Have we received any response for the invitation extended to the US President, and if we have received a response, who is going to be the Chief Guest on the coming 26th January celebrations?
Official Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar: See, right now I am not in a position to tell you who will be the Chief Guest on January 26 next year. As far as invitation to President is concerned, we have noted the reply received from the White House and we do believe the high level exchanges are an integral part of our strategic partnership. We both, US and India, together are still is discussion to mutually decide the time when President Trump can visit India.
Question: We have seen reports that the Americans have given oil waivers on Iranian sanctions, can you just react to that and also what is New Delhi’s stand on the recent developments in Sri Lanka?
Raveesh Kumar: Any other question on Iran?
I want to know your stand against US sanctions against Iran, what India is going to do about the sanctions?
The waiver has been granted, has it been capped? If it has been capped then to what extent?
Raveesh Kumar: Look, it is very difficult for me to react to source based stories and as far as we are concerned we haven’t heard anything so far from the US side but you are aware that we have had several rounds of conversation not only with the US but also with Iran and other stakeholders and as far as the US is concerned they are well aware about our expectations of the requirement which we have for oil domestically and which is very critical for sustaining our economic growth.
As I mentioned last time we have taken note of the US position which was conveyed by Secretary Pompeo that the intention of imposing sanctions on Iran is not to hurt India. We do want to engage and we will continue to engage with the US and other stakeholders to ensure that our energy security is not compromised and also that our national interests are interested.
On Sri Lanka, we have already issued a statement which I am sure you must have seen and basically at this stage I can only say that we are following the development very closely. We hope that the democratic values and the constitutional process in Sri Lanka will be respected. India and Sri Lanka, we enjoy strong bonds of friendship and we will continue to extend our developmental assistance to the friendly people of Sri Lanka.
This is about Sri Lanka. You see on 27th the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka already met Rajapaksa and according to Indian media reports Rajapaksa also seek to meet Indian officials. So after 26th is there any meetings or discussions or phone calls between Indian side and Rajapaksa?
Raveesh Kumar: Not that I am aware of. You know it is difficult for me to comment on meetings which Chinese Ambassador had but as far as I am concerned I am not aware of any such plans at this stage.
Has there been any clarity if the Prime Minister intends to travel to Maldives for the inaugural ceremony of President Solih?
Raveesh Kumar: As I mentioned in my last briefing that during the telephonic conversation between Prime Minister and President elect Solih, he did extend a verbal invitation to Prime Minister to visit Maldives. As I mentioned that the elements of the program are still being finalized by them. We are in close touch and you are aware that there is a proper mechanism which we follow when we announce VVIP visits. As and when there are confirmations we will share those details with you.
Any forward movement on Choksi and Nirav Modi?
Raveesh Kumar: On Choksi I can share with you that last time I shared that EAM did take up the matter with the Foreign Minister of Antigua & Barbuda and we are actually constantly following up with the government of Antigua & Barbuda through different mechanisms.
We are waiting for their response at this stage. We are requesting them that their response should be expedited and at this time we are waiting for their response.
Nirav Modi, again the situation is the same. We understand that the request for the extradition of Nirav Modi is under consideration of the UK government but at the same time let me point that we do remain committed to the extradition of economic offenders back to India.
Just wanted to know this is regarding the case of the Indian boy who had fallen into the river, landed up into the Pakistan occupied Kashmir and was buried there, would his body be returned, is the Indian government doing anything about it because the family has been trying to meet External Affairs Minister for a while now. There were three who fell, one reached POK.
This is about Sri Lanka. As we know there were reports of an assassination plot against their president and there were reports that an Indian was also arrested, what do you have to say about this assassination plot?
Raveesh Kumar: This has been clarified by multiple agencies, sources, from the President’s office, from the Foreign Ministry, from the Cabinet Secretariat, do I still have to add something to that. I think it has been dismissed by three different arms of the Sri Lankan government, so there is nothing further which I have to add on that.
Edited excerpts from a media briefing by Raveesh Kumar, spokesman, Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, November 1