Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday conducted its weekly briefing. During the brief MEA spokesperson covered major international on-goings.
Starting with the novel coronavirus, spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that Indian passengers on-board the cruise ship—Diamond Princess, have ‘reached off the coast of Japan. There were 138 Indians including 132 crew members. Eight of them have been infected by the disease so far.
“There are 132 crew members and six passengers, all Indians, who were on-board the cruise ship — Diamond Princess. This was quarantined off the coast of Japan. As per the latest info, there are 8 Indian nationals are infected with the coronavirus. They are being treated at a local hospital,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
India has also decided an aircraft consignment of medical supplied on a relief flight to the city of Wuhan—which is the root city of Coronavirus.
“The Government of India has decided to send an aircraft consignment of medical supplies on a relief flight to Wuhan. This is a small way to express our support to China as it continues to fight against Covid-19, the epidemic,” he said.
“On its return journey, the aircraft will bring in Indian nationals who couldn’t board the first two flights. Those interested to come back have been asked to contact our Embassy. Subject to capacity limitations and other logistics we will accommodate nationals of other countries as well,” he added.
Moving forward with the brief, Kumar addressed the Debbie Abrahams controversy as well. UK MP was deported from New Delhi airport. She had made comments against Centre’s move of revoking Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, after this when she arrived at New Delhi airport, she was informed that her e-visa has been canceled.
Kumar said that she arrived in India without a valid visa and hence was sent back from Delhi Airport “very respectfully”.
“She had come here without a valid visa so we sent her back ‘badi izzat se’ (very respectfully) from Delhi Airport. We believe that her statements and ideology are anti-India. There is a sustained campaign from her side against India,” MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar added.
“The Mission has confirmed from the Indian immigration authorities that Debbie Abrahams did not hold a valid visa. Further, there is no provision for visa on arrival for UK nationals. She was accordingly requested to return,” tweeted Indian mission in the UK.
The brief further took on to the subject of China’s intervention on Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh. The MEA dismissed the objections raised by China saying the state is an integral part of India.
“It (Arunachal Pradesh) is an integral part of India. Indian leaders routinely travel to the state as they do to any other states of India. Objecting to visit of an Indian leader to any state in India does not stand to reason,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said during a weekly briefing.
Earlier in the day, Shah assured the people of Arunachal Pradesh that Article 371, which grants some temporary, transition and special provisions to particular states, will not be “touched”.
“After the abrogation of Article 370, a lot of rumors were spread that Article 371, too, would be abrogated. Today, on the statehood day of Arunachal Pradesh, I want to tell the people of Northeast that Article 371 would not be touched,” he said while addressing the 34th statehood day function of Arunachal Pradesh.
In the last of the briefing, MEA spokesperson spoke on the US-India trade affairs. India and the US have been into the trade since quite some time, Kumar said, that India hopes to reach an understanding with an outcome that strikes the balance for both the sides.
“We have been engaging with the US for quite some time. We do hope to reach an understanding with an outcome that strikes the right balance for both sides. We would not like to rush into a deal as issues involved are complicated. We don’t want to create an artificial deadline. For us the interests of people are paramount,” said Kumar.
Regarding the H1B Visa issue, he said: “We have remained engaged with administration and (US) Congress on the movement of Indian professionals. The matter is very important to us. We do expect that the movement of Indian professionals is part of the agenda that could come up for discussions.”
Speaking about the upcoming trip of US President Donald Trump, the MEA spokesperson expressed the hope that the visit will go on smoothly and India’s sensitivities are well known. Kumar also highlighted the “strong” India-US cooperation regarding counter-terrorism and referred to the “strong support” by Washington in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.
The MEA spokesperson noted that there has been consistent growth in India-US trade over the last few years while adding that efforts have been made by the Indian side to address concerns regarding the Balance of Trade.
The US President Donald Trump will be arriving in India on February 24 for a two-day official visit.
(With inputs from ANI)