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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (April 27, 2017)

April 27, 2017

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: I have no announcements to make today. I am in your hands, so let’s start.

Question: Yesterday on your website something about North Korea, it was regarding the sanction by United Nations Security Council and India has complied with it. I think this is the first time that India has responded to such a sanction imposed by UNSC. So what are the sanctions about and what India wants to go through?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: The details are contained in the order that we have issued and I am sure you would be familiar with that. It is about certain aspects of restrictions that have been put under a UN mandate and as a member state and also as a country which is deeply interested in peace and stability and also in non-proliferation, we have our obligations and we have carried out those obligations. The details of what we have done are contained in the order which we will also publish as a gazette notification.

Question Contd.: ………..Inaudible…………

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: I don’t know if that is the correct way to portray the Indian position. India, I would only say, has been scrupulously part of the implementation of the UN mandated restrictions or sanctions.

Question: There is this case in Pakistan where a minor Sikh girl is alleged to have been forcibly convert to Islam. Just wanted to check whether MEA has taken a note of this and any kind of intervention is being though about?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: I had been trying to ascertain what has been the development there. The reports that we have seen are what you mentioned, it doesn’t seem to be the first case of this type, unfortunately, in that part of the world. There have been occasions when minorities in Pakistan have been subjected to different difficulties and of course the conversions as well.

Let me put it this way that the matter of protection of rights of minorities in Pakistan is the responsibility of the Government of Pakistan. In the past whenever there has been a need, we have taken up such matters with the Government of Pakistan. Government of Pakistan has obviously assured us that it is committed to upholding the rights of minorities. So that is where this matter stands.

Question: Kulbhushan Jadhav masle mein kal ek appeal daayar ki gai aur 16th consular access ke liye bhi humne request kiya, to kya hum consular access ki request ka shatak lagaane ja rahe hain yaa iske alawa bhi koi doosra vikalp hai hamare pass?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Hum to consular access ke maamle par zero per out hona chaah rahe they. Dekhiye aisa hai ki aapne shatak ki baat kari to maine thoda halke lahaze mein iska jawaab diya lekin mudda bahut Gambhir hai aur humne, jaisa ki aapne kaha, 16 baar Pakistan se ye maang kari hai ki wo Bharatiya naagrik hain, gair kaanooni tareeke se wo Pakistan ki custody mein hain, unpar be-buniyaad aarop hain aur isliye humko unse consular bhent karne ki anumati dii jaye.

Kal jo humne appeal daayar kari hai, aap logon ko aisa pata hoga aur jaisa humne kaha bhi tha apni website par ki ye unki mataji ki appeal hai aur unki mata ji ki hi petition hai. Do alag alag cheezein hain jo ki wahan par daayar kari gai hain kyonki mataji ne visa ke liye apply kiya hai aur wo visa ki apeksha rakhati hain, lekin abhi to wo nahi jaa paain aur 40 din ka samay tha, to wo 40 din ki miyaad na nikal jaaye isliye unhone Bharat Sarkar se guzarish kari ki Bharat Sarkar unki appeal aur yaachika ko Pakistan mein sambandhit adhikariyon tak pahuncha de aur humne wo kaam kal poora kiya hai.

Humne kal Pakistan Sarkar ko unki yaachika aur unki appeal handover kar di hai aur ye bhi kaha hai ki hum ye ummeed rakhate hain ki unke parivaar ka, na kewal mataji ka balki unke pitaji ke bhi visa ke liye jo unhone application diya hai yahan New Delhi Pakistan High Commission mein, wo visa expedite kiya jaayega taaki wo khud Pakistan jaakar apne putra ke baare mei jo chinta unko hai aur jo saare desh ko hai, us sambandh mei wo kadam uthaa sakein, yaachika vagariah ka khud follow up kar sakein. Aur unhone Kulbhushan Jadhav ji se bhent karne ki bhi ichha jaahir kari hai to humne ye baat bhi Pakistan Sarkar ki authorities ko pahunchaa di hai.

Ye kai cheezein hain jin par kaam chal raha hai aur humein aashaa hai ki Kulbhushan Jadhav ji ko nyaay milega.

Question: Just going back to the question of Sikh girl who was abducted in Pakistan. We had this discussion in the newsroom today so could you just clarify once and for all, like Israel has a policy that Jews from around the world will be given citizenship, do we have a kind of basic policy or do we wait till we are approached or asked or a visa or a permanent residency is applied for in cases of, let’s say, Hindus or Sikhs or religions that perhaps originated in India?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: It is a very general question. Now the thing really is, the citizenship and all those matter are not within the realm of MEA, so I obviously won’t be able to answer that what is the policy as regards to citizenship or grant of citizenship.

We are talking about the general aspect of the situation here that there have been difficulties which the minorities in Pakistan have faced, we have raised those matters as and when required, when those have been brought to the notice of government or the High Commission, which is also government’s arm in Pakistan.

Sometimes when there are matters which require then Suo Moto also, the government of India does take notice of it and we raise the matter with Pakistan.

Question: Chinese daily Global Times has commented on India’s development plans of second aircraft carrier whereas China itself is developing so many aircraft carriers and has advised India to instead focus on its economic development. What is your comment on that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: India’s second aircraft carrier, I don’t know if that is the correct description frankly. I think we have had aircraft carriers since the time I wasn’t born, for example, so that puts it clearly beyond 50 years.

We have had aircraft carriers with legendary names like, INS Vikrant, INS Virat, now we have Vikramaditya and I think there are other planned ones for future. They respond to our security needs and our assessment of our security needs and they are also in line with India as a responsible naval and maritime power.

Normally, we don’t comment on media reports. The opinions that you referred to, to me it seems an instance of an example being completely contradictory to the precept and I would wonder as to why this should be so.

Question: Has India accepted the invitation on One Belt One Road meet from China and if there is any dilemma because our position on One Belt One Road is very clear, so why is the dilemma?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: There is no further update to what I said last week. The matter is under consideration, when we will have an update, we will let you know.

Question: Yesterday the Afghan envoy has suggested that the India, US and Afghanistan should form a trilateral strategic partnership. So how India would respond to that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: As you all know, bilaterally there is a commitment, there is a support of not only the government of India but as our Prime Minister said, 1.26 billion people of India stand with the people and government of Afghanistan in their effort to protect their sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and to cooperate with Afghanistan for it to become a stable, prosperous inclusive democracy. So that bilateral commitment is there.

Your question is about trilateral thing, I would say that trilateral consultations among the US, Afghanistan and India basically derive from the convergence that India and United States have in terms of the objective of promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan and fighting and defeating all forms of terrorism. In fact, terrorism which is imposed on Afghanistan from outside of Afghanistan.

So based on this convergence between the objectives of the United States and India and of course the interests of Afghanistan, we have had trilateral consultations and the potential of trilateral consultations and cooperation among India, Afghanistan and US and to also take up development cooperation and capacity building trilaterally in Afghanistan, I think this reflects broad convergence on the strategic objectives to secure peace and stability and defeat terrorism in Afghanistan.

Question: Yesterday the Sri Lankan leadership was here and an MoU was signed, there are plans to develop port in Sri Lanka. Can you give us update?

Question: Sri Lankan Prime Minister before he arrived in New Delhi, had spoken extensively to the media and in that he is quoted widely as having said that he is coming to India to seek a trilateral development pact between Japan, India and Sri Lanka. Not specifically referring to the port at Trincomalee but he spoke of trilateral pact. Since that wasn’t contained in your press release, could you elaborate on that?

Question: In the press statement yesterday, you mentioned an economic pact but the statement was absolutely silent on what it entails, so could you just enlighten on the same please?

Question: The India-Sri Lanka FTA has been under review for a very long time. Was there any progress on that, the next stage of negotiations, any update on that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Basically what has happened is that yesterday the two governments have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which as you all know is a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation on economic projects.

There are traditionally close and friendly relations between the two countries and also continuing endeavours to enhance bilateral relations through increased economic, investment and development cooperation.

The Government is internally focused on Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas and externally too in the neighbourhood, our vision to promote connectivity and development takes Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas to our external environment, and naturally to neighbourhood first. In this backdrop, with the objective to achieve greater economic, investment and development cooperation in a progressive manner, through joint ventures and other cooperative activities that will ensure the wellbeing of the people of the two countries, the two Governments signed yesterday this Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Economic Projects. The main areas and the scope of cooperation are:

· A regasified Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) fired 500 MW capacity LNG Power Plant;

· An LNG Terminal /Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) in Colombo/Kerawalapitiya;

· A 50 MW Solar Power Plant in Sampur;

· Upper Tank Farm in Trincomalee will be jointly developed by India and Sri Lanka. As you would be aware, Lanka IOC has had the rights to develop the Tank Farm since 2003. At present, only Lower Tank Farm is developed. However, Lanka IOC had rights to fully develop the project. Given our spirit of partnership, we proposed to Sri Lanka to develop Upper Tank Farm as joint venture. This needs fresh investment. Sri Lanka also had special requirements. There will be discussions between the two sides on various aspects and details;

· A port, petroleum refinery and other industries in Trincomalee, for which a Joint Working Group will be set up to further discuss and flesh out details;

· Industrial Zones/Special Economic Zones in identified locations in Sri Lanka;

· Important road segments Mannar-Jaffna, Mannar-Trincomalee and Dambulla-Trincomale Expressway under Indian investments; (Note:- names of segments were not mentioned in the briefing)

. The railway sector development in Sri Lanka including new projects for track upgradation and purchase of rolling stock;

· A Container Terminal in Colombo Port as a Joint Venture; and

· Agricultural sector and livestock development in Sri Lanka.

The MoU is, thus, in the nature of an agenda or a roadmap for the future. It identifies projects and areas of bilateral economic and investment cooperation. Details will be fleshed out through further discussions.

Further, on the FTA, there have been discussions with Sri Lankan government on this and the negotiations are ongoing and we will let you know if there are any updates on this.

Question: How much India is going to invest in Sri Lanka?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: At this stage this is a Memorandum of Understanding. It is an in-principle understanding on these areas and these projects and as I said the details need to be flashed out.

Question: Comments on tripartite agreement?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Essentially as I said this is something which the government is focusing in terms of developing connectivity, developing neighborhood and wherever there is a possibility of cooperation with likeminded countries that are acceptable to both the parties, we are open to considering those possibilities.

Question: Army Chief is going to visit Bangladesh. Would you like to say something about that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: I am not aware of any plans for such a visit. I don’t know where some reports to that effect came, in fact if I recall, Army Chief had visited Bangladesh at the end of last month or thereabouts.

Question: The effort to get back Lalit Modi is probably in process. Now you heard what his son had to say, he called India Banana Republic and so on. Now just want to know what is the position, where do we stand vis-à-vis getting Lalit Modi back to India?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: I don’t wish to make comment on somebody’s remarks. Those are individual opinions, we all are aware what India is as a democracy and a republic and our strong credentials.

As to the matter of getting Mr. Modi back to India, I am not aware of the current status but this is also something which is not entirely in MEA domain as you would know. May be you could also address your query to other parts of government of India such as Enforcement Directorate, but if have an update, I will share with you.

Question: Recently in Kolkata, there was a meeting of joint study group of BCIM where the Chinese representative have demanded that these meetings should be upgraded to an inter-governmental machinery. So what is our response to that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: As you know this is the BCIM joint study group. We obviously attach a lot of significance to BCIM, its part of our leadership’s vision and country’s efforts to promote connectivity with our neighbors in our region because connectivity promotes trade, it promotes people-to-people contacts.

So BCIM is a very important initiative which as you know began in 2013. Now what is happening right now is that the experts and various other stakeholders are discussing as to what can be taken up and what things can be done within this framework.

We have very senior veteran retired diplomat associated with this and heading this exercise. Our Additional Secretary was there in Kolkata to help and assist the discussions. Currently, the state of discussions says that we are focusing on synthesizing various chapters of the country reports and once that is done then it will help in deciding what is to be done in future and how it can be done. So that is currently the focus as far as we are concerned.

Question: ………..Inaudible…………

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Even if you send your handset and I am able to look at it, you know I won’t be able to respond unless I see the facts, unless I know who in Pakistan has rejected and how and what exactly has been said, I would not be able to comment on this specific thing but basically as you know it is up to the government of Pakistan, it is their responsibility to bring to book the perpetrators and all those involved in conspiring and executing and mounting the 26/11 attack in which more than 160 people were killed.

It is a matter of concern that well after eight years from the date of the terrorist attack, many of these perpetrators continue to enjoy freedom in Pakistan and they have not been brought to book. That is the general position but as far as your question is concerned, I will need to see what exactly the facts are.

Pakistan ne ek baar fir kaha hai ki Kulbhushan Jadhav ka trial bilkul transparent tareeke se hua hai?

Just an add on question to this one. Yesterday you said that the parents of Kulbhushan Jadhav want to visit Pakistan to see their son and they have applied for a visa. What was the assurance given by the Pakistanis on this issue? You mentioned that Foreign Secretary also met Mr. Basit and our envoy had also met, so on this specific visa issue what was their response?

Question: Kal ka jo aapka statement tha ki Kulbhushan Jadhav ki mother ne ye maang bhi ki hai ki is maamle mein federal government intervene kare, to iska matlab ye hua ki army court se civil court ki taraf maamle ko le jaane ki maang ki gai hai, unki maa ki taraf se?

Question: The issue of medical certificate because we it’s been over a year and we don’t know what kind of state his health is now?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: As I said earlier here that we haven’t seen him, we haven’t met him and he has been in Pakistan’s custody for more than one year therefore the wellbeing and the state of health etc. of Mr. Jadhav is a matter of great concern. We have asked Pakistani government earlier also and yesterday also when our High Commissioner met, a request was made for providing a report on his medical condition and health, so we await Pakistan’s response on that.

We also await Pakistan’s response on the visa matter. The application has been filed by the private individuals but the government has asked the government of Pakistan that this request could be facilitated.

As per the question on Pakistan’s assertion that they have conducted the trial in a fair manner, the fact on the ground is that we have nothing from the government of Pakistan, officially, in terms of the documents, the details, the charge sheet, the summary, the evidence etc. We don’t know who defended him that is if somebody defended him.

So certainly we have said in public on earlier occasions also and expressed our views. I don’t need to reiterate them but there is a great concern about his wellbeing and not only his wellbeing but about ensuring justice for Mr. Jadhav. We continue to maintain that the charges against him are baseless.

Question: …… Inaudible…….

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: As I said these are the options, currently the steps that the family has decided to take. They have to of course apply, so they have applied for visa. They have sent a petition, they have sent the appeal. The steps that they have taken are provided for within Pakistani law and whatever options are available, I am sure the government and the family will want to explore all the possible options.

Question: Ehsanullah Ehsan, who is the spokesperson of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which is a terror faction of TTP. He has said to have confessed that he was a RAW agent and he acted as a point man for Jadhav. My question to you is that, what does MEA knows about this and if Pakistan plans to use his testimony on the international platform as a means to prosecute Jadhav, then what plan do we have to counter this move?

Question: A related question on the visa part also. He said that he is being held also with his allies so if you can throw some light on that as well.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: I think both of you are referring to so called confessional video which many of you may have seen also. Well, I can only say that we all know how much value this so called coerced confessional statement carry and to my mind all that such statements reflect is essentially a mindset which believes that others in the world are also doing what those people are doing who put out "confessional statements.”

As there are no more questions, this brings the press briefing to a close. Thank you all.


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