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Indo-Pak ties: Brace for more Modi coups; two PMs have many meetings lined up in 2016

Pakistan’s recent appointment of a former army general, Naseer Khan Janjua, as its national security adviser, has also opened a fresh window for early negotiations on terrorism and cross-border violence. “That the Pakistan NSA represents the views of his military establishment is good because the shadow-boxing is over,” said former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathy.The “mother of all coups” – Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar described Modi’s December 25 visit to Lahore – also had an important fall-out.Modi’s optics have succeeded in convincing Pakistani leaders once again that a hardline BJP was more decisive than the Congress.Congress prime ministers, right from Rajiv Gandhi to Narasimha Rao to Manmohan Singh, despite having agreed to settle issues like Siachen and Jammu and Kashmir, backed out because of indecision.Ministry of External Affairs officials concede that what Modi had achieved was something Manmohan had dreamt of for a decade, but was not allowed by his own party – the Congress.

Iftikhar Gilani
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Indian students deported: US regrets impact, says collecting facts

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US Ambassador Richard Verma came a day after India advised its students to defer their travel to the US till the matter of denial of entry to those students holding valid visas was resolved.

The US on Thursday regretted the impact of deportation of Indian students bound for two California schools and said it was closely following the situation after the incident, facts of which were still being collected. The statement by the US Ambassador Richard Verma came a day after India advised its students to defer their travel to the US till the matter of denial of entry to those students holding valid visas was resolved. “The Embassy is aware of reports that some students bound for two California schools were denied entry by Customs and Border Protection. We regret the impact this may have had on certain students and their families. “We are following this situation closely and have been in regular communication with the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Government of India. Facts are still being collected,” Verma said in a statement here. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also maintained that the US will continue to strongly support educational study and exchange programmes for Indian and US students, as these programmes have been a hallmark of the bilateral relationship for decades. External Affairs Ministry yesterday had issued an advisory noting that there have been several instances of denial of entry by the US Immigration authorities to Indian students having valid student visas to pursue studies in two educational institutions, namely, Silicon Valley University at San Jose and Northwestern Polytechnic University, Fremont. “Government of India has taken up this matter with the US Government. We have asked the US authorities to explain the reasons for denial of entry on a large scale to Indian students holding valid visas. The response of the US Government is awaited. “Till such time the matter is satisfactorily resolved, the students seeking admission in aforementioned two institutions are advised to defer their travel to the United States,” the advisory had said.Noting that educational ties between the US and India are strong and growing rapidly, Verma said during academic year 2014-15, the number of Indian students studying in the US increased by nearly 30 per cent over the previous year to more than 130,000, the highest number on record. He also pointed out that even travellers with a visa can be denied entry if the immigration officer finds reason to question the legitimacy of their travel documents or finds that the traveller cannot adequately answer questions about the purpose of his or her travel to the United States. “We also remind students considering studying in the United States of the free services provided by Education USA (educationusa.state.gov). Education USA’s centres throughout India and its website can assist students in choosing the most appropriate school for their course of study and personal situation.”As additional information becomes available, we will provide updates to potential travellers. We will continue to strongly support educational study and exchange programs for Indian and US students, as these programs have been a hallmark of our bilateral relationship for decades,” Verma added. Air India had on Sunday night stopped 19 Indian students heading to the two Universities from boarding a flight to San Francisco citing a communication from US Customs and Border Protection agency which said that 14 Indian students have been deported as these varsities were “under scrutiny”. India strongly raised the issue with the US. Meanwhile, the two California-based universities -Silicon Valley and Northwestern Polytechnic- claimed that they have been told by the US Customs and Border Protection that they have not been blacklisted by the US Government or any of its agencies.

US aid to Pakistan will end up being used against India, warns ex-diplomat Husain Haqqani

As the US is preparing to sell F-16s fighter jets to Pakistan, the country’s former top diplomat, Haqqani, described the sale of such military hardware as an ‘appeasement policy towards the Pakistani military’.

Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani

Image Courtesy: Twitter
Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani has warned Washington that its aid to Islamabad will ‘end up being used against India and not against terrorists’.As the US is preparing to sell F-16s fighter jets to Pakistan, the country’s former top diplomat, Haqqani, described the sale of such military hardware as an ‘appeasement policy towards the Pakistani military.’In a prepared remark submitted ahead of a Congressional hearing on ‘Civil Nuclear Cooperation with Pakistan: Prospects and Consequences to the Terrorism, Non-proliferation, and Trade Sub-committee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs’, Haqqani said Pakistan’s failure to tackle its jihadist challenge is ‘not the result of a lack of arms’, but a reflection of an ‘absence of will’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>South Asia terrorism expert Daniel Markey also told American lawmakers that pursuing a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan is not only ‘unrealistic, poorly timed, and unwise’, but also counter-productive to American national interests in the near term.

India yet to confirm Sushma Swaraj’s visit: Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit

Heart of Asia conference, which will discuss regional cooperation on Afghanistan, is scheduled to begin in Islamabad on December 9.

Amid reports of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s likely visit to Pakistan to attend a conference, Pakistan Ambassador to India Abdul Basit on Friday said that they are yet to get confirmation in this regard from the Indian government.”We have not got confirmation yet,” the Pakistan Envoy told exclusively to ANI when asked about Swaraj’s participation in the conference on Afghanistan to be held in Islamabad. If Swaraj visits Pakistan then it will be the first bilateral visit at the Foreign Minister’s level to Pakistan under the NDA government.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Heart of Asia conference, which will discuss regional cooperation on Afghanistan, is scheduled to begin in Islamabad on December 9.India has been invited for the conference. But, the MEA has not yet given any indication as to who will represent India there.

Indian news channels ‘switched off’ in Nepal by protestors

Amid agitation by the Joint Madhesi Front in the Himalayan nation, scores of goods laden trucks are stranded on the India-Nepal border. Madhesis have been protesting over ‘discriminatory’ seven-province model of new Constitution.

Nepalese students holding placards take part in a protest to show solidarity against the border blockade in Kathmandu, Nepal November 27, 2015.

Reuters
Nepal Cable TV operators on Sunday were forced to switch off nine Indian news channels by protesters against the unofficial ‘blockade of goods’ into the country.”We got a letter from Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) that we should switch all the Hindi or Indian channels and we had a meeting at the Federation of Nepal Cable Television. Lots of our members are being threatened, especially in districts, that if we don’t switch off the channels, they can do anything,” Sudhir Parajuli, president, federation of Nepal Cable TV operators told ANI exclusively.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “So, we got pressure from our members as well. They said that instead of switching off Indian channels, we have decided only to switch off Indian news channel,” he added.Amid agitation by the Joint Madhesi Front in the Himalayan nation, scores of goods laden trucks are stranded on the India-Nepal border. Madhesis have been protesting over ‘discriminatory’ seven-province model of new Constitution.Earlier, expressing concern over growing ?anti- India? sentiment in Nepal, Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae had on Friday said, “We sense that this is being used for certain objective – political or otherwise.”

Pakistan ready to hold talks with India: Nawaz Sharif

Sharif said Pakistan condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and was deeply saddened by the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

File Photo
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that his country is ready for bilateral talks with India as it wants to maintain friendly relations with all its neighbours.According to The News International, Sharif’s statement came on the sidelines of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the Maltese capital. Sharif and his British counterpart David Cameron agreed to continue close collaboration in diverse fields, particularly trade, investment and security. They expressed long-term commitment to work together for greater security and prosperity of their countries.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sharif said Pakistan condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and was deeply saddened by the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. He said Pakistan itself being a victim of terrorism could feel the pain of the French people. This was the third time the two Prime Ministers met during the current year, with earlier meetings taking place in April and September respectively. PM’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry and Pakistan?s Ambassador in Malta resident in Tunisia Zaheer Pervaiz Khan were present.

Pakistan and Nepal call for ‘dialogue’ to improve relations with India

Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and Nepal’s Ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay were speaking at a seminar on Indo-Pak relations organised by NGO Ambassadors of Goodwill Across Borders in New Delhi.

India’s neighbours on Wednesday called for “dialogue” to improve mutual relations, with Pakistan calling for a revival of the composite framework and Nepal hoping that “tension” over the promulgation of constitution would dissipate and give way to better ties.Pakistani High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said that a stable and effective regional cooperative architecture was not possible on shaky inter-state relations. He laid stress on the need for talks to achieve peace. Basit and Nepal’s Ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay were speaking at a seminar on Indo-Pak relations organised by NGO Ambassadors of Goodwill Across Borders in New Delhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In order to achieve peace we need to talk to each other. It’s important that we talk so as to overcome the challenges. We need not reinvent the wheel. The composite dialogue framework is all encompassing and includes everything such as terrorism, Kashmir, Sir Creek,” Basit said.The Pakistani High Commissioner insisted that in his capacity he was doing everything necessary to “make this happen”. “We owe it to posterity to resolve our disputes and leave a legacy of peace and friendship.”Meanwhile, speaking on the same theme, Upadhyay observed that Nepal has “never been colonised” in its history, without making any direct reference to India’s role in the ongoing crisis situation in the Himalayan country.”There are issues even within a family. In the same way, there is tension between the governments of the two countries (India and Nepal) at the moment,” he said.Referring to the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal, which devastated parts of the country, Upadhyay said that “warmth” exuded by the people of both the nations in the aftermath of the quake gives him hope for better times ahead.”There’s no gas in Nepal because it is completely dependent on India for supply of gas. There’s a humanitarian crisis,” he said.There has been strain in India-Nepal relations in recent weeks in the wake of protests by Indian-origin Madhesis against the new Constitution, with Kathmandu blaming India for fuel shortages by not allowing fuel trucks to cross the border into Nepal. India has been maintaining that the supply was obstructed due to protests on the Nepalese side and has appealed to Nepal to resolve the political crisis.Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, who was also present on the occasion, stressed on the need for amity between India and Pakistan recalling how Pakistan’s slain Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had talked about a “borderless subcontinent” to him.

India’s vaccination program to reach 90% within 3 years: Union Health Minister

The minister said four more vaccines will be added in the ‘Mission Indradhanush’ program.

JP Nadda

Union Health Minister JP Nadda on Monday said that the vaccination program under ‘Mission Indradhanush’ will reach a coverage of almost ninety per cent in next three years.’Mission Indradhanush’, launched by Nadda in 2014, aims to immunise children against seven vaccine preventable diseases. “We came out with an ambitious program called Mission Indradhanush, which also includes (prevention of) Hepatitis B… Every year we used to increase our immunisation program by one per cent. We thought if we go at this speed then we won’t be able to reach the goal till 2050… “In one year time we will be able to cover 5 per cent and within three years we will be reaching from 65 per cent to 90 per cent of coverage,” Nadda said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He was speaking at the Hepatitis B Awareness Drive launched by Health and Family Welfare Ministry in association with UNICEF. “In India, approximately 10 lakh children, on an annual basis, run the lifetime risk of developing chronic Hepatitis infections, leading to life-threatening issues including liver cancer, liver failure and a possibility of premature death”, he said. The minister said four more vaccines will be added in the ‘Mission Indradhanush’ program.”Next month we are going to review and learn from some of our mistakes. Next year we will relaunch this and add four more vaccines… I am proud to say this immunisation program is world’s largest public health program,” he said. Maharashtra Health Minister Deepak Sawant said the state government will roll out ‘Nucleic Acid Test’ (NAT) program in the next three months. “Maharashtra government is coming out with NAT where every hospital will have a NAT test, even in rural areas. It’ll cover HIV and Hepatitis B and other diseases which are transmitted through blood donation…,” he said.”We’ve been after this for eighth months and it’ll be there in the next three months in every district hospital of Maharashtra, ” Sawant added.UNICEF Celebrity Ambassador and megastar Amitabh Bachchan said he was a Hepatitis B survivor. Nadda thanked the 73-year-old actor for giving the awareness drive a much needed push. “Society needs to be involved for health issues. Amitabh Bachchan’s involvement has pushed the campaign. He spoke about his life and that has given power to the movement,” the minister said.Louis Georges Arsenault, UNICEF India Representative said, “Preventing Hepatitis-B through immunisation at birth and the first year of life is critical for the healthy life of a child. “If we could achieve the extraordinary feat of defeating polio, we can surely join hands and prevent this life threatening disease through timely immunisation,” Arsenualt added

‘Saddened’ by Azam Khan’s remark on Paris attacks, says French ambassador

New Delhi: French Ambassador to India Francois Richier today said he was “saddened” by Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan’s remark that the Paris terror attack could have been a “reaction” to the “killing of innocents” in Arab countries by “superpowers” including the US. “I am saddened,” Richier told reporters in New Delhi while reacting to Khan’s statement.

Khan, a senior Samjawadi Party leader, condemned the terrorist attacks in Paris but simultaneously raked up the issue of action by the US and Russia in Arab countries, saying “killing of innocents” anywhere is “not justified”. “Whatever the terrorists did in Paris was wrong. But, attack on Arab countries and killing of innocents there by US and Russia is also not justified,” he said.

PTIPTI

PTI

“We need to look who killed whom first, after that who retaliated. This is a debatable issue. You strike bombs through drones to kill the innocents… History will decide who is a terrorist and who is wrong.

“If this attack is a reaction then the superpowers must think about it. What action led to this reaction and whether their action was justified? They need to think otherwise there is apprehension that the situation will get worse. I think the world is heading towards another World War,” Khan had said on 15 November.

Reacting sharply to Khan’s remarks, BJP demanded action against him and dared the Samajwadi Party leadership to make public its stand, saying it would otherwise be construed that it supports terrorism.
Three teams of extremists belonging to the militant outfit ISIS carried out coordinated gun-and-suicide bombing attacks across the French capital on November 13 that left at least 129 people dead and 352 injured, attracting condemnation from an entire spectrum of world leaders.

PTI

No blockade on Nepal-India border, supplies to resume soon, says envoy Ranjit Rae

Expressing concern over the obstruction of essential supplies on the Nepal-India border, Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae has clarified that India has not blocked supplies at the border, and added that if there was a blockade, then hundreds of trucks would not have lined up on the Indian side of the border.

PTI
Expressing concern over the obstruction of essential supplies on the Nepal-India border, Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae has clarified that India has not blocked supplies at the border, and added that if there was a blockade, then hundreds of trucks would not have lined up on the Indian side of the border.”There are interruptions of supplies on the border because of ongoing protest by certain groups of Nepalese citizens. As soon as the protests are over, I am sure supplies will resume. We hope that with the dialogue process which is under way, there will be a resolution of these political issues that are agitating certain groups and communities in Nepal,” he said in an interview to Nepal TV.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also said that protests at Terai region in Nepal have been going for three months now and despite of killings and violent protests in the first and a half month, there was no resolution for the issues which lead a change in the nature of the protests, and also said, “Protestors started picketing the major access routes into India and that is when this so called notion of blockade started coming in.””The problem is rising because of insecurities, like the Birgunj incident. We see the problem is political in nature and we hope very much that these political issues will be resolved and once the protesters change the forms of protest and stops picketing borders routes, I am sure supplies would come back to normal. As far as the Indian government is concerned we have made every effort to re-route supplies through other check posts and also provide petroleum through other depots but 70% of Nepal’s trade comes from Birgung and that is the place which is blocked” he added.”Well I am not sure which supplies are coming in and which are not. There are 1600 trucks lined up in Sanoli, Nepal, these queues are there for several kilometers and trucks are coming one by one. As far as the petroleum is concerned foreign minister already made a request to re-route these trucks through other check post,” he said.Expressing grief over the killing of an Indian citizen in police firing Rae said, “We have asked the Nepal police to fully investigate the matter. We reject the allegations that Indians are fuelling the protests that are going in Tarai. We feel that there is mass agitation and people in parts of Tarai are involved, this is a home grown agitation arising out of certain perceptions of those people and it is best that those perceptions are addressed through dialogue,” he added.When asked about the bilateral relationship between India and Nepal, Rae said, “We are at a difficult stage of relationship but I am very confident that our relationship is very strong and robust. It is a relationship fundamentally between our peoples, so there are aberrations from time to time but I am confident that we emerge out of these every crises and difficulties. Both sides are committed to this relationship and we will do everything to set it back on the track.””Our perception is that the constitution being a foundational document. There were great expectations and aspirations from the people of Nepal. Some sections feel that they are not full stake holders in this process, has generated certain anxieties and protests. We are optimistic that these issues will be resolved and have to be resolved because that is the only solution to maintain peace and stability,” he said.He further added that India is very close friend and neighbour of Nepal.”Instabilities of Nepal will have a negative implication on us but we hope the dialogue process will progress and there will be a resolution of these complex issues and everything on border become normal.””I think there is a constant process of engagement in and there are many communication channels so we are constantly engaging with each other and I am also engaging all political actors, business communities and media to share, engage our views and resolve any issue that exists. We want Normal meeting, exchange institutional mechanisms in a multidimensional relationship should take place,” he told media here.”We understand the great desire of Nepal people of their right to constitution and this is the desire which was articulated more than 6 decades ago so we understand how important it is and obviously it is a foundational document which should accommodate every section of the society. It is not an easy task but it can be achieved. I think if you have a constitution is a great achievement and I hope it would accommodate all those who feel left out,” he added.He said that as long as the protests continue on Raxaul- Birgunj border, supplies would continue to remain interrupted.”Every effort will be made to create environment in which Nepal- India relation would improve but we reject anti- India campaigns,” said Rae.

Concerned over anti-India sentiments in Nepal: Indian envoy Ranjit Rae

Meanwhile, two human rights organisations — Informal Service Sector Centre (INSEC) and Democratic Freedom and Human Rights Institute (DFHRI) — registered a complaint with the United Nations Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measure.

A man rides his bicycle as stones thrown by the protesters are seen scattered on the road connecting Nepal to India during a general strike called by the Madhesi protesters demonstrating against the new constitution in Birgunj, Nepal November 4, 2015.

Reuters
India made it clear on Wednesday that it was not supporting protests by Madhesis in Nepal and expressed concern over spreading of anti-India sentiments in the country. India also stressed that it had not imposed any blockade at the border, stalling supply of essential goods to Nepal. India’s position was stated by Indian Ambassador Ranjit Rae in New Delhi in his meeting with former prime minister and senior CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal.”The Ambassador expressed concern over the spreading of anti-India sentiments in Nepal,” the Nepalese leader’s personal aide Mohan Gautam said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”He said that India was not involved in the blockade and refuted claims that the southern neighbour was supporting Madhes-based parties in their protests,” Gautam said of the meeting between the two at Madhav Kumar Nepal’s residence. The Nepalese leader, on his part, asked the Indian envoy to ease supplies to Nepal from India.Meanwhile, two human rights organisations — Informal Service Sector Centre (INSEC) and Democratic Freedom and Human Rights Institute (DFHRI) — registered a complaint with the United Nations Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measure.In their complaint, they alleged that India had imposed a unilateral coercive blockade following the promulgation of Nepal’s new Constitution.”India’s action violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, Provisions of World Trade Organisation, Nepal-India Transit Treaty and Agreement on South Asia Free Trade Area Agreement (SAFTA),” they claimed.Madhesis, Indian-origin inhabitants of Nepal’s Terai region, are protesting division of their ancestral homeland in the new Constitution. The agitation close to the main trading point near Raxaul has halted supply of essential goods, causing acute shortage of fuel in Nepal.Over 40 people have died in the violent agitation that has also overwhelmed Indo-Nepal ties as transit of goods and fuel to the Himalayan nation from India via the major border trading points has been badly affected.

Pakistan raising Kashmir at UN is ‘clear interference’ in internal affairs, says India

United Nations: India has strongly dismissed Pakistan’s raising of the Jammu and Kashmir issue at multiple fora in the UN, asserting that the references are “totally out of context” and constitute a “clear interference” in its internal affairs.

India also asserted that Kashmir is, has always been and will remain an integral part of India.

In one of the Right of Replies exercised by India to respond to comments by Pakistan’s envoy to the UN, first secretary in the Indian Mission to the UN Abhishek Singh suggested that Pakistan should refrain from using the Right of Reply and instead “use the right of introspection” to think about the direction in which the country is moving.

Representational image. AP.Representational image. AP.

Representational image. AP.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi first raised the issue of Kashmir during a UN General Assembly plenary session on the Report of the Secretary General on the Work of the Organisation.

She said that consultations with Kashmiris, who are an integral part of the Kashmir dispute, are essential to evolving such a peaceful solution to the dispute.

“Calling for the termination of these consultations, as a precondition for dialogue, is unacceptable as well as counterproductive,” she said in a reference to India.

Exercising the Right of Reply, Singh asserted that Kashmir is, has always been and will remain an integral part of India.

“It is all the more ironical that these comments come from a country which is persisting with its illegal occupation of part of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir,” Singh said.

Rejecting Lodhi’s remarks on Kashmir in its entirety, Singh said the references by Pakistan are “totally out of context and constitute a clear interference in the internal affairs of India.”

Singh also expressed “deep regret” that Pakistan has violated the ceasefire on a number of occasions in the past several weeks leading to loss of civilian lives on the Indian side.

The Indian armed forces and para-military forces have responded to these “provocations”, he said.

Following Lodhi’s speech, India’s envoy to the UN Asoke Mukerji said in his remarks that “it is most unfortunate” that the Pakistani envoy has chosen to refer to issues that are “extraneous to the debate that we are having today”.

“We have diplomatic relations with Pakistan and such issues should be addressed in the framework of these relations, instead of being aired elsewhere,” he said.

Alluding to the four-point peace initiative announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his address to the UN General Assembly, Lodhi said the proposal “should have evoked a positive response from India. But this has not been forthcoming. Nevertheless, Pakistan stands ready to engage in a dialogue on all outstanding issues.”

PTI

Indian, Chinese army kick off anti-terrorism exercise

India for the first time fielded troops from Naga Regiment to take part in the exercises. A contingent of 175 troops from 2nd Battalion of Naga Regiment from Eastern Command reached Kunming by IAF IL 76 aircraft yesterday to take part in the exercise.

Indian and Chinese armies on Monday kicked off their fifth annual anti-terrorism exercise in China’s Kunming city as both the sides seek to share their successful experiences in counter-terrorism operations during the 10-day drill.India for the first time fielded troops from Naga Regiment to take part in the exercises. A contingent of 175 troops from 2nd Battalion of Naga Regiment from Eastern Command reached Kunming by IAF IL 76 aircraft yesterday to take part in the exercise.Both sides are fielding the same number of troops for the joint exercises, which will culminate on October 22, a press release from the Indian Embassy here said today.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Troops from 14 Corps of China’s Chengdu Military Region, which focuses on borders with India are taking in the exercise.Troops of both sides will undergo intensive joint training, which will include displays, demonstrations, and a comprehensive joint exercise.The purpose of the exercise is to develop joint operating capability, share useful experience in counter-terrorism operations and to promote friendly exchanges between the armies of India and China, the press release said.Observer groups of both armies witnessed an impressive opening ceremony at Dabanqiao Training Base of 14 Group Army at Kunming today.Indian Ambassador to China Ashok K Kantha and Head of Observers Delegation Lieutenant General Surinder Singh attended the meeting and addressed the participating troops.From the Chinese side, Lieutenant General Zhou Xiaozhou addressed the participating troops.This is the fifth round of exercises being held by both sides.The first drill was held in southwest China’s Yunnan Province in 2007, followed by drills in Belgaum in Karnataka a in 2008. The third round was held in southwest China’s Sichuan in 2013, followed by fourth in Pune in 2014.

Cow slaughter still punishable under new Nepal Constitution: Nepalese Ambassador to India

The Nepalese envoy further said that under the new constitution a law will be enacted to stop conversion.
Representational Image
dna Research & Archives
Cow remains to be the national animal of Nepal and its slaughter or consumption of its meat will invite punishment even under the new Constitution proclaiming the hill-nation as a secular country, Nepalese Ambassador to New Delhi Deep Kumar Upadhyay said on Wednesday.The Nepalese envoy further said that under the new constitution a law will be enacted to stop conversion.”The national animal of Nepal was cow and there was a pressure to replace the national animal. Despite this, the cow still remains the national animal. Because of this, there cannot be a sale of cow meat in Nepal. There is also a (provision of) seven-year imprisonment for the crime related to cow-slaughter or cow meat. Now, what new law is enacted is needs to be seen,” Upadhyay said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He was speaking at the a conference on ‘Interaction Programme on the New Constitution of Nepal’ organised by Samyukta Pravasi Nepal Association in India. Noting that though the new Constitution has provisions for protection for religions and its practises, he said that there will be a punishment for conversion.”The constitution has a provision for stopping conversion. There is grey area between those doing under the pretext of social service and luring. One can say that conversion was done by luring, but those who convert say that they are doing social work, by winning heart. So its a complicated issue. Under the constitution, conversion will be treated as an offence,” Upadhyay said.He added that to meet the demands made by Madeshis will require amendments in the Constitution by two-third majority. “There are so many divergent views and in Terai alone there are over 135 tribes, groups and people of different religion and language,” he said.

Israel, India aim to step up bilateral ties during President Mukherjee’s visit

India is Israel’s largest buyer of military hardware. Israel has supplied various weapons systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years to India.

Pranab Mukherjee

India and Israel will aim to further step up bilateral engagement and are likely to sign three MoUs in water, energy and education sectors during President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to the Jewish nation later this month, which will be first ever by an Indian Head of State. Noting that ties between the two countries are on an upswing, Israeli Ambassador Daniel Carmon said Mukherjee’s visit will be a “landmark” one during which both sides will try to expand cooperation in a range of areas. “For many years, our relationship was held under the carpet. Now, they are more visible and open where each side brings to the table each other’s advantages. We are so different, yet we are a combined force,” the envoy said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India is Israel’s largest buyer of military hardware. Israel has supplied various weapons systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years to India, but the transactions have largely remained behind the curtains. India had established “full” diplomatic relationship with Israel in 1992 though it had recognised the country in 1950. No Indian Prime Minister or President has ever visited the country. Carmon said that India and Israel have embarked on a wonderful journey together and both have engagement in areas which are of immense importance to the two nations — from defence to food security to science and technology. “We are working together in the field of defence and agriculture and looking at ways to widen the partnerships in fields such as water, energy and education,” he said. In this regard, he said some MoUs on water, energy and education sectors may be signed during Mukherjee’s visit. Emphasising on more people-to-people contact between the two countries, Carmon said there is a need to have more direct flights between India and Israel. He said “high-level” visits should be a regular feature between the two countries. Asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to Israel, he said, “Technically, I don’t think it will happen in 2015… The dates of the visit will be determined through diplomatic channels, and whenever the visit takes place it will be fruitful and significant to both countries.” Whenever Modi’s visit takes place, it will mark another major step in the growing partnership between the two countries, he said.

India’s climate change commitment based on Gandhian principles, says Indian Ambassador to US

As millions across the world paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi on his 146th birth anniversary, India’s top diplomat in the US said that the country’s commitment on climate change is based on the Mahatma’s three guiding principles of ‘ahimsa, satyagraha and sarvodaya’.

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As millions across the world paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi on his 146th birth anniversary, India’s top diplomat in the US said that the country’s commitment on climate change is based on the Mahatma’s three guiding principles of ‘ahimsa, satyagraha and sarvodaya’.”Today India declared its INDCs, the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. This day was deliberately and specifically chosen to indicate that India would take, because Gandhiji had described that we should act as ‘trustees’ and use natural resources wisely as it is our moral responsibility to ensure that we bequeath to the future generations a healthy planet,” Indian Ambassador to the US Arun K Singh said at a Gandhi Jayanti function in Washington on Friday. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Referring to India’s announcement to make 33-35% reduction in its emission intensity of GDP by 2030 from 2005 levels, and to generate 40% of electricity by 2030 from non-fossil fuel, Singh said: “In all these steps that the government has taken in India, the three principles of ahimsa, satyagraha and sarvodaya remain relevant.” He said ahimsa or non-violence because the Indian government and people took their own decisions, not taking dictates from anywhere else. “That was the essential principle that we would decide what is in our interest,” he said.”Satyagraha, because through the various discussions that were taking place, the force of truth was used. The fact that India had not contributed in any way to global warming, that emissions from India are at a very low level even today, less than two ton per capita, compared to the very high level of emissions that we see elsewhere,” he explained. “And sarvodaya upliftment for all, because one of the binding principles here has been that we need to ensure that the poorer people in India are able to get their right to development and the ability to develop is not denied to them,” Singh asserted on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, which is also celebrated as the International Day of Non-Violence.Earlier, he paid floral tributes to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi. Floral tributes were also paid by people at the different statues of the apostle of peace in various US cities New York, Houston, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Hawaii. At Gandhi Gayanti celebrations in Atlanta organised by Friends of the Gandhi Foundation of USA, Indian-Americans mourned the death of three of their community members who were drowned during the Ganesha festival.

dna Must Read at 11 pm: Kiren Rijiju calls out Pak’s duplicity over protest video, Cuba backs India’s UNSC bid and more

Here are our top stories from dna:1)Disturbing video has exposed Pak’s duplicity on PoK, says Kiren Rijiju: Rijiju said that Pakistan should stop raising the ‘Kashmir bogey’ and pay heed to the needs of people of PoK. 2)Cuba backs India’s bid for permanent seat in UNSC: Cuban Ambassador Abelardo Cueto Sosa on Wednesday backed India’s bid for permanent berth in United Nations Security Council (UNSC) even as he asserted that his country’s sovereignty remained non-negotiable notwithstanding the recent thaw in relationship between Washington and Havana. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>3)Somnath Bharti faces Lipika Mitra during interrogation, breaks down: Bharti broke down during questioning by investigators, who on Wednesday took him to his Dwarka residence where he came face to face with his wife in connection with the dowry harassment and attempt to murder case. 4)Hindu society does not work through fatwas, commandments unlike others: RSS- Only good traditions in India developed over time and there is no mention of any diktat in them. Read more here. 5)Salman Khan-Sonam Kapoor’s ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ poster out!- Staying true to the Rajshri brand, the poster features Salman and his leading lady Sonam Kapoor striking a pose as the quintessential Indian couple.

PM Narendra Modi arrives in New York on second US visit

The Prime Minister was received at the airport by Indian Ambassador Arun K Singh, India’s envoy to the UN Asoke Mukerji, Consul General Dnyaneshwar Mulay and their spouses.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in New York on Wednesday on a five-day US visit, his second in as many years, during which he will address world leaders at a landmark UN sustainable development summit and interact with top CEOs and the Indian diaspora in Silicon Valley.Modi will have a packed agenda for the next two days in the city and then in California from September 26-27.The Prime Minister was received at the airport by Indian Ambassador Arun K Singh, India’s envoy to the UN Asoke Mukerji, Consul General Dnyaneshwar Mulay and their spouses.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi will return to New York on September 28 for a bilateral meeting with President Barack Obama as well as to attend a high-level peacekeeping summit at the United Nations.On Friday, he will address global heads of state at the Sustainable Development Summit hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon when the new and ambitious post-2015 development agenda will be adopted.India will also host the G-4 summit here on September 26, before Modi leaves for the West Coast for a packed two-day trip during when he will have meetings with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google’s new CEO Sundar Pichai. He will also attend a grand community reception in San Jose.Modi will also meet President Barack Obama on September 28, his third summit meeting with the President in about a year.Modi is expected to focus on giving a further push to early and urgent reform of the Security Council and to send an “unambiguous message” of “zero tolerance against terrorism”.In a letter to the UN Secretary General in July, Modi had said that that the UN must be made more effective for dealing with new security challenges as “we are now living in an era when non-state military actors are a major factor.” “We must use this historic year to jointly send an unambiguous message of zero tolerance against terrorism. An important step in this direction would be adopting the Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism at the United Nations this year,” Modi had written in the letter.India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Mukerji has said that the Prime Minister’s speech at the Sustainable Development summit will focus on “Agenda 2030” since he “has given a lot of attention to the substance of the development agenda.”

Hamid Ansari visits famous Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia

Cambodia had this year lodged a protest with India in June over a private trust’s plans to build an Angkor Wat replica in Bihar.

Hamid Ansari
File Photo

Vice President Hamid Ansari today visited Angkor Wat, the world’s largest Hindu temple complex, days after India allayed Cambodian concerns over reports of building of a replica of the world heritage site in Bihar. Ansari, who is in Cambodia for a three-day trip, travelled to Siem Reap province from the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh to visit Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm temples and the Mekong-Ganga Textile museum. Soon after his arrival, Ansari visited the museum which was set up under the Mekong Ganga Cooperation initiative after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced a grant of US $1 million for it.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> After spending time at the museum, Ansari then visited the Angkor Wat temple which is visually, architecturally and artistically breathtaking. It is a massive three-tiered pyramid crowned by the five lotus-like flowers rising 65 metres from the ground level. Cambodia had this year lodged a protest with India in June over a private trust’s plans to build an Angkor Wat replica in Bihar, saying it “seriously violates” the 12th century Hindu temple and a world heritage property which holds exceptional and universal value. The protest came after Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation received a report about Patna-based Mahavir Mandir Trust’s plans to construct a replica of the largest Hindu temple complex in the world. Ahead of Ansari’s visit, India had allayed Cambodian concerns over the temple being built in Bihar. “Angkor Wat Temple is the heart of Cambodia, and the Indian government stated that this construction won’t break the good relationship between both countries, and they promise to stop the company which plans to build it,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Chum Sounry was quoted as saying by the Cambodian media last week after Indian Ambassador to Cambodia Naveen Srivastava’s meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong. “The Ambassador told the Deputy Prime Minister that the government of India advised the private company to change the style and structure (in the blueprint) in order to avoid copying from Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple,” the spokesman was quoted as saying. The ‘Viraat Ramayan Mandir’, to be built some 120 kms from Patna, will be 2,800 feet in length and 1,400 feet in width and its sanctum sanctoram shall be 405 feet in height, according to details available on the Trust’s website.

Nepalese women rape case: India asks Saudi embassy to present accused diplomat before police

The MEA called in the Saudi envoy, a day after it received a “detailed report” about the case from Gurgaon Police.

It is learnt that the diplomat along with his family has shifted to the Saudi Embassy while the two Nepalese women have left for Nepal earlier in the day.

India on Thursday asked Saudi Arabia to present its diplomat, accused of rape and torture of two Nepalese women, before investigators and cooperate with the probe in the case that has triggered outrage. Saudi Arabian Ambassador Saud Mohammed Alsati was called to the External Affairs Ministry and told that the accused diplomat should give a statement to the Gurgaon police probing the case. “MEA Chief of Protocol called in Saudi Ambassador today and conveyed request of Haryana Police for cooperation of Embassy in the case of two Nepali citizens,” Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It is learnt that the diplomat along with his family has shifted to the Saudi Embassy while the two Nepalese women have left for Nepal earlier in the day. The MEA called in the Saudi envoy, a day after it received a “detailed report” about the case from Gurgaon Police. The report was sent to MEA hours after a second medical examination of the two women confirmed rape and sodomy, said Rajesh Chechi, ACP (Crime) of Gurgaon Police.Asked whether Saudi Arabia has invoked diplomatic immunity of the diplomat, accused of confining and raping the women at his house in Gurgaon, to enable him escape prosecution, sources said India has not been informed about any such move.The two women were rescued from the diplomat’s house in Gurgaon on Monday by police. Sources said Nepal government has requested India to take action against the Saudi diplomat and ensure justice to the victim women. The option for Saudi Arabia include shifting the diplomat out of India, while New Delhi has the option of declaring him persona non grata if he does not cooperate with the investigation.The Saudi Embassy had issued a statement yesterday terming the allegations as “false” and said it has protested police “intrusion” into a diplomat’s house against “all diplomatic conventions”.The Saudi Ambassador along with some embassy officials had also met senior MEA officials on Wednesday to register their protest. Meanwhile, a group of women rights activists held a protest outside Saudi Embassy demanding action against the diplomat. They demanded that no diplomatic immunity be extended to him.

MEA seeks cooperation from Saudi Embassy in alleged rape case

Gurgaon Police on Thursday night had sent a “detailed” report to the ministry on their investigation into the case.

MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup
File Photo

India asked Saudi Arabia to cooperate with the investigation against its Delhi-based diplomat, who has been accused of rape and torture by two Nepalese women working at his house in Gurgaon on the outskirts of the national capital. Saudi Ambassador Saud Mohammed Alsati was called in by the External Affairs Ministry and told that the Haryana police is seeking cooperation in the case, a day after the ministry received a report about the case from police. “MEA Chief of Protocol called in Saudi Ambassador on Thursday and conveyed request of Haryana Police for cooperation of Embassy in the case of 2 Nepali citizens,” Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Gurgaon Police on Thursday night had sent a “detailed” report to the ministry on their investigation into the case. The report was sent hours after a second medical examination of the two women confirmed rape and sodomy, said Rajesh Chechi, ACP (Crime) of Gurgaon Police. The Saudi Embassy had issued a statement on Wednesday terming the allegations “false” and said it has protested the police “intrusion” into a diplomat’s house against “all diplomatic conventions”. The Saudi Ambassador along with some embassy officials had also met senior MEA officials on Wednesday to register their protest. Meanwhile a group of women rights activists held a protest outside Saudi Embassy demanding action against the diplomat. They demanded that no diplomatic immunity be extended to him.

US backed India’s no plebiscite stance regarding Kashmir in 1965

The US in 1965 had supported India’s stand that there should be no plebiscite in Kashmir, declassified US documents of the era indicate.

Lal Bahadur Shahtri

The US in 1965 had supported India’s stand that there should be no plebiscite in Kashmir, declassified US documents of the era indicate.At the peak of the 1965 Indo-Pak war, the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri wrote a letter to US President Lyndon Johnson wherein he informed the American leadership that New Delhi is willing to agree to an unconditional ceasefire. He in his letter dated September 16, 1965 ruled out plebiscite in Kashmir arguing that the 1948 UN resolution in this regard was no longer acceptable.Shastri’s comments came after the then Pakistan foreign minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto told Americans that Pakistan was ready to be degraded as a nation but would not give up its claims over Kashmir. The day on which the Indian forces entered Pakistan, US Ambassador in Islamabad Walter Patrick McConaughty met the then Pakistan president Ayyub Khan and foreign minister Bhutto who wanted an assurance from the US, UN and the international community for a plebiscite in Kashmir.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During the conversation, McConaughty told them that Pakistan was responsible for this war, by sending troops inside Kashmir and using American weapons — which were given for use against a communist China — against India. The same day, the Johnson Administration in a separate telegram asked McConaughty to convey a tough message to Pakistan that it should not portray itself as a victim, for which it itself was to be blamed.”We must view India’s attacks across Pak border in over-all context events past few weeks. It clear from UNSYG (UN Secretary General) report that immediate crisis began with substantial infiltration of armed men from the Pakistan side,” the State Department said in its message to McConaughty that was to be conveyed to Pakistan.”We (are) aware India first put regular forces across CFL but Pak responses thereto in Chhamb area struck at points India considered vital, and Indians have long asserted (a) they could not tolerate continued Pak offensive, and (b) if Pakistan should strike India’s vital interests, India would have no choice but to respond in area of its own choosing. GOP must have been well aware of risk involved in its own actions in Jammu and Kashmir,” the State Department said.But the US officials had a tough job to do to convince Pakistan for an unconditional ceasefire. In his letter to Johnson, Shastri wrote, “I should like to state quite categorically that there can be no further question of any plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.” In his letter Shastri explained as to why India agreed to a plebiscite in Kashmir in 1948 and this is no longer an option.”The reason why, when in 1947, we first went to the Security Council with a complaint of aggression against Pakistan, we made a unilateral promise of having a plebiscite in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, was that, at that time, the State had no democracy, having been under the rule of a prince in the British days, and we were anxious ourselves to be satisfied that the people, as distinct from the ruler, genuinely favoured accession to India,” Shastri wrote, according to a copy of the letter released by State Department.”Ever since the accession of the State, we have been building up democratic institutions. There have been three general elections in conditions of freedom. The results of these elections have demonstrated clearly that the people of Jammu & Kashmir have accepted their place in the Indian Union.”I should like to state quite categorically that there can be no further question of any plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the people of Jammu & Kashmir,” he wrote. “If President Ayub feels that by launching an invasion on the State of Jammu & Kashmir, he will pressurise us into ceding any part of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, all I can say is that he is grievously mistaken. Much though we love peace, we shall not buy it by selling our territory,” Shastri wrote.As Pakistan was fast running out of ammunition, US feared that any delay in ceasefire would put Pakistan at a disadvantage position and could be very well run over by a strong Indian Army, which was moving fast inside the Pakistan side of Punjab. Even at this stage, both Ayub Khan and Bhutto insisted that US should exert pressure on India for a plebiscite in Kashmir or else America would be considered an enemy of Pakistan.Four days after Indian forces successfully entered Pakistani Punjab, McConaughy met Bhutto with a ceasefire proposal so as to protect the territorial integrity of Pakistan. Referring to his conversation with Bhutto in Rawalpindi, McConaughty wrote in a cable that the Pakistan foreign minister conceded that because of India opening the battle front in Punjab, attrition was already becoming a problem for the Pakistani forces and attrition would soon have a ruinous effect on the country’s ability to defend itself if US decision not reversed.”(Bhutto) said Pakistan would fight on to finish with sticks and stones and with bare hands if necessary, but their ability to hold back Indian attack would be vitally undermined by this US blow (of imposing arms sanctions),” the US diplomat wrote to the State Department. “GOP (government of Pakistan) would now be even less inclined than before to accept proposals which would not contain assured provision for withdrawal of Indian armed forces from Kashmir and exercise of self-determination right by Kashmiris. Pakistan would not respond to the kind of pressure inherent in the US action,” Bhutto insisted.McConaughty told Bhutto that such a decision by Pakistan was not sensible. “I told Bhutto it seemed to us that GOP was refusing to abandon the resort to force unless it attained in advance full agreement to its basic objectives as to Kashmir. It was not sensible to assume that this most intractable of world issues that has defied all solution efforts for 18 years could be settled now by the attachment of a Pakistani-prescribed rider to a ceasefire agreement,” he wrote.”He (Bhutto) said the Pakistanis would sell all their possessions, even their family heirlooms in order to get the means to continue the struggle until the Indian invasion repulsed and Kashmiri rights established. On September 9, the Ambassador met Bhutto with the unconditional ceasefire proposal. Bhutto rejected and said any ceasefire proposal has to be linked with a plebiscite in Kashmir.”Ceasefire must form part of final Kashmir settlement along lines: a) India and Pakistan vacate territory, b) UN administration of law and order for period approximately six months, c) plebiscite within precisely stipulated time.Without that there can be no solution,” Bhutto said according to the document. “I said India not able to agree to that now and Bhutto responded, ‘Then let them destroy Pakistan!'” “Bhutto said ‘People of Kashmir alone must decide, and no solution is complete without people of Kashmir expressing right of self-determination. This is battle of survival for Pakistan. We must be either degraded as nation or prevail. We prepared fight to finish,” McConaughty wrote in his telegram.As India was on the verge of capturing Lahore, Bhutto according to the telegram, told the US envoy: “You cannot destroy…people and their spirit by one battle in Lahore.”

Sushma Swaraj in Egypt: India and Egypt sign agreements in Cairo

Swaraj arrived in Cairo on Sunday for her two nation tour of Egypt and Germany. She was received at the airport by India’s Ambassador to Egypt Sanjay Bhattacharyya.

India and Egypt sign MoUs on Scientific & Technical Cooperation and Tourism on Monday.

Picture credits: Vikas Swaroop twitter page
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is currently on her two-nation tour to Egypt and Germany, met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo on Monday and signed agreements between both the countries. Swaraj arrived in Cairo on Sunday for her two nation tour of Egypt and Germany. She was received at the airport by India’s Ambassador to Egypt Sanjay Bhattacharyya.India and Egypt have enjoyed a history of close contact from ancient times. Since the 1980s, there have been four Prime Ministerial visits from India to Egypt: Rajiv Gandhi (1985); P. V. Narasimha Rao (1995); I. K. Gujral (1997); and Dr. Manmohan Singh (2009). <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking to the Indian diaspora in Egypt on Monday, she said a “unique transformation” is taking place in India in both economic and political fronts and that the Narendra Modi government was determined to take the country to “new heights”.Appealing the diaspora community to be part of the ‘India growth story’ she said, “We are committed to good governance, transparency, inclusive and sustainable growth and we as the government is ushering into an era of rapid eco development. There is a positive and upbeat business sentiment in our country.”The External Affairs Minister said the mood and the perception about India had changed because the Modi government has shown “will and determination” in the last 15 months to ensure rapid economic development.Swaraj on Monday also took time out of her busy schedule to visit the ‘Great Pyramid’ of Giza, one of the seven wonders of the world.

US working with India to boost counter-terrorism cooperation: Envoy Richard Verma

US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said that in recent years his country has led a global coalition to “degrade, disrupt and dismantle” terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Richard Verma
Agencies
AFP
The US on Monday said it is working with India to improve counter-terrorism cooperation as it stressed on the need for joint and concerted efforts to disrupt and degrade entities such as LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), ‘D-Company’ and the Haqqani Network. Noting that US and India have committed to making counter-terrorism cooperation a key component of bilateral ties, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said that in recent years his country has led a global coalition to “degrade, disrupt and dismantle” terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIL.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “President Obama and Prime Minister Modi have also called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing, and stopping their cross-border movement,” he said, speaking at the Defence Services Staff College here. At the Defence Staff Service College, Verma held an interaction with faculty and students on ‘Emerging Indo-US Strategic Ties’. Accompanied by US Counsul General in Chennai Phillip Minh and US Air Attache Robert Capozella, the Ambassador also met two student officers from US Army and Navy who are undergoing the staff course at DSSC. “Our leaders have also affirmed the need for joint and concerted efforts to disrupt and degrade entities such as LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), D Company and the Haqqani Network, and agreed to continue ongoing efforts through the Homeland Security Dialogue and the US-India Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism,” he said. His comments came just two days after Pakistan called off NSA-level talks with India. India had prepared an extensive dossier on underworld don Dawood Ibrahim who is believed to be based in Karachi under the patronage of ISI. Talking on the subject ‘Growing US-India defence cooperation’, he said both countries are also working on efforts to improve cooperation on UN terrorist designations and expand the sharing of information on known or suspected terrorists “no matter where they may be located”. “Our counter-terrorism cooperation can become a model for the region and potentially for the world, and it is another factor that makes me genuinely optimistic about our future defence and security partnership together,” he said. Verma stressed that US and India face a formidable set of international challenges, from the freedom of access to shared maritime and air routes, humanitarian crises in an increasingly interconnected world, and the continuing threat from non-state actors and extremist groups. He made it clear that bilateral defence cooperation is not based on a limited set of strategic priorities, nor is it directed toward a particular country. Rather, it is rooted in our shared values. He said that in today’s dynamic and globally connected world, a deeper understanding of the maritime domain and the readiness to protect critical trade routes has never been more important.

US offers to jointly produce fighter aircraft with India

New Delhi: The US on Friday offered to produce fighter aircraft jointly with India to promote deeper military ties as it spoke about the Indian Air Force facing a “critical shortage” of front-line fighter jets.

Representational image. Agencies

Representational image. Agencies

Talking about the new developments in bilateral military ties, the American Ambassador in New Delhi, Richard Verma, noted that India faces a critical shortage of front-line fighter aircraft for keeping India’s air space safe.

“Defence cooperation can help to counter this challenge and I see no reason why the US and India can’t produce fighter aircraft together,” he said at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.

Countries like the UK, Germany, Sweden and France, too, are looking to join hands with India to manufacture fighter aircraft as the country faces a depletion of its air strength due to modernisation delays.

Referring to US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter’s visit to New Delhi in June, Verma said both countries had established a new aircraft carrier working group to support India’s indigenous programme.

“I’m happy to report that the first meeting of that group took place this week in the US,” he said.

Verma stressed that US has committed to deepening its maritime security relations with India and, in March and again in April, the leaders of the US and Indian navies met and discussed how to improve maritime domain awareness.

“Now, we are into the planning stage of our 2015 Malabar joint naval exercise. We want to continue this exercise to deepen our maritime security relationship with India,” he said.

Referring to the recent “cross border terror attacks,” Verma said the US condemns such acts in “the strongest possible terms” and stands with the people of India and all free people in fighting the curse of terrorism.

“There can be no place, no accommodation and no justification for violence on innocent people. As (US) President (Barack) Obama said during his visit to New Delhi, the US and India are united in this fight and the two countries will continue our focus for a better future,” Verma said.

Verma said that the way India chooses to define its own world as a leading power can have a profound impact on their shared interests in defending and preserving assured access to shared spaces.

“As the (US) President articulated in his February, 2015, National Security strategy, shared spaces are the arteries of the world economy, a sure access is pre-requisite for the governments of the world to continue to provide their citizens with better standards of living,” he said.

The top American diplomat in New Delhi said he believes that as leading powers, cooperation between the US and India will lay the ground for the next breakthrough in bilateral ties.

“Let’s start with the seas, free the sea for everyone; It has been a foundational argument for naval freedom. 90 percent of the trade worldwide operates on the oceans.

“Our oil, fuels, imports and exports depend on the safe passage of cargo…but, today, the safety and security of sea (commerce) faces a genuine threat from terrorists, natural environmental disruptions, mass migrations and organised criminal activities,” he said.

Piracy on the high seas continues to create uncertainties, Verma said, adding that world powers have stood up and worked to address these concerns with the US and India often at the forefront of such efforts.

“We are both maritime powers, our navies engage in joint training and exercises as partners, our leaders have expressed an interest to work together in both the US-India joint statement and US-India defence agreement.

“We demonstrated it in the case of Somalia in 2009, but we can do more,” he said.

Verma added that as natural disasters may also affect the maritime domain, India and the US, being leading powers, must be prepared to deal with such phenomena.

The US ambassador said that India has proven herself in this regard in 2004, when it immediately responded to the devastation caused by the tsunami, saving thousands of lives in south and south-east Asia.

“There are thousands of other examples of India’s humanitarian disaster response capability,” he said.

PTI

China says Indian and 19 other deported foreigners admitted to ‘illegal acts’

Rajiv Mohan Kulshrestha, a businessman from Delhi, was deported to India on Saturday.

China on Sunday said a 46-year-old Indian and 19 other foreigners, who were deported being arrested for alleged terror links, watched video clips that “advocate terrorism and religious extremism” and admitted to their “illegal acts”.Rajiv Mohan Kulshrestha, a businessman from Delhi, was deported to India on Saturday. Nineteen others, mostly British and South African nationals, from Gift of the Givers, a South African charity, were also deported to their respective countries. The foreigners have been deported from China for illegally “watching video clips that advocate terrorism and religious extremism,” the foreign affairs office in Ordos city in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, where they were detained, said in the first detailed comment on the incident.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”According to the police investigation, the foreigners first watched a documentary in a hotel room. After some of them left, the rest proceeded to watch video clips advocating terrorism. Police later found similar videos stored in a cell phone belonging to Hoosain Ismail Jacobs, a South African national,” state-run Xinhua news agency reported. After that police detained nine of the 20 and allowed the rest to leave China.The police detained five South Africans, three British nationals and an Indian national on July 11 in accordance with China’s criminal law which stipulates punishment for “allegedly organising, leading or joining terrorist groups”, the report said. “All the detainees admitted to their illegal acts and repented. The police imposed a lenient sentence and had them deported yesterday. The other 11 foreigners were deported on Wednesday,” the report said.After being notified, diplomats with relevant foreign embassies in China visited their nationals involved in the case, who had been accommodated properly, said the foreign affairs office of Ordos. Indian Ambassador to China Ashok K Kantha said yesterday that while the focus during the last few days was on getting Kulshrestha released, Indian Embassy has sought from China precise circumstances under which he was detained.

China wants red carpet, not red tape, for investors in India: Chinese Ambassador to India

“New strategy Made in China 2025 features innovation and high end manufacturing. It can be aligned with PM’s Make in India plan,” said Le Yucheng, Chinese Ambassador to India.

File picture

Reuters
China has offered to align its ‘Made in China’ campaign with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative to facilitate the flow of Chinese capital and industry into India, but demanded “red carpet” instead of “red tape” for its investors.”New strategy Made in China 2025 features innovation and high end manufacturing. It can be aligned with PM’s Make in India plan,” said Le Yucheng, Chinese Ambassador to India. Interacting with the Indian media ahead of the arrival of the first group of Indian pilgrims to travel to Kailash Manasarovar in Tibet via the newly-opened Nathu La Pass in Sikkim on June 21, Le said Chinese investments in India accounted for only a few hundred million dollars.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He, however, said there is a great passion and enthusiasm in Indian states to attract investments from China. “We want more efficiency in attracting investment and more red carpet instead red tape. We need to catch up and make up for the loss,” he said. China has over capacity in its industry.”We need to move out part of them to our neighbouring countries which are in need of it. India needs Chinese capital industrial technology. Why not invite Chinese investments? Indian side is still long way to go to attract more investments,” Le said. “I believe more and more Chinese companies are coming. You need to set incubation centres or contacting points and more incentives to attract Chinese investments not just for looking or problems,” he said.At the same time, he said, China is happy with e-Visas for Chinese tourists announced by Modi during visit here in May. “We are happy with e-visas and relaxation of security clearances and happy with the efficiency of attracting Chinese investments by setting up single window clearance. Each state from all over India are competing to get the Chinese investments,” he said. “Security clearance issue now is partially have been solved,” he said

‘Made in India’ making big splash in Chinese border town

The India-China trade through Nathu La, which is just 50 km from this town, is flourishing though it is still just around Rs 17 crore.

Representational image
Agencies
Getty Images
India might be suffering US $47 billion trade deficit with China, but it is making a big splash in this border town with several shops using ‘Made in India’ sign boards and traders cashing on border trade through the Nathu La pass.Many shopkeepers in this small town in the centre of Tibet, who import Indian handicrafts, spices and textiles, use sign boards highlighting ‘Made in India goods available’.The India-China trade through Nathu La, which is just 50 km from this town, is flourishing though it is still just around Rs 17 crore.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China today opened a second route through the Himalayan pass of Nathu La in Sikkim, 4,000 metres above sea level, for the first batch of Kailash-Manasarovar pilgrims.Chinese Ambassador to India Le Yucheng, who for the first time visited Sikkm and crossed over through the Nathu La border point yesterday to receive the pilgrims, met Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling and discussed steps to increase the trade.Speaking to the Indian media here, Le said the present volume of over US $70 billion bilateral trade is inadequate and does not represents the potential.He said the trade is set to grow with more Chinese investment in India.

Bhagavad Gita makes debut in Communist China

Translated by Prof Wang Zhu Cheng and Ling Hai of Zhejiang University in Shanghai and published by Sichuan People’s Publications, the book was launched at a function attended by eminent Yoga teachers from India who had converged at Dujiangyan in southwestern Sichuan province to attend Yoga Festival. The book was released by Indian Ambassador to China Ashok K Kantha on Wednesday

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Bhagavad Gita, a sacred ancient Indian scripture, has made its debut in China after its Chinese version was released during an international Yoga conference being held in the Communist nation.Translated by Prof Wang Zhu Cheng and Ling Hai of Zhejiang University in Shanghai and published by Sichuan People’s Publications, the book was launched at a function attended by eminent Yoga teachers from India who had converged at Dujiangyan in southwestern Sichuan province to attend Yoga Festival. The book was released by Indian Ambassador to China Ashok K Kantha on Wednesday. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The foreword for the book was written by K Nagaraj Naidu who was till recently the Consul General at the Indian Consulate in Guangzhou. Ancient Buddhist scriptures are well known in China as they made their way from the times of Huen Tsang journey to India in the 7th century.This is perhaps the first time a well known Hindu ancient religious text has been published in China. Last year, scholars from India and China published an Encyclopaedia on the age-old cultural contacts between the two countries, tracing back their history to over 2000 years.About 21 eminent yoga teachers are providing training to about 700 yoga enthusiasts from all over China under the first India-China (Chengdu) International Yoga Festival. The five-day Yoga festival will end on June 21, the first UN Yoga Day during which a number events are planned all over China and Hong Kong.

PM Modi wants international campaign ‘Girl Rising’ to focus on female foeticide

The Girl Rising campaign is anchored by a feature film that is being remade into several Indian languages.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asked representatives of ‘Girl Rising’, a global campaign to educate and empower girls, to focus on the issue of female foeticide in India.Representatives of “Girl Rising” including its India Ambassador and actress Freida Pinto and vice president of its global programmes Samantha Wright met the Prime Minister here.”The Prime Minister said the “Girl Rising” campaign in India should focus especially on the problem of female foeticide,” an official statement said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Girl Rising campaign is anchored by a feature film that is being remade into several Indian languages.The representatives also appreciated the Prime Minister’s “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” initiative.In February this year, Pinto and Priyanka Chopra had launched a new campaign ‘Girl Rising India’ campaign aimed at changing the lives of girls across the country. Through powerful storytelling and visible advocacy, Girl Rising’s India campaign is designed to spark grassroots, community-led change for girls.

US lauds PM Narendra Modi’s active diplomatic efforts

“In foreign policy India has been on the move. In the past year the Prime Minister has reached out not just to the United States, but has visited over 18 countries and 33 cities,” US Ambassador to India Richard Rahul Verma has said.
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AFP photo
Through his active diplomatic efforts in the last one year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is signalling that India will be a player on the global stage for years to come, according to a top American diplomat.”In foreign policy India has been on the move. In the past year the Prime Minister has reached out not just to the United States, but has visited over 18 countries and 33 cities,” US Ambassador to India Richard Rahul Verma has said.”He (Modi) is signalling that India will be a player on the global stage for years to come and we welcome and support that global leadership role – politically, economically and in global institutions,” Verma said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a top American think-tank.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Within the region, Modi has reached out to leaders from Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. He successfully finalised a historic land boundary agreement with Bangladesh, he said.There have been visits to Mauritius and the Seychelles, demonstrating that India wants to play an active role in the Indian Ocean, he said yesterday.”We have also been heartened and grateful for the leadership India has shown in the face of recent crises. India’s response to the devastating earthquake in Nepal has been remarkable,” Verma said.”In a similar gesture, India rushed to provide fresh water assistance to the Maldives when its water treatment facility ceased operating,” said Verma, the first Indian-American head of the US mission in India.India, he said, displayed leadership beyond regional boundaries. In Yemen, India organised land and sea evacuations of civilians that included nationals from all over the world, including the United States and Pakistan, he said.As part of its ‘Act East’ agenda, India has strengthened ties with Asian powers, he said. “The Prime Minister has been working closely with (Japanese) Prime Minister Abe in recognition of India’s shared interests with Japan, visited Australia, and made a historic trip to Fiji,” the envoy said.India assigned its first permanent envoy to ASEAN this year and during his visit to China, Prime Minister Modi was able to strike a balanced tone between enhancing cooperation and seeking to resolve outstanding issues, Verma said, adding the two nations are partnering more closely than ever before.”We are tracking 77 different initiatives that came out of the January Obama-Modi Summit, in fields that range from defense cooperation to health and renewable energy,” he said.”The Joint Strategic Vision on the Indo-Pacific region we announced during the President’s visit outlined ways our two nations can come together in the region to further the prospects for greater prosperity, peace and stability,” he said.”Our two democracies are demonstrating how the region can work collaboratively towards a better future, based on respect for a rules-based order and the peaceful resolution of disputes. As the Prime Minister recently said, it’s not just what the US and India can do for each other, but what we can do for the world,” Verma added.

Only Congress can bring Bengal on path of development: Rahul Gandhi

During his interaction with the jute mill workers, Rahul Gandhi assured them that he will raise their problems in Parliament.
File Photo
PTI
Claiming that both the Left Front and the Trinamool Congress have failed the people of West Bengal, Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday that only Congress can bring the state back on the path of development.”Left Front had put brakes on the development of Bengal,” Gandhi said, referring to the 34-year rule of CPI(M)-led Left Front in the state, while speaking to jute mill workers in Hooghly district, around 25 km from Kolkata.”Then people thought that Trinamool Congress will come and take the state forward, but after it came to power (in 2011), it put the brakes on development… continuing the deadlock,” he said while talking to the workers at Wellington Jute Mill on the banks of River Ganges, which is dotted with jute mills.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During his interaction with the workers, Gandhi assured them that he will raise their problems in Parliament.Urging the people to bring Congress back to power in the state, he said, “Only Congress can release the brakes and take the vehicle of development forward in Bengal.” The Congress, which had been voted out of power way back in 1977, has steadily lost ground first to the Left Front and then to Trinamool Congress.It received a drubbing in the recent civic elections in the state coming a poor fourth in vote share, behind Trinamool Congress, Left Front, and the BJP.During his interaction with jute mill workers, Gandhi was apprised of their problems related to closure of mills, wages, pension, bonus and fringe benefits, state INTUC president Ramen Pandey said.Briefing the media about Gandhi’s talks with the workers, Pandey said, “We also urged him to take up the issue of making jute packaging of food grains, sugar and other items compulsory in Parliament so as to save the industry.”The INTUC also gave a memorandum to Gandhi on labour issues in tea gardens in North Bengal and the crisis faced by workers and other local businesses owing to the closure of the Ambassador factory at Hindustan Motors factory at Hindmotor Kolkata.

India reiterates three conditions for engagement with Pakistan

India on Sunday reaffirmed adherence to three conditions including having an atmosphere “free of terror and violence” as a precursor to any engagement with Pakistan and demanded action against terrorists including Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.

Sushma Swaraj in a file photo. AFPSushma Swaraj in a file photo. AFP

Sushma Swaraj in a file photo. AFP

Asserting that there was no “flip-flop” or “confusion” in the government, which has a “very clear Pakistan policy”, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the two countries had decided on three principles for talks when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had come here last year. These principles were also part of the Shimla and Lahore declarations.

“First, we are ready to resolve each issue through peaceful dialogue. Second, the talks will be between the two countries –us and Pakistan. Neither a third country will mediate nor there will be a third party. Third, an atmosphere of harmony should be created by keeping away terror and violence.

“These are not decided today…We have told Pakistan repeatedly that talks can take place based on these three principles,” she told a press conference, noting that these  were the principles agreed upon by the two countries in Shimla and Lahore declarations.

The minister said no engagement was scheduled when asked if any meeting was proposed between India and Pakistan in the near future.

“Now if Lakhvi is out and he is released….and if Pakistan thinks that there is an atmosphere of harmony, will India accept it,” she added.

“There is no flip-flop in our policy. We had decided on three principles for talks when Sharif had come here to participate in the swearing-in ceremony (of Narendra Modi as PM). Since then we have been following those three principles,” she said.

On Pakistan trying to use China to put a “technical hold” on India’s request to list Syed Salahuddin in the UN Security Council sanctions committee on Al-Qaida and associated entities, Swaraj said,”We had told China that we are not the only victim of terror. China is also a victim and the source is same. So, while voting in 1267 in these type of issues, do not take a narrow view.

“Keep global terrorism in mind and follow a policy so that we can work together and take decisions unitedly. This was conveyed to Chinese leadership by the Indian leadership.”

The sanctions committee on Al-Qaida and others has been constituted under UN’s resolution 1267.

On India calling-off the talks last year after Pakistani High Commissioner held consultations with Kashmiri separatists, Swaraj said normally these separatists go and meet when any leader comes from Pakistan or officials of that country here.

“But here the Pakistan High Commissioner invited them (separatists) four days ahead of the dialogue with India. We told him that why he had invited them when the two countries were going to hold dialogue. In talks, we don’t want any third party,” Swaraj said.

To the question on Chinese assistance for an economic corridor through PoK, the minister said their (China) Ambassador was called to lodge protest.

“This time we did not keep it there. We lodged protest calling the Chinese ambassador. We lodged protest through our Ambassador there (Beijing). And when the Prime Minister had gone there (to China), he talked about it very firmly. He raised it very strongly that it is not acceptable to us what you are talking about China-Pakistan economic corridor going to PoK.”

Asked about recent statements made by Home and Defence Ministers regarding the whereabouts of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and “terrorists have to be neutralised only through terrorists” respectively, she said there was no confusion while dealing with Pakistan “If there is bombardment on the border, the Home Minister will not keep quiet.

“He (Home minister) will have to retaliate and definitely he will speak in that language. Defence Minister has been given the responsibility of defending the country. He will have to ensure security. So he will speak that way”.

PTI

Of 90,000 applicants, only 4,000 Indian students got US visa last year

New Delhi: The number of student visa applications for the United States has registered a 60 per cent increase this year with a whopping 90,000 applicants, of whom only about 4,000 could make the cut.

According to an official statement, around 4,000 students managed to get student visa which saw over 90,000 applicants, a number which doubled at the US embassy and consulates, especially in Mumbai and Hyderabad, over the last 12 months.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“The US Embassy in Delhi, and Consulates General in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai, opened their doors on today to over 4,000 Indian students who applied for visas to pursue education in the United States,” it said.

The students will join a growing league of their counterparts in the US, which stands at nearly 103,000 at present, making them the second largest group of foreign students in the country after China.

“Student visa applications across India increased 60 percent last year. Consular officers approve the vast majority of student visa applications. 78 per cent of Indian students opt to study Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields,” the US Embassy said.

According to the embassy, in terms of popularity of study disciplines among the applicants, engineering tops the chart, followed by computer science.

“Last year Indian students in the United States contributed USD 3.3 billion to the US economy,” it said.

Congratulating the successful applicants, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said, “Indian students are a great asset to United States universities and colleges. Both countries benefit greatly when our students study and learn together.”

On the occasion, celebrated as Student Visa Day, the embassy and the consulates treated the applicants to an informative morning in a festive, collegiate atmosphere, with the consulates playing music ranging from college songs to pop music.

“It has been an honour to meet India’s future leaders today at Student Visa Day. I am continually impressed by the calibre of Indian students that I meet, and amazed by what they contribute to both India and the world,” Ambassador Verma remarked after talking with the applicants here.

PTI

India wanted portions of Pranab Mukherjee’s interview deleted: Swedish daily

The newspaper also claimed that the ambassador had asked it “to retract sections of the interview and warned that otherwise “the planned state visit was at risk of being cancelled.”

An embarrassed government had asked the Swedish newspaper through its ambassador in Sweden to delete references to the Bofors gun deal from the interview of President Pranab Mukherjee. Swedish newspaper ‘Dagens Nyheter’ on Wednesday claimed Indian ambassador Banashri Bose Harrison had put pressure on it to remove the Bofors references in the interview given by Mukherjee on the occasion of his visit to Sweden from Sunday.Though, ministry of external affairs (MEA) here chose to remain quit and the ruling BJP also exercised caution since it involved the office of President, Indian ambassador to Sweden, shot off a letter to the newspaper, claiming the portion of interview referring to Bofors were off-record. “It was both unprofessional and unethical on your part to include in the report an off-the-record correction by the President after the interview had ended, about a slip-of-the-tongue during the interview,” said the letter.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The newspaper also claimed that the ambassador had asked it “to retract sections of the interview and warned that otherwise “the planned state visit was at risk of being cancelled.”Sources in the ministry claimed the interview was fixed through the ambassador and she was acting only on the request from the President’s office to ensure his off-the-record comments on the Bofors controversy are not published in the interview.”I find the ambassador’s reaction regretful. It is surprising that someone representing the world’s largest democracies is trying to micromanage which questions we should ask a head of state, and which answers should be published,” said Peter Wolodarski, the paper’s editor-in-chief.Allegations that the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was among the politicians who were bribed by Bofors for the Rs 1,500-crore purchase had cost him the national election in 1989, though Delhi High Court ruled out in 2004 any evidence to establish involvement of Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991.The President is scheduled to travel to Sweden on Sunday. Ahead of that, he was interviewed in Delhi and said the Bofors deal which saw India buying artillery guns from the Swiss defence manufacturer, should not be referred to as a scandal. “No Indian court has given a verdict on it, the process of trial is going on, and unless some authoritative institutions describe it as a scandal and punish it, how could you say that it is a scandal?” he said in the interview.

India-US trade would rise to USD 500 billion: US Ambassador to India

The relationship between India and America has reached a new dimension after the two meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama, he said The two countries have agreed on cooperation in various fields like nuclear, defence and security, space, science, health and trade, he said adding there are immense possibilities of cooperation between India and the US.

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The bilateral trade between India and the US is expected to increase to US $500 billion from the current US $100 billion, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said today.Verma said that India and the US are two big democratic nations and have agreed on pushing a “better agenda”.The initiative is significant for the entire Asia, he said while addressing a function here.Answering questions on trade between the two countries, he said it is said to increase from US $100 billion to US $500 billion.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The relationship between India and America has reached a new dimension after the two meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama, he said The two countries have agreed on cooperation in various fields like nuclear, defence and security, space, science, health and trade, he said adding there are immense possibilities of cooperation between India and the US.The US administration, he said, is working on implementation of the agreements agreed between Modi and Obama.He further said America has given business visas to 10 lakh people which is 70% of the visa issues in the entire world.He is in Punjab as part of America’s outreach programme.

PM Narendra Modi’s ‘super visit’ will leave big imprint: Chinese ambassador

China’s Ambassador to India Le Yucheng writes about PM Modi’s ‘super visit’ to China

Spring is the season of hope with flowers in full blossom. Amidst the fresh spring air, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India paid an official visit to China from May 14-16, at the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. As Chinese ambassador to India, I am happy to witness the historic visit.The visit, the first by Mr Modi as Prime Minister of India, can be characterized by three ‘supers’. First, Prime Minister Modi was accorded a super high-level reception. In the first stop of the visit, Xian, the capital of the home province of President Xi Jinping and a long-time ancient capital of China, a grand Tang-dynasty welcome ceremony was held to escort Prime Minister Modi into the city, the first ever such ceremony for a foreign dignitary in more than a decade.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Xi and Prime Minister Modi spent more than 5 hours together. In addition to official meetings, the two leaders also visited Dacien Temple and Wild Goose Pagoda, built in commemoration of Xuanzang, the eminent Chinese monk who went on a pilgrimage to India for Buddhist scriptures, and watched traditional cultural performance together. President Xi held a special banquet for Prime Minister Modi at the ancient city wall complex.It’s particularly worth-noting that it is the first time for President Xi to host a foreign leader outside Beijing. And the visit in a way reciprocates President Xi’s visit to Prime Minister Modi’s home state, Gujarat, last year.There is a special bond between the two places as Xuanzang pursued Buddhist learning in Gujarat and it was from there that he brought Buddhist scriptures back to then capital of Tang Dynasty, Xian, and translated and taught the scriptures there.In Beijing, Premier Li Keqiang held a warm official welcome ceremony and state banquet for Prime Minister Modi. The two leaders spent almost a whole day together, including official meetings that went much longer than expected, attendance in the first China-India State/Provincial Leaders’ Forum and a Yoga-Taichi demonstration event. A cabinet minister accompanied Prime Minister Modi throughout his visit in Beijing and Shanghai as representative of the Chinese government, a rare practice in many years. Each leg of the visit was marked by senior-level attendance, including Vice Speakers of the parliament, several cabinet ministers including the Foreign Minister and the Commerce Minister, governors and mayors.All these special arrangements, senior attendance and high-level reception attest to the importance China attaches to the visit and the friendly relations between our two countries. Second, the visit yielded super fruitful results. The leaders of our two countries had an in-depth exchange of views on a host of major issues of mutual interest, reached important consensus while not shying away from differences. They took stock of China-India relations and charted the course for its future growth. The visit builds on the consensus to foster a Closer Developmental Partnership, further enriches the partnership and raised the regional and global significance of China-India cooperation.A joint statement was issued, which noted that India-China bilateral relations are poised to play a defining role in the 21st century in Asia and indeed, globally. Peace and tranquility on the India-China border was recognised as an important guarantor for the development and continued growth of bilateral relations. Pending a final resolution of the boundary question, the two sides commit to implementing the existing agreements and continue to make efforts to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas. Prime Minister Modi pointed out in his speech that “the prospects of the 21st century becoming the Asian century will depend in large measure on what India and China achieve individually and what we do together”.A record number of 45 agreements were signed during the visit, including 24 inter-governmental agreements in outer space, cyber space, earthquake preparedness, maritime science, smart city, consular establishment, finance, education, exchanges between political parties, local States/Provinces and think tanks, etc, and 21 business agreements worth $22 billion.I remember saying to the Indian press before the visit that the business agreements signed would be no less than $10 billion. I thought at the time of the interview that I was giving a rather bold number, but it turned out to be too modest. Prime Minister Modi also brought a special gift to the Chinese people by announcing the extension of e-visas to Chinese nationals.All these deliverables are bound to inject fresh dynamism to our relations. Third, the visit was conducted in a super friendly atmosphere. Prime Minister Modi opened a Chinese Weibo account to say “Ni Hao” (hello) to the Chinese people and met with Chinese journalists before the much-anticipated visit. Throughout the visit, he was warmly received by the Chinese government and people. Everywhere he went, the feeling of warmth and friendship was very much in the air. The choice of Xian, the symbol and witness of the millennium-old friendly exchanges between the Indian and Chinese peoples, is in itself of great significance.There, Prime Minister Modi visited the famous Terracotta Warriors and Daxingshan Temple, where three eminent Indian monks taught and promoted Buddhism more than 1,400 years ago. Hundreds of thousands local residents lined up the streets to welcome Prime Minister Modi, waving and shouting “Modi, Modi”, all eager to catch a glimpse and maybe a picture of the Prime Minister. Moved by their enthusiasm, Prime Minister Modi stopped the motorcade to interact with local people. At the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, the Yoga-Taichi event brought together more than 400 people from 8-year old to 80-year old. At Tsinghua University and the opening ceremony of Center for Gandhian and Indian Studies at Fudan University, Prime Minister Modi’s remarks were a big hit. At the State/Provincial Leaders’ Forum, many local leaders from the two countries queued to have photos with Prime Minister Modi and Premier Li. At the business forum in Shanghai, many top Chinese CEOs expressed their desire to invest in India. During the visit, Prime Minister Modi posted dozens of Tweets and Weibo, including the much-liked-and-forwarded selfie with Premier Li. All this speaks volume of the strong will of our two peoples to build on the traditional friendship and open up new prospects in China-India relations.The three-day visit is now successfully concluded, but with its fruitful achievements and wide-ranging impact, it will leave a big imprint in our relations. Like our cooperation in high-speed railway, the train of China-India relations has entered a fast track of high-speed growth. As Chinese ambassador to India, I am truly encouraged by this milestone visit. We will implement the outcomes of the visit, enhance exchanges and cooperation across the board in the interest of our two countries and two peoples, and jointly write a new chapter in the duet of the Chinese dragon and the Indian elephant.Le Yucheng is China’s Ambassador to India

India-America relations going through momentous phase, says Indian envoy to the US

Washington: With two back-to-back heads of the State visit in less than a year after the formation of the new government, it is a “very momentous” phase of India-US relationship, top Indian envoy to the United States has said.

Indian envoy to the US said that India-US ties were going through a momentous phase. IBNLive

Indian envoy to the US said that India-US ties were going through a momentous phase. IBNLive

“We are in a very momentous phase of our relationship. India is moving quickly on its commitment to reform, throwing up tremendous opportunities for working together,” the new Indian Ambassador to the US, Arun Kumar Singh, told members of the US India Business Council (USIBC) in Washington on Wednesday.

Selecting the American business community for his first major public interaction after arriving in the US capital, the new Indian Ambassador exuded confidence that the US business and industry will continue to seize the potential.

“Our cooperation will reinforce our strategic ties in a long-term framework,” he said.

Singh was welcomed by USIBC chairman Ajay Banga and president Mukesh Aghi at the reception hosted in his honour.

The past year has been transformational in many ways. It was exactly a year ago that Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over the reins of a new government, riding on an unprecedented mandate for development and reform, Singh said.

Since then, the government has pushed forward with the reform agenda at a remarkable speed, focusing on infrastructure development, manufacturing, technological advancement, skills development and financial inclusion, through new and innovative programmes like Make in India, Digital India, Smart Cities and the Jan Dhan Yojana, he said.

“Behind all these initiatives lies the Prime Minister’s vision of making India a global manufacturing hub, with state of the art infrastructure and a skilled workforce,” he said.

He wants to transform India into a digitally empowered society with universal internet connectivity, digital identity, mobile phone banking and e-services. He wants India to take its rightful place as a fast growing economy, tapping the huge potential of its young population, Singh told the US business community.

Noting that to realise this vision, foreign investments and transfer of technology would be important components, Singh said India needs a business environment that fosters innovation and encourages investment.

“This recognition has led the government to introduce several reforms aimed at improving the ease of doing business in and with India. Procedures have been simplified, including creating a single window for a number of services. A high level committee is working to recommend a simpler mechanism to start a business in India,” he said.

Singh said positive developments at home have been accompanied by a fresh momentum in India-US relationship, thanks to two highly successful summits between Prime Minister Modi and President Barack Obama, which have helped in resolving some long-pending issues and identifying new areas of cooperation.

“The Delhi Declaration of Friendship, has upgraded the bilateral strategic dialogue to a Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, reflecting the importance we attach to strengthening our commercial ties. Both sides have also committed to enhance bilateral trade to USD 500 billion and work towards a Bilateral Investment Treaty,” he said.

In his remarks, Singh acknowledged that given extensive business ties, there are bound to be some issues of concern to the industry on both sides.

“Fortunately, we have developed sufficient bilateral mechanisms to address such concerns in a constructive and cooperative spirit,” he said.

The USIBC can play an important role in this context by being a proactive voice for the industry on both sides, he added.

PTI

Committed to reconstruct quake-hit Nepal: India tells UN

Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Bhagwant Bishnoi said here yesterday that all the relief and rescue work being done by India was in “consultation and coordination with the Nepalese Government.”

Having launched the massive relief operation ‘Maitri’ in quake-hit Nepal, India has told the UN that it remains committed to partnering with the neighbouring country’s rehabilitation and reconstruction.Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Bhagwant Bishnoi said here yesterday that all the relief and rescue work being done by India was in “consultation and coordination with the Nepalese Government.”It is also closely engaged with the efforts of United Nations in Nepal, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Now that the search and rescue phase is over, our commitment extends to partnering with the Government and the people of Nepal for re-rehabilitation and re-construction,” Bishnoi said at a briefing by the UN Secretariat on the situation after the earthquake in Nepal.Extending condolences to the people of Nepal, Bishnoi said the citizens have handled the situation with courage.”This shows their vitality…Our hearts go out to the people of Nepal. We are united with them by history and a border, an open border. The fact that it is an open border conveys a lot. Today India and Nepal are also united by grief,” he said.India launched Operation Maitri on April 25 to assist in the relief and rescue efforts immediately after the 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal killing over 7,000 people, including 41 Indians.Bishnoi said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken to both the President and Prime Minister of Nepal soon after the earthquake occurred.Bishnoi told the UN that the first flight from India landed in Kathmandu within six hours of the earthquake and there have been non-stop sorties of C-17 Globe Master, IL-76 and C-130 aircraft.India also deployed 16 teams of the National Disaster Reaction Force, each comprising 50 trained personnel.So far, the relief assistance provided by India included 95 tons of food packages and dry rations, 94 tons of water, 7.5 tons of medicine, 3,700 tents, more than 100,000 blankets, 600 pieces of tarpaulin and 2,000 plastic sheets.The Indian Army set up three field hospitals and the Air Force deployed a rapid action team.India provided 15 tons of medical supplies, stretchers and oxygen concentrators and is helping with the restoration of electricity supply.India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar visited Nepal on May 1 to “fine-tune” India’s assistance in keeping with the requirements.They also went to Barpak village, the epicentre of the earthquake, and met the Nepali and Indian teams working there, Bishnoi said.The Nepal government has asked rescue teams from India and 33 other countries to leave the country and deployed thousands of its own military and police personnel as the government took charge of massive post-quake operations.

Decision to ask foreign rescue workers to leave not directed at India, says Nepal

New Delhi: Quake-struck Nepal on Monday clarified to India that its decision to ask foreign rescue personnel to leave was not directed at it but encompassed all other 33 countries present in the Himalayan nation which was now moving into next phase — rehabilitation.

Underlining that his country was thankful to India for responding within “6-7” hours and saving lives following the devastating earthquake, Nepal Ambassador in New Delhi Deep Kumar Upadhyay indicated that India will remain engaged in the rehabilitation process.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

He said Nepal Army, police and other local organizations had expertise to handle the situation but lacked equipment.

“We have to thank the Indian government since within 6-7 hours of time, a flight reached Kathmandu with all the necessary equipment. It helped many people survive,” he said.

He asked the media to take the situation very positively and added that rescue work in Nepal was about to be completed.

“This (rescue) is the first phase. Now we have to clear all the debris also. Kathmandu is a monumental city… Nepal army is coordinating all these things. They are the experts and if they need any kind of equipment, personnel, they will make their request and government will do accordingly,” he said emerging from his meeting with Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar.

Nepal’s decision asking foreign rescue workers to leave had led to speculation that it was directed at India.

“Not not all. Please be positive,” he said when asked if Nepal was upset with India.

Pointing out that Jaishankar had visited Nepal recently, Upadhyay said he had “good discussion” about how to get Nepal out of this tragedy.

“We have full commitment of Indian government. We told them our priorities. As far as rescue operation is concerned, it is almost ending and that is why the government of Nepal has decided that all friends who have come should prepare to leave now,” he said.

Meanwhile, Spokesperson in the External Affairs Minister Vikas Swarup said “relief operations will continue in full swing. Nepal government has asked for earth-moving equipment to assist in clearing debris.”

PTI

UN takes up India’s request, will look into Lakhvi release issue in next meeting

United Nations: A UNSC committee has assured India that it will take up the issue of Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi at its next meeting, after India expressed concern that the LeT commander’s release from a Pakistani jail violates the provisions of the global body.

India’s Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji had written a letter to the Chair of the UNSC Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee Ambassador Jim McLay expressing concern over Lakhvi’s release and said it violates the provisions of the committee concerning al-Qaeda and associated individuals and entities.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

India also pointed out that as a listed terrorist, Lakhvi can neither receive or give money since all his assets and financial resources have to be frozen. Any bail money posted for Lakhvi is also a violation of the provisions of the sanctions committee since he is listed terrorist.

Acknowledging India’s concerns, McLay has responded to India’s letter and assured that the matter will be discussed at the next meeting of the committee, sources here told PTI.

The next meeting of the committee is expected to take place in the next few days.

The committee had listed in December 2008 Lakhvi as a terrorist associated with LeT and Al-Qaeda for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts of activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of” both entities.

As a listed terrorist, Lakhvi is subject to assets freeze, travel ban and an arms embargo.

The committee said that as chief of operations and military commander of LeT, Lakhvi has directed its operations, including in Iraq and South-East Asia.

“In past years, Lakhvi has played an important role in LeT fundraising activities, receiving donations from Al-Qaeda affiliates on behalf of LeT. He has also managed a training camp in Afghanistan,” according to the committee website.

The release of Lakhvi had also raised concerns in the US, UK, Russia, France and Germany with Washington calling for him to be rearrested.

Lakhvi and six others, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum, have been charged with planning and executing the Mumbai attack in November, 2008 that left 166 people dead.

Lakhvi, 55, a close relative of LeT founder and Jamaat-Ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, was arrested in December 2008 and was indicted along with the six others on November 25, 2009 in connection with the 26/11 attack case.

The trial has been underway since 2009.

A Pakistani court had on April 9 set free Lakhvi, a move which India said “eroded” the value of assurances repeatedly conveyed to it by Pakistan on cross-border terrorism.

PTI

Greater UN responsiveness to Myanmar reforms needed: India

United Nations: India has called for the UN to demonstrate “greater responsiveness” to the reforms being implemented by the Myanmar government and discontinue annual resolutions on the human rights situation in the country.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Asoke Mukerji said that India welcomes the “significant” political and economic reforms the government of Myanmar has instituted over the last few years.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

“Moving forward, the UN must also demonstrate greater responsiveness to the reforms being implemented by the Government of Myanmar. We would urge member states to agree to the discontinuation of annual resolutions on the human rights situation in Myanmar.

“This would convey the world community’s strong support and encouragement for the reform measures that are already underway in Myanmar,” Mukerji said during a meeting of the ‘Partnership Group for Peace, Development and Democracy in Myanmar’ yesterday.

As per the resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar that has been tabled since November 2011, the General Assembly would express grave concern about violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar, while recognising the government’s commitment to implementing reforms.

India has previously also called for the discontinuation of the resolution.

A constructive engagement of the international community with Myanmar at this juncture would strengthen the hands of the government and encourage stakeholders to resolve their differences through healthy debate and peaceful negotiations, he said.

In previous years, several other nations have also said that there is no need for the resolution in future given the positive economic and political development occurring in Myanmar.

Mukerji said while there still are challenging tasks before the Myanmar government, it has demonstrated its resolve to face the challenges to reach the targets that they have set.

He said India welcomes the signing of a draft Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) between the Myanmar Government’s Union Peace Making Work Committee (UPWC) and the ethnic armed groups Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT).

“As a close and friendly neighbour, India remains committed to extending all possible assistance and support to the process of national reconciliation and the further strengthening of democracy in Myanmar,” he said.

On the situation in the Rakhine State, Mukerji said India has noted the steps taken towards restoration of law and order.

India has extended assistance for development efforts in the Rakhine State, including USD 300 million out of the total development assistance of USD 1.75 billion to Myanmar.

Mukerji also voiced appreciation for the “tireless efforts” of Ambassador Vijay Nambiar, Special Adviser of the Secretary General for Myanmar and his team.

PTI

South Asia: Where ‘facts are sometimes stranger than fiction’

Where facts are sometimes stranger than fiction…

Maintaining status quo on UNSC membership definitely not an option: India

United Nations: India has said that it is “untenable” that 137 developing nations are represented by only one permanent member in the UN Security Council, as it insisted that maintaining the status quo on the Council’s membership is “definitely not an option”.

India said status quo on UNSC reforms was unacceptable. Reuters

India said status quo on UNSC reforms was unacceptable. Reuters

Participating in a briefing on UN Security Council reforms on Thursday, India’s Ambassador Asoke Mukerji said there is need to “urgently” broaden the Council to make it more representative, effective and democratic.

“Maintaining the status quo as far as the membership of the Council is concerned is definitely not an option. For many developing countries, it is simply untenable that out of 137 developing country members of the UN, only one has so far been accommodated as a permanent member of the Council,” he said.

During the briefing, Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations Ambassador Courtenay Rattray tabled a framework document designed to reflect the various positions of the membership, aimed at moving the intergovernmental negotiations process towards text-based negotiations.

However, it is learnt that China “led the charge” in blocking the UNSC reforms process by rejecting the proposed road map, saying that the Chair had no right to table a text.

While pro-reform groups like the L-69, CARICOM bloc of Caribbean nations, Small Island Developing States, G4 and Africa supported the Chair’s proposal, China, Pakistan and the Uniting for Consensus group of nations rejected it.

Among the permanent five nations, the US and UK are learnt to have voiced their support for working with the Chair. The US and Russia, however, said that there should not be any timelines to achieve results in the reform process.

India feels that the framework document presented by the Chair is a positive breakthrough as it noted that world leaders had unanimously agreed at the 60th anniversary of UN Summit in 2005 to achieve “early reforms” of the UNSC.

“When we meet again, we hope to at least have the outlines of a negotiation text on the table,” Mukerji said.

General Assembly President Sam Kutesa underscored that moving towards a negotiating text is a way of building mutual trust and creating an atmosphere conducive for constructive engagement and dialogue and he was “heartened” to hear the broad support for such a process.

“It is for this reason that I encourage Member States to adopt a constructive attitude” towards the Chair’s approach of laying out the framework document.

“I call upon you not prejudge the approach or second guess the contents of a document that has not yet been presented for consideration,” Kutesa said, expressing confidence in Rattray’s “genuine commitment” to an open,  transparent and consultative, Member State-driven process.

He said reform of the UNSC is of critical importance and a “key priority” during the current UNGA session.

PTI

Danish envoy discusses Kim Davy issue with Union Home Secretary

Denmark’s Ambassador to India Freddy Svane on Thursday met Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami and is understood to have discussed the issue of extradition of Kim Davy, the main accused of Purulia arms drop case, to face trial in this country.Goswami is believed to have pressed for extradition of Davy from Denmark as he is a fugitive under Indian law and New Delhi wants him to be brought to justice, official sources said. The Danish Ambassador is said to have conveyed to the Home Secretary about the legal complications in extraditing Davy to India, sources said.Davy is accused of orchestrating the air-drop of a huge cache of arms and ammunition, including 300 AK-47s, anti-tank grenades and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, from an AN-26 aircraft that he owned on the night of December 17, 1995 in West Bengal’s Purulia district.The issue of extradition of Davy has strained bilateral ties. In July 2012, India scaled down diplomatic contact with the Denmark after that country rejected its extradition request.

Paris attack was to create sentiment of terror: French envoy

Terming the attack on Paris-based satire magazine Charlie Hebdo as a ‘barbarian act’, Ambassador of France to India Francois Richier on Wednesday said that the strike was an attempt to create a sentiment of terror in the city. “Today, the media and its freedom were under attack. This was a barbarian act. It was indeed a terrorist attack, aiming to create a sentiment of terror and to destroy social fabric,” Richier told ANI. “We are still tracking the culprits but have been unable to identify anyone at present. Our President [Francois Hollande] has called a meeting to review all elements of the attack,” he added. Richier also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee for their condemnation of the attack. “I want to thank the Indian Prime Minister, President and the other authorities for their messages of solidarity,” he said. Earlier in the day, gunmen entered the offices of Charlie Hebdo and opened fire. According to reports, 12 people, including two police officers were killed in the attack, with five others seriously wounded. Charlie Hebdo has reportedly been facing threats after it published a series of cartoon depicting Prophet Muhammad in 2011 and more recently, ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

US ambassador Richard Verma looks forward to working together with Indian government

Richard Verma

US Ambassador to India Richard Verma, who arrived in Delhi on Friday, said that he looks forward to working together with New Delhi on shared goals of security, development, and prosperity.”I am honoured to serve as US Ambassador to India at such an exciting time in our bilateral relationship. I look forward to meeting the Indian people and working together with the Indian government on our shared goals of security, development, and prosperity,” Verma said.Ambassador Verma is a former Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs. From 2009-2011, he served as a principal advisor to Secretary Clinton. He led the State Department’s budget and policy efforts on Capitol Hill, handled more than 200 Senate confirmations, and managed several major congressional investigations. He was also the administration’s lead negotiator with Congress on Iran sanctions and the ratification of the new START Treaty. He most recently served as a senior counsellor at both Steptoe and Johnson and the Albright Stonebridge Group, where his practise focused on international law and global regulatory compliance.Earlier in his career, Verma served in the Senate as the senior national security advisor to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He also worked in the House of Representatives for Defense Appropriations Committee Chairman Jack Murtha. Formerly a country director for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in Eastern Europe, Verma was a senior National Security Fellow at the Centre for American Progress, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and served on the boards of the Clinton Foundation, Human Rights First, and the National Democratic Institute.Verma served on active duty in the US Air Force from 1994 to 1998. He received his LLM with distinction from Georgetown University Law Centre, and his JD cum laude from American University’s Washington College of Law. He holds a B.S. from Lehigh University.

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