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Pakistan accuses India of ‘not forthcoming’ to resume dialogue, says attitude impeding prospects of normalisation

India is “not forthcoming” in resuming comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan and such an attitude is “impeding” prospects of normalisation of bilateral relations, Pakistan’s envoy to the UN has said.Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told a group of students and faculty members from the US Army War College last week that despite a positive start following the coming to power of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India suspended talks between the two countries on “flimsy grounds and set unacceptable pre-conditions” for their revival.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to a press release by the Pakistan Mission at the UN, Lodhi said in spite of Pakistan’s call to resume broad-based, comprehensive dialogue, “India was still not forthcoming”.
ALSO READ India, Pakistan in contact with each other, should not foreclose any options on talks, says top Pak official “This attitude was impeding prospects of normalisation between the two countries,” the release said.Lodhi said that defeating terrorism, growing the economy and building a peaceful neighbourhood were among Pakistan’s top priorities, including promoting peace and security in Afghanistan and normalising relations with India on the basis of resolution of outstanding disputes.
ALSO READ India slams use of ‘hidden veto’ at UN, demands accountability after China blocks bid to ban Masood Azhar”These national priorities frame our international diplomacy and our foreign engagements,” she said.Lodhi further said one of Pakistan’s key priorities was regional connectivity and integration and cited the connectivity project with China linking the two countries through an economic corridor.”The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that would link Pakistan to Central Asia and the Eurasian landmass will not be confined to China and Pakistan but will be win-win for the entire region,” the release said.

Jayalalithaa seeks PM Modi’s intervention in return of 63 stranded fishermen in Saudi Arabia

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in the repatriation (process of returning a person to their place of origin or citizenship) of 63 ‘stranded’ Indian fishermen in Saudi Arabia.In a letter, Jayalalithaa said while 62 fishermen hailed from different districts of the state including Nagapattinam and Cuddalore, the other was from Kerala.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They had gone to Jubail in Saudi Arabia on different dates since 2013 and have informed that the company has not been paying them their share from the fishing catch as per the terms of employment, she said.
ALSO READ Now, 59 Indian fishermen get caught in Pakistani net “Hence the fishermen are struggling to meet their daily needs and are unable to send money to their dependent families back home,” Jayalalithaa said.”Having lost hope of receiving fair remuneration from their employers, these 63 fishermen requested the company to enable their return to India which was refused by the company. It is reported that their passports are in the custody of the company which is now neither allowing them to work nor return to India,” she said, adding, they were now stranded there.She requested the Prime Minister to immediately intervene in the matter and direct the Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia to take up the issue at the highest level with the authorities there and ensure the immediate repatriation of these “poor, innocent fishermen from Tamil Nadu.””Further, our authorities in Saudi Arabia should also ensure that necessary steps are taken to enable the fishermen to receive their wages rightfully due to them as per the terms of their contract,” she said in the letter, copy of which was made available to the media on Saturday.Jayalalithaa requested Modi to take immediate action in the matter “as the families of these poor fishermen from Tamil Nadu are anxious about their safety and are also suffering without any means of livelihood.”

Brussels attack: Bengaluru-based Infosys employee missing; Sushma Swaraj ensures search is on

New Delhi: An Infosys employee from Bengaluru has been missing in Brussels since the deadly terror attacks and the Indian Embassy in the Belgian capital was making efforts to locate him.

The missing employee has been identified as Raghavendran Ganesh.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the Indian Embassy in Brussels was trying to trace Ganesh.

“We are doing our best to locate Raghavendran Ganesh,” Swaraj tweeted.

A file photo of Sushma Swaraj. AFPA file photo of Sushma Swaraj. AFP

A file photo of Sushma Swaraj. AFP

Official sources said Ganesh is an Infosys employee and hails from Bengaluru.

Two Jet Airways crew members — Nidhi Chaphekar and Amit Motwanai — were injured in Tuesday’s explosions at Brussels’ Zaventem airport and Swaraj said they are recovering well. Both Nidhi and Amit are from Mumbai.

“I have just spoken to Manjeev Puri, our Ambassador in Brussels. He has informed me that Nidhi and Amit are both
recovering well,” she said.

Swaraj said government was coordinating with Jet airways to evacuate Indian citizens.

“The airport is still not open. This may take some time. We are coordinating with @jetairways on alternate plans to
evacuate our citizens,” she said.

The airline, which has cancelled its flight services to Brussels till Thursday in view of the closure of the airport following Tuesday’s blasts, also said its teams are closely working with the local authorities for resumption of operations.

Brussels airport serves as the Mumbai-based airline’s European hub for its international operations, which is now
being relocated to Dutch capital Amsterdam from coming Sunday.


No report of any Indian casualty in Brussels explosions: MEA

There has been no report of any Indian casualty in the twin explosions at the Brussels airport, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Tuesday.”We have spoken to our Ambassador. No reports of any Indian casualties,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.The twin explosions rocked the main hall of Brussels airport killing at least one person and wounding several others, officials said in Brussels.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Belgium on March 30 for the India-EU Summit. From Belgium, he is scheduled to travel to Washington for Nuclear Security Summit from March 31.

Sushma Swaraj meets Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli ahead of Saarc summit

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday night held an over hour-long meeting with the Nepalese Prime Minister K P Oli, during which key bilateral issues are understood to have been discussed. Swaraj met Oli at the Shangri-La hotel here, following a dinner hosted by SAARC Secretary General Ajay Bahadur Thapa.The meeting between the two leaders comes ahead of the 37th SAARC Council of Ministers meeting, beginning here tomorrow. Interestingly, neither the Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar nor the Indian Ambassador here Ranjeet Ray, besides Joint-Secretary (North) Abhay Thakur were present during the meeting. Though Indian officials described the meeting as a routine call-on, even they were surprised at the duration of over hour-long meeting. The meeting between Swaraj and Oli comes nearly a month after the Nepalese Prime Minister’s visit to India.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bilateral ties between the two countries had faced turbulence in the recent past due to the months-long Madhesi agitation and subsequent road-blocks which had put the Nepalese government in a spot. Earlier today, Swaraj arrived here for a three-day visit to attend the SAARC Ministerial meeting during which she will push ahead India’s “neighbourhood first” policy and review the progress of decisions taken by the grouping last year.Swaraj arrived here on a Mi17 chopper from Gorkhpur, Uttar Pradesh.The 37th SAARC Council of Ministers meeting will take place tomorrow after which she will also hold bilateral talks with her counterparts from several countries. SAARC member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Assaulted by goons, Indian medical student dies in Russia

An Indian medical student, who was in a coma at a trauma centre after being attacked by local goons in Russian city of Kazan, has died, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Wednesday. “I am pained to inform that Yasir – an Indian medical student from Srinagar has succumbed to his injuries in Russia,” Swaraj tweeted. Yasir was admitted to a trauma centre in Kazan the capital city of Russian province of Tatarstan.Yesterday, Swaraj had directed Indian Ambassador in Russia Pankaj Saran to extend all possible help to Yasir after receiving an SOS through a tweet that the student was in a hospital in coma after being attacked by local goons, who also took away his money and documents.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She had yesterday said the Indian mission will take up the case with with Russian authorities. “I have got complete report on Yasir. An Indian Doctor is treating him in Kazan Trauma Centre in Russia. Our Embassy officials will go and see Yasir in hospital tomorrow. We will bear all expenses on his treatment,” she had said in a tweet yesterday.

For environment’s sake, let oil flow be free of political dealings and feuds

The Mexican foreign Minister is about to touch down into India. I asked the Mexican Ambassador Melba Pria, what does India buy from Mexico? She answered, 4% of India’s oil imports are from Mexico. What raced through my mind was, this was too far away, especially when the neighbouring West Asia is full of oil.Huge amounts of money are wasted transporting oil needless distances. India is now the world’s third-largest oil importer, expected to bring in 188 million tonnes of crude in FY 16. India is starting to get less oil from West<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asia, and more from far away Venezuela. The world’s biggest crude oil importer, the US, gets the bulk of it from distant Saudi Arabia, not neighbouring Mexico. If countries got oil from the nearest source instead of from across the world, both money and the environment could be saved.Why do oil tankers travel so far then?The type of imported crude needs to be compatible with that country’s oil refineries. For example, oil from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is heavier than standard Brent crude, or the even lighter oil from Texas. Unless billions of dollars go into an upgrade, oil refineries only work with specific types of oil. Heavier oil requires a sturdier refinery. Another way to think about it, it’s kind of like refining Apple oil in an IBM refinery.It can be done, but you need to go through annoying hoops.Current market conditions encourage oil transport. Fuel, shipping’s greatest expense, is very cheap today. OPEC is over-producing oil, and millions of barrels can’t just sit around idle. This perpetuates a vicious cycle.Inexpensive oil means reduced transport costs, which incentivises shipping oil by tanker, which in turn increases the odds for multifold environmental damages. The cycle works in the reverse direction too: when oil is expensive and transport costs are high, the cargo’s increased value more than pays for this difference.International alliances and feuds are the main driver of oil importing and exporting. This is subject to not just change, but great reversals: current market conditions have made bargaining power shift from oil producers to oil buyers. Pundits speculate endlessly about the potential links between oil costs and political dealings. Is the US ally Saudi Arabia overproducing oil to sink the Russian rouble? Is it to slow down newly unsanctioned Iran? How does America’s production of shale gas insulate them from the international oil market, and what impact does this have on the price of crude? In desperate times, like war or financial turbulence, will countries exploit their allies by charging them more for oil, or will they be reliable? The answers to these questions are up for debate. What nobody disputes is that political machinations prevent oil from being dispersed efficiently around the world.What’s so bad about long oil tanker voyages?When considering these circuitous routes, remember that they are hugely expensive. A Very Large Crude Carrier trip from India to Venezuela takes between 31-38 days, depending on the route and other factors. Each day of operation costs roughly $45,000. The charter cost (the term for shipping oil by tankers) accounts for 5-10% of oil’s final price.Environmentally speaking, every additional day a tanker spends at sea increases the odds of a spill. Oil spilled on water does way more harm than on land. Once oil contacts water, the destruction of ecosystems is widespread and almost instant. Even if billions are spent on the cleanup, the damage to land and wildlife is mostly permanent.April of 2010 saw an oil catastrophe of epic proportions. A British Petroleum (BP) operated tanker exploded, killing 11, and when it sunk it in turn triggered a sea-floor oil gusher which spewed crude oil out uninterruptedly for 87 days. A total of 130 million gallons were leaked into the Gulf of Mexico. BP has spent upwards of $53-billion between the cleanup and legal damages, but years later the environment is still decimated, and BP is still dealing with hundreds of thousands of legal claims relating to the spill. It’s reminiscent of the Exxon Valdez, which in 1989 spilled 11 million gallons into pristine Alaskan waters, fouling about 1,300 miles of shoreline.Thousands of animals died, including whales and bald eagles. Today, after 25 years and billions spent on cleanup, the shoreline is still badly polluted and the region’s wildlife will probably never recover.Human error makes oil tankers spill eventually, and having enormous numbers of them daily crisscross the globe invites irreversible disaster. It’s also very expensive. Whether the motive is financial or environmental, there’s lots of incentive to shorten tanker trips or to reduce their use altogether.PipelinesIn the meantime, there are energy projects like the proposed 1,078 mile-long natural gas pipeline running from Turkmenistan’s Galkynsh oil field (the world’s second largest) to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI).Pipelines are far from perfect—they also spill, are expensive to build, and eventually become obsolete because their alignment can’t be adjusted after a region’s oil is tapped. Pipelines are not solar panels, but they are less harmful to the environment than oil tankers. In the event of a spill, pipelines can be sealed quickly. In this specific case, TAPI unites two countries whose relationship could use mending. Pipelines in general aren’t a permanent or comprehensive solution. But if energy security benefits these economies and helps foster peace, all while posing a smaller environmental risk, it’s much better than sending expensive, damaging oil tankers across the world.How do we plan better?It will take boldness, but there needs to be an international body with the mandate and power to control the dispersion of the world’s oil safely and efficiently. Every country needs oil. Nobody expects petro states to just relinquish their power, but the world’s current path guarantees continued proxy wars and environmental catastrophes. This is untenable. And the harmful status quo fails to adequately meet the world’s energy needs. What this international body may look like is anybody’s guess. But this dialogue is necessary.Rohit Gandhi is the Editor-in-Chief of ZEE’s upcoming global English channel.

India approaches United Nations to name JeM chief Masood Azhar in SC sanctions

United Nations: India has formally approached the UN to include Jaish-e-Mohammad chief and Pathankot terror attack mastermind Masood Azhar in the Security Council’s sanctions list, strongly emphasising the urgency to take action against him.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin yesterday wrote to New Zealand Ambassador Gerard Jacoubus van Bohemen, the Chair of the 1267 al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee, submitting India’s request that the JeM chief’s name be included in the committee’s sanctions list.

Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar. ReutersJaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar. Reuters

Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar. Reuters

Armed with strong evidence of the outfit’s terror activities and its role in the 2 January Pathankot attack that killed seven Indian soldiers, India told the UN Sanctions Committee that not listing Azhar has clearly demonstrated how it and other countries in South Asia continue to face threats posed by the terror group and its leader.

Calling for immediate action to be taken to list Azhar under the al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee, India said it is the responsibility of the committee to protect UN nations and its citizens from terror groups like the JeM and its leaders.

Listing Azhar will prove that the global community is committed to tackling the scourge of terrorism and will help protect Indian citizens and those of other countries from the terror threats posed by him and his outfit, India said. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said in New Delhi that it is a “great anomaly” that the organisation JeM is listed but its leader is not.

India also noted that following the Pathankot attack, Pakistan had taken action against several individuals belonging to the Jaish. The UN had banned JeM in 2001 but India’s efforts to ban Azhar after the Mumbai terror attack did not fructify, as China — one of the five permanent members of the UN group with veto powers – did not allow the ban apparently on the behest of Pakistan.

On 18 February, a fresh list of 11 individuals and one organisation linked to terrorism in India, was submitted by New Delhi to the sanctions committee.


US envoy Richard Verma pitches for greater role for India in Asia Pacific

Pitching for a greater role for India in Asia Pacific, US Ambassador to New Delhi Richard Verma on Monday hoped navy vessels of the two countries “steaming together” will become a common and welcome sight in Indo-Pacific waters in “not too” distant future.Noting that Indo-US security relationship is of a “fundamentally different” nature, Verma said they will cooperate “as never before” on the high seas as he urged India to continue to move beyond its “historical reservations”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Verma announced that US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter will come to India this April for an “unprecedented” third visit in less than a year. “The ties between our militaries are becoming increasingly close,” he said.”Our countries will cooperate as never before on the high seas, during responses to natural disasters, on maritime security issues and in consultation with other partners and allies in the region. I hope that in the not too distant future United States and Indian Navy vessels steaming together will become a common and welcome sight throughout Indo-Pacific waters,” he said.Verma was delivering the fourth annual lecture of the Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents. He said the two countries recently took an important step in this direction by concluding a roadmap for the implementation of the Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.On the US decision to sell F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan, Verma said they were provided to address a “specific” counter terrorism and counter insurgency threat. “The point that I hope to make clear is that the US-India security relationship is of a fundamentally different nature than our cooperation with any other country in the region.”We have moved far beyond simply supplying India with defence platforms. Rather, we are helping to support the development of indigenous defence industrial capabilities that India will need to become the 21st century power it aspires to be,” he said.

Sale of F-16s to Pakistan is part of legacy announcement: US envoy Richard Verma

Mumbai: US Ambassador to India Richard Verma on Sunday described the controversial sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan as “part of a legacy announcement”, saying America expects Islamabad to do ‘much more’ on eliminating terror safe havens there.

“It’s part of a bit of a legacy announcement that is made several years ago. There are technical processes like the Congressional ratification,” Verma said during an interaction at the CNN Asia Business Forum organised as part of the ongoing ‘Make in India Week’ in Mumbai.

“Our policy in Pakistan is to support the moderate elements, to support democracy.

F-16. AFPF-16. AFP

F-16. AFP

“There is a big counter-terrorism insurgency component as well. Over the years our assistance to Pakistan has been a mix of both civilian and military equipment,” he said.

Verma’s comments came a day after the Obama administration notified the US Congress of its decision to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan worth nearly USD 700 million.

Reacting strongly India on Saturday summoned Verma to convey its “displeasure and disappointment” over the Obama administration’s decision to sell F-16 jets to Pakistan.

“It will surprise people that two-thirds of our aid to Pakistan is civilian aid…for energy, education, infrastructure and public development,” he added.

“There are also dangerous groups operating in Pakistan and military tools are required. It is part and parcel of why this sale went through, to tackle…that kind of terrorism and insurgency capability”, the Envoy said.

The US envoy said Pakistan needs to act against terror groups on it’s soil.

“More action needs to be taken by Pakistan on terror groups. Safe havens need to be eliminated,” he added.

Meanwhile, lauding the Narendra Modi government, Verma said there has been ‘substantial progress’ in India in the last two years.

According to him, among the challenges before India were those of rapid urbanisation and that of tackling climate change.

George Yeo of Kerry Logistics Networks expressed optimism that any future India-China conflict will not go out of control.

“There may be scars of the 1962 war (with China) on Indian psyche but in China it is almost forgotten,” Yeo said.


dna Must Reads: From ABVP members greeting Rahul Gandhi with black flags to latest in David Headley revealations

1. JNU Row: ABVP members greet Rahul Gandhi with black flags and ‘go back’ slogansABVP members at JNU didn’t take too kindly to Rahul Gandhi’s visit as they waved black flags at the Congress VP. They also shouted: “Rahul Gandhi go back.” Earlier, Rahul Gandhi added his voice to the debate saying that while ‘anti-India sentiment is unacceptable, debate is part of a democracy. Read more here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Make in India Week: PM Modi lists out achievements, says FDI inflow up by 48% under his govtPrime Minister Narendra Modi has kickstarted ‘Make in India Week’ in Mumbai on Saturday at MMRDA grounds in Bandra-Kurla complex, a flagship event designed to impart greater momentum to the initiative to boost the manufacturing sector in the country. While addressing the audience he said that 65% of Indian population is under age of 35 and they are the greatest strength of the country. Read more here.3. India summons US Ambassador, conveys displeasure over move to sell F16 jets to PakistanReacting strongly, India on Saturday summoned US Ambassador Richard Verma to convey its “displeasure and disappointment” over Obama administration’s decision to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned Verma to the South Block and during the 45-minute meeting told him about India’s concerns over US military aid to Pakistan which New Delhi believes goes into anti-India activities. Read more here.4. Arun Jaitley hits out at Manmohan Singh; says NDA clearing up ‘accumulated challenges’ of UPA governmentTearing into former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s criticism of Modi government, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the transition from UPA to NDA government has been from “policy paralysis” to a global “bright-spot” while Congress’ stand on the crucial GST Bill has been motivated by “real politics”. Read more here.5. David Headley revealations: Pakistan should be declared ‘terrorist state’, says BJPAsserting the testimonies of terrorist David Headley before a Mumbai court proved that “there were no non-state actors in Pakistan, only cross-border terror funded by intelligence agency ISI”, BJP on Saturday demanded India initiate a “diplomatic exercise” to have that country declared a “terrorist state”. Read more here.

India displeased with sale of 8 US F-16s to Pakistan, MEA summons envoy

New Delhi: India expressed disappointment over US administration’s decision to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, saying it disagrees that such arms’ transfers will help combat terrorism. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will be summoning US Ambassador Richard Verma to convey India’s “displeasure”.

Representative image. Getty Images.Representative image. Getty Images.

Representative image. Getty Images

“We are disappointed at the decision of the Obama Administration to notify the sale of F-16 aircrafts to Pakistan. We disagree with their rationale that such arms transfers help to combat terrorism. The record of the last many years in this regard speaks for itself. The US Ambassador will be summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs to convey our displeasure,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

The Obama administration today notified the US Congress of its decision to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan worth nearly $700 million, notwithstanding American lawmakers’ demand for stopping the proposed sale.

The estimated cost of the sale is $699.4 million, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency — a wing of the Pentagon -said in a statement, adding that this proposed sale contributes to the US foreign policy objectives and national security goals by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner in South Asia.


India disappointed as Obama administration decides to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Saturday expressed disappointment over the decision of Obama administration to sell eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan worth nearly $700 million.The US government said on Friday it had approved the sale to Pakistan of up to eight F-16 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp, radar and other equipment in a deal.Upset with the decision, MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “We are disappointed at the decision of the Obama Administration to notify the sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan.” <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also said that India disagrees with the rationale of the US that such arms transfers help combat terrorism.”The MEA will summon US Ambassador Richard Verma to convey India’s displeasure over the decision of the Obama government,” Swarup tweeted.The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees foreign arms sales, said it had notified lawmakers about the possible deal.The agency said the F-16s would allow Pakistan’s Air Force to operate in all-weather environments and at night, while improving its self-defence capability and bolstering its ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations.Describing Pakistan’s activities as ‘immensely problematic’, a powerful Republican Senator had vowed to block the sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to the country that is acting as a “duplicitous partner” and providing safe havens to terror groups.In the letter dated February 9, Corker said Pakistan’s activities are ‘immensely problematic’ and contribute to the notion that Pakistan is a ‘duplicitous partner, moving sideways rather than forward in resolving regional challenges.’According to Reuters, given the funds it has available, Pakistan may only be able to buy four of the F-16 Block 52 models, and the associated radar and electronic warfare equipment, said one US source familiar with the situation.

India, UAE ask countries to cut ‘support’ to militant groups

Deciding to expand cooperation in combating terrorism, India and the UAE on Friday came out strongly against use of terror as an “instrument of state policy” and asked countries to cut “all support” to militant groups operating from their soil.Without naming any country, both sides, in a joint statement, also condemned use of religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism while expressing concern over radicalisation and religious intolerance. They said nations must control activities of ‘non-state actors’.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On trade, a major aspect of bilateral ties, the statement, issued a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan held extensive talks, said UAE will ramp up investment in diverse sectors in India including railways, petroleum, roads, ports and shipping.It said both leaders looked forward to the early signing of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement to further expand ties and resolved to build on the momentum by pursuing collaboration in trade and investment, security and defence, energy and climate change among others.The talks produced “far-reaching cooperation”, Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said. The two sides also agreed to bolster strategic ties by continuing to work closely on a range of security issues, particularly on counter-terrorism, maritime security, and cyber-security, the statement said.The two countries have signed nine pacts covering a range of key areas. UAE Ambassador Ahmed Al Banna, earlier this week, had said 16 MoUs, including one on cooperation in civil nuclear energy may be signed. No nuclear pact was signed and there was no indication why the figure for MoUs given by the envoy did not materialise. When asked, sources only referred to the inter-agency processes without elaborating.On dealing with terrorism, the statement said they deplored the “use of double standards” in addressing the challenge and agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating terrorism both at the bilateral level and within the multilateral system.”They reiterated their condemnation for efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries, or to use terrorism as instrument of state policy. “They further deplored efforts by countries to give religious and sectarian colour to political issues and pointed out the responsibility of all states to control the activities of the so-called ‘non-state actors’, and to cut all support to terrorists operating and perpetrating terrorism from their territories against other states,” the statement said.

India’s new envoy presents credentials to Pakistan President

Islamabad: Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Gautam Bambawale on Tuesday presented his credentials to President Mamnoon Hussain who reaffirmed his country’s resolve to fight terrorism.

Bambawale who arrived in Islamabad on 12 January to take up new position, had a brief meeting with the President Hussain and exchanged views on different issues of bilateral importance.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The President highlighted the immense sacrifices made by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.

Hussain promised that “fight against militants will continue till complete elimination of the menace.” He also said that, “Pakistan wants to have good relationship with all countries.”

Ambassador of Iraq, Afghanistan, Thailand and Czech Republic also separately called on the president and presented their papers.

Bambawale, an IFS officer of 1984-batch, replaced T C A Raghavan. Bambawale has worked in Germany, US and China. In 2007, he became the first Consul General of India in Guangzhou, China.

Before taking up posting in Bhutan in 2014, he has held charge of Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the ministry headquarters from December, 2009 to July, 2014, responsible for relations with China, Japan and South Korea, among others.


‘Never want to leave India’: Aamir Khan says comments on intolerance taken out of context

Bollywood star Aamir Khan says his statements on ‘intolerance’ last year which stirred more zing into an existing storm may have been taken out of context. At an awards night last year, Aamir Khan spoke about how his wife Kiran shared her worry about status quo in India and his quotes from that evening went on to roil the winter session of Parliament and never really died down.

Aamir Khan clarifiesAamir Khan clarifies

Aamir Khan clarifies

Most recently, Amitabh Bachchan has replaced Aamir Khan as the brand ambassador of the Incredible India campaign.

Speaking at the 10 anniversary of “Rang De Basanti”, Aamir Khan attempted to clarify his statements on “growing intolerance”, reports The Indian Express.

“Some could understand me and some couldn’t. And those who are hurt, I can understand their feelings. I would have been hurt had I been in their place because they were told something that was not true,” Aamir Khan said.

Khan said his comments were taken out of context.

“Let me tell you that I never said that. I was born in India and I will die in India. I never thought about leaving the country. Neither Kiran nor will I think about it. In fact when I stay away from the country for two weeks I get homesick,” The Indian Express quotes Aamir as saying.

Aamir says his statement was not a generalization but more specifically certain people who are polarizing opinion one way or the other.

“Our Prime Minister has said unity is our strength and that one shouldn’t spread poison. I love my country and people who are spreading negativity, I with folded hands ask them not to do not. Unity in diversity is our main aim,” said Aamir.

“Why should I do Satyamev Jayate? It’s because I love my country. I feel happy that I am lending a hand in nation building. I belong to a freedom fighter’s family. My great grand uncle is Maulana Abul Kalam Azad,” he said.

Barely a week ago, senior bureaucrat Amitabh Kant, a key driver of the Incredible India campaign during his stint in the Ministry of Tourism, took a swipe at actor Aamir Khan saying that he is damaging India’s brand image when he calls India “intolerant”.

After speaking to television channels in Ahmedabad, Kant reportedly repeated his statement on Twitter Tuesday. “Being a Brand Ambassador imposes responsibilities. U can’t run down what u’re promoting. That’s damaging d brand,” he tweeted, reports The Indian Express.

Kant referred to Khan’s remarks at the Ramnath Goenka Awards night last November where Aamir Khan had said: “(Wife) Kiran and I have lived all our lives in India. For the first time, she said, should we move out of India? That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make to me. She fears for her child.

She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers everyday. That does indicate that there is a sense of growing disquiet.”

“A brand ambassador must be the best ambassador for promoting and marketing India, he cannot be the destroyer of the brand… If the brand ambassador of India promotes it as Incredible India, then people will come here for sightseeing and tourist inflow will increase. But if the brand ambassador of Incredible India says that India is intolerant, then he is not working as the brand ambassador, he is damaging the brand entity of the nation, then people won’t come here,” Kant said.

How Subramanian Swamy saved India from ‘grave economic crisis’ in 1991

Former Union Minister and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Friday recalled his encounter with the then US Ambassador to get India $2 billion loan from International Monetary Fund (IMF) to save the country from a “grave economic crisis” in 1991.Swamy, who was Law and Justice Minister in Chandra Sekhar government in 1991, said a decision to allow American war planes to refuel at Indian airports during the first Iraq war was taken after the US agreed to arrange $2 billion IMF loan for India.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking on ‘responsible capitalism’ at the annual conference of Kerala Management Association here, Swamy said India faced severe financial crisis in 1991 due to some steps taken by the previous government regarding providing bank loans to industries.Swamy, who commended Rajiv Gandhi for liberalising India’s economy, however, said Gandhi, during his 1984-89 tenure did not prescribe that industrialists must only get long term loans.”So, they (industrialists) got short-term loans”, but in the process, in five years, the payments became due and there was a financial crisis, he said.”The Prime Minister (Chandra Sekhar) asked me what we can do? Fortunately the American Ambassador came to see me for a political matter. He wanted to know whether we would help Americans in their war against Iraq. At that time, Iraq had conquered Kuwait. I asked what kind of help you want. He said he wants that their (war) planes from the Philippines be allowed to land in India, refuel in India and they are ready to pay three times more (than the landing rate for refuelling a commercial airline).””I told him that we don’t want to change our landing policy for peanuts,” Swamy said without naming the US ambassador.”He asked… what do you want? I said we want $2 billion because we are on the verge of becoming bankrupt. He asked ‘you want it from the United States?’ I said no… from the IMF and without conditions.”He said ‘how can I get you money from IMF’. I said, you have 87% voting right in IMF. So, if you want landing rights, then on Monday I want $2 billion,” Swamy revealed.”He (the ambassador) said today is already Friday… I said in Washington it is still Thursday night.”So, they gave us $2 billion… and they were given landing rights… we changed our landing policy,” Swamy said.

Talks on terror, climate change to be focus of Hollande visit

Talks on terror, climate change and smart cities will be the highlights of the upcoming visit of President Francois Hollande, French Ambassador Francois Richier said on Friday even as he dismissed a “letter threat” to the visit as the work of probably an “excited gentleman”.He lauded the security forces in Delhi for working with French officials closely to prevent any attack on the visiting delegation but said it was “sad” that the threat letter had been leaked. On the visit of Hollande starting this Sunday, the ambassador said the focus that he foresees is mostly in three domains.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Highlight will be terrorism in view of the situation we are in at present, state of emergency, military operations in Syria, Iraq and in Africa. Situation in India,” he said. Richie said both France and India want to defend common interests and values.”This is an occasion not only to remind everybody but to pull certain number of steps in this direction of combating terrorism and this will be high on the agenda,” he said talking to reporters at his residence.Describing the security forces in Delhi as very competent, Richier said he was grateful to the security apparatus in the capital for working closely with the French to prevent any action on the visiting delegation. “It is working very well.They are very competent”. Asked about the threat letter against Hollande’s visit to India received by the French consulate in Bengaluru yesterday, he said, “I think it is sad that it has leaked. We are looking into this.”He said the French authorities are “accustomed” to having received leaflets like that. “We receive plenty of them. Generally, it is to create disorder, to raise the attention of the media. They have never proved to be true threats,” he said.However, he noted that they are still looking into the latest letter received by them. “I cannot say it is not a true one but there is nothing at the moment which leads us to believe that it is real threat. That is another excited gentleman… it is not a specific threat.”It is a paper which claims to be on behalf of a terror organisation. But I cannot say that there is a threat here. It may very simply be the kind of paper that we receive very regularly from some people with strange mind who want to create a media event. That is probably the reason why it is leaked,” he said. Richier said that French are anyway under threat across the world.

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