Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India

09/19/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/19/2020 05:26

Transcript of Virtual Weekly Media Briefing by the Official Spokesperson (17 September 2020)

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:Friends Namaskar and Good evening. Welcome to this weekly briefing in the virtual format. I will start with a short update on the Vande Bharat Mission. As on 16th of September, 14.6 lakh Indians have been repatriated through different modes under this Mission and so far 420 international flights and 80 feeder flights have been operated from 21 countries, reaching 22 airports across India and repatriating an estimated 82000 people. This phase will continue to be operational till the end of this month and we expect another 1,20,000 people to be repatriated. As always, this ministry is closely monitoring the demand for repatriation and travel to India from different countries through our missions and posts and we are working with the airlines to ensure assistance. Now moving on to your questions. May I request Yatin to take over?

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Sir, the first set of questions is on Abraham Accord. Sidhant from WION has asked - 'what is India's reaction to the Abraham Accord?' Pushkar from New Indian Express has asked - 'what is India's reaction to Bahrain normalizing ties with Israel?' While Awwad from SANA has asked - 'regarding the normalization of relations between Israel, UAE and Bahrain, how India views this development and whether it will help Palestinian cause of achieving comprehensive peace in West Asia?' Aditya has asked - 'does India welcome the peace deal between Israel, UAE and Bahrain? Does India feel that this will pave the way for peace in the entire region?'

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:We have followed the Abraham accords signed in Washington DC by UAE, Bahrain, Israel and the US. As I have said earlier, India has always supported peace and stability in West Asia which is our extended neighbourhood. As such we welcome these agreements for normalization of relations between Israel and UAE and Bahrain.

We also continue our traditional support for the Palestinian cause and hope for early resumption of direct negotiations for an acceptable two-state solution.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR):Next set of question is on Shri Kulbhushan Jadhav. Kadambini from NDTV India has asked - 'any update on lawyer for Kulbhushan case?' Pushkar from New Indian Express has asked - 'any update on the Kulbhushan Jadhav case?' Shailendra from News18 has asked - 'Kulbhushan Jadhav mamle mein koi update hai?' (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) 'Is there any update in Kulbhushan Jadhav case?' Srinjoy from Times Now has asked - 'has India suggested that Queen's Counsel could represent Kulbhushan Jadhav. What is the Pakistani reaction?'

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:As we have been saying, the government of Pakistan has not been able to fulfil its obligations to implement the ICJ judgment in it's letter and spirit. There are some basic issues which they need to address. One, the provision of all relevant documents for this case, to provide for unimpeded and unconditional Consular access to Shri Kulbhushan Jadhav, as well as the appointment of an Indian lawyer or a Queen's Counsel to ensure that the trial is free and fair.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR):Aditya has asked - 'the last of the hostages from Afghanistan has been rescued and brought back to India. Can you share more details on this, please?'

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:See Aditya, as you would know, there were 7 Indian nationals who were in captivity since May 2018 in Afghanistan and 6 of them had returned earlier. On 12th of September, the last remaining Indian national was released and he returned to India. We convey our grateful thanks to the government of Afghanistan for extending assistance over the last two years in securing the release of all our 7 nationals.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR):Next set of question is on Kerala gold case. Balagopal from Mathrubhumi has asked - 'did the UAE government formally request the permission from government of India for its probe team to visit India to carry forward its investigation in the Kerala gold smuggling case? Will the UAE probe team get permission to question or interview Indian citizens who are accused and suspected in Kerala gold smuggling case?' Manoj Menon from Mathrubhumi has asked - 'please share the updates on Trivandrum gold smuggling case. Please share the details of the ongoing inquiry by MEA on the violation of protocol regarding the agreement between Red Crescent and government of Kerala for financial assistance for the Life Mission project.'

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:I'll start by responding to Balagopal, we have not received any such request at this stage. So, I think the rest of your questions are hypothetical. To Manoj, we have been briefing you of the status in this case and as you would know NIA investigations are presently underway. On the MoU, MEA is looking at the legal issues which are involved.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR):Shailendra from News18 has asked - 'kya aaj ke BRICS NSAs ki baithak ke dauran, Bharat-Cheen ke NSA ki dwipakshiya baatcheet ho sakti hai?' (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) 'Whether in today's meeting of BRICS NSAs, can bilateral meeting of NSAs of India-China take place?'

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Shailendra ji jaise aapko pata hoga ki aaj ki jo baithak hai woh virtual format mein hai aur is format mein dwipakshiya baatcheet sambhav nahin hai. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate translation)' Mr.Shailendra as you must be aware that today's meeting is being held in a virtual format and in this format bilateral meeting is not possible.'

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Ramesh Ramachandran from Doordarshan has asked - 'will India be hosting a quad meeting? If so, please share the date and names of participants. Will it be in person meeting or VTC?' Similar question has also been asked by Nainima from The Print.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:I have confirmed earlier that we look forward to holding the quad meeting later this year and as of now details are being worked out.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Aditya has asked - 'NSA Ajit Doval recently walked out of SCO meeting protesting against a fictitious map by Pakistan. Has India communicated its stand to SCO chair and the other members?'

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:Aditya, I can tell you that before, during and after this meeting, we had conveyed a strong objection to the chair as well as to SCO member states on the use of this fictitious map and our objection was noted by the chair. The use of this fictitious map by Pakistan is in complete disregard to the advisory issued by the chair as well as it is in violation of the norms of the meeting.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR):Devirupa from The Wire has asked - 'can MEA clarify if the Chinese ambassador was summoned over the Zhenhua controversy? If the matter was raised with him, how was it raised and by whom?' Amiti Sen from Hindu Business Line has asked - 'did the foreign ministry take up the issue of surveillance of Indians by Chinese firm with the Chinese Embassy in India? Did the Chinese ambassador give any assurances? Do we have reasons to believe that the data collected was more than what is publicly available? Going forward, how do we plan to deal with the issue?' Similar question was also asked by Akhilesh Suman from Rajya Sabha TV.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: We have seen the media reports on this issue. MEA had accordingly taken up the matter with the Chinese side. The Chinese side has conveyed that the company is a private entity. The Chinese side has also claimed that there is no connection between the company concerned and the Chinese Government. The Government has constituted an Expert Committee under the National Cyber Security Coordinator to study these reports, evaluate their implications, assess any violations of law and submit its recommendations within thirty days.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR):Next set of question is on line of actual control. Kadambini from NDTV India has asked - 'do update about developments at LAC, if any, in accordance with Foreign Minister talks and agreement in Moscow.' Pankaj Pandey from Hindustan has asked - '10 September ko hamare videsh mantra ki Cheen ke videsh mantri se hui baatcheet mein bani sehmati ke baad kya development hua hai? Kya koi baatcheet hui hai ya koi baatcheet ka prastav hai?' (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) 'What development has taken place after the agreement reached in the 10th September meeting of our Foreign Minister with the Foreign Minister of China?' Whether any talks took place or there is any proposal? Agni Roy from ABP has asked - 'restoration of peace and tranquility is directly connected with overall Indo-China bilateral. This is what Rajnath ji said in Parliament. Will you further clarify? Is it a shift from earlier China policy? If so, why? Rajnath ji said, India will recover the patrolling area along LAC. Is there any progress in that direction?' Shailendra from News18 has asked - 'videsh mantriyon ki mulakat ko hafta hone wala hai, abhi tak core commander star ki varta kyun nahin hui?' (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate translation) The meeting of the Foreign Ministers was held in the last week, why the core commander level talks have not happened yet? ' Anita Joshua from Telegraph has asked - 'has India formally protested with China over it misrepresenting India's position in its statement on the talks in Moscow, specifically claiming that India's policy towards China has not changed and that the Indian side does not consider the development of India-China relations to be dependent on the settlement of the boundary question?' Sanjeev Trivedi from News 24 has asked - 'apropos to the statement made today by Chinese MOFA, it seems the responsibility of observing the five-point Moscow agreement has been left entirely to India. China says India should step back to correct its mistake and thus contribute to peace on the border. What does MEA have to say on this?' Similar questions have been asked by Shankar from India versus Disinfo, Ranjit Kumar from Rakshak News, Srinjoy from Times Now, Aneesh from UNI and Madhurendra from News Nation.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:I'll start by responding to Anita Joshua. I can tell you that the Chinese side was left in no doubt about what EAM actually said. In fact, I would like to advise all of you that for an accurate depiction of our position, you may refer to our statement which speaks for itself.

To Agni and to his questions, what I can say is that RM has already made a statement in Parliament, so I would not like to comment on it or to add anything further to what he has said.

To rest of the questions on the meeting in Moscow and the next steps, you would know that EAM met with Chinese FM Wang Yi in Moscow on 10 September. The two Foreign Ministers reached an agreement which outlines the way forward. This meeting followed the meeting that the two Defence Ministers had in Moscow on 04 September. There was consensus between the Ministers of the two sides, during both the meetings, that there should be quick and complete disengagement of troops from all friction areas along the LAC. Both sides should, therefore, focus on easing tensions in the friction areas by refraining from any actions that may lead to an escalation in the situation. This requires strict adherence to the bilateral agreements and protocols and not making unilateral attempts to change the status quo.

As RM has stated categorically in the Parliament on 15th September as well as earlier today, we are committed to a peaceful dialogue with the Chinese side, including through diplomatic and military channels. We will keep you informed of developments in this regard.

The Chinese side should sincerely work with the Indian side for complete disengagement at the earliest from all friction areas including Pangong Lake as well as de-escalation in border areas in accordance with the bilateral agreements and protocols on maintenance of peace and tranquility in border areas. We hope the Chinese side will strictly respect and observe the line of actual control and not make further attempts to unilaterally change status quo.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:Any more questions, Yatin?

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR):No, sir.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:Thank you. So this concludes the weekly briefing. See you all again.