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Transcript of Special Briefing by Foreign Secretary on Prime Minister’s Visit to Japan (May 24, 2022)

May 25, 2022

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: A very good evening ladies and gentlemen here. Thank you very much for waiting. Apologies for the delay, but the meeting has just got over followed by the dinner, from which Prime Minister just returned back to the hotel. Very happy to join you today evening in Tokyo to brief you about this very important visit Prime Minister has been undertaking to Japan for the Quad Summit as well as for the bilateral meeting and other meetings that he has had. To give us a sense of the conversations that have taken place and the agenda that is discussed we have with us Foreign Secretary Sir, Shri Vinay Kwatra. We also have on the dais, our Ambassador to Japan, Shri Sanjay Kumar Verma and joining us Additional Secretaries Vani Rao as well as Naveen Srivastava, looking after Americas and East Asia division in the Ministry of External Affairs. I would request Foreign Secretary to make an opening remarks explaining what all has happened during this last couple of days of the visit. And then we'll take a few questions. Thank you, Sir.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Thank you very much, and very good evening and Namaskar to all of you here who are present here for this briefing. Ambassador Sanjay Verma, Additional Secretaries Ms. Vani Rao, Naveen, our Spokesperson. I think the last two days have been extremely important in terms of what the Prime Minister's engagement in Japan have entailed. Prime Minister Modi has just concluded his official visit to Japan over the last two days, and he was here to participate in the third Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo at the invitation of Prime Minister of Japan, His Excellency Kishida. In addition to participating in the Quad Summit, Prime Minister held bilateral meetings with the President of US and the Prime Ministers of Japan and Australia. Those were earlier today. Let me first begin with the Quad Leaders’ Summit. I must mention upfront that there was an excellent rapport and warmth between the leaders during the summit. And they all had productive and meaningful discussions that were marked by cooperative and constructive agenda, and a very, very positive approach to the discussions. The continuing and common priorities of Quad cooperation have already been captured in the joint statement that is available in the public domain. Let me simply underscore some of the key elements of the conversation among the Quad leaders. And these have also been highlighted by Prime Minister Shri Modi, during deliberations of the Quad Summit also.

First, action oriented cooperation among Quad partners as also between the Quad partners and the countries of the Indo-Pacific for free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, aimed at peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Discussions during the Summit were focused on mutually beneficial consultations. And as I said, agenda was constructive and the tone positive. Two, support for ASEAN unity and centrality as the Quad and the countries in the Indo-Pacific pursue their shared goals in the region. Three, focus on common efforts to respond on COVID-19 including in particular the post pandemic recovery, and strengthening of health security and health related infrastructure. Fourth, work together to promote infrastructure delivery, as also efforts to bridge the infrastructural gaps in the Indo-Pacific region and do it in a manner that does not burden the countries of the region with unsustainable debt, and unsustainable infrastructure projects. Fifthly, the Quad leaders also welcomed a new Indo-Pacific partnership in maritime domain awareness, a regional initiative to help countries bolster their capabilities to respond to humanitarian and natural disasters as also to combat illegal fishing. Next, shape and build partnership for greater cybersecurity and for transparent, trusted and reliable supply chains across the region, including in particular in the field of critical and emerging technologies. Quad leaders also issued strong condemnation of all forms of terrorism, and a call for expeditiously bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai and Pathankot terror attacks. Also, coordinate more effectively and timely responses to the humanitarian assistance, disaster relief incidences in the region in future through the agreed Quad HADR guidelines.

Prime Minister has also participated in the formal launch of the Quad STEM fellowship, which will be offered to 25 students from each of the Quad countries. Prime Minister towards the end of the Quad Summit deliberations also put forward specific proposals that could contribute to guiding the Quad agenda in months and years ahead. Some of these proposals include - one, need to take solid initiatives in the field of climate finance and sustainable developments; two, emphasize on the importance of building appropriate platforms for the industry and businesses in the Quad countries and between the Quad countries and the Indo-Pacific country to forge partnerships in the field of critical and emerging technologies; and three, informal and formal mechanisms to strengthen partnership among the likeminded countries in the areas of common interest. As I mentioned upfront in the beginning, besides participating in the Quad Summit, Prime Minister also held bilateral meetings with President Biden, Prime Minister Kishida and Prime Minister of Australia.

First, with regard to the bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Biden, the two leaders appreciated the importance and need of regular interactions between the top leaders of the two countries. The meeting was warm and substantive and also a very important opportunity to discuss significant areas of our bilateral engagement and also the important regional and global issues. They also reiterated their shared commitment to maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. Prime Minister Modi and President Biden welcomed the signing of the Investment Incentive Agreement that happened yesterday. This agreement will boost investment by the US Development Finance Corporation in sectors of mutual prosperity. You would perhaps be aware DFC’s current portfolio in India amounts to investment of around $4 billion. We understand it has also planned investment of around additional $1 billion in sectors like renewable energy, supply chain diversification, agriculture, MSME financing infrastructure, and healthcare projects.

Prime Minister Shri Modi welcomed participation of US industry in the Indian Defense manufacturing under the Make in India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat program. A new initiative for critical and emerging technologies iCET was launched to forge collaborations, including with the participation of government, industry and other stakeholders on both sides in this very important area of critical and newly emerging technologies. As I mentioned earlier, both leaders reiterated their shared commitment to free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. Yesterday, the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi also attended the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework of Prosperity along with the President of US and Prime Minister Kishida of Japan. A Joint Statement has also been issued to underline the vision and key elements envisaged in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, are already available in the public domain. I would simply mention that the IPEF framework is structured around four pillars, and these are currently being negotiated among the Quad countries. And these four pillars are one, relating to trade; two, supply chains; three, infrastructure, clean energy and decarbonisation; and four, tax and anti-corruption. Collective discussions, as I mentioned under these pillars, will be initiated following the launch of this framework, and the final contours of this would emerge based on discussions among the Quad countries.

During his bilateral meeting with Excellency Prime Minister Kishida of Japan, both leaders undertook a comprehensive stocktaking of the entire framework of bilateral partnership to carry forward our cooperation in diverse areas, including in the field of defense manufacturing in India, skill development partnership, trade and technology partnership, cooperation including for resilient supply chains in the region, and other areas. This is Honourable Prime Minister Modi's fifth visit to Japan since becoming Prime Minister and his second meeting with Excellency the Prime Minister of Japan. Prime Minister Kishida, has invited Prime Minister Shri Modi to visit Japan later this year for the Annual Summit. In fact, during the Summit, both Prime Ministers underscored the importance of maintaining the momentum of regular high level exchanges between the two countries. Earlier during the day today, Prime Minister Shri Modi also met, in reflection of the importance attached by Japan to India-Japan ties, he also met with three former Japanese Prime Ministers, including Excellency Mr. Suga, Excellency Mr. Yoshiro Mori, and Mr. Shinzo Abe, who, as you know, are also the key leadership of the Japan-India Association. Prime Minister Shri Modi and former Prime Minister Abe, they share a good rapport over a long years of interaction. They met 15 times as Prime Ministers. In 2014, during their Annual Summit, ties were upgraded to a Special Strategic and Global Partnership. The Japan-India Association itself has been instrumental in promoting people to people ties and economic linkages between the two countries. To deepen the link between a stronger and wider India-Japan commercial partnership in a manner that clearly has a link with India's trade, technology, investment and development priorities, Prime Minister Shri Modi held extensive and a wide ranging interaction and discussions with the leaders of Japanese business and industry yesterday. Yesterday, in addition, Prime Minister also had a very vibrant and robust interaction with Indian diaspora in Tokyo.

Prime Minister Shri Modi also held a bilateral meeting with the Australian Prime Minister, His Excellency Mr. Anthony Albanese earlier today afternoon, of course, on the side-lines of the Quad Leaders’ Summit. Prime Minister congratulated the Australian Prime Minister for his election victory. And both leaders reviewed the multifaceted cooperation between the two countries under the framework of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that includes important areas of trade and investment, defense manufacturing, renewable energy, in particular, the green hydrogen, education, science and technology in particular, the new and emerging areas of technology, agricultural research, sports, and people to people ties between two countries. Both the Prime Ministers reaffirmed their desire to continue the positive momentum in the bilateral relationship. Prime Minister Modi extended an invitation to his Australian counterpart to visit India at an early date. I will stop here and would be happy to take few questions that might be there. Thank you very much.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you Sir, before I take the questions, just the ground rules, please identify yourself and the organization that you represent. Also keep your question very, very short and please limit it to the visit of Prime Minister here.

Madhav: Sir, I’m Madhav from Times Now. Sir, a sensational claim being made by Japan. They've said that China and Russia had joint military exercises in the North-eastern part of Asia, even as the Quad Summit was underway, where military fighter jets were flown. Do you see this as some kind of a deliberate positioning on part of China and Russia? Because all of this has happened while the Summit was underway, and clearly, the statement also reflects a number of points which would directly reflect on China and Russia. Thank you.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: I think before we go to the next question, let's capture all the China questions in the room first. So, let's go one by one and then we'll come back to that one in single shot.

Manish Chand:
Manish Chand, India Rights Network. My question is that, you know, if one studies the joint statement carefully, many of these initiatives and remarks seem to be aimed at China. Clearly, there was a lot of discussion. Could you give a flavour of the discussion on China or China related activities at the Summit beside what is there in the joint statement, and also on infrastructure partnership, $50 billion have been committed. Now what about the individual contribution? How is it going to work out? And is it a kind of response to China led BRI or similar mode of connectivity.

Naveen: Sir, I’m Naveen from ANI. My question is Sir that what is the status now on IPEF? Are we a part of IPEF? Are we negotiating it? Can you give us some more clarity?

Akshay: Akshay, NDTV. What were the things that were mentioned regarding India's handling of COVID? Did President Joe Biden mention that India's handling of COVID was better than China?

Abhishek Kapoor: I’m Abhishek Kapoor from Republic TV Sir. Perhaps the final China question. Was any defense cooperation or military component within Quad discussed in the context of China? Or is it being conceived at any stage in future?

Poulomi: Sir, Poulomi from India Today. My question is about the response that came in after the launch of the IPEF yesterday from the Chinese Foreign Minister, where he said that this Indo-Pacific strategy is going to be a failed strategy. I believe it was in the larger context as well, around this Quad Summit and the IPEF as well, but your response to the same?

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: I think let me just get the last question out of the way. I don't think it's correct for me to say what Foreign Minister of another country says. So I think that's the question, we should rather actually pose to them. But I think let me just go back to what I said right in the beginning, that the discussions during the Quad were based on a very constructive and a forward leaning, cooperative agenda between the Quad countries as also between the Quad and the other countries of the Indo-Pacific. Naturally, during the various agenda items of the Quad, the discussions did focus on what could be the way forward for cooperation among the Quad countries. The leaders also discussed the challenges and the opportunities that are there in the Indo-Pacific region. They also looked at how different economic priorities as I mentioned in my remarks, those relating to the COVID 19 pandemic, the post COVID recovery, building of health preparedness in terms of health infrastructure, so that such pandemics could be fought, were discussed very extensively and discussed in terms of what they can do forward. I think the economic dimension of how the countries of the Indo-Pacific attend to their common needs, build each others’ capacities, strengthen the resilience of their economies, how do they shape an agenda of trade, technology and investment that builds the economic capacities, and individual economies of Indo-Pacific region is something which is essentially the sum and substance of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

Somebody asked the question, as you saw Prime Minister Shri Modi was present at the launch of the IPEF. And as I mentioned, right in the beginning, the cooperation within the IPEF will be structured along four of its pillars, and I mentioned those pillars. Now, the discussions among the Quad countries will start on these four pillars, and based on that they would decide which pillar to progress, at what speed etc. Naturally, this is something in which all the countries which were part of the IPEF launch would be involved in those conversation.

I think the question relating to infrastructure US$ 50 billion plus, how it will work, what will happen, see again, I'll refer back to my comments which I said that the leaders when they discussed way forward of cooperation within the Quad, as also the challenges, it was mentioned very clearly by the leaders including in particular by our Prime Minister, that the infrastructure cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, the filling up of the gaps in the infrastructure within the region have to be in a manner that it does not result in unsustainable burden and unsustainable bouquet of projects for the Indo-Pacific. And for this the Quad countries need to come together, and the figure that you saw is a projected figure, it seeks to kind of contribute and naturally, that infrastructure cooperation, which will flow out of this, will precisely address these points that the projects are sustainable, they are demand driven, they meet the specific needs of the Indo-Pacific country.

Handling of COVID - I think I've already answered. Each country in the region has actually responded to their COVID needs in a manner that they need to respond to within their own national context. But I think there was a clear realization that the countries in the Quad, and this was put forward right at the time of the first COVID Summit, which is the Quad vaccine initiative which has evolved since then, to include not just COVID vaccines number one; not just expansion of the basket of vaccine within COVID-19; but three also aspects relating to building up of health infrastructure, the increase of vaccine manufacturing capacities, including for example, particular project in India, all those elements now form part of the Quad’s outlook and Quad’s approach to the entire question of COVID-19. It of course, has an element relating to the post COVID response. I must mention that there was a general appreciation in the Quad’s deliberation, including also in couple of bilateral meetings of the manner in which India has been able to shape a very comprehensive response to the COVID 19 pandemic in India, which includes comprehensively all elements of COVID response, naturally, vaccines to start with, but subsequently the health security of the primary health care workers, the ones who are in the forefront, etc. Yes, there was a general appreciation, but there was also an understanding that Quad, countries of the Quad need to come together to continue to stay prepared as we move along, on this matter. If I may just add, you would also perhaps be aware that Quad countries together came and join hands in distributing vaccines under the Quad initiative to Thailand and Cambodia. So I'm sure such efforts would continue to take place further, they would probably be expanded to include cooperation on the health infrastructure also, because as I said, this cooperation will stretch across the entire arc of Indo-Pacific countries, starting from one end to the other. So the vulnerability of each country with regard to COVID would perhaps get addressed as the Quad discusses this issue. Thank you.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you, Sir. Are there more questions?

Speaker 1: Sir, as far as the bilateral with President Biden was concerned, the White House statement mentions the fact that there was some amount of discussion on how to manage the fallout of the conflict in Ukraine in terms of, you know, soaring energy and food prices. Could you just elaborate on what was that aspect of the conversation? What did that look like?

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Any other such question which we can capture here?

Speaker 2: Sir, my question on the fighter jets (inaudible)

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: I thought we've already responded to all the China questions.

Speaker 2: Sir on the exercises.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary:
Well, on the exercises, this is not the Quad exercises, this is China’s exercises so you need to go and ask them there. But I think just to put that to rest, as I mentioned to you, the discussion agenda was constructive and cooperative and forward leaning in that sense, as I said, they did discuss challenges and opportunities that are there in the Indo-Pacific. But specific actions of a particular thing is something which would appear perhaps in bilateral discussions individually, but Quad was focused on forward leaning partnerships.

Arendra: Mera naam Arendra hai. Main DD News se hoon, Sir Australia ke pradhan mantri se pradhan mantri Modi ki ye pehli mulakat thi, kiss tarike se is mulakat mein batchit hui or kya mahatvapoorn raha is mulakat mein ? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) My name is Arendra, I am from DD News. Sir, this was the first meeting of Prime Minister Modi with the Prime Minister of Australia, how was the conversation during the meeting and what was important in this meeting?

Manish: Sir there were reports of US offering half a billion dollars to India to enable India to diversify its defense supply chains to move away from its overwhelming dependence on Russia for weapons. Was there some discussion in this regard between Prime Minister Modi and President Biden?

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: The question of Ukraine, which you mentioned, I'll again repeat to you that the questions of regional and global importance did come up for discussion during the Quad deliberations. And there was a general understanding and all the countries present in the room discussed their perspectives of the situation in Ukraine, and there was a general and good appreciation of the position that India has taken with regard to Ukraine, which has been that immediate cessation of hostilities and path of dialogue and diplomacy to resolve this situation. I think on that it was very clear, there was no element of doubt, in terms of each country's perspective on the situation in Ukraine. The leaders also focused considerably on the question of the derivative problems, which emerge out of developments in Ukraine, these would include for example, the problems of shortages of food, fertilizer, energy, for example; two, disruption in supply chains, partly because in this area, partly in some other areas, and when you talk of building resilient and reliable supply chains in the region, you are essentially referring to the things so that you can address this cascade of issues which emerged out of Ukraine and Prime Minister Modi very clearly emphasized that it is important to look at the situation in Ukraine. But it is also equally important to look at the problems of the food security, energy security, humanitarian issues that have been emerging because of the situation in Ukraine and Prime Minister also emphasized the extensive aid and assistance that government of India has provided to Ukraine.

Australia ke naye pradhanmantri aur bharat ke pradhanmantri Shri Modi ji ki pehli aupcharik varta bahut hi garmjoshi se bharpur, bahut hi souhardapurn vatavaran se bharpur aur ek sakaratmak varta har disha mein ek prakar se main kahunga. Dvipakshiye sambandho ke lagbhag jitne bhi ayam hai, har pakshon par lagbhag bahut hi sakaratmak varta hui. Pradhanmantri ji ne Australia ke naye pradhanmantri ko unke election victory pe shubhkamnaen di, badhai di aur ye bhi kaha ki chunaav mein jeet uprant 24 ghante ke andar unki Quad mein upasthiti apne aap mein Quad ki mahatwata aur unke Quad ke prati pratibaddhata ka ek pratyaksh praman hai. Varta jaisa maine kaha mahatvapurna thi, sakaratmak thi aur lagbhag dvipakshiya sambandho ke har kshetra mein uska kendra thi. Main kuchh kshetro ke naam aapako bata bhee sakata hoon education for example, people to people ties and culture, sports, renewable energy and manufacturing partnership in the field of defence, naturally trade, technology and investment which is standard tool for it. Ye spasht tha ki aaj ke vaarta ke uparaant Australia ke nae netritv aur bharat ke Pradhan mantri jee ke beech mein ek bahut hi sakaratmakata, prem bhaav, mitrata ke bhaav ka ek sambandh sthaapit hua hai aur hame poorn vishvaas hai ki aage aane vaale maheeno aur samay mein ham iss ko aur majabootee ki taraf le jaenge aur sakaaraatmak banaenge apni taraf se. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) The first formal talks between the new Prime Minister of Australia and the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, was very warm, very cordial and a positive dialogue in every direction, I would say. Very positive talks took place on almost every dimension of the bilateral relationship. The Prime Minister congratulated the new Prime Minister of Australia on his election victory and also said that his presence in the Quad within 24 hours of his election victory is itself a testimony of the importance of the Quad and his commitment to the Quad. The dialogue, as I said, was important, positive and was centred at almost every area of bilateral relations. I can also tell you the names of some fields - education for example, people to people ties and culture, sports, renewable energy and manufacturing partnership in the field of defence, naturally trade and technology and investment which is standard tool for it. After today's talks, it was clear that a relationship of a lot of positivity, love and friendship has been established between the new leadership of Australia and the Prime Minister of India and we are confident that in the coming months and times, we will strengthen it even further and make it even more positive from our side.

Defense supplies in India-US talks, I think there was one question. As I mentioned to you the question of India-US Defense Partnership did come up in discussions between Prime Minister Modi and President Biden, but it was very clear the focus of the discussion was on defense manufacturing by the American companies in India under the framework of Make in India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat. Prime Minister Modi extended warm and a strong invite to the US industry to come to India, participate in co-development, co-design, co-manufacture even absolute manufacturing under the Make in India program and the Aatmanirbhar Bharat. The focus was on defense manufacturing in India under the rubric of defense.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Sir, thank you. Since we are in Tokyo, just for the benefit of our friends on the Hindi question if you permit, I would like to give just a small summary of it. The question was about the first meeting between the Australian Prime Minister and our Prime Minister, and Foreign Secretary mentioned, this was the first official meeting and it was a very constructive, very positive meeting. Prime Minister congratulated the Australian Prime Minister on election victory and the fact that within 24 hours his presence here in Tokyo indicated not just importance of the Quad but also the Prime Minister of Australia’s commitment to the Quad. All issues were discussed, Foreign Secretary read out some of the important issues which are also captured in the press release that we have issued so I would not repeat them here. But primarily this was the opportunity of the new leadership of Australia and our Prime Minister to have a very constructive and friendly relationship established in this meeting and there was a commitment to even deepen this very strong partnership that we have with Australia. With that we will close this press conference. Thank you very much for your presence here. Good evening.



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