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Transcript (uncorrected) of media briefing by Secretary (East) in Xiamen on Prime Minister's visit to China for BRICS Summit (September 04, 2017)

September 05, 2017

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Namashkar, Good after noon. A very warm welcome to this special briefing on 9th BRICS Summit. As you all know Prime Minister arrived yesterday evening and today we had the first round of discussions i.e. restricted meeting followed by a plenary session. To brief you on the BRICS part of the day, I have with me Secretary (East), Mrs. Preeti Saran and also Jt. Secretary (MER) Mr. Alok Dimri.

Before I hand over the floor to Secretary (East) I have a read out on PM’s bilateral meeting with the Russian President Putin. As you are aware this meeting took place just before we came to this hall. It took place as you know on the sidelines of BRICS Summit. The two sides basically touched upon several aspects of bilateral relationship. President Putin, he recalled Prime Minister’s visit to Russia earlier this year and he thanked the Prime Minister for high level participation from India at the Eastern Economic Forum.

Several aspects of bilateral issues were discussed. Cooperation in the Oil and Natural gas sector, trade and investment, how the two countries should work together to promote trade & investment. The two leaders also discussed cultural exchanges, President Putin mentioned about the Festival of India which was organized in Russia earlier this year. It also included promotion of tourism between the two countries and also on the student exchange between the two sides. So broadly a lot of time was spend in discussing several aspects of bilateral relationship. That is as far as Prime Minister’s meeting with President Putin is concerned. Now I hand over the floor to Secretary (East) to take you through the meetings which we had in the morning.

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: Good afternoon friends. I will begin my briefing with the meetings for 9th BRICS Summit. It started with restricted format followed by plenary session at the end of which the leaders of the BRICS countries have adopted what is called the Xiamen Declaration. You know that India was the Chair of the BRICS last year and 8th BRICS Summit was hosted by India in Goa and so really this summit has picked up from the positive impetus that was given from last year and a lot of elements that were carried forward in the last ten years of BRICS existence and which is where the leaders focused on.

As far as our Prime Minister’s interventions both in the restricted and plenary session are concerned some of the broad and more important elements that Prime Minister had to say during his intervention in his interaction with the leaders. Broadly speaking Prime Minister gave a futuristic, forward looking, and transformational blueprint for BRICS for the next decade. I’d like to share this quote that he stated in his plenary speech where he mentioned that our leaders in the two generations of the leaders of our countries have contributed to the emergence and establishment of BRICS and that BRICS has gained credibility, wielded influence and spurred growth and now in the next decade it is crucial that in an environment where we seek stability, sustainable development and prosperity, the BRICS leadership will be crucial in driving this transformation.

So that sets the stage for the main aspects of our own Prime Minister’s interventions. When he met the leaders in the restricted format he spoke about taking collective action by the leaders in reforming the global governance when he said that when the United Nations celebrated its 70th anniversary, we had missed an opportunity but that we hope that when we celebrate and United Nations celebrate its 75th anniversary, we would be able to achieve reforms in global governance.

Another point that the Prime Minister focused on was of course the reform of the Security Council and the IMF which have remained unfinished agenda as also he felt that the BRICS should really be reshaping the global economic agenda whether it is in the multilateral trading system or whether it is in the other context.

There was of course an intervention made by our Prime Minister on countering terrorism where he suggested strategy for joint action and I will come upon it subsequently but in that context Prime Minister also did mention money laundering, terrorist financing, cyber space as well as proposing an initiative for the BRICS on countering radicalization and in that context he offered to host an international conference on de-radicalization.

There was another initiative that Prime Minister suggested that is keeping in mind India’s own experience in disaster resilient infrastructure and offered to take initiatives in this context.

Moving on to the plenary session, now the difference between the restricted and the plenary is that in the restricted the topic really was on the leaders, on global economic situation, on the international economic governance, on international and region hot-spot issues as well as national security and development. So Prime Minister’s interventions were made in that context.

The theme for the plenary was practical cooperation for common development. As you know BRICS really functions at two levels, one is of the leaders where they meet annually and on the margins of UNGA as well as G20 where they really coordinate, cooperate and consult each other on issues of global concern. Then there is the second aspect which is practical cooperation. So plenary therefore focused on that aspect of practical cooperation for common development, for people to people exchanges and cultural cooperation etc.

Again this one is important because it picks up threads from the Goa Summit where India as the Chair announced series of initiatives that were focused on enhancing greater people to people exchanges and here our Prime Minister shared thoughts with the BRICS leaders in deepening BRICS partnership and he mentioned of course the International Solar Alliance and where the NDB could finance projects relating to the International Solar Alliance. A very important point which is very dear to him and the fact that all the BRICS countries have the youth dividend on their side, so the Prime Minister suggested that BRICS should really be mainstreaming youth in all its initiatives.

Another point that Prime Minister made was that we should accelerate BRICS cooperation on smart cities, on urbanization and disaster management. He also dwelled upon BRICS partnership on technology in digital resources as well as collaborative BRICS projects in this regard. And in this context Prime Minister offered capacity building initiatives in BRICS and Africa.

As you know NDB is a good success story of BRICS in the last ten years and therefore he suggested building on the NDB and the CRA milestones that have been reached in the BRICS context and finally of course the people to people contact whether it is in the context of tourism, cultural exchanges, film festivals etc. was another element that our Prime Minister dwelled upon.

Keeping the theme of the plenary as well as the restricted session all the other leaders also took the floor and at the end the Xiamen Declaration was adopted, the text of that has already been put up on our MEA website so you can access it to be able to see what is substantive content and outcome of this summit.

I will quickly run you through some of the more important elements. I did tell you earlier that terrorism was an element that our Prime Minister spoke about but he was not the only one, in fact all the BRICS leaders came up strongly in condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and you can see that being reflected in not just one but several paragraphs of the declaration that has been adopted where the leaders have strongly condemned terrorism and then they have been able to identify and acknowledge the pernicious effect that certain terrorist organizations such the Hakkani Network, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba and TTP and others have had in spreading terror across.

The leaders also called to make United Nations counter terrorism framework more effective. The BRICS leaders called for greater efficiency in designation of terrorists and terrorists groups by UN committees and for dismantling terrorist’s bases preventing movement of terrorists, of terror attacks that had taken place that were deplored all over the world including BRICS countries. They called for a comprehensive approach to fight terrorism and in countering terrorism, they did refer to radicalization, recruitment, movement of terrorists, blocking terrorism financing, money laundering, supply of weapons and drugs and countering misuse of internet.

There was also a reference to swift and effective implementation of the UN Security Council’s resolution on terrorism and to make the implementation of the FATF standards on terrorism more effective and called on states to prevent financing of terrorist’s networks and terrorist actions from their territories.

So these are very important outcomes, for the first time you would notice that there has been such a specific listing of terrorists organizations and the fact that UN Security Council that BRICS countries should work together in facilitating listing of these under the UNSC. Those are very important developments in collectively fighting this scourge, there was this collective desire on the part of all the BRICS leaders to address this scourge and fight this menace collectively as a group.

Some other elements which might be of interest to you, this is the biggest text, about 70 paragraphs but each one of them is very important. We have gone through it in negotiations with other BRICS member countries with a lot of deliberation so everything in the text is important and I am sure you would be able to identify the important elements but I thought I’d just identify for you some of the elements which are also very important for India. For example there is a reference to the need for predictability in accessing technology and financing for expansion of civil nuclear energy capacity.

Then there was the element about the establishment, traditional medicine was an important element and initiative that was introduced by India at the Goa summit and there was recognition of importance, even as we speak, there is a whole formulation on need for affordable drugs and healthcare, there was also recognition for establishment of BRICS long term mechanism for traditional medicine to be able to build upon BRICS countries in fact being repositories of traditional knowledge and that could be developed further.

Then leaders welcomed the establishment of BRICS Agriculture Research platform, again an initiative that we had offered and this would be established in New Delhi. Certainly our Prime Minister referred to it in his interventions about the need for addressing corruption and steps to address issues of anti-corruption and asset recovery and of establishing BIRCS Joint Task Force on disaster risk management.

On the people to people contacts, I have already referred to you about the BRICS Games, BRICS Sports Council, Film Festival, tourism etc. I think an element that will find repeated mention in the text will be the reform of the United Nations, of the Security Council, of anyway reform of the global governance architecture. So these are the broad elements of the declaration that I thought I’d share with you because there is a common consensus of all the BRICS countries that has come out with this very forward looking text that’ll lead to the future work of the BRICS. I’ll stop here. I have Mr. Alok Dimri, Jt. Secretary as well to assist us in case you have specific questions on the outcome of the BRICS summit. The declaration has already been adopted. Later this afternoon there is going to be a BRICS Business Council meeting where the leaders will also address the BRICS business community and they will be signing off four agreements.

In the evening there is a banquet being hosted by President Xi Jinping as the host and the chair in which apart from BRICS he has invited five other emerging market countries. Our Prime Minister will in fact be interacting with them formally at the banquet tonight and thereafter he looks forward to sharing his thoughts in this outreach context. In the BRICS outreach we ourselves have invited BIMSTEC leaders when we had hosted the BRICS summit last year. So the Prime Minister looks forward to sharing his thoughts on this, how we should move forward in the context of global governance and how BRICS as a grouping can make the difference for emerging markets and developing countries as a whole.

Question: You mentioned this is the first time when the specific listing of terrorist organization has been done in the declaration document

…….. Inaudible……….

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: The declaration has been endorsed by all the five BRICS leaders so obviously it has endorsement and approval of all the countries.v Question: ……………Inaudible……………

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: I think you should be addressing that question not to me. I can merely tell you that as participating countries of BRICS we have worked collectively formulating this document, which has gone through a consensus process. So I can merely tell you the fact that it has been endorsed and approved by all the five leaders of BRICS countries, is a very important development.

Question: …………..Inaudible…………..

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: I will just again tell you that you are addressing your question to the wrong audience. Your questions are intended for somebody else, you should address to them. As far as the negotiating processes are concerned, these are internal to BRICS ourselves, so I expect you to respect that.

Question: ………..Inaudible………….

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: You will see in the paragraph there is a reference deploring the current developments that have taken place and so that really brings out the sense of the floor of the house because several leaders when they took the floor they did refer to it. As far as India is concerned, I’d like to again draw your attention to a separate document that government of India itself has issued as a stand-alone text on this particular development. But, yes, that paragraph is self-explanatory.

Question: ……….Inaudible…………..

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: You must understand that terrorism is a scourge that has to be addressed collectively by entire international community and I think increasingly there is a realization that you cannot have double standards in tacking this scourge. You cannot have good and bad terrorists and it is a collective action. Members of the BRICS countries have themselves been victims of terrorism and I would say that what has come out today acknowledges the fact that we must work collectively in handling this.

Question: ………..Inaudible…………..

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: This is a multilateral forum where we are discussing it with five sovereign independent countries, there is no linkage to any other development.

Question: ………. Inaudible…………………..

Question: Does it indicate at least the intent of BRICS to India’s request for CCIT at UN?

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: There is a reference to CCIT in the text as well so once again there is consensus. Any of language that you are asking me questions on are not just India specific or India centric, please remember it has the full approval of all the participating countries of the BRICS. And the fact that all of them have collectively come out to such strong formulation implies the importance that they attach to the subject.

On the issue of countering radicalization and holding a separate conference, this is an issue that India has offered in fact in other forums as well including in the context of ASEAN. We hope that we will be able to in this offer that we made in the context of BRICS, in the context of ASEAN and elsewhere, we hope that we will be able to organize a global conference on countering radicalization where countries with positive experience in dealing with this would be able to share their experiences.

Question: The fact that India is here, its agreeing with China on BRICS declaration, is that ……………. Doklam standoff has been fixed?

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: I am here to answer questions only on the BRICS summit and BRICS happen to be multilateral forum so I can merely respond to questions on what has happened in this summit and I have mentioned that we look forward to further interaction during the outreach element of the emerging markets and developing countries.

Question: Yesterday President Xi mentioned the Belt and Road and …………………. I was wondering …………………. India voice its stand ………..

Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran: It did not.

Question: In the bilateral, was only bilateral issues discussed or individual like Afghanistan, Pakistan etc.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You have to be specific and ask me what kind of regional issues, then I may be able to answer.

Question Contd.: regional issues………….

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Some regional issues were also discussed. I can tell you that there was some discussion on the situation in Afghanistan but I would not like to get into details of discussion.

Question Contd.: …………Inaudible………..v Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No, not to my knowledge. Thank you very much. With this we come to the end of this special briefing.

(Concludes)

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