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Transcript of Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (April 04, 2019)

April 05, 2019

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Namaskar, good afternoon and welcome to the weekly press briefing. I have one announcement to make and after that we will open for question and answer.

The government of United Arab Emirates has decided to confer the country’s highest civilian award, The Order of Zayed, on the Prime Minister of India. This singular honor is in recognition of the efforts of the government under the Prime Minister’s leadership to develop the strategic partnership between India and the UAE.

We greatly appreciate this honor bestowed upon the Prime Minister by His Highness, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed and the government of the UAE.

The UAE is home to the largest number of our citizens outside India and is our partner in diverse pillars of cooperation including investment, energy, defence & security.

And I am sure you must have seen the reaction of our External Affairs Minister on this honor as well. I now open the floor to questions.

Question: Ye jo Zayed award ka announcement hua hai, kya PM Modi Ji isko receive karne ke liye UAE jaayenge, aagey ki formalities kya hongi aur kis tarah se award unko diya jaayega?

(This Zayed award which has been announced, would PM Modi visit UAE to receive the award, what will the formalities going forward and how it will be conferred on him?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Ek to main ye batana chaahunga ki Bharat aur UAE ke beech mein jo hamara strategic partnership ka sambandh hai, aur jo haal ke saalon mein ye kaafi majboot hua hai aur main ye bhi batana chaahunga ki jo exchange of high level visits hoti hai wo kisi bhi strategic partnership ka ek abhinn ang hota hai. Jab bhi aise kisi high level visit kii planning hogi tab hum aapko jaroor bataayenge kyonki iska ek established norm hota hai, high level visit ke announcement ka.

We enjoy a strategic partnership with the UAE which has strengthened in recent years. Exchange of high level visits between India and UAE is an important component of this strategic partnership. As and when the next visit is planned we will share the details with you as per the established norms.

Question: We saw statement from United Nations condemning India’s actions on deportation of Rohingyas to Myanmar, your reaction to that. Secondly, on Kartarpur, have you received any kind of reaction from the Pakistani government after India raised the issue of Khalistanis being appointed at the committee?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: On the first question, we have seen the statement which you are referring to. The interpretation which have been made of the facts of the case as portrayed in the statement are misleading and incorrect. We have to remember that the repatriation of illegal immigrants to their country of origin is in accordance with Indian laws. These actions have been undertaken in response to the instructions of India’s courts which have required the government at the state as well as at the union to detect, detain and deport illegal immigrants. In this sense the government will continue to take actions as may be necessary to implement the Indian laws and to conform to the instructions of the judiciary.

On the second query regarding Kartarpur, we have issued a press statement when we had postponed the second round of talks. I think it is important to remember that we remain committed to realize the wishes and aspirations of the people. The aspirations which flow out of the pending demand of Indian pilgrims to visit the Holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Saahib using the corridor as a safe, secure, smooth and easy manner. At the same time, I am sure, you are aware that there are certain things which came to our notice. We had sought clarification from Pakistan on a number of issues and those issues have been mentioned in the press statement which was released, I think there was a press briefing immediately after the first round of talks, on the number of pilgrims who can visit daily, on the issue of visas etc.

Those are the clarifications which still remain unaddressed by Pakistan. And the second part is that we have also shared our concerns on reports that controversial elements have been appointed by Pakistan to a committee which was to be associated with Kartarpur corridor. We are yet to receive a response from Pakistan and therefore that was the reason why we decided to postpone the meeting.

You are aware that we have offered to hold the technical level discussions to finalize other aspects of the corridor and as and when Pakistan responds to that offer those technical level talks will take place.

Question: The Chinese Ambassador to India has published a big article in a newspaper today in which he has proposed treaty of good neighborliness and friendly cooperation. Have you received any formal proposal regarding this?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You don’t receive a proposal for good neighborly relations and good relations with the neighbor.

Question Contd.: They have proposed a treaty.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I am not aware of any such treaty which we have received from the Chinese side. I think you are referring to the article which was written in the newspaper. I am not aware of any such formal proposal which we have received from the Chinese side.

Question: The statement on the meeting of the Joint Working Group with Canada on terrorism, there was a mention of concerns being discussed about Khalistan in that meeting. Could we have a little bit more on that meeting, I mean what did the discussions center around, was there any mention of the so called Referendum 2020 that Khalistanis are talking about?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: If you could just elaborate, I mean which meeting are you referring to specifically?

Question contd.: India-Canada counter terrorism meeting, just a few days ago.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We have this ongoing Counter-Terrorism Cooperation with Canada and we have already issued a press release on the discussions which have taken place.

There are certain things of course which I am not at the liberty to announce from this forum. I think that is something which of course gets discussed between the two sides but beyond what has already been released I won’t be able to share anything.

Question: On the Masood Azhar issue, the Chinese have said that they are going to deal with it responsibly and so on. Now has any kind of communication come from Beijing to India on this?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I have mentioned from this forum that one, we are grateful to all member states who supported us at the time of listing of Masood Azhar as a designated terrorist at the UNSC under the 1267 Committee.

We have also thanked the unprecedented number of members who joined in that effort. At this stage I can only say that we are continuing our diplomatic efforts to ensure that terrorists who are involved in heinous attacks to our citizens are brought to justice.

Question: There was a statement which was put out by the Pakistan ISPR which basically said, for the first time they said that F16s were involved in the 27thFeb attack on India, if I can put it like that. But the F16s were used for self-defense and any such act in which the F16s were involved was basically self-defense. My question is basically this that Foreign Secretary travelled to the US some time ago, was this one of the issues that was discussed, how are we going to take this forward because in terms of asking the US for some action on this because Pakistan has clearly stated that this was something that they used not to attack but for self-defense?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I don’t think I will get into the interpretation of how and in what circumstances Pakistan used F16s. Now this is something which we have said from the beginning, I don’t think we have ever changed our position that Pakistan has used F16s and Foreign Secretary had also mentioned earlier that this is something which we have flagged to the United States. There was a statement which also came from the United States on this matter.

Now our response on this whether and under what circumstances F16 is or is not allowed is something which has to come from the United States. But I think our statement and the facts of the matter as far as we are concerned is that it was used and we understand that as per the understanding of use between Pakistan and US, it should not have been done and that is why we have flagged it to the US.

And as far as the matter getting raised during Foreign Secretary’s visit, I am not aware of this matter specifically getting raised during his visit.

Question: The Syrian Ambassador last week held a press conference in which he said that now that the conflict was almost over Syria was embarking on a great reconstruction process and they have discovered large deposits of hydrocarbons and the government has invited Indian companies to invest in these areas. Has the government received any invitation from their government?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: You see these are all aspects of a bilateral relationship when you sit down and discuss bilateral cooperation. Trade and investment is a very important component of our cooperation. I am not aware of any discussions which might have taken place between the two sides recently but I can tell you that from the Syrian side, I think, this is one aspect which has been coming to us in terms of enhancing our cooperation in trade and investment.

We also have to keep in mind that while the government can, kind of, create that kind of enabling environment but I think this is the call which private sector has to take as far investment in that country is concerned. But I think yes, this is one area on which the two countries are working very closely.

Question: Question about Eurasia and particularly in Tajikistan there is a lot of reports in media about a military base in Ayaani in Tajikistan. What is official view of Ministry of External Affairs, is it a military base and how do you define that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: This is a query which I think you will have to address to the Ministry of Defence. From this podium frankly for me to comment on something which kind of pertains to another ministry will be difficult.

Question: Waiver to India and several other countries by US on import of Iranian oil is coming to an end very soon, in weeks. Have we got any kind of indication from the US about the possible extension of the waiver, are we engaged with the US, what is the status?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We are engaging with the US since the first announcement and the first waiver came. We continue to engage with the US administration. The waiver lapses on May 4, let’s wait and see what happens, but I think the important thing is that we will continue our engagement to see if we are taking care of our energy security but the important thing is that the discussions and the engagement should continue and which is continuing between India and US.

Question: Nirav Modi’s bail has been denied second time, can we expect his extradition and will we going to produce new evidence against him on next hearing?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: It is very difficult to anticipate anything in this matter. It has now gone to the court, it is now listed at the Westminster court. You are aware that his second request for bail has been denied. What I can tell you is on the facts of the matter is that the judge has also decided that the case will be listed by the court on a date after 30thMay 2019.

So to kind of preempt what will be the decision and how quickly can it happen, but of course the agencies and the High Commission of India, the government of India, we are putting a lot of efforts into this to ensure that the process of extradition of Nirav Modi is completed at the earliest. But we have to go through the due process.

Question: I would just request you to clarify even with Venezuela taking of oil is over, I think?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: No, in fact you must have read the report of the Foreign Secretary’s visit to the US. I am not aware of any specific discussion which might have taken place or which has taken place between India and the US to kind of cut down imports from Venezuela. But I also would suggest that on these matters especially in terms of how much deductions have happened, I think it will be useful if you contact the nodal ministry which is the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

I don’t see any other question, thank you very much for joining.

(Concludes)

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