Visits Visits

Media Briefing on upcoming visits of Prime Minister to Palestine, UAE and Oman

February 06, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Namaskar, good afternoon and a very warm welcome to this special briefing on Prime Minister’s three country visit to Palestine, UAE and Oman from 9 to 12 February, 2018. We had issued a press release earlier and I am sure you all must have seen that press release spelling out broad contours of the program and also of the visit. Today I have with me Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar as well as Jt. Secretary (WANA), Shri B Bala Bhaskar to share more details of the program elements and also the highlights of the visit of the Prime Minister to these three countries. But before I handover to the two Jt. Secretaries, I thought I would like to run through some of the broad common elements which exists in this visit.

First, this visit has to be seen against the backdrop of hectic diplomatic engagement which we had in the last few weeks. I am sure you all must have seen the very successful visit of ten ASEAN leaders to India for the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit. External Affairs Minister is visiting Saudi Arabia from tomorrow i.e. from 6 – 8 February, 2018. We are therefore looking at re-defining our neighborhood, looking at our neighbourhood not only from the land perspective but also from the maritime perspective.

Second, Prime Minister’s visit is being undertaken as part of larger exercise to fulfil the government’s domestic and international agenda and also to bring some benefit to the people on the ground, to the common people. I think there are certain elements in the program where there will be direct benefit to the people.

Thirdly, of course we are very proud of our diaspora abroad but our effort during this visit and also earlier visits is to broad base our engagement with these countries into moving towards more strategic sphere both on trade and investment as well as on defence and security. With these opening remarks I would now like to give the floor to Shri B Bala Bhaskar, Jt. Secretary (WANA). He will touch upon PM’s visit to Palestine and after that Mridul will be talking about Prime Minister’s visit to UAE and Oman and after the two briefing we will have questions from the floor. This briefing is only for Prime Minister’s visit to the three countries, it is not a regular briefing. Thank You.

Jt. Secretary (WANA), Shri B Bala Bhaskar: Good afternoon friends. As you are aware PM is undertaking first ever historic visit to Palestine. HE will be going to Ramallah on February 10. Before formal talks he would be visiting Yasser Arafat’s museum, he will be paying tribute​ at the​ wreath laying​ ceremony there in the honor of departed leader. Then he will hold official talks with Palestinian leadership and then there will be joint press conference and then after that there will be a banquet lunch after that he will be returning to Oman and from there he will be going to other parts of his trip.

As you are aware for last three years we have made significant and positive contributions for the Palestinian cause starting from 2015 our Rashtrapati Ji undertook first ever historic visit to Palestine, followed by External Affair Minister’s visit and then President Abbas visited India in May 2017. Our Prime Minister met President Abbas in 2015 on the sidelines of UNGA and again on the sidelines of Paris Meet. This will be fourth meeting of PM and President Abbas and then to deepen our engagement we have undertaken first ever historic ministerial level joint commission meeting with Palestine in November 2016. We have agreed to deepen our engagement in several areas including health, IT, tourism, youth affairs, sports, agriculture etc.

When President Abbas came we have also signed several agreements to further deepen our engagement, it is on the political level and exchanges point of view when President visited Ramallah. Our contribution to Palestinian cause is three fold. One is at political level, the other one is our contribution to nation building process i.e. their infrastructure, capacity building and then other projects of assistance which we have been doing. When President Palestine we have commenced projects worth $30 million and one of the signature projects of his visit is building of India-Palestine ICT Park in Palestine which has been under construction that will create large scale employment and also connect the Palestinian IT industry with Indian IT industry.

For Palestinian cause we have taken significant steps apart from our regular support at various international forums. You are aware that in December 2017 we have voted in favor a very very important resolution on Jerusalem and before that we also contributed for the accession of Palestine into Interpol which will have a very important benefit to the Palestinian side.

This visit is part of that enhanced engagement as JS (XP) mentioned and also to secure our interest both from the domestic perspective and also international perspective. We have also important engagement with Palestine on security area. I think this is a stand-alone visit. You are aware that we have de-hyphenated our relations with Palestine and Israel and now we see them both as mutually independent and exclusive and as part of this policy Prime Minister is undertaking this visit. ​

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Now I will request JS (Gulf) to brief the media on Prime Minister’s visit to UAE and Oman.

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: Thank you Raveesh. Prime Minister is travelling to UAE and Oman from 10 - 12 February. From Palestine he will reach UAE late in the evening on February 10. You are all aware that this visit is primarily at the invitation of the President of UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the President wrote about Prime Minister’s participation in the Sixth World Government’s Summit, which is happening in Dubai and in addition to that plural, multilateral arrangement Prime Minister is also going to have a State visit to UAE.You are all aware that in the last two and half years since Prime Minister first went to UAE in August 2015 there has been a huge intensification of our engagement with UAE. Prime Minister’s visit took place after almost 34 years and in the last two and a half years we have seen four high level, head of government visits between UAE and India.

After he went there in February 2016, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi came here. Soon after that in January 2017 he again visited India as the Chief Guest for our Republic Day Parade in 2017 which reflects huge intensification in our engagement with UAE and as JS (XP) mentioned earlier this intensification is beyond our engagement with the diaspora. Before I talk about the nitty-gritty of the visit I will give you a very broad picture of what is envisaged in our engagement with the Gulf.

The six GCC countries account for almost 20 percent of bilateral trade and by far they are the largest trading regional blocks for us i.e. about $110 billion of trade and out of that oil is a very small portion, a lot of people might think that oil is the major portion, but it is not. If you are looking at the other aspects for example the energy, they are our key source of energy, 50 percent of our oil comes from these countries. Almost 60-65 percent of our energy requirements are sourced from Gulf.

Beyond the buyer-seller engagement we have now moved into strategic sphere in terms of our energy security which I will talk to you about. And then if you look at the Indian diaspora it is now 9 million strong and growing and the amount of money they sent back home is about $35 billion annual. It sustains millions of families back home.

The new areas that we have been working upon in the last two and half years include defence and security and we have made tremendous progress in that and finally and the most important of it is the economic content of our engagement. If you at look UAE, for example, when Prime Minister went in August 2015 there was an agreement that we will have $75 billion of UAE investment in India. UAE has done a lot in the last few years in terms of meeting our requirements of FDI which are so very essential to look at the larger developmental goals that the current government has and good part is that these investments are not going into frivolous areas, this is going into hardcore infrastructure areas, areas which are very critical to not only for the development of the country but also to making sure that these developmental fruits are passed on to individuals who are at the bottom of our society.

For example I must mention that we had about $500 million of UAE investment committed in low cost housing projects in India very recently. You might have heard and I think most of you have written those articles that DP World has put in $3 billion. $1 billion has already been put in and more $2 billion is committed and they are looking at ports, they are looking at logistics chains, they are looking at food parks, so all these areas are very critical to what our current government is doing in terms of developing the nation and taking it forward for a very comprehensive development of our people.

When Prime Minister reaches Abu Dhabi on February 10 late in the evening from Palestine, he will be hosted by His Highness the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan. There will be bilateral discussions with him and usual signing and exchange of agreement will take place. We have a good array of agreements, you are aware that in past two visits i.e. 2016 February and January 2017 we had signed 24 agreements with UAE and one of the agreements was Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement. Our engagement now is in the context of that agreement that we have signed with them. After that there will be a banquet which His Highness will be hosting in the honor of our Prime Minister.

Next morning Prime Minster will travel to Wahat Al Karama which is a memorial that UAE has very recently made in tribute to martyred UAE soldiers in 1971 in the first war on Tunb Island, there was one chap by the name Salem who passed on and it is in his memory and the memory of other UAE soldiers who passed on in those military actions. Prime Minister will be paying a visit to that.

After that he will be having a community event. As a part of community event, it is not very regular community event that he is hosting. As a part of the community event he will be meeting with the top professionals and other members of the community who are making sure that their host country gets the benefit of their hard work as much as we are getting the benefits of their remittances back home. In that community event there is a very special event that we are also planning and that would be laying of the foundation stone for the Hindu Temple. You might recall that when Prime Minister went, there was a huge demand from our community in terms of starting a temple in Abu Dhabi. At that point in time His Highness was very categorical and he said that, yes I will definitely look after that demand and he promised and this promise has come to fruition and there will be foundation stone and very shortly the commencement of construction of that temple will begin.

After this there will be this major event which I talked about, the Sixth World Government Summit in which India has been taken as a Guest of Honor country. Last year it was Japan before that it was US, so this Prime Minister is going and he is speaking on a very special subject, he is speaking on Technology for Development, which is a very dear theme of him. This provides a platform of engaging with world community soon after he has been to Davos in terms of providing the world as to what is this government’s vision in terms of bringing in technology for the development of the nation and its people. So that event will take place and he will make a key note address in the World Government Summit. That event will be taking place in Dubai and obviously when you are in Dubai, Prime Minister will meet with the ruler of Dubai who happens to be the Vice President and the Prime Minister of UAE also.After that event Prime Minister will meet with very select CEOs from the Gulf and Gulf countries. So there will be few CEOs from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE etc. and this will provide us another platform in which we can tell them about the possibilities of greater investment in our country.

If you are looking at the broad framework of our engagement with UAE I think we have moved very strongly on not only in the energy, you are aware that last year we had, during the visit of His Highness The Crown Prince, an agreement signed on their participation in ISPRL which is a strategic oil reserve. So this is the first country and the kind of platform that they have created will provide us a model for working out similar arrangements with other countries whereby we will invite strategic participation in our strategic oil reserves.

UAE has also become our first partner in the NIIF. You know that again this agreement was signed in January 2017 and it came to fruition in October when ADIA (Abu Dhabi Investment Agency) invested $1 billion as anchor investor in NIIF and after that not only they have become a partner of us in terms infrastructure development through NIIF but aslo they are encouraging other private investors as well other sovereign wealth funds in UAE, for example Mubadla, ADIC, so they are also coming up along with ADIA in various infrastructure development plans of ours. I can give you the details if you need to ask me that question.

So if you are looking at a very broad framework of what we have achieved in the past two years, the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership has actually become a real comprehensive strategic partnership in all senses of the world. Now I’ll brief you about what Prime Minister is going to do in Oman.

From Dubai after the meeting with the CEOs he will travel to Oman and there will be ceremonial reception at the airport and then he will straight away go in for a community event. It will be a very large big community event. He is travelling to Oman for the first time. You are aware that Oman is a very important strategic partner of ours. Our Prime Ministers have been visiting Oman on a regular basis. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos has also visited us sometime back. So after this community event which will take place in a big stadium in Muscat. He will go for meeting with His Majesty Sultan Qaboos and there will be a special dinner hosted by Sultan Qaboos in honor of the Prime Minister.

Next day on February 12, he will have meeting with Omani CEOs again on a patterns that we are discussing with regard to World Government Summit. There is this very grand and big Sultan Qaboos Mosque and he will be paying a visit to that Mosque in the afternoon. Prime Minister will also visit a Shiva Temple there. In addition to these visits he will also be meeting with the two deputy Prime Ministers, one is Sayyed Fahad and the other one is Sayyed Asad. So both these deputy prime ministers will be meeting with our PM and soon after our PM will come back.Now if you look at the map Oman is practically our next door neighbor. We reach Oman earlier than we reach Kerala and if you look at location, it is located at a very important geo-strategic place so there is a lot we have done in Oman in the past several years. Our defence cooperation is one of a kind in the entire Gulf countries. With Omanis we conduct all three exercises with our forces i.e. with army, navy and air force. Last year we did it in January and up to December we had these exercises.

You know that Oman provides OTR facility to our ships. Last two years we had over 50 ships travelling their on OTR jobs. Salala is the very very important port which provides that facility to us and also our planes which are travelling further up in the West, they get refueling facility in Oman on a regular basis. So if you look at the strategic dimension of our engagement with Oman it is very important and keeping in view that very critical aspect of our defence and security arrangement Prime Minister is going there.

You must also be knowing that when Father Tom was released, it was at the intervention of the Omani authorities that we got him released from Yemen. With these words I leave the floor open to questions.Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you Mridul. Now the floor is open to questions.

Question: How much will be counter-terror the focus during the Prime Minister’s visit to the countries?

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: You are aware terrorism has been a cause of common concern for India and our Gulf partners. If you look at joint statements in the past four visits it has come out very clearly and very explicitly and there is no doubt that we have a very strong agency to agency cooperation with them. Our people discussing on a very regular basis and it is not only with UAE, with Oman, with Qatar, irrespective. So counter terrorism is definitely going to be a very important aspect of our discussions with the counter leaderships in these countries.

Jt. Secretary (WANA), Shri B Bala Bhaskar: As per Palestine, Palestine also is a very important partner in our fight against terrorism. They extend total support to us. And we had a very good, as I mentioned earlier, security cooperation with the Palestinian side and sitting in that part of the world they have a very good experience in this arena, so one of the key areas of our bilateral engagement is also cooperation in security and counter-terrorism strategies.

Question: External Affairs Minister last year made a statement that Palestine wants India with its good relations with Israel to build the bridges between the two countries. So has India taken any steps to resolve the dispute between the two countries?

Jt. Secretary (WANA), Shri B Bala Bhaskar: There are several international initiatives that are taking shape and we want these initiatives to take shape and then we have focus on extending and reiterating our support to Palestinian cause wherever it is and then deepening our engagement bilaterally. We have been making very active contribution in the Palestinian nation building infrastructure, capacity building, scholarship and the education sector, so as of now we are focusing more on that.

Question: I was wondering about the legacy issues which are there in the investment areas with the UAE. I believe there has been some kind of an agreement or we are near some kind of agreement where DP world is concerned but what happened to Emaar and Etisalat and other legacy issues. You also said you could give us some details about NIIF investments from Mubadla group etc. etc. So could you give us some?

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: If you look at the legacy issues there are two kinds of issues that we are dealing with. One is the issues like Emaar and Etisalat which are subjudice and there is another set of issues which are kind of more bureaucratic, administrative, or financial. Now in the last two and a half years you are aware that we have an institutional mechanism which is called the High Level Task Force on Investments and from our side it is chaired by the Commerce Minister.

Very recently on 14 January our Commerce Minister went to UAE and he mentioned that many of the issues which are pertaining to administrative matters, bureaucracy, finances etc. have been resolved, for example DAKA, for example their investment in Himachal Pradesh and some of the DP world. Obviously DP World will not invest $3 billion without getting comfort on the issues that they were facing. So most of the DP World issues have also been addressed but you will definitely agree with me that the issues which are subjudice, there are mechanisms for them to be dealt with.

In terms of their investment in us, in the last one year about $4 billion of direct investment and also commitments which are firm commitments and these ranges, as I mentioned earlier, from the low cost housing to renewable forms of energy. Then there are various banks which are providing certain funds for putting money into infrastructure. Like for example Kotak Mahindra Bank, HDFC etc. $1 billion each has also been sent in those funds through which investment options will be explored on behalf of the UAE side.

If you are looking at railways, for example, five railway station modernization program under Shapoorji Pallonji, DP World, logistics, food chain, ports, inland waterways, Saraf Group is talking about food parks etc. So there is a lot which is happening. In addition to that we are also looking at about $5-6 billion UAE investments in portfolios. I also mentioned to you that it is not only the investment in FDI but when you are talking about somebody coming for the first time in an institution like NIIF, by the way ADIA is some of the finest and most professional run investment authority on planet. So when ADIA does this due diligence with us then we can go to any other agency and say that, look some of the best have done business with us, why can’t you? So they have given a template in term of our making it easier to get the other sovereign wealth funds from across the world.

Similarly when you look at the strategic oil reserve, they are the fast ones. So the agreement that we have carved out with them forms a template for us to deal with the other countries in terms of doing the same thing.

Question Contd.: You said $4 billion FDI in commitment and then you said another $4-5 billion FIIs?

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: I said $4-5 billion in portfolio investments. There are two kinds, one is the FDI and the other is the portfolio.

Question Contd.: Is this expected this year?

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: It is already there in the market, you can see the buoyancy in the market.

Question: I just wanted to highlight the question on the issue of the rising insecurity in the Persian Gulf and the continuous war on Yemen has threatened the peace and security in the region. I just wanted to know if India would like to have any assessment of the security issue or would like to play a major role as a stabilizing factor in this part of the world because the Red Sea has been threatening and the Persian Gulf is threatening the global trade as well as the oil transport from that side?

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: I thought it was briefing on PM’s visit.

Question Contd.: That is the part of the India assessment of the situation there.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think we will keep that for the next briefing. Please limit your questions to Prime Minister’s visits.

Question: What is India’s stand on East Jerusalem?

Jt. Secretary (WANA), Shri B Bala Bhaskar: I think you are aware that there was a resolution on December 21st. We have voted in favor of resolution on Jerusalem.

Question Contd.: No, that is different, I am talking about East Jerusalem.

Jt. Secretary (WANA), Shri B Bala Bhaskar: We have voted in favor of UNGA resolution on Jerusalem on 21st December, so our position has been very clear, consistent, and independent and there is no change in our position on Palestinian issue.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: On this issue, I have also shared India’s position and it has been shared by Bala as well. So I think that is what we have to share at this stage.

Question: UAE ke saath counter terror cooperation mein bahut bada mudda raha hai ki Bharat ke jo apradhi hain wo Dubai aur anya jagahon par apne thikaane banate hain aur wahan se wo operate karte rahte hain. Pradhanmantri khastaur par Dawood Ibrahim ki jo properties ya is tarah ke jo mudde hain ki aagey Bharat ke jo apradhi hain bhagkar wahan panaah na le paayein, is par concrete measure ka kya koi proposal hum le kar jaa rahe hain wahan par aur kya is par koi Pragati ki ummeed aap kar rahe hain kyonki pichhale saal reports aai thi ki UAE ne crackdown kiya hai lekin UAE ke Ambassador ne use deny bhi kiyaa tha ki koi property seize nahi hui hai, to kya kuchh hua hai action?)

(One of the main issues in our counter terror cooperation with UAE has been that certain Indian criminals go to Dubai and other such places and they run their operations from there only. Does our PM is going there with some kind of concrete proposal so that issues like property of Dawood Ibrahim or Indian criminals not being able to seek refuge there or do you have any expectations to move ahead in this area as there were some reports last year that UAE has seized certain properties but UAE Ambassador had denied those reports saying that no properties were seized, do has there been any action?)

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: Dekhiye ye jo counter-terrorism ka mudda hai ye continuous process hai. Aisa nahi hai ki aapne ek jerk se kaam shuru kar diya. Pichhale dhaai saalon mein is par bahut kaam hua hai aur counter-terrorism ek aisa mudda nahi hai jismein sirf ek UAE-India karega ya Saudi-India karega. Khadi ke sabhi mulkon ke saath, jahan par hamari ye chintayein rahi hain, jaise apne bataya, un sabhi deshon ke saath hamare in baton par Gambhir vichaar ho raha hai. Main aapke saath information to jyada share nahi kar sakta par main aapko ye jaroor batana chahunga ki hamari agenciyan bahut hi regular basis par ek doosare ke saath in muddon par baatcheet bhi karti hain aur bahut saare aise tatva jo Bharat ke hiton ke khilaaf ya hamaare aise aur mitra desh jaise UAE hai ya Saudi Arab hai, unke hiton ke khilaaf jo kaam karte hain unko hum milkar neutralize karne ki koshish kara karte hain. Bahut saari khabarein aapko akhbaron ke maadhyam se aapko past mein mili hongi, main unke upar koi bhi tippani karna munaasib nahi samjhunga.

(This issue of counter-terrorism is a continuous process, it is not that you suddenly start working on it. A lot of work has been done in this area in the last two and a half years. It is not an issue in which only India-UAE or India-Saudi Arab will work. We have been having serious discussions with all the countries of the Gulf on our concerns which you have just raised. I cannot share too much information with you but I would definitely like to tell you that our agencies are discussing these issues quite regularly and they are also engaged in neutralizing threats from such elements who are working against the Indian interests or against the interest of our friend countries like UAE and Saudi Arab. You may have read many reports in the newspapers in the past, I do consider it appropriate for me to comment on all such reports.)

Question: Can you expand on this, India’s strategic oil reserves, what exactly is the quantity of the reserves, where exactly are we going to build these underground facilities and how much oil from which country is going to be contributed to this?

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: If you look at UAE for example and I am not going to talk about other countries because I mentioned to you that UAE is the first country which has participated in our oil reserve program. We are looking at about 5.86 million barrels of oil which should be at the present rate of oil be about $300 million. Now we have got these caverns already made. One of the caverns that is being filled in with the first lot of oil from UAE will be at Puddur in Mangalore.

Question: The Qatar Defence Minister recently in an interview said that UAE and Saudi which have also announced a military alliance outside of the GCC ambit were planning to invade which has been diffused at the moment, but given the GCC turmoil how much of a concern is it for India with its diaspora there, the sizeable remittances, is that going to figure in talks with the UAE top leadership? In the recent row with the Palestinian when their Ambassador was called from Pakistan, the Palestinian argument was that they had shared with Hafiz Saeed only because it was a rally on the Israel-US-Jerusalem issue and that is why the intention must not be questioned. Is that issue well addressed now, is it still a concern?

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: Thank you for this question. I was thinking of saying no to this because this is out of Prime Minister’s visit but I think you have made a very valid point. Obviously as Bala Bhaskar also pointed out earlier our relationship is with all these countries are extremely important, first of all. I outlined the major stakes now if somebody is providing you 65 percent of your energy and 50 percent of your oil and $35 billion of remittances and 20 percent of your bilateral trade you will be concerned that any problem which arises in that area might affect all these vital stakes adversely.

But please advise me that if I am telling you that both from UAE and from Qatar and from Saudi Arabia I am getting this comfort that all of them talk about our forward looking engagement with them, they are all appreciative of the stand we have taken with regard to our bilateral engagement with them. We have not spoken about their intra-regional rivalries and I think our policy that we have adopted under the wise leadership of Prime Minister has been not only well appreciated, it has worked very well and the results are in front of you.

I don’t need to expand beyond what I have said earlier but when I came in this job five years ago, we had six million Indians living in Gulf, today I am talking about 9 million plus, so we have more than one and a half times increased our numbers there. If there is a challenge with regard to our diaspora, comfort, well-being, welfare obviously these numbers will not increase. So irrespective of how the regional situation is developing I think we have been able to insulate our vital stakes very well from any adverse possible effects.

Jt. Secretary (WANA), Shri B Bala Bhaskar: Let me answer the second part of the question. As you are aware that Palestinian side made it very very clear that whatever the reason the sharing of dais with Hafiz Saeed was unacceptable to Palestinian authorities and within no time they recalled him, so I think we don’t need to read anything into that and the fact that they acted so promptly and they have issued a written statement and they said that it was not acceptable speaks volumes of their trust and relationship with India.

Question: Jaisa ki aapane bataya ki PRadhanmatri ke yatra karyakram mein Shiv Mandir jaane ka karyakram hai Muscat aur Abu Dhabi mein bhi temple se juda hua ek karyakram hai. Kya is baare mein kuch aur vishesh jaankari hamein dena chahenge, kya Abu Dhabi mein hone ja raha hai, Pradhanmantri wahan maujood honge?(As mentioned by you there is Shiva Temple visit by PM in his program elements in Muscat and there is another element related to temple in UAE also. So would you like to give some more information on this, what is it that is happening in UAE where PM would be present?)

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: Jahan tak Pradhanmantri ke in sthano par jaane ka taalluk hai maine UAE ke baare mein aapko bataya tha ki wo temple mein nahi jaa rahe hain, wo ek Indian community ke event mein temple ka video-link ke dwara foundation stone lay karenge aur us samay kuch jo wahan par temple committee ke members hain wo wahan par pahunche honge, aur proposed temple ki kuch photographs Pradhanmantri ko bhent ki jaayengi. To ye koi temple mein visit nahi hai, ye jo commitment UAE ki Sarkar dwara kuch samay pehle hamare Pradhanmantri ji ko diya gaya tha, to look after the interest and the demand of the Indian community living in UAE, ye uska paripalan kiya ja raha hai.

Jahan tak ki Oman mein unke jagahon par jaane ka taalluk hai, jaise ki maine aapko bataya ki wahan par jo ek bahut khoobsurat aur bahut badi mosque hai, aap badi aasaani se usko Google karke pata laga sakte hain, Sultan Qaboos ki Mosque hai, kehte hain duniya ka sabse lamba undivided carpet wahan par laga hua hai, to us Mosque mein jaayenge aur usko dekhenge. Aap shayad ye bhool rahe hain ki Oman mein jo hamari Indian community hai usko apne religious faith, apni beliefs ko follow karne ke liye poori azadi hai. Oman hua, Bahrain hau, ab aap UAE dekhiye, again ek Muslim desh hai lekin fir bhi unhone is baat ki izaazat de di hai. To Oman mein jo temple hai wo bahut purana temple hai aur Bharatiya community ki ye guzarish thi, usi guzarish ka paalan karte hue Pradhanmantri ji Shiva Mandir mein jaayenge.

(As far as the issue of Prime Minister going to a temple in UAE is concerned, what I told you is that Prime Minister will be laying foundation stone of a temple via video-link during an Indian community event and committee members of that temple will also be present there who will be presenting Prime Minister with a set of photographs of proposed look of the temple. So this is not some temple visit, this is just the fulfilment of promise given by UAE government to our Prime Minister to look after the interest and demands of Indian community in UAE.As far as the issue of PM’s visit to such places is concerned, let me tell you that there is a very big and very beautiful Mosque of Sultan Qaboos, which you can very easily Google and find out, it is said that the world’s largest undivided carpet is laid there, so Prime Minister will be visiting that Mosque. It seems that you are forgetting that the Indian community in Oman has full independence to follow their faith and beliefs, similarly in Bahrain also. Now if you look at UAE, it being a Muslim country has given permission for it. The Temple in Oman is a very ancient one and it was a request from Indian community and Prime Minister will be visiting that temple due to that request from the Indian community.)

Question: Mera sawaal bhi foundation stone se hi juda hua hai. Jo PM ka poora program hoga is temple ke foundation stone ko lekar, uska detail please share kariye.

(Can you please provide details of the program element related to the laying of foundation stone of the Temple?)

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: Un details par abhi kaam chal raha hai aur Pradhanmantri Ji kareeb ek ghante ke aas pass Indian community se baat karenge aur usi community event ke dauran ye jo temple ka paksh hai wo bhi nikal kar aayega. Maine aapko kuch details to bata hi diye hain ki wo video-link ke dwara temple foundation stone ko lay karenge, uske alawa wahan par kitaab bhent ki jaayegi. To ye ek bahut chhota 4-5 minute ka element humne beech mein dala hai us bade event mein aur isko aapko community ki demand ke paripeksh mei hi dekhana chahiye.

(Those details are still being worked upon. Prime Minister will be interacting with the Indian government for about an hour and during that time this temple element of the program will also come out. I have already shared you some details that he will be laying foundation stone of the Temple through a video-link and other than that he will also be gifted with a book. So this is a very small element of just 4-5 minutes and you should look at it from the perspective of the demand by Indian community only.)

Question: Temple kis type hai, kya size hoga, kitne log usmein Pooja kar payenge, uska kuch detail mil payega?(What kind of temple it would be, what would be its size, how many people would be able to worship there, could you give us some details?)

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: Maine jaise pehle bhi bataya ki ye halanki Muslim desh hai lekin Bharatiya samuday ko apne faith ko, apni belief ko exercise karne ke liye inhone izaazat di hai. Bahrain mein hum gaye, 150 saal purana mandir hai, Oman mein aap jaaiye 200 saal purana Shiv mandir hai. Ab jo UAE mein mandir ban raha hai ye apne aap mein ek bahut bhavya mandir hai aur bahut bada mandir hai aur mujhe aisa lagta hai ki Hindustan mein jitne bhi alag-alag sects ke log hain, main Hindu dharm ke andar sects ki baat kar raha hoon, un sabhi sects ke logon ko wahan jaakar apne-apne faith ka paalan karne ka mauka milega. To ye koi particular God se associated temple nahi hai. Aap ye aise samajhiye ki ek videshi bhoomi par jo Islamic bhoomi hai aapke Hindu samudaay ko apne faith ko exercise karne ke liye, unke Raja ne jo vachan hamare Pradhanmantri Ji ko diya tha, uska paalan kiya ja raha hai. Is mandir ko kripa karke kisi bhi naam se naa jodaa jaaye.

(As I told you earlier also that although it is a Muslim country they have given permission to Indian community to follow their faith and beliefs. There is a 150 years old temple in Bahrain, similarly in Oman the Shiva temple is 200 years old. Now the temple that is being constructed in Oman in itself is a very big and very majestic and I believe that all the people of Hindu sects in India, remember I am talking about sects within the Hinduism, people from all the sects of Hinduism will get a chance to worship in that temple, so this temple is not associated to any particular God. Please understand that Indian community there is getting the chance to exercise their faith in a Muslim country, which has been promised by their King to our Prime Minister, it is that promise being carried out. I would request you please not to associate with any other name.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Doosari baat ek cheez main bata doon ki jitne bhi is program mein elements hain uske upar hum write-up share karenge, to is samay baar-baar ek hi cheez poochhane se koi faida nahi hai. Aur visit ke pehle, jaise humne pahle bhi kiya hai, har ek cheez ke baare mein hum aapse information share karenge.

(Secondly, let me tell you that we will be sharing a write up on all the program elements, so there is hardly any benefit in asking the same thing again and again. So we will be sharing every information about this visit, which we always do.)

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: Abu Dhabi aur Dubai ke beech mein ek land mass hai, kaafi bada unhone hamare ko us bhoomi ka tukda diya hai aur ye jo mandir banega ye aap samajh leejiye UAE Sarkar ke guidance mein banega.

(There is land mass between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, they have given a very big parcel of that land mass for this and please understand that this temple will be constructed under the guidance of UAE government.)

Question: Will it be possible share with us the exact amount received from UAE excluding the commitments?

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: Aap ye jaane kripa karke ki jab koi aadami ya koi company ya koi Sarkar kisi doosare desh mei paisa lagaati hai to uski information classified information hoti hai. Kyon, kyonki usmein returns ki baatein hoti hain, usmein business confidentiality ki baatein hoti hain jo main aapko ek broad framework bata raha hoon, wo broad framework kuch commitments jo ki firm hain, kuch aisi baatein jo already hamare FDI mein already andar aa chuki hain aur kuch aise portfolio investment jo already hamare share market mein lag chuke hain, unke baare mein main jikra kar raha hoon lekin unse jyada detail agar aap NIIF se maangenge to wo bhi nahi de paayenge aur uski wajah badi simple hai ki jo investor hai wo apne investment ko bachaa kar rakhta hai. Wo aapko ek broad structure jaroor bata dega ki haan bhai is sector mein main itna paisa laga raha hoon but uski details wo kabhi bhi kisi bhi aadami se share nahi karega.

(Please note that when any person, or any company or any government invest money in any country then that information is a classified information. Why, because there are issue related to returns, there are issues related to business confidentiality and what I am telling you about is the broad framework and the commitments which are firm. There are some elements which have already covered in our FDI and some portfolio investments which have already been invested in our share market. But if you ask even more details than this from the NIIF also then they would also not be able to give you more information on it and the reason for that is simple that whoever the investor be, they keep their investments confidential. They will definitely give you a broad structure that yes I am investing this much amount in this particular sector but they will not share all the details with anybody.

Question: You spoke about security cooperation between India and Palestine. Could you elaborate on this, what kind of security cooperation is it in the field of counter-terrorism?

Jt. Secretary (WANA), Shri B Bala Bhaskar: No, first of all whatever the Palestinian leadership they have always opposed the terrorism at various international forums and then they are with us. They are carrying tremendous experience in that part of area, how the operations of terrorists, what are their intentions, their ideologies, how their network operates, so in all these issues they will be a very valuable partner for us in meeting common challenges of terrorism and developing our own strategies on security. So in all these areas Palestinian authorities are very very important partner.

Question: Last question on temple, we know the issues about idol worship in the Arab world, so would there be an idol of a deity in the temple or is it just a prayer hall?

Jt. Secretary (Gulf), Shri Mridul Kumar: Again I would like to emphasize that the temple is being granted at the explicit request of the Indian community living in UAE. The request is primarily for the UAE government to accede to. Prime Minister, looking at the basic welfare and well-being of the communities abroad has taken up this issue with the UAE government. The structure of the temple, the deities, the idols, the funding, these are all something which the Indian community has to work out with the government of that country. So our job was to make that request official in terms of passing it on behalf of the Indian people but beyond that the questions are to be addressed to the UAE government and the Indian community members who have taken lead in terms of making this project successful.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think it is also important to understand that this also reflects the commitment of UAE government to tolerance and diversity. I think this is something which we are missing in trying to go in for details. I think this is something which is very significant and should be kept in mind.

Question: I wanted to ask you that beyond curating the IT Park in Palestine what would be the substance of the PM’s visit to the Palestine?

Jt. Secretary (WANA), Shri B Bala Bhaskar: First of all our engagement with Palestine is in four areas. Number one, PM going itself reiterating our commitment personally to the Palestinian leadership, I mean our commitment for last 70 years, PM is going there and he is reiterating and he is expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people directly.Number two, we are being continuously participating in the Palestinian nation building and capacity building, infrastructure and all these projects, so in all that we are working on some more projects where we are working with the Palestinian authorities. We are planning to enter into some MoUs when our Prime Minister visits Palestine for further participation in their nation building and infrastructure projects.

Then there is a huge bilateral agenda, we have been expanding our relations starting ministerial level joint commission meeting, which we have already expanded and I have mentioned to you. So will be further discussing how to deepen and diversify engagement with Palestinian side. And the fourth element is that you know we have been actually supporting Palestinian cause at various international forums and then you are aware that on 21st December we have voted in favor of resolution mooted by United Nations General Assembly. So in these four areas we are going there and we will be discussing these issues. Thank you.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you Mridul and Bala and thank you all for joining. Have a good day.



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