Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: A very good morning to all of you. I am delighted to see such a large turnout for the special media briefing on the occasion of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting under India’s ongoing G20 presidency. Thank you for joining us. As you know, the meeting actually begins today evening and then continues tomorrow, until tomorrow evening. To give us a sense of our approach and the details of this event, we have the privilege of having with us Foreign Secretary sir, Shri Vinay Kwatra. Also joining us on the dais is Shri Abhay Thakur, Additional Secretary (G20), and Sous-Sherpa of the G20 process. So sir, without further ado, may I hand over the floor to you, sir.
Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Thank you very much and very good morning to all our friends from the media for this special pre-event media briefing on the upcoming meeting of the G20 Foreign Ministers starting tomorrow. The G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting under India's ongoing G20 presidency will be held tomorrow on 2nd March, but it would start with a gala dinner tonight. It would be under the chairmanship of our External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar. This would be the second ministerial meeting being held under our presidency so far. As you all know, the first ministerial meeting has just concluded in Bengaluru, which was of the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting.
The venue of G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is going to be Rashtrapati Bhavan Cultural Center. Overall 40 delegations are expected to participate in this meeting. For your benefit, I'm sure you are aware of them, but I would still read out the countries - Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, European Union, France, Germany, India, of course, as the host, Indonesia, both as the immediate past president, also the ASEAN chair, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, UK, US, these are the G20 member countries who would be there. Among the nine guest countries participating at the level of Foreign Ministers are Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.
Besides the participation of these countries, which I said comprising of over 40 delegations, this would also include 13 International organizations who will be participating in the meeting. Surely, it is one of the largest gathering of the Foreign Ministers hosted by any G20 presidency that we would be privileged to host tomorrow.
The theme of India's G20 presidency has been enunciated repeatedly as Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, roughly translating into One Earth, One Family, One Future. For India, the G20 presidency also marks the beginning of Amrit Kaal, which will lead to the centenary of our independence, towards a futuristic, prosperous, inclusive and developed society with human-centric approach at its very core. This is also the spirit which propelled us to organize the Voice of the Global South Summit in January earlier this year, which as you are aware, saw participation of over 125 countries.
During the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting tomorrow, the External Affairs Minister will be chairing two sessions of the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. The first session will focus on three principal subitems: first of them relating to multilateralism; second something which is very crucial for the developing world, the issues related to food and energy security; and the third, the larger question of templates of development cooperation.
The second session which will focus on four or five other key issues, again, relevant not just for the developing world but also for the global community as a whole. One of them would focus on new and emerging threats. This would include, naturally, the challenges of countering terrorism, counter narcotics. On the more development oriented considerations, that second session would also focus on global skill mapping, how the G20 can pool together its efforts to do global skill mapping, focus on global talent pool, and also the questions relating to humanitarian assistance and disaster risk reduction.
So, if you look at the agenda of the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting for tomorrow, it would be broadly structured along two sub-verticals. One, as I said, relating to multilateralism, food/energy security and development cooperation; and the second one relating to new emerging threats, counter-terrorism, global skill mapping and HADR issues.
The agenda of the Foreign Ministers’ meeting tomorrow is also situated in the larger set of priorities of India's G20 presidency, which under the vision of the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, include: one, inclusive and resilient growth; two, progress along with an action plan on the SDGs; three, the entire rubric of green development and sustainable lifestyles, in particular the Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE); four, technological transformation, including the full range of discussions and what the G20 societies can come together and contribute to the concept and the specifics of public digital infrastructure. Reforming multilateral institutions, I've already mentioned is also among the priorities for India's G20 presidency, as also issues related to women-led development and international peace and harmony.
On the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, External Affairs Minister is also expected to meet his counterparts from other countries who are visiting Delhi for this meeting. This would naturally be an opportunity to discuss issues of bilateral importance between India and those countries with whom the Minister would be meeting. At the end of the G20 meeting tomorrow, we expect that the visiting ministers from the G20 countries and the guest countries as also the heads of the other delegation would also get an opportunity to call on the Honorable Prime Minister. I would end my remarks here at this stage, and if there are any questions, will be very happy to take them.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: For the ground rules, please introduce yourself and the organization that you represent.
Speaker 1: Hi. Good morning. I am (inaudible) from the Japanese news agency, and I would like to ask you about two things. The first, Japanese Foreign Minister is not going to attend the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting at this time. And what do you think of the impact of his absence on the upcoming meeting and could you kindly share your view on the Japanese decision? And secondly, would you be so kind as to add much more detailed explanation how India plan to amplify the voice of global south in this meeting? Thank you.
Sidhant: Hi, sir. Sidhant from WION. My question is how India plans to bridge the divide between West and Russia backed by China. We saw the Indian chair statement in the Finance Ministers’ Meeting. So are we expecting a joint statement after this Foreign Ministers’ Meeting?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Bridge the gap you said.
Sidhant: Bridge the gap.
Pranay Pathak: Sir Pranay Pathak from ABP News. Can you please elaborate on the bilateral engagements of Foreign Minister and with the Chinese Foreign Minister be having… like with our Foreign Minister, will be having a bilateral engagement with the Chinese Foreign Minister and our NSA also?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: You said bilateral engagements with all of them or our NSA?
Pranay Pathak: Our NSA.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Their meetings with our NSA, okay.
Manish Kumar Jha: This is Manish Kumar Jha from Financial Express. While there are a lot of consensus on green energy and other key issues, there are also differences among the member on the Russia and Ukraine conflict. How you're addressing across the platforms building towards the joint declaration sir?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Wasn't it the same question? Sorry, if your question is already asked, please don't repeat that. It doesn’t help. Sudhi.
Sudhi Ranjan: Sir, Sudhi Ranjan from the Bloomberg. A question on the same line but different. Is India considering like it did in the Finance Ministers’ Meeting, naming people or naming countries that, you know, kind of come in the way of the consensus? Is there any decision in this regard?
Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Okay. Thank you very much for those questions. Regarding the question from our Japanese colleague about the participation of the Japanese delegation in the G20 Foreign Ministers, etc. Look, you're all aware and our friend from Japan is particularly acutely conscious of this, India and Japan have enjoyed sterling cooperation when it comes to discussions and deliberations within the G20 setting. Now we understand that the Japanese Foreign Minister himself is perhaps not able to come because of his domestic compulsions, but we are looking forward to a very active participation, active support, active discussions in consultation with the Japanese delegation that is coming. We greatly value their participation and, of course, their contributions have always been most helpful in taking forward the agenda of the G20.
With regard to your question on the amplification of the Voice of Global South, look, some of the agenda priorities that I mentioned for the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting tomorrow, which are also, as I said, situated in the larger set of priorities of India's G20 presidency, clearly capture most of the concerns, issues, priorities and interest of the Global South. So when you talk of issues relating to food security, energy security, when you refer to the challenges of sustainable development templates, when you talk about the accessibility to climate finance, climate technology or the mitigation of environmental challenges, when you talk about how the world in general and the G20 in particular need to come together to focus on these priorities, these are very much, I would say, we heard it very loud and clear when we organized the Voice of Global South Summit, and that is the reason why at least some of these priorities are very directly and explicitly captured in the agenda for the G20 presidency, for the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting tomorrow.
Another aspect which is, you know, which may have been enunciated for the first time perhaps in the G20 setting in India, but which is extremely relevant for the rest of the world, this is the concept which my Prime Minister has always emphasized, underlined, pushed, which is the concept of Jan Bhagidari. How do you take the progress which the G20 makes, the recommendation that it stipulates, the prescriptions that it suggests in different areas, especially the ones which are important for the Global South, how do you take these recommendations outside the boardroom discussions and take it to the people? How do you take G20 and connect it to the people? That I think is very important, not just as I said in the Indian context which we are doing. One of the key planks of India's G20 presidency is to run it as a presidency of Jan Bhagidari, which is essentially the participation and the contribution of the people. But that is something which is also scalable for the Global South, because the fruits of, you know, the benefits of what gets discussed within the G20 framework, what gets decided in the G20 framework should reach to the people for the rest of the world. So that is an amplification at the level of the people, which my Prime Minister has so strongly proposed and propagated.
Sidhant, to your question and to the larger, you know, other set of questions which maybe there relating to Russia-Ukraine issue - I think, yes, given the nature and the developing situation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, naturally that would be an important point of discussions during the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. Look, I have already listed out for you the two major elements of the agenda of the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting tomorrow, the two sets of them. Clearly, the Foreign Ministers would also focus on the ongoing situation between Russia and Ukraine, but what is it that they come out with, and more importantly, among the G20 memberships and when they meet tomorrow and discuss this, what is the understanding that they develop not just on, you know, Russia‑Ukraine conflict, but also on the impact of that conflict on the rest of the world, particularly the economic impact, particularly the development impact, the challenges that the developing countries face, because of that conflict. I think those are equally important to focus on, of course, along with the Russia-Ukraine conflict also.
So, I don't think it would be really correct for me to prejudge the outcome of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. I think we should let the plenipotentiaries of the G20 Foreign Ministries’ Meeting decide that on their own. But we are very clear that the Foreign Ministers should focus on all the priorities that are currently very relevant in the global context. I mentioned broadly the priorities, which would get structured in the agenda of the two sessions tomorrow for the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
On the question of bilateral engagements, look, EAM has already started meeting many of his bilateral counterparts actually since yesterday. You would have already seen his tweets after most of those meetings, in fact, probably all of those meetings, and we expect that trend to continue in the coming days in which he would definitely try and meet as many counterparts of his as possible, if not all the counterparts, who are visiting, who are our guests here from since yesterday and for another next couple of days.
Neeraj: Sir, News 18 India se Neeraj hoon. Kya Pradhan Mantri bhi G20 Videsh Mantriyon ki baitak ko sambodhit karenge virtually ya online? Dusra sawaal yeh hai, ki kya kisi Videsh Mantri ki mulaakat Pradhan Mantri Modi se bhi hogi? (Question in Hindi: Approximate Translation) Sir, Neeraj from News 18 India. Will Prime Minister be addressing the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting, virtually or online? Second question is will Foreign Ministers be meeting with Prime Minister Modi?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Abhi toh bola unhone, apne suna nahin? (Answered in Hindi: Approximate Translation) It was just now addressed, didn’t you listen?
Kadambini Sharma: Kadambini Sharma from NDTV India. Kya China ke Videsh Mantri ke saath dwipakshiya varta tai hai?(Question in Hindi: Approximate Translation) Kadambini Sharma from NDTV India. A bilateral meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister is confirmed?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Unhone abhi kaha do baar, aap fir se wahi question dohraenge toh kaise hoga. (Answered in Hindi: Approximate Translation) He just now addressed it twice, how will it work if you will be repeating the same question.
Speaker 2: Hi. I'm (inaudible) from Swiss Television. It's clear that you're going to talk about Ukraine and Russia and there are two blocks. There is West that really wants to continue with the sanction and arm Ukraine, and there is another block who wants to reach a peace and sit down to discuss. Is India profiling itself as becoming more and more the leader of this second block? Do you see yourself as after one year compacting behind you all the nations that have other problems and they want to mostly sit down and talk? Are you the leader of this block?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I have seen lots of hands but I have a feeling the questions are coming out exactly the same. Anything on Russia-Ukraine?
Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Obviously, and it's quite natural. You know, it is expected that there would be interest in matters relating to Russia-Ukraine. So why don't we listen to all the questions on Russia-Ukraine and then see whether there is any difference in one with the other? And then if I have already answered, then I think we'll let it be.
Umashankar Singh: Umashankar Singh NDTV India se. G20 Presidency ek taur pe Bharat pe badi zimmedari hai ki woh Russia aur Russia ka saath dene wale deshon aur West aur tamam deshon ko ek saath sadh ke ek joint statement tak pahunche. Iske liye Bharat kya koshish karega, kyun ki jis tarike se Finance Ministers meet mein jo ek vivaad nikalkar saamne aaya kya wahi (inaudible) kya kohi beech ka raasta nikaal paane mein Bharat kaamyaab hoga? (Question in Hindi: Approximate Translation) Umashankar Singh from NDTV India. The G20 Presidency will be a major responsibility for India, as it has to bring together Russia and countries supporting Russia, as well as West and other countries to arrive at the joint statement. What will India be doing in this regard, given the issues that came up in Finance Ministers’ meeting (inaudible) Will India succeed in reaching a common ground?
Sridhar: Sir, Sridhar from the Asian Age here. How do you see the resolute protest by Russia and China at Bangalore? Do you feel that there could be a repeat of this in Delhi as well? What are the efforts to prevent such a scenario? Thank you, sir.
Suhasini Haidar: Suhasini Haidar from The Hindu, sir. I have a very specific question about the wording. In the Bangalore outcome statement, the Bali document, the communique has been reproduced in Paras 3 and 4, and then there is an extra addition that says Russia and China did not agree to Para 3 and 4. Are we to understand that Russia and China no longer adhere to the Bali consensus and to the Bali outcome statement? And I also want to ask within that, given that in Bali, India had agreed to language that said that most countries agreed that they condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It was understood India was not a part of it. By including it in its own statement, by referring to the war in Ukraine, Russia's war in Ukraine, is India now changing its position from the Bali statement? Thank you.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: The first one I think you should… I mean, I don't know it's a fair question to ask us. Anyway, I think you should ask the Russians and Chinese.
Kavita Joshi: Sir, mein Kavita Joshi hoon Haribhoomi Newspaper se. Sir, mera sawaal yeh hai ki jo G20 ke sidelines mein jo meeting hongi, bilateral meetings, usme India, China ke jo foreign ministers hai unki baat cheet mein LAC dispute ka jo issue hai aur jo China ka aggression hai Indian Ocean region mein, usko kya Indian Foreign Minister raise karenge? Aur, sir, Ukraine ka kisi tarah ka koi participation G20 Ministers ki meeting mein kya dekhne ko milega, virtual ya physical?(Question in Hindi: Approximate Tralsnation) Sir, I am Kavita Joshi from Haribhoomi Newspaper. Sir, my question is that in the bilateral meeting between India’s and China’s Foreign Ministers, on the sidelines of the G20, will External Affairs Minister raise LAC dispute issues or issues related to China’s aggressions in the Indian Ocean with the Chinese counterpart. Also, will we see any participation from Ukraine in G20 Ministers’ meeting, virtual of physical?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Ukraine’s participation?
Kavita Joshi: Ukraine’s participation.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Anything on Ukraine-Russia? Anybody I’ve missed out? You said, Ukraine-Russia. Is there any other question left on this topic? Please.
Akhilesh Suman: Sir, I am Akhilesh Suman from Sansad TV. I know that many countries have requested India to take active part in resolving the issue between Russia and Ukraine. I have heard recently the American Spokesperson of National Security Council, then the German Minister also. So will India push any solution, any peace path for in this G20 meeting?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: You just heard PM one day ago, but anyway.
Akhilesh Suman: I know, but in G20, are we going to push any solution or any path forward?
Nayanima: Nayanima from ABP Live. Probably a follow-up to Suhasini's question. If we know and if we have acknowledged that Russia and China will not go by the Bali declaration language, are we going to bring in some other language in the joint communique this time in the Foreign Ministers track or probably in the summit, if you can explain on that?
Poonam Dabas: I'm Poonam Dabas. I'm a freelancer now. How does India propose to build the consensus, wording or whatever, particularly in view of the food and the energy security? Because India has been buying a large amount of oil from Russia for which its actions have been criticized and food, we stopped importing wheat. So in that context, how do…
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I am sorry ma’am. Could you repeat your question? I think you said too many things. You want to know how we'll build consensus?
Poonam Dabas: Yes.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Your criticism thing, but it's your comment. Please note I'm not agreeing with that. How to build consensus? We'll have the answer on that. Wheat part I couldn't understand of that we are not buying wheat.
Poonam Dabas: Particularly in view of food and energy security.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: How is that related? Anyway, I take your question.
Manish Chand: Manish Chand, India Writes Network. Foreign Secretary, I am talking about semantic quibbles, which dominates this Ukraine business, formulation on Ukraine. What is our view? How do we describe what is happening? Is it an invasion? It is a war? It is a conflict? What exactly is it? What terminology are we comfortable with?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: You're asking the question one year late, but anyway. Yes, ma’am. Go ahead. No it’s okay. I got your question.
Runjhun Sharma: Hi, I am Runjhun Sharma from RT Russia today. Just to summarize, to understand better, is this a challenge or a fear for India at all that some of the issues that are on the agenda for India, that could get overshadowed by the conflict in Ukraine and the Western pressures for India to condemn it?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay. I see no further question. Before I hand over the floor to sir on this, I wanted to make one comment which I think Suhasini made as well as it was followed up by Nayanima. There was a text tabled and the reason I'm answering this is because this is beyond the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, which is, on the Finance Ministers’ Meeting, we tabled a text which is a Chair’s statement and an outcome document in which on the issue of Russia-Ukraine, we tabled Paras 3 and 4, which is reproduction of the text from the Bali Leaders' declaration. Two countries, Russia and China, did not agree to that. You need to ask them about why exactly, on how their perspective is, or are they no longer with that text from Bali? You have to ask them. This is not a speculative response and we will see how it goes forward.
I think Foreign Secretary made it pretty clear about that element on Para 3 and 4. It's a repetition from Bali declaration. Obviously, we stand by the declaration. It's our Prime Minister who was there and as Foreign Secretary will mention, our constructive role was appreciated in that. So there is no question of not agreeing to that text. We are with that text. If two countries, in this case Russia and China have reservations about this text, you need to ask them. Arguing that, that has now made a change from our position is not accurate, because in the Bali declaration, it's there, and we signed up to all the paras of the Bali declaration as the agreed text and now as a text that we have presented. That's what my comment on it, sir, before I hand it over to you.
Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Okay. Thank you, Arindam. Thank you for the large number of questions, which obviously points to extensive interest on this matter, even if the interest is not necessarily differentiated into various categories. So I first just broadly mention the various headings of the questions the way I have captured them. If I'm wrong, please feel free to add on to that.
Joint statement, what would be there in the joint statement? Joint statement main kya niklega? Vitt mantri ki jo meeting hui woh vivadaspad thi… Hume toh koi vivad nazar nahi aaya, appko shayad vivad kahin par nazar aaya ho usme. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) What will be in joint statement, Finance Ministers’ meeting was controversial... We don’t see any controversy there, maybe you do.
So joint statement related question, formulations, what exactly will be there, etc.
Most of you asked this question with regard to Bali declaration, how it is currently there, whether India is planning to change the Bali Declaration? Frankly, I don’t know what is the evidence you have picked up to sort of signify to that, but anyway, that’s a second set of question to which mostly Arindam has already replied.
The third smaller set of questions relating to bilateral meetings.
Jaise Kavita ji aap ka prashan tha ki China se jab vaarta hogi toh kya, kya vishay usme honge? Dusra Ukraine ka participation ko leke jo aap ka prashana tha. Ek prashana tha jo ki food, energy security, I think Ms. Dabas ka question tha, food and energy security ko leke aur uske consensus ko leke koi samasya to, if there’s any problem etc.(Answered in Hindi: Approximate Translation) Like Kavita ji asked, which issues will be discussed in the bilateral with China. Secondly, your question on Ukraine’s participation in G20. Also, there was a question regarding food and energy security, I think from Ms. Dabas, on food and energy security, if there will be any problem with regard to its consensus on it,etc.
Then I think the question on whether the agenda for the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will get overshadowed by the other question relating to Russia-Ukraine? And the first question which was asked by our Swiss colleague here on the… I’m just trying to capture that.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: To the West and two groups want peace.
Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Yeah. Two groups Russia, West block and how sort of is India in the second block? So I’ll say what I have to say without really referring to one set of questions in particular or not.
Look, let me first of all repeat what I have said in the earlier briefings also. Insofar as India’s position relating to Russia-Ukraine conflict is concerned. Let me start with something which came later as a categorical statement, which was my Prime Minister’s statement at Samarkand, which clearly said that this is not the era of war. If you back it up a bit, you will find that right from the start of the conflict in February last year, my Prime Minister in his conversations with the global leadership, including the leadership from Russia, leadership of Ukraine, leadership of other countries has clearly stated that dialogue and diplomacy is the way forward to resolve the conflict. You converge the three and you find the contribution that India made in arriving at the Bali declaration consensus, which came out of the Bali declaration.
What would Foreign Ministers discuss tomorrow, what understanding they would arrive at on this subject, whether that understanding would be to the exclusion of the other agenda items, etc., are the issues, which as I mentioned earlier on is for the Foreign Ministers to discuss tomorrow and decide. I have clearly mentioned to you what is on the agenda for the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting tomorrow, two basket of agenda issues which are there. And clearly for us the questions relating to the food, energy and the fertilizer security, the impact that the conflict has on these economic challenges that we face, the development cooperation templates that we want to talk about, the new and emerging threats, the problem of counter terrorism, counter narcotics, the issues that we face on the reform of multilateralism, each one of them is a very, very significant and a substantial issue, which is absolutely crucial for the Global South.
I have no reason to doubt that each of these agenda items will receive its due focus when the Foreign Ministers meet tomorrow and hold their discussions. It is not for me to prejudge the outcome of those discussion when it takes place tomorrow. You will have to await the presidency presser, which will take place tomorrow at some point. We will keep you posted on the timing and details, for you to hear yourself in-person as to what happens at that meeting tomorrow.
Kavita ji, jo aap ka prashan tha China ki vaarta ko leke, jaise ki maine kaha ki yeh apekshit hai ki Videsh Mantra ji apne jitne jo dwipaksheeya anya mantri gan hai unse bhent vaarta karne ki unki apeksha hai. Us bhent varta mein mudde kya honge, kin vishayon pe charcha hogi, woh us meeting ke baad hi, uparant hi, aapke samaksh laaya jaaye toh zyada uchit rahega. Usko samay uchit vyavastha ke antargat hee prastut kiya jaaye toh achcha hai kyuki unki kya vaarta hai woh do Videsh Mantri hi aapas mein nirdhaarit karen toh achcha hai.Jahaan tak Ukraine ke nimantran ka prashan hai, dekhiye yeh jab humne apni G20 presidency launch karne ka presser kiya tha us samay bhi spasht roop se ankit kiya tha, chinhit kiya tha ki jo, jo desh nimantrit hai, jo guest ke roop mein nimantrit hai aur jo swaabhavik hai G20 members hai unke list aap sabke samakshya hai, woh aap sab dekh sakte hai. Usme koi aur addition hamare hisaab se abhi nahi hai. (Answered in Hind: Approximate Translation) Kavita ji, regarding your question related to discussions with China. Like I said, it is expected that External Affairs Minister will have meeting with his counterparts. Now what topics will be discussed in those meetings, it would be better if they come out once those meetings are over. It’s better if they come out at the appropriate time as it is up to the two Foreign Ministers to decide the issues that they wish to focus on. As far as Ukraine’s invitation is concerned, see, during the presser that we did at the time of launch of the G20 presidency, it was made clear as to which nations are invited as guests, including obviously, the G20 members. The list of those countries was shared with you. We have not made any changes or addition in that list.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: That covers it broadly, sir. I will not take any further questions on Russia-Ukraine. So please do not raise your hands if it’s on that.
Maha Siddiqui: Foreign Secretary, Maha Siddiqui from NDTV. Sir, post the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the 3rd morning, I understand there is a Quad ministerial level meeting as well. Since the Japanese Foreign Minister is not coming down to the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, does the Quad ministerial meeting still stand? Will the deputy participate in that? And is India disappointed that despite sterling cooperation that you are talking about between India and Japan, he has chosen domestic politics over diplomacy?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I love the way you are confident that the meeting will happen and yet you say Foreign Minister was not there. Anyway, yes, please?
Rishabh: Foreign Secretary, Rishabh from Times Now. Sir, Australian Foreign Minister is also coming in, and as we discussed, there will be bilateral.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Australian you said, right?
Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: You talked of Australian Foreign Minister.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: We didn’t hear you clearly?
Rishabh: Okay. Australian Foreign Minister is also coming in. Sir, we have seen a lot of separatism movement gaining momentum in Australia and there have been some attacks on Indians as well there. Will that be brought up in the meeting?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: In the bilateral?
Rishabh: Bilateral, yeah.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Can I say ditto what he said to on the… anyway. Parikshit here, and you have a lot of question. This will close it then.
Parikshit: I am Parikshit from CNBC. Sir, on the issue of counter-terrorism, yes, cryptocurrencies was discussed in great detail at the Finance Ministers’ Meeting, but in the light of terror financing, could we expect the Foreign Ministers to give further guidance to the Financial Stability Board and other task forces of the G20 on how to approach the issue of cryptocurrency regulations from the point of view of terrorism?
Madhurendra: Sir, main Madhurendra News Nation se. Jaise ki Ukraine war se asthirta ka sawaal duniya ke saamne hai, thik usi tarah se China ke bhi ravaiye se duniya ke samne asthirta ka sawaal hai, chaahe woh Taiwan ke front per dekhe, chahe Indo-China conflict mudde par aap dekhe ya Japan Sea ke taraf dekhen, toh kya China ke is ravaiye ko lekar bhi koi badi varta hone waali hai? Kya G20 ke desh jo hai….(Question in Hindi: Approximate Translation) Sir, I am Madhurendra from News Nation. The Ukraine war has posed the question of instability in the world. Similar to that, China’s behavior has also posed the same instability question, be it on Taiwan’s front or Indo-China conflict or issues in Japan Sea. Will the aggression and behavior of China be discussed during the meeting?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: In G20?
Madhurendra: G20 me. Kya China ka jo rawayya hai, khaas taur pe akramak ravaiya hai us par bhi baatcheet krenge, take asthirta kam ho sake?(Questioned in Hindi: Approximate Translation) Will China’s behavior, especially China’s aggressive behavior be discussed so as to address instability?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Aapko malum hai ki yeh ek consensus ka organization hai aur Chin bhi iske ek member hain? Isko jaante hue bhi pooch rahe hain? (Questioned in Hindi: Approximate Translation) Do you know that this is a consensus based organization and China is also a member? Still you are asking this question.
Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Dekhiye mein aakhri prashan se pehle shuru karta hoon. Videsh Mantri ki vaarta ka kya agenda hoga woh aap sabke samne bata diya gaya hai. Aap usme se nirdhaarit kar leejiye kya aayega, kya nahi aayega, lekin mein jitna vistaar mein uske bare mein bol chukka hun, main chahoon, padke bhi chahoon toh aur isse adhik nahi bolpaaonga, toh woh aap kripaya usko madde nazar rakhe aur uss hisaab se dekhe.(Answered in Hindi: Approximate Translation) I will start with the last question. The agenda for Foreign Ministers’ meeting has already been spelled out before everyone. Now you can decide from it what will be discussed and what won’t. I have already talked about it as much as I can, and can’t say anymore on that topic. You can see to it and decide for yourself on the same.
To your question with regard to Japan, you know, as I have already said our partnership with Japan, bilateral as also what we do together in G20, is something which is of great value to us. We have absolutely no doubt going into tomorrow’s meeting of the Foreign Ministers that our discussion, Japanese delegation’s participation in that meeting, would be something which will bring a tremendous value to the G20 deliberations.
With regard to your question on the Quad Foreign Ministers’ meeting, well, we’ll let you know as and when something works out, something which at this stage we are not aware of.
To your question on the Australian Foreign Minister’s visit, I would simply repeat a variation of the answer that I gave to Kavita Ji. I can give a more extensive answer, but then that would not be fair to Kavita Ji. So I think it’s for the two ministers to decide really what they focus on, but obviously all issues that are part of the bilateral discussions and issues of regional importance would naturally be a part of those discussions.
Parikshit, to your question on the cryptocurrencies and the other things ...there are many elements, when you talk of countering terrorism, there are many sub-verticals that you need to deal with. Money laundering is one of them. Narco-financing is another of them, which, as you know, is one of the very old issues when you talk of terrorism going back to early 90s, etc.
Now crypto is relatively new in that sense. It’s a FinTech issue, because it’s essentially a financial product that emerges, which is centered in technology pretty much. What we expect from tomorrow’s meeting of the Foreign Ministers’ meeting is a very clear, strong, all-encompassing message on the problem of terrorism, on its challenges and on the need for the G20 countries to come together to fight, address and defeat it comprehensively.
Naturally, crypto would form one constituent of it, one of the constituent of it and as you yourself observed, the Finance Ministers and the Central Bank Governors Meeting in Bengaluru devoted extensive time onto this issue and has already discussed that at length. But at tomorrow’s meeting the larger challenge of counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics would be in focus with the Foreign Ministers and we hope to get some clear recommendation coming out of that from that meeting. Thank you.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much, sir. I appreciate particularly your patience in taking so many questions, sir. Thank you also to Abhay for your presence here.
Thanks. Good afternoon.