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Community Service Fortnight / Sewa Utsav’: ‘Celebration Through Service’, Muscat, 12 April 2022.
Indian Community cleans Wadis / Hiking trails across Oman as part of Sewa Utsav
In an attempt to raise awareness about climate change and environment protection, Indian community members joined hands for cleaning wadis / hiking trails across three different cities in Oman on 9th April 2022 as part of Community Service Fortnight / Sewa Utsav. The members from Indian Social Club (ISC), Adventure Oman and other Indian nationals joined hands to advocate for a clean and green Oman.
The beaches and hiking trails at Bander Al Khairan near Muscat were cleaned and approximately 200 Kg of trash was collected and properly disposed of by the enthusiastic participants. Ambassador Amit Narang commended the efforts by the Indian community, and hoped that such activities will go a long way in instilling sensitivity towards conservation of environment.
The wadi / hiking trail activities were also organized in Sohar and Salalah. ISC members in Sohar cleaned a wadi and collected plastic and other trash. The ISC members in Salalah went on a hike and collected trash on the way, thus engaging the community and raising awareness on conservation of environment. The activities educated the participants towards re-cycling and adopting a sustainable lifestyle as well as not littering public places. This was another collective initiative of Indian community to contribute towards cleaner and greener Oman. Source: Embassy of India, Muscat.
Indian Community Donates a Record 1327 Units Of Blood during Mega Blood Donation Drive, Muscat, 18 April 2022.
The Indian community donated a record total of 1327 units of blood during the ‘Mega Blood Donation Drive’ organized during the ‘Community Service Fortnight’ or ‘Sewa Utsav’ by the Embassy of India. The ‘Sewa Utsav’ was organized by the Embassy with support of Indian community from 31 March to 16 April to commemorate75 years of India’s independence.
The ‘Mega Blood Donation Drive’ was inaugurated on 02 April 2022 by H.E. Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed al Humaidi, Chairman of Muscat Municipality and was held in multiple cities of Oman with the generous support of Oman’s Ministry of Health.
The ‘Mega Blood Donation Drive’ was organized at the Embassy premises and Bousher Blood Bank in Muscat on 02 April and 09-15 April 2022. The Indian Social Club (ISC) branches in Salalah, Sohar and Sur also organized mega blood donation drives in the respective cities, which saw enthusiastic participation of Indian community members resident there.
Ambassador H.E. Amit Narang commended the overwhelming support received from Indian community in collecting record number of blood units to support the work of blood banks in Oman. Ambassador Narang thanked Ministry of Health officials, doctors, nurses, and support staff in particular Dr. Zainab Al Araimi and Mr. Mohsin S. Al-Sharyani for their tremendous support in organizing the blood donation drive at Muscat. Ambassador conveyed his appreciation to organizations such as BEC, Lulu, L&T, Jindal Shadeed, BLS,Al Turki, Al Ansari, Kihimji Ramdas, Naranjee Hirjee & Al Nabha as well as members of Indian Social Club, Indian Schools, Sewa Muscat, Manav Seva International, Kerala Pravasi Association, Nanma Kasargod, Ambedkar International Mission, Sahaj Yoga,& Maru Nattil Malayalee Association in Oman for their stellar support in making the drive a success.
Ambassador said, “This blood donation drive reflects the core Indian thought of ‘Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah’ i.e. working for the welfare of others and is in line with the pious service-oriented spirit of the holy month of Ramadan”. He added that the extraordinary effort of the Indian community for blood donation showed their love for their Omani brothers and sisters and will go a long way in strengthening India-Oman friendship. Source: Embassy of India, Muscat.
Visit of Indian Navy’s 1st Training Squadron to Salalah, Oman, Muscat, 19 April 2022.
Remarks by Ambassador Amit Narang
‘HANDS ON DECK IN THE SERVICE OF INDIA’
Commanding Officers and Sailors of INS Tir, INS Sujata, INS Tarangini and ICGS Sarathi of the First Training Squadron
I am honoured to visit the 1st Training Squadron and interact with all of you.
Let me at the outset extend a warm welcome to you as you embark on your maiden sea voyage upon joining the Indian Navy and come ashore to Oman, a land with which our naval interaction goes back several thousand years.
Serving as Ambassador of India to Oman, which in maritime terms is perhaps our closest naval footprint in the region and having been at the helm of India’s foreign policy for the Indian Ocean Region prior to this assignment, my remarks to you will have a substantial personal touch.
I wish to acknowledge that this is a combined Mission and that the 1st Training Squadron also has a Coast Guard ship. Having closely interacted with both the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, I am only too conscious of how important it is for both forces to closely align and support each other, harnessing synergies and pooling resources for greater impact.
Let me begin by congratulating you on joining the Indian Navy, a modern, sophisticated and professional fighting force; an arm of the Indian armed forces that is truly international not just in its reach and impact but more importantly in its intellectual imagination. This is a service that will literally ‘take you places’, keep your mental horizons broad and your compass on the move.
While all eras are special, it would not be out of place to say that you are joining the Indian Navy at an especially propitious moment in history.
India as a traditional maritime nation is today rapidly transforming itself into a formidable maritime power with a naval force that is not only among the world’s largest but increasing sophisticated and able to project power and benign influence far away from our coastlines.
As the inheritor of our nation’s rich maritime heritage, the Indian Navy has grown in size, strength and capability year on year since independence and today its daunting presence across the oceans truly demonstrates its reach and influence across the vast swathes of oceanic waters.
As Naval Cadets you cannot but be conscious of the significant role and contribution of the maritime domain to the Nation’s growth, security and prosperity. As Indian economy has grown, its reliance on the maritime domain has only increased, with implications for our trade, commerce and energy security. You will be called upon to secure this domain and in doing so directly contribute to India’s growth and transformation.
The Indian Navy that you are joining is today more than just a fighting force.
More often than not, you will be called upon to carry out tasks and roles that will be far removed from war fighting, including doing things such as delivering rations and medicines in our extended maritime neighbourhood.
I will dwell on this a bit later but suffice to say that the broad range of operations that the Indian Navy undertakes today has undergone a sea change, no pun intended. This wide spectrum also has a significant diplomatic component, something that makes the Navy a very special service.
But most importantly, you are joining the Indian Navy at a time when India, and indeed the whole world, is intellectually reimagining the maritime space and coming up with new constructs to define and bookend it.
That we live in a world in flux should be obvious to anyone who reads the morning paper, or to put it more contemporarily, glances through social media headlines.
From a maritime perspective, the salience of maritime choke points has increased - even as global supply chains have become stressed, melting ice due to climate change is literally adding more water to the oceans, opening up areas for navigation hitherto closed; and great power competition is increasingly about the control of the oceanic space, or at the very least motivated by the exigency of keeping this space open, inclusive and rules-based.
As you sail into a new journey as Indian Naval cadets therefore, you are not just the inheritors of a proud maritime legacy, but also torchbearers of a new phase of maritime diplomacy.
Your career in the Indian Navy will see you performing multifarious roles, some established, some emerging and some unseen and unimagined.
From my own perspective, five such roles deserve mention -each essential, each important and each a critical part of modern-day maritime conduct.
First, delivering aid.
I alluded to supplying rations earlier. Indian Navy has today assumed the role of the First Responder in the region and this will enjoin you to reach shores afar with humanitarian aid. This may be in the form of rice, or oil, or water or even vaccines.
I speak from experience.
In January 2020, when cyclone Diane devastated parts of Madagascar, INS Airavat was the first to reach with 600 tonnes of rice. This was Op Vanilla.
In May 2020, as the pandemic disrupted sea borne trade and supplies to island countries, India’s Ministry of External Affairs and Indian Navy launched the first ever combined Mission covering the entire Indian Ocean region. This was the iconic Mission Sagar.
INS Kesari travelled over 7500 nautical miles over 55 days delivering foodgrains, Covid medicines, Ayuvedic medicines, and medical assistance teams to Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Comoros. This was a major milestone in India’s maritime and Covid diplomacy.
Second, disaster prevention and relief.
Indian Navy and the Coast Guard are the first in the region to douse fires, speaking both metaphorically and concretely. I was witness to two such mammoth HADR operations in our maritime neighbourhood.
The grounding of super tanker Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius led to an environmental emergency and India responded swiftly, preventing a major environmental disaster and an economic and tourist shock to Mauritius.
An even bigger disaster was averted much closer to our land when the combined team of ICGS and IN was able to mobilize within hours of MT New Diamond catching fire off the east coast of Sri Lanka.
Both these operations vividly showcased not just our renewed capability to deploy at scale and at vast distances but more importantly our willingness to step up the plate and serve as a first responder to such crises in our maritime neighbourhood.
The third major role that the Indian Navy is called upon to play is to secure and keep safe our sea lanes of communication. This is a critical service that has a direct impact on the economic health and wellbeing our country.
Increasingly though the role of IN in this regard has expanded to not just look at SLOCs from our own national perspective but to secure and protect them as global commons. Today, when IN vessels deploy off the coast of Oman under Op Sankalp, they are providing a service to all nations who have a stake in the stability of SLOCs and choke-free maritime trade.
The fourth and perhaps the most obvious role is ensuring maritime security.
India’s geographical place straddling atop the Indian Ocean gives it a veritable pole position when it comes to maritime security in the region. Nevertheless, the Indian Ocean is now a crowded space and it will take imagination, dedication and will to convert its competitive challenges into cooperative possibilities. You will have a central role to play in this regard.
It is important to note however that in today’s day and age, the concept of maritime security itself has metamorphosed.
Maritime safety and security is increasingly multifaceted, especially with the growth of non-traditional threats. The security palate in front of us includes in equal measure maritime terrorism, smuggling, transnational crimes such as drug-trafficking and arms smuggling, illegal immigration, IUU fishing, piracy to name a few.
These are the threats that you will likely confront on a daily basis, testing your training, resilience and coordination skills.
Fifth is your role as diplomats. Yes, diplomats do not only belong to the Foreign Service. White is also a colour of diplomacy and naval visits, and exchanges play a vital role in facilitating international exchanges.
In many ways, international exchanges and cooperation will be your daily bread and butter, meeting and greeting friendly ships on sea, calling on ports such as this one in Salalah, providing SAR and HADR services to distressed foreign nationals and working with like-minded partners to neutralize maritime threats.
It is possible that upon your retirement, some of you as Naval officers would have seen more countries than your counterparts in the IFS. And no, we are not jealous of that! In fact, the close coordination between diplomats and sailors, i.e. between the MEA and Indian Navy – which I have witnessed from close quarters – is a key instrument of maritime diplomacy and will be an essential skill to you.
Diplomacy brings me to your current perch, our maritime neighbour Oman.
The bilateral maritime history between India and Oman dates back to more than 5000 years. The first contact between these lands was established by sea and till date the oceanic medium remains the key driver of our bilateral cooperation. Story goes that it was a sailor from Oman Abdul Ibn Majid who guided the European explorer Vasco da Gama from the African coast to Indian shores.
Several generations of Indians and Omanis have traversed the Arabian Sea and laid down the keel of an enduring maritime relationship. Consequently, many Indians have also made Oman their home and you will meet some of them during your stay here.
The contributions made by mariners of the yore from coasts of Kutch and Malabar on Indian side and from Salalah, Sur and Muscat from Omani side merits special mention. The warmth and support we enjoy in this land today is largely attributable to the brave seafarers of yesterday.
Many of you will return to these ports during the course of your journeys in the Indian ocean. Many of you will have the opportunity to work closely with the officers of the Royal Navy of Oman.
Cooperation between Indian and Omani naval forces is a force for good in this maritime region and I am sure that the two navies will sail together into deeper waters, learning from each other with mutual respect and understanding.
Your professional conduct and interactions during bilateral engagements with the host navy would contribute immensely to maintaining the excellent reputation that we enjoy.
In conclusion, as you gain your ‘first sea legs’ on completion of ab-initio training at the Indian Naval Academy, let me welcome you to Oman once again.
The Indian Embassy is happy and proud to contribute to your growth and exposure abroad. In addition to the professional interactions, I would urge you to make the most from your stay, explore the wonderful city of Salalah and experience life in Oman.
May you have fair winds and calm seas, an even keel and a steady compass.
Wish you happy sailings, both in this journey and the illustrious naval career that awaits you ahead.
Always remain hands on deck in the service of India.
Jai Hind! Source: Embassy of India, Muscat.
Recent Trade Agreements signed with UAE and Australia were very well received and did not elicit a single negative response from any sector - Shri Piyush Goyal, New Delhi, 13 April 2022.
Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal today said that recent Trade Agreements signed with UAE and Australia were very well received and did not elicit a single negative response from any sector.
He was delivering the keynote address at the 51st National Export Awards of Engineering Export Promotion Council of India in New Delhi today.
Shri Goyal said that our export community had made India proud with stellar achievement in exports.
Pointing out that exports have been the backbone of India’s economy, the Minister said that it was crucial to honour our exporters and recognise their contribution in nation building.
He added that the award function couldn’t have comes at a better time when India is celebrating its enviable exports performance. He congratulated all the award winners and applauded their excellence in entrepreneurship, hard work, planning and management skills.
Shri Goyal said that Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) India had done phenomenal work and was a model Export Promotion Council. He appreciated EEPC India for consistently working with industry in capacity building including technology upgradation, quality, certifications, besides exports promotion.
The Minister urged exporters to adopt an uncompromising stance when it comes to ensuring quality. He said that, as a nation, we must focus on quality and productivity and decide that we would be second to none in the world when it comes to quality and insist upon and demand good quality every single time. Shri Goyal said that we should not make products of two different qualities in the country. Quality standards must be unambiguous, uniform and strict. We must not let quality culture weaken in the country, he cautioned.
The Minister said that export targets were not set at the top but was set in consultation with all stakeholders including Export Promotion Councils.
He said that the government's role is to facilitate trade and not create hurdles. The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi is insistent on ensuring Ease of Doing Business, reduction in compliance burden, decriminalization etc, thereby creating a conducive environment for businesses to grow and prosper, he added. PM GatiShakti is bringing about a culture of the whole of the government approach, the Minister also said.
The world now wants to engage with a trusted partner like India, the Minister said and added that India had sent sizeable delegations consisting of EPCs and MSMEs to UAE and Australia to strengthen economic partnerships, thus building business to business relationships, helping develop markets for labour intensive sectors. The Minister said that Indian Missions across the world have been instructed to strive to promote trade, tourism, technology adoption etc.
Shri Goyal said that the FTAs with UAE and Australia were very well received by stakeholders with not a single negative concern raised by any single sector or a single stakeholder. Underscoring that zero-duty access was provided to Indian goods under recently concluded FTAs, Shri Goyal said that the benefits accruing to Pharma sector in India was remarkable.
Stressing that India does not fear competition, the Minister said that India could contest with any nation on quality and cost.
Shri Piyush Goyal said that India had the potential to achieve exports of USD 1 trillion by 2030. He called for building stronger partnerships with likeminded nations all over the world, especially nations in the African Union.
The Minister said that we must reform our laws, including labour laws and strive to work within the framework of these contemporary and modern laws.
Our dreams should have wings and we must have the intent and the courage and the confidence to fly, the Minister said, addressing the exporters. Extraordinary results can be given by ordinary people with vision and leadership. EEPC has vision, leadership, self-confidence and desire to give extraordinary performance, talent and skills, youth Power and wisdom and experience to achieve lofty targets.
It may be noted that India's goods exports have crossed USD 419 billion- highest ever and services exports have also been estimated to touch USD 250 billion. The previous highest value of USD 213 billion was achieved in 2019-20, the Minister pointed out.
It may also be noted that Engineering Goods Export account for more than 25% in India's USD 400 billion plus exports. For the first time, engineering exports had touched approx. USD 10 billion in a month (Mar’22 ). The sector had shown tremendous resilience in the pandemic and had recovered quite remarkably since then, recording a 45 % Year on year growth in 2021-22 viz-a-viz 2020-21, touching approximately USD 111 billion, the Minister noted.
Shri Goyal cautioned that while the above achievements were indeed celebratory for the whole country, we should leave no scope of complacency.
This must be used as a step on the ladder, to reach even loftier landmarks, he said.
Referring to the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) signed with Australia, Shri Goyal said that it was the first agreement signed with a developed country after a decade. He also highlighted that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed with UAE was the fastest ever negotiated bilateral FTA globally. FTA negotiations are going on with UK, Canada, EU, Israel etc. and expected to start with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) soon, he added.
He assured that FTA negotiations were no longer being carried out in silos but were being done with extensive consultations with stakeholders.
111 exporters in 34 product groups bag EEPC India National Award 2018-19 across 7 categories. BHEL, NALCO, HAL, TATA Motors, RINL JSW Steel, Toshiba, Toyota Kirloskar, Bharat Forge and Bajaj Auto were among the winners. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).
India-UAE Consultations on UN Issues, Abu Dhabi, 26 April 2022
The first round of India-UAE UN consultations at Director General (DG) level were held in Abu Dhabi on 26 April. The Indian delegation was led by Shri Prakash Gupta, Joint Secretary (UN- Political) along with officials from the Embassy of India in Abu Dhabi, while the UAE delegation was led by Ms. Ahood Al Zaabi, Director of the United Nations Department of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation.
2. Both sides exchanged views on areas of priority during their ongoing UNSC tenure. In keeping with their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, they agreed to work closely together on key issues on the UNSC agenda, in particular on their shared commitment to reformed multilateralism and counter-terrorism.
3. India also congratulated UAE on its successful Presidency of the UNSC in March 2022. Both sides welcomed their convergences and mutual support on multilateral issues. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Release of Indian sailors on the ship Rwabee from Houthi detention, New Delhi, 25 April 2022.
Government of India is happy that the seven Indian sailors who were on the ship Rwabee and under the detention of the Houthis in Yemen since 02 January 2022 have been released. They reached Muscat yesterday and are expected to travel back to India shortly.
Government of India had been exerting all efforts for the release of the Indian crew members over the past months. Government of India had been in touch with various parties to ensure the safety and well-being of our sailors during this time. The issue was also taken up by the Indian delegation at the UN Security Council.
Government of India would like to thank all concerned parties for the release of the Indian sailors, in particular the Government of Oman. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
PERMANENT MISSION OF INDIA TO THE UN
UNSC Open Briefing and Consultations on Yemen, New York, 14 April 2022.
Thank you, Madam President. I thank UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg and USG Martin Griffiths for their briefings.
2. India welcomes the two-month truce announcement made by all the parties in Yemen, beginning with the holy month of Ramzan. We applaud the efforts of the UN Special Envoy and commend the role played by the countries in the region in facilitating the temporary ceasefire. We hope that this truce will lead to a more comprehensive and durable ceasefire.
3. At the same time, we strongly condemn the cross-border terror attacks, using missiles and drones into the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, including the one that was carried out into Saudi Arabia just three weeks ago. These attacks have resulted in the death and injury of innocent civilians, including Indian nationals. We do hope that the just announced ceasefire will also put an end to such cross-border attacks.
4. The ceasefire announcement could be a first step towards the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Yemen. We also welcome the announcement of additional steps, including permitting a specified number of fuel ships into Hodeida Port and limited number of commercial flights a week in and out of Sanaa, accompanying the truce announcement, that have been agreed between the parties. Full implementation of these steps will help in alleviating the humanitarian suffering of Yemenis. There is a need to strengthen these measures and take further confidence building measures such as exchange of prisoners and detainees.
5. I reiterate India’s demand for the immediate release of the crew members of the vessel, Rwabee, whose onboard crew also includes 7 Indian nationals. UNSCR 2624 had also reiterated this unequivocally. The crew has been unlawfully detained. Regular access to them and updates on their safety and well-being must be ensured by Ansarallah, till they are eventually released.
6. We appreciate UN’s efforts in finding an early resolution to the environmental, humanitarian, and maritime threat posed by the current condition of FSO SAFER. The plan prepared by the UN seems to adopt a more pragmatic approach to resolve the problem. We do hope that this is taken forward for its early implementation.
7. The recently concluded ‘Yemeni-Yemeni consultations’ in Riyadh represent a significant development. We recognize the key role played by the Gulf Cooperation Council in facilitating this dialogue, which complements the UN Special Envoy’s consultations with all Yemeni parties. We hope the recommendations contained in the Final Declaration of these consultations will be implemented in a timely manner. We welcome President Hadi’s irreversible transfer of powers to a new Presidential Leadership Council (PLC).
8. The final goal must be permanent cessation of all violence and hostilities. Towards this end, it is important to promote a Yemeni-led and Yemeni-owned political process addressing the legitimate aspirations of all Yemenis at the earliest.
9. In line with our centuries old relations with Yemen and in keeping with our strong people-to people ties, we have extended humanitarian help to Yemen in the past and we remain committed to do so. India has welcomed people of Yemen even during the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hospitals receive thousands of Yemenis for medical treatment every year and thousands of Yemeni students continue to pursue their studies in India. Last year alone, we issued more than 6000 medical visas and more than 400 student visas to the friendly people of Yemen.
10. Let me conclude by reaffirming India’s strong commitment to Yemen’s unity, sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. Recent events in Yemen have created a window of opportunity to end the violence and suffering of the people of Yemen. I urge all Yemeni parties to seize this opportunity and engage constructively with each other and with the UN Special Envoy to reach a comprehensive negotiated settlement to end the conflict in Yemen.
I thank you. Source: Permanent Mission of India to the UN.
UNSC Open Debate on Question of Palestine, New York, 25 April 2022.
Thank you, Madam President. I thank Special Coordinator Tor Wenessland for his briefing.
We are deeply concerned by the series of incidents at holy places of Jerusalem during the ongoing holy month of Ramzan. The historic status-quo at the holy places of Jerusalem, including Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount, must be respected and upheld. All acts of obstruction, vandalism, and desecration, which violate the sanctity of the holy places —be it in Jerusalem, Nablus or elsewhere —must be unequivocally condemned.
We recognize the efforts made by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority and other countries to avert escalation. It is unfortunate that despite these efforts, the on-ground situation has once again deteriorated. We appeal to all parties to stop the provocations and incitement, which could further worsen the situation. We extend our support to all steps that are aimed at lowering the tensions and restoring calm. We appreciate the efforts made by the UN Secretary-General and the Special Coordinator in this regard.
We are also gravely concerned about the acts of terror and incidents of violence in Israel and the West Bank. We have consistently advocated against all acts of terror and violence. We strongly condemn such acts, which have resulted in an increasingly high number of casualties, including women and children. It is time to show restraint, desist from provocative actions that fuel tensions, and abide by Security Council Resolution 2334. We urge all sides to take immediate steps for a complete cessation of violence.
The recent rocket fire from Gaza and the retaliatory air strikes by Israel demonstrate the fragility of the situation and possible potential for escalation. We call on all parties to de-escalate and respect the ceasefire. The continued precarious financial situation of UNRWA remains a matter of concern, as the Palestinian refugee community in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere depend on services provided by the Agency. I reiterate India’s commitment to supporting UNRWA financially to help the Agency overcome the liquidity crisis. India has already contributed USD 20 million over the last 4 years and has also pledged USD 5 million for UNRWA’s program budget for the year 2022.
The ongoing incidents once again underscore the need for immediate resumption of peace talks between Israel and Palestine. The absence of such direct negotiations is not conducive to securing long-term peace and will only increase the risk of recurrence, and escalation of such violence. An early return to the political dialogue process by launching credible direct negotiations, while addressing the security and economic challenges, is an immediate necessity.
India has consistently called for direct peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for Statehood and Israel’s legitimate security concerns. The UN and the international community must prioritize the revival of these negotiations.
In conclusion, I reaffirm India’s unwavering commitment to the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine living within secure and recognized borders, side by side at peace with Israel. There is no other alternative to a negotiated two-State solution.
I thank you. Source: Permanent Mission of India to the UN.
UNSC briefing/consultations-Syria (political/humanitarian), New York, 27 April 2022.
Thank you, Madam President.
I join others in thanking Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen and Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Ms. Joyce Msuya for their briefings. I also thank Ms. Nirvana Shawky of Care International her insights. I also welcome the presence of Representatives of Syria, Turkey and Iran in today’s meeting. for their updates today.
2. On the political track, there has not been much progress since the meeting of 7th session of the Small Body of the Constitutional Committee held last month. We note that the Special Envoy has remained in touch with the two co-chairs on convening of the next session. We are of the view that early convening of the next session is important to maintain momentum in the talks. In this regard, we take note of announcement made by Special Envoy about convening of the 8th session on 28th May. In order to ensure credible progress, all sides need to engage constructively and purposefully, with some sense of compromise. External influence on the sides will only prove detrimental to the interest of the overall political process. It is for the Syrians to determine and decide what is best for Syria and their own future.
3. The Special Envoy has been making efforts to bring out all sides and facilitate the political process, in line with the resolution 2254. We support his proactive diplomacy to build momentum on the political track, including through the step-by-step process.
4. India has been consistent in calling for support to the regional efforts in finding a long-term solution to the conflict. The progressive normalization of Syria’s relations with its Arab neighbours in the recent months is an encouraging development. We also welcome UAE’s proactive engagement with Syria.
5. On the security front, we remain concerned with the overall situation in Syria. As pointed out in SG’s recent 60-day report, violence continued in the Idlib de-escalation area in the north-west of the Syrian Arab Republic, including through airstrikes, mutual shelling and clashes. There is an urgent need for genuinely serious attempts towards comprehensive nationwide ceasefire in Syria. Towards this end, we believe that withdrawal of foreign forces is essential to realize this objective.
6. India has also been repeatedly reiterating the looming threat posed by resurgence of terrorist groups in Syria. UN designated terrorist groups such as ISIL and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham are gaining in strength not just in Syria, but in Iraq as well. We reiterate that global fight against terrorism cannot and should not be compromised for narrow political gains. The credibility of the international community’s collective fight against terrorism can be strengthened only by ensuring accountability for the grave and inhuman acts of terror committed by terrorists and terrorist groups. Towards this end, India has made a contribution of USD 200,000 to support UNITAD’s investigations, including through development and use of chemical and biological weapons by ISIL in Iraq.
7. On the humanitarian side; as the conflict in Syria enters its twelfth year, the needs of the population continue to grow. More than 14 million people across the Syrian Arab Republic remain in need of humanitarian assistance, more than at any time since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. We must not lose sight of the sufferings that Syrian people face on a daily basis.
8. The ongoing cross-border operations continue to negatively impact on the sovereignty of the Syrian State. In the northwest, we believe there is considerable scope for expanding crossline operations and we welcome the recent operation in March. We continue to encourage OCHA and other UN agencies to expend efforts to enhance cross-line operations.
9. There is need to scale up humanitarian assistance and shore up donor support for Syria humanitarian response plan of the UN. The response plan remains under-funded, particularly with regard to building resilience and access to basic services. We also continue to believe that it is critical to achieve progress on implementation of UNSCR 2585, concerning early recovery and infrastructure.
10. On our part, India has continued to extend developmental assistance and human resource development support to Syria. India will continue to support the people of Syria in their endeavour for seeking lasting peace and stability.
I thank you. Source: Permanent Mission of India to the UN.
UNSC briefing on Libya by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), New York, 28 April 2022.
I would like to join others in thanking the Prosecutor, Mr. Karim Khan, for his briefing today and for his comprehensive report on the work of the Office with regard to Libya.
2. At the very outset, I would like to state on record that India is not a party to the Rome Statue. When the Libyan issue was referred to the ICC way back in 2011, India had expressed its doubts about such a course of action. Subsequent events have, unfortunately, vindicated our doubts.
3. It is clear from this report of the Prosecutor as well as the reports preceding this, that the referral to the ICC had no effect in bringing about cessation of violence or restoration of stability in the country. In fact, subsequent developments have only reinforced our view that when cases are referred to the Court primarily for political reasons, the ICC mechanism may not be best suited to serve the purpose of justice.
4. Recent developments and political disagreements in Libya are a matter of concern. We hope that all outstanding political issues could be resolved peacefully by the parties concerned, keeping the larger interests of the Libyan people in mind. The ceasefire agreement of October 2020 has held firm till now, and we hope that all parties will work together to maintain peace and stability. In this regard, we once again reiterate the imperative for holding the Presidential and Parliamentary elections at the earliest. Holding of the elections in a timely manner would be necessary to carry forward the momentum generated by signing of Ceasefire Agreement. We note and welcome the convening of the consultations of the Joint Committee of the House of Representatives and the High Council of State in Cairo by the Special Advisor to the Secretary General to determine the constitutional basis for the elections.
5. The priority right now is to ensure that elections are held at the earliest in a free, fair, inclusive, and credible manner. We hope that all parties in Libya can unite around this common purpose. It is important for the Security Council and the international community to support the Libyan people in this endeavour.
We also need to send a clear message that violence in any form is condemnable and would undermine the progress achieved since 2020.
6. We must ensure that terrorist groups and affiliated entities are not allowed to operate unchallenged in Libya. The continued presence and activities of ISIL in Libya is of serious concern, also due to the potential cascading effect it could have throughout the Sahel region.
7. India has traditionally enjoyed close and mutually beneficial bilateral ties with Libya. We hope that all efforts by the international community contribute towards achieving unity, peace, security and stability and bring about an inclusive and comprehensive national reconciliation.
I thank you. Source: Permanent Mission of India to the UN.
UNSC briefing/consultations on Syria (Chemical Weapons), New York, 29 April 2022.
Madam President, we would like to thank Under Secretary General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu for her update.
2. We have taken note of the contents of the latest monthly report by DG-OPCW. We also note the recent monthly submission made by Syria detailing measures undertaken to implement its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
3. We encourage continued engagement between Syria and the OPCW Technical Secretariat to resolve the outstanding issues. We are hopeful that the twenty fifth round of consultations between the Declaration Assessment Team and Syrian National Authority will be organized at the earliest. Further, we also hope that next round of inspections of the Barzah and Jamrayah facilities of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) will be held at an early date.
4. Today marks the 25 anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention. India attaches high importance to the Chemical Weapons Convention and stands for its full, effective, and non-discriminatory implementation. We support the collective efforts by all the parties to ensure that the credibility and integrity of this Convention is maintained to the fullest.
5. India is against the use of chemical weapons by anybody, anywhere, at any time and under any circumstances. India has consistently maintained that any investigation into the use of chemical weapons must be impartial, credible and objective. Such an investigation should follow scrupulously the provisions and procedures embedded in the Convention, and in conformity with the delicate balance of power and responsibility enshrined under it, to establish facts and reach evidence-based conclusions.
6. India has also been repeatedly cautioning against the possibility of terrorist entities and individuals gaining access to chemical weapons, including in the region. The reports of UNITAD have also referred to the repeated deployments of chemical weapons by UN proscribed terrorist groups and those affiliated to ISIL against civilian populations between 2014 and 2016. The international community’s collective fight against terrorism will be strengthened by ensuring accountability for the grave and inhuman acts of terror committed by terrorists and terrorist groups. Towards this end, India has made a contribution of USD 200,000 to support UNITAD’s investigations.
7. India continues to believe that progress on other tracks would also help in facilitating overall political peace process in Syria, as underscored in Resolution 2254.
I thank you. Source: Permanent Mission of India to the UN.
First India-France Consultations on West Asia and North Africa (WANA), New Delhi, 12 April 2022.
The first ever Consultations between India and France on West Asia and North Africa Region were held on 12 April 2022 in virtual mode. They were co-chaired by Ambassador H.E Ms. Anne Gueguen, Director of Middle East and North Africa Directorate, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, France and Dr. Pradeep Singh Rajpurohit, Joint Secretary (WANA), MEA, Government of India.
2. The two sides had wide ranging discussions on respective priorities, areas of mutual interest and exchanged views on major issues including the political, security, economic, and trade dimensions of the West Asia and North Africa region.
3. Both sides agreed to further strengthen their cooperation in the region and to continue the discussions periodically. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Unstarred Question No. 5016, Strengthening of The India Energy Security, Lok Sabha, 01 April 2022.
5016. SHRI KHAGEN MURMU:
Will the Minister of External Affairs be pleased to state:
(a) whether the strengthening of ties with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran will bolster India’s energy security, which is inseparable from maritime peace and stability in the entire region; and
(b) if so, the initiatives taken by the Government in this regard?
THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS (DR. RAJKUMAR RANJAN SINGH)
(b) India has entered into Comprehensive Strategic Partnership both with Saudi Arabia and UAE. Saudi Arabia and UAE are important suppliers of hydrocarbons to India. In 2019, India and Saudi Arabia signed 12 MoUs including the Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) Agreement. Under the Strategic Partnership Council, there is a JWG on Energy, under which all aspects of bilateral energy cooperation are discussed. India has elevated its hydrocarbon relationship with UAE from that of a buyer-seller to the level of strategic partnership. Indian companies have invested in producing upstream assets in UAE. The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has participated in the strategic reserve program of India. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
As part of the policy, the MEI@ND standardizes spellings and date format to make the text uniformly accessible and stylistically consistent. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views/positions of the MEI@ND. Editor, MEI@ND P R Kumaraswamy
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