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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (July 01, 2016)

July 02, 2016

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Good evening friends and welcome to the weekly press briefing. We are meeting after a bit of a gap because of my travels with the Prime Minister. In fact I am going to begin today’s Press Conference with an announcement on the next set of Prime Minister’s foreign visits.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will be visiting Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya from 07 to 11 July, 2016. On 07 July in Mozambique, the Prime Minister will have bilateral discussions with President Nyusi to strengthen our bilateral ties and enhance our development cooperation.

From 8th to 9thJuly in South Africa, the Prime Minister will have meetings with President Jacob Zuma and other senior leaders across the political spectrum to further enhance our historical relations with South Africa. With South Africa we cooperate and work closely also in multi-lateral fora like BRICS, IBSA, G20 and BASIC.

The Prime Minister is also expected to visit Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg and Durban during the visit. Pietermaritzburg, as you know, is the place where Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out of the train compartment.

On 10th July in Tanzania, the Prime Minister will have meetings with President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli to further enhance mutual cooperation and understanding on major issues of common interest.

On 11th July, the Prime Minister will be in Kenya and will have bilateral discussions with President Kenyatta. Prime Minister will also address students in the University of Nairobi during the visit.

The visit of the Prime Minister to the African mainland reflects India’s desire to further strengthen and reinvigorate bilateral ties with our African partners which were renewed at the successful India-Africa Forum Summit-III in October last year. The visit will provide opportunities to build on close contacts at the highest political level and enhance mutual cooperation and understanding on major issues of common interest.

My second announcement pertains to Pakistan. As I speak, Indian and Pakistan, through diplomatic channels, simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad, are exchanging the list of nationals including civil prisoners and fishermen of each other’s country lodged in the jails of the other country, consistent with the provisions of the Agreement on Consular Access between India and Pakistan. The agreement which was signed on 21stMay, 2008 provides that a comprehensive list of nationals of each country lodged in the other country’s jails has to be exchanged twice each year i.e. on January 01 and July 01.

India remains committed to addressing on priority with Pakistan, humanitarian matters including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen in each other’s country. In this context we await confirmation of nationality of those from Pakistan, who are otherwise eligible for release and repatriation, and consular access to those Indian nationals in Pakistan’s custody, for whom it has so far not been provided.

My last announcement pertains to the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary. His Excellency Mr. Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary will be visiting India from 4th to 6thJuly, 2016. Minister Szijjártó will be accompanied by nine officials from the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. During the visit, Hon’ble Minister for External Affairs will be holding talks with Minister Szijjártó on 5th July. The entire gamut of our bilateral relationship as well as multilateral and regional issues is likely to be discussed during the talks. Additionally, Minister Szijjártó will call on Hon’ble Vice President of India on 5th July. On the same day he will hold talks with Hon’ble Minister of State with Independent Charge for Commerce and Industry. Additionally, Minister Szijjártó will have a breakfast meeting with businessmen and participate in a financial express round-table on July 5th.

Minister Szijjártó visited Mumbai in May last year and on that occasion met Chief Minister of Maharashtra and business leaders present there. Relations between India and Hungary have been warm and friendly from the early days of India’s independence. A number of visits have been exchanged. Hon’ble President of Hungary visited India in 1991. There have been three Prime Ministerial visits from Hungary to India in 2003, 2008 and 2013. High level visits from India have been at the level of Hon’ble Prime Minister in 1998 and at the level of Hon’ble President in 1993. Hon’ble Speakers of India visited Hungary in 1980, 1991, 1995 and 2010. Former EAM visited Hungary in July 2013.

The annual bilateral trade volume between India and Hungary is about $ 600 million with Indian exports at $ 385 million and Hungarian exports at about $ 210 million. Indian investments in Hungary are of the order of $ 2 billion. There are about 15 Indian companies in Hungary with large investment from Apollo Tyres and SMR Group in Hungary. India was the third largest investor in Hungary in 2015.

So this completes my announcements and now the floor is open to questions.

Question:Recently in the NSG meeting, we understand that Brazil, South Africa including China were opposing India’s entry. In BRICS we have very good terms with all the three countries, so don’t you think in coming session of BRICS it will become something of a collision ground between the three countries?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: First of all I would contest the information that you have, that these two countries that you named, they opposed our membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Let me make three points. The first is that we are not members of the NSG, we were not inside the room. The second point is that the NSG processes are confidential and the third point is that we cannot comment on individual countries in terms of what they said in the NSG Plenary because, as I said, we were not inside the room. But we have had bilateral engagements with each of the 48 members of the NSG and on that basis I can say with complete certainty that at the end of the day there was only one country which raised procedural hurdles as a result of which the NSG could not arrive at a decision in favor of India. Some other countries did raise process related issues, but process related issues do not imply that they are opposing India’s membership. It’s just that they have a different solution for how India should enter the NSG. So I would definitely contest the point that you have made that these two countries opposed India’s membership of the NSG.

Question:But what about that one country’s opposition? How will we overcome that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Look, as far as that one country is concerned, you have heard what Prime Minister has said in a recent interview, that our objective is to enlarge areas of convergence and reduce areas of divergence and we will continue to impress upon that country that a relationship moves forward on the basis of mutual accommodation of each other’s interests, concerns and priorities. This is a matter which we have repeatedly discussed and we will continue to discuss because this is an important priority for India.

Question: India is now part of a 35 member MTCR and enjoying same veto power as China wields in NSG. You also know that China wants to come into MTCR, so my question relates to this, if China comes to you to get your support for its MTCR entry, would you like to support China’s candidature? Or you would be adopting same obstructionist approach as Beijing has been doing in NSG, or the membership of China would be a quid-pro-quo?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Look, we do not believe in this kind of deal making approach. We apply for the membership of these export control regimes based entirely on our impeccable track record. We believe that India as a member of these global export control regimes contributes to global non-proliferation efforts. Our membership of the MTCR was assessed on those very standards and it matured within one year of our application. As far as any other country is concerned, their application has to be assessed on its own merits.

Question: On MTCR, can you elaborate the process that India went through? What is the kind of support that we had to look for and what is the benefit that we are going to gain out of MTCR?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:India’s engagement with the MTCR goes back to 1994 based on a common interest in contributing to international non-proliferation efforts related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) delivery systems. We announced our intention to adhere to the Guidelines and control list of the MTCR in July 2005 as part of the Civil Nuclear Initiative. We conveyed our formal adherence to the Guidelines and control list in September 2008. In November 2010, India expressed its interest in joining the export control regimes including MTCR. Following a period of enhanced engagement with the regime and its members, India applied for membership in June 2015. India’s formal accession to the MTCR has taken place on June 27, 2016.

India's MTCR membership is expected to facilitate high technology tie-ups with Indian industry and ease access to high-tech items for our space and defence programmes. In particular, I must emphasize that our space program is definitely going to benefit from India’s membership of the MTCR.While membership of the regime would not automatically entail any preferential treatment from other MTCR Partners, it would create the grounds for realignment of India in the export control policy framework of other MTCR Partners. You may recall that India’s space and defence R&D facilities were removed from the U.S. Entities List when the U.S recognized India as a MTCR-adherent.

Membership of MTCR will not pose any restrictions on our national security programmes. Further, India has formal space cooperation with 35 countries including several MTCR Partners even prior to joining the MTCR. In the coming days, India can be expected to play an even bigger role as a provider of space applications to the global community.

So in a nutshell, I would say these are the benefits that would accrue to us as a full MTCR member.

Question: Vikas, you referred to the Prime Minister’s first interview to the Times Now. In the same interview he spoke extensively about Pakistan. He spoke about different power centers without naming anybody in Pakistan. Now Sartaj Aziz has also reacted, he has said that it is India which is shying away from the talk process. He has also said that Prime Minister’s view/logic are far from the popular perception. How do you react to Sartaj Aziz’s comment and also in the context of Nafees Zakaria yesterday stating that they need more evidence on Mumbai 26/11? There are reports of a list of 24 witnesses needed by Pakistan. While there has been no progress on Mumbai 26/11 and Pathankot terror attacks, how does India look at it now?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: In so far as the comments of Mr. Sartaj Aziz are concerned, I would say that India has never ever shied away from engagement with Pakistan. We are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan bilaterally in an atmosphere free from terror and violence. In fact it is India which has repeatedly taken initiatives to engage Pakistan. You will recall, it was Prime Minister Modi who first invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his oath-taking ceremony on the 26th of May, 2014. Thereafter again it was External Affairs Minister who travelled to Pakistan in December 2015 and held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference which led to the decision to start a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue with Pakistan. It was again Prime Minister Modi who took the decision to travel to Lahore at very short notice on the 25th of December, 2015.

Foreign Secretary was quite prepared to go to Pakistan in the first half of January this year, to hold initial discussions on the modalities of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue, but the Pathankot terror incident intervened.

I am sure you will recall what EAM said in her press conference on the 19th of June 2016 that after an incident like Pathankot, it is a natural and legitimate expectation of both the government and the people of India that there should be concrete action from the Pakistani side, which has not denied the involvement of its nationals in the Pathankot attack. Therefore, as the EAM said, we are awaiting concrete investigation to take place at the Pakistani end.

In so far as your other question is concerned about this list of 24 witnesses, our position is very clear. We remain committed to providing all cooperation to Pakistan in terms of expediting the Mumbai attack case trial and bringing all perpetrators to justice. The Pakistan Foreign Affairs spokesman has claimed that their Foreign Secretary has written to our Foreign Secretary. However, no fresh letter has been received in this regard. What he has been referring to, is a letter that was written in September last year. Our Foreign Secretary had replied to that letter. We keep hearing in the media about the so-called list of 24 witnesses, which are required by Pakistan to progress the Mumbai case trial, but so far we have not received any communication from Pakistan conveying the details of these 24 people. Because of our commitment to cooperate with Pakistan in bringing the Mumbai case trial to a speedy conclusion, you can expect further conversations and communications between the two sides in the coming days.

Question: Why did we abstain at the UN Human Rights Council on the appointment of an independent watchdog for protecting LGBT rights? Does that not reflect poorly on us as a liberal democracy interested in ensuring the human rights of the LGBT community?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: As you know, the issue of LGBT rights in India is a matter being considered by the Supreme Court under a batch of curative petitions filed by various institutions and organizations. As you also know, the Supreme Court is yet to pronounce on this issue. As such we had to take this into account in terms of our vote on the third UN resolution to institutionalize the office of an independent expert to prevent discrimination against LGBT persons.

Question: What progress has been made in the past two months on getting access and resolving the issue around Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, a retired navy officer who is held in Pakistani prison?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:As you know, we have repeatedly sought consular access to Mr. Kulbhushan Jadhav. Pakistan has a particular narrative regarding him, but we believe the circumstances under which he was abducted from Iran remain very unclear. Those circumstances can be made clear only once we have access to him and to me it appears that Pakistan, by not giving us access, is in a way showing that it has something to hide. So I think full clarity will only come once we have full accessibility to Kulbhushan Jadhav.

Question:When we are exchanging the list of persons, are you also seeking consular access to these persons?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:The two are inter-related. Once we exchange the list, matters can then move forward.

Question:Sonu to apne parents to mil gaya hai lekin kya Geeta ko lekar koi update hai kyonki ab Pakistani sangathan ne bhi is par sawal uthana shuru kar diya hai?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:Dekhiye Geeta ke baare mein main aapko yahi kah sakta hoon ki Geeta bahut khush hai aur mook-badhir sansthan Indore mein zaroori prashikshan aur kaushal prapt kar rahi hai jis se usei Bharat ki ek swabhimani beti ki tarah aatm nirbhar banane mei madad mil sakegi.

Is vishay par meri abhi Videsh Mantri ji se charcha bhi hui hai aur mujhe bataya gaya hai ki haal hi mein Ujjain mei jo Sinhasth Mahakumbh hua tha, usmein Geeta ne participate kiya tha.

Iske alawa Akhil Bhartiya Badhir Mahila Sangh dwara ek samaroh aayojit kiya gaya tha Indore mein, usmein bhi Geeta ne bhaag liya aur usne Bharatnatyam karke dikhaya, ek naatak mei addhyapak ki bhumika nibhai aur silaai mein bhi apne kaushal ka pradarshan kiya. Videsh Mantri ne mujhe abhi-abhi kuch chitra bhi bheje hain jo main aap logon ko dikhana chahunga (shows pictures of Geeta at the cultural performance). Ye chitra main aap logon ko de dunga conference ke baad taaki aap log bhi inka prayog kar sakein.

Jahan tak Geeta ke rahan-sahan ka sawal hai, ab usmei bhi usko ekdum maharat haasil ho gai hai. Uske kamre mein ek fridge hai, ek separate gas stove hai, woh apni cooking khud kar rahi hai. Jahan tak hum logon ko pata hai woh atyant prasann hai, apne prasikshan se bhi woh bahut khush hai aur uska usko bahut laabh mil raha hai.

Ab jahan tak prashn hai ki uske Mata-Pita ko dhoondhane ke jo prayas hum kar rahe the usmein baat kahan tak pahunchi hai? Jaisa ki aap jaante hain ki Videsh Mantri ne Bihar ke Mananiya Mukhyamantri ke sahyog ke sath ek vyapak muhim chalai thi jiske antargat rajya ke sabhi police thanon mei Geeta ki photo bheji gai thi. Geeta ki photo dekhane ke baad kuch logon ke sandesh jo aaye the ki woh Geeta ke Mata-Pita ho sakte hain, Geeta ne unki tasveerein dekh kar ke to reject kar diya hai. Lekin ab swayam Geeta ne humein ye sujhaav diya hai ki kyun na use rail ke madhyam se, hum use Bihar aur Jharkhand ki yatra karayen, jis se who rail stationo dwara apne rihaishi ilaake ki pehchaan kar sake, kyonki use bahut achhi tarah se dhyan hai, yaad hai ki kis tarah ka rail station hota tha uske ghar ke paas. Toh Videsh Mantri ne is baare mein Mananiya Rail Mantri ke sath sampark sthapit kiya hai aur hum ummeed karte hain ki is garmi ke mausam ke baad is yatra ki vyavastha hum kar sakenge. Humein ye bhi asha hai ki use rail mantralay ki taraf se mehmaan ke roop mein is yatra ke liye nimantrit kiya jaega aur is yatra ke dauran uske sath kuch sahayak bhi rahenge, ek interpreter bhi rahega, taaki Geeta apni baat khul kar rakh sake.

Toh is prakar aap dekh sakte hain ki Geeta ke lagaatar kushakshem aur uski khushi ke liye hum nirantar prayas kar rahe hain. Haal hi mein Sonu ke maamle se hamari ye asha aur bhi jagi hai ki antatah hum Geeta ko bhi uske Mata-Pita ko saunpane mein safal ho sakenge.

Question: My question pertains to the case of Sonu. In this case there were reports that Bangladesh court has asked for some sovereign guarantees from the Indian Mission in Dhaka. Has any assurance been given from Indian side or its only a goodwill gesture which Bangladesh court has shown?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Sonu is already back in India, as you know. Let me give you some background on how we ensured Sonu’s swift departure from Bangladesh and his arrival back in India.

Sonu was kidnapped in 2010 from Delhi and taken to Bangladesh. He was located recently in Jessore with the assistance of a Bangladeshi national Mr. Jamal Ibn Musa who brought the case to our notice. As soon as we learnt of the case on 20th of May 2016, we established contact with the parents of Sonu in Delhi and we obtained details, including photographs, the FIR of the missing child etc.

External Affairs Minister then personally tasked our High Commission in Dhaka to immediately liaise with the Bangladeshi authorities to meet Sonu and to establish his identity. The mission deputed an officer on the very same day, from Dhaka to Jessore to carry out preparatory work for his release. Thereafter we deputed a small team to carry out the DNA test of Sonu in Bangladesh and of his mother in New Delhi. The result of DNA test was received on 22nd of June and was positive. As soon as the DNA match was received, it was sent to the Mission, which deputed Shri Ramakant Gupta to go to Barguna, where the court was seized of the matter and a case had been registered against two Bangladeshi nationals for kidnapping Sonu from India.

I am happy to inform you that we could complete all the formalities at the Bangladeshi end very speedily. The mission had to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the District count in Barguna and the local authorities in Jessore to secure Bangladesh’s no objection to the release of Sonu. Thereafter Sonu was handed over to our Mission in Dhaka and was then escorted to Delhi by one of the mission officials yesterday. As you know, yesterday he and his family met the External Affairs Minister and he received a very emotional welcome when he returned to his locality.

Our aim was to bring Sonu back before the Eid festival and we were able to achieve this goal, thanks to our High Commission’s efforts and to the splendid cooperation that we received from the authorities in Bangladesh.

Question:There have been reports that in Bangladesh yet another Hindu priest was hacked to death in front of the temple today. Is India taking up this case and I gather from your previous comments that you had taken up this issue of providing security temples and places where Hindus stay, but every second day some fresh incident seems to be happening. What are the measures that Indian government is contemplating?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:Our High Commission in Dhaka closely monitors incidents targeting the religious, socio-economic and political freedom of the minorities in Bangladeshandraises these issues with theBangladeshiauthoritiesappropriately.At appropriate occasions, our concerns have also been conveyed at high political levels, including during the visit of Foreign Secretary to Dhaka on May 11-12, 2016. In recent instances, High Commission officials have personally visited the concerned families and established contact with the local authorities to impress upon them the seriousness with which Government of India views this problem.

Over the past few weeks, Government of Bangladesh has stepped up its efforts to apprehend the perpetrators of these crimes and to make progress on investigations of past cases. As of date, we understand that investigations have been concluded and arrests made in 25 of these incidents and the Government is now filing charge sheets in many of the remaining cases. Government of Bangladesh has taken into preventive custody over 11,000 persons who are suspected to have links with militant organizations or are believed to be sympathizers with the radical Islamic ideology being propounded by those carrying out these attacks.

It should be clearly understood that the primary responsibility for protection of life, liberty and property of all citizens of Bangladesh, including the minorities, rests with Government of Bangladesh. Government of Bangladesh has assured us that they are fully committed to safeguarding minority rights, that many of the incidents are not communal in nature and arise from disputes of a political or private nature and that stern action would be taken against the culprits.

The latest incident that you have mentioned, this Hindu priest being hacked to death, is also being investigated by Bangladeshi authorities.

Question: Can I be just devil’s advocate here? Going back to the NSG, you said that the other countries in the NSG had process related issues. China, at least as far as its public statements go, also seems to have process related issues with India’s…

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: If you look at the statement that they issued, it said that unless India signs the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, it cannot enter the NSG.

Question: Its part of the process of NSG entry?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Well, then I would qualify it as an altogether different process because there is no way that India is signing the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which we rightly regard as discriminatory.

Question: Vikas you said that India and South Africa are members of BRICS as well as IBSA. While BRICS has acquired a profile of its own, IBSA seems to be sliding into oblivion. We haven’t had a summit for a long time. Do you expect IBSA related issued to figure in discussions?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: No, I would not say that IBSA is sliding into oblivion. The general practice has been for IBSA Foreign Ministers to meet on the margins of the UNGA and that practice has been maintained.

IBSA is important to us because, as you know, this is a club of three democracies from three different continents i.e. Asia, Africa and Latin America. So I think the convergences and the complementarities that IBSA provides remain very relevant in today’s context.

We have common positions on a number of regional and international issues and I think that perspective is useful and relevant for the rest of the world as well. Plus IBSA also has a social responsibility, we have an IBSAFund which is funding projects in third countries like in Palestine and various other places. We have provided funding for developmental projects. So I think IBSA very much remains relevant and very much alive and you will see it meeting very shortly.

Question: Sir, Boko-Haram ne do Bhartiyon ko agwa kiya hai. Is sambandh mein kya jaankari mil payegi aur yah kaun se log hain, kahan par employed they?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:Dekhiye aap log bahut jaldi conclusions pe jump karte hain. Kyunki kidnapping Boko mein hui hai, Haram bhi jod diya uske sath aap logon ne. Hua ye ki do Bhartiya naagrik, ek ka naam hai Shri Mangipudi Srinivas aur doosare ka naam hai Shri Kaushal Anish Sharma. Ek Andhra Pradesh se hain tatha ek Karnataka se hain.

Inko agwa kiya gaya hai 29 June ko, Nigeria ke Benue Pradesh se. Ye dono Benue cement company mein karyarat they, joki Dangote group ko belong karti hai. Ye apne kaam ke raste mein they jab inko agwa kar liya gaya. Inke jo employers hain, Dangote group, unhone usi samay Benue State ke Governor, vahan ke police pramukh ko aur unki State Security Service ke jo local head hain, unko turant ittila di iske baare mein. Jo hamara dutawas hai Abuja mei, closely iski nigraani kar rahi hai. Coordinate kar rahi hai agencies ke saath aur company ke saath aur humein poori ummeed hai ki bahut jald hi ye masla nipat jayega.

Pehli baat to yah ki abhi tak koi ransom ki demand nahi aai hai, doosra us ilaake mein aisa aam-taur par hota rahta hai.Ye koi bahut nai ghatna ya bahut apratyashit ghatna nahi hai. Aur is waqt, jahan tak hum logon ko abhi information hai, Boko-Haram ka isme koi haath nahi hai. Local criminal elements ho sakte hain involved ho.

Question: One indirect and perhaps unintentional outcome of this whole NSG debate is that by talking about that one country, we seem to be sliding towards a more pro-U.S. position. We have this American diplomat in town who spoke very frankly and openly, sometimes bit aggressively about Chinese position in South China Sea. Now you have the International Tribunal’s judgment coming on 12th of July. In this context, putting all these factors together, do you think we are becoming too pro-U.S.?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: I don’t understand on what basis you are making that statement. We have an independent relationship with the United States and we have an independent relationship with China and several other countries, with Iran, with Russia and with so many other countries.

In fact, I would say, China’s economic partnership with the U.S. is of much greater magnitude than India’s own relationship with the U.S. So saying that these are zero-sum games, that if you have a partnership with one country, then automatically you are downgrading the other country is completely uncalled for.

In the current era of globalization and multi-alignment, each country pursues its national interests in the best way possible, with as many partners as possible. India has always been in the happy situation of having friendship with virtually all countries in the world.

Question:Bangladesh mein jo haal ke dino mein jo hatyayen hui hain, khas taur par Hindu dharmaavlambiyon ki, uske baare mein ye kaha ja raha hai ki prayojit tareeke se ISIS ke dwara ki jaa rahi hain. Wahan jadein jamai gain hain ISIS ke dwara aur Bharat ke pados mein ISIS pahunch chukka hai. Jaahir hai aadhikaarik taur par in baato ki pushti nahi ki jaa sakti hai, lekin jo Bangladesh watchers hain, jo jaankar hain unka ye manana hai. Toh kya aap in hatyaon ko law and order ki samasya ke taur par dekhate hain ya is baat ko lekar Bharat Sarkar satark hai ki Hinduon ki hatyaen ho rahi hain aur ISIS mein vishwas karne wale logon ke dwara ho rahi hain?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:Dekhiye hum log poori tarah se satark hain. Jahan tak ISIS ka sawal hai. Bangladesh ke saath hamari is par nirantar varta chalti rahi hai. Bangladesh ne humei aashvast kiya hai, ki ISIS ki ismein koi footprint nahi hai.ISIS ki Bangladesh mein footprint nahi badh rahi hai. Ye unhone kaha hai ki Jamaat aur kuch local criminal elements hain, unke dwara ye kaarya kiye ja rahe hain aur unke prati woh bahut kadai se pesh aa rahe hain. Jaisa ki maine bataya, 11000 logon ko hirasat mein le liya gaya hai, 25 cases mein charge sheet daakhil ki ja chuki hai. Bangladesh ne humein aashvast kiya hai ki woh poori tarah se satark hain ki minorities ke upar is tarah ke atyachar na ho. Jis tarah ki nrashans hatyayen hum dekh rahe hain, woh ruke aur Bangladesh ke jo bayan hain, hum un pe vishwas karte hain aur ummeed karte hain ki kaaryavaahi hoti rahegi.

Question: We were just talking about the abductions in Nigeria. I just wanted to check with you, is there any update on the abduction of Judith D’Souza in Afghanistan a few days back?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: On Judith, you know most recently we were in Tashkent and Prime Minister had the opportunity of speaking directly with President Ashraf Ghani and he requested him that Judith’s case is an important matter for us and we hope that it is resolved soon. President Ghani assured him that his intelligence agencies, his security agencies are working on this overtime and they are very hopeful of cracking this case very soon and Judith returning back to India.

Question: There are reports in Pakistani media that India has conveyed its participation in SAARC’s Interior Minister’s meeting on 4th of August. Is it confirmed? Kya HM Shri Rajnath Singh jayenge?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:Main sirf ye kah sakta hoon ki yah tathya sahi hai ki SAARC ke Home Ministers aur us se immediately pehle SAARC ke Home Secretaries ki mulakat Islamabad mein hogi, first week of August mein. Jahan tak Maanneey Rajnath Singh ji ke jaane ka prashn hai, matter is under consideration and mere khayal se iski pusthi to aapko Grah Mantralay se hi leni chahiye.

Question: There are reports that President Pranab Mukherjee is visiting Nepal soon. Do you have any details about it?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Look, we always remain open to high level exchanges between India and Nepal. In case a proposal is received for a visit by Hon’ble Rashtrapatiji to Nepal, it will certainly be given due consideration.

Question: Considering China’s tough stand to India’s membership to NSG, do you intend to start bilateral talk process with China on this issue?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: The bilateral talk process with China has never been stopped so there is no question of starting it or resuming it because it has been a matter of continuing discussion at various levels. All the high level visits which took place to China discussed this issue among other issues. Foreign Secretary visited China just before the NSG Plenary. So the question of us starting a fresh dialogue with China does not arise. It is a matter of continuing discussions with China and as Prime Minister said in his interview, it will remain a matter of continuing discussions with China because we eventually hope to convince China of our credentials and our need for joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Question:Exchange of Fishermen. All the fishermen will be released from our side and from the Pakistani side?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:Abhi to list exchange hui hai jaisa maine aapko bataya. List exchange hone ke baad, consular access pradaan kiya jata hai, nationality verify ki jaati hai aur uske baad hi jab yah prakriya jab poori ho jaati hai, tab fishermen chhode jaate hain. Jaisa ki aap jaante hain ki abhi kuch samay pahle hi kai fishermen dono side se chhode gaye they. Ye prakriya hamesha rahti hai aur humanitarian issues pe hamara Pakistan ke saath sahyog bana hua hai.

Question: This is again going back to Judith. From time to time you issue advisories for Indian nationals working in such areas or countries. What is the policy regarding aid-workers, because a lot of them are doing a lot of good work at some risk to their lives?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: We have a general advisory which says, Please do not undertake non-essential travel to Afghanistan. That is our general advisory. We cannot advise a complete ban on travel to Afghanistan because we ourselves have been implementing so many projects in Afghanistan like Afghan-India Friendship Dam, the restoration of the Stor Palace, the Parliament building, on many of which Indian engineers and architects have been involved. Plus we have consulates in Afghanistan, we have our own officials working in the Embassy in Kabul, so you cannot have a complete ban, but the idea is to advise Indian nationals that in view of the security situation, do not make travel to Afghanistan unless it is absolutely essential.

Of course there are advisories on the security side as well which are shared with all the Indian nationals there, who are advised to exercise due caution. These are incidents which you cannot really completely foretell in advance.

Question: But isn’t the Aga Khan Foundation working with the Indian government in capacity building and various other projects?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: I am not aware of that whether it is working with the Indian government or it is working directly with the Aghan Government. I would imagine its working directly with the Afghan government. It’s not an India affiliated body by any stretch of the imagination.

Question:Will you share some more details on India’s perspective on Brexit?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: The results of the referendum on UK’s membership ofthe EU reflect the choice made by the British people on this issue. We have been following recent developments very closely. We will have to wait and see the nature of the relationship that will evolve between the United Kingdom and the European Union. As we have said earlier, we value our strong and multifaceted relationship with both the United Kingdom and the EU and are committed to strengthening these ties further.

Following the referendum results, our High Commission in London organized a meeting with representatives of various sectors of Indian businesses in the UK to understand their reaction to the referendum results. Considering that the UK, the EU and the world at large are still trying to grapple with an understanding of the recent referendum, it is still too early to understand the implications of Brexit on Indian businesses and students in the UK.

So, I think that is where we are. I think the relationship between the UK and the EU is still a bit up in the air. We have to understand how that relationship evolves before making a full assessment of the impact it will have on Indian businesses.

I think finally we have exhausted all the questions. Thank you all.

(Concludes)

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