nuke deal aimed at making world more secure: Sen
Dec 27: Dismissing the notion that its agreement with the US on sharing civilian
nuclear technology amounts to weakening of non-proliferation regime, India has
said the deal is based on a "very close" understanding of security interests of
the two countries and aimed at making the world more secure.
has a unique track record. It is the first country in Asia to build a nuclear
reactor on its own. You are talking about a country which has about 50 years of
experience of handling nuclear assets," Indian Ambassador to the US Ronen Sen
said in an interview to the 'Dallas Morning News'.
He rejected the notion that the Indo-US nuclear deal amounts to weakening of the
non-proliferation regime. "Absolutely not. It is based on a very close understanding
of the national security interests of both our countries and to making the world
a safer and more secure place," he told the paper.
Citing "with justifiable pride" India's track record on proliferation, Sen said
"nothing has leaked from India. We put into place such tight controls on preventing
anything from leaving our country. And we've had these in place much before they
were codified in international treaties and norms. It's an impeccable track record.
And this is recognised."
He said that one reason why the agreement is so important to India in spite of
the country's long know-how with nuclear technology is because of the fact that
India is "uniquely disadvantaged" in terms of access to energy resources.
Iraqi intelligence was faulty
On the eve of Iraq's historic election for a four-year parliament, President Bush
on Wednesday praised U.S. efforts in Iraq to fight terrorism and to create a new
are living through a watershed moment in the story of freedom," Bush said
during his fourth and final speech leading up to Thursday's vote. "Iraqis
will go to the polls to choose a government that will be the only constitutional
democracy in the Arab world. Yet we need to remember that these elections are
also a vital part of a broader strategy in protecting the American people against
the threat of terrorism."
also accepted responsibility for invading Iraq based on faulty intelligence. "It
is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president I am
responsible for the decision to go into Iraq," Bush said. "And I'm also
responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities.
And we're doing just that."
address at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington follows a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup
poll that indicates fewer Americans are opposed to the U.S.-led war there.
percent of respondents to the new poll said they thought it was a mistake to send
U.S. troops to Iraq, as opposed to 54 percent of those polled last month. Fifty
percent said it was not a mistake, compared to 45 percent last month. The president's
approval rating is 42 percent -- up 4 per cent from November.
successful election in Iraq on Thursday to establish the nation's first permanent,
democratically elected government would do much to bolster the theme of Bush's
speeches: that his administration's war is working.
are in Iraq today because our goal has always been more than the removal of a
brutal dictator. It is to leave a free and democratic Iraq in its place,"
the poll, 49 percent of respondents said neither side is winning the war, 13 percent
said the insurgents are winning and 36 percent said the United States is winning.
On Monday, speaking in Philadelphia, the cradle of the U.S. Constitution, Bush
compared Iraq's struggles with American history.
took a four-year civil war and a century of struggle after that before the promise
of our Declaration (of Independence) was extended to all Americans," Bush
said. "It is important to keep this history in mind as we look at the progress
of freedom and democracy in Iraq."
president unexpectedly took questions from the audience, including one from a
woman who asked Bush how many Iraqi "civilians, military, police, insurgents,
translators" had been killed in the war. "I would say 30,000, more or
less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence
against Iraqis," Bush said. "We've lost about 2,140 of our own troops
House spokesman Scott McClellan later said Bush was basing his statement on media
reports, "not an official government estimate."
160,000 American troops are in Iraq. The Pentagon says it hopes to reduce the
number to 138,000 by the summer and 100,000 by the end of 2006.
his speech December 7, Bush said the United States has succeeded in helping Iraq
improve its economy and infrastructure -- which he called the "battle after
the course of this war, we have learned that winning the battle for Iraqi cities
is only the first step," Bush said. "We also have to win the battle
after the battle by helping Iraqis consolidate their gains and keep the terrorists
during his first speech of the series, on November 30, Bush told students at the
U.S. Naval Academy, "As Iraqi forces gain experience and the political process
advances, we will be able to decrease our troop level in Iraq without losing our
capability to defeat the terrorists."
heading for double digit growth: Adams
YORK: The US has expressed confidence that India is on way to double digit growth
rate from current rate of 8 per cent and it is representing an increasing share
of the global economy.
to a select group of foreign correspondents here, the US Under Secretary for International
Affairs, Mr Timothy D Adams, said that Indias significant progress in implementing
economic reforms and trade liberalization policies would ensure that New Delhi
on only contributes on the agriculture side but also greatly benefit on service
Adams said Indias policies were helping it gain in the number of sectors
such as exports and agriculture. He said that New Delhi was considering and hotly
debating opening of financial services and retail sectors. This will have
a positive and rapid impact on Indias economy and will ensure that its growth
rate goes well beyond 7 or 8 per cent.
Adams said trade liberalization was essential to enhancing global growth and poverty
reduction and in this regard we cannot allow the Doha Round to fail.
urging EU and Japan to make significant moves forward on agriculture market access
proposals, he urged the developing countries to redice their trade barriers and
provide real market access in goods and services to both developed and developing
fact, Mr Adams said, a developing country could experience higher levels growth
and development by opening its financial sector to foreign direct investment.
this context, he welcomed the sentiments expressed by Brazil and India at the
recent G7 Finance Minister meet in support for progress towards successful completion
of the Doha Round.
also must be wiped out from Pak: Bush
Dec 8: The US President, Mr George Bush, has said that terror needs to be wiped
not only from Iraq but also from several parts of the world, including tribal
regions of Pakistan.
defense of his war policy, President Bush said the war in Iraq is the central
front on the war on terror. "Terrorists have made it clear that Iraq is the
central front in a war against humanity, so we must recognize Iraq as the central
front in the war on terror," said Bush in a speech hosted by the Council
on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C.
speech, which was focusing on economic progress in Iraq, was the second in a series
of addresses to answer criticism and questions about US presence in Iraq. The
administration has cited increases in Iraq's gross domestic product, work to boost
oil production, the creation of new businesses and an explosion of cell phones
as evidence of economic progress.
President said "Like generations before us, we face setbacks on the path
to victory, yet we will face this war without wavering. And like the generations
before us, we will prevail. Like earlier struggles for freedom, this war will
take many turns."
Bush said "the enemy must be defeated on every battlefront, from the streets
of Western cities to the mountains of Afghanistan to the tribal regions of Pakistan
to the islands of Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa."
his strategy in Iraq, he said that reconstruction has been "uneven"
but spreading economic progress is giving people hope for a democratic future.
particular, the President cited Najaf, 90 miles south of Baghdad, and Mosul in
northern Iraq - once the sites of some of the bloodiest battles of the war - as
two cities where headway is being made, giving Iraqis more of a stake in their
places like Mosul and Najaf, residents are seeing tangible progress in their lives,"
Mr Bush said. "They're gaining a personal stake in a peaceful future and
their confidence in Iraq's democracy is growing. The progress in these cities
is being replicated across much of Iraq. And more of Iraq's people are seeing
the real benefits that a democratic society can bring."
Bush is shouldering the lowest job approval rating of his presidency, and the
latest series of speeches amount to a public relations campaign to respond to
political pressure that has mounted as US deaths have eclipsed 2,100. He and other
administration officials are working to shore up slumping public support for the
war in the run-up to the December 15 vote in Iraq to create a democratically elected
government that will run the country for the next four years.
Bush talked about reconstruction projects and the reopening of schools, markets
and hospitals, the upgrading of roads and the growth of construction jobs in the
two cities, he also acknowledged that both cities still face challenges.
are beginning to see that a free life will be a better life," Bush said.
has not always gone as well as we had hoped, primarily because of the security
challenges on the ground. Rebuilding a nation devastated by a dictator is a large
US Marines killed in bombing near Fallujah
Dec 2: Ten US Marines conducting a foot patrol outside the Iraqi city of Fallujah
were killed by a roadside bombing, the US Marines announced Friday.
attack is one of the deadliest against U.S. troops in Iraq in recent months. In
a statement released in Fallujah, the military said another 11 Marines were wounded
in Thursday's blast, which was caused by an "improvised explosive device"
fashioned from several large artillery shells. Seven of those wounded have been
able to return to duty, the military said.
statement said the Marines were from Regimental Combat Team 8, of the 2nd Marine
Division. It added that Marines from the same unit continue to conduct counterinsurgency
operations throughout Fallujah, which is about 30 miles west of Baghdad, and surrounding
names of those killed were withheld pending notification of their relatives, in
line with usual military practice. Pentagon officials said they did not immediately
have any information beyond was what contained in the Marine Corps statement.
had been a stronghold of the insurgents until US forces, led by Marines, assaulted
the city in November 2004. Since then the U.S. military and the Iraqi government
have been working to rebuild the city and limit the return of insurgents.
attack US bases in Iraq
Dec 1: Insurgents attacked several US bases and government offices with mortars
and rockets Thursday before dispersing in the capital of western Iraq's Anbar
province, residents and police said.
interior minister, meanwhile, fired his top official for human rights in connection
with a torture investigation. The attacks in Ramadi occurred as local tribal leaders
and U.S. military officials were to hold their second meeting in a week at the
governor's office in the city center. The insurgents apparently tried to shell
the building, but reporters inside said there was no damage or injuries.
Lt. Mohammed Al-Obaidi said at least four mortar rounds fell near the US base
on the eastern edge of the city, but that there were no reports of casualties.
Residents said that scores of masked gunmen, believed to be members of Jordan-born
militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida in Iraq group, ran into the city's streets
Thursday but dispersed after launching attacks with mortars and Russian-made Katyusha
in Ramadi quickly returned to normal after the shooting. The U.S. military said
that only one rocket-propelled grenade was fired at an observation post and that
there were no injuries or significant damage. The insurgents did leave behind
posters and graffiti saying they were members of al-Qaida in Iraq and claiming
responsibility for shooting down a U.S. drone. There were no reports of any U.S.
drones being shot down, though.
is the provincial capital of Anbar province, a Sunni stronghold, where clashes
between insurgents and U.S. and Iraqi troops have left hundreds of people dead
in the past two years. U.S. and Iraqi troops launched a joint operation near Ramadi
on Wednesday, sweeping through an area used to rig car bombs.
500 Iraqi troops joined 2,000 U.S. Marines, soldiers and sailors in a move to
clear insurgents from an area on the eastern side of the Euphrates river near
Hit, 85 miles west of Baghdad, the U.S. command said in a statement. The offensive
came as President Bush said he hopes to shift more of the military burden onto
the Iraqis as part of a strategy to draw down American forces.
maps out Iraq war strategy
(Maryland), Dec 1: Giving an unflinching defence of his war strategy, US President
George Bush has refused to set a timetable for US troop withdrawals and asserted
that once-shaky Iraqi troops were proving increasingly capable.
his major address at the US Naval Academy here, Mr Bush brought together in a
single package the administration's arguments for the war and assertions of progress
on military, economic and political tracks.
president said the U.S. military's role in Iraq will shift from providing security
and fighting the enemy nationwide to more specialized operations targeted at the
most dangerous terrorists. "We will increasingly move out of Iraqi cities,
reduce the number of bases from which we operate and conduct fewer patrols and
convoys," he said.
emphasis on the readiness of Iraqi security forces came at a time when continued
violence in Iraq and the death of more than 2,000 US troops have contributed to
a sharp drop in the President's popularity. Still, Bush remained steadfastly opposed
to imposing a deadline for leaving Iraq. "Many advocating an artificial timetable
for withdrawing our troops are sincere - but I believe they're sincerely wrong,"
Bush said. "Pulling our troops out before they've achieved their purpose
is not a plan for victory."
are about 160,000 US troops in Iraq. The Pentagon has not committed to any specific
drawdown next year beyond the announced plan to pull back 28,000 troops who were
added this fall for extra security during the election. The US strategy rests
on the expectation that training a competent Iraqi security force and helping
shepherd the election of a democratic government will stabilize the country and
permit a gradual US military exit, possibly starting next year.
this time last year, only a few Iraqi battalions were ready for combat, he said.
Now more than 120 Iraqi army and police combat battalions are in the fight, Mr
Bush said. Of those, about 80 are fighting side-by-side with US-led coalition
forces and about 40 others are taking the lead.
Bush said more than 30 Iraqi army battalions have assumed primary control of their
own areas of responsibility. In Baghdad, Iraqi battalions have taken over major
sectors of the capital, including some of the city's toughest neighbourhoods,
he said. The coalition has handed over roughly 90 square miles of Baghdad province
to Iraqi security forces, and Iraqi battalions have taken responsibility for areas
in other parts of the country.
President said that when the US-led coalition arrived in Iraq, it worked to create
an Iraqi army that could defend the nation from external threats as well as a
civil defense corps to provide protection inside its borders. But the civil force,
without enough firepower or training, was no match for enemies toting machine
guns and rocket-propelled grenades, Mr Bush said.
response, he said the civil force was moved into the Iraqi army and training was
adjusted. Similarly, he said that when Iraqi police recruits were spending too
much time in classroom lectures and getting too little training on how to use
small arms, the program was changed to better prepare them for the fight they
president's address was accompanied by the release of a 35-page White House document
titled "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."
The 35-page fighting
strategy maintains increasing numbers of Iraqi troops have been equipped and trained,
a democratic government is being forged, Iraq's economy is being rebuilt and U.S.
military and civilian presence will change as conditions improve.
White House document said it was "not realistic" to expect a fully functioning
democracy able to defeat its enemies less than three years after Saddam.
Bush offensive comes as one of the closest U.S. war allies -- Britain -- and two
early Iraq war opponents -- Germany and Canada -- face pressure at home after
the kidnapping of some of their citizens in Iraq. Two Canadians, a Briton and
an American, all working for a Christian humanitarian aid group, were seized in
Baghdad on Saturday. A video showed them being held hostage by a group calling
itself the "Swords of Truth."
group accused the men of being "spies," but the aid agency that employed
them denied that. A separate video was shown on German TV of a German archeologist
and her driver who disappeared in Iraq on Friday. The group threatened to kill
Susanne Osthoff and her driver unless Berlin stopped cooperating with the US-backed
Sen warns on changes to Indo-US nuclear deal
Nov 23: Any moves by the US Congress to alter a landmark US-India nuclear agreement
could undermine the "finely balanced" deal, according to Indian ambassador
to Washington Ronen Sen.
agreement would grant India access to nuclear technology it has been denied for
more than two decades because it developed nuclear weapons and tested them. But
prominent American critics complain it undermines non-proliferation and should
be tightened up. The deal has also come under fire in India.
there's any loading on of what are seen to be additional obligations or changes,
it could cause a sort of imbalance, which would undermine the very basis of the
agreement (which is) finely balanced in terms of reciprocal obligations and benefits,"
he said in an interview late on Monday.
indicated that New Delhi had not progressed very far in its centrepiece commitment
under the July 18 agreement -- separation of India's military and civilian nuclear
facilities to ensure that US nuclear cooperation with the civilian energy sector
does not also benefit India's weapons programme.
the envoy was adamant that his government could be counted on to fulfil its commitments.
independence we have never ever violated an agreement ... We proceed with due
deliberation and when we undertake a commitment we keep to that commitment,"
he said. Sen said India's needs over the next 25 years could total $80 billion
as it seeks to expand an indigenous nuclear energy industry its leaders believe
is crucial to economic growth.
companies, including General Electric Co and Westinghouse Electric, a unit of
a British state-owned company, are expected to be among the beneficiaries. Although
a number of congressmen have questioned the nuclear deal, it is unclear if they
will seek to amend it.
don't know if there will be modifications. Much will depend on the separation
plan," that India proposes, a congressional aide who works on the issue but
was not authorised to speak for the record said.
Congress is not expected
to formally take action until 2006. US officials have said they would not ask
Congress to act until after India proposes its separation plan. Under the plan,
India would designate which of its nuclear facilities are military posts dedicated
to nuclear weapons-related activities and which are civilian, engaged in peaceful
civilian plants would for the first time come under International Atomic Energy
Agency safeguards and be open to inspection by IAEA inspectors.
Asked if India
had started work on the separation plan, Sen said: "It's very complicated.
It's not that easy. We have to work it out. We are going to work it out ... It's
going to be in phases."
of State R Nicholas Burns, the US negotiator on the nuclear deal, in September
presented Indian officials with a blueprint suggesting how the Americans might
go about separating the Indian nuclear facilities. But the Indians gave it back,
saying they could do it themselves, a US official and a source close to the administration
said. "It's not supposed to be a joint determination. We know what it is
and will proceed in terms of our own interest," Sen said.
to hold dialogue on boosting high-tech trade
By Deepak Arora
DELHI, Nov 24: Top US and Indian Government officials and high-technology industry
leaders will discuss strategies aimed at increasing bilateral trade in defense
technology, information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology during a
two-day meeting of the High-Tech Cooperation Group (HTCG) here beginning November
HTCG was founded in November 2002 to advance dialogue on the reduction of trade
barriers for high-tech products and services while strengthening nonproliferation
measures aimed at ensuring that sensitive technologies do not fall into the wrong
Under Secretary of Commerce David McCormick, who is leading the US delegation,
told newsmen in Washington DC on Tuesday that the HTCG and parallel trade dialogues
have had a tremendous impact on bilateral trade over the past three years. He
said total U.S. exports to India nearly have doubled from $4 billion to $7.5 billion
over the period.
also said that the time required for companies to receive export licenses for
dual-use technologies has dropped 40 percent to 50 percent over the period, while
the approval rate on those licenses has climbed to 91 percent, which he said is
comparable to the approval rates enjoyed by the United States' closest allies.
under secretary said, however, that there still is room for improvement. "Even
though there's been progress, there's enormous opportunity. How does one continue
to expand high-tech trade at an accelerating rate?" he asked. "What
are the barriers to that growth being even more substantial than it is today?"
praised India for passing legislation on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) aimed
at strengthening the security regime around trade in potentially sensitive high-tech
products. "The passage of the WMD law was a terrific symbolic and tangible
action of the commitment that the Indian government has on this front," he
said that the discussions in New Delhi would focus on export control policies
and how regulations can be liberalized without compromising the two countries'
nonproliferation objectives and on opportunities for expanding trade in key high-technology
sectors. The HTCG dialogue, he said, has been "instrumental in creating a
very positive foundation of trust and candor and goodwill between the United States
visa hike plan in trouble
Nov 20: The plan to raise the H-1B visa cap by 30,000 has run into uncertainty
with the House of Representatives not going along with provisions cleared by the
a development, not entirely unexpected, the House on Friday passed its own version
of a budget bill, without any provision to raise the existing annual H-1B limit
of 65,000 visas.
only hope now is negotiations between the two chambers to reconcile differences
on a number of facets including the visa issue and come up with a common bill
that could be passed and sent to the president for assent.
this exercise, set to spill over to December, is up against heavy odds, largely
because some other components of the bill dealing with spending cuts are far more
controversial than the H-1B plan.
Senate version of the bill, passed a fortnight ago, provided for 30,000 more of
this coveted work visa in what was projected as a measure to "recapture"
unused visas from previous years.
to the US's IT industry, which has been lobbying for a H-1B step-up, 310,000 of
sanctioned visas have remained unused over the last 15 years.
only immigration provision in the House bill relates to another category of visas
(L-1) - not about revising the numbers, but raising the fee for it by $1,500.
brokers Israel-Palestinian deal on Gaza border
Nov 16: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice brokered a deal on Gaza border
crossings in marathon talks with Israel and the Palestinians on Tuesday, scoring
a rare breakthrough in Middle East diplomacy.
who put her own reputation at stake by investing so personally in the negotiations,
had postponed her departure to Asia for an APEC meeting, staying in Jerusalem
an extra day until she secured an agreement on opening the Gaza-Egypt border.
to Gaza is key to strengthening the impoverished strip's economy and giving a
boost to chances for peacemaking following Israel's withdrawal from the coastal
territory in September after 38 years of occupation. Bleary-eyed after an almost
sleepless night of hard-nosed bargaining, Rice praised the deal as a "good
step forward". It hands the Palestinians control of a border for the first
agreement is intended to give the Palestinian people the freedom to move, to trade,
to live ordinary lives," she told a news conference in Jerusalem before flying
out. Rice said the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, the strip's gateway
to the outside world, should open on November 25 with the presence of European
Union security monitors.
would also be able to start travelling in bus and truck convoys between Gaza and
the occupied West Bank within months, and construction of a Gaza seaport would
main sticking point was Israel's insistence on monitoring passage of goods and
people, saying it feared cross-border arms smuggling to militants. Palestinians
said an Israeli presence at Rafah would impinge on their sovereignty.
A compromise was reached whereby Israeli and Palestinian security officers at
an EU-run control room a few kilometres (miles) from Rafah will monitor remote-control
cameras. If the Israelis want someone stopped or detained, they must ask their
Palestinian counterparts to do so. If the Palestinians refuse, an appeal can be
made to the EU team of police experts while the person in question is held for
up to six hours.
hopes India will repeat Iran vote
DELHI, Nov 14: The US hopes that India would again vote at an IAEA meeting this
month on Iran's nuclear programme based on its national interests, like it did
US Ambassador, Dr David C Mulford, and the former US Secretary of Defence, Mr
William S Cohen, expressed this view at two different press interactions in the
Capital on Monday.
its last vote, Ambassador Mulford said in an informal chat with newsmen that India
expressed its national interest. "I would once again expect India to vote
in what it considers to be its national interest."
a conversation with this correspondent, Secretary Cohen said that it is well know
now that Iran has been assisting terror groups and proliferating technology and
has nuclear ambitions. "It is in India's interest that Iran doesn't become
a nuclear weapon country. That would be a great danger for all of us."
Cohen hoped that India would stay steadfast on its upcoming vote against Iran
in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as it did in September when it
supported a resolution, which was moved by France, Germany and Britain and supported
by the UF. India voted in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in favour
of a West-led resolution on referring Iran's nuclear programme, which has been
accused of developing nuclear weapons.
resolution, which accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons, paved the way for
referring Iran to the UN Security Council for its alleged violations of safeguards
under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). New Delhi, however, claimed
its diplomatic efforts helped prevent an immediate referral to the Security Council.
IAEA's board of governors is likely to take a final decision on referring Iran
to the Security Council November 24.
vote has created a storm back home, with Left parties that prop up the government,
slammed the move for its "betrayal of a friendly country".
Sunday in Dhaka, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, told newsmen that efforts
can and should be made to evolve a broad-based consensus to avoid voting on Iran's
nuclear issue at the upcoming IAEA meeting. However, the Prime Minister refused
to state how India would vote at the November 24 meeting saying it will depend
on what are the issues that are being voted.
can be and should be made to evolve a broad-based consensus so that there is no
need for vote. But if it comes for vote, I cannot predict what we will do. It
depends on what are the issue, which are the subject matter of voting or no voting,"
Cohen, who met this correspondent at the opening of new corporate office of Lockheed
Martin in India, expressed satisfaction on the positive direction of US-India
relationship. He said "the growing relationship between India and the US
is a natural result of two democracies that see the future from a common reference
point, including the need for greater cooperation against global terrorism and
prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. To that end and
with a common vision for the future, no one should question the enduring nature
of this new relationship."
Managing Director of Lockheed Martin, Mr Royce L Calpinger, said "the office
is a milestone in the evolving presence of Lockheed Martin in India. The growing
Indo-US strategic partnership provides great opportunity for enhanced business
ties between the two major democracies of the world."
is competing to sell its F-16s to India, which has expressed desire to buy 125
multi-role fighter aircraft. Mr Cohen said F-16s were the best multi-role combat
summit from Nov 16
DELHI: The second Indo-US Economic Summit beginning on Wednesday here will focus
on bilateral cooperation in retail, financial services including banking besides
civil aviation and energy.
summit christened 'Bridging the Gap', is organised by Indo-American Chamber of
Commerce. The summit will focus on expansion of Indo-US trade and opportunities
in organised retail trade in India; financial sector including banking, capital
markets and insurance; partnership with the US in civil aviation; and Indo-US
partnership in the Energy sector.
Minister Manmohan Singh's recent visit to the US has generated substantial goodwill
and interest about India. Majority of the Indian and American companies are enthused
to enter into strategic partnerships in diverse areas," said Jagdip Ahluwalia,
executive director of the Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston.
is in these exciting and challenging times and when the Indo-US relations are
at an all-time high that the Second Indo-US Economic Summit is being held,"
summit's objective is to share ideas and explore opportunities for expanding Indo-US
trade relations; enhancing Indo-US business collaborations and joint ventures;
exploring investment opportunities in India and investment opportunities in the
US and establishing one to one business contacts.
summit will focus on issues, problems and opportunities in expansion of Indo-US
trade and opportunities in organised retail trade in India, financial sector including
banking, capital markets and insurance as also partnership with the US in civil
aviation and energy sectors.
summit will be attended by senior representatives from Indian and US governments,
multilateral and bilateral bodies, CEOs of Indian and American corporates, public
sector undertakings, banks & financial institutions, consultants and decision
makers. Kamal Nath, Minister for Commerce & Industry is scheduled to inaugurate
the summit, IACCGH said.
US to double trade to $ 40 billion
DELHI, Nov 13: In a bid to boost bilateral economic engagement, India and the
United States have decided to double two-way trade to 40 billion dollars by 2008
while identifying the small and medium enterprises sector as a focus area for
achieving the ambitious target.
current level of trade at $ 21 billion is way below potential. We should aim to
achieve a trade target of $ 40 billion in the next three years," Commerce
Minister Kamal Nath said at a FICCI meeting with visiting US Trade Representative
with Nath, Portman said doubling the trade in three years was an ambitious but
achievable target and assured the support of US Administration in this regard.
total merchandise trade with US stands at about $ 21 billion, of which Indian
exports are $ 14 billion and Indian imports about $ 7 billion. Nath said it was
equally important to diversify the trade basket, and added that the US must also
remove the non-tariff barriers on Indian products.
said while large US corporates already had a presence in India, none of the American
SMEs were looking at the country as a possible trade and investment destination.
(SMEs) are looking at Central and South America and Europe but not towards India.
These enterprises are the key to scale up economic cooperation," he said.
who is visiting India for the first time, is here to take part in the first meeting
of the newly set-up India-US Trade Policy Forum. The Forum, co-chaired by the
two ministers, would cover mutual consultations on both bilateral and multilateral
pitches for financial sector reforms
DELHI, Nov 10: The US Treasury Secretary, Mr John Snow, on Thursday said that
India needed to keep the momentum for economic reforms going, and boost growth,
if it were to come to grips with the huge problems of poverty and joblessness.
the captains of the Indian industry, Mr Snow urged India to permit increased foreign
ownership in its financial sector and warned against becoming complacent about
the need for reforms.
said that faster economic growth would help India deal with its problems of massive
poverty and, at the same time, add stability by strengthening its capital markets.
He said the gradual approach to liberalisation would only hinder growth.
sense some reluctance to go faster. We hear often the need to proceed gradually,
carefully and slowly. I argue that there is a cost to proceeding slowly as that
there is a cost to gradually. There is a cost to proceed slowly and the cost is
all the benefit you give up by seeing the economy perform better on a faster track,"
he said at an interactive session with FICCI, American Chamber of Commerce and
said "India has some huge issues like 25 per cent unemployment and 350 million
people living on a dollar a day. This means that millions of people are underemployed
as the talent of the people is not being fully utilized."
Snow said that moving forward on opening of financial sector reforms was not being
done for the interest of the realtors. It was not being done for the interest
of banks, insurance companies and those run pension plans and stock exchanges.
"The real benefits will go to the people of your country. It will help lift
them up. It will help lift up this rural sector that has such potential going
forward and which is so much on the minds of the political leaders of your country."
US Treasury Secretary made a case for further opening up of the financial sector,
particularly banking and insurance, saying financial sector energises the rest
of the economy. Stating that insurance and banking are the prime candidates for
further opening and lifting of the caps, he said such a measure would ensure better
products in these two sectors.
Snow said his interaction with business leaders in India revealed that they want
to take advantage of deepening of bond markets and other areas of financial market,
which would make available better products, including future and hedging ones.
It is through financial sector that savings get appropriate returns and deployed
to best use, he said. "Financial sector facilitates the real sector and if
financial sector is a handicap, the real sector will be a handicap," he said.
maintain excellent relations with India: US
Nov 11: The US has said it has no comment on the issue relating to Natwar Singh,
who has been divested of his External Affairs Ministry portfolio in the wake of
the Volcker Committee report, and asserted that its "excellent and outstanding"
relations with India would continue notwithstanding changes in personnel.
I don't have any comment on the specific case of the gentleman (Natwar Singh)
in question. This is an issue for the institutions of India to address,"
US State Department acting spokesman Adam Ereli said.
far as dealing with the Government of India goes, as I said before, we have close
and excellent and outstanding relations with our partners in the Government of
India and we expect that changes in personnel, notwithstanding, those relations
are going to continue," he said. When asked if US Secretary of State Condoleeza
Rice had talked to anybody in India or was contacted, Ereli said: "No".
has made it clear that in dealing with the oil-for-food scandal, what we seek
and what we believe in are a full presentation of the facts and understanding
of the facts and accountability for those who were involved in wrongdoing. That
process of investigation and accountability are in the hands of others,"
the acting spokesman said.
Snow in India to strengthen trade, investment ties
DELHI, Nov 6: U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, arrived in in India on Sunday
for a five-day tour to secure stronger trade ties and cooperation on a wide range
of economic matters, the U.S. Embassy said.
who landed in India's financial capital Mumbai, was to visit the National Stock
Exchange and other financial facilities there before heading to New Delhi on Wednesday
for talks with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, and other top economic officials,
said embassy spokesman David Kennedy.
focus would be on expanding and deepening our bilateral relations,'' building
on the meeting between President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh, in Washington in July, Kennedy said.
that visit, India and the United States reached a landmark agreement to build
a strategic partnership that spans cooperation in military affairs, sharing civilian
nuclear know-how, and joint research in space, agriculture and new technologies.
his first visit to the country as treasury secretary, Snow will press India to
allow foreign companies greater freedom to invest in the country's booming financial
sector, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement issued last week. ``He
will discuss the strong potential of the Indian economy, focusing on efforts to
further liberalize the financial sector and improve financing infrastructure,''
the statement said.
Senate votes for increasing H-1B visas by 30,000
Nov 4: In a major boost to information technology professionals from India hoping
to emigrate to the US, the Senate has voted in favour of increasing the cap on
H-1B visas by 30,000 to 95,000 from next year.
Senate has also voted to increase the number of legal immigrants besides increasing
the cap on H-1B visas favoured by Indian IT specialists, as part of a broad budget
deficit cutting bill that was passed yesterday by a margin of 52 to 47 votes.
a view to meeting its deficit reduction target, the Senate Judiciary Committee
had last month called for adding some 90,000 employment-based green cards per
year and raising the fee by US$ 500, which would earn some US$ 250 millions for
Judiciary Committee increased the cap on the H-1B visas by 30,000 and raised the
fee, adding another US$ 75 millions to the exchequer. The budget deficit reduction
bill that was cleared by the Senate also removes family members from the ceiling
on employment-based immigration visas that would now increase legal immigration
by 240,000 people every year. The total increase to immigration would now come
to 330,000 a year, up nearly 33 per cent.
passage of the Senate bill did not come by without opposition. Senior Democrat
from West Virginia, Robert Byrd tried to take away the visa provisions from the
bill but was overwhelmingly defeated by a 85 to 14 vote with only ten Democrats,
three Republicans and one Independent supporting him.
committee votes for raising H1B visa cap by 30,000
Oct 27: A proposal to raise the annual quota of H1B visas, which will give more
Indian professionals a chance to work in the US, received a major boost in the
US Congress with the Senate Judiciary Committee voting overwhelmingly in favour
of raising the its cap from 65,000 to 95,000.
an Executive Business Meeting for the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 20th,
Senator Arlen Spectre proposed adding 60,000 to the cap, but the Committee instead
chose to support Senator Diane Feinstein's (D-CA) amendment adding 30,000 H1B
visas to the cap.
number of green cards, officially known as Employment Based Immigrant Visas, would
be increased through a change in language regarding who is applicable for it,
according to the US-India Business Alliance (USIBA), a group of Indian and American
businessmen which is backing the proposal for raising the H1B visa cap.
current law, spouses and children of green card holders count towards the cap,
but the Committee proposed that to change this so that spouses and children do
not count towards the cap. This proposed change will result in a significant increase
in the number of available green cards.
there is still a significant amount of work to be done before the proposal takes
the shape of legislation. This language has been added to the Senate Budget Reconciliation
Bill. The Budget Reconciliation Bill is due to be voted upon later this year,
and then a conference will be held between the Senate and House of Representatives.
ties with India deepening: US
By Deepak Arora
DELHI, Oct 23: US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns's two-day visit to India
has led to deepening of relationship aimed at furthering the strategic partnership
between the two countries.
to newsmen in Washington, US State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said
that the purpose of the meetings was furthering the US-Indian strategic partnership
and a specific issue of discussion would be implementing the US-India Civil Nuclear
Responding to a question whether there was a snag
in the Indo-US civil nuclear talks and why the US has to continue talks with India
in the regard, Ereli denied that there existed a "snag" in the talks.
said that Nicholas Burns's visit to India was a sign that the two countries have
a "broadening and deepening" relationship. Burns' visit was meant to
"work out details of a complex and interrelated series of steps designed
to move forward on civil nuclear cooperation, on scientific cooperation, on agricultural
cooperation, on promoting entrepreneurship," he said.
added that the two countries were moving forward on that "well and amicably."
Ereli said that senior US officials were working closely with their Indian counterparts
on an ever-broadening array of areas of cooperation.
India, US inch closer to implementing nuclear deal
By Deepak Arora
DELHI, Oct 22: India and the US inched closer to implementing the July 18 nuclear
agreement with Washington reaffirming its commitment to its implementation and
New Delhi asking for ''tying up loose ends'' before President George Bush's visit.
US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns called
on External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh and reiterated Washington's commitment
to the July 18 nuclear agreement signed by President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh in Washington.
The two leaders are understood to have reviewed
bilateral ties, witnessing progress particularly after the meeting between Manmohan
Singh and George Bush in Washington in July.
Singh told him that both countries should ''tie up loose ends'' before President
Bush visits India early next year. Singh told Burns that a very warm welcome awaited
Bush, he said. The US President is expected to visit here in March next year.
The US Under Secretary conveyed to Singh greetings of Secretary of State Condoleezza
Burns held a second day of discussions with Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran. ''The
discussions covered regional issues including South Asia, Asia Pacific, West Asia
and Central Asia,'' according to Navtej Sarna, spokesman of the Ministry of External
two-day discussions which concluded on Saturday, marked reassurance of a firm
commitment by the US to the implementation of the July 18 nuclear agreement without
any additional conditionalities.
Burns had said after the first day's talks on Friday that something workable would
be found before President Bush's visit to India early next year. He had also said
no other issue, including the Iran nuclear or the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline,
was linked with the India-US nuclear agreement.
attends Iftaar; launds role of Indian Muslims
By Deepak Arora
DELHI, Oct 22: The U.S. Ambassador, Mr David C. Mulford, hosted an Iftaar dinner
at Roosevelt House here on Saturday. The US Under Secretary of State for Political
Affairs, Mr Nicholas Burns, who was on a two-day official visit to India attended
the Iftaar. Several prominent people, including the Imam, also attended the Iftaar.
on the occasion, Mr Burns lauded the role of millions of Muslims who have made
a profound contribution to India and its culture. He said President Bush has great
confidence in India, and understands that Islam will have a profound role to play
in this country's future. He also had the honour of hosting his own Iftaar at
the White House on October 17. India's Ambassador Ronan Sen was one of the President's
is the holiest time of the Muslim year. According to Islamic teaching, this month
commemorates the revelation of God's word to the Prophet Muhammad in the form
of the Koran. For more than a billion Muslims, Ramzan is a time of heartfelt prayer
and togetherness. This holy month is a time of fasting and personal sacrifice
and an opportunity to give thanks for God's blessings through works of charity.
is a tenet of Islam that Muslims assists their neighbors when they are in need.
India sees the spirit and compassion of Islam; through the countless acts of kindness
individual Muslims perform every day.
Burns said Americans of all faiths have great respect for the commitment of Indian
Muslims to faith, family, and education. "We seek to learn more about the
rich tradition of Indian Islam, which has done so much to promote greater understanding
between Muslims and non-Muslims."
said Islam was the fastest growing religion in the United States. "The State
Department is proud to be recruiting more Muslim Americans than ever into the
Foreign Service, and all of us who represent the United States share a conviction
that our country must remain welcoming and tolerant. We reject every form of ethnic
and religious discrimination."
Burns said "we share with you a common hope for the future -- that our children
and grandchildren will grow up in a safer and more peaceful world. We must stand
together confidently to deliver that promise to future generations and firmly
oppose those who commit evil in God's name."
said President Bush and the American people mourned the lives of the many Indians
who lost their lives in the recent tragic earthquake in Jammu and Kashmir.
United States is working with the government of India to relieve the suffering
of the Kashmiri people caused by the recent devastating earthquake. The Embassy
contributed $50,000 to the Prime minister's Relief Fund and $50,000 to Save the
Children, which is working in the devastated areas."
Burns said that the United States also has made available an additional $500,000
that will be distributed to Non Governmental organizations working in Jammu and
Kashmir to relive the suffering of the earthquake victims. We wish the Indian
relief and recovery efforts well.
firm on nuke deal with India
DELHI, Oct 21: The US has expressed the confidence that it would be able to pass
legislation by early next year on implementation of the path-breaking civilian
nuclear energy deal with India.
visiting US Under Secretary of State, Mr Nicholas Burns, expressed confidence
that the US Congress and House of Representatives would pass the legislation before
the visit of the President, Mr George Bush to India, early next year.
look forward to the US Congress passing the legislation to enable full civil nuclear
energy cooperation between the two countries early next year," Mr Burns told
newsmen at a joint press interaction after daylong talks with the Foreign Secretary,
Mr Shyam Saran, here.
US also plans to ask the Nuclear Suppliers Group to enable peaceful nuclear energy
cooperation and trade with India. Responding to a question whether any conditions
were attached with the deal, Mr Burns said "we are not adding any conditions.
We Americans will meet the obligations we have undertaken" and hoped "India
will abide by its obligations."
Mr Burns and Mr Saran said that the two countries were committed to implementation
of the July 18 understanding reached in Washington between Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh and president Bush on civilian nuclear cooperation but acknowledged that
it was a "very complex" and "complicated" issue.
India's vote again Iran's controversial nuclear programme, he said "that
was a significant vote at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting.
India voted with a host of Asian and other countries, only Venezuela voted against.
So they voted with us with the United States to press the point that Tehran has
to do more and cannot continue with its nuclear program and Iran knows that is
has to get back to negotiations and we are confident that will happen," he
maintained that the issue could be referred to the UN Security Council if Tehran
failed to come to the negotiating table with the European countries by next month-end.
Burns stated that if Tehran does not get back to negotiations with European countries,
the November 24 meeting of the IAEA would vote against it leading to the issue
being referred to the UN Security Council, a move India is trying to avert.
Saran said during his discussions with Mr Burns, both sides discussed modalities
for implementing the nuclear deal "within the commitments" made by the
apprehensions that the US Congress will not give its approval for resuming nuclear
supplies to Indian reactors, he said, "There is significant support"
for it on Capitol Hill and did not see opposition by a few becoming an "impediment".
Saran, who will have another round of discussions tomorrow with Mr Burns covering
regional and international issues, said both sides were committed to implementing
the "extremely important understanding" reached between the Prime Minister
and President Bush. He said India had certain responsibilities to carry out and
emphasised that "we have delivered on some of them".
Foreign Secretary listed these areas as unilateral declaration of non-proliferation,
bringing about of legislation on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), harmonisation
of export control with NSG and commitment to work with US on new global standards
on reprocessing and enrichment technology being exported to third countries.
will work out modalities within the parameters outlined in the July 18 joint statement,"
said the Foreign Secretary. "We are already conforming to and becoming partner
in global non proliferation regime," the Foreign Secretary asserted and added
that by the time Bush visits here, "We hope we will have an implementable
Saran said there will soon be another meeting of the Joint Working Group he co-chairs
with Mr Burns to carry forward discussions on the modalities.
whether the postponement of the meeting of the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group
(NSG) would have fallout on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, Mr Burns said Washington
was under obligation to see that NSG countries also undertake requisite steps
for similar cooperation with India.
Saran said during his talks with Mr Burns, both sides had sought "certain
clarifications" from each other and further discussions on these will be
held in the next JWG meeting to take the process forward.
India as a "great power in the world", Mr Burns said the US was seeking
a partnership with it whereby the two countries could work together for peace
and stability of the world and "face challenges" that are likely to
emerge over the next 40 to 50 years.
gives $500,000 more aid for J-K quake victims
TTO News Service
DELHI, Oct 21: The US has announced an additional assistance of $500,000 for the
victims of the massive earthquake that killed over 1,400 people in Jammu and Kashmir.
his country's sympathy for the victims of the quake, the visiting US Under Secretary
of State, Mr Nicholas Burns, made the announcement at a joint press interaction
here with the Foreign Secretary, Mr Shyam Saran.
his gratitude for the US assistance, Mr Saran said "We are deeply appreciative
of sympathy and concern for the victims of the quake," he said.
money given by the US would go to international and Indian NGOs involved in relief
work in India, said Mr Burns. The US had earlier given an emergency relief of
$100,000 for India's quake victims. Half of this amount went to the Prime Minister's
National Relief Fund and the remaining was provided in direct relief assistance
to the victims in the affected areas.
after the October 8 quake, a White House statement from US President George Bush,
terming the disaster a "horrible tragedy", said the 'people of the US
offer our deepest sympathies for the loss of life and destruction."
week, Mr Bush called the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and praised him for
taking the initiative to help out Pakistan where the killer quake has killed thousands
of people and left an estimated two million homeless.
named to Hall of Fame
Oct 10: Senator Hillary Clinton, widely perceived as the Democratic frontrunner
in the 2008 presidential elections, has been inducted into the US National Women's
Hall of Fame.
award and acclamation is regarded as important for Hillary, the 57-year-old former
first lady, whose immediate priority is re-election to the Senate from New York
next year. A recent poll suggested that Hillary may be the most popular Democrat
for 2008 with 42 per cent saying they would vote for her.
am extremely proud to help highlight the contributions of women to our great nation
throughout our history - not just the heroines who blazed the trail before us,
but also the women whose stories have yet to be told, who are holding families
together, lifting up communities and performing heroic acts everyday across America,"
by a national panel of judges, Hillary took her place along with nine other women
from different walks of life, six of whom were honoured posthumously.
NRIs raise $1 mn in one night for noble cause
VALLEY, Oct 10: Indians in the Silicon Valley have raised a whopping $1 million
at a lavish annual bash for promoting elementary education, women's empowerment
and eradication of AIDS in their home country.
'Bow Ties and Bangles', the second annual fall benefit gala hosted by international
development organisation American Indian Foundation (AIF), saw business magnets
and leading Bollywood stars joining hands to raise some money for the cause. Several
Fortune 500 CEOs, corporate giants, celebrities from the entertainment industry,
including Bollywood actress and AIDS activist Shilpa Shetty, were among the 800
guests who attended the evening on Saturday.
are thrilled by the response we have received," AIF President Lata Krishnan
said as she announced that the event had met its target of generating $1 million.
The evening honoured Biocon Limited Chairman and Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
and AMD Chairman and CEO Hector Ruiz with 'AIF-India Corporate Leadership Awards'
for their leadership skills and deep commitment to corporate social responsibility.
is a leading international development organisation working for universalising
elementary education, advancing women's empowerment and eradicating AIDS in India.
Former US President Bill Clinton serves as Honorary Chair of AIF, which has raised
more than $26 million since its inception.
prepares new tactics, strategy to fight al Qaeda, Jihadis
Sept 29: The US armed forces are preparing new tactics and strategy to fight al
Qaeda, Jihadis and Islamic insurgencies. Organised for implementing the strategy
would be the Army, Marine Corps, Special Operations forces, CIA paramilitary officers
and FBI agents while State Department diplomats, with the Marines forming the
Vickers, a defence analyst at Washington-based Centre for Strategic and Budgetary
Assessments and a former Army Special Forces officer, told Defence News weekly
that the Corps should focus on three main missions.
the Corps should be the primary force to combat terrorism and Islamic radicalism.
Second, the Corps should combine the forcible-entry expertise with its chemical
and biological warfare response forces to be the primary tool used against 'rogue'
states. Third, the Corps should be the primary player in urban warfare.
have got problems of al Qaeda cells in 54 countries, a war of ideas that is global,
and an Islamist insurgency in 18 countries," he said. "You can't concentrate
your effort in two of them. You have got to be in lots of places."
Work, an analyst with the CSBA and a former Marine artillery officer, has mapped
out a plan for how the future Corps to deal with global terrorism, urban warfare
and states possessing weapons of mass destruction. Work has proposed a Corps largely
based at sea, equipped with its own heavy-lift and strike aviation assets, backed
by armour- resistant weapons of mass destruction and able to boost and support
Special Operations Forces for anti-terror missions.
warning for NYC
YORK, Sept 21: Manhattan could be flooded and New York could suffer as much damage
as New Orleans if it were hit by a catastrophic hurricane like one that passed
just north of the city in 1938, experts warned on Monday.
hurricanes are not limited to the Gulf Coast and Florida," said James Lee
Witt, who was director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 1993 to
2000 in the Clinton administration.
was speaking at the launch of a campaign to improve preparation for disasters
such as Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 883 people when it slammed into
Louisiana and neighbouring states last month with 224 kph winds and a 30-foot
ProtectingNewYork.org coalition, which includes insurance companies, will work
to create a catastrophe fund like those already in place in Florida and California
that would kick in if damage from a natural disaster, accident or attack reached
a certain threshold, Witt said.
former FEMA chief, whose consulting firm lobbies for Allstate Insurance Co, was
asked by Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco to advise on relief efforts after
Katrina. Witt said that the 1938 'Long Island Express' hurricane missed Manhattan
by only 55 miles, yet caused damage worth over $300 million and killed 700 people
similar storm today could cause damages in the tens of billions of dollars,"
according to a factsheet handed out by the organisation. Katrina was a Category
4 hurricane. The 1938 hurricane slammed Long Island and New England with winds
of 194 kph and peak gusts of 293 kph
Witt said the September 11, 2001, attack
on the World Trade Center cost some $30 billion and experts estimated that another
spectacular attack could cause damages exceeding $250 billion, perhaps more if
it involved a nuclear facility or nuclear device.
like to think in modern times that these events can't happen," said Cherie
Burns, author of The Great Hurricane: 1938, published in July by Atlantic Monthly
said the 1938 hurricane was especially devastating because there was no warning,
whereas modern technology meant that forecasting was much easier so people could
be evacuated. Still,
Burns said, the impact of a major storm could be enormous.
US visa procedure to come into effect from October
DELHI, Sept 21: Overhauling the process of visa applications for travel to the
US, the American Embassy on Tuesday announced a new system under which fees will
have to be paid in advance and will be non-refundable and non-transferable.
system, which will take effect from October 3, is expected to reduce the time
visa applicants have to wait for an interview, a senior US Embassy official said.
US visa services throughout India will be provided by the Visa Facilitation Service
the new arrangement, the non-immigrant visa application fees of $100 (Rs 4,400)
will have to be paid before booking an appointment for an interview. The fees,
along with Rs 276 towards visa-related services, can be paid in 32 branches of
HDFC Bank in 12 cities across the country, the Counselor for Consular Affairs
Willian Bartlett told reporters in the capital.
present, the visa application fees can be paid at the time of interview. This
creates a long waiting period as "25 to 35 per cent of applicants do not
show up," Bartlett said. While the visa application fees will remain the
same, the expenditure for related services will decrease from the current Rs 441.
The fees will be non-refundable and cannot be transferred to any other applicant,
except with special permission from the embassy, Bartlett said.
will provide over-the-counter assistance to applicants at its existing offices
in Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Pune.
Four more offices will be opened soon in Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Vijayawada and
Bush hold crucial talks
By Deepak Arora
YORK, Sept 14: Within hours of his arrival in New York, Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh will meet President Bush, at the latter's request. The meeting is scheduled
to take place at 6.45 pm (4.15 am IST Wednesday), four hours after the Prime Minister's
arrival in New York.
This will be their second meeting in less than
two months, after they signed a historic deal in Washington during Dr Singh's
visit, under which the US offered to resume nuclear fuel supplies to Indian reactors.
The two leaders are likely to review progress on the agreement between the
two countries under which both sides are expected to take follow up steps in implementing
The meeting comes against the backdrop of demands of a quid
pro quo over the nuke deal. Democrats Tom Lantos and Brad Sherman insist on India
backing the US's Iran policy if it wanted to benefit from nuclear cooperation.
sources expect the Iran issue to come up during Bush's talks with Singh, particularly
in the context of the September 19 meeting of the IAEA.
The meeting is
likely to take place in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where Bush will be staying.
It will precede the traditional reception that the US President hosts for the
visiting leaders of the 181-member world body.
Prime Minister arrives in New York after a "very successful" two-day
visit to France. During his four-day stay in the Apple City, Dr Singh would be
addressing the 60th session of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
Besides holding talks with President Bush on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly
session, the Prime Minister would hold bilateral meetings with Pervez Musharraf
of Pakistan, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Hu Jintao of China, and Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa. The Prime Minister will also host a dinner for Musharraf.
UN plenary this year will focus on the implementation of the Millenium Development
Goals as also implementation of the outcomes of other relevant major UN conferences
It is expected to come out with an Outcome Document addressing
UN reforms and combating the current and emerging global challenges and threats.
The continuing fight against terrorism across the world, the issue of UN reform
and the developments in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East would also be the
focus of the UNGA session.
The prime minister's address to the UNGA is
expected to pitch a strong case for India's permanent membership of the UN Security
Council and its role in the international fight against terrorism.
Delhi regards reforms of the UN as a continuous process encompassing elements
such as revitalisation of the General Assembly, strengthening of the Economic
and Social Council, reform of the secretariat machinery and the expansion of the
Security Council and reform of its working methods.
India also places
high priority on the conclusion of a draft comprehensive convention on international
terrorism and looks forward to working together with other countries in resolving
the outstanding issues in the negotiations on the draft.
Singh was given a ceremonial farewell at Orly Airport before he boarded the special
Air India flight for New York, along with his delegation that included External
Affairs Minister Natwar Singh, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Foreign
Secretary Shyam Saran.
Prior to his departure, he met India Studies
scholars at his hotel. French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin hosted a dinner
in his honour on Monday night. Officials described Dr Singh's visit as 'highly
successful' and said it marked a giant step in strengthening and deepening the
Like the US and Britain, France also acknowledged
the need for full international civilian nuclear cooperation with India and promised
to work towards this objective with the 44-member Nuclear Suppliers Group and
other countries. They termed as significant, the decision of both countries to
firm up a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement and another framework agreement
on defence cooperation at an early date.
The officials said during talks
with President Jacques Chirac, Dr Singh had appreciated France's reaffirmation
of support for India's candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security
Council. The Indian side has expressed interest in France's proposals in the area
of development financing and for the reform of international governance of the
On the sidelines of the UNGA, the Prime Minister is also
participating in a function in which President Bush will launch the establishment
of UN Democracy Fund for which India has announced a substantial financial contribution
with the objective of assisting in globally strengthening the values of freedom,
pluralism and rule of law.
unveils criteria for UNSC seat
Sept 13: Raising hopes for India, the United States on Monday unveiled a set of
criteria, including economic size, population, track record on non-proliferation
and counter-terrorism, for countries aspiring a seat in expanded UN Security Council.
State Department came out with its vision of UNSC reforms saying "potential
members must be supremely well qualified, based on factors such as commitment
to democracy and human rights, economic size, population, military capacity, financial
contributions to the UN, and record on counter-terrorism and non-proliferation".
the overall "geographic balance" of the Council is a consideration,
effectiveness remains the benchmark for any reform, the State Department said.
"The United States is prepared to help lead the effort to strengthen and
reform the UN. What follows are key issues the US has identified as priorities,
as we work with the UN and other member states towards the goal of a strong, effective,
and accountable organization," it said.
Budget, and Administrative Reform Management reform is necessary to ensure that
Member States receive the greatest benefit from resources and that UN personnel
are held to the highest standard of ethical conduct and accountability.
UN member states should unequivocally outlaw acts of international terrorism,
and it is time to reach agreement on the Convention on International Terrorism
(CCIT). Adopting the CCIT would be an important achievement in the UN's global
effort to counter terrorism, the State Department said.
proposals relate to three themes: accountability and integrity, improved effectiveness,
and boosting the UN's relevance in the modern world," it said. The Secretary
General's authority and duty to waive immunity must be affirmed so that UN officials
suspected of committing criminal activities can be fully investigated, and guilty
individuals held accountable, it added.
also stressed the urgent need for establishing a 'Peace Building Commission'.
"The US strongly supports the Secretary General's concept of a Peace Building
Commission that would allow the UN to more effectively galvanise international
efforts to help countries recover after conflict."
US also supports the development goals in the Millennium Declaration. "President
(George W) Bush has made it clear that expanding the circle of freedom and prosperity
are fundamental interests of the United States," it said.
High-Level Event in September is an opportunity to renew our collective commitment
to eradicate poverty and promote sustained economic development."
tape threatens attacks on LA, Melbourne
Sept 12: A videotape televised on Sunday purportedly from a U.S.-member of al
Qaeda threatened Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia, on the fourth anniversary
of the September 11 attacks.
News said it had received the video in Pakistan. It reported the masked speaker
appears to be Adam Gadahn, from southern California, who threatens attacks on
the two cities, "Allah willing," and warns that the attackers will show
no compassion. "Yesterday, London and Madrid. Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne,"
he said. "We love peace, but peace on our terms," the speaker said.
was believed to have been the young American who appeared in another threatening
tape about year ago. ABC said the young man apparently converted to Islam at an
Orange County, California, mosque as a teen-ager. Los Angeles Police Chief William
Bratton told ABC News his city has "very robust counter terrorism" steps
in place and was already on a heightened state of alert because of next month's
Kin, US mourn victims of 9/11 attacks
YORK: America mourned the victims of September 11 on Sunday as the siblings of
the deceased read their loved ones' names to a weeping crowd at the site where
the World Trade Center once stood.
by one, the names of the dead echoed across the site where the twin towers collapsed
four years ago in a nightmarish cloud of dust and debris. The ceremony drew to
a close after four hours, the time it took to read the 2,749 names. Relatives
in the crowd bowed their heads and sobbed as speakers uttered brief, personal
messages to the brothers and sisters they lost, many voices breaking in sorrow.
and Dad ache for you every minute," Linda Giammona-Julian said to her brother,
Vincent Giammona, one of 343 firefighters killed. "We love you and we miss
you; til we meet again." "My big sister, my better half, life will never
be the same without you," Rolando Moreno said to Yvette Moreno, who worked
for a brokerage in the north tower.
the names were read, weeping mourners filed down a ramp to a reflecting memorial
pool at the floor of the site, which remains virtually empty four years after
the attack killed 2,749 people and tore a hole in the New York skyline. Families
filled the water with red, orange and yellow roses, some shaking as they inscribed
dedications on the wooden edge of the pool.
ceremony came as Hurricane Katrina left Americans once again struggling with a
catastrophe that caught the nation unprepared and left citizens dead and grieving.
Michael Bloomberg opened with words of condolence for those devastated by Katrina
and the terrorist bombings in the London Underground.
Americans suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, our deepest sympathies
go out to you this day," Bloomberg said.
New Orleans, New York firefighters helping with the relief effort gathered around
a makeshift memorial for their fallen comrades, accepting the gift of a bell from
a nearby church whose steeple was destroyed in the storm.
ground zero ceremony paused for moments of silence at 8:46 a.m., the time at which
a hijacked jetliner crashed into the north tower, at 9:03 a.m., the moment a second
plane struck the south tower, at 9:59 a.m., when the south tower fell and at 10:29
a.m., when the second tower collapsed.
relatives looked to the clear, bright morning sky as they spoke to the brothers
and sisters they lost. Several held up photos of their loved ones.
taking care of us from heaven but someday we'll be together," Iliani Flores
said, choking up and raising her face to the sky in memory of her younger brother,
a fire department paramedic.
of State Condoleezza Rice read a poem by Christina Rossetti after the second moment
of silence. Gov. George E. Pataki, former Mayor
Rudolph Giuliani and New Jersey Acting Gov. Richard Codey also addressed the crowd.
"We all stand together to help each other and to help those who need our
help in the future," Giuliani said. "We remember forever all the brothers
and sisters that we lost on that day."
Washington, President Bush marked the anniversary with his wife on the South Lawn,
and throngs of people marched in remembrance of the attacks and in tribute to
troops fighting overseas.
approves $51.8 b for hurricane relief
Sept 9: President Bush vowed to stand by evacuees displaced by Hurricane Katrina
"for the long haul" and warned lawmakers, who have already poured more
than $62 billion into the devastated Gulf Coast, that they'll need to spend even
rapidly and overwhelmingly voted Thursday to fulfill an urgent plea for $51.8
billion, adding to $10.5 billion that was approved last week for hurricane victims.
After signing the bill, Bush said, "We will continue to help people rebuild
their lives and rebuild the region."
action made $2,000 available to each family displaced by the storm. Bush vowed
to cut through red tape hampering victims from claiming federal medical, food
and housing benefits, as government officials worked to issue the $2,000 debit
cards to some evacuees and clear up confusion about claiming the money.
have much more work to do, but the people who have been hurt by this storm need
to know that the government is going to be with you for the long haul," Bush
said. He also designated next Friday as a national day of prayer and remembrance
for Katrina's victims.
for sustained federal help came amid heightening strain and signs that the road
to recovery will be long. Police prepared to evacuate residents reluctant to leave
their homes. Much of New Orleans remained flooded and those who stayed behind
lack power, water and food. Fires burned across the city.
President Dick Cheney toured the region and described "significant"
progress while acknowledging a lot more work needs to be done. It's too soon to
estimate the total cost of reconstruction from Katrina, he said. Environmental
Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson said the difficult decision to
pump heavily contaminated floodwaters into Lake Pontchartrain could pose new environmental
problems in future years. Describing the watery soup that has engulfed New Orleans,
Johnson said: "This water is very unsafe. It's a health hazard."
used national emergency authority to waive sections of a federal law that requires
payment of prevailing wages on government contracts, wages based on surveys that
take into account union and nonunion pay. The waiver applies to disaster areas
in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
immediately urged Bush to rescind the order. "Hurricane Katrina took away
their jobs, now President Bush will take away their wages when they find new jobs,"
said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Democrats also questioned the
wisdom of funneling $50 billion in recovery funds through the Federal Emergency
Management Agency with questions swirling about whether it acted too slowly to
help hurricane victims.
Orleans residents to go, political storm grows
ORLEANS, Sept 7: New Orleans police say they will step up efforts on Wednesday
to make Hurricane Katrina's survivors leave the dangerously unsanitary city, as
a political storm grows over disorganized relief efforts for a disaster with a
death toll believed to be in the thousands.
days of trying to change the minds of survivors who have refused to evacuate the
flooded metropolis since Katrina battered the U.S. Gulf Coast last week, authorities
began to get tough on Tuesday. City
Mayor Ray Nagin said floodwaters filthy with garbage, oil and putrefying bodies
will spread disease and that people must go. Police Superintendent P. Edwin Compass
said his men would evacuate residents even if it is against their will.
do everything it takes to make this city safe. These people don't understand they're
putting themselves in harm's way," police superintendent P. Edwin Compass
said. But die-hard inhabitants of a city mainly known for jazz and Mardi Gras
before becoming internationally famous as a disaster area of Third-World proportions
say they fear evacuation to parts of the country where they have no family or
means of support. About 10,000 people are believed to be holding out in the city.
tough new policy was beginning to be felt on Tuesday. Martha Smith-Aguillard,
72, complained about how she had been brought against her will to an evacuation
point alongside the city's wrecked convention center. "They came got me out
of my house and manhandled me into a truck and brought me here," she said.
foot had swollen up after she trod on a rusty nail and she said she needed a tetanus
shot. Nonetheless she refused to board a government helicopter. "They manhandled
me and paid no mind to what I said. I ain't never been in no helicopter in my
life, or no airplane, and I'm 72, I ain't starting now," she said.
not going to get that tetanus shot, so I guess I'll just have to die," she
said, adding, "We're all going to die and if I'm going to die, it's gonna
be right here in New Orleans.
Meanwhile, a storm grew over responsibility
for delays and disorganization in the relief response after the long-predicted
storm punctured barriers protecting New Orleans, built below sea level, from an
President George W. Bush said he would lead an investigation into the emergency
operation, but he resisted demands for an immediate probe.
be ample time for people to figure out what went right, and what went wrong. What
I'm interested (in) is helping save lives," he said.
Members of Bush's
Republican Party criticized relief efforts in the disaster, with a death toll
Nagin has said could reach 10,000.
our system did such a poor job when there was no enemy, how would the federal,
state and local governments have coped with a terrorist attack that provided no
advance warning and that was intent on causing as much death and destruction as
possible?" said Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who will lead an investigation
by the Senate Homeland Security Committee. She called the government's response
to Hurricane Katrina "woefully inadequate."
Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada backed calls for a commission, like the
one that examined the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, to study how the hurricane response
went wrong. Sen. Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican who lost his coastal home
in the storm, said Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown's
job is in jeopardy.
the days of delays, aid efforts have finally picked up. Water was being pumped
out of flooded streets after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used rocks and sandbags
to plug breached levees.
levels in some areas were said to have dropped a foot (30 cm). Nagin said 60 percent
of New Orleans was now under water, down from 80 percent last week. But it will
still take weeks to dry the city out, and rescue teams expect to find thousands
of bodies inside homes swallowed in the flood. Huge fires at buildings around
the city hampered rescue efforts on Tuesday.
teams sent dozens of boats and helicopters back into flooded neighborhoods to
rescue remaining survivors. Other helicopters dropped water onto building fires.
Few bodies have been recovered so far. Louisiana authorities are looking for a
burial ground with individual graves for those that cannot be identified.
Orleans' French Quarter, the renowned street-party venue, was a militarized zone.
There were roadblocks and patrols by 82nd Airborne Division troops as well as
by horse-mounted Texas sheriffs in cowboy hats. It was a show of force to deter
criminal gangs that ran wild, looting and shooting in the days after Katrina.
challenges ahead are huge. State officials said 140,000 to 160,000 homes were
flooded and will not be recovered, and it would take years to restore water service
to all of the city.
than a million people may have been driven from their homes -- many perhaps permanently
-- with hundreds of thousands taking refuge in shelters, hotels and homes across
the United States.
tape reveals nuclear defense for India
Aug 26: Top advisers to President John F. Kennedy warned him in 1963 that if he
pledged to defend India against any attack by China, the United States would likely
have to use nuclear weapons to enforce the commitment, according to a newly declassified
Ball, under secretary of state in the Democratic administration, also warned in
what today would be considered insensitive language that a nuclear response could
subject the United States to charges of racism following the two atomic bombings
of Japan that ended World War II.
there is a general appearance of a shift in strategy to the dependence on a nuclear
defense against the Chinese in the Far East, we are going to inject into this
whole world opinion the old bugaboo of being willing to use nuclear weapons against
Asians when we are talking about a different kind of strategy in Europe,"
Ball told the president during a May 9, 1963, national security meeting in the
White House. "This is going to create great problems with the Japanese -
with all the yellow people."
six-page summary of the top secret meeting was released in 1996, but a tape of
the conversation was made available only after it was subjected to a national
security review based on updated federal guidelines.
recording is the latest to be released by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library
and Museum, the official repository for Kennedy administration documents. At the
time of the 1963 tape, India was a fledgling democracy emerging from British colonial
rule. China, bordering in part on northern India, was a firmly entrenched Communist
country under the rule of Mao Zedong.
one exchange on the tape, Army Gen. Maxwell Taylor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, is heard telling Kennedy: "Mr. President, I had hoped before we
get too deeply in the India question, we take a broader look at where we are coming,
the attitude we're going to maintain versus Red China... This is just one spectacular
aspect of the overall problem of how to cope with Red China politically and militarily
in the next decade... I would hate to think that we would fight this on the ground
in a non-nuclear way."
when Kennedy begins discussing the idea of guaranteeing India's security, Defense
Secretary Robert McNamara steers the conversation back to China.
President," McNamara is heard saying, "I think General Taylor is implying
that before any substantial commitment to defend India against China is given,
we should recognize that in order to carry out that commitment against any substantial
Chinese attack, we would have to use nuclear weapons... Any large Chinese Communist
attack on any part of that area would require the use of nuclear weapons by the
U.S., and this is to be preferred over the introduction of large numbers of U.S.
British government, then headed by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, was reluctant
to offer a similar security guarantee for India, which it granted independence
in 1947. That vexed Kennedy, according to the tape, who asked Secretary of State
Dean Rusk why it was important that the United States seek validation from its
said: "I think we would be hard pressed to tell our own people why we are
doing this with India when even the British won't do it or the Australians won't
do it and the Canadians won't do it. We need to have those other flags flying
on these joint enterprises." Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, before
he could issue such a guarantee.
blacked out across Northeast in US
Aug 15: Thousands of people across the Northeast in the US had no electricity
for alarm clocks and air conditioners Monday following waves of violent thunderstorms.
gusting to 80 mph knocked trees onto power lines, lightning started fires and
torrential rain flooded streets in parts of eastern Pennsylvania, northern New
Jersey, southeastern New York, Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts on Sunday.
"It's really testing our crews. It's pretty extensive," Connecticut
Light & Power spokesman Mitch Gross said of the damage late Sunday.
South Shore was hit particularly hard, with severe flooding in Quincy, Braintree,
Weymouth and Brockton. "Half of the city is under water," Brockton police
dispatcher Darrelyn Jordan said Sunday night. "We have reports of water going
into basements all over the city. We've had people stuck in cars all over the
city. We even had to tow a police cruiser out of there with water flowing over
mayor of Stamford, Conn., said the damage was the worst since an ice storm in
1973. "We've never seen anything like it," said Dannel Malloy.
than 50,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts and more than 80,000 in New
Jersey lost power, though most had service restored by Monday morning. Thousands
more were blacked out in the New York City suburbs.
the storms brought at least a little relief from a stifling heat wave that had
driven temperatures above 100 degrees with high humidity. Before the storms, Consolidated
Edison in New York had record demand for power during the weekend, said spokesman
lands safely in California
AIR FORCE BASE (California), Aug 9: Discovery and its crew of seven glided safely
back to Earth on Tuesday, ending a riveting, at times agonizing, 14-day test of
space shuttle safety that was shadowed by the ghosts of Columbia.
swooped through the darkness of the Mojave Desert and landed on the Edwards Air
Force Base runway at 5:11 a.m. PDT, well before sunrise. It marked the conclusion
of the first shuttle re-entry since Columbia's tragic return. The detour to California
came after thunderstorms in Cape Canaveral, Florida, prevented the shuttle from
returning to its home base.
on a truly spectacular test flight," Mission Control said once Discovery
came to a stop. "Welcome home, friends." "We're happy to be back
and we congratulate the whole team for a job well done," Commander Eileen
inherently dangerous ride down through the atmosphere - more anxiety-ridden than
normal because of what happened to Columbia 2 1/2 years ago - appeared to go smoothly.
No problems were immediately reported by Mission Control. White House spokesman
Trent Duffy called it "a proud day for America."
Administrator Michael Griffin said he did not know when a space shuttle will fly
again, but that that won't happen until the problem is solved with the piece of
foam insulation that broke off during launch. "We're going to try as hard
as we can to get back in space this year," Griffin said. "But we're
not going to go until we're ready to go."
up a day by bad weather in Florida, the shuttle soared across the Pacific and
over Southern California, passing just north of Los Angeles on its way to Edwards.
NASA adjusted the flight path in order to skirt Los Angeles because of new public
safety considerations in the wake of the Columbia disaster, which rained debris
onto Texas and Louisiana.
previous landings at Edwards where thousands of people were on hand, the public
was not allowed to observe Discovery's landing because of tightened security on
the base after the September 11 attacks. It will be a week before Discovery leaves
California for the piggyback ride atop a modified jet back to Cape Canaveral,
NASA said. Discovery's journey, which began with a liftoff on July 26, spanned
219 orbits of Earth and 5.8 million miles.
delays Discovery landing until Tues
CENTER, Houston, Aug 8: After orbiting the Earth for 13 days, astronauts aboard
space shuttle Discovery were told to circle the planet for another day as bad
weather in Florida forced NASA to delay Monday's scheduled landing.
astronauts had powered up their spacecraft and were awaiting word from Mission
Control to fire their braking rockets and head for home when controllers announced
early Monday that low clouds over Cape Canaveral would postpone the landing.
been working this pretty hard as I'm sure you can imagine from our silence down
here," Mission Control radioed Discovery commander Eileen Collins. "We
just can't get comfortable with the stability of the situation for this particular
opportunity so we are going to officially wave you off for 24 hours."
the cloud cover still threatened after the second of two landing opportunities,
NASA officials rescheduled the landing for Tuesday, when they would consider two
alternative landing sites in addition to Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
ready for return to Earth
CENTER, Houston, Aug 8: After circling the Earth for 13 days, astronauts aboard
space shuttle Discovery powered up their spacecraft early Monday and awaited word
from Mission Control to fire their braking rockets and head for home.
the first shuttle to return to orbit since Columbia disintegrated while re-entering
the Earth's atmosphere 2 1/2 years ago, was set to land at Florida's Kennedy
Space Center before dawn. The accident was on many minds, but Flight Director
LeRoy Cain said his focus would be on bringing Discovery back safely.
a lot of things to think about," said Cain, who was also director for Columbia's
fatal flight on Feb. 1, 2003. "There's a lot of things to worry about, and
that's what I get paid to do is to worry - and I do it a lot." Shortly after
1 a.m. EDT, the astronauts closed Discovery's payload bay doors, a key step in
preparing the shuttle to land. Discovery's 13-day flight to the international
space station may be the last one for a long while.
grounded the shuttle fleet after a slab of insulating foam broke off Discovery's
external fuel tank during liftoff - the very thing that doomed Columbia and was
supposed to have been corrected. Good weather was forecast for what was to be
a relatively uncommon landing in darkness, but Mission Control was watching showers
near the Florida space center. Of the previous 111 shuttle touchdowns, only 19
occurred at nighttime.
Onboard computers would guide the shuttle's dangerous,
fiery descent until about five minutes before touchdown, when commander Eileen
Collins and pilot Jim Kelly will begin manually controlling the 100-ton glider.
Discovery's July 26 launch, the shuttle spent nine days hitched to the space station,
where astronauts resupplied the orbiting lab and removed broken equipment and
trash - one of the main goals of the mission. Discovery was the first shuttle
to visit the station since 2002.
During the trip, a pair of spacewalking astronauts
replaced a failed 660-pound gyroscope, which controls the orientation of the station,
and restored power to another. Sunday was the first time in three years that all
four of the station's gyroscopes ran simultaneously.
a third unprecedented spacewalk, astronaut Stephen Robinson went beneath Discovery's
belly to gently tug out two protruding thermal tile fillers. Engineers on the
ground worried the material could cause dangerous overheating during re-entry
and could lead to another Columbia-type catastrophe.
on the ground learned about the material jutting out from Discovery's fragile
thermal tile belly through intense inspections of the ship using cameras and lasers.
a result of Columbia, Discovery's crew inspected their ship for damage on five
different days during the mission and also tested repair techniques developed
since the tragedy.
was doomed by a 1.67-pound piece of foam that broke free from an external fuel
tank at launch. The foam pierced a hole in the ship's left wing and as the spacecraft
re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, searing gases melted the wing from the inside,
causing the ship to break apart. All seven astronauts aboard were killed.
officials' excitement over Discovery's return to space was dampened by video that
showed a nearly 1-pound chunk of foam - reminiscent of the one that doomed Columbia
- breaking free from Discovery's external tank shortly after liftoff. The foam
did not strike Discovery.
agency quickly grounded future flights, saying that more work must be done, despite
spending hundreds of millions of dollars to redesign the tank.
setback, NASA says Discovery's flight has taught important lessons and overall
been an "incredible" success.
shown that we've been able to return the vehicle back to safe operational flight,"
astronaut Andrew Thomas said Sunday aboard Discovery. "There's a lot of success
that goes with this mission that I think is going to be important for the long-term
future and well-being of this flight program."
undocks and heads for Earth
CENTER, Houston, Aug 7: With the most anxiety-ridden part of their flight still
to come, shuttle Discovery and its crew of seven set off for home Saturday after
leaving the international space station.
planned predawn re-entry will be the first by a space shuttle since Columbia's
catastrophic descent 2 1/2 years ago. The two space station residents wished the
Discovery crew a safe landing.
has really been a pleasure and, no, we are not glad to see you go. We would love
to have you stay a little longer," said station astronaut John Phillips.
"Have a good flight."
commander Eileen Collins stressed it was not "a final farewell," because
she planned on seeing the two station men back on Earth once their expedition
ends in two more months.
undocked, Discovery looped around the space station for the first full photographic
survey of the orbiting outpost since the last shuttle visit in late 2002, and
then sped away into the blackness. Discovery's astronauts awoke Saturday evening
for a day of storing away equipment for their upcoming return. They also planned
to take down an antenna, which they have used to transmit video images of the
departing astronauts reported they may have seen a piece of debris fly off the
space station Friday, but Mission Control assured them it was just a camera reflection.
Flight controllers, at least those who briefly ducked outdoors, got a triple treat.
The Hubble Space Telescope soared over Houston before sunrise, followed by Discovery
and then the space station, all three appearing as bright stars.
spent nine days at the station, one more than planned because of the uncertainty
over the timing of the next shuttle visit, so the astronauts could leave behind
surplus food, laptop computers and other supplies. NASA has suspended all future
shuttle flights until engineers figure out why a 1-pound chunk of foam insulation
ripped off Discovery's external fuel tank shortly after liftoff on July 26 - and
fix the problem. The foam, which could have caused Columbia-type damage, missed
shuttle safe to return to Earth: NASA
CANAVERAL, Aug 5: NASA has cleared space shuttle Discovery to return to Earth
next week, deciding against sending astronauts for another spacewalk to repair
a torn thermal blanket near a cockpit window.
Control informed the astronauts that shuttle managers had reached the decision
on Thursday during a meeting that a fourth space walk to deal with a puffed out
thermal blanket is unnecessary. "There is no issue," said Mission Control's
Julie Payette, speaking to the crew. The conclusion was reached after several
wind tunnel tests and other engineering experiments determined the blanket did
not pose a hazard during re-entry.
tunnel tests overnight at NASA's Ames Research Centre in California showed little
chance of any significant debris coming from the blanket at supersonic speeds.
Further engineering analysis showed any debris released from the blanket was unlikely
to hit structures on Discovery.
Mission Management Team decision put to rest the work that was being done to assess
the health of the thermal protection system. The tiles and reinforced carbon-carbon
on Discovery's wings and nose were cleared earlier for entry.
and International Space Station crew members on Thursday delivered a moving tribute
to the Columbia crew, including India-born Kalpana Chawla, and others, astronauts
who lost their lives in the human exploration of space.
Presents Credentials at UN
NATIONS, Aug 3: John Bolton presented his credentials Tuesday as U.S. ambassador
to the United Nations, a job which will challenge him to work with diplomats from
190 nations in a place he has called irrelevant.
to be here," the controversial diplomat told Secretary-General Kofi Annan
before handing over his letter of appointment five months after he was nominated
by President Bush. The two exchanged greetings and then held a brief private meeting.
Bolton entered and left U.N. headquarters smiling and waving, but staying uncharacteristically
56-year-old arms control expert with a reputation for brilliance, obstinacy and
speaking his mind arrived just weeks before a summit in which world leaders will
seek to adopt sweeping changes to enable the U.N. to meet the challenges of the
21st century. Bolton will be thrust into intense negotiations on contentious issues
ranging from Security Council reform and poverty alleviation to stepping up the
global fight against terrorism and improving U.N. management.
will be one of the key players because the United States is the largest contributor
and a great power in the Security Council," Germany's U.N. Ambassador Gunter
Pleuger said. "There are conflicting views on nearly every issue that is
on our plate for the reform, and the largest player in the U.N., of course, plays
a key role."
U.N. diplomats say Bolton will be judged on his performance here, not on his past,
which features sharp criticism of the world body and resistance to his appointment
as U.S. ambassador. "No one should make prejudgments on reputation,"
said Chile's U.N. Ambassador Heraldo Munoz. "One must do it on the merit
of the facts, when we see what happens here."
fact that Bolton failed twice to win Senate confirmation, forcing Bush to appoint
him Monday after Congress adjourned for the summer, was also unlikely to have
an impact, diplomats said. "He's a colleague like any other and will be received
as such," said Denmark's U.N. Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Loj, who noted that
in many countries no confirmation of ambassadors is required.
said Monday he looks forward to working with Bolton, in the same way that he works
with ambassadors from the other U.N. member states. The Bush administration says
a tough-talking Bolton is ideally suited to lead an effort to overhaul the U.N.
bureaucracy and make it more accountable. But Annan cautioned that negotiation
and compromise are keys to success at the United Nations.
think it is all right for one ambassador to come and push, but an ambassador always
has to remember that there are 190 others who will have to be convinced, or a
vast majority of them, for action to take place," Annan said. Bolton will
certainly face antagonism from some countries, including North Korea and Iran.
In 2003, he said North Korea was led by a "tyrannical dictator," while
he contends Iran is secretly planning to build nuclear weapons.
past comments about the United Nations and his intimation that the United States
can pull the strings have also not been forgotten, and will likely make some U.N.
1994, Bolton said it wouldn't make a "bit of difference" if the top
10 floors of the United Nations - which include the secretary-general's office
- vanished from the 39-story headquarters building. In the same speech, he said
there is "no such thing as the United Nations," just "an international
community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world,
and that is the United States."
is no stranger to the U.N.'s inner workings. He dealt with U.N. affairs in the
State Department from 1989-93, and in his latest post as the department's arms
control chief, he has had frequent contacts with the Chinese and Russians, and
will find several familiar faces in their delegations and elsewhere.
I'm looking forward to working with him," said Algeria's U.N. Ambassador
Abdallah Baali, whose two-year term on the Security Council ends in December.
"I worked with him several years ago, and I enjoyed working with him."
"He's a very smart guy who can be very constructive, who can be very creative.
So I think it will be very interesting to spend a few months with him in the Security
Council," Baali said.
deputy U.N. ambassador Konstantin Dolgov said Bolton was well known in Moscow
and "as far as I know he is a negotiator with quite some background."
Diplomats said Bolton's first test will come very quickly in whether he plays
a positive role in helping make the September summit a success.
just over six weeks left to produce a document that all 191 U.N. member states
support, negotiations are heating up on many issues: expanding the Security Council,
creating a new Peacebuilding Commission, revamping the U.N.'s human rights machinery,
defining terrorism, protecting civilians facing war crimes and genocide, and overhauling
the Secretariat. "I
think this is a time when it is make or break as far as the future relevance of
the United Nations is concerned," Pleuger said.
bypasses Senate, appoints Bolton as envoy to UN
Aug 2: Bypassing the Senate, President George Bush on Monday installed the controversial
John Bolton as the next US Ambassador to the United Nations in the face of an
all-out bid by the Democrats to block his appointment over the past five months.
Congress going into summer recess, Bush took advantage of his constitutional powers
to fill vacancies without Senate approval during the interregnum. The Bush move,
which had been widely expected, will enable Bolton to serve until January 2007,
when the next Congress is sworn in.
his action, Bush said: "This post is too important to leave vacant any longer,
especially during a war and a vital debate about UN reform... I'm sending Ambassador
Bolton to New York with my complete confidence."
of partisan delaying tactics by a handful of senators, John was unfairly denied
the up-or-down vote that he deserves," Bush said. The Democrats were quick
to attack the Bush move. Terming it an abuse of power, Senator Edward Kennedy
said: "It's a devious manoeuvre that evades the constitutional requirement
of Senate consent and only further darkens the cloud over Bolton's credibility
at the UN."
outspoken conservative, Bolton had become a red rag for the Democrats who held
up a vote on his nomination. Citing his past utterances on UN, they held him unsuitable
for the post. They also accused him of manipulating intelligence in support of
his "hawkish views" during his last key assignment in the State Department.
Senate Republicans hailed the Bush action, saying it effectively ends "the
(Democrats') obstruction". Reflecting their sentiments, Senator John Cornyn
issued a statement, arguing that Bolton was "exceptionally well qualified
to fill this role at this time". But at least one Republican, Senator George
Voinovich, said he was disappointed with the appointment.
himself said in a brief acceptance speech: "It will be a distinct privilege
to be an advocate for America's values and interests at the UN and, in the world
of the UN charter, to help maintain international peace and security."
grounds shuttle fleet amid concern over Discovery launch
CANAVERAL, July 28: NASA has said it was grounding the US space shuttle fleet
after a large piece of foam insulation broke off from the fuel tank of the Discovery
shuttle on liftoff. While the US space agency said the foam did not damage the
shuttle on Tuesday's launch, a spokesman said that future flights are on hold
until the problem is corrected.
we're ready we won't fly again," space shuttle programme manager Bill Parsons
said on Wednesday. NASA is concerned about the incident as it revives memories
of the Columbia shuttle tragedy in February 2003.
astronauts died when Columbia disintegrated upon reentering the Earth's atmosphere
due to damage caused when insulation foam broke off of the spacecraft's external
tank, causing a gash in Columbia's wing that allowed superheated gases to penetrate
shuttle programme was frozen for 19 months until Tuesday's launch while NASA undertook
programme changes to overcome the problems which led to the Columbia tragedy.
"The fact is it didn't cause any damage to the orbiter that we're aware of
at this time. It didn't impact the orbiter at all," Parsons said.
he said, future flights will remain on hold until the problem is solved. "This
is a test flight. Obviously we have some more work to do," said Parsons.
Discovery blasts into orbit
CANAVERAL, July 26: Discovery and seven astronauts blasted into orbit Tuesday
on America's first manned space shot since the 2003 Columbia disaster, ending
a painful, 2 1/2-year shutdown devoted to making the shuttle less risky and NASA
stake were not only the lives of the astronauts, but also America's pride in its
technological prowess, the fate of the U.S. space program and the future of space
exploration itself. "Our long wait may be over. So on behalf of the many
millions of people who believe so deeply in what we do, good luck, Godspeed -
and have a little fun up there," launch director Mike Leinbach told the astronauts
right before liftoff.
program employees and relatives of both the Discovery and Columbia crews watched
nervously as the shuttle rose from its pad at 10:39 a.m., climbed into a hazy
midsummer sky, pierced two decks of clouds, and headed out over the ocean in the
most scrutinized launch in NASA history. Two chase planes and more than 100 cameras
documented the ascent from every possible angle to capture any sign of flying
debris of the sort that doomed the last flight.
multitude of images will not be fully analyzed - and NASA will not give a final
verdict on whether Discovery is safe to return to Earth - until halfway through
the 12-day flight.
fuel-gauge problem that thwarted a launch attempt two weeks ago did not resurface
before liftoff, to NASA's great relief, and the countdown was remarkably smooth.
The space agency had been prepared to bend its safety rules to get the shuttle
was no immediate word from NASA on how the sensors performed during the climb
to orbit, but everything appeared to go well.
A camera mounted on Discovery's
giant orange external fuel tank provided an unprecedented view of the shuttle's
climb to orbit and the tank being jettisoned back toward Earth as designed.
is still the key terror hub: US report
July 22: Despite US efforts and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's crackdown
on militant Islamic organizations, Pakistan remains a key hub of terrorism, The
Wall Street Journal said Friday.
the reasons is the army's reluctance to go after militias that have helped Pakistan
defend its claim on Kashmir, which it disputes with India, South Asia analysts
and Western intelligence officials told the daily. Musharraf's
government also relies on support from political parties that are often sympathetic
to the aspirations of Islamic militants, the sources added.
Pakistan's tribal areas of Baluchistan and the Northwest Frontier Province, the
Taliban still train and recruit without government interference, they said.
Afghan military commanders complain that Pakistan is providing sanctuary and aid
to the militias they're fighting, they added. "Since 9/11, there are only
really two prominent places in the world where you can train for jihad: Iraq and
Pakistan," Christine Fair, a South Asia expert at the United States Institute
of Peace, a nonpartisan federal think tank in Washington, told the daily.
you're a young Muslim male looking for training, Pakistan is where you're likely
to find the opportunity, particularly if you have family and ethnic ties there,"
has strong base in Pakistan: PM
July 21: Osama bin Laden, high on the global wanted list, and the al Qaeda have
a strong base in Pakistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has indicated.
think there is no doubt about that," Singh said in an interview to CNN on
being asked whether in his opinion Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda still have a significant
base in Pakistan.
where, he said the al Qaeda elements were "quite active" in the tribal
belt of the Northwest Frontier province. And also, the whole infrastructure of
the madrassas in Pakistan, the belief that these can shift away from the teaching
of fundamentalism to more modern discipline, has not materialised, he said.
Prime Minister said jihadi elements have taken advantage of these religious seminaries
and schools in Pakistan and "they can take greater advantage of that phenomenon
in the years to come".
dismissed as "grossly overstated" the possibility of a nuclear exchange
between India and Pakistan. "Both our countries are nuclear powers. And,
as far as we are concerned, we have an impeccable record of not in any way contributing
to proliferation of these nuclear technologies," he said.
another question, Singh said he took pride in the fact that although India has
150 million Muslims in the country, "not one has been found to have joined
the ranks of al Qaeda or participated in the activities of the Taliban".
whether he trusts President Pervez Musharraf, Singh said "I do trust. But
I think there is an old saying of President (Ronald) Reagan. Trust and verify."
said he had held two important meetings with Musharraf. "He and I have both
have committed our two countries to make the peace process between Indian and
Prime Minister sought to remind Musharraf to honour promises made by him on stopping
terrorism. "I sincerely hope that the commitments that Pakistan has made,
that the territory of Pakistan will not be allowed to be used for planning terrorist
acts against India, that commitment is honoured in letter and in spirit".
Delhi has maintained that Pakistan has not done much in dismantling terrorist
infrastructure in that country. "And, we have some worries on that score
that the infrastructure of terror is largely intact in Pakistan," he said.
also made it clear that India was not against the US having good relations with
Pakistan. "A strong, stable and prosperous Pakistan is in our interests.
If--Pakistan admits the jihadi elements are under control, it is in our interests,"
he said. He
hoped the US influence could be exercised to ensure that the commitments that
Pakistan has made are kept. On
the issue of outsourcing, he said "it is not one-way street. Indian enterprises
benefit, but so do the US enterprises".
U.S. must make common cause against terrorism: Manmohan Singh
DC, July 20: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his address to the joint session
of the United States Congress, said India and the U.S. must make common cause
against terrorism whose rise was threatening open societies more than ever before.
very openness of the societies made them vulnerable, yet they had to deal effectively
with the threat without losing the openness that both valued and cherished. "India
and the United States have both suffered grievously from terrorism and we must
make common cause against it," he said.
who resorted to terrorism often clothed it in the garb of real or imaginary grievances.
He declared, "We must categorically affirm that no grievance can justify
resort to terror." Democracies provided legitimate means for expressing dissent
and the right to engage in political activity. "However, for this very reason,
they cannot afford to be soft on terror," he noted.
that the United States and India must work together in all possible forums, he
declared: "We cannot be selective in this area. We must fight terrorism wherever
it exists, because terrorism anywhere threatens democracy everywhere."
commitment to democracy and its successful working as an open and pluralistic
society was the running theme in his address that touched upon economic growth
and poverty, non-proliferation policy, growing need for energy including nuclear
energy and India-U.S. partnership in a wide range of areas.
that democratic societies with established institutions must help others nations
to strengthen their democratic values and institutions, Dr. Singh referred to
the U.S.-India Global Democracy Initiative agreed upon on Monday to help build
democratic capacities in all societies that sought such assistance. The capacities
related to electoral, parliamentary, judicial and human rights processes in emerging
democracies. Respect for cultural diversity, minority rights and gender equality
would be an important goal of the initiative.
India's approach to economic development, he noted that "there is no other
country of a billion people, with our tremendous cultural, linguistic and religious
diversity that has tried to modernise its society and transform its economy within
the framework of a functioning democracy."
economic policy changes initiated by Rajiv Gandhi and continued by successive
governments had liberated Indian enterprise from government control and opened
the economy to global flows of trade, capital and technology. "We are often
criticised for being too slow in making changes in policy, but democracy means
having to build a consensus in favour of change," he said.
the process of reform, doubts and fears often arose when people faced the impact
of change. Elected representatives had to assuage the doubts and calm the fears.
Many of the fears were exaggerated, but they still needed to be addressed. "India's
economic reforms must be seen in this light: they may appear slow, but I assure
you they are durable and irreversible," Dr. Singh said.
to the growing economic ties between India and the U.S., the Prime Minister pointed
out that the information technology revolution in India was built primarily on
U.S. computer-related technology and hardware. U.S. firms were leading the foreign
investment drive, and 400 out of the Fortune 500 companies were already in India.
Noting the American contribution at the start of the green revolution in India,
he said a second generation India-U.S. collaboration in agriculture would be launched
field of civilian nuclear energy was a vital area of cooperation between the two
countries. "As a consequence of our collective efforts, our relationship
in this sector is being transformed. President Bush and I arrived at an understanding
in finding ways and means to enable such cooperation," he told the American
Singh pointed out that India had adhered to every rule and canon in the area of
non-proliferation and its record was impeccable. India's neighbourhood had witnessed
"unchecked nuclear proliferation" which had directly affected the country's
interests. India as a responsible nuclear power was fully conscious of the immense
responsibilities that come with the possession of advanced technologies, both
civilian and strategic. "We have never been, and will never be, a source
of proliferation of sensitive technologies," he said.
to India and the U.S. as "natural partners in many respects," Dr. Singh
emphasised that it was a partnership based on principle as well as on pragmatism.
The objective of his visit was to lay the basis for transformed ties between the
two countries. He sought the support and understanding of the U.S. Congress so
that the full benefits of the India-U.S. partnership could be realised.