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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (November 23, 2017)

November 24, 2017

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Namashkar, good afternoon and a very warm welcome to all of you in today’s weekly briefing. Today is a day of announcements, actually I have five to make and I’ll keep them short. The first will be on the visit of Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to India. I have another one on SCO Summit which is attended by our External Affairs Minister and I have short read outs on the visits of Foreign Ministers of Finland, Greece and Denmark.

So, I’ll start with the first one which is the visit of Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to India who is already in town with 23rd November i.e. today as the main day of engagement. He is accompanied by his wife Professor MaitreeWickremesinghe, Minister of Law & Order and Southern Development and a few officials. Our Prime Minister hosted a luncheon meeting for the Sri Lankan Prime Minister as the Hyderabad House today. Prime Minister of Sri Lanka will be calling on the Hon’ble President of India later today afternoon.

During the luncheon meeting with the Prime Minister the two sides discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and ways to further deepen the historically close and friendly relations between the two countries. Prime Minister of Sri Lanka will return to Colombo on 24th November.

The second announcement is on EAM’s participation at the SCO Summit. EAM will be representing the Government of India at the SCO Summit in Sochi on November 30 and December 1. She will arrive on the evening of 29th November. On 30th November EAM will have bilateral meetings and attend the reception hosted by the Russian Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev. On December 1 EAM will attend the Restricted Meeting of the Heads of Delegation which will be followed by the preliminary session. On the same evening EAM will again attend a reception hosted by the Russian Prime Minister for all members of the delegation. She would depart Sochi on 2nd December and will arrive in Delhi on the same day.

India joined as full-fledged member of the SCO in June this year. We attach special significance to SCO in promoting political, economic and people to people interaction in the region.

The third announcement is on the visit of the Foreign Minister of Finland, Mr. TimoSoini, he is already in India on an official visit from 22– 25 November. He participated earlier today at the Global Conference on Cyber Security. He will have a meeting with EAM tomorrow during which as expected, the entire range of bilateral issues will come up for discussion.

The fourth announcement is on the visit of the Foreign Minister of Greece who will be visiting India from 25-28 November on an official visit. He is going to meet EAM on 27th November. The Foreign Minister of Greece will also deliver a talk at the observer research foundation. Other elements of program are still being finalized.

The fifth and last announcement is on the visit of Foreign Minister of Denmark who will be in India from 26 – 29 November. HE will be participating in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit which will be held in Hyderabad on 28 – 29 November. He is going to meet EAM on 27th November.

So with this I come to the end of my announcements, now the floor is open for questions.

Question:You mentioned about SCO, there is Russia, India, China talk also likely to happen. Can you just give us some dates about it and also what will be the focus area of talks this time?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:At this stage I can only confirm that the Foreign Ministers of India, Russia and China will meet in New Delhi on 11th December. We are still working out the program for this meeting which will be shared with all of you closer to the date.

Question:You reaction to the decision by court in Pakistan to release Hafiz Saeed, that his detention was not extended. The Pakistani Government has said that he still is a threat to Pakistan but did not really provide any evidences including evidences provided by India to the court?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Any other question on Hafiz Saeed?

Question:Aatankwaadkolekar America ki jo chinta hai wo Haqqani Network aur Lashkar-e-Taiba ke liye bhi hai, aisa hum maan kar chalte they, lekin haal ke dinomein jo ek badlaavaayaa hai aur America Haqqani Network ki gatividhiyon ko lekarjyadachintaamein raha, Lashkar-e-Taiba ki gatividhiyon ko lekarnahi. Kya aapmaante hain ki ye ek wajah ho sakti hai ki Hafiz Saeed aajnazarbandnahi hai?

(We believed that the concerns of terrorism of America are same for both the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e-Taiba, but recently there has been a change and we have seen America being more concerned with the activities of Haqqani Network and not that much with the activities of Lashkar-e-Taiba. Do you think this could be a possible reason that today Hafiz Saeed is not House Arrested?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Any other question on Hafiz Saeed?

Question:On the same issue, recently we saw the US designating North Korea as a state sponsorer of terrorism, from India’s perspective does it thinks that Pakistan deserves or is a fit case to be declared state sponsored terrorism.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:No, it is not a related question. I said any other question on Hafiz Saeed.

Question:Again on similar grounds, the State Department has told us that they have noted the release of global terrorist Hafiz Saeed. US has already given a last warning to the Pakistan, a last opportunity, do you think that perhaps bilaterally to the US it needs to be communicated much more that we need to move ahead of the terror designations and much more needs to be done to let Pakistan know that enough is enough?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
Let me first read out the statement which I have on the release of Hafiz Saeed.

We have seen reports on the release of the leader of banned terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba and internationally proscribed terrorist Hafiz Saeed from House Arrest by Pakistan. As you are aware he was the Prime Organizer, he was not only the Master Mind he was the Prime Organizer of the Mumbai Terror Attacks in which many innocent Indians and many people from other nationalities were killed.

He is also responsible for unleashing numerous other terror attacks against Pakistan’s neighbors. His release confirms once again the lack of seriousness on the part of Pakistani Government in bringing to justice perpetrators of heinous acts of terrorism including by individuals and entities designated by the United Nations.

It also appears to be an attempt by the Pakistani system to mainstream proscribed terrorist. It is evident that Pakistan has not changed its policy of shielding and supporting non-state actors and its true face is visible for all to see. It is the responsibility of Pakistani Government to fulfill its international obligations and take credible and effective action against terrorists like Hafiz Saeed.

India as indeed the entire international community is outraged that a self-confessed and UN proscribed terrorist is being allowed to walk free and continue with his evil agenda.

Now coming to the two questions which are related, we have in our discussions with the US Government at different levels including at the level of the Foreign Minister, at the highest level as well, we have had very productive discussions on fighting the scourge and menace of terrorism.

Further, I do not agree with your assessment that there is a bit of softness by the US side on certain entities. I think we are trying to work together with them, we have worked with them and if you have seen the statements emanating from the US Administration in the past, I think it is very clear that we are on the same page as far as fighting terrorism is concerned.

Question:Given what the Prime Minister had to say about Balochistan from the ramparts of the Red Fort, is there any possibility or clarity whether Brahumdagh Bugti will be given political asylum by India? Just a clarification if technically, did he actually make an application after the press conference some time back or was that only a verbal thing? And I know EAM’s schedule, you would say, is being tied up but is there any possibility of a bilateral with the Pakistani Foreign Minister along the SCO Summit sidelines?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
To answer your first question, I am not aware of any such application which has been made by the gentleman which you mentioned, so I can’t answer the first part of your question. This time you’ll have to believe me that the schedule of the External Affairs Minister is still being tied up. Normally, may be a day or two before the actual meeting we will be announcing the agenda and the program of the External Affairs Minister with this audience.

I have said that I am not aware about any application which has been made. At this stage I can’t say because we don’t even know how the agenda even looks like, it’s a very tight program in any case.

Question:You spoke about some bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the SCO Summit. Premier Lee would be representing China, probably, at the summit. Can we expect a call on meeting, that is my first question. My second question is, are we going to highlight the Hafiz Saeed issue and Pakistan’s role in continuing sponsorship of terror in the SCO summit, would that be a major issue?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:To the first question, again the answer will be the same which I have just given. EAM’s program is being tied up and at this stage I am not aware of bilateral meetings which are being fixed, so I can’t really answer that question.

The other part of the question is even more speculative, what we are going to discuss. I can tell you that on issues of terrorism and on the issues of terrorist leaders like Hafiz Saeed, we do work together with like-minded countries. We have similar views and on different platforms with different countries we do discuss the case of fighting terrorism.

Question:This related to Kulbhushan Jadhav. Pakistan says that there is an invitation for his wife, but has India accepted that, has India said that if wife has to go then mother also should go, where do we exactly stand on it? What other points have we raised vis-à-vis this?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Any other question on Kulbhushan Jadhav?

Question:Can you spell out the specifics of your proposal to Pakistan, what exactly did you suggest on Jadhav, and there have been some reports that you have also given the go ahead for the wife to visit, my main question is the specifics of the proposal.

Question:A small clarification on the question that besides the proposal, have we in-principle accepted their proposal or we are still waiting for their response and then we will take a final call on that?

Question:If a decision has been made to send Kulbhushan Jadhav’s wife to meet him, has any date been decided and will Indian officials be accompanying her?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I am very happy that I may have answers to all the questions which you have.

You are aware that there was a long standing request from the mother of Mr. Kulbhushan Jadhav to visit Pakistan and meet her son. Although this request was pending, India still responded positively to the offer made by Pakistan to arrange meeting of Mr. Kulbhushan Jadhav with his wife.

In our response we have conveyed that the wife of Mr. Jadhav would like to travel along with her mother-in-law for the meeting. We have also sought sovereign guarantee from the Government of Pakistan to ensure this safety, security and well-being of the wife and the mother of Mr. Jadhav and during their stay in Pakistan they shall not be questioned, harassed or interrogated while they are there.

We have further asked that a diplomat from our High Commission in Pakistan in Islamabad shall be allowed to accompany them at all times including during the meeting which the wife and the mother will have with Mr. Kulbhushan Jadhav. Let me also underline that such a meeting offer does not absolve Pakistan of the violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and Human Rights and not following the due process in treating Mr. Jadhav who remains incarcerated in Pakistan and faces death sentence through a farcical process and on concocted charges.

While the Government hopes that Pakistan would facilitate visit by the wife and the mother of Mr. Jadhav, we are determined to pursue all measures with full vigor so as to secure the final release of an innocent Indian who is jailed in Pakistan.

Question:This is related to Sri Lanka. Prime Minister and Sri Lankan Prime Minister met today. Can you share with us what transpired, something specific, something on airport?

Question:Was there any talk about the trade and security cooperation and the fishermen issues in today’s meeting?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I can only share with you that all bilateral issues were discussed. India is an important partner of Sri Lanka. We have lot of developmental projects which are going on in Sri Lanka. And the discussions basically focused mainly on the bilateral relations and how to strengthen them further and beyond that, actually I can’t share in this forum.

Question:I had sought the specifics of the proposal on which you read out a statement and we also read reports from Pakistan that the Indian proposal is being considered. So have they taken a decision and got back to you on that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:At this stage we are still waiting for a response from the Pakistani side. We got a Note Verbal from the Pakistani side and we responded to that and now we await their response to our response.

Question:Could you give us the date on which we responded?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:The exact date was, I am not very sure but maybe it was 3 or 4 days back, I can get back to you but I think it was in the last 3 to 4 days.

Question: Just a short while ago there was deal between Bangladesh and Myanmar on returning of Rohingya Muslims, your reaction to it and of course this deal coming after China giving an offer plan to both the countries, so your reaction to this.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:You have the advantage of checking the news while I am sitting here so it is very difficult for me to give you an immediate reaction to what is happening. In any case I feel this is something which has happened between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Our position on the displaced persons have been articulated several times from this forum and that needs no further reiteration but since I have not seen what you are talking about, I think it is very difficult for me to respond to this.

Question:Next week Pope Francis is visiting both Myanmar and Bangladesh. Was there any invitation from India for their visit?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:You are aware that for any bilateral visit to take place, any exchange of high level visit one is of course it is an integral part of any country’s diplomacy, it is also an integral part of India’s diplomatic initiative.

You’d also be aware that before finalizing any VVIP visit there is a proper mechanism which has to be followed. It also includes the dates which are mutually convenient to the two sides. India’s link to Christianity and with Christianity is nearly 2000 years old. Indian Christians have contributed immensely to India’s growth and prosperity. We are proud that there are large number of Indians serving in various Roman Catholic Orders. Relations between India and the Holy See have always been cordial and strengthened over the years.

Question:When are you going to come out with the details on the visit of Ivanka Trump to Hyderabad? Our PM is also attending that meeting, so can we have some details on that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:You are talking about the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. You see this entire summit is being coordinated by NITI Aayog together in partnership with the Government of the United States and this will be the Eighth Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit which is being held in Hyderabad from 28 – 30 November.

The summit will bring together investors, educators, government officials and start-up ecosystem supporters. To the World’s most important event on entrepreneurship. The summit will present a unique opportunity to connect and establish meaningful partnerships amongst entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem supporters. The summit will be addressed by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Ms. Ivanka Trump, Advisor to President Trump and many more luminaries from the world of innovation and entrepreneurship. The program for Ms. Ivanka Trump is still being finalized and will be shared by the organizers closer to the date.

If there are no further questions.

Question:Any update on French President’s visit to India which was to take place in December, it looks like it has been postponed, when is it expected?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I do not have the exact dates for the visit. I think at some stage we had announced that this is being rescheduled in early 2018. We do not yet have the dates for the visit. As and when the dates are finalized we will make an announcement.

Thank you very much all for attending. Have a good day.



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