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US to cooperate with India on N-energy

By Deepak Arora

WASHINGTON, July 18: The US has agreed to cooperatre with India on civilian nuclear energy to India and also reiterated that the Kashmir was a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and the issue had to be resolved by the two countries.

Addressing a joint press conference along with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, in the White House, the US President, Mr George Bush, said that there was no change in America's policy on Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated the policy laid down by President Clinton that the sanctity of the Line of control will be maintained.

He expressed confidence that the Kashmir issue would be solved by the two countries and hailed Dr Singh's leadership and added the prime Minister had taken several peace initiatives with Pakistan and was committed to peace. "We will encourage leaders from both sides to work in good faith to resolve the long-standing problem," he added.

The Prime Minister informed that the US had agreed to increase cooperation on civilian nuclear energy, space, and high-technology issues. He said "we like Bush's strong leadership on this important issue," he said.

Making a strong case for India's candidature for permanent membership of the expanded UN Security Council, Dr Singh said New Delhi can "significantly contribute to decision-making" of the world body. Dr Singh said India favoured a credible and effective UN institution that reflected contemporary reality and its decision-making process.

Noting that India was in transition from a developing country to the fast developing economy that is being appreciated, the Prime Minister said India's sustained economic growth has a strong support of the US and "the US support means a lot to us".

The press conference was held at the East Room of the White House, where a section of seats were reserved for the Indian media and another section for the Pakistani media. Present were members of both the US and Indian Cabinets. Also present were the top line of US and Indian business. Among the latter were Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani, Ashok Ganguly, Yogi Deveshwar, Dr Pratap C Reddy, Deepak Parekh, Baba Kalyani and Nandan Nilekani.

The President and the Prime Minister each took two questions each. The two questions from the American media focused on the President's advisor Karl Rove and the choice US Supreme Court judge. The two questions from the Indian media were on the US policy on Kashmir (posed by the editor of The Tribute, H K Dua), and on a deal between the two countries on nuclear energy and transfer of fuel (posed by editor of The Hindu, N Ravi).

After the press conference, the two heads of state left for the meeting of the CEOs' Forum that President Bush described as "a definite landmark in Indo-US ties".

In his opening remarks, Mr Bush said India and the US were charting new steps in defence relationship and working together on counter-terrorism. The President said "we are charting new steps in our defence relationship with the recently signed new framework that will help our two nations work towards common security objectives."

He said both India and the US were "working together on counter-terrorism to help protect our people and make the world a safer place". "We are also committed to increasing the prosperity of the people of India and America alike. Today, we mark the completion of the completion of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership. "Completing this partnership will help us further to enhance our cooperation, he said.

Appreciating Bush's commitment to meeting challenges of terrorism, Dr Singh asserted there can be "no cause that justifies killing of defenceless civilians". The Prime Minsiter said there should be an "international norm for zero tolerance."

Bush agrees to visit India

WASHINGTON, July 18: The US President, Mr George Bush, has agreed to visit India at the earliest, according to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Addressing a joint press conference with Bush after wide-ranging talks here, Singh said "the US President has accepted my invitation to visit India at the earliest".

Describing the two countries as "vigorous and vibrant democracies", he said the results of the understanding reached between the two countries during his current visit would be fully evident by then.

McDonald pays up Hindu veggie groups in US

WASHINGTON, July 13: Several Hindu and vegetarian groups in the United States had a happy surprise in the mail last week. Healthy cheques for sums ranging from $50,000 to $1.4 million -- part of the $10 million court-ordered settlement in the case involving their beef against McDonald's.

Some four years after Seattle-based Indian-American lawyer Harish Bharti sued the fast food giant for misleading customers by claiming their French fries were vegetarian, McDonald's mailed out the cheques, in addition to the apology it issued in March 2002.

The money, McDonald's said, will go "to Hindu, vegetarian and other groups whose charitable and educational activities are closely linked to the concerns of these consumers (having dietary restrictions)."

Among the groups that benefited from the class-action bonanza are International/American Gita Society, which got $50,000; Hinduism Today Endowment, $250,000; Supporting Excellence in Education, $900,000; Council of Hindu Temples of North America $200,000; SSV Temple, $50,000; and Hindu Students Council, $500,000.

Vegetarian groups that were awarded include Vegetarian Resource Group ($1.4 milion), ADAF Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group ($600,000), Preventive Medicine Research Institute ($550,000), North American Vegetarian Society ($1 million) Vegetarian Vision, Inc.,($250,000); and American Vegan Society, $500,000.

They are among the 24 groups selected to receive compensation from over 250 groups that were initially considered under the terms of the settlement.

Also among the beneficiaries were Jewish, Muslim and Sikh groups which joined the lawsuit claiming that the fries were not kosher/halal etc. "It was quite a surprise," said Paramacharya Palaniswami of the Hindu Monastery in Kaui, Hawaii, which received a check for $ 254,773.19 drawn on Chicago's Banco Popular. "I guess we will be inspired to do more things for vegetarianism." As a first step, the monastery plans to place the amount in an endowment for publication of its Hinduism Today magazine.

None of the principle will be touched, so that it will be a perpetual source for funding outright 1,000 or more free subscriptions a year forever, or subsidize a larger number, the Paramacharya told TNN in an interview from Hawaii.

He also said the "the supersized endowment will educate Americans, especially youth, about the merits of a veggie lifestyle, which has been a Hindu ideal for 6,000 years."

The victorious groups have however asked customers to take note of the fact that McDonald's made no changes in their fries, which still have beef-flavoring. Under the terms of the settlement, McDonald's is only required to make a better disclosure, not change the way its fries are made.

"Sure, the oil is vegetable. But make no mistake about it. There is meat in those luscious Golden Arches french fries," Paramacharya Palaniswami said. Attorney Harish Bharti did not return calls seeking comment.

White House says no shift by Bush on climate change

COPENHAGEN, July 5: President George W. Bush has not shifted his position on climate policy, a White House spokeswoman said on Tuesday ahead of the Group of Eight summit.

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, the summit's host, said last week he had been having tough negotiations with the United States, the world's biggest polluter, before the summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, which runs from July 6-8.

Washington has refused to ratify the co-called Kyoto Protocol on carbon dioxide emissions and the greenhouse effect.

In response to speculation in the British media that the U.S. administration was softening its stance ahead of the meeting, the spokeswoman said this was not the case.

"President Bush has stated his climate policy in 2001 and it remains the same," Michele St. Martin, a spokeswoman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said from Washington.

"He believes that in order to address climate change it must be through the development and deployment of clean energy technologies," she said.

Bush will visit Denmark ahead of G8 talks, where climate change will be on an agenda that is topped by aid to Africa.

In an interview with Britain's ITV1 television that was broadcast on Monday, Bush opposed the Kyoto Protocol.

"The Kyoto treaty would have wrecked our economy," Bush said in the interview.

All the other G8 powers -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia -- have signed on to the treaty to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, which came into force in February.

"The Kyoto treaty wouldn't work unless all nations were involved. And as you know, many of the developing nations weren't involved in Kyoto," Bush said in the interview.

"So some of the discussions we're going to have at the G8, thanks to Tony Blair's leadership, is to work with India and China as to how to share technology with them, so that we can all work together to clean up the environment, and at the same time have sustained economic growth," he said.

Bush rejects Kyoto-style G8 deal

President George W Bush has ruled out US backing for any Kyoto-style deal on climate change at the G8 summit.

Speaking to British broadcaster ITV, he said he would instead be talking to fellow leaders about new technologies as a way of tackling global warming.

But he conceded that the issue was one "we've got to deal with" and said human activity was "to some extent" to blame.

Tony Blair is hoping for agreements on climate change and Africa when he hosts the summit in Scotland this week.

Mr Bush said he would resist measures that were similar to the 1997 UN Kyoto protocol, involving legally binding reduction on carbon emissions, that Washington never ratified.

"If this looks like Kyoto, the answer is no," he said in an interview with ITV's Tonight With Trevor McDonald programme to be broadcast on Monday evening.

"The Kyoto treaty would have wrecked our economy, if I can be blunt."

He said he hoped the other G8 leaders would "move beyond the Kyoto debate" and consider new technologies.

He said the US was investing in developing clean energy techniques such as sequestration of carbon dioxide in underground wells, hydrogen-powered cars and zero emission power stations.

Divided opinion

UK Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett told the BBC's Today programme that negotiations were likely to "go to the wire".

"I think what matters more than the exact theology is where people end up," she said.

"What we hope for is quite an ambitious action plan on steps that the international community can take and also agreement to try and take forward discussion and dialogue about the future."

French President Jacques Chirac has said he is hopeful of reaching a deal on climate change, but German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin said he was "very sceptical on the willingness of the US to move".

One of Mr Bush's main domestic critics on global warming, Senator John McCain, called the president's approach on the issue "disgraceful".

"I'm not quite sure how you'll bridge the gap," he told the BBC's Today programme, but he said he hoped the president and Mr Blair would be able to forge a compromise.

Farm subsidies

In the ITV interview, Mr Bush showed signs of coming into line with general world opinion by describing climate change as "a significant, long-term issue that we've got to deal with".

He has previously opposed action on climate change in favour of further studies on the issue.

But he rejected the idea he should support the British prime minister's G8 plan in return for his support over Iraq.

"Tony Blair made decisions on what he thought was best for keeping the peace and winning the war on terror, as I did," he said.

"So I go to the G8 not really trying to make him look bad or good, but I go to the G8 with an agenda that I think is best for our country."

On the issue of tackling African poverty, President Bush signalled he was ready to abandon US farm subsidies - but only if the European Union was prepared to scrap its Common Agricultural Policy.

Farm subsidies are said to unfairly distort the world market faced by African farmers.

"We've got agricultural subsidies, [but] not nearly to the extent that our friends in the EU have," he said.

The G8 leaders - from Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US - meet in Gleneagles on Wednesday for the start of the three-day summit.

India appeals for end to US nuclear curbs

WASHINGTON DC, June 28: India's Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee appealed on Monday for a quick end to restrictions on nuclear and technology cooperation with the United States, saying they limit India's ability to become a stabilizing force in Asia.

On his first visit to Washington since taking up his post, Mukherjee said such limitations were among factors "that prevent India from realizing its potential to contribute to international peace, stability and development."

In a speech to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he said India and the United States have a "convergence of our security concerns," including "fundamentalist activism and terrorism" and weapons proliferation. India is on the front line of this struggle and hence merits Washington's assistance, Mukherjee added.

He met earlier in the day with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and is due to visit Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday at the Pentagon.Mukherjee is preparing the way for a White House visit next month by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

President George W Bush has greatly accelerated predecessor Bill Clinton's initiative to strengthen ties between the world's two biggest democracies, at odds through most of the Cold War and the years immediately afterward. Since then economic and diplomatic relations have improved. But nuclear, military and other technology dealings have been more cautious, largely because of US concerns over India's status as an undeclared nuclear power that has refused to join most international non-proliferation regimes.

The administration has begun to cooperate on nuclear-related safety programmes with India. But US Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph said last week "we're moving forward in an incremental and reciprocal way" in this regard and no immediate changes in US law or policy are contemplated.

Mukherjee said if India is to realize its economic potential, it needs alternative sources of energy and foremost among those available is nuclear energy.

Insisting India's nuclear energy and weapons programmes are separate, he said, "Restrictions against India's nuclear energy programmes are anachronistic."

Manmohan to address a joint session of the US Congress on July 19

A 'happy' Burns fine-tunes agenda for PM's visit

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, June 25: The US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Mr Nicholas Burns, has expressed his happiness and satisfaction over talks with Indian officials and said the two-day deliberations were very explorative and comprehensive in nature.

Besides holding talks with the Foreign Secretary, Mr Shyam Saran, the visiting US official held talks with the National Security Adviser, Mr M K Narayanan, to fine tune the agenda for the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh's visit to the US from July 18 at the invitation of President George Bush.

Mr Burns also had a separate meeting with the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, to review progress on the ongoing energy dialogue between the two countries.

Mr Burns said "we have had very good, substantive bilateral discussions with the Indian leadership here. We are looking forward to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the United States next month, and to his discussions with our President." He said a number of agreements are expected to be firmed up and several initiatives announced during Dr Singh visit.

On his current visit, he said "we have had a very good, productive bilateral interaction." Apart from Mr Saran, Dr.S.Jaishankar, Joint Secretary (Americas) and other officials took part in Saturday's talks.

After the first round of talks on Friday, Mr Burns had said that his talks with the Indian leadership had focussed on issues like UN reforms, how to take the Next Steps in Strategic Partnerships (NSSP) forward, ways to enhance cooperation in sectors like energy, agriculture, science and technology, defense and security.

The focus, however, remained on what steps the US would be taking to induct new permanent and non-permanent members into the United Nations Security Council. He said that Washington was not averse to India staking a claim for a membership in the UNSC, and added that any such decision was a political one that would be attended to by the President of the United States.

According to reports from Washington, the Prime Minister will address a joint session of the US Congress on July 19 during his three-day visit to the country. A release by the US-India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) quoted House of Representative's Speaker Dennis Hastert as saying that Dr Singh, who would visit the US from July 17 at the invitation of President George Bush, will address the joint session of Congress on July 19.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, in a discussion with USINPAC members, said that he is excited and delighted that Prime Minister Singh will address Congress and is looking forward to welcoming him. The proposal to the Speaker that the Prime Minister should be invited to address Congress was made by about 70 members of both Republican and Democratic parties.

India entitled to bid for Security Council seat: US

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, June 24: The US has said that India met the criteria laid down by it for inclusion of new permanent members in the UN Security Council but a decision on it will be taken by President George Bush.

In a meeting with the Foreign Secretary, Mr Shyam Saran, the visiting Under Secretary of State, Mr Nicholas Burns, said "India meets the criteria laid down by the US. As to whom the US chooses will be a political question on which a decision will be taken by the US President," according to Mr Navtej Sarna, spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs.

Mr Sarna said that the issue of reform of the United Nations, including that of the Security Council, formed the major part of discussions between Mr Burns and Mr Saran. "Both sides put forward their perspective on the issue," he said. The Indian side, he said, conveyed to Mr Burns the progress made in the G-4 Draft Framework Resolution and the intention to go forward on the resolution as per the decision taken by the four countries in Brussels.

Mr Burns and Mr Saran also reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations in view of the visit of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to the US next month. The focus of the talks was on energy and economic cooperation, the spokesman said. The two sides were also fine tuning a range of bilateral documents that will be signed during the Prime Minister's visit to Washington the invitation of President Bush.

Mr Burns said the two sides discussed cooperation in civilian nuclear energy and space programmes, non-proliferation, missile defence and high technology. National Security Adviser M K Narayanan has already initiated considerable work in this direction during the recent visit to the US.

The Next Step in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) was also discussed with both sides feeling that progress had been made in this regard. The talks between Burns and Saran will continue on Saturday.

Indo-American Kuldeep bags three patents

By Deepak Arora

In a feat that goes unparallel, Kuldeep Singh, an Indian American, has successfully registered three IT-related patents in his name in the United States. The patents are about Focus Navigation of widgets in a mouse (or mouse like) less environment and on how to identify if a widget handles Mouse events.

A senior software engineer manager with over 15 years of broad experience with Communication and Collaboration, Unix Device Drivers, Switching Firm wares, Internet development, Kuldeep said he started working on the project seven years ago. Kuldeep, who currently works with Sun Microsystems and is a former student of Sainik School Balachadi in the State of Gujarat in India, said it takes about three to five years to get a patent registered.

He said he had started working on s set top box like Web TV. "If you have used any of the old Set Top Boxes, they had no pointing devices like Mouse. My main responsibility was to implement a Windowing System as part of implementing Personal Java on this set top box."

He said the box already had a primitive Windowing System. The user experience with this Windowing system was so horrible that users weren't able to use it effectively, specifically because there was no mouse like device to move (navigate) from one Widget to another. Widgets are control objects like buttons, text field/area, links in browser and drop/pull down menus.

As a result, he said what was happening was, when a user wanted to move to a right widget (with right arrow) the user ended up somewhere else - not at all intuitive. User had tried many a times to arrive at a particular widget and required efforts -- frustration. This problem bugged him even more because Java required a more complex Windowing System.

"I started looking for better solutions. I looked at Apple's Mac. I looked at WebTV, I looked at Microsoft's Windows and Sun's Solaris. To my dismay, they all had similar problems. The problems on these platforms were not critical since these platforms supported mouse and expected users to use mouse. But in case a user did not want to use Mouse, the user would have run into similar problems as the set top box."

Like Kuldeep always says problems are good. "They let you think about solutions. Every problem provides an opportunity." So, he started thinking about various solutions. Since he knew the problem very well, he proposed a couple of solutions that were turned down by his senior counter parts.

But Kuldeep did not give up. One day, he discussed it with a User Interface designer (Human Computer Interface designers). He liked the idea but did not trust him with implementation. Coolly and calmly, he started implementing it and showed the demo in less than two weeks showcasing the navigation design he had in my mind. Everyone was surprised.

Kuldeep says: "This invention was based on the direction and distance (horizontal and Vertical) or proximity of the widgets. When a user wanted to move to a right widget, I determined the best possible target widget by calculating distance between various widgets on the right of the original widget and selected the one that was the closest and in the right direction. It worked and it made user interface much more effective and intuitive. This was not the end. I wasn't satisfied as it failed in certain corner cases. That's where I came up with an idea that I got granted earlier. Currently, these two ideas, particularly the advanced one, are being used in many a products from Sun, including Java."

In another invention, Kuldeep and his partner worked on an idea that identified the widgets that handled mouse events and then for those
widgets they faked mouse events. As mentioned earlier, the environment is mouse-less but the widgets are platform independent (Java) and he
expected some of the widgets to handle mouse events.

Explaining the process, Kuldeep said that once they had an idea, it was disclosed to their Company ie Sun Microsystems. Then Sun reviewed the ideas and identified the ones that were worth filing for and assigned patent attorneys to work with them. The patent attorneys worked with us and translated our technical idea into legal terms that is difficult for a common man to understand.

The patent attorneys then prepared the drafts that were review by us. On finalizing the drafts, the application was filed with US patent office and European Patent office and probably in Japan too.

"The external attorneys and the US and European patent offices ensure that the same work has not been done by someone else, and if so they grant the patent. Now a day it takes over five years from conceiving and idea to getting it granted," said Kuldeep in conclusion.

Indian American gets New York excellence award

NEW YORK, June 7: New York City has honoured Indian American Andy Shenoy with the 2005 Governor's Award of Excellence for his significant contribution to improving relations between the state and India.

"It is great honour for me personally. I remember having recommended others for the honour in the past but never thought it would come to me," Shenoy said. The award picks only one person from each country every year.

Shenoy, who is originally from Goa with strong connections in Karnataka, has been in the US for well over two decades. Primarily interested in the diamond business, he said he decided to diversify because of the fluctuating conditions. He is the president of the Trivision Group, Inc. In 1993, when a relatively unknown George Pataki decided to jump into the race for governor of New York, Shenoy decided to throw his weight behind the Republican leader.

"I did not think Governor Pataki could win but out of a personal friendship with Senator Alfonse Marcello D'amato I decided to stand by him. I helped raise funds for his campaign. A lot of people thought I was backing the wrong horse," Shenoy, a diamond, real estate and software businessman, recalled. On the day the results were to be declared, Shenoy and some of his friends got together to "celebrate Pataki's defeat" because they had done their best and could not do much more than preparing for what they thought was a defeat.

Then the news came that, in fact, their candidate had won. "From then till now the governor has not forgotten us. He values our friendship now as much as he did then," Shenoy said. That is evident, with Shenoy being awarded so many years later.

Now Shenoy is working on a visit by Pataki to India. The original plan was to visit in May last year but because of India's parliamentary elections, the plan was put on hold. "I have always been passionate about building ties between the state of New York and India because I see some strong alliances," Shenoy said.

"We are planning to go later this year. We have not finalised the date yet but it will probably be after September when Governor Pataki visits China. I am travelling with him there as well," Shenoy said. The proposed India visit will be a focused one with the governor specifically exploring business opportunities between the state and India.

"We are looking at bilateral trade in terms of infrastructure, IT, biotech and finance. There are tremendous opportunities between the companies in the state and India.

In the context of the Indian American community's involvement with politics, Shenoy said, "We should be everywhere irrespective of the party. Our focus should be on anyone is who is helpful to our cause and India. I have friends both among the Democrats and Republicans."

Asked why many more Indian Americans tend to support the Democratic Party than the Republican Party, Shenoy said, "Because minorities think Republicans support only the rich. That is of course not true. It is a question of perception. I am not a big, wealthy businessman. But I see a lot of strengths in the Republican Party."

Shenoy said bilateral relations between India and the US had picked up much greater momentum under President George W Bush than before. "So, one cannot make a general statement that only one party is good for the community," he said.

India-US energy dialogue launched

WASHINGTON, June 1: India and US have launched a new bilateral dialogue on energy, which envisages setting up working groups focusing on, among other things, clean coal technology. Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and US Secretary for Energy, Samuel W Bodman met in Washington on Tuesday to launch a new bilateral 'India-US Energy Dialogue.'

"The establishment of the dialogue reflects the transformed strategic relationship between the US and India as called for by President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Secretary Bodman and Dr Ahluwalia agreed that it was important to show progress in the Energy Dialogue before the US visit of Prime Minister Singh," said a joint staement issued after the meeting.

On the issue of nuclear energy, the statement laid out the tasks of working groups, including dialogue and action on issues associated with civilian uses of nuclear energy and its control. Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and US Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, David Garman, will co-chair the Steering Committee supervising the five working groups.

Clinton accused of raping a nurse

WASHINGTON, June 2: Former US President Bill Clinton has been accused of raping a nurse, in a shocking new book, called Their Lives - the women targeted by the Clinton machine.

According to Contactmusic, author of the book lawyer Candice E Jackson was so disgusted by the fact that Clinton neatly ignored his infidelities in his bestselling autobiography My Life, she decided to expose several women she claims he sexually abused.

Jackson's controversial book focuses on seven women, including Clinton's alleged mistress, Gennifer Flowers, radio host Sally PerdueE, White House intern Monica Lewinsky and the alleged rape victim, Juanita Broaddrick. Broaddrick says she met Clinton, then the Arkansas Attorney General, in 1978, when he made a campaign stop at the nursing home where she worked.

And she alleges he asked if he could have a coffee with her in her hotel room to avoid reporters, but when she let him in, he reportedly forced her onto the bed and raped her. Broaddrick reportedly told Jackson, "It was a really panicky situation. I was even at the point where I was getting very noisy, you know, yelling to please stop."

Kashmir issue will remain till Pak accepts LOC as border

WASHINGTON, May 24: The Kashmir issue will go on for a "very long time" unless and until Pakistan reconciles itself to accepting the LoC as the border, former US Ambassador to India Robert D Blackwill has said.

"Unless and until Pakistan reconciles itself to accepting the Line of Control as the border, the Kashmir dispute will go on for a very long time and cross-border terrorist violence from Pakistan against India would resume," Blackwill, also a former strategic adviser to US President George W Bush in the National Security Council, said. "Pakistan will not succeed in Kashmir," he said writing in "The National Interest," a leading American quarterly.

The former envoy said for more than fifty years, young cadets, including Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf himself, have been taught in Pakistan's military academies that their "holy mission" was the "liberation" of all of Kashmir and that the central purpose of Pakistan itself was to further this task.

"Beginning in 1947, Pakistan's attempts to accomplish this directly by military force have failed. Thus thwarted, in the past decade and a half, Pakistan has used terror as an instrument of attempted change in Jammu and Kashmir. This too has not succeeded," Blackwill wrote.

When faced with such a fruitless strategy, a Government has three choices: It can stick with the losing strategy, develop a new strategy or change objectives. "In my judgment, Pakistan has not yet made a strategic shift away from its long-time policies of territorial acquisition and cross-border terrorism," he said.

Blackwill said although Pakistan has reduced its effort to push "killers" across the Kashmir border, Musharraf implicitly holds out the possibility of Pakistan resuming terror against India if the bilateral talks with New Delhi do not produce favourable results regarding Kashmir.

"The terrorist infrastructure inside Pakistan -- the camps and the instructors, the weapons caches, the communications capabilities, the terrorists themselves -- is still in place. Nevertheless, Islamabad holds a losing hand." The former envoy said that Pakistan is unstable as a government and society and it "continues to worry both India and the United States".

There were two serious assassination attempts on Musharraf's life last year or so, one of which came very close to succeeding. "Add to that the thousands of madrassas inside Pakistan and the hundreds of thousands of potential jihadis, as well as Taliban sympathizers who travel back and forth across the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"Equally problematic is Musharraf's unwillingness to promote genuine democracy inside Pakistan, despite the fact that the only long-term answer to the problem of systematic instability in Pakistan is pluralism and democratic expression," Blackwill said.

"The Indian Government will give up no territory it now controls, including Jammu and Kashmir," Blackwill said in a leading American quarterly. "Officially, India remains committed to the return of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir to India. But the Indian elite would likely settle for the permanent international border being drawn along the current Line of Control.

"Therefore, unless the Pakistani Government and Army change for good their objective and accept the current division of territory, the Kashmir dispute will go on for a very long time," the former US Ambassador to India said. The two countries that would be most negatively affected by a convulsion within Pakistan, a country with dozens of nuclear weapons, are India and the United States, he claimed.

"Bush Administration policy regarding Pakistan has been adept and effective to this point, but that could change if Musharraf is murdered. This is why both India and the United States have such a stake in the emergence of a democratic, stable and prosperous Pakistan. Washington and New Delhi should have a sustained secret dialogue on how best to promote that historic goal," Blackwill said.

He said many Indians believe that the US-Pakistan relationship is based on an incandescent double standard. "They think that although the Administration declares that state supporters of terrorism will be viewed the same way as terrorists themselves, the quintessential state sponsor of terrorism, including against India across the Kashmir border, is in their view given a pass by Washington," Blackwill said.

US clears decks for 20,000 more H-1B visas

WASHINGTON, May 5: The US has finally cleared the decks for the grant of an additional 20,000 H-1B visas for the fiscal 2005. Ending the speculation as to who qualified for them, an official announcement said the new visas will be reserved exclusively for foreign candidates with master's or higher degrees from American universities.

Beginning May 12, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will start accepting applications from American employers. A large number of Indian students, who have been waiting in the wings with advanced US degrees, are expected to benefit from the move. Although the Congress had approved the increase of 20,000 visas last November, the USCIS had delayed its implementation because of differences over interpretation of the provisions of the legislation.

Last month, the USCIS had in fact held that the new visas would be available to all eligible non-immigrant aliens and not limited to those with a master's or higher degree from an American institution. That had prompted lobbying groups like 'Compete America' to join issues with the USCIS, leading to a rethink. The new visas will be over and above the annual 65,000 H-1B visas for all categories that were snapped up in a single day on October 1, 2004, namely day one of American fiscal 2005.

The US industry has been actively lobbying for a substantial increase in the number of H-1B visas, arguing that the annual cap of 65,000 (lowered from 195,000 two years ago) was too low when compared to its needs. Last week, Microsoft chief Bill Gates went on to demand scrapping this visa cap.

Organisations like 'Compete America' expressed relief on Thursday after the belated USCIS announcement. Sandra Boyd, who heads the 'Compete America' group comprising over 200 corporations and universities, said the USCIS' dithering had created much uncertainty both for employers and the prospective tech workers.
The H-1B visa programme is used by US businesses to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. Indian engineers, computer programmers and scientists have been the principal beneficiaries of this visa programme.

H1-B Visa: In a nutshell

* US announced 20,000 additional visas to foreign workers in the H1-B category.
* H1-B is mainly availed by Indian information technology professionals.
* US businesses can submit applications for additional H1-B visas beginning May 12.
* Visas only to foreign workers with at least a master's-level degree from a US academic institution.
* Congress approved the additional 20,000 visas last year after complaints that the reduced 65,000-worker cap was too low.

2 blasts at British Consulate in NYC

NEW YORK, May 5: Two small makeshift grenades exploded outside the British Consulate early Thursday, Election Day in England, causing slight damage to the building but injuring no one, officials said. The blasts happened at 3:50 a.m.

The grenades had been placed inside a cement flower box outside the front door of the midtown Manhattan building that houses the consulate, police spokesman Noel Waters said. After piecing together the shrapnel, police determined the devices were toy grenades that had been filled with gunpowder. Officers estimated that one was the size of a pineapple; the other the size of a lemon.

The blasts shattered a panel of glass in the building's front door and ripped a one-foot chunk from the planter. The department's bomb squad was at the scene and streets were closed in the area.

In London, Britain's Foreign Office said there were no provisions for Britons to vote at overseas consulates. No further information was immediately available, the spokesman said. Calls to the British Embassy in Washington went unanswered early Thursday morning. Britain's national elections have been dominated by anger with Prime Minister Tony Blair's support for the Iraq war.

The 14-story glass and metal building, on 3rd Avenue at 51st Street less than a mile from the United Nations headquarters, has retail shops on the lower level. Authorities closed streets around the site, causing some rush hour disruptions. Trains on one subway line skipped the stop close to the site.

Bush vows to take US-India ties to 'much higher level'

WASHINGTON, April 15: The US President, Mr George Bush, on Thursday made a strong personal commitment to build on the flourishing US-India relations and take them to "a much higher level" during the next four years of his second term. Receiving India's External Affairs Minister, Mr Natwar Singh, at the Oval Office for an extended meeting, Bush spoke about India as "a global power" with which the US wanted to work very closely in the interest of world peace and mutual economic benefit.

At the meeting, which was characterised by exceptional warmth, Bush offered to cooperate with India in the critical area of energy, including civilian nuclear power. Details in this regard are expected to be gone into at a meeting between the two sides in the State Department later in the day.

Bush told the minister that he was "extremely excited and pleased" about the state of US-India relations. He expressed his admiration for India's "flourishing democracy of one billion people", its diversity and the talent of its people. Remarking that he could not wait to visit India, Bush hinted at the possibility of making the visit before the end of the year. He also said that he looked forward to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit, slated for July.

Singh thanked the US President for his personal initiative in developing relations with India right from the beginning of his first term in the White House. "As a result, India-US relations are probably the best we have had in a very long time," he said adding New Delhi was looking for an even greater push during his second term.
Briefing Indian journalists after the meeting that stretched for half an hour, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said the "extremely warm and friendly" session had set the stage for a very productive deliberation.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Steve Hadley and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card were present at the meeting. Apart from the minister, the Indian side included Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Foreign Secretary and Indian Ambassador to US Ronen Sen.

Singh and other members of the delegation were slated to have a full meeting with Rice and other senior American officials in the afternoon. A host of bilateral issues are expected to be taken up, including the F-16s issue and bilateral cooperation on nuclear energy and space programme.

Indo-US ties heading for qualitative change

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, March 27: Despite Washington's decision to supply the remaining 28 F-16s to Islamabad, Indo-US relationship is going to see a qualitative change. The US has not only offered to co-produce 126 F-16s and F-18s in India, but has also offered civilian nuclear energy and high technology cooperation in space. The US has made it clear that it intends to upgrade the Indo-US strategic partnership. As President George Bush told Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh that US-India relations were being raised several notches to a new high.

Though Prime Minister expressed his "great disappointment" to Bush over sale of F-16s to Pak, Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna informed tghat the US Government has now conveyed that it has approved participation of US Defence companies in the bidding for the Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA). "A US team is expected to visit India shortly to hold discussions," he said.

The US state Department sources have indicated that India would co-produce 126 aircraft, including F-16s and F-18s with US firms Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The aircraft would be produced in India and built to meet Indian specifications. "That is not just F-16s. It could be F-18s (a more advanced aircraft). But beyond that, the US is ready to discuss even more fundamental issues of defence transformation with India, including transformation systems in areas such as command and control, early warning and missile defence," a US official said.

It will be recalled that during her recent visit to Delhi, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has declared that US wishes to be a reliable defence partner with India. " This is a package of measures by the United States on India-US cooperation. The US has conveyed that it intends to upgrade the Indo-US Strategic Partnership. A number of initiatives have been announced in this regard," said Sarna.

On sale of F-16s to Pak, the State Department said "We have begun our five-year, $3 billion assistance program ... and have agreed to sell F-16 aircraft. The sale of F-16s will not change the overall balance of military power in the region and are vital to Pakistan's security as (Pakistan's) President (Pervez) Musharraf prosecutes the war on terror."

On the supply of nuclear technology, the spokesman said "we have been informed that the US Government is considering offering civilian nuclear energy and nuclear safety cooperation to India. These subjects were discussed during the visit of the Secretary of State on March 16. The decision by the US Administration to move forward on nuclear energy cooperation is welcome and reflects an understanding of India's growing energy requirements. We expect further substantive discussion within the ambit of the Indo-US Energy Dialogue, which is proposed to be set up shortly."

The State Department also announced that the US would be supplying nuclear fuel energy reactors. This is the first time after the first Pokhran blasts of May 1974 that US is renewing its co-operation with India in this field. At a press briefing, the State Department said that several "key collaborative ventures" agreed upon in principle during the recent visit of Condoleezza Rice had been okayed. These include creation of a high-level strategic partnership to be headed by Rice on the US side. Key areas would include co-operation in defence and energy, including civilian nuclear energy.
This will go beyond NSSP (Next Step in Strategic Partnership), it was indicated.

The State Department officials also said the United States is weighing an expansion of its strategic partnership with India, with cooperation on a range of economic, commercial and security issues, including missile defense. President Bush and Secretary of State Rice had developed an outline for a "decisively broader strategic relationship" with India and presented it to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during her recent visit to New Delhi, a senior US official said. The goal of the outline was "to help India become a major world power by the 21st century," he said. "We understand fully the implications, including the military implications, of that statement," he added.

The United States has also proposed a Joint Working Group on Space Cooperation between the two countries. "This is a positive development and opens up a new and promising area for high technology cooperation," said Sarna.

On Indo-US Strategic Dialogue, he said "we already have a regular dialogue with the United States on global and regional issues. The US initiative to upgrade and broaden this dialogue giving it a much more global character reflects the further strengthening of the Indo-US Strategic Partnership."

India disappointed over US decision on F-16s to Pak

NEW DELHI, March 26: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday conveyed to President George W Bush India's "great disappointment" on US proposal to sell F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan. "The Prime Minister received a telephone call from the US President this evening. They had a wide-ranging conversation," PMO spokesman Sanjaya Baru said.

"The US President, among other things, spoke about his administration's decision to propose the transfer of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan. The Prime Minister expressed India's great disappointment at this decision which could have negative consequences for India's security environment," Baru said.

India had registered its opposition to US sale of F-16 multi-role nuclear-capable fighters to Pakistan last week also when the issue figured in the talks between External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh and visiting American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "We did express certain concerns on certain matters on the defence issue. It might create some complications," Singh said referring to F-16 issue after the talks.

US dismisses India's concerns on F-16 sale to Pak

WASHINGTON, March 26: Dismissing India's concerns over supply of multi-role F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, US has said there was "no contradiction" between encouraging Islamabad to advance towards democracy and seeking a military relationship with that nation. "There is no contradiction between encouraging Pakistan to advance towards democracy and seeking a deeper military relationship with that nation", Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview to the Washington Post yesterday.

Rice "dismissed concerns" (of India) that the sale of F-16s to Pakistan would send a contradictory message in view of the fact that Pakistan's government came to power in a coup and the country has developed nuclear weapons. Such ties could help anchor Pakistan in the ranks of the world's democracies, she said.

The US decision to transfer the aircraft to Pakistan was conveyed by President George W Bush over telephone to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last evening. Singh expressed India's disappointment over the US move which could have "negative consequences" for New Delhi's security environment.

Pakistan bought 40 F-16s from the United States during the 1980s, but Congress halted the sales in 1990 because of Islamabad's efforts to develop nuclear weapons in defiance of US nonproliferation policy.

"Pakistan has come a long way" since then and that under (President Pervez) Musharraf at present, the country is "on a better trajectory than it's ever been," Rice said.

Modi denied US visa again

NEW DELHI, March 21: Despite the Indian Government's request to reconsider the issue, the United States will not grant an entry visa to the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi. This was communicated by the U.S. Embassy here to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) today.

In a brief statement to the press, the U.S. Ambassador, David C. Mulford, reiterated Washington's earlier stand that Mr. Modi could not be granted a diplomatic visa as the purpose for which he wished to travel to the U.S. did not make him eligible for one. As for the Gujarat Chief Minister's existing tourist/business visa, he said this had been revoked under Section 212 (a) (2) (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which made any foreign government official who "was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom" ineligible for a visa.

"The MEA requested that the Department of State review the decision to revoke his tourist/business visa," Mr. Mulford said. "Upon review, the State Department re-affirmed the original decision."

Reacting to the decision, the MEA spokesman said that the Government of India "regrets that in spite of its demarche ... for an urgent reconsideration of their decision to deny a visa to Mr. Modi ... the U.S. has not revised its decision ... This disregards the fact of the constitutional position of the Chief Minister of Gujarat as a democratically elected leader and appears to be based on selective judgment."

In his statement, Mr. Mulford stressed that the visa ban "applies to Mr. Narendra Modi only" and not to the Bharatiya Janata Party as a whole. "It is based on the fact that, as head of the State Government in Gujarat between February 2002 and May 2002, [Mr. Modi] was responsible for the performance of state institutions at that time. The U.S. State Department's detailed views on this matter are included in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Report. Both reports document the violence in Gujarat from February 2002 to May 2002 and cite the Indian National Human Rights Commission report, which states there was `a comprehensive failure on the part of the State Government to control the persistent violation of rights of life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the people of the State'."

The U.S. Ambassador rejected the charge that the denial of visa to Mr. Modi was "directed at the BJP institutionally or Gujaratis as a community." The U.S., he said, "is deeply appreciative of the role that the BJP, and the Vajpayee Government in particular, played in opening the way for the positive transformation in U.S.-India relations. I would note also the great respect the U.S. has for the many successful Gujaratis who live and work in the U.S. and the thousands who are issued visas ... each month."

Though Mr. Mulford said that the U.S. and India, "as two great and vibrant democracies, share common values on the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and representative government," the MEA spokesman said the denial of a visa to Mr. Modi was "not in keeping with the objectives that India and the U.S. share as democratic countries." Every country has a sovereign right to issue or deny visas, he said, but democratic tradition and practice "must uphold the dignity of political office that is the result of elections and a mandate given by the people of a country or State."

NRI hoteliers cancel invite to Modi

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, March 20: In a new twist to the Modi controversy, Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) in US has decided to cancel invitation to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi following the decision of Bush administration to deny him a visa to travel to the country. Announcing this, the founder chairman of the Association and advisor on minorities to the US President George W Bush, Mike Patel, said Gujaratis settled in USA have decided to stand by the decision of the US administration on the visa issue.

Mr Patel said, "We support the decision of the American government on this issue." Mr Patel pleaded with Modi to expedite the process of justice for the riot victims in Gujarat and should help in removing whatever obstacles come in the way of giving speedy justice. He said Modi should try to sort out all the problems and issues as early as possible. He also pleaded with the people of Gujarat not to boycott the goods of American companies because lots of Gujaratis are also settled in America and many are in queue for getting visas to US. Modi was scheduled to address the AAHOA in Fort Lauderada, Florida, during his five-day visit to US from March 20.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) has welcomed AAHOA's decision to rescind the invitation to Modi. Expressing this over the phone from Washington DC, Rev. Bernard Malik, the President of FIACONA said, "AAHOA could have avoided all these discomfort and unnecessary controversy, had it just made the same decision four weeks ago when we called them to express our concern over Modi's invitation." AAHOA had snubbed us at that time and informed that it was none of our business.

"It is sad to hear the leaders of India including the Ministers of the UPA government call this episode as an 'insult to India'. What happened in Gujarat from 1998 until now (especially in Feb/March of 2002) is the real 'insult to the nation' and holding the perpetrators of that violence accountable for their action is not what we call an insult to the nation," said Mr. John Prabhudoss, the Chairman of Governmental Affairs Committee of FIACONA.

Mr Prabhudoss said every civilized citizen should appreciate holding those hardcore Hindutva leaders responsible for their action. He said that he was very disappointed in the UPA government's reaction to the visa episode.

Allowing the obvious violators of the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India, to freely travel around the world and spread hatred and venom among the sections of the Indian Diaspora is a serious issue. Mr. Prabhudoss said, "If the UPA Government wants to facilitate spreading the venom among the overseas Indians, they can continue to advocate Modi's case."

Mr. Sampson, the General Secreatry of FIACONA said, "In India, just because the process of justice take too long to bring the guilty to the book for their crimes against humanity, the international community should not shy away from exercising their common sense."

"Modi's presence in the US would cause the same damage that it has caused to the civil society in India by pitting neighbors against neighbors on religious lines. It is time to say enough is enough to the politics of divisiveness and hatred. If the government in New Delhi has not yet understood that yet, it is time they did," he said

"There is no question of issues to do with Sovereignty and Constitution in Modi's episode. If Modi had any respect for the Constitution of India and the Sovereignty of the nation, he would not have insulted it by having planned and executed the massacre of the Sovereign people who live under that same Constitution," said Mr. George Abraham, a member of the Board.

It is laughable to see Modi speaking of human rights while he continues to harass the Christians, Muslims and the Hindus who disagree with the hardcore version of Hindutva.

Dr. Verghese, the Member of the Executive Board said, "US must now add the RSS and the Sangh Parivar to the list of terrorist organizations as they have qualified themselves to be on the list by damaging US company properties and US interests yesterday in Surat."



PM urges US to reconsider Modi's visa plea
'Visa denial a courageous stand'
US denies visa to Gujarat CM Modi
BJP condemns America's move
India, US to step up defence, energy, high tech cooperation
Security issues to dominate Rice's talks with Indian leaders
PIFRAS requests AAHOA to recind the invitation to Modi
Hillary Clinton bowls over young Indian MPs
Canada opts out of US Missile Defence
FIACONA demands removal of Tarlochan from Minority Commission
Condoleezza Rice sworn in as US Secretary of State
US may double bounty on Osama's head
US to increase H1B visas for Indian professionals
US sensitive to Indian concern on arms sale to Pak



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