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'Hope countries take...': This is what MEA said on Pakistan Army chief's visit to US, Canada and Red Sea

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that Islamabad's support of terrorism and cross-border attacks are well known after Pakistan Army Chief Asim Munir's maiden visit to the US. He also highlighted that Canada has consistently given space to extremists and anti-India elements on its soil.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee New Delhi Published on: December 21, 2023 17:41 IST
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi
Image Source : MEA/YOUTUBE Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi

India on Thursday responded to several issues pertaining to Pakistan Army Chief's visit to the United States, the ongoing diplomatic row with Canada, the attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea and the detainment of an Indian national in connection with an alleged assassination attempt on a designated Khalistani terrorist.

Speaking on Pakistan Army chief Asim Munir's first US visit, India reiterated its concern for Islamabad's support for terrorism and cross-border attacks and hoped that other countries take the issue of counter-terrorism seriously. "Our concern about Pakistan's support for terrorism and cross-border attacks is well known. We hope other countries also take counter-terrorism seriously," MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

During the trip, Munir also met key government officials including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defence (retired) General Llyod J. Austin, Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, Deputy National Security Adviser Jonathan Finer and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Q Brown.

Given space to extremists, terrorists: India on Canada

Speaking on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recent remarks on relations with India over the allegations surrounding Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the MEA again highlighted the issue of extremists, terrorists and anti-India elements being given space on Canadian soil and the misuse of freedom of speech and expression. 

"The core issue remains the space that is given to extremists and terrorists and, anti-India elements in that country. I think you would heard also from the External Affairs Minister recently as well as others, about the developments of that case...and we would hope that they would take action on such extremist, elements that are misusing the freedom of speech and expression in their country," Bagchi said.

Earlier, Trudeau said he believes India's relations with Canada may have undergone "a tonal shift" in the days since the unsealing of a US indictment alleging a conspiracy to murder India-designated terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil.

"I think there is a beginning of an understanding that they can't bluster their way through this and there is an openness to collaborating in a way that perhaps they were less open before. We don't want to be in a situation of fighting with India right now over this," he said.

MEA on Indian national detained in Czech Republic

Reacting to the detainment of Indian national Nikhil Gupta in the Pannun case, the External Affairs Ministry said that India has received consular access thrice and is extending necessary consular assistance to the individual.

"An India National is currently in the custody of Czech authorities, pending a request for extradition to the US. We have received consular access 3 times. We are extending necessary consular assistance to the individual as per requirement..," said Bagchi.

Meanwhile, Gupta has approached the Supreme Court against his arrest and ongoing extradition proceedings in the Czech Republic. While hearing the plea, the apex court ruled, "This is a sensitive matter for MEA. It is for them to decide that. We received the file late night. We have not gone into details." Next hearing will be held on January 4.

India has proven a track record in hydrography: MEA on Maldives

The Ministry also responded to Maldives' decision to not renew an agreement with India on a joint hydrographic review, saying that India has a proven track record and has cooperation with other countries in the Indian Ocean Region on relevant issues.

"India has a proven track record in the field of hydrography and we have also been cooperating with many countries in the Indian Ocean region on hydrography and various elements related to that. The benefits to partner countries are visible," the spokesperson remarked.

Newly-appointed Maldives President Dr Mohamed Muizzu has demanded the withdrawal of 77 Indian military personnel from the archipelago and ordered the review of over 100 agreements with India. Muizzu said his top officials conveyed the Indian Government’s assurance to honour and respect the desire of the Maldivian people to abstain from accommodating foreign military presence within the country. 

India on attacks in Red Sea

India also maintained its support for the free movement of commercial shipping, in the wake of attacks on commercial ships in the strategic Red Sea by Houthi rebels in Yemen amid the Israel-Hamas war. The MEA also said that it is monitoring the situation as it is also part of international efforts to ensure free shipping.

"India has always been supportive of the free movement of commercial shipping so that is something that we are interested in. We are, of course, monitoring the developments there. We're also part of international efforts to ensure free shipping, whether it be piracy or otherwise, India has been involved in it," Bagchi added.

Meanwhile, assaults on ships in the Red Sea by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have led major shipping companies to suspend trade through the strategic waterway and prompted the US and allies to launch a new international mission to counter the attacks.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin outlined the ways Houthi attacks are destabilising maritime security and impacting the global economy in a virtual ministerial meeting with representatives from 43 countries. "This is an international challenge that demands collective action. Therefore today I am announcing the establishment of Operation Prosperity Guardian, an important new multinational security initiative," said the US Defence Secretary in a statement in Bahrain.

(with inputs from agencies)

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