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High time India, Pakistan set aside hostilities, says Nawaz Sharif

The Pakistan premier’s comments came a day after his Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet in Islamabad on January 14-15 to prepare a schedule of meeting for the comprehensive dialogue covering Jammu and Kashmir and other issues. Sharif also expressed optimism that India-Pakistan ties would improve in the days ahead and the “spirit of goodwill generated with Modi’s visit will continue to prevail”.

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Congress leaders hopeful of bouncing back to power in future

Veteran party leaders and ageing workers were felicitated on the occasion. It was also decided to give a scroll of honour to every senior party worker at their homes.

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<!– /#sidebar-second –>Hindustan Aeronautics Limited & Rostech tie-up to manufacture 200 Russian Kamov helicopters<!– /.block –>India is Asia’s deadliest country for journalists, says report from media watchdog<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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Russia and India hail partnership

Russian and Indian leaders Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi stress the partnership between their two countries as they sign a series of deals.

India, Russia to unite against terrorism: PM Modi

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Prime Minister Modi also highlighted the agreement between the two nations on the manufacture of Kamov 226 helicopter in India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday expressed condolences for the loss of lives in the terrorist attack on Russian aircraft and said that the two nations believed that the world must unite against terrorism, without distinction and discrimination between terrorist groups and target countries. “Mr. President, I have great respect and appreciation for our strategic partnership. It has been a source of strength and success for India. As I look to the future, I see Russia as a significant partner in India’s economic transformation and in shaping a balanced, multi-polar world,” Prime Minister Modi said while delivering a join-statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Modi also highlighted the agreement between the two nations on the manufacture of Kamov 226 helicopter in India and said that it was the first project for a major defence platform under the Make in India mission. “The pace of our cooperation in nuclear energy is increasing. We are making progress on 12 Russian nuclear reactors at two sites,” Prime Minister Modi said. While addressing the joint-statement, Russian President Putin also noted that India has allotted one more ground for a nuclear power plant of Russian design. “Russia assists in building several power generating units at the Kudankulam nuclear plant,” he said, recalling that the first unit that was commissioned here in June 2014. “Russian specialists plan to get down to building power units No. 3 and No. 4 there shortly and talks on building units No. 5 and No. 6 are underway,” he added.

Modi in Russia: Congress slams PM Modi over national anthem faux pas

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The party also attacked the Prime Minister on the issue from the official AICC podium.

In a blistering attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for walking past the guard of honour while Indian national Anthem was being played in Moscow, the Congress on Thursday said he has “forgotten” what it sounds like due to his frequent foreign visits and the nation was “deeply hurt” over the “unprecedented” incident. “Modi signs on National Flag and violates Flag Code. Now walks away when Indian National Anthem is being played in Russia. Unprecedented! “Nationalism BJP/Modi “Ishtyle”. Any comments from Modi Acolytes?,” AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh tweeted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said on Twitter,”Spending so much time abroad seems to have made PM forget what the Indian National Anthem sounds like. He walked in Moscow as Anthem played!” Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said it was “sad that Russians had to remind Modi that he has to respect his anthem. Bhakts got much to say?”Also read: PM Narendra Modi walks during national anthem upon his arrival in MoscowThe party also attacked the Prime Minister on the issue from the official AICC podium. “Finally, the nation is shocked and deeply hurt at what we see on television the PM walking away while the national anthem was being played in Moscow. “These are matters of grave national sensitivities and we believe particularly that when the Prime Minister abroad represents the whole nation, these sensitivities must always be respected,” party spokesperson and former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said at the Congress briefing.In an unusual incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had yesterday begun to walk past the guard of honour presented on his arrival in Moscow for a summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin even while the national anthem was still being played and had to be pulled back by a Russian official. After the Prime Minister stepped onto the tarmac, a Russian official made a gesture with his hand which appeared Modi misinterpreted and started walking. However, another official stopped Modi from walking following which he stepped back and stood in attention.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gifts PM Modi handwritten page from Mahatma Gandhi’s dairy

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Russian President Vladmir Putin on Thursday gifted Prime Minister Narendra Modi a handwritten page from Mahatma Gandhi’s diary.

PM Narendra Modi and President Vladmir Putin

Reuters
Russian President Vladmir Putin on Thursday gifted Prime Minister Narendra Modi a handwritten page from Mahatma Gandhi’s diary.”President Putin gifted me a page from Gandhi ji’s diary containing Bapu’s handwritten notes,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted along with the photograph.”President Putin also gifted an 18th century sword from Bengal, featuring intricate silver artwork. I thank him for the gifts,” he said in another tweet.Prime Minister Modi and Russian President are set to hold the 16th India-Russia Annual Summit talks at Kremlin.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Related Read: PM Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold talks, sign pacts today on key areas​Prime Minister Modi and the Russian President are expected to discuss topical, global and regional issues and prospects for cooperation in multilateral organisations, primarily at the United Nations, BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).According to TASS, following the talks, a number of bilateral agreements are expected to be inked, in particular on transport, trade, energy and reciprocal trips of the citizens. Economic cooperation will be the focus of the talks.The talks between the two countries, bound by special and privileged strategic ties, have been taking place alternately in Moscow and New Delhi since 2000.Besides bilateral issues, the two leaders are likely to deliberate on a number of global issues having political dimensions including the situation in Syria and ways to tackle terrorism.Prime Minister Modi on his second day of visit to Russia, will start the day by visiting Russian National Crisis Management Center (NCMC) and get an overview of its functioning and how it acts during natural disasters.Apart from the bilateral meetings and issuing a joint statement, the Prime minister will also address at a gathering of friends of India.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday, received a red carpet welcome on his first bilateral visit to Russia.On Thursday, he will be greeted with twin cultural programmes Abhinandan and Abhivyakti.On the eve of veteran leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday, artists will perform musical enactment of Atal ji’s poem Geet Naya Gata Hoon rendered by Lata Mangeshkar. While Abhinandan will portray the assimilation of India’s performing arts traditions by Russian artistes, Abhivyakti will be an attempt to articulate and convey an authentic image of Indian traditions, history and culture by Russian artistes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts PM Modi for private tete-a-tete; to hold talks later today

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The talks between the two countries, bound by “special and privileged strategic ties”, have been taking place alternately in Moscow and New Delhi since 2000.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday.

PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on Wednesday hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin for a private tete-a-tete at Kremlin during which the two leaders touched upon issues of mutual interest for both countries. The meeting took place hours after Modi arrived here to a red carpet welcome. Putin also hosted a private dinner for Modi.”Building Druzhba-Dosti over dinner. President Putin hosts a private tete-a-tete for PM,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted along with pictures of the two leaders shaking hands.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi and Putin will hold 16th India-Russia annual summit talks on Thursday at the Kremlin following which the two sides are expected to sign a number of pacts to expand cooperation in a number of key areas including defence, nuclear energy, hydrocarbons and trade.The talks between the two countries, bound by “special and privileged strategic ties”, have been taking place alternately in Moscow and New Delhi since 2000.In the nuclear energy sector, India is expected to offer a site in Andhra Pradesh to set up units five and six of Kudankulam nuclear power plant. The new plants will be in sync with broad principles of ‘Make in India’ initiative and a decision in this regard is likely to be finalised tomorrow. It is expected that both countries will seal a number of defence deals as well.Last week, India’s Defence Ministry’s top acquisition council had cleared the purchase of Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems at an estimated cost of Rs 40,000 crore and there may be an announcement of the deal tomorrow besides a few others.Besides bilateral issues, Modi and Putin are likely to deliberate on a number of global issues having political dimensions including the situation in Syria and ways to tackle terrorism. It will be Modi’s second summit with Putin who had travelled to New last year for the 15th India-Russia Summit.

Modi in Russia: Prime Minister gets red carpet welcome in Moscow; key deals to be sealed

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Stepping up economic engagement and further expanding ties in strategic areas are likely to be the centrepiece of the 16th India-Russia annual summit talks between Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspecting a guard of honour on his arrival at Vnukovo-2 Airport in Moscow on Wednesday.

PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Moscow on Wednesday to a red carpet welcome on his first bilateral visit to Russia during which both countries are set to seal a raft of deals in key sectors like defence, nuclear energy and hydrocarbons to boost their robust and close partnership. On his arrival, the Prime Minister was accorded a guard of honour at the Vnukova II airport amid light drizzle and overcast conditions.”Reached Moscow. A series of programmes await in this short but very important visit,” Modi tweeted both in English and Russian.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stepping up economic engagement and further expanding ties in strategic areas are likely to be the centrepiece of the 16th India-Russia annual summit talks between Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.The two leaders are set to deliberate on various global issues such as the situation in Syria and tackling the threat of terrorism as well. It is expected that a number of major pacts including to ramp up cooperation in defence and nuclear energy sectors will be finalised. Russia has been India’s biggest supplier of arms though New Delhi has started buying more military hardware from the US in the last few years.Last week, India’s Defence Ministry’s top acquisition council had cleared the purchase of Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems at an estimated cost of Rs 40,000 crore and there may be an announcement of the deal tomorrow besides a few others.In the nuclear energy sector, India is expected to offer a site in Andhra Pradesh to set up units five and six of Kudankulam nuclear power plant. The new plants will be in sync with broad principles of ‘Make in India’ initiative and a decision in this regard is likely to be finalised on Thursday.Setting the tone for the visit, the Prime Minister, before his departure for Moscow, said Russia remained one of India’s “most valued” friends in the world and that he was “very optimistic” about outcomes of the talks with Putin on Thursday.”Our relation with Russia is unique, covering almost every field of human endeavour,” Modi said.The talks between the two countries, bound by “special and privileged strategic ties”, have been taking place alternately in Moscow and New Delhi since 2000.”I am very optimistic about the outcome of this visit. History is witness to the close ties India and Russia have had over the decades. Russia remains one of India’s most valued friends in the world,” Modi said.He said, “My visit will deepen the cooperation between India and Russia in the economic, energy and security spheres.We also want to increase cooperation in science and technology, mining among other sectors. Trade ties between India and Russia can increase even further, to benefit not only our two nations but also the world.” Tomorrow Modi and Putin will interact with a group of Indian and Russian CEOs in Kremlin. With Russia’s economy badly hit by the Western sanctions in the wake of the Ukraine crisis, Putin is keen to expand economic ties with India which, on the other hand, has been expressing keen interest in participating in oil and gas exploration projects in the Eurasian country.Energy-starved India, the third largest oil importer after the US and China, has been pushing for greater involvement in major gas and oil exploration projects in Russia. Russia is one of the top oil producers globally and has huge reserves of natural gas. The volume of current bilateral trade between the two countries is around USD 10 billion and both sides are aiming to take it to USD 30 billion over the next 10 years. The Prime Minister’s engagement in Moscow also includes addressing a gathering of ‘Friends of India’ and around 3,000 people are expected to attend the event tomorrow.At the event, Modi will be greeted by cultural programmes, ‘Abhinandan’ and ‘Abhivyakti’. ‘Abhinandan’ envisages performance of Indian art forms by Russian artists. It will display the popularity of Indian cultural traditions in Russia and its importance of inter-cultural understanding.’Abhinandan’ will commence with a Shloka recital and a creative rendering of Vande Mataram by Russian Brahmakumaris, followed by continuing sequence of brief Kuchipudi, Kathak and Dandiya Raas. The programme will conclude with all artistes coming on stage for a musical enactment of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s poem ‘Geet Naya Gata Hoon’ rendered by Lata Mangeshkar.’Abhivyakti’ will be an attempt to articulate and convey an authentic image of Indian traditions, history and culture by Russian artistes and enthusiast. The event, organisers said, will be a reflection of the feeling of brotherhood and amity that exists between the people of India and Russia.The Prime Minister will visit Russia’s National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) here tomorrow. The NCMC is a multi-level coordination centre designed to provide inter-agency coordination and alert the people about the threat of emergency situations.Besides bilateral issues, Modi and Putin are likely to deliberate on a number of global issues having political dimensions including the situation in Syria and ways to tackle terrorism. It will be Modi’s second summit meeting with Putin who had travelled to New last year for the 15th India-Russia Summit.India is also likely to push for a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Zone and is sharing details of study it conducted in this regard. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, without giving specific details, had said yesterday that both Modi and Putin will deliberate on enhancing cooperation in defence and nuclear energy speheres.On whether India will request Russia to share details on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, he had said the issue had figured during External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s recent visit to Moscow. “Let’s wait and see what happens. I do not prejudge the Russian response till we get it,” he said.

Modi in Russia: Heritage on display in ‘Friends of India’ to greet Prime Minister

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The Prime Minister will address the gathering of ‘Friends of India’ event at the Expo Centre in Moscow. The cultural show, to be performed by Russian artistes, will have two components – ‘Abhinandan’ and ‘Abhivyakti’.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviews an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at Moscows Vnukovo II airport outside Moscow on December 23, 2015.

AFP photo
A cultural performance reflecting popularity of India’s rich heritage and traditions in Russia will be presented to greet Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a public reception in Moscow on Thursday expected to be attended by around 3,000 people. The show will feature artistes staging a musical enactment of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s famous poem “Geet Naya Gata Hoon” rendered by Lata Mangeshkar just a day before the former Prime Minister’s birthday on December 25.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Prime Minister will address the gathering of ‘Friends of India’ event at the Expo Centre in Moscow. The cultural show, to be performed by Russian artistes, will have two components – ‘Abhinandan’ and ‘Abhivyakti’.’Abhinandan’ – to feature performances by 52 artistes – envisages performance of Indian art forms by Russian artists. It will display the popularity of Indian cultural traditions in Russia and its importance of inter-cultural understanding while portraying the assimilation of India’s performing arts traditions by Russian artistes.’Abhinandan’ will commence with a Shloka recital and a creative rendering of Vande Mataram by Russian Brahmakumaris, followed by continuing sequence of brief Kuchipudi, Kathak and Dandiya Raas.The programme will conclude with the musical enactment of “Geet Naya Gata Hoon”.’Abhivyakti’ is an attempt to articulate and convey an authentic image of Indian traditions, history and culture by Russian artistes and enthusiasts, which resonates in the hearts, and minds of all Indians and well-wishers of India in foreign countries. It is a reflection of the feeling of brotherhood and amity that exists between the people of India and Russia.”‘Abhivyakti’ is dedicated to the expression of goodwill, joy, and enthusiasm aptly represented by our philosophy of ‘Vasudheva Kutumbakam’ that characterises our interaction with the rest of the world,” said organisers.This component of the show would contain performances by 100 artistes and will majorly consist of Namaskaram, Charishnu, Bharatnatyam, Rudra, Pandattam, Khoria, Lavni, Kalina Taal performances.

PM Modi bats for unity; says India is garden with many flowers

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Modi spoke to Russian news agency Itar-Taas before leaving for Moscow on a two-day official visit

Narendra Modi

Amid a debate on intolerance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that India has an ancient tradition of “openness, respect for diversity of beliefs and cultures”.”India is one of the oldest civilisations in the world, which believes that the world is one family; and, that humanity is an integral part of Nature, not superior or distinct from it,” he told Russian news agency Itar-Taas before leaving for Moscow on a two-day official visit. “This has created an ancient tradition of openness, respect for diversity of beliefs and cultures, and a timeless tradition of living in harmony with nature,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There has been a raging controversy in India over incidents of intolerance ever since a man was lynched in Dadri on suspicions of having eaten beef. Noting that India is home to people from all major faiths of the world, 22 official languages and diverse cultures and ethnicity, the Prime Minister said, “Yet, there is a strong sense of unity across our diversity.””India is a garden with many flowers; and, a tapestry of many colours. And, when we are tested the most, we have spoken most strongly in one voice and as one people. Our Constitution both guarantees and nurtures the diversities of our country,” he said in response to a question on how he manages to support and develop ethnic cultures and traditions. Stating that India observes public holidays for important festivals of all major religions such as Holi, Diwali, Id, Christmas, Baisaki and Buddha Purnima, he said that these festivals remind people of the unity of mankind.”It gives people from different faiths in India to come together in celebration. It inculcates in our society a respect for tradition and culture,” he added.

India’s Modi to begin key Russia visit

Indian PM Narendra Modi is due to arrive in Moscow at the start of a two-day visit during which he will hold annual talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian pilgrim sentenced to jail in Kashmir

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Luck, however, had other things in store for the mother of two as she was arrested by the police for entering into the valley without valid travel documents. Four months later, Zoia, a practising Hindu, has been sentenced to one year in jail by a trial court.

Faith transcended all boundaries for 40-year-old Russian Bonetekia Zoia when she embarked on a spiritual journey from Saint Petersburg to the abode of Lord Shiva at the Holy Amarnath cave in August this year.Luck, however, had other things in store for the mother of two as she was arrested by the police for entering into the valley without valid travel documents. Four months later, Zoia, a practising Hindu, has been sentenced to one year in jail by a trial court.As Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on a two-day Russia visit from Wednesday, the clamour is growing for pardoning or commuting the sentence of Zoia so that she could be reunited with her family at Saint Petersburg.Noted Supreme Court lawyer and chief patron of National Panthers Party Bhim Singh has written a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking his intervention for her release from prison.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”That India is a sovereign country and the tourists from Nepal may enter India. It appears that the Russian lady had no valid visa to visit India if it is so, it has to be ascertained how she was allowed to enter India without valid documents from Nepal. The immigration at the border is responsible for this goof-up and not the visiting tourist,” Singh said in his letter.Zoia was arrested by the police near Sonamarg on August 24 and charged under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act since she was not carrying the travel documents. “She has entered India through Nepal to perform yatra.While performing yatra, she was trapped by the police in the catchment area of the holy cave,” Umar Rashid Wani, the counsel for Zoia, told dna.The Russian could not be bailed out because nobody in Kashmir came forward to give surety for her. “I did not have surety to present on her behalf. If nobody stands as surety, how can a person get bail? It was not possible for me to get a passport because she actually had lost it somewhere in Nepal. Therefore, I had to confess on her behalf. Accordingly, the court convicted and sentenced her to one year jail which otherwise could have been five years,” said Wani.Wani has now decided to approach the Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra seeking a pardon for the Russian visitor.”I will appeal the governor, who has the power, to pardon or commute her sentence. If she is pardoned it will be a good gesture. There are good relations between India and Russia since the dawn of civilisation. Plus, she had come with a purpose to seek peace across the globe. She was driven by faith and not having any ill intention,” he said.

India to offer site in Andhra Pradesh to Russia for nuclear plants

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The two countries are likely to sign an agreement for the two units with provisions for involvement of India’s private sector in the project including in supply of various components.

Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi
File Photo

India is expected to offer a site in Andhra Pradesh to set up units five and six of Kudankulam nuclear power plant by Russia in sync with broad principles of ‘Make in India’ initiative and a decision in this regard is likely to be finalised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Moscow this week. The two countries are likely to sign an agreement for the two units with provisions for involvement of India’s private sector in the project including in supply of various components. “We will follow principles of ‘localisation’ as per Make in India initiative for setting up Kudankulam nuclear power plant five and six,” sources said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> They said a site in Andhra Pradesh has been finalised for the project in line with government’s policy for ensuring optimum use of the available nuclear sites in various states to accommodate more atomic reactors. Incidentally, Centre has already shortlisted the Kovvada site to build a project with the assistance of US-based nuclear vendor, GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy. Modi is scheduled to visit Russia from December 23-24 to hold an annual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Russia has been a key partner of India in the civil nuclear energy sector. In the last summit between Modi and Putin, it was decided that Russia will build at least 12 nuclear reactors in India by 2035. In April last year, India and Russia had signed an agreement to build units 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam project at a cost of Rs 33,000 crore. However, work on the ground is yet to start. The units 3 and 4 are be coming up in Tamil Nadu’s coastal district of Tirunelveli. Earlier this month, Nikolai Spasskiy, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Rosatom – the Russian counterpart of the India’s Department of Atomic Energy, visited India and he is believed have discussed with DAE brass about various aspect of the proposed pact for Kudankulam 5 and 6. Units 5 and 6 of VVER technology are expected to be of the same MW like units 1-4, but the cost details of the project are yet to be finalised. The government is constructing six reactors in new projects like Jaitapur (EPR 1000×6) in Maharashtra built with French technology, Kovadda in Andhra Pradesh (1000MW x 6) and Mithi Virdhi in Gujarat.

Defence Acquisition Council okays purchase of Russian air defence missile systems

Defence Ministry sources said that the step has been taken to enhance the national air defence capacity.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar
File Photo
AFP photo
Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia, Defence Ministry’s top acquisition council on Thursday cleared the purchase of an estimated Rs 40,000 crore Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems, besides giving the go-ahead to other projects worth over Rs 25,000 crore. Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, has decided to buy 5 units of the S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems that are capable of destroying incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones within a range of up to 400 km.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Ministry sources said that the step has been taken to enhance the national air defence capacity. “The price discovery will happen hereafter,” a source said when asked how much would the system cost.Industry estimates have suggested that the missile system will cost about Rs 40,000 crore. India will be the second buyer of the missile system after China if the deal goes through. It is expected that the deal would be a government-to- government one and could see a forward movement during Modi’s visit to Russia next week.The S400 Triumf is designed to knock down flying targets including those equipped with stealth technologies, at a distance of about 400 kms. It is also capable of taking out ballistic missiles and hypersonic targets.Compared with its predecessor, the S-300, the new S-400 has a 2.5 times faster firing rate. This is the most modern, air defence system in the Russian arsenal. The DAC also gave the Acceptance of Necessity to Army’s proposal for the purchase of six regiments of the Pinaka rocket system under the ‘Make in India’ category for Rs 14,600 crore. Each regiment of the Pinaka comes with 18 launchers and every launcher has the capability of firing 12 rockets at the same time.Tata Power SED, Larsen & Toubro and state-run BEML will be providing the system. The DAC also directed the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to continue with its process of making improved Pinaka system as it has proved to be a potent and proud indigenous product.Army’s demand for 571 light bullet-proof vehicles to be used in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations was also cleared at a cost of Rs 310 crore. The army currently uses Mahindra jeeps. The DAC also gave the go-ahead for the purchase of 120 trawls to be used on Russia-origin T-72 and T-90 tanks under “Buy Global” category for Rs 450 crore.DRDO has been tasked to field four sets of indigenous trawls by June 2017, the sources said.The DAC has also fine-tuned an already cleared proposal to built a five fleet support ships for Rs 9,000 crore. It was cleared in July last year. The DAC today nominated HSL shipyard to build the ships. The DAC also gave the go-ahead for digitisation of 24 Pechora Air Defence system for Rs 1,200 crore.The acquisition council also cleared a Rs 425-crore electronic warfare system, for the Indian Army to be deployed in the mountain region. This would be developed by the DRDO and produced by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL). The DAC, set up in 2001 as part of the post-Kargil reforms in defence sector, approves the long-term integrated perspective plan for the forces, accords acceptance of necessity (AON) to begin acquisition proposals, and has to grant its approval to all major deals through all their important phases. It also has the power to approve any deviations in an acquisition, and recommends all big purchases for approval of the Cabinet committee on security.

Netaji kin wants PM Modi to urge Putin to declassify KGB files

The Indian government has already decided to declassify all the files related to Bose from January 23.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

Ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit to Russia, two members of the Netaji family will meet Narendra Modi on Wednesday to request him to take up declassification of KGB files related to Netaji.”To get conclusive evidence about the fate of Netaji, it is very important for us to see the KGB files. These are old files and won’t get released unless the matter is taken up at the level of the Prime Minister,” Netaji’s grandnephew Chandra Bose told PTI. He said that during the meeting he and his sister, Madhuri, will try to impress upon Modi to personally ask Russian President Vladimir Putin about the classified files.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are sure that Netaji did not die in the air crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945. He either went to China or the erstwhile Soviet Union. The KGB files are therefore very crucial,” Bose said. Earlier in October, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had raised the issue with the Russian foreign minister during a meeting in Moscow. The Indian government has already decided to declassify all the files related to Bose from January 23.Bose said that during the meeting with Modi at Parliament House they will present him a new book ‘The Bose brothers and Indian independence, an insider’s account’ written by Madhuri Bose. The book looks at the life and times of Netaji and his brother Sarat Chandra Bose with unpublished documents sourced from the family’s private collection.”There are many letters and other writings of both the Bose brothers that my father Amiya Nath Bose had in his private collection. It has Netaji’s writings when he was in jail and letters which he wrote to Nehru and Gandhi. The book reflects their political ideologies,” Bose observed.

Netaji Photo: Subhas Chandra Bose’s nephew says Narendra Modi has promised to unravel mystery

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s grand-nephew Chandra Bose on Sunday said the NDA Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of Netaji, adding that he will be meeting the Prime Minister to raise the issue since the latter is going to Russia by end of this month.

File Photo
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s grand-nephew Chandra Bose on Sunday said the NDA Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of Netaji, adding that he will be meeting the Prime Minister to raise the issue since the latter is going to Russia by end of this month.”If we have to find the truth on Netaji’s disappearance, we need to approach the Russian authorities to really find out who this Tashkent man (Netaji look-alike who appeared with Shastri) was. I think the NDA government is sincere and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to unravel the mystery of the liberator of India, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose,” Chandra Bose told ANI here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are going to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 16 to present a book, The Bose brothers and Indian independence. During our discussions, we will again raise the issue because we understand that the Prime Minister is going to Russia by end of December. We would request him to take up the issue with Russian President. President Putin must be requested to open erstwhile KGB files. Till such time the erstwhile KGB files are not declassified and put on the public domain, we will not be able to find conclusive evidence to establish the fact of Netaji’s presence in Russia,” he added.Bose also said that the death of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri ‘still remains a mystery’.”Lal Bahadur Shashtri’s grandson Sanjay Nath Singh had told me that when Shastri ji visited Tashkent, on the last day(Jan 11, 1966), Shastri ji had called Sanjay’s mother and told her that he had met somebody in Russia and will disclose his identity once he is back, and the people of India would be elated to know about this person. It is very unfortunate that Shastri ji expired only an hour after the telephonic conversation. This still remains a mystery who that person was,” he said.Netaji researchers have produced a forensic face-mapping report by a British expert that has found strong resemblance between Bose and a man photographed with former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri during the Indo-Pak peace talks in Tashkent in 1966.The photograph is being held as evidence that Netaji didn’t die in the plane crash in Taihoku in 1945 and validates a recent claim by Shastri’s grandson Siddharth Nath Singh that Shastri had met someone who was considered an icon back home, while in the Soviet Union.Meanwhile, the Modi government has begun the process of declassification of Netaji files and the first batch of 33 files were handed over to the National Archives in October and would be made public on January 23, 2016, Netaji Subhash Chandra’s birth anniversary.

Sushma Swaraj confirms PM Narendra Modi will visit Pakistan for SAARC meet in 2016

Earlier, Indian officials said Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to attend the SAARC Summit was reflected in the Ufa joint statement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Pakistan to attend the SAARC Summit likely to be held in September 2016, in what will be the first prime ministerial visit here from India in 12 years. The disclosure of Modi’s visit was made by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj here in yet another indicator of a positive turn in bilateral ties after recent chill. “He will be coming,” Swaraj told reporters when asked if Modi will visit Pakistan to attend the Summit. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the last Indian Prime Minister to visit Pakistan who had come here in January 2004 and attended the SAARC summit besides holding talks with then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.Vajpayee’s successor Manmohan Singh did not undertake any visit to Pakistan despite his desire to do so.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, Indian officials said Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to attend the SAARC Summit was reflected in the Ufa joint statement. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had invited Modi for the SAARC Summit when they had met for a bilateral meeting in the Russian city of Ufa in July. The meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is slated to be held in Pakistan in September next year. Sharif had attended Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in May 2014 which had generated lot of goodwill. However, ties were strained between the two neighbours over border firing and a series of ceasefire violations in the last few months.Talks between India-Pakistan National Security Advisors were cancelled recently because of a dispute over the agenda as India wanted to discuss terror attacks and Pakistan insisted on raising Kashmir. The two National Security Advisors met in Bangkok on Sunday last, where they discussed terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and a range of key bilateral issues apart from agreeing to carry forward the “constructive” engagement. Swaraj arrived here on a two-day visit to attend a multilateral conference on Afghanistan.In her address at the meet today, she said it was time the two countries display “maturity and self-confidence” to do business with each other as the world was rooting for a change and offered to move cooperation at a pace Pakistan is comfortable with.

FIR filed against Russian diplomat who allegedly assaulted Delhi traffic cop

The Delhi Police has no authority to arrest the diplomatic due to his ‘diplomatic immunity’ which is why through the MHA, intervention of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is being sought.

The Russian diplomat’s car, stopped by police

ANI
An FIR has been registered against a Russian diplomat who in an allegedly intoxicated state allegedly hit a constable in Moti Bagh in Delhi. Meanwhile the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been briefed about the incident.The diplomat has been booked under IPC Section 186- obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions, 353- assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty, 332- voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty and 337- causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi Police has no authority to arrest the diplomatic due to his ‘diplomatic immunity’ which is why through the MHA, intervention of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is being sought.Following this, the Russian Embassy will be left to contemplate action on the diplomat. Earlier on Wednesday, the diplomat, who was severely intoxicated, rammed into a police barricade and also rear-ended a motorbike, injuring two.The incident happened late at night around 1:30 am where the diplomat after hitting the bike was asked to stop by the police. But instead of stopping, he slammed his car into the barricade.The diplomat refused to come out of the car and allegedly punched and abused a constable on duty. Besides the other biker who has been admitted in AIIMS, the Russian official also sustained injuries and was seen with a heavily bleeding nose.

Russian diplomat rams into biker, allegedly tries to assault Delhi police official

“He was so intoxicated that he could not control the car and he was practically unconscious. He was driving really fast and was unable to stop. His car is so badly damaged and this is proof of how hard he rammed into the police barricade. When the police tried to get him out of the car, he refused to do so,” said one of the bikers who sustained minor injuries.

Representational image.

In a case of road rage, a diplomat from the Russian embassy, who was severely intoxicated, rammed into a police barricade in Moti Bagh here and also rear-ended a motorbike, injuring two.The incident happened late at night around 1:30 am where the diplomat after hitting the bike was asked to stop by the police. But instead of stopping, he slammed his car into the barricade.The diplomat refused to come out of the car and allegedly punched and abused a constable on duty.”He was so intoxicated that he could not control the car and he was practically unconscious. He was driving really fast and was unable to stop. His car is so badly damaged and this is proof of how hard he rammed into the police barricade. When the police tried to get him out of the car, he refused to do so,” one of the bikers who sustained minor injuries told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Besides the other biker who has been admitted in AIIMS, the Russian official also sustained injuries and was seen with a heavily bleeding nose.The diplomat was later taken away by his friend, who had a lengthy discussion with the police.The police have established contact with the Russian Embassy and are contemplating legal action.

Russia-led alliance tells India’s Muslims to back its fight against Islamic State

Participants at the Anti-terrorism Day function in New Delhi on Thursday
Manit
dna
Three decades ago when Russia invaded Afghanistan, it triggered a mobilisation in the Islamist world leading to the first modern jihad and initiating the birth of al Qaeda. Now with its military intervention in the conflict in Syria threatening to once again stoke Islamic extremism, Moscow is presenting its involvement as an effective and necessary step to fight the Islamic State group, whose trail of terror is threatening the whole world. The Russia-led alliance comprising Syria and Iran made a case in front of a gathering of Indian Muslim community to support its intervention against terrorism.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking at an event labelled as “Anti-terrorism Day” organised by Anjuman-e-Haideri, a Shiite religious organisation based in Delhi, diplomats and ambassador from Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran came together on one platform to vow to fight the militant extremist group of Islamic State of Daiesh. Both Iraq and Syria, which is currently fragmented with parts of its countries captured by the extremist group, also blamed the United States for its actions in fuelling the growth of IS.The militant group which came in power in June 2014 and declared a Caliphate thereafter became a target of airstrikes by the United States in Iraq. Since then more than seven countries have attacked the IS held territory, the latest being the United Kingdom.Since October, Russia aligned with the Syrian government in power headed by President Bashar al Assad to begin air strikes against rebel opposition groups and the IS. The Russian Air force is supported on the ground by pro-government alliance of the Syrian Armed Force and Iran backed foreign Shiite militias.Evgeny Bezeka, second secretary, Russian embassy said that Russia’s decision to fight against IS was followed after the invitation of the Bashar government. “We are fighting under the aegis of the international law with allies who understand the threat of IS.’’ Russia’s actions have been 100 per cent more effective in two months to contain IS, than the international coalition’s strikes from last one and half years.Syria’s ambassador Riaz Kamel Abbas and Iraq’s charge d’affairs Mohammad Sabri Rashid claimed that the US was not serious in its intervention to rid the region of IS. “Two decades ago, there was no terrorism in Iraq, after 9/11 and the invasion by US things changed. Even when IS infiltrated to capture parts of northern Iraq and began killing civilians, the US army stood with folded hands.’’Abbas added that the US coalition strikes has helped the militant group grow in size and capture more terrorism. “It is important to fight Daiesh but before that it’s important to know who is the power behind the group.’’India’s Muslims cannot be terroristsThe event had religious heads and representatives from the Christian, Hindu and even Sunni Muslim community. All the speakers condemned terrorism being fought under the guise of religion. “IS should first prove they are Muslims and then talk about Islam,’’ said Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan from Bareilly. He also said that terrorism attacks in India had no involvement of Muslims and it has added a blot on the community. Acharya Pramod Krishnam said India’s Muslims were targeted as terrorists and told to go to Pakistan. “They are here in India not by chance but by choice.’’

Why the fuss over the Modi-Sharif handshake?

Tongues have started wagging about the future of the talks.

The handshake offers a ray of hope. One hopes that this gesture turns out to be ice-breaker before the winter chill sets in.

File Photo
News and social media went into frenzy after Prime Minister Narendra Modi walked up to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of a climate change summit in Paris and shook hands. Many jumped the gun and started discussing the fate of the stalled talks between the two countries. Was the handshake a mere courtesy photo-op, or was there something more to it? And so on and so forth. Well, one just does not know what the two leaders discussed, but one thing is certain that they did not discuss the climate of Paris. But what mattered most was the handshake which replaced the most important Paris climate talks as the lead story in Indian and Pakistani newspapers.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tongues have started wagging about the future of the talks. What a prosaic interpretation? Is there any doubt about resumption of talks? Absolutely not! It is just a matter of time when the two countries will again start talk the talk, but what is more important is whether they will walk the walk. No two neighbours can remain in a perpetual mode of denial for long. In the past also, the two countries have been involved in talks despite going to full-fledged wars three times and a brief conflict in Kargil in 1999 since their independence. But they were back to talks after sometime. It is an on and off exercise which will go on before the two nations regain trust about each other to operationalise the full-scale structured talks. The leadership of both the countries is mature enough to understand that war would only lead to catastrophe and complicate the matters beyond repairs. Dialogue can only take them forward to any meaningful and lasting solution to the issues that bedevil their relations.But for that to happen, a congenial atmosphere is the basic requirement. Incidents in the last few months have only widened the trust deficit as both the countries view each other with suspicion. The media of the two countries has also played a devilish role by resorting to jingoist rhetoric forcing the hands of the leadership of both the countries to move cautiously. The cross-border firing, increase in militant activities in Kashmir, the recent arrest of agents affiliated to Pakistan’s intelligence agency in India do not augur well for the immediate resumption of talks, even though cosmetic, in the immediate future.The handshake offers a ray of hope. One hopes that this gesture turns out to be ice-breaker before the winter chill sets in. This was their second meeting this year after they met in the Russian city of Ufa in July and decided to give a push to the stalled talks by agreeing to a meeting of National Security Advisors. But sadly, the meeting just failed to take off as both the sides stuck to unreasonable grounds. There was another opportunity a month later in the United Nations General Assembly session for them to meet. But by then the ties had soured and the two leaders intentionally decided to stay away from public glare by only waving at each other.Talks for the sake of talks should be avoided. Both the countries should do some serious introspection and adopt a pragmatic approach if they are really serious in taking the talks forward. Nawaz Sharif’s recent offer of unconditional talks with India during his meeting with British Premier David Cameron on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit in Malta has largely gone unnoticed in India as New Delhi has not even bothered to take note of it, leave aside making any comments. Pakistan needs to understand that talks and terror can?t go hand in hand. At a time, when the world has been rattled by a series of bloody terrorist activities, the sentiments are running high against terrorist groups. And to expect India to enter into talks with Pakistan as long as it is seen as in collusion with terrorist groups is asking for too much. Pakistan needs to make some forward movement in this regard before it can hope for resumption of normal ties.The use of terrorism as a state policy is falling apart as the nations themselves are feeling the pinch. Who knows is better than Pakistan which has suffered the most? The same groups whom it cradled have started turning their back on it and are causing the maximum damage. Terrorism today poses a major threat to the world than anything else. The Paris attacks have only emboldened the resolve of the global community to formulate a common and concerted strategy to defang this monster which is spreading its tentacles.There is an opportunity before Pakistan to join the global war against terrorism to regain its bruised image. India is not the only country which views its estranged neighbour with suspicion. The list is endless. Pakistan has been ticked off by major powers from time to time. It should listen to the sage counsel and launch a war against terrorism. There is no doubt that it will feel the pain initially, but this pain is worth suffering, because if it is allowed to fester it will become a deadly disease and amputation will be the only recourse. It is up to Pakistan to decide which path it wants to tread. Talks with India can wait.Vikas Khanna is a senior journalist and the views expressed by him are personal.

When PM Narendra Modi shook hands with Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif

Earlier, the Spokesperson had tweeted, “PM @narendramodi meets PM Nawaz Sharif at COP 21 in Paris,” along with a picture of the two leaders shaking hands.

Twitter: Vikas Swarup
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif met today on the sidelines of the UN climate summit, with the Indian side describing the encounter as a “brief exchange of courtesies”, but Pakistanis terming it as a “good” meeting. Modi and Sharif had a brief meeting during which they warmly held hands before sitting down for a chat amidst frosty ties between the two neighbours.Downplaying the chance encounter, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “this was a brief exchange of courtesies in the Leaders Lounge. Prime Minister meets many Heads of State/Government.”After his meeting with Modi, Sharif told Pakistani media that the talks were held in a “good way, in a good environment”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I had good discussions with the Indian Prime Minister in a good way, in a good environment and even they have expressed that we should take our issues forward. And we also have the same opinion and hope,” he said.”Pakistan desires better bilateral relations with India,” he said.”We want peace without any compromise on the dignity and honour of Pakistan,” Geo TV quoted Sharif as saying.He also favoured resumption of talks with India.”If both the sides are on agreeing terms, then its not possible that the talks and discussions are not taken ahead,” Sharif added.Earlier, the Spokesperson had tweeted, “PM @narendramodi meets PM Nawaz Sharif at COP 21 in Paris,” along with a picture of the two leaders shaking hands.The meeting is the first between the two leaders after July when they met in the Russian city of Ufa and agreed that their National Security Advisors would meet. However, the meeting did not take place amidst a blame game between the two countries. Sources sought to differentiate the bilateral meeting Modi had with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from the brief chat the Prime Minister had with Sharif. “Whether Kuala Lumpur or Paris, Tokyo or New York always time for good friend PM @AbeShinzo,” Swarup tweeted after a meeting between Modi and Abe.

Never said India removed as safe travel destination, says Russia

“Our statement did not have any information regarding removal of India from the list of ‘safe’ countries or including India in the list of ‘unsafe’ countries as was mentioned in several reports and headlines published in Indian media”.

File photo

The Russian Information Centre on Sunday dismissed media reports which claimed that India and Goa have been ‘struck off’ from the list of ‘safe’ travel destinations recommended for Russian citizens, saying its earlier statement was “misconstrued”.Issuing a clarification this evening, the Russian Information Centre (RIC) head Ekaterina Belyakova stated that “First Deputy Speaker of Parliament of the Russian Federation, Ivan Melnikov offered to convene a ’roundtable’ to make proposals to improve the availability of new, safe tourist destinations for Russians such as Cuba, south Vietnam and southern China.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Our statement did not have any information regarding removal of India from the list of ‘safe’ countries or including India in the list of ‘unsafe’ countries as was mentioned in several reports and headlines published in Indian media”.”The name of India and Goa may have not come up often during the discussion but that does not mean that Goa or India has been declared unsafe. The focus was to show that prospective avenues will open if Goa becomes an alternative destination instead of Egypt and Turkey,” Belyakova told PTI.The reports had quoted Belyakova as saying that “both India and Goa were not considered as good destinations for Russian travellers”.According to reports, which quoted the RIC’s statement, a revised travel advisory has been formulated after the black-listing of Turkey and Egypt.The reports quoted a Russian news agency to claim that “Unfortunately, both India and Goa, were not discussed as a promising direction for Russian travellers”.They claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had cancelled all flights heading towards Egypt after the explosion of a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai peninsula.The purported decision of Russia was considered as a major blow to Goa as most of its foreign tourists comprise Russians.

India to host 18-nation mega Army joint exercise with ASEAN members and dialogue partners

Senior officials in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) told dna that the exercise details are being worked out and it is likely to take place in Pune in the first week of March.

In what is slated to be the first-of-its-kind in scale, the Indian Army will hold a joint military exercise next year with 17 nations that include all the 10 member nations of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and eight dialogue partners — including India — of the regional strategic groupSenior officials in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) told dna that the exercise details are being worked out and it is likely to take place in Pune in the first week of March.The Field Training Exercise (FTX-2016) will be a week-long engagement among the armies of the 18 nations over coordination, primarily on de-mining, and the entire activity will be a part of the larger roadmap of military humanitarian understanding in the years to come between India and ASEAN members and affiliates.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cambodia, Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand are ASEAN member nations.Officials said that the dialogue partners apart from India, namely, China, Japan, South Korea, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Russia, are being coordinated with over their participation.The army’s mega-exercise will follow a grand Naval exercise in February next, at Vishakapatnam, where close to 50 country’s navies will come together for a five-day-long display of prowess and maritime capabilities.The Indian Army, has recently concluded a joint ‘hand-in-hand’ exercise with the Chinese army at China’s Kunming Military Academy and a two-week-long joint training in counter-terrorism operations with the Russian army at Suratgarh in Rajasthan.

Six employees of Russian airline killed in Mali attack | Reuters

MOSCOW Six employees of Russian regional airline Volga-Dnepr were killed in Friday’s attack on a hotel in Mali, Russia’s foreign ministry said on Saturday, confirming earlier media reports.

“Among the many foreigners captured as hostages there were citizens of Russia – employees of the airline Volga-Dnepr,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

“Among those killed – six citizens of our country, who together with 13 citizens of other states were shot by the militants in the restaurant literally in the first moments of the terrorist attack on the hotel”.

Zakharova said six other Russians had been rescued.

Earlier on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said global cooperation was need to confront terrorism in the wake of the attack.

Friday’s assault on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako came a week after militants killed 130 people in a spate of gun and bomb attacks in Paris claimed by Islamic State.

It also comes three weeks after the downing of a Russian airliner over Egypt’s Sinai peninsular that killed 224 people, which Russian officials say was caused by a bomb.

Islamic State has also claimed responsibility for that attack, the most deadly against Russian citizens for over a decade.

(Reporting by Jason Bush; Editing by Mark Potter)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

France, Russia strike Islamic State; new suspect sought | Reuters

PARIS France and Russia bombed Islamic State targets in Syria on Tuesday, punishing the group for attacks in Paris and against a Russian airliner that together killed 353 people, and made the first tentative steps toward a possible military alliance.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a coordinated onslaught in Paris on Friday and the downing of the Russian jet over Sinai on Oct. 31, saying they were in retaliation for French and Russian air raids in Iraq and Syria.

Still reeling from the Paris carnage that killed 129 people, France made an unprecedented appeal for European Union support and investigators said they were making progress in unravelling the plot, which was hatched in Syria and nurtured in Belgium.

Seven attackers died on Friday night, but video footage suggested that two other men were directly involved in the operation and subsequently escaped, not one as previously said.

Police also discovered two places in Paris where the militants probably stayed before the violence and also found a third car abandoned in the city that was used in the operation.

In Moscow, the Kremlin acknowledged that a bomb had destroyed the jet last month, killing 224 people. President Vladimir Putin vowed to hunt down those responsible and intensify air strikes against Islamists in Syria.

“Our air force’s military work in Syria must not simply be continued,” he said. “It must be intensified in such a way that the criminals understand that retribution is inevitable.”

Syrian targets hit by Russian long-range bombers and cruise missiles on Tuesday included the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa, while French warplanes also targeted Raqqa on Tuesday evening — the third such bombing raid within 48 hours.

Paris and Moscow are not coordinating their operations, but French President Francois Hollande has called for a global campaign against the radicals in the wake of the Paris attacks.

The Kremlin said Putin spoke to Hollande by telephone and had ordered the Russian navy to establish contact with a French naval force heading to the eastern Mediterranean, led by an aircraft carrier, and to treat them as allies.

“We need to work out a plan with them of joint sea and air actions,” Putin told military chiefs.

Russia began air strikes in Syria at the end of September. It has always said its main target is Islamic State, but most of its bombs in the past have hit territory held by other groups opposed to its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Russia is shifting because today Russian cruise missiles hit Raqqa. Maybe today this grand coalition with Russia is possible,” French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told TF1 television channel on Tuesday evening.

JANGLING NERVES

The West blames Assad for the chaos in Syria and says he must quit as part of any political solution to the crisis — a demand rejected by Syria’s main backers Russia and Iran.

Hollande will visit Putin in Moscow on Nov. 26, two days after the French leader is due to meet U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington to push for a concerted drive against Islamic State, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.

A French presidential source said Hollande also spoke by phone to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who backed calls for a united front against the militants.

In Brussels, Le Drian invoked the EU’s mutual assistance clause for the first time since the 2009 Lisbon Treaty introduced the possibility, saying he expected help with French operations in Syria, Iraq and Africa.

“This is firstly a political act,” Le Drian told a news conference after a meeting of EU defence chiefs.

The 28 EU member states accepted the French request but it was not immediately clear what assistance would be forthcoming.

With nerves jangling across Europe, German police arrested and then released seven people around Aachen, near the Belgian border, and later cancelled a Germany-Netherlands soccer match in Hanover, evacuating the stadium shortly before kick-off.

One of the targets on Friday was outside a Paris stadium where France was playing Germany in a friendly.

French prosecutors have identified five of the seven dead assailants from Friday — four Frenchmen and a fifth man who was fingerprinted in Greece among refugees last month.

A Syrian passport was found near his body, but a justice source said investigators doubted whether it was his, suggesting the attacker might have been using someone else’s ID.

Police issued a photograph of the militant and asked the public for help in identifying him.

Despite a massive manhunt across Europe, police have failed to find Salah Abdeslam, 26, a Belgian-based Frenchman who is believed to have played a central role in both planning and executing the deadly mission.

Abdeslam drove back to Belgium from Paris early on Saturday with two friends, who have both been detained. A lawyer for one of the men told Belgian media that French police had pulled over their car three times early on Saturday as they headed to the border, but each time let them continue their journey.

The two men in detention deny any role in the attacks.

“DON’T SCAPEGOAT REFUGEES”

The U.N. refugee agency and Germany’s police chief urged European countries not to demean or reject refugees because one of the Paris bombers was believed to have slipped into Europe among migrants registered in Greece.

“We are deeply disturbed by language that demonises refugees as a group,” U.N. spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said after government officials in Poland, Slovakia and the German state of Bavaria cited the Paris attacks as a reason to refuse refugees.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Paris would spare no expense to reinforce and equip its security forces and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism, even though that was bound to involve breaching European budget deficit limits.

“We have to face up to this, and Europe ought to understand,” he told France Inter radio.

The European Commission said it would show understanding to France if additional security spending pushed up its deficit.

As France geared up for a long war, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would present a “comprehensive strategy” for tackling Islamic State to parliament. British war planes have been bombing the militants in Iraq, but not Syria.

“It is in Syria, in Raqqa, that ISIL has its headquarters and it is from Raqqa that some of the main threat against this country are planned and orchestrated,” Cameron said, referring to Islamic State by one of its many acronyms.

“Raqqa, if you like, is the head of the snake.”

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom, Matthias Blamont, Andrew Callus, Marine Pennetier, Emmanuel Jarry, Jean-Baptiste Vey in Paris and Alastair Macdonald and Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels; Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and David Stamp)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Russian acid attack victim shifted to Moscow

Sudhir Shetty
dna
The 23-year-old Russian girl, a victim of an acid attack in Varanasi, was flown back to Moscow early Monday morning. Darya Yurieva, a tourist who had been living in Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, had suffered 46 percent burns after her landlord’s son threw acid on her while she was sleeping, Friday morning.Yurieva was first admitted to Sir Sunderlal Hospital at Banaras Hindu University and then transferred late Sunday night to Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi, via Medanta’s air ambulance. On Monday, Poonam Dhanda, spokesperson for Safdarjung told the dna that Yurieva had been flown to Moscow at 5 am, on the Russian Embassy’s direction, as her parents wanted her home.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We got the news on Sunday night itself,” said Dhanda, “and she was transferred out of Safdarjung at 1 am.”Yurieva suffered burns to her facial area, according to Dhanda, mainly her face, both eyes, neck, front of the chest, right arm, abdomen, chest, right thigh, with her right eye being worse affected than her left. In the hours that Safdarjung had her, from 10:10 pm to 1 am, the doctors were working towards saving vision in her left eye.Tatiana Kutinova, the international press attache with the Russian embassy in New Delhi, told dna that Yurieva was in a state of shock. “She wants to know if she will get her face back, if she will look the same,” said Kutinova.”She has been shifted to a hospital specialising in burns in Podolsk, a city near Moscow. Though the Indian government has offered all possible help, her relatives want her there with them, instead of flying all the way to India.”Minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj, also tweeted in the afternoon that Yurieva had been flown back home, and that the Indian ambassador had met her mother.”The acid victim has been flown to Moscow. Our Ambassador has met the mother of the victim,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.The minister further tweeted that “we have assured her that India will bear all expenses on her treatment in Russia.” She said Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has also announced Rs 5 lakh towards this.Kutinova said that too many details couldn’t be given out about Yurieva, as most of the conversations Embassy officials had with her parents centred around the case and the subsequent medical treatment the young girl would need. “Most of what we know we found out from the Indian media; that Yurieva came to India in August and had been travelling. Siddharth, the accused travelled with her and they were friends. We don’t know the manner of their relationship, but it seemed he proposed to her in Varanasi and asked her to stay back in India. However, Yurieva wanted to return to Russia when her visa expired, in early 2016.”Yurieva has a dual citizenships with Bulgaria and Russia, and her family according to the embassy are from the Moscow district. She was an avid traveller, India not being the first place she visited.

Russian acid attack victim goes back; India to pay medicine bills

The minister further tweeted that “we have assured her that India will bear all expenses on her treatment in Russia

The 23-year-old Russian woman who was attacked with acid in Varanasi and was undergoing treatment here has been flown to Moscow with Indian government assuring her that all medical expenses will be borne by it. “The acid victim has been flown to Moscow. Our Ambassador has met the mother of the victim,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.The minister further tweeted that “we have assured her that India will bear all expenses on her treatment in Russia.” She said Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has also announced Rs 5 lakh towards this. The woman had suffered 46 per cent burn injuries after a local youth threw acid on her on November 13 in Nand Nagar area of Varanasi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the burns wing of Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital after she was flown here on Saturday evening in an air ambulance following a request from the Russian embassy and the Centre.

Russian tourist suffers acid attack

A Russian tourist is admitted to hospital with severe burns after suffering an acid attack in the Indian city of Varanasi

dna Must Reads for morning: From Pakistan’s crackdown on terror to China unveiling first passenger jet

Hafiz Saeed

1. Pakistan admits Hafiz Saeed’s outfit is Lashkar wing; bans media coverage of JuDPakistan on Monday banned media coverage of militant groups like the Jamaat-ud-Dawa as part of a crackdown on terror, acknowledging for the first time that the Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led outfit was a wing of the LeT. Read more here.2. Dawood Ibrahim’s security enhanced by Pak Army after Chhota Rajan’s arrest: Reports<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Security of underworld don and India’s most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim has been enhanced in Pakistan after the arrest of his bete noire Chhota Rajan in Indonesia. Special commandos of the Pakistan Army have been deployed at Dawood’s residences in Karachi and Islamabad. Read more here.3. ‘India’s nuke programme among largest in developing nations’Stating that India has “one of the largest nuclear power programmes” among developing nations, a US-based think-tank on Tuesday said by the end of 2014 India had enough weapon-grade plutonium to possess an estimated stock of atomic weapons in the range of 75-125. Read more here.4. China unveils first big passenger jet to vie with Boeing, AirbusChina on Monday unveiled its first homegrown large passenger plane, fulfilling the Communist giant’s long-held dream of challenging the dominance of western aviation giants like Boeing and Airbus in the global commercial aviation market. Read more here.5. Russian airline sees no technical fault, pilot error in Egypt crashThe Russian airline whose jet crashed in Egypt, killing all on board, said on Monday the disaster could not have been caused by a technical fault or human error. Read more here.

dna Must Reads for morning: From latest in Bihar polls to transgender issues in India

1. Live Updates | Bihar polls: Voting begins for 55 seats in fourth phase; stakes high for BJPVoting for 55 seats of the penultimate phase of Bihar election began on Sunday morning, with stakes high for BJP as it had along with its then ally JD(U) bagged majority of seats in last Assembly polls. Read more here.2. Russian plane crash: All passengers killed ; Egypt says finds both black boxes<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Russian airliner carrying 224 passengers crashed into a mountainous area of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula on Saturday shortly after losing radar contact near cruising altitude, killing all aboard. Read more here.3. We’ll celebrate next anniversary too in Shiv Sena company: Devendra FadnavisStating that there was no mud-slinging between the BJP and Shiv Sena during electioneering for the Kalyan-Dombivli municipal corporation (KDMC) elections, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday said the alliance partners would be fighting the elections to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) together. Read more here.4. I’m the mother I want to be, says Aishwarya Rai BachchanAishwarya Rai Bachchan turns 42 today. And she recently made her return to the big screen post-motherhood and a five-year break. In this excerpt of a conversation with her, she lays bare matters close to her heart — personally and professionally. Read more here.5. The scope of discussions on transgender issues must expand. Here’s whyOn October 5, Justice Siddharth Mridul of the Delhi High Court passed an exemplary judgments in the case of Shivani Bhat v State of NCT of Delhi and ors. Read more here.

Always saw Russia as India’s all-weather friend, says Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday called Russia an “all weather friend” of India ahead of his visit to Moscow, where he is expected to discuss several key deals.

In an interview to Russian news agency TASS, Parrikar said India-Russia relationship should be enhanced.

“I have always seen Russia as an all-weather friend for India – the two countries have always had a great relationship. I believe that this relationship should be enhanced. My visit to Moscow will be an attempt to help the relationship blossom further,” Parrikar said.

File photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTIFile photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

File photo of Manohar Parrikar. PTI

“There are many issues that can always be in such relationships, and I think the best way is to have them resolved. I see a certain enthusiasm to resolve them from both sides as well as possibilities to involve Russia in the “Make it in India” programme.

The defence minister will leave India for Russia on 30 October, and will be there till 2 November, after which he will leave for ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM-Plus) in Malaysia.

Asked if any joint projects under Make in India programme were expected to be inked during his visit, Parrikar said there will be discussions to prepare ground for inking some deals when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Russia in December.

“They (projects) may not take final shape during my visit but we’d like to prepare some of them for Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit to Russia in December – for example, the project for joint production of Kamov Ka-226 helicopters. I hope to use my visit to have it inked on paper when the prime minister arrives. Also the purchase of S-400 missile systems. We anticipate these projects to be coordinated by next month,” he said.

The minister added that there are also proposals for small private-sector companies interested in tying up with Russian companies to manufacture spares for Su-30 jets.

“Then there are Mi-17V-5 helicopters, which we also intend to negotiate and finalize procurement for 48 more. With that, we will have some 280 Mi-17 helicopters,” he said.

Another report by the agency quoting sources meanwhile said that Parrikar during his visit will also discuss leasing of another nuclear submarine, and a deal for it may be inked during Modi’s visit.

IANS

Rosberg takes U.S. pole after rain-hit qualifying | Reuters

AUSTIN, Texas Lewis Hamilton will have to get past Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg if he is to secure his third Formula One world championship at the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday.

Rosberg took his third successive pole position, with Hamilton alongside on the front row, in a qualifying session postponed from Saturday and then cut short by further bad weather.

Hamilton will become a triple champion with three races to spare if he scores two points more than Rosberg and nine more than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who qualified fifth but has a 10-place grid penalty.

The grid places were decided by the positions in the second of the three qualifying sessions after the final phase was delayed and then cancelled.

“Qualifying was cut short so I guess we didn’t really get to battle it out,” said Hamilton, who was fastest in Saturday’s final practice and would have been on pole had qualifying been cancelled altogether.

“But qualifying is just the beginning. The race is obviously a long battle and it’s going to be hard out there today with those conditions varying throughout the race.

“There’s no need to take any particular risks…it’s not do or die this weekend,” added the 30-year-old, who looks set to become the first Briton to win back-to-back titles.

Rosberg, who failed to convert his last two poles into victories and has won just three races to Hamilton’s nine so far this season, was delighted to have repeated his 2014 pole and given himself the best shot.

Hamilton won that race in Austin last year, however, and is chasing a hat-trick of wins at the Texan circuit having also triumphed in 2012.

Both of his previous two victories in Austin came from second on the grid.

“It’s been a really good qualifying and I felt comfortable in the car,” said Rosberg after Mercedes’s 12th front row lockout in 16 races.

“It’s difficult out there with aquaplaning and everything because when it happens you just really struggle to have control over the car.”

Australian Daniel Ricciardo will line up in third place for Red Bull with Russian team mate Daniil Kvyat alongside.

Mexican Sergio Perez will move up to fifth for Force India and has German team mate Nico Hulkenberg next to him.

The qualifying was red flagged in the first session when Spaniard Carlos Sainz hit the wall in his Toro Rosso and resumed after a 10 minute break.

“It was because of standing water and a used tyre. I’m not sure I will make it into the race,” said Sainz, who crashed heavily in final practice in Russia two weeks ago but made it back for the race.

Vettel just made it through to the second phase after brushing the wall and ending up 15th on the timesheets.

A succession of drivers, including Rosberg and Hamilton, then spun at the Turn 10 with four times champion Vettel saying over the radio that he felt the conditions were so bad the session should be stopped.

The fans at least got to see some action for the first time since Friday, with Saturday’s final practice run behind closed doors for safety reasons.

“It was good for the fans to get to see the cars running,” said Hamilton. “It seems like there’s a big crowd there today so I hope the weather backs up a little bit for the race.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to travel to Russia next month

Though this meeting had been planned for earlier this month, it could not take place because of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to New Delhi.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

Image courtesy: ANI
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will arrive here next month to co-chair a joint military commission meeting during which the delayed 5th generation fighter aircraft development programme along with multi-role transport aircraft are likely to be discussed.In his meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Parrikar would co-chair the meeting of Inter Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGCMTC) on November 2.Related Read: India, Russia chalk out plan to bolster special strategic ties<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Though this meeting had been planned for earlier this month, it could not take place because of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to New Delhi. Parrikar is likely to leave for Russia on October 30.Besides touching upon the development of the 5th generation fighter aircraft, other issues likely to be discussed include the new-generation Russian S-400 air defence missile systems, capable of destroying incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400-km.Parrikar along with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, will also review the progress of Moscow’s plan to manufacture almost 200 Kamov 226T helicopters in India that will give a big boost to government’s flagship programme of “Make in India”. The question of a possible lease of a second nuclear submarine from Russia could also come up.The meeting comes amid growing defence ties between Russia and Pakistan. Russia is in talks with Pakistan for the sale of four MI-35 attack helicopters.India-Russia military technical cooperation has evolved from a simple buyer-seller framework to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced defence technologies and systems.Sources said spare part issues pertaining to the licensed production in India of SU-30 aircraft will be raised by New Delhi. Both countries are currently also working on a “Super 30” version of the fighter aircraft.Shoigu visited New Delhi for the last meeting (14th session) of the Commission on January 21 to review the ongoing cooperation and future opportunities for progressing bilateral defence cooperation. Last year, the two governments signed an agreement to train Indian Armed Forces personnel in Russia.

India, Russia chalk out plan to bolster special strategic ties

India’s EAM spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Swaraj talked about “strengthening a special and privileged strategic partnership” with Russia during her meeting with Lavrov.

Strengthening of “special and privileged strategic partnership” between India and Russia formed the central theme of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s wide-ranging talks with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov here today. The talks took place in the backdrop of warming up of ties between Pakistan and Russia which signed a defence agreement this year. Ending its self-imposed embargo on arms sales to India’s archrival, Moscow has agreed to sell four MI-35 attack helicopters to Pakistan.Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin made light of the helicopter deal with Pakistan said: “What is the big deal about our giving four helicopters to Pakistan? We are giving technology to India to make 200 helicopters. India will be a helicopter superpower.” He was referring to a Rs 6,000-crore deal between a Russian company and Anil Ambani’s Reliance to manufacture 200 twin-engine Kamov 226T choppers for the Indian Army in India which is a boost to the “Make in India” programme.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kamov helicopter deal was one of topics of discussion between Swaraj and Lavrov which also covered key regional and bilateral issues including defence, civil nuclear cooperation and trade ties.India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Swaraj talked about “strengthening a special and privileged strategic partnership” with Russia during her meeting with Lavrov. Swaraj described Russia as India’s “tried and tested” partner and a “real friend”. I want to tell you that Russia is India’s tried and tested partner and a real friend. Our foreign policy towards Russia has always been the same,” she said. Swaraj also raised the issue of liberalisation of visa regime for Indian tourists and businessmen during the talks which lasted for over an hour, according to Swarup. The Minister also said she was very happy to convey that there was progress on all components of “Druzhba-Dosti”, the vision document agreed upon during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin last year. Swarup said the two ministers talked ways to boost cooperation in civil nuclear sector and trade and investments. The two sides also discussed situation in Syria and UN Security Council reforms.On his part, Lavrov said he was hopeful that Swaraj’s visit will provide impetus to India-Russia ties. He also referred to India’s entry into Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and said that its full membership will give boost to the efforts of the group in achieving its goals. Russia has been favouring India’s permanent SCO membership, saying joining of the group by the largest democracy will add weight to the organisation.

dna Morning Must Read: From possibility of Indo-Pak talks to latest in Sena- BJP clash and more

Here is a list of curated stories for your morning read.

Here is a list of curated stories for your morning read.
1. India ready to revive NSA-level talks, Pakistan dithersDiplomatic stand-off between India and Pakistan would have ended in New York, on eve of the UN General Assembly session last month, but for Islamabad’s insistence to combine National Security Advisor (NSA) meeting, as decided between the two prime ministers at the Russian city of Ufa, with a meeting of two foreign ministers as well. The Ufa joint statement, which focused on addressing India’s core concern of terrorism, but excluded Jammu and Kashmir, is fast becoming a political minefield for Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, almost re-enactment of the 2009 Sharm-el-Sheikh agreement, which put Manmohan Singh in a fix. To the chagrin of ruling Congress party, diplomatic community and opposition back home, Singh had agreed to include Pakistan’s concern on Baluchistan. Read More <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>
2. Democratic debate: Hillary Clinton rejects charges of flip-flopping on key issuesUS presidential candidate Hillary Clinton defended herself against charges that she has shifted positions to win over the liberal wing of her party, kicking off a debate with rival Democrats on Tuesday with a promise to raise workers’ wages and make the wealthy pay higher taxes.Saying she was the granddaughter of a factory worker, Clinton called herself a “progressive” who likes to get things done despite opposition from Republicans. “I’ve been very consistent over the course of my entire life. I’ve always fought for the same values and principles,” said Clinton, 67. The former secretary of state is trying to slow momentum from her chief rival, Bernie Sanders, a US senator from Vermont who is polling ahead of her in the early voting state of New Hampshire and drawing large crowds at campaign events nationwide. Read More
3. Bihar polls: Paramilitary forces move for area domination of crucial second phaseHeaving a sigh of relief on completion of first phase consisting of Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected constituencies the Election Commission has now focused all its efforts on the second phase that again has several Maoist affected assembly constituencies going to polls on October 16. Read More
4. Sena, BJP may continue to spar, but unlikely to call off marriage
Their incessant sabre-rattling and fratricidal wars apart, the Shiv Sena and BJP may just stop short of a divorce in their unhappy marriage, at least till the BMC elections due in early 2017, which the allies are likely to fight separately.’Raan uthawtil pan shikaar karnar naahit’ (they may create the atmosphere, but not go in for the kill) – this Marathi saying may hold true for the Shiv Sena and BJP’s brinkmanship, with the nativist, sons-of-soil party spewing venom at its ally but stopping short of actually pulling out of the state government. Read More
5. Annonymous’ pilot vents out frustration over take-off delay owing to Modi’s jet, SPG orders probe
The Prime Minister’s elite security guards, the Black Cats, are on the look-out for a pilot at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA). On Sunday, the ‘anonymous’ aircraft pilot vented out his frustration over the delay in take-off caused by the movement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s jet. Read More With agency inputs

India ready to revive NSA-level talks, Pakistan dithers

Sources here further said that India was not asking for too much, but only a commitment that a country cannot resort to terrorism as a way of pressurising the other. They clarified that India has an issue if the manner of consultation or discussions or whatever way Pakistan interacts with the Hurriyat in a manner to project them as a third party.

Diplomatic stand-off between India and Pakistan would have ended in New York, on eve of the UN General Assembly session last month, but for Islamabad’s insistence to combine National Security Advisor (NSA) meeting, as decided between the two prime ministers at the Russian city of Ufa, with a meeting of two foreign ministers as well. The Ufa joint statement, which focused on addressing India’s core concern of terrorism, but excluded Jammu and Kashmir, is fast becoming a political minefield for Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, almost re-enactment of the 2009 Sharm-el-Sheikh agreement, which put Manmohan Singh in a fix. To the chagrin of ruling Congress party, diplomatic community and opposition back home, Singh had agreed to include Pakistan’s concern on Baluchistan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Official sources here said while India still remains interested in reviving the NSA talks as per Ufa understanding, Pakistan was trying to sidestep centrality to the issue of terrorism, by incorporating other issues to please its domestic politics. On the issue of Sharif’s invitation to Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani to visit Pakistan, sources said, India views it with concern and Islamabad must know, that in the past, when India allowed such contacts, contexts were different. “The issue is that there has to be a recognition that terrorism cannot be an instrument of statecraft and you cannot say it was only Gurudaspur attack, why are you overreacting or an attack on BSF, why are you overreacting. It cannot be a routine way. There has to be recognition that non-practise of terrorism is central to the betterment of the relationship. If they are in denial of that (that is an issue),” said a senior official.Sources here further said that India was not asking for too much, but only a commitment that a country cannot resort to terrorism as a way of pressurising the other. They clarified that India has an issue if the manner of consultation or discussions or whatever way Pakistan interacts with the Hurriyat in a manner to project them as a third party.India had proposed the NSA-level meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York last month but the proposal was abandoned after Pakistan insisted that such a meeting also be accompanied by a dialogue between the foreign ministers. Sources here said Islamabad wanted its NSA Sartaj Aziz, who is also its foreign minister, to have a separate dialogue with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj as condition for talks between Aziz and India’s NSA Ajit Doval. Last August when the NSA talks were aborted, India had carefully selected August 23 for talks, making sure that Swaraj was in Egypt, to abort any chance of interaction between two foreign ministers. In such an eventuality, Pakistan would have succeeded in diverting focus from terrorism to other issues. India also prevented a meeting between the foreign secretaries saying that this was not what was decided in Ufa. The Ufa statement only mentioned a meeting between the NSAs to discuss all issues connected to terror. Other meetings agreed to were between the DGMOs and BSF and Pakistan Rangers.In Ufa, Sharif wanted a mention of J&K but was prevailed upon by the Indian side to leave that out and make do only with a reference to the need for discussing “all outstanding issues”.However, with the BJP projecting the statement as a victory for India, Sharif’s position became precarious on domestic turf. Experts say, Ufa was becoming a political slip for Sharif as much Sharm-el-Sheikh agreement became for Manmohan Singh.

Rosberg curses bad luck as title hopes slip away | Reuters

SOCHI, Russia Nico Rosberg vowed to bounce back and win the next race in Texas but in his heart he knows his Formula One title hopes are over for another year after retiring from Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.

With Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton taking his ninth win of the season, the German is now 73 points behind the Briton with four races — a maximum of 100 points — still to come.

As Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda said after the race at Sochi’s Olympic Park circuit, Rosberg has only a mathematical chance.

“He could have won the race today so if you lose 25 points then it’s difficult,” the Austrian told Reuters when asked whether he saw any way back for the German.

“Mathematically yes, but then Lewis has to retire now and go home. He will not.”

Rosberg had started on pole position and kept Hamilton behind him but his hopes of a victory evaporated early on when his car developed a throttle problem that forced him back to the pits and retirement after seven laps.

“It is tough. It really is tough,” he told reporters.

“Coming here, really having an awesome weekend with qualifying, race start, first corner, everything really going to plan and then to lose it in such a way is very tough.”

The retirement was Rosberg’s second in four races and allowed Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to overtake him for second place overall. The four-times champion is now 66 points behind Hamilton.

Hamilton need only score two points more than Rosberg at the next race in Austin, and nine more than Vettel, to win his third championship.

A Mercedes one-two, with Rosberg second as was the case in Austin last year, would do it.

Despite the odds, Rosberg said he would be fighting right to the bitter end.

“Bouncing back is never a problem for me,” he said. “That’s always worked out. I just come back, I forget the last week and learn from it.

“You just have to be realistic now, it’s a lot of points. It does not change my approach. We are still pushing to the maximum, I am committed and going for it mentally.

“It’s disappointing of course because I was looking to close the gap today but anyways I will go to the next race and I want to win there. That is the goal at the moment.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Hamilton wins dramatic Russian Grand Prix | Reuters

SOCHI, Russia Lewis Hamilton won a dramatic Russian Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday to take a huge step towards his third world championship after Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg retired with throttle failure.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished runner-up to overtake Rosberg as Hamilton’s closest rival, 66 points adrift of the Briton with four races and a maximum 100 points remaining.

If results go Hamilton’s way, he can secure his second successive title in Austin, Texas, in two weeks’ time. Hamilton now has 302 points, Vettel 236 and Rosberg 229.

Mexican Sergio Perez finished third for Force India, in a race with two safety car interludes following crashes, after Finnish drivers Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen collided while battling for the final podium place.

Raikkonen finished fifth for Ferrari, a result that prevented Mercedes from clinching the constructors’ championship for the second year in a row, but he faced a stewards enquiry into the collision.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

DMK chief Karunanidhi praises son Stalin; refutes claims of differences between two

Stalin participated in the meet taking a break from his pre-election campaign ‘Namakku Name’ (we for ourselves) and Karunanidhi praised him for his work.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
DMK patriarch Karunanidhi on praised party treasurer and son Stalin, while refuting claims of differences between the two.”I had said while naming him as Stalin that the name stood for iron man,” Karunanidhi said reminiscing the reason for christening his son as Stalin at a meet here which saw functionaries from Vaiko-led MDMK joining DMK.”I had said Stalin would demonstrate through his action whether he is an iron man or not and he has shaped up like Stalin (Russian leader) himself,” he said to a thunderous applause.Stalin participated in the meet taking a break from his pre-election campaign ‘Namakku Name’ (we for ourselves) and Karunanidhi praised him for his work.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”He (Stalin) has done his duty well, irrespective of rain or shine, day or night. I am doing the duty of welcoming him here not only as a father but also as party president ” he said referring to Stalin’s campaign seeking to catapult DMK to power again in next year’s Assembly election.Addressing Stalin formally in Tamil, Karunanidhi said, “He is my son after all, and if I address him formally it may seem like a gap.””No one needs to think that there is such a gap and not (try to) use it (gap) by thinking so. It is a little overboard to address him in formal terms, he is my son after all,” he said.”It is a matter of pride for me that he, who had weathered many storms in the DMK’s saga of sacrifice, participated in this meet,” he added.

Why India’s Goa wants its British tourists back

Pamela D’Mello explains why India’s western state of Goa is making a concerted effort to woo back tourists from Britain.

Pakistan eying Sukhoi-35 fighter planes as part of defence deal from Russia, says report

Islamabad: Pakistan is negotiating with Russia on acquiring an unspecified number of Su-35 ‘Flanker-E’ multi-role fighter aircraft in potentially the largest military deal between the two Cold War-era adversaries, according to a leading defence weekly.

Pakistan Air Force has discussed buying Sukhoi-35 ‘Flanker-E’ fighter aircraft from Russia in potentially the largest defence deal between the two countries, but a final decision is yet to be made, IHS Jane’s quoted a senior Pakistani government official as saying.

An IAF Sukhoi SU-30 takes off at Aero India 2011 in Bangalore on 11 February 2011. Image courtesy PIB

An IAF Sukhoi SU-30 takes off at Aero India 2011 in Bangalore on 11 February 2011. Image courtesy PIB

The official was responding to Russian media reports that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov had said talks were underway for an unspecified number of Su-35s, which follow a recent agreement to provide Mi-35M ‘Hind E’ attack helicopters to Pakistan.

While the official said “it’s too early to say if a deal will conclude and the terms”, the fact that discussions have taken place shows Russia’s willingness to sell advanced hardware with Pakistan despite Moscow’s longstanding ties with India.

The official said Pakistan’s interest in the Su-35 was driven by the PAF’s need for a twin-engine fighter “that can fly for a longer range than the JF-17 and penetrate more deeply into the enemy’s territory”.

The PAF currently flies a mixed fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16s, Dassault Mirage-5s, Chinese-manufactured F-7s, and the JF-17 Thunder, which is jointly produced by China and Pakistan.

Islamabad is eager to improve its ties with Moscow to diversify its military options in the event of any stalemate in ties with Washington, Pakistani media reported.

The Mi-35M chopper deal was signed during the visit of army chief General Raheel Sharif to Russia in June when he met top defence officials.

The two countries last year signed a military cooperation agreement to deepen their defence ties and vowed to translate their relationship in “tangible” terms during Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu’s visit to Islamabad. Shoigu was the first Russian defence minister to visit Pakistan in 45 years.

PTI

dna Must Read: From latest in Sheena Murder Case to big winners at MTV VMA awards- Top 5 stories at 9 am

Here is a curated list of top 5 stories at 9 am.

1. Sheena murder case: Killing Sheena in the car was not Indrani, Sanjeev’s first plan, says reportThe main accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, Indrani and her ex-husband Sanjeev Mukerjea had three different plans to kill Sheena, before they agreed on the final plan — murdering her in a car and dumping her body in Raigad, reported Mid Day.The duo had discussed two options – Sanjeev had suggested that Sheena should be killed in her Mumbai residence, where she lived with Rahul’ Mukerjea’s. But Indrani suggested they could kill her at her Worli house since peter was out of town, the report added. Read More <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia stocks sag as Fed rate prospects revived, China still a worryAsian stocks sagged on Monday after top Federal Reserve officials kept the door open for an interest rate hike in September and investors braced for China economic data this week.Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer, speaking at the central bank’ conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, said recent volatility in global markets could ease and possibly pave the way for a rate hike. Read More 3. Black money: Swiss banks want Indian clients to use compliance window, disclose assets
The new black money law by the Narendra Modi-led government has had the Swiss banks spooked. A number of banks there and other European banks are urging their Indian clients to disclose their accounts to the tax authorities back home as they fear being accused of ‘abetting’ the hoarding of untaxed assets. Read More4. US Open: Former champion Maria Sharapova pulls out due to leg injuryMaria Sharapova, winner of five grand slam events, has pulled out of the US Open tennis championships due to a leg injury, the Russian said on Sunday.Sharapova, 28, has not played a match since losing to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon semi-finals in July and withdrew from hardcourt tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati in August, citing a right leg strain. Read More5. MTV VMAs 2015: Taylor Swift wins four awards, Kanye West gets Video Vanguard AwardNicki Minaj ripped into Miley Cyrus for her New York Times’ comment. Justin Bieber cried after performing his song ‘Where are you now’. Kanye West announced his 2020 presidency run. Here are the highlights of the 2015 VMAs. Read More

BSF, Pakistan Rangers officials may meet next month in New Delhi

The preparations for the meeting are already underway and the two sides are in contact, the Express Tribune reported

Border security officials of India and Pakistan are expected to meet in New Delhi next month for their bi-annual meeting, the first high-level interaction between the two sides after the cancellation of NSA-level talks, a media report said on Wednew.The preparations for the meeting are already underway and the two sides are in contact, the Express Tribune reported. “As per border ground rules 1961, a routine, biannual meeting of IG Border Security Force (BSF) and DG Pakistan Rangers is scheduled at New Delhi from September 9 to September 13,” an official of Rangers said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”To coordinate the modalities of the September meeting, a prior meeting was held on Tuesday between representatives of Rangers and BSF at Wagah border,” he said. The meeting will be the first high-level interaction between the two sides after the cancellation of meeting between the National Security Advisors on August 22.Separate meetings between Director General Military Operations (DGMOs) and heads of Rangers and BSF were part of the understanding reached between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif during their meeting in the Russian city of Ufa last month.

After NSA-level talks fiasco, military talk in doldrums

Pakistan cancelled the talks on Saturday after India clearly said that it would not allow a meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders and talks will only focus on terrorism.

After the cancellation of NSA-level talks, proposed meetings between top military officials of India and Pakistan are now unlikely, a media report said on Monday.Pakistan cancelled the talks on Saturday after India clearly said that it would not allow a meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders and talks will only focus on terrorism.The Express Tribune said that with the NSA talks called off due to differences over the agenda as well as Pakistan s invitation to Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders, the meetings between Director General Military Operations (DGMOs) as well as heads of Pakistan Rangers and Border Security Force are uncertain.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The paper quoted an official as saying that the Ufa agreement has now become “controversial” and “irrelevant” as a result of cancellation of the NSA-level talks.Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in their meeting in the Russian city of Ufa last month had agreed on meetings between DGMOs and heads of Pakistan Rangers and BSF.India wanted the two meetings before the NSA-level talks but Islamabad proposed September 6 for the meeting between the heads of Rangers and BSF, which would be followed by the DGMOs’ meeting.

NSA Talks: Congress raises questions over Indo-Pak’s Ufa agreement

Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma, however, alleged there has been a “negligence somewhere” on part of the Narendra Modi government on the issue of talks with Pakistan, which is “now trying to show that India was keen for talks”.

Amid mounting suspense over holding of the Indo-Pak NSA-level talks, Congress on Saturday raised questions over Ufa agreement between the two countries and said there is “no basis for talks” unless India is fully assured that Pakistan will honour its commitments.Home Minister Rajnath Singh said India had decided the agenda in Ufa itself and Pakistan should not “deviate” from it. “We are ready to talk on terror only,” he said.He said that the Indian government has made it clear to Pakistan that the talks will happen only at the National Security Adviser-level.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma, however, alleged there has been a “negligence somewhere” on part of the Narendra Modi government on the issue of talks with Pakistan, which is “now trying to show that India was keen for talks”.”There is no need to show this keenness. Whatever has happened so far has already happened. But we request the Government of India that as long as you are not assured of some proper outcome from the talks, please leave this effort (to hold talks),” Sharma, a former Minister of State for External Affairs, told reporters at the AICC briefing.He said both the countries should definitely talk to resolve the complex issues between them but there should be an atmosphere for it.”There is no basis for talks unless there is an assurance that Pakistani establishment will honour the commitments,” he said, adding that the chain of incidents unfolding now make it clear that whatever happened in the Russian city of Ufa “did not have the support of the entire Pakistani establishment”.Recalling that his party had asked the government to reveal the details of the Ufa agreement to the nation and the Parliament immediately after it was signed, Sharma said the stated position of government on holding talks with Pakistan so far has been that talks are not possible unless it took concrete measures against perpetrators of Mumbai terror attack and towards dismantling the terror infrastructure on its soil.Targeting Modi over the issue, Sharma said, “If your government has deviated from that established policy, then the nation has a right to know what is the basis for doing it.”

Can’t disclose if any KGB records on Netaji were searched, says Government

The denial comes despite repeated promises by the NDA government about disclosure of Netaji files.

The Centre has refused to divulge whether declassified archives of the erstwhile Soviet spy agency KGB were ever searched for any information on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s alleged death in a plane crash 70 years ago.The denial comes despite repeated promises by the NDA government about disclosure of Netaji files. The External Affairs Ministry has refused to provide any information on the action taken on a 19-year-old proposal from its Joint Secretary (East Europe) RL Narayan, who had suggested requesting the Russian authorities to search KGB archives and inform India “if there is any evidence of Netaji’s stay in the Soviet Union”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Narayan’s note, written on January 12, 1996, was referred to Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs. The then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had written a noting on it, asking the Secretary and Narayan to discuss the proposal “urgently” on January 14, 1996.The Ministry first responded, saying the information was not available in a particular division. Later, when the RTI application was again filed with same queries, the Ministry said “Under section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act 2005, the information on the subject cannot be disclosed.” The clause of the Right to Information law cited by the CPIO and Under Secretary (East Asia) Bayyapu Sandeep Kumar allows the government to withhold information the disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.Ironically, the note itself tagged as “secret” is widely available on the internet. However, the action taken on the proposal remains a mystery.The denial of information by the Ministry comes in the backdrop of a recent notice issued by the Central Information Commission to Prime Minister’s Office on the issue of declassification of files related to mysterious disappearance of Netaji. The transparency panel will hear a petition filed in a separate case on the disclosure of the files on August 26.In his note, Narayan had said that from time to time various articles have appeared in the Soviet/Russian press insinuating, though without actual proof, that Netaji in fact stayed/was incarcerated in the Soviet Union after 1945 when he went missing in an alleged plane crash.”In January 1992, we had received a disclaimer from the Russian Foreign Ministry to the effect that ‘according to the data in the Central and Republican Archives, no information whatsoever is available on the stay of the former President of the Indian National Congress Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, in the Soviet Union in 1945 and thereafter,” the note said.It said a group of scholars from India had visited Moscow in 1995 to research this issue. “Again no proof of Netaji’s stay in the Soviet Union was adduced, it was mentioned that a number of personalities whom the team met ‘had suggestive words to ventilate’, and that ‘the people of this country and all over the globe are very much interested to know about the cloud that had been created around Netaji concerning Russia,” it said.Narayan said there are three kinds of archives which may be of relevance- papers relating to the Stalinist period (KGB archives), which are kept separately and were not accessed till 1996 when the note was written, by foreign and even Russian scholars, and papers related to post-Stalinist period, which he said fall in two categories– Government and Politburo–that are kept separately. According to Narayan, the Russian Foreign Ministry Note Verbale suggested that their disclaimers about Netaji may be based essentially on perusal of the archives of post-Stalinist period (post-1953).Narayan had suggested that while it would be unrealistic for India to expect that Russian authorities would allow Indian scholars to access KGB archives, “what we can do is to request the Russian authorities to conduct a search into these archives and let us know if there is any evidence of Netaji’s stay in the Soviet Union”.The appellant had sought a copy of Narayan’s note, action taken on it, and file notings, besides Netaji files destroyed by the MEA. He had also asked for a complete list of files on Bose with MEA which have been sent to the National Archives and communications exchanged between the Prime Minister’s Office and the then India Ambassador to Russia S Radhakrishnan on Subhas Chandra Bose or Azad Hind Fauj.

Look, who’s saying Pakistan was behind 26/11 attacks!

He said it in a write-up in Pakistan’s English newspaper Dawn. Tariq Khosa is a former director general of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Khosa admitted that the 26/11 Mumbai attacks were “planned and launched from its (Pakistan’s) soil”, and asked Islamabad to face the truth, by admitting the mistakes. Among the evidence Khosa offered was that Ajmal Kasab was indeed a Pakistani national, LeT terrorists were trained and launched from Pakistan and the dinghy and the engine used for the attacks were bought in Pakistan (see box).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Khosa said the entire state security apparatus must ensure that the perpetrators and masterminds of the ghastly terror attacks were brought to justice. “The case has lingered on for far too long. Dilatory tactics by the defendants, frequent change of trial judges, and assassination of the case prosecutor as well as retracting from original testimony by some key witnesses have been serious setbacks for the prosecutors. However, cognisance was taken by the Islamabad High Court, which directed the trial to be concluded within two months,” he said. Khosa said that in the Russian city of Ufa, on July 10, Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan and Narendra Modi were “prepared to discuss all outstanding issues,” and both leaders “condemned terrorism in all its forms” and agreed to co-operate with each other “to eliminate this menace from South Asia”. “Therefore, we in Pakistan should welcome this development wholeheartedly,” he wrote. “Didn’t we suffer the pain and agony of our own 9/11 on Dec 16, 2014, at the hands of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and its surrogates, and aren’t we as a nation determined to root out terrorism in all its forms from our soil? The answer is obviously a resounding yes and I have no doubt that the political and security leadership have resolved to eliminate the scourge of terrorism, militancy and extremism through the counter-terrorism National Action Plan. The duality and distinction between good and bad Taliban, including all militants and terrorists, should stand removed from Miramshah to Muridke, from Karachi to Quetta,” he wrote. According to Khosa, Pakistan’s concerns in respect of the botched investigation into the Samjhauta Express bombing and alleged covert support to the Baloch insurgency as well as reported ‘terror financing’, both in Karachi and Fata, by Indian and other foreign agencies should not only be highlighted but concrete evidence presented to put a stop to such means of non-kinetic warfare resorted to by sleuths from both sides to further their so-called national interests. “There are very knowledgeable and competent professionals with investigation and intelligence background in Pakistan who can meet the Indian security officials and talk as professionals. They, too, have many skeletons in their cupboards. So why fight shy? Let both India and Pakistan admit their mistakes and follies and learn to co-exist while trying to find solutions to their thorny issues through peaceful means,” he said. He said that, after an exchange of multiple investigation dossiers with the Indian police authorities, the trial court was requested to give approval to obtain voice samples of the alleged commander and his deputies for comparison with the recorded voices. The court ruled that the consent of the accused should be obtained. Hailing the former top Pakistani official for speaking the truth, former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh, now BJP MP, said Islamabad should now take the case to logical conclusion. BJP MP and former union home secretary RK Singh, however, was not so impressed. He said Pakistan would not investigate the role of its nationals in the 26/11 case. “The Public Prosecutor who was handling the case in Pakistan was killed. ISI is involved in it and if the investigations are pursued, some ISI officers would be behind bars, so they will not investigate the matter,” he said.

Pakistan blames India for horrific 2014 Peshawar school massacre

Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility for the attack, so Pakistan’s assertion that RAW was involved seems a bit strange.

File photo of hospital security guards carrying injured students in the Peshawar school attck on December 16, 2014.

Reuters
Ahead of the National Security Advisory level talks to be held between the two nations, Pakistan has claimed that India was involved in the horrific December 2014 Peshawar school massacre in which around 150 people, including 136 children were killed.Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility for the attack, so Pakistan’s assertion that RAW was involved seems a bit strange. The Pakistani army had claimed in February that the terrorists involved in the attack were wiped out in retaliatory strikes.According to various media reports, Pakistan is preparing a dossier on India’s role in supporting terrorism in Balochistan and Karachi, and the dossier will likely be carried by PM Nawaz Sharif’s advisor on foreign affairs when he meets Ajit Doval in Delhi next month.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Recently, Pakistan had claimed that it had shot down an Indian drone along the Line Of Control in Kashmir, a claim that India has denied. Even the Chinese firm that made the drone is believed to have said that it never sold the drone to any government.On July 10, Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif had met in the Russian city of Ufa and decided to take bilateral ties forward through a meeting of the respective nation’s NSAs. The joint statement issued after the ice-breaking meeting of the two PMs stressed that one of the steps forward would include “a meeting in New Delhi between the two NSAs to discuss all issues connected to terrorism”.

Can’t use Lakhvi’s voice sample as evidence in 26/11 trial, says top Pakistani prosecutor

After having pursued the matter for four years, Pakistan’s premier Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) now says the voice samples cannot be used as evidence.

LeT operations commander and Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi’s voice samples cannot be used as evidence as there is no law in Pakistan to prove its authenticity, a top prosecutor in the case has said.After having pursued the matter for four years, Pakistan’s premier Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) now says the voice samples cannot be used as evidence. “Though it might be helpful in the course of investigation but the audio allegedly recorded by the Indian Intelligence cannot be used as evidence as there is no law under which the authenticity of the voice could be proved,” a senior prosecutor in the case told Dawn News.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said that though the existing laws permitted the use of electronic evidence, there is no provision under which an accused can be forced to provide an audio recording of his voice which can then be matched with available samples. FIA special prosecutor Mohammad Azhar Chaudhry told the daily that “there is no law in Pakistan that allows the prosecution to forcibly obtain the voice sample of an accused.There is no such law in India and the US.” “We cannot force the accused to give their voice sample.” In 2011, the agency went to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to obtain the voice samples of Lakhvi and his co-accused Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hammad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum currently confined in Adiala Jail. The petition is still pending in the high court.Four years ago, a Rawalpindi court handling the Mumbai attack case had dismissed an application for obtaining voice sample of Lakhvi on the ground that no such law exists in Pakistan that allows obtaining of voice sample of an accused. The prosecutor’s assertions comes nearly a week after the prime ministers of India and Pakistan agreed during their meeting in the Russian city of Ufa to expedite the Mumbai case trial (in Pakistan), including additional information like providing voice samples.Lakhvi, 55, and the six other accused have been lodged in Adiala Jail for nearly six years in connection with planning and executing the Mumbai attack in November, 2008 that left 166 people killed.

PDP welcomes decision to revive Indo-Pak talks

The Minister hoped that Modi’s visit to Pakistan next year will mark a new beginning for peace and progress in the region.

Representational image

Ruling PDP on Friday welcomed the decision to revive the stalled Indo-Pak dialogue process and expressed hope that the two countries will also carry forward the Jammu and Kashmir-specific confidence building measures.”We warmly welcome the initiative taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. We laud the efforts made by our Prime Minister and also the bold response offered by his Pakistan counterpart,” senior PDP leader and Education Minister Naeem Akhter told reporters here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Akhter said the development in the Russian city of Ufa was a vindication of the PDP’s view point which forms the basis of governance alliance with the BJP.”This step can be another defining moment in the Indo-Pak relations. We hope the two leaders will work for a stable region and peaceful borders,” he said.Replying to a question, he said that such bold initiatives were required to counter the situation along the LoC and borders.”Our borders have been unstable for the last couple of years. Such initiatives are required to ensure peace,” he said.Akhter said his party was hopeful that the two countries will also take forward the Jammu and Kashmir-specific CBMs which have been stalled for many years.The Minister hoped that Modi’s visit to Pakistan next year will mark a new beginning for peace and progress in the region.”We still believe that the external dimension of the Kashmir issue has to be addressed one day. It is not an event but a process. With the maturity shown by the two Prime Ministers, we are hopeful that this will reach its logical conclusion,” Akhter said when asked about Pakistan not raking up the Kashmir issue during the meeting.The PDP leader said that India-Pakistan should now work on expanding travel facility along the LoC to pilgrims and tourists.”The cross-LoC trade should be upgraded and banking and communication facilities should be provided to traders,” he said.

Modi to meet Xi and Sharif in Russia

Indian PM Narendra Modi arrives in Russia for BRICS and regional Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summits and to meet Chinese and Pakistani leaders.

‘Does Modi do yoga?’ asks incredulous Vladimir Putin

St Petersburg: “Does Modi do yoga?” That was the question posed by Russian President Vladimir Putin when he was told that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had started a Ministry of Yoga.

Modi with Putin. PTIModi with Putin. PTI

Modi with Putin. PTI

He was incredulous that a ministry of yoga (it is called Ministry of Ayush, an abbreviation for departments dealing with Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy incorporating indigenous and alternative systems of healing) could be set up, and then smilingly asked why anyone would do that.

He wondered if the man who wants to spread yoga practise it himself. He was told that it was likely, though he had not publicly said so.

“He is a good man, and a personal friend,” Putin said in reply to questions from visiting wire service reporters from around the world, including IANS, one each from a dozen countries, who met him at midnight at the end of the second day of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum here.

In response to a question by IANS, that he and Modi were both being seen as “tough leaders”, Putin said it was not true. “I am not tough. I am always willing to compromise,” adding that often the other side took a tough stand.

“They say they have two opinions. One that they are right. And the second that I am wrong,” Putin said at his official residence here which encompasses the Boris Yeltsin Digital Library. Putin is from St Petersburg.

The interaction with Putin ended at around 2 am with him saying that often his meetings stretched to the wee hours of the night. He said he had to meet so many people, and often many of them would go into lengthy explanation about their issues that he found it difficult to interrupt.

IANS

Putin says Russia beefing up nuclear arsenal, NATO denounces sabre-rattling | Reuters

KUBINKA, Russia President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Russia would add more than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) to its nuclear arsenal this year, prompting NATO’s chief to accuse Moscow of dangerous “sabre-rattling”.

Putin made his announcement a day after Russian officials denounced a U.S. plan to station tanks and heavy weapons in NATO member states on Russia’s border as the most aggressive act by Washington since the Cold War a generation ago. [ID:nL5N0Z12S6]

Tension has flared anew between Russia and Western powers over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis, in which pro-Russian separatist forces have seized a large part of the country’s east after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in early 2014.

The European Union and United States imposed economic sanctions on Russia. But Washington and Moscow are still bound by a 2010 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that caps deployed strategic nuclear warheads at 1,550 each and limits the numbers of strategic nuclear missile launchers to 800 by 2018.

“More than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles able to overcome even the most technically advanced anti-missile defence systems will be added to the make-up of the nuclear arsenal this year,” Putin, flanked by army officers, said in a speech at an arms fair west of Moscow.

ICBMs have a minimum range of more than 5,500 km (3,400 miles). Putin gave no more details of which missiles were being added to the nuclear arsenal.

He has repeatedly urged Russia to maintain its nuclear deterrence to counter what he sees as growing security threats. Moscow also reserves the right to deploy nuclear arms in Crimea.

Such comments have helped whip up anti-Western sentiment and rally support behind Putin but have caused disquiet in the West, particularly countries on or near Russia’s borders that were under Soviet domination during the Cold War.

Responding quickly to Putin’s remarks, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg accused Russia of unwarranted “sabre rattling” and said this was “destabilising and dangerous”.

At a news briefing in Brussels, Stoltenberg said such rhetoric from Moscow explained the Western alliance’s increased preparedness on the part of its forces to defend its member states closest to Russia.

“This nuclear sabre-rattling of Russia is unjustified. This is something we are addressing, and it’s also one of the reasons we are now increasing the readiness and preparedness of our forces,” Stoltenberg said.

“We are responding by making sure that NATO also in the future is an alliance which provides deterrence and protection for all allies against any threat.”

FEARS OF A NEW ARMS RACE

Lithuanian Defence Minister Juozas Olekas said the planned deployment of U.S. military equipment in eastern Europe, including his country, was a key step to ensure the region’s defensibility against growing Russian military capabilities.

“We have no other possibilities. If we did nothing, we would be provoking Russia for aggression, like it was in… Ukraine,” Olekas told Reuters.

Russian officials warned on Monday that Moscow would retaliate if the United States carried out its plan to store heavy military equipment in eastern Europe, including in the Baltic states that were once in the Soviet Union.

“The feeling is that our colleagues from NATO countries are pushing us into an arms race,” RIA news agency quoted Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov as saying during “Army 2015”, a fair at which arms and other military equipment are on show.

Putin has said Moscow will not be drawn into a new arms race although Russia is modernising its armed forces. Putin said in his speech that 70 percent of the military equipment in use would by 2020 be the most up-to-date and top-quality.

Putin had said last year that Russia would add more than 50 intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2015.

Military expert Ivan Konovalov, head of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic Trends Studies, said Russia is now replacing outdated ICBMs that had been serviced and co-produced by Ukraine, also a former Soviet republic.

No such cooperation is taking place anymore and Moscow is putting in place other types of ICBMs it produces on its own.

The fair that opened on Tuesday to exhibit more than 330 units of Russian arms and military equipment was the latest example of Moscow showcasing its modernised armed forces.

But lavish military spending is burdening Russia’s national budget at a time when the economy is sliding towards recession, hammered by low oil prices and Western sanctions.

The Kremlin portrays spending on the Russian arms sector as a driver of economic growth, but Putin’s critics say it is excessive and comes at the expense of social needs.

(Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska in Moscow and Andrius Sytas in Vilnius, Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Mark Heinrich)

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Russia stages WW2 victory parade, draws rebuke from Ukraine | Reuters

MOSCOW Thousands of troops marched across Moscow’s Red Square on Saturday and tanks rumbled through streets to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany, an event boycotted by Western leaders over Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin has used the anniversary to whip up patriotism and fuel anti-Western sentiment, and at a parade in Kiev President Petro Poroshenko said Moscow was trying to hog the credit for the World War Two victory at Ukraine’s expense.

Though Western leaders stayed away, Putin was joined under the Kremlin’s walls by about 30 foreign leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, sitting on his right-hand side.

In a sign of closer ties between the two, a column of Chinese troops took part. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was also among those watching.

Dignitaries from India, former Soviet republics and communist-era allies such as Cuba, also attended, underlining Russia’s role as an outcast in Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel skipped the parade, as did U.S. President Barack Obama and the French and British leaders, but will attend a wreath-laying ceremony in Moscow on Sunday.

On show was the Armata T-14, Russia’s first new tank to be deployed for 40 years, and soldiers, some in World War Two uniforms, filed past under blue skies and bright sunshine.

War veterans watched from the grandstand, their chests bristling with medals, while crowds of people choked sidestreets around the Kremlin, cheering and shouting as fighter jets roared over Moscow’s city centre.

“Victory day is the most important holiday for Russia. In practically every Russian family, someone has died fighting for this country,” said 43-year-old former marine Alexander Smolkin.

“My own grandfather died defending Russia, this is our day to remember them,” he said, adjusting his light-blue beret, medals and military fatigues.

Putin has warned that fascism could be on the rise again and is suggesting other countries are rewriting history to play down Moscow’s role in winning the war.

“The basic principles of international cooperation have been ignored more often in the last decades. The principles which were hard won by humankind following the global hardships of the war,” he told rows of soldiers standing to attention.

“We’ve seen attempts to create a unipolar world,” he said, echoing a 2007 speech when he lambasted the West’s world view.

Many Russians saw the West’s boycotting of the parade as disrespect. An estimated 27 million Soviet citizens were killed in the 1941-45 war. Ukraine says it lost between 8-10 million of its citizens, including 3.5 million in the Soviet forces.

Poroshenko rebuked Moscow for accusing Kiev of using “fascist” methods to oust Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovich in February last year which triggered the confrontation and sparked Russia’s annexation of Crimea and a pro-Russian separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

A minority of Ukrainian fighters in World War Two joined a militia that was prepared to ally itself with the Nazi invaders to fight Soviet Communist rule, leaving Ukrainian nationalism vulnerable since to accusations of fascist sympathies.

“It is the utmost cynicism to depict our country as a supposedly fascist state. It is done with the aim of justifying to the Russian people its own criminal action – Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” Poroshenko said.

In a further sign of distancing itself from its former Soviet master, Ukraine joined most of Europe in a separate ceremony on Friday, a day before Russia.

At a second ceremony on Saturday, Poroshenko said: “We will never again mark this day with the Russian scenario which cold-bloodedly uses our victory day as an apology for its expansionist policies and for keeping its neighbours in its orbit and recreating empire.”

More than 6,100 people have been killed in fighting between pro-Russian separatists and government forces in eastern Ukraine which Kiev says has been stoked by Russia. Moscow, which annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine last year, accuses the West of orchestrating the events that led to the Ukrainian uprising.

Though a ceasefire is still tenuously holding, the Ukrainian military said on Saturday that separatists, backed by Russia, were keeping up attacks with artillery and mortar bombing on government forces in the east and south-east of Ukraine.

It said four Ukrainian servicemen had been wounded in attacks in the past 24 hours.

(Additional reporting by Natalya Zinets in Kiev; Writing by Richard Balmforth and Timothy Heritage; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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