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Transcript of Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson on Prime Minister’s Forthcoming Visit to USA (September 23, 2014)

September 24, 2014

Official Spokesperson (Shri Syed Akbaruddin):Good afternoon friends and thank you very much for being here this afternoon for our regular interaction. As you are aware, the focus of this afternoon’s briefing would be the Prime Minister’s forthcoming visit to New York and Washington. I have here with me my colleague Ms K. Nandini Singla who is Director (Americas) to respond to any specific questions that you may have on that part.

Before I begin I would like to make the ground rules very clear and those are that I will make some opening remarks following which if any of you like to ask any questions on the subject of the opening remarks we are willing to answer. Following that if there are any other questions that you want to ask on anything else, I will try and answer them. As you are all aware, it is one-person, one question. So, please be careful with your questions; choose them wisely. I am certain that you will do so because you are all used to following that norm. With those introductory remarks let me start.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will be travelling to New York and Washington from the 26th to the 30th of this month. For conceptual clarity what we will do is make two separate elements of this programme in a sequential order. I will first talk about his discussions at the United Nations and participation in the United Nations, following which we will take up the other elements of his programme in New York and in Washington.

At the United Nations Prime Minister will be participating in the 69thSession of the United Nations General Assembly which begins today. The Session is presided by the Foreign Minister of Uganda Mr. Sam Kutesa who, as those of you who follow foreign policy are aware, had recently visited India and had met the External Affairs Minister and the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister’s participation in the United Nations General Assembly will be in the segment which is called the General Debate. This segment runs from the 24thof this month to the 30th. Prime Minister himself is expected to address the General Assembly on the 27th in the morning.

The theme of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly is: Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda. In essence, the focus of this year’s United Nations General Assembly will be on negotiations of this agenda which is expected to replace the Millennium Development Goals once it is agreed to.

The Post 2015 Development Agenda would be the world’s view on development priorities for the next decade and half and, therefore, for us it is an important area of engagement. It will have a bearing on the nature of international cooperation including on generation and utilisation of international resources for development. It will also set the normative approach for multilateral cooperation on global public goods and sharing of global resources for development. Obviously India has high stakes in these issues.

Prime Minister’s presence at the United Nations is an affirmation of our abiding commitment to multilateralism. At the United Nations it is expected that Prime Minister in his address will outline our approach to this important area, that is Post-2015 Development Agenda, as well as try and address issues which are of paramount importance to us, on the multilateral agenda. And these relate to, for example, the expansion and reform of the Security Council including India’s permanent membership of an expanded Security Council. You are aware that with the 70thanniversary of the United Nations coming up in 2015, there is renewed focus on trying to push the momentum on this important aspect, and India will certainly work towards that.

There are other issues of interest on the global agenda. These relate, for example, to peacekeeping. India is one of the largest contributors to UN peacekeeping. Also there are a whole series of subjects relating to international peace and security which will be on the agenda, and Prime Minister will articulate our views on these matters.

Prior to his address to the United Nations he will also meet the United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon. Subsequent to his address to the United Nations, Prime Minister will utilise the availability of several leaders there to have bilateral meetings. In keeping with his policy of "neighbours first”, Prime Minister will be meeting three of our neighbours. These are: the President of Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, and the Prime Minister of Nepal.

Apart from these five engagements that I have listed relating to the United Nations – that is the Prime Minister’s address, his meeting with the Secretary-General as well as his three bilateral meetings with our neighbours – a total of 30 other engagements are planned for the Prime Minister. In a sense, we are looking at 35 engagements over a four-day plus period that he is there in the United States.

Let me try and take you through those other elements of the programme before we open up the floor and respond to your questions. I will, therefore, focus on the rest of the 30 elements of that programme.

As you are aware, India and United States are strategic partners and cooperating across a wide canvas. There is nothing too small for us to cooperate in and there is nothing too far away and vast for us to not think of cooperating. By that I mean, we cooperate from issues relating to the atom to issues relating to outer space, and a large number in between. You are aware that currently we have Dialogue Mechanisms, which are more than 30, focusing on specific areas of cooperation and collaboration. As part of his discussions PM will address many of these issues and these I will try and list to you.

There will of course be interactions with the political leadership and the US Administration. But there will also be large amount of interactions with the business community, the civil society, US States, US cities, as well as the very vibrant and large Indian community in the United States. I will try and give you a glimpse of what is in store over the four-day plus period.

Let us take up the Administration. Prime Minister is scheduled to meet President Obama on the 29th as well as the 30th when he is in Washington. He will also meet Vice-President Biden who is hosting a lunch along with Secretary of State Kerry. This will be on the 30th. Apart from these three leaders, Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel will call on Prime Minister. So, in terms of the Administration, he is meeting four leading figures of the Administration. Number two, he also will be meeting former President Bill Clinton and Mrs. Hillary Clinton. This meeting will take place in New York on Monday the 29th of September. On the other side, he is expected to meet Speaker John Boehner and the House leadership when he is in Washington on the 30th.

If I move from the Administration and political level to other levels, let me try and see what I can tell you. As you are aware, cities in the United States have a very expansive role in terms of governance at the local level. So, the first meeting that Prime Minister will have once he arrives in New York is to meet Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York. This meeting will be on the 26thin the evening. Also, he will meet the former Mayor of New York Mayor Bloomberg. This meeting is scheduled for the 27th.

Apart from these two meetings at the city level, Prime Minister will meet Governors of three States. Obviously, he is in New York so he is expected to meet Governor Cuomo. He will also meet Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley on 28th, And the Governor of Maryland Governor O’Malley will call on the Prime Minister on the 30th when he is in Washington.

If we move to events relating to the business community, we are planning for three big events. There would be a breakfast meeting with eleven major CEOs of various companies on Monday the 29th of September. Just to give you an idea of the companies, there would be the Chairman of Google, there would be Pepsico, and there would be several others. I would be willing to provide that list once we finish this discussion. Following that, Prime Minister will have one-to-one meeting with six other individual CEOs, all of major US companies and investment institutions.

Finally, when he is in Washington, the US-India Business Council will host a reception for him where he is expected to meet 300 to 400 major businessmen who are participants in the US-India Business Council. This is on the 30th in Washington. In Washington, for your information, on the 29th is only private dinner with President Obama. All the other activities in Washington are on the 30th. Let me complete before I can answer any further questions.

Let us now take the vibrant Indian community there. There are three events relating to this. There is the address of the Prime Minister at the Madison Square Garden on the 28th, which is Sunday. On the same day the Ambassador of India is hosting a dinner where he is inviting a large cross section of prominent Indian nationals as well as. Leading PIOs and non-resident Indians who are resident in the United States will meet the PM on 27th evening.

Also, the Prime Minister will meet representatives of the Sikh community in North America, which means representatives of organisations in the US as well as from Canada. This will be on Sunday the 28th. Three community-related events will be on Sunday the 28th. In addition, the Prime Minister will meet a select group of 10 distinguished Persons of Indian Origin and this will be on the evening of the 27th.

Let us look at what are his public addresses. Prime Minister is scheduled to make three major public addresses. The first would be at the Global Citizen Festival on the 27thevening at Central Park. The second would be on the 28th at the Madison Square Garden for the Indian community. And the third would be at the US-India Business Council on the 30th in Washington.

Let me turn to activities relating to civil society. Prime Minister’s address to the Global Citizen Festival is one of these because there is a huge, huge turnout expected for this event. Prime Minister will also be meeting with leaders of the American Jewish community on the 28th September. On the 29th, that is Monday, he will be interacting with intellectuals at the Council for Foreign Relations in New York. That is before he departs for Washington. Let me add some other events that the Prime Minister intends to attend so that you understand the entire expanse of these activities.

He intends to pay homage at the 9/11 Memorial in New York on Saturday the 27th. This would be his first activity before he travels to the United Nations to address the United Nations General Assembly. He will also in Washington, on the 30th morning, pay homage at the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial, and the Mahatma Gandhi Statue there. All this adds up to a very hectic schedule over this four days plus period that he is there.

The major themes of his interaction would be covering the entire expanse of our relations, but obviously some we will be focusing on more than the others. These would be: trade and investment, energy, science and technology, defence relations, maritime security, and possible areas of cooperation between India and US with third countries because we are focused on not only working with each other but together along with others.

If I were to sum up for you before I open the floor how we see this, we see Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit to New York and Washington as a signal of India’s abiding commitment (a) to multilateralism and (b) of our desire to build on the growing convergences in India-US ties both in areas where we can work together and in areas where we can do more for each other.

I think I will close the opening remarks for now. The floor is open for any questions that Nandini and I can respond to.

Question:Sir, jaise aapne bataaya, Narendra Modi ke kayi karyakramon mein breakfast our dinner bhi hain. Toh, Narendra Modi ke baare mein khabar aa rahi hai ki ve upvaas rakhenge. Toh un karykramon mein unke khaane-peene ke liye kya menu rahega?

Official Spokesperson:Dekhiye, main angrezi mein agar aapko javaab du toh aap agree karenge?Thank you.

It is normal diplomatic practice that when we discuss any engagements which may entail any meals or any other food, it is normal diplomatic practice for the host to request and for the guest, that is the Indian side, to indicate what are the dietary preferences. Let me assure you that those dietary preferences have been indicated to the host and they have taken note of it, and have prepared everything accordingly.

Question:Sir, you mentioned about one-on-one with six individual CEOs of major US companies. Can you just tell us will they be different from the guys who will be attending the event in which 11 major CEOs will be there?

Official Spokesperson: No, there is no double dipping. There is 11 separately, and six separately. We will try and tell you who they are, or we will just give you an idea of who they are.

Let us take the individual meetings first. Although in sequence they come second, let me tell you about the six. These include for example the Chairman of the Boeing company, the CEO of BlackRock, the President and CEO of IBM, the CEO of General Electric, the Chairman of Goldman and Sachs, and the CEO of KKR. These are the ones where you are going to have one-on-one. Now you would like to know who are the 11 leading CEOs who are having breakfast. So, let me try and give them to you. I indicated to you the Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt, there will be also be the Carlyle Group Co-founder and Co-CEO David Rubenstein, there is the Cargill incorporated CEO and President. Then there is Citi Group Inc. CEO, Merck and Company CEO, Caterpillar CEO, Warburg Pincus CEO, Mastercard CEO, Pepsi CEO, and also Hospira Group Chairman. It is related to healthcare. So, this makes for 11 plus six, 17 business leaders.

Question:Sir, we were hearing that he is going to be holding meetings and interacting with some CEOs and leaders of top defence firms in the US. Is that correct; and if yes, who are they?

Official Spokesperson: I have already told you the CEOs.

Question:Akbar, the GE’s CEO is one of the people the Prime Minister is going to be meeting. Even though the nuclear agreement has been signed several years ago, there has not been much progress in Americans doing business with us and a lot of other countries. Not only that, even Indian companies like L&T have refused to participate in the contracts. So, this is primarily because of the civil nuclear liability law that we have at this moment. There have been suggestions that if we want to attract investment in the nuclear industry, we need to either scrap it or make major amendments. Is there any thinking that has gone into this in South Block before the Prime Minister went to the US?

Official Spokesperson: Mr. Venkat Narain, I think you are speaking on behalf of the CEO concerned. At this stage what we would suggest is let him say what he wants. Obviously for us nuclear is an important priority. Obviously for us it is part of our energy mix and we would like to see nuclear energy grow in terms of our requirements because we have a nuclear establishment which is well versed in handling these things, which has a track record which is unparalleled in the developing world. Therefore if there are any issues, these will be considered once the voyage to America and the return is over with.

At this stage, you are aware that laws in our country are determined by Parliament and Parliament has in its wisdom provided a framework, and as of now all of us work within that framework. If there are issues which need to be addressed, that will be taken into account once the voyage to America is over, we come back and take stock of it.

Question:Akbar, in terms of outcomes what are our three key expectations from the forthcoming meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Obama?

Official Spokesperson: Good try! You know what, on outcomes I never say. I already told you my expectations. You can rewind it and see what I did say but let me tell you. We have indicated to you areas of focus. These will be all matters of discussion. I can assure you that there will be substantive outcomes. But it is not our practice to reveal these outcomes to you beforehand. Please wait for a few days, you will have enough to report in terms of outcomes, I guarantee that.

Question:Totalisation agreement, visa and IPR, could you just explain India’s point of view on all these three issues?

Official Spokesperson: This is not one issue, you choose one. She will answer on totalisation.

Director (Americas)(Ms K. Nandini Singla):There are times when you actually miss your boss and today is one of those. He was supposed to be here and I am trying to fill his big shoes.

On the question of totalisation, we are following this since the last several years, almost a decade I would say. We have been talking to the United States about this demand of ours which is that we have almost three lakh Indian professionals working in the United States, they all contribute to the Social Security System of the United States, but they cannot derive benefits from the system because they can only work for about seven years under the immigration regime of the United States while you get social security benefits only if you live there beyond ten years.

This is a legal issue in the US which they cannot do much about. But we have been talking to them about finding some way forward. They have been telling us that the Indian system does not have a reciprocal social security system like the United States which would enable them to enter into a reciprocal totalisation agreement with India. Now, these have led to a lot of technical-level discussions and you can imagine and we have been sharing with them the kinds of agreements that we have entered into with other western countries, for example like Canada, and they have been looking into it. This remains a top-priority item for us because we care about our people abroad, we care especially about our professionals in the United States who are doing a great job of showcasing our country, and we believe that this is something that we owe it to them. So, we have in fact taken up this issue at every level with the United States government, and we will continue to do so.

Question:We were also into discussions for a bilateral trade and investment agreement with the US. Will that be taken up under the trade and investment discussions?

Director (AMS): This is again a long-term issue which we have been discussing for some time now. The issue really is something which is under review at our end within the Government of India. We have a model template for such bilateral investment agreement and the Government is currently in the process of reviewing this model template. There are issues pertaining to sovereign liability and the effort is to ring fence this liability. So, there is an entire technical, legal process under way in our own government. So, pending the finalisation of such a model law, I think we have put on hold negotiations on BITs with all countries, not just the United States.

Question:PM yahan jaane se theek ek din pehle ‘Make in India’ ka bahut bada aayojan karne jaa rahe hain. Kya is lihaj se America mein koi agreement, koi baat-cheet honi hai taaki vahan ke niveshak yahan par aake Make in India ke sapne ko saakaar karein?

Official Spokesperson:Dekhiye, yeh do alag cheezein hain. Ye aap keh rahe hain Make in India ka major event hai,this follows Prime Minister’s announcement of August 15. And this is for all of the world. Obviously there will be interest in the United States once those initiatives are unfurled, and we will take it from there. I cannot say for US investors what will be their areas of focus, but this is a global initiative that Prime Minister is unveiling. And for your information, all our Missions have been told to try and highlight this event because this is seen as a major effort to promote a policy that the Prime Minister announced on August 15. So, let us wait and see the outcome rather than jump right now to what will be a response to that.Aap thoda dheeraj rakhiye, dheere dheere sab pata chal jaayega.

Question:Would you please share with us the Prime Minister’s Delegation?

Official Spokesperson: Prime Minister will be accompanied by Minister of External Affairs Shrimati Sushma Swaraj who will be leaving tonight. She will join the Prime Minister’s Delegation in New York once the Prime Minister reaches there. In addition, there are other senior officials who are part of Prime Minister’s delegation, for example, the National Security Advisor and the Foreign Secretary. Also, it is usual for senior Ambassadors from the United States as well as the United Nations to join in the Delegation depending on the specific areas of those meetings.

Question:The Business Delegation?

Official Spokesperson: The Business Delegation is not part of the official delegation. So, I am not the right person to respond to who are the business community people visiting. I can respond to you regarding the Official Delegation which I have.

Question:Akbar, my question pertains to the United Nations, the first leg of the Prime Minister’s trip. On the one hand we are talking about a new agenda for the General Assembly Session – Delivering Post Development Agenda, Post 2015 – I can quote to you exactly. And you said that they will replace the Millennium Development Goals. Then we are also talking of the reform of the Security Council which he is going to also be speaking about and making a renewed effort. There is a bit of a contradiction in terms there for me. My question really is, what is the point in redefining Millennium Development Goals and giving them a new tag if the Security Council and the United Nations is overall in the need of urgent reform? And does this mean that the Millennium Development Goals which were announced with great fanfare, this an acknowledgement that they are dead, that they were not successful or they were flawed?

Official Spokesperson: First of all, I think this question should be addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations rather than me. I represent India’s view. But let me answer this question. I think you need to segment these two into two separate issues. The Millennium Development Goals or the Post-2015 Development Goals are largely economic and social in nature. In the United Nations system there is a bifurcation in the way these are addressed.

To answer your question why are these being now dealt with, because the idea was, my understanding is that by 2015 you have worked out whatever is possible on those areas of agenda. Therefore, there is no agenda available beyond that. So, what is being done is that all the states, it is not ours, all the United Nations member states have now decided that they need to move beyond, and they have agreed. You may have a view that perhaps they do not need to move beyond, this is a view. However, a consensus decision is now in place that they need to move forward and that is where this effort is. The MDGs were listed, they were not driven by member states. So, there are several member states who had issues with them. Now that this process is on, the thinking is that it should be a member states driven process. Therefore, member states will have ownership and will also use their targets because they have themselves committed to it whereas the MDGs were not those which had been multilaterally, through a multi-state mechanism agreed to.

Now let us come to Security Council reform. Security Council is the principal organ of the United Nations dealing with peace and security which is a distinct area of work. Therefore, the reform of this actually predates the Millennium Development Goals. It goes back to the 1990s. All we are saying is that there is an opportunity when the 70th anniversary summit takes place because usually things change with goals in mind and the 70th anniversary is an opportunity for all the member states to redefine for the 21stcentury an organ which we all feel is important, rather than continue with a system which many of us feel is anachronistic because it is from a century ago. That is what the focus is on. These are not in any way antithetical because one looks at economic and social agenda in the 21st century for the next 15 years, and the other looks for structural changes to update the United Nations in political and security matters relating to this century. I think both are complementary in nature. You may have a different view and I leave it at that.

Question:Sir, on the bilateral meetings, Indian Prime Minister and Bangladesh Prime Minister will be meeting on the sidelines as you have said. But recently three days ago the India-Bangladesh JC meeting is over. I am not asking you to pre-empt what would be the nature of discussions but can you give us some broad outline why this meeting within a very short span of time, what would be the nature of this meeting, and whether substantive issues would be discussed or not?

Official Spokesperson: Thank you, Gautam, for that question. You are aware that the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have never met after each of them assumed office. So, this is a first meeting. You are also aware that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was unable to visit India for the swearing-in ceremony of the new government because she had a prior commitment of travel outside Bangladesh. So, any meeting which is a first meeting of two important neighbours is always a meeting which has its own special significance.

Now your question is whether a meeting on the margins will be substantial or not. My answer to you is, India and Bangladesh are aware of each other’s needs, we are sympathetic to each other’s concerns, and therefore any meeting of our leaders is bound to enhance that understanding and cooperation that exists between both of us.

Question:My question is about the bilateral meetings with the neighbours. Is a chance meeting or a chance encounter with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif totally ruled out?

Official Spokesperson: How does one evaluate a chance and say whether it can be ruled in or ruled out? By definition chance is something that nobody can plan for. What I can tell you is, there are no plans for it. Chance is for you to decide on because I am not in the business of probabilities, of chances, and what are the possibilities of that. I can confirm to you that there are no plans. I have at great detail explained to you what are the likely meetings. Chance is for you to speculate on. Diplomats can only explain in the language they understand and in the language they communicate. Journalists perceive things the way they want.

Question:In the Prime Minister’s private dinner with Obama, will the Minster of External Affairs also join in?

Official Spokesperson: I do not have the list. Once we have the list we will share it with you who will be there. The Minister of External Affairs is the senior most official delegate in the Prime Minister’s delegation, and it is expected that she will be in all substantive discussions and meetings with the Prime Minister.

Question:I know that India and the US have moved much ahead of the lack of a visa to Narendra Modi when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Nonetheless, it is Madison Square Garden event that he is going to be attending. There are also expected to be the same people who protested five years ago or eight years ago against the visa making their presence felt at this venue as well. So, my question is, while the Prime Minister is actually going to be addressing this large group Indian Americans over there, he also must be aware of the fact that he has critics in the United States, Indian critics of his policies. Does he plan to address them in any way as well or through his speech at Madison Square Garden reach out to them?

Official Spokesperson: The Prime Minister is always looking forward, not back. Therefore, what he is going to say at the speech I think we are not going to tell you in advance. But please be rest assured, Prime Minister is always forward looking.

Question:Akbar, you said just now that the Prime Minister is also going to meet the Sikh community and also the Jewish community, apart from his meeting with the Indian diaspora. Are there any specific issues with these communities, Sikh as well as the Jewish, that he is going to speak with?

Official Spokesperson: These are as part of outreach to various communities. For example the Jewish community, this is not the first time that an Indian Prime Minister has met representatives of the Jewish community. I can go back to my stint in New York way back in the 90s when the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao met. Subsequently several other Prime Ministers have met. So, this is an outreach activity to an important segment of US population who have goodwill and has been supportive of India in the United States.

Question:Sir, Japan will be investing USD 35 billion, China said they will be investing USD 20 billion, and given the list you said that the two countries would discuss trade, investment, energy cooperation and other things, would you like to give an indicative Billion Dollar figure which India is seeking from the US?

Official Spokesperson: Let me try and explain to you. There is a saying in English which says, "horses for courses”. With Japan it is $35 billion, it included two elements. One was foreign direct investment or investment, and the second was foreign assistance. That is the way the Japanese foreign investment policy operates or the Japanese economic interests operate outside Japan. With China it was $20 billion, it was not foreign assistance because that is how China and India relations are. So, there are differences and nuances in our outreach to each of these countries. Now with the United States, we have explained to you at great length that Prime Minister is reaching out to the business community because the way investment decisions are made in the United States are slightly different from those in China and those in Japan. Therefore, our strategies also are slightly different. What the outcomes are, we never announce these before those visits and we are not going to do it now. You got it all wrong on both visits, perhaps you will get it wrong now if you speculate.

Question:My question is regarding the IPR regime. India and US have had problems. There have been delegations to resolve it. How, in that light, are we seeing this visit by Narendra Modi to the US as regards the IPR issue?

Director (AMS): The IPR regime is not a new issue as you are aware. I think you are better aware than us, it has been reported so widely in the media and often in a one-sided manner, if I may say. You know that the American grouse on IPR is basically on two key issues. Of course there is also the issue of enforcement, they feel that IPRs are not being adequately enforced. But apart from that on the legal side they have expressed some amount of alarm about the grant of a compulsory licence to an anti cancer drug of the Bayer company. Their worry really is that there might be more compulsory licences or CLs.

On this front we have assured them that this was just one case and it was the result of the judicial process, it was not the government granting compulsory licence. There are several countries in the world which have issued several compulsory licences but somehow India seems to be the favourite whipping boy on the IPR front. There are several reasons for this and I suppose you would know better than me. But the point remains that compulsory licence, the grant of it is allowed by the WTO under the TRIPS; it is fully compliant the decision that was taken by India subscribed to every provision under the TRIPS norm. So, we have assured them on this front and we have also explained to them that we have a due process and that CLs are not used as a tool for healthcare in India or delivery of affordable health services in India.

The other issue is the provision on 3D as it is called, Section 3D of our IP law which prohibits ever-greening or what we call as frivolous patenting. There was again another particular case, a Novartis drug which was denied a patent on this ground. So, the US companies have also been raising this. Again on this we have explained to them the provisions of our law and why we have what we have. Our laws both administratively, judicially and legally are fully compliant with international obligations, and we take into account India’s stage of development.

We are not where America is today. So, our IPR regime has to really reflect our realities of today and where we want to go tomorrow. In brief, we continue to reassure them that India wants innovation, India sees IPRs as supportive of innovation, we are even going to come up with an IPR strategy. So, we have been saying all this to the American side and we have a very constructive dialogue now which will commence, and we have been talking to them even in the past. So, it is not really a new issue that the Prime Minister would be raising or the American side would be raising.

Question:Sir, you mentioned that in Modi’s visit this time to US both sides are going to talk about third countries. We see that Modi just visited Japan and Chinese President Xi Jinping just came here. Are these two countries are those third countries you mentioned? If yes, on what issues?

Official Spokesperson: Let me try and take you through what sort of cooperation we have in third countries. The idea is, for example, India and the US have a dialogue on Afghanistan. How to work together and support the people of Afghanistan? That is one area of possible cooperation and further extension of that. Another area is in Africa. There are possibilities of us exploring common ways of working together in Africa. Also there are possibilities of working together on connectivity projects in Southeast Asia and India. These are broadly three issues that I can highlight off the top of my hat. That is what we are focusing on when we said the possibilities of India and the US working together collectively for benefit in third countries.

Question:Sir, you mentioned that the Prime Minister had moved on from the visa issue. You also mentioned that he has a meeting scheduled with the President Clinton also. It is common knowledge that President Bush was perceived as one of the most pro-India US Presidents. So, why has no meeting been scheduled with President Bush?

Official Spokesperson: I think location is a factor in all these. President Clinton and Mrs. Hillary Clinton reside in New York upstate. They are working at this stage on a variety of issues. And as I said, we are already working on a meeting with Speaker Boehner. So, that is where we are. There are no issues of this sort that, and I did not even say, I said Prime Minister looks ahead all the time and this is part of looking ahead, if you get the drift of what I am saying.

Question:Akbar, you said that PM Modi has bilateral meetings scheduled with different countries, first with the neighbouring countries and in the list are Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. What about our most neighbouring countries with whom we share our borders, Pakistan and China? Is there any diplomatic strategy policy behind it?

Official Spokesperson: I did not understand what your question is. The President of China was just here. He is not coming there to the UN.

Question:Given the recent threats posed by the Al Qaeda and also advancing of ISIS, you did not mention in the issues which are going to be discussed among the Prime Minister and the President of the USA, terrorism. Given the expertise of the United States in this particular area, is it one of the issues that might come up?

Official Spokesperson: Yes, you are right, it is an area of cooperation as of now, it continues to be an area and it is an area where we look forward to enhancing that cooperation. I am grateful to you for raising this as a major issue that will be an area of focus.

Question:Sir, the Prime Minister both on his visit to Japan and when Chinese President Xi Jinping came here was very enthusiastic about city-city cooperation as well, not just at the national level but also between different cities which can complement each other. And he is meeting Bill de Blasio and a bunch of Governors as well. Are we also contemplating, I am not asking for outcomes, possible city-city arrangements with the US as well?

Official Spokesperson: The US has been a pioneer in this sort of a thing. And you should’nt be surprised if the seeds of the thoughts are in discussions there. Also there is one other area that the Prime Minister is keen to promote and that is smart cities. He is looking forward to working with various American cities as technology partners for Indian initiatives on smart cities because as you are aware there are a hundred smart cities that are being focused on. Certainly there are a few Indian cities that have been thought of as possible beneficiaries of US as technology partners in this sort of a thing. But these are all work in progress, and you will know at the end and as we go further in our relationship with the US.

That ends this part of the discussion. I am ready for other questions now.

Question:I just wanted to ask about China. Just a short while ago the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson had a press conference, a media briefing, at which she said two things. One was that ‘as far as I know the relevant situation at the LAC has been controlled timely and effectively. The border area is peaceful.’ She also termed as wild guess reports that President Xi Jinping was referring to India when he spoke about possibility of a regional war. Do you have any response to that?

Official Spokesperson: Let me answer this in two parts. On the issues on the border you know my view that border issues are best handled by those who are placed there. So, I will not get into the details of what the situation on the border is because they are better placed to respond to it. But let me try and tell you an additional bit of information which is not covered in that and that is, since our two leaders met and discussed issues relating to recent events on the border, there have been several follow-up issues that have been taken up by engagement at different levels in different places by India and China. In essence, I can tell you diplomacy is at work, it is quietly at work.

Question:Suhasiniji ne joh savaal puchha tha aapne us baat ka javaab nahin diya, ki Cheen ke Rashtrapati ne joh kaha hai ki IT yug mein regional war ke liye bhi taiyar rehna chahiye. Us par Bharat ka kya point of view hai?

Official Spokesperson:Main ne shayad usko ek alag dhang se javaab diya. Main ne kaha ki main kabhi border issues par javab nahin deta hun. Aap jaante hain, joh bhi yahan aate hain jaante hain. Joh situation on the border hai voh joh log uskey zimmedar hai voh javab denge.But we also have repeatedly stressed and I can stress again, we are confident that our border security is in hands which will ensure our safety and security. But I will not get into a discussion of issues relating to the border, and I have never got into discussion. What I have said is to address the issues of recent events on the border, diplomacy is at work at various levels in various places.

Question:Sir, the President of China was here just a few days ago. And in this statement he has issued to Xinhua he used these two phrases. One is combat readiness and the other is the ability to win a regional war. Historically since 1949 China has not fought many regional wars. Also, in the context of what is happening in Chumar and Demchok right now, how does the Government view this? Does the Government view this as some kind of threat?

Official Spokesperson: Shrinjoy, I think I just answered this question in another manner. I explained to you that issues relating to defence are best addressed by those who are competent to handle that. As far as we are concerned, I already explained to you that when the President of China was here the Prime Minister and the President of China had discussions on a whole array of issues. And they assessed that they need to take the relationship forward. They also acknowledged that there are issues that need to be addressed, that need to be addressed expeditiously. And I have told you since then following up on the meeting of the two leaders, diplomacy is under way, we are addressing those issues expeditiously, quietly, and at various levels, in different places.

Question:Sir, Congress is asking Modi to apologise for a map launched in Ahmedabad showing J&K and Arunachal Pradesh as disputed area. I do not know exactly who is correct and who is wrong. But what is your comment?

Official Spokesperson: I think it is interesting that you want me to comment on everything. Let me tell you where we stand on this issue. Cartographic depiction of India’s boundary is an important aspect of our foreign policy. Number two, there was no incorrect cartographic depiction in any event where the Prime Minister was present. The MoU that was signed did not have any map. What you are saying is about events after the Prime Minister left. That is not for me to comment about except to say that it is important to get the cartographic depiction of our maps correct. And we as External Affairs Ministry will always request and ensure that any issue that comes to us we get it right all the time.

Question:In an event an Indian fisherman belonging to Tamil Nadu has been killed between Bahrain and Qatar allegedly by Qatari forces. What is India doing in this?

Official Spokesperson: This sad incident happened yesterday. Immediately our Embassies both in Bahrain and in Qatar were activated. They have been in touch with the local government. This fisherman was resident in Bahrain. He was working with Bahraini associates and had three other Indian fishermen who were with him. It is understood that he has died. However, the three other Indian fishermen who were with him are now understood to be in custody of Qatari authorities. Our Mission in Qatar has taken this up, and we are ascertaining the details. Also we have requested for the release of those three other Indian fishermen while the Qatari authorities investigate the death and come back to us. Simultaneously, our Mission in Bahrain has been working with the sponsor of the Indian fisherman who sadly has died, to make arrangements and assist in the return of the mortal remains, and we will continue to pursue this matter both in Qatar and in Bahrain.

Question:Regarding the situation in Chumar and Demchok, has the BDCA mechanism been activated and Brigadier-level talks for flag meeting also is being proposed?

Official Spokesperson: I think I did not explain to you clearly. I said following the discussions between the two leaders, that is President Xi and Prime Minister Modi, there have been engagements at several levels in several places and diplomacy, quiet diplomacy, is under way.

Question:I understand there were meetings between the Foreign Secretary and the Pakistan High Commissioner as well as the NSA and the Pakistan High Commissioner a few days ago. Could you give us a sense of the discussions that took place since they happened three weeks after cancellation of the Foreign Secretary level talks?

Official Spokesperson: I think process should not be mixed with substance. Yes, there were meetings, these were in the nature of courtesy calls requested by the Pakistani High Commissioner and they were granted. As regards substance, you know our view and that view is that we feel it was not proper for the Pakistani High Commissioner to make a spectacle of his discussions with the Hurriyat. We had taken adverse notice of it and responded to it appropriately.

Question:To what extent would the Global Investors Summit taking place in Madhya Pradesh in the coming weeks serve to expedite the investment commitments made by several countries?

Official Spokesperson: Your guess is as good as mine.

Question:Yesterday it was reported that the Indo-China Media Dialogue was postponed due to the…(Inaudible)… I would like to have your comment on that?

Official Spokesperson: First of all, there was no India-China media dialogue. There is an India-China Media Forum which the Government of India on one hand and the Government of China on the other hand participate in along with media representatives from both sides. And many of you have participated in that forum here in Jawaharlal Nehru Bhavan last year. We are committed to working on a similar forum in Beijing or in China subject to a mutually convenient time. So, that is the media part.

Now what you are referring to is a private initiative which has run into some procedural issues. My understanding is that the organisers of that conference were requested that if they could have it at a slightly delayed time, the procedures could be completed. That is all there is to it. They are welcome. And through you I can tell them they are welcome to have it in a week or ten days time when the procedures are ready. It is a choice that they have to make. And please do not mix substance with procedure. There is no intention for us to stop any interaction. When we are directly interacting, as I just told you, at all levels, we would appreciate and support any media interaction between India and China – here, in China, anywhere.

With that we come to the end of this discussion. Thank you very much.


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