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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (January 02, 2020)

January 03, 2020

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar: Friends!, Namaskar!

Good afternoon and welcome to the first official media briefing of 2020 and I therefore wish all of you in this room and who are watching us online a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year. I do not have any announcements so we can begin the Q and A round.

Question: Raveesh! Happy New Year! , Just wanted to quickly check if there has been any rescheduling as far as the India-Japan summit is concerned? is that under way and how does that change the Summit structure really? Are we expecting two summits this year then?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar: We are in touch with the Japanese side through diplomatic channels in this matter. We do hope that very soon we will come to the finalization of the date. It is an annual mechanism, the Summit was supposed to be held in December that is the one which is getting postponed and should not normally affect the subsequent Summits. But all these matters will be under discussion with the Japanese side.

Question : ! Happy New Year Raveesh!

There were news reports with regards to some diplomats not being happy with India’s conversations whether they have engaged them or not on the CAA front? Just wanted a clarity on whether if India has engaged all foreign offices or have they engaged diplomats here in New Delhi?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar : You see Geeta, there is a news report which came out and I think the report I can say that it was factually incorrect. We did reach out to countries across all the geographical regions with our friends and partners, we did write to to our missions and posts,we did tell them that to share our perspectives on CAA and NRC with the host government. Now there are three- four points which we asked the missions to share, the first is that this is an internal process, this is a matter internal to India, number one, number two we also asked them to convey to them that the act just provides expedited consideration for Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities already in India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, number three we also conveyed to them that it does not affect the existing avenues which are available to other communities from seeking citizenship or those who are interested in seeking citizenship and number four it also does not seek to strip anybody from any Indian citizen of any faith. And more importantly I think something which has been going on in the foreign press that it does not in anyway alter the basic structure of the Constitution. So these are the points which we conveyed to our Ambassadors and Consul Generals, we asked them to reach out not only to their interlocutors in the government but also to the media as well. Now, the nature of engagement may depend on the subject matter. We do conduct a very proactive diplomacy here in Delhi on this case but we also realise d that there is lot of explaining which is involved. A two pronged strategy was adopted that apart from reaching out to, you know, some of the resident Ambassadors and High Commissioners who are based here,we will also ask our Ambassadors and high commissioners abroad to engage with capitals across different countries.

Question: Sir, there was some reports of a deal between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, wherein, an OIC meet will be called to discuss the Kashmir issue and also probably the CAA one as well, so, considering the just less than a year ago India had attended one of the sessions of the OIC so what is it is has the government reached out to Saudi Arabia or are we trying to, what is your reaction to this have you heard anything from anyone officially?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar : Sridhar, I think, the second part is very clear as I mentioned that we have reached out to several countries. On the second part, I can say that the reports are entirely speculative, I think the news is basically coming out from Pakistan that the meeting is being organised. We are not aware about any such meeting of OIC on any India related matter being organised by the OIC at this stage.

Question: Do you have the programme for Scott Morison, PM of Australia coming for the Raisina Dialogue?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar :Jiske tahat Raisaina dialogue 2020 hone wala hai 14 se 16 January aur isme jo best strategic minds Hai Puri Duniya Se wo isme shamil hote hain aur usme Scott Morrison Jo Pradhanmantri hai Australiya ke unko bhi isme bulaya gaya hai is event ke liye, aur jo unka program hai wo finalise ho raha hai abhi time haiuskeke bare mein ham apkoitlahkarenge. but mai ye bhi batana chahunga Raisean dialogoue ke silsile mein, ki isme hamare pass Kafi acche response hain. Foreing Ministers se iske liye confirmation diyahai, mere pass naam hai lekin yeh hai ki agar main aaj karun aur phir kal kuch regret ho jaye to Mushkil Hai but 10 ke ass pass Foreign Ministers hain, Common Wealth Secretary General hai, EU ke jo Special High Representative hain unhone bhi iske liye cionfirmation diya hai. To bahut hi high profile participation hame is raisina dialogue pe dekhne ko milega.

(English translation: Under which Raisana dialogue 2020 will take place from 14 th -16 th January and in this the best strategic minds from all over the world shall participate and Scott Morrison the Prime Minister of Australia has also been invited for this event and his programme is being chalked out and we shall let you know in due course of time. I would also like to inform you one thing more that we got very good response. I have names of around 10 foreign ministers, Commonwealth Secretary General and the High representative of EU has also confirmed his participation. Thus we will be able to see very high level participation in the Raisana Dialogue.)

Question: Just to follow up on the CAA, NRC issue, because there were also been reports that suggest that Bangladesh have asked for a written assurance that immigrants will not be sent across and there were also reports of Bangladesh shutting some security, the phone signal citing, security issues on the border, could you please elaborate on that?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar : On the phone issue you see there was a report that they have stopped, then there was another report that the decision has been revoked. So, whatever, the decision was I think it does not exist on the ground at this point of time. So, I think, that got resolved itself. On the other, question, we have explained our position to the Bangladesh Government on the NRC. We have said that this is an internal matter of India. Reports which are coming out on this matter are based on source and they are they can’t be verified. So, it is difficult for me to comment on such reports.

Question: Sir, Nepal is raising the issue of Kala Pani border issue and you know that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with K.P. Sharma Oli, had this issue raised by Nepalees side and whether any talk is going on between India and Nepal on this matter ?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar: Let me first talk about the conversation which prime minister had with the Prime Minister of Nepal. I t was essentially to wish all the neighbouring leaders a happy new year which prime minister did to Shri K.P. Sharma Oli ji as well. This was in keeping with our age old ties, and civilization contacts which we share with Nepal and also the spirit of "Neighbourhood first”. We have shared up a press release where we have included relevant details of the conversation. As far as the boundary question is concerned, we have made our position very clear. I can only reiterate that our map accurately depicts the sovereign territory of India and the new map has in no manner revised our boundary with Nepal. The boundary delineation exercise with Nepal is ongoing under the existing mechanism. We reiterate our commitment to resolve outstanding boundary issues through dialogue in the spirit of our close and friendly bilateral relations between the two countries.

Question: Sir one clarification, aapne shuruaat meinye kaha ki CAA aur NRC ko lekar Sabhi desho se Sampark Sadha gaya hai. Aapne CAA ke bare mein bataya hai ki kya kuch kaha gaya hai ,NRC ke bare meinkya brief kiya gaya hai?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar: No, basically dekhiye ye to hamne bataya hai ki dono alag alag process hain. CAA aur Assam NRC ka aapas mein koi sambandh nahin hai. CAA aur Assam NRC ke bare mein hamne ye bataya hai ki ye supreme court mandated process hai, ye hamara internal mamla hai aur ye jo ham karrahein ye hein ye this is as per the direction by the supreme court, it is mandated by the supreme court and also monitored by the supreme court. If you noticed the reaction which we have received, from across the world, barring a few countries, we feel that most of the countries have accepted that this is an internal matter of India and that is getting reflected in their reactions and announcements.

(English translation: No, see basically we have told them that both are different processes. There is no relation between CAA and NRC. About CAA and NRC we have we have told that these are supreme court mandated processes, it is our internal matter and what we are doing, this is as per the direction of Supreme court)

Question: Sir, this question pertains to the extradition request for Nirav Modi as well as Mehul Choksi, can you share the progress on that, today there was a hearing of Nirav Modi case in London and also in Antigan court , Mehul Choksi has filed counter affidavit for right to citizenship and the India’s extradition claims, so how are we taking up and you what is the progress of this entire process?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar : The case of Nirav Modi is being heard at Westminster megistrate’s court in London. The next call over video link sharing is scheduled today and we will have to see what happened in that hearing but broadly I can sumarise that we are committed, we are putting all the resources on the ground to ensure the early extradition of Nerav Modi to India.

Q. What was the other one on Mehul Choksi?

Ans. On Mehul Choksi, we have requested the Antigua and Barbuda government to expedite the legal proceedings, so that the process of of extradition of Mehul Choksi to India can start.

Question: Coming back to the conversation of the Prime Minister with regional leaders when in his conversation with Sheikh Hasina did the issue of NRC and the possible return of illegal immigrants to Bangladesh come up?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar : you must have seen a press release on what we have shared and there is nothing more which I have to share. Our position on a CAA and NRC has been communicated, we are engaged with several countries across the world and I have nothing further to add.

Question : …….Students in Russia....................................

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar: We got in touch with our Embassy. The embassy has contacted the consultant and they have also got in touch with the university authorities. Both have been asked to resolve the matter at the earliest possible. We are quite hopeful of a resolution which will not put the career of students in jeopardy and that is the assurance which we have got from both. We will keep on monitoring the progress in this matter.

Question: .....Any update on Swami Nityananda case?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar: No there is no update. You are aware, last when I discussed this matter with you, we were still awaiting for some communication from the agencies. But on our own, we have sent a communication to all our missions and posts, asking the foreign government for help in trying to locate him and that request still stands but there is nothing more than that.

Question: Foreign Minister was in Iran recently for foreign minister level talks, there was of course discussions on Chabahar port and work towards optimal utilization of the port is well but any further discussions on resuming the economic partnership, the oil partnership and the oil trade between the two countries?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar : I am not privy to whether this matter was discussed or not. We have issued a press release following the 19th India-Iran joint commission meeting. There was some discussion on Chabahar port as well. And in fact a Trilateral meeting between India, Afghanistan and Iran was held on Chabahar port very recently. And there is lot of good news coming out from that port. You know the port has commenced operation almost a year ago, December 2018. Since then we have had almost 4500 containers, which has moved between the two countries, between India and Chabahar port, almost half a million cargo has moved, what we are working now with Iran is to how we can further enhance the connectivity, how we can take it forward, how we can use this connectivity to expand also our trade links with Central Asia.

Question: On this Nityananda case you the communication you just mentioned, is this the same one broadly the same one that you spoke about the last time or you have sent a fresh communication?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar : It is the same communication which I spoke about last time.

Question: Sir, with China I understand there reports coming up on early harvest on the boundary settlement issue. Any update on that? What is an early harvest in this matter?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar: Frankly it will be difficult to get in to the details of what transpired at the SR talks. Whatever we had to share we have shared it through a press release. Two or three things which I can highlight one is that there was this feeling that it should be addressed from strategic perspective of Indo - China relations and number two it was also decided that while those discussions go on under the SR talks framework there should be peace and tranquility on the border which is very important for the overall development of bilateral relationship.

Question: There were two versions issued of the statement issued by India and China differently. So, the Chinese side said that practical measures were suggested for resolving the boundary issues. Can you elaborate that?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar: No, I can’t. These are sensitive negotiations. Boundary negotiations are always very sensitive and this has been going on for quite some time. Every year some progress is made and we decide how much how much of that should come out in the public domain, and that we have already shared in the press release.

Question: There were reports ki 3 din, 3 se 5 january tak jo non-sikh pilgrims honge unko Kartarpur Gurudwara jane ki permission nahin milegi? Aisi report Pakistan se aara hi hein! kya ye raise kiya gaya hai?

(English translation: There were reports that for three days, from 3rd January to 5th January, the non-sikh pilgrims will not get permission to visit Kartarpur Gurudwara? These type of reports are emerging from Pakistan. Have this issue has been raised?)

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar : Nahin mujhe nahin pata, jo ab system hai jo home ministry maintain karti hai, us list ko ham Pakistan ke saath share karte hein, ek certain time frame hai, aur us list ko Pakistan dubara hamein bhejta hai ki ye list sahi hai aur aagar us list mein se unko kisi ko hatana hota hai to hamein bata detein hein. Aabhi mujhe iske bare mein jankari nahin hein.

(English translation: No, I don’t know but the current system is maintained by the Ministry of Home affairs, we share that list with Pakistan. There is a certain timeframe and Pakistan again returns the list saying if acceptable or if they want to remove certain names, they inform us. Presently I do not have an information in this regard)

Question: Happy New Year to you Raveesh! You said during the SR talks, it was decided that the boundary question should be resolved with a strategic view of the relations between the two countries. Could you please elaborate a bit more on this strategic view?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar : Happy New Year! The relationship between India and China, has expanded across different frontiers, trade, investment, people to people etc. Recently we had informal talk in Chennai before that we had the first Informal Summit in Wuhan. So, the two sides are talking on variety of issues. When I say strategic orientation it means that one issue should not cloud the overall relationship.

Question: Is there a particular issue you are talking about?

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar : I am talking about the boundary issue. I have just mentioned. I mean the boundary negotiation is going on and so this issue is going on. So at the same time the relationship and on all other aspects, on all frontiers should move on.

Question: RaveeshJi, halanki aapne kaha hai ki adhikarik jankari OIC ke dwara is ghosna ki nahin hai aapko ki koi baithak kashmir par bulayi ja rahi hai lekin Pakistan Videsh Mantralay ki taraf se iska dawa kiya gaya hai. Aab aise main jab ki Bharat ne Saudi Arabia se mitrata mein bahut jyada invest kiya hai. Aapne ye bhi kaha hai ki duniya ke deshon tak ham pahnche hein aapne Kashmir stand ke bare mein logon ko bataya bhi hai kya? Malaysia jiske dabaw mein mana ye ja raha hai ki ye sab kuch ho raha hai, kya ham untak nahein pahnch paye hein? Unhein convince nahin kar paye aapni Kashmir policy ke bare mein?

(English translation: Dear Mr. Raveesh, you informed that you do not have any official information with regards to OIC’s announcement that a meeting on Kashmir is being organized but the Pakistan’s foreign ministry has confirmed. Now, when India has invested a lot to develop friendship with Saudi Arabia. You also told that we have reached all the countries of the world regarding Kashmir stand, have you told them? It is being said that this is all happening under Malaysia’s pressure, have we not reached them? Are we not able to convince them on our Kashmir policy?)

Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar : Mujhe lagta hai ki appne kafi countries ko ek saath link kar diya, agar aap Pakistan ka bayan dekhein to unhone bhi kaha hai aur jaisa aap keh rahe hein ki is par confirmation aa gayi hai, unhone bhi kaha hai ki it is envisaged.

(English translation: I feel that you have linked so many countries at the same time. If you see the statement released by Pakistan, they have also said that it is envisaged but not confirmed as claimed by you.)

Now they are using words like envisaged, planned etc. I don’t think there is a statement by Pakistan saying that this is happening. You are aware that there is a council of Foreign Minster’s meeting of OIC, which takes place every year and that will take place this year as well. So let us see, you know, I am right in saying that we have no information so far regarding any India focused meeting which is being organized by OIC. As far as Malaysia is concerned, we have made our concern known very well and very clearly and you are aware that sometime back we did comment on the statement made by Malaysian prime minister at the KL Summit and in that context we had also called in Malaysian Cd'A. We told him that this is not in keeping in the spirit of the long standing relationship which we share with Malaysia, we also told them that this was very ill advised and something which could have easily been avoided. We are trying to convey our views to all the countries and to many other countries that are part of OIC as well.

Good, as I don’t see any other hand. Thank you very much for joining today. Just a small piece of statistics, that in 2019 we held 80 on record briefings, which included weekly media briefings, and special briefings related to different visits by dignitaries.

Thank you very much!

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