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Transcript of Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (May 14, 2020)

May 15, 2020

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Namaskar. I would like to give you a few updates upfront. You would know that with the launch of the Vande Bharat Mission from 7th May, this massive, whole-of-Government effort to respond to the COVID-19 situation entered a new phase. The Vande Bharat Mission is the largest and most complex exercise ever undertaken by the Government for the repatriation of our Nationals stranded overseas. We are working very closely with the Ministries of Civil Aviation, Home Affairs, Health and Family Welfare as well as concerned State Governments in this exercise. Today is Day 8 of this mission. As of now 56 flights have brought back our nationals from 12 countries. In addition 904 Indians were repatriated from Maldives by INS Jalashwa and INS Magar on 10th May and 12th May respectively. Some others have arrived through deportation flights from various countries. In the last few days, more than 12,000 Indian nationals have safely returned.

We are launching the second phase of Vande Bharat Mission from 16th. This will go on till the 22nd of May. In this phase, we will bring back Indians from 31 countries. 149 flights, including feeder flights will be deployed. Additional 18 countries will be covered under this phase and these countries include Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Italy, France, Germany, Ireland, Canada, Japan, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Georgia, Tajikistan and Armenia. As you can see we are broadening this ambit every week in a phased manner, keeping into view our quarantine capacity, health protocols, etc and till now 1,88,646 Indian nationals have registered to return on the portal which is managed by MEA. You can also check our website for the entire flight list of Vande Bharat Mission.

The second update is on Mission Sagar and we have already informed you that under Mission Sagar, government has sent Indian Naval Ship Kesari to Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles. This ship has been sent in response to the request for assistance received from these countries and it carries on board 2 medical assistance teams, consignment of COVID related essential medicines, and essential food items. This is inspired by PM’s vision of SAGAR, which is security and growth for all in the region. It is also in keeping with India's role as a first responder in the region. As of date, INS Kesari which departed India on 10th May, is presently docked at Male. Presently, the 550 tons of essential food items sent on board are being offloaded. This gesture has been widely appreciated by the people of Maldives. Foreign Minister Shahid and Defence Minister Mariya Didi, together participated in a virtual handing over ceremony along with our High Commissioner. President Solih, Foreign Minister and Defence Minister have also issued messages, commending India's friendship and assistance for the food security of Maldives during the holy month of Ramadan. So this is by way of updates on Vande Bharat Mission and Mission Sagar. Many of you have sought our reactions to incidents on the LAC between India and China. So, I have a readout of our response. India and China, attach utmost importance to maintenance of peace and tranquility in all areas of India-China border regions. Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, in their informal summits in Wuhan in 2018, and in Chennai in 2019, had reaffirmed, that both sides will continue to make efforts to ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas. This is essential for the overall development of the bilateral relations. The two leaders had also directed the militaries to earnestly implement various confidence-building measures agreed upon between the two sides, including, the principle of mutual and equal security and strengthen existing institutional arrangements and information sharing mechanisms to prevent incidents in border regions. As a result, India-China border has largely been peaceful. Occasionally, however, on account of difference in perception of the alignment of LAC, situations have arisen on the ground that could have been avoided if, we had a common perception of the LAC. The two sides have established mechanisms to resolve such situations as and when they arise, including, border personnel meeting, flag meetings, and working mechanism for consultation and coordination on India-China border affairs, as well as diplomatic channels. The Indian side remains committed to the objective of maintaining peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas. So, this is the statement which is on the incidents on LAC. I also received some queries on the signing of contract for construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam in Gilgit Baltistan, in PoK. Our response is the following:

Our position is consistent and clear that entire territory of the Indian territories of J&K and Ladakh have been, are and will continue to be integral and inalienable part of India. We have consistently conveyed our protest and shared concerns with both China and Pakistan on all such projects in the Indian territories under Pakistan's illegal occupation.

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