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Transcript of Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (July 04, 2019)

July 05, 2019

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Namaskar, good afternoon and welcome to this weekly press briefing. We can straight away move to question and answer round.

Question: I have two questions, one on Dawood Ibrahim, we saw the statement by Pakistan MoFA saying Dawood Ibrahim is not in Pakistan but a day before we saw how the FBI said in London Court that he is in Pakistan. Secondly, we are looking forward for the Kartarpur talks. India has concerns on Khalistani elements, so are these concerns now, in a sense, Islamabad has taken care of these concerns on Khalistani elements?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Frankly, I have not seen the statement which has been made by the US side, perhaps in an extradition case in the UK. What I can tell you is that the location of Dawood Ibrahim is not a secret. Time and again, for the last several years, we have been presenting to Pakistan a list of people who are in their country. We have asked repeatedly that they should be handed over. He is a UN proscribed terrorist, his imprint on the Mumbai Blast is very clear for all of us to see and frankly many people from the media fraternity have managed to speak to him. I think it is very clear that the linkages are in Pakistan.

But when we look at the denial by Pakistan on Dawood's presence in Pakistan of against Pakistan's effoer to convince the international community on steps they claim they have taken against terrorists and terror groups operating from their soil, they stand exposed.

Now it is very interesting that they claim of taking action but when it comes to taking action against the people who we have demanded either they ignore, you go into a denial mode. You in fact even deny that they exist and are present in your country but on the other hand you try to project to the international community, you try to hoodwink the international community that you are taking some action against the terrorist and terror groups operating from their soil

So I think this basically is a case of double standards. This is something where they stand completely exposed as far as their claim of taking action against terrorist groups in Pakistan is concerned.

On the issue of Kartarpur, you see we have proposed a set of dates and Pakistan has agreed to the dialogue on the 14th of July. There are, of course, certain differences, we will discuss those issues as well. I think it is important for us to emphasize that this is a matter of sentiment, that this is a matter of fulfilling the wishes of Sikh community. We have a commitment which we have made to them that we will try to ensure the passage to the Kartarpur Sahib in an easy, secure and free manner. We are working towards it. There are differences as I mentioned and we will try to resolve those differences in the talks which we are going to have on 14th.

Question: Just another question on Pakistan. We had the reports on statement issued by counter terrorism department of the Pakistan’s Punjab province yesterday about some 23 cases registered and Hafiz Saeed is named among the people who have been booked. I was wondering if this is enough because this is just for terror financing, it doesn’t address the larger concerns that we have about his role in terror activities?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Let us not get fooled by these cosmetic steps. I think we have seen the course of such convictions in the past, we have seen where it goes, where it is headed. Pakistan’s sincerity to take action against terrorists and terror groups will be judged on the basis of their ability to demonstrate verifiable, credible and irreversible action against terrorists and terror groups operating from their soil and not on the basis of halfhearted measures which they undertake to hoodwink the international community. Our ask is very simple, we want a normal relationship in an environment which is free from terror and violence.

Question: Has India also communicated to Financial Action Task Force regarding the presence of Dawood Ibrahim in Pakistan?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Frankly, as I mentioned earlier that this is something which is a very old story, we are talking about post Mumbai Blasts and time and again we have highlighted Dawood’s presence in Pakistan and Pakistan’s denial, I think it is something which basically exposes Pakistan, it basically shows that Pakistan is not very serious in taking action against terrorist groups operating from their soil. I am not specifically aware whether this has been communicated through FATF.

Question: In a written reply yesterday to Parliament India has made a scathing indictment that the situation in Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sindh along with the condition of the minorities there. Is this sort of departure from the because the last time there was major reference to Baluchistan was when PM spoke about it three or four years back during the Independence Day speech from the Red Fort. So how would you see this because when other countries comment on Kashmir we say that they do not have any locus standii, but we have commented on the happenings in their province, so how do you see this?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: The statement is made by a minister and I am not here to qualify a statement which has been made by a minister in the parliament.

Question: On the sidelines of the G20 when Prime Minister Modi met with President Donald Trump there were positive discussions both on trade and also 5G. Now to take that meeting forward, has some sort of panel been formed, have talks begun with US and will there be meetings now between Indian and US diplomats on the 5G issue and the issue of trade as well?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Again I think I’ll reiterate something which we have spoken in the past. You know the broad trajectory of the relationship remains very positive, we have very deep convergences on a range of issues between India and the US.

The discussion which Prime Minister had with President Trump on the sidelines of G20 in Osaka, I think it was very open and productive. Apart from the issues which you mentioned we also discussed Iran, trade, of course was also discussed and bilateral defence relations was discussed.

I think it is important to understand that in any relationship which is multidimensional like India and US, there are bound to be certain differences, there are bound to be perspectives where we share a different approach, how we handle it is the key and flowing out of that meeting what we agreed was on all these issues we will continue to talk.

On trade Foreign Secretary did mention in his briefing that the two sides will meet very soon and I understand that the trade ministry officials from the two sides are going to meet in the next couple of weeks.

On 5G again I think we made it very clear that it is not an issue of difference, it is an issue of where we can work together with the US. We have technology, we have the market, we also have to see how we can work together as far as leveraging our individual competence in the area of these two things and also how we can perhaps work together under the banner of Make in India initiative. So we are looking at some of these issues also as it is a kind of opportunity for the two countries to work together more than as a challenge.

Question: American Senate has passed a bill giving India NATO ally like status and it is also going to be discussed in the House of Representatives. So did you expect and are you pushing for this ally like status?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think it is a process within their system but we do appreciate the widespread bipartisan support for the India-US strategic partnership in the US Congress which is reflected in the version of the National Defence Authorization Act Bill passed by the Senate. We look forward to continuing facilitation from the US Congress for defence cooperation, trade and technology partnership between the two countries.

Question: It is on the Nepal India EPG report. It has been almost one year since the joint report has been finalized, is it because of the PM Modi’s busy schedule, it is also being reported regularly in the media, what actually is the reason that it is being delayed for almost one year? The second one is regarding the IIFA Awards which were supposed to be held in Nepal and it has been cancelled yesterday for the time being and there are some media reports, Indian media, that it is because of the Chinese influence that the event has been cancelled, what is MEA’s official version on that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: As regards the second question, it is a very difficult one. I don’t think it perhaps pertains to my domain.

On the first one, on the EPG report, you are aware that EPG (Eminent Persons Group) was setup in 2016 to look into the totality of India-Nepal relations and also to suggest steps and measure to improve and expand the close relationship which we share between the two countries. There were eight members, four from each side and nine meetings have been held. The EPG is yet to submit its report to the government of India and Nepal. The report will be given due consideration by both sides once it is submitted.

Question: The US has designated Baluchistan Liberation Army as terrorist organization. How does India see this action?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
I speak on behalf of the Government of India, I speak on behalf of the Ministry of External Affairs. I do, also, speak on matters that pertains to the government of India. So this perhaps is out of the ambit of both, so I won’t be able to comment on this.

Question: 19th Commonwealth Foreign Ministers meeting honi hai usmein kya India aur Pakistan ke Foreign Ministers ke beech koi meeting hogi, kuch expected hai?

(19th Commonwealth Foreign Ministers meeting is scheduled to be held soon, is a meeting between the Foreign Minister of India and Pakistan expected?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Pehle to aap ye poochhiye ki hamare Foreign Minister jaa rahe hain ya nahi, uske baad aap poochenge doosara sawaal ki mulaakaat hogi kii nahi.

To pahla jo sawaal thaa uskaa jawaab ye hai ki Foreign Minister London jaayenge Commonwealth Foreign Ministers kii meeting ko attend karne ke liye. Jahan tak mulakaat ka sawaal hai, aisa koi plaan nahi hai dono Videsh Mantri ke milne ke liye.

(First of all you would ask whether the Foreign Minister is going for the meeting and then you would ask if a meeting between Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan is proposed)

(So the answer to the first question is yes, External Affairs Minister will be visiting London to attend the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers meeting. As far as meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister is concerned there is no such plan.)

Question: It has been almost two months since the US waiver of import oil from Iran, so what is our stand, do we have a stand at all, have we totally stopped buying oil from Iran, so what is our stand?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Of course we have a stand, every time I have been repeating our stand from the platform. It may not be easy for me to comment specifically on commercial contracts. Now if you want to know the answer about the amount of oil which has been imported from specific countries, I think you will have to contact the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas but what I can share with you is that this matter did figure in the discussions Prime Minister and President Trump.

We outlined our energy concerns and if you followed what was shared by the Foreign Secretary, basically there are three broad principles under which we will function which will be guided by stability, predictability and affordability. So our decision on oil imports will be guided by these three factors, but overall this will all dovetail into our National Security.

So this is the broad picture I can give to you. Specific questions on the amount of oil being imported, I think you will have to address that to the concerned ministry.

Question: There is a question in Parliament regarding a molestation case involving an employee of the High Commission of Pakistan and the response is with regards to the case that there was no police complaint filed. Are there any details on the case because this is regarding an employee of Pakistan High Commission?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Is it something which was answered in the Parliament?

Question Cont.: I don’t have the details at this point of time, I will get back to you on this.

Question: There are reports that there is a loss of almost Rs. 550 crores to Indian Airlines because of closure of Pakistani air space. Are you doing any efforts so that the air space is opened for Indian flights or flights coming to India?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Who are we to take such efforts, I mean it was a unilateral decision by Pakistan to close their air space. The decision to open their air space has to be taken by them. Now you are talking about the cost to us, I hope you are aware of the cost to Pakistan, so I think that you have to find out but this is a decision which we have not imposed on them. This is a decision which they have taken and they have to remove the restrictions. I think the ball is in their court not in ours.

Question: In a few weeks mini 2+2 is taking place in California. Can you give us some details?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Can you please elaborate this mini 2+2.

Question Contd.: A mini 2+2 is taking place in Monterey in California between India and US as preparations to the bigger 2+2 later in the year perhaps in October. Can you tell us what is on the agenda?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I cannot share the agenda with you. I am not aware of the exact dates of this so called mini 2+2.

Question Contd.: ……….. Inaudible………….

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Yes, but you know these are ongoing discussions which takes place between the senior officials of the two sides and that happens all the time. Yes, if a meeting takes place between the two sides, a part of the agenda will be to kind of prepare some concrete outcomes for the 2+2 meeting which is going to place later this year. I think it will basically cover the range of issues which will be basically the entire spectrum of the bilateral relationship and we will also see how we can work on the issues which are at this point of time being addressed by the two sides.

Question: There are some reports coming that Kulbhushan Jadhav case’s final announcement might come very soon, in a few weeks’ time, can you give us some details, has the World Court approached or informed you when the final decision will come?

Question: You know the final submissions have been made, the oral submissions have been made. The decisions or perhaps the verdict has to be announced by the International Court of Justice, you know this is something the date has to be announced by them. I think for me, even if I know, to announce from this forum is not appropriate. So I think we will have to just wait and see and then we will get to know then this decision is going to be delivered.

Thank you so much, thank you all for joining. Have a nice day.



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