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Briefing Points by MEA Official Spokesperson on GOI's assistance to Pakistan for earthquake relief and EAM's visit to Moscow

New Delhi
October 27, 2005 

Official Spokesperson: Good Evening. There are number of issues this evening

First, I would like to announce that the Government of India has offered an assistance of USD 25 million to Pakistan for relief and rehabilitation of earthquake victims. This was announced by Shri Oscar Fernandes, Minister of State for Statistics and Programme implementation who represented India in a meeting for earthquake relief to Pakistan organized by the UN Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs at Geneva. The Government of Pakistan would be welcome to use this contribution for rebuilding homes and rehabilitating people, reconstructing the infrastructure and restoring essential services. It may also procure supplies of building material such as cement, steel and other items from India. The Indian technology for prefabricated earthquake resistant shelters will be also be made available for Pakistan.

You already have seen the ceremony this morning of signing of MOU between India and the African Union on a Pan African Network.

External Affairs Minister is in Moscow, as you know, and after the bilateral discussions on the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission he has been attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Meeting, of which India is an Observer. His Statement at the SCO meeting is available as well as his speech which he delivered at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

On the margins of the SCO, External Affairs Minister has had some very important bilateral discussions. He met the Vice President of Iran Mr. Pervez Dawoodi yesterday evening. This was a very friendly and cordial meeting in which the Iranian Vice President attached great importance not just to economic cooperation between India and Iran but also to the civilisational and cultural links that bind the two countries together. He also mentioned that the current volume of bilateral trade does not reflect the true potential that exists in the relationship.

External Affairs Minister reciprocated these sentiments and reiterated India’s keen desire to promote long term energy cooperation with Iran. On the Iran nuclear issue, the External Affairs Minister emphasized that India would wish to avoid any reference to the UN Security Council and that the matter should be amicably resolved within the purview of the IAEA itself. The Minister also indicated that India was working closely with Russia and China as well as the EU-3 in order to promote a mutually acceptable solution to this issue before the meeting of the Board of Governors of the IAEA in November. The Vice President of Iran appreciated India’s position in this regard.

External Affairs Minister also met Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last evening. It was a very cordial and friendly meeting in which they recalled the progress achieved during Premier Wen’s landmark visit (to India) in April this year, and appreciated the momentum that has been maintained in our bilateral relations since then.

Premier Wen emphasized the importance of the long term significance of strategic cooperation that has been established between India and China and said that we should persevere with the vision that has been set out by the leadership of the two countries. The two sides also reviewed the progress achieved in the talks recently between the Special Representatives on the boundary issue. The Chinese premier said that it was important that the two countries continue their strategic dialogue as well as the talks on the boundary issue and nothing should be allowed to come in the way of friendly relations between the two countries which have a significance far greater than that of bilateral relations.

The Chinese Premier recalled that when he was leaving Delhi our Prime Minister had said that the two countries on that day had begun to make history. External Affairs Minister responded by reminding the Chinese Premier that when the two leaders shook hands at the start of their meeting the Chinese Premier had then remarked that this was a handshake that was being watched closely round the world.

This will give you a flavor of the kind of discussions that were held yesterday.

Earlier in our afternoon and their morning today External Affairs Minister had one hour fifteen minute call on President Putin of Russia. This also included a tête-à-tête between External Affairs Minister and President Putin and also delegation level call (talks). Besides an overall review of bilateral relations multilateral cooperation as well as international issues, the two sides also discussed the forthcoming visit of Raksha Mantriji to Moscow as well as that of Prime Minister in December this year. They reviewed positively the results of India-Russia Inter Governmental Commission as well as the defence relations between the two countries. They also reviewed the cooperation particularly in the energy sector and said that at the political level doors were fully open for such cooperation. They also discussed the possible utilization of Rupee Debt for Russian investments in India. The Meeting was held at President Putin’s Dacha at Nova-Ogarevo in the country.

We also have a press release out of our Embassy in Tehran which marked today the first ‘Indian Remembrance Day’ at a ceremony which paid homage to the memory of 3,462 members of the Indian Armed Forces who laid down their lives in the course of duty while serving in the Iran sector in the First and Second World Wars and who have been commemorated at the Tehran Commonwealth War Cemetery. 

Question: The Iranian President yesterday went on record that Israel should be wiped out of the map. Do you have a comment, are you concerned or…
Answer: We have diplomatic relations with Israel. We recognized Israel decades ago.

Question: You have nothing to say on the Iranian President’s…
Answer: I have said what I have to say.

Question: Did Mr. Natwar Singh have a meeting with the Pakistani Prime Minister Mr. Shaukat Aziz in Moscow?
Answer: So far I have no indication of such a meeting.

Question: India wants to become a member of the SCO, China is opposed to the move. Was there any progress on it?
Answer: India has just been admitted as an Observer of the SCO and we are attending on that basis.

Question: Did Mr. Natwar Singh raise with the Chinese Premier their offer to help against the Maoists?
Answer: I do not know about this offer that you are…I have only seen news reports on that. So, I have no idea when this offer was made, what (offer) has been made. From the read out that I have this matter has not been discussed.

Question: Do you have anything on this Chinese offer…
Answer: No.

Question: The State Department’s Spokesperson has said yesterday that before any agreement is presented to the Congress, India needs to take steps to separate its civilian and military nuclear programs. Do you have anything to say?
Answer: I think this matter we have recently discussed fairly thoroughly at the joint press conference between the Foreign Secretary and Mr. Burns. As you know there is a working group which has been setup and is working out the means of implementing the July 18 agreement.

Question: Some Congressmen have yesterday asked for transparency on the deal. The Chairman of the International Relations Committee has said things about transparency. Does that worry you?
Answer: Well, that is a demand that they have made upon the US Administration. So, that question should be addressed to the US Administration.

Thank You