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Randhir Jaiswal succceeds Arindam Bagchi as the new MEA Spokesperson, briefs on Iran, China, Red Sea & Qatar Naval officers sentence

By Priti Prakash | PUBLISHED: 05, Jan 2024, 14:39 pm IST | UPDATED: 09, Jan 2024, 20:00 pm IST

Randhir Jaiswal succceeds Arindam Bagchi as the new MEA Spokesperson, briefs on Iran, China, Red Sea & Qatar Naval officers sentence  Photo Credit: Priti Prakash

New Delhi: Randhir Jaiswal, an officer of the 1998 batch of the Indian Foreign Service, succeeds the previous spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi. The new MEA spokesperson previously served as consul general in New York in July 2020.Jaiswal has served in Portugal, Cuba, South Africa and at India's permanent mission to the UN in New York.

Earlier in October 2023, MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi was appointed India's next Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva.

In his first briefing to the press on January 4, 2024 Randhir Jaiswal, newly appointed Spokesperson MEA answered to queries on a number of issues concerning India. From India's repsonse to Red Sea attacks on martime assets, Qatar Naval Officers sentences, EAM's Nepal visit, Maldives, China, Iran bomblings and Venezuela oil supply to India.

Giving an update on the situation in Red Sea, where an India bound ship was targeted Jaiswal said, 'we attach very high importance to freedom of navigation, free movement of commercial shipping. We are looking at the situation. It's an evolving situation and we are looking at all aspects of it. We have Indian Navy ships patrolling the area. They are also keeping a watch on Indian ships there. So far, we are not part of any multilateral initiative or project in the area. So that is where we are, but we are looking at the unfolding situation very closely.'

On the latest position on China he said, It is a relationship which is not normal, but we have had dialogues both on the military side and on the diplomatic side. In the month of October and November, we had both these engagements. And the idea is that we engage, so that we can have some sort of resolution. The Commander level meeting that we had in the month of October and there was an agreement to maintain momentum of dialogue and negotiations through relevant military and diplomatic mechanisms, and they also committed to maintain peace and tranquility on the ground at the border areas in the interim. So that's very important. We also had the 28th meeting of the WMCC, i.e. Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs. This is at the diplomatic level. We had our Joint Secretary, East Asia participating there, and the idea…they had very good in-depth discussion, constructive discussion, frank discussion, and they looked at all the proposals to resolve remaining issues and achieve complete disengagement in Eastern Ladakh.'

Regarding the case of 8 Naval Officers in Qatar custody Jaiswal said, 'on 28th of December, the Court of Appeal had given a judgement that the death penalty has been reduced. Now, we have the judgement order, which is a confidential document. The legal team has access to it. What we can tell you, confirm to you is, that the death penalty has now been converted into varying prison sentences for the 8 Indian nationals. On the next steps, we are in touch with the family members, we are also in touch with the legal team. They have 60 days, the legal team has to, the court has given 60 days for the appeal to be made before the Court of Cassation, which is the highest court in Qatar; and it is for the legal team now to decide the next course of action.'

As per media reports there are indications that Indian-made artillery shells have been spotted in Ukraine which have been shared by pro-Ukrainian handles on social media. Reports also suggest that they might be a result of transfer from third countries, from European countries. On this Jaiswal said, 'We can categorically say that we have not sent any of these artillery ammunitions to Ukraine. Not exported, we have not sent.'

On the issue of recent Iran bombing which killed 200 people, Jaiswal said, 'We had issued a statement that said, we are very shocked and saddened, its a very tragic incident, where a significant number of people lost their lives in the city of Kerman. At this difficult time, we stand with the people of Iran and the Iranian government. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims, and with those who were affected and injured in the incident.'

On Venezuela supplying oil to India in lieu of $600 million dues, MEA Spokeperson said, 'we have given to understand that there is now an understanding, that Venezuela has agreed to provide crude oil in lieu of dividend that they owe to OVL. However, there are several technicalities that are involved in it, which have to be looked into, including the OFAC regulations, including quotas, etc.