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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (April 12, 2018)

April 12, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Good afternoon friends. Namaskar and good to see you after a break. Welcome to this weekly press briefing. After my briefing we will have a briefing on Prime Minister’s visit to Sweden and UK and I will have three Jt. Secretaries who will be coming at around 4 O’ Clock. Before we move to the Q&A session I have one small announcement to make. This is regarding an initiative which we launched on 22nd of March in Hyderabad and the name of the initiative was "Videsh Aaya Pradesh Ke Dwar.”

Now this is an engagement, an initiative to connect with the regional media. We started this with Hyderabad because it is an important hub of regional media and the objective is very simple. To connect to the people at the grass root level, to engage directly with the regional media who do not get a chance to be in Delhi. We intend to take this initiative to difference cities across India and engage directly with the regional media which is based out of Delhi. At that launch I agreed that at the beginning of every weekly press briefing, I will take one question from the regional media and they will share their questions on WhatsApp. So today I am going to start with the first question which has been posed to me by Sushil from Hyderabad and he has asked about the welfare of missing Indian family in San Francisco. I think some of you might have heard about it.

I want to respond that External Affairs Minister was very quick to take note of this incident. Since then our consulate is maintaining contact with the family members of the missing people. Basically it is a family of four people. Sandeep Thottipalli, his wife Soumya and his two children and they have been missing since April 6. We are in touch with the State Police Department. We are also in touch with the highway Patrol and we are trying our best to locate the whereabouts of this missing family.

So this was the first question from the regional media. Now I open the floor for questions.

Question: India and China recently had discussions on the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Can you give us some idea if there is any movement forward during the discussions that happened?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: After the meeting we had issued a press release. At this stage I can only share that both at the working level and difference interactions which we have, the issues which are of concerns to us, they are taken up and raised with Chinese side. There are discussions which we have with the Chinese side on all matters which are of interest to us.

Question: Just an update on the request that we had send for Nirav Modi. There is no word from Hong Kong as yet but any kind of exchange of documents or evidence or any update that you may have?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You may be aware of the written reply submitted by our Minister of State in the Parliament. That was the time when we shared that Nirav Modi is in Hong Kong. I can only add to that by saying that we have requested the Hong Kong authorities to surrender Nirav Modi. Actually there is an agreement between India and Hong Kong and the agreement is for the surrender of fugitive offenders. This was signed between India and Hong Kong in 1997. Our mission in Hong Kong has informed that Department of Justice are still examining our request for the provisional order of arrest of Nirav Modi and we are still awaiting a response from their side.

Jaisa ki maine kaha ki hamare Videsh Rajya Mantri ne is maamle mein Sansad mein ek likhit bayaan diya hai. Aur is samay main ye bata sakta hoon ki humne Hong Kong authorities ke saath request kiya hai Nirav Modi ko surrender karne ke liye. India aur Hong Kong ke beech mein ek agreement hai jo surrender of fugitive offenders ke naam se hai aur ye humne 1997 mein sign kiya tha. Hamara Hong Kong consulate ne Department of Justice ko bataya hai aur wo hamari is request ko examine kar rahe hain jo ki provisional order of arrest of Nirav Modi. Jaise hi hamare pass kuch jaankaari hogi is baare mein, hum aapko batayenge.

Question: There are reports that chemical weapons have been used in Syria though there is denial from Syrian government side also. So what is your reaction about this?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We have seen reports about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Duma, Syrian Arabic Republic. Any use of chemical weapons, anywhere, any time by anybody under any circumstances is in complete disregard of humanity and is reprehensible and contrary to the provisions of Chemical Weapons Conventions as well as accepted international norms. The perpetrators of such abhorrent acts must be held accountable.

Question: I would draw your attention to media reports about death of a Belgium nation in mysterious circumstances two years ago. When his body reached home it was found that his kidney, hearts and other important organs were missing. The murder trial was resumed and I came to know that they have three times requested Indian government to cooperation but they are still awaiting your response. What is your comment and would allow their investigators to come here investigate the murder?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Let me highlight that this is a law and order matter which is handled by the State government and if I am not mistaken this incident took place in a district of Gujarat. We have seen press reports, we have also been approached by Belgian authorities, as you rightly mentioned. We are extending all possible help. You see the help has to be in terms of conducting investigations. MEA can only facilitate the channel between the Belgian government and the law enforcement authorities in Gujarat. We do await the conclusion of the investigation and as I mentioned that from MEA’s perspective whatever help is required, we are extending all possible help.

Question: We saw a release from the Kremlin regarding the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President. What transpired, can you give us a read out or something?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: At this stage that is what I can share which is mentioned in the release by Kremlin today. It says that all matters of mutual interest have been discussed and at this stage I don’t have any further details. When we have I will share it on the group.

Question: When was this held?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: The telephonic conversation took place yesterday on 11 April, 2018.

Question: Is the NSA visiting China or he is in China right now?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: At this point of time frankly I have no information about the visit. Normally if a visit is to be announced we do that in this forum and we will announce it through our WhatsApp group. If a visit is taking place, we will let you know.

Question: A follow up question on Nirav Modi, have we sent similar enquiries and a request for arrest to the US Authorities for Mr. Mehul Choksi. I know we don’t have extradition treaty but even so given our friendly ties, have we asked the United States for any kind of assistance on the investigation?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I have mentioned from this forum in the past that MEA comes into the picture where the location of the fugitive is ascertained. At this stage, we do not have information about the whereabouts of Mehul Choksi.

Question: Are we sending high level representatives to countries where we had no high level contacts in recent years?

According to the information I have, there are around 25-30 countries where we have not had high level engagement. It has been our effort that we must engage with the all the remaining countries through a high level or ministerial level visit. This is part of our diplomatic outreach to all UN-recognised countries.In fact yesterday, we issued a press release, which we have put on our website , that one of our minister visited Timor-Leste. This is a part of that engagement.

Question: You just mentioned the telephonic conversation between PM Modi and President Putin yesterday. Britain is interested in naming Russia in CHOGM, which India is opposing. In the light of this could you just let us know whether this issue is being discussed at that level so far or at any level, has Russia sought to explain its position to India or chose to keep it informed about what is happening?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: There are two issues involved. One of course is on the telephonic conversation between PM and President Putin. I have already shared beyond what has been put out by Kremlin. I don’t have much information but on the incident itself I would like to give a response and I would like to read this out. India is against the use of chemical weapons anywhere at any time by anybody under any circumstances. We hope that this issue is resolved in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention so as to reach evidence based conclusion. India, as all other countries awaits the outcome of the investigation.

Question Contd.: I had also asked you about this issue of reported move by Britain to name the Chair of CHOGM which India ……

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We will have a briefing after this. I think the question can be addressed to the Jt. Secretary who is dealing with the issue.

Question: Teen din pehle Peshawar 1 lakh se jyada Pashtunon ne pradarshan kiya aur unhone swatantrata ki maang ki aur international community se ye bhi maang ki PHata mei jo war crimes ho rahi hain usmein unka dakhal hona chaahiye. Kya Bharat ke pass koi is maang ko lekar pratikriya hai?

(Three days back 1 lakh Pashtuns staged a demonstration in Peshawar and demanded independence and they also asked the international community that they should interfere in the war crimes that are being committed there. Does India has any reaction to this demand?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: See, I don’t have a direct reaction and we have also not issued any statement in this regard. But we have said this earlier also that ethnic minorities in Pakistan are the responsibility of Pakistan and they must be represented in the decision making and I would like to reiterate the same here again.

Question: International Court of Justice mein Kulbhushan Jadhav ki sunwai par 13 April ko koi action hona thaa jo Bharat ne memorandum diya tha. To us par kya hona hai, aap kya update de sakte hain ki us maamle mei kya ho raha hai?

(Some action was due on 13 April by International Court of Justice on the hearing of Kulbhushan Jadhav. So do you have any update regarding that?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Kulbhushan Jadhav case mein jaisa aap logon ko pata hai ki jo submissions hone they dona taraf se wo ho gaye hain. Pehle hamaari taraf se submission hua fir Pakistan ki taraf se unka submission hua. Ab ye decision International Court of Justice ko lena hai ki aage future mein kya hona hai. (As you know the submissions which were due from both sided on the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav have been made. Now what happens further is to be decided by the court.)

Are they going to ask for further submissions by the two sides are we now moving towards a decision making process. So that is something which the International Court of Justice has to decide.

Question: Syrian crisis ko dekhate hue UN ne ek baithak bulaayi hai, jo America ki taraf se ek threat diya gaya hai. Doosari taraf ye bhi dekha gaya hai ki UK ki Prime Minister Theresa May ek baithak conduct karne jaa rahi hain apne mantriyon ke saath ki kya probable actions liye jaayein. To ye dekha ja sakta hai ki Syria main ek front America ka hai, doosra Russia ka hai, UK bhi ab front khol raha hai. Hamara kya overall stand hai Syria ko lekar?

(UN has called a meeting about Syrian crisis after the threat by the US. On the other hand British Prime Minister Theresa May is also going to conduct a meeting with her ministers about the probable actions. So it can be seen that in Syria, America has a front, Russia has a front and now UK is going to have their own front. What is our overall stand on this issue?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Hamara to stand humne pehle bhi aap logon ko bataya hua hai. Humne jo is forum se share kiya hai. (We have shared our stand earlier also from this forum and which is)

India reaffirms the primacy of UN led Geneva Process and we have call for full support for the Intra-Syrian talks with a view to promoting a political solution in Syria.

To ye humne pehle bhi statement issue kiya hai aur isko aap, jo abhi maine statement diya on the chemical weapons, uske saath jodkar dekhein to picture poori ho jaati hai.

(This statement was given earlier also and if you add this with the current statement regarding chemical weapons then it completes the picture.)

Question: Can you give us some details about EAM's visit to Mongolia?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: External Affairs Minister will be travelling to Mongolia. First she will go to China for SCO Ministerial Meeting and from there she will be travelling to Mongolia for Foreign Minister level talks. She will be leaving on 21st from Delhi. She will be in China on 22 and 23 April and then she will be in Mongolia from 24 to 25 April.

Thank you so much. I will be back soon with other Jt. Secretaries to brief you all on Prime Minister’s visit to Sweden and UK.


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