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Transcript of the Weekly Media Briefing by the Official Spokesperson (June 09, 2022)

June 10, 2022

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: A very good afternoon to all of you for this weekly media briefing. I see a large turnout, always nice. So, before we begin with the queries, I have an announcement to make. This is regarding the Special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that we will host in New Delhi next week. We will issue a formal press release after this. India will host the Special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (SAIFMM) on 16th-17th June to mark the 30th anniversary of our dialogue relations, and the 10th anniversary of our Strategic Partnership with ASEAN. EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar and His Excellency Mr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Foreign Minister of Singapore who is India's country coordinator in ASEAN will co-chair the meeting. Foreign Ministers of other ASEAN member states and ASEAN Secretary General will participate in the SAIFMM. As you are aware, the year 2022 has been designated as the ASEAN- India friendship year.

Just a little background - ASEAN-India dialogue relations started with the establishment of sectoral Partnerships in 1992, graduated to full dialogue partnership in December 1995, summit level partnership in 2002 and of course upgraded to Strategic Partnership in 2012. Today ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership stands on a strong foundation. ASEAN is central to India's ‘Act- East Policy’ and its vision for the wider Indo- Pacific. This multifaceted partnership encompasses many sectoral dialogue mechanisms and working groups that meet regularly at various levels, including annual summits, ministerial and senior official meetings. And also, as you are aware, the ongoing India-ASEAN collaboration is guided by the plan of action for five years, 2021 to 2025, which was adopted in 2020. Now, of course, ASEAN- India Foreign Ministers’ Meetings are hosted by the ASEAN Chair on an annual basis, but this SAIFMM will be the first or would be the first ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting to be hosted by India in New Delhi. It will be preceded by the 24th ASEAN-India Senior Officials Meeting which will be held on the 15th of this month, next week. This meeting will be accompanied by the 12th edition of the Delhi Dialogue, a premier track 1.5 dialogue in the ASEAN-India calendar. This will be hosted by India on June 16th and 17th. The theme of Delhi Dialogue-XII is Building bridges in the Indo-Pacific and the ministerial session of this Delhi Dialogue-XII will be attended by External Affairs Minister as well as the ASEAN Ministers. So that's I think the only announcement that I have got. Happy to open the floor for questions.

Sidhant: On the ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meet, how many foreign ministers are participating in the meeting and is the Myanmar Foreign minister also invited or someone representing Myanmar at the meet? If you can give details?

Madhurendra: Madhurendra main News Nation se, aur mera sawal LAC ko lekar hai. 2 saal pure ho chuke hai galwan hinsa ke bhi 2 saal 15 june ko hone vaale hai . Aisi sthiti mein reports aa rahi hai khaskar ke jis tarah ka infrastructure development cheen ki taraf ho raha hai, isase pahle bhi Pangong mein pul ki tasvire saamne aayin thi, deployment jo unke J-20 vagerah ke ho rahe hain US ki bhi report saamne aa rahin hain. To, bharat kis tarah se in tamam developments ko dekh raha hai aur jo WMCC ke baad ek commander conference hone vali thi, filhal uski bhi to koi jankari hai to jarur bataye ? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) Madhurendra, I am from News Nation, and my question is about LAC. 2 years of the Galwan violence will be over on June 15. In such a situation, reports are coming - especially the kind of infrastructure development that is taking place on the Chinese side, earlier also the pictures of the bridge in Pangong had come out, the deployment of J-20s which is also happening from their side, an US report also came out. So, how is India looking at all these developments? And a Commanders conference was to take place after the WMCC, if you have any information on that, then please tell us?

Suhasini: I think he is referring to the comments made by the US Pacific Command General Charles Flynn. As the Chinese foreign Ministry has issued the statement at its briefing today, it has said, the situation there is stabilizing on the whole. Frontline forces from both countries, have realized disengagement in most areas, along the western section and called what the US official has said on Indian soil, as trying to add fuel to the fire and pointing fingers, this is a despicable act.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Yes. I've seen the report. It just came up as I was coming here.

Suhasini: I would like your response to what the US General has said in Delhi. Do you accept that assessment? And the second part being how do you respond to what the Chinese MFA has said, particularly the idea that both countries have realized disengagement in most areas.

Speaker-1: You know, there are reports coming in that, Pakistan, tomorrow, is going to have various protests marches across the country on this Prophet remark. And I've also read that, the Indian Embassy has alerted security saying that? Is that true? I mean, your comments on the same and a Hindu temple and a priest have also been attacked.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: That's a different issue completely. Which one are you talking about?

Speaker-1: Can you talk about the protest and whether you've asked for security?

Sudhi Ranjan: Sir, Sudhi Ranjan from the Bloomberg. Any updates that you can give us on the issue of the, you know, controversy around the Prophet, the remarks and the efforts.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: What do you mean update?

Sudhi Ranjan: I mean, in the sense efforts the MEA has made to kind of, you know, talk to its counterparts across the Gulf. What kind of response have you got? Are you planning any more outreach?

Maha Siddiqui: Maha Siddiqui from CNN News 18. Was this matter also discussed between the External Affairs Minister and the Iranian Foreign Minister?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Which matter?

Maha Siddiqui: The Prophet. And during this meeting between the EAM and his Iranian counterpart, was the issue of possibility of oil exports back from Iran were also discussed since JCPOA was a matter in the statement listed out.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay, let me take this round of questions and unless there is something related to one of these issues. I will go ahead. Let me start off with the ASEAN one. I think Siddhant you have asked on that. Look, as I mentioned to you. This is ASEAN meeting. It's in the ASEAN format. So as I said this is special event, 30th Anniversary. It's an ASEAN-India event and Myanmar is an ASEAN member state, so participation from Myanmar in the SAIFMM would be or is as per the ASEAN consensus in this regard.

On the issue of the Galwan, Suhasini and Madhurendra ji had asked. Maybe I will try to answer it in English first and then I'll come back to the Hindi part of it. Look, we have seen these reports, specifically you're talking about General Flynn. We have seen these reports. Now, while we would not like to comment on what General Flynn is reported to have said, I have seen some media reports. Let me just so make a broader statement. I would like to emphasize as we have done in the past that the Government of India carefully monitors developments along our border areas, including construction of infrastructure by the Chinese side in the western sector as well as that being undertaken further in-depth areas. Government is committed to and takes all adequate and appropriate measures to safeguard territorial integrity and sovereignty as the developments in recent years have clearly demonstrated. Government of India, has taken various measures in recent years, to develop infrastructure, along the border areas to not only meet India's strategic and security requirements, but also facilitate the economic development of these areas.

Let me also add here. As far as the, current situation is concerned. As you are aware, we have maintained continuous communication with the Chinese side, both through diplomatic and military channels. There have been 15 rounds of senior commanders’ meetings, 10 rounds of the meetings of the WMCC. We have also had communication at the level of the Foreign Minister, Defence Minister, and the NSA and his counterpart. This has led to some progress as both sides have successfully disengaged in a number of areas along the LAC in eastern Ladakh. We will maintain our dialogue with the Chinese side to resolve the remaining issues. The two sides have also agreed to hold another round of senior commanders meeting, as decided in the last week's meeting of the WMCC. It's our expectation that in these talks, the Chinese side will work with the Indian side to reach a mutually acceptable solution for the remaining issues given that both sides also agreed that the prolongation of the existing situation is not in the interest of either side or overall relations. We have always maintained the restoration of normalcy will obviously require restoration of peace and tranquillity along the LAC which had been disturbed by the Chinese actions in 2020. So that's basically what I wanted to say.

Speaker 2 – Inaudible

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: That’s all I have to say on this. As I said, we just saw those comments and I think this addresses what has been raised there. I did mention some progress.

Dekhiye jaisa ki maine kaha hamne report dekhi hai, General Flynn ke jo media mein aai thi reports usmein main tippani nahi karna chahunga. Iss baat par jor dena chahunga ki jaisa hamane pahale kaha hai ki bharat sarkar chini paksh dwara hamare simavarti kshetro mein buniyadi dhanche ke nirman sahit sabhi developments ki savdhani purvak nigrani karti hai, jisme pashchimi kshetra aur adhik gahrai vaale kshetr mein buniyadi dhanche ke nirman shamil hai. Sarkar kshetriye akhandata aur samprabhuta ke liye sabhi paryapt aur uchit upay karne ke liye pratibaddh hai aur karti hai aur jaisa ki haal ke varshon mein hui ghatnaaon mein spasht hua hai. Bharat sarkar ne na keval bharat ke simavart suraksha avashyaktao ke poora karane ke lie balki un kshetro ke arthik vikas ko suvidha janak banane ke liye, simavarti kshetro mein buniyadi dhanche ke vikas ke lie bhi haal ke varsho mein kafi prayas kiya hai aur maujooda sthiti ke baare mein jaisa ki maine jikr kiya tha angreji mein jaisa ki aap jaante hai hamane rajanayik aur sainya donon madhyamo se chini paksh ke saath nirantar samvad banaye rakha hai. Varishth commandaro ki baithak ki 15ve dour or WMCC ke 10ve dour ho chuke hai . Hamare beech videsh mantriyon, raksha mantriyon aur NSA level ke tatha unke samkaksh ke star pay bhi samvad hua hai, isase kuchh pragati hui hai kyoki donon paksh poorvi Ladakh mein LAC ke saath kai kshetro mein safalta poorvak disengage kar payen hai. Hum shesh muddon ke hal ke liye chini paksh se apni batchit jari rakhenge. Donon paksh pichhale saptah WMCC mein varisht commandaron ki ek aur baithak ayojit karne mein bhi sahamat hue hai . Ye hamari apeksha hai ki is varta mein, jo hone vali hai, chini paksh bharatiye paksh ke saath shesh muddon ki parasparik roop mein sakriye samadhan tak pahunchane ke lie kaam karenga, is tathya ko dekhate hue ki donon paksh is baat par bhi sahamat hai ki maujooda sthiti ko lamba khinchana kisi bhi paksh ya sambandhon ke hit mein nahi hai . (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation) We have seen these reports. While we would not like to comment on what General Flynn is reported to have said, we would like to emphasise, as we have done in the past, that Government of India carefully monitors developments along our border areas including construction of infrastructure by the Chinese side in the Western Sector, as well as that being undertaken further in depth areas. Government is committed to and takes all adequate and appropriate measures to safeguard territorial integrity and sovereignty as the developments in the recent years clearly demonstrate. Government of India has taken various measures in recent years to develop infrastructure along the border areas to not only meet India’s strategic and security requirements but also facilitate the economic development of these areas. As far as the current situation is concerned, as you are aware we have maintained continuous communication with the Chinese side through both the diplomatic and military channels. There have been 15 Rounds of Senior Commanders’ Meetings and 10 Rounds of meetings of WMCC. We have also had communication at the level of Foreign Ministers, Defence Ministers and NSA and his counterpart. This has led to some progress as both sides have successfully disengaged in a number of areas along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. We will maintain our dialogue with the Chinese side to resolve the remaining issues. The two sides have also agreed to hold another round of Senior Commanders Meeting last week in the WMCC. It is our expectation that in these talks the Chinese side will work with the Indian side to reach a mutually acceptable solution for remaining issues given the fact that both sides also agree that the prolongation of the existing situation is not in the interest of either side or overall relations.

Srinjoy: One quick clarification on the Chinese. Any dates of the commander level talks that you can give us?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I, at this point, don't have a date to share of course. But it was agreed to hold it at an early date. Coming on to the issue of, I think all the three issues, I think Maha you also mentioned the same issue, Prophet issue. Look, on the issue of the Prophet in the controversy over those offensive remarks. I think let me just emphasize what we've been saying and I think you know by now you're pretty clear about what we've been saying. Let me just say it for the record. I think we've made it pretty clear that the tweets and comments do not reflect the views of the Government. This has been conveyed to our interlocutors. As also the fact that action has been taken by the concerned quarters, against those who made the comments and tweets. I really don't think I have anything additional to say on this. You mentioned about outreach, Sudhi. Let me just say, look, our ambassadors regularly brief their interlocutors on issues and concerns of the day. They are also in regular touch with headquarters. In fact, this is their job. So I'm not sure anything further I have to say on that.

On the issue of External Affairs Minister and the Iran discussions, look, my understanding is that this issue was not raised during that conversation. As for the oil part, any case we have issued a press release on the visit. So, you would have had, you know, chance to see what was discussed. Beyond this point I don't want to comment on the details of the conversations, whether it is on oil or otherwise, but let me just draw your attention to the public remarks made by the External Affairs Minister earlier this month and last month where he has highlighted the absence of oil from Iran and Venezuela has made it more difficult for India to meet our energy security needs. So, I think that addresses most of the questions that I had.

Jitna mujhe malum hai ye mudda aaya nahi tha inake conversation mein hamare videsh mantri aur Iran ke videsh mantri ke vartalap mein. Hamane press release jaari ki hai us press release mein aapne dekha hoga usmein kaafi chijon ke baare mein kaha gaya hai. Aur isase alag donon mantriyo ke beech hui batchit par main koi tippani nahi karna chahunga aur main sirf aapka dhyan videsh mantri ke kuchh public remarks jo pehle di thi uspe akarshit karna chahunga, jahan unhonne is baat par prakash dala hai ki Iran or Venezuela se tel na milne ke karan bharat ke liye energy security needs ko poora karna aur adhik kathin ho gaya hai. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation) As far as I know this issue did not come up, in their conversation, in the conversation between our External Affairs Minister and the Foreign Minister of Iran. We have issued a press release, in that press release you must have seen, there are a lot of things that have been said in it. Apart from that, I would not like to comment on the conversation between the two Ministers and I would just like to draw your attention to some of the public remarks of the External Affairs Minister which were made earlier where he has highlighted the absence of oil from Iran and Venezuela has made it more difficult for India to meet our energy security needs.

Speaker-3: The Iranian Foreign Ministry, put out a statement sort of a brief on the meeting with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval where they had not just said that they raised the issue of the Prophet controversy, but that the National Security advisor had given assurances to the extent that those who have been punished.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: This is about the conversation between NSA and the Iranian Foreign Minister.

Speaker-3: And it would be seen as a lesson to others. This is the quote, that they had given of the National Security advisor. There is also a tweet put out by the Iran Foreign Ministry through one of its embassies, where the Iranian Foreign Minister said that he had raised the issue and that all officials, he had spoken to had equivocally, unequivocally, condemned the comments and they also used the word satisfied in their press release. So, I just wanted to know about what is MEA reaction to that?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Look, I usually don't like to comment on, unless you know particular elements we would like to put out, on comments between, you know, senior dignitaries. So, certainly on the NSA and Iranian Foreign minister, I would not like to comment on what their conversation was. My understanding is that what you are referring to, in a readout, has been pulled down. But anyway, even if it is, I don't want to get into what was said or not. I don't have any comments on that. So I'll leave it at that.

Kavita Joshi: Sir mein Kavita Joshi hoon Hari Bhoomi Newspaper se, main sir ye savaal poochhana chahati hoon ki abhi jo bharat aur Iran ke videsh mantriyon ke beech mein bilateral meeting hui hai usmen connectivity or Chabahar port ke development ko leke baat hui hai. Toh kya bharat jo Afghanistan ko apni jo humanitarian aid bhej raha hai jisamen genhu bhi hai, essential medicines bhi hai aur baki sari cheeze hai, kya usko hum via Pakistan ke jagah pe Iran ke through Afghanistan bhejane ke baare mein bhi kuchh baat hui hai meeting mein ? (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation) I am Kavita Joshi from Hari Bhoomi Newspaper, I want to ask Sir this question that in the bilateral meeting that has just taken place between the foreign ministers of India and Iran, there were discussions on connectivity and development of the Chabahar Port. India is sending its humanitarian aid to Afghanistan which also contains wheat, essential medicines and a lot of other things, has there been any discussion in the meeting on sending this aid to Afghanistan through Iran instead of Pakistan?

Speaker 4: Mein ye poochna chahta tha ki kai countries ne hamare ambassador ko bula ke Prophet ke issue par intezaaz kiya. Toh, kya sarkar ki taraf se unko koi jawab diya gaya hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) I am asking that many countries have summoned our ambassadors and protested on the issue of Prophet. So, has there been any response from the government to these countries?

Ranjana: Sir I am Ranjana from UNI. The Qatar Foreign Ministry and even the Qatar Shura council held a meeting, they discussed the Prophet remarks. And they said, that the Government of India, they demanded an apology. So, have we apologized? What has been our response?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay, and is there any other question on the Prophet? If there are questions related to this anything further. I'm happy to take it at this time.

Nandita: Main Nandita Bengali newspaper Samvad Pratidin se. Sir ek buzz hai ki Qatar ne hamare indian kisi ko World cup ke time mein , usake paas ticket bhi hai lekin permission deny kiya hai ki vahan pe rehne ke liye mange the, usake regarding aaplog iss baare mein kya bata sakte hain? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) I am Nandita from Bengali newspaper Samvad Pratidin. Sir there is a news that Qatar has denied permission of accommodation to an Indian, at the time of World Cup, who has got the ticket also. Can you give any update on this?

Sachin: Sir mera naam Sachin hai main Univarta se hoon, main ye janna chahta hoon ki ye Prophet vaale issue ko lekar ke aise kitne desh hai jinhonne officially hamare pass protest darj karwaya hai aur ham logon ne formally kya position li hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) Sir my name is Sachin, I am from Univarta, I want to know how many countries have officially registered protest with us about this Prophet issue and what position have we taken formally?

Shalinder: Sir Shalinder News 18 se, sir jo release hamane dekhe the Qatar, Kuwait aur Iran mein jo hamari embassy hai jo release kiya gaya tha, usamen ek term use kiya fringe elements ye fringe elements specify karenge ki iska matlab kya hai? Kyokin they were official spokesperson of the ruling party, toh fringe element ko kehna kitna sahi hai ? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) Sir Shalinder from News 18, Sir the press releases that have been issued by our embassies in Qatar, Kuwait and Iran have used the term fringe elements. Please specify what do we mean by the fringe elements? Because they were official spokesperson of the ruling party. So how correct is it to say fringe element?

Sudhi Ranjan: Sudhi Ranjan again from Bloomberg. Wanted to ask you. There has been quite a backlash. Indian products have been taken off stores in some of these countries. Has the MEA taken this issue up with these countries and is there any clarity on whether these, you know, goods and merchandise are back?

Speaker-5: Release, by the Iranian side has in fact, been pulled down. I just checked. I want to know whether that means that that issue was not raised with the NSA.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: There is a Iranian foreign ministry. I think you should ask them. Sorry. I'm not going into meaning or interpretation. I've said what I had to say on that.

Aapne puchha tha about permission nahi di gai hai, Nandita ji. Hamane media report dekhi hai, nobody has approached us, hame nahi malum exactly kya situation hai, dekhte hai kya hai, social media ke reports se main comment nahi kar paaunga abhi at this point. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation) You had asked about denial of permission, Nandita ji. We have seen the media report, nobody has approached us, we do not know exactly what the situation is, let's see what is it, I will not be able to comment on the reports of social media at this point.

Aapne isme pooncha tha k kya response diya gaya hai, I think Ranjana ji ne pooncha tha (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation) Ranjana ji had asked what response was given.

And there was question of how many countries. Look these are all related, let me reiterate where we stand. In terms of, what's raised in Qatar, as you remember, our Embassy had shared that the matter was discussed with Ambassador. And he conveyed our perspective. We have made this public, the embassy made this public in a statement. I don't think I have anything to add further on the issue of Qatar. Similarly other countries that have raised it, you have seen wherever it is, like Kuwait, we had put out a comment, our perspective, what we had said. As regards, how many countries, look who asked that one actually?

Sachin, aapne puchha tha kitne desho ne? Dekhiye, jis country ne publicly, kisi ne kaha hoga, aapne bhi dekha hoga maine bhi dekha hoga, toh main vahi pe rok deta hun. Aur aapne puchha tha ki hamare taraf se kya pratikriya thi ? Maine jaise kaha, jo bataya gaya use hamane bahar kar diya, hamane statement diya hai, hamne apne embassy ki taraf se statement diya hain, Kuwait mein bhi, Qatar mein bhi. Aur kuchh hamare comments baki desho ke gut se aye the, hamne isliye officially statement diya hai, uss statement se jaiye, woh hamane kaha hai unko. Jo kaha hai statement main usi tarah se dohraaya gaya hai. Aur ek question tha fringe ki baat mein kaun pooch raha tha? Aap pooch rahe the ? Dekhiye hamane isape clearly kaha hai ki yeh views jo hai ye do not reflect the views of government. Hamne spasht kar diya tha ki aise vichar hamare government k views nahi hai. It does not reflect the views of government ye hamare interlocutors ko bhi bataya tha aur ye bhi kaha gaya tha ki sambandhit pakshon dwara unlogon ke khilaf karwai ki gai hai. Iske aage main kuchh kah nahi sakta hoon. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation) Sachin, you had asked about how many countries. Look the countries that have said publicly, you must have seen, I must have seen, so I will stop here. You had asked about our response? Like I said, whatever we said, we have put it out, we have given a statement, we have given a statement on behalf of our embassy, in Kuwait, also in Qatar. Some of the comments came from a group of other countries, so we have given an official statement, please follow it. What is said in the statement has been repeated. And there was a question on fringe elements. We have clearly said that these do not reflect the views of the government. We made it clear that such views are not views of our government. Our interlocutors were also told that it does not reflect the views of the government and it was also said that action has been taken against them by the concerned quarters. I don’t have anything further to add to that.

You made assertion that stores have taken off things. I am not there with you on the assertion. I'm not sure there are some media reports. We will, of course, continue monitoring the situation so that you know, the Indian Community there, as otherwise, Indian interests remain protected and they are safe, but I don't have an immediate comment on that assertion, that allegation that you have put. I think that covers this set of the Prophet related ones.

Kavita ji aapne puchha tha dekhiye hamari jo focus hai Afghanistan pay, Afghanistan ke logo ke prati hum kis tarah se manaviya sahayata de sakte hai usape hamari puri jor hai, jo sabse aasan route hai usi se hamne kiya hai Pakistan k through. Iran ke Chabahar port ko bhi use karne ki baat chal rahi hai generally is sandarbh mein specifically ho payega ya nahi ye mere pass abhi khabar nahi hai ki kitna feasible hai, feasibility pe depend karta hai costing pe, route pe bhi depend karta hai to main ismein abhi comment nahi kar paaunga par connectivity ki baat Iranian foreign minister ke saath baat hui thi, aapne dekha hoga pradhanmantri ji ke jo bhi press release unka bhi press release unke daftar se jo aaya tha usape bhi baat ki thi. Ye connectivity improve karne ke baaren mein hamari kaafi vichar-vimarsh hui thi ismen visit ke dauran. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation) Kavita ji, you asked. See, we are focussed on how we can give humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. We are sending aid through the easiest route which is through Pakistan. There is talk of using Iran's Chabahar port also. I don't know right now how much feasible it is. It will depend on the feasibility, on costing, it also depends on the route, so I will not be able to comment on it now. But we had talks on the connectivity with the Iranian foreign minister. You must have seen the press release issued by the office of the Prime Minister, in it also this was mentioned. During this visit we had a lot of discussions about improving the connectivity.

Srinjoy: Sir you said this before, including very recently about how the minorities are treated in Pakistan, including the Ahmadiyyas. Now in recent days, there has been an attack on a temple in Karachi. One person from the Temple authorities has been assaulted. What is the government's reaction? Have we said anything? Has the local, the Indian High Commission in Islamabad intervened or protested? Or have we called in someone from the Pakistani High commission here?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: See, I think Yashi, she mentioned it in the second question I didn't follow up. I'll come back to that. Any other questions before I close.

Suman Sharma: Sir I'm Suman Sharma from European Security and Defence. Sir recently the German foreign minister went to Islamabad and she said the UN has a role to play in ensuring human rights in Kashmir. So, what's MEA's reaction?

Rajesh Mishra: Sir, Rajesh Mishra from Nepalese Newspaper Kantipur Daily. Last week, a team of government officials from India visited Afghanistan. Can you give some details about what did that visit do?

Speaker 6: I just want to know what is on the Iranian Foreign Minister's agenda for his visit in Mumbai and Hyderabad.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay. Thank you. I think I'll close with those few questions. Look, as I said on the Pakistan one, let me clarify. We have noted the recent incidents or incident of vandalization of a Hindu temple in Karachi. We believe this is another act in the systematic persecution of religious minorities. We have conveyed our protest to the Government of Pakistan and again urged to ensure the safety, security and well-being of its minority communities. So that would be our reaction to what you raised.

Hindi mein aap chahenge. Hamane Pakistan ke Karachi mein ek Hindu mandir ke vandalization ki haal ki ghatanaon par gaur kiya hai, ye dharmik alpasankhyako ke systematic persecution ki ek aur kadi hai. Hamane Pakistan sarkar ko apane virodh se avagat kara diya hai aur fir se Pakistan sarkar se apne alpasankhyak samudayon ki suraksha aur bhalai sunishchit karane ka aagrah kiya hai. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation) Would you want in Hindi? We have noted the recent incident of vandalization of a Hindu temple in Karachi. We believe this is another act in the systematic persecution of religious minorities. We have conveyed our protest to the Government of Pakistan and again urged to ensure the safety, security and well-being of its minority communities.

Regarding Yashi, on the visit, I don't know if there are official elements on it. So best you check with the Iranian Embassy here, they would be in a better position. We normally comment only on their official elements but yes, he has gone to Mumbai and Hyderabad and they would be in a better position to share.

Rajesh, you asked about the visit of our delegation to Afghanistan. Look. We had shared last week that a team led by Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) in our ministry visited Kabul to oversee the delivery operations of our humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. The team interacted with senior members of the Taliban including Amir Khan Muttaqi and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai.

They held discussions on India's humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. They also visited various project sites and also the premises of the Indian Embassy. I think this is what I have to share for the moment for that visit. I missed one question. Oh, yes, you had asked about, do you have an immediate comment? Look, I think our position on Jammu and Kashmir vis-à-vis the role of bilateral way to solve it and how we see the UN's role or the rather the lack of it, is pretty clear. I haven't seen the full text of it. So, I would not like to comment on that specific response. But I think suffice to say that, we believe that this is an issue that has to be bilaterally resolved and we do not see external interference in this as a helpful or, you know, way to find a solution on this. So, I think I'll leave that as a short comment on this, but I think our position has not changed on this at all. Okay. Thank you very much. I appreciate your presence here for this media briefing. See you next week.

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