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Transcript of Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (February 18, 2016)

February 18, 2016

Official Spokesperson (Shri Vikas Swarup): Good afternoon and welcome to this weekly press briefing. I do not have any opening announcements to make, so we can dive straight into the Q&A.

Question: Nepal ke Pradhan Mantri aarahehaintohunkakaryakramkyahai, kinsemilenge, kahankahandaurakarenge, aurkistarahkiapekshayein Bharat kohain?

Official Spokesperson:As you know, Prime Minister of Nepal Shri K.P. Sharma Oli is paying a State visit to India from 19th to the 24th of February. This would be his visit abroad after taking over as Prime Minister in October 2015. It would also be the first bilateral visit of a Nepali Prime Minister to India since Baburam Bhattarai’s visit in October 2011.

Former Prime Minister - Late Prime Minister -SushilKoirala had visited India in May 2014 for the swearing in of our Prime Minister. And as you know, Prime Minister Modi had visited Nepal in August 2014 for a bilateral visit which was the first bilateral visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Nepal in 17 years. And then Prime Minister had gone again in November 2014 for the SAARC Summit.

Prime Minister Oli will be accompanied by his spouse, Mrs. Radhika Shakya, and they will be staying at the RashtrapatiBhavan as State guests. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Kamal Thapa, the Minister for Finance Mr. Bishnu Poudel, the Minister for Home Affairs Mr. Shakti Bahadur Basnet, and Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister Mr. Bishnu Prasad Rimal, will accompany Prime Minister Oli. Similarly the CEO of the National Reconstruction Authority, 13 Members of Parliament belonging to various parties, the Chief Secretary to the Government of Nepal, Secretaries and other high officials from different Ministries of the Government of Nepal, mediapersons and business representatives will also accompany Prime Minister Oli on this State visit to India.

The main day of the engagement will be the 20th of February when EAM will be calling on Prime Minister Oli and thereafter he will meet Prime Minister at Hyderabad House followed by delegation-level talks, exchange of agreements and press statements. The Prime Minister will then host a banquet for him. In the evening of the 20th there will be calls by the Minister of Home Affairs,ShriRajnath Singh and ShriArunJaitley, the Minister of Finance,on Prime Minister Oli. In the evening, the Vice President of India will receive Prime Minister Oli. And then finally the last engagement of the 20th will be a meeting with the President of India.

On Sunday the 21st February, Prime Minister Oli will depart for Dehradun and he will visit the Tehri hydel power project. Then he returns back to Delhi. On the 22nd there is a call by Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Power. There is a possible call by the National Security Advisor. And then Prime Minister Oli will make an address to the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA). In the evening, a business meeting is being planned.

On the 23rdthe Prime Minister of Nepal will leave for Bhuj in Gujarat. There he will be meeting Gujarat Government officials, he will visit the relocation site. Basically this is to understand how we did earthquake reconstruction after the Bhuj earthquake. From Gujarat he will leave for Mumbai on the 23rditself. In Mumbai there is a meeting with the Governor of Maharashtra and a dinner hosted by the Governor in his honour. The next day he has some business meetings. And then directly from Mumbai he will depart back for Kathmandu. This is the overall programme of the visit of Prime Minister Oli.

During the visit we expect discussions on all issues of mutual interest, bilateral cooperation, particularly in the key areas of energy, connectivity and people-to-people linkages will form the main focus of the visit.

I think that will give you enough information on the visit of Prime Minister Oli.

Question: After you reacted on F-16 sale by America to Pakistan, Pakistan expressed surprise and said that India is the single largest importer of weapons in the world, so how come you can object to this. Secondly, when you conveyed your displeasure to US, have you also said that this kind of sale would hamper defence deals with India?

Official Spokesperson: First of all, we are not surprised at the Pakistani reaction, I suppose that was along expected lines. As far as the US is concerned, as you know, Foreign Secretary had called in the US Ambassador Mr. Richard Verma and we very frankly conveyed our concerns to him. Those concerns have already been articulated in our press statement which was issued the same day. Basically we had a very frank discussion on this particular issue.

Question: But will this have an impact on our defence relationship with the US?

Official Spokesperson: Our relationship with the US is very broad based. It is not a single issue relationship. Obviously this decision of the US is very unfortunate and it will certainly convey a negative sentiment. But, as I said, we do not have a single point agenda with the US.

Question: Isi savaalkoaagebadhate hue, iske response mein America ne kahahai, kalka statement hai Pentagon ka, ki Pakistan kesaathhamaararelationship alaghai, India kesaathalaghai, aurjo F-16 sale hai Pakistan ko, Bharat keliyezyadabada concern nahinhonachahiye. Isparaapka reactionkyahai?

Official Spokesperson: Mera reaction vahihaijohumnekahahaikihamaareliye concern haiaur hum unkerationale se sahmatnahinhain. Vokehtehainki F-16 terrorism keviruddhjoyuddhhorahahaiusmeinistemalhoga. Hum is rationale se sahmatnahinnain.

Question: There has been a growing global reaction from academicians abroad, prestigious universities in England and the US, and also from Amnesty International on the developments in JNU. So, are you going to react to this growing reaction from abroad as to why ...

Official Spokesperson: The matter is under investigation, I am not going to make any reaction.

Question: Jo nikatbhavishyakisambhavnayeinhain, savaalusi se shuruhotatha, lekinaajthoda latehogaya. Us par doh updates thein. Ektohaaj Ambassador hain Bharat keunhon ne kahakijalditareekh tai hogi, aurkal Nawaz Sharif ne yehbayandiyakijohKargilhamlathadarasalvo agar Ataljikijagahhotetohvobhiyahibayandetekipeeth par chhurabhonkagaya. Ye do issues par kya reaction hai?

Official Spokesperson: Nawaz Shariefji ne jokahahaivoekaisatathyahaijisse sab avagatthei, sabkopata hi tha, unhon ne sirfuskipushtikihai. Toh us par meritippaniyahihogikiunhon ne jokahahaivopushtikihaiekaisetathyaki, ekaisesachkijisse hum sab avagatthei.

AurjahantakaapnepoochhahaikiVideshSachivonkibaithakkabhogi, tohuspardononVideshSachivekdoosre se samparkmeinhain, abhi koi date nahinhain.

Question: Aapnekaha people-to-people linkages. Bharat aur Nepal ke beech meinpeople-to-people linkages bahuthain, roti-betikarishtarahahai.Lekinjo clause hai Constitution meinjismeinkishaadi agar Bharat aur Nepal ke logon ke beech meinhotihaitoh citizenship unkodoosredarzekamilega. Tohkya Bharat is concern korakhega Prime Minister Olikesaamne?

Official Spokesperson: Yehaisa concern haijokiMadhesi logon ne already rakhahuahaiaurisparvaarta already chalrahihai Nepal Sarkarkesaath. Tohhamaariummeedyahihaijistarahke do Constitutional Amendments pass hogayehainjiskohumnesakaratmakkadamkarardiyatha, usitarahusidishameinyehjobaakimuddehain Nepal meinunkeuparbhisakaratmakcharchahogiaurunparbhijaldihi halniklega.

Question: The Defence Minister has spoken with India Today and he has said that he is not in favour of any joint investigation team from Pakistan to be allowed into the Pathankot airbase. What is the status of the joint investigation team?

Official Spokesperson: First of all, there is no joint investigation team, there never was a joint investigation team. Pakistan had proposed constituting of a special investigative team and for sending it to India; we had at that time welcomed it. Since then we are awaiting the detailed proposal from Pakistan. Once we receive that proposal, thereafter we will discuss this further.

Question: Has India formally assumed the Chairmanship of BRICS? If yes, when and where is going to be the summit?

Official Spokesperson: First of all, let me confirm that as of the 15th of February India has assumed the Chairmanship of BRICS for the next 11 months. We still do not have a date and a venue for the BRICS summit which, as you know, will be held in India. As soon as it is finalised, we will let you know.

Question: Twitter has been showing Jammu as part of Pakistan. Have you taken it up with Twitter?

Official Spokesperson:I am sure it would have been taken up with Twitter. We ourselves do not do this, another Division does this, but I am sure this would be taken up.

Question: I am from Nepal. In your words the so-called blockade is no more there between Nepal and India. But there is a report that there is no smooth delivery of petroleum and gas products till now. Do you have any facts with you?

Official Spokesperson: This is not my information. My information is that all the border checkpoints now between India and Nepal are working very smoothly following the UDMF’s lifting of the blockade on the Raxaul-Birgunj checkpoint also. The flow has been very very good. In fact I can tell you the figures also if you want.

On the 17thof February, that is the latest figure I have, in Banbasa and Gauri Phanta we had 57 plus 5, in Rupedia, Sanauli and Barhani there were 132, 428 and 152, in Bihar in Raxaul 343, then in Jogbani 311, in Panitanki 180. So this brings you a total of 1608 trucks which had already crossed and 196 which were waiting. If you add this, then you are pretty much back to the level that was there before the blockade. So, I do not know on what basis you are saying that there is still a blockage and things like that. My information is that now normal commerce has pretty much resumed.

Question: Chin ne South China Sea ketaapu par missiles lagadiyehain. Bharat ne iskolekarkya stand liyahai?

Official Spokesperson: We have consistently maintained that all States should avoid unilateral actions in the South China Sea that can lead to tensions in the region. It is important that full and effective implementation of the 2002 declaration on the Conduct of Parties on the South China Sea and early conclusion of negotiations to establish a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea by consensus will contribute to peace and stability in the region.

Question: We just had a dialogue with the ASEAN countries. Did this issue figure in the Ministerial Meeting as part of the Delhi Dialogue and is there any formal …(Inaudible)…

Official Spokesperson: The Ministerial is happening in the evening today. So, I can only report about the discussions at my next briefing.

Question: The Pakistan Interior Minister was last week quoted as having said that they want to approach India to seek your permission to allow their SIT to visit Pathankot. I want to ask you what is our position on this. Are we open to the idea of a Pakistan SIT visiting Pathankot, the site of the attack?

Official Spokesperson: I think I have already answered this question. We had said that we welcome the decision of the Pakistan Government to constitute an SIT. As and when the firm proposal is received, then the modalities of that visit will be worked out.

Question: On the information that was given on Pathankot to Pakistan, that was several weeks ago, what reply have you got so far?

Official Spokesperson: As I said, that particular track is being handled by the two National Security Advisors. They are the ones who are in touch. I am not privy to those conversations. So, I cannot really shed any light on that.

I think with that we have exhausted all the questions. Thank you.
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