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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by the Official Spokesperson (July 28, 2022)

July 28, 2022

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: A very good afternoon to all of you. Thank you for joining us for this Weekly Media Briefing. Let me begin with an announcement and then we'll take a few questions that we may have. Announcement is regarding the visit of the President of Maldives. His Excellency Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, President of the Republic of Maldives will pay an official visit to India from 1st to 4th August. President Solih would be accompanied by a high level official and business delegation. During the visit, President Solih will meet the President of India and hold talks with the Prime Minister. External Affairs Minister will call on President Solih. Besides his official engagements in New Delhi, President Solih will be holding discussion with an Indian business delegation. During his visit, President Solih will also visit Mumbai and participate in business events there. Needless to say, Maldives is India's key neighbour in the Indian Ocean region and occupies a special place in India's Neighbourhood First policy. In recent years, the partnership has witnessed rapid growth in all areas of cooperation and President Solih’s upcoming official visit will provide an opportunity for the two leaders to review the progress made in this wide ranging partnership and impart direction to the two sides that will lend further momentum to this strong partnership that we have. That was the only announcement for the moment. If there are any questions on other issues, may I take the floor.

Yeshi: This is Yeshi Seli from The New Indian Express. Is Dr. Jaishankar likely to have a conversation with Bilawal Bhutto besides the other Foreign Ministers like Wang Yi and all, and what is he likely to talk about if at all?

Sir, Sidhant from WION. We have seen the Pakistani Foreign Ministry saying that they're going to not attend in fact, withdraw from the Chess Olympiad in Chennai. What's India's reaction to this entire development?

Anil Singh: Good afternoon, Sir. I am Anil Singh from IANS. Sir Pakistan adhikrit Kashmir ke andar 350 MW bijli ki jarurat hoti hai unko lekin tab bhi woh andhere mein hai aur Pakistan ke andar 4000 MW bijli generate hoti hai. Abhi dekha gaya ki wahan pe log sadkon par virodh mein aa gaye hai aur kafi round firing hui aur firing hone ke baad 130 logo ko hiraasat mein le liya gaya, ab woh pakistan ke sath-sath hindustan se bhi madad chahte hain. Sir aap kya reaction hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir need 350 MW of electricity, but they are in the dark even when 4000 MW of electricity is being generated by Pakistan. It has been seen that people have come out in protest on the streets there, lot of rounds were fired and after firing 130 people were detained. Now they want help from Pakistan as well as India. Sir, would you like to comment on this topic?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Main samjha nahi, aap question ko fir se bataenge? Ismen power ka kya - aapne kaha 4000 MW vahan pe or 350 MW vahan pe chahiye hota hai unko. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation) I didn’t understand, could you please repeat the question? You said 4,000 MW there and they need 350 MW there?

Anil Singh:
Sir 350 MW ke andar Pak adhikrit Kashmir ke andar poorti ho jaegi lekin tab bhi unko bijli nahi milti hai aur wahan par 4000 MW generate hota hai (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) The requirement of power within Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is only 350 MW and still they do not get power, even though Pakistan generates 4000 MW.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: To iss mein aap comment kis bare mein mang rahe the, protest ke bare mein? (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) So you were asking for comments about the protest?

Anil Singh: Protest ke baare mein Sir wo Hindustan Sarkar ka sahyog chahte hein Pak adhikrit Kashmir ke log. (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir, comments with regard to the protest and also the people of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir want the support of Government of India.

Saurav: Sir, Saurav from ANI. Sir Pakistan Foreign Minister sharply reacted on Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement on PoK.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Sorry, I didn't get that. Which statement, who has reacted sharply?

Saurav: Sir, Pakistan Foreign Minister.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: On which statement did he react?

Saurav: That is some, Hum vahan bhi pooja karenge (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) That we will worship there - Sharda Mata Mandir in Pakistan.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: That statement yes, that’s the one. Fair enough. And you would like me to do what? React to it.

Neeraj: Sir Neeraj hoon News 18 India se. Kya sitambar mein SCO ki jo baithak hogi usmein hum ummid kar sakte hai ki pradhanmantri Narendra Modi aur chini rashtrapati XI Jinping ki mulakat hogi. Ummid ki jaa sakti hai kyonki abhi videsh mantriyon ki baithak chal rahi hai. (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir Neeraj from News 18 India, can we expect Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping to meet in the SCO meeting in September? It can be expected because the meeting of the foreign ministers is going on right now.

Sudhi Ranjan: Sir Sudhi Ranjan from Bloomberg. Sir, any updates that you can give us on bilateral of the External Affairs Minister with that of Pakistan?

Speaker 1: Sir, has there been any specific request from the Pakistan Foreign Ministry for bilateral?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Same question.

Speaker 1: Yeah, but basically, you know, that a couple of months back their Foreign Minister had wondered whether it would be wise not to talk to India at all. So in that context, I'm asking.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay, let me take this round of questions. I know I have a few more. Okay. Let me take the easy ones. I think by now, you know what I'm going to say on all the bilateral and other things. However External Affairs Minister, we have announced already, he's going to be visiting Tashkent, in fact, shortly, I think he has just about left or leaving for attending the SCO Foreign Ministers meeting, which is scheduled from now till tomorrow evening or Saturday morning. On the bilateral meetings and other engagements, look, as I said, stay tuned, we will update you as the visit unfolds. At this point, I'm not in a position to share his program or what bilaterals he may have or other engagements actually, during the visit that he may have. We have indicated to you broad elements of what he would be doing, but I think you would have to bear with us till such time we are in a position to share more information on those bilateral that you're talking about. So that I think takes care of at least a lot of these questions, which are all very simple. I'm not aware of any particular requests that we have received from Pakistan vis a vis meeting. But again, I could be wrong we will see when he reaches there. There was a question regarding, same I think Yeshi, your question was that again, similar on External Affairs Minister's meeting or not, with Chinese Foreign Minister. Again, I don't have anything to share at this moment as and when it happens or at an appropriate time, we will let you know. I think that covers most of these questions.

On Sidhant’s question, this was on the issue of Chess Olympiad, right? Look, this is something that's actually just, I think just came out right now as we were looking at it. Let me put it this way. It is surprising that Pakistan has suddenly taken this decision, not to participate in FIDE Chess Olympiad, particularly after the team has already reached India. Insofar as their argument being, given that the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh of course have, have been, are, and will remain an integral part of India. It is highly unfortunate that Pakistan has politicized a prestigious international event by making such statements and withdrawing its participation after its team has already reached India. So, I think that would capture what we want to say on that. My understanding is that the team did reach or is reaching India. That's the understanding, but look, you have to check with the team. I was told that the team is, is actually here, but again, if they've withdrawn, so maybe the team will go back. But as I said, I think it's a politicization of this activity.

There was a query, Saurav you were asking about Pak reaction. Look, I think our position is pretty clear on this, on the fact that, the entire Union territory of Jammu & Kashmir as well as Ladakh are integral parts of India. And I don't think there's much clarification required on RM's comment. I certainly am not going to comment on what RM said. I think RM talked about that being a part of India and we of course reject any statement by Pakistan’s side that does not recognize this reality of our position. I think that has been very clear. And as I've said it in the case just now regarding the Chess Olympiad.

Neeraj aapka prashn tha SCO mein, SCO september mein summit mein PM or XI jinping. Ismen aap bhi jaante hai main kya kahane vala hoon. Abhi to door ki baat hai, videshamantri ka ye pehle visit ho jaye. Pradhanmantri jayenge unke baare mein, unke visit ke baare mein abhi nahi pata aur uske baad kya hogi us visit mein abhi aapko wait karna hoga (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Your question, Neeraj, was on PM and Xi Jinping’s meeting in the SCO Summit in September. You also know what I am going to say on this. It is still distant, let the External Affairs Minister’s visit be over first. We do not know about the visit of the Prime Minister yet and what will happen during that, you will have to wait for it.

Anil ji aapne puchha tha Pakistan, POK ke baare mein. Dekhiye aapka question bahut specific hai, mujhe unke power requirement ka na to andaza hai par main yeh keh sakta hoon ki hamari taraf se to koi pabandi nahi hai. Humne to trade or better business contacts k liye hamesha kaha hai, jab terrorism nahi ho. Par unke paas kis tarah se power ka woh kar rahe hai uske bare mujhe detail nahi maloom hai. Par hum chahenge ki vahan ke log, abhi maine Neeraj ko bhi kaha ki Pakistan occupied Kashmir bilkul India ka integral part mante hai or hamari ye position rahegi par usmen abhi kiss tarah se unke power hum bhej sakte hai main uss pe comment nahi kar paaunga. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Anil ji, you asked about the Pakistan, POK? Look, your question is very specific, I don’t know about their power requirement, but I can say that there are no restrictions from our side. We have always talked about trade and better business contacts, when there is no terrorism. But how they are distributing the power I don’t have the details about it. Just now, I told Neeraj that Pakistan occupied Kashmir is an integral part of India and this has been our position, but how can we supply power to them now, I will not be able to comment on that.

Madhurendra: Madhurendra main News Nation se. Mera sawal abhi haal ke diye gaye videsh mantralay ke bayaan se juda hua hai jo objection CPEC main third party ki entry ko lekar India ne raise kiya hai. Toh kya sirf jis bayan ko videsh mantralay ne diya hai, kya hum sirf usi bayan ke sath rahenge ya hamare pass modus operandi ke ki kya hum action le sakte hai agar CPEC mein third party ki entry China deta hai aur Pakistan usko join karta hai to kya hum koi kada action le sakte hai. Isi cheese mein doosra sawal hamara ye bhi hai ki lagatar dekha ja raha hai Chinese company hain unki activity badhi hai or particularly 32 infantry brigade hai unka vahan par dekha ja raha hai ki Chinese company jo hai vahan par infrastructure ka nirman kar rahi hai jo ki Muzaffarabad aur Athmuqam jo POK ka hai vahan par dekha ja raha hai to ye chinese activity vahan par lagatar badh rahi hai, ispe kya reaction hai aapka? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) I am Madhurendra from News Nation. My question is related to the recent statement of the Ministry of External Affairs which is regarding the objections raised by India on entry of the third parties in the CPEC. So, will we just stick to the statement that the Ministry of External Affairs has made, or can we have a modus operandi wherein we can take action if China gives entry to the third party in the CPEC and Pakistan also joins it, can we take any strong action? The second question related to it is that it is being constantly seen that Chinese companies have increased their activity, particularly under their 32 infantry brigades. It is being seen that the Chinese companies are building infrastructure there, in Muzaffarabad and Athmuqam in PoK. So, Chinese activity is constantly increasing there, what is your reaction to it?

Devirupa: Hi, this is Devirupa from The Wire. I just want to ask your reaction to the execution of pro-democracy activists in Myanmar. We have seen the reaction from ASEAN which has termed it highly reprehensible and expressed concern and trouble about it. Would India be giving a statement on it?

Shailesh Kumar: Sir, I’m Shailesh from National Defence. Just an extension to Madhurendra’s question. Sir, there have been earlier attempt by the Chinese and Pakistanis to lure Saudi Arabia and UAE to join CPEC. Do you have any hint that they may be attempting some countries…?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Saudi Arabia and which one you said?

Shailesh Kumar: UAE. If they attempt to lure any other country, what concrete action would we be taking to desist, and secondly sir, there have been unabated development going on in continuation with what the Chinese and Pakistanis have been doing.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Where, what?

Shailesh Kumar: To develop CPEC, and there have been lot of news and sources’ confirmation that Chinese military is present out there in Pakistan, in those areas where the development is taking place for the CPEC. So what reaction do you have for that sir?

Sir, Times Now. You are aware of the chaos and confusion in Sri Lanka. At this point Chinese so-called research scientific research vessel called Yuan Wang 5 is poised to enter Hambantota on 11th August for a week. Now, is this something that the Indian government will watch closely?

Nayanima: Nayanima from The Print. Last week, you did mention about the snooping issue that is going on in Mauritius. However, since then a lot has happened, the opposition is up in arms against the Prime Minister. And today there's a discussion on the Agalega islands in the parliament. Would you like to react anything on that? Thank you.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: You talked about two separate issues.

Nayanima: Both issues are connected.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I'm not aware. Okay. Let me take this round of questions. I wasn't sure Shailesh & Madhurendra Ji aapka bhi ye prashn tha. Dekhiye CPEC par ek kafi clear statement hamara pichle hafte aaya tha jisme hamane do cheeze kafi clarity se kahi thi ek ki Jammu aur Kashmir mein Pakistan Occupied Kashmir jo hai usmein is tarah ke koi activities ho toh woh hamara sovereignty and territorial integrity ke khilaf hai to usmein hum object karte hai. Aur doosra ki koi teesri desh ismen na jude kyoki hum pahle chetavani de rahe hai ki ye hamare sovereignty ki baat hai. Isase jyada mere paas kehne ke liye nahi hai. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Shailesh and Madhurendra ji, this was your question. Look, a very clear statement on CPEC came last week, in which we said two things very clearly, one is that if there is any such activity in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, then it is against our sovereignty and territorial integrity and so we object it. And the other, that no third country should be involved in it, we are giving this warning in advance because it is a matter of our sovereignty. More than this, I don’t have to add anything.

Shailesh put it more directly what action will we take? I'm not going to speculate, sorry. This is neither the forum nor I’m the authorized person, except to emphasize that Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, as we said, the entire Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir is part of India and we object and we strongly reject these ideas of trying to get third countries involved in it. You would've seen a very clear statement. I think it's pretty clear in terms of what we want to say, and I would not go beyond that. I think it's pretty clear. So I think I'll just stop at that. There were questions related to Chinese military being there etc. Look, all of it relates to the same basic core element that there are activities or projects in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir, which we object to and we reject. This is a violation or infringes on our sovereignty and territorial integrity. So I think I just repeat that element.

Devirupa you asked about Myanmar, right? I think the execution of four people. We haven't issued anything, but since you asked, we have noted of course, these developments in Myanmar with deep concern. As a neighbouring country of Myanmar, we have always highlighted the need for a peaceful resolution to the issue. The rule of law and democratic process must be upheld. As a friend of the people of Myanmar we will continue to support Myanmar's return to democracy and stability. So I think, I’ll just emphasize those points.

Shrinjoy, you mentioned about a research vessel. This is the one which is coming to Hambantota port next week?

Shrinjoy: Yes.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I wasn't sure how to respond to that specific thing. Let me make a very specific point. We are aware of reports of a proposed visit by this vessel at Hambantota port, in August. Let me just say that government carefully monitors any development having a bearing on India's security and economic interests and takes all necessary measures to safeguard them. I think that should be a clear message.

Nayanima, regarding the issue of Mauritius, I think I answered this last week. I'm not really sure if I have anything else to add to that. If you recall, the Mauritius Government has responded to queries in this regard, including at the level of the Prime Minister. We don't have any further information to share on this issue at this moment.

Abhishek: Sir, Abhishek from CNN News 18. My question is regarding the recent event that has happened regarding Afghanistan in Uzbekistan, Tashkent.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson:
Sorry, you meant the meeting that's happening now?

Abhishek: It has happened like on 25th and 26th, conference on Afghanistan. So did India participate in that? What was the point that India made? What were the discussions, if you could elaborate on that?

Yeshi: So yesterday there was a blast near Karte Parwan Gurdwara again in Afghanistan. India hasn't issued any statement. And a day before, Taliban had said that all security issues are sorted, so the Sikhs and Hindus can come back.

Sidhant: Sir, Sidhant from WION. My question is regarding the recent pact between Russia and Ukraine, when it comes to the wheat export, what's India's reaction to this pact, even though there are questions over the fact that the pact continues or not.

Shrinjoy: Sir, Times Now. Yesterday, Samantha Power spoke about disruptive forces, both in the United States and India, presumably different forces. Would you like to comment on these disruptive forces in India that she spoke of?

Devirupa: Basically just again on Mauritius. I know you've answered one question on that. Just wanted to check with you there was a Mauritian Minister, Attorney General and Agriculture Minister who was here last week and he had met with I think our counterpart here and also an MEA Secretary, Dammu Ravi. I mean, what was the agenda of the meeting? What was it talking about and did they raise this whole sniffing issue that they talk about?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Look, on the conference on Afghanistan, I think the query you had, I think this was 26th. On 26th, Uzbekistan hosted an international conference on Afghanistan in Tashkent, which was attended by special representatives, senior officials from almost 20 countries. There were UN representatives as well as international representatives of international organization. India did participate in this event. This is in continuation I would say of our efforts to engage with the international community on issues related to Afghanistan. During this conference, India reiterated its commitment to assist the Afghanistan people in these difficult times and to provide them humanitarian assistance. We also reiterated UN Security Council resolution 2593 which calls for Afghani soil, not to be used to plan, finance or conduct any terror activities. Representation from India was at an official level. Yeshi, on the Karte Parwan, yes we have also seen that, we are trying to ascertain more details. I don't think anybody has been injured. We are also trying to understand what exactly was this incident. I'm not sure whether it was any kind of attack or not. We are not yet sure.

Sidhant, I'm not going to be able to comment on the pact itself, as you mentioned between Ukraine. But look, I think one of the things that you've seen or you heard External Affairs Minister and others talk about are the secondary or the spill over effects from the conflict in Ukraine, particularly in terms of food, fertilizer, etc. So the issue of food security, and particularly vulnerable countries, and the availability of food grains, particularly wheat is an important element and if this helps get more food grains, or wheat in the International market, I think that's something that will be welcomed by all, including India, because we've also been very cognizant of the risks that shortage of, or the food security, which might be impacted particularly in vulnerable countries. So let's see what happens and what's the impact of this understanding.

Shrinjoy, I am not in a position to comment, I haven't seen the full comments of USAID head who was here. So I'm not going to try to comment on her classification of nomenclature of what she said disruptive forces you mentioned. So I'm going to leave that.

Devirupa on Mauritius, I seem to recollect briefly that this meeting happened. This was part of the regular consultations. I don't have much else to share on that specific meeting, which is actually with other ministries, with the lead ministries. But if I have something, we'll come back to you.

Pranay: Sir, Pranay from ABP News. Aapne pichli briefing mein kaha tha ki Arvind Kejriwal ki Singapore yatra ko lekar aapko application mila hai, to kya usake oopar koi nirnay ho paaya hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir Pranay from ABP News, you had said in the last briefing that you have got an application regarding Arvind Kejriwal's visit to Singapore, so has there been any decision on that?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Jaisa ki hamne pichle hafte bataya tha 21 July ko hamare paas ye jo political clearance ka jo portal hai uspar ek entry aai thi, ek prapt hui thi hamein. Hamein jitna gyat hai ki abhi jo host government Singapore ne dilli sarkar ko directly kuchh nimantran ke baare mein kuchh update bheja hai, kuchh change hua hai usmein, usako sajha kiya hai unhone directly unke saath, hamen bhi pata hai usake baare mein toh, main chahunga ki aap dilli government se hi puchhe ki unke invitation ka kya abhi status hai? Thank you! (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) As we conveyed last week, we received an entry on our political clearance portal on 21 July 2022. However, I understand that the host government, Singapore has shared certain updates about the invitation with the Delhi Government. So, I would like you to ask the Delhi government about the status of their invitation. Thank you!

Speaker 2: Sir, what is the update from Singapore side?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I would request you to ask the Delhi Government. I think invitation is from the government of Singapore. So if you wish I will read out in English if that helps you. As we conveyed last week, and in fact, we received an entry on our political clearance portal on 21st of July. We are given to understand that the host government has shared certain updates and changes to its invitation with the Delhi Government. So I would request you to check with the Government of Delhi on what is the status of that.

Sudhi Ranjan: Sir Sudhi Ranjan from Bloomberg again. There seems to be a statement from the Chinese PLA, which is talking about a consensus on restoring ties. Are you aware of any such development at the 16th round of talks between India and China?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: No. Look, I think on the 16th round, we issued already a very clear statement, joint statement between the two sides, I don't have any update on that. I don't understand the word restoration of ties. We have diplomatic relations with China, but there is something that we are expecting and let me reiterate - disengagement followed by de-escalation and then perhaps a situation in the border, which can be more normal, so that the overall relations can improve. I don't think there's any change in that, nor am I aware of it. But again, these things, if there is an update, we'll let you know.

I remember, one of the inputs that I've just received is on this issue of I think, your question on the PoK. I haven't seen that actual statement or the request for help. POK ke logo ne jo help mangi thi usko maine dekha nahi hai par mujhe ye bataya ja raha hai ki unhonne Pakistani government se help mangi thi bhartiya sarkar se nahi, par dekhiye isiliye main kuchh kah nahi paaunga usse jyada. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) I don’t know about the help that the people of PoK asked for, but I am being told that they had asked for help from the Pakistani government, not from the Indian government, but look, that is why I will not be able to say anything other than that. Thank you!

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