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100 Killed, Over 150 Injured In Fire During Wedding In Iraq: State Media

BAGHDAD, Sept 27: At least 100 people were killed and more than 150 injured when a fire broke out during a wedding at an event hall in the northern Iraqi town of Hamdaniyah, state media and health officials said early Wednesday.

Health authorities in Nineveh province "have counted 100 dead and more than 150 injured in the fire at a marriage hall in Hamdaniyah", the official Iraqi press agency INA reported, citing a "preliminary tally" confirmed by a spokesperson for the country's health ministry.

At the main hospital in Hamdaniyah, a predominantly Christian town east of Mosul, a photographer saw several ambulances arriving with sirens blaring and dozens of people gathering in the courtyard to donate blood.

Some people were also seen gathering at the doors of a refrigerated truck carrying several black body bags.

In a statement, civil defence authorities reported the presence of prefabricated panels that were "highly flammable and contravened safety standards" inside the event hall where the blaze took place.

"The fire caused some parts of the ceiling to fall due to the use of highly flammable, low-cost construction materials," the statement said.

"Preliminary information indicates that fireworks were used during a wedding, which triggered a fire in the hall."

Safety standards in Iraq's construction and transport sectors are often disregarded, and the country, whose infrastructure is in disrepair after decades of conflict, is regularly the scene of fatal fires and accidents.

Taiwan, India to seal pact on migration to overcome Taipei’s shortage of workers

NEW DELHI, Sept 26: India and Taiwan are looking to sign an agreement on migration and mobility as early as next month to help the island overcome a shortage of workers in areas such as manufacturing, construction projects and agriculture, people familiar with the matter said.

The draft memorandum of understanding on migration and mobility was finalised after negotiations between the two sides after Taiwan expressed an interest in hiring Indian workers in several sectors, the people said on condition of anonymity. Firms from Taiwan are interested in hiring people from India’s northeastern states, they said.

The move coincides with growing trade ties between the two sides. Two-way trade has grown more than seven-fold from $1.19 billion in 2001 to $8.4 billion in 2022. India currently ranks as Taiwan’s 14th largest export destination and 18th largest source of imports.

The people said Taiwan currently faces a shortage of workers in four main areas – manufacturing, including factories, construction projects, household workers, and agriculture and fisheries. India is among the countries that Taiwan is looking at to overcome the shortfall.

Foreign workers in Taiwan are paid the same wages as local labour and have access to similar national healthcare facilities, the people said. The current monthly minimum wage in Taiwan is 26,400 New Taiwan dollars (about $820).

Among the reasons that Taiwan has focused on workers from India’s northeastern states is the similarity of culture and diet, the people said.

The signing of two memorandums of understanding on migration and mobility and traditional medicine figured in a recent meeting between Taiwan’s Premier Chen Chien-jen and the new director general of the India Taipei Association, Manharsinh Laxmanbhai Yadav, who took up the position in August.

The MoUs and Taiwan’s move to establish a new office in Mumbai are “both good steps and demonstrate there is great potential in the India-Taiwan relationship”, Yadav was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the premier’s office.

While India and Taiwan don’t have formal diplomatic relations, both sides established representative offices in each other’s capitals in 1995. Besides the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center (TECC) in New Delhi, Taiwan set up an office in Chennai in December 2012 and recently announced plans to enhance its official presence in the country by setting up a new office in Mumbai.

India has the India-Taipei Association (ITA) office in Taipei and these facilities on both sides function as de facto missions and are responsible for promoting cooperation in trade, investment, science and technology, tourism and education.

The growth in India-Taiwan relations has coincided with New Delhi’s ties with China falling to a six-decade low over the military standoff on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Interpol Issues Red Corner Notice Against Wanted Khalistani Terrorist Karanvir Singh

NEW DELHI, Sept 25: The International Criminal Police Organization, commonly known as Interpol, on Monday issued a Red Corner Notice against Karanvir Singh, a member of the banned terrorist group Babbar Khalsa International.

Interpol updated its website by putting out a Red Corner Notice for the Khalistani terrorist.

Singh is believed to be hiding in Pakistan and was a member of the pro-Khalistan terrorist group Babbar Khalsa International, intelligence sources said.

As per the Interpol portal, 38-year-old Karanvir Singh has roots in Punjab's Kapurthala district.

Further, according to Interpol, Singh is wanted by India for criminal conspiracy, murder, offences related to the Arms Act, and Explosive Substances Act, raising funds for terrorist acts, conspiracy, and being a member of a terrorist gang or organisation.

A Red Corner Notice is a request to the law enforcement authorities of Interpol's member countries to find and temporarily detain a person until extradition, surrender, or a similar legal process can take place.

Earlier, Interpol issued a Red Notice to all member countries against gangster Himanshu alias Bhau, who is believed to be living abroad.

Giving details, a spokesperson of Haryana Police said Rohtak Police succeeded in getting a Red Corner Notice issued against a most wanted accused, who is believed to have fled abroad.

The Red Corner Notice against the wanted pro-Khalistani terrorist comes amid a diplomatic spat between New Delhi and Ottawa in the wake of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's claim of an India hand in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

New Delhi dismissed the allegations, calling them 'absurd' and 'motivated'.

Parents Of Students Worried After India-Canada Spat

NEW DELHI, Sept 24: Amid a huge diplomatic row between India and Canada, the parents of Indian students are worried that the standoff can impact their children in Canada and expose them to a security risk.

They are worried that their children may experience discrimination or bias based on their nationality.

"My daughter went to Canada to study seven months ago. My child is also concerned there, she can't focus on her studies," said Balwinder Singh, whose daughter studies in Canada.

"My two daughters are in Canada and I am tense. Governments of both countries should find a solution," another parent, Kuldeep Kaur said.

Some students are also jittery about their plan to study in Canada as the hostility between the two countries deepens. They are worried that the government move to suspend Visa services in Canada may have a direct implication on their migration.

Punjab BJP Chief Sunil Jakhar has urged External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to set up a helpline for Indians students and residents in Canada.

"I would request you to institute a dedicated helpline number on which our NRIs and students can contact and seek help from Indian Consulates. A WhatsApp number can be released for Indian students planning to go abroad to get in touch with authorities in case of need and guidance," Jakhar said.

Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and ensure the well-being of the students in Canada.

Earlier this week, Canada's Justin Trudeau made the explosive charge that "Indian government agents" could be behind the shooting of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India rejected the allegation as "absurd".

Canada has shared no specific information regarding its charges, India said, flagging "politically condoned hate crimes and criminal violence" in that country.

Both India and Canada issued travel advisories and expelled a senior diplomat of the other country.

India has advised its nationals in Canada and those contemplating travelling there to exercise "utmost caution" in view of growing anti-India activities and "politically-condoned" hate crimes.

"Given the deteriorating security environment in Canada, Indian students in particular are advised to exercise extreme caution and remain vigilant," the foreign ministry said.

Nijjar, 45, was shot dead outside a gurdwara in Canada's British Columbia in June. He was chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force and one of India's most wanted terrorists.

Big Crackdown On Khalistani Terrorists, 19 Fugitives' Assets To Be Seized

NEW DELHI, Sept 24: A day after a big crackdown on Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Khalistani terrorist and head of the banned separatist organisation Sikhs for Justice, the National Investigation Agency has prepared a list of 19 fugitive Khalistani terrorists living in UK, US, Canada, Dubai, Pakistan and other countries whose properties are also likely be confiscated, sources said. Security agencies have been pursuing them for years.

The action will be taken under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA. These terrorists have been accused of running anti-India propaganda from abroad.

The list names Paramjit Singh Pamma hiding in UK, Wadhwa Singh Babbar alia Chacha in Pakistan, Kulwant Singh Muthra in UK, Jay Dhaliwal in US, Sukhpal Singh in UK, Harpreet Singh alia Rana Singh in US, Sarabjeet Singh Bennur in UK, Kulwant Singh alias Kanta in UK, Harjap Singh alias Jappy Singh in California, US, Ranjit Singh Neeta in Lahore, Pakistan, Gurmeet Singh alias Bagga alias Baba, Gurpreet Singh alias Baaghi in UK, Jasmeet Singh Hakimzada in Dubai, Gurjant Singh Dhillon in Australia, Lakhbir Singh Rode in Europe and Canada, Amardeep Singh Poorewal in California, US, Jatinder Singh Grewal in Canada, Dupinder Jeet in UK, S Himmat Singh in New York, US.

The NIA had on Saturday seized Pannun's house in Punjab's Chandigarh and confiscated land owned by him in Amritsar. Pannun, who faces 22 criminal cases in Punjab, including three of sedition, had recently threatened Indo-Canadian Hindus to leave the country and return to India.

The big action comes days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked up a massive diplomatic row between the two countries over the murder Khalistani terrorist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

These terrorists advocate for a religion-based separate state carved out from Punjab and many neighbouring areas in India, to be known as 'Khalistan'. Sikhs For Justice has also conducted "Punjab Independence Referendum" in Canada and Australia. The Indian government has called the so-called referendums 'unfortunate' and asked the Canadian government to act against it.

'Hindu Canadians Are Fearful': MP From Justin Trudeau's Party Amid Row

OTTAWA, Sept 24: Holding his own party-led government responsible for inaction against Khalistan extremists, Liberal party MP Chandra Arya on Sunday asserted that Hindu Canadians are fearful after the threats issued by extremist elements.

Arya, who is a leader of PM Justin Trudeau's party, has repeatedly raised the issue of threats to Hindu Canadians and urged the community to stay calm and vigilant.

Arya's remark came after Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and other extremist elements issued threats to Hindu Canadians, warning them to go back to India, amid the ongoing standoff between the two nations.

Speaking to CBC News, Chandra Arya said, "I am more worried about the consequence of what happened after the Prime Minister's (Trudeau) statement. The concerns of the safety of Hindu Canadians here, Hindu Canadians are fearful".

He also cited a popular column, which had stated "The risk of ethnic and sectarian bloodshed in Canada is real"

"What I am worried is that the bloodshed is going to be Hindu Canadian's blood," Mr Arya added.

The Canadian MP emphasized three major reasons, why he thinks that the Hindu Canadians are fearful today.

"First, the history of the Khalistan movement is filled with violence and killings. Tens of thousands of Hindus and Sikhs have been killed by Khalistani terrorists in the history of the Khalistani movement. The Canadians forget the biggest mass killing in history happened 38 years back, in the Air India bombing. That was the biggest aviation terrorism before 9/11. And that was done by a Canada-based Khalistani terrorist. The fact is that those terrorists are still worshipped at some places in Canada," he said.

Arya also condemned the tableau parade, which was organized to celebrate the assassination of former PM Indira Gandhi

"Secondly, just a few months back, here in Toronto, a floor, a public parade of a cutout of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi with a white saree splattered in blood, and her two assassins pointing guns at her. A public floor celebrating the attack...this is the core of terrorism, the killing of a duly elected Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world. It was allowed to be publicly displayed and celebrated. Tell me, which country would allow, in the name of freedom of expression and freedom of speech, allow this to happen," Arya further said.

He added, "Thirdly, the leader of Sikhs for Justice, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun threatened the Hindu Canadians to leave the country and go to India. And this type of hate crime is done openly, without any consequences".

The Liberal party leader also clarified that a vast majority of Sikh-Canaidans don't support the Khalistani movement and are closely integrated with the Hindu Canadians.

"Most Sikh-Canadians, a vast majority of Sikh-Canadians in Canada is not supporting the Khalistani movement. Well, they may not openly speak against the Khalistan movement, but they have a very close relationship with Hindu Canadians, through family relationships, and social and cultural ties. There is a very great integration of Hindu and Sikh Canadians here. However, a small fraction of the Sikh community are hardcore Khalistani terrorists," Mr Arya added.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday alleged that Ottawa had credible intelligence linking Indian agents to the killing of Khalistani terrorist Nijjar in Vancouver. India, however, dismissed the allegations as "absurd and motivated".

This triggered diplomatic tensions between the two countries, with both New Delhi and Ottawa taking diplomatic steps and India suspending visa services to Canada.

Hardeep Nijjar, a designated terrorist in India, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18.

US Envoy Says Canada Received 'Five Eyes' Intel Against India: Report

TORONTO, Sept 24: A top United States diplomat has confirmed that there was "shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners" that had prompted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's offensive allegation about Indian agents' involvement in the killing of a Khalistani terrorist in Canada, according to a media report on Saturday.

There was "shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners" that informed Trudeau's public allegation of a "potential" link between the government of India and the murder of a Canadian citizen, CTV News Channel, Canada's 24-hour all-news network, reported quoting the US Ambassador to Canada David Cohen.

'Five Eyes' network is an intelligence alliance consisting of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It is both surveillance-based and signals intelligence (SIGINT).

Justin Trudeau had on September 18 made an explosive allegation of the "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, in Surrey in British Columbia on June 18.

India has rejected Trudeau's allegations as "absurd" and "motivated." It also expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official over the case.

In 2020, India designated Nijjar, 45, as a terrorist.

The CTV's report is based on its exclusive interview on CTV's programme 'Question Period with Vassy Kapelos' that is to air on Sunday.

CTV quoted Cohen as saying that he confirmed: "There was shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners that helped lead Canada to make the statements that the Prime Minister made." "In the days since, as diplomatic tensions continue to ratchet up - from Canada reassessing its staffing in India, to India suspending visa services for Canadians - there have been swirling questions about what intelligence is at the centre of this story, who was aware of it, and when," the CTV report said.

It further added that while Cohen would not comment on whether the intelligence informing the Canadian government's investigation was both human and surveillance-based, or whether it included signals intelligence of Indian diplomats, the US envoy to Canada did say "there was shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners that helped lead Canada to making the statements that the Prime Minister made."

This is the first admission by any US government official about the sharing of intelligence by Five Eyes partners with Canada even when there were multiple unofficial and non-official reports about the same.

The CTV report also mentioned that there were reports from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and The Associated Press that the intelligence Trudeau was speaking of did not come from Canada alone and that additional information was provided by an unspecified member of the intelligence-sharing alliance.

"He (Cohen) made this comment while denying a Washington Post report alleging that weeks before Trudeau's bombshell declaration, Ottawa asked its closest allies, including the US to publicly condemn the murder and that overture was rebuffed," the CTV said.

"Very bluntly, I will say that - and you know me well enough - that I'm not in the habit of commenting on private diplomatic conversations," Cohen was quoted as saying.

"Look, I will say this was a matter of shared intelligence information," he said and added: "There was a lot of communication between Canada and the United States about this, and I think that's as far as I'm comfortable going," Cohen said.

Cohen's comments came as Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US is "deeply concerned" about the allegations raised by Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau against India and Washington was "closely coordinating" with Ottawa on the issue and wants to see "accountability" in the case.

Speaking at a press conference in New York on Friday, Blinken said the US has engaged directly with the Indian government on the issue and the most productive thing would be the completion of this investigation.

"We have been consulting throughout very closely with our Canadian colleagues - and not just consulting, coordinating with them - on this issue. And from our perspective, it is critical that the Canadian investigation proceed, and it would be important that India work with the Canadians on this investigation. We want to see accountability, and it's important that the investigation run its course and lead to that result," Blinken said.

'Still A World Of Double Standards': Jaishankar's Swipe At 'Dominant' Nations

NEW YORK, Sept 24: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that it is still a world of “double standards” and those countries which are occupying positions of influence are resisting the pressure to change and those with historical influence have weaponised a lot of those capabilities.

Jaishankar was speaking at a Ministerial Session titled ‘South Rising: Partnerships, Institutions and Ideas' hosted by the Observer Research Foundation, in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, United Nations India and the Reliance Foundation.

“I think more than political will, there is political pressure for change," he said here on Saturday.

There is a growing sentiment in the world and the global South in a way embodies it. But there's also political resistance, he said.

“Those who are occupying positions of influence, we see this in the UN Security Council most of all, are resisting the pressure to change.

"Those who are economically dominant today are leveraging their production capabilities and those who have institutional influence or historical influence have actually weaponised a lot of those capabilities as well,” Jaishankar said.

“They will all mouth the right things, but the reality is still today, it's a world very much of double standards," Jaishankar said.

COVID itself was an example of it, he said, "But I think this whole transition will really be in a sense the global South putting more and more pressure on the international system. And, the global North…it's not just the North. There are parts which may not think of themselves in the North, but are very resistant to change,” he said.

Jaishankar added cultural rebalancing really means recognising the diversity of the world, respecting the diversity of the world, and giving other cultures and other traditions their due respect.

He referred to the G20 Summit in Delhi earlier this month and cited the example of millets. He noted that the global South historically ate less wheat and more millets.

“In the name of the market a lot of things are done, like in the name of freedom a lot of things are done,” he said to laughter from the audience.

Respecting others' heritage, tradition, music, literature, and ways of life, this is all part of the change that the global South would like to see, Jaishankar said.

The event was also addressed by India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, Reliance Foundation CEO Jagannatha Kumar, UN Resident Coordinator in India Shombi Sharp and ORF President Samir Saran.

Participating in the panel discussion at the event were the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal Joao Gomes Cravinho and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica, Kamina Johnson Smith.

Jaishankar further said that with a couple of months of India's G20 Presidency still left before Brazil assumes the presidency in December 2023 “we will get hopefully something moving on the reform of international financial institutions.”

Saran referred to Jaishankar's remark that "Europe's problems are the world's problems but the world's problems are not Europe's problems” and said that some feel that Jaishankar is tough on Europe and if that is a fair assessment.

“No no of course not,” Jaishankar said.

Jaishankar added that among the main issues that are troubling the entire world are debt, SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) resourcing, climate action resourcing, digital access, nutrition and gender.

Jaishankar said that partly because of COVID and partly due to the focus on Ukraine, “these subjects were driven out of the global conversations,” and added that “to get actually the G20 to talk about what the world wanted it to talk about - that was a real problem in the G20.” He asserted Prime Minister Narendra Modi put it very well when he said that “first let's talk to the people who are not going to be on the table, let's find out what they have to say,” which is why India did the Voice of Global South Summit–2023.

Hosting the Voice of Global South Summit gave India “the credentials, actually the empirical basis really to say” that “we've spoken to 125 countries and this is really what is troubling them and that is why we need to focus on these issues.”

Canada PM's Fresh Charge Deepens Diplomatic Row With India

OTTAWA, Sept 23: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today doubled down on his explosive charge that "Indian government agents" were behind Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar's killing, claiming such "credible allegations" were shared with India weeks ago.

"Canada has shared the credible allegations that I talked about on Monday with India. We did that many weeks ago. We are there to work constructively with India. We hope that they engage with us so that we can get to the bottom of this very serious matter," Trudeau told a news conference on Saturday.

Trudeau had first linked Nijjar's killing to India on Monday, prompting a quick and stern denial by India. Canada has shared no specific information regarding its charges, India said, flagging "politically condoned hate crimes and criminal violence" in that country.

The allegation triggered tit-for-tat moves like expelling diplomats that escalated underlying tensions to a major diplomatic crisis between the two countries. India has suspended visa services citing "security threats" to its High Commissions and consulates in Canada.

In a crackdown on Khalistani activities in the country, India's anti-terror agency today seized Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun's properties in India. Pannun, who heads the banned 'Sikhs for Justice' organisation, had earlier this week asked all Indo-Canadian Hindus to leave the country following the diplomatic crisis.

Meanwhile, the government has accused Canada of "diplomatic interference" in India's internal affairs. The Foreign Ministry has asked Canada to downsize its diplomats in India since their presence is larger than what India has.

Both India and Canada issued travel advisories and expelled a senior diplomat of the other country, wrapping a week of tensions, multiple rounds of charges and counterattacks. India has asked its citizens living in or travelling to Canada to exercise caution in view of "growing anti-India activities".

India has also accused Canada of not acting upon "specific evidence about criminal activities" done by Canada-based individuals. The government had earlier flagged that their political figures were openly expressing sympathy for "such elements".

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday called on India to cooperate with Canada and said his nation has been in touch with both the countries. "We want to see accountability. And it's important that the investigation run its course and lead to that result," he told reporters in New York.

India and Canada had tensions brewing after Prime Minister Narendra Modi scolded Trudeau at the Delhi G20 summit over Khalistan supporters attacking Indian diplomatic missions in Canada. Days later, Canada had postponed a trade mission to India, planned for October.

A week after that, Trudeau made the explosive charge that "Indian government agents" could be behind the shooting of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen and a wanted terrorist in India, outside a gurdwara in Surrey in June. India rejected the allegation as "absurd".

India's Sharp Counter As Canada Sticks To Its Charge

NEW DELHI, Sept 22: The government has sought the downsizing of Canada's diplomatic presence in India amid a crisis that blew up over Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's charge that India got a Khalistani terrorist killed in their country.

Justin Trudeau today repeated his charge that "Indian government agents" were involved in the June killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen who was a wanted terrorist in India. He said there are "credible reasons to believe" so, but did not give any evidence.

India has angrily rejected the allegation and flagged "politically condoned hate crimes and criminal violence" in Canada. The government said Canada has not shared any information regarding Nijjar's killing.

India also alleged "Canadian diplomatic interference" in its internal affairs and sought to reduce the number of Canadian diplomats working in the country. The foreign ministry said the Canadian diplomatic presence in India is larger than what India has and needs to be downsized.

The government has suspended visa services in Canada citing "security threats" that are not allowing their officials to carry out visa functions. "You are aware of the security threats being faced by our High Commissions and Consulates in Canada... this has disrupted their normal functioning," the foreign ministry said.

The diplomatic row blew up Tuesday with both countries expelling senior diplomats and issuing travel advisories. India has asked its citizens living in Canada and those travelling there to exercise "utmost caution" in view of growing anti-India activities.

The two countries had tensions brewing after Prime Minister Narendra Modi scolded Trudeau at the Delhi G20 summit over Khalistan supporters attacking Indian diplomatic missions in Canada. Days later, Canada had postponed a trade mission to India, planned for October.

The India-Canada ties hit a new low after Trudeau linked "Indian agents" to the shooting of Nijjar outside a gurdwara in Surrey. Providing no evidence, he said his government had "credible allegations" of it. India rejected the charge as "absurd".

The US has said that it is in touch with both India and Canada over the issue and that both the countries are important for it. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the US supports the efforts that are being taken in the investigation and perpetrators held to account.

Voices within the country remain united over the issue. Opposition Congress has backed the government and said that the country's interests and concerns must be kept paramount at all times. Parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor said there is no evidence of any government body linked to the terrorist's killing.

Canada has been among the favoured hubs of expat Sikhs where extremism has mushroomed over the last few years. The past few months saw multiple Khalistani activities in Canada, including protests outside the Indian Embassy and threat posters for Indian diplomats.

India Wants Reduction In Canada Diplomats

NEW DELHI, Sept 21: The government today said it had asked Canada to downsize its diplomatic presence in India and cited the "interference of Canadian diplomats in Indian affairs", as the diplomatic row over the killing of a Khalistani terrorist escalated sharply.

This was hours after India suspended visa services in Canada, potentially impacting thousands seeking to travel to India.

"The Canadian diplomatic presence in India is larger than what India has and accordingly needs to be downsized," foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told reporters.

"We have informed the Canadian government that there should be parity in diplomatic presence. Their numbers are very much higher than ours in Canada... I assume there will be a reduction," he said.

The spokesperson added that "Canadian diplomatic interference in our internal affairs is a factor".

On India suspending visa applications in Canada, the foreign ministry cited "security threats" that were "disrupting" the work of their officials. Mission personnel were unable to carry out visa functions because of the security environment that they were facing, said the spokesperson.

"For now, the security situation in Canada and because of Canadian government inaction, we have stopped visa services temporarily", Bagchi said.

The suspension of visas came a day after the foreign ministry said it was concerned for the safety of its citizens in Canada because of "politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence".

"Threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda," said the foreign ministry.

Canada's High Commission had earlier said it would "adjust" diplomat numbers in India after "threats on various social media" against their staff.

"In light of the current environment where tensions have heightened, we are taking action to ensure the safety of our diplomats. As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India," it had said in a statement.

India-Canada ties have hit a new low after Justin Trudeau's allegation that Indian agents played a role in the murder of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar near Vancouver in June. India has called the allegation "absurd and motivated".

Nijjar was killed by masked gunmen outside a Gurdwara on June 18 in Surrey. India has firmly rejected Trudeau's allegations, saying he offered no evidence.

"We are willing to look at any specific information that is provided to us, but so far we have received no specific information from Canada," Bagchi said, adding that Canada's inaction was a huge concern.

"From our side, specific evidence about criminal activities by individuals based on Canadian soil has been shared with Canada but not acted upon...Yes, I do think there is a degree of prejudice here. They have made allegations and taken action on them. To us, it seems that these allegations by the government of Canada are primarily politically driven," he added.

Trudeau's explosive charge was followed by tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions. Canada also suspended talks on a trade deal with India.

Canada, India expel diplomats as ties hit new low

NEW DELHI/ OTTAWA, Sept 19: India has also expelled a senior Canadian diplomat today in a reciprocal move after Canada expelled a senior Indian diplomat.

"The High Commissioner of Canada to India was summoned today and informed about the decision of the Government of India to expel a senior Canadian diplomat based in India," the ministry said.

The Canadian diplomat, who is unnamed, has been asked to leave the country in five days.

The new row sent relations between Ottawa and New Delhi, already sour, to a dramatic new low.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau -- amid escalating tension with India -- has said he is not looking to "provoke" India or "escalate" tension, but wants New Delhi to take the killing of a Sikh separatist with "utmost seriousness".

Justin Trudeau had earlier alleged the involvement of "agents of the Indian government" in the killing of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, which took place in June. It had raised eyebrows and the US had said it was "deeply concerned" about the allegations.

"We are not looking to provoke or escalate," Justin Trudeau told reporters today. "We want to work with the government of India to lay everything clear and to ensure there are proper processes."

On Monday, in a speech to the House of Commons, Justin Trudeau said the Canadian security agencies have been "actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar".

India has rejected Trudeau's claims. "Allegations of the Government of India's involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated," the foreign ministry has said. "Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister, and were completely rejected," it said.

The matter escalated and over the last two days, Canada and India each expelled a senior diplomat of the other country. Yesterday, the un-named Canadian diplomat was asked to leave India within five days.

The escalation comes shortly after the issue was discussed between Trudeau and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the recently held G20 in India.

At the time, the foreign ministry said Modi had conveyed that extremist elements in Canada are "promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats… threatening the Indian community and their places of worship".

Canada will always "defend freedom of expression... conscience and peaceful protest," Trudeau had said. But it will also prevent violence and push back against hatred, he had told reporters.

Canada has been one of the favoured hubs of expat Sikhs, where extremism has mushroomed along the margins and made headlines over the last few months, hitting bilateral ties. Trade talks with Canada have been derailed.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force and one of India's most-wanted terrorists, was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen on June 18. He was killed outside a gurdwara in Surrey in the western Canadian province of British Columbia.

US deeply concerned over Canada PM Trudeau's 'India's Agents' Charge

WASHINGTON, Sept 19: Soon after Canada Prime Minister accused India of being behind the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the US said it is "deeply concerned" about the allegations.

"The US was deeply concerned about the allegations disclosed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau", National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in an emailed statement.

"It is critical that Canada's investigation proceed and the perpetrators be brought to justice," Ms Watson said.

China's Former Foreign Minister Was Ousted Over His Affair In US: Report

BEIJING, Sept 19: China removed former Foreign Minister Qin Gang from the post after an investigation concluded he had conducted an affair and fathered a child while serving as US ambassador, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Top officials were told in August that a Communist Party inquiry into Qin uncovered "lifestyle issues," the newspaper reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the situation that it didn't describe. That phrase usually means sexual misbehavior of some type in the parlance of Chinese officialdom.

Two of the people said the affair led to the birth of a child in the US. The probe, with Qin's assistance, is now focusing on whether or not the affair compromised national security. China is locked in an ideological battle with the US, its chief economic and geopolitical rival, which has seen Beijing intensify a national security drive to shield it from foreign threats.

The Foreign Ministry in Beijing didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

China stripped Qin from his ministerial post in July, just seven months after he started the job - making his tenure the shortest in that role. No explanation was given for Qin's removal as his predecessor Wang Yi was reinstated.

The episode raised questions over President Xi Jinping's decision-making and the stability of the government running the world's No. 2 economy. Those concerns are being rekindled by the current unexplained absence of Defense Minister Li Shangfu, amid media reports he's being probed for corruption.

The ruling Communist Party's senior ranks are now being scrutinized for their dealings with foreigners, the insiders told the WSJ, adding that the top brass in China's military were also under the spotlight.

Few Chinese officials have risen as swiftly through the diplomatic ranks as Qin. His big break came in 2015 when he was given oversight of protocol at the foreign ministry. That six-year stint saw him organize state visits of top leaders to China.

It was likely in that role that Qin gained access to Xi. He was pictured beside the Chinese leader during a meeting with then US President Donald Trump in Beijing in 2017.

In 2021, Qin was sent to Washington, while he was still relatively unknown outside diplomatic circles or the Beijing press corps. He showed a flair for public relations, embracing American culture by openly attending a baseball game and riding in a Tesla Inc. with Elon Musk.

He also made moderate remarks on hot topics, arguing Beijing would've tried to stop Russia from invading Ukraine if it had known its plans and playing down the risk of a war with Taiwan.

India-Canada Trade Talk Paused: Why Relations Between The Two Have Soured

NEW DELHI, Sept 16: Days after being scolded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on rising secessionist activities and Khailstan-supporters attacking Indian diplomatic missions on their land, Canada has said it is postponing a trade mission to India planned for October. The two nations had earlier this year said they aimed to seal an initial trade agreement this year itself. However, negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement have now reportedly been stalled.

The trade mission was tied up with Canada's Indo-Pacific strategy, and India was described as an "ideal destination" for a Team Canada Trade Mission. "Canada and India have a mutual interest in expanding our commercial relationship and growing people-to-people connections," Canada had said.

Relations between India and Canada, which has the largest Sikh population in the world after India, have been strained over increasing Khalistani activities. Following a meeting between PM Modi and Mr Trudeau on the sidelines of G20, India issued a strongly-worded statement expressing "strong concerns" about the continuous "anti-India activities" by extremist elements in Canada.

The Ministry of External Affairs said the Prime Minister had conveyed in the meeting that extremist elements are "promoting secessionism and inciting violence" against Indian diplomats, damaging diplomatic premises, and threatening the Indian community in Canada and their places of worship.

It added, "The nexus of such forces with organized crime, drug syndicates and human trafficking should be a concern for Canada as well. It is essential for the two countries to cooperate in dealing with such threats".

Asked whether Khlistani activities and "foreign interference" were discussed in the meeting, Justin Trudeau told reporters Canada will always defend freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and freedom of peaceful protest, "and it is extremely important to us".

"At the same time, we are always there to prevent violence and push back against hatred," he had said, adding that it is important to remember that the actions of the few do not represent the entire community or Canada.

India had last year served a demarche to the Canadian government, asking it to stop the so-called Khalistan referendum organised by a proscribed organisation in Ontario. The Centre asked the Canadian government to act against those who promote terror and violence against the largest democracy in the world.

Banned organisation Sikhs for Justice, headed by designated terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, held the Khalistan referendum this week, on September 10, at a gurdwara in British Columbia, Canada.

Ahead of the G20 Summit in Delhi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government had last month requested a "pause" on trade talks with India, Bloomberg had reported, though no reason was given.

India and Canada had first launched negotiations for a trade deal 13 years ago in 2010. After a lull of almost 5 years, the talks restarted in 2022 with renegotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

Over half a dozen rounds of talks have been held between the countries on the trade pact so far. In March 2022, the two countries re-launched negotiations for an interim agreement-Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA). In such agreements, two countries significantly reduce or eliminate duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them. Norms are also liberalised to promote trade in services to attract investments.

Modi, Saudi Crown Prince lay road map to boost investment, ties

NEW DELHI, Sept 11: India and Saudi Arabia on Monday outlined steps to expedite Riyadh’s long-gestating plan to invest $100 billion in the country, including a mega refinery, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman explored ways to bolster cooperation in areas ranging from energy to defence and reaffirmed their support to the new India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC).

The Crown Prince, also the kingdom’s Prime Minister, began a day-long State visit after participating in the G20 Summit over the weekend. The Saudi leader was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan before he and Modi co-chaired the first meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council, the apex body to oversee bilateral ties that was set up in 2019.

“Saudi Arabia is one of the most important strategic partners for India. As the world’s two largest and fastest growing economies, our mutual cooperation is vital for the peace and stability of the entire region,” Modi said at the meeting, speaking in Hindi.

“We together made a historic beginning to establish an economic corridor between India, West Asia and Europe,” Modi said, referring to the launch of IMEC during the G20 Summit. An agreement was signed by India, Saudi Arabia, the European Union, the UAE, the US and other G20 partners for the corridor, which Modi said will enhance economic cooperation, energy development and digital connectivity.

The Saudi prince, too, referred to IMEC and said the partners will have to “work diligently in order to create it into a reality”. He added there was no disagreement in the history of India-Saudi Arabia relations, which are based on cooperation to create opportunities.

“Today we’re working on future opportunities. There is a huge agenda to be working with. We are working through this council to achieve these accomplishments, and these are promising,” he said.

The two countries agreed to set to set up a joint working group (JWG) to streamline and channelise the $100 billion in investments promised by the Saudi side during the crown prince’s last visit to India in February 2019. Of this, $50 billion was earmarked for the West Coast refinery, a mega plant to be set up by Saudi Aramco, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Indian firms.

“Both sides extended their full support to the early implementation of the West Coast refinery project,” Ausaf Sayeed, secretary (overseas Indian affairs) in the external affairs ministry, told a media briefing. Besides the JWG on investments, there will be a specialised monitoring committee to ensure progress in the refinery project.

Sayeed acknowledged there had been delays since the refinery was announced in 2018 due to various factors, including the Covid-19 pandemic. “The whole idea was that a JWG or a committee would go into all facets of this and then see ways and means of expediting this,” he said.

The two leaders instructed officials from India’s petroleum ministry and the Saudi energy ministry to identify factors hindering the early implementation of the refinery.

Reports have suggested the refinery, expected to produce 1.2 million barrels a day, has been held up because of challenges in acquiring land in western Maharashtra. The stakeholders have explored the option of splitting the mega plant into several refineries.

During the meeting, Modi suggested areas for potential Saudi investments, including waterways, ports, expansion of railways and freight corridors, highway infrastructure, energy, hydrogen, and gas grids.

The two sides agreed to expedite negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which Sayeed said could act as a catalyst for economic cooperation. The negotiations were delayed because of the change of GCC’s chief negotiator and there is keenness on both sides to complete the pact as early as possible, he said.

The two sides signed eight agreements, including one inked by the energy ministers to expand the hydrocarbons relationship into a comprehensive energy partnership. This agreement will cover renewable energy, petroleum, electricity, green hydrogen and strategic petroleum reserves.

Saudi Arabia is currently India’s third largest supplier of energy and supplied crude oil worth $29 billion during 2022-23. The kingdom, however, was overtaken last year by Russia, which emerged a key energy supplier by providing discounted oil after the Ukraine war.

The other agreements covered digitalisation and electronic manufacturing, cooperation between India’s Central Vigilance Commission and the Saudi Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority, the national archives, Invest India and the Saudi investment ministry, the exim banks, SIDBI, and the Saudi SME Bank.

Another agreement covered seawater desalination, including cooperation in future technology, exchanges of investment and expertise and joint research.

During their meeting, the two leaders focused on cooperation in energy, defence, security, technology, transportation, health care and education, and identified space and semiconductors as new areas of collaboration. Sayeed said the two sides are also eyeing cooperation in fintech and trading in national currencies, for which proposals and concept notes have been exchanged.

The leaders expressed satisfaction at the current volume of trade, which has been in the range of $30 billion a year, with India as the kingdom’s second largest trading partner and Saudi Arabia as India’s fourth largest trading partner. Modi laid emphasis on new sectors such as critical minerals and food parks, and suggested the creation of a JWG on education and skill development.

Modi also mentioned that, depending on capacity, Saudi Arabia could consider accommodating more Indian pilgrims for the annual Haj. India’s current quota for the Haj is 175,000.

The Indian government has focused on enhancing security and energy ties with West Asian states, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which is home to 2.2 million Indians – the largest expatriate community in the kingdom. Modi pointed to the large number of Indian workers and thanked Saudi Arabia for helping them during the pandemic.

The Saudi crown prince noted that 7% of the kingdom’s population comprises Indians, who play a large part in the country’s economic growth. “We consider them to be a part of Saudi Arabia. We watch and take care of them like we take care of our own citizens,” he said.

Modi Closes G20, Hands Over 'One Earth, One Family' Baton To Brazil

NEW DELHI, Sept 10: Marking the ceremonial transfer of the G20 presidency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today handed over the gavel to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who praised India for giving voice to topics of interests of emerging economies.

Here are 10 points about this big story:

"Yesterday, we had wide-ranging discussions in the 'One Earth, One Family' sessions. I am satisfied that today the G20 has become a platform for optimistic efforts regarding the vision of One Earth, One Family, One Future," Modi said in his closing remarks today.

Lula da Silva congratulated PM Modi, and listed social inclusion, the fight against hunger, energy transition and sustainable development as G20 priorities. He said the UN Security Council needs new developing countries as permanent, non-permanent members to regain political strength. "We want greater representation for emerging countries at the World Bank and the IMF," he said.

The big takeaway of the Summit were a call to end the "global trust deficit", the launch of the Global Biofuel Alliance, and the launch of new connectivity networks between the US, India, Saudi Arabia, and Gulf states.

The G20 members unanimously adopted the Delhi Declaration, which called on nations to uphold territorial integrity and international humanitarian law to safeguard peace and stability.

"We call on all states to uphold the principles of international law including territorial integrity and sovereignty, international humanitarian law, and the multilateral system that safeguards peace and stability," the declaration said.

China and Russia, whose heads of state skipped the Summit, were also in agreement with the Delhi declaration. But while the declaration called on all states to not use force to grab territory, it avoided condemning Russia for the war in Ukraine. Ukraine's foreign ministry said the declaration was "nothing to be proud of", adding that a Ukrainian presence would have given participants a better understanding of the situation.

The bloc also said that they will aim to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030 and expedite efforts to phase down coal power in line with national circumstances but did not commit to a phase-out of all polluting fossil fuels, including oil and gas.

The bloc, which represents 85 per cent of the world's GDP and contributes 80 per cent of emissions, however, said it will uphold its 2009 promise made in Pittsburgh to eliminate and rationalise inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

The African Union was inducted as the new permanent member of G20, pushing forward a new world order and offering developing nations a greater say in global decision-making.

Ahead of the sessions today, the delegates visited and paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi at his memorial Rajghat in Delhi. Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant will address the media at 2 pm today, after the conclusion of all scheduled discussions.

Biden Says Raised Importance Of Human Rights, Free Press With Modi At G20

HANOI, Sept 10: US President Joe Biden on Sunday said he held "substantial discussions" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on ways to strengthen the Indo-US partnership and thanked him for his leadership and hosting the G20 Summit in New Delhi.

Joe Biden said that he also raised the importance of respecting human rights with PM Modi.

President Biden, who arrived in Delhi on his first visit to India as the US President, held wide-ranging talks with Modi and they vowed to "deepen and diversify" the bilateral major defence partnership while welcoming forward movement in India's procurement of 31 drones and joint development of jet engines.

"I want to once again thank Prime Minister Modi for his leadership and his hospitality and for hosting the G20. He and I have had substantial discussions about how we're going to continue to strengthen the partnership between India and the US building on the Prime Minister's visit to the White House last June," Joe Biden said during a press conference in Vietnam's Hanoi

"As I always do, I raised the importance of respecting human rights and the vital role the civil society and a free press have in building a strong and prosperous country with Modi," he said.

According to the joint statement issued on Friday after PM Modi and Biden held bilateral talks, "The leaders re-emphasised that the shared values of freedom, democracy, human rights, inclusion, pluralism, and equal opportunities for all citizens are critical to the success of our countries enjoy and that these values strengthen our relationship." Joe Biden also talked about the "significant business" he had done in India during the G20 Summit.

"This was an important moment for the United States to demonstrate our global leadership and our commitment to solving the challenges that matter most to people around the world. Investing in inclusive growth and sustainable development, addressing the climate crisis, strengthening food security and education, advancing global health and health security," he said.

"We showed the world the United States is a partner with a positive vision for our shared future," he added.

On the corridor connecting India to Europe with the Middle East and Israel, he said that are going to open up untold opportunities for transformative economic investment.

He said the "illegal war in Ukraine" was also discussed at the summit and there was sufficient agreement on the need for just and lasting peace.

Responding to questions, President Biden said his goal is to provide stability around the world by building America's ties with Vietnam and other Asian countries as he insisted that he is not trying to start a "cold war" with China.

"It's not about containing China. It's about having a stable base," said Biden.

Joe Biden also said that he met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang on the sidelines of the G20 in Delhi and "talked about stability." "It wasn't confrontational at all," he added.

Leaders' declaration to African Union's merger, key takeaways from day 1 of G20 Summit

NEW DELHI, Sept 9: Both sessions – ‘One Earth’ and ‘One Family’ – of the much-awaited G20 Leaders' Summit on the first day concluded with achieving the significant joint declaration after full consensus by the member states. The 37-page declaration has also mentioned the ‘War in Ukraine’ and added Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ‘Today’s era must not be of war' remark on conflicts.

Moreover, after much anticipation, the Group of Twenty (G20) nations have officially made the African Union a permanent member of the intergovernmental forum. The grouping had 19 countries along with the European Union (EU), and the joining of the 55-member African bloc adds another member to the forum.

Here are key takeaways from day 1 of G20 Leaders' Summit:

1. Leaders' Declaration

Speculations were rife about the failure in achieving a joint declaration after Russia warned of blocking any declaration that doesn't reflect Moscow's views along with EU's continued criticism of Russia which also made its way to this summit. However with a climbdown on its language from last year's summit in Bali, this year's declaration featured PM Modi's comment on conflict resolution, indicating that the G7 nations and EU have appreciated India's stance amid Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Revisiting the roots of the G20 congregation, the declaration noted that the forum is not a platform to settle security and geopolitical issues, however, it agreed that these issues can lead to crucial consequences for the global economy.

With respect to ‘war in Ukraine’, the declaration called for upholding of international law by all states, including sovereignty and territorial integrity.

2. India's rail, waterway link to Middle-East and Europe

The formal announcement of the ambitious India-Middle East-Europe Corridor on the sidelines of the G20 Summit has paved way for the first-of-its-kind drive to strengthen trade ties between India and other countries in the sub-continent like Nepal and Bangladesh and Middle-Eastern and European nations, including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Germany and France.

This initiative will play a pivotal role in counterbalancing China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It would establish railways, ports, electricity, hydrogen pipelines and data network between participating nations.

"This is a real big deal," said US President Joe Biden, locking arms with Modi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a triple handshake.

3. Welcoming new member to the bloc

Meeting India's commitment, the G20 began its 2023 Summit by welcoming the African Union to its league. A congregation of resource-rich nations, the AU's membership will ensure its contribution towards checking the climate change. It has 60% of the world's renewable energy and over 30% of the minerals that are used to develop renewable technologies with low-carbon emissions.

The African bloc at full strength has 55 members, however, six junta-ruled nations are currently suspended. It has a collective GDP of $3 trillion with some 1.4 billion people.

4. Push for climate financing

One of the key challenges faced by the G20 is to establish a concrete financing structure to combat climate change. The Green Development Pact will be a step towards tackling with this challenge. This declaration calls upon the developed nations to double their funding for the cause from $100 billion a year by 2025.

The India-led ‘global biofuels alliance’ has also been announced in a bid to form a group international organisations, governments and industries to ensure the adoption of biofuels.

India has also announced a G20 Satellite Mission for Environment and Climate Observation with an aim to provide data on climate and weather for all nations, especially for the Global South.

"The climate and weather data obtained from this will be shared with all the countries, especially the countries of the Global South. India invites all G20 countries to join this initiative," Modi said during a session.

G20 Summit: On Ukraine war, a fine balance in declaration’s language

NEW DELHI, Sept 9: The most controversial element of the G20 Delhi Declaration, which had kept alive speculation about whether an agreement was possible at all, was Ukraine. But the Indian presidency, in a balancing act interspersed with remarkable drafting and negotiating skills, managed to pull it off.

Interestingly, the section on geopolitics, which has eight paragraphs, compared to two in Bali on Ukraine, is titled: “For the planet, peace and prosperity”. It begins by recognising the “immense human suffering and the adverse impact of wars and conflicts around the world”, a seemingly innocuous and obvious statement but one laden with implications that sets the stage for the section.

It then specifically mentions Ukraine, recalls the Bali discussions, leaves room for all members to reiterate their national positions, and refers to the UN resolutions on the issue (which, overwhelmingly, criticised Russia — but this fact isn’t mentioned in the statement, unlike Bali).

While stressing that all States must abide by the UN charter, the breakthrough paragraph reads, “All states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state”. It is striking that instead of specifically pointing out Russian aggression, the text makes a generic principled statement about “all States”, which can allow Moscow to claim, even if incorrectly, that its own territorial integrity and political independence is under threat and gives it a face-saver. But the reference to acquisition of territory, and the very next line which speaks of unacceptability of the use or threat of nuclear weapons, is a signal to Moscow that allows the West to claim the paragraph is directed at Russia.

The text then goes on to reaffirm that the G20 is a forum to discuss international economic cooperation but also recognises that “geopolitical and security issues” can have “significant consequences for the global economy”.

The Declaration offers an elaborate description of the consequences of the war by pointing to its impact on “global food and energy security, supply chains, macro-financial stability, inflation and growth”, and how this has complicated the policy environment for countries, “especially developing and least developed countries which are still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic disruption which has derailed progress towards the SDGs”.

In the next line though, in what is likely a deference to the Russian position, the text says that there are “different views and assessments” of the situation.

By offering Russia room, India then brings in a section on the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which deals with promoting Russian food products and fertilisers to the world markets but, more critically, ensuring safe transportation of grain and foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports. The text call for the agreement’s “full, timely and effective implementation to ensure the immediate and unimpeded deliveries of grain, foodstuffs, and fertilizers/inputs from the Russian Federation and Ukraine” as essential to meet demand in poorer countries, especially in Africa.

Given that Moscow has often been responsible for obstructing the deal, this is a demand from the global system on Russia, as is the next paragraph which calls “for the cessation of military destruction or other attacks on relevant infrastructure” and expresses concern about the impact of the conflict on security of civilians and in terms of “hindering an effective humanitarian response”.

The section then reiterates the point from Bali about the need for all states to “uphold the principles of international law including territorial integrity and sovereignty, international humanitarian law, and the multilateral system that safeguards peace and stability”. It calls for the “peaceful resolution of conflicts”, and need for efforts to address crises through diplomacy and dialogue, the Indian position since the start of the war.

And it goes on to appeal, for the first time, “all relevant and constructive initiatives that support a comprehensive, just, and durable peace in Ukraine that will uphold all the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter for the promotion of peaceful, friendly, and good neighbourly relations among nations in the spirit of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’.”

America’s demand on Ukraine is for a “just and durable peace” while Moscow believes that Ukraine undermined neighbourly ties by inviting the West to its backyard. The language in the declaration isn’t enough for a deal, but neither is the conflict ripe for a resolution. But by finding a common language, and ending with Modi’s call of “today’s era is not of war”, India’s diplomacy on Ukraine opened room in the declaration for movement on substantive issues.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry later criticised the text as “nothing to be proud of” for not mentioning Russia. “It is clear that the participation of the Ukrainian side (in the G20 meeting) would have allowed the participants to better understand the situation,” spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko posted on Facebook.

He, however, thanked Ukraine’s allies for doing their part to advance Ukraine’s position in the declaration. “Ukraine is grateful to the partners who tried to include strong formulations in the text.”

Rarely have eight paragraphs mattered so much in recent global diplomacy.

Rescuers Dig For Survivors After Quake Killed Over 1,000 In Morocco

MEOULAY BRAHIM (Morocco), Sept 9: Morocco's deadliest earthquake in decades has killed more than 1,000 people, authorities said Saturday, as troops and emergency services scrambled to reach remote mountain villages where casualties are still feared trapped.

The 6.8-magnitude quake struck late Friday in a mountainous area 72 kilometres (45 miles) southwest of tourist hotspot Marrakesh, the US Geological Survey reported.

With strong tremors also felt in the coastal cities of Rabat, Casablanca and Essaouira, the quake caused widespread damage and sent terrified residents and tourists scrambling to safety in the middle of the night.

"I was nearly asleep when I heard the doors and the shutters banging," said Ghannou Najem, a Casablanca resident in her 80s who was visiting Marrakesh when the quake hit.

"I went outside in a panic. I thought I was going to die alone."

In the mountain village of Moulay Brahim near the quake's epicentre, rescue teams searched for survivors in the rubble of collapsed houses while residents began digging graves for the dead on a nearby hill, AFP correspondents reported.

The army set up a field hospital in the village and deployed "significant human and logistical resources" to support the rescue operation, state news agency MAP reported.

It was the strongest-ever quake to hit the North African kingdom, and one expert described it as the region's "biggest in more than 120 years".

"Where destructive earthquakes are rare, buildings are simply not constructed robustly enough... so many collapse, resulting in high casualties," said Bill McGuire, professor emeritus at Britain's University College London.

Updated interior ministry figures on Saturday showed the quake killed at least 1,037 people, the vast majority in Al-Haouz, the epicentre, and Taroudant provinces.

Another 1,204 people were injured, including 721 in a critical condition, the ministry said.

Civil defence Colonel Hicham Choukri who is heading relief operations told state television the epicentre and strength of the earthquake have created "an exceptional emergency situation".

'Enormous Progress, Still Hard Work To Go': Rishi Sunak On Free Trade Deal With India

NEW DELHI, Sept 8: The ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA) under discussion between India and the United Kingdom has made "enormous progress" but there is "still hard work to go," British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

Stating that the bilateral relations between India and the United Kingdom are in "good health", Sunak said that both he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are keen to deepen and broaden the relationship between the two nations. He stated that the trade deal is an obvious way to do that and it remains the priority of both the countries.

"Both Modi ji and I are keen to see a comprehensive and ambitious trade deal concluded between our two countries. Both of us think there is a good deal to be done. But trade deals always take time, they need to work for both countries. Although we have made enormous progress there is still hard work to go..." said Sunak.

The British PM who arrived here today to participate in the Summit of the Group of 20 major economies said that the trade deal is not yet a done deal.

Negotiations for the deal began in January 2022 and so far there have been 12 rounds of negotiations with the next one due to be held later this month.

Sunak said there is an enormous opportunity for both India and the UK to strengthen economic cooperation "which will bring real benefits to our citizens in both countries."

"The G20 is not the forum for those discussions. Of course, I will touch on that with Prime Minister Modi, but the teams are working very hard. But as I said there's hard work to go but we will keep working through it," Sunak said.

"I think we can strengthen our security relationship as well. That's something that I've spoken to the Prime Minister about," the British PM said.

Sunak further emphasised increasing collaboration between the researchers, scientific community and universities.

He added that UK and India are two of the leading science and technology superpowers of the world.

"Something I'm particularly excited about is increasing the collaboration between our incredible researchers, our scientific community, our universities. The UK and India are two of the leading science technology superpowers of the world. And I think if we work more closely together, we can create jobs, create new businesses, and help solve some of the world's most pressing problems," Sunak said.

Modi, Biden Hold Talks

NEW DELHI, Sept 8: Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed United States President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., to India today, reaffirming the close and enduring partnership between India and the United States. The leaders expressed their appreciation for the substantial progress underway to implement the ground breaking achievements of Prime Minister Modi's historic, June 2023, visit to Washington.

The leaders called on their governments to continue the work of transforming the India-U.S. Strategic Partnership across all dimensions of our multifaceted global agenda, based on trust and mutual understanding. The leaders re-emphasized that the shared values of freedom, democracy, human rights, inclusion, pluralism, and equal opportunities for all citizens are critical to the success our countries enjoy and that these values strengthen our relationship.

President Biden lauded India's G20 Presidency for further demonstrating how the G20 as a forum is delivering important outcomes. The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the G20 and expressed confidence that the outcomes of the G20 Leaders' Summit in New Delhi will advance the shared goals of accelerating sustainable development, bolstering multilateral cooperation, and building global consensus around inclusive economic policies to address our greatest common challenges, including fundamentally reshaping and scaling up multilateral development banks.

Prime Minister Modi and President Biden reaffirmed the importance of the Quad in supporting a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific. Prime Minister Modi looked forward to welcoming President Biden to the next Quad Leaders' Summit to be hosted by India in 2024. India welcomed the U.S. decision to co-lead the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative Pillar on Trade Connectivity and Maritime Transport, further to the U.S. decision to join IPOI in June 2023.

Continuing to share the view that global governance must be more inclusive and representative, President Biden reaffirmed his support for a reformed UN Security Council with India as a permanent member, and, in this context, welcomed once again India's candidature for the UNSC non-permanent seat in 2028-29. The leaders once again underscored the need to strengthen and reform the multilateral system so it may better reflect contemporary realities and remain committed to a comprehensive UN reform agenda, including through expansion in permanent and non-permanent categories of membership of the UN Security Council.

Prime Minister Modi and President Biden reaffirmed technology's defining role in deepening our strategic partnership and lauded ongoing efforts through the India-U.S. Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) to build open, accessible, secure, and resilient technology ecosystems and value chains, based on mutual confidence and trust, which reinforce our shared values and democratic institutions. The United States and India intend to undertake a midterm review of iCET in September 2023 to continue to drive momentum toward the next annual iCET review, co-led by the National Security Advisors of both countries, in early 2024.

President Biden congratulated Prime Minister Modi and the scientists and engineers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Chandrayaan-3's historic landing at the south polar region of the Moon, as well as the successful launch of India's first solar mission, Aditya-L1. Having set a course to reach new frontiers across all sectors of space cooperation, the leaders welcomed efforts towards establishment of a Working Group for commercial space collaboration under the existing India-U.S. Civil Space Joint Working Group. Determined to deepen our partnership in outer space exploration, ISRO and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have commenced discussions on modalities, capacity building, and training for mounting a joint effort to the International Space Station in 2024, and are continuing efforts to finalise a strategic framework for human space flight cooperation by the end of 2023. India and the United States also intend to increase coordination on planetary defence to protect planet Earth and space assets from the impact of asteroids and near-Earth objects, including U.S. support for India's participation in asteroid detection and tracking via the Minor Planet Center.

The leaders reiterated their support for building resilient global semiconductor supply chains, noting in this respect a multi-year initiative of Microchip Technology, Inc., to invest approximately US$300 million in expanding its research and development presence in India and Advanced Micro Device's announcement to invest US$400 million in India over the next five years to expand research, development, and engineering operations in India. The leaders expressed satisfaction at the ongoing implementation of announcements made in June 2023 by U.S. companies, Micron, LAM Research, and Applied Materials.

Sharing a vision of secure and trusted telecommunications, resilient supply chains, and global digital inclusion, Prime Minister Modi and President Biden welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Bharat 6G Alliance and Next G Alliance, operated by Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions, as a first step towards deepening public-private cooperation between vendors and operators. They further acknowledged the setting-up of two Joint Task Forces focused on collaboration in the field of Open RAN and research and development in 5G/6G technologies. A 5G Open RAN pilot in a leading Indian telecom operator will be undertaken by a U.S. Open RAN manufacturer before field deployment. The leaders continue to look forward to the participation of Indian companies in the U.S. Rip and Replace Program; President Biden also welcomed India's support for a Rip and Replace pilot in the United States.

The United States reiterated its commitment to working together with India in the quantum domain, both bilaterally and through the Quantum Entanglement Exchange, a platform to facilitate international quantum exchange opportunities; and welcomed the participation of India's S.N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata, as a member of the Quantum Economic Development Consortium. It was also recognized that the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay joined the Chicago Quantum Exchange as an international partner.

The leaders hailed the signing of an Implementation Arrangement between the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and India's Department of Biotechnology to enable scientific and technological research collaborations in biotechnology and biomanufacturing innovations. They welcomed the call for proposals released by NSF and India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to foster academic and industrial collaboration in semiconductor research, next generation communication systems, cyber-security, sustainability and green technologies, and intelligent transportation systems.

Reaffirming their commitment to building resilient technology value chains and linking defence industrial ecosystems, the leaders recommitted their administrations to promoting policies and adapting regulations that facilitate greater technology sharing, co-development, and co-production opportunities between Indian and U.S. industry, government and academic institutions. They also welcomed continued engagement through an inter-agency monitoring mechanism under the auspices of the bilateral Strategic Trade Dialogue, launched in June 2023.

The leaders welcomed the signing of an MoU between Indian universities, represented by the Council of Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT Council), and the Association of American Universities (AAU) to establish the India-U.S. Global Challenges Institute, with a combined initial commitment of at least US$10 million. The Global Challenges Institute will bring together leading research and higher-education institutions from across our two nations, including beyond AAU and IIT membership, to advance new frontiers in science and technology, spanning collaboration in sustainable energy and agriculture, health and pandemic preparedness, semiconductor technology and manufacturing, advanced materials, telecommunications, artificial intelligence, and quantum science.

The leaders also welcomed the growing number of multi-institutional collaborative education partnerships, such as those between New York University-Tandon and IIT Kanpur Advanced Research Center, and the Joint Research Centers of the State University of New York at Buffalo and IIT Delhi, Kanpur, Jodhpur, and BHU, in the areas of critical and emerging technologies.

The leaders affirmed the importance of efforts to close the gender digital divide in the digital economy, noting a G20 commitment to halve the digital gender gap by 2030 and expressed support for the Women in the Digital Economy Initiative, which brings together governments, private sector companies, foundations civil society and multilateral organizations to accelerate progress toward the closure of the digital gender divide.

Prime Minister Modi and President Biden reaffirmed their commitment to deepen and diversify the India-U.S. Major Defence Partnership through expanded cooperation in new and emerging domains such as space and AI, and accelerated defence industrial collaboration.

The leaders welcomed completion of the Congressional Notification process on 29 August 2023 and the commencement of negotiations for a commercial agreement between GE Aerospace and Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) to manufacture GE F-414 jet engines in India, and recommitted to work collaboratively and expeditiously to support the advancement of this unprecedented co-production and technology transfer proposal.

The leaders applauded the conclusion of a second Master Ship Repair Agreement, with the most recent agreement signed by the U.S. Navy and Mazgaon Dock Shipbuilders, Ltd., in August 2023. Both sides recommitted to advancing India's emergence as a hub for the maintenance and repair of forward-deployed U.S. Navy assets and other aircraft and vessels. The leaders also welcomed further commitments from U.S. industry to invest more in India's maintenance, repair, and overhaul capabilities and facilities for aircraft.

The leaders commended the India-U.S. Defence Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X) team for establishing a robust collaboration agenda to harness the innovative work of the U.S. and Indian defence sectors to address shared security challenges. INDUS-X convened the inaugural Academia Start-up Partnership at IIT Kanpur, with the participation of Penn State University, and initiated the Joint Accelerator Program for Indian Startups, through a workshop led by U.S. accelerator M/s Hacking 4 Allies (H4x) and IIT Hyderabad in August 2023. Both sides also welcomed the announcement by the Indian Ministry of Defence's Innovations for Defence Excellence and the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Innovation Unit to launch two joint challenges, which will invite start-ups to develop solutions to shared defence technology challenges.

President Biden welcomed the issuance of a Letter of Request from the Ministry of Defence of India to procure 31 General Atomics MQ-9B (16 Sky Guardian and 15 Sea Guardian) remotely piloted aircraft and their associated equipment, which will enhance the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities of India's armed forces across all domains.

Reiterating the importance of nuclear energy as a necessary resource to meet our nations' climate, energy transition, and energy security needs, Prime Minister Modi and President Biden welcomed intensified consultations between the relevant entities on both sides to expand opportunities for facilitating India-U.S. collaboration in nuclear energy, including in development of next generation small modular reactor technologies in a collaborative mode. The United States reaffirmed its support for India's membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and committed to continue engagement with like-minded partners to advance this goal.

The leaders welcomed the inaugural meeting of the India-U.S. Renewable Energy Technologies Action Platform [RE-TAP], in August 2023, under which the two countries will engage in lab-to-lab collaboration, piloting, and testing of innovative technologies; collaboration on policy and planning to advance renewable energy and enabling technologies; investment, incubation and outreach programmes; and training and skill development to accelerate the uptake and adoption of new and emerging renewable technologies and energy systems.

Reiterating the importance of decarbonizing the transport sector, the leaders welcomed progress to expand electric mobility in India, including joint support for a payment security mechanism financed through both public and private funds. This will accelerate the procurement of 10,000 made-in India electric buses including those for the Indian PM e-Bus Sewa program that will include the associated charging infrastructure. The two countries are committed to working together to help diversify the global supply chain for e-mobility.

India and the United States are also advancing the creation of investment platforms to lower the cost of capital and accelerate the deployment of greenfield renewable energy, battery storage and emerging green technology projects in India. Towards this end, India's National Investment and Infrastructure Fund and the U.S. Development Finance Corporation exchanged letters of intent to each provide up to US$500 million to anchor a renewable infrastructure investment fund.

The leaders lauded the settlement of the seventh and last outstanding World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute between India and the United States. This follows the unprecedented settlement of six outstanding bilateral trade disputes in the WTO in June 2023.

The leaders welcomed efforts to develop an ambitious "Innovation Handshake" agenda under the India-U.S. Commercial Dialogue, to include two anchor events in the fall (one in India and one in the United States), in which our two sides will collaborate to bring together start-ups, private equity and venture capital firms, corporate investment departments, and government officials to forge connections between the two countries' innovation ecosystems.

The leaders welcomed our growing bilateral cooperation in cancer research, prevention, control, and management, and looked forward to the launch of the India-U.S. Cancer Dialogue in November 2023. This dialogue will focus on advancing knowledge in cancer genomics, developing new diagnostics and therapeutics to enhance and strengthen cancer care including for underserved urban and rural communities. The leaders also highlighted the upcoming U.S.-India Health Dialogue, taking place in October 2023 in Washington, D.C., underscoring their joint commitment to strengthening and facilitating scientific, regulatory, and health cooperation between our two nations.

The leaders welcomed the renewal of a Memorandum of Arrangement between the U.S. Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and the Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) to facilitate recovery from India of the remains of fallen U.S. service members who served in World War II.

Prime Minister Modi and President Biden pledged to sustain the high-level of engagement between our governments, industries, and academic institutions and realize their ambitious vision for an enduring India-U.S. partnership that advances the aspirations of our people for a bright and prosperous future, serves the global good, and contributes to a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific.

'One Earth, One Family Timeless Ideal Inspired By Maha Upanishad': UN Chief

NEW DELHI, Sept 8: A day after an official said the United Nations Secretary-General has been a "strong advocate" for India getting a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, Antonio Guterres has said in New Delhi that the institution needs deep structural reform.

Stating that the world is in a difficult moment of transition, Guterres, who is in the country for the G20 Summit, called upon leaders of the prestigious economic grouping to show leadership in two key areas - climate and saving Sustainable Development Goals.

In a press briefing ahead of the summit, the UN chief said, "Let me begin by expressing my gratitude to India for the warm welcome, and my hope that India's presidency of the G20 will help lead to the kind of transformative change our world so desperately needs."

Guterres said India has been doing everything possible to fully represent the interests of the Global South in the preparation of the summit. "I think it is fair to say that India has indeed corresponded to its promise not only to speak on behalf of the Global South but to put the development agenda in the centre of the G20 work," he said.

On the theme for the G20 summit, the UN Secretary-General said, "I welcome the focus on 'One Earth, One Family, One Future'. This phrase inspired by the Maha Upanishad finds profound resonance in today's world: not just as a timeless ideal - but as an indictment of our times."

Guterres observed that if the world is indeed one global family, it is now resembling a rather dysfunctional one. "Divisions are growing, tensions are flaring up, and trust is eroding, which together raise the spectre of fragmentation, and ultimately, confrontation. This fracturing would be deeply concerning in the best of times, but in our times, it spells catastrophe," he rued.

Pointing out that the world is "in a difficult moment of transition", Guterres said the future is multipolar, but multilateral institutions reflect a bygone age. "The global financial architecture is outdated, dysfunctional, and unfair. It requires deep, structural reform. And the same can be said of the United Nations Security Council," he said.

Responding to a question on whether he thinks India is a strong contender to become part of the UN Security Council, Mr Guterres said, "It is not for me to decide who will be in the Security Council, it is for member states. It is obvious that India is today the country with the largest population and it is obvious that India is a very important partner in the world multilateral system. It is for me to say that I believe we need the reform of the Security Council to reflect the realities of today's world."

The UN chief asserted that the world needs effective international institutions which are rooted in 21st-century realities and based on the UN Charter and international law.

"That is why I have been advocating for bold steps to make those global institutions truly universal and representative of today's realities, and more responsive to the needs of developing economies," he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the ASEAN-India Summit and East Asia Summit in Jakarta on Thursday, Guterres' spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, had said that the UN chief has been a "strong advocate" for India getting a permanent seat at the council.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had also pushed for UNSC reforms. "At some stage, the members themselves have to wake up to the realisation that the longer they put off reforms, the less representative the security council is, frankly the less the credibility of the UN would be. People will then go and do things outside the UN," he had said.

The UN Secretary-General said the world has no time to lose and that "challenges stretch as far as the eye can see".

Listing out some of the challenges, Guterres said, "The climate crisis is worsening dramatically but the collective response is lacking in ambition, credibility, and urgency. Wars and conflicts are multiplying - but efforts to advance peace are faltering. New technologies are raising red flags - but actions to contain the risks remain too slow, and too piecemeal."

He pointed out that poverty, hunger, and inequality are growing, but global solidarity is missing in action.

"I have come to the G20 with a simple but urgent appeal: we cannot go on like this. We must come together and act together for the common good," Guterres said.

He urged G20 leaders to show leadership in two priority areas, with the first being climate.

"The climate crisis is spiralling out of control. But G20 countries are in control. Together, G20 countries are responsible for 80% of global emissions. Half-measures will not prevent full climate breakdown," he said.

Guterres said the world has to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels - which was decided in the Paris Agreement in 2015 - alive. He also called for rebuilding trust based on climate justice, and advancing a just and equitable transition to a green economy.

"I have put forward a Climate Solidarity Pact - in which big emitters make extra efforts to cut emissions, and wealthier countries support emerging economies to achieve this... Leadership also means finally delivering on commitments to developing countries - including by meeting the $100-billion goal, doubling adaptation finance, replenishing the Green Climate Fund, and operationalising the loss and damage fund," he said.

The UN chief said the G20 must also show leadership in saving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and suggested a few measures that, he claimed, would yield immediate benefits.

The measures included an SDG Stimulus of at least $500 billion per year, and a meaningful capitalisation and change in the business model of multilateral development banks to be able "to massively leverage private finance".

Guterres said these actions would catalyse SDG progress and help developing economies invest in key transitions across energy, food systems, digital, education, health, decent jobs and social protection.

Striking a positive note, the UN Secretary-General said, "All of this is within reach - but it will take all hands. No nation, no region, no group - not even the G20 - can do it alone. We must act together as one family to save our one earth and safeguard our one future."

Asked whether India has the credibility to be a mediator in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the UN chief said, "I think that when you have a conflict, all efforts of mediation are extremely important... I am not very hopeful that we will have a peace solution in the immediate future. I believe the two parties have still decided to move on with the conflict."

Modi's Private Dinner For Biden, Bilateral Talks On India-US Ties

NEW DELHI, Sept 8: Prime Minister Narendra Modi met United States President Joe Biden for a bilateral discussion at his residence in Delhi late on Friday evening, shortly after Biden's Air Force One landed in Delhi ahead of the weekend's G20 Summit. The Prime Minister's Office shared photos of the two leaders holding talks on "a wide range of issues (that) will further deepen bond between India and the US".

Sources in the Indian government said that, during the meeting, Modi conveyed his appreciation for President Biden's vision and commitment to further strengthening "the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership, which is based on shared democratic values, strategic convergences and strong people-to-people ties".

They said the leaders commended the progress in implementing the outcomes of Modi's visit to the US in June 2023, including under the India-US Initiative for Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET).

"They welcomed the sustained momentum in bilateral cooperation, including in the areas of defence, trade, investment, education, health, research, innovation, culture and people-to-people ties," an official said.

President Biden also highlighted the deepening cooperation between the two countries in space and congratulated PM Modi and the people of India on the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission.

The leaders agreed that the India-US partnership was beneficial not only for the people of the two countries, but also for the global good. The sources said the PM also thanked Mr Biden for the consistent support given by the United States in ensuring the success of India's G20 Presidency.

Earlier today, before he set off for India, Biden posted on X (formerly Twitter) that "every time we (the G20) engage, we get better". "I'm headed to the G20 - the premier forum for international economic cooperation... focused on making progress on Americans' priorities, delivering for developing nations, and showing our commitment to the G20 as a forum that can deliver," he said.

The White House is keen to show the US can deliver for the world at this summit, which comes as emerging economies band together - in groups like BRICS - to ensure their concerns are heard.

Last month the BRICS bloc - which consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa - said it would welcome six new nations to the group, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Biden, 80, had tested negative for COVID-19 before his departure.

This was after a medical scare triggered by his wife, Jill Biden, testing positive for the virus.

Asked about a possible joint statement after the G20 Summit, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had said earlier in the day that he could not make such a prediction. He stressed, however, that the US is ready to do its part to ensure it happens "Will every country step up... be responsible... be constructive? If yes, then we will get a joint statement."

One stumbling block is (the war in) Ukraine, he explained, adding the other seems to be climate change - in connection with which oil-producing nations are looking for less ambitious goals.

He also indicated efforts by China to tie access to technology to the wording of any declaration.

A galaxy of global leaders have arrived in Delhi this evening, including the Australian and United Kingdom Prime Ministers. UK PM Rishi Sunak said after arriving in the city and underlined his government's determination to crack down on Khalistani terror threats.

"This (the Khalistani issue) is a really important question... let me just say, unequivocally, no form of extremism or violence like that is acceptable in the UK. And that is why we are working very closely with the Indian government to tackle 'PKE' (pro-Khalistan extremism)," the UK leader said.

Modi To Hold 15 Bilateral Meetings During G20, Biden and Macron On List

NEW DELHI, Sept 7: PM Narendra Modi is likely to hold 15 bilateral meetings during G20 summit, sources said. Among those he will hold one-on-one discussions with include US President Joe Biden and France's Emmanuel Macron.

Sources said Modi will hold bilateral meetings with the US president and the Bangladeshi prime minister on Friday at his official residence. He will also hold a meeting with the leader of Mauritius.

On Saturday, he will hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of the UK, Japan, Germany and Italy besides attending the G20 events.

The two-day G20 Summit will begin in New Delhi tomorrow and will witness several discussions on issues ailing the world.

Ahead of the summit, strict traffic curbs have been put in place to restrict the movement of vehicles in the area where the G20 summit venue and hotels for delegates are located.

G20 Summit: Full List Of Leaders Attending Meet, And Those Opting Out

NEW DELHI, Sept 7: Some of the world's most powerful and influential leaders will gather in New Delhi to attend the G20 Summit this weekend. US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and other heads of state will hold discussions on geopolitical tensions, economic slowdowns, and rising food and energy prices at one of the most important global gatherings of the year.

Here is a look at who is attending and who is not:

Confirmed G20 Attendees

Joe Biden today confirmed that he is on his way to New Delhi and will attend the G20 Summit. Biden intends to discuss the social impact of the war in Ukraine, the clean energy transition, the fight against climate change, and increasing the capacity of multilateral banks to fight poverty.

Rishi Sunak will attend the Summit in New Delhi on his first official trip to India as Britain's prime minister.

Fumio Kishida, Japan Prime Minister, has confirmed his attendance and as a current chair of the G7 is likely to lead criticism against Russia for the Ukraine war.

Justin Trudeau, Canada PM, is currently in Indonesia, but will be in India on September 9 and 10 for the G20 Summit, his office confirmed.

Emmanuel Macron, French President, will attend the summit and is also expected to hold bilateral talks with PM Modi on the sidelines.

Anthony Albanese, Australia Prime Minister, will attend the summit as part of a three-country tour that includes India, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Olaf Scholz, German Chancellor, will be in New Delhi and has said the summit remains important despite the absence of Russia and China.

Yoon Suk Yeol, South Korea President, is likely to urge leaders at the Summit to respond to North Korea's nuclear threats and missile provocations.

Cyril Ramaphosa - South Africa President

Recep Tayyip Erdogan - Turkey President

Who will be absent

Xi Jinping will be among the most notable absentees at the Summit. In his absence, the Chinese Premier of The State Council, Li Qiang, will lead the country's delegation. This will be the first time that a Chinese president has missed a G20 leaders' summit since the first edition was held in 2008.

Vladimir Putin will also be giving the G20 Summit a miss this year. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for the Russian President accusing him of war crimes in Ukraine, something the Kremlin strongly denies. This means he risks arrest when travelling abroad. Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will represent the country in New Delhi.

Pedro Sanchez, Spain President, announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and will not be able to attend the G20 Summit.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico President will not be attending the mega event.

Non G20 members who will be attending the New Delhi Summit

In addition to G20 members, India has invited the leaders of Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Egypt, Mauritius, Oman, Singapore, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates.

The Summit will also see the participation of top administrators from international organisations such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

UK Says It Won't Change Immigration Plan To Secure Trade Deal With India

LONDON, Sept 7: Britain has no plans to change its approach to reducing net migration in order to help secure a free trade deal with India, the spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Thursday.

There is growing optimism that a free trade deal between the countries could be concluded this year, as both sides agree on the broad contours of the pact, though the remaining topics to be discussed are some of the difficult.

Rishi Sunak, who heads to India for a G20 summit this weekend, told his ministers this week that negotiations were progressing but that he would only agree an approach that worked for the whole of Britain.

In June, trade minister Kemi Badenoch said Britain would discuss temporary business visas as part of trade talks but not broader immigration commitments or access to Britain's labour market for Indian workers.

"The Prime Minister believes that the current levels of migration are too high ... To be crystal clear, there are no plans to change our immigration policy to achieve this free trade agreement and that includes student visas," Rishi Sunak's spokesperson said.

Interior minister Suella Braverman last year sparked a row with comments about the possible impact of Indian migrants in trade talks, citing concern both with any "open borders migration policy with India" and those who overstay visas.

However India's High Commissioner to Britain Vikram Doriaswamy said that the notion India wanted more visas had been in the British press but not in Indian media.

"We never said that the visas are part of our ask," he told Times radio, adding that India instead sought simpler ways for companies to move UK and Indian nationals between the countries.

"We are not asking for migrants to be able to come here."

Saudi Crown Prince to attend G20 Summit, then be on state visit on Sept 11

NEW DELHI, Sept 5: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is set to undertake a state visit to India after participating in the G20 Summit this weekend to review bilateral ties and cooperation in areas ranging from energy to security, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The de facto Saudi ruler, who also holds the post of prime minister, is expected to hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the day-long state visit on September 11. He is expected to arrive over the weekend to participate in the G20 Summit on September 9-10 and return home late on September 11, the people said.

Saud Al-Sati, the Saudi deputy minister for political and economic affairs, travelled to New Delhi last month to review preparations for the visit by Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS as he is popularly known. Al-Sati, who earlier served as the ambassador to India, met Ausaf Sayeed, secretary (overseas Indian affairs) in the external affairs ministry, and reviewed the gamut of bilateral relations.

The current Saudi ambassador, Saleh Eid Alhusseini, also met external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday. “Look forward to the further development and progress of the India-Saudi Arabia relationship across all domains,” Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting.

Modi and MBS had a phone conversation in June when they reviewed bilateral cooperation and discussed ways to bolster ties in connectivity, energy, defence, trade and investment. This was the first contact between the leadership of the two countries since China brokered a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Saudi Arabia has emerged as one of India’s key partners in West Asia in recent years, especially in defence, security and energy. Saudi Arabia is also home to 2.6 million Indians, one of the largest concentrations of expatriates in the region.

MBS last visited India in February 2019, and this was followed by a visit to Saudi Arabia by Modi in October the same year, when the two countries created the Strategic Partnership Council. This body has two pillars – a political, security, social and cultural committee headed by the foreign ministers, and a committee on economy and investments led by the Indian commerce minister and the Saudi energy minister.

Xi Jinping To Skip Delhi G20 Summit, Beijing Says China Premier To Attend

BEIJING, Sept 4: Chinese Premier Li Qiang will attend the 18th G20 Summit in Delhi this weekend, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a brief statement on its website Monday afternoon.

The announcement effectively means President Xi Jinping will not be present, as Beijing will not send its two most powerful leaders abroad at the same time, let alone to appear at the same event.

Quoting foreign ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, the statement said, "At the invitation of the government of the Republic of India, Premier of the State Council Li Qiang will attend the 18th G20 Summit to be held in New Delhi, India, on September 9 and 10." The spokesperson further said "China hopes the summit can consolidate consensus, convey confidence and promote development".

"China has always placed high importance on and actively participated in relevant events... in attending this meeting, Premier Li Qiang will convey China's thoughts and positions on G20 cooperation, pushing for the G20 to strengthen unity and cooperation, and working together to combat global economic and development challenges," the spokesperson was quoted by news agency AFP.

"We are willing to work with all sides to push for the success of the G20 Leaders' Summit, and to make active contributions to promoting stable global economic recovery and sustainable development."

No reason was given for the absence of Jinping, who will likely also skip attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asia summits in Indonesia's Jakarta later this week.

Qiang will represent China on both occasions, it has been reported.

Chinese state media Global Times said on X (formerly Twitter) "China looks forward to the G20 New Delhi Summit reaching a consensus on tackling challenges in the economy and development, conveying confidence to the outside world and promoting shared prosperity and growth."

Confirmation Jinping will not be at this year's G20 Summit comes after days of speculation to that effect and shortly after a brief global row over a new "standard map" that claims Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin, as well as territory from other nations, as its own.

Jinping is the second world leader to skip the summit in India; last week Russia's Vladimir Putin conveyed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi his inability to attend the meeting. Mr Putin told the Prime Minister he intends to send foreign minister Sergey Lavrov instead.

Speculation the Chinese president will not be in Delhi this weekend had been building up over the past week, prompting United States President Joe Biden to express disappointment.

Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are among those to have confirmed attendance so far.

While they will not meet in Delhi during the G20 meetings, Jinping and Prime Minister Modi did speak briefly on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in South Africa last month. The PM and Xi Jinping agreed to work towards "expeditious de-escalation" along the entire Line of Actual Control.


Xi Jinping To Skip Delhi G20 Summit, Beijing Says China Premier To Attend

BEIJING, Sept 4: Chinese Premier Li Qiang will attend the 18th G20 Summit in Delhi this weekend, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a brief statement on its website Monday afternoon.

The announcement effectively means President Xi Jinping will not be present, as Beijing will not send its two most powerful leaders abroad at the same time, let alone to appear at the same event.

Quoting foreign ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, the statement said, "At the invitation of the government of the Republic of India, Premier of the State Council Li Qiang will attend the 18th G20 Summit to be held in New Delhi, India, on September 9 and 10." The spokesperson further said "China hopes the summit can consolidate consensus, convey confidence and promote development".

"China has always placed high importance on and actively participated in relevant events... in attending this meeting, Premier Li Qiang will convey China's thoughts and positions on G20 cooperation, pushing for the G20 to strengthen unity and cooperation, and working together to combat global economic and development challenges," the spokesperson was quoted by news agency AFP.

"We are willing to work with all sides to push for the success of the G20 Leaders' Summit, and to make active contributions to promoting stable global economic recovery and sustainable development."

No reason was given for the absence of Jinping, who will likely also skip attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asia summits in Indonesia's Jakarta later this week.

Qiang will represent China on both occasions, it has been reported.

Chinese state media Global Times said on X (formerly Twitter) "China looks forward to the G20 New Delhi Summit reaching a consensus on tackling challenges in the economy and development, conveying confidence to the outside world and promoting shared prosperity and growth."

Confirmation Jinping will not be at this year's G20 Summit comes after days of speculation to that effect and shortly after a brief global row over a new "standard map" that claims Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin, as well as territory from other nations, as its own.

Jinping is the second world leader to skip the summit in India; last week Russia's Vladimir Putin conveyed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi his inability to attend the meeting. Mr Putin told the Prime Minister he intends to send foreign minister Sergey Lavrov instead.

Speculation the Chinese president will not be in Delhi this weekend had been building up over the past week, prompting United States President Joe Biden to express disappointment.

Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are among those to have confirmed attendance so far.

While they will not meet in Delhi during the G20 meetings, Jinping and Prime Minister Modi did speak briefly on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in South Africa last month. The PM and Xi Jinping agreed to work towards "expeditious de-escalation" along the entire Line of Actual Control.

Unite for Peace in the World and Taiwan’s Inclusion in the UN

By Dr Joseph Wu, Taiwan's Foreign minister

Joseph WuTAIPEI, Aug 30: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a reminder of how autocracies care little about causing death and destruction. The war is a gross violation of human rights and the principle of peaceful settlement of international disputes as codified in the United Nations Charter, which has helped maintain the rules-based international order and kept the world in relative peace since the end of the Cold War.

The war’s humanitarian and economic fallout has also shown that in a globalized world crises cannot be contained within national borders. It is therefore imperative to deter similar threats to global security from happening elsewhere. Taiwan — a democracy that is home to over 23 million people and that I proudly represent — continues to confront enormous challenges posed by China.

The United Nations remains the best platform for global discourse, but Taiwan continues to be excluded from the UN due to China’s distortion of UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, which is discriminatory for a democracy having over 23 million people. UN officials speak often of joint solutions, solidarity, and inclusion in tackling the pressing issues of our time. Taiwan is more than willing and able to take part in these efforts....moreMore

New China Map Draws More Rejection, 4 Asian Countries Back India's Call

HANOI, Sept 1: Vietnam said China's official map released this week violates its sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel Islands and jurisdiction over its waters, according to a statement posted on the nation's government news website.

China's sovereignty and maritime claims based on the nine-dotted line on the map are "invalid," said the statement, which cited Pham Thu Hang, the spokesperson for Vietnam's foreign affairs ministry. Vietnam "resolutely opposes all China's claims in the South China Sea based on the dotted line," Hang added in the statement.

Other countries have also rejected the map. India on Tuesday took issue with a part of the map that shows sections of Arunachal Pradesh under China's control. And the Philippines said it doesn't recognize China's expansive claims in the South China Sea. Governments of Malaysia and Taiwan have also issued strongly worded statements accusing Beijing of claiming their territory.

When asked about the map at a regular press briefing Wednesday in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said his government hoped the "relevant sides can remain objective and calm and refrain from overinterpreting." China released the map so publishers, companies and others have an official version to reference. Foreign firms sometimes run into trouble with the Chinese government over how they use maps.

China claims more than 80% of the South China Sea and backs up its claim with a 1947 map that shows vague dashes - the nine-dash line -- looping down to a point about 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometers) south of Hainan Island. Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan claim parts of the same maritime area, and have sparred with China over where the boundaries fall.

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