May 31, 2020
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MEA Briefing

'We Will Cross The Bridge When We Come To It'

The MEA official spokesperson on the resolution on Sri Lanka, the provisions of the Vienna Convention and being bound by the directives of the SC on the Italian ambassador

'We Will Cross The Bridge When We Come To It'
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Transcript of the weekly media briefing by the official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin:

Syed Akbaruddin: I just have an announcement to make and that is about the visit of President Morsi to India. He will be arriving late this evening. And we have provided you the details of his activities here in Delhi. My understanding is now that the delegation, since we last briefed, has further increased and there are now six ministers who are accompanying him. along with another official who is equivalent to minister. So we have approximately seven senior Minister level officials who are accompanying President Morsi, who will be arriving later tonight in Delhi. I do not have any other announcements to make, but if you are interested in any other issues that you may want to ask me about I am willing to answer.

We are told that the Italians served a note verbale on 15th March saying that they have diplomatic immunity and the court order of 14th March cannot be executed on them. What was, if you replied to it, your reply?

I think first of all, the terminology that you used perhaps is not the correct one to say--"served". A note-verbale is an ordinary means of communication between two governments. So yes, we did receive a note-verbale from the ministry of foreign affairs of Italy on the 15th through our Mission in Rome and that note-verbale drew our attention to the provisions of the Vienna Convention regarding diplomatic agents. And, of course, we are conscious of the provisions of the Vienna Convention and our obligations under the Vienna Convention, but we are also bound by the directions of the honourable Supreme court on this matter and we have made it clear to them.

Has the government decided, which way to go in Geneva, because verdict comes up on Thursday? Thank You.

Syed Akbaruddin: My understanding of the situation in Geneva is that the resolution in its final form will be available late this evening, Geneva time. And I also understand that the foreign secretary has asked our Ambassador or the Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Mr. Dilip Sinha to come over to Delhi tomorrow so that we can have consultations on matter. As this is an important matter for us and he will be able to brief to senior officials of the government on what are the ground level realities in Geneva and the latest position on that. So the call will only be taken subsequent to the availability of the resolution and the arrival of the Ambassador here for consultations with senior officials in the Ministry of External Affairs.

How does the Ministry of External Affairs see the use of the word "genocide" in any potential resolution and also the demand for an international probe?

Syed Akbaruddin:  I think there is a very well used idiom in English that we will cross the bridge when we come to it. There is no resolution as of now which is available to us. So what you say is only something that you are speculating about. We haven't seen the final format of that resolution and it is only going to available, as I said, later tonight, Geneva local time. Our assessment about it will be communicated by Ambassador Dilip sinha when he comes here to New Delhi tomorrow.

In view of many voices coming from European Union that (inaudible). How do you see possibility of a more diplomatic and a legal action. Is there a possibility of Joint investigation coming soon or some kind of out of Court Settlement. How realistic it can be?

Syed Akbaruddin: I think you are aware of the developments today at the Supreme Court. And we, as officers of the Govt. of India, are bound by the directives of the court on this matter. And we will abide by them. So at this stage, we will take it when the court discusses this next. My understanding of that, is now that it is on April 2.

We asked the Ambassador designate not to go to Rome right now. So are there any further diplomatic steps that would be taken between you while Supreme Court process on here?

Syed Akbaruddin: I think we did mention that there's underway a study of the entire expanse of our relationship with Italy following the Prime Minister's statement in Parliament that you are all aware of and that study, when it is completed, will provide us a variety of suggestions and its only then we will consider various matters based on what the study provides as recommendations and suggestions on the entire expanse of our relations. At this stage that's not yet ready.

When is the Prime Minister finally going to Japan?

Syed Akbaruddin: As you are aware, it is always best to finalize dates before we make such announcements. At this stage, there has not even been an advance team which goes and make preparations. So I think it would be premature on my part to make any suggestions or references to such visit. Yes, the Prime Minister is keen since he could not undertake that visit in November last due to domestic developments in Japan and we hope that he will be able undertake the visit at the earliest possible opportunity which in convenient to both Japan and India.

This news coming from abroad of contacts and discussions going on between India and Italy at diplomatic level. Can you say something more or you are not aware at all of the existence of this kind of discursion and secondly are you aware that our Ambassador is also accredited in Nepal and that he could go to Kathmandu tomorrow?

Syed Akbaruddin:  I am aware of the concurrent jurisdiction of the Ambassador of Italy in India. That said, may be I'll use the same idiom now—let us cross the bridge when we come to it. Let us not be speculative and think of hypothetical situations. If you have some information that he is going tomorrow, he has not communicated that as of this moment to the Ministry of External Affairs.

Sir, could you tell us if we have approached the UK for information on the Augusta-Westland investigations there, because we've signed a deal with them. Have they responded to us till now?

Syed Akbaruddin: I think I'm not aware of developments recently. But yes, we had approached UK previously and at that stage they had indicated in a preliminary manner that they would await the outcome of the investigations which are underway in Italy. Subsequent to that their Prime Minister was here and this was raised by our Prime Minister quiet strongly. And there is on record, his response, about UK's willingness to be very transparent about these things. Since then, we've not had any further diplomatic level information exchange on that matter.

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