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Transcript of Foreign Secretary's first media interaction

August 01, 2013

Question: We could see that India is facing multi-faceted challenges right from Afghanistan to USA, from Sri Lanka to China. So what are your foreign policy priorities going to be?

Foreign Secretary: I think that immediate priorities would be in our immediate neighbourhood, that’s where our immediate interests lie. And that is where our most intense interactions are. Beyond that it is important to strengthen relations with our strategic partners all over the world. I think that there is also a good deal to be done here with in the Ministry of External Affairs. To build on the work done by my predecessors in strengthening the Ministry. So my immediate priority would be to optimize the resources that we already have and to work with all the multiple stake holders in India’s foreign policy.

Question: If I could ask you certain questions on Pakistan a) Pakistan has proposed dates for talks for resumption of dialogues , by when can we expect a response to that from the Indian side. b)Prime Minister Singh is expected to meet Prime Minister Miyan Nawaz Sharif along the side-lines of United Nations General Assembly, so how would see the relations with Pakistan playing up in terms of talks. Also there is video that has been now doing rounds of some of the killers of Capt. Saurabh Kalia whereas we heard Mr. Rehman Mailk when he was on India tour saying that he could have died because of bad weather. How does India intend to take up this issue?

Foreign Secretary: First, it is always been India’s policy to develop peaceful and cooperative relations with Pakistan. Naturally, this presupposes an environment free of violence and of terror. On the dialogue with Pakistan, this was resumed in 2011. Two rounds have been held since then and we will be picking up the threads. There is a new government in Pakistan now. We will be picking up the threads from where we left off with the old government. On the incident relating to the TV footage of Capt. Saurabh Kalia, you must be aware that we strongly condemn any treatment of our soldiers that is not in line with the Geneva Conventions. This is precisely why the issue has been repeatedly taken up starting with Mr. Jaswant Singh with his then counterpart Mr. Sartaj Aziz. It was also raised in Geneva and we have continuously been taking up this issue with the Pakistani Government. If there are some new facts that have come to light, we will assess it and then we will decide how to proceed further in taking this up.

Question: This is about Bhutan. There are many observers who felt that India’s decision to suspend the fuel subsidy to Bhutan was a major factor in swinging the elections. How do we address their perception and now that the subsidy has been restored and new government is in place, is there a High-level visit which is on the cards?

Foreign Secretary: As you know, India and Bhutan share a unique relationship which has always been characterized by mutual trust and confidence. We are working closely with the new government of Bhutan to continue to consolidate our privileged partnership and I can confirm to you that as of today the unfortunate technical lapse that has led to this kind of comment and debate is now a thing of the past. We attach priority to our relationship with Bhutan and I am glad to inform you that my first bilateral visit will be to Bhutan. You are also aware that our Prime Minister has invited the Bhutanese Prime Minister to visit India and I will be visiting Thimpu and when I am there I will consult with our Bhutanese friends on how we can work towards an early visit of Prime Minister Tobgay to India.

Click here for Bengali versionBengali_Transcript_of_Foreign_Secretary_first_media_interaction.pdf [35 KB]

Click here for Malayalam versionMalayalam_first_media_interaction.pdf [67 KB]

Click here for Tamil versionTamil_Transcript_of_Foreign_Secretary_first_media_interaction.pdf [36 KB]

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