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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by the Official Spokesperson (May 17, 2024)

May 17, 2024

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Today we will begin with an announcement and thereafter we will open the floor for questions. The announcement is in respect of our participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting which is coming up. Shri Dammu Ravi, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs will pay a visit to Astana, Kazakhstan on May 20-21st, 2024. In Astana, he will represent the Government of India in the meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers on 21st May. The meeting will discuss preparations for the upcoming Summit of the SCO Council of Heads of State, review ongoing cooperation in SCO and exchange ideas of regional and global developments of common concern. During his visit, he is also expected to hold meetings with his counterparts from SCO member states and senior officials of the Government of Kazakhstan. So that is what I have for you. Now, I open the floor for questions.

Pranay: Sir Pranay Upadhyaya Zee News se. Aapne dekha hoga ki haal mei Pakistan ke kabje wale Kashmir ke ilake ke ander bahut saare protests hue hain, aur usmai kai logon ki maut bhi hui hai. Bharat ka is mamle ke ander kya najariya hain, aur kyuki us ilake ko Bharat kehta hai ki woh uska abhinn ang hai, wahan par kafi sthitiyan hain, toh usko lekar Bharat ka stand kya hain?

[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] Sir, this is Pranay Upadhyaya from Zee News. You might have seen that recently there have been lot of protests in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir region, and many people have died in that. Since India considers that area to be an integral part of its territory, what is India's perspective on this issue? Given the current situation there, what is India's stand?

Srinjoy: Sir, today the EAM said that there can be no question of forward movement with Pakistan because of what he called the terror issue, the previous government may have turned a blind eye to it but if terror continues, there will be consequences. So, could you sort of put that in the context of the POK as well?

Mohammad Ghazali: Mohammad Ghazali from NDTV. I just want to ask about the Indian UN aid worker who was killed in Israel. Have you got any confirmation that it was IDF responsible for the firing or the Hamas? And the second is about the Swiss Foreign Secretary who is in India to persuade India to participate in the peace conference in Ukraine. So, has Government of India decided anything about it?

Ayushi: Sir, Ayushi Agarwal from ANI. Canada has recently arrested one more Indian over killing of Nijjar. Did Ottawa provided us with any formal communication on that since it has arrested three earlier as well?

Yeshi: This is Yeshi Seli from the New Indian Express. Are there any more…or how many more Indian officials are there in Gaza, like the army official that we lost, a former army official?

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: Okay, let's first go over these questions and then we can come back for more.

Pranay aapka sawal Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, Pakistan Adhikrit Kashmir ko lekar hai, toh usmai jaisa ki aap jante hain, hum logon ne report dekha hai ki pichle kuch dinon mei wahan par virodh pradarshan hua, usmai kuch log hatahat hue. Ye virodh, ye parinam hai, wahan par jis prakar ki nitiyan chal rahi hain, wahan ke sansadhanon ko jis prakar se loota ja raha hai, wahan ke logon ko jitna door rakha ja raha hai apne sansadhanon se, unka labh nahi pahuch raha hai, is karan se ye ho raha hai. Aur jo wahan ka tantra hai woh wahan par logon ko exploit kar rahe hain, unko apne jo unke sansadhan hain unka labh untak nahi pahuch pa raha hai. Hum logon ne pahle bhi kaha hai, jahan tak Pakistan Adhikrit kashmir ki baat hai, Union Territories jo Jammu ke, Ladakh ke, aur Kashmir ke jo hain, woh Bharat ke abhinn ang hain, abhinn ang rahenge, ye hamara, ispe ye hamara bal hai.

[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Pranay, your question is regarding Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. As you know, we have seen reports that there have been protests there in recent days, resulting in some casualties. These protests are a natural consequence of the policies being implemented there, the systemic plundering of resources, and the alienation of the local population from their own resources. The benefits of those resources are not reaching them, leading to these protests. The administration there is exploiting the people and failing to provide them with the benefits of their resources. As we have stated earlier, when it comes to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh are integral parts of India and will remain so. This is our firm stance.

Srinjoy you talked about External Affairs Minister's comments, and the Minister has spoken on this issue so I would not like to add anything more.

Ghazali, your question was regarding the UN aid worker who passed away. You would have seen our statement that we released conveying condolences. Today, the Indian Mission in Tel Aviv, in collaboration with the UN authorities, the Israeli authorities, they were able to coordinate the transportation of mortal remains. The mortal remains of Colonel Kale have arrived in India today and for formalities to be done by the family. We have already conveyed our deepest condolences on his passing away. As far as the investigation of the issue is concerned, you would have seen the statement made by the UN Secretary General's Office that they have set up a fact-finding panel. As far as we are concerned, we also remain in touch with relevant authorities as far as the investigation is concerned.

Mohammad Ghazali: Sir, on Swiss Peace Conference?

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: Swiss Peace Conference, yes, today the Swiss Foreign Secretary is in Delhi. He had a conversation with Secretary (West). As we have said this earlier as well, we have received invitation from the Swiss side. We are yet to decide on our participation.

Ayushi, your question regarding Canada, yes, we have seen reports of the fourth person being arrested. We have been, so far, formally not conveyed of it and so far, we haven't received any consular access request as well.

Yeshi, we understand from reports that there are some 70-odd UN personnel who are working in Gaza. Out of those, how many are Indians? I am not very sure but I will come back to you once I have clarity of the information. I will get that information for you.

Abhishek: Hi Sir, Abhishek Jha from CNN News18, this side. My question is regarding the former army officer who was killed in Israel. Have we raised the issue with the Israeli government? And you said that investigations are being done and you are waiting. Which investigation are you referring to that the result of which you are waiting for?

Huma: Sir, I am Huma Siddiqui from the Financial Express. I just wanted to understand, now that we have signed an agreement with Iran on the Chabahar Port. Are we also looking for starting crude procurement from them as well as from Venezuela?

Madhurendra: Sir, Madhurendra, main News Nation se. Abhi Pradhan Mantri Modi ne ek sawal ke jawab mei bataya tha ki kis tarah se Bharat ne Gaza mei yuddh ko rokne ke liye apne envoy ko bheja tha. Agar uska detail Videsh Mantralaya de paye ki kaun gaya tha aur kya batchit hui thi aur uske kya parinam hue?

[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] Sir, I am Madhurendra from News Nation. Recently, Prime Minister Modi mentioned, in response to a question, how India had sent its envoy to help stop the war in Gaza. Could the Ministry of External Affairs provide details on who went, what discussions took place, and what the outcomes were?

Speaker: I'm [Inaudible], Japanese News Agency, Jiji Press. Tomorrow will be the 50th anniversary of India's first nuclear test, Operation Smiling Buddha. So I would like to one thing. Is India's ‘No First Use’ policy maintained, or has this policy changed? Is this policy change being discussed?

Ileana: Ileana, TASS News Agency. Good afternoon. My question is related to this very important visit by Russian President, which is taking place now in China. So, how do you see this visit of the Russian President to the neighboring country? What is India's estimation of this trip?

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: Abhishek, on your question regarding the investigation, as I told you, the United Nations, they themselves, they have set up a fact-finding panel. As far as on our side, obviously there are several agencies which are involved. On our side, we remain in touch with all the agencies involved in regard to the investigation.

Huma, your question on Chabahar, on 13th, you saw that we signed the long-term agreement for the operation of Chabahar Port. Our Minister was there. Obviously, it's a major achievement for us. We see Chabahar as India's commitment towards realizing the potential of the place as a connectivity hub for Afghanistan and for landlocked Central Asian countries. You know that this port is being operated by India Ports Global Limited since 2018. And through the port, we've been able to provide a lot of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. In the past, since 2018, we've supplied 85,000 metric tons of wheat, 200 metric tons of pulses and 40,000 litres of pesticide Malathion to Afghanistan through this port. Also, you know, there have been questions…several questions that were asked. The United States also has an understanding…understands the importance of Chabahar Port for continued humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan and to provide Afghanistan economic alternatives. Our External Affairs Minister also spoke on this matter in several forums recently, where he said that we should not take a narrow view of this particular project, it has an important role to play as far as the region is concerned, connectivity is concerned, particularly for the landlocked countries in the area.

As far as your questions about Venezuela and buying of energy, etc; those are not in the scope of this particular Agreement.

Madhu, kuch samay pehle aapko yaad hoga ki Press engagement mei humne bataya tha, ki hamare jo National Security Advisor wahan gaye the, toh uske baare mei hum logon ne jankari bhi di thi aapko aur ye bataya bhi tha ki wahan ja ke unhone shanti ke bahali ke liye, ramzan ke dauran, iski baat rakhi hai wahan par, toh main aapse kahunga ki woh jo Press engagement tha, usko agar aap dekhain toh aapko vistrit mei thodi aur jankari milegi.

[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Madhu, if you recall, we mentioned in a recent Press engagement that our National Security Advisor had gone there. We provided information about this visit and mentioned that he advocated, during Ramzan, for the restoration of peace. I would suggest that you refer to that Press engagement for more detailed information.

My friend from Japan, regarding your question; yes, we continue to follow our stated policy as far as the matter that you raised is concerned, and there is no change in our policy.

Ileana, your question on the visit of Russian President, this is relationship between Russia and China, and obviously we have no further comments to make on it.

Ileana: Can you say from the point of BRICS cooperation, how do you see this visit?

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: Well, BRICS is a separate issue. BRICS is an important platform. I understand the Russian presidency is preparing a very expansive, ambitious program. I understand there are over 250-odd meetings that are planned. We, of course, look forward to participating in the BRICS meetings and to strengthen the BRICS agenda. And we also hope that the expanded BRICS becomes an important platform to give voice to the issue of multi-polarity.

Preeti: Preeti, independent journalist. There are reports in the media that hundreds of Indian students are facing deportation in Canada. They think that immigration policy has been changed overnight, your comment Sir?

Ayanangsha: This is Ayanangsha Maitra. Sir, recently Russian Presidential Special Envoy to Afghanistan, Kabulov, had a meeting here in New Delhi with JS (PAI). Is there any development for aid to flood-torn Afghanistan? And secondly, in the line of Chabahar development, are we making any mechanism for connecting it directly to INSTC? Thank you Sir.

Emerson: Good afternoon, Sir. I am Emerson from Central News Agency. On May 20, the new government of Taiwan will take over. Nearly 700 international dignitaries from Japan, the US and other countries will attend the ceremony. India, as the largest democracy, can you please shed light on whether will there be any Indian delegation to Taipei and what will be the expectations of India from the new government in Taiwan? Thank you.

Dhairya: Sir, Dhairya Maheshwari from Sputnik India. Sir, my first question is about the same topic that's asked by my colleague, Sir, about the visit of Russian presidential envoy. Was there any discussion on any joint projects in multilateral or bilateral formats between the two countries in Afghanistan? And Sir, if you allow me, there's a second question. There are some recent remarks made by US envoy saying that India was allowed to, you know, purchase Russian crude by the US to ease of prices. We are given to understand that's not the case, but would it be possible to get a clarification from the MEA Sir? Thank you.

Abhishek: On the visit of Kabulov, when he was in Afghanistan talking to some of the media outlets, he said that Taliban doesn't pose any threat to India now. Would you like to have any comment on that?

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: Okay. Let's start, Preeti, with you. I mean, you know, we have a large number of students who have gone to Canada to study. The figure is pretty significant. But what you are mentioning is that several students are facing problems that we haven't come across as of now

Preeti: Sir, they are facing deportation.

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: Sorry, deportation. I don't have an update on that. We are not aware of, you know, there may be one case here or one case there. That's about it. But we don't see any major problem as far as students in Canada, they are concerned.

Maitra, on the visit of Special Envoy of the Russian President on Afghanistan, Ambassador Kabulov, he did have a meeting with our delegation led by Joint Secretary, Mr. J.P. Singh, who looks after Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, in the Ministry of External Affairs. They had bilateral consultations on Afghanistan. They discussed the situation that is there on ground. They also emphasized on the need to continue providing development assistance and humanitarian support to people of Afghanistan. So this was the context. They had bilateral conversation, between the two. In regard to INSTC, yes, External Affairs Minister has spoken about INSTC. He has also spoken about the Chabahar Port. He said that one should not take a narrow view of this particular project, Chabahar project. It has a wider relevance to connectivity in the region.

Emerson, as you know, with Taiwan, we have ongoing exchanges in cultural field, in economic field, trade field, investment field, scientific field, and we will continue with these exchanges.

Dhairya, regarding the engagement with Ambassador Kabulov, we have conveyed to you what was discussed, essentially exchange of views on the ground and the situation and how the two countries look at the situation. And we also emphasized on the need to provide development assistance and humanitarian support to the people of Afghanistan. That's very important for us.

Abhishek: I have asked about what he said in the media, if you could say…he said that Taliban doesn't pose any threat to India and Russia…

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: That's Abhishek…he said to the media, but I have given you our point of view what we emphasized in our meeting with Ambassador Kabulov.

On the oil purchases, Dhairya, you know, we've said this before as well, including in this Press engagement that we have that all our oil purchases abroad, they're based on our energy security requirements. And this is a decision that we take independently based on our national interest. Yes, on this particular matter, obviously, there have been conversations between us and the American side, US side.

Rishabh: Good evening Sir, Rishabh from Times Now, Sir two questions; one, the Pakistani Foreign Minister and also the Deputy Prime Minister was in Beijing, Pakistan raked up Kashmir again with China, your response to that? And apart from that, US Envoy to India, Eric Garcetti, while speaking to a number of news channels including Times Now, said that on Chabahar port when the US State Department says that there is potential risk, he says there are further clarification that will come in. Has India received any communication from US on Chabahar port and their flip-flop stand from 2018 when they gave waiver in the Chabahar port which has changed to potential risk now. What's the stand of India and what's the communication between India and US?

Kallol: This is Kallol Bhattacherjee from the Hindu. Sir, there is a report from the Guardian about a ship that was headed to Israel and the ship was carrying weapons, it originated from Chennai, and Spain reportedly denied the ship entry into one of its ports. And my question therefore is, it appears that India is arming Israel with killer weapons at a time when it's carrying out campaign in Rafah, so would you like to clarify what sort of weapons is or what sort of you know, arms assistance is India providing to Israel in this context? Thank you.

Akhilesh: Sir, I am Akhilesh Suman. Maldivian Defense Minister has recently said that, you know, their pilots don't know how to fly the Dornier aircraft. So, in the last meeting between Foreign Minister of Maldives and EAM, Dr. Jaishankar, has there been any request to train the Maldivian pilots in India so that they can fly the Dornier aircrafts?

Pranay: Sir China mei haal hi mei Pakistan ke jo Planning Minister hain woh wahan par the, aur Bharat ki tamam aapttiyon ke bawjud CPEC ke Phase 2 ko lekar kuch projects par aage baat badhi hai. Bharat ki usko lekar kya tippani hai, kyunki Bharat lagatar CPEC ka virodh bhi karta raha hai, aur aapne abhi abhi kaha Jammu Kashmir Bharat ka sampoorn ang hai?

[Question in Hindi: Approximate translation] Sir, recently the Planning Minister of Pakistan was in China, and despite all of India's objections, there has been progress regarding some projects under Phase 2 of the CPEC. What is India's comment on this, considering that India has consistently opposed the CPEC and you just mentioned that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India?

Yeshi: This is Yeshi Seli from the New Indian Express. MEA has always maintained that the 8th naval veteran, who hasn't returned, hasn't come because of some formalities that he has to fulfill. It's over three months since he was released from jail, seven people have come back, how much longer is he going to wait, where does he stand right now?

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: Rishabh, regarding your question on Jammu and Kashmir, I would like to again reiterate what we have said so far, in spite of whatever claims may be made, that the entire Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been, are and shall always remain integral parts of India. In regard to the Ambassador's comments that you referred to, earlier also while answering question on Chabahar, I made this point that, what External Affairs Minister also had said that we should not take a narrow view of this issue. The project will benefit the entire region, particularly landlocked Afghanistan and Central Asia, and the US has in the recent past appreciated the larger relevance of Chabahar port, particularly in the context of humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan. So our understanding is that we will take this conversation forward.

Akhilesh, your question regarding training of pilots, yes, you know, capacity building is an important component in our defence and security engagement with Maldives. We have, in the past, trained their personnel on the defence side, and if we receive a request for training of pilots, we will, if this request is made, we will be happy to take it forward.

Akhilesh: Have they requested yet?

Shri Randhir Jaiswal, Official Spokesperson: If the request is made, we will take it forward.

Pranay aapka sawal POK aur CPEC ko lekar tha, uspe hamara jo stand hai, jo position hai Bharat ka bada clear hai. Aapko pata hai ki, it impacts India's teritorial integrity and sovereignty. Aur jo Pakistan Adhikrit Kashmir hai, us kshetra pe, us bhoobhag pe bhi hamara position bada clear hai, ye jo kshetra hai, Pakistan Adhikrit Kashmir, ye Bharat ka abhinn ang hai, raha hai aur hamesha rahega.

[Answer in Hindi: Approximate translation] Pranay, your question was about POK and CPEC, our stand, our position on it is very clear. You know that it impacts India's territorial integrity and sovereignty. Our position on the region of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is also very clear. This region, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is an integral part of India, and it always has been and will always be so.

Yeshi, on your question about the 8th naval veteran, yes, as you said, yourself said that he has been released, he is staying in Doha, but he has certain formalities to clear. Once those formalities are cleared by him, it is for him to do it, he will return to India. Those charges which were there earlier, they don't exist anymore, so he is free. He is staying in Doha right now, but he has certain requirements to fulfill.

Kallol, yes, regarding your question, today in the morning we saw some reports which talked about a ship, a Danish-flagged ship which are taking some supplies to…they had requested for a port call, we have seen the reports, we are looking into the matter, we will come back to you with more details as and when we have. Let me get back to you.

With that, we come to the closure of this Press engagement. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

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