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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (December 20, 2018)

December 20, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Namaskar, good afternoon and welcome to this weekly briefing. I do not have any announcements so we can straightaway move to Q&A.

Question: The question is on Jinnah House. Yesterday we saw reports that India is going to convert it into convention center. Today the Pakistani Foreign Ministry has reacted saying that they will not relinquish claim on Jinnah House. What is MEA’s official reaction on the entire development which is taking place?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You see Pakistan is not in the picture. They have no locus standii as far as this property is concerned. It is a government of India property and we are actually in the process of renovating it and putting it into an effective use on the lines of what we do with the Hyderabad House in New Delhi.

Question: Yesterday Hamid Nihal Ansari met the External Affairs Minister, Smt. Sushma Swaraj. What exactly did he discuss with her? Did he talk about physical torture?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: He met EAM yesterday. EAM enquired from Hamid Nihal Ansari about his well being. He was being released after six years of incarceration in Pakistani Jail. EAM did ask him how he landed up in Pakistan and something which has already appeared in the media. But he did explain that, through a twist of circumstances, what he said that he was in love with a girl and in pursuit of the girl he followed her and he landed up in Pakistan and there he was arrested on the suspicion of being a spy. The girl for whom he had gone to Pakistan actually testified in his favor that he had come to meet her but he was put in jail. He had to spend in Jail more time what he was sentenced and then he is back, but I think rest is already appeared in the media.

Question: The Russian Presidential envoy Zamir Kabulov is in Delhi. Could we get some details, has he made any sort of request for India to step up its participation in the Moscow Format from a non-official to an official capacity?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: The special envoy did visit India which is the part of regular bilateral consultations between India and Russia on Afghanistan. He had delegation level talks with the Indian side on. On the Indian side it was led by Jt. Secretary (PAI), Deepak Mittal.

After the delegation level talks he also had a meeting with the Foreign Secretary. Important things which came out from the meeting. Number one, I think both sides reiterated their support for an Afghan led and Afghan owned, inclusive peace and reconciliation process. Russian side on their part briefed on the efforts to support Afghan peace process through the Moscow Format of talks.

It was also agreed to maintain regular consultations and coordination including in the context of international forums with the shared objective to promote peace, security, stability and unity of Afghanistan. We hope that the next round of this consultations take place in Russia in 2019.

Question: Mallya ke case mein logon ko dilchaspi hai ki aagey kya kadam uthaaye jaa rahe hain unke extradition ko lekar aur doosara agar wo appeal mein jaate hain to uske liye kya taiyyariyan hain. Saath hi agar koi jaankari Mehul Choksi aur Nirav Modi ko lekar ho to wo bhi bataayein.

(People are interested to know about further steps that are being undertaken in the case of extradition of Vijay Mallya. Second if he goes for appeal then what are our preparations for that. Along with it if you have any information regarding Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, then please share that also.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Jahan tak Mallya ka prashn hai, aapka prashn kaafi speculation walaa tha. Aapko pata hoga ki 10 December ko Westminster Court ne ek decision liya tha aur unhone recommend kiyaa thaa ki Vijay Mallya ka extradition India ho janaa chaahiye. Uske baad jo process, shayad aapko pata hoga ki wo Secretary of State (Home) ko jaata hai, jinke pass do mahine ki Awadhi hoti hai to formally order his extradition. Par iske saath ye bhi hai ki Vijay Mallya ke pass do saptaah ka samay hota hai appeal karne ke liye, us order ke tahat. To abhi aagey kya hota hai hum dekhenge uske liye hum wait karte hain par ye main batana chaahunga ki hamari jo mission hai London mein, they of course are in active touch with UK authorities on this issue.

Jahan tak aapne jo doosara poochha, Mehul Choksi ke baare mein aapko ye pata hai ki jo hamari CBI aur ED ki request Antigua & Barbuda authorities ko submit ki gaii thi, abhi stithi hai ki hum follow up kar rahe hain, unse request kar rahe hain ki jo unka response hai usko expedite karein.

Nirav Modi ka maamla bhi wahi hai ki abhi jo hamara request thi that is under the consideration of the Secretary of the State (Home) of the UK government before this can be sent to the court for decision.

(As far as your question related to Vijay Mallya, your question is quite speculative in nature. You are aware that on 10th December Westminster Court has taken a decision that Vijay Mallya should be extradited to India. The process after that is that the case then goes to the Secretary of State (Home) which have to pass extradition order within the duration of two months. Along with this Vijay Mallya also has a window of two weeks in which he can file an appeal against the order. At this moment we are waiting and the future course of action will be decided after these two weeks but I would like to say one thing that our mission in London is in active touch with the London authorities on this issue.

Second, you asked about Mehul Choksi, as you are aware that the extradition requests by CBI and ED was submitted to Antigua & Barbuda authorities and currently we are following up with them on this issue and we have requested them to expedite their response on this issue.

Further regarding Nirav Modi, our request for extradition is under the consideration of the Secretary of the State (Home) of the UK government before it can be sent to the court for decision.)

Question: The case of Jinnah House is still in litigation as far as I know. What is the stand on that, MEA, will you fight that particular claim if you want to turn it into another Hyderabad House? And on the Telecom company officials have been asked to go back, that particular Indian company is suggesting their stand that their version has not been heard. If you could just clarify?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: On the property which you mentioned, I think our stand is very clear, this is our property and if there is somebody who contests then I think this is something which we will have to fight. I mean there is no doubt in our mind that this is anybody else’s property.

On the other case, you mentioned about a Chinese company, this is a matter perhaps if you can check with the concerned ministry, I think they might have more information on this case.

Question Contd.: ………..on Jinnah House..

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No, that is what I am saying, I know the history and I think all of us also know the history. It has nothing to do with who is contesting, what I am saying is that this property belongs to the government of India. The nationality at this point of time is not in question.

Question: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has tweeted recently that he strongly condemns the killing of innocent civilians in Pulwama by Indian security forces and he also said that they will raise the issue of Indian human rights violation in Kashmir. Do you have a response to this?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You see time and again I have mentioned from this forum that the statements coming from their side, I think they demonstrate their insincerity and duplicity. What we have been demanding is that they should stop allowing their territory to be used for terror groups and terrorists who are operating from their soil and exporting it to other countries. No action is being taken on that. On the other hand they have, sometimes, the gumption to comment on the internal affairs of a neighboring country. I think it will be better if they mind their own business and look at their internal affairs which are quite a mess in their own country, they should look at that first.

Question: Chinese Foreign Minister is coming tonight, though I do have the advisory but can you just elaborate what will be the issues that will be discussed during this meeting?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No, I really can’t exchange at this point of time the issues which will be raised but I can give you the ,background. If you know the background, this is the first meeting of the India-China High Level Mechanism on Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges. We have issued a press release on 14 December. This will be co-chaired by our External Affairs Minister on the Indian side and by the Chinese Foreign Minister and the decision to establish this special mechanism was taken during the informal summit between the Prime Minister and President Xi in Wuhan in April 2018.

It reflects the desire of two sides to build greater synergies in the people to people area. So there are a lot of areas which are coming into play now. We are talking about enhancing exchanges in the field of tourism, arts, films, and media. We have the media forum and all of you are invited for that as well. Culture, sports, academic and youth exchanges.

What we also plan to do is that under this high level mechanism we are bringing all the existing bilateral cultural and people to people exchanges between India and China. We are trying to build all the exchanges under one roof.

Question Contd.: …………

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: This specifically is the high level mechanism on cultural and people to people exchanges. The meeting of course, there will be a bilateral meeting, delegation level talks between the EAM and the Chinese Foreign Minister tomorrow and after that, at the beginning of the Media Forum, EAM and the Chinese Foreign Minister will deliver their statements which will encapsulate the discussions which might have just concluded.

Question: The MoUs are related to the people to people and cultural exchanges only?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Yes.

Question: India-China Museum cooperation?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Yes, there is one on India-China Museum Cooperation as well.

Question: Recently Punjab CM ne ek TV interview mein kaha tha ki Kartarpur Corridor ek game plan hai ISI ka, is bayaan par kaise react karenge?

(Punjab CM in a recent TV interview said that Kartarpur Corridor is a game plan of ISI, how do you react to this statement?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Kartarpur Corridor par bayaan pehle bhi humne diyaa hua hai ki kis dhang se ye shuru hua aur humne kaha tha ki cabinet ki meeting ke baad ye decide hua aur humne Pakistan ko urge bhi kiya ki aap Kartarpur ke Corridor ka infrastructure taiyyar karein aur ye permission dein Indian pilgrims ko us taraf jaane ke liye.

Uske baad jo hua aap ko sabko pata hai. Yahan se kuchh log gaye they, wahan se kuchh comments bhi aaye, to ismein ab jyada bolne ki jaroorat nahi hai. Mujhe lagta hai ki jo unki mansha thi is cheez ko karne ki usmein us samay saaf neeyat nahi thi aur jo hamein unke kuchh bayanon se prateet hua. Hum abhi yahi guzarish karenge ki jo unhone abhi commitment kii hai ki apni taraf jo infrastructure khadaa karna hai wo wo karenge, aur hamari taraf ka jo kaam hai, hamari jo nodal ministry hai wo hamari taraf kaam kar rahi hain.

(We have earlier also given the statement on Kartarpur Corridor that how it all began and as we said that it was decided after a cabinet meeting and we also urged Pakistan that they should prepare the infrastructure for the Kartarpur Corridor and give permission to Indian pilgrims to visit there.

What happened after that you all are aware of that. Some people went from here went there and certain comments were made from that side, so I think there is hardly any need to speak further on this issue. I think their intentions on doing this thing was not with clear conscious which we felt from their certain statements. We will still request them that they have committed to prepare infrastructure on their side they should do that and on our side, the nodal ministry for this is doing the requisite work.)

Question: The question is on Bangladesh, the country goes to polls soon. Anything you would like to say or is India sending any observers or anything?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We are sending observers. We got this invitation from the Chief Election Commission of Bangladesh. They have invited our representatives, including also from other countries to witness the elections as observers. From our side we are sending three senior officials who have actually been designated by the Chief Election Commission. They will be travelling to Bangladesh from 28th to 31st December as the guests of the counterpart agency in Bangladesh.

As far as the election is concerned we feel that this is an internal matter of the country. We respect the functioning of democracy in Bangladesh which is a vibrant democracy, a close neighbor and highly valued partner for India.

Since I do not see any other question, this concludes the weekly press briefing. Thank you all for joining.

(Concludes)

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