turns 79 on the job, no plans to retire
Aug 12: Cuban President Fidel Castro turns 79 on Saturday
with no plans for retirement at the helm of the Western
Hemisphere's only Communist state. The world's longest
serving head of government is busy repairing Cuba's
battered socialist economy.
says he is "perfecting" the egalitarian
society he began to build after he and his bearded
guerrillas ousted U.S. backed dictator Fulgencio Batista
and seized power in 1959. His stamina undiminished,
the aging leader continues to give marathon four-
to five-hour speeches denouncing U.S. imperialist
aggression to staunch supporters who sing the Marxist
Internationale anthem when he is done.
Hurricane Dennis roared into Cuba last month, Castro
showed up at a television studio to monitor the storm's
path of death and destruction in a live broadcast
to the nation. Dressed in his trademark military uniform,
the "Comandante" has taken to the stage
like a television game show host to tout the bounties
of new pressure cookers and Chinese-made electrical
appliances he has promised Cubans.
I have lived many years, that's because I played a
lot of sport. I climbed mountains, which is good for
the heart," he said on Monday. "It is the
Olympics of history that matter, and there we will
take the gold medal," he said in a speech to
physical education graduates. Last October, Castro
tripped and shattered his knee in a fall that was
broadcast live on television. To the chagrin of his
opponents, he was back on his feet within two months
dispelling speculation that he would have to cut back
his leadership role.
bitterest enemies, mainly right-wing exiles living
in Miami, see Cuba as a gulag run by an autocrat who
impoverished Cuba's 11 million people, restricts their
right to leave the island and suppresses dissent.
Only 14 of the 75 pro-democracy activists jailed in
a March 2003 crackdown have been released, and 15
more dissidents were arrested last month during a
series of peaceful protests.
declares emergency as air pollution index soars
LUMPUR, Aug 11: Malaysia declared a state of emergency
on Thursday as the air pollution index soared to extremely
hazardous levels on the west coast, which is worst-hit
by smoke from fires in Sumatra, an official said.
are now in a state of emergency," a National
Security Council official said after the environment
department said the air pollution index had reached
529 in Port Klang and 531 in Kuala Selangor.
visa applicants to Canada can check status via SMS
DELHI, Aug 10: Indians wishing to travel to Canada
can now easily know the status of their visa applications
by sending an SMS from any part of India.
service will be available for applicants of temporary
visas related to tourism, business and educational
purposes, VFS (India) Private Limited, the outsource
partner of Canadian High Commission for visa purposes,
said in a statement in the Capital on Wednesday. This
status service is available on both GSM and CDMA connections
of BSNL, BPL, Hutch and Reliance Telecom.
al-Qaida video threatens troops
Aug 10: A purported al-Qaida-made video shows militants
in Afghanistan - including Europeans, Arabs and
others - preparing to attack U.S. troops and showing
off what they said was a U.S. military laptop.
video, parts of which have been shown by Al-Arabiya
television, including a segment aired Tuesday, features
interviews with a masked man yelling "As you
bomb us, you will be bombed!" and shows a group
of men packing explosives into bombs.
authenticity of the videotape could not be confirmed.
Air Force Capt. Lennea Montandon, a spokeswoman
for U.S. Central Command in Qatar, said the military
would not comment because it had not seen the broadcast.
authentic, the program would be the latest attempt
by the al-Qaida network to use the broadcast media
and Internet to promote its cause. The three-part
video, titled "The War of the Oppressed People,"
depicts what appears to be a few months in the lives
of a group of fighters in wilderness camps in the
men cook tea over campfires and kneel in prayer
under the open skies, then duck into a makeshift
classroom where an instructor outlines the coming
"Operation to Defeat the Crucifix" against
U.S. and allied forces. In one scene, the tape claims
al-Qaida was responsible for shooting down a U.S.
Chinook helicopter, killing all 16 American troops
tape features an appearance by top-ranking al-Qaida
member Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, as well as shots of
a U.S. Air Force A-10 jet making bombing runs on
a mountainside, and a close-up of a U.S. soldier
quivering face down on the ground. Al-Iraqi, speaking
with a scarf hiding his face, says the U.S.-led
wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have created "two
fronts" for recruiting terrorists to the cause
of Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
"Now all the world is united behind Mullah
Omar and Sheik Osama," he says.
program includes interviews with bearded fighters
claiming they are avenging the killing of Muslims
by the U.S., Britain, Israel and India. "If
this is terrorism and fundamentalism, then OK, we
are terrorists and fundamentalists," a Pakistani
man who identifies himself as Bilal says in Urdu.
tapes feature a diatribe by a British- or Australian-accented
man wearing a black robe, AK-47 and military-style
vest, who warns Westerners of "the lies of
Blair and Bush."
Muslim world is not your backyard," he yells.
"The honorable sons of Islam will not let you
kill our sons. It is time for us to be equals. As
you kill, you will be killed. As you bomb, you will
Pak reach agreement over missile tests
DELHI, Aug 7: India and Pakistan have reached an understanding
on the proposed agreement on pre-notification of flight-testing
of ballistic missiles.
newsmen after the two-day expert level intensive dialogue
on nuclear confidence-building measures (CBMs), the
Additional Secretary (UN), Ministry of External Affairs,
Ms Meera Shankar, said the two countries have also
decided to establish by next month the hotline between
the Foreign Secretaries.
the talks, the two sides had emphasized the importance
of early operationalization of the hotline link proposed
to be established between the Foreign Secretaries,
through their respective Foreign Offices, to prevent
misunderstandings and reduce risks relevant to nuclear
issues. In this connection, discussions on related
technical parameters were held. Details about implementation
and testing schedules were exchanged.
Ms. Meera Shankar led the Indian delegation, Mr Tariq
Osman Hyder, Additional Secretary (UN & EC), Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, led the Pakistan side. The visiting
Pakistani delegation also called on the Foreign Secretary,
Mr Shyam Saran.
agreed text of the proposed agreement on pre-notification
of the tests will be referred to the Foreign Secretaries
of the two countries for formalisation, said Ms Shankar.
The two sides also agreed to report the progress made
in the present round of the talks to the respective
Foreign Secretaries, who will decide on the date and
venue of the next Expert Level meeting on Nuclear
proposed agreement commits both sides to pre-notify
in a structured format flight testing of ballistic
missiles with the objective of enhancing mutual confidence
and engendering predictability and transparency of
intent," a joint statement said.
present round of discussions was the third meeting
held between India and Pakistan at the level of experts
on the subject of nuclear CBMs, under the Composite
Dialogue process. The two sides continued to hold
wide-ranging discussions in a cordial and constructive
atmosphere, including on their respective security
concepts and nuclear doctrines, said the joint statement.
pursuance of the MoU of 21 February 1999, which inter
alia provided for undertaking national measures to
reduce the risks of accidental or unauthorized use
of nuclear weapons under their respective control,
the Indian side handed over a draft of such a proposed
Russian submariners rescued
(Russia), Aug 7: Seven Russian sailors trapped for
three days on the ocean floor in a small submarine
off Russia's Pacific coast were retrieved alive and
well on Sunday after a British undersea robot cut
the vessel free of debris, Russian naval officials
submarine resurfaced and the seven submariners are
alive," Russian navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said.
"They emerged by themselves, transferred to a
motor-launch and will be placed aboard a ship where
they will receive medical treatment," Dygalo
was quoted by news agencies as saying.
back on land, the crew were expected to be taken to
a local hospital in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky for observation
and medical care. Rear Admiral Vladimir Pepelyayev,
deputy chief of the Russian naval general staff, described
the condition of the crew as "satisfactory."
"Priz" AS-28 mini-submarine returned to
the surface after a sophisticated British "Scorpio"
submersible robot equipped with heavy-duty cutting
blades succeeded in extracting the vessel from undersea
debris in which it had become entangled, officials
said. The Priz AS-28 is of Soviet design dating from
1986 and only four were built. Meant for deep-water
rescue missions, there is room for three operators
and 20 saved sailors.
race to free trapped submarine
(Russia), Aug 7: Russian crews looped cables under
an underwater antenna snaring a mini-submarine on
the Pacific floor Saturday and would try to lift
them closer to the surface before air ran out for
seven trapped sailors, a navy spokesman said.
Igor Dygalo described the rescue effort as U.S.
and British crews with robotic undersea vehicles
raced to reach the site of the accident off the
remote Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East.
A ship carrying British equipment was the first
to leave port for the scene.
could not say exactly how much air remained on the
mini-sub, which was some 625 feet below the surface,
but an admiral said Saturday the supply should last
until the end of the rescue.
said two ships had worked a cable beneath the sub
entangled in an underwater antenna assembly that
is part of Russia's coastal monitoring system. Officials
initially said the sub's propeller was snarled by
a fishing net as it participated in military exercises
Thursday. Dygalo said rescuers hoped to raise the
sub to a depth of at least 165 feet, which would
allow divers to reach the 44-foot-long AS-28 and
help the crew swim to the surface.
made contact with the crew Saturday evening and
said their condition was "satisfactory"
despite temperatures of 41 to 45 degrees in their
vessel, Russia's Pacific Fleet commander, Adm. Viktor
Fyodorov, said. It wasn't clear how contact was
being made or why it was only intermittent.
"They are not giving up hope," Fyodorov
said in televised comments. "I assure you,
work is continuing without interruption through
night and day and will not stop until we actually
lift our guys up to the surface."
and British planes flew in unmanned submersibles,
known as Super Scorpios, on Saturday. They were
being taken by ship to the accident site and could
be used to cut the sub loose from the entangling
equipment if the Russian effort to lift the vessel
failed. Russian news reports said the antenna array
was held down by two concrete anchors weighing 60
plea for international assistance underlined the
deficiencies of Russia's once-mighty navy and strongly
contrasted with the sinking of the nuclear submarine
Kursk five years ago, when authorities held off
asking for help until hope was nearly exhausted.
All 118 crew died in that accident.
British Foreign Secretary Cook dies
Aug 7: Former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook,
who quit Prime Minister Tony Blair's Cabinet in
opposition to the Iraq
war, has died, Scottish police announced Saturday.
Constabulary said Cook, 59, died after collapsing
on Ben Stack mountain in the Scottish Highlands
while walking with his wife. He was taken by Coast
Guard helicopter to a hospital in Inverness, where
he was pronounced dead.
Straw, Cook's successor as foreign secretary, said
he was "devastated." "Robin and I
had been good friends for nearly 30 years and that
friendship survived our policy disagreements over
Iraq," Straw said. "He was the greatest
parliamentarian of his generation and a very fine
foreign secretary. I deeply mourn his loss."
served as foreign minister from 1997 to 2001 before
being demoted to leader of the House of Commons.
His resignation speech, days before war began in
March 2003, received a rare standing ovation from
lawmakers. In it he asked: "Why is it now so
urgent that we should take military action to disarm
a military capacity that has been there for 20 years,
and which we helped to create?"
Zawahri warns Britain, US of more attacks
Aug 5: Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri
has warned the United States and Britain of more attacks,
saying they would not rest in peace until they pulled
their troops from Iraq and other Muslim states.
video aired on Thursday was the first to directly
focus on Britain's policies, warning Britons of more
attacks after last month's bomb blasts against London's
transport system, which killed more than 50 people.
Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's deputy, also repeated previous
threats against the United States.
you have seen in New York, Washington and Afghanistan,
are only the initial losses," he said, referring
to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States
for which al Qaeda claimed responsibility. "If
you continue the same hostile policies you will see
something that will make you forget the horrors you
have seen in Vietnam," added Zawahri in the tape
aired by Al Jazeera television.
message to you is clear, strong and final: There will
be no salvation until you withdraw from our land,
stop stealing our oil and resources and end support
for infidel, corrupt (Arab) rulers," Zawahri
said. "Blair's policies brought you destruction
in central London and will bring you more destruction,"
said Zawahri who stopped short of directly claiming
responsibility for the London blasts. At least two
groups linked to al Qaeda have claimed responsibility
for the London attacks.
said the United States was lying about its losses
in Iraq as it had in Vietnam and called on Washington
to immediately withdraw its troops.
is no way out for Washington except by immediate withdrawal.
Any delay in this decision means more killing and
losses. If you don't withdraw today you will inevitably
withdraw tomorrow, but only after tens of thousands
are killed and injured."
tape appeared recent because the London bombings took
place in July. Zawahri, wearing a black turban and
a white robe, looked older than in previous tapes.
He said Western nations would not live in peace as
long as they ignored a truce offer made by bin Laden
in April last year. "To the people of the crusader
coalition ... our blessed Sheikh Osama has offered
you a truce so that you leave Muslim land. As he said,
you will not dream of security until we live it as
a reality in Palestine and until all your infidel
armies leave Prophet Mohammad's lands," he said.
last appeared in a video aired by Al Jazeera in June
in which he called for an armed struggle to expel
"crusader forces and Jews" from Muslim states
and said peaceful change was impossible.
London launches massive security
Aug 5: Some 6,000 police officers patrolled London's
streets and sprawling Underground system Thursday,
four weeks after four suicide bombers killed 52 people,
while the city's transit system took a step toward
normality by reopening the subway station worst-hit
in the attacks.
said they had no specific intelligence of a third
attack Thursday, but the massive security operation
was intended to reassure the public after the deadly
July 7 attacks on three subway trains and a bus and
the failed July 21 attacks.
police were mingling with passengers and officers
armed with automatic rifles and pistols patrolled
stations and streets in London. Police helicopters
hovered above and traffic was heavier than normal.
"It's a little bit eerie," said Rosalyn
Cooper, 23, before she got on the Tube. "You
can't help thinking about when it will happen again."
authorities stressed that they were not acting on
a specific threat but were seeking to reassure Londoners
four weeks after the first attacks.
is a major threat and we are doing everything we can,
both covert and undercover policing, to try to stop
another attack," said Deputy Chief Constable
Andy Trotter of the British Transport Police. "There
is no specific intelligence but we are still at a
very high level of alert in London."
transport authorities also reopened the busy Piccadilly
Line, easing disruption on the network that carries
some 3 million passengers a day.
"The return of the Piccadilly line is a major
step as the Underground and London get back to normal,"
London Underground Managing Director Tim O'Toole said.
Piccadilly Line is one of the busiest sections of
London's subway system. Service had been partly suspended
since a bomb exploded on a train July 7, killing 26
commuters and the suspected bomber - a closure that
caused significant disruption on the network. Transport
for London, the public body that runs the Underground,
said passenger numbers had dipped by 30 percent at
weekends and by between 5 percent and 15 percent on
weekdays since July 7.
pledge loyalty as King Abdullah assumes power
Aug 5: Hundreds of tribal chiefs, Islamic clerics,
princes and commoners pledged loyalty to Saudi Arabia's
new King Abdullah, vowing to "hear and obey"
in a traditional Islamic ceremony that seals his status
as monarch after a decade as de facto ruler.
investiture strengthens his hand to push forward with
what have been the hallmarks of his unofficial rule
- limited steps toward reform and a crackdown on Islamic
extremism and militants linked to al-Qaida. "I
promise God and you that I will adopt the Qur'an as
the constitution and Islam as the course, and that
all my concerns will be to establish righteousness
and justice," Abdullah said in his first address
to the nation as king. "I appeal to you to support
me and help me carry this trust and don't hesitate
to advise me."
dignitaries flowed through a Riyadh palace to congratulate
the 81-year-old Abdullah and express condolences for
the death of his predecessor and half brother, king
Fahd. Abdullah, in white robes and a cream-coloured
cloak, sat with Britain's Prince Charles and Prime
Minister Tony Blair as well as the king of Sweden
and other European heads of state.
Arabia is a major US ally in the Middle East, and
Abdullah has worked to repair ties strained by the
Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, in which 15 of the attackers
Minister Saud al-Faisal said he expected US-Saudi
relations to continue to improve and vowed a "total
war" on terrorism. "We stand firmly against
(terrorism) not only militarily with security forces,
but also with an ideological plan dealing with the
causes and roots of those who joined the evil-doers,"
al-Faisal told reporters. Quoting Abdullah on terrorism,
he said: "This disease must be rooted from the
body of the politics of Saudi Arabia."
allegiance ceremony - known as "bayah" -
is key for Abdullah, who has been de facto ruler since
Fahd suffered a debilitating stroke in 1995. Fahd
died Monday at age 84.
is believed to have met some resistance on both reform
and the fight against militants from hardliners in
the Islamic clergy and their allies in the royal family,
though such squabbles are kept strictly behind the
scenes. So far, reform steps have been severely limited,
centred on the kingdom's first election, held this
year to pick local councils. But Abdullah faces pressure
to allow a wider number of Saudis a say in government.
monarch will likely boost Abdullah in pushing through
his plans. He may also be helped by money: The kingdom's
coffers are overflowing with oil profits amid rising
prices - spiking to $61 US on news of Fahd's death.
After years of deficits due to low oil prices, Abdullah
now has cash to please disgruntled members of the
kingdom's grand mufti and other top Islamic clerics
were the first to file by Abdullah, shake his hand
and vow their loyalty to him as Saudi Arabia's sixth
king. The House of Saud has depended for legitimacy
on the support of clerics from the kingdom's strict
Wahhabi version of Islam since Abdullah's father,
Abdul-Aziz bin Saud, welded the Arabian peninsula
tribes into a country under his name in 1932.
of tribal chiefs, royal family members, government
officials and uniformed senior military officers -
all men - lined up, some shouting "Long live
the king" as they waited their turn to honour
Abdullah. A palace servant swung an incense burner
among them to bless the gathering, in a large marble-columned
hall covered with silk carpets and graced by giant
man shook Abdullah's hand and pronounced, "I
express my allegiance to you. I hear and obey, except
in what would disobey God." The ceremony has
its roots in the succession after the death of the
Prophet Muhammed in the seventh century, when the
caliphs who followed him received the support of the
King Fahd buried in simple Riyadh grave
July 3: Saudi Arabia's King Fahd was buried in a simple
unmarked grave on Tuesday after a brief funeral to
mourn the monarch who ruled the oil superpower for
more than two turbulent decades.
keeping with the kingdom's austere Islamic tradition
Fahd, who in life enjoyed enormous wealth and privilege,
was laid to rest in a sprawling Riyadh cemetery alongside
hundreds of other unidentified dirt graves.
died on Monday after 23 years ruling the strategic
Gulf state which is both the world's biggest oil exporter
and the cradle of Islam -- drawing more than a billion
faithful to turn five times a day toward Mecca in
the Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque in the capital,
Muslim leaders from across the world joined ordinary
Saudis to offer condolences to Fahd's successor and
half-brother Abdullah, and performed Muslim prayers
for the dead.
brief afternoon ceremony was devoid of pomp. Fahd's
body, wrapped in a brown shroud and laid on a bier,
was carried out of the mosque and driven to his final
resting place in an ambulance.
Arabia's King Fahd Dies in Riyadh
Aug 1: Saudi Arabia's King Fahd, who moved his country
closer to the United States but ruled the world's
largest oil producing nation in name only since suffering
a stroke in 1995, died early Monday, the Saudi royal
court said. He was said to be 84.
Prince Abdullah, the king's 81-year-old half brother
and the country's de factor ruler, was appointed the
new monarch. "With all sorrow and sadness, the
royal court in the name of his highness Crown Prince
Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and all members of the family
announces the death of the custodian of the two holy
mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz," according
to a statement read on state-run Saudi TV by the country's
died at approximately 2:30 a.m. EDT. President Bush
was alerted within minutes of Fahd's death, the official
said on condition of anonymity. The king's funeral
was to be held Tuesday evening, he said.
TV, which said the king was 84 years of age, broke
into regular broadcasting to announce Fahd's death.
Quranic verse recitals followed the announcement by
the minister, Iyad bin Amin Madani, whose voice wavered
with emotion as he read the statement. Madani said
only that the king, whose exact date of birth wasn't
known, died of an illness.
died at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the
Saudi capital, Riyadh, where he was admitted on May
27 for unspecified medical tests, an official at the
hospital said. At the time of his widely publicized
hospitalization that caused concern home and abroad,
officials said he was suffering from pneumonia and
a high fever.
Saudi statement said the new King Abdullah announced
that his half brother and the Saudi defense minister,
Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, 77, would be the nation's
next crown prince.
terror cell on loose in London: Report
July 31: A third Islamist terror cell is planning
multiple suicide bomb attacks on Tube trains and other
'soft' targets in central London, according to intelligence
about a cell with access to explosives and which plans
to unleash a "third wave" of attacks was
the trigger for last Thursday's unprecedented security
exercise- the biggest since the second world war-
in London which saw 6,000 police, many armed, patrolling
across the city, says the Sunday Times.
members of the third cell were said to be independent
of the July 7 and July 21 terrorists but have "associations"
with some of the suspects who have been arrested in
connection with the July 21 attacks.
King to visit India from Monday
DELHI, July 31: India
and Bhutan will consolidate their strategic and economic
ties when King Jigme Singye Wangchuck arrives here
on a four-day working visit beginning Monday.
and Bhutan share warm and cordial relations and a
tradition of periodic exchange of high-level visits.
His Majesty's visit would provide an opportunity to
discuss bilateral and other issues of mutual interest,"
according to Mr Navtej Sarna, spokesman of the Ministry
of External Affairs.
his stay here, the King will call on President A P
J Abdul Kalam and meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,
External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh and other
Prime Minister will host a dinner in honour of the
distinguished visitor. The King of Bhutan will also
meet United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia
British-educated King Jigme, who succeeded at the
age of 16 in 1972, early this year announced the end
of a century of absolute monarchy with the publication
of a draft constitution to establish a multiparty
democracy by the end of the year.
recently provided assistance package worth $450 million
to Bhutan for its ninth five-year plan ending 2007.
Delhi has extended support to five-year plans of Bhutan
since their inception in 1961 as part of its effort
to spur developmental and modernisation processes
in the Himalayan kingdom.
cooperation, especially in the hydropower sector,
represents a win-win situation for both countries
with India receiving an assured supply of cheap and
clear energy and Bhutan getting considerable revenue
in return. The
336 MW Chukha and 60 MW Kurichhu projects, which have
already come on stream, and the 1,020 MW Tala project
nearing completion are enduring symbols of India-Bhutan
friendship and cooperation.
Delhi has helped Bhutan with key development projects
in social, health, infrastructure and strategic sectors.
close cooperation has translated into tremendous goodwill
for New Delhi in Thimpu and has enhanced cooperation
in strategic areas as demonstrated by the operations
undertaken by the Royal Bhutan Army to flush out the
Indian insurgent groups based in Bhutan in December
2003 and January 2004.
July 21 bomb suspects in custody
July 30: Police raiding apartments Friday in London
and Rome rounded up the last of the four suspected
attackers from the failed July 21 transit bombings
in Britain, officials said.
of the suspects were arrested in west London, near
the trendy Notting Hill neighborhood, following raids
by heavily armed police. Video of the arrests broadcast
by ITV News/Daily Mail in London showed two men identified
as bombing suspects stripped to the waist and emerging
at gunpoint on a balcony of an apartment after police
apparently fired tear gas inside.
police in Rome arrested Osman Hussain, a naturalized
British citizen from Somalia, as part of an ongoing
investigation in the bombings, said Interior Minister
Giuseppe Pisanu. Hussain, who reportedly fled London
and stopped in Milan and Bologna en route to the Italian
capital, was "the fourth attacker," he said.
those arrests, as well as that of Yasin Hassan Omar
on Wednesday in the city of Birmingham, authorities
believe they have captured all four men whose photos
they released following last week's botched bombings,
a police official said.
have four people in custody we believe are the images
we released," said the official, who asked not
to be identified in accordance with British practice,
referring to the images, taken from closed-circuit
TV cameras on July 21.
bomber identified in Egypt attack
EL-SHEIK, July 26: Investigators have identified a
suicide bomber in the weekend attacks that killed
scores in this Red Sea resort, saying he was an Egyptian
with Islamic militant ties, security officials said
Tuesday as investigators questioned dozens more people.
bomber who was identified carried out the devastating
truck bomb attack on the Ghazala Gardens Hotel. DNA
tests identified him as Youssef Badran, an Egyptian
Sinai resident with ties to Islamic militants, the
officials said on condition of anonymity because the
release of the details had not been authorized.
held members of Badran's family for questioning and
were trying to determine his associates, the officials
said. Across Sinai, security forces took in 70 people
for questioning Tuesday, bringing to 140 the number
held since Saturday's pre-dawn blasts.
on Tuesday, an Egyptian diplomat said Pakistanis were
not involved in the bombings, despite police circulating
photographs of five Pakistani men a day earlier. Police
distributed photos of five Pakistani men at checkpoints
in and around Sharm el-Sheik on Monday, and several
state-owned newspapers published the same pictures
provided by the Interior Ministry.
has been no direct link between the wanted men and
the bombings, even though at least two security officials
said the Pakistanis had flown into Sharm from Cairo
several days earlier. "No Pakistani national
was involved in the terrorist attacks that rocked
Sharm el-Sheik late last Saturday," the Egyptian
Embassy in Islamabad said in a statement.
ambassador to Pakistan, Hussein Haridy, said he informed
the Pakistani government by telephone late Monday
of the Egyptian conclusion.
of the missing Pakistanis were put up in Cairo. Officials
now say they are seeking the men for illegally entering
blasts rocked the popular Naama Bay tourist strip,
including the suicide truck bomb attack at the hotel.
Two miles away, a third truck bomb ravaged an area
called the Old Market, which is popular with Egyptians.
The death toll stood at 88, according to the head
of the Sharm el-Sheik hospital that treated the victims,
but Egypt's Health Ministry has put it at 64. Hospitals
said the ministry count excludes some sets of body
Sinai's governor said Monday that 17 of the dead were
non-Egyptians, including Westerners and citizens from
other Arab states. One American, Kristina Miller,
27, of Las Vegas, was killed.
crashes near German Parliament
July 23: A small aircraft crashed onto a lawn between
Germany's Parliament and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's
office in central Berlin on Friday, killing the pilot
as it burst into flames, police and witnesses said.
single-engined, ultra-light aircraft crashed a couple
of hundred metres the Reichstag building that houses
the lower house of Parliament and about the same distance
from the Chancellery, witnesses said. Personnel from
the Parliament rushed over and pulled the burning
pilot from the wreckage, they said.
Interior Minister Ehrhart Koerting told a news conference
at the scene there was no indication the crash was
in any way related to terrorism.
"Nothing indicates that this had anything to
do with terrorism. It appears at this point that it
may have been some sort of accident or a case of suicide,"
plane appeared to have taken off from somewhere in
the eastern state of Brandenburg that surrounds the
German capital, he told reporters, adding that the
pilot's identity was unknown. David Silveira, a tourist
from Brazil, said he saw the aircraft flying upside
down and out of control near the Parliament building.
"If he had wanted to fly into the Reichstag he
could have. He was clearly out of control and trying
to land the plane," Silveira said. The pilot
was a heavy-set, elderly man, he added.
told reporters such aircraft are generally permitted
to fly over the capital. Asked whether security would
have to be reviewed, he said: "That's something
we'll have to look at in coming days."
July 21: Four small bombs hit London's bus and Underground
train network on Thursday, without causing major
casualties, exactly two weeks after bombers killed
more than 50 people in the capital.
large part of the capital's underground train network
was suspended, but police reassured the public that
the emergency was not as serious as two weeks ago.
London's Police Chief Ian Blair told reporters there
had been four explosions or attempted explosions
but the bombs were small and casualties appeared
to be light.
emergency coincided with a service to commemorate
those killed by bombs detonated by four young British
Muslims in three underground trains and a bus at
morning rush hour, killing more than 50 people and
shocking a capital that had hitherto been spared
Al-Qaeda-style attacks on civilians.
attack confronted Britain's people and politicians
with the prospect the country could be nurturing its
own generation of the type of Islamist militants loyal
to Osama bin Laden who had already inflicted carnage
in the United States on September 11, 2001, in Bali
and on Madrid's suburban trains last year. All four
bombers died in the July 7 attacks, leading most people
to assume they had been suicide bombers.
Britain's leading shares fell sharply on news of the
latest incidents, but recovered once it appeared that
the effect of the latest attacks would not be on the
same scale as two weeks ago. Although markets rebounded
from the latest shock, nervousness was growing about
the prospect of more attacks. "It is a massive
worry," said Jeremy Hodges, head of foreign exchange
sales at Lloyds TSB bank.
is obviously going to cause big issues in this country
now. The security issues have just got about 500 per
cent greater. It will reflect badly on the economy,
badly on tourism and you have got to suggest that
we are going to cut (interest) rates."
bomber trained in house occupied by Osama
July 16: The latest report links Shehzad Tanweer,
one of the three Leeds-based bombers who struck terror
in London on July 7, with Osama bin Laden. It is believed
he was taught terror tactics at an estate in north
Pakistan, where bin Laden's lived earlier and where
Markaz-e-Dawa, a notorious religious school, is now
had gone to Pakistan last December after dropping
out of his sports science course at Leeds Metropolitan
University. His movements, traced so far, suggest
he flew to Lahore. The city, the British police now
feel, is a hotbed of fundamentalism. From Lahore he
went to Markaz-e-Dawa, the madarsa co-founded by bin
Laden on the 190-acre site at Muridke, 30 miles from
estate comprises a mosque, a foundry, a garment factory,
a woodwork centre, a computer centre, three residences
for recruits and 30 schools.
Laden had a house there until he became a fugitive
on the run in 1990, according to The Mirror. Intelligence
experts believe apart from teaching the Koran, the
school also runs a 21-day course covering assassinations
returned in February. But before that he is said to
have visited Jamia Manzoorul Islamia, a madarsa in
Lahore. After his return, Tanweer became more devout.
He may have fallen into the clutches of Jaish-e-Muhammad,
which is banned in Pakistan.
biochemist jailed in UK attacks
England, July 16: Police in Cairo detained a biochemist
who studied in the United States and taught at a university
in Leeds - the home base for at least three of the
London bombers. Investigators in Britain raided an
Islamic book shop and the Egyptian's home, searching
for explosives and other evidence Friday.
another sign of the investigation's widening global
reach, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair
said authorities were trying to determine whether
any of the four "foot soldiers" - suicide
bombers who ranged in age from 18 to 30 - had ties
with Pakistan-based cells of the al-Qaida terror network.
an interview with BBC radio, Blair said the inquiry
was focusing on the organizers of the four London
suicide attacks, which killed 54 people, and confirmed
police were focusing on a Pakistan connection. Three
of the bombers - Shahzad Tanweer, Mohammed Sidique
Khan and Hasid Hussain - were Britons of Pakistani
origin. At least two had traveled to Pakistan.
said that a man who was on Britain's terrorism watch
list had entered the country but was not put under
surveillance. In an apparent slip by British intelligence,
the unidentified man was able to leave the country
in the days before the bombings. "With this particular
man there is nothing at the moment that links him
directly," Blair said.
Interior Ministry announced Friday that Egyptian authorities
were interrogating el-Nashar, who studied at North
Carolina State University and the University of Leeds.
It said el-Nashar denied having any connection to
the attacks. In Cairo, a government official said
el-Nashar, 33, was arrested in the Egyptian capital
on Sunday or Monday after British officials informed
Egypt of their interest in him. The official spoke
on condition of anonymity because he was giving information
not in the official ministry announcement.
el-Nashar's youngest brother, Mohammed, said he was
arrested Thursday when he went to a local mosque to
pray but didn't return. It was unclear why there was
a discrepancy between the two accounts. In London,
Blair said British authorities would seek his extradition,
if need be, although the two countries do not have
an extradition treaty.
security official in Cairo said Britain was pressuring
Egypt to hand el-Nashar over, but that Egypt was trying
to determine if there was enough evidence against
him to do so. The official spoke on condition of anonymity
because the information was not authorized for official
Foreign Office had no comment on the security official's
Egyptian Interior Minister said el-Nashar came to
Egypt from London on vacation and had intended to
go back to Britain to continue his studies.
denied having any relation with the latest events
in London," the ministry said. "He pointed
out (to questioners) that all his belongings remained
in his apartment in Britain."
Leeds, authorities searched el-Nashar's town house
in a complex of two-story brown brick apartments.
The home was surrounded by blue and white police tape
and covered in scaffolding draped in white plastic
sheeting. Forensic teams in white coveralls carted
TATP, or triacetone triperoxide, is a highly unstable
explosive made from commercially available chemicals.
Earlier media reports had suggested the London bombers
used military-grade explosives.
Oppenheimer, an explosives expert with Jane's Information
Group, said TATP is strong enough to have caused the
damage wreaked by last week's bombs. But he said making
such a highly volatile explosive stable enough to
carry out closely synchronized attacks would have
required advanced knowledge of chemistry. Police say
the three subway blasts happened within a minute.
research at Leeds focused on biocatalysis and enzyme
immobilization, according to a biography of him at
the university's Web site.
That kind of research "wouldn't have anything
directly to do with explosives" or with biological
weapons, said Constance Ann Schall, an associate professor
at the Chemical Engineering Department at the University
of Toledo in Ohio.
shocked at attack on UK Gurdwaras
DELHI, July 10: Expressing its "deep shock"
at reports of attacks on two places of Sikh worship
in the UK following the London blasts, India has asked
the British Government to take all necessary steps to
apprehend the perpetrators and make efforts to maintain
peace and religious harmony in the country.
spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs said such
attacks were an affront not only to the great Sikh religion
but also to entire humanity. "The Sikh community
in the UK has carved out a highly respected place for
itself in the British society through its industriousness
and commitment. They have enriched the political landscape
and contributed significantly to economic activity,"
spokesman said "We would appeal to the British
government to take all necessary steps to apprehend
the perpetrators of these attacks and protect the Sikh
community against any further expressions of racial
attack on Islamic places of worship in the wake of the
events of July 7 in the UK, the spokesman said such
shocking attacks go against the spirit of pluralism
and religious freedom, which the UK upholds. "We
would hope that the perpetrators of these attacks will
be expeditiously apprehended and every effort be made
for the maintenance of peace and religious harmony in
the UK," he added.
the National Commission for Minorities has also condemned
the reported attack on a Gurdwara. "Sikhs in India
are shocked over the incident especially as the members
of the community have lived peacefully in Britain for
decades," according to Tirlochan Singh, NCM Chairman.
Singh said he had discussed the matter with Foreign
Secretary Shyam Saran, who said authorities here were
in constant touch with the Indian High Commission in
Britain. Mr Singh, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP, appealed
for calm so that communal harmony was maintained.
blasts may have Pak link
July 9: The terrorists, who carried out Thursday's serial
bomb blasts in London, may have been from a gang of
young and well-educated British Asians, who went to
Islamic schools in Pakistan, after graduating from Britain.
not enough evidence had been collected to arrest them,
though in order to establish their links with al Qaeda,
intelligence agencies have in the past, monitored phone
calls between them and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, The
to be in their 20s, these Muslim extremists are graduates
who completed their college education in the UK and
then went to Islamic schools in Pakistan near the Afghan
border, the paper quoted a US security source as saying.
The Pak-Afghan border is full of Pashtun tribals, and
has over the past few years earned the notoriety of
being the den of hard core terrorists believing in Osama's
men feel that the terrorists were 18-20 in number. Professor
Michael Clarke of King's College London was quoted as
saying that planting a string of bombs "would require
a cell of at least 18 to 20 people". A website,
believed to be run by a Osama associate based in London
and having links to Abu Dhabi, said that a European
wing of al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.
the name "Secret Organization Group of al-Qaeda
of Jihad Organization in Europe", the group called
the bombers "heroic" and demanded troops be
withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the
report, the European group said on the website: "We
have repeatedly warned the British Government and people.
have fulfilled our promise and carried out our blessed
military raid in Britain after our mujahidin exerted
strenuous efforts over a long period to ensure success
of the raid. He who warns is excused." The report
further said that Sheik Omar Bakri, a radical Muslim
cleric, had three months ago issued a chilling warning
that a European wing of the al-Qaeda was preparing to
an interview with a Portugese magazine, the Sheikh had
said: "One very well organised group in London
has a great appeal for young Muslims. I know that they
are ready to launch a big operation. It is inevitable."
paper quoted the Sheikh as saying: "We don't make
a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents
and non-innocents, only between Muslims and unbelievers.
And, the life of an unbeliever has no value, no sanctity."
Minister Rashid's house was used for storing arms: ex-militant
DELHI, June 27: In a damning revelation, a former top
JKLF militant has said that Pakistan Information Minister
Sheikh Rashid's mansion in Rawalpindi was used as a
"guest-house" and for "arms storage"
for the Kashmiri militant recruits between 1987 and
Ahad Waza, one of the first Kashmiris to go across the
LoC for militant training, has also talked about the
involvement of the Pakistani establishment in starting
militancy in Jammu and Kashmir by saying that then Pakistani
military ruler Zia-ul Haq, had signed a "Memorandum
of Understanding" with him for recruiting Kashmiris.
what JKLF chief Yasin Malik, had said in Pakistan before
retracting, Waza has told Jammu-based 'Daily Excelsior'
newspaper that Rashid's mansion functioned as a "transit
camp" for JKLF militants and it was guarded by
"men of Pakistani army in civies". JKLF trainees
were lodged at Sheikh Rashid's "safe-house",
trained at Kachgari, given guns and grenades, accommodated
back in the "safe house", he has been quoted
who first crossed over to PoK in 1987, says that when
he went across the LoC for the second time in 1988,
he was lodged in the same house along with other members
of his group. Rashid has earlier denied having helped
militants, saying he only provide relief to Kashmiri
armed men in civies, who lodged at the safe house, gave
us arms training. It was a seven-hour Toyota drive from
the 'safe house' to the training camp. On return, after
10-15 days of training, they used to lodge us at the
safe house, clicked our photographs and sent us back
to the valley," Waza said.
former militant commander, who is now acting Chairman
of a faction of People's Conference separatist outfit,
said he had stayed in Rashid's house "several times"
in 1988. Waza recalls that when he first visited Pakistan,
a meeting of his, along with another person Ghulam Nabi
Bhat, was arranged with ISI's Col Assad who eventually
arranged their meeting with Zia at President's House
in Islamabad. "Bhat Sahib and myself had a long
meeting with Gen Zia. We signed an MoU," the former
Zia wanted the Kashmiris to take up arms against the
Indian rule. He told us that he had helped the Afghans
and he would provide every kind of help to the oppressed
Kashmiris," Waza said. He recalls how after returning
to Kashmir, he started motivating youth for militancy
and sent them in batches across the LoC for training.
wins Iran presidential vote
June 25: Ultra-conservative Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
swept to a landslide win in presidential elections on
Saturday, spelling a possible end to Iran's fragile social
reforms and tentative rapprochement with the West.
48, won the backing of the religious poor to defeat veteran
political heavyweight Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was
supported by pro-reform parties and wealthy Iranians fearful
of a hardline monopoly on power in the Islamic state.
"The figures show that Ahmadinejad is the winner,"
Interior Ministry spokesman Jahanbakhsh Khanjani told
will be Iran's first non-cleric president for 24 years
when he takes office in August. An official at the Guardian
Council, which must approve the election results, said
that out of 24.8 million votes counted, Ahmadinejad had
61.7 percent, defying forecasts of a tight race. Officials
said turnout was about 26 million, or 56 per cent, down
from the 63 per cent of Iran's 46.7 million eligible voters
who cast ballots in an inconclusive first round on June
over, we accept that we've lost," said a close aide
to Rafsanjani, who was president from 1989 to 1997. Although
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the last word
on all matters of state, a hardline presidency removes
the moderating influence on decision-making exercised
by outgoing reformist President Mohammad Khatami since
all but closes the door for a breakthrough in US-Iran
relations," said Karim Sadjadpour, Tehran-based analyst
for the International Crisis Group. Washington broke ties
with Iran in 1980 and now accuses it of developing nuclear
weapons and supporting terrorism. Iran, the world's fourth-largest
oil producer, denies the charges.
think Ahmadinejad is less amenable to compromise on the
nuclear issue, but it is unclear how much influence he
will have on it," said Sadjadpour. The result was
a crushing blow to Rafsanjani, 70, who has been at the
forefront of Iranian politics since the 1979 Islamic revolution
and was widely considered Iran's second most powerful
figure before the vote. His last venture to the polls
in 2000 parliamentary elections also ended in failure.
is the beginning of a new political era," Ahmadinejad
said after voting on Friday. His victory was the latest
by a new breed of hardline politicians, many of them former
Revolutionary Guardsmen, who won local council and parliamentary
elections in 2003 and 2004 amid widespread disillusionment
with the slow pace of reform.
Deep divisions. Friday's vote exposed deep class divisions
in the nation of 67 million people.
former member of the special forces of Iran's hardline
Revolutionary Guards, Ahmadinejad's humble lifestyle and
pledges to tackle corruption and redistribute the country's
oil wealth appealed to the urban and rural religious poor.
"I vote for Ahmadinejad because he wants to cut the
hands of those who are stealing the national wealth and
he wants to fight poverty," said Rahmatollah Izadpanah,
voters had said they feared Ahmadinejad would reverse
modest reforms made under Khatami that allow women to
dress in brighter, skimpier clothes and couples to fraternise
in public without fear of arrest. Washington repeated
accusations that the vote was unfair due to the disqualification
of more than 1,000 hopeful candidates.
was a mistake: Dalai Lama
DELHI, June 21: It may not be L.K. Advani's view but the
Dalai Lama believes that the Partition of India was a big
mistake and an unfortunate event. The success of Indian
secularism, the Tibetan leader said, evidenced by the fact
that there are more Muslims in India than in Pakistan, shows
that the Indian model is the best for the region.
Dalai Lama said that Acharya Vinobha Bhave had it right
when he spoke about a federation that included India, Burma
(now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Afghanistan, Pakistan
and other countries in the region. The Dalai Lama believed
that such a conglomeration would be best for the people
of the region.
contrasted India's democratic and secular traditions with
those of China. "No matter how much people may complain
about inefficiency and corruption," he said, "Indian
democracy has very strong roots. And Indian secularism as
defined by Mahatma Gandhi does not mean 'no religion' but
freedom to all religions."
the Dalai Lama conceded that China had made remarkable economic
progress - "almost a miracle," he said. Tibet,
he felt, could gain from China's prosperity and economic
development. It was because of such considerations, he explained,
that he does not demand independence for Tibet. Rather,
he wanted full autonomy and a fully-functioning democracy
where Tibetans could elect their own leaders.
present, he said, the Chinese were engaged in 'cultural
genocide', wiping out all traces of Tibetan culture and
flooding Tibetan cities with immigrants. "In most of
our cities now," he added, "Tibetans have been
reduced to a minority."
Dalai Lama said he had no major disagreements with the Indian
government despite Delhi's recent recognition of the Tibet
Autonomous Region as an integral part of China. His concerns,
he said, were not with Chinese sovereignty but with Tibetan
autonomy. "Today, when the whole world is coming together,
I am not saying that we want to separate. We only want to
preserve our culture and live in a democratic society. By
opposing us, it is the Chinese who are being split-ist,"
Dalai Lama is optimistic that eventually Beijing will meet
the aspirations of the Tibetans. "The Chinese are a
very proud people," he said, to explain why Beijing
has been so unyielding. "But now Tibetan Buddhism centres
are opening all over China and a new generation is ready
to take over" His hope is that autonomy will be more
acceptable to a new generation of Chinese leaders.
Lama defies Beijing, calls for greater Tibetan autonomy
June 15: The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet's Buddhists,
on Tuesday called for greater self-rule for Tibet in spite of
a warning by Beijing that he should not engage in political
activities during a visit to Scandinavia.
told parliamentarians that Tibetans did not seek independence
but the greatest degree of self-rule possible, according to
the Norwegian press agency NTB. He said that overall he was
optimistic since the situation was evolving positively and Tibet
shared the same basic values and aims as China -- peace, progress
he said the situation in Tibet was almost desperate because
Tibetans were far from having won respect for their culture,
values and human rights.
Earlier in the day China said it had warned Sweden against allowing
him to engage in political activities during a brief stay in
Scandinavia. "The Chinese side expressed concerns to the
Swedish side," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao
said in Beijing of the visit to Gothenburg by Tibet's most revered
to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin
June 15: UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi is scheduled to meet Russian
President Vladimir Putin in his hometown St. Petersburg on Wednesday
to discuss ways to further enhance Indo-Russian strategic partnership.
At her talks with Putin, Gandhi would be accompanied by External
Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh and Indian Ambassador to Russia
This is Gandhi's fourth Russia visit and first after becoming
UPA Chairperson. Earlier she had visited Soviet Russia with her
husband late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Last time she visited
Moscow with Rajiv in February 1991 as personal guests of Soviet
President Mikhail Gorbachev.
She is on a four-day visit of Russia at the invitation of President
Putin as his personal guest. She visited ancient Russian twin-cities
of Vladimir and Suzdal on Tuesday, world famous for their churches
She also visited the grand golden domed cathedral of Christ the
Saviour on Tuesday, near the Kremlin, which was blown by Stalin
in 1934 and rebuilt in mid-1990s after the fall of Communism in
Russia's local and foreign media is closely watching Sonia's visit.
In a country with thousands of Indiras, for any Russian above
40, Nehru family and Bollywood are the very embodiment of 'Hindi-Roosi
Gandhi was accroded a red carpet welcome on arrival here on Monday.
a rainy Moscow morning, Mrs Gandhi was given a red carpet welcome
by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov and Deputy
Railway Minister Vladimir Yakunin and other senior officials at
the VVIP Vnukovo-2 airport.
to roll red carpet for Sonia Gandhi
DELHI, June 11: Russia will throw a red carpet welcome to UPA
Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, as she leaves on Monday on a four-day
visit as the personal guest of President Vladimir Putin.
visit is an exceptional gesture of friendship made by the Russian
President taking into account the high degree of importance attached
by both sides to India-Russia relationship," said the Indian
ambassador Kanwal Sibal, while about the upcoming visit of the
with Putin in his hometown St Petersburg on Wednesday would be
the political centerpiece of Sonia Gandhi's Russia visit - her
first tour to a UN Security Council's P-5 nation after becoming
UPA Chairperson. Sonia Gandhi's agenda for talks with President
Putin would not include issues, which are the prerogative of the
Prime Minister or the President of India, officials here said.
Moscow, besides meeting with Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, an
old India hand, Sonia is also scheduled to address a function
on Tuesday organised in her honour by the civic body 'Centre of
National Glory of Russia'. The Centre has top Kremlin officials
including Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov and daughter of the world's
first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, Yelena Gagarina on its trustee council.
recent weeks, there has been an unprecedented number of high level
visits between the government, state and party leadership to sustain
and advance a political dialogue between New Delhi and Moscow.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had toured Moscow to attend Victory
Day celebrations in the beginning of May, followed by President
APJ Abdul Kalam, who paid his first state visit to Russia on May
the beginning of this month, External Affairs Minister K Natwar
Singh visited Russia's far eastern port-city of Vladivostok for
bilateral talks with his Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov and to
attend a India-Russia-China trilateral meeting.
initiates steps to meet $ 5 b trade target with India
DELHI, June 9: The Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Alexander
Downer, has said that Australia had initiated concrete measures
to ensure that the volume of bilateral trade with India exceeds
the target of US $ 5 billion in the next three years from the
current figure of US$ 3.5 billion.
Downer was responding to the issues raised by the FICCI President,
Mr. Onkar S. Kanwar, when a FICCI delegation called on the visiting
minister here on Thursday.
Australian Foreign Minister said his country was bidding for development
of Delhi and Mumbai airports along with a French consortium and
keenly looking forward to the opening up of India's retail sector
foreign investment. Australia had also liberalised immigration
rules for skilled migrants and there was scope for further enhancement
of student visas for study in Australia.
FICCI Chief presented a five-point Action Agenda to enhance trade
ties with Australia and spoke of the need to revisit the list
of commodities which are subjected to Non Tariff Barriers in Australia
to remove/reduce these barriers to facilitate market access.
Kanwar expressed Indian industry's desire to enlarge export of
Indian agriculture and marine products to Australia, easing of
Australian visa norms for students and skilled professionals from
India and relaxation of requirements for business visas which
should be given for a longer duration to enable businesses to
urged the Australian Minister that there was need to recognise
degrees from Indian institutions in Australia and the easing of
the regulations for Indian institutes opening educational centres
the process of registering certified Indian drugs with concerned
Australian authorities could be made a lot smoother, Mr. Kanwar
pointed out that the problem of delay in movement of goods between
the two countries due to their transhipment through Singapore
should be resolved on a priority basis.
Kanwar informed Mr. Downer that there were tremendous possibilities
for cooperation and collaboration between the two countries. With
Australia poised to host the 2006 Commonwealth Games, there are
immense synergies that can be worked out between the two countries.
Infrastructure would be an important area, besides Mining, Food
& Agriculture Processing, IT Services, Financial & Education
Services, Retail and Consumer products.
FICCI delegation's meeting with the Australian Minister comes
close on the heels of the 40-member FICCI business delegation
to Australia along with India's Minister of Commerce and Industry,
Mr. Kamal Nath, from May 18 to 21, for the Joint Business Council
and Destination Indian meeting, which was held, co-terminus with
the Joint Ministerial Commission..
backs India for UNSC seat
DELHI, June 8: In what could be music to Indian ears, Australia
has not only backed India's candidature for a permanent membership
of the expanded UN Security Council, but it has also expressed
confidence that New Delhi would be able to muster the two-thirds
majority at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for this.
backing India, the visiting Australian Foreign Minister, Mr Alexander
Downer, also supported two other members of the G-4 group -- Japan
and Brazil -- in their efforts for a permanent UNSC seat. "Japan
is the world's second largest economy and a big donor towards
aid projects across the developing world. And Brazil because of
its size," he said.
is not the time to give up,'' he said and urged India and the
other members to keep working towards achieving their goal. To
another question, Mr Downer said that there was a ''reasonable
chance'' that the expansion of the Security Council would take
place this year.
confirmed that the Minister of External Affairs, Mr Natwar Singh,
did raise the issue at the talks with him and that he made it
clear that India was one of the countries that Australia would
like to see as a permanent member on the UNSC. ''It is not proper
for India to be excluded from the permanent membership,'' he said.
As India had one billion people and a significant economy, it
was natural that it wanted to make a big statement at the global
forum, he said.
Downer said "Australia in principle supports the G-4 group
and would like to see India as one of the permanent members of
the UNSC that was originally comprised of all the victorious powers
in the World War II.
said that India and Australia had also contributed towards allied
victory in the World War II. "Times have changing and situation
now is much different from the San Francisco summit at the end
of Second World War," he said, adding that expanded UNSC
was required under the present scenario.
said that India and Australia were having good economic ties,
which were improving day by day, and this included the IT sector
also. "Australia and India can become very close in the IT
sector. There is a lot of exposure in enhancing our ties in this
field. In fact we should try to forge ties in the field of science
as well and not only restrict it to IT and biotechnology,"
he said, adding that during his talks with Mr Natwar Singh, the
two also discussed on matters relating to carrying out joint research.
said that India and Australia had good trade agreements, and India's
look east policy and participation in ASEAN was also encouraging.
"India and Australia have good trade agreements. Both the
countries have laid down agreements for enhancing trade co-operations.
As of now the two don't have any free trade agreements, but maybe
one day we might have free trade from the North of China, India,
South East Asia to Australia," he added.
Downer said that the two sides also discussed terrorism. Although
there was no talk of any joint patrolling, there were talks of
defence co-operation between the two sides, adding that talks
on providing security at sensitive points on trade routes like
the Strait of Malacca did arise.
the political asylum by Chinese Diplomat Chen Yonglin posted in
Sydney, the foreign minister said the diplomat has been asked
to apply for a "protection visa" instead of seeking
political asylum. The
immigration officials would consider the protection visa application
"objectively", he said. Any decision on the visa application
would not affect the economic and political relations between
Australia and China, he said.
puts EU referendum on ice
June 6: Britain suspended legislation on Monday to set up a referendum
on the new European Union constitution and said the bloc's leaders
must collectively decide the way ahead.
reserve completely the right to bring back the bill providing for
a UK referendum should circumstances change. But we see no point
in proceeding at this moment," Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
is not for the UK alone to decide the future of the treaty,"
he said, adding that the first chance for collective discussion
was at next week's heads of governments summit in Brussels.
successfully test-fires missiles - paper
June 5: Taiwan has successfully tested its domestically
developed Hsiung Feng anti-ship missile, the China Times
newspaper said on Sunday, as the island attempts to beef
up its defence capability against China's growing military
could begin "small initial production" of the
Hsiung Feng, with a 1,000-km range that could hit military
bases in China's southeast, this year or in 2006, the
Chinese-language newspaper said, quoting unidentified
sources. Taiwan is keen to boost its defences against
China, which claims the self-governing, democratic island
as part of its territory. China has threatened to invade
if Taiwan declares formal independence.
Taiwan government has been trying to push through a $15
billion special budget to buy U.S. arms, but opposition
lawmakers have repeatedly blocked the plan, saying that
the weapons were overpriced.
has an estimated 725 missiles aimed at Taiwan and analysts
rate the Taiwan Strait one of Asia's most dangerous hot
spots. On Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
accused China of enhancing its military ability to project
power at a time when it faced no threat.
voters reject EU Constitution
June 2: Dutch voters worried about social benefits and
immigration overwhelmingly rejected the European Union
constitution Wednesday in what could be a knockout blow
for a charter meant to create a power rivaling the United
States. With nearly all votes counted, the charter lost
62 percent to 38 percent, an even worse defeat than the
55 percent "no" vote delivered in a French referendum
Dutch people have spoken tonight. It is a clear result.
Naturally I am very disappointed," Prime Minister
Jan Peter Balkenende said in conceding defeat in his campaign
for ratification. The charter was designed to provide
such trappings of statehood as a flag, a president and
an anthem for what has largely been an economic bloc,
while creating a more integrated political entity of 450
million people with a bigger economy than America's.
But the idea has proved increasingly polarizing, with
opponents worrying about loss of national control and
identity to a stronger, unaccountable EU bureaucracy at
the heart of a superstate. There also is anxiety about
mostly Muslim Turkey possibly becoming an EU member.
EU states have ratified, but the charter needs approval
from all 25 states to take effect in late 2006, and the
"no" vote in both France and the Netherlands
- founding members of the bloc - was a clear message that
European integration has gone awry. "We must acknowledge
that many Europeans doubt that Europe is able to answer
the urgent questions of the moment," said German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, leader of the EU's richest
nation and a strong proponent of the charter. "The
crisis surrounding the ratification of the European constitution
must not become Europe's general crisis."
President Jacques Chirac, whose support for the constitution
was repudiated by his people, said the vote "shows
strong expectations, questions and concerns about the
development of the European project."
the referendum was consultative, the high turnout and
the decisive margin left no room for the Dutch parliament
to turn its back on the people's verdict. The parliament
meets Thursday to discuss the results. Some 62 percent
of Dutch voters turned out, far exceeding expectations
in a reflection of the heated debate in recent days.
liberals worried a more united EU could weaken the country's
liberal social policies, such as tolerating marijuana
use, prostitution and euthanasia. Conservatives feared
losing control of immigration rules that have been tightened
to stem an influx from Muslim countries amid ethnic clashes.
Wilders, a prominent opponent who argued that the charter
would open the Netherlands to more migrants and lead to
Turkey joining the EU, said voters were angry about "the
country's identity slowly being eaten away."
incredibly happy that the Dutch voter has rubbed their
noses in it," said Wilders, referring to the governing
elite. It was the first chance the Dutch public had to
rule on their country's deepening involvement in Europe,
since the process had never been an issue in any domestic
election. The result was not only a rejection of the EU's
expanding power over their daily lives but also a repudiation
of the politicians who many voters believe are sacrificing
the Dutch identity.
think it's the end of the story now that two important
countries have said no," said Wouter Bos, the Dutch
opposition leader who joined Balkenende in supporting
about the vote, White House spokesman Scott McClellan
said the constitution was a matter for the Europeans.
"The United States is committed to a Europe that
is united and strong, and one that works in partnership
with us to address our common challenges. We've done that
in the past, and we want to do that as we move forward
in the future," McClellan said.
EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, EU Commission President
Jose Manuel Barroso urged member governments not to make
any hasty judgments about the ratification process and
wait for the bloc's mid-June summit to assess the constitution's
situation. "We have a serious problem, but we must
continue our work," Barroso said.
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said EU leaders needed
to analyze what went wrong, but said they should press
on. "This is not the end of the process for the constitution
and not at all the end of European integration,"
Ismail Merchant dies
May 25: Mumbai-born filmmaker Ismail Merchant, who in partnership
with James Ivory made some memorable movies, died in London
on Wednesday at the age of 69. A spokesman of the Merchant-Ivory
production company's London office said Merchant died in hospital.
Merchant had been reportedly suffering from stomach ailments
for the last few days.
and Ivory, an American, made some 40 films together, including
"A Room With a View," "Howards End", both
based on PM Forster's novel, "Heat and Dust" starring
Shashi Kapoor and "The Remains of the Day". "The
Mystic Masseur", based on the novel by Nobel laureate VS
Naipaul, is Merchant's latest work as Director and was released
made an impressive debut with "In Custody", based
on a novel by Anita Desai, and starring Shashi Kapoor, which
won Indian National Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best
Costume and Best Production Design. His second directing feature,
"The Proprietor", starred Jeanne Moreau, Jean-Pierre
Aumond and Christopher Cazenove and was shot in Paris.
leader Zarqawi wounded in Iraq: Web
May 25: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq
and one of Washington's most wanted men, has been wounded, a
web posting said on Tuesday in an announcement that could mark
a breakthrough against the two-year insurgency.
statement, which U.S. officials said could be a ruse, was posted
on an Islamist site that often publicizes Zarqawi's group. It
was released on another day of violence in Iraq, with three
US soldiers and two Iraqis killed in car bombings. "O nation
of Islam... Pray for the healing of our Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
from an injury he suffered in the path of God," said the
posting by al Qaeda Organization for Holy War in Iraq.
are the beloved of the mujahideen, and may God heal you and
make you steadfast," the statement said. The
announcement follows unconfirmed reports this month that Zarqawi,
a Jordanian for whom the Americans have offered a $25 million
bounty, was wounded in fighting in western Iraq and had sought
treatment at a hospital in Ramadi, west of Baghdad.
reports followed the capture of one of Zarqawi's drivers, an
aide and his laptop computer during raids in western Iraq, when
the U.S. military said it almost also caught Zarqawi. Zarqawi
and Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda's overall leader, are Washington's
two most-wanted man.
web posting did not say how or where Zarqawi was wounded, but
urged his followers to pray for his recovery. The language used
indicated his injuries could be severe. "The injury of
our leader is an honor and an incentive to tighten the noose
on the enemies of God and a reason to step up our attacks on
them," the statement said, citing Koranic verses that referred
to the Prophet Mohammad being wounded in battle.
Zarqawi were captured or killed it would mark a significant
breakthrough for US and Iraqi forces, although analysts also
warn it would not put an end to the insurgency. "I think
it's pretty credible....I wouldn't be surprised if within a
couple of days he ends up being dead and they end up proclaiming
his martyrdom," David Claridge of Janusian Security Risk
Management in London said of the web posting.
issue will remain till Pak accepts LOC as border
May 24: The
Kashmir issue will go on for a "very long time" unless
and until Pakistan reconciles itself to accepting the LoC as
the border, former US Ambassador to India Robert D Blackwill
and until Pakistan reconciles itself to accepting the Line of
Control as the border, the Kashmir dispute will go on for a
very long time and cross-border terrorist violence from Pakistan
against India would resume," Blackwill, also a former strategic
adviser to US President George W Bush in the National Security
Council, said. "Pakistan
will not succeed in Kashmir," he said writing in "The
National Interest," a leading American quarterly.
former envoy said for more than fifty years, young cadets, including
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf himself, have been taught
in Pakistan's military academies that their "holy mission"
was the "liberation" of all of Kashmir and that the
central purpose of Pakistan itself was to further this task.
in 1947, Pakistan's attempts to accomplish this directly by
military force have failed. Thus thwarted, in the past decade
and a half, Pakistan has used terror as an instrument of attempted
change in Jammu and Kashmir. This too has not succeeded,"
faced with such a fruitless strategy, a Government has three
choices: It can stick with the losing strategy, develop a new
strategy or change objectives. "In my judgment, Pakistan
has not yet made a strategic shift away from its long-time policies
of territorial acquisition and cross-border terrorism,"
said although Pakistan has reduced its effort to push "killers"
across the Kashmir border, Musharraf implicitly holds out the
possibility of Pakistan resuming terror against India if the
bilateral talks with New Delhi do not produce favourable results
terrorist infrastructure inside Pakistan -- the camps and the
instructors, the weapons caches, the communications capabilities,
the terrorists themselves -- is still in place. Nevertheless,
Islamabad holds a losing hand." The former envoy said that
Pakistan is unstable as a government and society and it "continues
to worry both India and the United States".
were two serious assassination attempts on Musharraf's life
last year or so, one of which came very close to succeeding.
"Add to that the thousands of madrassas inside Pakistan
and the hundreds of thousands of potential jihadis, as well
as Taliban sympathizers who travel back and forth across the
border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
problematic is Musharraf's unwillingness to promote genuine
democracy inside Pakistan, despite the fact that the only long-term
answer to the problem of systematic instability in Pakistan
is pluralism and democratic expression," Blackwill said.
Indian Government will give up no territory it now controls,
including Jammu and Kashmir," Blackwill said in a leading
American quarterly. "Officially,
India remains committed to the return of Pakistani-controlled
Kashmir to India. But the Indian elite would likely settle for
the permanent international border being drawn along the current
Line of Control.
unless the Pakistani Government and Army change for good their
objective and accept the current division of territory, the
Kashmir dispute will go on for a very long time," the former
US Ambassador to India said. The
two countries that would be most negatively affected by a convulsion
within Pakistan, a country with dozens of nuclear weapons, are
India and the United States, he claimed.
Administration policy regarding Pakistan has been adept and
effective to this point, but that could change if Musharraf
is murdered. This is why both India and the United States have
such a stake in the emergence of a democratic, stable and prosperous
Pakistan. Washington and New Delhi should have a sustained secret
dialogue on how best to promote that historic goal," Blackwill
said many Indians believe that the US-Pakistan relationship
is based on an incandescent double standard. "They think
that although the Administration declares that state supporters
of terrorism will be viewed the same way as terrorists themselves,
the quintessential state sponsor of terrorism, including against
India across the Kashmir border, is in their view given a pass
by Washington," Blackwill said
Russia to enhance cooperation in power generation
May 24: Cementing their bilateral ties, India and Russia on
Tuesday agreed to enhance cooperation in power generation,
outer space and economic spheres.
was discussed during an hour-long one-on-one meeting visiting
President A P J Abdul Kalam, had with his Russian counterpart
Vladimir Putin, at the Kremlin here and later at the delegation-level
talks between the two sides. "We
have agreed to increase cooperation in power generation through
nuclear reactors supplied by Russia," Kalam told reporters
after the meeting.
who is on a four-day visit to Russia, said that a lot was needed
to be done in the energy sector. He
also said that the two sides would be working towards boosting
trade and hi-tech cooperation to touch 25 billion dollars over
the next decade.
am absolutely sure this visit will give another major boost
to the development of our cooperation," Putin responded
observing "India is one of the key partners of Russia in
the Asia-Pacific region." Kalam
underscored India's hopes of consolidating cooperation with
Russia in the areas of nuclear and fossil fuel.
and India are unique nations. In difficult times for India and
happy times for India, you are our close friend," Kalam
told Putin. Kalam,
who was accorded a ceremonial welcome when he arrived at the
Kremlin, was also of the view that the two countries should
now broaden their cooperation in outer space.
that New Delhi and Moscow had signed an agreement in December
last year on cooperation in outer space, Kalam said more satellites
could be launched and both countries could take advantage of
them, according to official sources. During
his meeting with Putin, Kalam also suggested launching of a
'World Youth Satellite' which would be beneficial to millions
of young people across the globe.
welcoming the President, said that significant progress had
been registered in bilateral projects. He also referred to the
joint Indo-Russian nuclear power project at Kudankulam in Tamil
Nadu which would be completed by 2007.
Russian President said that the central theme of the Indo-Russian
relations was in favour of a just world order and all issues
were solved through dialogue without any foreign interference.
that "the volume of investment cooperation has been growing,"
Putin said India's state-owned ONGC would make a large capital
investment in the Sakhalin-1 oil project on Russia's east coast.
Russian President, in his press statement, said "We hope
that this visit will be a milestone in relations between the
two countries and will open new opportunities for development
of Russian-Indian multi-direction cooperation."
are interested in raising the level and the scale of our cooperation
in various fields. We think nowadays we have all the necessary
conditions for it. During the talks we discussed a wide range
of bilateral issues and exchanged opinions on the basic issues
of world policy. We believe that Russian-Indian relations are
developing successfully and are becoming more meaningful and
dynamic," Putin said.
the sphere of economic cooperation, the important industries
related to the two countries' interaction, such as energy, space,
metallurgy, railway and sea transport and information technology
were discussed, he said.
of the key issues in the meeting was enforcing stability on
Eurasian continent and in the whole world. "Our countries
stand for forming order of justice in the world. The base for
it should be formed by international law norms, principles of
mutual respect and consideration of each other's interests.
All the questions, that come up between bigger and smaller countries
should be solved on dialogue basis, without dictatorship and
outside interference," Putin said.
are unanimous, that the efforts in fighting against global and
regional dangers of all countries have to be united. In order
to combine the efforts in fighting against these dangers India
and Russia are planning active collaboration within international
organisations," Putin added.
decoration for four Indian personalities
DELHI, May 24: Italy on Tuesday decorated four eminent Indian
personalities, including film critic Aruna Vasudev, and noted
scholar Lokesh Chandra, with the `Ordine Stella della Solidarieta
Italiana' award here. The
other awardees are Gautam Kaul, who is a known music and art
expert, and MD/CEO of Ashok Leyland Limited Ram J Shahaney.
Ambassador of Italy, Antonio Armellini, gave away the awards
at a ceremony at the Italian Embassy. The
decoration is given yearly to eminent personalities who distinguish
themselves in the promotion of Indo-Italian cooperation.
Vasudev has been decorated for enhancing the popularity of Italian
films in India, Chandra was chosen for the award for his research
into the inter-cultural Indo-European dialogue with particular
emphasis on the Indo-Italian relationships, according to a communique
from the Embassy. Kaul,who is Honorary Secretary of the Delhi
Symphony Society, is known for his expertise in the field of
Italian art and music, while Shahaney is Honorary Correspondent
for Italy in Chennai.
Russia, China Foreign Ministers' meet on June 1
May 21: In their first ever 'stand alone' trilateral meeting,
Foreign Ministers of India, Russia and China will hold talks in
Russia's far eastern port city of Vladivostok on June 1 and 2.
Foreign Ministers will meet in Vladivostok to discuss our interaction,"
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, told State Duma (Lower
House) on Friday. "Our relations are developing and they
are not aimed against anybody, but are pursued in the interests
of our countries," Lavrov said.
his visit to Vladivostok, India's External Affairs Minister Natwar
Singh is also scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Sergei
Lavrov to discuss the whole spectrum of bilateral ties.
The Sun publishes Saddam's half-naked
A British newspaper ran intimate photographs on Friday of ousted
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in US military custody, including
one of him half-naked, prompting an investigation into possible
human rights abuses.
the headline 'Tyrant's in his pants,' The Sun ran a front-page
photo of a bare-chested Saddam standing in white underwear and
holding an item of clothing as he appeared to be getting dressed,
with an unpainted wooden door behind him. In the accompanying
article with other intimate photographs of him, the mass-circulation
daily quotes US military sources as saying they handed over the
photos in the hope of dealing a body blow to the resistance in
is not superman or God, he is now just an ageing and humble old
man. It's important that the people of Iraq see him like that
to destroy the myth," the source was quoted as saying. "Maybe,
that will kill a bit of the passion in the fanatics who still
follow him," the source said. "It's over, guys. The
evil days of Saddam's Baath Party are never coming back - and
here's the proof."
Baghdad, a US military spokesman said the military was investigating
the photos of Saddam to find out who had taken them and decide
what kind of disciplinary action should be taken.
Affairs Spouses' Association donates Rs 25 lakh for Tsunami relief
By Deepak Arora
DELHI, May 17: External Affairs spouses Association (EASA) have
contributed Rs 25 lakh towards Tsunami relief fund. Speaking to
this correspondent, Mrs Anita Saran, President of EASA, said "we
collected a staggering amount of little over Rs. 25 lakh from
the members of EASA and all the Embassies and the Indian High
commissions situated abroad."
she said, was in addition to the day's salary every government
employee contributed for the victims. "This was collected
for the purpose of rehabilitation of the Tsunami victims. This
has been our major fundraiser for the year 2005 and donations
are still being collected throughout the year to help the tsunami
victims rebuild their lives," said Mrs Saran.
Minister of State for External Affairs, E Ahamed, and Mrs Anita
Saran presented the cheques to the NGOs at a special meeting of
the Association held here recently. The NGOs that received the
cheques for the purpose of rehabilitation: Sneha; the South Indian
federation of societies at Tharangampadi; and Swami Dayanand Educational
Trust - Rs. 5 lakh each; Seeds - Rs.3.5 lakh; Rotary club working
in the Andamans - Rs.3.5 lakh.
army enters into Indian territory
DELHI, May 16: Hardly a month after India and China signed a landmark
agreement to settle their border dispute, a Chinese Army patrol
intruded deep into Indian territory and stayed there for close
to 24 hours before withdrawing on May 10. The border violation
took place in Asafila area of the Upper Subansiri district of
is the same area where on June 26, 2003, a Chinese Army team had
intruded into India, stripped Indian intelligence officials of
personal weapons and held them hostage for several hours. The
incident had coincided with the then prime minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee's official visit to China. The issue was taken up by
India with the Chinese government then.
latest intrusion was carried out by a five-member team of the
Chinese Army, sources say. The patrol reached the border on May
10 and crossed over the next day, trekking some five kilometers
into the Indian side. They spent almost the entire day inside
Indian side before retreating.
May 12, the patrol team had fully withdrawn to their normal stated
position beyond the Line of Actual Control. "Our troops did
not allow the situation to get out of hand," sources said.
There was no exchange of fire. The government and Ministry of
External Affairs are in the know of things, sources said. But
there was no immediate confirmation if the issue has been taken
up with China through diplomatic channels.
contacted by this website, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman,
Navtej Sarna, said he had no information regarding the issue.
The Asafila area, one of the eight pockets of dispute in Arunachal
Pradesh, is patrolled by Indo-Tibetan Border Police. Newly-appointed
Director General of ITBP S K Kains was not available for comments
on the intrusion.
office said the DG was away on tour to the "forward areas"
in the eastern part of the country but there was no confirmation
if his trip was to assess the situation in Asafila area.
is baffling is that the intrusion came just a month after the
highly successful visit of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao to India.
Among the agreements concluded during his visit, the most noticeable
one was the "Political Parameters and Guiding Principles
for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question".
There have been occasional claims by India of intrusion by Peoples
2000, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Mukut Mithi claimed there
have been repeated incursions by Chinese troops. Then reports
had pointed out that the Chinese had built a mule trail in Kaila
Pass in Dibang Valley district. China officially does not recognise
Arunachal Pradesh as an Indian state. Chinese Army had overrun
most of Arunachal Pradesh during the 1962 war, but had vacated
it after the war.
Line of Actual Control is punctured at many pockets of dispute.
In 1986-87 there was a serious flare up of the border stand off
between the Indian and Chinese forces in the Sumdorong Chu Valley
of Arunachal. In 1993, the two sides signed an accord to reduce
tensions along the border and to respect the LAC.
1996 the two sides also put in place many Confidence Building
Measures for improving the border peace. Among the CBMs is an
agreement of non-aggression, prior notification of large troop
movements and a 10-km no-fly zone for combat aircraft.
reported dead as Uzbek president consults with Kremlin
May 15: How many dead? ... Thirty? ... Or ten times that number?
Amid continuing turbulence and widening international ramifications,
the situation in Uzbekistan remains unclear. What
is certain is that events have taken a heavy toll.
of bodies were strewn about the streets of the eastern town of Andizhan,
the epicentre of the upheavals where on Friday police opened fire
on protestors. Eyewitnesses spoke of 300 bodies loaded by soldiers
onto lorries. President
Islam Karimov, speaking publicly for the first time since the violence
erupted, said around 30 people had died, including nine soldiers.
linked the protests to an Islamist group and said the situation
was now calm. But reporters said the situation remained chaotic
held telephone talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and
the two leaders denounced "attempts at destabilisation in central
closed its border with Tajikistan, but 500 Uzbeks have reportedly
forced their way into neighbouring Kyrgyzstan despite the closure
of the border on Friday. The Islamist group Hizbi Tahrir in London
rejected Karimov's claim that it was behind the unrest. Critics
say Karimov is using the threat of Islamic extremism to justify
his authoritarian rule.
change in nuclear policy, says India
DELHI, May 14: The Indian Government on Friday said the new legislation
to prohibit unlawful activities in relation to Weapons of Mass Destruction
(WMDs) and their means of delivery in no way indicated any change
in India's nuclear policy.
to newsmen here, a spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs,
Mr Navtej Sarna, said "it does not indicate any change in our
nuclear policy. It does not in any manner constrain our nuclear
programme, civilian or strategic."
the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition
of Unlawful Activities) Bill 2005, approved by Parliament as an
"overarching and integrated" legislation, he said India
was determined to utilise advanced technologies for its security,
welfare of its people and to meeting the nation's developmental
updated controls for the export of WMD-usable materials, equipment
and technologies and prohibitions related to non-State actors, India
fulfilled its mandatory obligations under relevant UN Security Council
resolution. He said the legislation and its passage underlined India's
role as a responsible nuclear power and its respect for such responsibility
arising from the possession of sensitive dual use technologies.
has stated that it was fully committed to safeguard its security
as a Nuclear Weapon State and to deepen its autonomous scientific
and technical capability for meeting its security imperatives and
warn Iran not to resume nuclear work
May 13: France, Britain and Germany have warned Iran they will break
off talks and join Washington in seeking UN Security Council action
if Tehran makes good on its threats to resume atomic work, EU officials
said on Thursday.
foreign ministers of the European Union's three biggest powers sent
a strongly worded letter to Hassan Rohani, Iran's chief nuclear
negotiator, warning that resuming potentially arms-related nuclear
work "would bring the negotiating process to an end",
an EU diplomat quoted the letter as saying. "The consequences
could only be negative for Iran," it said.
Prime Minister Tony Blair spelled out the potential consequences,
telling reporters: "We certainly will support referral to the
United Nations Security Council if Iran breaches its obligations
United States believes Iran's nuclear energy programme is a front
to develop atomic weapons and has been pressing for Iran's case
to be sent to the 15-member U.N. council for possible economic sanctions
and other actions. "Iran needs to abide by its international
obligations," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.
He said Tehran needed to refrain from enrichment as "an objective
guarantee ... that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons".
EU shares U.S. suspicions but has offered incentives to try to get
Tehran to give up its atomic fuel programme, which Iran insists
is only for nuclear power plants, not for arms. The EU letter proposed
"ministerial level talks" between the Iranians and Europeans
within the next two weeks to break the impasse and avoid a crisis,
EU diplomats said.
agree to expand bus links
DELHI, May 11: Continuing the peace momentum build by the Congress-led
UPA Government, India and Pakistan have agreed in principle to run
bus services between Amritsar-Lahore and Amritsar-Nankana Sahib,
the birth place of Guru Nanak, but deferred their operationalisation
by two months to work out more technical details.
one more technical-level talk would be held in New Delhi to run
the Amritsar-Lahore bus service in two months time, the two sides
agreed in "principle" to start the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib
bus service, according to a Joint Statement issued simultaneously
in New Delhi and Islamabad. The modalities and frequency of the
proposed Amritsar-Nankana Sahib service would be discussed in a
subsequent technical-level meeting to be held in New Delhi in two
months time, said the joint statement at the end of the two-day
talks in Islamabad.
to the joint statement, the two sides discussed the modalities for
operationalisation of the Amritsar-Lahore bus service, including
the designated route, bus terminals, and facilities for the bus
crew, modalities of visa arrangements and a Protocol/MoU for the
Amritsar-Lahore bus service.
also agreed that the next technical-level meeting between the two
sides would take place in New Delhi in July. Both sides described
the May 10 and 11 meeting in Islamabad as being held in a "friendly
and cordial" atmosphere.
Mohammad Abbas, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Communications
led the Pakistan delegation and Alok Rawat, Joint Secretary, Department
of Road Transport and Highways led the Indian delegation. Before
leaving for New Delhi, the Indian delegation called on Pakistan's
Minister for Communications, Muhammad Shamim Siddiqui.
Rawat and Mohammad Abbas said at a joint press conference in Islamabad
that the bus service would be started after the next round of parleys.
The Indian delegation also included Damanbir Singh Jaspal, Principal
Secretary to Government of Punjab. Rawat said one more round of
talks was necessary to enable the state-run bus transport corporations
on both sides to get the buses ready to operate in the 56 km route.
it was not announced, officials from the two sides have worked out
modalities for fare structure and frequency of the Amiritsar-Lahore
bus service. Both sides agreed in principle to run the Amritsar-Lahore
bus service once a week, an agency report said. The fare was decided
as Rs 750 from Indian side and Rs 900 from Pakistan.
said it was unlikely that the bus service to Guru Nanak's birthplace
would begin simultaneously along with Amritsar-Lahore bus service
as the two countries have not yet finalised the modalities and frequency
as in the case of Amritsar-Lahore bus service.
the bus services figured prominently in the Joint Statement issued
at the end of President Pervez Musharraf's talks with Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh in New Delhi last month.
may be recalled that Sikh history originates from Nankana Sahib.
Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikh faith, was born here in 1469.
The name of the place at that time was Rai Bhoi di Talwandi. The
landlord contemporary of Guru Nanak Dev was Rai Bular, who himself
became a devotee of the Guru. It was renamed Nankana after the Guru.
It is located in what is called Nilianwali Bar (forest where nilgais
abound), and is about 75 kilometers west-southwest of Lahore.
Prime Minister Singh and Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarendir Singh
have made strong pleas to Pakistan to run the bus service to Nanakana
Sahib as thousands of Sikh pilgrims visit it every year.
and Pakistan already run two bus services one from Lahore to New
Delhi and another from Muzaffarabad to Srinagar, besides a train
service between Lahore and Attari near Wagah border.
Russia agree to expand nuclear energy cooperation
May 9: Cementing their strategic ties, Russia has expressed its
readiness to further expand cooperation with India in civilian nuclear
energy, defence and space as the two sides decided to set up a study
group to examine the feasibility of a comprehensive economic cooperation
a meeting lasting more than the scheduled 30 minutes with Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh, President Vladimir Putin, expressed Moscow's
willingness to look into issues of civilian nuclear energy cooperation
with India, including the supply of nuclear fuel for Tarapore plant
and new nuclear power reactors.
the talks, held in a very warm and cordial atmosphere, "Putin
agreed to look into these issues after the festivities of the 60th
anniversary of Nazi defeat were over," National Security Advisor
M K Narayan, told newsmen here after the meeting. Russia is helping
India in the construction of Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil
Nadu under a deal signed in 1985 by then Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi,
and erstwhile Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
after the break up of the USSR, Russia joined the Nuclear Suppliers
Group (NSG) which bans it from selling civilian nuclear technology
to non-signatories of the NPT, including India.
rally against Pak's Al-Qaeda hunt
(Pakistan), May 7: Thousands of pro-Taliban tribesmen rallied against
Pakistan's hunt for Al-Qaeda-linked militants on Friday and torched
effigies of US President George W Bush, witnesses said.
5,000 people attended the rally, called by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam
(JUI) party to call for an end to the "illegal military operation",
"Down with the United States," shouted the protestors
in Miranshah, the main town of the tribal North Waziristan region
which border Afghanistan.
The rally took place just two days after Pakistan announced the
capture of Al-Qaeda number three Abu Faraj al-Libbi.
has sent thousands of troops into its north-western tribal districts
bordering Afghanistan to hunt Al-Qaeda-linked militants who sneaked
across the frontier after the US-led ousting of the Taliban in late
2001. US officials believe Osama bin Laden and other key militants
may be sheltering somewhere along the mountainous border between
Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Blair retains old guards in key posts
May 7: A day after he was voted to power for a historic third term
with a drastically reduced majority, British Prime Minister Tony
Blair carried out a cabinet reshuffle reappointing most of his old-guards
in their key posts, including his heir-apparent Gordon Brown as
Blunkett, forced to quit in December 2004 as home secretary after
it emerged that a visa application for his ex-lover's nanny was
fast tracked, returns as the new work and pensions secretary. Jack
Straw will remain the foreign secretary. Brown, a more popular figure
than Blair thanks to his stewardship of the Britain's strong economy,
had been expected to stay on as chancellor of the exchequer.
is virtually certain to become the premier if Blair steps down.
Blair reappointed Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott as first secretary
of state, Charles Clarke as the Home Secretary and Ruth Kelly as
Secretary, Department of Education. John Reid former health secretary
will be the new defence secretary and former defence secretary Geoff
Hoon will be the Leader of the Commons. Former trade secretary Patricia
Hewitt will be the new Health Secretary.
Hain becomes Northern Ireland secretary at a troublesome point in
the peace process, as the Ulster Unionist party leader David Trimble
lost his seat at Westminster in a rout of the UUP. The reshuffle
sees Alan Johnson take the new post of secretary for productivity,
energy and industry, meaning the Department of Trade and Industry
will be renamed. Blair has also brought three new faces into his
Cabinet, with David Miliband, Des Browne and John Hutton joining
the top table.
former immigration minister Des Browne joins the cabinet as chief
secretary to the Treasury, a position vacated by Paul Boeteng who
opted to be the new High Commissioner to South Africa. The former
health minister John Hutton takes on Alan Milburn's old cabinet
job as minister for the cabinet office, while Milburn's former deputy
David Miliband takes up the new post of minister of communities
and local government.
Milburn, who was criticised for his handling of the election campaign,
last night told Blair he did not want to stay in the Cabinet. The
remaining sub-cabinet level ministerial posts will be announced
on Monday, Downing Street said.
After winning an historic third Labour term on Friday morning, and
being invited by Queen Elizabeth II to form the next government,
Blair struck a modest note as he reassumed the reins of power in
Downing Street. With results of 644 of the 645 seats declared till
Friday night, Labour has secured 355, Conservative 197 and Liberal
Democrats 62. Labour's 161-member majority in the dissolved Parliament
has dwindled to 66.
the elections the ministerial casualties included the schools minister,
Stephen Twigg, who lost the Enfield Southgate seat he won in 1997.
The health minister, Melanie Johnson and the constitutional affairs
minister, Chris Leslie, also fell. Despite the Tory gains, Michael
Howard announced yesterday that he would stand down as Conservative
leader once the party had had an opportunity to review and change
its election rules.
prosecutors not to appeal verdict in
May 4: The Canadian authorities have decided not to file
an appeal against the verdict in the Air-India bombing in
which two suspects -- Ripduman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh
Bagri-- were acquitted by the British Columbian Supreme
Court Judge, Justice Ian Josephson, on March 16.
an e-mail sent to the families of the victims of the June
23, 1985, bombing of the Air-India flight 182 off the Irish
coast, says, "Members of the prosecution team, seniors
members of the Criminal Justice (Branch), have conducted
an exhaustive review and have come to the difficult decision
that there are no grounds on which the Crown could launch
formal announcement in this regard will be made later. The
relatives of the victims had a closed-door meeting on Saturday
with Deputy Prime Minister and Public Safety Minister Anne
McLellan, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) chief Giuliano
Zaccardelli, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)
director Jim Judd and former Ontario premier Bob Rae who
will look into the possibility of a public inquiry into
the case. In this meeting, the families were informed about
the work of the intelligence agency prior to the bombing.
Judd informed the families that the intelligence agency
(CSIS), which criticised the judge in his verdict for erasing
tapes of conversations between Bagri and the plot mastermind
Talwinder Singh Parmar, had warned the RCMP as many as 13
times about the threat to Air-India from the militants.
per what he told the families, intelligence agents followed
Parmar for 39 of the 72 days before the bombing, and for
17 consecutive days from June 1, 1985 onward. However, the
surveillance was withdrawn on June 17 to focus on a Soviet
spy. However, Parmar was kept under watch from a particular
place till June 22, Judd told the families.
the destroyed tapes of conversation between Bagri and Parmar,
Judd told the families that in any case the tapes would
not have been admissible as evidence in a criminal trial.
However, he said, the tapes were thoroughly listened to
and their threat content noted before they were destroyed.
But had there been any information about the plot, CSIS
agents would have told the RCMP, he said.
informed them that the destroyed tapes would have no bearing
on the outcome of the trial, though the judge in his verdict
has slammed the agency for its "negligence'' in the
families were also told that the Government of India agents
had no hand in the Air-India bombing as alleged by some
radical groups. "Based on all of the information and
intelligence available to the Service, we concluded that
the Government of India played no role in the events of
June 23, 1985," the Vancouver Sun quoted Judd as saying.
right-hand man in Pak net
May 4: Abu Farraj al-Libbi, a senior Al-Qaeda suspect wanted
in two attempts to assassinate President Gen Pervez Musharraf,
has been arrested in Pakistan after a fierce gun battle with
fire fight, the government said on Wednesday.
is a native of Libya, who authorities say is the number three
in the Al-Qaeda network and a close associate of Osama bin
Laden, acted as Al-Qaeda's operational chief in Pakistan.
He was arrested earlier this week, said Information Minister
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed. "This is a very important day for
us," Ahmed said. He would provide no details on where
al-Libbi was captured, or where he is being held.
three Pakistani intelligence officials said on condition of
anonymity that al-Libbi was one of two foreigners arrested
on Monday after a firefight on the outskirts of Mardan, 50
kilometres (30 miles) north of Peshawar, capital of the deeply
conservative North West Frontier Province.
of the officials said authorities were led to the hideout
by a tip-off that foreigners had been spotted in the area.
Ahmed said the Pakistani government had been offering a $1
million reward for information leading to al-Libbi's capture,
though it was not immediately clear if it would be paid.
are in the custody of a Pakistani intelligence agency,"
the intelligence official said. The name of the second arrested
suspect was not released.
reportedly spent time in South Waziristan, a tribal region
along the border with Afghanistan that is considered a likely
hideout for bin Laden. But he fled following a series of military
operations in the area last year.
had said privately in recent weeks that they felt they were
zeroing in on his location. Before Ahmed's announcement, senior
government and military officials on Wednesday repeatedly
denied rumours that they had al-Libbi in custody.
is accused of masterminding two bombings against President
Gen Pervez Musharraf in December 2003. The military leader
escaped injury but 17 others were killed in one of the attacks.
He is accused of taking over as Al-Qaeda's operational chief
in Pakistan after the March 1, 2003 arrest of Khalid Shaikh
Mohammed, the terror network's alleged number three. Mohammed
was later handed over to US custody, and his whereabouts are
a key ally in the US-led war on terrorism, named the Libyan
as the chief suspect in the bombings against him. He was among
six suspects identified as Pakistan's "Most Wanted Terrorists"
in a poster campaign last year.
the poster, he appeared in a photo as a dapper man with a
short beard, wearing a Western suit and tie. The other suspects
were all Pakistanis, linked to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni
Muslim militant group believed tied to Al-Qaeda. Al-Libbi
is not on the FBI's list of the globe's Most Wanted Terrorists.
of the suspects, Amjad Hussain Farooqi, was killed in a shootout
with security forces in southern Pakistan in September. Farooqi,
a senior member of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, was accused of plotting
the bombings against Musharraf with al-Libbi and of involvement
in the kidnapping and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter
Daniel Pearl in Karachi in 2002.
has arrested hundreds of terror suspects, since Musharraf
ended the country's support of the Taliban regime in neighbouring
Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks on America,
and waged bloody operations against Al-Qaeda-linked militants
along the Afghan border.
has handed over about 700 Al-Qaeda suspects to the United
States, including Mohammed, September 11 planner Ramzi Binalshibh
and Al-Qaeda senior operative Abu Zubaydah.
China establish strategic partnership for peace
DELHI, April 11: In a landmark decision, India and China have
decided to upgrade their ties to strategic level and have
agreed to work out an early "package settlement"
of the vexed boundary question by making "mutually acceptable
adjustments" as Beijing categorically accepted Sikkim
as part of India. Briefing newsmen on the outcome of the wide-ranging
talks between the two Prime Ministers, the Foreign Secretary,
Mr Shyam Saran, said the two countries made it clear that
they were not rivals but partners. The two countries have
also decided to establish a strategic and cooperative partnership
for peace and prosperity, he added.
after two hours of talks, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan
Singh, and the visiting Chinese Premier, Mr Wen Jiabao signed
a Joint Statement and witnessed the signing of 12 accords.
The agreements included such diverse areas as civil aviation,
finance, education, science and technology, tourism and cultural
exchanges. The two sides also singed a protocol on modalities
for implementation of confidence building measures in the
military field along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and
another on upgrading air links.
agreement on political parameters and guiding principles for
the settlement of the boundary question was signed by Special
Representatives M K Narayanan, National Security Adviser and
Senior Executive Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo. It said
the two sides should in the spirit of mutual respect and understanding
"make meaningful and mutually acceptable adjustments"
to their respective positions on the boundary question.
is to arrive at a "package settlement" which is
"final" covering all sectors of the India-China
boundary, said the agreement which outlined 11 political parameters
and guiding principles to resolve the vexed issue that has
bedeviled bilateral ties for over four decades.
two leaders, who are also known economists, agreed to boost
bilateral trade to $20 billion by 2008. Last year, trade totaled
$13.6 billion, with India recording a trade surplus of $1.75
billion. Declaring that differences on the boundary question
should not be allowed to affect the overall development of
bilateral ties, the two sides decided to seek a fair, reasonable
and mutually acceptable solution to the issue through consultations
on an "equal footing".
agreed to take into account historical evidence, national
sentiments, practical difficulties and reasonable concerns
and sensitivities of both sides, and the actual state of border
areas. After intensive negotiations, the two sides agreed
that the boundary should be along "well-defined and easily
identifiable" natural geographical features to be mutually
reaching the boundary settlement, the two sides should safeguard
due interests of their settled populations in the border areas.
The Joint Statement said both sides were convinced that an
"early settlement of the boundary question will advance
the basic interests of the two countries and should, therefore,
be pursued as a strategic objective."
two sides agreed to complete the process of exchanging maps
indicating their respective perceptions of the entire alignment
of the LAC to arrive at a "common understanding"
as soon as possible. The two sides inked a protocol on modalities
for the implementation of CBMs in the military field along
the LAC under which they agreed to avoid holding large-scale
military exercises involving more than one Division (approximately
15,000 troops) in close proximity to the LAC.
Singh and Mr Wen, who held an hour-long restricted-level meeting
before going in for delegation-level parleys, warmly shook
hands after signing the joint statement.
by their assurance that Sikkim was no longer an issue between
China and India, the joint statement said both sides reviewed
with satisfaction the implementation of the memorandum on
border trade through the Nathula Pass between the Tibet Autonomous
Region (TAR) of China and "Sikkim State of the Republic
of India". On it part, India reiterated that it recognised
TAR as part of China's territory and that it would not allow
Tibetans to engage in anti-China activities on its soil.
China favours UNSC seat for India
DELHI, April 11: In a slight shift in its position, China
has said it would be pleased to see India become a permanent
member of the UN Security Council. The Chinese Premier, Mr
Wen Jiabao, conveyed this to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan
Singh, during their meeting here today, according to Mr Shyam
Saran, Foreign Secretay.
Chinese side said "India is an important developing country
and is having increasingly important influence in the international
arena" as New Delhi affirmed its claim for a permanent
seat in an expanded UN Security Council. Both agreed that
UN reforms should be "comprehensive and multifaceted"
with emphasis on increased representation of developing countries.
China said it attached "great importance" to the
status of India in international affairs and "understands
and supports" New Delhi's aspirations to pay an active
role in the UN.
(England), April 10: Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles
were married Saturday in a modest civil ceremony at the 17th
century Guildhall, and the second marriage for each was blessed
by the Church of England as the royals knelt before Archbishop
of Canterbury in a majestic ceremony beneath the soaring arches
of the Gothic St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
wedding capped a decades-long love affair that endured the
prince's first marriage to Princess Diana and constant tabloid
scrutiny. Charles and Camilla confessed "manifold sins
and wickedness" - words from the Book of Common Prayer,
as Archbishop Rowan Williams blessed their union. They pledged
to be faithful in their marriage, then walked from the cathedral
to greet the huge crowd assembled behind police barriers on
the manicured grounds of the ancient fortress, first associated
with William the Conqueror, who invaded from France in 1066.
and Camilla left in a black Rolls-Royce for a reception where
they were greeted the 800 guests, including Prime Minister
Tony Blair and the bride's ex-husband, Andrew Parker Bowles,
in the castle's State Apartments. The wedding cake was a single-layered
organic fruit cake decorated with roses, thistles and daffodils
- a nod to the groom's passion for organic farming. A sword
that belonged to King George V, Charles' great-grandfather,
was used as a cake knife.
couple then set off for a honeymoon in a cozy Scottish hunting
lodge that once belonged to the prince's grandmother. The
car that sped them away had red and blue balloons attached
and "Just Married" written on the back window.
mother and father, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, joined
a Who's Who of Britain, representatives of governments and
members of royal houses for the blessing ceremony, where women
guests wore a dazzling array of hats, feathers much in favor.
the town hall nuptials, not attended by the queen to honor
the couple's desire to keep it "low key," Charles
and Camilla emerged arm-in-arm to the cheers of onlookers
and a jazz band playing, "Congratulations." They
waved to the cheering crowd, but there was no public kiss
Camilla now takes on Diana's previous status as Princess of
Wales, although she plans to defer to public sentiment by
avoiding the title and will instead be known as the Duchess
Charles takes the throne, Camilla legally will be queen, but
she wishes to be known as Princess Consort - a bow to opinion
polls that show 70 percent of the population opposed to Queen
Camilla. Fewer than 30 guests attended the civil ceremony,
and they included Charles' sons, William and Harry. Many among
the group were moved from site to site in rented buses.
favours bigger role for India at UN
DELHI, April 2: The Chinese Ambassador, Mr Sun Yuxi, has said
that Beijing favours a "bigger and better role"
for New Delhi in the United Nations. However, he stopped short
or explicitly supporting India's candidature for a permanent
seat in the UN Security Council. Speaking with this correspondent
to announce the visit of the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's
visit to India, Mr Sun said Beijing fully supported reforms
in the United Nations. These reforms must reflect the present
day world order through which the UN should be able to meet
the new challenges.
new representation should be more balanced in which the developing
countries must have a better say," he said and added
"India as a developing country must play a bigger role
in the UN as well as in the Security Council."
to a question whether China supported India's candidature
for a permanent seat in the Security Council, Mr Sun the report
of the high-powered committee on UN reforms was being hotly
debated at this juncture. "This is very sensitive issue.
We don't want to make any specific remarks (on India's candidature
for a permanent seat)," he said.
to questions on boundary dispute between the two countries,
the Ambassador said this issue was being dealt at the highest
level. However, he stated that Arunachal Pradesh was a "disputed
area" between the two countries. Mr Sun said the question
of Sikkim and Tibet has been resolved between the two countries.
"China recognizes Sikkim as part of India. Similarly,
New Delhi has said that Tibet is a part of China."
said the Special Representatives of the two nations on the
boundary dispute - National Security Advisor M K Narayanan
and Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo - could meet during
the Chinese Premier's visit to New Delhi or ahead of that.
"We are trying to work out a meeting between the two
Special Representatives in New Delhi." However, the Ambassador
said the two countries were determined not to allow their
relations in other fields to suffer due to the boundary dispute
that was an historical legacy.
said the efforts of the two countries would be to maintain
peace and tranquility along their border while developing
border trade and promote cultural exchanges. "The border
between us should act as a bridge for trade." Mr Sun
said the demarcation of maps between the two countries would
still take some more time. "There will be political parameters
and guiding principles to be settled during the coming days,"
Ambassador informed that the Chinese Prime Minister would
arrive here on a four-day visit beginning April 9. Shortly
after his arrival, the Premier would go to Bangalore where
he would visit the offices of Tata Consultancy, Indian Space
Research Organisation (ISRO) and Huwai, a Chinese company.
Wen Jiabao would be accompanied by a large delegation of 100
people, including seven Ministers and several businessmen.
During the path-breaking visit, the two sides are expected
to sign nearly a dozen agreements in political, economic,
cultural and aviation fields. The Ambassador said the bilateral
trade between the two countries has reached US $ 13.6 billion
and "we propose to enhance it further." China has
proposed a Free Trade Area between the two countries, which
would be the largest such zone in the world as and when it
took shape, he added.
admits Khan gave nuclear material to Iran
March 10: A rogue nuclear scientist who is at the heart of
an international nuclear black market investigation gave centrifuges
to Iran, but Pakistan's Government knew nothing about the
transfer, the information minister said on Thursday. It is
the first time that the Pakistani Government has acknowledged
that Abdul Qadeer Khan actually gave material to Iran, though
they have admitted in the past that his group sold technology
and blueprints to several countries.
Abdul Qadeer gave some centrifuges to Iran," Information
Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said. "He helped Iran in
his personal capacity, and the Pakistan Government had nothing
to do with it." Ahmed originally made the remarks at
a seminar in Islamabad organised by a local newspaper group,
in which he stuck by Pakistan's insistence that despite his
crimes, Khan would never be handed over to a third country
said that Islamabad is fully cooperating with the International
Atomic Energy Agency, the world's nuclear watchdog. Khan,
considered the father of Pakistan's own nuclear program, confessed
last year that he sold nuclear technology to Iran - Pakistan's
Southwestern neighbour - as well as North Korea and Libya.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf pardoned the disgraced
scientist and allowed him to keep the riches he allegedly
earned from the trade.
the scientist remains restricted to his home in an upscale
neighbourhood of Islamabad. The Government has steadfastly
denied any official involvement in the proliferation.
again express concern to Nepal
DELHI, March 7: India on Monday firmly conveyed its disappointment
to Nepal on the measures taken by the king that have served
to only deepen the crisis facing the Himalayan Kingdom. In a
meeting with the visiting Nepali Foreign Minister, Mr Ramesh
Nath Pandey, the External Affairs Minister, Mr Natwar Singh,
pointed out that it was not only India, but also several other
friends of Nepal, which had expressed grave concern over these
measures, which could endanger the institution of monarchy itself.
events since February, 2005 had only served to demonstrate that
not only had the security situation in Nepal not improved, but
that the country was now facing a deteriorating economic situation
as well. This was likely to be further worsened by decisions
of some donor countries to suspend aid to Nepal.
this background, Mr Natwar Singh conveyed that it would be in
the interest of Nepal and its people, for the King and the political
parties to join together on a national platform to unitedly
deal with the multiple challenges facing Nepal, including the
threat from Maoist insurgency.
"It was important for the King to take an early initiative
in this regard," added Mr Singh.
visiting Minister, who returns to Kathmandu on March 9, said
he would convey India's views to the King and to His Majesty's
Government of Nepal.
Natwar Singh also took the opportunity to express India's concern
over the continuing blacking out of several Indian TV news channels
by Nepal and also the difficulties being faced by Indian joint
ventures in the country. He underlined the importance of lifting
restrictions on Indian entities in Nepal at the earliest in
the interest of India-Nepal friendship.
the question of military supplies, the Indian Minister conveyed
that the matter remained under constant review by the Indian
On his arrival in Delhi on Monday, Mr Ranjit Rae, Joint Secretary
in the Ministry of External Affairs, received the Nepalese Foreign
Minister. Mr. Madhu Raman Acharya, Nepal's Foreign Secretary,
accompanies Mr. Pandey.
The External Affairs Minister received Mr. Pandey shortly after
noon today and also hosted a lunch in his honour at Hyderabad
his meeting with the External Affairs Minister, Mr. Pandey explained
the reasons why His Majesty, the King of Nepal, had taken steps
to dismiss the multiparty Government, declare emergency, detain
political party leaders and impose censorship on the press.
He conveyed the King's assurance that steps are being taken
to relax some of these measures in the near future. He also
conveyed the King's commitment to restoring multiparty democracy
at the earliest.
searching for Bin Laden in Pakistan: Report
DELHI, Feb 27: In an embarrassing move for Islamabad, a US congressional
report has said that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents
and other American personnel are in Pakistan looking for Osama
bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. These agents are
based in Pakistan as "civilian contractors", the Dawn
newspaper reported from Washington, quoting the Congressional
Research Service (CRS), which advises Congress and writes policy
briefs for US lawmakers.
report points out that both Osama bin Laden and Al Zawahiri
escaped the December 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan and, "according
to most assessments, fled into Pakistan, where they have continued
to elude capture by Pakistani forces and agents."
report notes that a March 2004 Pakistan forces' offensive against
suspected terrorist hideouts in the South Waziristan region,
failed to find these two or other major Al Qaeda figures.
December 2004, the report says, President Pervez Musharraf also
acknowledged that the "trail has gone cold," a characterization
generally backed by US observers. Although Osama and Zawahiri
remain at large, US officials say that much progress has been
made against Al Qaeda, but that more remains to be done.
CRS report quotes former Director of Central Intelligence George
Tenet as telling a congressional hearing last year that "the
Al Qaeda leadership structure we charted after September 11
is seriously damaged, but the group remains as committed as
ever to attacking the US homeland... But do not misunderstand
me. I am not suggesting Al Qaeda is defeated. It is not."
CRS says that the Bush administration points to the capture
or killing of senior Al Qaeda leaders as evidence of progress
against Al Qaeda, adding that some key Al Qaeda operatives were
arrested in Pakistan by Pakistani law-enforcement agencies.
the top 37 top Al Qaeda operatives identified by US agencies
after September 11, 2001, 15 have been killed or captured. The
most notable among them include: number three leader Mohammad
Atef (killed in Afghanistan by US Predator); Sept 11 planner
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (arrested by Pakistan); key recruiter
and planner Abu Zubaydah (arrested by Pakistan); Southeast Asian
affiliate operational leader Hanbali (Riduan Isammudin), a key
operative of Jemaah Islamiyah (arrested in Thailand); Sept 11
plotter Ramzi bin al-Shibh (arrested by Pakistan); and Abdul
Ali al-Harithi, key plotter in Yemen (killed by US Predator
the aggregate, since the September 11 attacks, about 3,000 suspected
Al Qaeda members have been detained or arrested by about 90
countries, of which 650 are under US control.
to the CRS, US officials have repeatedly denied that during
the Afghan war the United States directly supported those volunteers
who came to Afghanistan for fighting the Soviets but the report
notes that the United States did covertly finance these Mujahideen
factions. From 1981 to 1991, the United States provided about
$3 billion to them to facilitate their jihad in Afghanistan.
this period, neither Osama nor his associates were known to
have openly advocated, undertaken, or planned any direct attacks
against the United States, although they all were critical of
US support for Israel in the Middle East.
report quotes US officials as saying that Al Qaeda cells and
associates have been located in over 70 countries. Among the
groups identified as members of the Al Qaeda coalition after
the 9/11, virtually all are still active today.
include the Islamic Group and Al Jihad (Egypt), the Armed Islamic
Group and the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (Algeria),
the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Jemaah Islamiyah
(Indonesia), the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (Libyan opposition)
and Harakat-ul-Mujahedin (Pakistan, Kashmiri).
army ordered to fire at 'intruding' US troops
ISLAMABAD, Feb 22: In what is seen as the first signal of Pakistan's
assertion against US policies in its area, Islamabad has ordered
the army to shoot at US troops if they intrude into the country
from Afghanistan without authorisation. "Pakistan has issued
new rules of engagement permitting its army to fire at US forces
that cross the border from Afghanistan without coordinating
first," the Daily Times newspaper said Tuesday in a report
report is based on a "deep background" column in the
magazine American Conservative by former CIA officer Philip
Giraldi, who is now an international security consultant and
writer on intelligence matters. "President Musharraf has
been receiving angry reports from his military that US forces
have been engaging in hot pursuit across the border in violation
of bilateral agreements," the article said.
Pakistan president is also said to be unhappy about the recent
abrupt withdrawal of Predators and other surveillance resources
from Pakistan for transfer to Iraq for use against Iran, the
report said. Quoting high-level Pakistani sources, it said Musharraf
and his army chiefs "expended a great deal of political
capital" in their support of the Al-Qaeda hunt, clashing
frequently with hostile tribesmen along the border.
US Central Command's January announcement that the drones and
other supporting surveillance technologies that were being used
against Al-Qaeda would be withdrawn to support 'elections in
Iraq' was an unpleasant surprise, particularly when 'in Iraq'
turned out to be a euphemism for 'against Iran'," it added.
drones have not yet been returned and many operations in the
border areas are reported to be on hold, the report said. "Musharraf
has had a difficult time explaining to his own supporters in
the military, and to the Pakistani public, why he continues
to be so supportive of US policies in the region," it said.
frees 500 Palestinian prisoners
Feb 21: Israel freed 500 Palestinian prisoners in a good-will
gesture Monday, a day after the government gave final approval
to a pullout from Gaza and a revised route of the West Bank
separation barrier that would encompass at least 6 percent of
land claimed by the Palestinians for a future state. With the
historic Cabinet vote, Israel began charting its final borders,
bypassing negotiations and angering the Palestinians. Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon said the decision to leave Gaza and four
settlements in the northern West Bank was the hardest he ever
made but would ensure a better future for Israel.
also signed an order saying Israeli civilians would have to
leave the areas slated for evacuation by July 20. Those remaining
would be removed by force over a period of two months. Settler
leaders have pledged not to leave voluntarily, and security
officials are bracing for violent confrontations.
the West Bank, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas won the backing
of his Fatah movement for a new 24-member Cabinet after a stormy
debate, clearing the way for approval of the new ministers by
parliament later Monday.
release of Palestinian prisoners was one of the gestures Sharon
agreed to at his summit with Abbas earlier this month in Egypt.
Convoys of buses carrying shackled inmates left Israel's desert
prison camp of Ketziot around dawn Monday, dropping prisoners
off at the edges of the West Bank and Gaza Strip just before
noon, military officials said. They were greeted by cheering
crowds of relatives, who reached out to touch and hug them.
Abu Madala, 35, spent four years in prison and had three more
years to serve when he was set free Monday. "I cannot believe
that I'm smelling the air of freedom, that I will see my family,"
Abu Madala said, choking back tears after being reunited with
brothers and sisters and his 12-year-old son, Mohammed. "Nothing
can describe my joy and my feelings.
I left behind me brothers in jail who need to be released,"
added Abu Madala, who had worked as a policeman before his arrest
in the West Bank. "If were are talking about a new era,
prisoners should be freed. We hope that peace will prevail between
the two nations. Those freed had not been involved in attacks
Israel has promised to release 400 more prisoners within the
next three months. A joint Israeli-Palestinian ministerial committee
will decide which prisoners will be released in the second round.
Israel is resisting Palestinian demands to free those serving
long terms, including for attacks on Israelis.
Sunday's Cabinet vote, an Israeli government agreed for the
first time since capturing the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967
Mideast war to dismantle some of the dozens of Jewish settlements
it has built there. However, in approving the route of the West
Bank barrier, Israel acted unilaterally on what was to be a
key issue in peace talks with the Palestinians, and signaled
it will keep a chunk of prime West Bank land close to Jerusalem,
including two large settlement blocs, Maaleh Adumim and Gush
Cabinet ministers acknowledged that while the barrier was ostensibly
built as a security shield, its route would help determine Israel's
final borders with a Palestinian state. Sharon has said he wants
to keep large West Bank settlement blocs in any future peace
deal with the Palestinians. Abbas has demanded that construction
of the barrier be stopped.
a former settler patron and the key proponent of Jewish settlement
expansion during most of his political career, said leaving
Gaza and parts of the West Bank was difficult. "In all
my years of service I have faced hundreds, if not thousands
of decisions, some of them matters of life or death, but the
decision on the disengagement plan was for me the hardest of
all," he said late Sunday.
Gaza withdrawal passed 17-5. The Cabinet must still approve
each of four evacuation stages, but even opponents said those
votes are just a formality.
Even so, Jewish settler leaders said they have not given up.
Pinchas Wallerstein, one of the leaders of the council of Jewish
settlements, called on supporters to begin "an aggressive
and strong struggle" but not engage in violence.
In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri called the planned
Israeli pullout "a result of the heroic resistance of our
people." The vote for the barrier route was almost unanimous.
Several Cabinet ministers acknowledged that the barrier has
implications far beyond the original security concept. "The
route of the fence is significant in terms of future negotiations
over Israel's borders," said minister Tzipi Livni.
raises Plan assistance to Rs 710 cr for Bhutan
DELHI, Jan 28: The visit of the King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck,
was a new milestone in the close and friendly relations between
India and Bhutan and greatly contributed in further enhancing the
mutual understanding, trust and friendship between the governments,
leaders and peoples of the two countries.
joint statement on the conclusion of the King's six-day visit, the
two sides recognised the many years of successful economic cooperation
and agreed to further strengthen this mutually beneficial partnership.
Bhutan expressed appreciation for the invaluable and substantial
assistance that the India continues to provide towards Bhutan's
all round development.
on its part reiterated its commitment to assist the Royal Government
of Bhutan in its socio-economic development programmes in general
and to the 9th Five Year Plan in particular. During
the King's visit, the programme grant component of India's overall
assistance for Bhutan's Ninth Five Year Plan (2002-07) was also
finalised. India has agreed to enhance this component of assistance
from Rs 430 crores to Rs 710 crores during the Ninth Plan.
the King's visit, the two sides signed three Memoranda of Understanding
that covered power, railways and agriculture and allied sectors.
The first MoU called for preparation of detailed project reports
for Punatshangchhu (Stage-II) and Mangdechhu hydropower projects.
The second sought establishment of railway links between bordering
towns of India and Bhutan and the third MOU was for cooperation
in the field of Agriculture and allied sectors.
Bhutan King arrived at the invitation of the President, Dr A.P.J.
Abdul Kalam, and was the Chief Guest for the Republic Day. His Royal
Highness Chhoetse Penlop Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the Crown
Prince of Bhutan, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
and senior officials of the Royal Government of Bhutan accompanied
His Majesty the King.
his stay in New Delhi, the King Jigme Singye Wangchuck held talks
with the President, who also hosted a State banquet at Rashtrapati
Bhavan. The Vice President, Mr Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, the Prime
Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, the Minister of External Affairs, Mr
Natwar Singh, the Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, the Home
Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil, the Power Minister, Mr P.M. Sayeed,
and other senior government officials and political leaders held
separate talks with the King.
two sides had a cordial exchange of views and discussions on bilateral
relations and economic cooperation as well as regional and international
issues. They recalled the strong historical ties of friendship and
understanding between the two countries. Both sides noted with satisfaction
the excellent state of friendly relations and cooperation, and expressed
their firm commitment to further strengthen these exemplary relations.
lauded and expressed its appreciation for the successful operation
launched under the leadership of the King by the Royal Government
and people of Bhutan in removing the Indian insurgent groups from
two Governments reiterated their full support and cooperation in
addressing cross border concerns to improve border management and
security and with a view to facilitating smooth trade and commerce
between the two countries.
Majesty expressed the deep appreciation of the Royal Government
to the Government of India for the security protection to facilitate
the movement of Bhutanese vehicles and passengers through neighbouring
States of West Bengal and Assam in India.
Bhutan sign landmark accord on rail link
DELHI, Jan 25: Taking bilateral relations to new heights, India
and Bhutan have signed a landmark accord for establishing rail links
between bordering towns and agreed to step up cooperation in agriculture
and power sectors. Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU),
inked in the presence of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh,
and visiting the Bhutan King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, the two sides
have agreed to conduct feasibility studies for extension of Indian
railway network from West Bengal and Assam to the nearest border
towns of Bhutan.
comes as part of the overall strategy of upgrading border infrastructure
and connectivity with Bhutan. It will examine links between Hasimara
(West Bengal) and Phuentsholing (about 18 km and bifurcation to
Pasakha, 70-km stretch between Kokrajhar (Assam) and Gelephu, 40-km
distance between Pathsala (Assam) and Nanglam, Rangla (Assam) and
Samdrupjongkhar via Darranga (about 60 km) and Banarhat (West Bengal)
and Samtse (about 16 km).
Minister of State for Railways, Mr Naranbhai J Rathwa, and the Bhutanese
Foreign Minister, Mr Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, signed the MOU.
The Bhutan King said that the step will have a "positive impact"
on the economic relations of the two countries. The King, who is
the Chief Guest at tomorrow's Republic Day celebrations, said the
agreements would go a long way in furthering the close relations
between the two countries.
The King, who arrived here on Monday, was accorded a ceremonial
reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan this morning.
he held wide-ranging discussions with the Prime Minister on bilateral,
regional and international issues of mutual interest. He appreciated
India's quick response towards other SAARC countries Sri Lanka and
Maldives in the wake of tsunami tragedy. "I, on behalf of SAARC
countries, express deep appreciation and gratitude for India's generous
assistance to Sri Lanka and Maldives," he said. "We were
impressed in Bhutan to see the Government and people of India get
together to deal with tsunami," he said.
Power Minister, Mr P M Sayeed, and the Bhutanese Foreign Minister
singed another MOU on preparation of detailed project reports for
the Punatsangchhu (Stage II) and Mangdechhu Hydro-Electric projects
in Bhutan. Cooperation in the power sector is one of the hallmarks
of India's mutually beneficial relationship with Bhutan. While 336
MW Chukha roject and 60 MW Kurichu project have been completed,
the 1020 MW Tala project is expected to be completed in early 2006.
A detailed project report is being undertaken for the 1000 MW Punatsanghchhu
Delhi is of the view that cooperation in this sector represents
a 'win-win' situation for both countries. Bhutan receives a steady
stream of revenue and India obtains cheap, clean energy to meet
the growing requirements of its economy. The Punatsangchhu II and
Mangdechhu projects are together estimated to generate power of
about 1500 MW.
Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) would be conducted by Indian Government
agencies to be identified after mutual consultation between the
two Governments. The DPRs are expected to take two years for completion.
The Indian Government under its project-tied assistance to the Ninth
Five Year Plan of Bhutan will finance both on a grant basis.
two sides also signed a MoU on cooperation in the field of agriculture
and allied sectors. Inked by the Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad
Pawar, and the Bhutanese Foreign Minister, it provides the framework
of institutional cooperation in agriculture and allied sectors.
While the focus areas would be livestock health and development
and strengthening of agriculture marketing systems in Bhutan, the
MoU also includes human resources development by offering training
facilities in India to Bhutanese personnel and exchange of experts
and farmers at the grassroots level.
External Affairs Ministry under Government assistance to Bhutan's
Five Year Plans will fund the projects under this MoU. A senior
Bhutanese official said the King's visit was an "important
milestone" in further promoting the goodwill, understanding
and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.
said Bhutan and India enjoy close ties of friendship and cooperation
at all levels and in every sphere. New Delhi has been appreciative
of Bhutan's action in flushing out Indian insurgent groups that
had established camps in that country.
King arrives on four-day visit
DELHI, Jan 24: Bhutan's King Jigme Singye Wangchuk arrived here
on Monday to a warm welcome. The Minister of State for Defence and
Parliamentary Affairs, Mr BK Handique, the Secretary in the External
Affairs Ministry, Mr Rajiv Sikri, and senior officials warmly received
the King at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
inclement weather and heavy snowfall in Thimpu had resulted in the
Bhutan King, who was slated to reach New Delhi on Sunday, deferring
his visit by a day.
King will be the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations.
During his stay, the King would call on the President, Dr APJ Abdul
Kalam, and also have meetings with the Vice President, Mr Bhairon
Singh Shekhawat, the Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, the
Home Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil, and the Power Minister, Mr P M
Sayeed. The UPA Chairperson, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the leader of Opposition,
Mr LK Advani, and the former Prime Minister, Mr IK Gujral will also
meet the visiting dignitary.
after arrival, the External Affairs Minister, Mr Natwar Singh, called
on the King of Bhutan and welcomed him on this visit and on being
the Chief Guest. A spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs
said the Minister expressed great satisfaction with the state of
our bilateral cooperation, which he said had brought immense benefits
to our two countries.
Singh thanked Bhutan for the exemplary action to flush out Indian
insurgent groups that had established camps in southern and eastern
Bhutan. It was agreed that cooperation on security issues would
be further strengthened. The spokesman said the King thanked India
for the support and assistance for Bhutan's development programmes.
Minister reiterated India's commitment to support Bhutan's Ninth
Plan and the projects in diverse sectors, including education, culture,
agriculture, telecom, infrastructure, including roads, among others.
Mr Natwar Singh said that cooperation in the hydropower sector represents
a win-win situation for both countries and is one of the main pillars
of India-Bhutan partnership. He expressed the commitment of the
Government to further strengthen cooperation in this area on a long
term and sustainable basis.
may be mentioned that inclement weather and heavy snowfall in Thimpu
had resulted in the Bhutan King, who was slated to reach New Delhi
on Sunday, deferring his visit by a day. The Minister of State for
Defence and Parliamentary Affairs, Mr BK Handique, the Secretary
in the External Affairs Ministry, Mr Rajiv Sikri, and senior officials
warmly received the King at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
India favour multipolar world
DELHI, Jan 24: India and China have agreed to broaden their budding
friendship through a new security and foreign policy dialogue they
launched on Monday and said this had boosted trust between the two
sides. The talks between the Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and the
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Mr Wu Dawei, are the first in a series
that will focus on regional and global security issues and growing
launching of this new dialogue mechanism between the two countries
is significant in that it indicates their readiness to look at the
bilateral relationship in a long-term and strategic perspective,"
said Mr Navtej Sarna, spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs.
Mr Sarna said that there was a broad convergence of views on regional
and global issues. The talks had further increased mutual trust
and understanding, he added. The discussions between the two lasted
nearly five hours.
the important international and regional issues discussed were the
issues of globalisation, democratisation of international relations,
UN reforms, non-proliferation, terrorism and situation in the Korean
Peninsula. Regional cooperation was also discussed, he added. Mr
Sarna said both sides agreed that the current international situation
characterised by globalisation presented an opportunity as well
as posed a challenge. They emphasised the need for making international
relations democratic in order to face this challenge.
sides agreed that the trend towards multi-polarity was conducive
to international peace and should be encouraged. The importance
of reforming international institutions, including the UN, was underlined.
On the UNSC reforms, the Chinese side conveyed their understanding
for India's candidature for the permanent membership and indicated
their support for India playing a more important role in the international
affairs, including in the UN.
two countries shared the view that terrorism, in particular the
possibility of weapons of mass destruction and sensitive technologies
falling in the hands of terrorists, presented a grave threat and
recognised the importance of international cooperation in meeting
this threat. They also agreed that these dangers could not be tackled
sides noted with satisfaction that recent trends in the bilateral
relations had been positive. Trade was growing rapidly and as per
the preliminary figures for the year 2004, the annual trade volume
had crossed US$ 13 billion. Exchanges and interaction in diverse
areas were also continuing.
this background, the spokesman said both sides reiterated their
desire to improve the relationship at all levels and in all areas
while addressing the outstanding differences, including the boundary
question, in a fair, reasonable and mutually satisfactory manner.
spokesman said "There was broad convergence on views on these
issues. Both sides also briefed each other on their respective foreign
and security policies." The two sides held "substantive"
discussions on bilateral ties, including in particular on preparations
for the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, "later
two sides agreed to closely work together to ensure a substantive
outcome of the visit, which is expected to mark a new phase in the
relationship between the two countries," he said. It was agreed
that discussions between the two Foreign Ministries would continue
to prepare for the visit.
the launching of the new dialogue mechanism as "significant",
he said "in that it indicates their readiness to look at the
bilateral relationship in a long-term and strategic perspective".
The two sides agreed to hold the next round of the strategic dialogue
in China on mutually agreed dates.
whether issues relating to nuclear doctrine and the Iraq situation
came up during the parleys, he indicated that he would not like
to go beyond what has been agreed by the two sides on what has to
be communicated to the media.
the evening, Mr Wu called on the External Affairs Minister, Mr Natwar
Singh, and informed him of the outcome of the discussions. During
this warm and cordial meeting, the spokesman said the present state
of bilateral relations was reviewed and assessed highly as well
as future directions were discussed.
Natwar Singh said that India was looking forward to visit of Premier
Wen Jiabao, which would be a major event in our bilateral relations
and lead to substantive results. During the call on the Minister,
the celebrations for the 55th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic
relations between India and China, which are to begin on April 1,
2005 were also discussed.
whether the strategic dialogue would be an annual affair, Mr Sarna
said no decision in this respect has been taken. On whether Pakistan
cropped up during the talks, he said "Our bilateral relationship
with China is very strong. We have a fair amount to discuss on a
PM one of the greatest Finance Ministers'
DELHI, Jan 18: Describing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as "one
of the greatest Finance Ministers", his visiting Canadian counterpart
Paul Martin, today recalled his outstanding contribution to the
recovery of crisis-ridden Indian economy in the early 90s. "We
were Ministers of Finance during the same period. Prime Minister
(Singh) was one of the greatest Finance Ministers," Martin
said at a joint press conference with Singh.
the giant strides made by India on the economic front, Martin said
the credit for this "should in no small measure go to Singh".
The Canadian Premier, who is accompanied by Ujjal Dosanjh and a
delegation of MPs with Indian origin, among them two Sikhs, said
the fourth largest language in Canada was Punjabi and he too had
some knowledge of it.
describes Martin as "an old friend and valued colleague."
Martin's invitation to Singh to visit Canada was accepted by the
Indian leader. Dates for the visit would be worked out through diplomatic.
envoys present credentials
DELHI, Jan 18: Five envoys presented their credentials to the President
of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan
here on Tuesday.
envoys who presented their credentials were: Mr. Vyacheslav Ivanovich
Trubnikov, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Mr. Ernesto
Carlos Alvarez, the Ambassador of Argentina, Mr. John McCarthy AO,
the High Commissioner of Australia, Mr. Rogelio Granguillhome Morfin,
the Ambassador of Mexico and Mr. Sun Yuxi, the Ambassador of the
People's Republic of China.
credential presentation ceremony was attended by the senior members
of the missions, senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs
and Rashtrapati Bhavan.
criticises Pak for going to WB on Baglihar
DELHI, Jan 18: India has said that Pakistan's decision to refer
the Baglihar hydro power project to the World Bank was not justified
and appealed to Islamabad to have further talks on the subject to
resolve the differences. Responding to a question, a spokesman of
the Ministry of External Affairs, Mr Navtej Sarna, said "our
view is that there had been detailed discussions between the Water
Secretaries of the two countries recently and there was some convergence
. We believe more technical-level talks could lead
to further convergence."
Sarna said "we do not believe that the refence to the World
Bank is justified," he said. It may be mentioned that Pakistan
on Tuesday decided to seek World Bank arbitration to resolve its
dispute with India over the Baglihar hydropower project being built
on River Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir.
decision to go to World Bank has been taken at a high level meeting
this morning presided over by Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz,"
Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan said. Pakistan is
formally approaching the World Bank invoking Article 9 (2)(A) of
the 1960 Indus Water Treaty to appoint a neutral expert to arbitrate
over the Baglihar dispute.
said Pakistan has decided to approach the World Bank formally on
Tuesday after 'exhausting' all bilateral avenues with India. "We
have held talks under the Indus Water Commission, water secretaries
level and at the foreign secretaries level. Since India failed to
accede to Pakistan's demand to stop work at the project, Pakistan
has decided to approach the World Bank for arbitration," he
said according to reports India was pressing ahead with the construction
of what he termed 'a dam'. "Under these circumstances, Pakistan
was left with no option but to go to World Bank," he said.
Chinese Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang dead
Jan 17: Former Chinese Communist Party chief, Zhao Ziyang died of
illness in a local hospital on Monday, the state media reported.
He was 85. "Comrade Zhao had long suffered from multiple diseases
affecting his respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and had been
hospitalised for medical treatment for several times," the
official Xinhua news agency reported in a brief report.
condition worsened recently, and he passed away on Monday after
failing to respond to all emergency treatment, it said. Zhao had
been place under house arrest for opposing Chinese army crackdown
on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square here in 1989. Zhao
had been confined to his courtyard home in the Chinese capital for
over 15 years, but current leaders remain nervous about the residual
influence of modern China's icon of reform, fearing his death could
trigger widespread social unrest.
was last seen in public on May 19, 1989, when he tearfully pleaded
with student protesters to leave Tiananmen Square, close to the
Chinese parliament building. The then Chinese government declared
martial law the next day and the People's Liberation Army crushed
the pro-democracy movement with tanks and other heavy weapons on
June 3-4, causing many casualties. The Chinese government on Sunday
said that the physical health of Zhao, has become "stable"
PM's visit to boost trade ties with India
DELHI, Jan 17: The visit of the Canadian Prime Minister, Mr Paul
Martin, who arrived here on Monday evening, is expected to boost
trade and economic ties between the two countries. Mr Martin, accompanied
by his spouse, arrived here at the invitation of his Indian counterpart,
Dr Manmohan Singh. The Canadian Prime Minister would be accompanied
by an official delegation.
January 18, the visiting dignitary would hold talks with Dr Manmohan
Singh and call on the President, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam. The Prime
Minister will host a lunch in honour of the visiting dignitary.
The two leaders would discuss trade promotion as outlined in the
'Partners in the 21st Century' declaration issued jointly by Jean
Chretien and Vajpayee in New Delhi in November 2003. The External
Affairs Minister, Mr Natwar Singh, will be calling on the Canadian
Tsunami disaster in South Asia has altered the focus of the upcoming
visit of Canadian Prime Minister. As per his earlier schedule, he
was travel to China, Japan and India. Now the tsumani-hit Sri Lanka
and Thailand have also been included in the itinerary. For paucity
of time, Amritsar, Agra and Mumbai have been deleted from the itinerary.
prime minister and his entourage leave for Thailand on Saturday.
"We will visit on the ravaged areas of Phuket on January 16
and then leave for Sri Lanka where we will visit the disaster-hit
areas on January 17, and then leave for New Delhi in the evening,"
according to Opposition leader Deepak Obhrai who is the Conservative
Party's representative accompanying the Prime Minister through his
entire trip from January 15 to January 23.
view of the recent tsunami disaster, a briefing on Indian disaster
response efforts would also be provided to the visiting Premier.
A spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs, Mr Navtej Sarna,
said Canada was an important G-8 nation with which India had a tradition
of strong relations. "Both are members of the Commonwealth
and the ARF. The two nations, both federal in their polity, share
values of pluralism and democracy. The presence of a large Indian
community in Canada has given this relationship a special character,"
Sarna said relations between India and Canada have been growing
steadily in recent years. Prime Minister Jean Chretien visited India
in October 2003. India is engaging Canada across a broad agenda,
covering global issues, investment and trade, science and technology,
environment and academic exchanges.
said bilateral trade between India and Canada was C$ 2155 million
last year. India runs an export surplus and its main export commodities
are textiles and garments, iron and steel, organic chemicals, cotton
and jewellery. Indian imports from Canada are mainly wood pulp and
newsprint, minerals, vegetable oils and precision equipment. Both
countries have started investing in each other and leading Indian
IT companies have established a presence in Canada.
spokesman said "Canada has been actively supporting Indian
projects in environmental management and sustainable development.
India is looking forward to greater flows of environment friendly
technology from that country." He said "there are on-going
discussions on furthering science and technology cooperation and
the Prime Minister's visit is expected to give a boost to these
efforts. Cooperation in developing tsunami warning systems is also
likely to come up for discussion. The two countries also work together
in the Health sector and ICMR has just signed an MOU on research
in lifestyle diseases with its Canadian counterpart."
Indian community in Canada has made enormous progress in the last
generation. Recognising their role as a bridge between the two countries,
New Delhi would like to foster greater contacts with them and promote
exchanges relevant to their heritage. It is expected that the two
countries would discuss visa and consular services.
opening of the consulate general in Chandigarh in 2003 and the upgrading
of the consulate in Mumbai to consulate general are indication of
Canada's growing interest in the emerging economic power in the
course, one cannot ignore the fact that India is the second biggest
source of immigration for Canada. Last year, about 25,000 Indians
made Canada their home. Today, the million-strong Indo-Canadian
community wields considerable political weight in this country of
circles in Toronto were pinning high hopes on Paul Martin's visit
to India. In fact, just after the new UPA Government took over in
May, Mr Martin had despatched Mr Herb Dhaliwal, a former natural
resources minister and an Indo-Canadian, to India to meet with the
new Indian prime minister to stress the importance Canada attached
to India which is its largest trading partner in South Asia.
in view the recently released Goldman Sachs report "The Path
to 2050" which says that by 2020 India's growth rate will be
faster than China's, corporate Canada is looking towards India.
Mr Deepak Obhrai, who is three-time MP for Calgary East and Opposition
Critic for International Trade - Emerging Markets, says this visit
is a timely opportunity for "Canada to enhance its relationship
with emerging markets such as India and China. Canada is and always
has been a trading nation. Improving our access to two of the world's
largest markets is an extremely important priority for Canada so
I'm looking forward to a successful trip."
had imposed sanctions and called back its high commissioner after
India exploded nuclear devices in May 1998. However, since their
re-engagement, the trade ties between the two nations have grown
major Indian software companies have offices across Canada. India's
FDI in Canada has risen sharply to $62m, while the Canadian FDI
in India stands at $184m. Last year, Canada exported goods worth
$764 million to India, while its imports from India stood at $1.42
billion. Canada is a world leader in animation, CNG, natural resources,
transportation, automobiles and power. India stands to benefit immensely
from closer cooperation with this North American country.
The Nazi' creates uproar
Jan 13: Britain's Prince Harry apologized on Wednesday after a
picture of him dressed up as a Nazi soldier was splashed across
the front page of a mass-circulation newspaper. The
pictures in The Sun newspaper triggered outrage, especially from
the Jewish community which pointed out that they appear as the
royal family prepares to lead commemorations of the 60th anniversary
of the Holocaust.
edition of The Sun features Harry, 20, the younger son of Prince
Charles and the late Princess Diana, attending a fancy dress party
wearing a khaki uniform with an armband emblazoned with a swastika,
emblem of the German WWII Nazi Party. Harry, third in line to the
British throne after his father and his elder brother William, was
pictured wearing the costume as he held a cigarette and drink during
a birthday party for a friend last Saturday, The Sun said.
The Nazi," according to the headline of the newspaper story,
which also included an apology from Prince Harry. When
contacted, a spokeswoman for the royal family read a similar statement
of apology. "I am very sorry if I caused any offense or embarrassment
to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize,"
Prince Harry said.
Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed the apology. "We're
gratified that the prince has apologized. The incident was in bad
taste, especially in the runup to the Holocaust memorial day, which
the royal family will play a leading role in commemorating,"
it said. Holocaust
memorial day is marked on January 27, the day in 1945 when the Soviet
army liberated Auschwitz, the most infamous of the Nazi World War
II concentration camps.
another embarrassment for the royal family on Thursday, Harry's
granmother, Queen Elizabeth II, was reported to have said that Paris,
not London, will win the five-way contest to stage the 2012 Olympic
Games, citing a lack of public support as a major weakness of the
British capital city's bid.
Bangla, India agree on gas pipeline
TTO News Service
DELHI, Jan 13: A new chapter in the geopolitics of South Asia opened
on Thursday when the energy ministers of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar
agreed that Yangon would export natural gas to New Delhi by a pipeline
governments of Bangaldesh and India reserve the right to access
the pipeline as and when required, including injecting and siphoning
off their own natural gas; details in this regard will be worked
out on the basis of commercial agreements," according to a
joint statement issued after the meeting of the three Ministers
joint statement was issued after a tripartite meeting between Myanmar
Energy Minister Brig Gen Lun Thi, Bangladesh's Minister for Energy
and Mineral Resources A K H Mosharraf Hossain, and Petroleum Minister
Mani Shankar Aiyar. "The route of the pipeline may be determined
by mutual agreement of the three governments with a view to ensuring
adequate access, maximum security and optimal economic utilisation,"
the statement, released here, said.
pipeline was one of several options being considered by India to
bring gas reserves at Shwe field in Block A-1 in offshore Myanmar,
as well as volumes that are expected to be discovered in its adjacent
block A-3. ONGC Videsh has 20 percent stake and GAIL has 10 percent
in both the blocks where South Korea's Daewoo is the operator.
will earn about 125 million dollars annually as transit fee of the
pipeline, which would run through Arakan (Rakhine) state in Myanmar,
the Indian states of Mizoram and Tripura before crossing Bangladesh
to Kolkata. The one billion dollar 290-km gas trunkline would be
"operated by an international consortium," the statement
elected Palestinian President
(West Bank), Jan 10: Mahmoud Abbas was elected Palestinian Authority
president by a landslide, results showed Monday, giving the pragmatist
a mandate to resume peace talks with Israel - but also leaving him
with the tough task of reining in powerful armed groups.
leaders welcomed Abbas' victory, but said they will watch closely
how hard he tries to subdue militants. Abbas could easily lose his
political capital over a major bombing or shooting attack, and while
most militant groups signaled they are willing to give him a chance,
not all have signed on to a truce with Israel.
donates Rs 100 m towards PM's relief fund
By Deepak Arora
DELHI, Jan 4: Bhutan Government has made a token contribution of
Rs. 100 million to the Prime Minister's relief fund for relief efforts
for the Tsunami victims in India. His Majesty the King has sent
condolence messages to the President, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, the
Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the President of the Indian
National Congress, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, which conveyed the heartfelt
condolences to the bereaved families who lost their loved ones and
the grief and personal loss they have suffered.
December 28 in the Capital Thimphu, His Majesty the King, members
of the royal family, all Cabinet Ministers, senior government officials,
people's representatives and the Indian Community in Bhutan gathered
at Tashichhodzong and offered a special prayer and lighted thousand
butter lamps for the victims of the devastating tidal waves that
hit the coastal areas of India as well as other parts of South and
Southeast Asia particularly in Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
Central Monk Body offered a special prayer that was attended by
the Prime Minister, members of the Cabinet and senior government
officials, visiting Indian parliamentary delegation and officials
of the Indian Embassy in Thimphu.
Majesty also spoke to the leaders of the countries affected and
conveyed Bhutan's deep anguish and concern over the tragic disaster
caused by the tsunami. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister
of Bhutan have sent messages of condolences to the Prime Minister
and the Foreign Minister of India as well as Sri Lanka and the Maldives.