Economic fugitives hein, un sab ke saath hamari prayaas rahegi ki voh vaapas India aaeyen aur yahan pe hamare justice system ko face Karen. Aap aur options ki baat kar rahe the. Mein us pe jaana nahin chahonga. Koi aur option nahin hota. Isme legal option hote hein, judicial options hote hein aur isme koshish hamari jaari rahegi. (Answered in Hindi;Approximate Translation) Yes, see the legal proceedings are going on there, we keep close monitoring every day and what is happening every week. This week there was a High court judgement that you are referring to but I would like to say that as you have also seen. You have talked about two issues, two points, you will also see that the High Court has rejected three points which were of great importance, the points were important, but the argument they said why we cannot do extradition, see this case is a prima facie case and extradition can happen and appeal has been dismissed but only on these two points, on two limited ground what you talked about. We will continue with our best legal proceedings and we will try with all the other economic fugitives too, it has been our effort with all of them to bring them back to India and face our justice system here. We were talking about options, I will not go on that, there is no other option, there are legal options and judicial options and we shall keep on trying.”

I saw hand there. That’s the second question. Nobody else? Okay. If that's the last two questions, you have a second question too. Now this is getting too much. Okay, first question there. Okay, yeah, please. Anybody who hasn't asked a question yet. And then since this is the first time we are doing this, as a special bonus we'll take a one or two second question, but I think we are a little short on time. Yeah, please ma’am.

Speaker: Sir just keen to know the kind and amount of aid that we have received from China during the pandemic.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Look, I don't have that figure readily available. But my understanding is a lot of material came from China but it was commercial, this was mostly procurements that happened. I am not sure if there was any aid or that's what you meant you know, kind of aid you said, assistance and aid. We had procured, our companies as well as directly from the States and Government had procured a lot of material during the second wave of the pandemic. And I think and as you know, China is a place where a lot of people source this material from but I'm not aware of any aid that had come in from China. Okay, is that no other person who wants to ask separately? Okay, then I'll take a quick two three second questions.

Akhilesh Suman: My question is very important.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: We would have vote on this, but please go ahead.

Akhilesh Suman: Sir, I’m Akhilesh Suman from Sansad TV. Many students have applied visa in Canada and they are not being given a visa or visa process is very slow. So they have spent lots of money, their future is on stake, so what MEA is doing, any conversation with Canadian authorities for processing the visa.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Anybody has a question related to that issue? Because this was an issue that had come up, okay, let me not respond specifically vis a vis Canada. Because there are many countries where because of COVID restrictions are there, and not just students, but other people who would like to travel are, facing some difficulties. As I've said earlier in the virtual media interactions, we attach high importance to ensuring, ease of these restrictions of travel, whether they live abroad, for education or for employment or for other reasons, we have been actively taking up this matter at various levels. In fact, including at the ministerial level, with almost all the countries that you can have seen in the media. I'm happy to see some forward movement with some of the countries and as our COVID situation in our country improves, we would hope that they will continue to take further measures to simplify and make it easier for particularly students and other people also to travel from India. So without going into specifics, let me just say, as you've been monitoring, there have been changes over the last few weeks. And we see some positive developments. But I understand the difficulties many Indians still face in undertaking the travel and MEA will continue to attach high priority to this issue. And I can assure you that our senior leadership and officials to raise this issue with our counterparts whenever and at every opportunity. Thank you. Anybody really have a question to ask. Okay.

Speaker: (inaudible) whether it is correct or wrong I don’t know exactly. So if specifically, you can answer it.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Look I don't think government can answer any case, whether fares go up on by airlines, unless it's Air India has increased it. But I would hope that people do not try to take advantage of this situation. But beyond that, I don't think I would like to say anything. Sorry. And we'll finish with the last one.

Speaker: "Sir, mera question Covaxin ko lekar tha. Ki WHO approval ka masla kahan tak pahincha? Doosra import of foreign vaccines ko lekar kya update hei, ye janna chahta hun. (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir my question was about the Covaxin, what is the status of WHO approval? I want to know what is the update on import of foreign vaccines?

Speaker: Bharat ke do vaccine hein. Mera sawal ye hai Covaxin aur Covishield ko lekar bahut saara confusion hei logon mein jo videsh jaate hein, ki kis desh mein allow hai, kis me nahin allow hai. To isko lekar kya sthiti hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) India has two vaccines, my question is related to Covaxin and Covishield, there is a lot of confusion about vaccine particularly people who go abroad. They do not know in which all countries it is allowed and in which countries it is not allowed. So what is the situation about it.Kya clear kar payenge ki European countries ke kitne deshon ne dono vaccines ko, Indian vaccines ko manyta di hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Please clarify as to how many European countries have given approval to both the Indian vaccines?”

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Dekhie iss mein aapke do tarah ke questions hein, ye Covaxin ke bare mein abhi hamare videsh mantri Dr.Jaishankar abhi CII se baat kar rahe the, haal hi mein, aadha ghante pehle. Unhone jo kaha main usi ko dohra sakta hoon. WHO ko time lagta hai, 6 se 8 hafte ke kareeb. Hamari ye anuman July 9th ko Covaxin Bharat Biotech ne application complete kar ke submit kiya tha. Saare documentation jo lagta hei, to hamara anuman yahi hai, ye hum apeksha yehi rakhte hein ki August ke end mein ya September ke beginning mein koi decision aaye unke taraf se. To ek bar WHO se approval aa jaye emergency use listing aa jaye yo us se kafi help milega. Although Covaxin kafi deson mein already hai par WHO ke jo ye sab approvals hein, usme usko aur help mil sakta hai baki countries mein. Import ke mamle mein dekhiye hamari koshish jaari hai. Yahan availability of vaccines badh raha hai. Domestic production ho ya import ka. Par import ke exact details hum nahin deal karate hein. Wo aapko hamare regulatory authorities jo hein wo bata payenge better. Aap ne kaha ki Covaxin ko baki countries mein allow karate hein, nahin karte hein, ye mudda bhi abhi hamare videsh mantri ji ne abhi answer kiya tha. Usmein abhi aaj hi mein, aapne dekha nahin hoga. Jab mein aa raha tha. Dekhiye is mein kafi countries mein apne apne rules hein jo accept hue hein. Ye vaccine, matlab normally approval vaccines ko di jati hai, jahan par us desh mein use hoti hai, wo vaccine. Par hamein aisa dekhna padega, koi solution, jismein jaroori nahin ki har jagah aap approval lein aur vaccine man jayen. To isi liye hum kafi deshon se hum baat mein hein ki hamare vaccination certificate maan jayen, hamare yahan jo vaccine hai, us tarah se un deshon ke vaccine ko bhi ho sakta hai, teesre desh mein bhi bane aur abhi tak usmein jyada movement hua nahin hai par kuch countries man chuke hein. To hum isi koshish mein jaari rahenge. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation) Look, you have two types of questions in this, about this Covaxin, our External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar was just talking to CII recently, half an hour ago, I can repeat what he said, WHO takes time from Around 6 to 8 weeks, our application was submitted on 9th July by Covaxin Bharat Biotech, all the documentation that is required, so our guess is this, we expect that by end of August or in the beginning of September, some decision should come. Once the approval comes from WHO with emergency use listing, it will give a lot of help and although Covaxin is already there in many countries, but approval from WHO will help the other countries also. We are trying our best for the import. The availability of the product is increasing here whether it is domestic production or imported. We do not deal with the details of the imported products, our regulatory authorities will be able to inform you better. You said that Covaxin is allowed in some countries and not allowed in some. Our foreign minister just now addressed this issue. You are not aware about it, it was today only. In many countries, they have their own rules, generally approval is given to the vaccine where it is used, in that particular country. But we have to find a solution so that it is not required to take approval everywhere. Therefore we are in talks with many countries so that our vaccination certificates are accepted for the vaccines which are available here. In the same way the vaccines of those countries can also be accepted in third countries. And so far there has not been much movement in this regard, but few countries have already accepted. So we will continue with our efforts.

Sidhant I promise you last one so I'll close it at that

Sidhant: Sir White House has announced that they will be a summit.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I answered that one. I just answered on that. Which is to say that we have seen that yesterday is just recent, and we'll get back to you if we have any update on it. For the moment we check the details. It just happened yesterday. And we don't have any further on that yet. Thank you.

Speaker: Sir, I have one related question on that.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Yeah, tell me.

Speaker: (inaudible).

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Look, as you know, the United States had announced its intention of hosting in person Quad summit. I don't have a date or any anything yet. Once we have an update we'll share with you. But yes, that's something that I think had been announced. And I think the US is trying to work out some kind of date perhaps. Thank you very much. I think that's been a little longer than usual. We had some technical issues, really nice to see you all in person here in this room with all the covid restrictions and protocols that we followed. Thank you very much for being here and hope we continue this interaction every week

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