Question: You talked about External Affairs Minister’s visit to Myanmar, can you just give us some details about we have promised some money and also some houses to Myanmar for repatriation of the Rohingya refugees, what is the progress on that? And are we also extending some credit lines or some more facilities to facilitate repatriation of Rohingyas at the earliest?
Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: As I mentioned there are certain agreements which will be signed during the visit of the External Affairs Minister, so I don’t want to share those details at this point of time. Our position which we have taken on the displaced persons, I think that has been articulated by me from time to time.
Broadly, if I can mention, they have two elements. One of course we have shared that the normalcy in the Rakhine state will be restored with the return of the displaced persons i.e. once they return to their state and that is a very important component of how the normalcy can be restored. But at the same time we have also mentioned that a long term solution is the socio-economic development of the Rakhine state. We have also said that we welcome the agreement which has been signed between Myanmar and Bangladesh for the return of displaced persons. But the details of what exactly will be discussed, for that I think you will have to wait till the visit of External Affairs Minister.
Question:There are also reports of Prime Minister going to Nepal. Something you can share about that visit?
Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I can only share that this visit of Prime Minister to Nepal will be taking place on 11–12 May, 2018. Apart from Kathmandu the possibility of a visit to Janakpur and Muktinath is being explored. At this point of time we are working on various other elements of program, in fact our advance team is still in Kathmandu as we speak. So there are certain elements that are still being tied up. We will of course make a formal announcement of the visit which will have more details about the different places and cities which PM is going to visit as well certain other elements of the program. We will have a formal announcement coming in very soon.
Question: During Prime Minister’s visit to Wuhan, one of the outcomes, I believe, was India and China will be working on joint projects in Afghanistan, at least one economic project or something like that. Could you give us some more details of what kind of project is this, where, any details at all?
Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: After the meeting we had issued a detailed press release and there was also a press interaction by the Foreign Secretary where we mentioned that the two leaders exchanged views on long term and overarching issues of bilateral and global interests. I can confirm that this topic, which you just referred to, did come up for discussion between the two sides regarding a joint economic project in Afghanistan.
Now we are at a stage where both sides will have to continue discussions to identify specific projects as part of this understanding. So at that moment, given the nature of the visit and the nature of the discussion, it did not focus on specific project which two sides should do.
Question: During Prime Minister’s visit to China both the leaders also decided to issue strategic guidance to their militaries. Can you elaborate on this?
Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Strategic guidance has been explained very clearly in the press release and it is self-explanatory. But I think there was a discussion on how the two sides can properly manage the bilateral relationship from the strategic and long term perspective. When I say strategic communication, I think this is basically in order to build trust and understanding between the two militaries. These are basically broad guidelines, now below that how the two militaries are going to take it forward from these broad overarching directions, these are operational matters and I think which will be discussed between the two militaries and decision will be taken by them.
Question: Pakistan Prime Minister has officials to forcefully pursue the Indus Water issue. So what is the state of Indus Water issue, at what stage is this issue?
Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: From this forum, I have mentioned time and again whenever the meeting of Indus Water Commission takes place, in fact the last meeting took place in Delhi you know this is an ongoing negotiation which keeps happening. This is a part of treaty between India and Pakistan that you discuss the matters which arise out of the Indus water, so these discussions are ongoing. This is not something which you resolve in a day and I think there is a mechanism and dialogue takes place at regular interval. If I am not mistaken it is twice in a year, once in India and then the other in Pakistan.
Question: Have a question related to one just asked. You said that this is the part ofnormal process between the two countries. So should we construe that this has got the blessings of the two governments because there were reports that the teams of the military veterans and other academics will submit reports to their respective governments. Should we read between the lines that this has got the blessings in some manner of the two governments?
Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
What you read between the lines is up to you. I cannot indulge in speculation from this forum. As I mentioned, if a group of Indians is going to Pakistan to take part in dialogue, the only thing they need is a visa from the Pakistani side. It is something which is a part of the normal process and that is what has happened.
Edited excerpts from the weekly briefing by Spokesman from the Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar, in New Delhi, 3 May.