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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (January 11, 2018)

January 12, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Now we move to the second part of today’s briefing. I don’t have any announcements, and now I open the floor to questions.

Question: On 9th, the North Koreans and the South Koreans started talking, there were some news also, India’s reaction to that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We have noted that Republic of Korea and DPRK held their first high level talks since December 2015 at the Border Truce village of Panmunjom on 9th January. India supports efforts to bring about peace, stability, reconciliation, denuclearization and reunification of the Korean peninsula through dialogue and diplomacy.

We hope that the engagement between the two countries will help in reducing tensions and pave the way for bringing lasting peace and reconciliation in the Korean peninsula. We also believe that any solution to the Korean peninsula must also take into account and address concerns about proliferation linkages of DPRK’s nuclear missile program.

Question: We have been reading news about Indian diplomats being banned from entering Gurudwaras in US, UK and Canada. How is the Indian government viewing such kind of acts?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We have seen several reports regarding such notifications coming out of different Gurudwaras. Our sense is that the vast majority of the Sikh Community in Canada and many other parts of the world, they share a very warm relationship, a very emotional bond with India. They want better relations between India and their country of residence. We take no cognizance of fringe elements which spread hate and communal disharmony.

Question: Maldives’ Foreign Minister talked to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, so can you give me some details about what was the subject and how it concluded?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I can’t really give you a lot of details at this stage. I can just share with you that the Maldivian Foreign Minister arrived here yesterday and today a series of meetings he is having. He already had a meeting with External Affairs Minister, EAM also hosted a lunch for him. We will be issuing a press release later today and I am not sharing any details simply because the visit is still ongoing and I don’t think it is proper to share details about what has transpired in the meeting at this stage.

We are planning to come up with a press release by the end of the day. We do attach high importance to our relations with Maldives. They have a India-First Policy, we have a Neighborhood-First Policy, I think it is important for two countries to work together. We are committed to supporting democracy, development and stability in Maldives.

Question: The US Ambassador spoke today and he said that please don’t take any note of reports coming in from the US that techies will be deported or they will be first to go and the H1B visa restrictions. However the first naturalized citizen to be deported or de-naturalized is an Indian. Do you read any ominous signs into that or do we take US Ambassador at the face value?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No, I don’t simply, I have been saying in this forum time and again that we remain engaged with the administration, we are also engaged with the Congress on issues related to movement of Indian professionals including under the H1B visa program. We have also said that there has been no change itself in the H1B visa program. We have shared our concerns to the US side. We have told them that this is a mutually beneficial partnership which should be nurtured and supported.

We are also in touch with the stakeholders in India and we continue to closely monitor the developments. As I mentioned that we have not come across any comprehensive change so far in the H1B visa program. What you mentioned earlier, I think, it is right. There were media reports indicating that half a million Indians will come back and alarmist projections which has been laid to rest by a press release by the US Department of Homeland Security. They have mentioned that no such change is being contemplated by the US agencies at this stage.

Question: Pradhanmantri Modi 22 taareekh ko pahunch rahe hain waha pe World Economic Forum mein bhaag lene ke liye Davos. Kya alag se side mein koi President Trump se mulakaat ka karyakram hai ya wahin par tai hoga?

(Prime Minister Modi will be flying to Davos on 22nd January to participate in the World Economic Forum meeting. So is there any plan of meeting with President Trump on the sidelines or it will be decided there only?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Jo dusra part hai apka mere khayal se apne bat hi diya answer ki kab hone wala hai ye. Jo Pradhan mantri ka program hai humne ek press vigyapti bhi jaari ki thi us par. Program kaafi packed hai. Wahan par jaakar kaun si meeting hoti hai wo mujhe lagta hai ki 2-3 din pahle hi pata chalta hai, scheduling hoti hai dono leaders ki, wahan aur bhi kai leaders honge to is par abhi tippani karna abhi jaayaj nahi hoga. Kuch agar ban jaati hai baat, agar meetings set ho jati hai to uske baare mein hum aapko bata sakte hain.

(We have issued a press release on the program of Prime Minister, and the program is quite packed. What meetings will take place there, such things are clear only two or three days before the event because scheduling for both the leaders is done. Other leaders will also be present there, so commenting on it right now would not be appropriate on my part. If something falls into place and a meeting is planned we will definitely inform you.)

Question: It is about Maldives Foreign Minister’s visit. As you mentioned that today you will give a press release but as Foreign Minister’s meeting already finished, because earlier India raised some concerns over the FTA signed between Maldives and China. Does this issue was discussed during the Foreign Minister’s meeting?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I will stick to what I have said that we will come up with a press release later in the evening. All bilateral issues were discussed. We have mentioned in the past that there are several issued between the two countries on the table but please have some patience and in the next few hours you will have a detailed press release outlining the discussions which the Maldivian Foreign Minister had with our side.

Question: Arunachal Pradesh mein sadak banaane ko lekar China ke saath haal mein ek vivaad saamane aaya jis par baad mein Army Chief ne kaha ki ye vivaad sulajh gaya hai. Kya is baare mein China se rajnayik star par koi baatcheet hui hai?

(A dispute regarding construction of a road in Arunachal Pradesh came to light between India and China, on which the Army Chief later clarified that it has been resolved. So was this discussed with China at diplomatic levels?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Aap khud bataa rahe hain ki maamla tha aur maamla sulajh gaya hai. Aapko shayad pata hoga ki Bharat aur China ke beech aise maamle suljhane ke liye established mechanism hain dono deshon ke beech mein. Report maine bhi dekhi thi aur un established mechanism ke tahat is type ki jo baatein hoti rahti hai unko aapas mein sort out kar liya jaata hai aur wahi is incidence mei bhi kiya gaya ki koi aise incidence hui thi aur usko aapas mein us mechanism ke through humne sort out kar liya hai.

(As you yourself are saying that there was a dispute and it has been resolved. You might be aware that there is an established mechanism between India and Chine to resolve such disputes. I had also seen the reports and under those established mechanisms such type of things are sorted out mutually and the same was done in this case also meaning like other such incidents, this particular incident was also sorted out mutually under those mechanisms.)

Question: Kulbhushan Jadhav ke saath unke parivaar ki meeting ke baad jo tamaam stithiyan thi wo Sarkar ne spasht ki, aap logon ne bhi spasht ki lekin is beech dono hi deshon ke NSA ki baithak ki baatein saamane aayin, kya uska kuch detail share karna chahenge aur kya batana chahenge ki back channels mei kya kuch aur bhi is tarah ki baatein chal rahi hain dono deshon ke beech relations ko reestablish karne ke liye, unko patari par laane ke liye?

(The current situation after the meeting of Kulbhushan Jadhav and his family was articulated by the government and also by your ministry, but there are reports of a NSA level talk after that meeting. Would you like to share some details about that and would also like to confirm if there are other talks going on in the back channels to bring the relationship back to order, or to re-establish them?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye Bharat aur Pakistan ke beech mein ek to jo dialogue process hai, jisko humne kaha hai Talks and Terror can’t go together, par uske alawa kaafi dialogue mechanisms hain Bharat aur Pakistan ke beech mein jo jaari rahte hain. Aap logon ko pata hai, jaise DGMO level par charcha hoti rahti hai, mulakat hoti rahti hai, BSF aur Pakistani Rangers ke beech mein bhi mulakaat hoti rahti hai, regular mechanism unka hai. Aur waise hi jo hamaari mulakaat hai, meeting at NSA level wo bhi isi operational level dialogue ka ek part hai.

(Look, there is a dialogue process between India and Pakistan which is that Talks and terror cannot go hand to hand, but there are several other dialogue mechanisms between India and Pakistan which are continuous in nature. As you know meetings and discussion at the level of DGMO keep on happening, similarly talks between BSF and Pakistan Rangers is also a regular feature and mechanism. And in the same way meeting with NSAs is also a part of operational level mechanism.)

We have said that terror and talks cannot go together but talks on terror can definitely go ahead.

Question: Aap ek tarah se ye maan rahe hain ki NSA talk hui hai to kyaa aap bata sakte hain ki kya baatcheet hui, agar terror par hi baat hui to kis tarah ki baat hui?

(In a way you are accepting that talks were held, and if the talks were held can you please elaborate what was discussed and if the talks were held on terror what was discussed?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Main to maan hi raha hoon ki baatcheet hui hai aur maine ye bhi maana ki jo hamara mudda hai wo terror ka hai.

(I am accepting that there have been discussions and I have also accepted that our issue is the issue of terrorism)

How to eliminate this region from the scourge of terrorism, how to ensure that terrorism does not affect this region. I think we have of course raised the issue of cross-border terrorism in those talks.

Question: Are they meeting again?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: As I said that these mechanisms, they do take place. We don’t announce it. These are operational level mechanisms like we have for DGMOs and Pak Rangers, we don’t announce such visits as well and such meetings as well. So as and when these meetings take place you will get to know.

Question: I am hearing after a long time you confirming the latest meeting between the two NSAs. It is a good sign but just wanted to a little more details about the meeting since you have not commented on it before, in the last couple of weeks?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think this is the perhaps first press briefing I am having in two weeks’ time. I did not get an opportunity, I was not asked. Today I was asked and I have commented.

Question: Terror was the only issue taken up during the discussion or other issues were also discussed?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I have shared what I had to, as I said there are mechanisms to discuss the issue of terrorism between the two sides and this was discussed between the meetings of the two NSAs.

Question: Since this meeting between the NSAs took place exactly one day after Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family went to Islamabad to meet him. Did the NSA at any point raise the humiliation that the family went through in Islamabad?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You see, some of these meetings are pre-determined I think the dates are decided well in advance and it is not to do with anything which is happening at that point of time. And again I will mention the same thing that the focus of talks remained on terror and cross-border terrorism.

Question: The days must have been decided earlier but because it so happened that they met after the day, so did our NSA bring it up with the Pakistani counterpart?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Again I will say the same thing. There are a lot of things which can be said, I am saying that the focus of the talks was on terrorism and cross-border terrorism, and that is what I can share.

Thank you so much.

(Concludes)

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