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Transcript of Special Briefing by Foreign Secretary on Prime Minister’s visit to Uzbekistan for the SCO Summit (September 15, 2022)

September 15, 2022

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: A very good morning to all of you. Thank you for turning out in large numbers for this very special media briefing that we have for Prime Minister’s forthcoming visit to Samarkand for the SCO Summit. We have the privilege of having with us Foreign Secretary Sir, Shri Vinay Kwatra to give us a curtain raiser perspective and also with us Shri Adarsh Swaika, Joint Secretary looking after the Eurasia Division. Sir over to you.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Thank you very much Arindam. Joint Secretary Adarsh, Arindam, friends from the media, a very good morning to all of you. And thank you so much for coming here this morning for this special briefing on Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to participate in the Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization starting tomorrow. Just wanted to highlight a few elements relating to that visit and opening remarks are by way of that.

At the invitation of the President of Uzbekistan Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will be leaving later this evening for a 24-hour visit to Samarkand, Uzbekistan to participate in the 22nd meeting of the Council of the Heads of State of the SCO. As you all know Uzbekistan is the current chair of the organization. You're also aware that SCO is a regional multilateral organization that has eight member states namely India, China, Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and the host of the SCO chair this time, Uzbekistan.

SCO was set up in June 2001 and India became a full member in 2017. The Council of the SCO Heads of State is the highest decision making body of the organization and meets for an annual summit that is hosted by a member state of the SCO. Prime Minister Modi has been leading the Indian delegation to the SCO Summit every year, since we became its full member in 2017. During the last two summits in 2020 and 2021, Prime Minister participated in a virtual format. In Samarkand, we expect full physical format participation by all the leaders.

Since joining SCO as a full member, India has been making positive contributions to the SCO processes, deliberations and its outcomes. After the Council of Heads of State, the Council of Heads of Government is the second most important mechanism of the SCO, which deals principally with trade, economy and cultural agenda of the organization. India chaired this mechanism during 2020 with the then Vice President Shri Venkaiah Naidu presiding over our Summit meeting in November 2020 in virtual format. During our chairmanship at that time, a number of initiatives were taken including holding an exhibition of shared Buddhist heritage in SCO member states in virtual format by the National Museum, translation of 10 books of regional Indian literature into the official languages of the SCO, i.e the Russian and the Chinese and hosting the first SCO Start up Forum, the first SCO MSME forum and the first SCO Young Scientist Conclave in virtual format. The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, RATS of SCO is another important mechanism of the organization. India assumed the chairship of the executive council of RATS in October last year for a year, and has been focusing on promoting practical cooperation in combating the problem of terrorism in our region.

Moving on to the Samarkand Summit, Prime Minister will arrive in Samarkand, as I said earlier, later this evening. He will attend the Summit tomorrow morning. The Summit usually has two sessions. One, a restricted session, which is meant only for the SCO member states and then an extended session that will likely include participation by Observers and also the special invitees of the chair country i.e Uzbekistan as also some of the regional organizations which participate in the SCO Summit. The heads of the two permanent bodies of the SCO, the Secretary General of the SCO Secretariat and Director of SCO - RATS will also be present in both sessions.

We expect that the discussions during the summit would cover topical regional and international issues; reform and expansion of SCO; the security situation in the region; our cooperation perspective in the region including strengthening connectivity as well as boosting trade and tourism in the region. Samarkand declaration and numerous other documents are expected to be finalized during the summit. They are currently under consideration of the SCO member countries.

Apart from the Summit activities, Prime Minister will hold bilateral meetings with the President of Uzbekistan and some other leaders on the sidelines of the summit. PM's participation in this summit is a reflection of the importance that India attaches to the SCO and its goals. This is also tied to our approach and engagement with the region as a whole. As you are well aware, India hosted the first India-Central Asia Summit earlier this year, preceded by a Foreign Minister level meeting. We remain focused on strengthening our linkages with Central Asia and the extended neighbourhood. And this visit will take that vision and that perspective forward. I thank very much and if there are questions, we'll be happy to take them.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much, Sir. Before we move on to the question, please introduce yourself and the organization and limit your questions, please.

Yeshi: This is Yeshi Seli from The New Indian Express. Who are the other countries with whom PM Modi will have bilaterals? And are there chances of his having any kind of a conversation with Shehbaz Sharif, the Prime Minister of Pakistan?

Sudhi Ranjan: Sir, I’m Sudhi Ranjan from Bloomberg. On the bilaterals will the Foreign Secretary give us a clarification. Is there a possibility of the Prime Minister meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping? And also anything on the bilateral with the President Putin Sir.

Kavita: Sir, mein Kavita hoon Hari Bhoomi se, Sir jo bilateral meetings hain Chinese President ke saath bilateral meeting honi hai or Pakistan aur Cheen ki taraf se kya videsh mantralay ko koi iske baaren mein aapke pass koi communication aaya hai bilateral meeting ko lekar ke Prime Minister Modi ke saath? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir, I am Kavita from Hari Bhoomi. Sir, with regard to bilateral meetings has MEA received any communication from Pakistan and China?

Manish Kumar Jha: Manish Kumar Jha from Financial Express. Sir we understand SCO is largely based on the bilateral talks. In SCO we do not basically emphasize on the bilateral issues right? But still we see a lot of bilateral talks underway. So how do we merge and then sort of decide or kind of reach towards conclusion, which is away from the SCO charter. Thank you.

Manish Jha: Foreign Secretary, main Manish Jha hoon TV9 Bharat se, aisa lagta hai ki Prime Minister aur Chinese President ke beech koi bilateral nahi hogi aur agar aisa hota hai to kya hum keh sakte hain jaise Pakistan ko lekar hamne ek message diya hai ki talks and terror cannot go together usi tarah se cheen ko lekar bhi ab hai ki jab tak status quo bahal nahin hoga, tab tak Xi Jinping ke saath meeting nahi hogi? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Foreign Secretary, I am Manish Jha from TV9 India. It seems that there will be no bilateral between the Prime Minister and the Chinese President. So, can we say that as we have given a message with regard to Pakistan that talks and terror cannot go together, we are giving a similar message that until status quo is restored no meeting will take place with Xi Jinping?

Kadambini Sharma: Kadambini Sharma from NDTV India. Agar Iran ke saath bilateral hota hai to kya focus tel par rahega? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Kadambini Sharma from NDTV India, if bilateral takes place with Iran, will the focus be on oil?

Manish: Sir main Manish hoon Zee News se, mera sawal hai ki SCO leaders boat riding bhi kar rahe hai, kya Prime Minister Modi bhi boat riding ke koi karyakram mein shamil hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir, I am Manish from Zee News, my question is that SCO leaders are going for boat riding, is Prime Minister Modi also participating in boat riding event?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: On that note I will hand over to you Sir.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: This entire rubric of questions relating to Prime Minister’s bilateral engagements on the sidelines of the SCO.

Tatha jo specific aap logo ke prashn hai kiss neta ke sath dvipakshiy varta hogi athava nahi hogi? (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) And the specific questions of you people - with which leader will there be bilateral talks or not?

See all I would say is which I have mentioned in my opening remarks also is that besides his bilateral with the host country, chair of the SCO Summit Uzbekistan’s Prime Minister, Prime Minister will have other bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit. And we would keep you apprised as along the way when the Prime Minister’s schedule of these bilateral meeting unfolds as we go along. At this stage that is all I can share with you.

Main kisi bhi cheez pe apna interpretation aapke prashn dvara jo ankit hai woh nahi kehna chahunga iss mein (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) I would not like to give my interpretation on anything that is highlighted by your question.

But there was this one question with regard to, well, boat is a different thing. I think, Manish from the Financial Express asked about the question relating to how do we balance bilateral conversations with the SCO agenda. I think Manish you are absolutely right that SCO essentially focuses on topics of interest that are topical to the region and doesn't go into the details of bilateral issues between the two countries. And traditionally, if you look at the SCO agenda and also of course from the time that India has been its full member, we have also seen that its focus remains on discussing developments which are taking place in our region and the world. It also focuses on mitigating the common challenges that face the region and in this particular case countering terrorism. It also discusses how trade and economic cooperation can be strengthened in the region. Those are the elements which stay focused on in discussions during the SCO summit, but I don't see there is any conflict between that and the bilateral discussions between the leaders that take place on the sidelines of the SCO Summit. So I think the two are different buckets and they both stand on their own in that sense.

Well, I really don't have an answer on the boat ride. I think it's the Prime Minister’s schedule in Shanghai Cooperation Organization. He is there for a very brief period. Essentially he reaches there later tonight, attends the restricted and the extended session tomorrow and the couple of other engagements, which are relating to SCO summit tomorrow and does a set of bilateral meetings, which as I said, we will keep you apprised of as they unfold and then scheduled to return tomorrow night.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: The context of the question was the leaders who have reached already and there was an event where they were taken for a boat ride. I don’t think Prime Minister will attend that.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Prime Minister will attend his programs relating to the Summit after he reaches there and for the time that he's there. Thank you.

Speaker 1: Hi, my question is just about Russian oil. Is Russia offering deeper discounts on its oil as an inducement for India to not join the G7 price cap proposal. And if so, how steep are the discounts?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: This is a special briefing on the SCO. Is there SCO link to it?

Speaker 1: I'm sorry to just follow up. The Russian side has confirmed that there will be a bilateral meeting between Putin and Prime Minister Modi. So I just wanted to follow up.

Shailesh Kumar: Sir mera naam Shailesh Kumar hai aur main National Defence se hoon, main aapse janna chahta hoon ki kya SCO by and large China - centric ho gaya hai. Bharat ko iss se kya fayda hua hai? or khaskar ke jitne bhi member states hai woh sab Xinjiang se lage hue hein unke borders aur ek tarah se cheen jab se Shanghai Five aur uss ke baad SCO aaya tab se Xinjiang ko unhonne poori tarah se settle kar liya chaahe terrorism ho, chaahe aur bhee samasya ho, demography change jo ki 50% lag bhag change ho gai hai, internment of the Uyghurs Muslims, wo sab kar liya. Lekin cheen overlook karta raha hai hamare concerns ko chaahe wo BRI extend karana ho sab jagah, par wo CPEC mein hamari sovereignty ko challenge kar rahe hain, abhee hamare border disputes hain. To, kya cheen jo hai hamare interest ko overrlook kar raha hai aur apne interest ko promote kar raha hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir my name is Shailesh Kumar and I am from the National Defence. I want to know from you whether SCO by and large has become China-centric. How has India benefited from this? And especially all the member states are very close to Xinjiang. Since the Shanghai Five and then SCO, they have completely settled Xinjiang. Whether it is terrorism or whatever other problems may be - demography change which has changed by almost 50%, internment of the Uyghurs Muslims, they have done all. But China has been ignoring our concerns, whether it is extending BRI everywhere, challenging our sovereignty through CPEC, and we have border disputes. So, is China overlooking our interests and promoting its interest?

Pranay Upadhyay: Sir Pranay Upadhyay ABP News se, Sir meri do choti jigyasa hai, Sir Pradhanmantri ji ja rahe hain Samarkand mein toh wahan kai SCO deshon ka ye prastav hai ki domestic trade ke liye ya regional trade ke liye ya bilateral trade ke liye currency jo local currencies hai unka istemaal kiya jaaye. Bharat ka ispar kya najariya hai aur dusri baat energy security ko lekar kitna mahatvapurna hoga Pradhanmantri ka bilateral engagement or jo SCO engagement hai, kya kuchh hone vala hai usmen? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir Pranay Upadhyay from ABP News, Sir I have two small curiosities, Sir Prime Minister is going to Samarkand, so there is a proposal of many SCO countries that local currencies should be used for domestic trade or regional trade or for bilateral trade, what is India's view on it. And secondly, how important will be the bilateral engagement and the SCO engagement of the Prime Minister on energy security?

Srinjoy: Sir Srinjoy from Times Now. You spoke about RATS and how important it is and how effective it is. Now keeping in mind the fact that one of the members of the SCO is a country we have constantly spoken about and perhaps rightly too about cross-border terrorism. How can RATS evolve if one of the eight members is so involved in cross-border terrorism.

Rezaul: Foreign Secretary Rezaul from Hindustan Times. Similar question to the last question, we've heard about RATS always as a forum for practical counter-terror cooperation. But how do we do this when Pakistan actively harbours anti-India terror groups and China is blocking efforts to list those?

Shashank Mattoo: Foreign Secretary, Shashank Mattoo with the Mint. So you talked about trading connectivity, but China, for example, has more than 40 billion dollars’ trade with the five Central Asian countries. We have somewhere around 2 billion, they're also partly funding a very expansive rail network connectivity project in Central Asia. Your sense of what the economic strategy is for India with Central Asia going forward?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Sir maybe we take this around and take another last round. I'll come back to the remaining.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Ms. Lee on your question relating to the Russian oil and the price cap coalition, India is not a member of the G7, just for the record purposes to be clear on that. Deeper discounts, market pricing - look, we have said this several times at other platforms also that when the Indian entities go out and try to respond to India's needs of the energy security and procure oil, they essentially procure it from the market. These are not government to government purchases that we do. On the price cap coalition well, what form it takes, what shape it evolves into is something, I think which the people, the countries that have floated that idea, perhaps can better answer to that. With regard to Prime Minister’s bilateral meetings in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, I'll only repeat what I have said earlier. We have seen reports that you're referring to. I can confirm to you that, as the schedule unfolds of the bilateral meetings, we will keep you fully apprised of them as we go along.

Shailesh aapka jo prashn tha chin ki kendrata kaa Shanghai Cooperation sanstha ke sandarbh mein? Dekhiye, main aapse itna hi kehna chahunga ki jo bharat ka paripeksh hai woh ye hai ki Shanghai Cooperation Organization ek regional sanstha hai, jisamen bharat ek sadasy hai aur jisamen mukhya kendrata ka ek paripeksh jo hai, ek pillar jo hai woh Central Asian deshon ki centricity hai. Aapki jo tippani thi, aapke prashn se judi hui ki ek desh ne ye kiya, ek desh ne woh kiya, main aapse itna hi kehna chahunga ki jo bharat ke hit hain Shanghai Cooperation sanstha ko le ke, Shanghai Cooperation Organization se jude hue bharat ke jo kshetriya hit hain jo un sadasya deshon ke sath sahyog hai, un sadasya deshon ke bhitar jo Central Asia ke paanch desh hain unke saath sahyog hai, chahe woh sahyog arthik ho, chahe woh suraksha ke kshetra men ho, chahe woh sahyog ya peripekshon ka aadan-pradan kshetriy tatha antarrashtriy sthiti k baare men varta ko le k ho. Hamara manna hai ki ismen kisi ek desh ki kendrata nahi apitu kshetriye kendrata hai toh, baki har desh Central Asian countries ke sath sahyog ka apna ek paripeksh rakhta hai, bharat ka jo paripeksh Central Asian deshon ke saath hai, woh swayam mein apne aap mein poorn hai aur sampoorn hai, aur hum usko kisi tritiya kshetra se bahar desh ke paripeksh se isaka aankalan nahi karte hai. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Shailesh, your question was about the centrality of China in the context of Shanghai Cooperation Organization. See, I would like to tell you that the perspective of India is that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a regional organization, in which India is a member and the centricity of the Central Asian countries is an important pillar of it. Your comment related to your question that one country did this, one country did that, I would like to tell you that India's regional interests in Shanghai Cooperation Organization are associated with cooperation with the member countries, cooperation with the five countries of Central Asia within those member countries, whether it is economic, whether it is in the field of security, whether it is cooperation or exchange of perspectives on the regional and international situation. We believe that it is not central to any one country but to the region. Every other country has its own perspective of cooperation with Central Asian countries. The perspective of India with Central Asian countries is complete in itself, and we do not assess it from the perspective of a third country outside the region.

Pranay aapki bhi do jigyasaaen thi, ek currency swap ko le k or ek energy security ko le ke? Jaise ki maine apne opening remarks mein bhi kaha ki jo Shanghai Cooperation Organization key summit mein jo documents hai jo bhi unka outcome hoga woh abhi under consideration hoga, uske baren mein jab tak cheese poori roop se spasht nahi ho jaati kehna mushkil hai. Main itana hi kahunga ki jab hum aarthik sahyog ki baat Shanghai Cooperation sanstha ke sandarbh mein karte hain to energy security jaise prashn aur baki prashn jaisa abhi aapne uthaya wo sab varta ka bhag hote hai magar woh outcome ka kya paripeksh rehta hai woh jo hai summit khatm hone ke baad hi spasht roop se kaha ja sakta hai. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Pranay, you also had two curiosities, one about currency swap and one about energy security? As I said in my opening remarks, it is difficult to say as the outcome documents of the Summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization are under consideration. It is difficult to comment until things are completely clear. I would only say that when we talk about economic cooperation in the context of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the questions like energy security and other questions like you have just raised are all part of the dialogue, but what comes out as the outcome, can be clearly said only after the summit is over.

On the two linked questions on terrorism, I think one from Times Now, and another from Rezaul, from Hindustan Times. You know, there are multiple ways to look at how different countries assess and look at the challenge of terrorism in the region. You mentioned about Pakistan and it's linked with the challenge of terrorism in the region. I can tell you that if you look at the history of discussions on countering terrorism, within the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organization you will find that both the substance of the discussion and the various structures of the SCO, their handling of this issue has evolved over a period of years. And now irrespective of what a particular country does on this problem of terrorism, there is deeply held I would say understanding and a deep appreciation within the SCO countries of what the nature of this terrorism is, where this problem comes from and most importantly, the need for the SCO countries on their own as also for the SCO structures including in particular RATS to come together and form ways, which I mentioned in my opening remarks, form ways for practical cooperation. And this is something which we have been focusing very strongly on ever since we took the Chairship of the executive council of RATS in October last year. I'm sure you would've followed that the SCO RATS structure has also decided to work towards creating a unified register of terrorist and extremist organizations whose activities are prohibited on the territories of the SCO member countries within SCO RATS. There is the question of databases, which this particular problem involves and RATS as a body is definitely working to develop a sharper focus on this issue.

This was this last question on economic engagement, etc. You know, I have mentioned this earlier also, and if you look at the deliberations of India-Central Asia Summit earlier this year you will find far greater details there, but there are multiple elements to India-Central Asia trade and economic cooperation and we look at it from the perspective of the value proposition that India's trade and economic cooperation brings when it partners with Central Asian countries and these value propositions stand basically based on our complementarities and our engagement with Central Asia, and which I mentioned, one, focus on trade and connectivity and this is something which has again grown over the period of years, quite considerably. And there is of course the International North South Transport Corridor, which links an element of Central Asia. There is this larger emphasis on connectivity with Central Asia through multiple laterals, which connects India with the Central Asian countries. There is focus on business-to-business cooperation, commercial cooperation, essentially through the business council segment of which again is a derivative of the India-Central Asia Summit outcomes. There is specific focus on products and services that we think are complementary in terms of India's engagement, business engagement with Central Asia, this include particularly pharma products, agricultural commodities, oil and gas is an obvious element, and imports of minerals and also the entire element of IT related services and also a new element of cooperation in the field of start-up and innovation wherein India would be chairing the special working group, which means a permanent chair, essentially of the start-up and the innovation working group. So these are crucial elements and we continue to build on them. We are seeing good progress, good growth in some of these areas. But we are very clear in our mind to build them, build our partnership with Central Asian countries with each of them individually and with all of them collectively as also with other countries in our extended neighbourhood, based on our strength and based on the value proposition that we bring and the other set of countries bring to the relationship and, move forward on them. Thank you.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thanks. We just take a couple of questions.

Manash: Sir, Manash from PTI, Press Trust of India. Sir, you mentioned about India's expectations on discussions on various key regional issues at the SCO summit. And it is actually intrinsically clear that China's aggressive behaviour, and increasing assertiveness it's an issue for the region, not only for India. Many countries have actually faced these kind of challenges. So, are you expecting any discussion on China's growing assertiveness in the region, which is creating problem for many other countries? Will India actually raise the issue? Thank you.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: I think, let me close that here first. I think, I'll not comment on your comment, but to your question, what I would say is that, I mentioned already in my opening remarks and repeated it also that the agenda of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization includes discussion on developments in the region, which is the entire body of the membership of the SCO and the areas connected with it, the countries connected with it. And in that India will put forward its perspective on how we look at the region, how we look at those development, how we assess them. I think every country would do that. Thank you.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: And the last couple of questions.

Sridhar: Sir, Sridhar from Asian Age. You mentioned that the bilaterals are still being firmed up, but I wanted to specifically ask, have we received any feelers from China for bilateral meeting. And add on, if I may, you know, the SCO what Shailesh also referred to the SCO is now increasingly being viewed as an organization committed to Russia and China led worldview which is sort of anti-Western in terms of some of the statements, language used in the joint statements. Would you agree that India is sort of slowly being the odd man out in this?

Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: I think your second part of the question I have already answered on that. And I think you need to assess the contribution that each member makes to the organization and I'm using the word contribution very consciously. You have to look at that part of a member country's engagement with a regional organization, from the perspective of what is the value proposition that that particular member brings. And I've already highlighted to you the elements of what India brings to the table. I think the entire membership of the SCO one, two the countries which might attend as observers or the countries that might get invited, three the Central Asian countries in particular have a very clear and a deep appreciation of what India brings in terms of its trends, in terms of its values, in terms of its political and economic advantages that is hugely contributory to the growth of SCO its agenda and of course, its productive outcomes that it comes up with. So I think on that, there is absolutely no doubt. And there is, as I said, a wide and a deep appreciation of that role and the contribution that India has been making to the SCO from the time that it became its full member in 2017, but also even before that.

Bilaterals being firmed up - I didn't say that, that's your words. I said, we will keep you apprised as the schedule of bilateral meetings or Prime Minister’s Summit meetings, side-line meetings on the SCO, unfolds. That's what I said.

Amit: Sir main Amit hoon Times Now Navbharat se, ek savaal hai jise SCO mein terrorism ko leke bhi charcha hogi lekin jaise Pakistan lagatar Masood Azhar ko lekar jhooth bol raha hai, Afghanistan kah raha hai ki Azhar Masood Pakistan mein hai to, aise mein SCO mein kitni gambhirta se is baat ko lekar charcha hogi aur isko lekar Azhar Masood ko lekar aaplogo ka kya stand hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) Sir I am Amit from Times Now Navbharat. There is a question about terrorism which will also be discussed in the SCO. As Pakistan is constantly lying about Masood Azhar, Afghanistan is saying that Masood Azhar is in Pakistan. So, in such a situation, how seriously will this be discussed in the SCO and what is your stand about Masood Azhar?

Akhilesh Suman: Sir, I’m Akhilesh Suman from Sansad TV. I have very small question. Connectivity has been one of the major problems for India in connecting with Central Asian countries. And India is the only country, which is not directly connected to the Central Asian countries. So during this summit, or even before that, how have been you talking to the SCO members for giving access to India through Pakistan, because of this, we are not getting TAPI and many other benefits that we can get from India Central Asia link. Thank you.

Sachin: This is Sachin from Times of India. Since we are talking about a possible bilateral with the Chinese President, just wanted to ask you about the significance of the latest round of disengagement, which has been effected.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: If you can relate to the visit.

Sachin: So I just wanted to ask you what is the significance of that in the context of the overall relationship if you could answer that.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: I think on the recent round of disengagement at a particular point, my Foreign Minister, External Affairs Minister has already commented yesterday on it, so I would not like to say anything more than that. As I said, I'll again, repeat what I've said multiple times and in this morning's briefing that we will keep you apprised as the schedule of Prime Minister’s bilateral meetings unfolds. Let me, I think, stop there on that one.

Akhilesh your question with regard to connectivity, how we would try to forge it, how we have been trying to, I would say overcome the barriers of geography in forging this connectivity. I mean, at the risk of repeating quoting again, what my EAM said at one of his speeches, that connectivity for us is whatever connects us is connectivity. We don't look at connectivity purely from the narrow confines of infrastructure connectivity. I think you are referring to that. If you look at connectivity between the societies of Central Asia and India, I don't know if you had the chance of visiting any of the Central Asian countries, if you visit and you see, you'll realize that there is a deeply held bond of cultural connectivity between India and the demographics or population in the countries of Central Asia. As I said, land route will take shape along the lines that Central Asian countries and India decide to proceed with regard to establishing connectivity, whether it's transport connectivity, whether it's a corridor connectivity, whether it's a product specific connectivity, some of which you referred to, and all the elements that are associated with it.

Dekhiye, aatankwad ke prashn pe jo aapka prashn tha, main baar-baar prashn poochhane se uttar toh alag nahi aayega, ye to vidhan hai isi prakar kaa toh, i think aatankwad ke prashn par jo hamara sangyan hai hamara paripeksh hai woh main pehle hi keh chuka hoon. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) See, on the question of terrorism, asking questions again and again will not make the answer different. So, I think, our views on the question of terrorism, our perspective, I have already conveyed.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much, Sir. Thank you also to Adarsh for being here. Thank you everyone.

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