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Transcript of Media Briefing on visit of King of Jordan to India (March 01, 2018)

March 01, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:A very good afternoon to all of you and welcome to this special briefing on the visit of the King of Jordan to India. As you are aware we are still in the middle of hectic day of the visit. King of Jordan had engagements earlier today and he also had several engagements yesterday and to brief you on the elements of the program as well as the discussion which took place earlier today morning, I have with me Secretary (ER), you are familiar with him, Mr. Tirumurti, Jt. Secretary (WANA), Mr. B Bala Bhaskar, and our Ambassador in Jordan, Shubhdarshini Tripathi.

After the briefing we will have time for some question and answer session.

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti:Thank you for coming. Let me at the outset thank all of you for your presence this morning at the special event in Vigyan Bhawan. His Majesty King Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is currently in India on a state visit. This is His Majesty’s second visit to India. His first visit was in 2006. When he arrived on the 27th of February, the Prime Minister himself had received him at the airport on arrival and this gesture was deeply appreciated.

This morning he was given a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, he then paid homage at Rajghat. This was followed by special address by His Majesty on "Islamic Heritage: Promoting Understanding and Moderation” at Vigyan Bhawan.

The special event was hosted by the India Islamic Culture Center in New Delhi. Prime Minister also delivered an address on this occasion. The Urdu edition of the book, "A thinking person’s guide to Islam: The essence of Islam in 12 verses from the Quran” was presented to His Majesty by the Prime Minister. The book was translated into Urdu by Maulana Mohammed Madini, General Secretary Jamaet Ulama Hind.

As you are aware the event was telecast live and we are truly grateful to His Majesty for agreeing to deliver this special address on this very important occasion and share his thoughts on the true message of Islam. We have just concluded the meeting of His Majesty with the Prime Minister who also hosted a lunch in his honor. 12 MoUs and agreements have been exchanged in the presence of these two leaders. These MoUs cover a wide range of areas including defence cooperation, setting up of Center of Excellence in Jordan by CDAC, twinning agreement between Petra Nagra, which are heritage sites, agreements covering areas of health, culture, mutual assistance in customs, long term supply of rock phosphate, mass communications, media, manpower, visa waiver and setting up of a Hindi Chair in University of Jordan.

During his meeting with the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister thanked His Majesty for the latter’s extremely warm reception when Prime Minister visited Jordan earlier in February. His Majesty had gone out of his way to return from a visit abroad especially to receive our Prime Minister and that too on a holiday in his own residence.

Both leaders renewed their support and commitment to the Palestinian cause. His Majesty was appreciative of our Prime Minister undertaking a standalone visit to Palestine through Amman. He commended the role India is playing in the region. Both leaders welcome the signing of the MoU on defence cooperation. There is keenness on both sides to take this cooperation further and we are in the process of exploring avenues for enhancing our cooperation.

We are also looking at closure security cooperation keeping in mind the tremendous experience which Jordan has in the region. You may recall that we started our first bilateral security dialogue in July 2016 and we hope to progress this further. One of the areas identified was cyber security. His Majesty had also earlier visited the National Security Guard Training Center and Manesar where he was given a demonstration of their capability in counter terrorism. This was greatly appreciated by the Jordanian side. Subsequently a presentation on the advanced light helicopters was also made to His Majesty.

Economic relations naturally remain an important focus of this visit and both leaders agreed to explore possibility of cooperation in assisting Africa. Prime Minister mentioned about India’s development assistance to Africa to the tune of $10 billion in lines of credit.

His Majesty has had a very large business delegation with him and they had meeting with their counterparts in India. In the afternoon yesterday His Majesty met a select group of CEOs in a meeting organized by FICCI. His Majesty highlighted the investment opportunities in Jordan and invited Indian businessmen to take advantage of Jordan’s strategic location and its free trade agreements in North America, Europe and Arab countries.

He also addressed the Business Forum jointly organized by FICCI, CII and ASSOCHAM where the Hon’ble Commerce and IndustryMinister was also present. His Majesty acknowledged the synergies between India and Jordan and during the meeting many sectors were identified for cooperation including IT, mining, tourism, retail and renewables.

Yesterday, the External Affairs Minister had called on His Majesty. His Majesty also visited IIT Delhi, yesterday morning, where he was given a presentation. An MoU was signed between IIT Delhi and Al Husain Technical University of Jordan. Later this evening the Hon’ble Vice President will be calling on His Majesty after which His Majesty will call on the President of India who will also host a banquet in his honor. Thank you.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Thank you sir for your briefing. Before we move to the next round of Q&A, I just wanted to share that the list of MoUs with the synopsis is already available on the website and the Prime Minister’s speech is also available, both the Hindi text as well as the video. Now the floor is open to questions.

Question:When the Prime Minster was going to the Palestine, Jordanian King met him in the transit, so this visit was decided after meeting the Prime Minister or it was pre-decided?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti:This visit was very much on the cards however Prime Minister extended the invitation personally to His Majesty when he met him there and which was readily accepted.

Question:A pact on defence cooperation was signed, could you throw some more light on it because Jordan is known to have a robust de-radicalization program. Are we having any collaboration or something on that?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti:Let me just say that this is a framework agreement, and it’s a MoU on defence cooperation. Naturally, it is an agreement where several areas of cooperation delineated where the two countries will explore what are the avenues which can be taken to take it forward. At this point of time I don’t think that there is anything very specific which was decided but as I mentioned His Majesty had also visited and had a presentation on the ALH and there were also other areas of interest which they are looking at.

As I mentioned sometimes earlier there was a defence delegation which had come from Jordan in December 2017 and they had a discussion on a range of issue and we are just hoping that after the important visit of His Majesty we will be actually able to zero in on areas in which we can cooperate.

Question: Aapne aatankwaad ko lekar dono deshon ki jo pratibaddhata hai uski baat kahi aur aapne bataya ki King ke beech mein aur PM ke beech mein isko lekar baatcheet hui hai. Yahan tak ki jo NSG visit inhone kiya us dauraan ko dekha ki aatankwaad ko lekar ladne mein hamaari kitni sakshamta hai. Iske baare mein detail mein batayenge ki darasal baat kya hui, cooperation kya hoga, terrorism se ladne ke field mein, dono deshon ke beech aur kis tarah ke sharing, khastaur par experiences ke kiye jaayenge, ya fir weapons ya baaki cheezon ke kiye jaayenge?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti:Terrorism was naturally a matter of a great concern for both countries and both the leaders discussed the issue of terrorism. His visit to the NSG Training Center at Manesar included demonstration of the capabilities of the NSG and His Majesty was very impressed with the demonstration and he mentioned as such to our Prime Minister that we have impressed with our capabilities.

The Jordanian side has lot of experience in this matter and both the countries are resolved to cooperate in terrorism. The leaders had synergy of views on counter terrorism and other issues in this matter.

Question:You mentioned Jordanian king being appreciative of what India is doing in the region. Could please elaborate a little on that, other than the bilaterals what is India doing in the region, is there any specific mediation that they are planning on doing or what is it?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti:
This was actually in the context of Palestine. He mentioned very clearly to our Prime Minister that India has an international role and he felt that India’s role in the region was very significant. There was nothing very specific which was discussed. In response to your question, I don’t think they discussed the specifics but he appreciated the fact that we had done our standalone visit to Palestine and that we enjoy credibility with both sides, I think that was underlined.

Question:………… (Inaudible)…………..

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti:I am not able to speculate on that but that part of it never came up for discussion.

Question:On the security discussions, In India we keep having these conflicting reports about the presence of Islamic State, is there any input provided by the Jordanian side, given their experience or what is their assessment really of the kind of IS threat that this region and particularly India faces?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti:See, we had this first security dialogue in 2016 where our Deputy National Security Advisor and their Head of the General Intelligence, they had started this security dialogue. I think many aspects of security were definitely covered during this meeting and they have also decided to explore the possibility of opening liaison offices in both countries at that time.

The second edition of this bilateral exercise is due this year. So at this point of time we certainly want to benefit from the experience of Jordan because the position of Jordan is such that it is a very volatile area but when it comes to discussions between Prime Minister and His Majesty, I think the specifics were not gone into except their strong support to continue the security dialogue and take it further.

Question:Are we to presume that the Jordanians have a specific interest in acquiring the ALH Dhruv, have they indicated?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti:No, they have not indicated that they are looking at ALH for procurement. It is just that His Majesty knows our capabilities. You must also understand his background, as you know he is also a qualified para-trooper, he has been Cobra helicopter pilot himself, so naturally he has an interest in this. So therefore looking at ALH and it capabilities and so there was an interest in seeing it, but at this point of time they are not contemplating any acquisition of ALH.

Question:Jordan is hosting a lot refugees from Syria and Iraq. Did Jordanian side asked for any kind of help in any way? And the second question is on the 39 missing Indians, did that issue also pop up during the discussion?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti:See there are about 1.3 million Syrian refugees in Jordan. This is in addition to the refugees who have come from Iraq and of course a lot of Palestinian refugees who had come earlier. So therefore, yes, Jordan needs assistance. You would recall that last year we had given them a cash donation of $2 million and this gesture of India was deeply appreciated. What we plan to do this year and particularly during this visit that we will be giving them assistance worth $5 million in the form of vaccines and medicines.

Question:………… Inaudible…………….

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti:That did not come up during the discussion.

Question: ……………. Inaudible

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti:That is something which they had been asking from the International community. So it’s not just one aspect because there are several aspects which they were asking the International community and we, given our strength in providing medicine and other things, have decided to give them vaccines and medicines for about $ 5 million.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:As there are no more questions we come to the end of this briefing. Thank you all for joining and before we end I wish you all a very colorful Holi. I would also like to thank Secretary (ER), Jt. Secretary and our Ambassador in Jordan for coming to this briefing.

Thank you very much.



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