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Transcript of Virtual Weekly Media Briefing by the Official Spokesperson (June 24, 2021)

June 24, 2021

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: A very Good evening to all of you. Thank you for joining us for today's media briefing. As always, we have a number of questions, but before that, let me commence with an announcement, External Affairs Minister of India Dr. S. Jaishankar, will be leaving tomorrow for visit to Greece and to Italy. In Greece he will be making a bilateral visit on June 25 and June 26 for talks with his Greek counterparts apart from other engagements. This is of course, the first visit at the EAMs level since 2003, that's 18 years. After Greece, External Affairs Minister will travel to Italy to attend the G20 ministerial meetings. These include the ministerial meetings related to Foreign Minister level as well as the Development Ministers’ level, both of which will be represented by EAM from India. We will continue to bring you updates of the visit as it unfolds. Let me now hand over the floor to Yatin for take us through the questions that have come.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Aminul Islam from BSS has asked, "Media reports say that India may send COVID-19 vaccines to Bangladesh by first week of August. Has the Indian government taken any such decision in this regard? When Bangladesh can expect its much desired vaccines from India in line with the agreement signed between Beximco pharma and Serum Institute of India”. Praveen Gautam from News Point is asking, "Pfizer vaccine ko lekar taaja update kya hai? Vaccine ke bharat aane ki sambhavna kab tak hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) What is the latest update regarding Pfizer vaccine? When is the vaccine likely to come to India?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Let me begin by saying that our position on the issue of vaccine exports has been consistent and clear. We've always stated that overseas supply of vaccines from India would depend on vaccine availability and our domestic vaccination programme. For the moment, our priority remains on utilising made in India vaccines for our own vaccination programme, which as you know has received a boost with the new phase of vaccination that was launched earlier this week on June 21st. We are also making efforts to further increase our domestic vaccine production.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Sandeep from Tribune is asking, "In view of US troop withdrawal…

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Yatin, let me interrupt you I think I did not answer the question about the Pfizer part also, which had come in from News Point. Let me emphasise that GOI is making all efforts to augment vaccine availability in the country be it through domestic production or imports. As regards the specific vaccines and the status of their imports into India, this is a matter for the concerned regulatory authorities. Over to you Yatin.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Sandeep from Tribune is asking, "In view of the US troop withdrawal, is India planning to invest more in the security component of its aid to Afghanistan? Also, what's the status of Shahtoot Dam project and Hajigak iron ore mine?” Ranjeet Kumar from Rakshat news is asking, "Has India withdrawn its staff from Jalalabad and Herat consulates in Afghanistan? If so, what were the factors behind the decision?” Nilova Roy Chowdhury is asking, "Is the Government of India speaking to members of the Afghan Taliban? If yes, to whom and at what level?” Sidhant from WION is asking, "Qatari officials have said, India Taliban meeting happened. Any reaction to that?” I have a similar question from Sanjay from Arab news, Deepak from PTI Bhasha, Nayanima from the Print and Pranay from ABP news.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I think our perspective on Afghanistan has been enunciated on various occasions. India supports all peace initiatives. And as a long term commitment towards development and reconstruction of Afghanistan. In this context, we remain in touch with various stakeholders, including regional countries. I would also draw your attention to the recent statement made by External Affairs Minister at the United Nations Security Council debate earlier this week, which lays out our concern at the upsurge in violence and our vision for the future. I think I heard a question about the consulates in Afghanistan. I don't think there has been a recent development on that issue. So I don't have much else to say on that. Yatin.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Pranay from ABP News is asking, ”Haal mein Pakistan ke videsh mantree ne TV saakshatkar mein kaha ki Afghanistan mein Bharat ki maujoodgee jaroorat se jyaada hai. Is tarah ke bayaanon ko aap Bharatiye raajanayik mishnon par maujood khatre ke sandarbh mein kis tarah se dekhate hein? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Recently, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan said in a TV interview that India's presence in Afghanistan is in excess. How do you see such statements in the context of the threat posed to Indian diplomatic missions? Sanjeev Trivedi from News 24 has asked, "Imran Khan in his latest interview has asserted that there will no longer be any need for nuclear deterrence after Kashmir issue is resolved. This assertion obviously is a threat. How does India react to that?” Anish from Asianet has asked, "Just ahead of FATF decision on terror financing Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mohammad Qureshi had alleged India of using the forum for political purpose. What is India's response?” Maha from CNN News 18 has asked, "Some reports suggest that the back channel talks between India and Pakistan brokered by UAE included a commitment on talks with Kashmiri leaders by the Indian government. Is this true?” I have similar question from Madhurendra from News Nation, Praveen from News Point.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you Yatin. Those are various issues let me try to address them separately. Regarding the comments of India's role in Afghanistan by Pakistan Foreign Minister, we have seen some media reports on this. We firmly believe that it is for the Afghan people to decide their partners and the size of the partnership. India has brought electricity, dams, schools, health clinic, roads, and community projects to Afghanistan. And the world knows what Pakistan has brought to Afghanistan. Regarding developments in Jammu and Kashmir, this is clearly an internal matter for India. As far as our bilateral relations with Pakistan are concerned, our stand is well known. We desire normal relations with all our neighbours, including Pakistan. Pakistan must work towards creating a conducive atmosphere, including by taking credible, verifiable and irreversible actions to not allow any territory under its control to be used for cross border terrorism against India in any manner. Yatin.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Sandeep from the Tribune is asking, "With a new president in Iran and the prospects of sanctions being lifted, can you give us an overview of our ties with Tehran?” Huma from Financial Express is asking, "Has India discussed with US administration about the sanctions on Iran?” I have similar question from Sidhant from WION.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Look we have been closely monitoring the recent developments regarding Iran, and the conversations with other countries. We will continue to look at this closely. And I don't have an immediate response on that. We have seen some positive sentiments, and we will continue to see how these progress. I would also highlight the congratulatory messages from our leadership to the newly elected Iranian President. For the moment I think, that's all I have to share.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Narendra Nath Mishra from Navbharat Times is asking, "Kya Covid ke case kam hone ke baad doosre deshon ne Bharat se jo havai sewa band ki hai, Usee dobaara shuroo karne par koi baat hui? Covaxin lene waalon ko videsh yaatra mein koi dikkat nahin ho, kya iske liye Bharat mein Europieye deshon se baat ki hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Have other countries that stopped air services from India started discussions on restarting it after the cases of Covid decreased ? Those who take Covaxin should not face any problem in traveling abroad, have India talked to European countries in this regard? Shankar from IBD is asking, "When are Indian flights to the Gulf and other destinations starting as thousands of Indian diaspora members are stuck in India and they are desperate to get back to their work in these foreign countries?” I have similar question from Madhurendra from News Nation and Prashant from Asianet

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: As I have said before, we would hope that as the COVID situation continues to improve in our country, other countries would take steps to normalise travel with India. We have seen some initial steps in this regard. The government will continue to prioritise this issue. As for Covaxin we are closely following the developments regarding efforts by Bharat Biotech to obtain emergency use listing authorization from the World Health Organisation. Of course, I would have to refer you to the company itself for the exact status of this process.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Sandeep from the Tribune is asking, "What is the MEA’s view on the recent arrest of Indian National Vishal Jood by police force in Australia?”

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I understand that the matter is now sub judice in Australia. I know that consular access to Vishal Jood was granted on June 17th. And our high commission is in touch with the Australian authorities. We will certainly keep you informed of further developments in this matter.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Deepak Ranjan from PTI Bhasha is asking, "Dominica se Mehul choksi ke pratyaarpan aur Britain se Nirav Modi ko Bharat pratyarpit kiye jaane ko lekar taaja sthiti kya hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) What is the latest situation regarding the extradition of Mehul Choksi from Dominica and the extradition of Nirav Modi from UK to India? Srinjoy from Times Now is asking, "Is there an update on Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi extradition.” I have similar question from Sanjeev Trivedi and Pranay from ABP News.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: As I've shared earlier, we are in touch with the Dominican authorities regarding the legal proceedings underway there against the fugitive Mehul Choksi. I don't have any immediate update to share. As regards Nirav Modi, we have noted yesterday's decision of the United Kingdom High Court against his plea to appeal against the extradition order. We will continue our efforts to pursue his early extradition to India to face justice.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Dhairya from Sputnik is asking, "Could the MEA share some details about the National Security Advisor’s visit to Dushanbe to attend SCO’s NSA meeting? Would there be some reaction to Pakistan NSA’s statement which describes Pakistan as a victim of terrorism?” Nayanima from The Print is asking, "What was the outcome of the SCO NSA meet? Was there any side-line meeting between NSA Doval and his Chinese counterpart?” Jai Prakash from Dainik Jagran is asking, "SCO ki baithak mein kya Bharat ke NSA Ajit Doval ki Pakistan aur Cheen ke NSA se alag se koi bilateral meeting hui hai ya phir is tarah ki baithak ki ummeed hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) In the SCO meeting, has India's NSA Ajit Doval had a separate bilateral meeting with Pakistan and China's NSA or is such a meeting expected? Akhilesh Suman from Sansad TV is asking, "Is NSA Doval is going to meet his Pakistani counterpart during his visit for SCO meeting and why Chinese NSA did not attend the SCO NSA meeting?” I have similar question from Maha from CNN News 18, Anish from Asianet and Anita Joshua from Telegraph.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: You would be aware that Tajikistan holds the current chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Tajikistan hosted the 16th meeting of the SCO secretaries of the National Security Council's meeting on June 23 in Dushanbe. The Indian delegation was lead by our national security adviser. Secretary General of the SCO and the executive director of the SCO regional anti-terrorist structure also participated in this intergovernmental meeting. The meeting discussed issues of international and regional security, countering terrorism, extremism and radicalism, countering the illicit trafficking of drugs and also the preparations for the SCO Summit of Heads of State which is to take place in Dushanbe hopefully in September this year. An outcome document in the nature of a protocol was adopted after the NSA level meeting. I understand that as per practice, the SCO Secretariat will make public this document on its website sometime later.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Geeta Mohan from India Today is asking, "Which countries have shown interest in using or adapting CoWin application?”

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: You would recall that during his intervention at the recent G7 summit, Prime Minister had offered to share India's experience and expertise in the successful use of open source digital tools in contract tracing and vaccine management. In pursuance of this, the National Health Authority proposes to organise an event, with partner countries across the world to share details of the indigenously developed Cowin aap, which has been at the centre of our vaccination drive. We will provide further updates about this event once the dates and other details have been firmed up.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Huma from Financial Express is asking, "Are there any plans to import crude oil from Iran and Venezuela?”

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Look, I think this is an issue that I would refer you to the Ministry of petroleum and natural gas or perhaps the companies that actually are involved in importing crude oil.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Shankar from IBD is asking, "When is India going to host the BRICS summit?”

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: As BRICS share It is our turn to host the summit. However, I don't have any update regarding the proposed date for the summit as yet. We will certainly share with you this information once we have it.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Madhurendra from News Nation has asked, "UP mein dharmantaran ko lekar jo mamala saamne aaya hai uskee jaanch mein Pakistan aur Zakir Nayak ka connection bhi ATS ne establish kiya hai. Zakir Nayak ek bhagoda apradhi hai use lekar koi update ho to bataein? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) The connection of Pakistan and Zakir Nayak has been established by the ATS in the investigation of the case that has come to the fore regarding conversion in UP. Zakir Nayak is a fugitive criminal, if there is any update about him?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Zakir Nayak ke mamale mein hamare pas abhi immediately koi update nahin hai. Aap jaante hain ki hamari Malaysian Authorities ke saath baatcheet chaltee rahee hai unke extradition ke baare mein. Jab hamare paas koi update hoga ham aapke saath jaroor share karenge. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) We have no immediate update on Zakir Nayak's case. You know that we are in talks with Malaysian authorities regarding his extradition. We will definitely share with you when we have an update.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Deepak Ranjan from PTI Bhasha has asked, ”Covid-19 rodhi tikee ke sambandh mein bhautik sampada adhikaar mein asthai chhoot ko lekar Europeya sangh aur America se baatcheet ki taaja sthiti kya hai?” (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) What is the current status of talks with the EU and the US regarding the temporary exemption of intellectual property rights with regard to the anti-Covid-19 vaccine?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Dekhiye yeh bahut hi mahatvapoorn vishay hai jis par yeh TRIPS ke mamle mein, TRIPS ke waiver ke baat jo kehte hain aur ham apne kaafi deshon se baatcheet mein hain. Bahut star par baatcheet chal rahee hai par ye Vaanijya mantraalay ke paas jyaada detail hongi, to main request karoonga ki aapako agar updated position jaanna ho to unse contact karein.( Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) See, this is a very important topic, in the matter of TRIPS waiver we are in talks with many countries. Negotiations are going on at many levels, but the Ministry of Commerce will have more details, so I would request that if you want to know the updated position, then please contact them.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): Praveen Gautam from News Point is asking, "kya poorvi Ladakh vivaad ko lekar Bharat aur Cheen ke beech is saptaah raajnayik vaarta hone ki sambhaavana hai? (Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Are diplomatic talks between India and China likely to be held this week over the eastern Ladakh dispute? Srinjoy from Times Now is asking, "A WMCC is likely very soon. What is India's position going to be?” Sidhant from WION has asked, "Chinese Foreign Ministry has blamed Indian deployment as root cause of tensions along China India border. Your reaction please.” Dhairya from Sputnik has asked, "The Chinese Foreign Ministry yesterday said that India increasing its military deployment at the LAC was the root cause of the current standoff and accused India of encroaching on Chinese territory. What is your reaction to that?”. Anish from Asianet is asking, "What is the update on India China border issue?” I have similar question from Madhurendra from News Nation, Shankar from IBD, Deepak Ranjan from PTI Bhasha, and Pranay from ABP News.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I think there are two separate issues. Let me begin with the first, it is well recognised that it has been the Chinese actions over the last year, including amassing a large number of troops close to the border areas in the western sector, as well as trying to unilaterally alter the status quo along the line of actual control, which have seriously disturbed peace and tranquillity in the border areas. These acts are in violation of our bilateral agreements, including the 1993 and 1996 agreements that require the two sides to strictly respect and observe the line of actual control and the two sides will keep their military forces in the areas along the line of actual control to a minimal level. As regards the WMCC meeting, I don't have any update to share for the moment. We will certainly keep you informed as and when there are further developments on this. Yatin.

Shri Yatin Patel, OSD (PR): I have no further questions sir.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much. That brings us to the end of this media briefing. Thank you again for joining us. Good evening.

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