New Delhi: India on Thursday defended its decision to abstain from voting on the Israel-Palestine conflict at the UN Human Rights Council and said such a position was hardly a new one.
"....The position that we took (at UNHRC) is not a new position. And we have abstained on previous occasions and I think that explains our position quite clearly," MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi told reporters at a virtual media conference.
With regard the letter from the Palestinian foreign minister to External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar registering strong protest over India's abstention, the MEA spokesman said, "Regarding the letter from the Palestinian foreign minister, I understand that Palestine has written similar letters to all the countries that abstained during the UNHRC vote".
Palestinian foreign minister Riad Malki in a letter to his Indian counterpart on May 30 had said that India’s abstention during the UNHRC vote on May 27 “stifles the important work of Human Rights Council at advancing human rights for all peoples, including those of the Palestinian people”.
On the vexed issue of 'origin' of Covid19, Mr Bagchi said: "This is a very important issue. The WHO is undertaking a global study on the origin of Covid19. You will recall we have recently issued a statement welcoming this as an important first step and sought the cooperation of all further studies. I think that explains our position clearly".
On the issue of 'disengagement' along the India-China border, the MEA spokesman said, I would like to reiterate what I have shared earlier that the process of disengagement remains unfinished. The two sides have agreed that in the interim they would maintain stability on the ground and avoid any new incidents. It is our expectation therefore that neither side should do anything that is not in keeping with these understandings".
He underlined that an early completion of disengagement in the remaining areas could lead to a de-escalation of forces in Eastern Ladakh, which would hopefully lead to full restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas and enable overall progress in the bilateral relationship.
The remarks come close on the heels of a statement from Army Chief Gen M M Naravane, who has said that there can be no de-escalation without complete disengagement at all friction points in eastern Ladakh. The Army chief also said the Indian Army is prepared for all contingencies in the region.
On pandemic vaccines:
On Covid19 vaccines and related issues, he said, "We remain engaged with US vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna as part of the effort to fight the pandemic. We are also engaged with the US Administration to ensure that necessary components and raw materials for vaccine production in India are readily available".
Bagchi further said, "This issue was taken up most recently during External Affairs Minister Jaishankar's visit to the US. It is in our mutual interest to combat the global pandemic by expediting vaccination efforts".