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SOURCE: PTI

Capacity building is an “important component” in India’s defence and security engagement with the Maldives and “we will be happy to take it forward” if New Delhi receives a request from Male for training their pilots, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday.

Randhir Jaiswal, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson, made the comment during his weekly briefing in response to a query over reports on issues related to operation of an aviation platform in the Maldives.

Indian military personnel were stationed in the Maldives to operate two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft, used primarily for medical evacuations. The last batch of Indian military personnel were repatriated by May 10, according to the deadline set following an agreement between the two countries in February.

The MEA spokesperson said, “Yes, capacity building is an important component in our defence and security engagement with the Maldives. We have in the past trained their personnel on the defence side and, if we receive a request for training of pilots, if this request is made, we will be happy to take it forward.”
The Maldives is one of India’s key maritime neighbours in the Indian Ocean Region and the overall bilateral ties, including in areas of defence and security, witnessed an upward trajectory under the previous government in Male.

On a query on a fourth Indian national being arrested recently by Canadian authorities in connection with the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the MEA spokesperson said, “Yes, we have seen reports of the fourth person being arrested.”
“We have so far formally not (been) conveyed of it and so far we haven’t received any consular access request,” he said.

A fourth Indian national was arrested by Canadian authorities in connection with the killing of Nijjar, a week after police arrested three Indians linked with the high-profile case that has strained India’s relations with Canada.

Nijjar (45) was killed outside Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, last June.

On another query on Indian students facing some issues in Canada, Jaiswal said, “We have a large number of students who have gone to Canada to study … The figure is significant”.

“About what you are referring (to) is that certain students are facing problems that we haven’t come across as of now … deportation … I don’t have an update on that. We are not aware of that. There may be one case here or one case there but that’s about it. We don’t see any major problem as far as the students in Canada…,” he added.

The MEA spokesperson was also asked about reports claiming that a ship carrying arms, which left India and headed to Israel, was “denied” a port of call in Spain.

“Today, in the morning, we saw some reports which talked about a ship, a Danish-flagged ship which was taking some supplies to … they had requested for a port call. We have seen the reports, we are looking into the matter, we will come back to you with more details as and when we have,” the MEA spokesperson said.

On a question on Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, he said, “Our stand, our position on it (PoK and CPEC) is very clear. You know that it impacts India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Our position on the region of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir is also very clear. This region, Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, is an integral part of India and it always has been and will always be so.”
The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan with China’s Xinjiang province, is opposed by India as it is being laid through PoK.

Asked if there will be any Indian delegation to Taipei and what India’s expectations will be from the new government in Taiwan, he said that with Taiwan, “we have ongoing exchanges, in cultural field, in economic field, trade field, investment field, scientific field, and we will continue with these exchanges”.

On the recent visit of Special Envoy of the Russian President on Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov to India, Jaiswal said he met an Indian delegation led by Joint Secretary JP Singh, who looks after Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran in the Ministry of External Affairs.

“They had bilateral consultations on Afghanistan. They discussed the situation that is there on ground. They also emphasised on the need to continue providing development assistance and humanitarian support to the people of Afghanistan. So this was the context. They had bilateral conversation, between the two,” Jaiswal added.