New Delhi: It hasn’t been a day since the MoS for External Affairs, MJ Akbar, stepped down following a score of sexual harassment complaints against him and his ministry has already washed its hands of him. In a press briefing on Thursday, when MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar was willing to talk about everything except Akbar’s resignation about which he said, “The minister has resigned and made a statement, I have nothing else to add. He was a part of an official meeting after he arrived in India, I am not aware of any meeting between him and EAM Sushma Swaraj.” (Also read: ‘India Will Find Out, Warns US on S-400’) Also Read - Sushma Swaraj's Statue to be Installed in Vidisha: MP CM on Former EAM's Birth Anniversary
On the piquant issue of going ahead with the S-400 missile deal with Russia despite the US threat of sanctions, Kumar said the Government was led by national interest. He said, “S-400 air defence system is dictated by our national interest. We have shared our points with the United States. The idea is to remain engaged with the US as far as this issue is concerned.” MEA’s statement comes at a time that the US has reminded India, time and again, against the deal. While the Trump administration has introduced major changes in the H1-B visa, Kumar said, “It’s important for us, we have taken up matter with the US side. It was also taken up during India-US 2+2 meeting. US has taken measures to prevent misuse of this program. The idea is to continue engagement on this matter.” Also Read - US Sanctions Turkey on S-400, Cautions India, Others on Buying Russian Arms
Addressing another matter of concern for India, US’ sanctions on Iran, Kumar said, “We have made our expectations known to the US side. United States Secretary of State Pompeo has said that the sanctions on Iran are not to hurt India.” Also Read - Remembering Sushma Swaraj: PM Modi Pays Tribute to Forgone Leader Who Was 'India's Voice at World Stage'
With Indo-Pak relations in the doldrums, the MEA made its stance very clear yet again. Kumar said, “I’m not aware of any proposal for track 1 or track 1.5 dialogue or a meeting between India and Pakistan. We’ve very clearly mentioned that talks and terror can’t go together. That was one of the reasons why scheduled meeting between two foreign ministers was cancelled…the onus is on Pakistan to take credible steps and create conducive conditions for such talks which, of course, means taking action against terrorists’ infrastructure which operates from its soil.”
On the controversy over Rafale, Kumar said, “We continue to enjoy a very strong relationship with France, it is a strategic partner for India. This has not impacted the bilateral relations between India and France.”
I’m not aware of any proposal for track 1 or track 1.5 dialogue or a meeting between India&Pakistan. We’ve very clearly mentioned that talks&terror can’t go together. That was one of the reasons why scheduled meeting between 2 foreign ministers was cancelled:
The onus is on Pakistan to take credible steps & create conducive comditons for such talks which of course means taking action against terrorists infrastructure which operates from its soilIt’s important for us, we have taken up matter with the US side. It was also taken up during India-US 2+2 meeting. US has taken measures to prevent misuse of this program. The idea is to continue engagement on this matter: MEA on H1-B visa