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US deported student reveals airline’s ‘invalid visa’ excuse

“We have seen reports regarding deportation of Indian students from San Francisco,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a statement.

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No Indian casualties in Saudi fire incident: Sushma Swaraj

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Describing the incident as “unfortunate”, Swaraj said all Indians were safe.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said there were no Indian casualties in the fire incident today at a hospital in Saudi Arabia where 30 Indian nurses were on duty. At least 31 people were killed and over 100 injured in the blaze at the hospital in the southwestern port city of Jizan, reports said. The blaze broke out at the intensive care unit and the maternity department of the hospital. Describing the incident as “unfortunate”, Swaraj said all Indians were safe. “Unfortunate fire incident in Jizan Hospital, Saudi Arabia with many casualties. Our Consulate reports from Jeddah that all Indians are safe,” Swaraj tweeted. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also tweeted, saying there were no Indian casualties in the incident. “Update on Fire in Jizan Central Hospital, Saudi Arabia where 30 Indian nurses were on duty. Consulate confirms no Indian casualties,” Swarup tweeted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Come to Pakistan: PTI chief Imran Khan tells Narendra Modi

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman and former cricketing legend Imran Khan met PM Narendra Modi in New Delhi today.

Narendra Modi with Imran Khan

Image Courtesy: Vikas Swarup (Twitter)
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman and former cricketing legend Imran Khan met PM Narendra Modi in New Delhi today. According to Express Tribune’s sources, Khan and Modi would discuss a number of important political and strategical issues. Vikas Swarup, spokeperson of MEA wrote on Twitter: “At his request, Pakistan MP & Chairman of Tehreek-e-Insaf Party Imran Khan called on PM @narendramodi today. Mr Imran Khan invited PM @narendramodi to visit Pakistan. They welcomed recent developments in bil relations & expressed hope that these would lead 2 closer cooperative ties btween the 2 countries.” Imran Khan was quoted saying: “We grew up in Pakistan hating India but when I came here and started interacting with people my views changed. Don’t judge a whole country by acts of a few extremists.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj returned after a ‘successful’ visit to Pakistan, where she attended the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference and held bilateral talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his adviser Sartaj Aziz. “After a successful visit to Pakistan, EAM @SushmaSwaraj departs for Delhi,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted. Holding a bilateral discussion, Swaraj and Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz today ‘condemned’ terrorism and ‘resolved’ to cooperate to eliminate it. (Read: Sushma Swaraj returns after successful Pakistan visit)

The Paris Effect: Sushma Swaraj travels to Islamabad Tuesday, will meet Nawaz Sharif and Sartaj Aziz

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Sushma Swaraj’s historic visit: EAM to hold talks with Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad

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PM Modi shaking hands with Nawaz Sharif indicates his ‘tolerance’: Shiv Sena

During their meeting in Paris, Modi himself walked up to Nawaz Sharif and shook hands; it shows the tolerance of our Prime Minister, said Raut.

Image Courtesy: MEA

The Shiv Sena on Tuesday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s gesture of walking up to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif and shaking hands with him on the sidelines of the recently held Climate Summit in Paris, France, indicated his ‘tolerance’.”During their meeting in Paris, Modi himself walked up to Nawaz Sharif and shook hands; it shows the tolerance of our Prime Minister. Under the prevailing atmosphere in the country, where Modi is being criticised, it should be understood that to meet the Prime Minister of a country which is spreading terrorism is the most tolerant thing he has done. Such discussions should be stopped,” Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>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”.”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.(With ANI-PTI inputs)

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.

PM Modi leaves for India after 5-day overseas tour

During his interventions at the G20 Summit here, Modi said terrorism is the principle global challenge and sought a unison global action to deal with the menace.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday wrapped up his five-day visit to Britain and Turkey after making a strong case for a united global fight against terrorism. “Goodbye Turkey! After successful participation in @G20Turkey2015 PM @narendramodi heads home,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted. During his interventions at the G20 Summit here, Modi said terrorism is the principle global challenge and sought a unison global action to deal with the menace. The two-day summit, which ended today, was overshadowed by terror attacks in Paris which left over 129 people dead and over 352 injured. Modi also participated in the meeting of the leaders of BRICS nations in which he called for effective steps to end funding, supplies and communication channels of terrorists and also stressed on global cooperation to prevent use of cyber networks by militant groups.In his earlier leg of the overseas visit in the UK, Modi met Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and addressed the Indian diaspora at the Wembley stadium, along with his British counterpart David Cameron. Modi also visited Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover factory in the West Midlands region of England and met top industry leaders.

Syed Akbaruddin India’s next Permanent Representative to UN

A 1985 batch IFS officer, Akbaruddin, currently serving as an Additional Secretary in MEA, is credited with bringing a whiff of fresh air into the Ministry’s External Publicity division during his three-and-half year tenure as the spokesperson

Senior diplomat and former high- profile spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin has been appointed as India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, succeeding Asoke Mukerji.A 1985 batch IFS officer, Akbaruddin, currently serving as an Additional Secretary in MEA, is credited with bringing a whiff of fresh air into the Ministry’s External Publicity division during his three-and-half year tenure as the spokesperson.He had also brought an effective mix of social and digital media into the External Publicity division. As India’s Permanent Representative to the global body in New York, Akbaruddin’s main task would be to push for India’s bid to gain permanent membership of the UN Security Council as well as to strongly advocate its position on key issues.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Akbaruddin was Chief Coordinator of the recently-held Indo-Africa Summit here which was participated by heads of state and government of 41 countries from African continent. He had served at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Geneva and is considered an “expert” on the West Asia where he had served in various capacities. Vikas Swarup, author of best-selling novel “Q&A” which formed the basis for Oscar-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire”, had replaced Akbaruddin as MEA spokesperson in April.

India announces conclusion of civil nuclear deal for buying uranium from Australia

Antalya: India on Sunday announced conclusion of a civil nuclear deal for buying uranium from Australia to increase conventional fuel supplies to overcome chronic shortages.

Representational image. GettyImages

Representational image. GettyImages

The announcement came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Antalya.

“Another milestone achievement as two PMs announce completion of procedures for India Australia Civil Nuclear Agreement,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted after the meeting.

“With the completion of procedures, including administrative arrangements, the India Australia Civil Nuclear Agreement will enter into force,” he said.

The nuclear cooperation agreement between India and Australia was signed in September last year after the two nations agreed on a safeguards pact to sell uranium for peaceful power generation.

The deal, which follows similar agreements with the US and France, is a step toward India achieving international acceptability for its nuclear programme despite not ratifying the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

“PM @narendramodi thanked PM @TurnbullMalcolm and described the nuclear agreement as a milestone & source of trust & confidence,” the spokesperson said.

India, which has nuclear energy contributing just 3 per cent of its electricity generation, will be the first country to buy Australian uranium without being a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

India and Australia began talks on the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement in 2012 after Australia lifted a long-standing ban on selling uranium to energy-starved India.

New Delhi faced Western sanctions after testing nuclear weapons in 1998 but the restrictions eroded after a deal with the US in 2008 that recognised its growing economic weight as well as safeguards against diversion of civilian fuel for military purposes.

New Delhi has less than two dozen small reactors at six sites with a capacity of 4,780 MW, or 2 per cent of its total power capacity. It is plans to increase its nuclear capacity to 63,000 MW by 2032 by adding nearly 30 reactors at an estimated cost of USD 85 billion. It currently has nuclear energy agreements with 11 countries and imports uranium from France, Russia and Kazakhstan.

Australia has about 40 per cent of the world’s uranium reserves and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes of yellow cake annually. India and Australia had commenced negotiations for the sale of uranium in early 2012.

The two-way trade stands at a relatively modest USD 15 billion a year compared with USD 150 billion for Australia’s two-way trade with China.

Officials said the two Prime Ministers spoke about free trade agreement between India and Australia which has been pending for sometime.

Modi pushed for comprehensive economic cooperation agreement, negotiations for which have to conclude at the earliest.

He mentioned of the recent government decision to further liberalise FDI rules in 15 sectors including railways and defence which provide opportunity to Australian companies to invest in India.

The launch of India Infrastructure Fund as well as rupee bonds by Indian railways in London also figured during the meeting.

Modi also mentioned that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will visit Australia next year during which Australian pension fund investing in India can be discussed, the official said.

The Prime Minister also spoke about use of nuclear energy and plans to scale up clean source of energy.

He sought Australian help in coal mining, particularly underground mining and coal gasification technology that can find application in fertiliser production.

New Delhi also sought Australian help in river linking project.

PTI

Birgunj police firing: Nepal Ambassador meets MEA, terms shooting ‘tragic incident’

Madhesi protesters, who have reportedly blocked the Maitri bridge, claimed that they were ‘baton-charged’ by the Nepal Police

Image Courtesy: Twitter (ANI)
Expressing India’s concern over killing of its citizen in the Nepal Police firing, Ministry of External Affairs Official Spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Monday said India is deeply concerned at reports of firing in Birgunj, as issues facing Nepal are political in nature and cannot be resolved by force. One person has been killed and six others injured in firing by the Nepal Police during protests at the Indo-Nepal Border near Bihar’s Raxaul town.Nepal’s Ambassador to India, Deep Kumar Upadhyaya has spoken with the MEA. Calling it firing a tragic incident, Upadhaya said, “Our concerned officers are looking into matter.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This is a bilateral issue between India and Nepal, diplomatically we have to consult each other. The peace dialogue between agitating parties and Nepal government is going on,” the Nepal Ambassador added.Earlier today, a second year BA student was killed in ‘ No Man’s Land’ when the Nepal Police opened fire. Among those injured, three were baton-charged, while the rest suffered bullet injuries. Swarup said, “Causes underlying the present state of confrontation need to be addressed by the Government of Nepal credibly and effectively. Indian freight forwarders and transporters have voiced their worries again today (Monday) about the deteriorating situation across the border. We are advising them to exercise caution and not put themselves in danger. We are monitoring the situation carefully’,” he added.According to reports, the borders have been sealed again.All trucks, including fuel carriers, have been barred from entering Nepal. Madhesi protesters, who have reportedly blocked the Maitri bridge, claimed that they were ‘baton-charged’ by the Nepal Police on Monday for blocking a bridge at the Indo-Nepal Border near Bihar’s Raxaul town. The protesting parties have demanded, among other things, withdrawal of armed police force from Terai districts and withdrawal of cases against their leader and cadres and martyrdom status of those killed during protests.According the Human Rights Watch, at least 45 people were killed during the protests in August and September. For over two months now, the Madhesi protesters have been opposing Nepal’s new Constitution. With agency inputs

Stranded in Pakistan for over a decade, Geeta arrives in India

New Delhi: Geeta, a deaf-mute Indian woman who has been stranded in Pakistan for over a decade, arrived in New Delhi on Monday on a flight from Pakistan, authorities said.

Indian and Pakistani officials were present at the Indira Gandhi International Airport to receive her.

According to Pakistan High Commission Geeta, who came to Delhi by a Pakistan International Airlines flight 272, is accompanied by members of Edhi Foundation, a social welfare organisation that has been looking after her since 2003 when she crossed over to Pakistan accidentally.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Saturday that Geeta has already identified one family as possibly being that of her parents.

Geeta arrives in India. Screengrab from IBNGeeta arrives in India. Screengrab from IBN

Geeta arrives in India. Screengrab from IBN

“We will be doing DNA testing to establish conclusive proof. If the DNA tests match, Geeta will be handed over to that family. If not, we have identified suitable institutions where she will be looked after,” Swarup said.

Geeta, now in her early 20s, was around 11 years old when she inadvertently crossed the border to Pakistan.

In 2003, Geeta — then 11 years old — was spotted by the Pakistan Rangers in Lahore, and handed over to the Edhi Foundation. Bilquis Edhi, who runs the Edhi Foundation, has named her Geeta.

Before boarding a Pakistan International Airlines flight to the Indian capital, a beaming Geeta thanked the Pakistani people for hosting and taking care of her throughout the years.

Faisal Edhi of the Edhi foundation told reporters that they would continue to stay in touch with Geeta through social media and even visit her.

“She is not really separating from us,” he said.

According to Faisal Edhi, Geeta had told them through sign language that her father was an elderly man and she had a stepmother and step siblings.

With agency inputs

Deaf-mute girl Geeta’s ‘father’ confident of passing DNA test

He added that he was extremely happy now that Geeta would be returning soon.

On Friday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that Geeta would be handed over to the true family in India only after the DNA tests.

Janardhan Mahato, who has been identified by Geeta (the mute woman who has spent over a decade in Pakistan) as her father, expressed confidence that he will pass the DNA test for sure. “They can take a DNA test or whatever they want. I am not running anywhere. I will pass the DNA test,” Mahato said.He added that he was extremely happy now that Geeta would be returning soon. On Friday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that Geeta would be handed over to the true family in India only after the DNA tests.”On October 26, we will be bringing Geeta back to India. Together with Geeta, we have invited five official family members of Edhi foundation they will be treated as state guest during their stay in India.” MEA official spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said. The Pakistani security forces had found Geeta near the eastern border with India in 2001. Since then, she has been in the care of the Edhi Foundation.

India open to peace talks, rules out third party role in Kashmir: MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup

India on Friday welcomed a joint pledge by the United States and Pakistan to fight militant groups it suspects of attacking Indian targets, but ruled out any third-party mediation to end a long-running dispute over Kashmir.

MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup

Twitter (MEA)
India on Friday welcomed a joint pledge by the United States and Pakistan to fight militant groups it suspects of attacking Indian targets, but ruled out any third-party mediation to end a long-running dispute over Kashmir.Although the Indian foreign ministry accused Pakistan of state-sponsored terrorism, New Delhi’s tough rhetoric did not preclude the possible resumption of peace talks that were derailed by recent tensions.”India has always desired resolution of all issues with Pakistan bilaterally through dialogue and peaceful means,” Vikas Swarup, spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, told a news briefing in New Delhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is Pakistan who has chosen to use terrorism as an instrument of state policy. And this visit shows that the international community is deeply concerned about its support to, and sponsorship of, terrorism.”Related Read: Obama-Sharif meet: US President urges Pakistan to avoid raising nuclear tensions with new weaponsAt talks in Washington on Thursday, US President Barack Obama and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged “to promote peace and stability throughout the region and to counter all forms of extremism and terrorism.”For the first time, Pakistan committed to take “effective action” against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), an Islamic militant group based in Pakistan that India blames for an attack by suicide commandos on Mumbai in 2008 in which 166 people died.The joint statement also named, among other groups, the Haqqani Network that Indian and US intelligence believe was responsible for an attack on its embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul in the same year.”This is the first time that Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani Network have been specifically mentioned in a US-Pakistan joint statement,” said Swarup. “We would naturally hope that they deliver on these commitments.”An agreement to revive peace talks between the nuclear-armed neighbours – who have fought two of their three wars since independence over Kashmir – was reached between Sharif and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Russia in July.But escalating tensions over Kashmir, derailed plans for the national security advisers of both countries to hold talks on containing terrorism. Just before travelling to the United States, Sharif named a former general as his new national security adviser. Reacting, Swarup said that India “remains open” to holding talks between the two countries’ national security advisers.

Deaf-mute Indian woman Geeta to return home from Pakistan on 26 October

New Delhi: Geeta, a deaf-mute Indian woman who has been stranded in Pakistan for over a decade, will be back in India on 26 October, the government said on Friday.

Geeta (right) will come back to India on 26 October.

Geeta (right) will come back to India on 26 October.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said at a briefing that the government has also invited five members of Edhi Foundation, a social welfare organisation, who have been looking after her since 2003, and they will be treated as state guests.

“On October 26, 2015, we will be bringing Geeta back to India. Together with Geeta, we have invited five officials of the Edhi Foundation,” Swarup said.

He said that Geeta has already identified one family as possibly being that of her parents.

“We will be doing DNA testing to establish conclusive proof. If the DNA tests match, Geeta will be handed over to that family. If not, we have identified suitable institutions where she will be looked after,” Swarup said.

He said on the institutions identified are in Delhi and Indore.

Geeta, now in her early 20s, was around 11 years old when she inadvertently crossed the border to Pakistan.

In 2003, Geeta – then 11 years old – was spotted by the Pakistan Rangers in Lahore, and handed over to the Edhi Foundation. Bilquis Edhi, who runs the Edhi Foundation, has named her Geeta.

IANS

Samjhauta Express cancelled due to local agitation: India

The Indian response came as Pakistan summoned India’s Acting Deputy High Commissioner S Raghuram and expressed concern over the cancellation of operation of Samjhauta Express yesterday due to farmer protest on the Indian side, leaving over 200 passengers from both countries stranded.

Rejecting charges that it had “stopped” Samjhauta Express, India on Friday said it was cancelled due to local agitation and Indian authorities had informed their Pakistani counterparts about it in advance.The Indian response came as Pakistan summoned India’s Acting Deputy High Commissioner S Raghuram and expressed concern over the cancellation of operation of Samjhauta Express yesterday due to farmer protest on the Indian side, leaving over 200 passengers from both countries stranded.Asked about reports in the Pakistani media that the Samjhauta Express was “stopped” by India yesterday, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “Samjhauta Express was among 75 trains traveling through Punjab that were cancelled due to local agitation, including rail blockade.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Indian Railway authorities had informed in advance their Pakistani counterparts that the train would not be able to run in such a situation,” he said.Swarup said as a number of Indians scheduled to travel to India from Pakistan could not do so, the Indian High Commission in Islamabad is in touch with the Pakistan government to ascertain their numbers and ensure that all necessary assistance is extended to them.”MEA has requested Indian Railways to work with authorities concerned in Punjab to resolve the situation at the earliest, and put extra bogies for catering to stranded passengers on both sides for the next run of the train normally scheduled for 11-12/10,” he said.Over 200 Indian and Pakistani passengers of Samjhauta Express were yesterday stranded at the Wagah railway station for over five hours after the train was not allowed to leave for Attari because of the farmers’ protest on rail tracks in Punjab.A Pakistan Railways spokesman said the Samjhauta Express, which ferries passengers from Pakistan on Mondays and Thursdays, would now leave for Attari on Monday.

Sushma Swaraj’s Maldives visit this weekend could pave the way for Modi’s trip to the country

India has finally warmed up to Maldives and its controversial regime of President Abdulla Yameen six months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled his scheduled trip to the Indian Ocean island country. As a signal of India’s rapprochement, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will be in the Maldivian capital Male this weekend.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

This was expected to happen sooner or later as India can’t ignore a neighbour and SAARC member like Maldives, particularly after contiguous neighbour Nepal has made life miserable for Indian foreign policy establishment in past few weeks.

The two sides found a novel idea of ending their political winter of sorts by deciding to revive the architecture of a joint commission between them which had been lying moribund for past 15 years.

Therefore, the official reason of Sushma Swaraj visiting Maldives on 10-11 October, as announced by MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup at his first stand-alone briefing in New Delhi on Thursday, is that she will be co-chairing the revived India-Maldives Joint Commission with her Maldivian counterpart Dunya Maumoon. This will be the first meeting of the joint commission since 2000.

Swaraj had met the Maldivian foreign minister in New York on 30 September on the sidelines of UN General Assembly where the two ladies had discussed their upcoming formal meeting in Male.

President Yameen has of late been extending an olive branch to India by heaping lavish praise on the country. Just about five weeks ago, President Yameen said his country shared an “unbreakable” bond with India. He sent strong positive vibes to India on 2 September by appreciating India’s generous assistance and the effort of his government to strengthen relations with India, as reported by the Maldivian media outfit.

Two months ago, Yameen had written a letter to PM Modi assuring him that his country’s recent constitution amendment legislation allowing foreigners to own land in Maldives was not in any way a move against India and assured that his country would do nothing to militarize the Indian Ocean. Yameen’s letter to Modi was in response to a letter the Indian PM had written to him after the Maldivian parliament had passed the constitution amendment legislation.

But the surprising thing about Sushma Swaraj’s upcoming visit to Maldives is that she won’t be meeting any opposition leaders. The Maldivian opposition is going through a harrowing time as Mohammed Nasheed, former President of Maldives and leader of the main opposition party MDP, is in jail since February this year after being convicted for terror charges. The Yameen regime has invoked censure from the West, particularly the US and the EU, apart from the United Nations.

PM Modi had cancelled his scheduled trip to Maldives in March this year only because of the unjust and barbarian treatment handed out to Nasheed by the Yameen government.

It is not clear why Sushma Swaraj won’t be meeting any opposition leaders in Maldives at a time when they are in acute distress and are looking forward to the world’s biggest democracy for help.

However, if all goes well and the two foreign ministers hit it off well, it may pave the way for PM Modi’s visit to Maldives. Indications are that the two governments are already working in that direction. In that sense, Swaraj’s visit to Maldives this weekend will be crucial.

Sushma’s Maldives visit this weekend could pave the way for Modi’s trip to the country

India has finally warmed up to Maldives and its controversial regime of President Abdulla Yameen six months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled his scheduled trip to the Indian Ocean island country. As a signal of India’s rapprochement, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will be in the Maldivian capital Male this weekend.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

This was expected to happen sooner or later as India can’t ignore a neighbour and SAARC member like Maldives, particularly after contiguous neighbour Nepal has made life miserable for Indian foreign policy establishment in past few weeks.

The two sides found a novel idea of ending their political winter of sorts by deciding to revive the architecture of a joint commission between them which had been lying moribund for past 15 years.

Therefore, the official reason of Sushma Swaraj visiting Maldives on 10-11 October, as announced by MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup at his first stand-alone briefing in New Delhi on Thursday, is that she will be co-chairing the revived India-Maldives Joint Commission with her Maldivian counterpart Dunya Maumoon. This will be the first meeting of the joint commission since 2000.

Swaraj had met the Maldivian foreign minister in New York on 30 September on the sidelines of UN General Assembly where the two ladies had discussed their upcoming formal meeting in Male.

President Yameen has of late been extending an olive branch to India by heaping lavish praise on the country. Just about five weeks ago, President Yameen said his country shared an “unbreakable” bond with India. He sent strong positive vibes to India on 2 September by appreciating India’s generous assistance and the effort of his government to strengthen relations with India, as reported by the Maldivian media outfit.

Two months ago, Yameen had written a letter to PM Modi assuring him that his country’s recent constitution amendment legislation allowing foreigners to own land in Maldives was not in any way a move against India and assured that his country would do nothing to militarize the Indian Ocean. Yameen’s letter to Modi was in response to a letter the Indian PM had written to him after the Maldivian parliament had passed the constitution amendment legislation.

But the surprising thing about Sushma Swaraj’s upcoming visit to Maldives is that she won’t be meeting any opposition leaders. The Maldivian opposition is going through a harrowing time as Mohammed Nasheed, former President of Maldives and leader of the main opposition party MDP, is in jail since February this year after being convicted for terror charges. The Yameen regime has invoked censure from the West, particularly the US and the EU, apart from the United Nations.

PM Modi had cancelled his scheduled trip to Maldives in March this year only because of the unjust and barbarian treatment handed out to Nasheed by the Yameen government.

It is not clear why Sushma Swaraj won’t be meeting any opposition leaders in Maldives at a time when they are in acute distress and are looking forward to the world’s biggest democracy for help.

However, if all goes well and the two foreign ministers hit it off well, it may pave the way for PM Modi’s visit to Maldives. Indications are that the two governments are already working in that direction. In that sense, Swaraj’s visit to Maldives this weekend will be crucial.

Sushma Swaraj calls on Angela Merkel, meets her German counterpart

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel here before delegation level talks began between the two countries.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Image courtesy- AFPExternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Image courtesy- AFP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Image courtesy- AFP

She also met German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted: “A personal warmth. Sushma Swaraj calls on Chancellor Angela Merkel, welcomes her before delegation level talks.”

“Preparing the ground. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and (German) Foreign Minister Steinmeier have an early morning meeting to begin engagements.”

Earlier in the day, Merkel was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Merkel is on an India visit October 4-6. She is accompanied by a large delegation comprising cabinet ministers and businesspersons.

IANS

Occupier in question is Pakistan, blaming neighbours is not a solution: Vikas Swarup

“To de-militarize Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorize Pakistan is,” tweeted External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup after Sharif’s address

Unleashing a scathing attack on Pakistan for comparing Kashmir issue with that of Palestine at the UN General Assembly session in New York, the government as well as opposition on Thursday rejected Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s four-point peace formula that called for de-militarising Kashmir and assigning fresh role to UN Military Observer Group to monitor cease-fire violations.”To de-militarize Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorize Pakistan is,” tweeted External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup after Sharif’s address. He said Pakistan has misused the UNGA forum and distorted the reality by portraying a false picture of the region. “Pak PM gets foreign occupation right, occupier wrong. We urge early vacation of Pak-occupied Kashmir,” he said referring to illegal occupation areas including Gilgit and Baltistan in PoK.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Sharif’s proposal to allow UN Military Observer Group to monitor ceasefire violations, he said the world knows that the “primary reason for firing is to provide cover to terrorists crossing the border. Swarup further tweeted that Pakistan’s “instability arises from its breeding of terrorists. Blaming neighbours is not a solution.”Congress spokesperson RPN Singh reminded Pakistan that 1972 Simla Agreement between then Indian PM Indira Gandhi and her Pakistani counterpart Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto has bound them to find solutions to unresolved issues through a bilateral mechanism. “There is no question of involving any third party in any India-Pakistan engagement,” he said, describing Sharif’s diatribe at the UN as his government’s desperate bid to score points.Earlier, exercising India’s Right of Reply during the General Debate of 70th session of UN General Assembly, First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN Abhishek Singh said Pakistan was actually a victim of its own policies of breeding and sponsoring terrorists. “The heart of the matter is a state that regards the use of terrorism as a legitimate instrument of statecraft. The world watches with concern as its consequences have spread beyond its immediate neighbourhood,” said Singh’s intervention, the copies of which were released here. “All of us stand prepared to help, if only the creators of this monster wake up to the dangers of what they have done to themselves,” Singh said, adding that Pakistan was seeking to mask its activities as though an outcome of domestic discontent in Jammu and Kashmir carries no credibility with the world.He further added that it is not uncommon for states, when confronted with serious challenges, to shift responsibility on others. “That is the case with Pakistan and terrorism, reflecting the inability to recognise that this is a home grown problem that has begun to bite the hand that fed it. We agree that terrorism has underlying causes – in this case, poverty of wisdom and ignorance of consequences,” he said.The officer also pointed out that India’s reservations about the proposed China-Pakistan economic corridor stem from the fact that it passes through Indian territory “illegally occupied” by Pakistan for many years.

Social media backs India on Kashmir, Pakistan told to vacate PoK

“To de-militarise Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorise Pakistan is,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raked up Kashmir issue in his address at UN General Assembly.

AFP
Social media voices have backed India after Pakistan’s Prime Minister raised the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly even as a former top Pakistani diplomat tweeted that Nawaz Sharif’s speech “plays well at home” but is “not taken seriously by the rest of the world”.Hitting back at Pakistan after it raised Kashmir issue at the UN, India on Thursday said de-militarising Kashmir is not the answer for achieving peace but “deterrorising” Pakistan.”To de-militarise Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorise Pakistan is,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raked up Kashmir issue in his address at UN General Assembly.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We urge early vacation of Pak occupied Kashmir,” Vikas Swarup, spokesman of the External Affairs Ministry said in a series of tweets after Sharif raised the issue of Kashmir in at the UN General Assembly.Using the podium of the UN, Sharif raised Kashmir issue, terming its non-resolution as a failure of the world body, and proposed a 4-point “peace initiative” with India which includes demilitarisation of Kashmir.These tweets were soon trending on Twitter.”Pak Prime Minister gets foreign occupation right, occupier wrong,” Swarup tweeted after Sharif in his four-point proposal said that steps be taken to demilitarise Kashmir.Twitter users were quick to support India while describing Pakistan as a hub of terrorism, even as its own former diplomat observed that Sharif’s speech at the UN General Assembly, though welcomed at home, has furthered hardened India’s position.”Pakistan has gained nothing out of it and globally there are few takers for its Islamabad’s allegations against New Delhi,” tweeted Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani Ambassador to the US.”Prime Minister Sharif’s UN General Assembly speech plays well at home, doesn’t move India,” he said.”I’m old enough to recall UN speeches that were admired by domestic audiences but were not taken seriously by rest of the world,” he said in another tweet.”Pakistan a terrorist, failed state exporter of Jihadist taking Kashmir, India’s blunder is the survival of terrorist state of Pakistan,” one T S Chandrashekar wrote on Twitter.”India using right to reply at UNGA have asked Pakistan for early vacation of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir,” tweeted Debasis Dash.”Massive protests erupt in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as people demand freedom from Pakistan, raise pro-India slogans,” wrote Pawan Durani.And while Sharif was addressing the UN General Assembly, a number of Baloch nationalists and supporters of Muttahida Quami Movement held protest rallies against alleged human rights violations in Pakistan.

De-terrorising Pakistan will bring peace: India hits back at Nawaz Sharif

Using the podium of the UN, Sharif raised Kashmir issue, terming its non-resolution as a failure of the world body, and proposed a 4-point “peace initiative” with India which includes demilitarisation of Kashmir.

Hitting back at Pakistan after it raised Kashmir issue at the UN, India on Thursday said de-militarising Kashmir is not the answer for achieving peace but “deterrorising” Pakistan.”To de-militarise Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorise Pakistan is,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raked up Kashmir issue in his address at UN General Assembly.Using the podium of the UN, Sharif raised Kashmir issue, terming its non-resolution as a failure of the world body, and proposed a 4-point “peace initiative” with India which includes demilitarisation of Kashmir.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing Pakistan as the “primary victim” of terrorism, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations irrespective of who their sponsors are.On Sharif describing Pakistan as the “primary victim” of terrorism, Swarup said, “Pakistan is not primary victim of terrorism but of its own policies. It is in fact the prime sponsor of terrorism.”Swarup further tweeted that Pakistan’s “instability arises from its breeding of terrorists. Blaming neighbours is not a solution.”Reacting to Sharif’s remarks that “Palestinians and Kashmiris (are) oppressed by foreign occupation”, Swarup said the “Pak PM gets foreign occupation right, occupier wrong. We urge early vacation of Pak occupied Kashmir.” Sharif had equated Kashmir with Palestine while talking about “suffering of Muslims across the world”, saying “Palestinians and Kashmiris (are) oppressed by foreign occupation.”

Modi in US 2015: Barack Obama and Narendra Modi hug as they meet for the fifth time in a year

After his whirlwind tour of Silicon Valley, Narendra Modi met his old friend Barack Obama and shared a warm embrace on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Image Courtesy: Vikas Swarup (Twitter)
After his whirlwind tour of Silicon Valley, Narendra Modi met his old friend Barack Obama and shared a warm embrace on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Vikas Swarup tweeted: “An embrace at the entrance. PM @narendramodi meets President @BarackObama for their 5th meeting in 1 year.”Speaking at the event, Barack Obama said: “The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict,” Obama told the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations. “But we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo.””There is no room for accommodating an apocalyptic cult like ISIL (Islamic State) and the United States makes no apology for using our military as part of a broad coalition to go after it,” he said. He described Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a tyrant. (Watch: The live United Nations General Assembly Debate)

PM Modi meets British counterpart David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande

New York: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held separate meetings with his British counterpart David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande during which a host of bilateral, regional and global issues were discussed.

PM Modi with President Hollande. Image Courtesy: Twitter/ @MEAIndia

PM Modi with President Hollande. Image Courtesy: Twitter/ @MEAIndia

Modi, who earlier in the day arrived in New York from San Jose on the last-leg of his US visit, first met Cameron to begin a day of hectic parleys and discussions.

The Prime Minister later met Hollande. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates also joined Modi and Holande for discussions.

“Look who dropped by! Missed in Silicon Valley, the original tech entrepreneur @BillGates says hello to PM & President,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted along with pictures of Modi, Hollande and Gates engaged in discussions.

PTI

PM Modi to meet Obama, Hollande and Cameron today

The meetings have been scheduled with a number of other world leaders including Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which will begin a few hours after his return to New York on an overnight flight from San Francisco, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Sunday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Monday hold bilateral talks with US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron in New York, three of the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, a top official has said.The meetings have been scheduled with a number of other world leaders including Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which will begin a few hours after his return to New York on an overnight flight from San Francisco, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Sunday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Silicon Valley in more than three decades. During his weekend stay, he visited the campuses of Tesla, Facebook and Google, and held a series of meetings with top Silicon Valley CEOs including Apple CEO Tim Cook.Modi’s meeting with the British Prime Minister David Cameron was a last minute addition, the official said. In addition to these bilateral meetings, Modi will attend a lunch hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and address a United Nations summit convened by Obama on UN Peacekeeping.

‘It was not a flag’: Government clarifies that Modi autographed memento, not tricolour

New York/New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi put his autograph on what appeared to be an Indian flag evoking sharp criticism from the Congress but the government clarified that it was only a memento. The artwork has been taken for review.

The controversy erupted after super chef Vikas Khanna, who had dished up the fare for the prime minister’s dinner with Fortune 500 CEOs on Thursday, approached Modi with the flag crafted by children of Smile India Foundation to be gifted to President Barack Obama. When Khanna told him that he wanted to present it to Obama, Modi autographed it.

Modi also praised Khanna, a four-time Michelin-starred chef, for the dinner held at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York.

Image of the autographed Flag presented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to chef Vikas Khanna. Twitter @ANI_newsImage of the autographed Flag presented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to chef Vikas Khanna. Twitter @ANI_news

Image of the autographed Flag presented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to chef Vikas Khanna. Twitter @ANI_news

The story broke after Khanna displayed the autographed flag to the media.

According to the rules governing the national flag, putting any inscription on the flag is considered disrespect.

Twitter was abuzz on Friday under the hashtag #ModiDisrespectsTricolor after the incident, which evoked a sharp reaction from the Congress.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in New Delhi: “We are not petty like BJP. We respect the office of the prime minister… However high you may be, the national flag is above you, you should understand this.”

Congress leader Manish Tewari tweeted: “Has PM read Para 2.1 sub para 6& Para 3.28 of Flag Code 2002 that states lettering on National Flag is misuse. 3 yrs jail under PINH Act 2003.”

However, Press Information Bureau director general (media and communication) Frank Noronha clarified that the “memento signed by PM Modi did not have the Ashok Chakra on it or the ‘white’ colour band on it”.

He also tweeted: “Story about PM Modi disrespecting the tricolor is false and mischievous. PM didn’t autograph the flag.”

“The flag autographed by PM #narendramodi was a design made by an enthusiastic child with unique abilities. It is not the #tricolour.”

“The #design has not been confiscated by any of the authorities as reported in a section of the #media.”

“NarendraModi’s gesture is a mark of #appreciation & aimed at encouraging the child with unique abilities,” Noronha said in a series of tweets.

The BJP accused the Congress of “raking up a controversy where none exists” and making “irrelevant and unwarranted” comments against Modi.

In New York, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup, when asked by IANS, said: “It was not a flag”.

Swarup said Khanna wanted to present the artwork to President Obama and he wanted Modi’s autograph on it as he thought it would be nice gesture.

Swarup said that the child’s drawing was being erroneously portrayed as the national flag.

Asked if the artwork was taken back, Swarup said that it was only taken for a review.

Khanna tweeted that it was not a flag, under his handle @TheVikasKhanna.

“Dear all, It is not the National Flag. A differently abled girl from my Foundation who I treat like my daughter had attempted an artistic hand impression on a light brown piece of cloth. It didn’t have the three colours of the national flag represented. Was more like the insignia of the MakeInIndia. Unnecessary controversy is being created deliberately,” he said.

Khanna had presented a cuisine that included sandalwood saffron sherbet, paneer ravioli, saffron sheermal and mango-ginger soup. Many of the dishes were from his coffee table book on festival cuisine in India.

IANS

Modi in US 2015: Islamic State greatest challenge facing international community, says PM Modi

During a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, Modi discussed ways to prevent radicalisation of youth and to counteract extremist messaging, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said after the meeting on Friday.

PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has acknowledged that the dreaded terror group Islamic State poses one of the greatest challenges facing the international community today and said there is a need to “delink terrorism from religion”.During a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, Modi discussed ways to prevent radicalisation of youth and to counteract extremist messaging, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said after the meeting on Friday. “Both leaders acknowledged that ISIS was one of the greatest challenges facing the international community. The Prime Minister said that there is a need to delink terrorism from religion,” Swarup said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi said the only way to combat international terrorism and the menace of organisations like IS (also known as ISIS) was to have a global response. He specially referred to the long pending proposal of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, saying the time has now come for the international community to speak on one voice on this important issue and adopt this global convention.Modi and King Abdullah also discussed the UN Security Council reform.”Prime Minister mentioned that it was inconceivable that a country as large as India representing one sixth of humanity was not in the Security Council,” he said. “This was something we have been agitating for a long time. We want that the 70th anniversary of the United Nations to be an occasion for the international community to step up to its obligations and reform this very important body of the United Nations,” Swarup said.The King of Jordan said he has fully supported this and he always supported India’s aspirations to be a permanent member of the Security Council, he said, adding that Jordan is a very important country in a very important region from India’s point of view. During the meeting, the Prime Minister commended King Abdullah for the strong leadership that he has shown in the fight against international terrorism.He also thanked the King for the support that Jordan had provided when Indian citizens were trapped in Iraq and Syria and have to be evacuated. King Abdullah said he valued India as a partner and wanted to increase the economic and security co-operation that Jordan has with India, Swarup added.

Pakistan complains to UNSC, alleges India mulling wall along LoC

MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup has said that Pakistan’s UNSC letter is contradictory to teh bilateral meets happened between the countries.

The letter has diminished further any prospects of a meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Introducing a new irritant into the bilateral ties, Pakistan has complained to UN Security Council alleging that India was building a wall along the Line of Control (LoC) in violation of the world body’s resolutions. Pakistan’s Ambassador to UN Maleeha Lodhi, has in a letter to President of the Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, alleged that India was planning to construct a 10-meter high and 135-feet wide embankment (wall) along the 197-km Working Boundary between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The planned wall, according to Pakistan, was to convert the LoC “into a quasi international border”. India did not immediately react directly to the allegation on the alleged wall plan but described the contents of two letters written by Lodhi on Sept 4 and 9 as “contradictory”. India would respond to these claims “at the appropriate time”, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters here.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif are staying in Hotel Waldorf Astoria here but Islamabad’s attitude, as reflected in Lodhi’s letters, appear to have diminished further any prospects of a meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.In the September 9 letter, Lodhi expressed “deep concern” over the alleged wall plan on a “submission” made by Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, whom MEA spokesperson Swarup described as a “global terrorist”. “I believe the second letter (dated September 9) is based on some kind of submission made by Salahuddin, who is a person that we consider to be a global terrorist. At the appropriate time we will respond to this,” Swarup said.The first letter dated September 4 states that there was no bilateral dialogue. Swarup disputed it saying the BSF and Park Rangers have already met. “So that letter is contradictory in itself that there is no dialogue. There has been a dialogue,” Swarup said. “Has any action been taken by the UN on these letters. That is the first question. If there is action taken by the UN we will respond appropriately. If there is no action taken by the UN then this will mean that nobody has taken cognisance of the letters,” Swarup said.In the letter, Lodhi said that Pakistan “considers the embankment a permanent structure that will bring about a material change in the territory in violation inter alia of… Security Council Resolution…of 1948. “The State of Jammu & Kashmir is internationally recognised disputed territory with a number of United Nations Security Council resolutions on the official status of Jammu & Kashmir awaiting implementation,” Lodhi said.

Two Indians abducted in strife-torn Libya: MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup

MEA said that all efforts are being made to ensure well being and secure early release of our nationals.

Our mission in Tripoli is making further inquiry for confirmation of the incident., Swarup said.

Two Indian nationals, one from Odisha and another from Andhra Pradesh, have been abducted in Tripoli, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. “Our mission in Tripoli is making further inquiry for confirmation of the incident. The matter has been taken up at diplomatic level,” he said.Swarup said that all efforts are being made to ensure well being and secure early release of our nationals. The two Indians have been identified as Pravash Ranjan Samal from Odisha and Ramamurthy Kosanam of Andhra Pradesh.Earlier four Indians had been detained near the Libyan coastal city of Sirte, an area that is under the control of Islamic State militants, but that it had secured the release of two of them.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian men, who have been in Libya for more than a year and were working at Sirte University, were detained at a checkpoint about 50 km outside Sirte late on Wednesday while on their way back to India, Foreign Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said in a statement.Separately, in Iraq, a group of 39 Indian construction workers have been held captive by Islamic State in Mosul for more than a year, despite attempts by the Indian government to secure their release. Swaraj said she was also worried about many Indian nurses who were returning to Yemen, torn by civil war, a few months after being evacuated. “Situation not normal and we do not hv Embassy there,” she tweeted.

India welcomes UN decision to begin negotiations on Security Council reforms

New Delhi: India on Monday welcomed the decision by the UN General Assembly to adopt by consensus the decision to begin text-based negotiations on Security Council reforms after two decades.

The ministry of external affairs, in a statement, welcomed the decision by the UN General Assembly to carry forward the text presented by its president on the issue of Security Council reform.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

It termed it a “significant development as after more than two decades of discussions, we can now commence text-based negotiations. Adoption of this text by consensus by all UN Member States is reflective of the broad support of the international community to move forward on this issue”.

The UN General Assembly on Monday unanimously adopted a negotiating text for Security Council reforms, setting the stage for talks on the process at its 70th session that begins on Tuesday.

India also conveyed its deep appreciation of “the leadership of the President of the 69th Session of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, and Chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) process, Courtenay Rattray in carrying forward the IGN towards text-based negotiation process”.

“We look forward to early commencement of text-based negotiations with a view to securing concrete outcomes during the 70th Session of the UNGA. We call upon all member states to constructively engage in this process so that the long pending reform of the UN Security Council can be achieved so as to equip the Council to more effectively address the global challenges,’ it said in the statement.

MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted: “Big moment for India as UNGA adopts by consensus decision to begin text based negotiations on SC reforms after 2 decades.”

UNGA president Kutesa convened a plenary meeting to take action on the draft decision on the “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters”. He also circulated letters containing the positions of key countries, including Russia, the US and China which refused to contribute to the negotiating text.

There was no voting on the decision to continue text-based UNSC reforms in the 70th session of the General Assembly and it was adopted by consensus.

IANS

Working towards safe evacuation of 70 Indian sailors from Yemen: Vikas Swarup

Yemen has been facing a civil war-like situation with Shiite rebels clashing with pro-government forces. United Nations estimates that more than 4,500 people have been killed in the conflict since March.

Image Courtesy: Twitter
India is coordinating with the local authorities to ensure safe evacuation of its nationals from Yemen after a sailors group claimed that 70 seamen from Gujarat are stranded in the war-torn county.”Our Mission in Yemen (Camp Office in Djibouti) is coordinating with local authorities (to ensure safe evacuation of Indians),” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said when asked about the action being taken to rescue the Indians.Nearly 70 seamen from the coastal village of Mandavi in Kutch and from Jodiya and Salaya villages of Jamnagar were stuck for over 15 days now at Khokha port in Yemen where they had gone to deliver cargo in five boats, a sailors group said in Gujarat and appealed to the government to rescue them. It came days after six Indians, most of them from Gujarat, were killed when their boat came under Saudi-led air strikes in the Arab country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The deceased were among seven Indian nationals who were initially reported missing when two boats, ‘Mustafa’ and ‘Asmar’ carrying a total of 21 Indian nationals came under aerial attack. The ministry had said that of the remaining 15 Indians, 14 were safe in Hodeidah while one person was still missing.Yemen has been facing a civil war-like situation with Shiite rebels clashing with pro-government forces. United Nations estimates that more than 4,500 people have been killed in the conflict since March.

After the death of six Indians in air-strike, MEA working to evacuate nearly 70 Gujarati sailors stranded in Yemen

New Delhi: India on Sunday said it is taking steps to ensure safe evacuation of its nationals from Yemen after a sailors group claimed that 70 seamen from Gujarat are stranded in the war-torn county.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

“Our Mission in Yemen (Camp Office in Djibouti) is aware of the situation and taking steps to ensure safe evacuation of Indians,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in Delhi when asked about the action being taken to rescue the Indians.

Nearly 70 seamen from the coastal village of Mandavi in Kutch and from Jodiya and Salaya villages of Jamnagar were stuck for over 15 days now at Khokha port in Yemen where they had gone to deliver cargo in five boats, a sailors group said in Gujarat and appealed to the government to rescue them.

It came days after six Indians, most of them from Gujarat, were killed when their boat came under Saudi-led air strikes in the Arab country.

“About 70 Gujarati sailors along with five vessels are stranded in Yemen for around 15 days and they now need the government’s help for their rescue,” Vahanvatta Association of Kutch and Mandavi president Haji Juneja told PTI.

“I yesterday wrote to the Ministry of External Affairs urging them to save our sailors or shift them to a safer place,” he said.

“The sailors are in a pitiable condition as some forces have been bombarding them. They escaped death last night when some force, either of the insurgents or the Saudi coalition, began an attack with rocket launchers,” he said.

Meanwhile, one of the stranded sailors, identified as Sikandar from Mandavi village, sent an audio message in which he said that they came under a bomb attack on Saturday night.

“I am an Indian. My name is Sikandar. We are at Khokha port. They have lobbed three rockets and we somehow managed to save ourselves. We are running here and there to save ourselves,” Sikandar says in the message.

“We are 70 Indians stranded here along with five ships. They have been bombarding us with warplanes. Please help us. We are Indians. We are in great difficulty. They will kill us. Please save us,” he said.

Yemen has been facing a civil war-like situation with Shiite rebels clashing with pro-government forces. United Nations estimates that more than 4,500 people have been killed in the conflict since March.

The External Affairs Ministry had said on Friday that six Indians were killed after their boat came under Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen on 8 September.

The deceased were among seven Indian nationals who were initially reported missing when two boats, ‘Mustafa’ and ‘Asmar’ carrying a total of 21 Indian nationals came under aerial attack.

The ministry had said that of the remaining 15 Indians, 14 were safe in Hodeidah while one person was still missing.

PTI

Mecca crane crash: Nine more Indians reported dead

Spokesperson for Ministry for External Affairs Vikas Swarup confirmed on Twitter that 9 more Indians have been reported dead.

Pilgrims walk near a construction crane which crashed in the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia September 12, 2015.

Reuters
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Sunday rerported that nine Indian pilgrims were reported dead after the morgue was opened this evening after the Mecca crane crash incident. Helpline numbers have been issued by the MEA. The 24-hour helpline numbers are: 00966125458000, 00966125496000. Toll free number for pilgrims in United Kingdom is: 8002477786.Spokesperson for Ministry for External Affairs Vikas Swarup confirmed on Twitter that 9 more Indians have been reported dead.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The MEA earlier declared two more deaths of Indians in the accident. A total of 11 Indians have reportedly died in the incident till now. Also read: Mecca crane collapse ‘act of god’, says engineer

Nearly 70 sailors stranded in war-torn Yemen, MEA says it is working on evacuation

New Delhi: India on Sunday said it is taking steps to ensure safe evacuation of its nationals from Yemen after a sailors group claimed that 70 seamen from Gujarat are stranded in the war-torn county.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

“Our Mission in Yemen (Camp Office in Djibouti) is aware of the situation and taking steps to ensure safe evacuation of Indians,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in Delhi when asked about the action being taken to rescue the Indians.

Nearly 70 seamen from the coastal village of Mandavi in Kutch and from Jodiya and Salaya villages of Jamnagar were stuck for over 15 days now at Khokha port in Yemen where they had gone to deliver cargo in five boats, a sailors group said in Gujarat and appealed to the government to rescue them.

It came days after six Indians, most of them from Gujarat, were killed when their boat came under Saudi-led air strikes in the Arab country.

“About 70 Gujarati sailors along with five vessels are stranded in Yemen for around 15 days and they now need the government’s help for their rescue,” Vahanvatta Association of Kutch and Mandavi president Haji Juneja told PTI.

“I yesterday wrote to the Ministry of External Affairs urging them to save our sailors or shift them to a safer place,” he said.

“The sailors are in a pitiable condition as some forces have been bombarding them. They escaped death last night when some force, either of the insurgents or the Saudi coalition, began an attack with rocket launchers,” he said.

Meanwhile, one of the stranded sailors, identified as Sikandar from Mandavi village, sent an audio message in which he said that they came under a bomb attack on Saturday night.

“I am an Indian. My name is Sikandar. We are at Khokha port. They have lobbed three rockets and we somehow managed to save ourselves. We are running here and there to save ourselves,” Sikandar says in the message.

“We are 70 Indians stranded here along with five ships. They have been bombarding us with warplanes. Please help us. We are Indians. We are in great difficulty. They will kill us. Please save us,” he said.

Yemen has been facing a civil war-like situation with Shiite rebels clashing with pro-government forces. United Nations estimates that more than 4,500 people have been killed in the conflict since March.

The External Affairs Ministry had said on Friday that six Indians were killed after their boat came under Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen on 8 September.

The deceased were among seven Indian nationals who were initially reported missing when two boats, ‘Mustafa’ and ‘Asmar’ carrying a total of 21 Indian nationals came under aerial attack.

The ministry had said that of the remaining 15 Indians, 14 were safe in Hodeidah while one person was still missing.

PTI

PM, President, Vice President condole loss of lives in Mecca accident

Over 100 people died when a massive construction crane crashed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque on Friday with scores more injured.

Mecca crane crash

Reuters
President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday condoled the loss of lives in the crane collapse at the Grand Mosque in Mecca in which some Indians were also injured. “Heartfelt condolences to families of deceased due to crane crash in Mecca, prayers for speedy recovery of the injured,” President Mukherjee tweeted. The Vice President expressed deep sadness over the accident at the Grand Mosque in Mecca that has resulted in casualties, a statement issued by his office said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> He called for every effort to render all possible aid to the injured and the bereaved families. Ansari conveyed his condolences to the families of the deceased and wishes speedy recovery to the injured persons. Prime Minister Modi, in a tweet, said, “My thoughts & prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives in the crane crash in Mecca. I wish the injured a quick recovery.” Over 100 people died when a massive construction crane crashed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque on Friday with scores more injured, days before the annual Hajj pilgrimage. At least nine Indians were among the 80 people injured in the incident. “Our Consulate in Jeddah is monitoring situation in Makkah following tragic accident. We have received reports that 9 Indian pilgrims are injured,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted yesterday.

Six Indians killed, one missing in Saudi airstrike in Yemen, MEA confirms

New Delhi: Six Indians have been killed after their boat came under Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen, External Affairs Ministry confirmed on Friday.

The six were among seven nationals who were initially reported missing when two boats, ‘Mustafa’ and ‘Asmar’, carrying a total of 21 Indian nationals, came under aerial attack on 8 September.

Representational image: AP

Representational image: APkilled 

“It is now regrettably informed that late at night on 10 September, the bodies of six of the missing persons present on the two boats were recovered and were brought to the Military Hospital.

“The families of the deceased have been informed, and their verbal consent has been taken for appropriate funeral rites to be performed in Hodeidah as per religious practises,” MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

He also noted that the Indian embassy in Yemen’s Camp Office in Djibouti has been constantly in touch with authorities and local contacts to ascertain more details.

“Of the remaining 15 Indians on the two boats, 14 are safe in Hodeidah, and of these four are undergoing treatment in a local hospital. All the 14 are in regular touch with their families. One person is still missing, and the Mission is working with the local authorities and contacts to ascertain his whereabouts,” he added.

Some media reports, quoting residents and fishermen, on Tuesday had claimed that at least 20 Indian nationals were killed in air strikes by Saudi-led coalition forces on fuel smugglers at Hodeidah port.

India does not have an Embassy in Yemen which was shut down in April after evacuation of its nationals.

PTI

Bodies of six Indians found in Yemen

The bodies of six of the seven Indian nationals who were reported to be missing after Saudi airplanes bombed two boats have been found, India’s foreign ministry says.

India seeks Saudi help in ‘rape’ case

India urges Saudi Arabia to cooperate into allegations that one of its diplomats raped two Nepali maids at his home near the capital Delhi.

20 Indians reportedly killed at Yemen’s Hodeidah port, MEA ascertaining facts

Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday night said it has no information about the reports that 20 Indians have been killed in Saudi-led strikes in Yemen.

A boy stands in Houthi leader Yahya Aiydh’s house, after Saudi-led air strikes destroyed it in Yemens capital Sanaa.

Image Courtesy: Reuters
Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday night said it has no information about the reports that 20 Indians have been killed in Saudi-led strikes in Yemen.”We are ascertaining the facts about the reports,” MEA spokesman Vikas Swarup said when asked about reports that 20 Indians had been killed in Saudi-led strikes in Yemen.Some media reports, quoting residents and fishermen, earlier claimed that at least 20 Indian nationals were killed in air strikes by Saudi-led coalition forces on fuel smugglers at Yemen’s Hodeidah port today.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They claimed two boats were hit in the attack on an area called al-Khokha near Hodeidah port.India does not have Embassy in Yemen, which was shut down in April after evacuation of its nationals. According to Reuters report, in western Yemen, local residents and fishermen said planes from the Saudi-led alliance struck two boats at al-Khokha, a small port near Hodeidah used by Indians to smuggle badly needed fuel supplies into the country, killing 20 of them. Officials were not immediately available to comment on the report.The Houthi-run state news agency Saba also said that 15 citizens were killed in air strikes on Sanaa, and medical sources said at least 15 civilians were killed in similar attacks on Monday. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the figures. Friday’s attack was the deadliest yet for Gulf soldiers in the war and may herald a turning point as Saudi-allied countries appear to be committing to a ground war they had so far avoided.

20 Indians reportedly killed at Yemen’s Hodeidah port, ministry of external affairs ascertaining facts

Sanaa: At least 20 Indian nationals were killed by Saudi-led coalition air strikes on fuel smugglers at Yemen’s Hodeidah port on Tuesday, residents and fishermen said.

Representational picture. AP

Representational picture. AP

They said two boats were hit in the attack on an area called al-Khokha near Hodeidah port.

Ministry of External Affairs said on Tuesday said it has no information about the reports that 20 Indians have been killed in Saudi-led strikes in Yemen.

“We are ascertaining the facts about the reports,” MEA spokesman Vikas Swarup said when asked about reports that 20 Indians had been killed in Saudi-led strikes in Yemen.

Some media reports, quoting residents and fishermen, earlier claimed that at least 20 Indian nationals were killed in air strikes by Saudi-led coalition forces on fuel smugglers at Yemen’s Hodeidah port on Tuesday.

They claimed two boats were hit in the attack on an area called al-Khokha near Hodeidah port.

India does not have Embassy in Yemen, which was shut down in April after evacuation of its nationals.

Independent Yemeni security officials and witnesses say 12 Shiite rebels were killed in airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition in the province of Marib, where a rebel missile strike killed 45 Emirati soldiers earlier this week.

Officials from the rebel group, known as Houthis, confirm more than 20 airstrikes occurred Tuesday.

Neither side has captured more territory, as pro-government forces say they plan to seize the rest of the province before proceeding to Jawf, and eventually to Saada province— the Houthi heartland. Officials fighting the Houthis say they are prioritizing taking control of the cities of Bihan to the west and Sirwah to the south, which lie on supply routes to the rebel-held capital, Sanaa.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief reporters.

With agency inputs

Sushma Swaraj raises issues faced by Indian students in Germany

During the meeting, Swaraj apprised Wanka about difficulties being faced by some of the Indian students in pursuing their studies in Germany, like residency status, renewal of visa and accommodation, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

India has raised with Germany problems like residency status, renewal of visa and accommodation faced by Indian students in the country as both sides discussed new initiatives to ramp up cooperation in the area of education.This was conveyed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to German Education Minister Johanna Wanka when they met here yesterday.During the meeting, Swaraj apprised Wanka about difficulties being faced by some of the Indian students in pursuing their studies in Germany, like residency status, renewal of visa and accommodation, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The number of Indian students in Germany has gone up significantly in the last few years.Currently, more than 10,000 Indian students are studying in Germany while around 800 German students are pursuing various courses in India.Both sides also decided to promote exchange of students as well collaboration between educational institutions of the two countries.Wanka told Swaraj that Germany was planning to set up an international centre for advance studies in humanities and social science in India as part of a series of new initiatives to ramp up cooperation in areas of education and science and technology.Germany agreed to participate in India’s ambitious programme — Global Initiative for Academic Networks (GIAN) under which German academician and faculties will be able to teach in educational institutions in India.Germany has also agreed to participate in India’s skill development initiatives.”We want closer ties with Germany in skill development initiative. The External Affairs Minister and German Education Minister discussed a whole range of issues pertaining to cooperation in education and skills sector,” Swarup, who is part of Swaraj’s delegation, said.Both sides are also working on a number of other initiatives to ramp up cooperation in the education sector.Asked about Germany’s plan to set up an international centre for advance studies in humanities and social science, he said, they are identifying a partner institute for it.The sticky German language issue also figured in the meeting.India and Germany are close to resolve the issue and an announcement about it is likely to be made during Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to India in the first half of October.As per the broad understanding between the two sides, India will continue to teach German as an additional language in keeping with its three-language policy, while Germany will promote Indian languages including Sanskrit in their educational institutions.India also raised with Germany problems like residencystatus, renewal of visa and accommodation faced by Indian students in the country as both sides discussed new initiatives to ramp up cooperation in the area of education.This was conveyed by Swaraj to German Education Minister Johanna Wanka when they met here yesterday.During the meeting, Swaraj apprised Wanka about difficulties being faced by some of the Indian students in pursuing their studies in Germany, like residency status, renewal of visa and accommodation, Swarup said.Currently, more than 10,000 Indian students are studying in Germany while around 800 German students are pursuing various courses in India.Prior to her visit to Berlin, Swaraj had visited Egypt on the first leg of her two-nation tour where she held talks with the Egyptian leadership to put in place a bilateral framework for enhancing cooperation in key areas of security, counter- terrorism, defence and investments.

Pakistan calling off NSA talks unfortunate: MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup

External Affairs Minister Spokesperson Vikas Swarup while reacting to Pakistan’s decision said India only reiterated that Islamabad respect the spirit of the Shimla and Ufa Agreements to which it was already committed.
File Photo
PTI photo
India described as unfortunate Pakistan’s decision to call of the Indo-Pak NSA-level talks, asserting that it did not set any “pre-conditions” as stated by that country.External Affairs Minister Spokesperson Vikas Swarup while reacting to Pakistan’s decision said India only reiterated that Islamabad respect the spirit of the Shimla and Ufa Agreements to which it was already committed.”Pakistan’s decision is unfortunate. India did not set any preconditions. We only reiterated that Pakistan respect the spirit of the Simla & Ufa Agreements to which it was already committed,” the spokesperson said in two tweets, shortly after the Pakistan Foreign Ministry made the announcement in Islamabad.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A statement by the Pakistan Foreign Ministry had said, “Pakistan reiterates that the scheduled NSA level talks cannot be held on the basis of the preconditions set by India.”

Indo-Pak NSA talks: Sushma Swaraj, Sartaj Aziz to hold press meets

The Pakistan NSA is scheduled to hold discussions with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval tomorrow and day after.

As suspense mounted over holding of the Indo-Pak NSA-level talks after both sides hardened their positions on the issue of Kashmiri separatists, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday called a press conference in Delhi.A day before his scheduled departure for Delhi, Pakistan National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz too has called a media meet in Islamabad at 1 PM (local time). Swaraj will meet the press at 4 PM.The Pakistan NSA is scheduled to hold discussions with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval tomorrow and day after.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While India has made it clear to Pakistan that a meeting between the separatists and Aziz was not appropriate, Pakistan reacted strongly to insist that it would not depart from the “established past practice” of interacting with separatist Hurriyat leaders.India has described the invitation to Hurriyat representatives as a “provocative action” and accused Pakistan of trying to evade its commitment to engage in a substantive discussion on terrorism as had been agreed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Ufa (Russia) last month.It said that Islamabad’s insistence on meeting Hurriyat leaders as a pre-condition was a complete departure from the Ufa understanding. Moreover, India has always held the position that there are only two, not three, stakeholders in the bilateral relationship.Unilateral imposition of new conditions and “distortion of the agreed agenda cannot be the basis for going forward,” External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said yesterday.Pakistan had said last night that it was “deeply disappointed” at India putting forth “pre-conditions” for NSA-level talks, accusing it of going back on the decision mutually agreed at the highest level by coming up with “frivolous pretexts”.”This is the second time that India has chosen to go back on a decision mutually agreed upon between the two Prime Ministers, to engage in a comprehensive dialogue, by coming up with frivolous pretexts,” Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesman said.

To talk or not to talk? Pak trying to evade its Ufa commitment, says India

Merely hours after Pakistan rejected India’s “advice” not to hold a meeting between its NSA Sartaj Aziz and Hurriyat leaders, India on Friday criticised Pakistan and said that it had always been uncooperative with respect to the proposed talks.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Swarup said Pakistan government’s statement on Hurriyat has not come as a surprise because “there has been a pattern to Pakistan’s actions after the Ufa summit and today’s position is a culmination of that approach.”

“This provocative action (Pakistan inviting Hurriyat leaders) was in consonance with Pakistan’s desire to evade its commitment at Ufa,” Swarup said at a press conference in Jaipur, criticising Pakistan for inviting Hurriyat leaders to a meeting with Aziz.

“India has always held that there are only two stakeholders in our relations, not three,” Swarup said. “Unilateral impositions of new conditions cannot be the basis of going forward,” he said.

“In Ufa, both PMs agreed on a meeting of NSAs to discuss all issues connected to terrorism,” the MEA spokesperson said. “Instead, we saw a sharp increase in unprovoked firing from Pakistani side and some serious cross border terror incidents, including the one at Udhampur which resulted in capture of a Pakistani national, a matter that would have naturally come up in the NSA level talks on terrorism, to Pakistan’s discomfort” he said.

The Spokesperson pointed out that “Ufa understanding on the talks – read out jointly by the two Foreign Secretaries – was very clear: the NSAs were to meet to discuss all issues connected to terrorism. This was the only agenda set for them by the two Prime Ministers.”

Pakistan took 22 days to respond to the Indian proposal to meet in New Delhi and then proposed an agenda at complete variance with what the two Prime Ministers had agreed upon, the Spokesperson said.

“Together, these two actions indicated its reluctance to go forward with sincerity on the agreed process. Even more significantly, without confirming either the programme or the agenda, the Pakistani High Commissioner invited Hurriyat representatives to consult with the visiting NSA,” Swarup said.

The people of both countries “can legitimately ask today what is the force that compels Pakistan to disregard the agreements reached by two elected leaders and sabotage their implementation”, Swarup said.

Nevertheless, he emphasised that India remains committed to discussing issues with Pakistan peacefully and bilaterally. In fact, it had taken the initiative to engage at Ufa, he said.

Shortly after Swarup’s press conference, a PTI report said that the NSA-level talks between India and Pakistan were cancelled. However, TV channels quoted government sources as saying that the talks had not been cancelled.

Pakistan, on the other hand, said that India “was making excuses” to avoid talking to Islamabad.

Shortly after India said the NSA level talks cannot go on if Pakistan insisted on talking to Kashmiri separatists, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said: “India has made excuses before and refused talks. They are making excuses again.”

Earlier during the day, Swarup had said that India wanted the talks to happen and had conveyed to Pakistan its agenda three days ago, response to which was still awaited.

“We want talks to happen. India is ready for talks. We are committed to the talks. Now it is up to them (Pakistan),” he had said when asked about the fate of the talks between the NSAs which seems to be in jeopardy after Pakistan’s invitation to Kashmiri separatist leaders.

“We have made it clear to Pakistan that hosting of Kashmiri separatists will be contrary to the spirit of the Ufa understanding. We have conveyed our position on their reported meeting with them (separatists) and sought clarity on the agenda,” Swarup had said, who is in Jaipur in connection with the Summit of Forum for India-Pacific Islands Conference to be attended by 14 nations.

He had said India had also communicated to Pakistan the agenda for the NSA talks and was yet to get any response officially.

(With agency inputs)

India is ready for talks, but now it’s up to Pakistan, says MEA spokesman Vikas Swarup

Jaipur: India on Friday put the ball in Pakistan’s court over the much-hyped NSA talks, saying that hosting of Kashmiri separatists would be contrary to the Ufa spirit where the two countries had decided to have talks on terror.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said in Jaipur that India wanted the talks to happen and had conveyed to Pakistan its agenda three days ago, response to which was still awaited.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“We want talks to happen. India is ready for talks. We are committed to the talks. Now it is up to them (Pakistan),” he said when asked about the fate of the talks between the NSAs which looks in jeopardy after Pakistan’s invitation to Kashmiri separatist leaders for meeting with its NSA Sartaj Aziz.

“We have made it clear to Pakistan that hosting of Kashmiri separatists will be contrary to the spirit of the Ufa understanding. We have conveyed our position on their reported meeting with them (separatists) and sought clarity on the agenda,” said Swarup who is here in connection with the Summit of Forum for India-Pacific Islands Conference to be attended by 14 nations.

He said India had also communicated to Pakistan the agenda for the NSA talks and was yet to get any response officially.

Pakistan has invited Kashmir separatists for a reception and talks with Aziz, setting off a confrontation with India.

PTI

PM Narendra Modi meets Indian workers in UAE at ICAD

Apart from interacting with the blue-collar workers, he also took group photos with them.

Apart from interacting with the blue-collar workers, he also took group photos with them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reached out to Indian workers in the UAE to know their problems and discussed ways how the Indian government can help them. Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the country in 34 years, interacted with Indian workers at their camps I-CAD Residential Labour Camp that houses thousands of migrant labourers from the Indian subcontinent in an area spread over one square kilometre. Apart from interacting with the blue-collar workers, he also took group photos with them.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Reaching out to the heart of the Indian community. PM @narendramodi visits the ICAD city to meet Indian workers,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.About 2.6 million Indians constitute nearly 30% of the population of this country.

Yet to get confirmation from Pakistan about NSA-level talks, says MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup

Pakistan National Security Advisor Sartaz Aziz had announced that he will travel to New Delhi on August 23 to hold dialogue.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
India said on Thursday it was yet to get a “confirmation” from Islamabad on the NSA-level talks, hours within Pakistan National Security Advisor Sartaz Aziz announcing that he will travel to New Delhi on August 23 to hold the dialogue.”On NSA talks, we have no confirmation (from Pakistan),” Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup told reporters. He was asked to comment on Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on National Security and Foreign Affairs Aziz’s announcement in Islamabad to visit India for the talks “Yes, I can confirm it that I will be going to India on (August) 23rd for talks,” Aziz told reporters in Islamabad.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The announcement by Aziz came after considerable dilly-dallying by Pakistan, generating speculation that the army was against it as it was unhappy over non-inclusion of Kashmir in the statement which was issued after the meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries in Ufa, Russia.

High Commissioner meets Indian woman stuck in Pakistan, assures her of return

His visit to Karachi comes a day after after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that she had directed the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to meet with the girl and resolve the issue. “Reaching out to help. HC Raghavan and his wife Ranjana meet with ‘Geeta’ in Karachi, stranded from home for 15 years,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

Sushma Swaraj

dna Research & Archives
Reaching out to help, Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan and his wife on Tuesday met a deaf and mute Indian woman stuck in Pakistan for more than a decade and assured her to locate her family as soon as possible. “The purpose of my visit to this centre is to find out all details about Geeta’s case and background and try to locate her family and relatives as soon as possible,” Raghavan told reporters at the Edhi trust shelter home here. “The fact that I have come here is itself a message of peace from our government,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>His visit to Karachi comes a day after after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that she had directed the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to meet with the girl and resolve the issue. “Reaching out to help. HC Raghavan and his wife Ranjana meet with ‘Geeta’ in Karachi, stranded from home for 15 years,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.Geeta, 23, is believed to have mistakenly crossed into Pakistani territory as a child. She was 7-8 years old when she was found by the Pakistan Rangers 15 years ago from Lahore railway station, according to reports from Pakistan. Flanked by Bilques Edhi, the wife of Maulana Abdul Sattar Edhi, and Geeta, dressed in a light green shalwar kameez, Raghavan noted that despite all differences and disputes there was a relation of humanity between Pakistan and India. Raghavan said that the Indian government as a policy tries its best to help out people who had crossed into Indian territory by mistake. “We try to help those who cross over by mistake,” he said.He also agreed that the release of Indian fishermen by the Pakistan government was a positive step and would help relations between the two neighbouring countries. Human rights activist and former minister Ansar Burney, who had raised Geeta’s issue three years back while visiting India, said the visit by the Indian High Commissioner was a step in the direction. “He will now report back to his government and I am sure finally this poor and innocent girl will be able to go back to her country,” Burney said.Raghavan later stayed at the Edhi shelter home in the old city area of Mithadar and spent time with Geeta, who conversed with him and his wife using sign language. He also praised the welfare and social work of Maulana Sattar Edhi. Geeta has got a fresh lease of hope mainly due to the runaway success of the Salman Khan-starrer ‘Bhajrangi Bhaijan’.Salman’s movie revolves around a speech-impaired girl from Pakistan who finds herself lost in India with no way to return her home. An Indian man undertakes the task and reunites her with her family in Pakistan.

Two of the four Indians abducted in Libya brought back safely to Sirte, tweets Sushma Swaraj

Two of the four Indians abducted in Libya have been “brought back safely” to the University of Sirte, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

“Welcome news from Libya. 2 of the 4 detained Indians brought back safely to University of Sirte. Our efforts continue for the remaining two,” tweeted Vikas Swarup, the official spokesperson of the MEA.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also reacted to this development and tweeted, “Four Indians abducted in Libya – I am happy we have been able to secure the release of Lakshmikant and Vijay Kumar. Trying for other two.”

Four Indian teachers, who were returning to India from Tripoli and Tunis, had been kidnapped in Libya, allegedly by the Islamic State terror group.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

Earlier on Friday morning, Swaraj had briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the incident as also the steps being taken by the ministry to secure their release.

The government had said earlier on Friday that the four Indians were “detained” at a check point, about 50 km from Sirte. The area from where they were kidnapped is under the control of the Islamic State, which has taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria and has declared itself a caliphate.

“Two days ago, on July 29 at around 11 pm, our mission in Tripoli came to know that four Indian nationals who were returning to India via Tripoli and Tunis, were detained at a checkpoint approximately 50 kms from Sirte. Of the four Indian nationals, two are from Hyderabad, one from Raichur and one from Bengaluru. Three of them were faculty members at the Sirte University and one was working at the Sirte University branch in Jufra,” the MEA spokesperson had said.

“We are in regular touch with the families concerned and all efforts are being made to ensure the well-being and early release of the four Indian nationals,” he had said.

The MEA, through its Head of Mission in Tripoli, is ascertaining the details regarding the incident. Official sources had told PTI no ransom demand has been made as yet.

Taking serious note of the prevailing situation, the Indian government had in July last year issued an advisory asking its citizens to leave conflict-hit Libya.

The latest incident came even as 39 Indians remain missing in Iraq. They were taken hostage last year at the height of the fighting between Sunni militants and government forces, and efforts to get their release have not yielded any results.

With inputs from PTI

Two of the four abducted Indians in Libya brought back safely to Sirte, tweets Sushma Swaraj

Two of the four Indians abducted in Libya have been “brought back safely” to the University of Sirte, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

“Welcome news from Libya. 2 of the 4 detained Indians brought back safely to University of Sirte. Our efforts continue for the remaining two,” tweeted Vikas Swarup, the official spokesperson of the MEA.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also reacted to this development and tweeted, “Four Indians abducted in Libya – I am happy we have been able to secure the release of Lakshmikant and Vijay Kumar. Trying for other two.”

Four Indian teachers, who were returning to India from Tripoli and Tunis, had been kidnapped in Libya, allegedly by the Islamic State terror group.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. AFP

Earlier on Friday morning, Swaraj had briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the incident as also the steps being taken by the ministry to secure their release.

The government had said earlier on Friday that the four Indians were “detained” at a check point, about 50 km from Sirte. The area from where they were kidnapped is under the control of the Islamic State, which has taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria and has declared itself a caliphate.

“Two days ago, on July 29 at around 11 pm, our mission in Tripoli came to know that four Indian nationals who were returning to India via Tripoli and Tunis, were detained at a checkpoint approximately 50 kms from Sirte. Of the four Indian nationals, two are from Hyderabad, one from Raichur and one from Bengaluru. Three of them were faculty members at the Sirte University and one was working at the Sirte University branch in Jufra,” the MEA spokesperson had said.

“We are in regular touch with the families concerned and all efforts are being made to ensure the well-being and early release of the four Indian nationals,” he had said.

The MEA, through its Head of Mission in Tripoli, is ascertaining the details regarding the incident. Official sources had told PTI no ransom demand has been made as yet.

Taking serious note of the prevailing situation, the Indian government had in July last year issued an advisory asking its citizens to leave conflict-hit Libya.

The latest incident came even as 39 Indians remain missing in Iraq. They were taken hostage last year at the height of the fighting between Sunni militants and government forces, and efforts to get their release have not yielded any results.

With inputs from PTI

Four Indians abducted in Libya’s Sirte: All you need to know

The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday confirmed that four Indians had been abducted in Libya’s Sirte.

While it is suspected that Islamic State is responsible for the abductions, the MEA has yet to confirm the speculation.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

This comes despite an advisory issued by the Indian government in 2014 which asked its citizens to leave Libya.

Here is all you need to know about the abductions:

— Among the four Indians, one is from Raichur, one from Bengaluru and two from Hyderabad.

— MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup told the media that three of them were teaching at the University of Sirte, and one of them was working at the university’s Jufra branch.

— Swarup said that they were informed about the abduction by the Indian mission in Tripoli at 11 pm on 29 July.

— The Indians were reportedly returning to India from Tripoli and Tunis, when they were detained at a checkpoint approximately 50 km from Sirte.

— The Indians were taken back to Sirte after being abducted.

— The MEA is in regular touch with its counterpart in Libya and with the families of those abducted.

— Official sources said that the area from which the Indians were kidnapped is under the control of the Islamic State, which has taken control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria and has declared itself a caliphate.

With agency inputs

Modi, Sharif to meet tomorrow morning in Russia

“It is confirmed. PM @narendramodi and PM Nawaz Sharif will have a bilateral meeting in Ufa tomorrow at 9.15 am on sidelines of SCO Summit,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted.

File picture

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif will meet in Ufa on Friday on the sidelines of the SCO Summit, an official confirmed on Thursday.”It is confirmed. PM @narendramodi and PM Nawaz Sharif will have a bilateral meeting in Ufa tomorrow at 9.15 am on sidelines of SCO Summit,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted. The confirmation came hours after Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said that the possibilities are always there that the two leaders could meet.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi and Sharif had last met in Kathmandu in November at the SAARC Summit where they did not have a bilateral meeting. Earlier at the beginning of the holy month of Ramzan, Prime Minister Modi had called Sharif and extended his best wishes while stressing the need for having peaceful and bilateral ties.During his telephonic conversation, Modi had also conveyed to his Pakistani counterpart India’s decision to release detained Pakistani fishermen on the occasion of Ramzan. The call was seen by many as an attempt to reach out to Pakistan after leaders from both sides exchanged sharp comments after Modi’s critical remarks about Pakistan during his Bangladesh visit and in the wake of India’s military action in Myanmar.

Government taking action against 43 officials in Indian diplomatic missions: MEA spokesman Vikas Swarup

Government is taking action with regard to complaints against 43 officials of Indian diplomatic missions in 17 countries facing a variety of charges including corruption and dereliction of duty, top External Affairs Ministry sources said on Sunday.

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Government is taking action with regard to complaints against 43 officials of Indian diplomatic missions in 17 countries facing a variety of charges including corruption and dereliction of duty, top External Affairs Ministry sources said on Sunday.”Action is being taken in all 43 cases as per established procedure,” Spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup said.Some of the complaints are against low-ranking officials and locally-hired staff and the cases are being dealt with as per laid down procedures, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Ministry takes seriously any complaint that it receives about the performance of its missions and posts abroad. Complaints are dealt with as per established and prescribed procedures,” Swarup told PTI from Bangkok where he is accompanying External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.The recall of India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand Ravi Thapar following accusations of his wife assaulting a domestic help has brought the focus back on the conduct of the country’s diplomats posted abroad.As per official figures, six complaints against officials in Indian missions were received in 2012, 10 in 2013 and 27 in 2014.A maximum of eight complaints each have been received from the missions in UK and Madagascar in the last three years.Complaints have also been received against Indian Embassy staff in Afghanistan, Austria, Canada, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Botswana, Thailand, Zambia, Mauritius, Morocco, Netherlands, South Africa and Mali.Two complaints were received from UK in 2012, one in 2013 and five last year.A chef at the Indian High Commission in New Zealand had last month alleged he was kept in slavery and was assaulted by Sharmila Thapar, wife of Ravi Thapar, following which the External Affairs Ministry sent a team to conduct an inquiry.The High Commissioner was recalled here based on the inquiry report. Further inquiries will be conducted in the matter, Swarup said.Thapar, however, denied that the staff member had been assaulted by his wife and said he was returning to India to take care of his mother.”Though no charges were pressed by the service staff member, the Ministry will investigate the matter further. The High Commissioner has been posted back to Headquarters,” Swarup said on Saturday.

MEA denies connection between transfer of Joint Secretaries and Lalit Modi issue

Spokesperson in the MEA Vikas Swarup’s remarks came in reaction to reports that Swaraj might have hastily transferred three joint secretaries to skip procedures in helping scam- tainted Modi get the travel papers in the UK which has created a political storm in the country with Opposition demanding her sacking.

The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday termed as “baseless and misleading” reports that three Joint Secretaries were transferred to skip procedures in extending help by its minister Sushma Swaraj to former IPL chief Lalit Modi in obtaining travel documents from the UK.Spokesperson in the MEA Vikas Swarup’s remarks came in reaction to reports that Swaraj might have hastily transferred three joint secretaries to skip procedures in helping scam- tainted Modi get the travel papers in the UK which has created a political storm in the country with Opposition demanding her sacking. “The reports of the transfer of the Joint Secretaries in the Ministry are baseless and misleading. Additional Secretary heading the Europe West Division was posted as High Commissioner to South Africa in June 2014 and assumed office in October, 2014.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Joint Secretary (Legal & Treaties) division was promoted as Additional Secretary and continued to head the Division till her retirement in March 2015. The Joint Secretary (CPV) was promoted as Additional Secretary and took charge of the nodal post of Additional Secretary (Administration) in October 2014,” Swarup said.The External Affairs Minister had defended her help to the scam-tainted former IPL Commissioner, who spoke to her “sometime in July 2014”, saying it was based on “humanitarian” ground. Admitting that she had no objection to Modi’s request to be allowed to travel out of UK and spoke to this effect with British MP Keith Vaz and the British High Commissioner, Swaraj had tweeted that she intervened as Modi’s wife needed treatment in Portugal.

Slumdog Millionnaire author Vikas Swarup to replace Syed Akbaruddin as MEA spokesman from 18 April

Celebrated novelist Vikas Swarup, author of bestseller debut novel “Q&A” (on which Slumdog Millionaire was based) and career diplomat, has been appointed as the new official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs. He will take over on 18 April. The appointment order was issued late evening on 25 March.

Akbaruddin is due to be promoted as additional secretary very soon. Keeping that in view, he has been appointed as “Chief Coordinator” of the India-Africa Forum Summit. There will be a “Coordinator” as well and a joint secretary will fill that slot.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

The India-Africa Summit is scheduled to be hosted by New Delhi on 29 October. After this event, Akbaruddin is likely to given a high-profile ambassadorial assignment. He may well be India’s next High Commissioner in London, a post currently held by former foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai who completes his stint at the end of the year.

Akbaruddin is a 1985 batch Indian Foreign Service officer who is considered an expert on West Asia issues in India, and has served in various capacities in that region including being consul general at Jeddah from 2000 to 2004. He was the director at Foreign Secretary’s Office of the Ministry from 2004 to 2005. He has rich experience in nuclear-related issues and was on deputation at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna for four years.

Better known as Akbar, he returned to India in 2011. On 7 December 2011 he was named as the new spokesperson of the MEA. He had a month-long overlapping stint with the then Joint Secretary of the External Publicity Division of the MEA, and official spokesperson, Vishnu Prakash. Akbaruddin formally took over as the new JS (XP) on 7 January 2012.

Swarup, who is a 1986 batch IFS officer, was born in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh to a family of lawyers. He did his schooling at Boys’ High School & College, Allahabad and pursued further studies at Allahabad University in Psychology, History and Philosophy.

Swarup is best known as the author of “Q&A”, a debut novel that was a runaway success and an international bestseller that was translated into 43 languages. It was subsequently made into the Hollywood film “Slumdog Millionnaire”. The film was released in January 2009 and won eight of the ten Oscars it was nominated for, the largest number of Oscars won by any film since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King which won 11 Oscars in 2004.

Swarup’s subsequent novels “Six Suspects” and “The Accidental Apprentice” also proved to be runaway hits.

Swarup has been working in the MEA headquarters in New Delhi as Joint Secretary (UN-Political) since September 2013. His previous postings include stints in Ankara, Washington DC, Addis Ababa, London and Pretoria and as Consul General in Osaka-Kobe, Japan.

The post of MEA spokesperson is a hot seat and a live wire. Incidentally, MEA is the only ministry that has a full-fledged spokesperson who holds regular briefings.

This post assumes even more importance as Prime Minister Narendra Modi neither has a spokesperson nor a media advisor. Of late, JS (XP) has invariably been informally functioning as an extension of the PMO spokesperson.

Akbaruddin leaves very large boots for Vikas Swarup to fill, and has been the MEA’s best known and most efficient spokesperson yet.

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