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Al Qaeda plotted cyanide attack on NY

NEW YORK, June 18: Terror network al Qaeda had planned to attack the New York City subway system by releasing poisonous gas similar to the one used in Nazi death camps shortly before the US-led strikes in Iraq, a media report said.

Quoting federal and local counter-terrorism officials, it said, the plot was, however, called off at the last minute by Al Qaeda's second top boss Ayman al-Zawahiri for reasons that remain unclear, a news magazine said. Details of the purported cyanide plot, it said are given in author Ron Suskind book The One Per cent Doctrine , to be published on June 20.

Newsweek magazine quoted a source familiar with the book's contents as saying that American authorities first learned about the cyanide plot from an informant inside Al Qaeda known as 'Ali.'

The initial intelligence about the subway plot was shared rapidly with local authorities in New York, including the New York Police Department, even though a public announcement was not made at the time, both a local and a federal official familiar with the plot were quoted as saying. Spokesmen for the NYPD and FBI, the report said, declined to comment.

The CIA had no immediate comment. Suskind reports that in the spring of 2003, officials learned, apparently via Ali, that the Al Qaeda team was 45 days away from launching an attack on the New York subway system with a lethal gas similar to the one used in Nazi death camps in the weeks ahead of the US-led attacks on Iraq.

According to the book, Ali fed Washington critical information about Al Qaeda between late 2002 and early 2005, until U.S. officials decided that it was too dangerous to the informant to continue to use his reporting.

A few weeks earlier, US intelligence had discovered that Al Qaeda had invented an improvised cyanide delivery system that the terrorists had dubbed mubtakkar, which Suskind says is an Arabic word for "inventive." The deadly device comprised two separate chambers for sodium cyanide and a stable source of hydrogen, such as hydrogen acid.

A seal between the two chambers could be broken by a remote trigger, producing the toxic gas for dispersal, the report said. The attack was never launched, Suskind says, because Zawahiri, the principal deputy to Osama bin Laden, decided to call it off. Zawahiri remains at large and is believed to be with bin Laden.

Suskind's book claims that the terror cell responsible for the aborted attack remains at large inside the US. One former and two current U.S. counter-terrorism officials, whom Newsweek did not identify, are reported to have confirmed the existence of intelligence information about the alleged cyanide plot and the existence of mubtakkar, the makeshift cyanide bomb.

Two of the officials said that the device was actually quite primitive put together with beer cans and soda bottles. Still, the officials say, models of the device built from Al Qaeda designs by U.S. authorities appeared to work.

The weapon was not regarded as the type of device that could cause large-scale, 9/11-style carnage, the officials told the magazine. But if set off in a crowded theater or arena was capable of killing hundreds of people.

Though the officials said US intelligence was still not certain why the attack had been cancelled, one former official was quoted as saying that some feared that Zawahiri had cancelled the subway attack because Al Qaeda was planning something even more deadly and spectacular inside the US, an event that, if planned, so far has not materialized.

Newsweek said U.S. officials declined to confirm although they did not deny Suskind's reporting about the American source inside al-Qaeda known as Ali. On one key point, however, current and former officials familiar with the threat disputed Suskind's account, the magazine said.

The officials said there was no reason to believe that the Al Qaeda team assigned to the attack was still on the loose somewhere inside the United States. In fact, Newsweek sources said, most officials believe the team had exited American borders. According to the source familiar with his book, Suskind also reports that Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah, who was seriously wounded during the U.S. operation that led to his capture in March 2002, was carefully nursed back to good health by doctors flown into Pakistan by the CIA.

Suskind quotes a CIA official as saying "he received the finest medical attention on the planet. "We got him in very good health so we could start to torture him." Current and former U.S. officials familiar with the Abu Zubaydah story said they could not confirm this quote, the magazine said.

The magazine said the source familiar with the book's content said the title 'The One Per cent Doctrine,' is based on a statement Vice President Dick Cheney made during a CIA briefing in November 2001, at which he reportedly said "if there's a one per cent chance" that Al Qaeda could acquire weapons of mass destruction, then the U.S. government needs "to treat it as a certainty." On the subject of WMD, Suskind says in the book that the Indonesian Al Qaeda leader known as Hambali, who was captured in 2003, had told interrogators that the terror network had succeeded in producing a virulent strain of anthrax before the September 11 attacks.

In the autumn of 2003, Suskind said, U.S. forces in Afghanistan found a sample of the deadly pathogen. Other potentially controversial allegations in Suskind's book include a report that the FBI set up an operations center with the company that owns Western Union.

The center was designed to provide Israel with real-time intelligence about the activities of terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza, some of whom subsequently may have been killed by Israeli security forces. Suskind also reports that during their interrogation of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, captured in the spring of 2003, CIA officials threatened to harm the alleged terror ring-leader's seven-year-old and nine-year-old children if he didn't cooperate. One former senior US intelligence official, however, said he had never heard such an allegation and was not sure it was true, Newsweek reported.

US and Iraqi forces to mount crackdown

BAGHDAD, June 14: Thousands of Iraqi and U.S.-led forces prepared to mount a major security crackdown in violent Baghdad on Wednesday, hours after a surprise visit by President George Bush to try to bolster Iraq's new government.

As Bush talked to Iraqi leaders in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone on Tuesday, a Web statement said al Qaeda's new leader in Iraq had vowed to avenge the killing of his predecessor Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a U.S. air strike last week. "The day of vengeance is near and your strong towers in the Green Zone will not protect you," said the statement, posted on an Internet site often used by Islamist militants and signed by the new leader Abu Hamza al-Muhajir.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have hailed the killing of Zarqawi, a Sunni Arab like most guerrillas in Iraq, as a major blow to al Qaeda militants seeking to topple the Shi'ite-led government, while cautioning it will not bring an early end to bloodshed. "There are going to be tough days ahead, and more sacrifice for Americans, as well as Iraqis," Bush told U.S. troops. "Our military will stay on the offensive. We will continue to hunt down people like Mr. Zarqawi, and bring them to justice," he said to applause.

At least 14 people were killed in a series of bombings in the northern city of Kirkuk on Tuesday. U.S. and Iraqi military commanders say they are focusing their new security campaign on the capital Baghdad, a city of seven million people and scene of daily carnage.

Iraqi officials said more than 40,000 Iraqi and U.S.-led forces backed by tanks and armored vehicles would take part in the mission, in what would be one of the biggest such operations since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. "It is an operation to step up pressure on al Qaeda in Baghdad," national security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie told state television.

The clampdown would include increased checkpoints and patrols, focusing on the dangerous, mostly Sunni Dora and Adhamiya districts. Insurgents draw support from Iraq's minority Sunni community, once dominant under Saddam Hussein.

Over 70 lawmakers at Capitol Hill reception

WASHINGTON, May 17: In a rare show of bi-partisan support for the US-India civil nuclear deal, more than 70 lawmakers from both houses of the US Congress attended a reception on the Capitol Hill hosted on May 17 by New York hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal.

The lawmakers interacted with chief guest Subhash Chandra, chairman of Zee TV, who along with Chatwal and Atlanta hotelier Mike Patel made a compelling case as to why the nuclear deal was important in the larger economic interests of both the countries and to furthering bilateral relations.

Chandra lobbied the lawmakers, saying the passing of the US-India civil nuclear deal was pivotal to sustain India's burgeoning economy and its special energy needs. He pointed out that if India continues to consume traditional energy resources at current pace, it could soon adversely impact international oil and energy prices and cripple the economies of many developing countries. Such a scenario could hit the US economy as well global economic growth and result in the US having to spend an additional $500 billion annually in sustaining higher energy costs. The US-India civil nuclear deal, he said, would also spawn many business opportunities in India for several US energy companies.

While the presence of large numbers of Senators and Representatives reaffirmed wide bi-partisan support for the civil nuclear deal in both houses of the Congress, the lobbying efforts are far from over. Some lawmakers said they were watching the developments closely and hoped whatever reservations they had about the deal would be dealt with positively during such interactions with business leaders from both countries and their colleagues on the Capitol.

The lawmakers made their points in support of the deal and largely acknowledged that the civil nuclear deal will help both India and the US prosper, sustaining the global economy its growth. They called on their colleagues, many of whom have traveled to India on several occasions before and after President Bush's historic India visit, to support the nuclear cooperation agreement.

Among the notable senators at the reception were: John Kerry (D-MA); Joe Biden (D-DE); Charles Schumer (D-NY); Hillary Clinton (D-NY); John Cornyn (R-TX) and Lamar Alexander (D-TN). The House of Representatives was represented, among others, by Joseph Crowley (D-NY); Joe Wilson (R-SC); Roy Blunt (R-MO); Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

Iran letter to Bush criticizes US Govt

NEW YORK, May 9: Iran's president declared in a letter to President Bush that democracy had failed worldwide and lamented "an ever-increasing global hatred" of the U.S. government. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice swiftly rejected the letter, saying it made no progress toward resolving questions about Tehran's suspect nuclear program.

"This letter is not the place that one would find an opening to engage on the nuclear issue or anything of the sort," Rice said. "It isn't addressing the issues that we're dealing with in a concrete way."

Rice's comments were the most detailed response from the United States to the letter, the first from an Iranian head of state to an American president since the 1979 hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
The letter from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made only an oblique reference to Iran's nuclear intentions. It asked why "any technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East region is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime."

Otherwise, it lambasted Bush for his handling of the Sept. 11 attacks, accused the media of spreading lies about the Iraq war and railed against the United States for its support of Israel. It questioned whether the world would be a different place if the money spent on Iraq had been spent to fight poverty. "Would not your administration's political and economic standing have been stronger?" the letter said. "And I am most sorry to say, would there have been an ever- increasing global hatred of the American government?

Iran's top nuclear negotiator called the surprise letter a new "diplomatic opening" between the two countries, but Rice said it failed to resolve the dispute over the Iranian nuclear program - the focus of intense U.N. Security Council debate this week. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush had been briefed on the letter, which the White House received Monday through the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.
"There's nothing in here that would suggest that we're on any different course than we were before we got the letter," Rice said.

Even though the letter hardly touched on nuclear issues, officials said it appeared timed with a push by the United States, Britain, France and Germany for a Security Council vote to restrain the Islamic regime's nuclear ambitions. Both China and Russia are opposed to leveling sanctions against Iran and the letter could provide them support.

Rice, who said she expected no quick action on sanctions, met privately for more than two hours Monday night on Iran with foreign ministers from the other permanent members of the council. Her spokesman gave no details of the substance of the discussions, but described the talks as strategic and not focused on specific steps.

The United States is concerned that Iran's program is a cover for making nuclear weapons, while Iran contends it has the right to process uranium as fuel in nuclear reactors to generate electricity. In the letter, Ahmadinejad says that people around the world have lost faith in international institutions and questions whether the Bush administration has covered up some evidence surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks.

NASA, ISRO sign up for historic moon mission

BANGALORE, May 9: The space agencies of India and the US on Tuesday signed a historic agreement to send two American advanced scientific instruments on board Chandrayaan-I, India's first moon mission, in 2008.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) administrator Michael Griffin and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairperson G. Madhavan Nair signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the Indian space agency's satellite application centre.

The two NASA instruments, to be part of the Chandrayaan payloads, are mini synthetic aperture radar (Mini SAR) and moon mineralogy mapper (M3). Mini SAR was developed by the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University and funded by NASA, while M3 was jointly built by Brown University and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA.

'The objective of SAR is to detect water in the permanently shadowed areas of lunar polar regions, while M3 will map the minerals on the lunar surface and study its characterisation,' Nair told reporters.

Chandrayaan will be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota off the Andhra coast, using an advanced polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV), into a 240-24,000 km earth orbit and placed subsequently in a 100-km polar orbit around the moon, with its own propulsion system.

Terming the agreement as one of the most important milestones between ISRO and NASA, Nair said the inclusion of the US instruments added fillip to Indo-US cooperation in space, which dates back to the beginning of the Indian space programme.

'We look forward to several more such cooperative missions as we have always believed in achieving more together. With significant advancements in astronautics, it is advantageous to share each other's capabilities and the resulting scientific outputs,' Nair said.

Besides the NASA payload, Chandrayaan will carry four instruments of the European Space Agency (ESA) and one from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. In addition, the lunar spacecraft will have Indian payloads to conduct various experiments while orbiting the moon for over two years. In all, Chandrayaan will carry a total of 12 instruments, including five from ISRO, four from ESA, two from NASA and one from Bulgaria.

'NASA is honoured to be a participant in the Indian lunar mission, being conducted about 40 years after humans saw the moon up close for the first time. It will greatly advance the understanding of our closest neighbour in space and represents an impressive technical achievement,' Griffin said in his remarks.

Besides mapping the lunar surface, Chandrayaan will investigate its surface properties to advance knowledge about the moon's history and evolution and facilitate future exploration decisions by characterising the content of lunar soil.

'Apart from expanding the scientific knowledge of the Indian space scientists about moon, the two-year mission will upgrade India's technological capability and provide opportunities for planetary research for the younger generation,' Griffin pointed out.

The Indian payloads include a terrain mapping camera (TMC), a hyper spectral imager (HySI), a high-energy X-ray spectrometer (HEX), a lunar laser ranging instrument (LLRI) and a moon impact probe (MIP).

The ESA and Bulgarian payloads will be an imaging X-ray spectrometer (CIXS) from Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (UK), near infra-red spectrometer (SIR-2) from Max Planck Institute (Germany), sub keV atom reflecting analyser (SARA0 from the Swedish Institute of Space Physics and a radiation dose monitor (RANDOM) from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Rice says US could pressure Iran outside UN

WASHINGTON, May 1: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned on Sunday the United States might take steps outside the U.N. Security Council to pressure Iran to stop its nuclear program.

Rice, who appeared on several Sunday television talk shows, said Washington still had a number of diplomatic steps it could take through the U.N. Security Council against Iran. However, if the Council did not act quickly enough, Washington and its allies would not wait.

"I absolutely believe that we have a lot of diplomatic arrows in our quiver at the Security Council and also like-minded states that would be able and willing to look at additional measures if the Security Council does not move quickly enough," Rice said on the CBS show Face the Nation.

Rice accused Iran of "playing games" with the international community, saying Tehran had had plenty of time to comply with earlier demands to halt its program. The United States contends that Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran says its program is purely to meet civil energy needs.

The United States, Britain and France want to introduce a new Security Council resolution which would require Tehran to abandon uranium enrichment. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported last week that Tehran had defied an earlier Security Council deadline to halt its enrichment program.

The new resolution would invoke Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, making compliance mandatory and punishable by sanctions if violated. However, the United States still has to overcome veto threats by Russia and China to get such a resolution through the Council.

Iran renewed its defiant stance on Sunday, vowing to ignore any such resolution and to strike back if attacked. Earlier, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, had suggested there could be still be room to consider a proposal to move Iran's enrichment work to Russia.

Despite its defiance, Rice said Iran was trying to avoid international isolation. She disputed an assessment by her predecessor as secretary of state, Colin Powell, who said in an interview in London that Iran appeared willing to accept sanctions to continue its atomic program. "When the Iranians say things like, 'We don't care if there are sanctions,' then I ask myself, then why are they working so hard to stay out of the Security Council?" Rice said on CBS.

Deputy Oil Minister Mohammad Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian on Sunday said there was little risk of sanctions on Iran's energy sector while oil prices flirt with record highs. But Rice said no one was considering oil or gas sanctions, adding that there were other options.

Iran crisis: Rice confident of diplomatic solution

CHICAGO, April 20: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has expressed confidence that a diplomatic solution will be found to the Iranian nuclear crisis, but warned that military options remain on the table and that Washington will not necessarily wait for an international consensus.

"I believe we can make the diplomacy work," Rice said on Wednesday. "And long before we get to the point that we have to contemplate diplomacy failing I believe we have options at our disposal."

Rice said the United States is working to unify the international community in its goal of persuade the Iranians to cease enriching uranium which could be used in a nuclear bomb. She said the UN Security Council had a number of diplomatic options at its disposal, but warned that the United States could chose to act alone or with a coalition if the crisis is not resolved through the United Nations.

"The right to self-defence does not necessarily require a UN Security Council resolution," Rice said, noting that the United States went to war in the Balkans without one. "It is important to note that the president doesn't take any options off the table," Rice said. "We are prepared to use measures at our disposal- political, economic or others to persuade Iran."

Rice said that Iran is not Iraq, and that "the remedies before us are quite robust." The UN Security Council has given Iran until April 28 to halt uranium enrichment or face unspecified consequences.

Rice Calls for 'Strong Steps' Against Iran

WASHINGTON, April 12: Denouncing Iran's successful enrichment of uranium as unacceptable to the international community, Secretary of State Conodoleezza Rice said Wednesday the UN Security Council must consider "strong steps" to induce Tehran to change course.

Rice also telephoned Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to ask him to reinforce demands that Iran comply with its nonproliferation requirements when he holds talks in Tehran on Friday.

While Rice took a strong line, she did not call for an emergency meeting of the Council, saying it should consider action after receiving an IAEA report by April 28. She did not elaborate on what measures the United States would support, but economic and political sanctions are under consideration.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announcing on Tuesday that his country had crossed the line into enrichment, said Iran's objectives were peaceful. Iran is said by many analysts to lack the equipment, including a nuclear reactor, to make nuclear weapons. But Rice brushed aside suggestions Iran was far from the goal the United States and its allies suspect - nuclear weaponry.

She said the world believes Iran has the capacity and the technology that lead to nuclear weapons. "The Security Counil will need to take into consideration this move by Iran," she said. "It will be time when it reconvenes on this case for strong steps to make certain that we maintrain the credibility of the itnernational community."

"This is not a question of Iran's right to civil nuclear power," she said while greeting President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Moasogo of Equatorial Guinea. "This is a question of, ... the world does not believe that Iran should have the capability and the tehnology that could lead to a nuclear weapon." White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday, "Defiant statements and actions only further isolate the regime from the rest of the world."

"This is a regime that needs to be building confidence with the international community," McClellan said. "Instead, they're moving in the wrong direction. This is a regime that has a long history of hiding its nuclear activities from the international community, and refusing to comply with its international obligations."

At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said he would not engage in "fantasy land" speculation about a possible U.S. attack on Iran, though he said the administration was concerned about Tehran's nuclear ambitions. "The United States of America is on a diplomatic track," Rumsfeld said.

India rejects US demand to define N-deterrent

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, April 8: India has categorically rejecting US suggestion to define its credible minimum nuclear deterrent and added that it had no obligation to do so.

A spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs said "credible minimum deterrent is a self-explanatory term that requires no further elucidation. It reflects our response to a dynamic and changing security environment. We note that at a recent US Congressional hearing, US Secretary of State Rice herself noted that the Indian strategic programme is more a factor of the military and political factors which India confronts."

He was responding to a speech by the visiting US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, Mr Richard Boucher, who is quoted as stating that "we have pushed for India to further define its 'minimum credible deterrent' in the nuclear field, contending that it was "absolutely necessary" for decreasing tensions in Asia".

In an interview to a private news channel, the Foreign Secretary, Mr Shyam Saram, also said "What our credible minimum deterrent would be is really for India to decide." Mr Saran said "Certainly there is no responsibility on part of India to declare what its minimum deterrent is," and added New Delhi had, on various occasions pointed out this to the US.

Mr Saran, who met Mr Boucher on Friday, said the US official had not raised this issue with him. "We have a strategic dialogue with the US where we have agreed to exchange views on our respective nuclear doctrines as well as issues like missile defence," he said.

On the Bush Administration's contention that it was pushing India and Pakistan for moratorium on missile tests, he said New Delhi's position was that it would work with Washington in the conference on disarmament in Geneva on a multilateral Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).

This has been under discussion in Geneva for several years and India has been an active participant in these negotiations, said the Foreign Secretary, adding "we are prepared to take part in those negotiations." He, however, made it clear that the FMCT that India is talking about is a multilateral instrument.

The Foreign Secretary also said that the Indo-US deal was "delicately balanced" and made it clear that "substantial changes" or "revisions" to it were unacceptable to India and hoped the new US legislation to implement it would be framed within already agreed parameters.

He debunked apprehensions of the deal damaging credibility of India's nuclear deterrent and said "we have preserved all our basic positions". He said "I see no reason why there should be anxieties that we are always vulnerable to pressure."

"No, absolutely not. 100 per cent no," he shot back on whether India's defence security has been sacrificed in finalising the agreement on civilian nuclear energy co-operation. Mr Saran, who recently returned after talks with the Bush Administration on implementation of the agreement, said "it is very important to remember that whatever we have agreed upon is the result of very, very difficult, very tough negotiations.

"What we have at this point of time is an extremely carefully, delicately balanced understanding. Whatever legislation that is passed must remain within those parameters". The Foreign Secretary, who met several American lawmakers in Washington, said he expressed the "strong hope" that "revisions will not be made" and there will be "no substantial changes".

Contending that India has done "rather well" in the negotiations, he said "we have preserved all our basic positions. We have preserved our basic interests". "Why are we always so worried about screws being tightened on us....as if someone can come and turn the screws on us and we just lie back and be screwed," he said.

On concerns voiced by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who demanded that India should try to get an all time waiver from Washington as was the case with China, he said there was a "factual problem" in this contention. He said while China is a nuclear weapon state under the NPT this is not so in India's case.

When asked how India would respond if China and Pakistan carried out nuclear tests, Mr Saran said under the agreement, India's decision on a moratorium on further testing remains but there was no mention of any "permanent ban".

He said India had taken a very conscious decision of undertaking nuclear tests in 1998 on the ground that it was important to take the step despite knowing what would happen (like imposition of sanctions). "In the future, it will be exactly the same".

Denying that he had received a "chilly reception" from Congressmen and Senators during his Washington trip, Saran said all of them agreed that the nuclear deal was an important element of the emerging Indo-US relations. The American lawmakers said they were questions that needed to be answered.

Rice pitches for Indo-US nuclear deal before Congress

WASHINGTON, April 6: Pitching vigorously for US Congress support for the nuclear deal with India, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it strengthens international security and non-proliferation regimes and advances America's business opportunities.

Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee she said the past non-proliferation policies of the US did not achieve the goals as they resulted in a more isolated India.

"This civilian energy initiative will not only advance international security but also increased energy security and increased business opportunities for America leading to more direct and indirect jobs in this country. "But all these advantages will have to be seen in the larger context of the elevation of India-United States relationship which is now a strategic partnership," Rice maintained appearing before the panel chaired by Republican Senator Richard Lugar.

She stressed that the civilian nuclear energy agreement with India is a strategic achievement that is "good for America, good for India and good for the international community. "Continued isolation of our strategic partner is the wrong policy choice", she said in her presentation on the deal reached between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W Bush last July in Washington and further fine-tuned last month in New Delhi.

The top administration official came before the senate panel to strongly endorse the legislation currently in Congress seeking changes to the 1954 Atomic Energy Act that will formalize the bilateral accord.

Senator Edward Kennedy coming to India

NEW DELHI, April 5: At least a dozen US policymakers and legislators, including Senator Edward Kennedy, will be coming to India in the next two weeks to underscore the point that there is more to the India-US relations than just nuclear power.

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher kicks off a busy month for India-US bonhomie with a three-day visit starting April 6. He will discuss an entire gamut of bilateral relations, including the nuclear deal, and regional issues with S. Jaishankar, joint ministry (Americas) in the external affairs ministry.

Soon after Boucher leaves India, Chuck Hagel, a Republican senator from Nebraska, will be here April 9 and also visit Mumbai. Hagel, a member of many key senate committees, including the one on near eastern and south Asian Affairs, could be influential in shaping Congressional opinion on the nuclear deal.

A eight-member delegation from the House of Representatives headed by House Speaker Dennis Hastert will come here around the same time and also visit Agra and Jaipur. This delegation includes legislators representing an eclectic set of interests, including business, science and agriculture and their opinion will matter in influencing the future course of the India-US ties.

Another Congressional delegation led by Michael Enzi, a Republican senator from Wyoming and Senator Edward Kennedy, a prominent Democrat from Massachusetts, will be coming to India on a week-long visit starting April 11. US education secretary Margaret Spellings will also be accompanying the delegation. Issues like education and cooperation in health areas, including the fight against AIDS, are high on the agenda of this delegation, which will also go to Bangalore and Agra.

Although all spheres of India-US relations ranging from agriculture and public health to science, high technology and energy security will be discussed, the visit of Congressmen in such large numbers will come in handy for New Delhi's efforts to mobilize widest possible support for the nuclear deal, which has yet to get an enthusiastic response on Capitol Hill.

The visit of Kennedy, a respected figure of the liberal, Democrat establishment, will be especially useful to gain an insight into the Democrats' objections to the deal. A good report card by Kennedy can help win the support of more Democrats when the draft legislation on the nuclear deal is debated in the Congress.

Bolten to replace Card as Chief of Staff

WASHINGTON. March 29: White House chief of staff Andy Card has resigned and will be replaced by budget director Joshua Bolten, President Bush announced Tuesday amid growing calls for a White House shakeup and Republican concern about Bush's tumbling poll ratings.

Bush announced the changes in an nationally broadcast appearance in the Oval Office. "I have relied on Andy's wise counsel, his calm in crisis, his absolute integrity and his tireless commitment to public service," Bush said. "The next three years will demand much of those who serve our country. We have a global war to fight and win."

Card, 58, stood stoically with his hands by his sides as Bush lauded his years of service through the Sept. 11 attacks, war and legislative and economic challenges. Gripping the podium, Card said in his farewell: "You're a good man, Mr. President." Card's eyes were watery. Card said he looks forward to just being Bush's friend. Bush then gave him five quick slaps on the back and the two walked out of the Oval Office together.

The president called Bolten, 51, a man with broad experience, both on Wall Street and in Washington, including the last three years as director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Alarmed by Bush's declining approval ratings and unhappiness about the war in
Iraq, Republicans have been urging the president to bring in new advisers with fresh ideas and energy. Bolten has been with Bush since his first campaign for the White House. There was no immediate indication of other changes afoot.

Indian Americans appreciate Jindal's $1 mn donation

HOUSTON: Indian Americans have welcomed business conglomerate Jindal Group's one million US dollar donation to an NRI community centre in Houston saying that the gesture could initiate a new trend of economic synergy in the country.

The philanthropic gesture, first of its kind from a major Indian business house, is believed by many NRIs to kickstart a new era of community service in the United States.

"The donation... may rope in more business houses to get engaged in such services across," India House board president and a key player behind the President George W Bush's India trip, Durga Agarwal said.

The USD 20 million community center promoted Indian culture besides providing social, health care and referral services for everyone - regardless of their ethnicity.

Giant immigration bill seeks to double H1-B visas

WASHINGTON, March 14: US Congress is likely to take up a giant immigration bill this month, which recommends nearly doubling the number of H-1B skilled-worker temporary visas to 115,000.

The measures include not just increasing the number of visas but also add an option of raising the cap 20 per cent more each year. If passed, the provisions buried in the Senate's giant immigration bill, would open the country's doors to highly skilled immigrants for science, math, technology and engineering jobs.

The provisions were sought by Silicon Valley tech companies and enjoy significant bipartisan support amid concern that the United States might lose its lead in technology. They would broaden avenues to legal immigration for foreign tech workers and would put those with advanced degrees on an automatic path to permanent residence should they want it, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

H-1B visas were highly controversial in the Bay Area when their numbers reached a peak of 195,000 in 2003. The new skilled immigration measures are part of a controversial 300-page bill by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa, now being rewritten by the committee with the goal of reaching the Senate floor by the end of the month.

Other provisions include a new F-4 visa category for students pursuing advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. These students would be granted permanent residence if they find a job in their field and pay a $1,000 fee toward scholarships and training of US workers.

Congress had increased the visas during the late 1990s dot-com boom, when Silicon Valley complained of tech-worker shortages, although native-born engineers complained that their wages were undermined by cheap labour from India and China.

With the tech crash and the revelation that some of the September 11, 2001, hijackers had entered the country on student visas, the political climate for foreign workers darkened, and Congress quietly allowed the number of H-1B visas to plummet back to 65,000 a year.

The cap was reached in August -- in effect turning off the tap of the visas for 14 months. A special exemption of 20,000 visas for workers with advanced degrees was reached in January.

"We're in a bad crunch right now," said Laura Reiff, head of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, a business umbrella group backing more immigration. "We are totally jammed on immigrant visas, the green card category, and totally jammed on H-1B visas. You can't bring in tech workers right now."

The provisions for highly skilled workers enjoy support in both parties in the Senate and in the Bush administration after a raft of high-profile studies have warned that the United States is not producing enough math and science students and is in danger of losing its global edge in innovation to India and China. However, opponents of broadening immigration for skilled workers said doing so would defeat efforts to get more Americans interested in science, math, engineering and other technological fields.

No problem with India-Iran gas pipeline: Bush

ISLAMABAD, March 4: President George W Bush on Saturday said US has no problem with India-Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline but with Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

"Our beef with Iran is not the pipeline. Our beef with Iran is the fact that they want to develop nuclear weapons. I believe a nuclear weapon in the hands of the Iranians would be very dangerous for all of us. It would endanger world peace," he told a joint press conference here.

"So we are working very hard to convince the Iranians to get rid of their nuclear ambitions," Bush, standing by the side of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, said. Pakistan has got the energy needs to meet the growing economy. He (Musharraf) explained the natural gas situation in the country. We understand you need to get natural gas, that is fine," he said.

Washington has been unwilling to share nuclear technology with Pakistan in the backdrop of the clandestine export of nuclear technology by its top nuclear scientist AQ Khan. Bush said US Secretary of Energy Sam Barmier would visit Pakistan separately to discuss Pakistan's needs in this regard. It is expected that Barmier would look for assisting Pakistan in exploring natural gas resources within Pakistan. Musharraf recently said that US should provide alternative sources of energy to Pakistan if Islamabad has to give up the pipeline.

We'll win war on terror together: Bush

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, March 3: The US President, Mr George Bush, has said that America and India were allies in the war against terror. Addressing the people of India from the ramparts of Purana Quila, a historic fort, here on Friday, Mr Bush said both India and America espouse and love freedom and "we will fight together to keep it alive in the world."

Sending a clear message to the world, he said "we will win this war against terror together." And he added "they target democracies because they think we are weak and they think we can be frightened into retreat. The terrorists have misunderstood our countries. America and India love our freedom and we will fight to keep it.

Mr Bush said the two nations were cooperating closely on critical areas like bio terrorism and airport security and cyber security. "Our military cooperation is stronger than ever before. America and India are in this war together, and we will win this war together." In the long run, the President said the United States and India understand that winning the war on terror requires changing the conditions that give rise to terror.

"History shows us the way. From the East to West, we've seen that only one force is powerful enough to replace hatred with hope, and that is the force of human freedom. Free societies do not harbor terrorists or breed resentment. Free societies respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors. Free societies are peaceful societies."

As your first Prime Minister, Prime Minister Nehru, once said: "Evil flourishes far more in the shadows than in the light of day." Together, Mr Bush said "America and India will bring the light of freedom to the darkest corners of our Earth."

Mr Bush, who began has address stating "Namaste", said India in the 21st century is a natural partner of the United States because we are brothers in the cause of human liberty. "The United States and India, separated by half the globe, are closer than ever before, and the partnership between our free nations has the power to transform the world."

Applauding newly warming US-India relations, Mr Bush said Americans should not respond to this nation's exploding economy by closing itself off to global trade. "The United States will not give into the protectionists and lose these opportunities," he said. "For the sake of workers in both our countries, America will trade with confidence."

Noting that people lose jobs as a result of globalisation, he said, "losing job is painful. My government is helping Americans who have lost their jobs get new skills for new careers. And we're helping to create millions of new jobs in both our countries by embracing the opportunities of a global economy."

Mr Bush also asked India to continue to lift its caps on foreign investment, to make its rules and regulations more transparent, and to continue to lower its tariffs and open its markets to American agricultural products, industrial goods and services.

Highlighting India's importance in terms of business, he said the country had a 300 million middle class market, more than the entire population of the US. "If we make a product they want at a reasonable price, it becomes viable. It will have a market in India," he said, adding the people of America should maintain their confidence about their future.

Referring to the Indo-US civil nuclear deal clinched on Thursday, Mr Bush said with this the two countries had "put behind" themselves the Cold War and decided to "move forward as strategic partners". India has been an "excellent partner in non-proliferation" over the past decades, he said, adding he would tell the American people that it was "an important agreement to help deal with proliferation issues".

Pointing out that nuclear energy was a clean fuel which did not affect the environment; Bush said the deal would be helpful to India to meet its electricity needs in a way that doesn't pollute the environment.

In his half-an-hour address, the US President touched upon various issues, including global trade and the need for ensuring the success of the Doha round of the WTO negotiations.
He said the world also needed India's leadership to open up global markets. "The Doha Round of trade talks at the World Trade Organization provides the greatest opportunity to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and boost economic growth in both our countries."

He said the United States has been pushing for an ambitious agreement on services and manufacturing and agriculture. "Prime Minister Singh and I share the goal of completing the Doha Round by the end of this year, and we'll work together to achieve this goal. By completing Doha we will help build a world that lives in liberty, and trades in freedom, and grows in prosperity, and America and India will lead the way."

To encourage more travel and more contact between our people, the President said the US intended to open a new consulate in Hyderabad. "We'll also build a new state-of-the-art American Center here in Delhi. By taking these steps we'll continue to strengthen the ties between our two countries, our two democracies."

India, US clinch 'historic' N-deal

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, March 2: Path breaking, historic, successful. This is how one can describe US President George W Bush's visit to India in which the two countries concluded a momentous and historic civil nuclear agreement that would have a "decisive and positive influence" on the international global order.

The agreement allows for India to receive long-withheld nuclear technology and fuel in return for New Delhi presenting a "mutually satisfactory" plan to separate its civilian and nuclear programmes that will bring the former under international safeguards.

Addressing a joint press conference with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, the US President, Mr George Bush, said India and the United States have "concluded a historic agreement on nuclear power. It is not an easy job for the Prime Minister to achieve this agreement. I understand, it is not easy for the American President to achieve the agreement."

But, he added, "It is a necessary agreement as long as it helps both our peoples. I applaud your courage and your leadership and looking forward to change decades of law that will enable us to move forward on this important initiative."

According to sources, 14 reactors would be put in the civilian category that would bring them under permanent safeguards while eight would remain in the military category. India prototype fast breeder reactor that runs on indigenously found thorium would remain out of the safeguard purview, something that the Prime Minister had promised to parliament. The seeds for the civil nuclear agreement were sown when Dr Manmohan Singh visited Washington last July.

The civil nuclear agreement was announced after the Prime Minister and the visiting President held one to one talks followed by delegation level talks at the Hyderabad House. A beaming Dr Singh told a large gathering of newsmen at Hyderabad House "we are particularly pleased that we have reached an understanding on the civil nuclear agreement."

He said India had "successfully completed" the separation plan of civil and nuclear programmes and it was for the US now to reciprocate and get the deal through Congress and change international laws to allow for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to come up with "India-specific safeguards."

Besides the US Congress, President Bush has also assured India that it would get the deal through with its friends and allies in the nuclear supplier group (NSG). He paid warm tributes to Bush for his vision and the role he has played in the "transformation" of India-US ties. "There are no limits to Indo-US partnership," Dr Singh said, as Bush nodded approvingly.

Mr Bush, who called his trip "historic" and "very successful" said "I am looking forward to working with the US congress to change their laws that will enable us to move forward on this important initiative."

Replying to a question why the US should make an exception in the case of India, a non-signatory to the NPT, and what its consequences would be for the international nuclear regime, Mr Bush said: "what this agreement says is that things change and times change. Some people don't want to change with time. It's in our interest. India has shown the way forward," he said.

A joint statement issued after the press conference said the two leaders expressed satisfaction with the "great progress" both countries have made "in advancing our strategic partnership to meet the global challenges of the 21st century".

The statement said "the successful transformation of the US-India relationship will have a decisive and positive influence on the future international system as it evolves in the new century."

Top Indian and American officials, including Indian National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and his American counterpart Stephen Hadley, met at the Prime Minister's Office till well past midnight in a bid to iron out remaining differences over the deal that mainly revolved around international safeguards and future facilities.

India has made it clear that permanent safeguards would be linked to permanent supplies. In other words, if there were any disruption in supplies then it would be India's sovereign right to take corrective measures, informed sources said. US has also agreed to help India achieve a multi-lateral regime to ensure uninterrupted supply of nuclear fuel.

Secondly, India has also made it clear that it would decide on the status - whether civilian or military - of the future nuclear facilities. "It is not a matter of debate how it will be classified," said the sources.

Besides a nuclear agreement, India and the US also made significant progress in boosting trade and economic ties, space cooperation, maritime security and an ambitious agricultural initiative that promises to usher in a second green revolution

The Prime Minister said India and the US were working together increasingly on global issues which was not only good for the two countries but the entire world. Observing that he along with Bush reviewed the global situation during the talks, Mr Singh said both countries have agreed to root out terrorism of which India has been a major victim.

In his remarks, Mr Bush referred to sharing of common values and said that the two sides would work to combat terrorism, bring about the rule of law and make the world a safer place to live. Describing India as one of its largest trading partners, he emphasised on enhancing of trade between the two countries and recalled the growing military ties between them. Mr Bush also thanked the Prime Minister for the aid given to the US after the hurricane Katrina struck its coast. The US President said the two countries stood for establishment of democracy worldwide.

Dr Singh said both the sides reviewed the global situation during the talks. "Our discussion today make me confident that there is no limit to the Indo-US partnerships," he added.

Mr Bush said both the sides had a "lengthy and constructive dialogue on a wide-range of issues". "India and America have built a strategic partnership based upon common values, our two democracies respect religious pluralism and the rule of law. We seek to foster economic development through trade and advancing the entrepreneurial spirit in both countries," he said.

He said India and America have faced terrorist attacks on their soil. "We are sharing information to protect each other. We have a common desire to enhance the security of our peoples. We are cooperating on the military front," he added. India and the United States agree on the "deplorable state of human rights" in Mynamar and in Nepal "we agree that Maoists should abandon violence and the King should reach out to political parties to restore democratic institutions."

"There should be discussions more that just friendly handshakes," he said. "Trade and investment ties between India and the United States are growing, we are partners in expanding global trade. United States is India's largest trading partner and India is one of United States' fastest growing export markets." "Trade is important for people and countries to develop and overcome poverty," he said.

About the Indo-Pak peace process, Bush said India and Pakistan had an opportunity to work towards lasting peace. "Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh and President (Pervez) Musharraf have shown themselves to be leaders of courage and vision and I encourage them to continue making progress on all issues, including Kashmir."

India and America are also partners in addressing HIV/AIDS and pandemic flu. I am confident that the relationship between India and United States is good for United States of America and I hope it is good for the people of India," he said.

Replying to a query on India's bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, Bush said we support United Nations Security Council reforms. "While we are interested in different ways to reform United nations, my concern all along has been, however, if we only stick to United Nations Security Council we will miss the opportunity to reform the whole of United Nations," he said. "We are open minded and are listening... But we do not want with the Security Council reforms not to cause other reform measures go forward," he said.

Bush trip to Pakistan not without risks

NEW DELHI, March 2: President Bush's overnight visit to Pakistan "is not a risk-free undertaking" but he will not be deterred by attacks like the suicide bombing that killed an American diplomat in Karachi, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said Thursday.

Bush will fly to Pakistan late Friday for a day of talks Saturday in Islamabad with Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the military leader who took power in a 1999 coup. Bush said his visit was an important gesture of solidarity with Musharraf in the fight against terrorism. "After all," Bush said, "he has had a direct stake in this fight - four times the terrorists have tried to kill him."

Ahead of Bush's arrival, a suicide attacker crashed a car packed with explosives into a vehicle carrying an American diplomat near the Karachi consulate, killing four, including the diplomat. Hadley said there was evidence the diplomat had been targeted. "It is very troubling," Hadley said. "It's an indication and a reminder that we're at war."

Six years ago, terrorism fears prompted then- President Clinton to take extraordinary security precautions on a trip to Pakistan. He flew into Islamabad in a small, unmarked plane after making a last-minute aircraft switch in India. On his arrival, Clinton rode in a motorcade with many limousines so it was impossible to tell in which car he was riding.

"Terrorists and killers are not going to prevent me from going to Pakistan," Bush said at a news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The White House waited until the beginning of Bush's trip to disclose he would spend the night in Islamabad. Hadley said security risks and precautions had been assessed before Bush's decision to go to Pakistan.

"It is something that they reassess up to the point where we head to Pakistan," Hadley said. "And at this point people are comfortable that the necessary precautions are in place. But this is not a risk-free undertaking."

Bush arrives; Says India must develop N-power industry

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, March 1: Undertaking his first tour of India, US President George W. Bush arrived here on Wednesday evening for a three-day visit during which the two sides will discuss a nuclear cooperation and ways to further enhance cooperation in several other fields.

Bush, who is accompanied by his wife, Laura, and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was received at the Palam Technical Area by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who kept aside protocol to welcome the special guest. The Air Force One landed at 1935 hours.

After a brief welcome ceremony, Bush was escorted to a limousine and the motorcade headed for Hotel Maurya Sheraton, his home in India during his stay in India. Gursharan Kaur, the Prime Minister's wife, Indian Ambassador to the US Ronen Sen, and US Ambassador to India David C Mulford, were also present to welcome Bush.

Singh and Bush will hold extensive talks on Thursday at the Hyderabad House on the 18th July nuclear deal, cooperation in various other fields like science and technology, space, energy, education and health. UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition L K Advani will call on Bush after which President APJ Kalam will host a banquet in his honour on Thursday.

Earlier at a surprise stopover in Kabul where he halted briefly en-route to New Delhi, Bush said that it was in the interest of the US and in the interest of the countries around the world that India develops a nuclear power industry.

Bush said that US advocated an international consortium that would enable countries to develop their nuclear power industries in safe ways, prevent proliferation as also excessive consumption of fossil fuels.

Bush said US negotiators were trying to iron out differences with their Indian interlocutors from aboard Air Force One to wrap up an agreement for implementation of the landmark nuclear deal.

"Our people are talking to Indians today from the plane about trying to come to a civilian power agreement," he said at a press conference in Kabul. The US president stated that it was a difficult issue for the Indian Government, as for the American Government, "so, we continue to dialogue and work and hopefully we can reach an agreement. If not, we will continue to work on that until we do."

The Prime Minister and the visiting President exchanged pleasantries and posed for photographs when Bush, in a warm gesture, put his arm over the shoulders of Singh.

Bush and Singh were also seen having some discussion.

Singh introduced to Bush his delegation comprising Union Minister Kapil Sibal, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran. Bush, in turn, introduced members of his delegation which included Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

During his five-hour unannounced stopover in Afghanistan, his first to the country since the Taliban was ousted after the September 11 terrorist attacks, President Bush met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Bush to raise cross-border infiltration with Musharraf

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, March 1: The US President, Mr George Bush, on Tuesday made it clear that he would bring up the cross border infiltrations with the Pak President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, during his visit to Islamabad later this week.

Responding to a question at a press conference in Kabul, where he made a surprise visit en route to India, Mr Bush said "these infiltrations are causing harm to friends, allies, and cause harm to US troops. And that will be a topic of conversation. It's an ongoing topic of conversation."

The Afghan Government says that most of the violence emanates from Pakistan and hold the neighboure responsible for the worsening situation in Afghanistan. Suspicion that al-Qaida and Taliban militants may be using Pakistan as base for launching terror strikes in Afghanistan has become a source of tension in relations with Afghanistan. More than two dozen suicide attacks in recent months have fueled Afghan suspicions.

On Iran's nuclear program, the US President said "Iran must not have a nuclear weapon. The most destabilizing thing that can happen in this region and in the world is for Iran to have a -- develop a nuclear weapon. And so the world is speaking with one voice to the Iranians that it's okay for you to have a civilian power -- nuclear power operation, but you shall not have the means, the knowledge to develop a nuclear weapon."

He said "we've joined with Russia as part of a diplomatic effort to solve this problem that says Russia will provide enriched uranium to its civilian nuclear power plant, and will collect the uranium after it's been used in the plant." Mr Bush asserted that "the most destablizing thing that can happen is for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. And we will work with friends and allies to convince them not to."

The US President also expressed confident that Osama bin Laden would be captured despite a futile five-year hunt. "I'm confident he will be brought to justice," Bush said, standing alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai outside the presidential palace.

Bush also sought to rally U.S. troops and express solidarity with Karzai's U.S.-backed government. Bush spent just over four hours on the ground during his surprise visit at the onset of a South Asia trip.

Bush pledged that bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader, and other planners of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks would be caught. "It's not a matter of if they're captured and brought to justice, it's when they're brought to justice," Bush said.

It was the first presidential visit to Afghanistan since the United States routed the Taliban and began a thus far fruitless five-year search for bin laden in the region. Bin Laden is believed to be hiding out somewhere along the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Bush held a working lunch with Karzai and other Afghan leaders, attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the U.S. embassy in Kabul and spoke to U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base. "People all over the world are watching the experience here in Afghanistan," Bush said, praising Karzai as "a friend and an ally."

Karzai took power after U.S.-led forces overthrew the Taliban regime. But Taliban insurgents and al-Qaida militants have been increasing attacks within Afghanistan in recent months.

The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, told a congressional hearing in Washington on Tuesday that the insurgency was still growing and posed a greater threat to Karzai's government "than at any point since late 2001." Karzai greeted Bush as "our great friend, our great supporter, a man who helped us liberate."

India, US inch towards N-deal

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, March 1: Even though India and the US have made considerable progress on the civilian nuclear deal, there was still a short distance to go, admitted Mr Shyam Saran, India's Foreign Secretary.

Briefing newsmen the the US President, Mr George Bush's visit to India, Mr Saran said it was a complicated issue. "We need certain degree of clarity on mutual commitments on the nuclear deal to make sure that there were no ambiguities that may create difficulties in the future." The Foreign Secretary said "if necessary, we will of course continue the negotiations beyond the forthcoming visit."

President Bush arrives here on Wednesday on a three-day visit during which the two sides are expected to sign several documents to enhance cooperation in agriculture, biotechnology, science and technology, energy and other areas.
"We have managed to make considerable progress. We still have some distance to go. This is a complicated and complex issue," he said. "Our effort has been not to leave unfinished business which could create difficulties for us later on," contended Mr Saran.

"So, we need a certain degree of clarity on our mutual commitments. We need to make sure there are no ambiguities which may create difficulties for us in the future," Saran, who has been India's chief negotiator in the talks with the US on civil nuclear cooperation, said.

Mr Bush, the second US President to visit India in six years, will arrive in the capital on Wednesday evening in the first leg of South Asia trip that will take him to Pakistan also. The visiting President will be accorded a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on the morning of March 2 where the President, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, and the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan, will be present.

Following this, the US President will visit Rajghat to pay his tributes to the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi. Dr Singh and Mr Bush will subsequently hold extensive talks at Hyderabad House. Among the issues to be covered are the 18th July nuclear deal that was signed on July 18 last year during the Prime Minister's visit to the US. The two leaders will then jointly address the press.

The UPA Chairperson, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, and the Leader of Opposition, Mr L K Advani, will call on the visiting dignitary after which Dr Kalam will host a banquet in his honour on the same day. On March 3, Mr Bush will visit Hyderabad and return in the evening to address a select group of people from the field of politics and business at Purana Quila, in the backdrop of the scenic beauty.

The US First Lady, Mrs Laura Bush, will also have a hectic schedule. She will visit a charity home and a destitute home in Delhi besides a hospital in Noida.

The US ambassador to India, Dr David C Mulford, said the gamut of cooperation between the two nation had gotten too large to be held hostage to any one particular issue. The nuclear focus, Dr Mulford said, is too narrow to capture the full drama of rapidly warming ties between the two countries.

"In every sort of area one looks at one sees this mutual interest and admiration building and that really is the focus of the relationship that touches every area whether it is science and technology, space, education, HIV/AIDS, agricultural, investment flows, energy in all forms not just civilian nuclear, environmental issues all of these areas are under discussion and constant advance between the two countries," he said.

A meeting of CEOs' forum will also take place during the President's visit. The US--India CEO Forum was launched during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington DC last year.

The group unites executives from U.S. giants such as Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Honeywell International and Xerox Corp. with Indian majors such as the Tata Group, Reliance Industries and Infosys Technologies.

This week the panel of 10 executives from each country will publish a major report on cutting red tape and tariffs. Americans are likely to recommend reforms of the labor, financial, retail sectors and seek Indian commitments to improve intellectual property protection and uphold the sanctity of contracts.

The ranks of American firms keen to serve India's rapidly growing and opening market includes nuclear power equipment suppliers but also defense contractors, bankers, agribusinesses, telecommunications firms and even Hollywood.

US conducts major cyber security exercise

WASHINGTON, Feb 11: The US conducted its first major cyber security exercise by simulating a computer-generated attack on its critical information systems as part of its preparedness to tackle such incidents in future.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Friday that it had conducted the cyber security exercise to examine response, coordination, and recovery mechanisms to the simulated cyber-attack event. Called Cyber Storm, the simulation involved some 115 public, private, and international agencies, organisations, and companies.

'Cyber security is critical to protecting our nation's infrastructure because information systems connect so many aspects of our economy and society,' said George W. Foresman, the department under secretary for preparedness. The exercise simulated a sophisticated cyber attack through a series of scenarios directed against critical infrastructures such as a utility company, and set in motion, a national cyber incident response.

The National Cyber Security Division (NCSD), a part of the department's new Preparedness Directorate, provides the federal government with a centralised cyber security coordination and preparedness function.

J Lo at Circuit City, Hicksville, NY

By Deepak Arora

NEW YORK, Jan 28: The huge Circuit City store in Hicksville, Long Island, in New York is overpowering with its wide variety of goods and fine display. It is a happy place as courteous, helpful and ever smiling staff willingly greets and welcomes the customers.

No doubt, the Hicksville store generated $ 30 million sales last year and was ranked Number Four for sales and customer service among all the 868 Circuit City stores in the US.

The man behind this achievement is Nagpur-born A J Joshi and reminds one of yet another success story of an Indian in this amazing country. However, AJ (Amit) Joshi, the Store Manager, humbly says "it's all team work."

During his four years as Store Manager at the Hicksville store, the place has become a celebrity shop where likes of Jennifer Lopez, Mark Anthony and Billy Joel come for shopping.

Much to the delight of staff Jennifer Lopez came for her Holiday Season shopping at the shop. During her four hours shopping at the store, AJ and his associates provided her the service.

When asked how he found J Lo, Store Manager AJ said: "She is unassuming, down to earth and quiet person. Jennifer Lopez and her husband, Mark Anthony, believe in family values and the two make a wonderful couple."

Another striking feature at the store is playing of non-stop video clip of J Lo's Puerto Rico concert on 30-odd Televisions and a huge screen in the store. The running of this video clip is a strategic decision of the Manager. Her DVDs sell like hot cake.

J Lo's striking performance in the concert catches eyes of almost all customers. Besides being a great attraction it motivates people to buy TVs, admitted Sunny and Parminder, beautiful couple from Syosset, a town in Long Island.

AJ, who has been working with Circuit City for the last 13 years, is Lopez fan too. And his meeting with her was like a dream come true. Lopez thanked the manager for running her video clip for the last one and half years.

The manager A J Joshi, who is married to Mona and have two kids - Ashish and Ishika, is happy for achieving the sales targets. However, his advise to customers: Do not wait for the last day for shopping as they could get disappointed for lack of inventory. His store not only beats prices of other stores but also gives price guarantee of 30 days.

So Happy Shopping!

US will rally the world on Iran: Bush

WASHINGTON, Feb 1: US President George W Bush has said that America will rally the world to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. "The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons," he said while delivering the State of the Union address late on Tuesday before a joint session of Congress.

Bush said "America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats." He accused Iran's government of supporting terrorism in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon. But he said US policies are not aimed at hurting ordinary Iranians and that he supports their effort to "win your own freedom".

Iran is "a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people," Bush said. The United States has joined the European Union in moving to have Iran hauled before the UN Security Council for its nuclear programme.

US and EU diplomats are urging the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) governing board to make that decision at a meeting starting on Thursday. The Bush administration accuses Iran of using a nuclear energy programme as a cover for developing atomic weapons. Iran says the programme is purely for producing electricity.

India, US to review nuke pact during Bush's visit: PM

NEW DELHI, Feb 1: The Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has said that India and the US will review various bilateral initiatives, including the agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation, during President George W Bush's upcoming visit in March.

"It will be a time for us to review the status of our relations with the US. Some initiatives were taken with regard to cooperation in civilian nuclear power, agriculture and science and technology between the two countries. It will a time for us to review where we stand," Singh said while addressing a press conference.

Asked whether the US President would address a joint session of Parliament as his predecessor Bill Clinton had done, the Prime Minister said that the President's tour schedule had not yet been finalised.

India, US have entered new era of relations: Mulford

NEW DELHI, Feb1: US Ambassador David C Mulford, who is at the centre of a controversy over his remarks on the nuclear deal with India,said Washington and New Delhi had "entered a new era" of relationship and defence cooperation between them would help improve regional and global security and stability.

Visiting the American exhibits at the Defence Expo-2006, he described the defence ties between India and the US as a strategic partnership. "The US and India have entered a new era," Mulford said.

He noted that there was growing cooperation between the US and India on security and a wide range of issues. "Our defence cooperation enhances both of our nations' capabilities and will help to improve regional and global security and stability," the Ambassador said.

Mulford was at the centre of a controversy after his remarks in an interview to a news-agency that the Indo-US nuclear deal, signed on 18th July last year, could "die" in the American Congress if New Delhi did not oppose Iran's nuclear programme.

As many as 22 major US companies are participating in the -- DEFEXPO -- reflecting the growing interest of the US industry in the Indian defence market. The US Army is also participating in the exposition for the first time and has set up a Technology Booth. This makes it one of the five international shows to witness the participation of American Army.

Bush calls Hillary Clinton 'Formidable'

WASHINGTON, Jan 28: US President George Bush said Friday that Senator Hillary Clinton, a potential candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is "formidable," but he declined to speculate on which Republicans might run for the White House in 2008.

"This is an unusual year because this is the first time there hasn't been a kind of natural successor in the party," Bush said in an interview with "CBS Evening News." "Two wide-open primaries with no sitting vice president running in either primary, so this is - I can't remember a time when it's been this open."

In a wide-ranging interview at the White House, Bush also took a hard-line stance against the Hamas party, which swept Palestinian elections on Wednesday. He said he'd emphasize the development of alternative fuels in his State of the Union address on Tuesday and shared his views on presidential powers.

On foreign issues, Bush said the United States would cut aid to the Palestinian government unless Hamas abolishes the militant arm of its party and stops calling for the destruction of Israel. "If they don't, we won't deal with them," Bush told CBS anchor Bob Schieffer. "The aid packages won't go forward. That's their decision to make, but we won't be providing help to a government that wants to destroy our ally and friend."

He declined to predict whether the United States would still have large numbers of troops in Iraq when his successor takes office in 2009 but discussed the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Graib prison.

"We were disgraced," he said. "I know it caused a lot of people that want to like us to question whether they should, and equally important it gave the enemy an incredible propaganda tool - no question," Bush said.

Bush defended his order permitting the National Security Agency to listen in on phone calls and read e-mails of Americans suspected of communicating with terrorists. Critics claim the program violates civil liberties and say the government is circumventing the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. "I have looked at this program from all angles, and my dilemma and my problem is I can't explain to you how it works in order to justify your question without telling the enemy what we are doing," he said.

Asked if he thinks there is anything a president cannot do if he considers it necessary in an emergency, Bush said he thought there were "clear red lines" a president cannot cross. "I don't think a president can ... order torture, for example," Bush said about his presidential powers under the Constitution. "I don't think a president can order the assassination of a leader of another country with which we're not at war."

On a personal note, Bush said that after he leaves office, he may be interested in setting up a think tank where young scholars could write and think about freedom and liberty. He also said he didn't think he'd have become president had he not married his partner of 28 years, Laura Bush.

US close to nuclear deal with India, official says

WASHINGTON, Jan 28: The United States is close to reaching a nuclear cooperation deal with India and may clinch it before President George W. Bush visits there in March, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed last July on an accord on civil nuclear energy that would reverse a nearly 30-year-old ban on atomic cooperation with New Delhi, which has tested nuclear weapons.

However details of that accord still have to be negotiated, including a plan to separate India's civil and military nuclear facilities. The deal also has to be accepted by the 44-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group and the U.S. Congress.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who visited India last week to negotiate details of the agreement, told reporters he was confident a deal would be reached soon.

"I think we have made a lot of progress over the last six months. I was not discouraged by my talks in Delhi last week," Burns told reporters. "That (a deal) might happen before the president's visit."

Pressed further, he said: "It is my assessment, and I have been the one negotiating this for six months, that we are very close to an agreement."

In an interview, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the two sides were making progress but India had to make some "difficult choices" for the final agreement to be reached. She declined to give specifics.

Burns also said there needed to more progress on a few issues, which remained confidential. "I don't believe they are insuperable." A related issue is whether India will vote with the United States when the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors debates Iran's nuclear program at a Feb. 2 meeting. Washington and major European powers say Iran is developing a bomb and want the case referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions. Tehran argues its nuclear plan is for peaceful, energy purposes.

The U.S. ambassador to India, David Mulford, said this week if India did not back the U.S. position, the nuclear agreement could be in trouble. The remark upset New Delhi which rejected attempts to link the vote to the India-U.S. nuclear cooperation pact.

Asked whether the United States believed it had India's support at the IAEA, Burns said New Delhi would make its decisions based on its own national interests.
Last September, India supported the United States at the IAEA in a vote that declared Iran had failed to comply with its international obligations.

India dubs Mulford's comment as 'inappropriate'

NEW DELHI, Jan 27: As Ambassador David C Mulford's comments on Indo-US nuclear deal kicked off a furore, India summoned the envoy and conveyed its strong displeasure, saying the remarks were "inappropriate" and "not conducive to building a strong partnership" between the two countries.

India's sharp reaction prompted the Bush administration to launch a damage control exercise, with the State Department in Washington explaining that the envoy was only reflecting "very strongly-held feelings" in the Congress and that Washington would continue to engage New Delhi in the 18th July nuclear deal talks irrespective of its position on Iran.

In a statement in New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry spokesman informed that Mulford was summoned by Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran who bluntly stated that the remarks made by him in an interview "were inappropriate and not conducive to building a strong partnership between our two independent democracies".

India's action came after Mulford, in an interview on Wednesday, said if New Delhi did not vote against Tehran's nuclear programme at the 2nd February IAEA meeting, the fallout on the Indo-US nuclear deal in the US Congress would be "devastating" and the Indo-US nuclear initiative will "die" in the House.

Mulford expressed his "sincere regrets", saying his remarks had been taken "out of context" and that "it was not his intention to question India's right to take decisions on various issues on the basis of its own national interest", the statement said.

The MEA statement held that Saran categorically told Mulford that India's vote on any possible resolution on the Iran nuclear issue at the IAEA would be determined by India's own judgement of the merits of the case.

Talking to newsmen in Washington, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said that what the Ambassador was doing was talking about and reflecting the view on Capitol Hill, where there are very strongly-held feelings about Iran and the need for the international community to act decisively and firmly and with a single voice concerning Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

Given the three separate branches of government in the US, Mulford was "expressing an opinion" about how Congress might react, the State Department spokesman said. He stated that US dealt with the Indian government on these two issues as separate issues, adding "ultimately how India votes on this matter (on Iran) is going to be a decision for the Indian government. They voted to find Iran in non-compliance that last time around."

Bush to visit India, Pak in March

By Deepak Arora

WASHINGTON, Jan 25: US President George W Bush has expressed his desire to visit India and Pakistan in March during his "wide ranging discussion" with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz here.

"I'm really looking forward to going to your country. I'll be traveling to India and Pakistan in March. And I want to thank you for your invitation and your hospitality in advance," Bush told Aziz in front of reporters at the White House on Tuesday. The announcement was expected, as the President has made no secret of his desire to go to the region.

Welcoming the President to his country, Aziz said, "We think that this is an important visit for building our relations further between our two countries and serving the cause of peace in the world."

However, Bush's trip to the subcontinent is in the planning stages and the White House is not likely to release the dates or the itinerary for some time. Official sources said President Bush will have a full agenda for his talks, starting with the war on terrorism.

While praising Pakistan as a close ally in fighting terrorism, President Bush said the two countries were united in fighting terrorism. However, the two leaders did not directly comment on a recent US air strike in Pakistan that caused uproar. "I think the relationship with Pakistan is a vital relationship for the United States," Bush said. "We're working closely to defeat the terrorists who would like to harm America and harm Pakistan."

The US air strike on January 13 targeted Ayman al-Zawahri, deputy to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in the remote Bajaur tribal region along the border with Afghanistan, according to American officials. Pakistani intelligence officials say Zawahri was not there at the time of the strike, but that at least four al Qaeda figures, including a bomb expert, were killed.

The attack prompted Pakistan to lodge a formal protest with Washington and sparked anti-US demonstrations in several Pakistan cities and towns.
Bush has not publicly commented on the air attack, but Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said Washington assured Islamabad it would not act against Pakistan's interests.

Bush and Aziz showed no signs of acrimony and affirmed the two countries' close relationship in trying to combat terrorism. "Terrorism knows no borders," Aziz said. "So our coalition with the United States in fighting terrorism is very important to the entire world and all of civil society. We discussed the war against terror and the need for closer communication and coordination to take this effort forward," he told newsmen.

US officials believe bin Laden and Zawahri are hiding along the rugged border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Bush and Aziz said they discussed trade, nuclear energy, defense cooperation and the response to the October 8 earthquake in Pakistan that killed about 74,000 people and left about 4 million homeless. "A sense of caring and sharing always builds a better relationship between countries and that's what we are seeing between Pakistan and the United States," said Aziz.

After the meeting, in which the two did not take questions from reporters, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that during discussions at the Oval Office and the residence, the two leaders concentrated on ongoing efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and prevent future attacks in both countries. McClellan added that Pakistan is a "valued ally" but suggested that the United States will not slow its pursuit of terrorists.

"This president has made it clear we're going to pursue terrorists wherever they are - wherever they are. There is no negotiation with terrorists. These are people that are determined to harm innocent civilians in Pakistan, in America and in countries around the civilized world. And the way to defeat them is to take the fight to them and prevent them from carrying out the attacks in the first place," McClellan said.

Indo-US deal will make India a nuclear power: Kerry

NEW DELHI, Jan 12: Influential American Senator and former Democrat Presidential candidate John Kerry on Thursday voiced support for the Indo-US deal. According to Kerry, implementation of the Indo-US deal on civilian nuclear cooperation will mean grant of nuclear power status to India.

Kerry told a press conference here that the deal, with "enormous benefits" bilaterally, cannot be seen only in the context of Indo-US relations but had implications at the global level. Kerry, a member of the US Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had told him during their meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday that India would sign the Fissile Material Control Treaty (FMCT).

"I will be disingenuous to suggest that if the (Indo-US) agreement (on civilian nuclear cooperation) comes through, it will not grant nuclear power status to India. Obviously, it does," he said

Rice presses UN to confront defiant Iran

WASHINGTON, Jan 12: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, coordinating with European allies, called on the United Nations Thursday to confront Iran's "defiance" and demand that Tehran halt its nuclear program.

Rice, at a news conference, declined to say whether the United States has the necessary votes at the U.N. Security Council to punish Iran - or would even try at this stage. But she said impatience with Iran was growing and that Tehran was out of step with advances in democracy in the region. And she repeated that she believes there are enough votes for the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. agency that monitors nuclear activity, to refer the issue to the Security Council.

"I don't think it serves anybody's purpose to have a nuclear-armed Iran," Rice said. Rejecting Iran's claims that its nuclear program was not designed to produce waapons, Rice said, "I don't think anybody believes Iran's protestations that this is a peaceful program."

Pending coordination with the European allies, Rice did not spell out specific measures against Iran that the Bush administration might endorse or propose. But she said she was "gravely concerned" about Iran's secret operations and "its dangerous defiance of the entire international community."
"We have to look hard at how a strong message is sent," Rice said.

Earlier, Britain, France and Germany agreed the dispute should be referred to the Security Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency. But it has remained unclear whether China or Russia might use their veto powers to thwart Security Council action, or whether there are enough votes at the council for it to impose sanctions of some sort.

"We are not yet ready to talk about specific measures" to take against Iran, Rice said. She said she hoped Tehran would take note of the unity around the world and act on the program. Rice cited Russia's unhappiness with Iran as an example. "It is very clear that everyone believes a very important threshold has been cleared," she said.

At a minimum, the Bush administration wants Iran to resume negotiations with the European Union. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns will go to London next week to coordinate strategy with the allies and Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph will travel to Vienna, the headquarters of the U.N. monitoring agency, Rice said. Chinese and Russian diplomats are also expected to attend as well, said a senior U.S. official who was not authorized to make a formal announcement.

The European Union, meanwhile, will send its seniort diplomat, Javier Solana, to Washington for consultations. The Security Council could try to punish Iran with economic or political sanctions on the grounds it is proceeding secretly to develop nuclear weapons. However, that move could be blocked by a veto, a power that China and Russia share with the United States, Britain and France.

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has vowed to press ahead with a nuclear program that Iran says is designed to produce civilian energy.
"This is really an Iranian regime that is digging into isolation," Rice said. "The Iranian people frankly deserve better."

NRI appointed advisor to New York Governor

NEW YORK, Jan 7: In an effort to strengthen trade and business ties between India and New York, the Governor of the US state has appointed Indian-American businessman and community leader, Andy Keshav Shenoy, as his special adviser for South Asian Affairs.

Shenoy is the first Indian-American to hold such a high-ranking position in the state administration and it shows the growing influence of the community in the political life of the United States.

New York Governor George Pataki is expected to visit India sometime in February or March, and Shenoy said the Governor is expected to have high-level meetings in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore to discuss the strengthening of ties and seek investments in New York. Thanking Pataki for encouraging the Indian-American community, Shenoy pledged to do his best to forge closer ties between India and the New York State.

Shenoy, who immigrated to the United States in 1990 from Mumbai, is a major player in diamonds and diamond jewellery, and has been politically active for about two decades. He is also the president of Indo-American Promotion, a non-profit group seeking strengthening of economic ties between India and New York

Foreign Secy upbeat on US N-pact, Bush visit

By Deepak Arora

WASHINGTON, Dec 23: India and the US have made "significant progress" in realising the goal of civilian nuclear energy cooperation with New Delhi unveiling a credible separation plan of its civilian and military nuclear facilities.

The crucial separation plan was unveiled for the first time by visiting Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran during his discussions with his counterpart, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns on Thursday.

The plan, which reportedly seeks to place a large number of India's civilian nuclear facilities under international safeguards, received a positive response from top US officials, including US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, according to official sources.

Mr Saran had a hectic schedule in Washington with his meetings spread over at the Departments of State, Defence, Commerce, Energy and Capitol Hill.

The Foreign Secretary told newsmen at the conclusion of his two-day visit that "significant progress" was achieved in developing a mutual understanding of the steps needed to advance the early implementation of the agreement" with the joint working group on civilian nuclear energy now scheduled to hold its next meeting in New Delhi in January 2006.

During the Joint Working Group meeting, Mr Saran said the two sides shared ideas "about the processes which flow from the commitments in their own countries and with the relations shared with international partners".

He said that he was encouraged by the environment with respect to the implementation of the July 18 agreement between President George Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"We came to the conclusion that we should be in a position to make a significant advance on this initiative before President Bush visits India," the Foreign Secretary said.

President Bush is due in India in the early part of 2006. "It was conveyed to me that President Bush and the First Lady are very much looking forward to the forthcoming visit to India," he said.

"I, in turn assured the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor and my interlocutor at the State Department, Nicholas Burns that a very warm welcome awaits President Bush in India and that we would like this visit not only to be a demonstration of the transformation which has taken place in India-US relations during the past year but would also have a lot of substance in that relationship."

Mr Saran, who also met the powerful Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Richard Lugar on Friday morning maintained that he could sense a positive and an encouraging environment on Capitol Hill.

"I had a very important meeting with Senator Lugar. It was an extremely positive meeting and from my point a very encouraging meeting and I have every reason to believe that there is in fact a very encouraging environment for... Seeing this agreement," Saran remarked.

The Foreign Secretary was also asked to comment on a perception in this town that the Bush administration at this particular time did not have the "political muscle" to push the agreement through on Capitol Hill.

"In the meeting that I had with the Secretary of State and other interlocutors in Washington, it was put across to me that there is very strong commitment on the part of the US administration to the India-US partnership", he added.

Asked whether Bush's visit to India could still be considered "historic" or "landmark" without a deal secured on civilian nuclear cooperation, Mr Saran maintained that it was not fair to peg bilateral relations on any one single issue.

"India-US relationship is very wide-ranging," Saran replied going to list not only the depth and width of bilateral understandings but also what the two countries are doing on a range of global issues and challenges such as HIV/AIDS, global terrorism and the UN Fund for Democracy.



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