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Transcript of Special Briefing by Foreign Secretary on Prime Minister’s visit to Hiroshima, Japan (May 20, 2023)

May 21, 2023

Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Very good evening to all of you. Thank you very much for joining us at this late hour in Hiroshima, where we are currently here for the G7 Summit where Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi arrived yesterday evening, and the summit is still underway. We just concluded a long day of meetings and other engagements and to give us a sense of what has happened so far and the day ahead we have with us Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary of India. Also joining us on the dais, our Ambassador of India to Japan, Shri Sibi George as well as Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs looking after Multilateral Economic Relations, Shri Ninad S. Deshpande. Sir, I would request you to make an opening comments and then we can take a few questions.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Thank you very much Arindam and good evening, to all the friends from media and sorry for this late-night press briefing this evening. But it's just that meetings prolonged for as long as they did. We have come to the end of packed and intensive day one of the visit of Honorable Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi, who is here in Hiroshima on the first leg of his three nation visit. As you may all know, Prime Minister arrived in Hiroshima late last evening, and his engagements today, began early in the morning. His day was structured in terms of his meetings into three parts. The first set of things which was spread all over the day, was set of bilateral meetings that he had during the day. His second set of formal engagements pertained to the sessions of the G7 outreach summit between the G7 member states and the invited outreach countries. And his third session pertained to the Quad Summit, which was held earlier this evening under the chairmanship of Australia. Honorable Prime Minister Anthony Albanese chaired that session.

In terms of Prime Minister's bilateral meetings, he had four or five meetings during the day today. He started off his bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan, which was followed by his meetings with President of Republic of Korea and Prime Minister of Vietnam. Later in the afternoon, he met with President of France President Macron and President of Ukraine, President Zelenskyy. As you all also know, just giving you a brief run of different bilateral meetings that Prime Minister had. Prime Minister Kishida as you all know, was recently in India, and today's meeting, in fact provide an opportunity to take forward the conversation which the two Prime Minister had held during Honorable Prime Minister Kishida's visit to India. During the bilateral meeting, the two leaders discussed the whole range of bilateral areas of cooperation. More specifically, the topics of discussions included the conduct of their respective presidencies of the two groupings that they are chairing - Honorable Prime Minister of India, the presidency of G20, and Honorable Prime Minister of Japan, the presidency of G7. Besides this, Ukraine, developments in Indo-Pacific and cooperation in Indo-Pacific, bilateral engagement in the fields of education, skill development, tourism, lifestyle for environment, that's Mission LiFE, which was launched by Prime Minister of India, green hydrogen, high technology area of cooperation including semiconductors, digital public infrastructure, training and capacity building engagement across the whole range of economic areas of cooperation. These were some of the areas which featured in discussions between Prime Minister of Japan and Prime Minister of India.

During this meeting, Prime Minister of Japan also informed Indian Prime Minister that the Bodhi sapling that the Honorable Prime Minister of India had gifted in March this year when Prime Minister Kishida had visited India is being planted in Hiroshima. As I mentioned, Prime Minister's other bilateral meetings were with President of Republic of Korea and Prime Minister of Vietnam, in which the discussions focused on the whole range of bilateral issues as also developments in the region.

During his meeting with the President of France, both leaders spoke about their commitment to the India-France Strategic Partnership, particularly in this 25th year of our partnership. Prime Minister conveyed to President Macron that he's eagerly looking forward to his visit to France for the Bastille Day celebrations on 14th of July, where Prime Minister of India will be the chief guest. With regard to the meeting with the President of Ukraine, you have already seen earlier on in the brief, tweets and the other details put out by the spokesperson. In meeting with President Zelenskyy, Prime Minister of India conveyed India's clear support for dialogue and diplomacy to find a way forward. Prime minister also said that India will continue to extend humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine.

Coming to the set of sessions that were held under the G7 outreach summit between the G7 members and the outreach countries, Prime Minister of India spoke at both the sessions today. The first session focused on the different challenges which are currently being faced by the world, in particular the challenges relating to the food security, health security, developmental issues and gender. In his intervention during the session, Honorable Prime Minister made a whole host of suggestions in terms of how the current challenges could be addressed. In particular, he made a 10-point call to action at the session. I would briefly enumerate the thrust areas of these points which he mentioned.

His first point was to focus on developing inclusive food systems, and particularly the kinds of food systems that protect the most vulnerable sections of the developing country communities including in particular, the marginal farmer community. Second, Prime Minister Modi strongly advocated adoption and awareness about millet. In his intervention, he brought out very clearly that millets provide a very strong path for strong good balanced nutrition. Through water conservation, they extend environmental benefits and have the propensity to grow well across different agro-climatic zones.

Third, he focused on the various substantial problem of food wastage, and how the efforts to stem the food wastage can be directly linked to our efforts to strengthen food security. How less food wastage translates to greater food availability. That was the central thrust of what Honorable Prime Minister said. His fourth point pertained to the importance of depoliticizing the global fertilizer supply chains. He particularly focused on a challenge that expansionist tendencies in the world today are even trying to exercise complete control over the fertilizer resources.

His fifth point again, relating to larger question of fertilizer security pertained to the need of developing alternative models to farming practices which are more fertilizer intensive. So perhaps more, you move towards organic farming, natural farming. His next step, next call to action was on developing, this is more as a part of health security, developing resilient healthcare systems. In the same context, he spoke about the need to promote holistic health care. And in that context, how does pursuit of traditional systems of medicine actually helps our objectives in achieving holistic health care. The next point of call for action, again, pertaining to the larger question of health security focused on digital health to ensure global universal health coverage. And again, linking it up to how the challenge of health security to address that challenge one of the critical needs is the availability of health professionals, healthcare workers. So there he emphasized the need of mobility of healthcare professionals across different economies in order so that the challenges of the skilled human resources in providing health security needs could be addressed.

He also focused, this was the 10th point of call of his action, he also focused on the need to build development models that are actually inspired less by the needs of consumerism, more by the needs of the developing countries and the growth in the developing countries. This was the thrust ideas of his principal, his intervention during the first session. The second session of the G7 outreach Summit, focused on the theme of a ‘Common endeavor for a resilient and sustainable planet’, where the focus was on clean energy and environment conservation. During his intervention, the gist of it has already been openly shared with you. Prime Minister emphasized a critical point that when it comes to looking at these challenges, India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi looks at it as the need of planet Earth. Often, he emphasized in his intervention that we tend to look clean energy and environment conservation purely from the perspective of energy or power, whereas the context is much larger. Since the context is much larger, and we are talking about needs of planet Earth, focus has to be on looking at institutional solutions. In his intervention, Prime Minister Modi clearly outlined that as part of that focus objective to seek institutional solutions, India has put forward many such strong institution, global institutional solutions. And he listed many of them. These include Mission LiFE, Lifestyle For Sustainable Environment, International Solar Alliance, which was launched at one of the CoP sessions in Paris, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, Mission Hydrogen, Biofuel Alliance and the Big Cat Alliance; these are all set of institutional solution which look at the whole bouquet of challenges that we face in the field of resilient and sustainable planet.

Prime Minister also highlighted the need for green and clean technology supply chains to be built in climate action, and he not just spoke about the solution, he also spoke about how the Indian farmers are adopting it as a matter of practice also. He, in particular listed the measures such as per drop more crop, which is essentially trying to increase the water use efficiency in the field of crop growth. And he also listed India's targeted efforts towards reaching our goal of net zero by 2070.

The third session of the outreach, G7 outreach summit will be held tomorrow where the Prime Minister will, as required, make the intervention. For the outreach Summit part, the G7 countries and the guest country have also issued a communique today and that communique is called Hiroshima Action Statement for Resilient Global Food Security. The statement has already been released and it is available for you to go through. I will only mention that statement very prominently contains India's global initiatives which have been launched by Prime Minister Modi. These include International year of millet in particular, our G20 Research Initiative which we have launched on millets and other ancient grains, we call them as Maha Rishi. Three lifestyle for environment which I just mentioned is one of the institutional solutions we have put forward. And it also talks about other efforts which have been launched by us in this field.

The last plurilateral engagement that Honorable Prime Minister had today was the Quad leaders meeting which was hosted by the Prime Minister of Australia, His Excellency, Mr. Anthony Albanese. And the meeting was attended by President of the United States of America, and the Honorable Prime Minister of Japan besides Prime Minister Modi. The meeting today of the Quad leaders provided an excellent opportunity for one, sharing their strategic assessment about the developments in the region, including in the Indo-Pacific as also, more importantly, their shared vision of activity-based cooperation among the Quad countries across a whole range of areas. I'm told that a joint statement and a vision document relating to it, has just been issued. You would find both the joint statement and the joint vision very exclusively focusing on the positive agenda of cooperation not just among the Quad countries, but also between the Quad countries both individually bilaterally as also collectively and the member countries of the Indo-Pacific. It's very extensive. It's very detailed. It's very promising in terms of where Quad has reached since its latest inception and where does it plan to go in months and years ahead. I will not repeat many of those but they are there for you to look at.

Besides launching many of the new initiatives you will find that is for example initiative on clean energy supply chain principles there are principles on software secure for example, which have been adopted and will probably be released. Besides that, the four leaders also actually took a detailed stock of which are the areas of engagement which require rationalization, which are doing well, what more needs to be done to move on various things. And these naturally included Indo-Pacific Partnership on Maritime Domain Awareness. The Quad Investors Network what we call as QUIN, Clean Energy Supply Chain I've already mentioned. Besides his engagements in the formal engagements, bilateral, in Quad and G7 outreach summit, honorable Prime Minister also unveiled the bust of Mahatma Gandhi, which is a gift from the Government of India to the city of Hiroshima. The unveiling event was attended by senior Japanese dignitaries, as also the Indian community members. Prime minister also had a separate small introduction with two prominent Japanese personality, Dr. Tomio Mizokami and Ms. Hiroko Takayama.

Tomorrow, as I mentioned, apart from the G7 session, Prime Minister is scheduled to have a few other bilateral meetings, details of which will be later on shared by the Spokesperson. The program tomorrow would also include a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, where the leaders will pay floral tribute.

I would stop here. And if there are questions, I'll try and answer them. Thank you.

Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much. So before open the floor for questions, the ground rules, please. Please introduce yourself and the organization that you represent. And because it’s late hour, we’ll do quick round of questions.

Ayushi Agrawal: Sir Ayushi Agrawal, ANI. Sir during the meeting of our Prime Minister and Ukrainian President, was there any kind of discussion regarding the participation of Ukraine in our G20 meetings and summit? Because we have seen that in the past he has mentioned that Ukraine would, President Zelenskyy would like to, would be happy to address the summit. So any discussion on that? Also, if Zelenskyy has extended an invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Kyiv?

Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: The question is did he?

Ayushi Agrawal: Yes. If the President has extended an invitation to Prime Minister Modi.

Speaker: My name is (inaudible) I am from (inaudible) newspapers. My question is also about meeting with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. Could you please provide us some more details of the meeting, especially in regarding the request or maybe your proposal about mediation? Thank you.

Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: About mediation?

Speaker: Yes.

Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay.

Sidhant: Hi sir. Sidhant from Wion, sir how much the Chinese aggressive actions within India and in the region were part of the conversation Prime Minister had with various world leaders including with President Zelenskyy and of course, with the French President? Also, during his addresses to the outreach meeting, were there any indication of how Prime Minister talked about the aggressive actions by the Chinese because this has been a dominating focus here at the G7.

Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay, yeah, please go ahead. No, no. Okay. Okay, maybe what we'll do since there are a lot of questions on Ukraine. Can we have any other question on Ukraine. Okay. Let me take the Ukraine. Yes.

Vishal Pandey: Sir main Vishal Pandey hu Zee News se. Mera sawal yehi hai ki kya Ukraine ke rashtrapati ke dwara yudh rukwane ke liye koi baatchit ki gai pradhan mantri ke saath me ya koi aisa madyasta ki pesh kash ki gai?

(Questions in Hindi: Approximate translation) Sir I am Vishal Pandey from Zee News, Sir. My question is whether in the talks between the President of Ukraine and the Prime Minister, any any request was made for stopping of the war or mediation of the war?

Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Since we are abroad, I'll just translate briefly. The question was whether any request for stopping of the war or mediation of the war was there?

Marya Shakil: Yes. This is Marya Shakil from CNN News 18. My question is who had sought this meeting?

Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Which meeting? The one with President Zelenskyy?

Marya Shakil: Yes and since this was, you know, his participation in G7 came at the last minute. That is the reason why I want to know who had sought this meeting?

Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson:
I don't know if he came at the last minute. That's your presumption.

Marya Shakil: Yeah. We did not know about it till the last minute. That's what I'm saying. And also, if we could get more details on the duration of the meeting, and what else was was communicated?

Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Duration of the meeting?

Marya Shakil: Yes. Between the two sides.

Speaker 2: Yes. Yes. Thank you very much. My name is (inaudible) from NHK Japanese Public Broadcaster. In the meeting has the topic related to Russian fuel have been raised in the meeting.

Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Russian fuel means oil.

Speaker 2: Oil. Yes.

Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay. In which meeting?

Speaker 2: (Inaudible)

Gaurav Agrawal: Sir, this is Gaurav Agarwal from TV9, So in between PM Modi and Ukraine's President Zelenskyy they have talked about… PM Modi has stated that this is not a political or economic crisis. This is a crisis based on humanitarian crisis. So what sort of help India can provide to Ukraine on that humanitarian ground? And is there any plan to send some sort of help to Ukraine from India?

Amrit Pal Singh: Amrit Pal Singh from DD India. What were President Zelenskyy’s expectations from India in that meeting?

Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay, I think that covers. Yeah.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Thank you very much. Let me for the purposes of simplification, let me take the yes, no answers first. It's I think, easier in that sense. So the first question which ANI has asked was the participation of Ukraine in G20 came up? Answer is no. Second question, trying to pick up another no, which I think colleague from NHK asked, did the Russian fuel come up in discussion? Answer is no. I'll go to the yes part of the question, which was, was Prime Minister invited by President Zelenskyy to visit Ukraine, answer is yes. So having got those yes and no out of the way, let me just move on to the substance of what was discussed between the two leaders. And more importantly, what did Honorable Prime Minister convey to President Zelenskyy on various aspects. One of the things which, the important things which Prime Minister mentioned in his meeting with President Zelenskyy was that he expressed his concern at the ongoing conflict and the situation in Ukraine and Prime Minister at some length mentioned the wider impact of the conflict on the countries of the global South, particularly the impact relating to the multiple economic insecurities, food insecurity, in some ways, fuel, fertilizer insecurity. And how that impact has particularly been very severe on the developing countries and the larger matrix of countries of the global South. This was discussed and highlighted by Honorable Prime Minister at considerable length.

Prime Minister also mentioned to President Zelenskyy two additional things. And those are spread across various questions which have been asked. One, that India would continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine including in particular, the pharmaceuticals which is sometimes critical requirement. And secondly, which is on the larger context of the challenge of the conflict and efforts to seek a resolution to this conflict, Honorable Prime Minister clearly conveyed to President Zelenskyy that India, and Prime Minister himself would do everything in their power to find a resolution to the situation to this conflict through diplomacy and dialogue. To the specific question from our colleague from CNN about who sought this meeting, it was sought by President Zelenskyy. Duration of the meeting; well, I to be honest didn’t clock it in that sense, but I would put it roughly broadly half an hour, give or take a bunch of few minutes here and there. I will leave that to you. That's in terms of all, I think Ukraine related issues. I think the question of what has been referred as mediation or as peace efforts, I've clearly said that PM conveyed to President Zelenskyy that India and Prime Minister himself will do everything in their power to find a resolution to the situation through diplomacy and dialogue.

There was one question in between from Siddhant which was non-Ukraine related, which was on the whether the question of Chinese approaches in the region, including in the Indo-Pacific, etc, came up. During the Quad interface, as I mentioned to you in my opening remarks, the four Quad leaders shared their strategic assessment of the developments in the region, including in the Indo-Pacific. And they also focused very heavily on how the Quad leaders among themselves and Quad leaders with the other countries of Indo-Pacific could cooperate to pursue a positive agenda of cooperation across various domains of engagement, but also in a manner that mitigate some of the challenges that they see in the region. Some of these things also came up as required in the bilateral discussion, but most of the bilateral discussion, as I mentioned, focused on areas of bilateral cooperation, but also developments in the region.

Takashi: Good evening, My name is Takashi from Asahi Shimbun. My question is about global South. Prime Minister Modi ji made a voice about the global issue during the outreach sessions. While the communique when I read communique, there is no term of the global South. So do you think the G7 countries are considering the issue of global South Seriously?

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Look it is not correct for us to comment on the G7 communique, because we are not a member of the G7. So I think those are questions that one should address to G7. But I would, you know, respond to the larger context of G7. And I'll take you back to January, when Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi made a call for the global south countries to come together and share their priorities, share their concerns, share their interest, share their challenges, share what they expect from G20, share what they expect from the rest of the world. Prime Minister Honorable Narendra Modi ji invited 135 countries of the global South. 125 countries attended the summit, Voice of Global South. The summit itself was structured around six sessions. There were two leaders level sessions, bookends - opening and the closing. And there were ministerial sessions on finance, on commerce, on environment conservation, on development partnership. And here is what came out as voice of global South. When you say voice of global South, you know in some manner, these are individual voices. But in some manner, this is also a voice of a collective, which is countries of the global South. And the whole objective of the Honorable Prime Minister was to listen to that voice and also, in a way speak for that voice. Of course, as a member of global South, we are one of them. We are also voice of global South. So what did we hear? We heard very, very clearly that global South needs development partnership template, which does not burden them with debt. And you'll find a clear reflection of that in Honorable Prime Minister's intervention today when he spoke about developmental template. When the countries of the global South spoke, they said that there is a disproportionate impact of conflict in Ukraine on them. Food availability, basic food raw materials have dried up. Fertilizers too expensive. Oil not available, which is what Honorable Prime Minister has highlighted in his G20 interventions and also in G7. Now, you could quibble that it is not there in x-communique our y-communique. It is there in our collective conscience. If you're talking of matters relating to humanity, you would be, you know, I would say, you would be running away from reality if you did not actually look at what the needs, concerns and priorities of global South are. So global South, I would urge you not to dismiss it as a terminology. It is a sentiment, it is a real concern. It's reality of the challenges and the problems. And in all the bilateral meetings that my Prime Minister had today, every leader that he met, he spoke about, referred to the challenges of global south. So Honorable Prime Minister when he convened the Voice of Global South summit in January, had precisely this objective in mind. And I think you found those concerns being very, very clearly articulated, put forward forcefully in today's interaction at least a couple of them that Honorable Prime Minister had today. Thank you.

Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much. Sir. Thank you also to our Ambassador Shri Sibi George and Shri Ninad S. Deshpande, Joint Secretary, MER. Thank you all for joining us. Good night.

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