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Transcript of Virtual Weekly Media Briefing by the Official Spokesperson (January 28, 2021)

January 29, 2021

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Namaskar and good evening. Welcome to this weekly briefing in the virtual format and apologies for the delay in starting. I will begin with a short update on the Vande Bharat Mission and then we'll move on to your questions. On the Vande Bharat Mission you would know that the phase 9 of this Mission has been operational since the first of January 2021 and as on date more than 1,300 international flights have been operated from 27 countries. These flights have facilitated an estimated 2,53,000 people to return which brings the total number of people who have been facilitated under different modes of this Mission till date to 51 lakhs. Now we will move to your questions. Yatin, Could you please take over.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR):
Sir, first set of question is on vaccine corporation, Vishnu Som from NDTV has asked "How many partner nations have we supplied vaccine to in total and have all of these been grants? Have some of these nations bought vaccines? Siddhant from WION is asking "When is Afghanistan expected to get India's Covid vaccines and when it comes to Africa how many countries are we helping? Madhurendra from News Nation is asking, " Bhaarateey vaikseen kee khep ab tak kitane deshon mein ja chuki hai? Aur kitane deshon se dimaand hai? (Questioned in Hindi; App.Translation) To how many countries have the Indian vaccine consignments gone so far? How many countries are demanding it? Elizabeth from Mint has a question "Of all the consignments of vaccines that have gone out, how much of them were vaccines manufactured by Serum Institute and how much of these vaccines were manufactured by Bharat Biotech? Similar questions from Pankaj Yadav, Shankar from India Vs Disinformation and Sandhya from ET.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: As I had mentioned last time, there is interest in many countries to access vaccines from India and in line with PM's announcement that India sees international cooperation in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic as its duty, we have played the role of the first responder in the region in our neighborhood as well as we have reached out to countries beyond. You have very specific questions on numbers and let me come to that. From 20th January 2021 onwards, we have gifted over 55 lakh doses of vaccines to our neighboring countries and in our extended neighborhood and this includes 1.5 lakh doses to Bhutan, 1 lakh to Maldives, 10 lakhs to Nepal, 20 lakhs to Bangladesh, 15 lakhs to Myanmar, 1 lakh to Mauritius, 50,000 to Seychelles, 5 lakhs to Sri Lanka and 1 lakh to Bahrain and these supplies are based on requests from these countries. Over the next few days, we plan to gift further quantities to Oman i.e. of 1 lakh doses, 5 lakh doses to CARICOM countries, 2 lakh to Nicaragua and 2 lakh doses to Pacific Island States. Let me also touch up on commercial exports, as you would know they have already taken place to Brazil, to Morocco and to Bangladesh. Further supplies on a commercial basis are likely to take place to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Canada, Mongolia and other countries. Further, we are going to supply one crore i.e. 10 million doses to Africa and 10 lakh i.e. 1 million doses to UN health workers under GAVI's Covax facility. As you can see, we have an extensive ongoing program for vaccine supply and we will continue to supply vaccines to partner countries over the coming weeks and months in a phased manner. Decisions on these supplies, will of course, be calibrated as per the requirements of the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccine at home. Particularly to the question from Elizabeth, as I had mentioned last time, our external supplies whether as gifts or on commercial basis, they are based on domestic availability, they are based on licensing issues and regulatory approvals in the countries concerned. Sandhya, to your question, I must say that I'm not aware of anything that you mention.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Deepak Ranjan from PTI Bhasha is asking "Amerika ke naye prashaasan ke saath sambandhon ko lekar kya pahal ho rahee hai? (Questioned in Hindi; App.Translation) "What initiative is being taken regarding the relationship with the new US Administration?” Devadeep from Sankei Shimbun has asked. "Can you give us an update about communication with various officials of the new Biden Administration? Is there any planned interaction to take place in recent future at any level? Ranjeet Kumar from Rakshak News is asking "Can you release some details of the conversation between NSA of India and USA?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: As regards the contacts with the new administration, as I had mentioned last time as the new administration takes shape, we continue to remain engaged at all levels to work together to further strengthen our comprehensive global strategic partnership with the US. You would recall that PM had congratulated then President-elect Biden on his election on the 8th of November and they had a phone telephone call on the 17th of November, where both leaders exchanged views on working together on shared priorities and global challenges. EAM has already congratulated his counterpart Mr. Antony Blinken on his appointment as Secretary of State. The introductory phone call between the two will be scheduled soon at a mutually convenient time. It will be an important opportunity to discuss the bilateral as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest. As you would have seen the press release RM had a introductory phone call with the new Secretary of Defense, Mr. Lloyd Austin yesterday. They reiterated the commitment to deepen ongoing defense cooperation between the two countries. NSA also spoke to his counterpart Mr. Jake Sullivan yesterday and conveyed his good wishes on his appointment. So we will keep you informed as other such interactions take place.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Sidhant from WION is asking "How does India see Biden Administration joining Paris Accord and doing away with H4 work permits?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: As you would recall during the telephone call between Prime Minister and President Biden on 17th of November, the leaders had discussed their priorities which included tackling climate change. So we look forward to working with the US Administration on this issue. I think I'll go back to the question from Ranjeet. He wanted some details on the telephone call between two NSAs. Ranjeet ji, as you would have seen the press release, the two NSAs agreed to work closely to further advance India-US relations, which are built on shared values and common strategic and security interests and our NSA underscored that India and US were uniquely positioned to work closely on regional and international issues including issues like terrorism, maritime security, cyber security and peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR):
Maha from CNN News 18 is asking "Has any phone call been fixed between Prime Minister Modi and new US President Joe Biden?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Maha, I think, I responded to that earlier, where I had said that after PM's telephonic conversations with world leaders, we normally make a media announcement. So you will get to know.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Next set of question is on seafarers stranded in Chinese waters. Siddhant from WION is asking "Any update on Indian sailors stranded on MV Anastasia?" Shrinjoy from Times Now is asking "Any measures to help the Indian sailors on MV Anastasia."

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: On this, as I had conveyed last week, with regard to MV Anastasia which has 16 Indian crew and it is at anchorage at the Caofeidian port in China, our Embassy in Beijing has been in touch with the Chinese side, both at the central level as well as at the level of the provincial Government and through this contact they are trying to facilitate crew change at the earliest. Our Embassy continues to follow up with both the shipping company as well as the Chinese authorities to ensure the well-being of the Indian crew.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Next set of question is on Line of Actual Control. Madhurendra from News Nation is asking " Cheen ke saath jaaree tanaav ke beech nauvi daur kee vaarta se bhee koi nateeja nahin nikala. Kya diplomatic leval par aage koi aur engagement ka plaan hai? (Questioned in Hindi; App.Translation) "The ninth round of talks with China on ongoing tension did not yield any results. Is there a plan for further engagement at diplomatic level?” Shrinjoy from Times Now is asking "Has there been any changes on the ground in Ladakh after the Commander's meeting. Deepak Ranjan from PTI Bhasha is asking "Laddaakh gatirodh ke mudde par sainye star kee taaja baatcheet ke baad kya sthiti ubharee hai? (Questioned in Hindi; App.Translation) "What situation has emerged after the latest military level talks on the Ladakh deadlock issue?”

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Madhurendra ji, aapne dekha hoga ki ek sanyukt press vigyapti jaaree ki gaee hai jab nauven sainye commander star kee baatcheet huee thee us baithak ke baad yah vigyapti aapne dekhee hogee aur aap iss vigyapti mein dekhen saaph taur par kaha gaya hai ki baatcheet ka kya nateeja nikla, usase kya sthiti ubharee hai. Jahaan tak aage ki baatcheet ka sawal hai aapne yeh bhi dekha hoga ki iss mein kaha gaya hai ki donon pakshon ne apne apne desh ke netaon ki mahatvapoorn sarvasammati ka paalan karne, baatcheet aur samajhauta varta ki gati ko achha banae rakhane aur sanyukt roop se tanaav kam karane ki prakriya ko aage badhaane ke liye sheeghr hi core commander sthar kee baithak ka dasavaan daur ka aayojan karane ke liye sahamat hue hain donon paksh (Answered in Hindi; App.Translation) Madhurendra ji, you must have seen that the joint press release has been issued, after the ninth military commander level talks were held, you must have seen this release and you see in this release that it has been clearly said that the outcome of the conversation and as far as you have also seen it has been said that the agreement reached between leaders of the two sides must be followed by everybody. The momentum of talks must be well maintained and both sides have agreed to organize the tenth corp commander level meeting soon to further deescalate the tension.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Siddhant from WION has question "Is India sending extradition request on Khalistani such as Pannu of the outlawed ‘Sikh for Justice’. Madhurendra from News Nation has asked, "Foreign jameen par jaari khalistan aandolan par MEA ka kya kehna hai? kyonki lagatar Bharatiye Dootawason ko target kiya jar aha hai. (Questioned in Hindi; App. Translation) What has MEA to say about the ongoing Khalistan movement on foreign soil because the Indian embassies are being constantly targeted?.
Madhurendra has another question,” Dilli mein Kisan aandolan ko bhadkane ke liye sekdon pakistani handle active dikhe. Wahin Khalistan ke naam par Pakistan ki funding har sthar par jari hai. Kya videsh mantralay ke paas koi update hai? (Questioned in Hindi; App. Translation) In order to provoke the Farmers' Movement in Delhi, hundreds of Pakistani handles appeared active, in the name of Khalistan, Pakistan's funding continues at every level. Is there any update available on this with the Ministry of External Affairs?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: As I stated last week as regards anti-India activities of certain elements abroad, which actually represent a very small fringe of the Indian community, we are closely engaged with the relevant foreign governments to apprise them of the threats supposed to convey our concerns as well as to seek their interventions. And as you would know the safety and security of Indian diplomatic premises and personnel is the responsibility of the host government and whenever such protests happen or they are planned, we inform them and we ask them to take necessary action to safeguard our premises and our personnel.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Rezaul from The Hindustan Times has asked "Pakistan Supreme Court today ordered the release of terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikh who was freed by India after IC 814 hijacking. There is no information whether an arrest warrant for Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar has been executed by Pakistani authorities? Your reactions on this developments. Devadeep from Sankei Shimbun has asked "Pakistan Supreme Court has acquitted the main conspirator of journalist Daniel Pearl's abduction and murder. Do you have a reaction? Similar questions from Aditya from CNN News 18.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: I had mentioned earlier about the very low conviction rate in Pakistan when it comes to sentencing of terror accused and this case truly demonstrates the lack of any seriousness on the part of Pakistan on taking action on terror related issues. It is also a travesty of justice not to find Omar Saeed guilty of any charges in this heinous act of terror. Our position on Pakistan taking sustained, verifiable, credible and irreversible action against terrorism and terrorist funding, emanating from all territory under its control remains unchanged.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR):
Gautam Lahiri has a question. "Can you share the outcome of India-Bangladesh Consular meeting which was held in Delhi? Bangladesh Foreign Secretary has come for FOC meeting. What is the agenda of the meeting? Kalol from The Hindu has asked. "Can you please share what are the various issues that will be taken up during the discussion with Bangladesh Foreign Secretary, Masud Bin Momen. Will it take up upcoming visit by PM Modi to Dhaka?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Well Gautam, first to respond to your question. This was the Second India-Bangladesh consular dialogue. It took place today morning and they were fruitful discussions on the entire range of Consular issues. We are going to have the next round of the Foreign Office Consultations tomorrow, i.e. the 29th of January. Our side will be led by Foreign Secretary and the Bangladesh side will be led by Ambassador Masud Bin Momen, the Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh. The FOC mechanism, as you know, allows for comprehensive discussion in all areas and the areas of discussion will include cooperation in the wake of Covid-19, border management and security, trade and investment, connectivity, energy, water resources, development partnership and regional and multilateral issues. So these will be the areas for discussion. Both sides will also discuss joint activities to be held throughout the year as the two countries celebrate 50 years of our diplomatic ties and of course yes, preparations for the upcoming visit of PM to Bangladesh will also be discussed.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Aminul Islam from BSS is asking, "We all know that Air Travel Bubble Agreement between India and Bangladesh is going to be expired soon. And the MEA has sent a letter to Bangladesh Authority last month for extension of the agreement till April 22. Do you have any update to renew the agreement?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:
On this my understanding is that both are in discussion to renew this arrangement.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR):
Suhasini from The Hindu is asking "UK-based Cairn Energy has written to HCI London, EAM, PMO and Finance Ministry threatening to enforce the award from The Hague by seizing Indian Assets in several jurisdictions. Is the Government in talks with Cairn on this issue and are any counter measures being taken?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Suhasini, this is a matter which is dealt with by the Department of Revenue. So I would like you to check with them.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR):
Maha from CNN News 18 has asked "Has MEA received any request to impound passports of those mentioned in the FIRs of 26th January violence case.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Maha, I'm not aware of information about the specific request that you refer to but I will of course I will need to check on this. But you would know that all such requests are processed in accordance with existing rules and laws and this would be under the framework of the Passport Act.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Sandeep from The Tribune is asking. "Is there any plan to discuss with China, the External Affairs Minister's three mutuals and eight propositions mentioned in his speech put up on MEA Website?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Sandeep, I think you're referring to the keynote address delivered by EAM today morning at the 13th All-India Conference of China Studies and I would not like to qualify what EAM said or add to it in any way.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Shrinjoy from Times Now has asked, "Pakistan Foreign Ministry said that India must cooperate with Pakistani courts in the review and reconsideration case of its serving Naval spy Commander Shri Kulbhushan Jadhav and added that they have offered a third consular access to India. So have we asked for consular access?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:
Shrinjoy, you know our position on this issue very well. Government of Pakistan has failed to create an environment under which the allegations against Shri Jadhav can be seriously and effectively challenged. They need to implement the ICJ judgment in letter and spirit and this includes provision of all relevant documents as well as providing unconditional, unhindered and unimpeded consular access to Shri Jadhav.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Aditya from CNN News 18 has asked "US has put the Taliban-US Afghan Peace Agreement under review, even though Zalmay Khalilzad continues as special envoy. Where does India stand on the Afghan peace deal?

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:
Aditya, you know our position on this. We stand for a peaceful, prosperous and progressive Afghanistan. We support all efforts that aim towards a stable and secure Afghanistan that preserve the gains of the last two decades and lead the country on the path of development benefiting all sections of people including its women and minorities.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): I have no further questions Sir.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Thank you. Thank You Yatin. So this concludes the weekly press briefing.


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