Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla discussed the need for early removal of restrictions imposed on travel from India and the mutual recognition of Covid vaccination certificates in his meetings in the UK last week, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
Other bilateral issues raised by Shringla with UK officials included implementation of the migration and mobility partnership, global innovation partnership, climate action, return of economic offenders, defence and security ties, regional issues including Afghanistan, UNSC and Commonwealth matters, Bagchi said at a press briefing on Thursday.
On Chabahar port
Answering questions on the Chabahar port in Iran, the Spokesperson said India has welcomed the formation of India-Uzbekistan-Iran-Afghanistan Quadrilateral Working Group on the joint use of Chabahar port and its first meeting is likely to take place in the second half of this year.
India has also proposed to include the port in the framework of the International North South Transport Corridor.
Bagchi stated that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, at a recently held meeting on connectivity in Tashkent, highlighted that India has taken practical steps since 2016 to operationalise the Chabahar port and that its efficacy is now clearly proven. “Since December 2018, Chabahar port has handled 134 vessels, 14,258 TEUs of containers and more than 2.08 million tonnes of bulk and general cargo,” he said.
India started interacting with Iran on Chabahar Port around 2003 but a major push was received in the second half of 2014, resulting in the signing of an MoU between the two countries for the development of Chabahar Port in May 2015. This MoU translated into a formal 10-year contract for equipping and operating the Chabahar Port, which was executed in May 2016, per the Indian government.
On the elections held in PoK, the MEA said that the so-called elections in Indian territory under the illegal occupation of Pakistan are nothing but an attempt by the neighbouring country to camouflage its illegal occupation and the material changes undertaken by it in these territories.
“India has lodged a strong protest with the Pakistani authorities on this cosmetic exercise, which has been protested and rejected by the local people. Such an exercise can neither hide the illegal occupation by Pakistan nor the grave human rights violations, exploitation, and denial of freedom to people in these occupied territories. Pakistan has no locus standi on these Indian territories. We call upon Pakistan to vacate all Indian areas under its illegal occupation,” Bagchi said.