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Transcript of Press Briefing by the Official Spokesperson

October 12, 2001

Summary of Press Briefing by the Official Spokesperson and Brig. S. Ghosh

The following press releases were issued:

  • The visit of H.E. Mr. Ilya Klebanov, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation to India.
  • Smt. Jordana Diengdoh Pavel, currently Deputy High Commissioner of India in Australia has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Ethiopia, in succession to Shri. K.P. Ernest. She is expected to take up her assignment shortly.
  • Shri. Lal Thla Muana, currently Ambassador of India to Sudan has been appointed as the next High Commissioner of India to Botswana, in succession to Shri Rajeet Mitter. He is expected to take up his assignment shortly.
  • Shri Rajiv Kumar Bhatia, currently High Commissioner of India to Kenya has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Norway, in succession to Shri Nirupam Sen. He is expected to take up his assignment shortly.
  • Shri. Arun Kumar Banerjee, currently High Commissioner of India to Ghana has been appointed as the next Ambassador to India to Greece, in succession to Shri G.S. Bedi. He is expected to take up his assignment shortly.
  • Shri. Atish Sinha, currently High Commissioner of India to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has been concurrently accredited as the Ambassador of India to the Republic of Chad with residence in Lagos.

The Third Round of Indo-German Strategic Dialogue:

  • The Third Round of Indo-German Strategic Dialogue was held in New Delhi on October 12, 2001. The Indian Delegation was led by Foreign Secreatary Smt. Chokila Iyer. The German side was led by German State Secretary Mr. Jurgen Chrobog.
  • The agenda for the discussions covered bilateral and regional issues of interest to India and Germany, relations with Russia, United States of America, China and European Union. The two sides also discussed global and multi-lateral issues.
  • The current international situation and the global coalition against terrorism were discussed.
  • The talks were extremely cordial and positive and constructive. In addition to the discussions between the German State Secretary and our Foreign Secretary, Mr. Chrobog called on External Affairs and Defence Minister Shri Jaswant Singh and he also met the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and National Security Adviser Shri Brajesh Mishra.
  • Germany is one of the major partners of India and the exchange of views was extremely important and relevant both in the context of the current international situation and in view of the extremely substantive bilateral relationship that is shared between the two countries. The German Chancellor Mr. Gerhard Schroeder is going to visit India towards the end of this month and these discussions acquired a special significance in the light of this impending and important visit.
  • External Affairs and Defence Minister Shri Jaswant Singh was in Berlin just a few days ago and had very constructive exchange of views with German Chancellor Schroeder, Foreign Minister Fischer and the Defence Minister Mr. Scharping. We have a very productive dialogue with Germany and are extremely satisfied with the discussions held today.

In response to questions the Spokesperson and Brig. S.Ghosh said the following:

  • Asked to give updates on the ground situation in Afghanistan, Brig. S.Ghosh of Army Headquarters briefed the press with the relevant slides of maps on the ground situation in Afghanistan as of today. He said that in Eastern Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance has captured Baghlan. This has been made possible because of the defection of local warlords (Baghlani) with its 1200 fighters. This has cut off the south-north highway from Kabul to Mazar-e-Sharif. In Central Afghanistan they had captured Chaghcharan which is the capital of the Ghowr province in central Afghanistan. This has cut off the central highway connecting Kabul and Herat. There have been some local skirmishes in the area of Taloghan which is on the border of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
  • Brig. Ghosh also said that forces loyal to Gen. Dostum are about 100 kms away from Mazar-e-Sharif.
  • Brig Ghosh also said that so far as the ground troops of the coalition forces are concerned we have received information from open sources that in the area of Khanabad in Uzbekistan, that about 2200 troops of the US, 10 Mountain Division have been posted alongwith 4 transport helicopters and three Hawk helicopters These troops are specialised in mountain warfare.
  • Asked to comment about media reports on the presence of US Ground troops in Pakistan, the Spokesperson said that it was not the policy to comment on media reports. The focus of Brig. Ghosh’s briefing really was to clarify certain positions relating to the ground situation in Afghanistan.
  • Asked to comment about the change of name by Jaish-e-Muhammad to Tehrik-al-Furqan, the Spokesperson said that such a change in nomenclature does not make the group any different. The nature of its ideology, approach, activities does not alter by the change of a name. It is a mere fig leaf and anybody who is targeting these organisations would be able to see through that. The focus is to proscribe/to ban organisations which are indulging in terrorist activities. She added that the focus will continue to operate and we will see action on this regard. The Spokesperson also said it was obvious to all that this organisation merely by changing its name or providing itself with an ‘alibi’ does not change the nature of its activities. Its involvement in terrorism is clearly established and that is clearly why this organisation is going to be banned. The focus still obtained and the circumstances and the rationale for proscribing or banning it are not altered by the fact that it may seek to change its name.
  • Asked to comment about humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees and also the denial of visas to Indian journalists by the Pakistan authorities, the Spokesperson said that we are in contact with the Government of Pakistan. As far as humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees is concerned, the issue had figured in the telephonic conversation between President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee. Pakistan had welcomed our offer. As far as the content of assistance is concerned we understand that it is likely to cover supply of tents, blankets and quilts for Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The modalities are being finalised in discussing with Pakistani officials. As far as access to news channels is concerned especially for our High Commission, the latter has established contact with the Public Information Department of the Pakistani Government. They are in consultation with those authorities as well as with Star TV because of the problem relating to Star TV downloads. Both these prongs were being pursued. It was hoped a solution could be worked out. As far as visas for our journalists are concerned again we are in touch with the Foreign Office of Pakistan. Details regarding the applicants will be conveyed to them. We hoped that the matter would be addressed quickly. We awaited a response from the Pakistani side. As far as the Afghan refugees entering India is concerned, there are a few Hindu and Sikh Afghans who have entered India from Pakistan. Our High Commission in Islamabad is assisting these refugees to come to India.

Press Briefing

Ministry Of External Affairs, India

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