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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by the Official Spokesperson (August 12, 2022)

August 12, 2022

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: A very good afternoon to all of you. Thank you for joining us for this Weekly Media Briefing. I don't have any major announcement to begin with. So I will open the floor for questions on various issues.

Sidhant: Sir Sidhant from WION. My question is what's India's reaction to what's happening in the Taiwan Straits? We saw the military exercises by the Chinese something which is seen as an aggressive action which India also saw in 2020.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Anything related to that anybody has? So we will take it in one round. Okay, on Taiwan.

Speaker 1: I’m (inaudible). I'm a reporter from Taiwan. I'm based in Delhi. There are about 5,000 to 10,000 Indians in Taiwan. Are there any repatriation plans of your government should the situation go worse?

Rezaul: I’m Rezaul from Hindustan Times. Given India's stated concerns about China's attempts to alter the status quo on the northern borders, how do we look at, you know, the Taiwan leadership's comments saying that China's actions amount to an effort to alter the status quo in that region and their ambitions extend far beyond that region.

Speaker 2: This is (inaudible) from Xinhua News agency. Good afternoon. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has recently visited China's Taiwan region. So more than 170 countries have expressed their support to One China principle. And India so far has not made any announcement. So what is India's position on One China principle? And what's your comment on Nancy Pelosi’s visit?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: So let me take that round of questions. I think there would be interest. Look on this issue, like many other countries, India too is concerned at recent developments. We urge the exercise of restraint, avoidance of unilateral actions to change the status quo, de-escalation of tensions and efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region. India's relevant policies are well known and consistent. They do not require reiteration. Let me read this out in Hindi because I know a couple of you already are marking in Hindi one.

Kai anya desho ki tarah Bharat bhi haal ke ghatanakramon se chintit hai. Hum sanyam baratne aur status quo ko badalane ke liye unilateral action se bachane, tanav kam karne aur kshetra mein shanti aur sthirata banaye rakhne ke prayason ka anurodh karte hain. Bharat ki prasangik nitiyan well known hain or consistent hain, sarvavidit hain, susangat hain, unhen punravriti ki avashyakta nahi hai. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Like many other countries, India too is concerned at recent developments. We urge the exercise of restraint, avoidance of unilateral actions to change the status quo, de-escalation of tensions and efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region. India's relevant policies are well known and consistent. They do not require reiteration.

I think that is what I would like to say in response to all the queries that you've asked. Moving on, is there any other topic?

Abhishek: Sir, Abhishek from CNN News18. Sir, my question is regarding latest placing on technical hold by Chinese side on the United Nations Security Council on one of the terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad. What is the India's response to them?

Kavita: Sir main yeh puchhna chahti hun ki kya pehli baar aisa ho raha hai itihaas mein ki Bharat ki Sarkar ne Canada ki sarkar ko ye request ki hai ki hamare mission ko security di jaye 15th august ko Independence Day celebrations ko manane ke liye? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir, I want to ask, is this happening for the first time in history that the Government of India has requested the Government of Canada to provide security to our mission to celebrate Independence Day on August 15th?

Yeshi: Hi this is Yeshi Seli from The New Indian Express. Nepal’s Foreign Minister was in China recently and he met with Wang Yi and it's learnt that Wang Yi said that they're willing to invest close to $15 billion in developing infrastructure in Nepal. Is that a reason or a point of concern for India?

Rishabh: Hello Sir, this is Rishabh from CNN International. Sir, recently at Hambantota port there was a controversy regarding a Chinese vessel, which China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that Sri Lanka has stopped because of India's pressure. What is India’s stand on that?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Could you repeat your question again, I know what you're referring to, but I want to know exactly what you are asking.

Rishabh: There's a Chinese vessel in Sri Lankan water, which was supposed to be docked at Hambantota from 11th to 17th. It has not been docked. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that it's because of India's pressure on Sri Lanka. And Sir related, India and US is holding a joint exercise near LAC and China has again said that this will be against a mutual agreement of 1996 between India and China. So what is India's stand on that?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I think Abhishek you asked about the technical hold. This is in the UN Security Council. Look, I think this is an issue on which I think a statement was made by our Permanent Representative just a little earlier. This was prior to the hold being made. Let me just emphasize that we note with regret that a technical hold has been placed on the listing proposal for Abdul Rauf Asghar I think is the name. I wanted to emphasize that it's unfortunate that when it comes to our collective battle against terrorism, the international community has been unable to speak in one common voice. As I mentioned, our Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, during the UN Security Council Open Debate on I think 9th of August, had flagged this concern categorically to all members and I have it here, and I quote, "There should be no double standards in dealing with terrorists. The practice of placing holds and blocks without giving any justification must end. It is most regrettable that genuine and evidence based listing proposals pertaining to some of the most notorious terrorists in the world are being placed on hold. Double standards and continuing politicization have rendered the credibility of the Sanctions Regime at an all-time low.”

As you're all aware, Abdul Rauf Asghar, the deputy chief of Jaish e Mohammed, which is a UN proscribed entity was actively involved in terrorist attacks, such as hijacking of Indian Airlines IC 814 in 1998, as well as the terror attacks on the Indian Parliament in 2001, and the terror attacks at the Indian army camp in Kathua in 2014, as well as the Pathankot IAF base attack in 2016. He has been proscribed under both Indian and US laws already. And therefore, the placing of this technical hold against such wanted terrorist is most uncalled for. India will continue to pursue its principled position of bringing these terrorists to justice, including through the UN Security Council resolution 1267 sanctions regime. I think there was a query on Canada.

Mujhe aapka sawal theek se samajh nahi aayaa. Dekhiye, hamare dutavas jo videsh mein hai unki security vagerah ya hum koi special event karte hai jaise 15 August, 26 January ya fir koi bhi other event mein, public key kaisi suraksha rahe, ya log aye unki suraksha ke liye, hum hamesha local government, local police authorities ko hum request karte hai ki security den. Ye to standard hai, Canada ka specific mujhe malum nahi hai. Hamne udhar bhi kiya hoga hamare High Commission ne ya hamare Consulates ne. Ye common practice hai or security hum hamesha mante hai ki host government provide karen aur hum unse contact mein rehte hai taki koi bhi aisi public event ya otherwise also normal mein hamare karyakram mein suraksha bani rahe hamari, dutavaso mein hamare jo, vahan pe kaam kar rahe saare embassy officers ke liye bhi. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) I could not understand your question properly. See, for the security of our embassies abroad or for ensuring safety and security of public when embassies organize special events during 15th August or 26th January or any other events, we always request the local government, local police authorities to provide security. This is a standard practice. I do not know specifically about Canada, but there also our High Commission or Consulate would have asked local government to provide security. This is common practice and we always stay in touch with them so that in public events security is maintained including for all the embassy staff working in our embassies.

Rishabh your question was regarding this vessel. We have seen some comments. I wasn't sure what exactly you had. You wanted to know whether this was raised or not raised. Look without getting into that, I've seen general comments about it, that India should be doing this or Sri Lanka has been pressured. Let me categorically say, we reject the insinuations in such statements about India. Sri Lanka is a sovereign country and makes its own independent decisions. Insofar as India-Sri Lanka relations are concerned, you are aware we've been talking about it, the centrality of Sri Lanka in our Neighbourhood First policy. This year itself, India has extended an unprecedented support of US dollar 3.8 billion for ameliorating the serious economic situation faced by the people of Sri Lanka. India is also fully supportive of the Sri Lanka's democracy, stability and economic recovery. And with regard to our security concerns, there was some comments. Look, this is a sovereign right of each country. We will make the best judgment in our own interest. This naturally takes into account the prevailing situation in the region, especially in our border areas. And insofar as in the context of India and China that you had raised, we have consistently maintained the necessity of mutual respect, mutual sensitivity, and mutual interest as the basis of development of ties. I think I'll leave it at that.

Yeshi your question was on Nepal’s Foreign Minister’s visit. Look, I would not comment on countries or third countries. Obviously our relations with Nepal are unique, and I don’t need to highlight that, they stand on their own merit. And I wouldn't like to comment on what has been discussed or what could be investment. I think, in the India-Nepal relations, particularly our economic and connectivity and our people to people ties are very special. And as you saw with the recent visit, from high level visits on both sides, actually this year, is a good example of the kind of strong linkages that we are seeking to strengthen. Of course, if there is any activity which impinges on the defence or security aspects, the government is always cognizant of that, keeps an eye on it and takes necessary measures against that. Okay, any further questions?

Kadambini Sharma: Kadambini Sharma from NDTV India, New York mein ek bharatiya Mandeep Kaur ki khudkushi se maut hui hai, unake parivar ka kehna hai ki jald se jald unake shav ko yahan laya jaye to, usamen bharatiye consulate ya MEA kya kar raha hai aur doosri cheez kya kisi prakar ke jo perpetrator hain unke husband kya unke khilaf koi criminal action ke liye bhi madad kar raha hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Kadambini Sharma from NDTV India, an Indian Mandeep Kaur has commited suicide in New York, her family says that her body should be brought here as soon as possible. So, what is the Indian Consulate or MEA doing in that regard and secondly, is MEA helping in bringing criminal action against the perpetrator, her husband?

Poulomi: Poulomi from India Today. My question is about, there have been reports about these meetings, that India has had political dialogue with the NATO on the sidelines of Raisina Dialogue in 2019 and 2020. How is India engaging with NATO?

Ileana: I'm Ileana from TASS Russian news agency. And my question is on supplies of Russian oil to India. I may suppose that you can say that it's the question to the Ministry of Oil. But now I think this is already the question of diplomatic sphere. So as we know G7 countries aiming to place into effect to this price cap mechanism on Russian oil by 5th of December. So my question is, do you feel any kind of pressure from western countries during meetings during negotiations to your colleagues from Western countries on this issue on price cap mechanism? And do you expect that this pressure if it really exists may increase by the 5th of December? Thank you.

Sahil: Sir, I’m Sahil from ANI. Sir there are reports coming in that Prime Minister Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif might meet during SCO Summit. What's your take on that sir?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: We’ll take this round of questions. I think the first one was regarding the suicide that has happened. Kadambini as we mentioned about that. Ye bahut dukh ki ghatna hai, tragic suicide Mandeep Kaur ji Indian national New York main rehte they. Hamari jo counselavas hai New york mein woh local authority or police ke saath contact mein hai, Indian community ke sath bhi woh contact mein hai or family members jo hai Mandeep kaur ji ke, unke saath bhi vo contact mein hai. Hamari embassy Washington DC mein jo hai, unhone bhi ye case vahan ke jo US federal government ke jo authorities hai unke sath bhi contact mein hai, unke saath bhi discuss kar rahe hai aur unhone hame ashvasan diya hai, US authorities ne, ki jo bhi appropriate action unke laws ke tahat hai woh liya jaega. Hamari embassy or hamare consulate jo New York mein, ye hamare jo efforts hai usko lagatar karte rahenge taki isamen ek thorough investigation ho taki pata chale ki kya hua hai ismen aur jo necessary sahayata hai family members ko woh bhi dete rahenge. Woh close contact mein hai India mein jo family hai aur vahan pe bhi jo hamari embassy hai woh sampark mein hai (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) It is a very sad incident, the tragic suicide of Ms. Mandeep Kaur, an Indian national in New York. Our Consulate in New York is in contact with local police and other authorities, representatives of the Indian community and family members of Mandeep Kaur. Our Embassy in Washington D.C. has also taken up the case with the concerned authorities in the US Federal Government, which has assured that they will undertake appropriate action under US law. Our Embassy in Washington D.C and Consulate in New York will continue their efforts to seek a thorough investigation. They will also provide necessary assistance to her family members. Their family in India and our embassy there is also in touch.

Poulomi you asked about NATO right? As I said you made some comments I'm not going to get into that. Let me just say that India and NATO have kept in touch in Brussels at different levels for quite some time now. This is part of our contacts with various stakeholders on global issues of mutual interest.

Sahil, look on this one you are speculating very much. I don't think we have announced the visit either of Prime Minister yet or any possible meetings or other things that he may be doing at that point. Such high level visits are announced at the appropriate time. And I certainly don't have anything to share with you at this point. On the issue of oil Ileana, look, I won't pass you to the Ministry of Oil, Petroleum and Natural gas, that I will on technical details if you want to know or exact discussions. Let me emphasize two things that we have been saying, nothing new. Our decisions on what we do regarding purchase of oil or other things related to that will be guided by our energy security requirements, our perspective will be guided by energy security. So that we have been saying and we'll continue to follow that and pursue that. Insofar as any price cap proposal is there, I'm not aware of it. I know there was some discussions generally about it. I've seen some reports on it. But as I think Foreign Secretary or External Affairs Minister, on one of the occasion the Foreign Secretary himself said there's no question of any pressure on such issues. And I certainly would not be able to agree on that idea that there is pressure on such issues. On this specific element of price cap, there are technical discussions, I don't know that. I would refer you to the petroleum ministry. But as I said, I'm not aware of any particular proposal or specific proposal that has been there at least to the Ministry of External Affairs. So I won’t like to speculate on pressure increasing or reducing etc. Shrinjoy go ahead.

Shrinjoy: Sir there's always already been talk of this Chinese ship in Hambantota. At the same time, we are hearing that perhaps on the 15th of August, the Indian government will hand over a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft to Sri Lanka. I'm told the MEA is also in this. So could you tell us a little about it, please.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Sorry, how's it linked to the first one? First part of it was related to a ship you said?

Shrinjoy: Yeah.

Sandhya: Sir, Sandhya. Sir, quick question around the FTA with Taiwan, any update you would like to share? Thanks.

Shahid Siddiqui: Sir, Shahid Siddiqui from Sadbhawna Today. Is there 19th Interpol General Assembly date has been announced?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Shrinjoy, as I highlighted to you our position on the Chinese vessel and reports on that. I have nothing to share on any proposal on 15th August or Dornier or otherwise. If I have, we'll come back to you.

On the FTA on Taiwan, sadly, no, I don't have Sandhya any update. As you know, we have been working hard on FTAs with a number of partners, which including, I think you just saw UAE, there's work going on with the UK, Australia. If I have an update, I'll come back to you on this one.

Shahid on the issue, yes, it is our turn to host it, but I'm not sure. I think we're working on some dates but as soon as it's finalized, actually we are not the lead agency on this and we'll have to check. I think MHA will be the agency. I don't have yet a confirmation of the dates. I know certain dates are being worked around. But as soon as we have, we are in a position to share that publicly, I have noted that, we'll come back. Okay. Thank you very much for joining us for this briefing. Have a great weekend as well as the 75th anniversary of Independence. Happy Independence Day.

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