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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by the Official Spokesperson (April 25, 2024)

April 25, 2024

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to this Press engagement. I would open the floor.

Ayushi: Sir this is Ayushi Agarwal from ANI. Sir, there have been some pro-Palestine protests that has now spread to more college campuses in the US. They are denouncing the mounting deaths in Gaza. Your comments on the situation and how much is this a concern for India as a lot of Indian students go to USA for higher education?

Sudhi: Sir, Sudhi Ranjan from Bloomberg. We have seen some statements coming from the Tibetan administration in exile, talking about negotiations, back channel discussions with China. Is the Government aware of these discussions and also part of these discussions? And also what is the Government's view on it, Sir?

Suhasini: This is Suhasini Haidar from the Hindu. I have a two-parter on India-Russia ties. To begin with, the NSA was in Russia, met with the Secretary of the State Council, General Patrushev. I wanted to ask if they had discussed the issue of Indians who are trying to get out of Russia, who were recruits with the Russian army, but are now not getting the discharge from the Russian authorities. Whether that came up and if there's any further developments in that case, in those cases. And the other question is really about the Sous-Sherpas meeting over the BRICS conference, which is due to be held in mid-June. Would India be attending those? This is the Foreign Minister's BRICS conference.

Santosh: Santosh Thakur Navbharat se. Sir mujhe puchna hai Maldives ke baare me. Maldives me Muizzu ki government aa gai hai. Toh India ko kya lagta hai future ke relations kaise honge? Koi new bilateral trade vagerah kuch aisa plan ho ya tourism vagerah ko le kar ke kis tarike se hum plan kar rahe hain? Thank you.

[Question in Hindi: Approximate Translation] Santosh Thakur from Navbharat. Sir, I would like to ask about Maldives. The Muizzu government has come to power in Maldives. So, how does India perceive the future relations to be? Are there any plans for new bilateral trade etc. or how are we planning regarding tourism etc.? Thank you.

Umashankar: Umashankar Singh NDTV India se. Mera sawal jo jahaj par fase 17 Bhartiyon me se hai, jisme se ek mahila to wapas aa gai. Lekin Bharat me jo Iran ke Rajdoot hain, unka kehna hai ki Iran ke taraf se sabhi Bharatiya free hain, wo kabhi bhi ja sakte hain basharte ki jo captain hai jahaj ka wo anumati de. Toh is surat me kya jo bhi milkiyat hai us jahaj ki, jo company hai, us se ya us desh se jaha se ye jahaj aata hai, kya us se Government of India ne contact kiya hai ki captain ko kahe ke unko izazat de aur wo Bharatiya wapas desh aa sake.

[Question in Hindi: Approximate Translation] Umashankar Singh from NDTV India. My question is regarding the 17 Indians stranded on the ship, one of whom is a woman who has returned. However, the Ambassador of Iran in India has stated that all Indians are free to return from Iran anytime, provided the captain of the ship grants permission. In this situation, has the Government of India contacted either the company that owns the ship or the country from where the ship originates to tell the captain to permit them so that these Indians can return to their country?

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: Okay. Let me take these questions. First, regarding the protests that are happening in universities, Ayushi. We've seen reports or several reports on it and have been following related events. In every democracy, there has to be the right balance between freedom of expression, sense of responsibility and public safety and order. Democracies in particular should display this understanding in regard to other fellow democracies. After all, we are all judged by what we do at home and not what we say abroad. And as far as your question regarding Indian students is concerned, we are always in touch with Indian students. And as and when there are issues which have to be resolved, we'll look into it.

Sudhi regarding your question about the Tibetan issue which you pointed out, I am not aware of these issues right now. I don't have an update on it. But, let me check and let me come back to you on that.

Suhasini, regarding your question about NSA's visit, you know our National Security Advisor is in St. Petersburg to attend the 12th international meeting of high-ranking officials responsible for security matters in St. Petersburg. And on the sidelines, he's had several other meetings including with his counterpart, Patrushev, in Russia. They've discussed several issues which form part of our bilateral agenda and he's also had several other meetings including with Mr. Celso Amorim from Brazil. As far as your question regarding Indian nationals is concerned, let me tell you, we are very actively pursuing these matters at various levels including with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Ministry of Defence and several other organizations there. And we are committed to bring back all the people who so far have gotten in touch with us and want to be released and repatriated and returned back home. Ten such individuals have come back to India. They have been released and they have returned home. We have been assured by the Russian side that the other Indians who are there, they'll also be released and they'll return home. We are working out those details and you will have more update on that, later. Also, we had a story in your newspaper today. On that particular issue also, the one single gentleman that you raised, that you had highlighted, on that particular issue also, we are working. We are in touch with Russian authorities and we want, we remain committed to bring him back to India as well.

Maldives ko le kar apka sawal Santosh ji, Maldives ke sath humare purane aitihasik sambandh hain. Humara unke saath development cooperation ka program, kai ek program chal rha hai. Haal hi me aapne dekha hoga Maldives me, waha par Parliamentary, Majlis ka election hua hai, successful election. Uspe hum log unko badhai dete hain aur humare aur Maldives ke bich me jo Parliament ke level pe ek dusare ke saath kaafi saare exchanges hote hain aur aasha yehi karte hain ki aane wale dino me jo nai Majlis aayegi uske saath bhi hum aitihasik kadi jo hai humara exchanges ka, usko hum banaye rakhnege.

[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Regarding Maldives, Santosh ji, we have historical relations with Maldives. We have development cooperation program with them, various such programs are ongoing. Recently, you may have seen that Parliamentary elections were held in Maldives successfully. We congratulate them for that. We have various exchanges between our countries at the Parliamentary level, and we look forward to continuing this historical link of exchanges with the new Majlis in the coming days.

Umashankar ji apka sawal 16 logo ko le ke hai jo jahaj pe hai, MSC Aries pe. Apko gyaat hoga ki ek ladki jo waha thi wo wapas aa gai. Jo 16 log hain, unki hum logo ne consular access manga tha, jo hume mila. Hum log ke officers waha gaye, ja ke mile. Wo log sab apne pariwar ke saath lagatar sampark banaye huwe hain. Unka sehat behetar hai, accha hai. Aur waha jahaj pe wo log koi, kisi prakar ki koi dikkat nahi hai. Jaha tak unke wapas aane ka jo prashn hota hai, wo wapas aane me thodi si technicalities hai, unke kuch contractual obligations hai. Wo ek baar wo pura ho jaye uspe depend karega ki kab wo wapas aayenge.

[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Umashankar ji, your question is regarding the 16 people who are on the ship, MSC Aries. You may be aware that one girl who was there has returned. We had requested consular access for the 16 people, which we got. Our officers went there, met them. They have been in continuous contact with their families. They are in good health, and they are not facing any problems on the ship. As for their return, there are some technicalities involved in it. They have some contractual obligations that need to be fulfilled first, so their return depends on when those are completed.

Madhurendra: Sir, Madhurendra main News Nation se. Mera sawal Iran ke Rastrapati Raisi ke Pakistan visit ko le kar hai. Unki joint statement me jis taraha se Kashmir ka jikr kiya gaya, us par Bharat ka kya kehna hai. Aur isi se juda dusara sawal hai ki kya Raisi ne Bharat aane ki bhi peshkas ki hai?

[Question in Hindi: Approximate Translation] Sir, Madhurendra from News Nation. My question is regarding Iranian President Raisi's visit to Pakistan. What is India’s reaction on the mention of Kashmir in their joint statement? And another question related to this, whether Raisi has also proposed to visit India?

Kunal: Kunal Dutt here from PTI. Sir, this is regarding the visit of a top diplomat, French diplomat, a few days ago, and with the France getting the co-chairship of CDRI. The Prime Minister yesterday also spoke about it. U.S. has been the co-chairship with India for the past two years. Is there any roadmap that has come out amid the time of escalating climate uncertainties, given the fact that India and France have a strategic partnership, and both of them also have the France-India Horizon 2047 roadmap. So under this overarching partnership, is there a definitive roadmap ready? And in the same token, France is also a partner in developing the new National Museum. They also visited the site. If you could just shed a light, Sir, what exactly will be the role of France in this project? Thank you.

Shahid: Sir Shahid from WNN. Sir, in keeping the view of the Iranian President’s visit to Pakistan and Sri Lanka, besides that the Qatar's Amir was also visiting Nepal and Bangladesh. So keeping that view, will there be any effect on the alliances, evolving alliances and economic interest in the region?

Takashi: Hello, my name is Takashi Ishihara from the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. I just want to ask you about the G7 Summit. Have you received any invitation from the Italian government? And are you willing to attend the G7 Summit?

Dhairya: Sir Dhairya Maheshwari from Sputnik India. Sir my question is regarding the Sherpa and the Sous-Sherpas meeting. So the priority, one of the priorities of the Russian Presidency is to create a multilateral digital payments platform or the BRICS Bridge. How does India view this prospect? Are you supportive of it? And Sir, if you allow me, there is another question on the U.S. State Department's Human Rights Report 2023, which is critical of India on a dozen counts of human rights, alleged human rights violation. So would it be possible to get a reaction on that as well? Thank you.

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: Okay. Madhu apka sawal Kashmir ko le ke tha. Us mudde pe hum logo ne ye baat apne Iranian jo authorities hai, unse hum logo ne uthai hai. Aur unko humne…we have taken up the matter with them. Jaha tak dusra sawal tha apka, unke Rashtrapati ka aane ka, is mudde par apko jaise pata hai ki hum log ye sab chije jab taiyaar ho jati hai, finalize ho jaati hai, tab apko hum sahi samay par batate hain.

[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Madhu, your question was regarding Kashmir. On that issue, we have raised this matter with the Iranian authorities. We have taken up the matter with them. Regarding your second question about their President's visit, as you know, we inform you about such visits at appropriate time, when everything is ready and finalized.

Kunal, the question regarding Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, this is a very important platform. On this platform, the lead globally has been taken by India. A large number of countries have joined this platform. We welcome participation by all the members. We want to strengthen this. We all know how important it is to fight climate change, the disruptions caused by climate change. And we want more international players, the global community to come forward and support us. France, of course, is an important strategic partner. And we look forward to working with them within the ambit of CDRI as well. On the other question that you asked about National Museum, I don't have a specific...let me come back to you. France, of course, is an important country when it comes to art and cultural collaboration. And we have a very vibrant cultural collaboration with France and with several other countries. So I'll come back to you with the specifics.

Takashi, regarding your question about G7. Yes, we know that the G7 meeting is to be held in Italy. We have received the invitation, but at this point in time, it is a matter which is under consideration. And we'll come to know of details…as and when we have more details to share with you, we'll bring it up to you.

Dhairya regarding State Department report. This report, as per our understanding, is deeply biased and reflects a very poor understanding of India. We attach no value to it and urge you also to do the same. Regarding your question about Sous-Sherpas and Sherpa meetings, I don't have an update regarding the proposal that you said, but let me come back to you on how we're thinking. But in general, let me tell you that, you know, Digital India is making name and fame across the world. UPI, as you know, is a global success story. So when it comes to digital collaboration, globally speaking, India's name is there, and we want to continue to strengthen digital collaboration with countries across the world.

Gerry: Hi, Mr. Jaiswal. I'm Gerry Shih with The Washington Post. Sir, my question is; one, do you have an update on India's investigation into the allegations made by the U.S. on the Pannun case? And furthermore, in recent weeks on the campaign trail, Prime Minister Modi has implied that India would go into the homes of terrorists or India's enemies and kill them. I was wondering if these statements made by Mr. Modi and other BJP leaders like Defence Minister Singh and the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, if that contradicts India's stated position on targeted killings in any way, and if you could also just reiterate what exactly is India's policy on whether or not it carries out overseas targeted killings. Thanks very much.

Gautam: Well, I think two days ago there was a protest in London in front of Indian High Commission by some BNP and Jamaat leaders. Whether India has taken note of that and whether you are in touch with both Bangladesh or U.K. government about the security of the Missions and what is exactly happening. Basically, they have raised the anti-Indian slogan there.

Kallol: My question is regarding this report that Bangladesh is going to conduct a joint military exercise with China and Chinese forces are going to be visiting Bangladesh very soon in May for some anti-terror exercise. Has India taken note of it and do you think India's security concerns would be impacted by that? And my second question is about the India-France collaboration regarding the National Museum in New Delhi. My question is, you know, as a country which is now bringing back cultural treasures from the West, why is India collaborating with a western country, especially a former colonial power, for National Museum that's really its pride?

Abhishek: Hi Sir, this is Abhishek Jha from CNN News18. My question is regarding the recent comments by Azerbaijan's President where he had said that India should not send weapons to Armenia because that is creating regional disturbance and that is an issue of national security with that. And he has also said that they have raised the issue with the Indian authorities. So do you have any comment on that?

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: Okay, let me come to Mr. Shih regarding your question. On the first one, as you know that we have set up a high-level committee. The high-level committee is looking into several information that was shared by the American side with us, because they also equally impact our national security. The high-level committee is looking into those aspects and that is where it is right now. Regarding the other question, you know, our External Affairs Minister and they have spoken on this particular matter, I would refer you to look at those comments.

Gautam, regarding the protest in London, I've seen some reports about it. I don't have further update on that, but let me come back to you with more details.

Kallol, regarding your question about joint military exercise, you know, as you heard me speaking about it several times from this podium, we keep a close watch on all developments that happen in our neighborhood and beyond, which impact our interests, economic and security interests. We take appropriate measures accordingly. On India-France and collaboration in the National Museum, see, you are talking about one particular country right now; but National Museum and other wings of Government of India, we have a very broad-based cultural collaboration with countries across the world. So it's not that, this museum…one particular museum is collaborating with one particular country. So that is how it is, we have a very expansive collaboration on the cultural side, on the museum side with several countries.

Abhishek your question regarding Azerbaijan, we have very good relations with both Azerbaijan and with Armenia. But apart from that, we also have a Make in India policy to promote defence exports.

Srinjoy: Sir, on the 13th of April in Muzaffarabad, there was a meeting with the LeT, the JeM and the ISI, and four points came out of it; one of course, to continue with infiltration, but particularly so during the elections and to target political parties and of course security personnel; also, to move in large quantities of weapons and drugs. Now drugs is a new thing. So, are you aware of this? These come from your reports and have the organizations involved been alerted about it?

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: Thank you. So, Srinjoy, coming to your question, you see, when it comes to security matters, we take our security very seriously and we take all that is required to make our security strong and robust and take action accordingly.

Thank you very much for this engagement. Look forward to seeing you next week. Thank you.

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