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Transcript of Virtual Weekly Media Briefing by the Official Spokesperson (January 22, 2021)

January 23, 2021

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Friends! Namaskar and Good evening. Welcome to this weekly briefing in the virtual format. Today, I have no announcements to start with so we'll move straight to your questions. Over to you Yatin.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): So the first set of question is on vaccine cooperation. Madhurendra from News Nation has a question” Operation maitri ke tahat ab tak kitne deshon mein Bhaarateeya vaccine pahunch chukee hai? aage aur kitane deshon se Indian vaccine ki maang hai aur supply ki kya yojana hai?. (Questioned in Hindi; app.translation) Under Operation Maitree, In how many countries have Indian vaccines reached so far and how many countries have demanded for Indian vaccine and what is the plan for supply? Ashok Sharma from Associated Press has asked "Do vaccine manufacturers need a go ahead from the Indian government before they can export directly to foreign countries? Deepak Ranjan from PTI Bhasha has a question,” kya Pakistan ki aur se Covid ke teeke Covishield ki aapoorti karane ko lekar koi aupachaarik anurodh praapt hua hai? ab tak kin-kin deshon se teeke ki aapoorti karne ka anurodh praapt hua hai?” (Questioned in Hindi; app.translation) Has any formal request been received from Pakistan for supply of Covid vaccine "Covishield” so far?, Till date from which countries request have been received to supply the vaccine?” Akhilesh Suman from Rajya Sabha TV has asked "from how many countries have we got requests for Covid-19 vaccine?" Have Pakistan and China or USA also requested for any vaccine? Any request from European or African countries? Will we Supply vaccines to all the requests and is it being sent as grant or for a price? Sanjay Rai is asking "kya pakistaan ne pratyaksh ya paroksh tareeke se Corona vaccine ke lie bhaarat se sampark kiya hai? Agar paakistaan bharat se vaccine maangata hai to is par bharat ka kya rukh rahega?” (Questioned in Hindi; app.translation) Has Pakistan approached India directly or indirectly for the Corona vaccine? If Pakistan requests for vaccine from India, what will be India's stand on it? Aminul Islam from BSS has asked "Bangladesh has already received 20 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccine Covishield manufactured by Serum Institute as gift. When India will send first consignment of 50 lakh doses of purchased Covid-19 vaccine to Bangladesh under commercial agreement. Can you tell that timeframe? Maha from CNN News 18 has asked "Do we have a figure of the countries that have sought vaccines from India? and is Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin being sent as grant to any country? Moncho Torres from EFE is asking "Could you give details about the Indian government clearance of commercial exports of Covid-19 vaccines and the first consignment being shipped today to Morocco and Brazil. Are they Covishield or Covaxin? How many vaccines and are they sent in Air India flight? Abhishek from Doordarshan has asked, "Is there any plan to Include Pakistan in the vaccine supply and also Pakistan has approved Covishield vaccine? Has there been any requests for supply for the same from Pakistan to India?” P.M. Narain from ARD has asked "Is India exporting vaccine to Germany or any other country in EU, if yes, which vaccine? Shailendra from News 18 has asked "Kya Pakistan aur Cheen ko bhi Bharat vaccine dega? (Questioned in Hindi; app.translation) Will India supply vaccine to Pakistan and China too? Suhasini from the Hindu has asked "Is the Indian government in talks with any foreign vaccine manufacturers for imports for Sputnik more than our Pfizer? Similar questions from Siddhant from WION, Shankar from IVD and Mujid Mishal from New York Times.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Well, I see a lot of questions understandably on our vaccine cooperation with many countries. The questions cover the number of countries we have supplied, the quantities, the request from countries. Whether requests have been received from specific countries? What are the quantities?, Types of vaccines etc. So let me try and respond to all of them. I'll start by saying that as I had said there's interest in many countries in accessing vaccines from India, which is the global hub of vaccine production and insofar as these requests for vaccines from India are concerned, you will recall that Prime Minister had already stated that India's vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used for the benefit of all humanity to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. You would have also seen our announcement on the 19th of January where we informed you of our grant assistance of vaccines to neighbouring countries, which commenced from the 20th of January. On the first day 1.5 lakh doses of vaccines were supplied to Bhutan and one lakh doses to Maldives as grant assistance. Yesterday, we supplied 10 lakh doses to Nepal and 20 lakh doses to Bangladesh. And today consignments of 15 lakh doses for Myanmar, 1 lakh doses to Mauritius and fifty thousand doses to Seychelles have been airlifted. And in fact, they've already reached Myanmar and Seychelles a little while ago. So as stated earlier, in fact, this was in the Press Release on the 19th of January that supplies as grant assistance to Sri Lanka and Afghanistan will be undertaken after receiving confirmation of regulatory clearances from these two countries. As regards contractual supplies, I see a few questions there. Contractual supplies are being undertaken to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brazil, Morocco, Bangladesh and Myanmar as of now and I understand supplies to Brazil and Morocco have already been dispatched. As regards the questions on further supplies, what I will say is, keeping in view the domestic requirements of the phased rollout, India will continue to supply Covid-19 vaccines to partner countries over the coming weeks and months in a phased manner. It will be ensured that domestic manufacturers will have adequate stocks to meet domestic requirements while supplying abroad. As regards Pakistan, I'm not aware of any requests for the supply of Indian-made vaccines on a G2G basis or commercial basis. And on the other part of the question regarding a response, I think the question is hypothetical at this stage and I would not like to respond. The question from Mr. Ashok Sharma from AP. As you can see the supply of Indian-made vaccines are underway both as gifts as well as on a commercial basis. There are consultations involving a number of Ministries preceding such supplies and exact nature of these consultations, I'm not aware of. Regarding the quantities and the types of vaccines which will be supplied abroad. I will say that in terms of quantities and vaccines the supplies abroad whether it is on a G2G basis on a G2B basis or on B2B basis, it would be based on availability as well as on local regulatory approvals in the country concerned. As regards Suhasini's question, I think you can seek them from Ministry of Health or NEGVAC, the National Empowered Group on Vaccines. But what I can add is that at this stage not one but two Made in India vaccines are in production. There are four vaccines which are in active clinical trial stage and the 15 vaccines in the preclinical stages. So I guess, I have responded to all the questions.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Sir, next question. Madhurendra from News Nation has asked "Biden sarkar ke satta mein aane ke baad Bharat-US sambandhon mein kis tarah ke badlav aur behatri dekhne ko milegi? (Questioned in Hindi; app.translation) After Biden coming to power, what kind of changes and improvement will be seen in India- US relations?” Nivedita from Financial Express has asked "what will be India's priorities for engagement with the new US Administration? Abhishek from Doordarshan is asking "Has there been any engagement at diplomatic levels from the Government’s side with the new Administration in US?"

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Regarding our engagement you would recall that Prime Minister had congratulated the then President-Elect Biden on his election on 8th of November. And this was followed by a telephone call between the two on the 17th of November, during which both Prime Minister and President Biden affirmed their interest in working together to strengthen the India- US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership. As we had mentioned then, they had also exchanged views on working together on shared priorities and global challenges and on cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. Then on 20th of January, after President Biden assumed charge, Prime Minister had sent in his best wishes. You would have seen the tweets and as the new administration takes shape we will continue to remain engaged at all levels and work together to further consolidate the vibrant and multifaceted bilateral relationship and work together on global challenges of common interest. As regards our priorities, I can broadly say this would be to further strengthen our Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Siddhant from WION is asking, when is PM is expected to speak to President Biden? Shailendra from news 18 has asked "Kya PM Modi ne America ke naye Rashtrapati Biden ko phone par badhai di? (Questioned in Hindi; app.translation) Has PM Modi congratulated Biden, the newly elected President of America?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Well in response, what I would say is that whenever PM has telephone calls with world leaders, we make media announcements.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Shrinjoy from times now has asked "has an arrangement been made for the Indian Sailors on MV Anastasia?" Shailendra from News 18 is asking "Kya MV Jag Anand par phansa crew bharat laut aaya hai? MV Anastasia ke crew ko badalne ki maang ko thukra diya hai? Kya us ko lekar koi kadam uthaya ja raha hai? (Questioned in Hindi; app.translation) "Has MV Jag Anand crew returned to India? Has the request for change of crew of MV Anastasia been turned down? What action is being taken?”

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: As you may be aware and I had mentioned this last week MV Jag Anand affected a crew change for the 23 Sailors in Japan and the sailors have proceeded to India. As regards MV Anastasia, which has 16 Indian crew and is at anchorage at the Caofeidian port in China, our Embassy in Beijing has been in touch with the Chinese side at both the central government level as well at the provincial levels to affect crew change at the earliest. Our Embassy is continuously following up with both the shipping companies as well as with the relevant Chinese authorities to ensure the well-being of the crew as well as to facilitate this matter further.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Next set of question is on line of actual control. Madhurendra from News Nation has asked " Cheen ke saath tanav aur batchit ke mudde par kya update hai? (Questioned in Hindi; app.translation) "What is the update on the issue of tension and discussions with China?” Deepak Ranjan from PTI Bhasha is asking " Ladakh gatirodh ke mudde par cheen se batcheet ki taza sthiti kya hai? Sainya staar ki batcheet ko lekar koi tithi tay hui hai? (Questioned in Hindi; app.translation) What is the latest status of talks with China on the issue of Ladakh deadlock, has any date been set for the Military level talks? Srinjoy from Times Now has a question. "When are the commander level talks in east Ladakh?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: As I've conveyed earlier, both sides have agreed to hold the next round of the senior commander level meeting soon and we are in close communication over diplomatic and military channels in this regard. We will keep you informed and will share information.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Madhurendra from News Nation is asking” Bharat mein jaari Kisan aandolan ke beech Khalistani support aur videshi dharti se mil rahe samarthan ke maddenazar bharat kya kadam utha raha hai? (Questioned in Hindi; app.translation) What steps is India taking in the wake of Khalistani support and the support being received from foreign soil amid the ongoing farmer movement in India? Shailendra from News 18 is asking " 26 January ko banned SFJ ne Bhartiye dutawason ke bahar block karne ki dhamki di hai. Kya dutavas ki suraksha ko lekar wahan ki sarkaron se maang ki gayi hai? (Questioned in Hindi; app.translation) Banned SFJ has threatened to do a blockade outside Indian embassies on 26 January. Is there a demand from the governments there for the security of the embassies?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:
Dekhiye, jaise ki mein aapko pehle bata chukka hun, jahan bhi hamare Mission/Post ke samne pradarshan hue hein ya pradarshan hone wale hein humne un deshon mein sthaniye adhikarion ke samaksh aapne rajnayik parisar ki suraksha ka mudda uthaya hai. Aap jante hein ki rajnayik parisar ki suraksha ki jimmedari mejban desh ki hoti hai aur hamne iin deshon ko aapne parisar ki suraksha aur aapne karmiyon ki suraksha ke liye uchit karwai karne ke liye kaha hai. Mein ye bhi kehna chahunga ki hamare mission/post jahan-jahan dekhte hein bharat virodhi gatividhiyan ho rahi hai, sthaniye sarkaron se ye mudda uthaya jata hai aur ye unke sangyan mein laya jata hai aur hum unke saath milkar kaam karte hein. (Answered in Hindi; app.translation) As I have told you before, where there have been or there will be demonstrations in front of our Mission/ Post, we have raised the issue of security of our premises with the local authorities in those countries and you know that the responsibility of security of the diplomatic premises rests with the host country and we have asked these countries to take appropriate action for the safety of our premises and the safety of our personnel. I would also like to say that wherever our Mission/ Posts see anti-India activity, the issue is raised with the local governments and it is brought to their notice and we work closely with them.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Suman Sharma is asking "India has been invited by UK to participate in G7 in June. What will be the agenda and what can be expected from the Summit?"

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Suman, I think it is too early to talk of the agenda and outcomes of the Summit. But what I can tell you is that generally for these Summits, it is the Chair which is the G7 presidency, at this point of time is held by the UK, and it is largely the priorities of the Chair which are important in terms of the agenda.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Sandeep from Tribune is asking "Is the fishermen issue becoming an irritant in India-Sri Lankan ties? And what is the status of the Colombo East container project and other infrastructure projects proposed by India to Colombo?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Sandeep on the fishermen issue and the matter of fishing boats, what I will say that these issues have been on the agenda of bilateral discussions between the two sides and there is a realization at the highest level that these are humanitarian issues and there is a common understanding that this matter has to be handled in a humanitarian manner. There are well-established bilateral mechanisms to deal with the issue. Regarding the projects, I would say that, in fact in one of my recent briefings after EAMs visit to Sri Lanka, I had informed that he had discussions on various issues, including our projects and investments from the business community in Sri Lanka in the context of the economic recovery in Sri Lanka post covid as well as in terms of the medium term economic growth. Specifically on the East Container Terminal we have engaged with the Sri Lankan government to take this project forward and we'll be happy to see the development of the East Container Terminal through investments from India and Japan as is preferred by the current Sri Lankan government.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR):
Next question is from Siddhant. "When is the India –Afghanistan- Uzbekistan- Iran meeting on Chabahar?”

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Siddhant, you would have seen the Press Release which was issued after the last round. The last round as you would know was held on the 14th of December and this round was held virtually. Three countries participated at the Deputy Ministerial-Level and thereafter it has been decided that the next meeting will be held in India. Dates are not yet finalized.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Narendra Nath Mishra from Navbharat times has asked "Nepal videsh mantri ke daure ke baad kya dono deshon ke rishte sudhar ke sanket de rahen hai? (Questioned in Hindi; app.translation) "After Nepal's Foreign Minister's visit, are the two countries’ relations showing signs of improvement?” Elizabeth from Mint is asking "What impact do you see after visit of Nepali foreign minister and recent vaccine diplomacy on India and Nepal relations?"

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:
You would know that the visit took place recently and the foreign minister was here to co-chair the Sixth Round of the India-Nepal Joint Commission Meeting with EAM, which was held on the 15th of January. It was a very productive event and it allowed for a comprehensive review of all issues in the format of the Joint Commission and the entire gamut of bilateral relations were discussed. The visiting dignitary also had other engagements during his stay in New Delhi. You know that both countries enjoy a very special and close partnership based on a unique people-to-people linkage and the holding of the recent high-level meeting despite the Covid related restrictions is yet another example of the strength of our ties. As regards Elizabeth's question, the recent supply of Covid vaccines to Nepal, you would know has been received with great enthusiasm in that country. It has been well appreciated by the leadership. You would have seen the tweet from Prime Minister Oli thanking Prime Minister for this supply of vaccines.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Next question is from Sandeep Dixit from Tribune. Has India started exporting military trucks and weapon locating Radars to Armenia?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:
Sandeep, I understand there is a commercial contract for the supply of certain defense equipment. I'm not aware of the delivery schedules.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Are there any further questions?

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): No, sir.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Thank you. This concludes the weekly briefing.

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