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Transcript of Media Briefing by Foreign Secretary after Prime Minister's meeting with Prime Minister of Japan in Osaka

June 27, 2019

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Friends good afternoon and welcome to this special briefing from Osaka. As you are aware Prime Minister arrived early today morning and he just had a meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister. The next two days are full of engagements. Today to brief you all on Prime Minister’s meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister I have with me the Foreign Secretary of India, Shri Vijay Gokhale who will take you through the meeting and after that he will also take few questions. Sir, the floor is yours.

Foreign Secretary of India, Shri Vijay Gokhale: Good afternoon. The Prime Minister arrived in Osaka earlier this morning and his first meeting this afternoon was with the Prime Minister of Japan. As you know Prime Minister Abe is hosting the G20 meeting. It was a very warm meeting, the two prime ministers are old friends and they had a very constructive and a very detailed discussion on the bilateral relations.

Prime Minister Abe initially began with the expectations from the G20 meeting, he spoke about the importance of focusing on the global economy, he referred specifically to Prime Minister’s initiative at earlier G20 meetings on the issue of fugitive economic offenders and he said that the G20 should deal with this problem as part of the anti-corruption measures.

The Prime Minister of Japan also referred to the need to find appropriate situations for global trade and data flows and he felt that the G20 should come up with a very constructive message on the issue of climate change. So these were areas that the Prime Minister of Japan hoped that he would get the understanding and the support of the G20 members including that of India.

The Prime Minister of Japan also referred to India for the Annual Bilateral Summit. Prime minister of course reiterated that invitation and he emphasized the importance of preparing for the Summit properly including through the various Ministerial Meetings, through the various exchanges in infrastructure, in Defence, in Outer Space, in the Digital Economy and in start-ups and obviously there was a brief discussion, time was short, but there was a brief discussion on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed railway as well as the Convention Center being built in Varanasi and there was a review that the two leaders held of progress in this regard and how we could ensure that we were able to deliver both these projects on time.

The Prime Minister then also mentioned that he was looking forward to seeing Prime Minister Abe again at the Eastern Economic Forum at Vladivostok in early September where, as you know, Prime Minister will be the Chief Guest at the invitation of President Putin and that the two leaders would remain in contact, both on bilateral issues and on other issues and in context of the digital issues, the Prime Minister felt that a greater discussion between the two sides is necessary since this is one of the big challenges and opportunities in the coming few years in future.

Prime Minister specifically appreciated the work that Japan is doing in infrastructure projects in the North East of India. As you know when the last Summit took place, we set up what is called the Act East Forum between India and Japan and this has had three meetings and a number of projects, bridges, forestry projects, road building projects and so on are already underway and this was appreciated by Prime Minister.

Prime Minister also said that in our neighborhood we could look into doing projects jointly and one of the important flagship projects that we are looking at is doing a Cancer Hospital jointly in Kenya and both prime ministers agreed that this was something we should take forward.

Prime Minister also then requested for Japan’s support for a new initiative that he will launch later this year and this is the coalition for disaster resilient infrastructure. He explained very briefly what this initiative was and then he suggested that Japan’s support because of its experience in handling disasters, its capacity building abilities, its financial ability, because Japan has a range of experiences in management of disasters and in post disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction that Japan’s support would be important for this important new initiative that Prime Minister and India is preparing to launch. So he sought Japan’s assistance and support in this regard.

Both of them then agreed that prior to his visit to India later in the year, a number of important meetings would take place but the most important would be the first 2+2 Ministerial Meeting. This is a new format which was agreed to when Prime Minister visited Japan last year in which the Foreign Affairs and the Defence Ministers of the two countries will meet together and discuss issues relating to Defence, Foreign Policy and Security.

So this meeting, it has been decided, will be held before the Annual Summit, the dates would of course be discussed through the diplomatic channels.

Finally, they both observed that they would be meeting again tomorrow morning in the context of a trilateral meeting between Japan, India and the United States and there was a brief discussion on how the Indo-Pacific initiative which is an important initiative which all three countries are separately pursuing and also discussing together could be given a further fillip as part of this initiative. So these were the broad areas of discussion. It was a very warm meeting, the atmosphere was very positive. The Prime Minister of Japan is looking forward to his visit to India and of course Prime Minister is looking forward to participating in the G20 meeting. I will stop here now.

Question: Was connectivity discussed because both Japan and India are keen to engage on connectivity and of course third country projects, you talked about Kenya, we are also working in Sri Lanka. So can you just give us the nitty-gritties or what happened?

Foreign Secretary of India, Shri Vijay Gokhale: Because of time constraints obviously detailed discussions could not take place but at a number of points the connectivity issues were touched upon. First of course is, as I explained, the Act East Forum which is trying to connect the North Eastern part of India to Bangladesh and Myanmar as well.

The second was, as I mentioned, both leaders felt that we should jointly do projects in third countries in the neighborhood. Countries were not identified but you have correctly mentioned that one of them is Sri Lanka and we would certainly like to see if we can do some work with them in countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar. Those are still under discussion and obviously there was no specific discussion at this meeting.

Lastly, of course, the issue of the Indo-Pacific is the issue of connectivity, it is a seamless connectivity of two major oceans which collectively taken together is where the global economic center has moved. So in all these areas, I think, a direction was set. It is now up to the officials of the two countries to bring that together.

Question: Prime Minister Ji ke ek new initiative kii baat hai, disaster resilient infrastructure, ye kis tarah ki cheez hai, kya ye Bharat ke liye ya sabke liye baat ho rahi hai aur kis tarah ka support Japan se maanga gaya hai?

(Prime Minister has talked about a new initiative of disaster resilient infrastructure, so what is this all about, is it for only India or for everybody and what kind of support and assistance has been sought from Japan?)

Foreign Secretary of India, Shri Vijay Gokhale: This is a new initiative that India is looking at launching. It is essentially a loose virtual coalition of countries which have capacity in handling post disaster infrastructure development that capacity could be financial, it could be human resources, it could be experience or it could be all of them together.

Essentially the thinking behind this is that every time a major disaster occurs immediate relief and rehabilitation is given and thereafter small countries, vulnerable countries and developing countries are left to fend for themselves where it means rebuilding the infrastructure without which the economy can never regain its position and the Prime Minister’s view is since there are capacities all over the world, is it not possible for us to link these capacities together so that if a disaster occurs in any country the leadership and the government of that country understands whom to go to and how to access it rather than beginning from scratch.

This is a space which has not been filled by anybody yet. It does not compete with UN organizations which are in relief or rehabilitation because this is infrastructure building back better and therefore Prime Minister felt that this is an area in which India with its experience, with its capacity to handle disasters can take a lead in.

This was briefly flagged at the G20 in Argentina and therefore Prime Minister in that context approached Japan. We will be approaching other leaders as Prime Minister meets them in the summit and the intention is actually to launch this sometime later in the year. Precise details will obviously be given later.

Question: Prime Minister Abe was in Iran recently and suppose that he was talking to Iran, so could you share anything with Prime Minister Narendra Modi that what can be the resolution of Iran’s situation?

Foreign Secretary of India, Shri Vijay Gokhale:
There was no discussion on Iran during the conversation.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you, this concludes the special briefing. Thank you sir and thank you all for joining.

(Concludes)

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