Press Conference by Foreign Secretary on Prime Minister's visit to Pittsburgh for G-20 Summit
September 19, 2009
MEA Official Spokesperson (Mr. Vishnu Prakash): Good afternoon and welcome. Foreign Secretary is here to brief you about Prime Minister’s forthcoming visit to Pittsburgh for the G-20 summit as also India’s participation in the 64th session of UNGA at New York. After her opening remarks Foreign Secretary would be happy to take up a few questions.
Let me also introduce colleagues here with us. To Foreign Secretary’s right is Mr. Asith Bhattacharjee, Joint Secretary to UN Division. To my left is Mr. J.S. Mukul, Joint Secretary, TC and Economic Relations, who is also MEA’s sou Sherpa for the G-20 process. Ma’am the floor is yours.
Foreign Secretary (Ms. Nirupama Rao)
Thank you for coming for this briefing which I will do in two parts. First, I will brief you on Prime Ministers visit to Pittsburg, to attend the G-20 Meeting. Thereafter, I will outline the programme and other details of the high level segment of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York where EAM will lead India’s delegation.
The third G-20 Summit is being held on September 24 & 25, 2009 in Pittsburgh, USA. As the host, the President of USA will chair the Summit. Leaders of G-20 member countries (along with high representatives from the UN, World Bank, IMF, WTO, ILO, Financial Stability Board, etc.) are expected to attend.
PM’s will be participating in the G-20 Summit. PM’s high level delegation will include Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, who is also the G-20 ‘Sherpa’ from India, the National Security Adviser and senior officials.
PM will be reaching Pittsburgh on September 24. The Summit programme starts with a Reception followed by a Dinner by the US President on September 24. On September 25, the programme includes a Summit Plenary, a Leaders’ lunch and ends with a concluding Plenary in the afternoon. PM will be leaving Pittsburgh the same evening.
Prime Minister will have interaction with the Leaders of participating countries. He will also be meeting leaders to discuss a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of common interest.
By way of background, the G-20 came into being in 1999 following the East Asian financial crisis. It is an informal forum comprising major developed countries and leading emerging market economies representing around 90% of global GDP, 85% of world trade and two-thirds of humanity.
The G-20 had been traditionally meeting at the level of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. As you are aware, in the wake of the international financial and economic crisis, the first G-20 Summit was held in Washington DC (November 15, 2008) marking the arrival of dynamic emerging market countries at the global high table. The Washington Declaration included:
• Common understanding of the causes of the global crisis
• Strong message for restoring confidence and stability
• Measures for combating the crisis and restoring growth
• Launch of an action plan
The London Summit (April 2, 2009) had issued a Communiqué which addressed the broad themes or issues relating to:
• Ambitious stimulus and growth measures including pledge to mobilize $1.1 trillion in resources for the international financial institutions mainly to sustain growth in emerging markets.
• Strong regulatory package
• Commitment against protectionism in all its forms
• Strengthening and expansion of the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) now called the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS)
The steps taken by the G-20 to augment the resources of the multilateral development banks (MDBs) has led to substantial stepping up of World Bank lending to India. Likewise, the G-20 pressure on the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to enhance its capital is likely to increase infrastructure funding for India. The steps taken by the G-20 to stabilize financial markets and the global economy can be expected to lead to an early revival of private capital flows, and a step up in domestic growth through revival of external demand and exports.
The preparatory process for the forthcoming Pittsburgh Summit has included meetings of the G-20 Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors, as well as meetings of the G-20 Sherpas earlier this month.
The Pittsburgh Summit will take the process forward. Without trying to pre-judge the Summit results or to speculate on the details, the Leaders could be expected to review the international financial and economic parameters since the London Summit and take stock of the improving situation including the emerging ¡¥green shoots of recovery¡¦ since then. While the earlier G-20 Summits had focused on immediate action to contain a rapidly deteriorating downward spiral, the Pittsburgh Summit is likely to take a more long-term view of the global economy. The Leaders can also be expected to review the Washington and the London Summit measures adopted and implemented so far and their impact. Broadly speaking, they may:
• Exchange views on stimulus and growth measures while planning exit strategies with caution
• Review the regulatory framework
• Reiterate commitment against protectionism
• Focus on reforms of the international financial institutions
• Redress the requirements of mobilizing resources for the poor developing countries
• Send out a strong and clear political message calling for a balanced and successful outcome of the climate change negotiations in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Copenhagen
• Chart a roadmap for the future
In terms of an outcome document, a Summit Declaration/Communiqué is expected to be issued, though as I have said we should refrain from pre-judging the outcome of the Summit.
I will now turn to the UN General Assembly. EAM will be visiting New York to participate in the High-Level Segment of the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly. EAM is due to reach New York on 20 September and return on 27 September, 2009.
The 64th Session of the UN General Assembly started on 15 September, 2009. A High Level Event on Climate Change will take place on 22 September at which EAM will represent Prime Minister.
The General Debate of 64th UNGA, where statements are made by Heads of Delegation, will take place from 23 to 30 September 2009. The theme for this year's General Debate is 'Effective Response to Global Crises; Strengthening Multilateralism and Dialogue among Civilizations for International Peace'.
EAM will be speaking at the General Debate on 26 September at around 1700-1730 hrs. On the margins of the General Assembly, EAM will also have bilateral meetings with his counterparts from some countries.
A number of events are being held at the UN in the margins of the General Assembly. These include:
• High Level Event on Climate Change (22 September)
• XIV Summit Meeting of the Group of Fifteen (G-15) (25 September) preceded by Ministerial meeting (24 September)
• IBSA Ministerial Meeting by Brazil (21 September)
• G-5 Meeting (22 September)
• Ministerial meeting of the Group of Friends of the UNSG on Myanmar (23 September)
• Commonwealth Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the Ministerial Meeting on Terrorism (24 September)
• BRIC luncheon meeting by Brazil (24 September)
• High Level Meeting on 60th anniversary of establishment of UNRWA (24 September)
• Fifth India-GCC Political Dialogue (25 September)
• Group of 77 (G-77) Ministerial Meeting (25 September)
• Informal Meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers (26 September)
• Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations (26 September)
India will be represented at a high level at these events. Apart from the above, a number of countries are sponsoring other events: the USA is sponsoring an event in the Security Council on Nuclear Disarmament and also a conference with Troop Contributing Countries in UN peacekeeping operations.
The 64th UNGA session is taking place against the backdrop of an unprecedented global economic and financial crisis; the magnitude and extent of which has not been seen since the 1930s. Developing countries, though not responsible for this crisis, have been severely affected by its impact. Recent food and fuel price crisis and the challenge of climate change have threatened the pace of development and also sets the clock back in international effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
India’s top priority in this session is to reinforce the international community's efforts to face contemporary global challenges of poverty eradication (particularly in view of global escalation of food and energy prices), climate change and sustainable social and economic development. It is essential that the forthcoming UNGA session builds upon global efforts to mitigate the impact of the financial and economic crisis and assist developing countries in successfully pursuing their developmental agenda.
The credibility of the architecture of institutions of international governance requires urgent reform in keeping with contemporary realities. Along with the reform of international financial institutions, India believes that it should be a priority for the international community to complete the long-pending process of UN reform, including reform and expansion of the Security Council in both the permanent and non-permanent membership categories.
It is a major priority for India to significantly improve international cooperation in counterterrorism efforts. We had presented a draft for Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in 1996. We have urged all Member States to make concerted efforts for the finalization and adoption of a CCIT during the current session of the General Assembly.
EAM will represent Prime Minister at a High Level Event on Climate Change being hosted by the UN Secretary General on September 22, 2009 at the sidelines of the UNGA in New York. The objective of this event is to provide political direction and momentum to the ongoing multilateral negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate change (UNFCCC). It will not be a negotiating forum. The event will provide an important opportunity to articulate India’s position on the climate change issue and the constructive approach that we are committed to playing in the multilateral negotiations under the UNFCCC leading to the 15th Conference of Parties in Copenhagen in December 2009.
Developing countries like India, which are vulnerable to and are already suffering from the impact of climate change, have an important stake in establishment of a truly global, transparent, rule-based and equitable climate change regime based on the principles of UNFCCC, which takes into account the imperatives of poverty reduction and economic development in developing countries and the historical responsibility of the developed countries.
India’s approach on disarmament issues is well known. We believe that the United Nations can play a significant role in strengthening international security by advancing global disarmament goals and objectives. To provide the necessary momentum to international efforts on this issue, India supports the strengthening of the UN Disarmament machinery to promote multilateralism and international consensus.
Overall, the 64th GA session has several important issues on its agenda. For us, articulating the importance of multilateralism and participatory and inclusive international governance system is at the core of our approach. We will be participating in the General Assembly Plenary and Committee deliberations with this in mind.
Question: Madam, I just wanted to ask you if you have been able to fix a date for the meeting with the Pakistani Foreign Secretary, and if there is a date fixed for the meeting between the two Foreign Ministers in New York.
Foreign Secretary: We are working to fix the dates for the meetings of the Foreign Secretaries and the Foreign Ministers in New York, that is the meetings with Pakistan, and we are in the process of finalising these dates.
Question: On the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, the EU had a summit of Heads of States and Governments where they made several proposals regarding climate change. One was that all G20 States should participate in financing climate change measures in least-developed countries. What does India think of this proposal? Does it support it? Secondly, France and Germany propose that the EU levy a carbon tariff on imports if there will be no agreement in Copenhagen. What does India think of this proposal?
Foreign Secretary: On your question about forums like G20 being seized with the climate change issue, I just wanted to say that obviously all these various mechanisms including the G20 structure give an impetus to the multilateral negotiations under the UNFCCC through a strong political message. But these are not negotiating fora in themselves and cannot substitute for the mechanisms already established under the UNFCCC insofar as climate change issues are concerned.
On the issue of the carbon tariffs and the Indian position on that, as you know climate change is a global environmental concern and it requires a global response. Such a response has to be based on the principle of equity and common and differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities. And most of all it should take into account the imperatives of poverty reduction and economic development in developing countries. So, any long-term goal or any conditionalities that you set should always take into account the centrality of the need of the developing countries in this regard.
Question: Madam, I am going to back to Pakistan. We have heard from Mr. Qureshi recently. He says he does not have any expectations from the meeting in New York. What are the expectations Mr. Krishna and the Ministry have of that meeting?
Foreign Secretary: Our expectations are that Pakistan should focus seriously, in a concentrated and meaningful manner, on our concerns regarding the issue of terrorism that is directed against India from within Pakistani territory. And this has been consistently stated to the Pakistani side with sincerity, in all detail, by the Government of India and all the officials concerned. It is our expectation, it is our hope that Pakistan will address these concerns in full seriousness and full commitment so that the desired outcome can be reached.
Question: Foreign Secretary, what has brought about the change for us to say that we will now cut emissions voluntarily?
Foreign Secretary: You are asking me whether India is ready to accept quantifiable emission targets?
Question: Yes. Because the Minister had first said, during the visit of the Danish Prime Minister, that we were a bit hesitant on this issue a while earlier but then now that has changed. So, what I am asking is what has prompted this change?
Foreign Secretary: Let me put it in context for you. Climate change takes place because of the cumulative accumulation of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. This has happened over two centuries of industrial activity and high consumption lifestyles in the developed world. There is thus a historical responsibility involved on the part of the developed countries. On the other hand the per capita emissions of developing countries are still very low. For example, India’s per capita CO2 emissions are currently only 1.1 tonnes when compared to over 20 tonnes for the United States and over 10 tonnes for most OECD countries. It is in recognition of these facts that a legally binding emission and production target has been stipulated by the international community under the Kyoto Protocol of the UNFCCC, while there is no such obligation for the developing countries. Despite this India has already declared that even as it pursues its social and economic development objectives, it will not allow its per capita greenhouse gas emissions to exceed the average per capita emissions of the developed countries. We have thus accepted a limit on our emissions, but at the same time provided an incentive to our developed country partners to be more ambitious. The more significant their reduction of emissions will be, the lower the limit we would need to accept for our own.
Question: Is the Indian Prime Minister likely to meet the Chinese President during the G20 Summit? And, what is the status of India’s application with the Asian Development Bank for the Arunachal Project?
Foreign Secretary: To answer your first question, there is no meeting that is being planned at the moment between our Prime Minister and his Chinese counterpart or the Leader of the Chinese Delegation to the G20 Summit.
On the issue of the Asian Development Bank project that you referred to, the Country Partnership Strategy that India had presented at the ADB has already been endorsed by the ADB. So, the matter stands there. There is really no pending issue now on that front.
Question: The loan application is cleared now?
Foreign Secretary: The Country Partnership Strategy has been endorsed by the Asian Development Bank.
Question: What is Indian position on the reform of international financial architecture. What are Indian concerns which India will present during G20 summit? What are the initiatives? What would India like to highlight during the summit?
Foreign Secretary: On the issue of the reform of the international financial institutions, I think the most important issue before us is the need for these institutions to reflect ground economic realities as they exist internationally today. The other issues that we are focusing on are the issue of finances, the funding position of these institutions, the need to suitably define their mandate, and the need to strengthen their voice so as to reflect ground economic realities today.
Question: Madam, my question is on Prime Minister’s comment of yesterday. He said in the Iftar party yesterday that he was in touch with the highest level authority in China about the current tension of alleged incursions. I would like if the Prime Minister talked to his counterpart or he talked to President Jintao. If yes, what is the nature of that talk? My supplementary question is that there is a general allegation which is made frequently for the last ten days that MEA is downplaying the incursions which have definitely increased because these are the official figures. Can you just clarify these two issues please?
Foreign Secretary: As far as your first question is concerned, let me tell you that we remain in constant touch, India and China, on all issues that are of mutual interest and of mutual concern to us as far as our bilateral relations are concerned and also on issues that go beyond the bilateral context. So, this is a relationship that we have been able to develop and that has matured over the years and has acquired many dimensions. A very important aspect of this relationship is the dialogue that we have been able to sustain, that we have been able to transact and conduct at the highest political level of the two countries. Therefore, the leadership level understandings and the contact and communication remains open at all times. That is the first point I wanted to make.
As far as the second point of the recent Chinese intrusions is concerned, I think enough has been said in the media about these issues in the last few days and perhaps weeks. There has been a certain hype and a certain intensification of volume if I may say, in terms of the manner in which these have been reported upon in the media. Having said that I would only base myself on ground realities and my appreciation of where the relationship stands today, as somebody who has dealt with it for many years now. As far as the intrusions are concerned, there has been no significant increase in the number of Chinese intrusions across the line of actual control in all sections of the India-China border. At the expense of repeating our position, let me do that, there is no mutually agreed or delineated line of actual control between the two countries. So, this is an issue that is yet to be agreed upon between the two sides. What happens, it is an eventuality in such a situation that you find that you have crossings over into what you regard as your side from the other side. This has gone on for a number of years now. This is not a new phenomenon, I would like to point that out. Having said that I would also like to point to the fact that contrary to popular perceptions, the situation along the areas of the line of actual control in the India-China border areas has remained peaceful for a number of decades now. We have mechanisms in place; we have confidence-building measures in place; we have communication links in place that enable each side to reach out to the other whenever there is a perceived problem or a situation that develops in the areas along the line of actual control.
I would like to underline the fact that these mechanisms have worked well and that there is good communication between the two sides. Whenever the situation warrants it we also take it up at the diplomatic level. So, this is a relationship in which there is regular communication, and there is understanding, and there is recognition on both sides that this is an important bilateral relationship, that outstanding differences between the two sides should be resolved peacefully through dialogue, through communication, as it should be between two nations as large as ours, with international responsibilities like ours, and with bilateral commitments such as ours.
Question: Madam, I think the Prime Minister is skipping UNGA because of the importance of G20. At this time global economic crisis, are we going to contribute to the G20 meeting? What are our expectations from the G20? Where will our Foreign Secretary be between the two?
Foreign Secretary: As I said in my introductory remarks, our expectation is that the forthcoming Pittsburgh Summit would take the process of all the understandings and the issues that have been identified in the previous summit meetings further forward. We do not want to prejudge the outcome of the summit or speculate on the details. The fact that we are an important member of the G20 as an emerging market economy and one of the largest economies in the world today, we will make important contributions to the furtherance and to the progress of this dialogue. As far as the second question you asked about my presence, I will be there during the Pittsburgh meetings. I will be a member of the delegation of the Prime Minister.
Question: Madam, you said the US is sponsoring a resolution on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Who will represent India at this debate? What is our position? Do you envisage a growing global pressure, especially American pressure, over CTBT and non-proliferation issues? Linked with this, the nuclear establishment in India seem to be divided over the country’s deterrence capability. What is Government’s position at this moment?
Foreign Secretary: The first question you asked refers to the US sponsored meeting. This is a Security Council summit. As you know India is not yet a member of the Security Council. We are aware that the Council members are discussing a draft resolution on non-proliferation, and our Permanent Mission to the United Nations is closely monitoring those developments. That is where the matter stands at the moment.
To your second question, that is a matter you should address to the scientific community. I do not really want to enter into a debate on these issues in this forum.
Question: Madam, you have been listing many items on the agenda of G20. From your point of view what will be the most important things that will be discussed in Pittsburgh? To put it differently, what will be India’s specific message in this meeting?
Foreign Secretary: As you know, in the G20 today the summit meetings have been focused on the international financial and economic crisis. The results from the previous have all been positive. We want to cooperate and coordinate our positions and our outlook with other countries within the framework of the G20. As you are aware, the financial crisis has affected all countries in the world including India. This has been felt in terms of trade, in terms of investment, in terms of growth. While it is true that India has been relatively less affected than other countries, the impact has still been considerable because our growth rate has been brought down to the range of six to seven per cent from a range of nine per cent. Now we look forward, with the green shoots of economic recovery being visible, to coordinating efforts with a view to raising our growth rates and restoring trade and investment flows. We would also like to see the Pittsburgh summit follow up on the regulatory measures that are required to ensure that such a crisis, which was in the first place the result of regulatory failure in the developed world, is not repeated. And we remain opposed to protectionism in all its forms covering trade in goods and services, investment, and financial flows. As I said earlier, we hope that the Pittsburgh Summit will also address the issue of reform of international financial institutions. Therefore, we do have a proactive and constructive agenda when it comes to the G20 summit.
Question: Madam, coming back to the China question, do you think in any way this troop movement alongside the border by the Chinese and the Indian side in Ladakh as well as around the area by Chinese side in some way is creating a cycle of mistrust and it can hamper the diplomatic work that had been done in the past with China?
Foreign Secretary: You are referring to media reports and I sought to guide your attention to the actual situation in India-China relations. The Chief of Army Staff has already spoken on this issue this morning when he referred to the fact that there has been no increase in the number of intrusions and the situation remains calm. So, I am not here to get into a debate on troop movements. Each country takes steps to safeguard its security in sensitive areas such as border areas but the central fact is that the situation remains peaceful and tranquil. We have open channels of communication with the Chinese side and the Chinese side with us to discuss all outstanding issues that need resolution.
Question: Pakistan has repeatedly said that continued stalled Composite Dialogue between the two countries would help those elements who are opposed to peace in South Asia. Secondly, Pakistan has said that any precondition to talks would not help any side and not acceptable to Pakistan. What are your comments?
Foreign Secretary: First of all let me say that engagement between India and Pakistan obviously works in the long-term interest of both countries, and there is obviously a potential that exists for that. But, let me also add that we cannot shut our eyes to the threat that exists in terms of terrorism directed against India from Pakistan and the Composite Dialogue is contingent, that process is contingent on an atmosphere free of terrorism and violence. Realising the potential is really not the issue here because the first step we need to take is to squarely address the issue of terrorism.
Question: Madam, you have also been invited to the bilateral talks in Washington. Could you just tell us what is on the agenda and when are those talks being held?
Foreign Secretary: I will be in Washington on Monday when I will meet Under Secretary Burns, my counterpart at the State Department. He has invited me across to Washington from New York. This will be my first meeting with him and I am looking forward to that meeting. As you know, we have what has been termed as a stand-alone global partnership with the United States. This is a relationship where we are seeking to build a strong dialogue architecture built on the five pillars of strategic cooperation; energy and climate change; education and development; economy, trade and agriculture; science and technology and; health and innovation. So, we have a very productive exchange of views ongoing with the Government of the United States on these issues and I am looking forward to my meetings in Washington.
Question: -- --- not audible
Foreign Secretary: I do not believe we are being diffident at all. I think at every opportunity we have expressed ourselves very clearly and with confidence and clarity. And we will do so at the opportunity provided by the G20 meeting also. The responsibilities of the developed countries, especially in terms of financing of all the technological requirements that we as developing countries need to deal with the effects of climate change cannot be denied. We have proclaimed that need at every opportunity and we will do so even on this occasion.
As far as the UN Security Council Summit is concerned, yes, we have certain positions that we have expressed not just now but also in the past on the provisions that you referred to in the draft resolution. All I want to say on this issue for the moment is that we are in touch with friendly countries in the Security Council about this.
Question: I wanted a clarification on the ADB point. Is there a reference there to Arunachal as disputed?
Foreign Secretary: No, there is no reference to Arunachal Pradesh in the sense that you refer to. This is a Country Partnership Strategy looking at development assistance as a package.
Question: ....not audible
Foreign Secretary: That has nothing to do with the approval of the strategy. I think you are referring to something quite different. There is a Chinese position on the subject, what China has been saying on the issue of Arunachal Pradesh. But here, as far as the Country Partnership Strategy is concerned, it has been endorsed by the Asian Development Bank.
Question: Madam, you have just returned from Nepal. How was your visit? Are you going to discuss any specific agenda with Nepal on the sidelines of the UN Summit?
Foreign Secretary: I just returned from a very good visit to Kathmandu. It was my first visit there after becoming Foreign Secretary although I have visited Nepal on many occasions in the past. As I spoke to the media at the end of my visit, you are aware of the broad contours of my discussions and my meetings in Nepal. I wanted to say that we attach very important significance to our relations to Nepal, a very close friend, a very close neighbour. Our dialogue with the Government of Nepal and with the people of Nepal with whom we share the friendliest of relations - we only want to see that strengthened and deepened in the future.
Question: Madam, what is your reaction or rather Government of India’s response on Afghanistan elections? My second question is that there have been repeated ceasefire violations at the borders by Pakistan. I am asking this question because yesterday DG BSF said that we are approaching Ministry of External Affairs to lodge a strong protest with Pakistan. Are we doing it?
Foreign Secretary: Thank you for that question on Afghanistan. We have welcomed, as you know, the successful holding of the Presidential and Provincial Council elections in Afghanistan on the 20th of August. As you also know, we have a historical relationship with Afghanistan which is a fellow developing, democratic country. We appreciate the determination of the Afghan people who participated in the election process despite the threats and attacks meant to disrupt the elections. Therefore, we congratulate all democratic forces in Afghanistan. We admire the fact that the elections were conducted by national institutions, unlike the previous elections in Afghanistan. So, it has been an Afghan-led process which will go a long way in strengthening democracy in Afghanistan. We also welcome the announcement of the preliminary results of all the votes counted, in which President Hamid Karzai has emerged as the leading candidate having secured I believe 54.62 per cent followed by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah at 27.75 per cent. So, we hope for an early and successful conclusion of the electoral process and the finalisation of the results after the completion of legal procedures. I wanted to reaffirm on behalf of the Government of India our commitment to strengthening our strategic partnership with Afghanistan and to reconstruction and development of a pluralistic and democratic Afghanistan.
As far as the question on cross-border firing is concerned, in fact there are certain objective circumstances which you have just referred to. There have been incidents of ceasefire violations apart from infiltration also from the Pakistani side of the Line of Control, which has been at a very high level in the last few weeks. There were cases of rockets being fired across the Punjab border and thereafter there was sniper firing at Border Security Force posts yesterday. There are, of course, mechanisms to deal with this and the DGMOs of the two countries have been in touch, as also flag meetings have been held. But the general issue is that it is the responsibility of Pakistan to see that whoever may be responsible for this from their side should not have the licence to carry out such acts which destabilise the situation.