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Transcript of Media Briefing by Foreign Secretary following Bilateral Meetings with Japan, Malaysia and Mongolia (September 05, 2019)

September 06, 2019

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Friends, good afternoon and welcome to this special briefing from Vladivostok on the day two of Prime Minister’s visit. This morning we had three bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Prime Minister of Japan and also the President of Mongolia. I have with me the Foreign Secretary of India who will take us through all the three bilateral meetings and after that we will take one or two questions. Sir, over to you.

Foreign Secretary, Shri Vijay Gokhale: Thank you Raveesh. Prime Minister had three very good meetings this morning. The first meeting was with Prime Minister Abe of Japan. As you know, besides the very strong relationship that we have with Japan, over the years the two prime ministers are also personal friends and have known each other for a very long time. So it was a very cordial, very warm discussion.

A lot of the discussion was on the bilateral relationship with particular emphasis on the forthcoming visit of the Japanese Prime Minister to India for the Annual Summit. That will take place sometime in the month of December, the dates will be negotiated and announced in due course.

Before that both leaders have agreed that the first 2+2 Ministerial Meeting i.e. the Foreign and Defence Ministers of the two countries will have a meeting preferably before this annual summit and in that context Prime Minister Abe also mentioned the ongoing or the just concluded visit of Raksha Mantri (Defence Minister) to Japan and he remarked that during the visit of Raksha Mantri to Japan substantial issues have been discussed on taking forward our exchanges and cooperation in the field of defence and he hoped that some of the discussions would lead to outcomes during the Annual Summit.

Inevitably discussion also took place on regional and international affairs. Both leaders gave a very positive assessment of Japan America India Trilateral Meeting two of which have been held in the margins of the G20 in Buenos Aires and Osaka. It was a very positive evaluation by both leaders and they felt that this tradition of having a summit meeting between the three countries should continue.

There was also discussion on the Indo-Pacific, an issue on which India and Japan share similar views. Prime Minister Abe spoke of the free and open Indo-Pacific and of the importance of the bilateral cooperation in that regard, both on the economic side and in terms of people to people relations in order to build an Indo-Pacific region that is both secure and prosperous.

One of the areas that the two leaders touched on was, of course, Africa because we are beginning to have cooperation trilaterally between India, Japan and African countries. And in this regard Prime Minister Abe mentioned specifically that during his visit to India we will have further discussions in this regard.

Finally there was a brief discussion on the RCEP – the regional economic cooperation agreement that is being negotiated by the 16 countries including the ten countries of ASEAN. Both sides gave their perspective on the matter. Prime Minister mentioned in particular that we have some issues of interest both in trade in goods and trade in services and that this should be kept in mind when any regional trading arrangement is made so that there is comfort level on all the sides for this agreement.

This was followed by a very-very warm meeting with the Prime Minister of Malaysia. As you will recall our Prime Minister was among the earliest leaders who called on him in Kuala Lumpur soon after his election and Prime Minister in his meeting today with Prime Minister Mahathir described Prime Minister Mahathir’s election as a very historic one and said that India was looking forward to working together with Malaysia.

A lot of the discussion took place on bilateral matters. Prime Minister Mahathir acknowledged that there was a growing trade between the two countries but that Malaysia had a surplus in trade and he assured the Prime Minister that while we should continue to grow this trade Malaysia is looking at ways in which we can balance the trade well. In that context he also mentioned that Malaysia would also consider importing more from India so that India’s exports to Malaysia grow.

There was some discussion on the recent internal developments in the country and in this regard Prime Minister explained to the Prime Minister of Malaysia the rationale behind the reorganization of the state of Jammu & Kashmir in terms of both giving effective governance and in terms of delivering socio-economic justice. And in that context the two leaders discussed, the focus was on terrorism, on efforts by both sides on how to cope with the growing global terror. Prime Minister of Malaysia in fact acknowledged that this is now a global problem and he unequivocally expressed that terrorism in any form is something that Malaysia is against.

There was also a brief discussion between the two leaders on some of the other international issues but broadly given the paucity of time there could not have been any detailed discussion.

Finally the Prime Minister called on the Mongolian President just a short while ago. Again, it was a very-very warm conversation. The Mongolian President is likely slated to come on a State visit to India in fact later this month. In that context a number of outcomes were discussed, a number of projects on which there is ongoing work particularly the assistance we are giving in building a major oil refinery to meet Mongolia’s energy needs through a line of credit, that was discussed.

A number of people to people issues were discussed including culture, the spiritual connection. The President of Mongolia specifically said he looked forward to his visit to Bodhgaya in addition to Delhi as well as to Bengaluru. And finally there was some discussion between the two leaders on how to mitigate the impact of smog in Ulaanbaatar and in that regard the President spoke of the success that India is having in mitigating the pollution due to stubble burning of wheat in the winter months.

So overall I would say that these were very-very productive, very good meetings. These were in the margins of the main event which is the Eastern Economic Forum which is due to commence shortly and we certainly are quite pleased with all these three meetings and we leave Vladivostok with a sense that in all three cases, these are all strategic partners of us and we are in a good place with all of them. Thank you.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you sir. We just have time for maybe one or two questions.

Question: Africa mein Japan ke saath kis tarah kii sajhedaari kii aap log baat kar rahe hain, aur doosara Malaysia mein Zakir Naik humko pata hai. Zakir Naik ke extradition ke liye Bharat lagataar koshish kar raha hai, us mudde par baat hui kya?

(What kind of partnership are you talking about in Africa with Japan and second we all know that Zakir Naik is in Malaysia. India is continuously trying for the extradition of Zakir Naik, was this also discussed?)

Foreign Secretary, Shri Vijay Gokhale: Jahan tak Africa ki baat hai wahaan to hum Japan ke saath already bhaagidaari kar rahe hain lekin Prime Minister Abe ne ye kahaa ki jab wo Bharat ki yatra par aayenge to kuch aur desh hain Africa mein jahaan Bharat aur Japan ikattha kaam kar sakte hain. To us maamle mein abhi charchaa jaari hai, abhi kuch tai nahi hai lekin dono leaders ka ye mat hai ki hum dono saath-saath Africa mei kaam karein.

Jahan tak Zakir Naik ki baat hai, ji haan Pradhanmantri ne is baat ko uthaayaa hai aur hum dono paksh ne ye tai kiyaa hai ki hamare adhikaari is par sampark banaaye rakhenge aur hamaare liye ye mahatvpoorn Vishay hai.

(As far as Africa is concerned we already have partnership with Japan there but what Prime Minister Abe said that when he visits India then he would like to have discussion regarding certain other countries in Africa where India and Japan can work together. So the discussions on this issue are already on going and nothing is decided as yet but both leaders are of the opinion that we should work together in Africa.

As far as Zakir Naik is concerned, yes, Prime Minister raised this issue and both sides have agreed that our officials will keep in touch in this regard and this is an important issue for us.)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you very much. Now this media interaction comes to a close. Thank you all for joining.

(Concludes)

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