External Affairs Minister (Shrimati Sushma Swaraj): Namaskar friends.
As you are aware, on the 26th of May this Government has completed one year and every day since then one Minister has been briefing the media. …(Inaudible)… Today we are having this press conference about the functioning, etc., and I am here in front of you to give details of all these things.
I am of the view that in order to assess the success of a foreign policy there are three parameters – visits, dialogues and outcomes. How many countries you have visited, with how many countries you have had dialogue without visiting them, what was the outcome and what the country has benefitted from these dialogues – on all these three parameters I am going to detail the foreign policy in front of you and then I will also take your questions.
We have data, in fact this is an auspicious number, that our visits and our dialogue has been with 101 countries. This number is not only the total of the visits of the Prime Minister, of EAM and of MOS. Other Ministers have also gone to foreign countries and those visits have not been included in this number. While arriving at this number we have counted a country as one, though there might have been multiple dialogues with them with all three of us or just one of us. If we count them separately as with the Prime Minister, EAM or MOS, the number comes to 162. But we have counted one country as only one and it has come to 101. So, all three of us have dialogues with 101 countries. We have included three things – our own visits, the foreign delegations that came here and we had dialogues with them, and there are multilateral forums also where on the sidelines we had one-on-one meetings. These are the three points that have been included in the visits and dialogues.
Now the question is, you have visited so many countries, you have had dialogues with so many countries, but what the country has benefited out of this? I would start with the neighbouring countries because this is the fundamental policy of a foreign policy as to what are your relations with your neighbouring countries. First of all, I would like to remind you that Bhutan was selected as the first destination as the Prime Minister’s first official visit abroad. There has never been any complexity, there has never been any dilemma so far as our relations with Bhutan are concerned, and we feel that is our very friendly nation. When the Prime Minister went there and he also announced a B2B initiative, then our friendly relations went up a notch higher and after that we had to decide as to what would be my first destination.
I chose Bangladesh as my first destination. When I visited Bangladesh there was an all-out demand from there. The implementation of Land Boundary Agreement was a big challenge in front of us. This has been pending for 41 years when Indira-Mujib agreement was there. Manmohan Singh and Sheikh Hasina Protocol was also lying pending. But I am really happy to mention that in the first year itself after assuming office, we have been successful in implementing this, and there has been a unanimous passage of this Bill in both the Houses of Parliament. This is also one coincidence that the Constitution Amendment that was passed was the 100th Amendment. So, in the form of 100th Amendment of the Constitution this has been registered in the Constitution that it was Indo-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement which has been ratified.
After that, the next neighbouring country is Nepal geographically and it takes only one and half hour’s flight to visit Nepal. But you would be really surprised to know that in the last 17 years no Prime Minister visited Nepal, and for the last 23 years no Foreign Affairs Minister has held a JCM meeting. But I am really happy to mention and share it with you that Prime Minister Narendra Modiji visited Nepal after 17 years and I myself went there after 23 years and held JCM, and their Foreign Minister also came here and held JCM. That means there were mutual visits. What was the outcome?
Do you know how many projects have been lying pending there for years and years? Hon. Prime Minister went there and he decided the timeline. And what was the time line? He gave us only 45 days. He said that within 45 days PTA should be signed, PDA should also be signed, and within 45 days Pancheshwar Development Authority should be set up. And I am really happy to mention to you that within 45 days we were able to do that. We did PDA, we did PTA. Apart from that there were two power projects of 900 MW each that was also done. As you have seen during Operation Maitri, India was the first country that provided assistance, not as a neighbour only but as a friendly nation also. In fact Operation Maitri was very successful.
After that is Sri Lanka. It is important to notice that on the 9th of January a new Government was formed there and nine days later Sri Lankan Foreign Minister came to India on his first official visit. And in February, three weeks later, Sri Lankan President Mr. Sirisena came to India. And in March, first I went to Sri Lanka and later our Prime Minister also visited Sri Lanka. This was only a period of three months from January to 14th March. Within these three months four visits took place – Sri Lankan Foreign Minister and President visited India and I and our Prime Minister also visited that country. So, what have been the achievements, what have been the outcomes? The civil and nuclear agreement was also signed with Sri Lanka and I feel this is the biggest achievement between the two countries.
After that, Maldives. The Maldives is a friendly neighbouring country. They had a power crisis. Our relations are so strong that I got a call at 10:30 at night that their only desalination plant had been burnt and they did not have any water. You would be surprised to know that I got a call at 10:30 at night, and at 7:30 in the morning we sent water under Operation Neer. After that, our ships and planes were going there to provide assistance. This is what happened with Maldives.
After that, Afghanistan. With Afghanistan also we have had close ties for years and years. A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in their interest and in our interest as well. President Karzai had a wish. He wanted to unfurl a big flag if it was presented by India. We told them and we gave it to them also, and I went there myself with the President Karzai to unfurl that big flag. After that, President Ghani came here and on the sidelines of SAARC also he met the Prime Minister. I think this is a big achievement, a big success in the manner that he assured us that whatever policy they have there in their country, he would make sure that nobody would be able to harm the interests of India. This was a big promise given by President Ghani to us.
You would be really surprised to know about Pakistan, because Pakistan is also a neighboring country, I would also like to say so far as a neighbour is concerned you discharge your duties but there can be a strain relations and despite that when it comes to India or Pakistan whenever there has been any crisis they have always stood by each other. I would like to cite two examples. Though the talks were suspended and relations were strained, when the Peshawar incident took place the first call was made by Modiji to Mr. Nawaz Sharif that we are with you in this hour of crisis.
When evacuation from Yemen was taking place, at that time also we saw that at the Hodeidah seaport there were three Pakistani nationals stranded and we evacuated them from there without any hesitation. Similarly, at Mukalla seaport there were eleven Indians stranded and they were evacuated by the Pakistanis and were brought to Karachi. It does not stop here. Mr. Nawaz through a special aircraft sent them to Delhi. This goes to show that though there have been crises, there have been some kind of talks, strained relations have been there and though some issues have been there which are still lying pending for solutions, wherever there has been any assistance required, on humanitarian grounds and as good neighbours also we have helped each other. These are neighbouring countries.
Now I would like to talk about some developed nations, first of all the USA. People had this feeling that in the relations between India and USA – whatever has been the history between Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi – maybe there is a baggage, but I was witness to that when there was the first meeting between Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi, in fact that baggage was not reflected anywhere. They warmly met there and in the discussions that took place after that they had such great equation. This is the result of that equation that at his request President Obama consented to become the Chief Guest on 26th January and come to India.
So far as the outcome is concerned I met Foreign Minister, Secretary Kerry, and met President Obama twice and the biggest achievement is our civil nuclear agreement which has been lying pending for years and years. Though it had taken place it was not operationalized. We tried to do that, we removed the obstacles in that and civil nuclear agreement has been now almost operationalized.
Now China. There have been talks between the two countries, there have been visits also. But for the first time it has happened that the Chinese President got public reception here and Indian Prime Minister got public reception in that country. As far as outcome is concerned I think there are two big achievements with China. One is, economically you know that there has been a big investment and promise has been made by China. But politically there has been big outcome that we always had goodie-goodie talks with them or maybe it was just a formality also. I could say that for the first time publically the Prime Minister has made this announcement that if we want to make the 21st century as Asia’s century, China will have to reconsider certain issues, whether it is the issue of stapled visa or land boundary agreement or hydrological data. For the first time the Chinese leadership has also agreed that they had a candid and frank discussion. This is a big achievement and this was in fact conveyed to the Chinese President and the Minister also in the formal as well as informal talks, and publically also announcements were made to this effect.
Now we come to Russia. Russia has been a time-tested friend. In the field of defence our relations have been that of a buyer and a seller. They were selling and we were buying. For the first time it has happened during this one year that these relations have changed. Now we have come to the stage of coproduction and it has been decided by Russia that they are going to produce here and they are also going to coproduce and are also going to transfer technology. This is a big thing. This has been admitted by Russia that they are going to have technology transfer and coproduction with us.
In this booklet that has just been unveiled here, this will be given to you, you will see that not only 101 countries but we have not left any country be untouched in Asia, North America, Europe, Latin America, Caribbean, Central Asia, West Asia, everywhere we have reach out.
In Africa we wanted to have a big meeting, the Indo-Africa Summit. The third Summit was to take place and we wanted that the Banjul formula can be given a go-by and we should invite all the 54 countries. So far under this formula only 17 African countries have been invited but we had decided that we are going to invite all the 54 countries. But unfortunately because of Ebola virus, this could not take place and we had WHO advisory that it should be postponed. So, we were compelled to postpone that. Even then we had engagement with 14 African countries. Now we have decided that in the month of October this year, from 26th to 30th October, we are going to have that Summit and the way we have decided that we are going to invite the Heads of States of all those 54 African countries.
As regards West Asia, there are six Gulf countries of which Emir of Qatar came here; Oman, Bahrain and UAE were visited by me; on the sidelines of G20 the Prime Minister had talks with the King of Saudi Arabia; and MOS had also visited Saudi Arabia. GCC Plus India grouping is also there and in that Foreign Ministers of all six Gulf countries and I had a discussion.
In West Asia, though Palestine and Israel are not having good relations themselves, the Prime Minister of Israel and our Prime Minister met on the United Nations sidelines, his Foreign Minister and I had a talk, and the Prime Minister of Palestine and I had discussions. That means we had engagement with both the countries, Israel and Palestine. About West Asia there is one thing that is really important. As you know, there was relief initiative in Yemen. Yemen and Saudi Arabia were at war with each other. There were more than 4,500 Indians stranded there. How to evacuate them? The air space was in control of Saudi Arabia and they had already declared it a no-fly zone; and the Yemen airport was under the control of Yemenis.
So, our Prime Minister talked to the King of Saudi Arabia that he should help us as we wanted to evacuate our people from there. The King told him, yes of course we are ready to help you, for three hours we will have a ceasefire and during that period of three hours you can evacuate your people. Every day we had ceasefire for three hours for six to seven days. We got this permission from Saudi Arabia to fly into their no-fly zone. Then, what to do about the airport? We had a talk with Yemen and told them that we have got three hours permission and there will be ceasefire so that we can evacuate our people, can you please open your airport so that we can rescue our people? They said, yes of course.
Just see the height of good relations. Those two countries were at war with each other but our goodwill with both these countries was such that one country decided to have a ceasefire and the other decided to open its airport. It is only because of that we could save 4500 Indians. And there were requests from other countries also and we evacuated those people also. Not just one or two countries, we got requests from 33 countries. We got formal requests from them for rescuing their people also. So from Yemen we evacuated people of 48 countries, and more than 4,500 Indians. In all, nearly 6,500 people were rescued from Yemen. We were able to evacuate so many people belonging to so many countries only because these two countries, in spite of being at war with each other, cooperated with us.
So far as Caribbean countries are concerned, for BRICS summit Prime Minister had gone to Fortaleza and he had discussions with Heads of State of about 12 countries. About this visit and dialogue there is another thing. The Prime Minister decided to visit those countries which were neglected earlier, like Fiji. For 33 years no Indian Prime Minister had visited Fiji and Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited that country. He also met the Heads of State of all the 12 countries. He just did not do it as a formality. In fact he invited them to come to India also. As I mentioned that the 54 countries of Africa are going to be invited, in August also all these 12 countries are being invited and we are going to have talks with them.
Then to Seychelles. For 28 years, no Indian Prime Minister visited that country but our Prime Minister Mr. Modi visited it. I am just telling you the scope, that we have covered so much. We covered Central Asia, we went to Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kirghizstan. There have been my engagements also. Now he is going to Ufa for the BRICS summit. So he is going to cover all these five countries. This will also be one record that any Indian Prime Minister is going to visit all these five countries together in one go. This is what I wanted to tell you that this is the foreign policy. It is so enhanced and it has a wider reach. And what has been the outcome? Our country has got so much, and in fact Look East policy has been converted into West also.
Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Republic of Korea – all these countries were also visited. You are aware also that Hon. Prime Minister had a very successful Japan visit. Our Prime Minister went to Australia and the Australian Prime Minister also came here. When you go through this booklet you will come to know. Visits, dialogues and outcome, on all these three parameters you would see that India’s foreign policy has been very substantially successful.
And then come the challenges. We have faced four big challenges in this one year. On the 26th of May we assumed office and on the 3rd of June there was the Ukraine crisis. There were thousands of students there and we could rescue one thousand Indian students. Twelve days later, the Iran crisis got aggravated and more than 7,000 Indians were evacuated from Iran. The Iraq crisis was also going on, and at the same time the Libyan crisis erupted and more than 3,000 Indians were rescued from there. I have just told you that more than 4,500 Indians were rescued from Yemen. All these four big challenges were there and these were successfully handled. A big change in the foreign policy has been there.
There have been domestic flagship programmes also. Apart from that, we have added diplomacy and we have given it a new mantra – Diplomacy for Development. Skill India, Make in India, Digital India, Urban Planning, Smart Cities, Ganga Rejuvenation – these are our flagship programmes. Never before for domestic programmes foreign policy has been used. In fact we have tried to balance diplomacy with development and we have given this big theme – diplomacy for growth also. Our Missions in different countries are working really hard for all these programmes. This is a big achievement. Diplomacy is being used to make all these flagship programmes successful.
There is another service under us and that is passport service. Since the day I have assumed office I was surprised to see that there was shortage of five lakh booklets. But within one month we removed that shortage and we also decided that at least we should have 10 million passport booklets ready. We should at least have this in stock and we never have faced any shortage after that. This year, 99,06,000 passports have been given. Every day we are seeing that there is improvement in this. From one year to the next year there has been a 17 per cent increase. Appointment dates for passports used to be 30 days, 50 days, 48 days and those were working days. Now it has come down to eight days to even days also. At some places it is still more, and we are organizing camps to make sure that this backlog is removed.
As regards passports we have also decided that we are going to have offices in all the North-Eastern States. Earlier, it was there in Guwahati. It is there now in Aizawl, in Manipur, and also in Sikkim it has been opened. In Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Tripura, in all these three States, we are going to have passport offices in the next six months. With that, passport offices will be there in all the North-Eastern States.
These are some salient features which I have just mentioned about our foreign policy. I have just detailed how we view our foreign policy and you tell us how you view that. Whatever questions you have, I am ready to take.
Official Spokesperson (Shri Vikas Swarup): With that I am going to open the floor for questions but just some ground rules please. Today, as you know, we have a full house. In fact, we have more than a full house. So please restrict yourself to not more than one question. We will have a total of about an hour worth of questions and answers. So everybody may not be able to get a chance. But I am noting down the show of hands.
External Affairs Minister: Take questions from all those who have raised hands.
Question (Maha Siddiqui, India Today): Madam, your work has been widely appreciated over the past one year. You have also been rated as the number one Minister by certain surveys. But over the last one year you have kept a very low profile. Is that how you intended to work or was that expected by the Prime Minister for all the Ministers and for you specifically?
External Affairs Minister: As regards the first part of your question which is about being number one, I think being number one, number two or three, this competition should not be there among teammates. The team works together, plays together. Rivalry is between rivals, not with teammates. When I look back I feel and find that all of my colleagues are working as number one and are giving their best.
Insofar your question on my keeping a low profile, I think that is low profile goes with my job. The Prime Minister has not put any limits on anyone and not on me either. You are getting this feeling because I have become the External Affairs Minister after being the LOP. Being the LOP I had to speak every day. That was my role there. But as External Affairs Minister it has been my feeling that the External Affairs Minister should not be speaking on domestic issues. Why one should not be speaking on that is because when the External Affairs Minister speaks, then their opinion is not treated as their personal or party’s opinion but as the country’s opinion. Therefore, I feel that an External Affairs Minister should not be speaking on domestic issues. Therefore, when we are faced with you I should be speaking at that time; otherwise, I should be maintaining a low profile. I had thought that I should maintain this low profile in the role that I have been given.
Question (Ashish Kumar Singh, ABP News): Madam, a short while back you talked about the visits and dialogues, and you mentioned about Peshawar. But Pakistan had instantly blamed us after the incident, and we have also seen observations made from our side, and there have been regular flip-flops in which you also played your role. You can also understand, Madam, there were several kinds of comments that were made? Do we have a Pakistan policy at all or not?
External Affairs Minister: We definitely have a policy and a very clear one at that. So far as making comments is concerned, we have three separate Ministries – Home Ministry, Defence Ministry and the External Affairs Ministry – and the three Ministers have their different roles. If there is firing on the border, then the Home Minister cannot keep silent. They have to take action, and they will speak a language that is required. And the Defence Ministry has the responsibility to safeguard the country. They have to maintain the safety and security of the country and they will make observations in that regard. So far as External Affairs Ministry is concerned, to look at the positives in the entire gamut of relationship is the responsibility of the External Affairs Minister. So, while I was speaking I mentioned about the positives in that.
So far as flip-flops are concerned, there are no flip-flops in the policy. On the very first day we decided on three parameters for discussion and dialogue. When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had come here to the swearing-in ceremony, he had a meeting the next day with our Hon. Prime Minister. I was present there. Since then we have been sticking to those three principles, whether it is the Foreign Secretary’s visit is concerned or other occasions. One is that we will resolve all issues through peaceful dialogue. We are prepared to do that. This is the first principle.
Secondly, the discussion, the dialogue will be between two countries – us and Pakistan – and no third party will be involved. This is the second principle that we follow. Thirdly, we will have discussion and dialogue in a peaceful atmosphere and through Shimla Agreement and Lahore Declaration. This has been clearly outlined, and there has been no deviation from this. We have been repeatedly telling Pakistan that these are the three principles based on which we will follow our foreign policy with them. There is no flip-flop here.
Question (Santosh Thakur, Dainik Bhaskar): Madam, you said that you were present there in the White House when Mr. Obama was ready to embrace Mr. Modi. But he also made observations with regard to minorities, religious minorities. How do you look at that comment?
External Affairs Minister: As far as religious tolerance is concerned, not only President Obama but if any person tries to teach religious tolerance to India, then perhaps they are not fully aware of Indian culture. We believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam, that is, the entire world is a village.
Question (Smriti Ramachandran, The Hindu): Madam, India has already announced e-visas for tourists from China. But is there any clarification from the Chinese side on the stapled visa issue?
External Affairs Minister: The first thing is that these two things are not co-related. E-visa is a different thing and stapled visa is a different thing. E-visa is not a concession. Let me clarify, it is not a concession. It is only meant to promote tourism for only 30 days and that too after proper verification. So far as staple visa is concerned, that issue remains unresolved. When the hon. Prime Minister visited, he had raised this issue during the discussions and I am hopeful that this issue will be resolved through discussion and dialogue.
Question (Manish Jha, India TV): Madam, there has been a lot of discussion about your Ministry being very active and you were working all the time. There was also discussion that the Prime Minister stays abroad most of the time, and the leaders from the Opposition have been saying that he goes to Mongolia but does not visit the farmers. There were jokes doing the rounds that the PM is visiting India. What would you say?
External Affairs Minister: I would say that the perception is wrong. It is the first year of the Hon. Prime Minister’s tenure, and he had this responsibility of visiting all the forums. And if you look at the other Prime Ministers’ tours, you will not find much of a difference. Otherwise, almost equal number of tours have been made by the other Prime Ministers. Therefore, this perception by itself is wrong.
Question (Zakka Jacob, CNN-IBN): Madam, my question is on China. In your first visit to China when you went there in January, you said the border problem needs an out-of-the-box solution. The Prime Minister was recently in China and we have not seen any out-of-the-box solution. The only thing that we have seen is the Prime Minister publically asking for a re-clarification of the LAC. I have two questions. One, what are these out-of-the-box ideas that you have? Two, what is the Chinese response to this re-clarification of the LAC?
External Affairs Minister: When I said out of the box, there is no timeline set for thinking out of the box. I did not say that this out-of-the-box solution came out in that meeting. This cannot be made public in the media. So far as out-of-the-box thinking is concerned, there is no timeline fixed for it, nor can it be announced in the media. Insof as what the Prime Minister has mentioned, it is a suggestion. They have listened to it, they will respond to it.
Question (Ranjana Narayan, IANS): Madam, you mentioned the evacuation of so many Indians from Iraq, Yemen and Libya. But the 39 Indians who are captured in Mosul are still there in Iraq. It has been a year and you have met the families and said you have more evidence that they are alive. But one of the persons who escaped said that they were shot while he was present. What is your response on that?
External Affairs Minister: So far as the 39 Indians are concerned, it is my constant endeavour. This is one person who has come back has been stating that they have been killed. But I have eight sources, not just one or two, who say they are still alive. These sources are not just something said by somebody. I have written information. I have also shared it with the Prime Minister, with the Minister from Punjab Harsimrat Kaur Badal also. When I have information from even one source saying that they are still alive, as External Affairs Minister what should be my duty? I have two options here. One is that I should trust what the person who has come from there, Harjeet Massi, and inform the country that they have been killed; or I must believe in what my sources are telling me and keep searching for them. What is in the interest of the families of these people?
This is the question that I had asked in the Parliament. Should I stop searching for them or should I continue looking for them? All the Members from both sides said unanimously that we must continue to search for these Indians. So, not only as a duty, I am doing it as my dharma. We discussed this with any Gulf country which could help us, and with all the countries that can help us. We have spoken to all the countries, not once but twice. Therefore, my search continues for these people. We will continue with this search rather than believing that they have been killed. We will not stop looking for them.
Question (Sachin, Times of India): Madam, I wanted to ask you about Pakistan but I guess that question has already been taken. So, I just want to ask question about West Asia. Why is there a perception that the Modi Government is sort of veering more towards Israel in its West Asia policy? In that context, could you talk to us a little about whether Prime Minister Modi is going to visit Israel sometime later this year or maybe early next year? And what about your own visit to Israel? I understand you have already given a commitment of visiting Israel this year.
External Affairs Minister: Let me tell you that this perception about West Asia, as I mentioned in my preliminary remarks, should have been dispelled. I mentioned about all countries of West Asia and particularly about Israel and Palestine. So far as my visit is concerned, I will be visiting Israel, Palestine and also Jordan. I am working on this package.
So far as the Prime Minister is concerned, he will also be visiting. Israel will also be visited. No dates have been fixed. When we arrive at mutually convenient dates, that too will be finalized. To say that we are tilted towards Israel or we are making any changes in our policy is wrong. I had a discussion with the Prime Minister there, with the delegation we held discussion, and I very clearly mentioned there that with regard to Palestine India’s foreign policy has not undergone any change. I participated in the NAM Committee on Palestine. The Envoy also visited here. I held discussions with them. We held discussions with the Prime Minister. Therefore, it would be wrong to say if somebody has this perception that our policy is tilted towards Israel. Israel is our ally country but we have never let down the Palestinian cause. We support the Palestinian cause and will continue.
Question (Trudy Harris, AFP): Just back on that China issue, the border issue. Are you confident that China is committed to resolving the issue given what is happening in the South China Sea where China is accused by many of its neighbours of expansionism and refusing to compromise?
External Affairs Minister: So far as the South China Sea is concerned, not only once or twice, on many occasions India has made its foreign policy clear. Our policy is that freedom of navigation and international trade should be free. We have also mentioned that these issues should be resolved peacefully through dialogue. Threat or use of threat is not proper in any form. Insofar as what you say that is China committed to resolve, that is not just related to South China Sea. If we do not resolve it, then how can the 21st century become the century of Asia? We are both committed to resolve this, not only China but both of us.
Question (Geeta Mohan, NewsX): Madam, you spoke about India’s policy towards Pakistan. With regard to 26/11 attack, Hafiz Saeed, terror, not much forward movement has been made. Instead of moving forward and trying to bring the perpetrators to book, what we see is that Pakistan is trying to stall India’s moves and actions even at the UN, through China this time around. What is India really going to do about it, and how is India going forward in terms of Syed Salahuddin, Hafiz Saeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and the actions that India wants towards them from the UN?
External Affairs Minister: As I mentioned, with regard to Pakistan there are three things, the third part of which was that we must have discussion without any violence or terror. When will we have that kind of atmosphere? It is when action is taken by Pakistan against these perpetrators. When Lakhvi is walking free, when he is released, if Pakistan believes that they have created an atmosphere which is acceptable, will India accept that? When you mentioned about Salahuddin that through China Pakistan is trying to stall this, I would like to mention that we have told China that we are not the only ones who are terror victims, China is also victim of that terror from the same source, therefore, while voting on this 1267 they must not have a narrow approach or parochial approach, and they must adopt a policy where we can all work together, along with that we can also take a decision. This is what the Indian leadership has conveyed to Chinese leadership.
Question (S.M. Asif, In Dinon): You mentioned that you had very cordial relationship with Iran and also with Turkey. Iran is an important issue and so is Turkey. Thirdly, you have visited Turkey, but when is the Prime Minister expected to visit Iran and Turkey?
External Affairs Minister: He will be visiting Turkey. G20 will be held in Turkey, that is when he will be visiting. So far as Iran is concerned, there will be a NAM meeting which will be held there and I will be attending that meeting. The Prime Minister’s schedule is not fixed. The calendar has to be drawn for the year. He will be visiting. And Nitin Gadkariji has visited recently with regard to Chabahar project.
Question (Manish Chand, India Writes): Madam Foreign Minister, you eloquently argued and explained to us that the first year of the Government was the year of transformational diplomacy. Looking ahead to the next year, where do you think the major action lies, the transformative action which you spoke about?
External Affairs Minister: I briefly mentioned about it. Let me once again say that our priority next year would be Africa. We have also fixed the dates, 26th October to 30th October. All countries of Africa – I would like to emphasize on this because earlier only 17 countries were invited – but this time we are going to invite all the 54 countries. So it is our biggest engagement not only for this year. In 1983 a meeting was held and after that no such meeting has been held in India. Whenever there was a BRICS meeting, five people visited; or if there was an ASEAN meeting, ten or eleven States visited. Delegations from 54 countries visiting, this will be happening for the first time since 1983. So that will be the biggest engagement with Africa this time.
Question (Asahi Shimbun): In this one year India has been strengthening bilateral cooperation especially in defence field with Japan, with the United States and Australia. I wonder if India is ready to have a multilateral framework in defence cooperation?
External Affairs Minister: India has bilateral relationships with Japan, US, Russia. But we do not have a proposal before us for a multilateral. The question you asked is whether we are ready to go for multilateral cooperation in the defence sector. But we can be prepared only when there is a proposal before us. There is no such proposal.
Question (Shubhojeet Roy, The Indian Express): Madam, what are the challenges you face as a Foreign Minister when you have a very proactive Prime Minister who has been leading on every single foreign policy move over the last one year?
External Affairs Minister: A proactive Prime Minister is a support, not a challenge. I take it as a support. A proactive Prime Minister is never a challenge, it is only a support.
Question (Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, The Economic Times): Madam, I just want to follow up on Ashish’s questions on Pakistan. Foreign Secretary is here. He was the last highest level official to visit Pakistan. What next now?
External Affairs Minister: As I mentioned to you, we have these three principles that we follow. No such engagement has been fixed but the principles are fixed. Whenever we engage with them, that will be within the ambit of these three principles.
Question (UNI): Madam, what is your assessment of threat to India from Al Qaeda and other West Asian extremist groups?
External Affairs Minister: If you talk about Al Qaeda and West Asia, you are dividing terrorism in geography. I would say that we cannot look at terrorism on that basis. A terrorist is a terrorist. There are no good or bad terrorists. There is no terrorist of West, there is no terrorist of South, and there is no terrorist of North. So we must have an outlook towards terrorism. Terrorists from West Asia or Al Qaeda we will have a separate outlook, that cannot be allowed. As we said, we must have an outlook towards terrorism that you know about. But we do not look at terrorism on geographical considerations.
Question: Madam, the prime Minister will be visiting Bangladesh on 6th and 7th June and there is news that the West Bengal Chief Minister will also be accompanying him. The Chief Minister had opted out last time some hours earlier. Is there any such possibility this time? About the Teesta Accord, Madam, what would you say?
External Affairs Minister: The first thing is that there is no such apprehension. What happened earlier will not happen. Ms. Mamta Banerjee is going to be present for the Land Boundary Agreement that we have with Bangladesh. For that she will be certainly going. We are going to visit about this land agreement, and there is no discussion about the Teesta agreement. Whatever discussion takes places, that will be done by taking Ms. Mamta Banerjee on board, by taking her suggestions. That will be decided later. But she is accompanying the Prime Minister, I can assure you.
Question: Madam, coming back to foreign policy with Pakistan, are you going to reengage with Pakistan soon? Are you planning any engagement with Pakistan?
External Affairs Minister: I think I have replied to that.
Question (Spiegel Online, Germany): Germany is one of your most important partners in Europe. Still, there is conflict between Germany and India regarding this programme of teaching German in Indian schools? What is the future of that project?
External Affairs Minister: We have sent a proposal for an MoU to Germany saying that we are ready to include German as an additional language, but in response they should Sanskrit or any other Modern Indian Language. Their response is awaited, but we have sent this proposal to Germany.
Question (Reema Sarma, DY365): Madam, you were talking about diplomacy in development and Act East Policy. Will this policy help in the development of the North-East which is a very poor region from the point of infrastructure? How will it regain? In the diplomatic policy with Banalgadesh, will Anup Chetia’s extradition be involved?
External Affairs Minister: So far as extradition of Anup Chetia is concerned, when the Prime Minister visits, that will be one of the discussion points. We will not talk about that now because that is a protracted process but we would like that he should be repatriated. Insofar as Act East and diplomacy in development are concerned, as you must have observed, our Act East policy is a proactive policy and if somebody will benefit, it will be the North-East. Whether it is connectivity or trade, North-East will be the biggest beneficiary.
Question: Sushmaji, what has changed on the ground that your Government has decided to play cricket with Pakistan, a move where your Ministry apparently was not even consulted? Is not your Government’s Pakistan policy confused and confusing? Is it not a case of putting horse’s lips on a mule’s face?
External Affairs Minister: I have already replied to the second part of your question. We are neither confused nor is there are any flip-flop. We have three simple principles that I have mentioned. And who informed you about this cricket thing? Who told you that it has been decided, that I have not been consulted? When was the decision taken? No decision has been taken? No decision at all has been taken?
Question (The Asian Age): Madam, there seems to be a perception that there is an excessive preoccupation with foreign policy that this Government is pursuing, and this is at the cost of domestic factors because of which the Opposition parties seem to be exploiting it. What is your take on this? Do not you feel that for a lasting impression of foreign policy, a country should be backed by hard economic and military power like what China has, which we seem to lack?
External Affairs Minister: I think that the question that you asked is one which is as if domestic things are apart and foreign policy something different. As I mentioned earlier, it is the first time that the foreign policy and domestic issues have been dovetailed. Even in economic policy, in all our economic programmes here we are taking along our foreign policy. And insofar as becoming military power is concerned, we are also holding discussion with them. We mentioned to Russia that there will be joint production and there will be technology transfer.
I have also mentioned about Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Smart Cities. These are the domestic programmes but these have been taken along with foreign policy. So foreign policy is promoting domestic issues whether it is with regard to economy or other things. So, we are only complementing that, we are not contradicting that. In the contradiction that you see is for the reason that foreign policy is also doing the same thing what the country wants.
Question (Subhash Chandra Badal, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha): Madam, 1.6 million people are eagerlu waiting for Narendra Modi. On the 6th of May, the whole Bangladesh will shout Shubhechha, Swagatam Narendra Modir Agomoni. Will any treaty be signed during the Prime Minister’s visit on water, rail and road connectivity?
External Affairs Minister: I think that it is only a matter of a few days. You wait for a week when the Prime Minister will be there on the 6th and 7th June. About the treaties that will be signed, you will be informed about them. The best thing would be that you go along. It is only a matter of one week. Please wait for one week.
Question (Shrinjoy Chowdhury, Times Now): Madam, first of all, you realize that POK is part of India and there are currently about 7,000 Chinese in POK largely because of this China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Yet, the Beijing appears to be telling us that if we want to have oil wells or if we are going to look for oil wells in the South China Sea we have to cooperate with the Chinese first. Now, how do you look at these two issues?
External Affairs Minister: So far as Pakistan-China Economic Corridor is concerned, whenever there is any action in POK we lodge our protest with their Ambassador, but we did not confine it to that this time. The Chinese Ambassador was summoned and a protest was lodged. But when the Prime Minister visited, he raised this emphatically this time. This China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which you mentioned is not acceptable to us. Insofar as the South China Sea is concerned, our commercial activity in South China Sea that is compatible with the international law and so these two things are not comparable because our policy is compatible with international law.
Question (Deshbandhu): Madam, you have talked about Bandung Conference and about that summit. On 60th anniversary also you had gone there and you made a speech about Panditji. Why did you do that?
External Affairs Minister: I think it was not Bandung Conference. I did not even give a speech in that. There only five persons were invited, not even the President of China was invited to speak on that. Only five members had spoken -Indonesian President, Myanmar President, Venezuela was given an Observer status and invited and its Vice President spoke there, the President of Zimbabwe and President of Malawi were invited. None of us spoke there at Bandung summit. I would like to tell you that if I had made a speech there, I would have started with Pandit Nehru only.
Question (Upadhyay, IBN7): Madam, in the last few days there have been two occasions where Pakistan said something which was unacceptable. He also levelled an allegation that we are sponsoring cross-border terrorism there. He also said that Dawood is not there in Pakistan. In fact these two statements were given after the statements that was made here. My question is, how are you going to reply to the allegations that have been there from Pakistan? Do we have any plan about Dawood or not?
External Affairs Minister: First of all, these allegations are baseless totally. Like you said that we gave a statement and this came after that. The MOS had made a statement and that was refuted also and that was clarified also by the Home Minister in the Parliament itself. He said that Dawood is there in Pakistan and we are going to pursue it and pressurize it that he should be extradited from there. As far as the plan is concerned, this cannot be openly said here in the media otherwise it will be difficult to implement that.
Question: Over the years the Minister of External Affairs or the Prime Ministers in the international capitals have been announcing the development aids to smaller countries. But the Outcome Budget of the Ministry of External Affairs tells us that these development aids goals are not being realized. Even in the case of Bhutan, power projects are pending, letters are flying between the External Affairs Ministry and the Planning Commission. It is happening in the case of other countries as well. Has there been now a revisit of these development plans? You mentioned about the Prime Minister’s visit to the Central Asia. I think there is a link to West, connect East and there is now Central Asia also. Tajikistan, particularly the Kulob Province of Tajikistan has reverence for the Muslims in Kashmir as for the rest of South Asian Muslims have for the Ajmer. Is there any plan to reconnect these two areas in the near future?
External Affairs Minister: So far as to reconnect Central Asia is concerned, you would be aware that this Chabahar project that has been signed with Iran will give us regional connectivity. For India, for Afghanistan, for Iran, and for the all Central Asian countries this will be a big connectivity. About the grants that you have mentioned, I would like to tell you that personally I have monitored all the grants and all the LoCs that are there. Three meetings have been convened by me. Most of what you have said have been highlighted in that presentation which were kept before me. So we are reviewing the LoC guidelines, the grants and the projects are going on. We are also monitoring them whether these are transparently implemented and we are going to monitor that. We will ensure that no project is suspended and there is transparency. I am monitoring that personally.
Question (K.V. Prasad, The Tribune): There have been reports in Indian press of students joining ISIS and coming back. What is the level at which this problem is being looked at seriously by the Ministry?
External Affairs Minister: …(Inaudible)… MHA. There has been a ban put on on ISIS. Whatever is done with a banned organization, we will do that.
Question (Swamy, Malaysian News Agency): Madam, you mentioned so many countries but you missed out the ASEAN region. I just want to know, in view of the India-ASEAN Summit in November, how you consider ASEAN as very crucial for Indian relationship.
External Affairs Minister: I did not miss out ASEAN. I spoke about Singapore, Myanmar, ROK. I have mentioned all these ASEAN countries. Whatever contact was there, I discussed that also. So far as Malaysia is concerned, I would like to tell, and you would be happy to know, that this time the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN-India Summit are going to be held in Malaysia. That is why Prime Minister is going to visit Malaysia, for both these summits.
Question (Basu, Business Standard): Madam, you spoke about transformational diplomacy, digital diplomacy and various other diplomacies. I want to understand your focus on economic diplomacy. We have seen all the visits that have been undertaken by the Prime Minister, be it to the US or China, and we have been struck with some massive investment figures. But we are yet to see those investments coming in shape. I want to understand form you, as far as US and China are concerned, what are going to your economic goals. In China, on industrial parks we have seen nothing. US continues to bash us up as far as IPR, trade agreements, WTO is concerned. Your take on that please.
External Affairs Minister: As far as economic diplomacy is concerned, diplomacy for development and economic diplomacy are not two separate things. We have already made it our goal and this is the goal of the conference. So this is for economic diplomacy. When we see that there is growth in terms of economy, this is our theme – Diplomacy for Development. So, economic diplomacy is also nothing separate. When you talked about what we are going to do in respect of certain countries, this booklet will give you an insight into what we are going to do. I cannot give you the details about all the countries in this small conference. As I mentioned earlier, whatever main goals are there, Make in India, Skill India, Digital India, Smart Cities, Ganga Rejuvenation, these are our flagship programmes, these are our goals. All these can be covered. All the countries as per their strengths have chosen these goals. If I have to tell you what has been chosen by US or China, it would not be possible for me to give you all the details. If you go through this booklet, you will get to know about all the details.
Question (Douglas, Reuters): You mentioned outcomes. Thinking back to President Obama’s visit, both leaders talked about a breakthrough understanding on civil nuclear cooperation. But it is obvious there are still needed some things worked out to make this a basis for actual projects to go ahead. So, could you please update us on progress towards this?
External Affairs Minister: After President Obama left, on the civil nuclear agreement first of all administrative arrangements were concluded. Not only with US, with France also we have had transfer technology agreement and that was concluded. With Canada also, uranium supply arrangement was concluded. With Sri Lanka, civil nuclear agreement took place. With Australia and Japan things have been taken forward a lot. First of all, the insurance pool meeting also took place and in that the insurance companies, especially those companies who want to make reactors or who want to set up the companies for reactors, also want to include. Now only the commercial dialogue is left and we are ready to have this dialogue.
Question (Akhilesh Suman, Rajya Sabha TV): Madam, you have just said that 101 countries have been visited either by you or by MOS or the Prime Minister. On the whole, all the political leaders you have met and you have met the business leaders also, and the main objective was what should be done under Make in India or for development, FDI should be there. Would you like to tell the people of the country as to what is the net result, the outcome?
External Affairs Minister: Yes, I would surely I would tell you. The Prime Minister had already given this information. On the 27th of this month he has given this data that from till last year. Now there has been an increase of 39 per cent as far as FDI is concerned. This is the outcome of all those visits and dialogues. There has been an increase of 39 per cent in one year.
Question (Savitri, Asianet News): Madam, this is regarding the immigration clearance of nurses who are waiting to fly abroad. Actually I am from Kerala. There are a lot of nurses who are waiting to go abroad. There are a lot of nurses who have got visa just before this order is notified but could not fly, and also the State Government agencies have not reached any agreement with these 18 nations. Is there any action which is decided by the Ministry?
External Affairs Minister: Just three days back I had called a meeting of all the Ministers. The Minister from your State had also come. I said it and in fact they changed the deadline, and it was 31st. Today it is going to come to an end. After that I said, and if we take it on case-to-case basis that the recruitment agents had recruited them earlier only and they had already had the demands from foreign agencies. But we had to have some cut-off date that after that only they will go from the side of the Government. There was so much exploitation so far as the recruitment of nurses is concerned, especially in Kuwait, and in fact they were asked to give Rs 25 lakh. After that, when they go there, they are widely exploited. That is why found a way out of this and it has been really commended by the Government and Nurses Associations. They have hugely appreciated that this kind of bold decision can only be taken by us. We had extended the deadline till 31st of May. From now onwards, it is going to be done on case-to-case basis. We will monitor all the cases. Whatever recruitment takes place, that will be done on part of the Government. This is just to check the exploitation. It is in the interest of the nurses only.
Question (Smita Sharma, India Today & Aaj Tak): Madam, ever since the BJP-PDP Government has been formed, in the last few weeks itself we have seen the separatists’ rallies where not just in the hard-line factions but even in the moderate factions of Mirwaiz Omar Farrukh itself Pakistani flags have been waved, Pakistani slogans raised. Do you think the anti-India mood is now more dominant on the ground ever since your Government was formed, you have possibly given a shot in the arm to the separatists?
If you say that the External Affairs Minister should have a low profile, were the earlier External Affairs Ministers Yashwant Sinhaji or Pranab Mukherjee wrong in their approach?
External Affairs Minister: They were all low profile people. You ask them. All of them were low profile. They all maintained low profile. They were not high profile Ministers. Insofar as your question with regard to Jammu & Kashmir is concerned, it is incorrect to say that there is anti-India mood there. In the rallies that are being organized there, in this regard when Najma Heptullahji returned from there she yesterday informed me that when it comes to raising Pakistani flags, people are opposing it there. And the Home Minister has also replied to this. There is no anti-India mood there. For the first time after this Government assumed office that people feel that there is a mandate that Hindus and Muslims can come together to form a Government and the BJP-PDP Government has proved this.
Question: Madam, 365 days and 162 engagements as you mentioned, 101 countries. If you look at the history of India this has not been witnessed in history earlier and the visits, the dialogue and the outcomes that you mentioned in this regard, we have 12 flagship programmes of the Prime Minister. Several questions were raised in this regard? So, how much have we benefited so far as trade is concerned? Do you have a figure in billions of dollars or rupees? Secondly, the Congress leader Mr. Rahul Gandhi or other people have been saying that the Prime Minister should sometimes visit India as well.
External Affairs Minister: Insofar as the figure is concerned, I had given you the figure that is 39 per cent increase. If you want the exact figure, it is USD 28.18 billion, that is the FDI that has been attracted and for the same period last year. How much is 28 crore? It is USD 28.18 billion. That is the worth FDI that has been attracted. In per centage terms, it is 39 per cent increase and from April to February and this is the comparison that I have given. Insofar as what you are saying that he stays abroad, what is your opinion on that? To say that he lives abroad or he stays abroad, whether it is based on facts? As I mentioned, if you compare with earlier Prime Ministers, there will hardly be a difference. The 101 nations that the Prime Minister visited, he did not do it alone. The Prime Minister, the External Affairs Minister and the External Affairs Minister of State- they have together done it, and these are not just visits. The Prime Minister has visited 18 countries, I have visited 21 countries and my MOS has visited 17 countries and the engagements like in 21 countries that I visited, if the 36 countries External Affairs Ministers visited here. As I mentioned earlier, when we counted 101 countries, all three of us have visits and engagements with them on multilateral forums have been taken into account while counting these countries. So, to say that the Prime Minister has come to India or he stays abroad is not based on facts. He has visited 18 countries in one year. So, to say that he lives abroad and does not come to the country is only for the sake of make a charge.
Question: Madam, you said that your Government policy is set visits, dialogues and outcomes. On Sri Lanka issue, as new Government, you said within three months you said four visits? What is the outcome? You also said your Government has transparency. On Sri Lanka issue, there is no transparency. Secondly, how much is the cooperation from the State Government on this dialogue over fishermen? There is many oil gas explorers in Sri Lanka. In Rajpakshe Government, there were a lot of agreements cancelled with India. So, now they switched over to China. Can you tell us about that?
External Affairs Minister: Insofar as Sri Lanka there is no transparency, there is no basis of this charge. If in three months time, there have been four visits, then we want a transparent relationship. That is why these visits have been made as far as fishermen are concerned. There was a joint meeting with fishermen from both the sides and our fishermen had given a proposal to them which they rejected but with regard to fishermen issue, our thinking is that this is a livelihood issue. From both sides, the fishermen come to the sea. Sri Lankan fishermen come to Indian waters and Indian fishermen go to the Sri Lankan waters and they get arrested. So, we are going to discuss this with the Sri Lankan Government that this is a livelihood issue and it can be solved only through a humanitarian approach? Sometimes, provocative statements are made from their side. So we are going to make it clear to them that these provocative statements only vitiate the atmosphere. So we must only discuss it with the viewpoint that this is a livelihood related issue and this can be solved only through a humanitarian approach.
Question: Madam, you are candid when you say that this Teesta Agreement will not be signed at this time. Prime Minister is going and whatever is done, it will be taken with the consent of Mamta Banerjee. Madam, there is a tremendous expectations in Bangladesh about this visit. There has been a consisting demand of not only Teesta but all 54 rivers which have flown to Bangladesh through India-the joint river management as the joint river basin management? What is your view on this demand?
External Affairs Minister: So far as the first question is concerned that I mentioned candidly that the Teesta Agreement will not take place, I said this because I know the facts. We have not reached a state where some consensus has been arrived at. It is not just about the Indian Government and the Government of Bangladesh but the State Government will also have to be taken on board. Without their consultation, we will not be able to arrive at this. It is not just about Teesta, but we have to decide about 54 rivers. The Water Resources Minister has held discussions with regard to other 54 rivers but Teesta is the biggest issue and we also have to discuss about other rivers. I mentioned that we will not be discussing that.
Question: I have two questions for you?
External Affairs Minister: You decide which one would you like to ask? You could have asked two questions rather than (end of file 11)
Rather than asking if you could ask two questions. Now that you have asked that you will be asking two questions, you have got this diktat. I will leave it to them.
Question: (…INAUDIBLE..) but just a little clarification, but the second point that you said the second deadline is, it has to be a bilateral conversation. There is confusion whether we are okay if they talk to separatists. Is there certain time line as to if they talk before the meeting or after the meeting, or if it is a public affairs or not, if it is an event or not. What is our line as far as Pakistan talking to separatists is concerned. Secondly, Mohd. Nasheed in the Maldives has been arrested in February. What is India’s stand? Is India doing anything? Can you share any details?
External Affairs Minister: I will reply both the parts. Insofar as what you say about the second principle that is the discussion, will be between the two countries. I mentioned it with regard to the dialogue. The question arises when the discussion was given up or suspended. When the Hurriyat people visited here and whenever the Pakistnai leaders would visit here, they would ask for time to meet them. It was suspended this time because the High Commissioner invited them. They had not sought time and invited them when the meeting was to take place just after four days and therefore we mentioned that when there was going to be a meeting with the Government after four days when everything had been decided upon, then why is it that you are calling them four days before that and you are trying to make them a party to the discussion? This is why the talks were suspended. So, the question whether this is a public affair or a private affair is not the issue. We do not want a third element or its participation in this discussion. This is what the Simla Agreement says.
So far as the Maldives is concerned, the Maldives is a neighbour country and a friendly country but the incidents that are taking place there are not in their own interest. That is why our suggestion to them would be, the sooner they resolve it and in a peaceful manner, that will be in their own interest.
Question: My question is regarding the European Union. Right now, the relations with European Union are not going very well. I would like to know if there are any developments and how the question of Italian marines is affecting the relations. Is there some development about the issue?
External Affairs Minister: So far as EU is concerned, two major countries of the EU-with France and Germany I have held meetings. The Prime Minister visited these two countries-France and Germany. I met the French External Affairs Minister. So far as EU is concerned, as you mentioned that our relationships are not very good, if you look at the yesterday’s newspaper, EU has specially invited Prime Minister Modi and that makes it clear that there is a special invite from the EU. So far as the marines’ issue is concerned, we have repeatedly conveyed to Italy, you please join us in judicial process. The matter is sub judice. So far, they have not even joined the judicial process. If they join our judicial process, things can move forward.
Question: Madam, India recently have appointed their president of the new BRICS development bank. Could you share some more progress of your Government on BRICS destination and your expectation from the upcoming BRICS summit in Russia?
External Affairs Minister: So far as BRICS is concerned, the most important thing is that when the BRICS development bank was set up, the venue was decided upon Shanghai where it was to be set up and India was granted the first presidency. We have the presidency and Mr. K.V. Kamath has been deployed there. He is a renowned person and he has a lot of experience in banking. So, the most important thing is that India has been entrusted with setting up this bank and Mr. Kamath will set it up very well so that it works as a good bank later on. So far as expectation from BRICS is concerned, it is a very good grouping which is influential and effective. It includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. This is a very effective grouping and these things will be decided upon. I do not wish to mention separately about BRICS but I can say that there are few such effective groupings. The number of countries is low but they are working very effectively.
Question: Madam, you have talked about all the achievements of the first year. Please tell about the one achievement that you find most satisfying and one thing that you regret you could not complete.
External Affairs Minister: I have enumerated so many achievements and they have also been mentioned in the booklet. The achievement that has given me satisfaction is that the country feels today that India has a strong and stable Government the world listens to and the Indians living abroad have this hope that there is a sensitive Government that has taken over and there is a Government which looks after their interest. This is one achievement that gives me most satisfaction. So far as regret is concerned, I have this regret that from Iraq, from Libya, from Yemen, from Ukraine, I was able to evacuate so many Indians but those 39 Indians are still there and I think I will be able to bring them back very soon.
Question: Madam, I have seen you as an effective leader as the LoP and now you are a low profile External Affairs Minister? I want to know, what is the secret of this low profile External Affairs Minister?
External Affairs Minister: The secret of the success is, keep away from the media and keep doing what you are entrusted to do. Keep away from media and do your work.
Official Spokesperson: On that note, I think we will call an end to the Press Conference. (end..)