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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (January 19, 2018)

January 19, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Namashkar, good afternoon and thank you for joining for this press briefing. I am going to keep it very short as you know this is followed by another briefing on Prime Minister’s visit to Davos.

I’ll begin with an announcement. I am happy to announce that India has joined the Australia Group on 19th January, 2018 following the internal procedures for joining this group. The Australia Group decided to include India as its 43rd participant through a consensus decision. India would like to thank each of the Australia Group participants for their support for India’s membership. We would also like to thank Ambassador Jean Hardy of Australia, former Chair of the Australia Group for her role in facilitating India’s accession to the group. India’s entry to the group would be mutually beneficial and further contribute to international security and non-proliferation objectives.

Now I open the floor to questions.

Question: We have seen massive ceasefire violations in the Arnia sector, we have lost two civilians and this of course comes at the backdrop of the statement from the Pakistani Prime Minister where he said there is no evidence against Hafiz Saeed and he also referred to him as Sahib.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think there are two questions but perhaps they are linked. On the first, we of course very strongly condemn the continued and unprecedented ceasefire violations by Pakistan which has caused loss of lives and properties. Our sincere condolences to the families of those affected in this incident.

You are aware that Pakistan violates the ceasefire as a cover to infiltrate terrorists across the border into India. We of course retaliate in such cases and we also take up the matter at appropriate level with the Pakistani side.

What I would like to say about Hafiz Saeed is that I have mentioned in the past that he is a globally designated terrorist. He is the prime organizer of the 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks. Pakistan has to fulfil its international obligations and demonstrate seriousness in taking action against such global terrorists and not to hide behind flimsy excuses.

Question: Pakistan has summoned Indian diplomats like 3 to 4 times in last two weeks. Did we summon the Pakistan High Commissioner here and registered our protest?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Whatever has to be done will be done. I think there is an established mechanism when such violations take place, we do take it up and there is an established protocol for that. We will do it.

Question: Apart from this buildup at the Doklam, the reports that Chinese are constructing some 34-36 km road in the Siachen area. What is your take on that?

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

Question: I am sure inundated in group messages what General Rawat said and the official word from the MEA is that these are mischievous imputations, that there is strong build up, apart from anything that has been called a temporary build up. Now what exactly is the situation, what is temporary, because General Rawat referred to temporary infrastructure, what does temporary infrastructure means?

Question: The Chinese Foreign Minister has just spoken on Doklam and they have said that it is in their own territory and India has no business to comment about internal affairs, whatever happens on the Indian Territory side, how do you react to that? Do you also believe it happened in their territory and the kind of news reports that have come, how do you react to those media reports specifically?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Any other query on Doklam? No. Okay, you must have seen the statement which we issued last evening and I don’t need to reiterate what all we have said in that statement. Two things I can add, one is that we are of course keeping constant vigil on the developments which have a bearing on India’s security and taking all necessary steps to safeguard it.

The other is that the two sides do have and have used established mechanisms to resolve any misunderstandings. And as far as the comment by Army Chief is concerned, I have already made myself very clear about MEA’s role in this matter. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on what has been said by the Army Chief.

Question Contd.:
I asked there are reports that Chinese are building 34 kms road, you haven’t said anything on that.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I said what I had to. I am not going to respond to what you have to ask me. I have made a statement and the statement is very clear. I have said whatever I had to.

Question: Considering that one of the main opposition point that China has been rallying support around as far as India’s entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group is concerned, is that India is a non-signatory to Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. How much of a shot in the arm, do you think India will receive considering it is now a member of three of the Export Control Regimes?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: With our membership in the three export control regimes and the latest one being the Australia Group, I think it helps in establishing our credentials since we have become members of these groups. As far as NSG membership is concerned we remain engaged with all the countries who are members of NSG and we hope that our credentials are taken into account as and when a decision is taken.

Question: This is on Pakistan. At a time when US is putting much pressure on Pakistan to shun the terrorist hideouts, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister yesterday in the Raisina Dialogue said that Pakistan itself is a victim of terrorism and they are supporting Pakistan in anti-terrorist activities and they have sold some helicopters also in the past. So this type of certification by our very old friend Russia is very disconcerting.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I can only share what our position is on Pakistan sponsoring terrorism across the border and I don’t need to reiterate that in this forum time and again. You are all aware that we have taken up the matter of cross-border terrorism, it is a very important issue which has to be sorted out, they have to address this issue not only of the terrorists who are allowed to roam freely in their territory but also several terrorist entities who are allowed to flourish and operate from Pakistan endangering not only the neighboring countries but also threatening many other countries in the region.

Question: Yesterday, he also talked to our Foreign Secretary Dr. S Jaishankar, did this issue figure into that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I am not aware, I cannot answer that question. The meeting did take place but I am not privy to what was discussed in that meeting.

Question: MEA invited Naval Chiefs of the member countries of the quadrilateral group, was there any formal or informal meeting among all the four naval chiefs?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: My sense is that this matter pertains pretty much to the Ministry of Defence. I think you may wish to ask them and they will be able to respond to this question.

Question: The Bangladesh Foreign Minister was here and was there a discussion on the repatriation of Rohingyas from Bangladesh and will India continue to give aid till the time the refugees are there in Bangladesh?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: The meeting which EAM had with the Bangladesh Foreign Minister, I can tell you that it was a very good and cordial meeting, they of course discussed several aspects of our bilateral cooperation and also progress made in the bilateral relationship between the two countries since EAM’s visit to Bangladesh a couple of months ago.

I can also share that they did exchange views on the situation in the Rakhine State including the recent agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar on the return of displaced persons back to where they belong, back to the Rakhine State.

Question Contd.: Inaudible

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think you are aware that we have announced when Foreign Secretary visited Myanmar, he did announce some assistance to Myanmar for the reconstruction activities in the Rakhine State and we have also extended humanitarian assistance to Bangladesh for the displaced persons who are there. As and when we feel that there is a need to contribute further, we will of course consider that.

Question: You have spoken already on Pakistan Prime Minister’s comment but specifically on Hafiz Saeed, the kind of rhetoric that comes from the Pakistan is that there is no evidence that has been shared at all by India. They say that we need evidence to act and that is why there is no case against him. Today the State Department is also spoken, they have reminded them there are cases pending and they can take evidence whenever possible. How do you comment to that rhetoric?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: It is very clear, if somebody has been designated a global terrorist, it has been done based on a lot of evidence which is already available including in the public domain. You can close your eyes and pretend that nothing has happened, but they have to realize what is there in front of them and they have to take action against such people who are operating and allowed to operate freely from their soil.

Question: News18 ke saath interview mein Qadir Baloch ne kaha hai ki Kulbhushan Jadhav ko ISI ne sponsor karke kidnap karwaya tha aur uske baad usei Pakistan ko saunpa gaya tha. To kya is interview ke jo documents hain, usko kya aap Pakistan ko denge aur Kulbhushan Jadhav ki rihaai ko lekar aasaani hogi India ko?

(In an interview with News18, Qadir Baloch has said that Kulbhushan Jadhav was kidnapped by ISI sponsored persons and later he was handed over to the Pakistan. So would you submit this interview to Pakistan and will it help with the release of Kulbhushan Jadhav?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye ye jo interview ka video hai wo mere pass nahi hai par main itna bata sakta hoon ki jo unhone bayaan diya wo shuru se jo hum kah rahe hain ki Kulbhushan Jadhav ki kidnapping hui thi aur unko ek illegal imprisonment mein rakha gaya hai, wo inke bayaan se bilkul corroborate hota hai, yahi main bata sakta hoon aapko.

(Look I don’t have the video of that interview however, I can tell you that we have been saying this since the beginning that Kulbhushan Jadhav was kidnapped and has been kept in illegal imprisonment. I can tell you only this that the statement made by him corroborates what we have been saying.)

Question: Main News24 se hoon aur hamaare channel ne ek story kiya hai jismein Nepal mein Bharatiya currency dhadalle se istemal kiya ja raha hai aur hamare desh mein bhi haal ke dino mein purani currency ki recovery hui hai jiska destination Nepal tha. Is sandarbh mein main jaananaa chahta hoon ki kya koi desh jaise ki Nepal jahan hamari currency istemal mein aati thi, kya wahaan final karaar kiya gaya tha ki is saare ke baad istemaal mein nahi laya jaayega, us aspect mein filhal stithi kya hai?

(I am from News24 channel and few days back we did a story on old Indian currency being used extensively in Nepal and recently there were some recoveries in our country also of the old Indian currency whose destination was Nepal. In this context I would like to know that the countries like Nepal where our currency is used, did we have any final agreement that after demonetization old Indian currency will not be used, what is the final status on that aspect?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Is baare mein specifically mere pass details nahi hain par main itna bata sakta hoon ki jo demonetization hua aur jo humne ek cut-off date banaya tha aur jo cut-off date change bhi hua tha. Jo cut-off date yahan tha wahi cut-off date humne baaki saare logon ko bataya tha, ismein humne discriminate nahi kiya tha.

Jo bahar ke log they unko humne kuch samay tak riyaayat di thi ki aap is samay tak aakar aap apni purani currency ko jama kar sakte hain. Jo hamare padosi desh hain jahan par Indian currency use hota hai, unko bhi humne bataya tha aur unko mechanism bhi samjhaya tha. Jahan tak fake currency ka sawaal hai wo ek issue hai jo hum discuss karte rahte hain especially aise deshon se jismein hamari currency use hoti hai.

(I do not have the specific details about this but I can tell you when demonetization was announced there was a cut-off date which was later changed also. The cut-off date that was applicable here we have informed the same cut-off date to others also, we did not discriminate.

People who were abroad were given some extension to come back and deposit their old currency. Our neighboring countries specifically which use our currency, we have informed them also and we also explained the procedure about this. As far as fake currency is concerned, that is an issue which we keep on discussing regularly particularly with those countries where our currency is used.)

Thank you so much.
(Concludes)

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