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Transcript of Media Briefing on the visit of the President of Russia to India (December 5, 2014)

December 05, 2014

Official Spokesperson: Good afternoon friends and thank you very much for being here for this briefing which is in the usual format. I have here, with me, my colleague Mr. Ajay Bisaria who is Joint Secretary (Eurasia). I have two announcements to make, following which I’ll ask Joint Secretary (Eurasia) to make a opening statement; and I will take any questions that you want either on the announcements that I have to make or on anything else; and then we will end this part of interaction.


The first announcement that I have to make relates to Indian assistance being provided currently to Maldives. Those of you who are following the situation in Maldives are perhaps aware that last evening, there was a fire at the sole desalination plant in Maldives following which there is a major crisis in terms of availability of water in Male. I understand that this will take quite some time, about a week, to resolve. Therefore, Maldivian government, last night contacted the Indian Government. The External Affairs Minister Smt Sushma Swaraj did receive a call from her Maldivian counterpart late last night while most of you were, perhaps, asleep. She did burn the midnight oil and got clearances from the Prime Minister as well as other authorities in terms of ensuring that by this morning, at 07:30, when you woke up the first Indian flight was air-borne to provide assistance to Maldives in terms of drinking water. We intend to have five flights today. The first one was an IL 76. Total of five flights will carry 200 tonnes of drinking water today. The first flight has arrived and I understand that the second one should be reaching shortly; and we will have three more flights. Similarly, we will have another five flights tomorrow. So, there will be ten flights of drinking water to be carried. We’ve also made arrangements for two ships to move to Maldives. The INS Sukanya, which was in Colombo, has set sail for Maldives and it would be reaching there late tonight. It has two reverse osmosis plants which can, in a day, function for about 20 tonnes of water. Also, we’ve requested another Indian ship that is INS Deepak which will leave tomorrow and will reach Male day after tomorrow. As you can see we’ve mounted an enormous effort in our assistance to provide a member of the SAARC and a close partner of India in its hour of need. In case any of you would like further details, I am willing to provide that. That is announcement number one. The other announcement that we have relates to the forthcoming visit of President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation to India on 10th & 11th December. He will be coming for the 15th Annual Summit between India and Russia. What I will do is that I’ll ask my colleague Mr. Ajay Bisaria to take you through to the broad contours of this visit and what we expect in terms of outcome from that. Following which the floor will be open to questions on what I have made announcements about. ​​

Ajay Bisaria, JS (ERS): Thank you Akbar.. President of the the Russian Federation, H.E. Mr. Vladimir Putin will pay an Official Visit to India on December 10 &11 for the 15th India- Russia Annual Summit. He will be accompanied by a high level official and business delegation. During the visit, President Putin will hold detailed talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, both in the restricted and delegation format. He will call on the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee who will host a Banquet in honour of the dignitary. The two leaders are also expected to jointly interact with Chief Executive Officers of major companies from both the countries.

The India-Russia Annual Summit process was initiated under President Putin’s leadership during his visit to India in October, 2000. It has proved a highly effective mechanism for both countries to take high-level stock of India-Russia relations and to impart direction and impetus to them. The last Summit was held in Moscow during the visit of former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to Russia in October, 2013.

The two countries enjoy today what we call a special and strategic partnership. President Putin is known as a close friend of India and an architect of this strategic partnership. This has been strengthened considerably over the last 14 years in important and diverse areas. In fact, Annual Summits are at the apex of an elaborate multi-layered mechanism or machinery for bilateral interaction, one of the largest that we have with any country in the world. The other key institutional mechanism for high-level dialogue between the two countries are an Intergovernmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation, co-chaired by the two Defence Ministers; and an Intergovernmental Commission on trade, economic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation which our External Affairs Minister co-chairs with Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin. We also have the India-Russia Trade & Investment Forum which is co-chaired by our Commerce & Industry Minister and the Russian Minister for economic development.

This is a very significant visit. It will the first Annual Summit meeting between the President Putin and Prime Minister Modi. The two leaders have already met twice this year. They first met on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Brazil in July for what was a very warm and friendly conversation.

Prime Minister Modi mentioned at that meeting that every child in India knows that our closest friend is Russia. They met for the second time in Australia for the G20 Summit on November 15-16. The Prime Minister also met with the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Myanmar on November 13th. Russia is a long-standing and a steadfast partner for India. We attach the greatest importance to our bilateral relations. Our Prime Minister considers our relation with Russia a major foreign policy priority for the country. He has warm recollections of his three visits to Russia as Chief Minister to Gujarat and has been very happy at his interactions with President Putin.

We’ve had intense exchanges with this key partner ever since the new government took office India. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin visited New Delhi in June and in November. During his last visit Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin co-chaired the 20th Session of the Intergovernmental Commission along with our External Affairs Minister. Our External Affairs Minister has also met her Russian Counterpart Foreign Minister Lavrov on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Dushanbe. The Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev visited New Delhi last week for a meeting with our National Security advisor.

Russia is a significant partner for India in strategic sectors like defence, nuclear security and science, including space. Russia is also our primary defence partner and will remain so for decades.

Bilateral economic, commercial and investment ties between India and Russia have been growing but are way below potential. Bilateral trade in 2013 stood at about US $ 10 billion and is projected to stay at the same level in 2014. We are making strenuous efforts to create conducive conditions for strengthening our economic linkages through trade & investment. We are keenly interested in participating in more hydrocarbon projects in Russia.

There has also been a substantial increase in tourist inflows between the two countries in recent years. The recently announced e-visa facility has also been extended to Russian nationals and this expected to boost tourist arrivals further. Cultural exchange is an important component of India-Russia relations. The "Festival of Russian Culture” is being celebrated in India this year and the "Year of Indian Culture” will be celebrated in Russia next year.

Russia is also amongst our most important interlocutors on regional, international and multilateral issues. Our two countries work closely together in international fora, at the United Nations and other groupings such as the G20, BRICS, EAS and Russia-India-China (RIC). The two leaders can be expected to exchange views on the developments in the regions and developing cooperation in forums where we are members. We have an identity or similarity of views with Russia on important global issues including on threats from terrorism, particularly in our shared neighbourhood, on multi-polarity as an important element in the global architecture and the need to defuse the cold war-like tensions that are increasingly manifesting themselves in global relations. India has said clearly that it cannot be party to any sanctions against Russia.

President Putin’s visit is a landmark event and is expected to provide a fresh impetus to the existing excellent bilateral relations between our two countries. A dominant theme of this Summit will be the spelling out by the two leaders of a joint vision of our relationship for the next decade. It will provide a roadmap for enhancing the partnership between our two countries to qualitatively new levels. It will have a strong focus on redefining the economic partnership between our countries. Several documents are under preparation for signing at the Summit, in the fields of defence, nuclear energy, customs, banking and energy.

​​Official Spokesperson: Thank you Ajay. Before I begin, I want to make a correction. I don’t know whether I said 200 tonnes or 20. And if I said 20, it’s an erro. It is 200 tonnes of water for the five sorties. The floor is now open to questions on what I announced in terms of Maldives and then anything else.

​​Question: …(inaudible)...

​​Official Spokesperson: Let me explain once again. Maybe I have explained incorrectly. Five sorties today would be of 200 tonnes. Five sorties tomorrow would be of another 200 tonnes. When the ships reach, starting from tomorrow it would be 20 tonnes per day from the R.O. plant. There are two R.O. plants, so 40 tonnes on the first day, it increases when the second ship comes there.

​​Question: Are we the only one giving water or is there any other country also?

Official Spokesperson: I am not aware. We, certainly, are the first. I do not know if there are others. As far as I know, so far, we’ve been the only ones; and water is the only thing that they require right now. If there is nothing on Maldives, then anything else. Let’s go one by one.

​​Question: There has been a series of terror attacks in Jammu & Kashmir today. Also, we’ve seen Hafiz Saeed holding a massive rally in Lahore side-by-side yesterday. He spoke today again. Does the Government of India have a reaction to what has taken place both in Pakistan and the terror attacks today?

Official Spokesperson: Let me try and respond to you in the areas which I focus on and that is not what happens inside India but what happens outside and which could have an impact on us inside. So, I will answer only that part of your question. Now, if you would want me to say how we see what is happening in this so called ijtima of the Jamat-ud-Dawa; I think I would describe it as nothing short of mainstreaming of terrorism. Let me try and explain to you why I said ‘mainstreaming of terrorism’. This was an event which took place at a national monument in Pakistan. It was an event where large amount of police personnel were deployed. It was an event which was advertised all across Pakistan; and it was an event by an organization which is proscribed not only by India but by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United Nations under UN resolution 1267. Also, it was addressed by an individual who is designated as a terrorist under the same United Nations Security Council resolution i.e UN resolution 1267. If these sort of facilities are provided to a designated terrorist organization or a designated terrorist entity, reports have come that even train services were provided for this organization and entity. This is nothing short of mainstreaming a terrorist entity and a terrorist who is designated so all over the world. Obviously, it means this is blatant disregard for the global norms which are evolving against terrorism.

Thank you very much. With this, we end this discussion now.

(Concluded)

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