External Affairs Minister Shares India’s Perspective On Citizenship Law With U.S.’ Foreign Relations Committee
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. (Source: Jaishankar’s official Twitter account)

External Affairs Minister Shares India’s Perspective On Citizenship Law With U.S.’ Foreign Relations Committee

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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is in the U.S. for 2+2 dialogue, has shared India's perspective on the Citizenship Amendment Act with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's leadership in Washington.

However, the issue of citizenship law did not figure during the Indo-U.S. foreign and defence ministerial dialogue, under the 2+2 dialogue framework, as it is an internal matter of India, MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Thursday.

"This issue, being an internal matter of India, was not discussed in the two-plus-two meeting," he said during a media briefing.

Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held extensive talks with their U.S. counterparts Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday under the framework.

Kumar said Jaishankar shared India's perspective on the amended citizenship law with the leadership of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

He also suggested that the issue was not discussed during the bilateral talks between Jaishankar and Pompeo.

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Kumar also asserted that outreach to foreign governments on the issue will continue.

On Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's comment on protests in India over the citizenship law, the MEA Spokesperson said Islamabad should look inwards and not try to meddle into affairs of a neighboring country. "They should behave like a normal neighbour."

Responding to queries on protests against the law, Kumar referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for peace, unity and brotherhood, and asserted that India's institutions are well equipped to deal with any difference of opinion in a peaceful manner.

"I do not think any external agency has any locus standi to comment on a matter which is completely internal to India," Kumar said.

On Afghanistan being reportedly upset over comments by Home Minister Amit Shah that some Hindus in Afghanistan faced religious persecution, Kumar said the period referred to was during the Taliban rule. "We did not say that persecution took place under the current government."

The MEA spokesperson downplayed the decision by foreign and home minister of Bangladesh to defer their visits to India, saying much should not be read into rescheduling of these meetings.

A meeting of India-Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission, scheduled this week, has also been postponed following a request by Dhaka.

"With Bangladesh, there are over 75 dialogue mechanisms, dates of which are decided through mutual consultations. Our understanding is that a relationship that is as close as between our two countries should not be defined in terms of postponement of a visit here and there," he said.

On the joint commission meeting, Kumar referred to a statement by Bangladesh government.

"There is a statement by Bangladeshi foreign minister where he has explained why the joint water commission was postponed. He essentially says that they did not have the data from the six rivers. Therefore, the discussion that could have taken place would not bear fruit," he said.

"What is happening within India is an internal matter. We enjoy excellent relationship with Bangladesh. Both countries are keen to work together for deepening our partnership in the future. I don't think much should be read in some of the isolated incidents of rescheduling of meetings that are taking place than to what appears to us to be very obvious," he said.

Kumar also reiterated that Pakistan is illegally occupying parts of India when asked about reports that Islamabad was trying to alter status of Pakistan-occupied- Kashmir.

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