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Transcript of Virtual Weekly Media Briefing by the Official Spokesperson (10 September 2020)

September 11, 2020

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:

Friends! Namaskar and good evening!

Welcome to this Weekly Briefing in the virtual format. I will start with a short update on the Vande Bharat Mission. As on 10 September, 13.74 lakh Indians have been repatriated through different modes of the Vande Bharat Mission viz. Air India, private and foreign carriers, chartered flights, naval ships and land border crossings.

VBM Phase 6 became operational on 1 September and as informed last week, 1007 international flights have been scheduled to operate during this month and we expect to repatriate over 2 lakh people.

Of these, 270 international flights have already been operated from GCC countries, Jordan, Afghanistan, Maldives, China, Thailand, US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Australia.

Bilateral travel arrangements form the bulk of this phase with travel 'bubble' flight operations from 11 countries.

Ministry continues to monitor the demand for repatriation through our Missions/Posts and we are working with the airlines to ensure assistance.

Now moving on to your questions. May I request Yatin to take over please.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Sir, first set of questions are on EAM’s visit. Sandeep Dikshit from Tribune has asked - "did EAM Jaishankar's talk with Sergey Lavrov touch on de-freezing of Vladivostok-Chennai link and going ahead with initiatives in Far East? Will India be able to give the promised 1 billion dollar in line of credit for Far East?" Sridhar from Asian Age has asked - "has India sort Russian help in persuading China to implement April status quo in Ladakh sector?" Suhasini from The Hindu has asked - "at the SCO conference for foreign ministers, did Pakistan Foreign Ministry Qureshi speak about the possibility of holding the next SAARC Summit or of changing the venue?" Kadambini from NDTV India has asked - "can you share any details of RIC meeting in Moscow?" Maha from CNN News18 has asked - "the Indian, Russian and Chinese Foreign Ministers met at luncheon in Moscow today. Was the current situation at the LAC mentioned at this meeting as Russia is concerned about its fallout for regional stability?" Similar question was also asked by Parikshit from CNBC.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: These questions largely pertain to EAMs visit to Moscow and I'll start by giving you a bit of a background. EAM is presently in Moscow to attend the meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This is the third CFM meeting that India will be attending as a full member of the SCO.

On the sidelines of the CFM, he had bilateral meetings with Foreign Ministers of member countries.

EAM’s meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister was in the afternoon of 9th September. As you would know, we have a special and privileged strategic partnership with Russia and this year marks the 20years of strategic partnership. This was the first physical meeting after the Covid situation and there was excellent discussion on bilateral matters, regional developments and international issues of concern. The two Ministers also followed up on outcomes of PM’s visit to Vladivostok for 5th EEF in September 2019. Bilateral economic issues, cooperation in development of Far East region of Russia, cooperation in nuclear and space sectors were discussed. The two Ministers agreed to work closely in the UN Security Council during India’s forthcoming tenure as a Non-Permanent Member.

In fact, just to mention, he had fruitful bilateral meetings earlier yesterday with Foreign Ministers of Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan. Both the countries are our strategic partners and during the meeting it was agreed to further enhance our strategic partnership in all spheres.

Today morning, EAM had bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan before joining the meeting of the CFM meeting.

The SCO Summit is also scheduled in the near future and this CFM meeting reviewed preparations for the forthcoming summit as well as exchanged views on regional and international issues.

The meeting was followed by a lunch of RIC Foreign Ministers which started about an hour back. So that is what I have, as of now and as we get further details we'll keep on updating you.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Vasant from Mathrubhumi has asked - "MEA has clarified that the Kerala government has not taken permission before signing MoU with Red Crescent for the Life Mission project, has any further action been taken?"

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: See as I had informed earlier, the Kerala government did not take approval before signing this agreement with the Emirates Red Crescent society and you would know that foreign affairs, particularly entering into agreements with foreign countries is a matter on the Union List as per the constitution, so we are presently examining the matter from this perspective.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Next set of question is on PM-Abe conversation. Devadeep from Sankei Shimbun has asked - "India-Japan held a virtual bilateral summit meeting today. Is it part of the annual summit mechanism we have? Can you give some more details about the topics discussed, like, if the recent India-China border standoff was discussed?" Brahma Prakash from Zee News has asked - "Bharat-Japan ke beech sainiya samjhote ko le kar kya jankari hai?"(Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) "Is there any information with regards to Indo-Japan military agreement”? Similar question was also asked by Takeda from Jiji Press.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Earlier in the day, there was a telephone conversation between PM and and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. We put out a press release on this telephone conversation. What I can share with you additionally is that this was a very warm conversation between the two leaders. They recalled memories of the earlier meetings in Varanasi, in Sabarmati, in Kobe, Kyoto in Japan. They also recalled the visit of PM to the ancestral home of PM Abe in Yamanashi in 2018. In terms of other details, you would have already seen the press release that we have issued and just to highlight a few elements, PM expressed gratitude to PM Abe for his personal leadership and commitment in enhancing the strategic partnership that we have with Japan, which covers several domains. The two leaders also discussed the status of ongoing cooperation under the special strategic and global partnership that we have and particularly reviewed various projects including the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed railway project. Regarding the question on the agreement, the India-Japan agreement on reciprocal provision of supplies and services between the armed forces of India and the self-defense forces of Japan, also known as the ACSA agreement, this agreement was signed yesterday between Defence Secretary and the Japanese Ambassador and this agreement is expected to further enhance bilateral defence cooperation as well as peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region. So this is what I have by way of details.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Next set of question is on EAM’s visit to Iran. Geeta Mohan from India Today has asked - "share details on EAM’s Iran visit. What was the conversation on Chabahar and the Chabahar-Zahedan Rail Project? Have all issues been ironed out?" Sandeep Dikshit from The Tribune has asked - "could you give us a sense of discussions with Iran during two unprecedented back-to-back Ministerial visits to the Tehran?"

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:
See during the technical halt in Iran, en route to Moscow, both EAM and Raksha Mantri earlier had meetings with their counterparts. Iran, as you would know is a country which is in our extended neighborhood, we share deep civilizational ties with this country, it is a historical relationship and during these meetings all issues of bilateral and regional significance, including connectivity were discussed. Particularly on the Chabahar project, both sides noted that traffic via Chabahar is increasing and we are seeing increased cargo movement through this port. So that is what I have by way of the meeting in Iran.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Deepak Ranjan from PTI Bhasha has asked - "Neerav Modi mamle mein taza stithi kya hai, khaskar wahan ki adalat mein Bhartiye jail ka mudda uthaye jane ke sandharb mein?" ?"(Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) What is the latest update in Neerav Modi case, particularly with regards to Indian jail issue?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Dekhiye, Neerav Modi mamle mein jaise ki aapko yaad hoga, Neerav Modi judicial custody mein hai jab se unka arrest hua hai March 2019 mein. Aur filhaal unki hearing chal rahi hai unke extradition case mein, 7 tareekh ko hearing shuru hui and 11 ko khatam hogi. Aur prosecution ne apna case present kar liya hai, Neerav Modi ke against. Aur is case mein kai elements hain, criminal conspiracy hai, destruction of evidence hai, criminal intimidation hai. Yeh filhaal update hai mere paas. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation) See, In Neerav Modi case, you must be remembering that, Neerav Modi is in judicial custody immediately after his arrest on March 2019.And presently hearing is in progress in extradition case. The hearing has started on 7th and shall conclude on 11th. Prosecution has presented its case against Neerav Modi. And in this case there are many elements, i.e. criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence and criminal intimidation. At present this is the update I have.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Sidhant from WION has asked - "any update on extradition of Vijay Mallya?"

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:
Sidhant, there is really no further update on Vijay Mallya's case from what I told you the last time. His application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court was rejected in May this year and thereafter we have been in touch with the UK side to ensure his early extradition to India.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Sidhant has also asked - "has India responded to Pakistan on Shri Kulbhushan Jadhav?"

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: On Kulbhushan Jadhav, we continue to be in touch with the government of Pakistan through diplomatic channels and as I have said earlier, we have raised with Pakistan that certain basic issues need to be addressed by them and these basic issues include, providing unconditional and unimpeded consular access to him, provision of basic documents, and appointment of an Indian lawyer to ensure trial which is free and fair. So this is the situation as of now.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Suhasini from The Hindu has asked - "is there any movement on fixing dates for FS meeting with Nepal-FS on the boundary map issue?"

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: On this issue, I have made our position clear in the past and I have nothing further to add.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Ranjit Kumar from Rakshak News has asked - "have the dates and location of India-US 2+2 and quadrilateral ministerial dialogues been finalized?" Similar question from Sandeep Dikshit from Tribune.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: See last week I had informed you that we look forward to holding this 2+2 Ministerial meeting and as of now we are working out details.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Next set of question is on meeting with the Chinese foreign minister and line of actual control. Deepak Ranjan from PTI Bhasha has asked - "Cheeni sena dwara Pangong jheel ke uttar mein phir se nirmaan gatividhiyan shuru kiye jane ki khabar aai hain. Iske saath hi Chushul, Depsang avem kuch anya ilako mein bhi sainiko ki sankhya badaye jane ki khabar hai. Videsh mantri S Jaishankar ki Moscow yatra ki prishthbhumi mein sampoorn ghatnakram par mantralaya ki kya pratikriya hai?" (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) There is a news that Chinese army has again started the construction activities in the north of Pangong lake. In addition to it there is news that the number of soldiers are being increased in Chusul, Depsang and in some other areas. In the light of EAM’s Moscow visit, what is the ministry’s reaction on this whole issue? ( Suhasini from The Hindu has asked - "has EAM spoken with the Chinese Foreign Minister regarding the situation at LAC during his visit to Moscow? Please give us details." Vijaya Lakshmi from India TV has asked - "Bharath aur Cheen ke beech chal rahe seema vivad ke beech hi aaj hamare foreign affairs minister China ke foregin affairs minister se sham mein mulakat karenge. Kya is mulakat se hum umeed kar rahe hain ki samasya ka kuch samadhaan niklega?" (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) In the mid of the India and China border dispute today our EAM shall meet the Foreign Minister of China. Are we expecting any solution of the ongoing problem from this meeting. Devirupa from The Wire has asked - "please give us an update on meeting of Chinese and Indian Foreign Ministers?" Narendra Nath from Navbharat Times has asked - "kya Bharat-Cheen seema vivad ke beech, Bharat ne apne sahyogi mitr desho ko taze halat ke bare mein jankari di hai?" (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) In the mid of Indo-China border issue, whether India has informed its partner countries about the present situation? Similar questions were also asked by Parikshit from CNBC, Brahma Prakash from Zee News, Maha from CNN News18.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:
Both India and China are in regular touch through diplomatic and military channels to resolve the situation, as you would know. And, this is also the consensus when the two Defence Ministers met. EAM will be meeting the Chinese Foreign Minister shortly where he will be discussing this issue. And once we have something on this, I will be updating you. As far as our position goes, you know that as we have reiterated several times in the past, Indian side is committed to resolving the current situation on the India-China border through peaceful negotiations. On the situation on the LAC again, you know, you would have seen my earlier statements which I have made. Regarding particularly the incident of September 7th, which was referred to in one of the questions, Ministry of Defence has already put out a press release clearly articulating our position and our response. I have nothing further to add to it at this stage. Any further questions, Yatin.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): No Sir.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Thank you. So this concludes the weekly press briefing.

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