Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting the United States this week to attend first QUAD in-person meet and address the UNGA. PM Modi will be in the United States from September 22 till September 25, during which he will also meet President Joe Biden, marking first in-person meeting between the two leaders.
PM Modi will also participate in Quad talks with Australia, Japan and the US, discuss the Afghan crisis, COVID, climate crisis and more. Ahead of the official visit of PM Modi, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla hosted a special briefing on Tuesday.
Here's the complete transcript of Shringla's special briefing.
PM Modi's visit to USA: Foreign Secretary's special briefing
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: A very good afternoon to all of you here. Thank you very much for joining us today for this special media briefing on the eve of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi's visit to the United States of America to Washington in New York in particular, for the various engagements that he has here. To give you a sense of what the contours of the visit are and what we are looking at. We have the special privilege here today of having Foreign Secretary Shri Harsh Vardhan Shringla sir here with us. Also joining us here Joint Secretary of the Head of America's division, Mrs. Vani Rao. Thank you, both of you for being here. We will begin with some comments from Foreign Secretary sir and then perhaps we'll take a few questions. I must confess there is some time constraints so try to be a little short on the questions but for the moment sir, floor is yourself.
Shri Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary: Namaskar and Good Afternoon to all our friends. As you're aware, Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi will pay an official working visit to the United States of America from the 22nd to the 25th of September. Prime Minister will leave New Delhi tomorrow morning and return to India on the 26th of September. This will be the Prime Minister's first visit abroad, beyond the neighbourhood. You would recall that the Prime Minister had made a brief visit to Bangladesh in March this year and this is as I said his first visit since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prime Minister will be accompanied by a high-level delegation, consisting of the External Affairs Minister, the National Security Adviser, senior officials, including myself. The main elements of the programme are bilateral meetings with the US leadership, participation the QUAD Leaders' Summit, address at the UN General Assembly and business interactions. One of the highlights of the visit is the Prime Minister's meeting with the US President, President Joe Biden in the White House. You are undoubtedly aware that this would be the Prime Minister's first in-person meeting with President Biden. I think it is important to make it clear that the Prime Minister has met President Biden in his earlier capacity as Vice President, but this is the first in-person meeting as President of the United States of America. President Biden, of course, in 2014, when the Prime Minister made his first visit to the United States after resuming office, had hosted him to lunch. In 2016 when the Prime Minister addressed a joint session of the US Congress, it was President Biden in his capacity as Vice President who had presided over that session. The leaders have been in regular contact in recent months. It was in November that the Prime Minister called to congratulate President Biden in his electoral victory. Since then, they've spoken in February and April this year. The Prime Minister has also participated in three major conferences and summits with President Biden as a participant. These were the QUAD leaders' Summit, which was virtually held in March last year, this year. This is also the Climate Leaders' Summit, which President Biden has hosted, both these summits are hosted by President Biden. But they also participated in the G7 summit, the Prime Minister attended virtually in Cornwall in the UK.
The Prime Minister will participate in the COVID-19 Global summit hosted by President Biden tomorrow. So there is another conference before the actual meeting. At their bilateral meeting on the 24th of September the Prime Minister and President Biden will review the robust and multifaceted India-US bilateral relationship. They will also discuss how the Comprehensive Strategic Global Partnership between our two countries can be enriched further. The two leaders are expected to discuss how to bolster a bilateral trade and investment ties, strengthen defence and security collaboration, boost the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership, explore new avenues and emerging technologies, including through R&D, innovation and industry linkages. The bilateral meeting will also feature current regional security situation following recent developments in Afghanistan, our stakes as a neighbour and a long standing and preferred development partner of the people of Afghanistan. In this context, we would undoubtedly discuss the need to stem radicalism, extremism, cross border terrorism, and the dismantling of global terrorist networks. They will also discuss the reform of the multilateral system including the UN Security Council. The Indian diaspora in the United States, which consists of about 4.2 million people is a very important factor in the relationship. They play a major role and have been a pillar of support in strengthening the relationship. It is expected that the Prime Minister will highlight the importance of people to people ties between the two nations and the potential of enhancing these ties further, especially through higher education, linkages and mobility. We appreciate the facilitation that has been provided by the United States in helping Indian students travel to the US for the beginning of their term. The importance of smooth post COVID travel especially for students is also an important factor and is expected to be discussed. Owing to the prevailing COVID situation in the US, you know that the US is currently having about 145,000 cases a day. The US government has imposed a number of restrictions and limitations on gatherings. The programme has been drawn up keeping these constraints and restrictions in mind.
The Prime Minister's bilateral engagements include a meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris, this will be the Prime Minister's first formal interaction with the Vice President. It would be recalled that the Prime Minister and Vice President Harris spoke on the telephone in June this year. The Vice President had offered to prioritise India, in making US vaccines available in the wake of the COVID situation at that time in India. At their meeting at the White House, the Prime Minister and Vice President Harris are expected to exchange views on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest. I did mentioned that the Prime Minister would be having some business level interactions with the objective of strengthening two way trade and investments. The US is a very large investor in India, there are a lot of companies that have not only invested significantly in India, but also have the potential to invest either in terms of new investments or expand their existing investments in India. In that context, the Prime Minister will have few meetings with select CEOs of leading US companies.
Now on the QUAD summit, you know, as I mentioned, this is the first time that there would be an in-person QUAD summit. This would be on the 24th of September, held at the White House. Prime Minister will join Prime Minister Morrison, Prime Minister Suga and President Biden for the summit. As you recall, the Prime Minister participated in the virtual QUAD summit in March convened by President Biden. This is the first plurilateral engagement of President Biden. It signalled the priority that his administration accorded to the QUAD and it was also the first meeting of QUAD leaders and meet virtually. We see the QUAD is a partnership among four like minded countries, in the pursuit of common interests in striving for a free open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. At the summit in March, the leaders had announced a broad array of initiatives including on vaccines, infrastructure, emerging technologies and climate change. The four leaders will share views and perspectives on the regional situation and the emerging challenges including in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific region on how to work together to contain COVID-19, evolve a common approach to emerging technologies and a means of addressing climate change. The leaders will take stock of progress made since the March summit especially in the COVID-19 vaccine partnership, they will identify new areas of cooperation that will reinforce the positive and constructive agenda of the port, including contemporary areas that will benefit the Indo-Pacific region as a whole.
As you know, the QUAD has acquired momentum in the recent past and has been seen as a natural evolution and elevation to the apex level. In view the fact that the four countries share core attributes such as democracy, commitment to pluralism, market based economic principles, they also have a shared vision of a free and open inclusive Indo-Pacific region to add prosperity to that as well and with respect for international law. This is a region that is home to all the four countries represented in the QUAD, and many partners including the ASEAN, which is central to Indo-Pacific outreach, are a very important part of that overall effort. India's approach to the Indo-Pacific was enunciated by the Prime Minister in his speech at the Shangri La dialogue in 2018, when he also expounded on his vision of SAGAR or Security And Growth for All in the Region. On the conclusion of his programme in Washington DC, the Prime Minister will travel to New York on the 24th of September evening, where he will go in for the third element of his visit at the UN General Assembly. On the 25th of September, the Prime Minister will be the first head of state of government to address the United Nations General Assembly at its 76th session. The theme for this year's general debate is and I quote, building resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainability, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people and revitalise the United Nations. As you can see, it's a rather long theme, but nonetheless represents the main, I would say topical issues that are important for the international community today. India is currently a member of the UN Security Council. We held the presidency in the month of August and we steered the council at a fairly challenging time. While addressing the UN General Assembly, the Prime Minister will dwell on the important issues, including the regional situation, cross border terrorism, global efforts to combat COVID-19 and climate change and the need to reform multilateral institutions.
The fourth element of the Prime Minister's visit would be bilateral meetings with our close partners Japan and Australia. The Prime Minister will meet the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. This is their first meeting in-person in the post pandemic period. The two leaders have maintained a regular dialogue with three phone calls, as you recall Prime Minister Morrison called Prime Minister Modi just a few days ago. They have participated in a virtual summit in June 2020 when the India-Australia relationship was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Just recently, we had our two plus two dialogue with the Foreign and Defence Ministers of Australia visiting India and the two Prime Ministers are likely to discuss the gamut of India-Australia relations and I think anything that is of mutual interest to both our countries. The Prime Minister will also meet Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the Honourable Prime Minister of Japan. This will be their first in-person meeting and follows three telephone conversations they had recently, they will review progress in the close and multifaceted cooperation between India and Japan under the framework of the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership and discuss priorities for the future. The Prime Minister's visit with the compact programme will bolster India's key strategic bilateral partnership with the United States and our close partners Australia and Japan. It will also consolidate the QUAD as a force for global good and will give the Prime Minister an opportunity to share his vision at the multilateral arena.
From the US perspective, of course, I think, you know, when we look at the levels of support, we see a strong bipartisan support for a strong relationship with India and a strong relationship that can strengthen , you know, the global efforts to further our common interests in that regard. We also, I think, as I mentioned, we have very strong trade and economic linkages, bilateral trade in the year 2019 was at $149 billion and I think there is scope to take that even higher. In the defence sector, we've had a number of I would say exchanges, we are now preparing for exercise Yudh Abhyas, which is the army level exercises. As we speak, you know, we are also participating in the Malabar naval exercise which is underway in Guam with the participation of Australia as well. The visit is also expected to provide momentum, in other words, would provide direction to some of the important bilateral mechanisms that we have, whether it's a trade policy group, whether it's a defence policy group or the trade policy forum or a number of other mechanisms that are now ready to, I would say, review that relationship in those areas. I think once this summit is over, we would have the opportunity to take them forward. I would say finally, let us just summarise how we see the overall visit. I think India and the US are both vibrant mature democracies, we share common values, including the rule of law, equality, freedom and pluralism. We are both free market economies and proactive shareholders in global issues committed to global prosperity, peace and security. The upcoming visit with the Prime Minister would not only enhance peace, depth and diversity of our bilateral relations, it would also give an opportunity to further strengthen our Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership on issues of mutual concern. So I think I will stop here Arindam and if there are any questions I'm happy to look at those.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: If your presence here is any indication, I'm sure there's a lot of interest, I can only see hands going up. So we'll take a group perhaps which ones should I start off with? Maybe here right here just once there, then I will come to you.
Speaker 1: Hi, this is Sachin from The Times of India. My question is about AUKUS. This new pact, which US has recently announced with the UK and Australia. There are concerns here that this could end up diluting the agenda of the first in-person QUAD summit, if not the QUAD itself, you know, at least in the area of security in the Indo-Pacific. So are these concerns justified? Does the Indian side plan to take it out with the Americans in the bilateral in Washington? And did the Americans inform India about this before going ahead with their announcement of AUKUS? Thank you.
Speaker 2: Foreign Secretary related question, you know, our own deal with the United States on submarines has been languishing for quite some time. You know, emboldened by the supply of nuclear submarines the promise supply under AUKUS to Australia. Would we press harder? What is it that we're expecting, you know, in terms of cutting edge military hardware, which we can get from the US?
Speaker 3: "Main Brahm Prakash Dubey hoonZee News se, merasawaal yah haikilagataarkuch salon se ham log Security Council ke permanent member banana ke liye aavaaz uthaate rahe hai kai deshon ke saath, coordinate karate rahe hain. PM ka is yaatr a mein kya ham UN ke manch par ye mudda hee praathamikata se uthaegen.(Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation)" I am Brahm Prakash Dubey from Zee News, my question is that for the last few years, we have been raising our voice to become permanent member of the Security Council, we have been coordinating with many countries. In this visit of PM, will we raise this issue on the UN platform on priority?"
Speaker 4: Sir as a prelude to the Prime Minister's visit, EAM is already in New York, he has had meetings with various Foreign Ministers, Foreign secretaries. He has met Foreign Secretary of Britain. Can you tell us what exactly has happened vis a vis the discussions regarding the vaccines about Covishield particularly what we've told the British side.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Let me take one more. Related where, Both are related okay.
Speaker 5: Just wanted to check, in addition to what has been the discussion with UK, because the US is also supposed to come up with new announcements for its vaccine policy soon in the next few weeks. Are there apprehensions about Covishield being discriminated there as well? Is that something that's on the table?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: And the last one.
Speaker 6: Also on AUKUS I wanted to ask we noted that EAM has spoken to the French Foreign Minister, he has met with the UK Foreign Secretary as well. Does India consider the US decision to provide nuclear technology to Australia something they have not done for submarines since I think 1958. Does it consider this decision as an act of nuclear proliferation? And what is India's reaction really, to this aspect of the defence agreement between the two?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay, I think we'll stop here. Sir would you like to take some of these questions?
Shri Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary: Thank you. And let me try and answer, you know, questions in clusters. And first I think was AUKUS, which had a number of different strands to it. Let me make it clear that, you know, the QUAD and the AUKUS are not groupings of a similar nature and I'll try and qualify that. The QUAD is a plurilateral grouping, you know, group of countries that have a shared vision of their attributes and values. They also have a shared vision of the Indo Pacific region as a free, open, transparent, inclusive region. The QUAD has adopted a positive proactive agenda, with as I said a wide range varied array of initiatives at the global level, to address some of the issues of the day. This includes dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, including the supply of vaccines to the Indo Pacific region, it includes working on new and emerging technologies, it includes working on issues like climate change, infrastructure, maritime security, education, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. There's a wide array of initiatives that the QUAD has undertaken, which is, as I said, you know, designed to cater to the requirements of the Indo- Pacific region. On the other hand, AUKUS is a security alliance between three countries. We are not party to this alliance. From our perspective, this is neither relevant to the QUAD, nor will it have any impact on its functioning. I think with regard to Suhasini's question, a nuclear proliferation, I saw that the Australians have clarified that they are working on a nuclear propelled submarine that means propulsion is based on nuclear technology, but it would not have any nuclear weapons and as such will not be in contravention with any of Australia's or international commitments with regard to the issue of nuclear proliferation. But this as I'm saying is what I've seen, and I'm not saying it from any other perspective. With regard to let's say permanent membership, I think the question "Brahm Prakash Ji ne aap ne poochha tha, Zee News se, India ka permanent membership ka prayaas, to iske bare mein Bharat kaha aamrit mahotsav aur UN ki 75 veen varsha gaanth coincide ho raha hai aur is avsar par Pradhan Mantrij zaroor unke address mein jaisa main ne kaha ye jikr jaroor karenge ki UN reform kaise ho sakta hai, iski jarurat hai aur kis prakaar se UN membership ko permanent , jo UN Security Council reform ke mudde hain us ko kaise, matalab ham attain kar sakte hain. Ismein jaroor baaten hongee, charcha hogee. Aur UN mein hamaare jaroor prayaas hogee. Iss isaal jo kee ek mahatvapoorn saal hai hamaare liye aur UN ke liye bhee.Ismen ham kaise hamaare objectives ko secure kar sakte hain. Hum jaroor ismen shaamil honge ish discussion mein. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Question Brahm Prakash Ji had asked, from Zee News, India's attempt for permanent membership, so about this, our Amrit Mahotsav of India and 75th anniversary of UN is coinciding and on this occasion the Prime Minister must be addressing the UN and as I said it is necessary to mention how the UN reform can take place, and how we can achieve the meaning of UN membership, which is the permanent issue of UN Security Council reform. There will definitely be talks, discussions will take place. And we will definitely make efforts in the UN, this year which is an important year for us and also for the UN. In this how we can secure our objectives. We will definitely be involved in this discussion.
I think the issue of vaccines I think Srinjoy question was the issue of the UK's approach on vaccines. Now, the basic issue is that here is a vaccine Covishield, which is a licensed product of a UK company manufactured in India, of which we have provided, supplied 5 million doses to the UK at the request of the government of the UK. We understand that this has been used in the National Health System and therefore, non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminatory policy and does impact on those of us our citizens travelling to the UK. The Honourable External Affairs Minister, from what I understand has raised this issue strongly with his counterpart, the new Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom. And I'm told that certain assurances have been given that this issue would be resolved. And as you saw, the Minister has said that these issues should be resolved at the earliest possible to mutual satisfaction. We have also offered some of our partner countries the option of mutual recognition of vaccine certification. But these are reciprocal measures. I think obviously, as we go along, we will have to see how it goes. But if you don't get satisfaction, we would be within our eyes to impose reciprocal measures. Sorry, I think there is a one on the US policy as well. Look, the US policy has been gradually liberalised as you can see, you know, we were under a certain category we've been upgraded. The US also took steps as I mentioned in my opening remarks, to ensure that visas for students, Indian students who had to travel to the US to join universities, colleges, institutions were provided, were speeded up, I think that process is now over. They're now moving from what I understand to the professional category, where a number of professionals would be given visas, Indian professional to travel to the US. We've also seen as you mentioned, the report that fully vaccinated travellers would be allowed to freely travel to the US. This I think is a positive news because if you look at our rate of vaccination, we have administered over 800 million doses. The Health Minister yesterday made clear that we would be well within our target to vaccinate our entire eligible population within a short period of time at the rate of our vaccination process is going and I think from that perspective, we should be able to ensure that good number of our people travelling will be in a position to avail of this US opening. Now, you also have to keep in mind that the government has taken steps to facilitate vaccination of those of our citizens who are travelling abroad, you know, students, professionals, anyone going on official work, your vaccination would be expedited and the period between two doses would be shortened. So that will also help our people in availing of system and I think increasingly, in the international regime, you will find that there would be a requirement of people to be vaccinated before travelling and this is already being seen, even in our own country if you have to enter malls, you have to show vaccination certificates. And I think this is something that as the rate of vaccination increases, will certainly be an increasing trend.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson Thank you. Next round of questions. I had seen a hand here.
Speaker 7: Foreign Secretary, you mentioned that we have Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with the US and there is convergence of interests and we're going to be talking about defence issues as well. Now, my question is, now the US and the UK are going to be giving technology to Australia for their nuclear powered submarines, whereas the US has refused to even discuss with India, the issue of nuclear reactor propulsion technology for Indian carriers and aircraft. Why is this so?
Speaker 8: Foreign Secretary, I just wanted to ask who are the CEOs that the Prime Minister will be meeting? I believe, Apple CEO, Tim Cook is one. But if you could just confirm whether that's happening, and just wondering about the trade pact, is there a limited trade pact? Where are the talks on that? And if there's anything else you would want to add on this.
Speaker 9: Sir I just wanted to check ,what, are we going to discuss the nuclear reactors which we were talking with the US earlier in the Westinghouse, had at that time declared bankruptcy, is that process still or?
Speaker 10: I just wanted to understand whether there'll be any pressure on India, you know at the QUAD to have a security aspect to it, especially after AUKUS and or maybe Malabar will continue to play that role as far as QUAD is concerned. Thank you.
Speaker 11: It's just more or less the same type of question. I just wanted to find out if QUAD is not a security alliance at all, what is it? Is it only about the supply chain and democracy and all that.
Speaker 12: Foreign Secretary I'm Akhilesh Suman from Sansad TV. My question is related to QUAD. You know, all the four members are active under the QUAD framework for quite some time. Now is any idea to give an institutional structure to QUAD as on the lines of BRICS? And do you intend to sign any agreement among the four member nations in this visit?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: So, we will have one more and then we will close. Please.
Speaker 13: Hi, I just wanted to ask about the vaccine initiative under the QUAD. India just lifted the export ban. So I just want to know, has there been any groundwork of any sort that has happened? Or is it something that hasn't gotten off the ground at all?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Okay. Thank you. I think we'll stop for a few seconds, whenever you'd like.
Shri Harsh VardhanShringla, Foreign Secretary: So, I think Parul's question was really on strategic partnership with US and whether that really allowed us to facilitated some of the technologies in the defence sector that we were looking at. I think, it has to be acknowledged that we've come a long way in our defence cooperation, collaboration with the United States. I think, first and foremost, we have operationalized, what we call a major defence partner status of India. We've also gone into what is called STA one level, which is a very significant level in terms of technology sharing equipment, you know, sourcing, etc. with the US. We have signed all four foundational agreements, as you know, LEMOA, COMCASA, all of the important agreements that were involved in creating the foundation and the groundwork for an extensive defence cooperation with the United States. We've also started on co-production and defence issues as you know, many components of US aircraft, US equipment in the defence sector being now manufactured in India. And we have a very active group that encourages co-innovation. So innovation is an important part also of our joint involvement in the defence sector and defence industry. So I think we have very extensive cooperation. We have cooperated across the board; we have had access to some very important defence equipment. From our perspective, there is a greater level of interoperability that has been achieved. And I think we have every reason to be satisfied with the level of our defence engagement with the United States. It's a partnership. It's based on a mutuality of requirements. And at the same time, I think it is now graduating to levels where we can co-produce and co innovate together. And that is very, very important. I think Elizabeth's question about, you know, what are the details of the business level meetings that the Prime Minister is having? I've also seen reports in the media, I think this is still work in progress, we still have to get the full list of CEOs the Prime Minister will meet. Undoubtedly, I think once we land in Washington, we will finalise that and we will be able to release some of the names of CEOs that the PM will be meeting. As I said, it also depends on the ability, you know, we have a COVID restraint, we have a number of constraints in that regard and we will certainly tie all this up and let you know. But certainly meetings have been tied up, we need to finalise these and let you know. With regard to a limited trade pact, I think as you know, there was some discussion with the previous administration on limited trade deal. Our Commerce and Industry Minister has had some exchanges with his counterpart, the US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, I think they will continue to discuss many areas of our, you know, investment and trade regime. And, you know, whether that leads up to a continuation of a free trade agreement, or a part agreement, that is something that we have to see. With regard to civil nuclear cooperation, in particular industrial cooperation, and I think the mentioned Westinghouse's made, I think what is important is that our relevant authorities are in touch with to be more specific NPCIL, which is the company that deals with issues relating to the maintenance and running of nuclear reactors in India is in touch with Westinghouse and discussions are underway on how to proceed. We obviously have some, you know, positive moment, but there is also issues that have to be addressed, including liability and so on, so forth. But I think these are fairly positive discussions and my sense is that they're going quite well. I think there was a question on whether the Malabar exercise is a QUAD exercise, I think there is no link between the Malabar exercises and QUAD , as there is no link between AUKUS and QUAD. I think I have made that clear, that was the first question. AUKUS is a security alliance, QUAD is a different group of countries working on a different vision. And in the same sentiment, Malabar exercises are those that are done between nations, but has nothing to do with QUAD. At the same time we don't see, QUAD as a group as a framework has come a long way, as you know, initially QUAD is meeting at the senior officials' level, then they met at the Foreign Minister's level in 2019, then at the summit level in 2021 and now we have the first in- person meeting. So it is an evolving process. It is something that is still sort of, I would say in the initial stages of its functioning. And as we go along, I think we've already found a lot of common ground and someone asked Is it grouping which is only on issues that are dealing with non-defence, non-security issues? I think essentially, the QUAD will deal with all issues that would further its objectives of seeing our common vision of an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open and inclusive. From that perspective, the QUAD will function and we'll do what it takes. I think effort is to move on areas that would seek to co-opt and enable the QUAD to cooperate with our Indo-Pacific partners. As you know, all four QUAD members are also Indo-Pacific nations. We also believe in the centrality of ASEAN in the QUAD's outreach. And from that perspective, whether we can involve our regional partners in vaccine initiative or in climate change or in HADR activities, or in maritime security, these are all parts of a construct that would enable us to further that cooperation. And I think, QUAD has to be seen from that exercise. It is a strategic outreach to be able to co-opt and work more effectively and comprehensively in the Indo-Pacific region addressing the issues of the day. On vaccine exports, I think you've seen that the Health Minister, when he made the announcement spoke about the fact that our availability of vaccines, in other words, our domestic production of vaccines has doubled since April this year. That means in the last few months alone, our availability has gone up from something like 100-125 million doses to about 300 million doses a month. And from that perspective, we have been able to vaccinate, increasingly accelerate our vaccination programme. It's over 800 million now, we're doing, you know, one and a half million doses a day, we've surpassed, at one stage, we have gone up to very, very significant levels. And I think from that perspective, what it really means that with the availability of more vaccines, we have the opportunity to export. And that is, of course conditioned on the availability of vaccines for our domestic requirements. But whatever surplus is available, I think the Health Minister has made it clear that if there is surplus, we will be in a position to share that surplus with our neighbours and with our extended neighbourhood and others that require those vaccines.
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you sir. I thought, one question. Yeah, please. I think we will close it.
Speaker 14: Sir, I'm Shailesh Kumar from National Defence. Sir as you said that NSA Doval would also be accompanying PM, can you throw more light on his agenda and meetings. In case if you can answer this also, is there any particular defence deal, which we're going to sign in particular, if you can tell.
Speaker 15: Sir, as the AUKUS progresses with passage of time, if India's invited to join AUKUS, will India join?
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Last couple of questions we will close it there
Speaker 16:"Sir Afghanistan mein jis tarikee se Pakistan kee involvement dikhi thi, ISI Chief wahaan baithe the jake. To kya is baithak mein jo ki President Biden ke saath hone wali hai, kya Pakistan ke role ko le kar bhee koi charcha hogee ya Bharat kuchh is tarahkee koi jankari unke saath share karega?(Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation) Sir, the manner in which Pakistan's involvement in Afghanistan was seen, the ISI Chief went and was sitting there. So will there be any discussion about the role of Pakistan in this meeting which is going to take place with President Biden or will India share any such information with him?"
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: And final question.
Speaker 17: "Sir Shashidhar Pathak, Amar Ujaala se. Regional Security Sir ek bada issue hai, Afghanistan ka mudda hai hee. Janna yah chaahrahehain ki atankvaad ko kaise ham deal karenge aur pichhle 20 years ko aap dekhen to America Afghanistan mein, chala gaya aur atankvaad ke naye-naye svaroop nikal ke aarahe hain ya bane hue hain to ek common rai kya banegi? Common strategy kya banegi,ya kya hoga atankvaad ko le ke.(Questioned in Hindi; Approximate Translation)Sir I am Shashidhar Pathak from Amar Ujala. Regional security Sir is a big issue, it is the issue of Afghanistan. Wanting to know how we will deal with terrorism and if you look at the last 20 years, America has come to Afghanistan, has gone and new forms of terrorism are coming or are already there, so what will be the common opinion? What will be the common strategy or what will happen to terrorism."
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you sir. Floor is yours
Shri Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Foreign Secretary: So NSA will accompany the Prime Minister on his visit to the United States, but he will be part of the delegation he will be assisting the Prime Minister. I don't see a scope for a separate programme for the NSA because he's accompanying the Prime Minister and most of the time will be taken up in very important meetings that the Prime Minister will be attending. On the defence side, I think we have some very significant agenda ahead of us. We have the two plus two dialogue which is expected later this year. We will also have the Defence Policy Group meeting and there are a number of other dialogues which also meet later this year. The focus is on operationalizing the foundational agreements, I think that is an important objective on both sides. So I think that is something that we will work on. Whether India will join AUKUS, if it's invited to do so is a hypothetical question, so I cannot answer that. Regional security "Dekhie Regional Security, Afghanistan, dekhie Afghanistan ka mudda ek bahut mahatvapoorn mudda hai hamaare lie aur United States ke lie bhee yah bahut hee jarooree mudda hai jis par charcha jaroor hogee. (Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation) See, Regional Security, Afghanistan, see Afghanistan issue is a very important issue for us and also for United States it is a very important issue which will definitely be discussed."
This is a very important counterterrorism is very important aspect of our discussions. Both countries it has a lot of importance."Us mein jitne aspects hain usmen jaroor baaten hongee hamaare dono ke beech mein.UN Security Council ka resolution 2593 jo ki hamaari Presidency, Security Council Presidency main adopt hua tha, us mein aap dekhenge ki Afghanistan Territory should not be used against any other State. To ye bada important indicator hai jo International Community kee taraph se ek important benchmark hai aur jo desh aap kah sakte hain non-state actors ya jo countries iske is idea ke khilaaf jaega un par jaroor najar hogee. Regional Security, Architecture aur aatankvaad ke bare mein us mein bhi baat hogee. This is a very important, counter-terrorism is very important aspect of our discussions. Both countries attach a lot of importance. Hamaare donon desh iss par kaphi dabaav de rahe hain ki counter-terrorism pe jaroor attention hona chaahie. Afghanistan mein jo sthiti hai, us pe bhi baat hogee. US ka withdrawal to hua hai par hum US ko jaroor bataenge ki Afghanistan pe aur unke jo usss ilaake mein najar jaroor rakhana chaahie.Aur ab ye jaroor samajh sakte hain ki Afghanistan ka mudda, atankvaad ka mudda ye Prime Minister ke agenda mein jaroor bilateral level or QUAD level pe bhee shaamil hoga.(Answered in Hindi; Approximate Translation)Whatever aspects are there in it, there will definitely be discussions between the two of us. In UN Security Council resolution 2593 which was adopted during our Presidency, Security Council Presidency, you will see that Afghanistan's territory should not be used against any other state. So this is a very important indicator which is an important benchmark from the side of the international community and countries which you can say non-state actors or countries which will go against this idea of this will definitely kept an eye on. Regional security, architecture and terrorism will also be discussed in that. This is a very important, counter-terrorism is very important input of our discussions. Both countries attach a lot of importance. Both our countries are putting a lot of pressure on it, that attention should be paid to counter-terrorism. The situation in Afghanistan will also be discussed. The withdrawal of US has happened, but we will definitely tell the US that Afghanistan and those who are in this area must keep an eye on it. And now they can definitely understand that the issue of Afghanistan, of terrorism, this issue will definitely be included in the agenda of the Prime Minister at bilateral level or QUAD level."
Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much Sir, that brings us to a close of this special briefing. Thank you and may I thank honourable Foreign Secretary as well as Joint Secretary (AMS) for their presence here and for a comprehensive overview of what awaits us. Please keep in touch with our social media and other channels and we will continue to bring to you the developments of this very important visit. Thank you again and good afternoon.