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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (May 02, 2019)

May 03, 2019

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Good afternoon friends and welcome to this weekly press briefing. I do not have any announcements so we can directly move to Q&A session.

Question:Sir, Masood Azhar ko global terrorist ghoshit kiya gaya, uske baare mein detailed jaankari chaahiye ki kis tarah se India ne poori fielding kii, kis tarah se diplomatic consultations kiye aur kya jo Foreign Secretary ka China visit tha, us dauraan kis tarah kii baatcheet hui ya deal hui India aur China ke beech jiske baad China ne apne veto aur technical hold withdraw kiya?

(We need full information regarding designation of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist about how India set up the complete full fielding, how the diplomatic consultations were conducted and what kind of consultations happened during the China visit of Foreign Secretary and what kind of deal happened between India and China after which China withdrew its technical hold?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Agar aapki sahmati ho to main saare sawaal is Vishay par ek saath le loon.

(If you all agree then I will take all related questions at once.)

Question:Iske pahle Pradhanmantri ki Xi Jinping se hi baat hui thi Wuhan summit ke dauraan to kya us dauraan bhi Masood Azhar ke baare mein baat hui thi, kya uska bhi nateeza kah sakte hain?

(Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s earlier meeting with President Xi Jinping during Wuhan summit, was Masood Azhar also discussed during that meeting, can we say it is also a result of that?)

Question:What does India gains from listing because we have seen in the past there has been listing of people like Hafiz Saeed and still these people are roaming in the streets of Pakistan. So what are the big things that India expects, we know there is arms embargo and of course travel but as the outcome?

Question:Sir aapne Pakistan aur China ke taraf se aaye hue bayaan bhi dekhe, kya Bharat ne Kashmir aur Pulwama ke issue ko omit kar ke kuch cheezon ko comprise kiya hai, ye revised aur compromised formula kab aur kaise discuss hua?

(Sir, you have seen the statements from Pakistan and China, did India omit issues like Kashmir and Pulwama and compromised, when did this compromised and revised formula was discussed?)

Question:This whole narrative that Pulwama was not part of the dossier aur Kashmir se bahut saari cheezein jo nahi Jodi gain, agar ye cheezein nahi jodni thi to fir 2006 ka issue itna lamba kyon drag hua? Kuch to naya hua hai jiski wajah se China believed that it was convincing?

(This whole narrative that Pulwama was not part of the dossier and many things like Kashmir were not added to the formula, if these things were not to be taken into account then why did the issue of 2006 dragged for so long? Something new happened which made China believe that it was convincing?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Pahle to main Hindi mein jawab de doon kyonki aapne sawaal poochha thaa. Kaafi pahloon hain. Sabse pahle to main jo kal hamaari pratikriya thi jo kal shaam ko aapke saath sajha kii thii. Usmein hamne ye kahaa thaa ki Sanyukt Rashtra Suraksha Parishad kii jo sanctions committee hai 1267 committee, unke faisale ka hum swagat karte hain, bahut hi mahatvapoorn faisla thaa.

Ye faisla Bharat ke position ke anukool thaa aur jo jaankaari Bharat ne Masood Azhar ke baare mein aur Jaish-e-Mohammad ke baare mein jo sanctions committee ke sare sadasyon ko diya tha, faisla uske anuroop hua.

Doosara humne ye bhi kaha ki ye jo faisla hua ye sahi disha mein ek kadam bhi thaa. Jo aatankwaad aur iske samarthakon ke khilaaf ladane ke liye jo ek antarrashtreeya samudaay ke sankalp ko pradarshit karta hai.

Hum ye kahna chaahenge ki jo Bharat antarrashtreeya manchon se aur uske maadhyam se apne in prayason ko jaari rakhega taaki ye sunischit kiya ja sake ki aatankwaaadi sangathan aur unke sargana, unke jo neta hain, jo hamare nagarikon ko nuksaan pahunchaate hain unke khilaaf action liya ja sake.

(First, I will answer the question in Hindi as you asked it. First of all I would like to talk about our reaction which was shared with all of you last night, in that we had said that we welcome the decision of United Nations 1267 Sanctions Committee and it is a very important decision.

This decision was in accordance with the position of India and the decision is according the information that we had shared about Masood Azhar and Jaish-e-Mohammad to all the members of the 1267 Sanctions Committee of UN.

Secondly we said that the decision is a step in the right direction which clearly displays the concerted efforts of the international community to fight global terrorism.

Further we would like to state that India will continue its efforts through the international forums so that it can be ensured that the terrorist organizations and their leaders who harm our citizens, actions can be taken against them.)

There are few related points which some of you have asked, what has been offered? Let me make it very-very clear, ‘We do not negotiate with any country on terrorism and on matters related to the security of the country. China has already given an explanation why the hold has been lifted.

On why Pulwama has been omitted from the notification, please understand that our objective all along has been the designation of Masood Azhar as a terrorist. The process started way back in 2009. In 2016-17 another effort was made. The designation is not based on a specific incident but on the basis of evidence which we have shared with the members of the 1267 Sanctions Committee linking Masood Azhar to several acts of terrorism.

If you look at the notification it very clearly states that Masood Azhar was listed for participating in the financing, planning, facilitating and perpetrating terrorist activities associated with Jaish-e-Mohammad. This broadly covers all terror activities which Masood Azhar has been involved in. There are elements being introduced to divert the attention especially from Pakistan on this huge diplomatic setback which they have suffered. Frankly they have no choice, they can’t welcome the decision, they can’t criticize the decision. In both cases there will be criticism for them at home, so the only option left for them is to pick up some holes which they think exist but as far as we are concerned, these are all irrelevant details.

The notification is not supposed to be a biodata of the terrorist, it is not supposed to list all the attacks committed by an individual.

Question:The irrelevant details that you spoke about, what is interesting is that you said that the process started in 2009, yet the listing does not actually mention any specific acts by Masood Azhar since 2009. It refers to something he did in Afghanistan in 2009, nothing specific after that. When we look at the listing of some of the other terrorists based in Pakistan over the last few years, they made it very clear it is about their terror activities in Kashmir. The question really is that if India has done the heavy lifting, India has taken this to its conclusion over a period of 10 years then why is it that India has no mention in this listing at all?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:When we introduced this proposal in 2009 and all along the proposal has been to designate Masood Azhar as a terrorist. I also mentioned that given the number of terrorist acts committed by Masood Azhar it is not supposed to be a biodata of all his terror attacks. For us what is important is that he has been designated as a terrorist and I can tell you that the terror attack in Pulwama did play a role in coming to this decision and I don’t think there is anything further to add to this.

I think there was one question left on what happens next. Look, frankly for me to share background information about how the whole thing was conducted would be difficult and the exact moment when this decision was taken, I think there are certain things which should be left to us.

The information on what will happen next is in the public domain. According to the Sanctions Committee Pakistan and all other states they are basically required to take three steps. The first is to freeze the funds and other financial assets of Masood Azhar, the second is that there will be an imposition of travel ban on Masood Azhar and third there will also be an arms embargo to prevent direct or indirect supply of arms to the individual.

Now Pakistan is responsible to the international community to take such actions as demanded by the UN Sanctions Committee. And if you go through the details you will realize that the 1267 Committee has also been mandated to oversee the implementations of the sanctions measures which have been put in place.

We and the international community, we have been demanding Pakistan to fulfill its international obligations by taking credible, verifiable and irreversible actions against terrorists and terror groups operating from area under its control.

Question:You said that we should look at the Chinese statement. The Chinese statement says that the relevant countries recently revised and resubmitted the materials for the listing and that only after the careful study of the revised material they have changed their mind. So that is what I wanted to know when was this revision done and what was exactly the revision?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:You see, consultations with all the members of sanctions committee of UNSC has been ongoing and it has been taking place at different levels. I can’t disclose as to during which meeting we shared that but we have disclosed publicly that we have shared all evidence with all members of the sanctions committee for them to take an informed decision on the designation of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.

Question:Do you think that though you said that there is no deal with China on this issue or any other country for that matter, do you think that this decision by China will enhance the Wuhan spirit between the two countries, also given that the Chinese President is expected to visit India later this year for the second informal summit, so what is the impact that you foresee on the Sino-Indian relations?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:We have welcomed the decision by China to lift the hold. There are a number of areas on which India and China are cooperating. We have discussed earlier about the Wuhan spirit and the strategic guidance which flows out of Wuhan spirit and how it was agreed during that summit that during the next informal summit in India we will try to take the spirit forward. There are many things which have happened and it is difficult to point out one single incident or instance which will contribute to a better India-China relationship. But of course this is a very welcome step.

Question:This is regarding the sanctions waiver with Iran which ends tomorrow. Has India, as per reports sought any extension of this waiver, what steps are going to be taken to deal with oil shortage if we do bring down imports from Iran to zero?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:We had issued a statement on the sanctions, I think, a couple of weeks ago and there was another statement by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

The decision to import oil is based on many factors including commercial considerations and keeping our legitimate energy and economic security interests in mind. As we have said we are prepared to deal with the impact of the decision. There will be additional supplies from other major oil producing companies based on a robust plan which has been drawn up by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

The aspects related to the amount of oil which will be imported by India from other countries, these are all matters of operational details and I am sure if you contact the relevant ministry they will give you more details on this matter.

Question:In June last year the External Affairs Minister had said that India does not entertain unilateral sanctions, India only recognizes UN sanctions. Since then obviously government seems to have been negotiating with the US particularly asking for the extension of the waiver. At what point the policy of India changed and are we expecting, you said that there will be legitimate commercial considerations will drive it, but are we expecting to zero out as of today?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Frankly for me to give a direct answer to the question would be difficult. I can only reiterate that whatever decisions we take, it will be a combination of different factors, energy security is one of them, commercial considerations will be number two and the third will be the economic security interest in mind. So when we combine all these interests, we will take a decision.

Question:In the aftermath of Sri Lanka terror attack India does get impacted by whatever happens in the neighborhood especially Sri Lanka. What kind of support you are providing to Sri Lankan government, we saw reports of raids in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, so can you brief us about this entire thing?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:There are perhaps two parts to your question. I think one on specific support, we have not received any request from the Sri Lankan government and as and when we receive a request, India is ready to assist Sri Lanka in all possible ways as per the request and requirements.

There are also media reports about some connection of terrorists and linkages etc. These are matters which are dealt by specific agencies in government of India and I think they are perhaps responsible to answer those queries.

Question:US has also imposed sanctions on Venezuela asking the international community not to import oil from Venezuela. So what is the status of India’s oil import from Venezuela?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:As I said I don’t have the figures but the policy of importing oil from other countries is based on the three factors which I had mentioned. If it fits into these three factors then a decision on importing oil from a particular country is taken.

Question:Is there any update regarding Nirav Modi extradition process?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I think I have something. In the case of Nirav Modi the case is now listed at the Westminster Court. Nirav Modi appeared before the court on 29th March during which he made a request for bail. The bail plea was rejected by the Judge. Now the judge has also decided that the case will be listed by the court on 30th May 2019.

On Vijay Mallya, you are aware of the background that the Secretary of State has already ordered his extradition and this happened on 3rd February. A high court judge subsequently refused permissions to Mallya to appeal against this decision and a decision on Mallya’s application for leave to appeal is to be taken by the High Court. Here again I would like to reiterate that the government of India with the active support of the High Commission and other agencies concerned, we are taking all steps necessary to bring back Vijay Mallya to India at the earliest.

Question:Are we having any new dates on Kartarpur talks, also how is the Indian government viewing the coup attempt in Venezuela?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:On Kartarpur you are aware why we had postponed it and I think there were very strong reasons for the postponement. Now we had sought clarification from Pakistan on some of the proposals which he had forwarded in the last meeting but the main concern was on the reports that controversial elements have been appointed by Pakistan in the committee to be associated with the Kartarpur Corridor and we did intimate to them that we can discuss on the modalities of the next meeting after we get a response from Pakistan on some of these queries we have. We are still waiting for response from Pakistan.

On Venezuela, we are in fact very closely monitoring the situation. We have also advised the Indian nationals who are there to exercise due precaution but our position remains unchanged on the situation.

Question:This is a Pakistan related question. On April 21st Prime Minister in a speech in election rally, he said that an American official has said that India had put 12 missiles on standby after the capture of Wing Commander Abhinandan. At that time there were media reports which had quoted that this kind of information from Pakistan was war hysteria and manufactured news. Can you please clarify what was the position on the night when it happened?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:These are matters of operational details. I will request you to contact the relevant ministry for further information on this.

Question:This is again to do with the Iran sanctions, are you disappointed with the decision of US to not extend the waiver?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:You can read whatever you want to from the statement which we have issued. We did mention and I can still mention that we continue to engage with the United States on this matter. We have conveyed to them about our energy security requirements but a decision has been taken by then and accordingly we have responded.

Question:Any proposal of making oil consumers group along with China in the face of sanctions of US for different countries like Iran and Venezuela, is there any proposal of making a consortium of oil consuming countries?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:I am not aware of any such proposal perhaps you will have to check with the relevant ministry but I am not aware of any such proposal. Since there are no more questions this press briefing comes to a close. Thank you very much for joining.

(Concludes)

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