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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (January 16, 2020)

January 17, 2020

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Friends, Namaskar, good afternoon. I have a short read out on Raisina Dialogue. It has been going on for last three days and I thought I will just sum it up in terms of engagement from our perspective.

You are aware that it had a very high profile opening on January 14 in the presence of the Prime Minister. There were seven former heads of government and state who were present on the occasion. Since then, several foreign ministers have shared the stage, and have shared their perspectives on various global issues. There are over 700 international participants this time who are attending this conference from more than 100 countries representing diverse point of views.

Amongst the high profile participants, we have 11 foreign ministers and three who are equivalent to the foreign ministers. The Secretary General of SCO, Commonwealth and also the High Representative from EU. Information Minister of Bangladesh, National Security Advisor from Afghanistan and Deputy NSA from the U.S. are also attending. The ministerial participants called on the Prime Minister yesterday evening. EAM is having a very busy schedule during this entire conference. Day before yesterday evening, he delivered the vote of thanks and yesterday morning he again took the stage for a conversation on the India Way – Preparing for a Century of Growth and Contest.

So far EAM has had bilateral meetings with at least nine foreign ministers, Information Minister of Bangladesh, the Secretary Generals of SCO and Commonwealth. He has also met the Afghan National Security Advisor as well as the U.S. Deputy NSA. And his meetings have been held in different formats. He will be meeting some of the other participants, some who came in late yesterday. He is meeting today and some of the meetings are going to continue tomorrow as well.

We have issued press releases on all his meetings including the call on by the ministers on the Prime Minister and they are available on our website. So this is what I had to share on the Raisina Dialogue and now I open the floor to questions.

Question: We all know what happened at the UNSC, an informal closed door meeting happened and China was the country which attempted to raise Kashmir. What is the official response of the Ministry of External Affairs on that?Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I will take other questions on this topic.

Question: We have seen very strong statements and some action that has been taken by India in the case of countries such as Turkey and Malaysia whenever they have raised Kashmir. In one instance which was raised at the UN itself. Could we have some light on why we haven’t reacted as strongly to China taking up Kashmir repeatedly at UNSC?

Question: Jis tarkeese China ne fir se koshish kii hai aur usko haalaanki kaamyaabi nahi milii lekin kya is par MEA ka reaction hai?

(The China has again tried and although they did not succeed but what is MEA’s reaction on this?)

Question: Do we know in the closed door meeting which all countries supported India in its position and which are the countries which didn’t?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You see, perhaps we are all aware that an effort was made by Pakistan through a member of UNSC to once again misuse the platform of the United Nations Security Council. The overwhelming majority of the United Nations Security Council were of the view that UNSC was not the right forum for such issues and this should be discussed bilaterally between India and Pakistan. The informal closed door meeting therefore concluded without any outcome.

In our view it once again highlighted that Pakistan’s desperate measures to peddle baseless allegations and present an alarming scenario lacked any credibility. We sincerely hope that the message has gone out loud and clear to Pakistan that if at all there is any matter between India and Pakistan that needs to be discussed, it should be discussed bilaterally. Pakistan has a choice of avoiding this global embarrassment time and again by refraining from such acts in the future.

On the question regarding China, I suggest that this question should be addressed to the Chinese side as well. In our view, China should seriously reflect on this global consensus, draw the proper lessons and refrain from taking such action in the future.

On the question about who exactly supported and who were against, our sense is that overwhelming support was for this forum not to be misused by Pakistan through a member of the UN Security Council.Jaisaa aap sabko shaayad pataa hai ek UNSC sadasya ke maadhyam se Pakistan dwara, fir se, dwipaksheey maamle mein charchaa ke liye UNSC ke manch ka durupyog karne ka prayaas kiyaa gayaa. UNSC ke adhikaansh sadasyon ka maanana thae ki UNSC aise muddon ke liye sahi manch nahi hai aur is par Bharat aur Pakistan ke beech dwipaksheey roop se charchaa honii chaahiye isliye jo informal aur closed door session thaa uska koii nateejaa baahar nahi aayaa.

Isase ek baar fir ye jaahir ho gayaa hai ki Pakistan ke benuniyaad aaropon mein koi sachhai nahi hai yar sachhai ka aabhaav thaa. Hamein poori ummeed hai ki ye sandesh Pakistan ko spasht roop se chalaa gayaa hai ki yadi Bharat aur Pakistan ka jo muddaa hai agar wo charchaa karne yogya hai to ye sirf Bharat aur Pakistan ke beech mein hi ho sakta hai aur hamaari ye bhi salaah hai ki Pakistan ko ye baar-baar ki sharmindagi se bachanaa chaahiye. Unko samajhanaa chaahiye ki jo unka jhooth hai, jo wo ek najariya pesh karte hain us nazariye ka global community mein koi takers nahi hain.

Jahaan tak China ka sawaal hai mujhe lagtaa hai ki ye sawaal unse bhi poochhanaa chaahiye ki wo baar kyon ye Pakistan ke behalf par kar rahe hain aur uske saath hamaaraa ye bhi kahnaa hai ki China ko ki jo ek global consensus banaa hai, jo ki reflect hua ek overwhelming majority mein ki is maamle ko UNSC mein nahi discuss karnaa chaahiye. Unko iske upar dhyaan denaa chaahiye aur shayad isase kuch seekh bhi leni chaahiye aur hamaara ye maananaa hai ki shayad Bhavishya mein unko aisa action karne se bachanaa chaahiye.

Question: Since August when China brought up this issue at UNSC the first time there have been visits by two very senior Chinese dignitaries, the President as well as Wang Yi who came after tried to test the waters in December as well. Why have these issues not been taken up at that level, so as to understand what China’s issue is that it constantly raises Kashmir at UNSC?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No, I think you can presume that these issues have not been taken up. I think in the past I have shared from this platform that all issues which are of interest to us, they do find mention and time for discussion in all such high level meetings. So I don’t think your assessment on the issue not being flagged with the Chinese side is correct.

Question: Since you have indicated that this issue might have been raised what was China’s response?Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I just told you that we share our perspective. It is time for China to reflect on this global consensus, draw some lessons from it and avoid and refrain from taking such actions in the future.

Question: If I remember correctly after the Mahabalipuram summit, at that press conference the Foreign Secretary had said that the Kashmir Issue had not been raised during the informal summit. So are you saying it was raised during that particular meeting?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No, I stand by what the Foreign Secretary said. When Foreign Secretary mentioned that the Kashmir issue was not raised, you do understand that backdrop to that meeting and I think there were queries from the media that whether the events in Kashmir, were they a topic of discussion and Foreign Secretary clarified that it was not discussed between the two sides in that context.Question: President Trump ke Bharat daure ko lekar tamaam tarah kii khabarein chal rahii hain khas taur par kal kii bhi khabar aai ki wo Agra jaa sakte hain Taj Mahal dekhane, uske liye security concerns ko lekar tamaam cheezein ho rahi hain. Kya kuch clarity hai Bharat ki taraf se ki ye yatra kab hogi aur usko lekar kya taiyyariyan chal rahi hain?

(Many reports are circling around regarding visit of President Trump to India and especially yesterday there was a report that he may visit Agra to visit the Taj Mahal, what are the security concerns regarding that and the related preparations for that? Is there any clarity from India when this visit will happen and what preparations are underway for the visit?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye is visit ko lekar aaj se nahi kaii mahino se atakalein chal rahi hain, abhi aa rahe hain, baad mein aayenge. Aapko pataa hai ki jo high level, top level, summit level exchanges hain dono deshon ke beech mein wo hamaari strategic partnership ka ek aham hissa hai.

Aur usii ke sandarbh mein jab pradhanmantri President Trump se miley they to unhone President Trump ko Bharat aane ka nyotaa diyaa thaa aur iske alaawaa jab hi official level talks yaa baaki cheezein hoti hain, ye high level exchanges ek hota hai muddaa jisko discuss kiyaa jaataa hai ki ye kab ho sakta hain. Main itna bataa sakta hoon ki dono desh jo diplomatic channels ke through lagaataar is par sampark banaaye hue hain.

Kaun sa din hogaa, kahaan jaayenge, Kaun se mahinaa hogaa, mujhe lagata hai usmein abhi waqt hai. Aapko pataa hai ki aisi jab hi koi high level visit hoti hai uska announcement hamaare ek proper procedure ke tahat kiyaa jaataa hai. Jaise hi hamaare samaksh koii pakki jaankaari hogi hum jaroor aap se saajhaa karenge.

(See, there have been many reports regarding this visit, whether he is visiting now or maybe later. You know that the top level summit exchanges between the two countries are an important element of our strategic partnership and in that context when Prime Minister met President Trump he invited President Trump to visit India. Other than this, whenever there are high level exchanges then this is an issue which is discussed that when can this visit be scheduled. I can tell you that both countries are continuously in touch on this through diplomatic channels What will be the date, which month, where they will visit, I think there is still time for it. You know that whenever such a kind of visit is planned it is announced by us under a proper procedure. As and when we have some concrete information on it we will share it with you.)

Question: Any reaction to the Russian Foreign Minister’s objections to the word "Indo-Pacific”, I mean how do we see it?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think our vision of Indo-Pacific is not something which is ambiguous. It has been articulated by the Prime Minister himself during the Shangri-La Dialogue, I think in June 2018, and since then External Affairs Minister has expanded that vision of Indo-Pacific. We are very clear that it is free, open, it is inclusive with ASEAN centrality.

Question: Raisina Dialogue mein aaj hum sab ne Chief of Defence Staff ka statement bhi sunaa thaa ki jab wo kah rahe they ki Pakistan ke khilaaf FATF ke tahat agar blacklisting kii kaaryawaahi agar safal nahi hui yaa wo prabhaavshaali nahi rahaa to hum uske aagey sakht karyawaahi karenge. Usmein wo ye bhi kahte hain ki America ki tarah se prahaar karnaa chaahiye. Agar aap isko thoda clarify karein to?(Today at the Raisina Dialogue, the Chief of Defence Staff has made a statement that if FATF’s blacklisting of Pakistan is not successful or if that is not useful then we will take further strict action. In that he also said that we should hit just like America, can you clarify on that?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Main apna perspective de sakta hoon ki FATF par hamaara kyaa hai aur ye jo saare members hain, FATF dwaaraa Pakistan se kahaa jaataa hai ki itne action points hain, aap uska jawaab do. Ye FATF aur unke members ke upar hai ki jo jawaab Pakistan se milta hai unko, usko baariikii se samjhein, uski tahkikaat karein. Dekhein ki Pakistan in action points mein kitne par kharaa utaraa hai aur uske baad jo decision lena hotaa hai wo FATF lega. Main usmein unke process ke upar yaa unke decision ke upar main koi tippani karnaa chaahunga.

(I can give you our perspective regarding the FATF, when all the members of FATF ask Pakistan that these are all the action points and Pakistan should give reply to these points. It is the responsibility of FATF and its members that whatever replies they get from Pakistan, they should thoroughly investigate those and decide on how many of those action points Pakistan has actually taken steps and then the decision regarding that has to be taken by FATF. I would not like to make any comment on the process or decision of FATF.)

Question: There are reports that there will be an SCO Heads of Government meeting in India in October, so will India be extending an invitation to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit at that time, and also a quick follow on to an earlier question raised by others. Have we filed a formal protest with the China on their raising this Kashmir issue at the UNSC, have we registered a formal protest to the Chinese side?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Second part is very easy for me to answer, I have just spoken.Question Contd.: You said you have taken it up with the Chinese side.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I have said that I have read out a statement. On the first it is a public knowledge now that India will be hosting the SCO Council of Heads of Government Meeting later this year. The meeting is held annually at the Prime Minister level and it discusses the SCO’s program of Multilateral Economic and Trade Cooperation as per the established practice and procedure within SCO, all eight members of SCO as well as four observer states and other international dialogue partners will be invited to attend the meeting.

Question: There is a book which has come out earlier this week, it is called Very Stable Genius, it is about President Trump. Now one of the incident that has been narrated or recalled in it is President Trump saying in one of his meetings with Prime Minister that it’s not like you have got China on your border. Now I am just wondering that if this is something which really happened or it is, you know, the author’s imagination.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Frankly, it is very difficult for me to comment. I don’t think I am well placed to confirm or deny what is there in the book.

Question: SCO ki best practice ke baare mein aapne bataayaa, main jaanana ye chaahta hoon ki bataur Pradhanmantri Imran Khan ko kya SCO ke summit mein Bharat aane ke liye nyota Bharat kii Sarkar bhejegi, aur aap kya expect kar rahe hain ki Bharat aur Pakistan ke beech maujooda jo sthitiyaan hain usmein Imran Khan Bharat aayenge?

(You told about best practices of SCO, I would like to know if Government of India will send an invite to the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and what are expecting keeping in mind the current situation between India and Pakistan, will Imran Khan visit India?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye, main ye bataa saktaa hoon ki hum kyaa karenge aur maine abhi bataayaa hai ki ye ek established procedure hai ki jab bhi SCO Council Heads of Government Meeting hoti hai to SCO ke jo 8 sadasya desh hain unko bulaayaa jaataa hai, unke jo 4 observe desh hain unko bulaayaa jaataa hai aur jitne international organizations hain unko bulaayaa jaataaa hai. Jaisa maine kahaa ki jitne bhi ye saare hain, hum sabko bulaayenge. Ab uske baad kyaa hogaa ye is samay mere liye bataanaa mushkil hai.(See, I can tell you what we will do and as I said just now that there is an established procedure that whenever SCO. Council Heads of Government Meeting is scheduled then all the 8 members states of SCO are invited along with the 4 observer countries. As I said all these countries will be invited. Now what will happen at that time, it is difficult for me to comment now.)

Question: Iran ke Videsh Mantri ke saath VIdesh Mantri Dr. Jaishankar kii aaj mulaqat huii aur ye tay kiyaa gayaa ki Bharat aur Iran apne diplomatic relations kii 70veen manaayenge, iska kaaryakram kya hai aur doosari baat hai ki trade ko lekar jo dikkatein aa rahii thiin, usmein aapke statement mein ek assurance bhi hai ki Bharat aur Iran apna trade badhaayenge, use strengthen karenge, to kya kuch concrete steps work out kiye gaye hain?

(Iran Foreign Minister today had a meeting with the EAM Dr. Jaishankar and it was decided that India and Iran will celebrate the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, what are the elements of this program and secondly, the difficulties that are there in the trade, there is a statement from you where assurance has been given that India and Iran will increase their trade and strengthen it, so what concrete steps have been worked out?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Jo list of activities hain ya jo hongi 70veein saalgirah manaane ke liye Bharat aur Iran ke beech mein wo abhi discussion mein chal rahaa hai aur mujhe lagta hai bahut jald hi ise finalize kar liyaa jaayega. Jaisa ki aise celebrations mein normally hotaa hai kaafi events yahaan honge, bahut saare events Iran mein honge, us par discussion chal rahaa hai, jaise hi hamaare paas aur jaankaari hogi hum aapke saath share karenge.

Doosara aapka sawaal kya thaa?

(The list of activities to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Iran and India are still being discussed and I believe it will be finalized very soon. As happens normally during such celebrations many events will be organized here and similarly a lot of them will be organized there in Iran, discussion is going on about these events and as soon as we have some information on it we will share it with you.What was your second question?)

Question Contd.: India Iran trade ko lekar kuch concrete steps kya workout hue hain kyonki jo additional economic sanctions jo America ne lagaaye hain.

(What are the concrete steps that have been work out regarding India-Iran trade because the additional economic sanctions which America has put)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye jab 19th Joint Commission Meeting huii thii aur usmein is baare mein kaafi charchaa huii thii aur is baare mein ye bhi charchaa huii thii ki dono desho ke jo vyaapaarik sambandh hain usko kaise badhaavaa diyaa jaaye aur aap agar us meeting ke details dekhein to usmein unka kaafi zikra hai. Dono desh apne vyaapaarik sambandhon ko badhaane ke liye jo bhi ho sakenge un kadamo ko uthaayenge.

(See, during the 19th Joint Commission Meeting there was a discussion on this issue and it was also discussed how to promote trade relations between the two countries. Both countries will take all possible steps to enhance their trade relations.)

Question: Pakistan ko lekar main sawaal nahii poochhunga kyonki aapne swayam hi bol diya kii Pakistan ko timaahi sharmindagi se bachanaa chaahiye. Mera sawaal China ko lekar hai, achaanak aisa kyaa huaa ki China ki telecom companies jaise ki Huawei aur Jetti, khaskar Huawei, usko 5G trials mein izaazat de dii gaii hai aur usane Airtel, Vodafone ke saath mein tie-up kar liya hai trials ke liye. To achaanak se kya global paripekshya mein badlaav aayaa jiski wajah se Sarkar ne is tarah kii izaazat dii hai?

(I will not ask question related to Pakistan because you have already said that Pakistan should try to refrain from this quarterly dose of embarrassment. My question is related to China, suddenly what happened that Chinese telecom companies like Huawei and Jetti, especially Huawei have been given permission for the 5G trials and they have even done the tie-ups with Airtel and Vodafone. So what changed in the global context that made government give this permission?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye aisa hai ki jo 5G kaa maamla thaa aur shuru se main kahtaa aayaa hoon ki ye Videsh Mantralay ke adheen nahi aataa hai, ye Ministry of Telecom ka maamla hai aur is par jo decision liyaa gayaa wo ek technical matter thaa, sabke input jaroor gaye hoenge. Jo hamaare Hon’ble Minister hain, unhone is par bayaan bhi diyaa hai aur mujhe nahi lagta hai ki iske alawaa Videsh Mantralay ki taraf se mere paas kuch kahne ko hai.

(The matter of 5G does not come under the purview of Ministry of External Affairs and I have been saying this since the beginning. This matter relates to Ministry of Telecom and they have taken a decision in this regard. Hon’ble Minister of IT has also made a statement on this matter and other than this I do not have anything else say from the perspective of MEA.

Question: Kya oil ya energy security ke liye hum China ke saath koi bilateral pipeline kar rahe hain kya, is tarah kii baatcheet bhi chal rahi hai?

(Is there any bilateral pipeline under discussion with China regarding oil or energy security, are there any such talks underway?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye, agar main pichhali kuch meetings ko yaad karoon to mere zehan mein aisaa kuch nahi aata jismein is specific topic par kuch discussion chal rahaa hai par mujhe lagta hai ye jo bilateral energy security ya jo dialogue hota hai ye Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas ke adheen hota hai, unke kaafi bilateral mechanisms hain aur unki lagaataar dialogue chalti rahti hai, unke paas is baare mein jyada jaankaari hogi.

(If I recall last few meetings nothing comes to my mind where there was a discussion on this particular topic but I can't comment on a discussion under the purview of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. They have a lot of bilateral mechanisms. Malaysia said that they would take up the issue of palm oil imports through diplomatic channels. So I just wanted to know have they reached out at all so far?Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Frankly, MEA may not be in the loop because I mean if it is a trade related matter, if they have indeed reached out then they may actually done that directly to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Again, this is something which pertains to trade policy, so I think you should address this query to them.

Question: There are also some reports that there are further some import bans and stuff like electronic equipment and stuff, so is that anything you can comment on?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No, I can’t, because imports pertaining to any commodity are governed by two factors.

The first could be the trade policy and if there is any change in the trade policy that might impact on import of certain items, these areas will have to be addressed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry but as I also mentioned last time there may be other reasons, I mean if it is not the trade policy there could be commercial considerations.

If it is a commercial consideration, if the choice of importing a certain item is left to an importer then it is his decision, he may weigh in several factors. As I have mentioned in the past that the state of the relationship, yes, it does become a factor in influencing a decision when it comes to a commercial decision by a private importer.

Question: You said that let’s not presume that the question of Kashmir with China was not raised or that they went to the UNSC, to another question you clarified that since the FS has said that Kashmir was not raised, it wasn’t. So how has India been flagging of the issue with China?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Look, you have to understand that the informal summit in Mahabalipuram was taking place against a certain backdrop and I think in there the context was very different. And it was Whether a side wanted to flag the issue of the situation in J&K with the Indian side or not and that is what I said that this issue did not come up for discussion. But you know, I mean in the past, at different levels, these issues have been raised between the two sides, these are all important issues. They concern us and whatever is of interest to us, they have been taken up at various levels and at different times.

Question: Chief of Defence Staff, General Rawat has said at the Raisina dialogue that Government of India should support U.S. in Taliban peace talks. What is Government of India’s official position on that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Look, Raisina Dialogue 2020, you know it is a platform where you come and you have a free flow of exchange of ideas. You had the Iranian foreign minister, the Russian foreign minister, several people did come and speak. Its an open forum, it is not prescriptive, you do not decide on a course of action based on a discussion.

Our views on engagement, our views on the peace process within Afghanistan I think it is very well know.

Question: Can you give us the program of the Brazilian President’s visit to India for the Republic Day?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We will make an official announcement. At this point of time we have just announced that he is the Chief Guest but we are still working on the program. Hopefully sometime, I think in the next few days we will share the program.

Thank you so much. Thank you all for joining.

(Concludes)

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