Terrorism is mother of all disruptions: Sushma Swaraj
New Delhi, Jan 18: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj stressed on the world coming together to wipe out terrorism.She termed it mother of all disruptions on day 2 of the country's flagship geo-political conference Raisina Dialogue.The event saw world leaders, officials and diplomats from different countries sharing their moves against each-other.
The issue of terrorism was mentioned the most during the deliberations.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the challenge posed by terrorism has become a lot more serious in the digital age where extremism plays a vital role.She appealed to all to tackle terrorism strictly calling it the biggest disruptive factor in the present context.
The event also saw Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat speaking extensively on the issue of terrorism.Apart from action against terrorists.He sought identification and strict action against those countries which provide help to them. Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani also took part in the Raisina Dialogue.Speaking on empowerment of women..the Minister said women are able and can play a prominent role in taking the economy forward.
Economic affairs and India's rising economic power also figured during the deliberations.Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu says that the govt has an ambitious target of making India a 5 Trillion dollar economy during the next 5 years.This multilateral conference has been a regular event in Delhi since 2016. India's important foreign policy summit is organised jointly by Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation.This is designed on the lines of Shangrila Dialogue of Singapore.
This year more than 150 leaders from 90 countries are participating in the Raisina Dialogue with the number of delegates crossing the 550-mark.Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inaugurated the event on Tuesday in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj among others.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to visit India tomorrow
New Delhi, Jan 13: Benjamin Netanyahu will be accompanied by a 130-member delegation drawn from the cyber and agriculture sectors as well as from defence. Ahead of Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit, Israel ambassador to India, Daniel Carmon spoke exclusively to DDNews and said that cooperation in agriculture, water management and defence and enhancing Trade and business ties would top the agenda of talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu during his 5 day visit to India, beginning tomorrow.
Benjamin Netanyahu will be accompanied by a 130-member delegation drawn from the cyber and agriculture sectors as well as from defence.
Apart from New Delhi, they will also visit India's financial capital Mumbai and PM Modi's home-state Gujarat.
India leading power in Indo-Pacific & beyond: US Ambassador
New Delhi, Jan 12: US recognises India as a leading power in Indo-Pacific region & beyond; US ambassador to India assures working closely for India's membership to the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group; Asserts America First and Make in India are not incompatible.
US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster in his inaugural policy speech in New Delhi said that America is closely working with India to secure its membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
US envoy also said that 'America First' and 'Make in India' are not incompatible. He said investing in each others markets will be mutually beneficial, and will increase economic interactions and volume of trade. Juster said that US and India have a strong interest in promoting peace, security and prosperity in Afghanistan. He further said that Pakistan has not contributed positively in countering terror in Afghanistan.
N.Korea-S.Korea begin diplomatic talks
NK, Jan 9: High-level talks between North and South Korea are underway. This is the first between the countries in two years. North Korea's possible participation in 2018 Winter Olympic Games, taking place in South Korea in February is on agenda .South Korea had also said it would raise ways to improve inter-Korean relations. Relations between the Koreas deteriorated after Seoul suspended a joint economic project at the Kaesong Industrial complex in North Korea following a rocket launch and nuclear test by the North.
The incident led to North Korea breaking off communications with Seoul, including cutting off telephone contact. The last high-level talks between the two countries were in December 2015. Tensions have risen in the years since as the North continues to rapidly advance its banned weapons programme.
'Bombogenesis' takes aim at U.S. Northeast as snow sweeps South
US, Jan 4: A rare winter storm hit the U.S. Southeast on Wednesday, bringing Florida's capital its first snow in three decades and snarling travel, while New England braced for a "bombogenesis" blizzard forecast to bring heavy accumulations on Thursday. The governors of Florida, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina declared states of emergency, warning residents to expect icy roads and unseasonable freezing temperatures. In the northeast, work crews loaded trucks with road salt in advance of the storm.
Much of the eastern United States is in the grips of a sustained cold spell that has frozen parts of Niagara Falls on the American and Canadian sides, played havoc with public works causing pipes to freeze and water mains to burst, and impeded firefighting in places where temperatures barely broke 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
The cold has been blamed for at least nine deaths over the past few days, including two homeless people in Houston. Police in Roseville, Michigan, said on Wednesday that a 96-year-old woman, recently diagnosed with dementia, was found dead in a playground, apparently having frozen to death after wandering outside in a robe and slippers. The U.S. National Weather Service had blizzard warnings in effect from Virginia to Maine, with areas around Boston expected to see about a foot (30 cm) of snow on Thursday.
Jerusalem embassy move a 'sovereign' decision: Guatemala
US, Dec 27: Guatemala has said its decision to follow the US in moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem was a "sovereign" matter that should not affect ties with other countries. "These are Guatemala's foreign policy and sovereign decisions," Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel told a news conference. "In any case, we are open to being able to converse with countries that see it as such, but I don't believe it will create any sort of problem with other countries," she said.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced that he was ordering his country's embassy to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite a UN vote last week condemning US President Donald Trump's decision to unilaterally view the holy city as Israel's capital. The announcement made Guatemala the first country to follow the United States in saying it was moving its embassy. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, while Palestinians, consider east Jerusalem as the occupied capital of their future state. A UN General Assembly vote on Thursday resoundingly rejected any attempt to unilaterally define Jerusalem's status.
A total of 128 nations voted to maintain the international consensus that Jerusalem's status can only be decided through peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The United States and Israel mustered seven other countries to their side to vote no to the UN resolution. The other nations were Guatemala, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo.
UNSC imposes fresh sanctions on North Korea
US, Dec 23: With China's backing, the UN Security Council on Friday slapped new sanctions on North Korea that will restrict oil supplies vital for Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programmes. The council unanimously adopted a US-drafted resolution that also orders the repatriation of North Korean workers abroad and earning revenue for Kim Jong-Un's regime. It is the third raft of sanctions imposed on North Korea this year and comes as the United States and North Korea are showing no signs they are willing to engage in talks to end the crisis on the Korean peninsula.
The resolution bans the supply of nearly 75 percent of refined oil products to North Korea, puts a cap on crude deliveries and orders the repatriation of all North Korean nationals working abroad by the end of 2019. The measures are in response to North Korea's test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on November 28 that marked an advance in Pyongyang's drive to threaten the US mainland with a nuclear strike.
President Donald Trump has threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if it attacks the United States while North Korea insists the world must now accept that it is a nuclear power. Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping last month to cut off oil to North Korea, a move that would cripple its desperately struggling economy.
France to ban all oil, gas production by 2040
France, Dec 20: France's parliament has approved a law banning all exploration and production of oil and natural gas by 2040 within the country and its overseas territories. Under that law that passed a final vote on Tuesday, existing drilling permits will not be renewed and no new exploration licenses will be granted.
The French government claims the ban is a world first. However, it is largely symbolic since oil and gas produced in France accounts for just 1 percent of domestic consumption. The rest is imported. French President Emmanuel Macron responded to the approval of the law on Twitter, saying in part: "Very proud that France has become the first country in the world today to ban any new oil exploration licenses with immediate effect and all oil extraction by 2040."
Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot says the law shows "current generations can take care of future generations." The ban is part of a larger plan to wean the French economy from fossil fuels and to fulfill France's commitments under the Paris climate agreement to curb global warming.
U.S. vetoes U.N. call for withdrawal of Trump Jerusalem decision
US, Dec 19: The United States was further isolated on Monday over U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital when it blocked a United Nations Security Council call for the declaration to be withdrawn. The remaining 14 council members voted in favor of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which did not specifically mention the United States or Trump but which expressed "deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem."
"What we witnessed here in the Security Council is an insult. It won't be forgotten," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said after the vote. It was the first veto cast by the United States in the Security Council in more than six years, Haley said.
India, China and Russia resolve to step up cooperation to counter terrorism
New Delhi, Dec 12: India, China and Russia on Monday resolved to step up cooperation to counter terrorism, including choking terror funding and dismantling the terrorist infrastructure.India flagged concerns over increasing acts of terrorism by Pakistan-based terror outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba During the 15th Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral among several other issues of mutual as well as global concern.
India, China and Russia resolved to step up cooperation to counter terrorism, including choking terror funding and dismantling the terrorist infrastructure. The foreign minister of India Sushma Swaraj meeting her counterparts from China, Wang Yi and Russia, Sergey Lavrov talked about developmental and economic issues and dwelled on regional as well as multilateral matters.
India said that significant rise in acts of terrorism by terrorist organisations like Taliban, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and LeT directly undermine international peace and security and endanger ongoing efforts to strengthen the global economy.The leaders reaffirmed their determination to prevent and counter terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They also stressed that those committing, inciting or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable and brought to justice in accordance with the obligations under international law.
Sushma Swaraj also highlighted the giant leap India has taken in the ease of doing business rankings and urged Russia and China to invest in India. She also emphasized the need to take further steps to deepen mutual understanding and cooperation with China. This was the first visit of a high ranking dignitary from China following DOklam Stand Off.
The 3 nations also dwelled at length on other issues of importance including reforms in the un security council, peaceful cooperation in space technologies, the peace process in Afghanistan, west Asia situation and reforms in IMF. Earlier, Chinese and Russian foreign ministers also met president Ramnath Kovind and discussed many important issues.
1st Intl. Conference on Sports Medicine & Sports Sciences SAICON 2017 inaugurated in Delhi
New Delhi, Dec 8: In modern sports, the secret behind performance enhancement lies in the application of science & technology in the training of athletes. In the race towards the medals podium, the gap between the victor and the vanquished lies in millimeters, milligrams and microseconds. Sports Medicine & Sports Sciences can bridge this gap and help the athletes to reach the podium.
With this objective in mind, the Sports Authority of India has organized an International Conference on Sports Medicine & Sports Sciences where Union sports minister colonel Rajyavardhan Rathore spoke on how sports science can help the country make rapid progress in global arena.
International Solar Alliance to be a legal entity today
New Zealand, Dec 6: In terms of its Framework Agreement, with ratification by Guinea as the 15th country on 6th November 2017, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) will become a treaty-based international intergovernmental organization today. India's global initiative, the International Solar Alliance, which aims at increasing solar energy deployment in member countries, will become a treaty-based international intergovernmental organization today.
The ISA is an Indian initiative, jointly launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the president of France on 30 November 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN climate conference. It aims at addressing obstacles to deployment at a scale of solar energy through better harmonization and aggregation of demand from solar rich countries lying fully or partially between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
Till date, 46 countries have signed and 19 countries have ratified the framework agreement of the ISA. The ISA interim secretariat has been operational as a de-facto organization since 25 January 2016.
Hopes fading, Argentina ends rescue aspect of search for sub
New Zealand, Dec 1: The Argentine navy said it has abandoned attempts to rescue 44 crew members on board a submarine that disappeared two weeks ago. Briefing the media, Argentina's navy spokesman Enrique Balbi, however, said that the search for a missing submarine that has been lost for 15 days will continue. He said the hopes of finding survivors faded after a suspected explosion was reported near its last-known location.
The submarine, ARA San Juan was returning from a routine mission to Ushuaia, near the southernmost tip of South America, when it reported an "electrical breakdown". The submarine last made contact on 15 November. More than a dozen countries are still searching for the submarine which went missing on the South Atlantic on a patrol. Meanwhile, Argentine President Mauricio Macri has ordered a probe into the sub's disappearance.
Greece backs India's bid for permanent membership in UNSC
New Delhi, Nov 28: Greece today advocated reforms in the United Nations and backed India's bid for permanent membership in the Security Council, asserting that New Delhi "cannot be kept out" of one of the most important world bodies. Foreign Affairs Minister of Greece Nikos Kotzias said in New Delhi today that his country fully supports India for the membership of the UNSC as a new balance of power is emerging in the world.
The minister noted that the old powers are declining while a new balance of power is emerging with countries such as India and China. He was responding to a question after delivering a lecture on "Greece as a pillar of stability in Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean", an event organised by the Observer Foundation Research and the Embassy of Greece. The minister said Greece and India could play specific role in stabilisation of the West Asia and also the eastern Mediterranean region.
Justice Bhandari re-elected to ICJ after Britain withdraws
New York, Nov 21: India's nominee to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Dalveer Bhandari was Monday re-elected to the last seat of the world court after Britain withdrew its candidate from the election. Justice Bhandari received 183-193 votes in the General Assembly and secured all the 15 votes in the Security Council after separate and simultaneous elections were held at the UN headquarters in New York. The elections were held after United Kingdom, in a dramatic turn of events, withdrew out of the race for the Hague-based ICJ, thus paving the way for Bhandari's re- election to the prestigious world court. Bhandari and Britain's Christopher Greenwood were locked in a neck-and-neck fight for re-election to the ICJ.
The permanent members of the Security Council - the US, Russia, France and China - were understood to have been throwing their weight behind Greenwood. Britain is the fifth permanent member of the Security Council. In a dramatic turn of events, the British Permanent Representative to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, wrote identical letters to the presidents of the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council, before the two chambers were scheduled to meet at 3 pm (local time) for the 12th round of voting. Read out simultaneously by both the presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council, Rycroft said that its candidate Judge Christopher Greenwood had decided to withdraw from the election to the 15-membered ICJ. He along with Bhandari were seeking re-election for the nine-year term.
In the 11 rounds of voting, Bhandari had got nearly two-thirds of the votes in the General Assembly and in Security Council Greenwood consistently received nine votes as against five for his opponent. This resulted in a stalemate. As per the letter read out simultaneously in the General Assembly and the Security Council, Rycroft said the current deadlock is unlikely to be broken by further rounds of voting. As such he announced withdrawal from the race. With Bhandari being the only candidate left in the race, the General Assembly and Security Council still went through the formal motion of voting to complete the formalities.
The voting in the General Assembly which overwhelmingly favours India is reflective of the new global order, which is not pleasant to the world powers. India has been seeking that the democratic process need to be played its full course in both the Security Council and the General Assembly and there should not be an intervention or adoption of a process that has never been used before or the one that undermines the voice of the majority.
ASEAN-India Summit: PM Modi calls for greater cooperation with member countries
Manila, Nov 15: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for further strengthening the India-ASEAN ties, given the untapped potential which is in the wider interest of the region. Addressing the 15th India- ASEAN summit in the Philippine capital Manila on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said ASEAN nations are at the center of India's Act East policy. Referring to the centuries old maritime ties between the two sides, the Prime Minister stressed on the need to take it forward.
Pledging India's support to ASEAN for a rules based regional security architecture, the Prime Minister said that the India-ASEAN plan of action has progressed well in covering the crucial pillars of their ties. The Prime Minister said that time has come for India and ASEAN members to jointly fight terrorism. The theme of 'Shared Values, Common Destiny' for the 25th anniversary of India- ASEAN is being jointly celebrated with a number of commemorative activities.
The Prime Minister said that 1.25 Billion Indians are waiting to welcome ASEAN leaders as the chief guests for the Republic Day celebrations next year. The Prime Minister has been pitching for greater cooperation and economic ties within the grouping. Mutual trade and investment and cooperation in security and defence between India and ASEAN have registered a surge in the recent years. In order to boost commercial and strategic cooperation with the South East Asian countries, India became a dialogue partner of ASEAN in 1992 and a summit level partner in 2002.
In 2014, India moved ahead from its 'Look East' policy to 'Act East' policy during East Asia summit and India-ASEAN summits in Myanmar.
Clearly, India and ASEAN nations are working to make the 21st century the century of Asia while building upon the strength of Indo-Pacific countries.
PM Modi holds bilateral meetings with Abe, Turnbull and Vietnamese PM
New Delhi, Nov 14: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday held separate talks with his counterparts from Japan Shinzo Abe and Australia Malcolm Turnbull focusing on crafting a new strategy for the Indo-Pacific region in the backdrop of emerging configuration of a key quadrilateral alliance. .
On the second day of the ASEAN summit here, Modi also held bilateral meetings with Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and discussed ways to further ramp up cooperation in various key areas like trade and investment and maritime security. The Prime Minister’s meetings with Abe and Turnbull came a day after he held "very expansive" talks with US President Donald Trump on intensifying overall security and defence cooperation; particularly in the Indo-Pacific region where China is strengthening its military buildup.
On Sunday, India, Australia, Japan and the US held their first meeting to give shape to the much talked about quadrilateral alliance to keep the Indo-Pacific region "free and open". The issue was discussed during the Modi-Trump meeting on Monday and is understood to have figured in the prime minister’s talks on Tuesday with both Abe and Turnbull. "My friend @AbeShinzo and I had an excellent meeting in Manila. We reviewed the ground covered on various aspects of India-Japan ties and discussed ways to deepen cooperation between our economies and people," PM Modi tweeted.
Without giving much details, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the two leaders held a "wide ranging and engaging" discussion on "intensifying" Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries. Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono last month had said that Tokyo favours the quadrilateral dialogue to further boost strategic partnership among the four countries. On his talks with Turnbull, Prime Minister Modi said he was delighted to meet the Australian Prime Minister and that their discussions on Tuesday added new vigour to the friendship between the two countries.
King Philippe of Belgium meets PM Narendra Modi
New Delhi, Nov 7: Belgium's King Philippe today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and discussed bilateral issues. The Belgium royal couple is on a seven-day visit with an aim at boosting overall cooperation between the two countries with a focus on further ramping up trade and investment ties. This is King Philippe's first visit to India following his ascension to the throne in 2013.
Earlier, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde were accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the national capital. Belgium Royal Couple also visited Rajghat and paid tribute to the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi.
New Yorkers defy terror fear, come out for Halloween parade
US, Nov 1: Despite the terror attack in New York, thousands of costumed Halloween revelers turned out hours later for the city's main Halloween parade, which went on as scheduled Tuesday night, just a few blocks from the scene of the carnage, with a heightened police presence. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday that he had ordered the Department of Homeland Security to step up its "extreme vetting program" following a vehicle attack in New York.
"I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!" Trump said, hours after a man driving a pickup truck killed eight people on Tuesday. New York City Police Commissioner James O' Neil said at the conference that the suspect was a 29-year-old man who was not from New York.
The man, driving a rented Home Depot pickup truck, entered the West Side Highway bicycle path at Houston Street, and began driving southward, crashing into a number of pedestrians and bicyclists along the route. At Chambers Street, the truck collided with a school bus, injuring two adults and two children, according to the police. After the collision, the driver exited the vehicle, holding up a paintball gun and a pellet gun. He was shot by a uniformed police officer and was then sent to hospital.
Italian Prime Minister in India, bilateral ties on focus
New Delhi, Oct 30: Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni arrived in New Delhi on a state visit on Monday. Upon arrival, he was accorded the ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. The visit is aimed at strengthening the bilateral political and economic relations between the two countries. During his visit, the Italian PM will hold talks with the top leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Announcing the visit, External Affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the prime ministerial trip from Italy was happening after more than a decade. The last visit of an Italian premier to India was in February 2007.
Xi secures 2nd term as head of China's ruling Communist Party
China, Oct 25: Xi Jinping on Wednesday secured a second five-year term as the head of the ruling Communist Party as it unveiled its new leadership with the Chinese president attaining iconic status enjoyed by modern China's founder Chairman Mao Zedong. Xi, 64, was elected in a closed-door vote to head the Politburo Standing Committee while Prime Minister Li Keqiang retained his seat on the ruling council alongside five new members. Xi and Li walked along with members of the new Politburo Standing Committee before a media event telecast live all over world from Beijing's massive Great Hall of the People. Five other men replaced comrades who had reached an informal retirement age of 68.
Xi in a brief address, thanked the national and international media for working hard in reporting about the Congress. He spoke about the China entering new era of modernisation. "As I look ahead to the next five years, I see several important junctures and signposts," Xi said. Stating that the coming five years between the 19th and the 20th Party Congress is the period in which the time-frames of the two Centenary goals will converge, Xi said, "Not only we must deliver the first centenary goal, we must also embark on the journey towards the second centenary goal." "With decades of hard work, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. In this new context, we must get a new look and, more importantly, make new accomplishments," he said.
Rohingya issue must be dealt with restraint, says EAM Swaraj in Dhaka
Dhaka, Oct 23: Day one of External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj's two-day visit to Dhaka saw lot of activity, including the 4th meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission and a meet with Bangladesh's Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina.
EAM Swaraj apprised PM Hasina of the productive discussions at the Joint Consultative Commission and tangible progress made since her visit to India. Swaraj discussed situation arising out of influx of displaced persons from Rakhine state and need for an early and lasting solution.
The India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission which was co chaired by Sushma Swaraj with her counterpart Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali saw various aspects of the bilateral relationship including security, trade & investment, connectivity, power, shipping, and people to people contacts being discussed. Addressing the press later she said talked about how terror is a challenge and the urgent need to fight the ideology of hate.
On the humanitarian issue of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, she said situation has to be be handled with restraint.
India condemns terror attack on Afghan army base
Afghanistan, Oct 20: India on Thursday strongly condemned the "barbaric" attack on an Afghan army base in Kandahar and asserted that states hosting terrorists and their sanctuaries must eliminate them immediately. "We strongly condemn the barbaric attack today at the Afghan National Army base in Kandahar province," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement. It said India is "gravely" concerned at the escalation of terrorist violence against Afghanistan, despite hopes kindled recently by new strategies as well as efforts for bringing peace in the country.
"Coming on the heels of similar tragedies in Paktia and Ghazni, we share the grief of the families of the victims and the suffering of the Afghan people," the MEA said. It said the terror attacks "demonstrate" that safe havens and support systems continue to be available to terrorists. "States hosting the terrorists and their sanctuaries must eliminate them immediately and without distinction," it said, seen as a clear reference to Pakistan.
The MEA said these concerns were also highlighted yesterday by the United Nations Security Council. "The beginning of Afghan-owned and Afghan-led national reconciliation requires an end to violence," the MEA said. It further said, "India expresses solidarity with the people and the Government of Afghanistan in these difficult times." At least 43 Afghan soldiers were killed and nine wounded in a Taliban-claimed assault on a military base in southern Afghanistan which saw the insurgents blast their way into the compound with at least one explosives-laden Humvee, the Afghan defence ministry said.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to visit India next week
US, Oct 20: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to India and Pakistan next week as part of his five-nation tour that also includes Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Switzerland. Tillerson will make Saudi Arabia his first stop on the week-long tour beginning on Friday. He will then travel to Doha, where he will meet with Qatari leaders and US military officials to discuss joint counter-terrorism efforts, the ongoing Gulf dispute and other regional and bilateral issues, including Iran and Iraq, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
Tillerson will then make his inaugural visit to South Asia as Secretary of State, reaffirming the Trump Administration's comprehensive strategy toward the region, Nauert said. In Islamabad, he will meet with senior Pakistani leaders to discuss America's continued strong bilateral cooperation, Pakistan's critical role in the success of US President Donald Trump's South Asia strategy and the expanding economic ties between the two countries. The exact dates of his visits to these countries are yet to be announced.
In New Delhi, Tillerson will meet with senior Indian leaders to "discuss further strengthening of our strategic partnership and collaboration on security and prosperity" in the Indo-Pacific region, Nauert said. "The Secretary's visit to India will advance the ambitious agenda laid out by President Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Prime Minister's visit to the White House in June," she said.
We need everybody onboard, says UNESCO on US decision to withdraw
US, Oct 13: UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said on Thursday she regretted the United States' announcement that it was withdrawing from the U.N.'s cultural and educational agency. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement that the decision was based on concerns about arrears, the need for reform and what she said was a "continuing anti-Israel bias".
Bokova said the UNESCO needed United States, a founding member, on board to fulfill its wide mandate from promoting education to eradicating poverty. "If we are this large platform for intercultural dialogue, for human rights, for freedom of expression, for safety of journalists, of working all across the board, for eradicating poverty, for fighting obscurantism, for fighting for literacy and against ignorance, I think we need everybody on board, and particularly of course the United States who are a founding member and one of our most important supporters in all of these endeavours," she said.
59 dead and 500 injured in Las Vegas concert shooting
US, Oct 3: Around 59 people have been killed and 500 wounded when a gunman opened fire on a concert in Las Vegas, police said on Monday, making it the deadliest mass shooting in US history. A 64-year-old man armed with multiple machine guns strafed an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas from a high-rise hotel window on Sunday, slaughtering at least 59 people in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history before killing himself.
The barrage of gunfire from a 32nd-floor window of the Mandalay Bay hotel into a crowd of 22,000 people lasted several minutes, sparking panic as throngs of music fans desperately cowered on the open ground, hemmed in by fellow concertgoers, while others at the edge tried to flee. More than 500 people were injured - some by gunfire, some trampled - in the pandemonium adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip as police scrambled to locate the assailant.
Police on Monday identified the gunman as Stephen Paddock, who lived in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada. They said they believed he acted alone and did not know why he attacked the crowd. The ISIS terror group claimed responsibility for the massacre, but US officials said there was no evidence of that.
Resolution introduced to support India's UNSC membership
UN, Sept 29: A resolution has been introduced in the United States House of Representatives by two influential lawmakers to support India's permanent membership in the UN Security Council, saying the time has come to recognise India's role in increasing global prosperity.
Introduced by Congressman Ami Bera, Vice Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressman Frank Pallone, founder of Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, the resolution would put the House officially on record in supporting India's bid.
Currently, it has seven original co-sponsors. There are currently five permanent members of the council, including the US, the UK, Russia, China and France.
Pak used fake picture to push a completely false narrative: India
UN, Sept 26: India on Monday slammed Pakistan for using a "fake picture" in the UN General Assembly to "push a completely fake" narrative, a day after its Permanent Representative presented an image of a girl from Gaza as a victim of pellet guns in Kashmir.
Exercising her right to reply hours after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj blasted Pakistan for its support to terrorism, Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi, in a major goof-up, held up a photograph of a woman whose face was peppered with alleged pellet gun wounds. "This is the face of Indian democracy," Lodhi said of the picture which had no connection with Kashmir.
The picture of 17-year-old Rawya abu Joma'a of Gaza, an alleged victim of an Israeli attack was actually taken by award-winning American photo journalist Heidi Levine in July, 2014. "The Permanent Representative of Pakistan misled this Assembly by displaying this picture to spread falsehood about India. A fake picture to push a completely false narrative," said Paulomi Tripathi, a junior most Indian diplomat at the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations.
Tripathi took the floor of the General Assembly to exercise India's right to reply to the blistering attack by Lodhi. "The Permanent Representative of Pakistan, in her statement, yet again sought to divert attention from Pakistan's role as the hub of global terrorism. She did so by callously holding up a picture of an injured girl," Tripathi said. "The picture was taken on 22 July 2014 by an American photographer Heidi Levine. This photograph was published by New York Times on March 24, 2015 under the caption 'Conflict, Courage and Healing in Gaza'," she said.
India describes Pakistan as Terroristan, land of pure terror
UN, Sept 22: India has described Pakistan as Terroristan, the land of pure terror, Exercising its right to reply at the UN General Assembly in New York, India said, Pakistan has become a geography synonymous with terror with a flourishing industry producing and exporting global terrorism.
First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, Eenam Gambhir said, Terroristan is in fact a territory whose contribution to the globalisation of terror is unparalleled. She said, it is extraordinary that the state which protected Osama Bin Laden and sheltered Mullah Omar should have the gumption to play the victim.
Indian diplomat said, by now, all Pakistan’s neighbours are painfully familiar with these tactics to create a narrative based on distortions, deception and deceit. Ms Gambhir said, Pakistan's current state can be gauged from the fact that Hafiz Saeed, a leader of the UN designated terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba, is now sought to be legitimised as a leader of a political party. She said, Pakistan's counter-terrorism policy is to mainstream and upstream terrorists by either providing safe havens to global terror leaders in its military town, or protecting them with political careers.
Ms Gambhir said, none of this can justify Pakistan’s avaricious efforts to covet the territories the State of Jammu and Kashmir is and will always remain an integral part of lndia. She said, Islamabad will never succeed in undermining India’s territorial integrity despite their best efforts to scale up cross-border terrorism.
At least 248 killed as powerful 7.1 earthquake strikes Mexico
Maxico, Sept 20: At least 248 people were killed when a powerful seven point one magnitude earthquake struck Mexico, including 21 children crushed beneath an elementary school that was reduced to rubble. The destruction revived horrific memories in Mexico on the anniversary of another massive quake in 1985, the disaster-prone country's deadliest ever. Major Jose Luis Vergara of the Mexican navy said another 30 to 40 people remained trapped inside, while 11 children have been rescued so far.
In addition to Mexico City, people were also killed in Puebla, Morelos, Mexico state and Guerrero, said Interior Minister Miguel Osorio Chong.
Mexico City's international airport closed for more than three hours following the quake. The stock market was forced to shut.
Typhoon Talim affects 3,000 houses in Japan, 800 flights cancelled
Tokiyo, Sept 18: A powerful typhoon ripped into southern Japan on Sunday, dumping torrential rain, halting train services and affecting tourism. Typhoon Talim made landfall in Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's four main islands, at around 11:30 on Sunday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Due to strong winds, power has been cut off in the Kagoshima, Kumamoto and Miyazaki prefectures, affecting more than 3,000 households. Nearly 800 flights have been canceled in Kyushu and Shikoku islands as a result of the adverse weather, affecting many tourists and travelers.
The typhoon has left four people missing and some 17 injured, according to local media. Authorities have issued warnings for rainstorms, high seas, and flooding as well as the risk of possible landslides, and advised locals not to go outside during the inclement weather conditions. "We will issue evacuation instructions based on the information we receive about possible rainstorms and landslides," said Ryou Kawanishi, chief of the Kyoto Promotion Office on General Affairs and Disaster Management under Kyoto City Disaster Response Headquarters.
Many tourists are also anxiously waiting for the worst of the weather to pass. "We are from Sendai, and we are planning to take a plane back tomorrow. Because of the typhoon, we may not be able to go back," said a Japanese tourist. The Japanese meteorological agency said the typhoon was expected to head northwards to Hokkaido, dumping heavy rain across an even larger area on Monday.
IED blast in London underground train injures 22 passengers
London, Sept 16: An improvised explosive device went off on Friday on a Tube train at a busy station in southwest London, leaving more than 22 people injured, in what Scotland Yard described as a "terrorist incident". The incident occurred during rush hour in the morning on a District Line Tube train as it pulled into Parsons Green station. Scotland Yard has said an explosion caused by a suspected "bucket bomb" on a London Underground train at Parsons Green is being treated as a terrorist attack.
Assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said a suspected Improvised Explosive Device is thought to be responsible for the blast. He said more police would be deployed across London particularly on the transport network. He refused to say whether anyone had been arrested. Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism squad, SO15, arrived at the scene at Parsons Green Tube station and took the lead in the investigation from the British Transport Police.
India, Japan ink 15 agreements for enhancing bilateral co-operation
Gandhinagar, Sept 14: India and Japan have signed 15 agreements for enhancing bilateral cooperation in several key areas including investment promotion, civil aviation, and science and technology. The agreements were signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe after 12th annual summit talks in Gandhinagar. The two leaders also reviewed the entire spectrum of bilteral cooperation.
After the talks, Mr Modi said, Indo-Japan ties are not limited to bilateral or regional spheres. He said, the two countries also have close cooperation on key global issues. The Prime Minister informed that Japan has invested 4.7 billion US dollars in India during 2016-17, 80 percent higher than last year. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, the two sides have agreed upon a mutual investment support road map.
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to arrive in Gujarat today
Ahmedabad, Sept 13: Gujarat set to roll out red carpet for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today; PM Modi and Shinzo Abe to do a 8 km long roadshow to Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad from the airport; to lay Foundation stone for bullet train tomorrow. When PM Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe meet in India, it will be their 10th meeting in 3 years. On the back of three India-Japan Annual Summits since the Narendra Modi led government came to power at the Centre, India-Japan ties are set to strengthen further during the course of Abe's India visit.
The strength of ties between India and Japan can also be gauged from the fact that Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe have met each other 9 times during the last 3 years.
Japan is among those select few nations with which India has a summit meet every year. Thanks to the civil nuclear agreement and defence cooperation, the relations between the two nations are at their peak. It is being expected that rapidly increasing trade and business ties will only make ties stronger. When the two PMs meet, they're likely to explore ways to enhance cooperation in areas like Make in India, Digital India, Skill India and Start Up India.
Death toll rises to 61 in powerful earthquake off Mexico's coast
Mexico, Sept 9: One of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in Mexico struck off the country's southern coast, toppling hundreds of buildings and sending panicked people fleeing into the streets. President Enrique Pena Nieto yesterday said in a televised address that 61 people were killed - 45 in Oaxaca state, 12 in Chiapas and 4 in Tabasco. He said, at least 200 people have been injured. He declared three days of national mourning in the respect of the dead and bereaved.
Elsewhere, the extent of destruction was still emerging. Hundreds of buildings collapsed or were damaged, power was cut at least briefly to more than 1.8 million people and authorities closed schools Friday in at least 11 states to check them for safety.
A huge rescue operation is under way in the worst-hit states of Tabasco, Oaxaca and Chiapas where people are feared trapped under rubble. Soldiers and other rescuers are scouring severely-hit areas, where many buildings lie in ruins.
PM Modi meets Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi
Myanmar, Sept 6: PM Narendra Modi on Wednesday met Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and the two leaders are expected to discuss wide-ranging topics. "Meeting a valued friend. PM @narendramodi with the State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted. The prime minister's visit to Myanmar comes amid a spike in ethnic violence with Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state. He is expected to raise the issue of the exodus of the ethnic Rohingyas into neighbouring countries.
The Indian government is also concerned about Rohingya immigrants in the country, and has been considering deporting them. Around 40,000 Rohingyas are said to be staying illegally in India. India and Myanmar were also looking at strengthening existing cooperation in areas of security and counter- terrorism, trade and investment, infrastructure and energy, and culture, PM Modi had said ahead of his visit. Prime Minister Modi arrived in Nay Pyi Taw on the second leg of his two-nation trip during which he travelled to southeastern Chinese city Xiamen where he attended the annual BRICS summit and held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders.
"Forward looking and constructive" bilateral meet held between PM Modi and President Xi
Xiamen, Sept 5: After India's major victory at BRICS on Pakistan-backed terrorism , Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Xiamen on Tuesday. Both leaders held their first substantive bilateral meeting after the Dokalam standoff.
At a press briefing after the meeting, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said, "The discussion was constructive. The two leaders reaffirmed that it is in the interest of both India and China to have good relations." The recently resolved Doklam issue also figured in the talks. Jaishankar said, "Both countries agreed that it should not recur. Peace and tranquility at border areas are a must for taking relationship forward. Differences must be handled with mutual respect." Both the countries agreed that more efforts are needed to enhance mutual trust.
Apart from President Xi, the Prime Minister also held a bilateral meeting with the President of Egypt, which is among the five counties -- Mexico, Guinea, Thailand and Tajikistan -- invited by China as part of 'BRICS Plus' outreach exercise.
BRICS voices concern over terror groups including those in Pak
Xiamen, Sept 4: The BRICS on Monday voiced serious concern over violence perpetrated by terror groups like the Taliban, al-Qaeda and Pakistan-based LeT and JeM besides calling for expeditious adoption of a global convention by the UN to deal with the menace.
In what will be seen as a big setback for Pakistan, BRICS countries have expressed strong concern over terror groups harboured by India's neighbour. In a declaration, the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China- South Africa) have called upon all nations to adopt a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism including countering radicalisation and blocking terror financing sources. The grouping expressed concern over the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIS, Al-Qaida, Haqqani network among others.
Notedly the list also names Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. The names of Pakistan sponsored groups will be seen as a big diplomatic achievement for India. Notably it is the designation of Masood Azhar, the infamous Jaish Cheif, as a global terrorist, that China has been blocking at United Nations.
The statement also mentioned terror groups like the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Tehrik-i-Taliban and Hizb ut-Tahrir. "We call for expeditious finalisation and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) by the United Nations General Assembly," the BRICS said.
PM seeks strong partnership among BRICS nations to spur growth
Xiamen, Sept 4: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday sought a strong partnership among BRICS nations to spur growth, saying that the bloc has developed a robust framework for cooperation and contributed to the stability in a world "drifting towards uncertainty".
PM Narendra Modi said that BRICS has developed a robust framework for cooperation and contributes to stability and growth in a world drifting towards uncertainty. Addressing the synergy between the countries the PM said the collective endeavours today encompass a wide arena covering culture, environment, agriculture, energy, sports among others. He added that the countries are working in mission-mode to eradicate poverty and ensure health, sanitation, skills, food security and gender equality.
Prime Minister also stressed on the programmes for women empowerment saying that these programmes were productivity multipliers and mainstream women in nation building. On economic cooperation, the Prime Minister nudged the countries to an early creation of a BRICS rating agency which can cater to the financing needs of sovereign and corporate entities of developing nations.
BRICS summit kicks off; PM to address plenary session
Xiamen, Sept 4: The BRICS Summit began in Xiamen on Monday with a group photograph of leaders of the five countries and was preceded by a warm handshake between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who received the leaders of Brazil, Russia and South Africa ahead of the restricted meeting of the grouping. Brazil, Russia and South Africa ahead of the restricted meeting of the grouping.
Prime Minister Modi was the third leader to reach the convention centre, venue of the 9th BRICS Summit in this port city of China and was followed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Prime Minister Modi is also scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Xi on Tuesday.
The Summit will be the first gathering when the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will meet after New Delhi and Beijing decided on "expeditious disengagement" of their border troops in the disputed Doklam area on August 28 after over a two-month standoff between them.
Apart from the restricted, the leaders will participate in the plenary during which they will explore ways to enhance cooperation within the members of the grouping in key areas. They will also deliberate on international issues of significance, including global economy and challenges. The Summit will end with the adoption of a Xiamen declaration, which will capture the essence of the deliberations and future road map.
India to receive financial account information from Switzerland
New Delhi, Sept 1: PM Narendra Modi held delegation level talks with Switzerland President Doris Leuthard on Thursday in New Delhi. India and Switzerland emphasised their willingness to further boost cooperation in the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion. The first concrete result of enhanced cooperation in finance and tax matters will show up with India getting the long-awaited financial account information.
The exchange of information was facilitated by the signing of the joint declaration in November last year on the implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swiss President held extensive talks on bilateral, regional and international issues.
Following delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Swiss President, two pacts were also inked.
More than 250 Swiss companies have a presence in India through their own subsidiaries and joint ventures. PM Narendra Modi also thanked Switzerland for supporting for India's MTCR and Nuclear Suppliers Group membership. He said India and Switzerland are working on a new bilateral investment treaty. Prime Minister said that transparency in financial transactions is a cause of worry and our cooperation continues with Switzerland.
Prime Minister termed the Climate change as a big challenge and called for implementing Paris agreement to meet the challenges. While addressing the joint press conference, Switzerland's President Doris Leuthard said that Switzerland has accepted the automatic exchange of information and Swiss parliament will pass it by end of this year.
India-Switzerland hold delegation level talks
New Delhi, Aug 31: Visiting President of the Swiss Confederation, Doris Leuthard and Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds delegation level talks in New Delhi today on entire gamut of bilateral relations; many key agreements expected to be inked to boost bilateral cooperation.
President Doris Leuthard was given a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan as she arrived in New Delhi on her three-day visit to India. Leuthard said her visit would give a boost to the Indo-Swiss ties as both countries have 70 years of friendship.
"This visit will enhance our diversity of cooperation and I hope we can also give the pending negotiations on trade and partnership agreement a new impetus," she said.
Leuthard also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reforms.
"We are very pleased with Prime Minister Modi's reforms," Leuthard said.
Harvey costliest natural disaster in US history, toll climbs to 38
US, Aug 31: Hurricane Harvey, the costliest natural disaster in US history, may cost a whopping USD 160 billion in economic damages in Texas which resulted in massive destruction, killing 38 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless. Harvey, now a tropical depression, made the second landfall on Wednesday, slamming into the Louisiana coast near the Texas border hitting the region with record-breaking rainfall and devastating floods. Harvey has brought the heaviest rainfall in US history, soaking Texas with more than 52 inches since it first made landfall last Friday.
At least 38 people have been killed as a result of the devastating floods and that number was climbing as water receded, revealing the storm's awful toll, officials were quoted as saying by the New York Times. Twenty people still remained missing in the city, according to Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. The flooding in Houston, the fourth largest US city, is slowly receding in some areas for the first time since the weekend, authorities said. Taking advantage of a less rainfall in Houston, Harris County authorities finally located a van, containing six members of the same family that had been washed off the road days earlier.
All six were dead in what police say is the single deadliest incident stemming from Harvey, with victims ranging in ages from six to 84. More than 32,000 people were in shelters in Texas, and 30,000 shelter beds were available, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said. Accuweather estimated Harvey's cost at USD 160 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in US history. AccuWeather president Joel Myers called Harvey a "1000 year Storm" and said parts of Houston will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
More than 30,000 people took refuge 200 shelters, about 1,800 evacuees have been moved to hotels and other longer-term housing options, said Brock Long, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In Houston, authorities opened two more megashelters after the convention center quickly became packed with almost 9,000 evacuees.
Bhutan welcomes end of Doklam standoff
Bhutan, Aug 29: Bhutan welcomes the end of standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam; Expresses hope that it would help in ensuring peace and tranquillity at the tri-junction. Bhutan has said it welcomed the disengagement by India and China at the face-off site in Doklam. Bhutan hoped disengagement in Doklam contributes to peace, tranquillity and status quo along the borders of Bhutan, China and India.
Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Deuba to visit India from August 23-27
New Delhi, Aug 21: Sher Bahadur Deuba, Prime Minister of Nepal, accompanied by his spouse Arzu Deuba, will be on a State Visit to India from 23-27 August 2017 at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is his first visit abroad after assuming the office of Prime Minister of Nepal in June 2017. A high-level delegation will accompany the Prime Minister of Nepal.
During the visit Sher Bahadur Deuba will call-on President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the visit, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and other Ministers will call on Prime Minister Deuba. Apart from official engagements in New Delhi, PM Deuba will also visit Hyderabad, Tirupati and Bodh Gaya.
In recent years, India-Nepal partnership has witnessed significant growth in all areas of cooperation. The upcoming visit will provide an opportunity to both the sides for holding wide-ranging discussions on issues of mutual interest and advancing age old, special ties of friendship between our two countries.
Japan strongly backs India on Doklam issue
New Delhi, Aug 19: Japan has come out strongly in support of India in the two-month-long Doklam standoff near Sikkim and said there should be no "unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force". The statement comes a month ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to India and is the first show of unequivocal support to India from a major country.
"We understand that the area is disputed between China and Bhutan, and that both countries recognize the existence of a dispute," Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu said yesterday. The prolonged stand-off started in June when India sent troops to stop China building a road in the Doklam area, a remote, uninhabited territory claimed by both China and India's ally Bhutan. Delhi says the road is a serious security concern because it changes the status quo at the tri-junction of the borders of India, China and Bhutan.
Nearly 400 bodies recovered from Sierra Leone mudslide
Freetown, Aug 16: Rescue workers have recovered nearly 400 bodies from a mudslide in the outskirts of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, the chief coroner said on Tuesday, as morgues struggled to find space for all the dead. Dozens of houses were buried when a mountainside collapsed in the town of Regent on Monday morning - one of the deadliest natural disasters in Africa in recent years.
President Ernest Bai Koroma urged residents of Regent and other flooded areas around Freetown to evacuate immediately so that military personnel and other rescue workers could continue to search for survivors who might be buried underneath debris. "As the search continues, we have collected nearly 400 bodies - but we anticipate more than 500," chief coroner Seneh Dumbuya told Reuters. Hundreds of other people are missing, aid agencies said.
Nepal Flood: 66 dead; rescue & relief operation underway
Nepal, Aug 14: In Nepal, rescue and relief operation has been intensified in flood affected areas; 66 persons have lost their lives since Friday and 53 are missing in flood and landslide triggered by incessant rains. President Vidya Devi Bhandari has expressed deep condolence on the death of people in this natural calamity. Helicopters and boats are being used to rescue stranded people and distribution of food and other relief materials.
President Vidya Devi Bhandari has appealed to NGOs, private sector and community institutions to help in rescue and relief work. Political parties have also asked their leaders and cadres to reach out to the affected people and help them. Health experts have expressed fear of spreading water borne diseases in flood affected areas. According to Met department weather conditions are likely to improve from today.
Trump favours complete elimination of atomic arms by all countries possessing it
US, Aug 11: US President Donald Trump has said that he favoured a complete elimination of atomic arms by all countries possessing it. He said at Bedminster in New Jersey that nuclear is greatest threat worldwide and he would like to de-nuke the countries that have nuclear weapons including United States,Russia,China,Pakistan and many other.
Mr. Trump said America will be the most powerful nuclear nation on the earth until his aim of a nuclear-free world is achieved. The US President said nobody, including North Korea, is going to be threatening the United States with anything. Mr.Trump said his administration will be increasing military budget by many billions of dollars because of the North Korean threat and other reasons.
UN to vote on tougher North Korea sanctions
UN, Aug 5: The UN Security Council will vote on Saturday on a US-drafted resolution toughening sanctions on North Korea, diplomats said, a proposed ban on certain exports that could deprive Pyongyang of USD 1 billion in annual revenue. After a month of negotiations, the United States reached a deal with China, North Korea's main trading partner and ally, on the measures aimed at ratcheting up pressure on Pyongyang to halt its missile and nuclear tests. The Security Council was scheduled to vote at 3 pm (local time) on Saturday on the new raft of sanctions, diplomats confirmed. The draft resolution calls for a ban on all exports of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore, as well as fish and seafood by the cash-starved state.
If implemented by all countries, the ban would strip Pyongyang of roughly a third of its export earnings estimated at USD 3 billion per year, according to a diplomat familiar with the negotiations. The diplomat, who briefed reporters on the content of the draft, said he had "high confidence" that China and Russia would support the proposed sanctions. Backed by its European allies, Japan and South Korea, the United States has been leading the push at the United Nations for tougher sanctions in response to North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4.
Russia, which like China is a veto-wielding council member, had warned that it would not support sanctions that would worsen North Korea's humanitarian crisis. The United States and its allies have argued that tougher sanctions are needed to force North Korea to come to the negotiating table to discuss a halt to its military programs. China and Russia have meanwhile insisted that sanctions alone will not change Pyongyang's behavior and that talks are needed to address the crisis. As negotiations at the United Nations entered the final stretch, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared that Washington was not seeking regime change in North Korea and was willing to talk to Pyongyang.
Afghanistan suicide bombing: 29 dead, dozens wounded
Afghanistan, Aug 2: At least 29 people killed and over 60 others wounded in a suicide bomb blast at a mosque in Afghanistan's Herat city. The bomber entered the mosque on Tuesday night and opened fire on worshippers before detonating explosives, where around 300 worshippers were attending evening prayers. News agencies reported that one man acted as the suicide bomber whilst a second opened fire on worshippers in the predominantly Shiite region.
Shiites Muslims are a minority in Afghanistan and have been threatened by the Islamic State group that operates in the country's east. Herat has previously been the scene of several smaller attacks on Shiites. No group immediately claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack.
Lanka, China sign USD 1.1 bn Hambantota port deal
Srilanka, Jul 31: Sri Lanka has signed a USD 1.1 billion deal to sell a 70-per cent stake of the strategic Hambantota port to China, amid concerns over the massive debt the island nation incurred in building the port. The deal had been delayed by several months over concerns that the deep-sea port could be used by the Chinese navy. Sri Lanka's Minister of Ports and Shipping Mahinda Samarasinghe and China's envoy to Colombo Yi Xianliang were present when the Concession Agreement was signed.
Under the 99-year lease agreement, CMPort is to invest up to USD 1.1 billion in the port and marine-related activities. "This is a very favourable agreement compared with the plan in 2014," Samarasinghe said, referring to the original plan laid out during former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's tenure.
The deal may raise security concerns in India. According to the new deal, only Sri Lankan Navy will be responsible for security of the deep-sea port, and the port will not be allowed to become a base for any foreign navy. The Sri Lankan government had to face huge opposition to the deal from trade unions, who called it a sellout of the country's national assets to China. Last week, petroleum workers brought the country to a standstill for two days by stopping fuel distribution. The initial 80:20 share distribution has been revised to 69.55 per cent to CMPort and 30.45 per cent to Sri Lanka Port Authority.
US Senate rejects plan to repeal Obamacare without replacement
US, Jul 27: US Senate has failed to pass a Republican proposal to repeal former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare policy without replacing it. The 45-55 vote marks the second defeat for Republicans aiming to pass a bill this week to undo the health policy. The vote came a day after the Senate rejected a plan to repeal and replace the health law with a Republican plan.
US withholds Pakistan reimbursement over Haqqani network
US, Jul 22: The United States has decided against the disbursement of 350 million USD in coalition support fund to Pakistan. The move comes after the Defence Secretary informed Congress that he was not able to certify that Islamabad has taken "sufficient actions" against the dreaded Haqqani network.
As a result of the notification by the Defence Secretary James Mattis to Congress, the Department of Defence has re-programmed remaining Coalition Support Funds, which is 350 million USD, to other accounts. The Pentagon's decision came ahead of the Trump administration's review of US policy with regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"The funds could not be released to the Government of Pakistan at this time because the secretary could not certify that Pakistan has taken sufficient action against the Haqqani Network per the requirement in the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)," Pentagon spokesperson Adam Stump said in a statement.
This is the second time these funds have been withheld from Islamabad. Mattis' predecessor, Ash Carter, similarly refused to certify Pakistan was adequately combating the Haqqani Network causing Congress to withhold 300 million USD in funding. Pakistan has already been reimbursed 550 million USD for operations against other terror groups during 2016.
The Haqqani Network is considered to be the most capable and violent branch of the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan is the largest recipient of Coalition Support Fund reimbursements, having received more than 14 billion USD since 2002, according to the Pentagon.
Justice Gopal Prasad Parajuli sworn in as new Chief Justice of Nepal
Nepal, Jul 19: Justice Gopal Prasad Parajuli has been sworn in as new Chief Justice of Nepal. President Bidya Devi Bhandari administered the oath of office and secrecy to Justice Parajuli at Kathmandu on Monday. Vice-President Nanda Bahadur Pun, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, Speaker Onsari Gharti, chiefs of constitutional bodies, judges of Supreme Court and other dignitaries were also present on the occasion.
The Parliamenary Hearing Special Committee (PHSC) on Sunday unanimously approved Justice Parajuli’s name for the post of Chief Justice. He was officiating as acting Chief Justice after the retirement of Chief Justice Sushila Karki on June 6, 2017.
US: 9 people drowned after flash flood struck swimmers in Arizona national forest area
US, Jul 17: In US, at least nine people were drowned after a flash flood struck swimmers in an Arizona national forest area, while one teenager remains unaccounted for. More than 100 people were relaxing at Cold Springs Swimming Hole in Tonto National Forest when they were hit by a flash flood yesterday.
Two children are among the dead, the youngest only two years old. The swimmers had no warning other than a sudden enormous roar as millions of gallons of floodwater combined with mud and rocks cascaded through the popular regional recreation area.
US House imposes conditions for defence funding to Pakistan
WD, Jul 15: The US House of Representatives has voted for three legislative amendments to impose tougher conditions for reimbursement of defence funding to Pakistan. All the three legislative amendments to the 651 billion US dollar National Defence Authorisation Act, NDAA, 2018 were adopted by a voice vote by the lower house of the Congress yesterday. NDAA-2018, which authorises the annual defence expenses for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2017 was adopted by the House 344-81.
The bill requires the Secretary of Defence to certify, prior to making any reimbursement to Pakistan, that Islamabad is maintaining security along the Ground Lines of Communication through Pakistan, taking demonstrable steps to support counterterrorism operations, disrupting cross border attacks, and countering the threat of improvised explosive devices. The Defence Secretary also needs to certify that Pakistan is demonstrating commitment to preventing the Haqqani network from using North Waziristan as a safe haven.
G20 summit begins in Hamburg today
Hamburg, Jul 7: The focus now shifts to the G20 summit starting on Friday in the German city of Hamburg. Prime Minister Modi reached Hamburg early Friday morning. The spotlight at the summit would be on counter-terrorism and climate change among other issues while no bilateral meeting is scheduled between Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two leaders would join other BRICS leaders at a BRICS leaders meeting in Hamburg.
German newspapers abuzz with news on the G 20 summit being hosted this year by the grouping's President for 2017 Germany. A notable highlight was India's economic size. South Africa's President Jacob Zuma was the first to arrive for the summit in Hamburg, a major port city in northern Germany. Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Hamburg early morning on Friday, hours before the 2 day summit begins.
Other top leaders who would participate in the summit include Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Chinese President Xi Jinping, French President Emmanuel Macron and UK PM Theresa May. Migration, sustainable development and global stability would be the other focus areas. The theme of the summit is 'Shaping an Inter-connected World' this year. It would be Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 4th G20 appearance and for India, the prime focus would be on fighting terrorism.
PM Modi meets Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel, Jul 5: History in the making as PM Narendra Modi meets his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu while Israel rolls out the red carpet for the Indian PM at the Tel Aviv airport. PM Modi is the first ever Indian PM to visit Israel and he has done so in a year when both nations mark 25 years of diplomatic relations. To make PM Modi's reception special, the Israeli Prime Minister broke all protocol to receive him upon his arrival at the airport. Benjamin Netanyahu was accompanied by around 50 other Israeli leaders as well. The reception for PM Modi was extraordinary and one that is reserved only for the US President and the Pope.
PM Netanyahu will be with PM Modi in nearly all the engagements that he will participate in during his 3-day visit to Israel. Prime Minister Modi inspected a ceremonial Guard of Honour and thanked his Israeli counterpart for the warm reception accorded to him. He said that bilateral ties have strengthened over the last 25 years and both countries will achieve shared success as they continue to co-operate closely across sectors.
Terming his Israel visit ground-breaking, PM Modi said that India and Israel are development partners who are working to secure their societies from terrorism.
The Israeli PM recalled the strong cultural and traditional ties between the two countries. Hailing PM Modi as a world leader, the Israeli PM recounted the two meetings that he had earlier with PM Modi and asserted the limitless possibilities of co-operation between the two countries.
After successive Congress governments ignored Israel in their foreign policy, PV Narasimha Rao's govt established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1992 and Atal Bihari Vajpayee's govt. invited Israeli President Ariel Sharon to India for the first time in 2003.
Since then ties started strengthening between India and Israel and now Prime Minister Modi's visit to Israel have given ties a substantive boost.
In October 2015, President Pranab Mukherjee became the first Indian President to visit Israel. Both India and Israel view terrorism as a common concern and the two Prime Ministers are viewed as leaders with uncompromising stance on the terror menace. The camaraderie that the two leaders shared at the airport was there for everyone to see. PM Modi with the Israeli PM then headed to the Danziger Farm, one of the leading flower farms in Israel where they watched an Agriculture Ministry demonstration of some of Israel's latest agricultural technologies, including a state-of-the-art irrigation multicopter drone and a thermal camera.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi next visited the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem. The memorial is dedicated to the victims of the holocaust undertaken by Nazi Germany and provides an insight into the racist oppression of the Jewish people. The memorial is very close to the heart of the people of Israel. It is built on the mountain of remembrance in Jerusalem as a way of remembering the world that was lost due to Nazi oppression.
The hall of remembrance catalogues the pictures of over 2.7 million Jews who lost their lives in the holocaust.
Prime Minister Modi had chosen to visit this memorial, which is very close to the heart of the people of Israel, on the very first day of his tour. It is also a means of reaching out to the large number of Jewish people of Indian origin living in Israel. Prime Minister Modi lit the eternal flame of remembrance along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his tour of the memorial. At a time when terrorism is a challenge facing the world places like Yad Vashem are a reminder of the horrific results that hatred can lead to.
PM Modi will have a packed schedule in Israel as his itinerary includes 18 engagements in 48 hours. In his talks with the Israeli PM and President, PM Modi is expected to focus on defence, technology, innovation, start-ups and agriculture research. The two countries have been co-operating across several spheres of development including defence, security, economic, science and technology sectors over the last several years and aim to further expand bilateral co-operation. PM Modi's visit to Israel is being seen as a milestone in India-Israel ties.
China's foray into tiny Bhutan threatens Himalayan Peace
ND, Jun 30: The Himalayan Kingdom, home to the concept of Gross National Happiness, today faces Chinese aggressive behaviour. India compelled to step in for cooling temperature and has urged restraint and responsible behaviour. In a consequent action, China also denied entry to hundreds of Indian pilgrims thru Sikkim's Nathu La pass from going to one of their most revered shrines in Tibet. The route was agreed during Xi Jinping's India visit in 2014. Stopping this people-centric initiative has left hundreds of common people stranded.
Meanwhile, in view of the many queries raised recently in the media regarding the Bhutan - China boundary in the Doklam area the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bhutan has conveyed the following statement:
On 16th June 2017, the Chinese Army started constructing a motorable road from Dokola in the Doklam area towards the Bhutan Army camp at Zompelri. Boundary talks are ongoing between Bhutan and China and we have written agreements of 1988 and 1998 stating that the two sides agree to maintain peace and tranquility in their border areas pending a final settlement on the boundary question, and to maintain status quo on the boundary as before March 1959. The agreements also state that the two sides will refrain from taking unilateral action, or use of force, to change the status quo of the boundary.
Bhutan has conveyed to the Chinese side, both on the ground and through the diplomatic channel, that the construction of the road inside Bhutanese territory is a direct violation of the agreements and affects the process of demarcating the boundary between our two countries. Bhutan hopes that the status quo in the Doklam area will be maintained as before 16 June 2017.
India, U.S. vow to fight terrorism together
US, Jun 27: US President Donald Trump, calls India a "true friend ", addressing a joint press brief at White House President Trump said that both countries are affected by terror, and should resolve to destroy radical Islamic terrorism. Trump also called for the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and ballistic programs to be "rapidly" tackled, and thanked Modi for "joining us in applying new sanctions against Pyongyang."
The two leaders also agreed to continue strengthening coordination for ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan as they expressed concern over rising instability in the war-torn country caused by terrorism. US President Donald Trump said he is keen to work with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on creating a "fair and reciprocal" trading relationship between the two nations and called for the removal of "barriers" for the export of US goods into Indian markets.
Referring to the GST reform to be implemented across India starting next month, Trump said it was "the largest tax overhaul in your country's history". “You have a big vision for improving infrastructure, and you are fighting government corruption, which is always a grave threat to democracy," he said. Speaking on the occasion PM Modi said that both the countries will help each other cooperate in areas of counter terrorism.
Further both nations will continue to cooperate in bringing peace and normalcy in Afghanistan. PM Modi said that both the countries are committed for a bilateral architecture that would propel the strategic bilateral relationship to a new level. Technology, innovation and knowledge economy will be focus areas in strengthening the bilateral relationship. PM Modi expressed satisfaction on the bilateral talks with Donald Trump and said that the talks were fruitful and touched almost all the aspects of the bilateral relationship.
Russia cancels US meeting over sanctions: US official
Jun 21: Russia has canceled a meeting with senior US diplomats in the wake of Washington's decision to reinforce sanctions imposed over its occupation of Crimea, US officials said. US Under Secretary of State Tom Shannon had been due in St Petersburg later this week to meet and mend diplomatic fences with Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.
Relations between Moscow and Washington are at a low even by the standards of a rivalry that goes back to the Cold War. Shannon had hoped to address "irritants" in the relationship, like tension over Moscow's intimidation of US diplomats and the US seizure of Russian diplomatic compounds. But even this minor first step towards finding enough common ground to begin to address more fundamental issues -- such as Russia's intervention in Ukraine -- has now fallen apart.
"We regret that Russia has decided to turn away from an opportunity to discuss bilateral obstacles that hinder US- Russia relations," spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. On Tuesday, the United States added 38 individuals and entities to its sanctions list targeting the Russians and pro-Russian rebels it blames for the fighting in Ukraine.
This appears to have been what triggered Moscow's decision to cancel the meeting, although US President Donald Trump also met Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on the same day. But the State Department insisted that the sanctions were not being expanded, merely "maintained", by adding new targets as Moscow finds ways around the previous embargo. And Washington insisted the sanctions would stay in place until Russia honors the Minsk agreement to disengage from eastern Ukraine and returns the annexed Crimea region.
"We have regularly updated these sanctions twice a year since they were first imposed," Nauert explained. "Let's remember that these sanctions didn't just come out of nowhere. "Our targeted sanctions were imposed in response to Russia's ongoing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbor, Ukraine," she said.
Russia's foreign ministry said that, given the new sanctions, it was "not the moment" to hold the Shannon-Ryabkov talks, which Washington had announced on Tuesday. And, asked whether the meeting could be rescheduled, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: "I have no confirmation that these consultations will take place."
Vacate occupied Kashmir: India to Pakistan
Jun 19: India slams Pakistan at UNHCR for atrocities in Balochistan and asks it to vacate occupied part of Jammu and Kashmir; European Union Parliament too hits out at Pakistan for human rights violations and executions following flawed trails. India on Thursday said that Pakistan's "blatant" abuse of human rights in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, including the persecution of minorities, is creating a "cauldron of tumult" in the entire region.
Exercising its Right of Reply in a general debate at the UNHRC, India said that active support since 1989 to separatist groups in Kashmir and terrorist elements from different parts of the world including from territory under Pakistan's control has become a central element of Pakistan's state policy.
Asserting that Pakistan continues to test the patience of this Council with its false narrative over Jammu and Kashmir, India asked Pakistan to stop acting as the "epicentre of international terrorism" and "vacate illegal and forcible occupation of approximately 78,000 square kilometres of Indian territory in J&K.
India also advised Pakistan to focus its energies on setting its own house in order and acting against the perpetrators of terrorist attacks on its neighbors instead of ritually raking up alleged human rights violations elsewhere.
China Kindergarten Blast: Atleast 8 killed
China, Jun 17: Blast outside a kindergarten in China's Jiangsu provice claims atleast 8 lives; incident happened when children were leaving the school. Chinese police preliminarily identified the kindergarten blast that have killed at least eight people as a criminal offense and have targeted a suspect. The explosion happened yesterday afternoon near a kindergarten in east China's Jiangsu Province. The provincial government has ordered checks of possible safety risks at production sites.
Number Of Dead Now 30 In London Grenfell Tower Blaze, Fire Put Out, Says Police
London, Jun 15: At least 30 people have been confirmed killed and dozens more are feared dead in the London tower block fire, police said on Friday, as firefighters continued searching for bodies amid outrage over the use of cladding blamed for spreading the flames. "We know that at least 30 people have died as a result of this fire... I do believe the number will increase," police commander Stuart Cundy told reporters in front of the charred Grenfell Tower. Cundy said police had started a criminal investigation but there was nothing to suggest "that the fire had been started deliberately".
He also said the last flames had finally been put out, two days after the fire broke out in the night between Tuesday and Wednesday in the 24-storey tower in a working-class enclave of the wealthy London borough of Kensington and Chelsea. More than 70 people are unaccounted for, according to media reports, although it was not known whether some of those were among the bodies recovered so far. Police have warned some of the victims may never be identified because of the state of the remains.
India becomes full member of SCO
Astana, Jun 9: It was a landmark day for regional cooperation in Eurasia. Both India and Pakistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation formally on Friday. The SCO has now become the world's largest regional grouping bringing two Asian giants & three BRICS members together in a Central Asian gateway. Working together SCO countries can make a severe dent in global terror, effectively combat climate change and boost global prosperity.
All round applause just after Astana SCO meet Chair and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev made this announcement. It took 2 long years of protracted negotiations for 2 neighbours having fought 4 wars with each other in the past to make a simultaneous entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
SCO began as the Shanghai 5 in Beijing nearly two decades ago to ensure better border and security coordination between China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It became SCO in 2001 with the addition of Uzbekistan as its 6th member. Now, in 2017, the number stands at 8 and SCO has become the largest regional grouping in the world. For an organisation as strong the SCO, Prime Minister Modi brought home the potential of collective action when he addressed other member leaders in the context of terrorism.
Connectivity also found top billing in the PM Modi's address for boosting trade and investment. Prime Minister Modi also said that India's membership will take cooperation between member countries to new heights in multiple spheres, from energy to combating climate change. He even stressed on the need for respecting each-others' sovereignty & territorial integrity while addressing all member country leaders including China's Xi Jingping & Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif.
In keeping with the occasion where Pakistan also made its SCO entry, Nawaz Sharif welcomed India's entry into the grouping. He further said that SCO would emerge as a powerful platform to promote peace, build trust and spur shared prosperity. Clearly, with over 40% of the world's population and 20 % GDP, India and Pakistan joining the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation will only add strength to the Eurasian body at the heart of which beats connectivity to energy sources and the path to the Eurasian market.
India set to become full member of SCO
Astana, Jun 8: The stage is set for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Kazakhstan for the SCO summit in Astana where India will become a full member of the organisation. Shanghai Co-operation Organisation was set up in 2001 with the goal to foster security co-operation between the member nations over the years it has expanded its focus to include areas related to economic co-operation.
On Friday at the Astana summit, India and Pakistan will join the club of SCO's 6 member states. Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyztan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. With this, the organisation would become India's gateway to Eurasia and Central Asia. By becoming a full member of SCO, India stands to gain in the spheres of security, economy, trade, investment, connectivity and energy co-operation. In Astana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to hold bilateral talks with leaders, on the sidelines of the SCO summit.
All eyes are on an expected bilateral meeting between PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping and on whether issues like India's NSG membership would come up at the meeting. External Affairs Minister has said that formal talks between PM Modi and Pak PM Nawaz Sharif are unlikely in the present circumstances but hasn't ruled out a handshake or a pull aside on the sidelines of the meet.
PM Modi will also attend the inauguration of the Astana Expo with the theme of Future Energy on Friday. The Astana summit is expected to build up on security, economic and cultural relations between member states but considering the threat of terrorism in the region counter-terrorism may well be a major focus area.
London attacks: British police arrest dozen people
London, Jun 5: Major political parties in Britain temporarily suspended campaigning for June 8 polls. British police have arrested a dozen people in a widening terrorism investigation after attackers using a van and large knives and killed seven people in the heart of London on Saturday. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. Although the attackers were also dead, authorities raced to determine whether they had accomplices. The country's major political parties temporarily suspended campaigning with only days to go before the general election on Thursday.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the vote would take place as scheduled on June 8 because "violence can never be allowed to disrupt the democratic process. Britain Counter terrorism police chief said security arrangements for forthcoming events were being reviewed. He added that additional police will be deployed across London.
PM arrives in France on last leg of 4-nation tour
France, Jun 3: PM Narendra Modi arrived in Paris today on the last leg of his four-nation tour during which he will hold talks with newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron on a host of key issues like terrorism, India's NSG membership bid and climate change. "Reached France for a vital visit to enhance ties with one of our most important strategic partners," Prime Minister Modi tweeted after landing in Paris.
He reached France after wrapping up his visit to Russia during which he held talks with President Vladimir Putin and attended an international economic forum. Before Russia, PM Modi also visited Germany and Spain and held talks with the top leadership there. During his visit, PM Modi will meet the newly-elected French President Macron. "France is one of our most important Strategic Partners. I look forward to meeting President Macron and have discussions on issues of mutual interest," PM Modi had said ahead of his visit.
"I would be exchanging views with the French President on important global issues including UN Security Council reforms and India's permanent membership of the UN Security Council, India's membership of the various multilateral export control regimes, counter-terrorism cooperation, collaboration on climate change and International Solar Alliance," he had said.
France is India's 9th largest investment partner and a key partner in its development initiatives in the area of defence, space, nuclear and renewable energy, urban development and railways. "I am committed to substantially strengthening and advancing our multi-faceted partnership with France," PM Modi had said. Prime Minister Modi had also called up Macron to congratulate him on his poll victory last month and said he looked forward to work with him to further deepen the bilateral cooperation. 39-year-old Macron created history by becoming the youngest president of France.
PM Modi pays floral tributes to WW-II victims at Piskarevskoe
Russia, Jun 1: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today paid floral tributes to the victims of the World War II at the historic Piskarevskoe Memorial Cemetery in St Petersburg, the cultural capital of Russia. Ahead of summit level talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin today, PM drove to the monument on the north-eastern outskirts of the city that holds the graves of around five lakh who died during the Siege of Leningrad.
At the cemetery, PM placed flowers and then stood in silence for a few minutes. The Piskarevskoe Memorial Cemetery is the largest cemetery of the victims of the World War II. In 186 mass graves in the cemetery lie the 420,000 residents of the city who died of starvation, bombing, shelling, and 70,000 soldiers - defenders of Leningrad, the old name of St Petersburg.
PM Modi arrived on Wednesday evening in St. Petersburg, the former capital of imperial Russia that was founded by Czar Peter the Great in 1703, and was also known as Petrograd and Leningrad.
PM Modi to attend 18th annual summit in Russia
Russia, Jun 1: In the third leg of his four-nation visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in St. Petersburg on Wednesday night for 18th Indian-Russia annual summit with President Vladimir Putin. During the summit, the two sides are likely to sign a host of agreements, with all eyes on a deal to build with Russia's help the last two units of India's largest nuclear power plant.
On his arrival here, PM Modi tweeted, "Reached the historic city of St. Petersburg. Looking forward to a fruitful visit aimed at cementing India-Russia relations." Upon his arrival in the hotel in St Petersburg, people enthusiastically greeted Prime Minister Modi. Both the countries are celebrating their 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
PM Modi 4-nation Europe visit: First stop in Germany
Germany, May 30: PM Narendra Modi has reached Germany, his first stop on a four nation Europe visit. This is Prime Minister's second visit to Germany. He will hold extensive talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at her official Meseberg Country Retreat where the two leaders would discuss issues of regional and global importance. Germany is a leading partner in trade, technology and investment, and PM Modi and Chancellor Merkel will interact with top business leaders of both countries to further strengthen trade and investment ties.
PM Narendra Modi touched down in Germany on the first leg of his 4-nation Europe visit to a rousing welcome. On the first day of his visit, PM Modi will attend a dinner hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at her official Meseberg Country Retreat. On the second day of the visit, Prime Minister Modi will hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel under the framework of the 4th IGC - India-Germany Intergovernmental consultations, and call on President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
In a pre-departure statement on Facebook, PM Modi wrote, “I am confident that this visit will open a new chapter in our bilateral cooperation with Germany and further deepen our Strategic Partnership.” Prime Minister Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will chart out a future roadmap of cooperation with focus on trade and investment, security and counter-terrorism, innovation and science & technology, skill development, urban infrastructure, railways and civil aviation, clean energy, development cooperation, health and alternative medicine. Many agreements are expected to be signed. Apart from this, PM Modi and Merkel will interact with top business leaders.
PM Modi wrote in a Facebook post, “Germany is our leading partner in trade, technology and investment. In Berlin, Chancellor Merkel and I will interact with top business leaders of both countries to further strengthen our trade and investment ties.” There are 1600 German companies active in India, and nearly 600 joint ventures with Indian companies. Germany is a manufacturing leader of high standing and can play an important role in PM's Make in India and Skill India initiatives.
Both countries are major global players, large economies and democracies. Their strategic partnership is based on democratic values and a commitment to an open, inclusive and rules-based global order, including the expansion of the UN Security Council and terrorism. Whether it is surgical strike at LOC or China's one belt one road project, Germany has always supported India in various important agendas. And the second visit by Prime Minister Modi will only take ties between two nations to the next level.
NATO allies need to pay their fair share: Trump
Brussels, May 27: US President Donald Trump has told his Nato allies in Brussels that all members of the alliance must pay their fair share of defence spending. He voiced his long held concern that alliance members are not paying enough. President Trump said that bombing of a pop concert in the British city of Manchester on Monday, claimed by the Islamic State group, showed that terrorism must be stopped in its tracks.
He said that the NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration. German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck an entirely different note as she unveiled a memorial made up of a section of the Berlin Wall to mark the end of the Cold War. She said Germany will not forget the contribution of NATO in reunify Germany.
Therefore, Germany will indeed make our contribution to security and solidarity in the common alliance. Trump's rebuke came despite NATO saying it would formally join the US-led coalition against IS at the summit, despite reservations in France and Germany about getting involved in another conflict.
Terror rips Manchester: 19 killed, over 50 hurt
UK, May 25: Around 19 people have been reportedly killed and over 50 injured in Manchester in England as an explosion ripped through crowd gathered at a music concert by Adriana Grande. Greater Manchester Police carried out a precautionary controlled explosion on a second device in the Cathedral Garden area of the city. But they later confirmed that it was not a suspicious item.
Shortly after the blast, Manchester Victoria station, which is close to the concert venue, was closed and all trains cancelled. Prime Minister Theresa May has said her thoughts are with the victims and families of those affected in "what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack."
NIA begins probe against Hurriyat over Pak funding
ND, May 20: The role of separatist leaders in fomenting trouble in the Kashmir Valley after a sting operation by a private news channel showed them admitting that they receive funds from their Pakistani handlers including Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Sayeed. Taking cognizance of this, NIA has now reached Srinagar to question Hurriyat leaders after registering a Preliminary Enquiry against them for alleged involvement in subversive activities and receiving funds from Hafiz Saeed.
Inquiry would be done against Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Naeem Khan, Farooq Ahmed Dar, Gazi Javed Baba and others. They are also accused of damaging public property, stone pelting on the security forces, as also burning of schools and other government establishments. Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said that the expose proves that subversive activities in the Valley are being financed from across the border and the attack on journalists reveals the true face of separatists.
Sri Lanka backs India's Stand on China-Pak Economic Corridor
ND, May 19: Sri Lanka, which attended One Belt One Road conference in Beijing has backed India's concern over the Kashmir issue. Sarath Amanugama, Sri Lanka's Minister on Special Assignment said, it is difficult for New Delhi to accept the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as it goes through the heart of Indian interests. The Minister said, if it would have been some uncontested region, India would have negotiated its way out.
India skipped the meeting due to its sovereignty concerns over the 50 billion dollars CPEC, which goes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The two-day conference in Beijing brought together leaders from 29 countries.
European security agencies warn consequences of global cyber attack may worsen
UK, May 15: European and British policing and security agencies have warned that the fallout from an unprecedented global cyber attack could worsen as people return to work. An international manhunt was under way for the plotters behind the world's biggest-ever computer ransom assault, which has hit more than 200,000 victims and has affected more than 150 countries.
The indiscriminate attack, which began Friday, struck banks, hospitals and government agencies, exploiting known vulnerabilities in old Microsoft computer operating systems.Europol executive director Rob Wainwright said the situation could worsen today when workers return to their
offices after the weekend and log on.
Meanwhile, Indian Government's cyber security arm CERT-In has alerted vital institutions including RBI, stock markets and NPCI against the latest cyber attack that has infected thousands of systems globally. Yesterday, it has issued a list of do's and dont's to these agencies and advised installation of relevant "patches" to protect against any data breaches.
Iran warns Pakistan government on Terrorism
Iran, May 9: Iran issues its strongest warning to Pakistan government; Chief of armed forces in Tehran threatens to attack militants' safe heaven deep inside Pakistan; Demands Islamabad to confront militants who undertake cross border attacks or face action.
The head of the Iranian armed forces has warned Islamabad that Tehran would hit bases inside Pakistan if the government does not confront Sunni militants who carry out cross-border attacks.
Ten Iranian border guards were killed by militants last month. Iran said Jaish al Adl, a Sunni militant group, had shot the guards with long-range guns, fired from inside Pakistan.
Bonjour Emmanuel Macron, French President
France, May 8: Centrist Emmanuel Macron elected new President of France as voters reject far right Marine le Pen; congratulatory notes pour in from across the world on the historic day. Independent Centrist Emmanuel Macron has been elected as the youngest President of France. The En Marche leader had 65 percent support with four-fifths of votes counted, while his rival Far right leader Marine Le Pen had 36 percent.
Addressing his supporters after the big win, Emmanuel Macron said he would fight the divisions in the country. He added that even as a new page is opening in France's history, his presidency will be one of hope and renewed confidence. It was the first time in decades that France has elected a leader from outside the mainstream parties. Unknown three years ago, former economy minsiter Macron is now poised to become one of Europe's most powerful leaders, bringing with him a hugely ambitious agenda of political and economic reform for France and the European Union.
US President Donald Trump congratulated Emmanuel Macron on his victory in France's presidential election. Trump tweeted that he looks very forward to working with him. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also scongratulated Emmanuel Macron. In a statement, Trudeau said that the he looks forward to work on a progressive agenda to promote international security, increase collaboration in science and technology, and create good, middle class jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
British Prime Minister Theresa May also called the French president-elect Emmanuel Macron following his election victory. The leaders also briefly discussed Brexit and Downing Street spokesperson said that Prime Minister May reiterated that the UK wants a strong partnership with a secure and prosperous EU after the exit.
Le Pen and Macron clash in crucial French election debate
France, May 4: France' Far-right leader Marine Le Pen accused centrist rival Emmanuel Macron of being soft on Islamic extremism as the candidates discussed security in a bad-tempered presidential debate ahead of this weekend's runoff. Le Pen said Macron was "against all tough propositions" to improve security and fight extremism after a series of deadly attacks in France.
Centrist Emmanuel Macron in turn, accused his far-right rival of being "the high priestess of fear", saying she talked a lot but "proposed nothing". Macron is well ahead in the polls, although his lead has been reduced. The aim of both candidates is to win over the estimated 18% of undecided voters ahead of Sunday's election.
Trump, Putin had 'good' talk about ending Syria war: WH
US, May 3: US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had a "very good" talk about ending Syria war and best ways to resolve the dangerous situation in North Korea, the White House has said after both leaders held a telephonic conversation. During their conversation, the two leaders also discussed at length working together to eradicate terrorism throughout the Middle East and spoke about how best to resolve the "very dangerous" situation in North Korea, the White House said Tuesday.
"President Trump and President Putin agreed that the suffering in Syria has gone on for far too long and that all parties must do all they can to end the violence," the White House said. The conversation was a very good one, and included the discussion of safe, or de-escalation, zones to achieve lasting peace for humanitarian and many other reasons, it said.
The US will be sending a representative to the cease-fire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan on May 3-4, it added. "They also discussed at length working together to eradicate terrorism throughout the Middle East. Finally, they spoke about how best to resolve the very dangerous situation in North Korea," the White House said. Putin even invited Trump to talk more and to meet face-to-face when both leaders are in Hamburg, Germany for the G-20 summit of major economic powers in July. It was at least the third conversation between the two leaders since Trump's inauguration.
India-Cyprus sign four MoUs
New Delhi, Apr 29: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday strongly pitched for decisive action against states supporting, sheltering and sustaining "violence factories" in their regions in what was a veiled reference to Pakistan. The two leaders held discussions on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual concern, which included ways to boost trade ties and UN Security Council reforms. Both sides also signed four pacts in the fields of culture, education, scientific co-operation, merchant shipping, air services and agriculture.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday held detailed discussions on bilateral and regional issues and agreed on the need for all countries to decisively act against States that shelter and sustain violence factories in their regions.
The two sides also agreed on the need of early reforms of the United Nations Security Council. PM Modi expressed India's appreciation of Cyprus' support to India's bid for permanent membership of the UNSC.
Pitching for increase in trade and investment, Cypriot President called for cooperation between the two countries in solar & renewable energy and the IT sector. After the delegation level talks, the two sides signed four pacts, on Culture, Scientific cooperation & Education, Merchant Shipping, an Air services protocol and cooperation in agriculture. Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on the Cypriot President, and discussed areas of bilateral cooperation. Stress on trade but cooperation in counter terrorism was the key focus.
US THAAD missile defence equipment enters South Korean site
SK/US, Apr 26: Trailers carrying US THAAD missile defence equipment entered a deployment site in South Korea early Wednesday with tensions high over North Korea's intentions according to the reports. Arrival of the six trailers at the golf course location sparked clashes between locals and police, the agency said. Washington and Seoul are deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery to counter the threat from North Korea, which is pushing ahead with its ballistic missile programme despite multiple sets of UN sanctions.
The THAAD system is meant to intercept and destroy short and medium-range ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight. The North is also believed to be preparing for a sixth nuclear weapons test. Washington and Seoul agreed to early deployment of the missile defence system after talks earlier this month between the South's acting president and visiting US Vice President Mike Pence.
China however is strongly opposed to deployment of the THAAD system which it fears will undermine its own military capabilities. Tensions on the Korean peninsula have soared in recent months as North Korea's missile tests have brought ever-more bellicose warnings from US President Donald Trump's administration. The United States has deployed an aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson to the western Pacific.
Trump has indicated he is willing to ramp up US military pressure on North Korea while simultaneously encouraging China to use its influence on its ally, and reject bilateral diplomacy with Pyongyang. The US has long pushed for China to make more efforts to curb Pyongyang's behaviour. But Beijing has resisted, concerned that a regime collapse could trigger a flood of refugees across the border and leave the US military on its doorstep.
However, it has become increasingly concerned as tensions rise in the flashpoint region, with experts warning of the possibility of a sixth nuclear test by the North. Chinese President Xi Jinping called Monday for "restraint" regarding North Korea in a telephone conversation with Trump. US defence leaders and other top officials are to give a classified briefing on North Korea to all senators in an unusual meeting at the White House later Wednesday.
France votes in election nailbiter
France, Apr 23: France began voting on Sunday under heavy security in the first round of the most unpredictable presidential election in decades, with the outcome seen as vital for the future of the beleaguered European Union. Polling stations opened at 0600 GMT and the last will close at 1800 GMT with estimated results expected shortly afterwards. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron are the favourites to progress to a run-off on May 7 but the result is too close to call in a deeply divided country.
Le Pen, the 48-year-old leader of the National Front (FN), hopes to capitalise on security fears that were catapulted to the fore of the campaign after the fatal shooting of a policeman on Paris's Champs Elysees avenue claimed by the Islamic State group. Aiming to ride a wave of populism that led Donald Trump to the White House and Britain to vote for Brexit, Le Pen also wants to pull France out of the eurozone and has threatened to take the country out of the EU as well.
Her ambitions have led observers to predict that a Le Pen victory could be a fatal blow for the EU, already weakened by Britain's vote to leave the bloc. Macron, only 39, is seeking to become France's youngest ever president and has campaigned on a strongly pro-EU and pro-business platform. Seeking to benefit from a worldwide move away from established political parties, the former banker and economy minister formed his own movement, "En Marche" ("On the move"), that he says is "neither to the left nor to the right."
But polls show scandal-tainted conservative candidate Francois Fillon, a former prime minister, and hard-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon are also in with a fighting chance of finishing among the top two candidates and reaching the all-important second round. Hundreds of thousands of French expatriates in the US, Canada and South America cast their ballots on Saturday. In the wake of the policeman's killing on Thursday, 50,000 police and 7,000 soldiers have been deployed around France to protect voters.
Turkey extends state of emergency for 3 more months
Turkey, Apr 18: Turkey's state of emergency will be extended by an additional three months, offiials said on Monday. The state of emergency would be extended as of April 19 for three more months, with the parliament's approval, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said. He attributed the reason for the extension to the struggle against terror threats, primarily against the so-called Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO) that the government accuses of staging coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
The cabinet meeting followed the National Security Council's advice to extend the state of emergency. The National Security Council and the cabinet convened successively on Monday, one day after a public vote that confirmed governance system change from the parliamentarian one to the executive presidency.
Turkey declared a state of emergency on July 20, 2016, days after a failed military coup, which Ankara blames on the US-based exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen. Turkey has already been under a state of emergency for nine consecutive months after a coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Under emergency rule, the government can bypass the parliament to enact new laws and limit or suspend rights and freedoms
Nepal, China hold first-ever joint military exercises
Nepal, Apr 17: Nepal and China on Sunday began their first-ever joint military exercise with a special focus on combating terror. The 10-day-long military drill "Sagarmatha Friendship 2017" that will last till April 25 is being organised by the two countries as part of their preparedness against terrorism that has posed as a serious security threat globally, the Nepal Army said. Sagarmatha is the Nepali name of Mt Everest, the world's highest peak. The Chinese People's Liberation Army's squad has already arrived in the capital to participate in the military exercise that will focus on counter terrorism and disaster response, it said.
The joint training with China marks Nepal Army's extension of military diplomacy. The Nepal Army has long been conducting joint military drills with Indian and American Army. "A small Chinese troop will be participating in the first ever drill with an equal number of Nepali Army personnel," said military spokesman Jhankar Bahadur Kadayat. He did not mention the strength of the participating troops. The exercise will take place at the Army's Maharajgunj-based Training School, where Yuddha Bhairab, Mahabir and Bhairabnath Battalions are located.
The Nepali Army has said the joint military exercise with China is a step towards preparations against the possible threat from terrorism. It maintains that the drill is a part of its regular bilateral and multilateral military exercises aimed at sharing experiences, skills and professional knowledge which it has been doing regularly with the nations that Nepal shares diplomatic ties. Nepal had proposed joint military exercises during Chinese Defence Minister General Chang Wanquan's official visit to Nepal on March 24.
Egypt declares state of emergency after deadly church attacks
Egypt, Apr 10: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announces a three-month emergency after two separate attacks leave at least 45 dead, over 120 injured; Islamic State claims responsibility for attacks in two churches during Palm Sunday prayers; PM Modi condemns attack. Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has announced a three-month state of emergency after attacks on two Coptic churches that left at least 45 dead.
The measure allows authorities to make arrests without warrants and search people's homes. The president had earlier ordered the deployment of the military across the country to protect "vital and important infrastructure". Over 120 others injured in powerful blasts triggered by IS militants in two churches packed with worshippers celebrating Palm Sunday in Tanta and Alexandria cities. The group has targeted Copts in Egypt recently and warns of more attacks.
PM Narendra Modi in a tweet condoled the attacks in Egypt. The PM in his tweet said "Deeply pained by the attacks in Egypt. We condemn these attacks. My thoughts are with families of the deceased & prayers with the injured."
Russia failed in its responsibility in Syria: Tillerson
US, Apr 8: Russia, one of the key supporters of the Assad regime in Syria, has "failed in its responsibility" to deliver on a 2013 commitment to secure Syria's chemical weapons, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Friday ahead of his visit to Moscow next week. Tillerson's visit, the first trip to Russia by a Trump administration official aimed at establishing closer ties with the former Cold War foe, was announced after the US launched cruise missiles against an air base in Syria in retaliation to the chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhun in rebel-held Idlib province.
"Clearly Russia has failed in its responsibility. Either Russia has been complicit or either Russia has been simply incompetent in its ability to deliver on its end of that agreement," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters at Palm Beach in Florida after the US launched cruise missiles against a Syrian air base . Tillerson said that the US has a very "high level of confidence" that the chemical attacks which killed at least 86 people, including 27 children, were carried out under the direction of Bashar Al Assad's regime. "We have very high confidence that the attacks involved the use of sarin nerve gas," he said.
Sushma Swaraj rejects Pak's move to make Gilgit-Baltistan as 5th state
New Delhi, Apr 6: Sushma Swaraj had a tough message for Pakistan in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Without mincing any words, the External Affairs Minister said that Islamabad's attempt to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as its fifth province is unacceptable to India. She also spoke strongly over the issue of attack on African nationals with reference to the Greater Noida incident. Brushing aside Pakistan's step to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as a fifth province by Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has reiterated that entire Kashmir including Gilgit-Baltistan belongs to India and there should be no doubts regarding this.
Swaraj said this while presenting India's stern stand on the matter when it was raised by Bhartruhari Mahtab of the Biju Janata Dal in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Dismissing all allegations that India has been mum on the issue, she said that the External Affairs Ministry had rejected it within 5 minutes of Pak having voiced its intention.
Referring to the attack on African students in Greater Noida she said that India is committed to the safety of all foreign nationals living on its soil. She also strongly refuted the charge by the Dean of African nations that the Indian political leadership had taken no action in the case. She said that every attack on a foreign national is not a racist one. She said that such attacks are usually premeditated. The Minister said that an investigation was on in the case in which 6 arrests have been made and that the results should be waited for.
Russia metro attack staged by Kyrgyz suicide bomber
Russia, Apr 4: A suicide bomber from Kyrgyzstan was behind the explosion that killed 11 people and injured dozens more in the Saint Petersburg metro, security services in the Central Asian country said. "The suicide bomber in the Saint Petersburg metro was a Kyrgyz national Akbarjon Djalilov... born in 1995," a spokesman for the country's security services told news agencies.
"It is probable that he acquired Russian nationality," he said. Russia's Investigative Committee said it was probing an "act of terror" over the blast that rocked the metro in the country's second city on Monday afternoon, but added it would look into all other possible causes of the blast.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion, which comes after the Islamic State group called for attacks on Russia in retribution for its military intervention in Syria against the jihadists. At least 7,000 nationals from former Soviet countries, including 2,900 Russians, have joined jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria, mostly IS, according to Russia's FSB intelligence service.
In a tweet, Mr Modi expressed grief over the loss of lives due to the blast. He extended heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was in the city when the blast occurred, visited the scene and laid flowers at a makeshift shrine.
US President Donald Trump described the attack as a terrible thing, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, it was a barbaric act. European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said, Europe's thoughts were with the Russian people. In a unanimous statement, the 15-member United Nations Security Council called for the perpetrators of the attack to face justice.
Russia's Investigative Committee has called the explosion a terror attack. No group has, so far, claimed responsibility for the explosion. Authorities in Saint Petersburg have declared three days of mourning for the victims.
Colombia: 200 dead in landslides; public health emergency declared
Columbia, Apr 3: The death toll from a devastating landslide in the Colombian town of Mocoa stood at around 200.
Rescuers claw through piles of muck and debris in search of survivors. Heavy rains caused several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks onto buildings and roads in Mocoa, the capital of southwestern Putumayo province and trapping cars in several feet of mud.
At least 203 others were injured, some 300 families were affected. Many homes have also been destroyed. President Juan Manuel Santos declared a public health and safety emergency to speed up rescue and aid operations. The Pacific rim of South America has been hard hit in recent months by floods and mudslides. In recent weeks with scores killed in Peru and Ecuador as well due to the unpredictable weather.
PM Narendra Modi to hold delegation-level talks with Malaysian PM Najib Razak
New Delhi, Apr 1: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was given ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi this morning. Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Mr Razak at the ceremonial reception. The visiting dignitary arrived in New Delhi from Chennai last evening. Mr Modi and his Malaysian counterpart will hold delegation level talks today.
The two leaders will discuss entire gamut of bilateral relations including terrorism. A number of bilateral as well as commercial agreements are likely to be signed during the visit. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s high level delegation consists of several Cabinet Ministers and Senior Officials. He will also be accompanied by a large business delegation consisting of many of the top companies and businessmen in Malaysia.
Bangladesh celebrates its 46th Independence Day
Daka, Mar 27: PM Narendra Modi congratulated people of Bangladesh on their Independence Day. He said that Bangladesh is a strong partner and a true friend. The Bangladesh Liberation War was a revolutionary independence war in South Asia during 1971 which witnessed the birth of the modern state of Bangladesh. Here is a report on the events leading to 26th March which is commemorated as the Independence Day of Bangladesh.
In 1947, with independence of India came the pangs of partition. Pakistan came into existence, consisting of Muslim dominated areas. Pakistan had two parts. One part was the western part which was West Pakistan, politically quite dominant and the second part was in the eastern part which was known as East Pakistan.
West Pakistan was inhabited by Muhajirs who spoke Sindhi, Balochi and Urdu while Bangla was spoken by people living in East Pakistan. But East Pakistan had no say in the affairs of Pakistan and this was the root of the simmering discontent among Bangla speaking people of East Pakistan that heightened with Urdu being declared as the national language.
The 1970 elections saw East Pakistan's National Awami league under Sheikh Mujibur Rahman emerging as the largest party with 167 seats. However, President Yahya Khan was not ready to transfer power to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of East Pakistan and did not convene meeting of the National Assembly. This led to strike in East Pakistan by Awami league and shops, offices, railway stations and airports were closed.
In order to crush this opposition, army was deployed in the eastern Pakistani city of Dhaka and Chittagong. On the night of 25-26th March, the Pakistani army attacked Dhaka University and arrested Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Thereafter, people of East Pakistan demanded a separate nation of Bangladesh.
PM Modi: India stands with UK following terror attack
UK, Mar 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today expressed sadness over the London terror attack and said India stands with the UK at this difficult moment. "Deeply saddened by the terror attack in London. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," PM Modi said in a tweet. Five people were killed and nearly 40 injured when a terrorist suspect mowed down pedestrians on a bridge and stabbed a police officer close to the British parliament complex in an incident inspired by "international terrorism".
Those dead included the assailant and the policeman he stabbed. The attacker was shot dead by Scotland Yard officers. "At this difficult moment, India stands with UK in the fight against terrorism. @theresa_may @Number10Gov," Modi said in another tweet. Mark Rowley, Britain's national lead for Counter Terrorism Policing and the Acting Deputy Commissioner, said the attack began when a car was driven over the Westminster Bridge, hitting members of the public and three police officers.
T5 killed, 40 injured in UK Parliament terror attack
UK, Mar 23: Five people were killed and 40 others injured when a terrorist suspect mowed down pedestrians on a bridge and stabbed a police officer outside parliament complex before being shot dead by Scotland Yard officers in an incident inspired by "international terrorism". The knife-man behind the attack in the heart of London was shot dead by armed Scotland Yard officers. The Metropolitan Police named the police officer killed as 48-year-old Keith Palmer and also confirmed that the attacker was "known" to the police.
"I can also now confirm three members of the public also lost their lives in this attack. And I confirmed earlier, the suspected attacker was shot dead by an armed officer - therefore meaning we now have five people in total who have died, said Mark Rowley, national lead for Counter Terrorism Policing and the Acting Deputy Commissioner.
"I will not comment at this stage on the identity of the attacker, but our working assumption that he was inspired by international terrorism," Rowley said. "Also, at this stage, but it may change - we believe approximately 40 people were injured, some with serious injuries, including three police officers, two of whom are in a serious condition," he said.
Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the terror strike as "sick and depraved" attack on democratic values, which was "doomed to failure".
May also paid tributes to the "exceptional men and women" of the police force who responded to the attack.
"We will all move forward together, never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart," she said.
Scotland Yard had earlier called on the public to "remain vigilant" and said a review of policing strategy across the city was underway, with additional police officers being deployed across London. The Indian High Commission in London has set up a special "Public Response Unit" for any Indians caught up in the terror attack.
Trump nominates Indian-American to top judicial post
US, Mar 22: Amul Thapar, an Indian-American legal luminary, has been nominated by US President Donald Trump to a key judicial position on the powerful US court of appeals. Thapar, 47, who in 2007 became the first South Asian Article III judge when he was appointed as a US District Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky, is the first Indian-American to be nominated by Trump for the top judicial post on Monday.
If confirmed by the Senate, Thapar will be part of the powerful US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears appeals from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan.
Thapar was among the 20 judges whose names Trump had released during his presidential campaign as shortlisted candidates for his Supreme Court nominees. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell applauded Trump for announcing his intent to nominate Thapar to serve on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Throughout his already impressive career of public service, Amul has shown an incredible intellect and an unshakable dedication to the law," McConnell said.
He has earned the respect of his colleagues, and I know that he will bring to the Sixth Circuit the same wisdom, fairness, and ability that he has shown on the District Court. President Trump made an outstanding choice and I look forward to the Senate's confirmation of Judge Thapar," the Senate Majority leader said in a statement.
UK PM May to trigger Brexit on March 29
UK, Mar 21: Britain said Monday it will trigger its exit from the European Union on March 29, nine months after the country voted to leave the bloc. Triggering Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, the formal procedure for leaving the bloc, will open a two-year timetable for difficult negotiations, meaning Britain could be out of the EU by 2019. "The UK's permanent representative to the EU informed the office of (European Union President) Donald Tusk that it's the UK's intention to trigger Article 50 on March 29," Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said.
The spokesman said May would notify Tusk in writing and then give a speech to the British parliament. Britain voted in a June referendum by a 52 percent majority to leave the EU -- the first member state ever to do so. Monday's announcement comes just days before the European Union celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome which created the bloc.
The European Commission, whose chief negotiator Michel Barnier will spearhead the talks with London on behalf of the other 27 member states, said it was ready for the Brexit process. Britain's Brexit minister David Davis said in a statement that Britons had approved a "historic decision" to leave the EU after four decades of membership. "Next Wednesday, the government will deliver on that decision and formally start the process by triggering Article 50," he said.
Judge rejects US request to clarify order halting travel ban
US, Mar 20: US had asked Hawaii judge to clarify ruling on Trump travel ban. A federal judge has rejected the US government's request to clarify his temporary order blocking President Donald Trump's revised travel ban. US District Judge Derrick Watson has said that nothing was unclear about his order and the government can't ask for a distinction that officials failed to make in earlier briefs and arguments.
Watson issued the temporary restraining order on Wednesday in response to a lawsuit from the state of Hawaii, concluding there was "significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus" behind the travel ban. Trump has called the Hawaii ruling an example of "unprecedented judicial overreach" and has indicated it will be appealed.
Several injured in School Shooting in France
France, Mar 18: Three people suffered gunshot wounds and another five were hurt during a shooting at a school in the south of France on Thursday, a spokesman from the interior ministry said. The three people with light gunshot injuries were taken to hospital, while the five others were treated for wounds sustained during a stampede after the shooting, the spokesman said. One 17-year-old pupil armed with a rifle, two handguns and two grenades was arrested after the shooting at the Tocqueville high school, a police source told AFP, asking not to be named.
There was conflicting information about whether a second suspect was on the run, with police initially telling AFP they were looking for an accomplice. Another police source said the shooter acted alone. According to a statement from the Grasse town hall, "two pupils shot at the principal." All schools in the town some 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of the Riviera resort of Nice have been locked down, education authorities said.
France is still in a state of emergency after a series of terror attacks including an IS-claimed massacre in Paris in November 2015 in which 130 people died and a truck attack in Nice in July last year. Authorities in the jittery nation have bolstered security outside schools.
More than 3,000 reservists were called up to help keep watch outside the country's 64,000 primary and secondary schools for the return to the school year in September. The shooting comes less than six weeks ahead of a two-round presidential election on April 23 and May 7.
Suicide bombers strike Syrian capital, killing at least 30
Syria, Mar 16: Suicide bombers on Wednesday hit the main judicial building and a restaurant in Damascus, killing at least 30 people, according to state media, spreading fear across Syria's capital as the country's civil war enters its seventh year. The first attacker struck inside the Justice Palace, located near the famous and crowded Hamidiyeh market. The explosion left bodies lying amid pools of blood and shattered glass in the building's main hall, adorned with a picture of President Bashar Assad hanging on one of the walls.
The official news agency, SANA, said another suicide explosion struck a restaurant in Rabweh district of Damascus, leading to multiple casualties, mostly women and children. The Ikhbariyeh TV channel said the attacker was being chased by security agents when he ran into a restaurant and detonated his explosives' vest there.
The bombings were the latest in a spate of deadly explosions and suicide attacks targeting government-controlled areas in Syria and its capital.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either attack, but other, similar attacks in recent weeks were claimed by al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria.
The attacks came as Syrians mark the sixth anniversary of the country's bitter civil war, which has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced millions of others.
UK parliament gives final approval for Brexit bill
UK, Mar 14: In UK, the House of Lords has passed the Brexit bill, paving the way for the government to trigger Article 50 so the UK can leave the EU. Peers backed down over the issues of EU residency rights and a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal after their objections were overturned by MPs. The bill is expected to receive Royal Assent and become law today.
The Prime Minister could theoretically invoke Article 50, which formally starts the Brexit process, as early as Tuesday. The EU Withdrawal Bill was passed unamended after peers voted by 274 votes to 118 not to challenge the Commons again over the issue of whether Parliament should have a veto on the terms of exit.
Earlier, the government had comfortably won votes on the issues in the Commons, with only a handful of Tory MPs rebelling. Brexit campaigners welcomed the clear mandate given to the UK government ahead of the start of official negotiations.
Trump administration seeks 60 days to respond on work permits of H1B spouses
US, Mar 9: Trump Administration has sought 60 days to respond to a court case that challenges the decision of the previous Obama Administration to authorise spouses of H1B spouses to work in the US. While the move by the Obama Administration during its last phase was welcomed by the large H-1B community which mainly included Indians, several American groups challenged this decision in a federal court in Washington DC.
On February 1, the Department of Justice had filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit entitled "Consent motion to hold proceedings in abeyance for 60 days". The Government has asked for a 60-day pause in the case to "allow incoming leadership personnel adequate time to consider the issues."
In a statement, Immigration Voice yesterday said that this is "especially concerning" because Attorney General Jeff Sessions, when he was a US Senator, called the H-4 Rule a "change (in) immigration law in a way that hurts American workers." Even though this rule has actually allowed many H-4 visa holders, including named intervenors, the ability to start businesses in the United States that employ American workers that would otherwise not have jobs if the Rule had not been promulgated, Immigration Voice said.
Immigration Voice yesterday announced to intervention in the Save Jobs lawsuit arguing that this was the "only option" to protect the rights of its members and their families, including children who are US citizens. "There is nothing for the Department of Justice attorneys to confer with their leadership about given the District Court's clear decision stating that this case had no basis for ever being filed," said Aman Kapoor co-founder and president of Immigration Voice.
US starts to deploy THAAD anti-missile defense system in S Korea
New Delhi, Mar 7: The United States has started to deploy the first elements of its advanced Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea following North Korea's test of four ballistic missiles, U.S. Pacific Command said on Tuesday. Video provided by the U.S. Airforce showed THAAD parts arriving at the Osan Airbase in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, on March 6.
The announcement came as North Korean state media said leader Kim Jong Un personally supervised Monday's missile launches, stepping up threats against Washington as U.S. troops conduct joint military exercises with South Korea. The move by the U.S. military is likely to deepen the brewing conflict between South Korea and China, which has angrily opposed the THAAD deployment as destroying regional security balance.
The four ballistic missiles landed in the sea off Japan's northwest, angering Seoul and Tokyo, days after North Korea promised retaliation over the military drills which it sees as preparation for war.
India raises concern with US on suspected racial attacks
New Delhi, Mar 6: India raised strong concern with the United States over spurt in incidents of Hate crime against Indian origin people. Indian Ambassador to the US. Navtej Sarna conveyed his deep concerns to the US administration on the recent tragic incidents involving Harnish Patel & Deep Rai. Sarna underlined need to prevent such incidents and protect Indian community. State Department, on behalf of US administration, expressed condolences and assured they are working with all agencies concerned to ensure speedy justice. Deep Rai was shot at outside his residence in Seattle on Saturday.
Meanwhile Indian American Congressman Ami Bera has condemned the shooting of an Indian-origin Sikh man in Kent, saying crime motivated by hate are on the rise even as FBI joined probe into the "potentially hate-motivated crime". "This disturbing crime is an outrage that goes against everything we stand for as a nation of immigrants," Bera said in a statement in which he condemned the shooting of an Indian American Sikh man in Kent, Washington.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating this as potentially hate-motivated. The FBI is also investigating another shooting in Kansas last week as a hate crime, in which 32-year-old Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed when 51-year-old US Navy veteran Adam Purinton opened fire at him and his friend Alok Madasani, yelling "get out of my country". The Coalition also urged the Trump Administration to take concrete actions to prevent the recurrence of such crimes.
Trump admin has very positive view of Indo-US ties: Jaishankar
US, Mar 4: Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, termed his 4-day U.S. Visit as productive and fruitful and said there is a strong sense of optimism on bilateral ties When asked about discussion held with Trump administration over H1Bvisa issue, the Foreign Secretary said the issue was discussed in a number of meetings with administration officials as well as the congress. During the meeting the Indian side conveyed that the H1B was a category of trade and services which actually helps the American economy.
He said the Indian side certainly made its point forcefully both in the congress and the administration and believes that it met with a degree of understanding. On China and Pakistan, Foreign Secretary said that global strategic landscape was discussed and ideas were exchanged. The challenge of terror, Afghanistan, Asia Pacific was discussed with US National Security Advisor and US Secretary of State.
On Kansas, Foreign Secretary said that the tragic event in Kansas featured in many of the discussions. He said that we heard that it is an act of individual and American justice system was at work. It has been prosecuted as hate crime, and India has seen White House statement, US President's statement about expression of deep sorrow and deep regret and we should treat it as individual act and American system and society was against that.
Earlier Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar met with the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department in Washington D.C. and discussed a wide-range of issues including H1B visas to strengthen bilateral cooperation.
U.S. President addresses major issues concerning India in a joint session of Congress
US, Mar 1: U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a joint session of Congress in Washington DC. U.S. President Donald Trump addressed major issues of concern to India in his address to a joint session of Congress in Washington DC. He put forward his views on immigration, trade and hate crimes against immigrants in his address.
Breaking his silence on the Kansas shooting, U.S. President condemns the attack that claimed the life of an Indian engineer. On the of issue of immigration, which is particularly significant for India in view of the high number of skilled Indian workers in the United States, the US president said that he was in favour of a merit based immigration system in the US on the lines of Canada.
While President Trump reiterated his support for the motto of "buy American, hire American. He also backed free but fair trade. He stressed on the need to make it easier for companies to do business in the US and on providing them incentive to stay on in the country. On the foreign policy front, President Trump called for robust and meaningful engagement with the world.
With foreign secretary S Jaishankar on a 4 day visit to the United States, Donald Trump's address to Congress gives India grounds to push through its interest on immigration, H1B visas and boosting trade and strategic ties with the United States of America. On the issue of radical Islam, Donald Trump said ISIS kills Muslims, Christians, people from all faiths and that he vows to destroy it with help of allies including those in the Muslim world.
President Trump also stressed on revival of the US economy with a focus on generating employment and free trade. Terming Obama-care as disastrous, he announced that he will repeal and replace Obamacare. On a conciliatory note, Donald Trump called on Democrats and Republicans to work together for the good of America.
US asks Russia to "immediately" observe Ukraine ceasefire
US, Feb 27: United States called on Russia to immediately observe the ceasefire in Ukraine, accusing combined Russian and separatist forces of targeting international monitors. State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said the United States was closely monitoring growing violence in eastern Ukraine and the failure of the combined Russian and separatist forces to abide by a ceasefire agreed to two years ago in Minsk.
The US statement comes amid an upsurge of violence with Ukraine, 16 of its soldiers were wounded over the previous 24 hours. The latest casualties came despite a truce agreed on Monday by Russia and Ukraine. The nearly three-year-long conflict has claimed more than 10,000 lives.
President Trump's new order aims at "job-killing" regulations
US, Feb 25: US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order directing various wings of his administration to establish a regulatory reform task force in a bid to remove "job-killing regulations" and "unleash economic opportunity". Noting that the current regulations make it tough for the companies to do business, President Trump assured companies of resolving this issue quickly.
He has already issued an order which says that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated.
Trump promises border wall 'ahead of schedule'
US, Feb 24: U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to begin work on a wall on the Mexican border "way, way, way ahead of schedule" as well as a massive increase in military spending. In a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, just outside of Washington, Trump said on February 24 that immigration officers and border police were already at work finding criminals, drug dealers, and criminal immigrants and "throwing them the hell out of our country."
Trump was greeted by chants of "USA, USA, USA!" as he addressed the annual CPAC forum. "We're building the wall," Trump said in his speech. "In fact it's going to start very soon. Way ahead of schedule. It's way, way, way ahead of schedule." The U.S. president said he was putting in a "massive" budget request for the U.S. military. Referring to the fight against terrorism, he said planning was under way to "obliterate Islamic State from the face of the Earth."
Trump vowed to keep "radical Islamic terrorists...the hell out of our country," again citing the examples of Sweden, Germany, and France as places where immigration has led to crime. Trump also renewed his harsh critcism of the "fake news" media. "They are the enemy of the people, because they have no sources. They just make 'em up when there are none," he said.
Trump said his administration is planning bold action to lift restrictions on U.S. energy sources, including shale oil, natural gas, and coal. He also pledged to reduce taxation for America's middle class.
US ramps up crackdown on undocumented immigrants
US, Feb 23: The US government issued a sweeping set of orders that implement President Donald Trump's plan to increase immigration enforcement, placing the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation. "The Department no longer will exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement," the Department of Homeland Security said in an enforcement memo.
"Department personnel have full authority to arrest or apprehend an alien whom an immigration officer has probable cause to believe is in violation of the immigration laws," it said. The Department of Homeland Security has issued two enforcement memos, which among other things, tightens deportation of illegal immigrants. The emphasis is on criminal aliens, though, but opens up the door for others too.
According to the memo, the DHS Secretary has the authority to apply expedited removal provisions to aliens who have not been admitted or paroled into the US, who are inadmissible, and who have not been continuously physically present in the US for the two-year period immediately prior to the determination of their inadmissibility.
India sanctions soft loan of $340 million to Nepal
Kathmandu, Feb 19: Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu, who is in Kathmandu, said India is committed to the development of Nepal. He said that the sanction of 340 million US dollar soft loan to Nepal for road projects is just a beginning and lots more will come in power, railway and other sectors.
Delivering his key note address at Nepal Infrastructure Summit 2017 at Kathmandu on Sunday evening he said Infrastructure is a pre-requisite for development. Expressing India's commitment to strengthening infrastructure in Nepal, he said that India wants Nepal to have world class infrastructure.
Earlier, Railway Minister also met President of Nepal Smt. Bidhya Devi Bhandari and former Prime Minister Shri Baburam Bhattarai discussed various bilateral issues.
Baghdad car bomb claimed by Islamic State kills 55
Baghdad, Feb 17: In Iraq, at least 55 people have been killed and over 60 injured in a car bomb blast in Baghdad.
The incident happened when a car packed with explosives blew up near car dealerships in southern Baghdad. The Islamic State group claimed the attack. The extremist group has carried out near-daily attacks in Baghdad. Earlier, at least 24 people were killed in other attacks on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The US State Department condemned the attack at the car dealership, saying such attacks show the extremist group's "utter contempt for human life and its efforts to sow discord and division among the Iraqi people."
Thousands take to streets in Romania to protest
Romania, Feb 14: Thousands of Romanians gathered outside the government headquarters in Bucharest and other cities on Sunday to protest against the Social Democrat government who tried to weaken a crackdown on corruption earlier this month. The one-month old cabinet of Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, enraged public opinion when it approved an emergency decree that would have decriminalised several graft offenses.
The decree, which was widely criticised in Romania and by its Western allies, prompted the largest display of popular anger since the fall of communism in 1989, with at least half a million people taking to the streets last Sunday. The government rescinded the decree and its architect, Justice Minister Florin Iordache resigned, citing a need to appease public opinion but arguing he had done nothing wrong.
While the turnout has fallen since last Sunday, rallies have continued throughout the week, with protesters demanding the resignation of a government they say they cannot trust. In Bucharest, at least 50,000 people gathered outside the government, carrying banners that said "Resist" and chanting "Thieves". They raised pieces of red, yellow and blue coloured paper above their heads to form a giant Romanian flag. Tens of thousands protested in other Romanian cities and abroad.
"When the Romanians reach the limit, something could happen like what happened in 1989, but this time without violence," said anti-government protester Michail, referring to the revolution that toppled communist autocrat Nicolae Ceausescu. Parliament, where the ruling coalition holds a big majority, must still vote on whether to confirm the decree's withdrawal.
Chinese soldier reaches Beijing after living in India for 50 years
New Delhi/Beijing, Feb 11: Five decades after he crossed over to India after the 1962 war, Chinese soldier finally reached his native country today. 1962 Sino-Indian war soldier Wang Qi, 77, of China and his family members arrived in Beijing today. They were received by Chinese officials from MFA and the provincial govt of Shaanxi province.
From Indian Embassy, Second Secretaries Thelma John David and Siddharth Malik were present to receive them as well. Two of India’s Mission officials are also traveling with Wang Qi and family to their hometown. He was living in India for over 50 years after being caught for entering the Indian Territory shortly after the 1962 war.
Wang Qi is a Chinese prisoner of war who settled in Madhya Pradesh's Balaghat district after his release from jail and raised a family here after marrying an Indian. He was later released from jail. Following which, Wang started working as a watchman with a mill. He married Sushila in 1975.
Wang and his four family members got visa due to the help they received from the Ministry of Home and External Affairs.
Machete attacker shot at Louvre in Paris
Peris, Feb 4: In what is being described by French authorities as a suspected terrorist attack in Paris, a knife-wielding man shouting "Allahu akbar" attacked French soldiers on patrol near the Louvre Museum on Friday morning. The soldiers first tried to fight off the machete-wielding attacker and then opened fire shooting him five times.
The attack at an entrance to a shopping mall that extends beneath the museum raised spectre of a spate of attacks through the last two years in France. Details related to the identity of the attacker involved in latest incident are yet to be revealed.
British MPs approve first stage of Brexit bill
UK, Feb 2: UK Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday received Parliament's approval to begin the process of Britain's exit from the European Union (EU) after winning a crucial vote in the House of Commons. British MPs voted in favour of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill after two days of debate by a majority of 384 - 498 votes in favour to 114 against. The bill now faces further scrutiny in the Commons and the House of Lords before it can become law.
Earlier, the British Prime Minister had confirmed that she will be publishing a White Paper on her Brexit strategy on Thursday. In response to a query by Conservative MP Maria Miller, May told the House of Commons: "I can inform my Right Hon Friend and the House that that White Paper will be published tomorrow".
Under pressure from the Opposition and some of her own rebel MPs, the British PM had announced last week that she would be publishing a White Paper on the negotiating plans for Britain's exit from the EU in due course. "The White Paper will reflect the plan already set out by the Prime Minister in her Brexit speech," a Downing Street spokesperson told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday morning.
The confirmation of a date for the White Paper came as MPs continued a second day of debate on the so-called Brexit Bill, which will give May the authority to invoke Article 50 and trigger the official Brexit negotiations with the EU.
U.S. Federal Reserve leaves interest rates on hold
US, Feb 2: In its first meet after President Donald Trump took over, United States Federal Reserve maintained status quo and kept its interest rates unchanged. This clearly shows that the US central bank is positive about the economy and its growth. The Federal Reserve ruled unanimously to keep its benchmark interest rate in a range of 0.5% to 0.75%.
The central bank also signalled the Federal Open Markets Committee, the body which sets rates, would still only make "gradual increases". In a statement Fed statement said the jobs market and economic activity had continued to strengthen. Central bank also said that the measures of consumer and business sentiment have improved of late. Fed also said inflation will rise to 2% over the medium term.
However the central bank did not comment on the effect of the Trump administration's plans. Well, this is only the first FOMC meeting of a total eight meetings to take place in 2017, so there are still plenty of opportunities for the Fed to raise interest rates throughout the year and it is likely that we will see a rate rise in March or June.
UN chief warns border control policies must not discriminate
US, Feb 1: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday emphasized the need for nondiscriminatory border controls, comments widely seen as a criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump's temporary freeze on U.S. entry for all refugees and citizens from seven Muslim nations.
The UN chief had made similar comments on the weekend while attending the Africa Summit in Ethiopia and on Friday at events commemorating victims of the Holocaust.
H1B reform Bill introduced in US House of Representatives
US, Jan 31: A legislation has been introduced in the US House of Representatives, which among other things calls for more than doubling the minimum salary of H1B visa holders to $130,000, making it difficult for firms to use the programme to replace American employees with foreign workers, including from India.
The bill would require that employers first offer a vacant position to an equally or better qualified American worker before seeking an H1B or L1 visa holder. In 2015, President Barack Obama's administration permitted spouses of H1-B visa-holders to get permission to work.
According to one estimate, nearly 86 per cent of H1-B visas for computer-related jobs and 46.5 per cent for engineering positions were given to Indians. The US issues 85,000 H1-B visas every year, of which 20,000 are for master's degree holders from US universities.
Trump hails Yemen raid against Qaeda militants
US, Jan 30: US President Donald Trump has hailed elite US forces' successful raid against al-Qaeda in Yemen in which at least 14 jihadists were killed. One US soldier has also martyred in raids while three others were injured. Trump has condoled the death of the American soldier. The assault marked Washington's first major military action in Yemen under President Donald Trump, who has vowed to step up the US fight against Islamic extremism.
Russian envoy Kadakin, a friend of India, no more
New Delhi, Jan 27: Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin, a fluent Hindi-speaking career diplomat considered a great friend of India, passed away today at a hospital here after a brief illness. He was 67. Kadakin, who was serving as the Ambassador here since 2009, was credited with playing a significant role in promotion of relations between India and Russia.
This was his second stint as the Ambassador, having served one between 1999 and 2004. Kadakin, who began his diplomatic career as a Third Secretary at the Russian Embassy in India in 1972, was fluent in Hindi and loved this country.
"With deep regret and profound sorrow, the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of India informs that Alexander Kadakin, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of India, passed away on January 26 in one of New Delhi central hospitals after a brief illness," said a statement issued by the Russian Embassy.
He held the position of the Head of the Russian diplomatic mission in New Delhi from November 2009, it noted. "Starting from 1971, the entire diplomatic career of Alexander Kadakin was closely associated with promoting Russian-Indian relations," the statement added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while condoling the demise, hailed Kadakin and his contribution to the India-Russia ties. "Deeply saddened at the passing away of Ambassador Alexander Kadakin. He was an admirable diplomat, a great friend of India & a fluent Hindi speaker who tirelessly contributed to stronger India-Russia ties," Modi tweeted.
Prez Trump invites PM Modi to visit US later this year
US, Jan 25: Describing India as a "true friend" of the US, President Donald Trump invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the country later this year, the White House said after both leaders spoke over phone and discussed issues such as trade, defence and terrorism. Trump spoke to PM Modi yesterday late night over phone, four days after he was sworn-in as the 45th President of America.
"During a call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, President Trump emphasised that the US considers India a true friend and partner in addressing challenges around the world," the White House said in readout of the call. "President Trump looked forward to hosting Prime Minister Modi in the US later this year," the White House said.
The two leaders discussed opportunities to strengthen the partnership between the US and India in broad areas such as the economy and defence.
Besides this, they also discussed security in the region of South and Central Asia. President Trump and Prime Minister Modi resolved that the US and India stand shoulder to shoulder in the global fight against terrorism, the readout said.
Trump withdraws US from Trans-Pacific Partnership deal
US, Jan 24: US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order formally withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, following through on a promise from his presidential campaign. "We've been talking about this for a long time," Trump said as he signed the executive order in an Oval Office ceremony on Monday, calling the move a "great thing for the American worker".
In the same ceremony, Trump signed an order imposing a federal hiring freeze, with the exception of the military. Additionally, Trump signed a directive banning US NGOs that perform abortions abroad from receiving federal funding. The TPP accord was negotiated by former President Barack Obama's administration but never approved by US Congress.
Signed by 12 countries in 2015, the TPP trade agreement had yet to go into effect and the US' withdrawal is likely to sound its death knell. It had been the main economic pillar of the Obama administration's "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific region to counter China. Its signatories are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Brunei. They together represent 40 percent of the world economy.
Trump has raised concern in Japan and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region with his opposition to the TPP and his campaign demands for US allies to pay more for their security. The new president also met a dozen manufacturers in the US at the White House on Monday, pledging to slash regulations and cut corporate taxes, but warning them he would take action on trade deals he felt were unfair.
Trump, who took office on Friday, has promised to bring manufacturing plants back to the US, an issue he said helped him win the November 8 election. He has not hesitated to call out by name companies that he thinks should bring outsourced production back home. The Republican leader is looking to shift attention firmly back to his policy agenda after a first few days that put his incoming administration on the back foot.
"Busy week planned with a heavy focus on jobs and national security," he tweeted early on Monday. Since he was sworn-in on Friday, Trump's White House has been pilloried for lying to the public about inaugural crowds and over a campaign-style speech by the president before a memorial to fallen CIA officers.
Tornado leaves 16 dead in southeastern United States
US, Jan 23: At least 16 people were killed after powerful weekend storms tore through the southeastern United States. A rural part of south-central Georgia was hardest hit, leaving at least twelve people dead. Extensive damage has been reported from parts of southern Mississippi and Georgia, with numerous felled trees and downed power lines.
Although storms have passed, authorities warned that a second line of severe weather is advancing, with the threat of more heavy rain and powerful winds. The National Weather Service warned of an "increased threat of strong, long-track tornadoes," that could hit northern and central Georgia.
The weathermen said some areas have already received four inches of rain and could get up to three additional inches.
Donald Trump sworn in as 45th President of United States
US, Jan 21: Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, succeeding Barack Obama and telling a bitterly divided country he will pursue "America First" policies at home and abroad.As scattered protests erupted elsewhere in Washington, Trump raised his right hand and put his left on a Bible used by Abraham Lincoln and repeated a 35-word oath of office from the U.S. Constitution, with U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts presiding.
Afterward, he stretched his arms wide and hugged his wife, Melania, and other members of his family. Then he turned around to a podium and delivered his inaugural address. "This moment is your moment, it belongs to you," Trump told a large crowd that had earlier booed Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader in the U.S. Senate.
Revisiting themes from his improbable campaign victory, Trump said his presidency would aim to help struggling middle-class families, build up the U.S. military and strengthen U.S. borders. "We are transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it back to you," he said. "From this day forward a new vision will govern our land," Trump said. "From this day forward it's going to be only America First."
The transition from a Democratic president to a Republican took place on the West Front of the domed U.S. Capitol before a crowd of former presidents, dignitaries and hundreds of thousands of people on the grounds of the National Mall. The crowd stretched westward on a cool day of occasional light rain.
Trump, 70, takes over a country divided after a savage election campaign. A wealthy New York businessman and former reality TV star, he will set the country on a new, uncertain path at home and abroad. Away from the Capitol, masked activists ran through the streets smashing windows with hammers at a McDonald’s restaurant, a Starbucks coffee shop and Bobby Van’s Grill steakhouse several blocks from the White House.
They carried black anarchist flags and signs that said, "Join the resistance, fight back now." Police used pepper spray and chased them down a major avenue, a Reuters eyewitness reported. In another location not far from the White House, protesters also scuffled with police, at one point throwing aluminum chairs at them at outdoor café.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate who Trump defeated on Nov 8, attended the ceremony with her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Former presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter were also present with their wives. Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, 92, was in Houston recovering from pneumonia.
Donald Trump to be sworn in as 45th President of United States
US, Jan 20: Donald Trump's inauguration is upon us. Barack Obama is set to leave the White House after eight years, making way for the 45th President of the United States. The eyes of the world will be on US and Trump as he takes the Oath of Office and offers his inaugural address during a ceremony that dates back to George Washington tonight at 10 PM India time.
The president-elect says his inauguration will have "an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout", while leaders of an ad hoc group of protesters have vowed to disrupt the day by blocking public access to the event.
China's tough stand on NSG membership
China, Jan 17: China has said admission of non-NPT signatories in NSG cannot be a farewell gift for countries to give to each other. A day after the outgoing Obama administration asserted that Beijing was an "outlier" in the efforts to make India a member of the elite nuclear club.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said this in a media briefing in Beijing, reacting to remarks by US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Nisha Desai Biswal, on the issue.
Biswal had said on India's NSG membership bid that Clearly there is one outlier that needs to be addressed and that is China.
"Yes We Can": US President Barack Obama signs off
US, Jan 12: US President Barack Obama gave his farewell address on Wednesday, before handing the reins over to President-elect Trump later this month. Obama leaves office on January 20. In his address, Barack Obama asked Americans to unite and protect the country's democracy which he said is being threatened by racism, inequality and a corrosive political environment as he made his farewell speech after eight years in the White House.
"Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are," Obama, 55, said in his address to the nation from his home town. The outgoing President lamented that despite his historic election as the nation's first black president in 2008, "race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society." "After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic," he acknowledged.
Obama's presidency will come to an end on January 20 when Republican Donald Trump would be sworn in as the 45th President of the US. Obama promised a peaceful transfer of power to Trump in the coming weeks. Without mentioning Trump, he used his speech to offer an implicit rebuttal to many of the contentious themes like temporary ban on Muslim immigration that characterised the 2016 presidential campaign.
"And all of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings," said the US President.
PM holds bilateral meets on sidelines of Vibrant Gujarat Summit
Gandhinagar, Jan 10: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met President of Rwanda Paul Kagame in Gandhinagar and held full delegation level talks. The two leaders witnessed the exchange of an MoU on Forensic Sciences cooperation and Rwanda's accession to the Intern'l Solar Alliance. Strengthening ties with Serbia, PM Modi held 2nd bilateral meet of the day with with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.
The Economy Minister of Japan, Seko Hiroshige also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the sidelines of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017, in Gandhinagar.
President to confer 'Pravasi Bharatiya Samman'
Bengaluru, Jan 9: President Pranab Mukherjee will deliver the valedictory address at the 14th edition of the 'Pravasi Bharatiya Divas' Convention in Bengaluru today. The President will also confer Pravasi Bhartiya Samman on the occasion. The theme of this year's PBD is "Redefining engagement with Indian diaspora".
A record 8,000 delegates from 30 countries are participating in the three-day event. PM Narendra Modi lauded the Indian diaspora across the world as he addressed people at the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas 2017 in Bengaluru on Sunday.
He added that Indian diaspora has made invaluable contribution to our economy and the government aims to change brain drain to brain gain through its policies. PM Narendra Modi thanked the persons of Indian origin for their support to government's initiative against black money and corruption.
US: 5 dead as gunman opens fire at Fort Lauderdale Airport
US, Jan 7: In the United States, at least five people have been killed and eight others injured when a gunman opened fire at Fort Lauderdale Airport in Florida late on Friday. The shooting took place in Terminal 2 in the baggage claim area, outside the TSA checkpoint. All services at the airport have been temporarily suspended.
The suspect, identified at Esteban Santiago, a passenger on a flight from Alaska to Florida, has been taken into custody. Santiago served in the U.S. Army National Guard and spent a year serving in Iraq in 2010. He was honorably discharged approximately four months ago.
Trump appoints Indian-American to key White House position
US, Jan 5: US President-elect Donald Trump has appointed young Indian-American Raj Shah to a key White House position. Shah played a leading role in the Republican party's anti-Clinton campaign during polls. Shah, whose parents immigrated to the US from Gujarat, has been appointed as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Communication Director and Research Director.
Shah, who is in his early 30s, is currently head of Opposition Research in the Republican National Committee. In this position, he led a team of experts to carry out research against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate.
At least 100 homes burned as fire erupts in Chile
chile, Jan 4: A large fire broke out in the coastal Chilean city of Valparaiso on Monday evening, burning at least 100 homes, prompting the evacuation of about 400 people and sending plumes of smoke high into the air. Chilean Interior Minister Mahmud Aleuy said in televised remarks that 19 people had been slightly injured and a total of 500 homes were at risk. Power was initially cut to about 47,000 customers in the region, but had been restored to all but 350, he said.
Almost 50 fire brigades from Valparaiso and neighboring municipalities were deployed to fight the blaze, and investigators had been sent in to determine the cause of the fire which started in a fishermen's club, according to the government. Images on social media showed huge brown-gray columns of smoke emanating from a neighborhood high in one of the city's hills, and pouring into the sky out over the Pacific Ocean.
Authorities said the blaze was fanned by gusty winds and high temperatures. Poor sanitation was also to blame as the fire fed on trash deposited in small ravines that run throughout Valparaiso. "We don't have any way to prevent people from throwing trash into Valparaiso's gullies," Aleuy said.
Two Indians among 39 killed in Istanbul nightclub attack
Istanbul, Jan 2: Two Indians are among 39 people killed in the Istanbul nightclub attack during New Year's celebrations. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed the death of the two Indians. "I have a bad news from Turkey. We have lost two Indian nationals in the Istanbul attack. Indian Ambassador is on way to Istanbul," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.
"The victims are Mr. Abis Rizvi, son of former Rajya Sabha MP and Ms. Khushi Shah from Gujarat," she said. The Indians are among the foreigners including an 18-year-old Israeli woman and a Belgian national who were killed in the attack in which around 70 others were injured.
At least 39 people were killed when an attacker opened fire on New Year's revellers at a nightclub in Istanbul. A gunman reportedly dressed in a Santa costume shot a police officer before storming the Reina club in the Ortakoy area of the city.
U.S. Expels 35 Russian diplomats
US, Dec 31: In a strong response to election hacking, US President Barack Obama has sanctioned Russian intelligence services and their top officials while expelling 35 Russian officials and shutting down two Russian-owned compounds in the US. It was the strongest action the Obama administration has taken to date over Russia's involvement in hacking U.S. political groups in the 2016 presidential election.
In response to the US action, Russian authorities have also ordered closure of the Anglo-American School of Moscow.
The measures, taken during the last days of Obama's presidency, mark a new post-Cold War low in U.S.-Russian ties which have deteriorated over Ukraine and Syria.
Allegations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally directed efforts to intervene in the U.S. election process by hacking mostly Democrats have made relations even worse.
Japan pledges never to wage war again
US, Dec 29: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledges never to wage war again as he visits Pearl Harbor Memorial commemorating World War Two. He said 'We must never repeat the horrors of war'. 75 years after the Japanese attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor that killed over 2000 American servicemen, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the site to offer his condolences to the victims at the memorial in Hawaii.
Accompanying him was US President Barack Obama. The Pearl Harbor incident plunged the U.S. into the world war 2. After the visit Abe pledged to never repeat the horrors of war again. Obama said that Abe's visit to the site of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor showed the power of reconciliation.
Sikh in US denied neurology job for religious appearance; files lawsuit
US, Dec 28: A Sikh doctor in the US, Jaswinder Pal Singh, has filed a lawsuit against an American medical organisation alleging he was denied a neurology job for his religious appearance. Though the recruiter praised Singh's credentials in phone interviews, Singh was allegedly abruptly denied further interviews after he submitted photographs of himself, along with additional information on Sikhs and Sikhism.
The lawsuit seeks to secure a court order requiring that both defendants, the employer Premier Medical Group and its recruiter Arthur Marshall Inc, implement anti-discrimination policies, practices and training to ensure that they do not discriminate against any future applicants.
Crisis over Libyan plane with 118 passengers on board resolved
Malta , Dec 24: A tense hostage drama involving a Libyan airliner which was hijacked, ended with the hijackers releasing all the passengers and surrendering before the authorities at Malta international airport. The Hijackers had diverted a Libyan plane carrying 118 people to the Mediterranean island of Malta and threatened to blow it up with hand grenades.
The Airbus A320 had been on a domestic Libyan route operated by Afriqiyah Airways but was re-routed. Malta International Airport authorities soon dispatched emergency teams as the airport was closed for all operations. Tense negotiations ensued and within a few hours the passengers were allowed to leave the plane. The plane on the tarmac was surrounded by military vehicles. Malta's National Security Committee coordinated the hostage operation and a negotiating team was also called on site.
US Electoral College to decides next US President today
US, Dec 19: Five hundred and thirty-eight members of the electoral college will convene in various places around the US tonight to officially elect the country's next president and vice president. While usually considered a mere post-election formality, the vote has drawn unprecedented attention and anxiety this year-because of the chance, however small, that Donald Trump could end up not being president after all.
Pressures for the electors to turn "faithless" and overturn his win have been mounting from the anti-Trump camp: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, after all, and it was recently revealed that Russia tried to intervene in the election in Trump's favor. For the presidency to slip away from Trump, at least 37 Republican electors would have to change their minds tonight.
Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly Cairo church bombing
Cairo, Dec 14: Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing at a church in Cairo during a Sunday mass in which 25 people, mostly women and children, were killed and nearly 50 others injured. The Suicide bomber blew himself up with an explosive belt.
Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, while attending the State funeral of the victims on Monday (14/12/16), said a 22-year-old suicide bomber called Mahmoud Shafik Mohamed Mostafa was behind the attack.
He also informed that four persons including a woman were arrested.
India, Vietnam sign civil nuclear cooperation pact in a boost to bilateral ties
New Delhi, Dec 10: Another significant step was taken in India's Act-East Policy yesterday when India signed Civil Nuclear Co-Operation Agreement with Vietnam. The two countries also signed three other agreements- to enhance aviation links, to jointly work in the area of energy efficiency and promotion of parliamentary cooperation. The four pacts are aimed at boosting the relations between the two countries.
Later Vietnamese leader also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi who said the Agreement on Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy "will further strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership between India and Vietnam." Prime Minister also welcomed the increased Parliamentary outreach between two nations. The civil nuclear agreement with Vietnam, an influential East Asian nation, comes close on the heels of India signing a similar pact with Japan.
Obama warns military might alone will not defeat Terrorism
Florida, Dec 8: President Barack Obama on Tuesday warned that the United States would not be able to wipe out terrorism with military might as he offered a sweeping defense of his administration's national security record.
In his final major speech on counterterrorism as president, Obama argued that his administration had been able to make al Qaeda "a shadow of its former self" and had put Islamic State on its heels, but said terrorism would remain a threat to the United States.
"Rather than offer false promises that we can eliminate terrorism by dropping more bombs or deploying more and more troops or fencing ourselves off from the rest of the world, we have to take a long view of the terrorist threat and we have to pursue a smart strategy that can be sustained," Obama said during a speech at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.
Obama will turn over the White House on Jan. 20 to Republican President-elect Donald Trump who has been sharply critical of his administration's approach to fighting terrorism.
Italian PM announces resignation after referendum defeat
Italy, Dec 05: Italian Prime Minister Matteo RenzI announces resignation after loosing a referendum on constitutional reform by a wide margin; Italy plunges in a new phase of political uncertainty and possible economic turmoil. In Italy, exit polls have predicted an overwhelming rejection to constitutional reform proposals on which Prime Minister Matteo Renzi staked his political future.
Polls called the vote for the No camp by a margin of at least 54 per cent to 46 per cent for the Yes camp. Soon after the picture became clear, Prime Minister Renzi announced his resignation. The referendum was regarded as a barometer of anti-establishment sentiment in Europe.
The vote asked about plans to streamline parliament but it was widely seen as a chance to register discontent with the Prime Minister.
The projected result was in line with what opinion polls had been indicating up until November 18, after which the media were banned from publishing survey results.
The defeat and Renzi's departure will plunge Italy in a new phase of political uncertainty and possible economic turmoil.
After Renzi's step down, President Sergio Mattarella will be charged with brokering the appointment of a new government to run Italy until the next general election, scheduled for spring of 2018.
US: Ohio varsity attacker shot dead
US, Nov 29: A man drove a sport utility vehicle into a crowd of pedestrians at Ohio State University then jumped out and stabbed several people with a butcher knife, injuring at least eleven, before a police officer shot and killed the attacker on Monday.
Police gave no immediate details on a possible motive for the attack.The assailant has been identified as Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a student at the university.
Reports suggest that the attacker in the Columbus campus was a Somali refugee. The attack at the Columbus campus drew a massive response of heavily armed police. A campus police officer who arrived at the scene shot and killed the suspect less than a minute after the attack began.
Homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco has briefed US President Barack Obama on the incident. FBI agents in Columbus were also helping with the investigation.
Angela Merkel to seek fourth term as German chancellor
German, Nov 21: Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that she will run for a fourth term in office.
Speaking at a meeting in Berlin, Merkel said she expected her toughest campaign to date, and vowed to "fight for our values and our way of life".
General elections are expected in Germany next year.
PM addresses business leaders in Japan
Japan, Nov 11: On the second day of his Japan visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses business leaders of India and Japan; says that India and Japan are best suited to work together and strong India- strong Japan will be a stabilising factor in Asia and the world.
Working earnestly to increase the inflow of Japanese Foreign direct Investment Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a high level pitch to invite Japanese entrepreneurs to India. Prime Minister was categorical and straightforward in his speech to at the CII Keidenran Luncheon in Tokyo.
He assured that all the concerns regarding investment will be looked into. Adding that india is a land of opportunities and credible policies, PM also promised that his aim to make India the most open economy in the world.
Commenting on the partnership potential of two countries and their economies, PM modi said that india japan best suited to work together.
He said that combination of Made in India and Made by Japan is working wonderfully and gave his candid views on increased cooperation between two countries. This is Prime Minister's second visit to Japan and stronger economic ties weigh high on his mind.
Japan is 4th largest FDI in India, and PM Modi knows that the potential to move up the ladder can still be tapped. PM also didn't fail to mention historic and cultural ties that bind the countries together.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his engagements in Japan with an audience with the emperor Akihito. The audience with the emperor is a special gesture that is being accorded to PM Modi. The Emperor of Japan is the head of the Imperial Family and is the ceremonial head of state of Japan's system of constitutional monarchy.
Theresa May praises British-Indians in Diwali message
Bahrain, Oct 28: Hailing the contribution of British- Indians, Prime Minister Theresa May has said she would highlight their success during her first official visit to India next month. May praised British-Indians in her message at the annual Diwali celebrations in the House of Commons in Wednesday. "In Britain's Indian communities, we can see the good that can be done when people's talents are unleashed.
I think of all those running their own businesses, taking risks and working hard so that they can provide for their families and take on staff," May said in her message, read out by Bob Blackman, the parliamentary host of the annual Diwali event organised by the Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB). She said that she would be highlighting this success when she visits India next month on the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India, Bahrain talk tough on terror
Bahrain, Oct 25: On the second day of his three-day visit to Bahrain, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh called on the King of Bahrain, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, in capital Manama on Monday. India and Bahrain agreed on their strong stances against all forms of terrorism, saying terrorism is a hazard to all countries and communities. Both the sides agreed that a terrorist in one country cannot be glorified as freedom fighters by another. They also agreed upon all states to reject the use of terrorism against other countries and fight terror infrastructure wherever it exists.
The two countries agreed to actively implement the counter-terrorism agreement for which a joint committee was formed. Both sides agreed to confiscation of terrorism money in accordance to the laws of both countries and fight money laundering. The two sides welcomed cooperation in anti-human trafficking and fight against emerging security threat to both the countries. India and Bahrain agreed to continue high level communication to reinforce security cooperation.
The Home Minister also met the Crown Prince & First Deputy Prime Minister, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Ali Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa and Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa. The Home Minister held extensive talks with his Bahrain counterpart, Interior Minister Lt. General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, followed by delegation level talks.
World Polio Day: Fighting the virus
New Delhi, Oct 24: World Polio day is being observed today. The day observed annually to honor Dr Jonas Salk - the developer of a vaccine against polio. It is because of the polio vaccine, that historic progress has been made toward a polio-free world. Every year, 24th October is observed as World Polio Day with aim to raise awareness about the infectious disease called Polio.
WORLD POLIO DAY-
World Polio Day is observed on 24th October:
Aim is Polio eradication in the world,
Polio mainly affects children under 5 years of age,
There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented,
India started the Pulse polio programme to eradicate the nation of polio in 1995,
India has been declared polio free by World Health Organization,
Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal viral disease, that mainly affects young children. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent.
There is no cure for the disease, but safe and effective vaccines are available. Polio can be prevented through immunization.
As per Immunization schedule, OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine)- Liquid vaccine Poliomyelitis is given in five doses :
First dose is given at birth,
Primary three doses at 6, 10 & 14 week,
One booster dose at 16-24 month of age given orally,
Second Booster at 4 to 5 years,
The strategy to eradicate polio is based on preventing infection by immunizing every child until transmission stops and the world is polio-free.
BRICS 2016: India-Russia hold bilateral summit meet in Goa
Goa, Oct 15: Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed entire spectrum of bilateral engagement with Russian President Vladmir Putin in Goa ahead of the BRICS Summit on Saturday. 16 agreements and 3 announcements across various fields including defence, infrastructure, space exploration and energy inked; PM Modi says India & Russia are moving towards a bright future.
Before heading out for Goa, President Putin has termed India as a privileged strategic partner in an interview.
He said Russia has remained India's leading supplier of advanced weapons and defence technology and BRICS nation stand with India in the fight against terrorism.
He added that co-operation between the two countries is making good headway in all areas on the basis of strong traditions of friendship, trust and mutual respect.
US rejects Pak attempt to link Afghanistan & Kashmir
US, Oct 13: Supporting India's "right to self-defence" in the aftermath of the Uri attack, the US on Wednesday dismissed the recent attempt by Pakistan to link peace in war-torn Afghanistan with resolution of the Kashmir issue. The White House backed India's right to defend itself as with any other country, in view of the recent surgical strike. It also said that that the US is making every effort to ensure that India become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group by the end of this year.
Making a rare appearance before a Washington audience, Peter Lavoy, the White House's point person for South Asia, said that India-US ties are the "most dynamic relationship"for the US as he listed the Obama administration's achievements in strengthening the relationship between the two largest democracies of the world.
Last week, Lavoy met the two special envoys of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Kashmir. The two Pakistani envoys in their public meetings had linked peace in Afghanistan to resolving the Kashmir issue.
BRICS Summit set to begin in Goa
Goa, Oct 12: Stage is all set for two day Brics Summit to be held in Goa from 15 to 16 October under the Chairmanship of India. Summit is being held with the theme of Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions. Coastal state Goa is ready to host heads Brics nation. The emerging nations collectively account for 43% of the world population, with around 25% of the world's total land area and close to 30 % of the GDP with around 17 % share in the world trade. The summit being held under India's Chairmanship has adopted a five-pronged approach. It comprises -
- Institution Building
- And Continuity with Consolidation.
Emerging grouping Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will discuss their mutually beneficial issues during the summit. However, terrorism will be one of the key issues to be discussed during the meet. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had at Ufa, proposed a 10-point program for consensus between member-countries, to hasten the process of closer cooperation between BRICS nations. These include -
- BRICS trade fair
- BRICS Railway Research Centre
- Promote cooperation between the institutions audited
- BRICS digital initiative
- BRICS Agriculture research Center
- BRICS Forum for states and local bodies
- BRICS Youth Forum
- Young Diplomat's Forum
- BRICS Film Festival
- BRICS sports council
Action has been taken on many recommendations. BRICS trade fair, BRICS film festival, BRICS Youth Forum and Brics under -17 football tournaments are results of PM Modi's initiative. BRICS countries led by India have enhanced their cooperation in the fields of education, health and tourism in last few months. During bilateral interaction, India will pitch for more FDI flow.
Russia backs India's surgical strikes
New delhi, Oct 4: Russia has supported India's surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads across line of control, saying every country has the right to defend itself. An interview, Russian Ambassador to India Alexander M Kadakin said his was the only country to say in plain words that terrorists came from Pakistan.
He also firmly added that his country had always been with India in fighting cross-border terrorism. Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf also blamed faulty policies of the Pakistan government for its isolation.
US Security Advisor calls Doval, condemns Uri terror attack
New delhi, Sep 29: US National Security Advisor Susan Rice called her Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and condemned the Uri terrorist attack saying the White House expects Pakistan to take "effective action to combat and delegitimise" UN-designated terrorist groups.
"Ambassador Rice reiterated our expectation that Pakistan take effective action to combat and delegitimise United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and their affiliates," Spokesperson of National Security Council Ned Price said.
In the telephonic conversation with Doval, the first after Uri-terrorist attack, Susan strongly condemned the September 18 cross-border attack on the Indian Army Brigade headquarters and offered condolences to the victims and their families.
"He affirmed President Obama's commitment to redouble our efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism throughout the world," Price said. "Ambassador Rice discussed our shared commitment with India to pursue regional peace and stability and pledged to deepen collaboration on counter-terrorism matters including on UN terrorist designations," Price added.
After India, three more countries pull out of SAARC summit
New delhi, Sep 28: Responding to India's call to isolate Pakistan for exporting terror, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan have announced that they are boycotting the 19th SAARC Summit at Islamabad. Stepping up its diplomatic offensive following the Uri terror attack, India on Tuesday said that it would not take part in the upcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit.
India will not take part in SAARC summit in Islamabad in view of the continuous cross border terrorism by Pakistan. In a statement, External Affairs Ministry said New Delhi has conveyed to current SAARC Chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and growing interference in internal affairs of member states by one country created environment which is not conducive to successful holding of Summit. Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan have also written to the current chair Nepal that summit should not be held.
Indian-Americans launch White House petition to declare Pak sponsor of terror
US, Sep 25: he Indian-American community in the US has launched a White House petition to designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism, days after a bill in this regard was tabled in the US Congress by two powerful lawmakers.
The petition is considered as important to the people of United States of America, India and many other countries which are continuously affected by Pakistan sponsored terrorism. It requires at least one lakh signatures to qualify for a response from the US Administration.
Pakistan isolated on global platform; US introduces Bill
US, Sep 22: Pakistan has failed miserably in his efforts to intertnationalize Jammu and Kashmir with Islamabad getting no backing on the issue. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raised the issue with almost every world leader he held talks with on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session. Meanwhile, in further worries for Pakistan, two powerful American lawmakers have introduced a bill in the US House of Representatives to designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism. Pakistan is fast becoming an example of how to lose friends & alienate people across the globe.
Aleppo convoy attack: US-Russia spat continues
US, Sep 21: Russia-US row over bombing of UN convoy vehicles in Syria's Aleppo turned murky as Russia reacted furiously to U.S allegations that Russian or Syrian planes were responsible for it. The Russian foreign ministry terming the allegations "unsubstantiated, hasty accusations', said it was watching "with indignation and anger" at attempts to blame Russia or Syria for the attack.
Russia denies any role of air strike, attributing the incident to ground attacks by other forces. Earlier Washington had asked Russia to take responsibility for the incident. At least 18 trucks in a 31-vehicle convoy were destroyed late Monday as they delivered humanitarian assistance to desperate civilians in the Aleppo region, causing death of several civilians. Following this incident UN had suspended all aid convoy movements.
World unanimously condemn Uri attack
UN, Sep 19: World leaders unanimously condemn Uri attack and expressed solidarity with India.
Condemning the militant attack on army camp in Uri, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon hoped the perpetrators of the crime will be brought to justice and all involved will work for the re-establishment of stability and prevent further loss of life.
The United States has strongly condemned the terror attack in Uri. In a statement issued in Washington, the State Department Spokesman John Kirby also extended condolences to the victims and their families.
UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson spoke to the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and condemned Uri Attack, saying that UK stands shoulder to shoulder with India in defeating terrorism.
France has also condemned the Uri attack. French Foreign Affairs Ministry in a statement said that France remains at India's side in the scombat against terrorism.
VP Mohammad Hamid Ansari held bilateral meeting with Venezuelan President
Venezuela, Sep 17: Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari has reached the Margarita Island, Venezuela to attend the 17th NAM Summit. He was received by Aristobulo Isturiz, Executive Vice President of Venezuela and accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Airport. Later Mr. Ansari had a bilateral meeting with the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.
The 17th Non Aligned Summit began on 13th and will culminate on 18th with Venezuela taking over the organisation's rotating Presidency from Iran for the next three years. Mr. Ansari will address the plenary session of the Summit tonight. He said terrorism is the biggest enemy of human rights. The subjugation of terrorists is, therefore, protection of human rights.
Issues of contemporary relevance and concern such as terrorism, UN reform, the situation in West Asia, threats to peace & security, climate change, economic governance, south-south cooperation, refugees and migrants, and nuclear disarmament are main issues being discussed at the Summit.
French may suffer new terror attacks: PM Manuel Valls
France, Sep 12: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, issuing a warning to the country, has said that France remains a target for terror and the country may suffer new attacks. He said the threat is maximal. In a interview with Europe 1 radio and Itele television on Sunday, Valls said he is telling the truth to the French people. He said every day intelligence services, police and gendarmerie are thwarting attacks and dismantling Iraqi-Syrian networks.
He said almost 700 terrorists; French or French residents are fighting in Iraq and Syria. The Premier said there were 15,000 people on the radar of police and intelligent services who were in the process of being radicalised. Earlier, in an interview to a newspaper, former President Sarkozy said, France needed to get tough on militants by creating special courts and detention facilities to boost security. Prime Minister Valls, however, said proposals by Sarkozy to boost security was not the right way to deal with threats.
France has been under a state of emergency since Islamic State group attacks on Paris in November last year in which 130 people were killed. President Francois Hollande had called the attack an act of war leading to imposition of emergency in the country. However, a recent commission of inquiry found the state of emergency was only having a "limited impact" on improving security. It also questioned the deployment of between 6,000 and 7,000 soldiers to protect schools, synagogues, department stores and other sensitive sites.
ASEAN is central to India's 'Act East' policy :PM
Laos, Sep 8: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, ASEAN is central to India's 'Act East' policy and India-ASEAN relations are driven by common priorities, bringing peace, stability and prosperity to the region. Mr Modi was addressing the 14th ASEAN-INDIA Summit in Laos capital Vientiane, Laos this morning. He also announced to enhance the ASEAN-India fund with an additional grant of 50 million US dollars in the area of Science & Technology. He said India is willing to march with ASEAN to fulfill promise and potential of strategic engagement.
Earlier, in his opening address at the summit, the Prime Minister said that India-ASEAN relations are driven by common priorities, bringing peace, stability and prosperity to the region. He said enhancing connectivity is central to this partnership which is driven by linking our economic success and development experiences. He said India is committed to ASEAN connectivity master plan.
Expressing deep concern over terrorism, Mr. Modi said export of terror, growing radicalization and spread of extreme violence are common security threats to our societies. He also announced hosting a commemorative summit on shared values, common destiny next year. Mr Modi and leaders of 10 ASEAN nations participated in the summit.
Meanwhile the eleventh East Asia summit began a shortwhile ago in Vientiane, Laos. The summit is being attended by leaders of 10 ASEAN member countries and 8 countries including India, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and US. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Barack Obama are participating in the summit.
US welcomes India's growing role in Asia- Pacific region
Laos, Sep 7: On the eve of PM Modi's departure for Laos to attend the ASEAN-INDIA and East Asia Summits, US has welcomed India's growing role in the Asia-Pacific region. America has said it will continue to work with other countries in the region to "address political and security challenges." President Obama in a major policy speech on Asia-Pacific region in Laos on Tuesday said, "We've elevated our ties with India across the board, and we welcome India's growing role in the Asia Pacific."
India and United States are a part of the East Asia Summit..a leading forum in the region for addressing political and security challenges, including maritime security.
ASEAN Summit begins in Laos capital Vientiane
Laos, Sep 6: The 28th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit began in Laos capital Vientiane today. During the summit, the world leaders will review the progress of implementation of the ASEAN Community Blueprints 2025. The ASEAN leaders are scheduled to meet the heads of state, government of ASEAN dialogue partners which include China, India, Japan, Korea, Australia and the United States.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will reach Vientiane tomorrow to attend the 14th ASEAN-India Summit. On Thursday, Mr Modi will attend the 11th East Asia Summit.On the sidelines, the Prime Minister will hold bilateral meetings with several leaders.
G-20 would need to act decisively: PM
Hangzhou, Sep 5: Addressing at G-20 Summit in China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed upon the need for structural reforms to revive global growth. Prime Minister Modi said that G20 would need to act decisively to overcome many complex political and economic challenges. Addressing the G-20 Summit, the PM said that G-20 countries are meeting at a time when the global situation faces complex political and economic challenges.
Prime Minister stressed that a frank and even a difficult conversation wont be enough, but what G20 needs is an action oriented agenda of collective, coordinated & targeted action to improve financial system, boost domestic production, enhance infrastructure investment & create pool of human capital.
He also said that our challenges are common, so are opportunities, which includes connected machines, digital revolution & new technology, which will lay the foundation for next generation's global growth. To benefit all, G20 would need to act decisively. This will also require strong network of partnerships.
G-20 Summit to begin in Chinese city of Hangzhou tomorrow
Hangzhou, Sep 3: Two-day G-20 Summit of the world's major economies will start in Chinese city of Hangzhou tomorrow to discuss efforts to reform global economic governance. The theme of the summit is toward an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy.
The G-20 represents over 85 percent of the world's economy and two thirds of global population.
Michel Temer sworn in as Brazil's new President
Brazil, Sep 1: Brazil's Michel Temer has been sworn in as the country's new President after suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was removed in a Senate impeachment trial. Senators voted by a majority of 61 to 20 to remove Rousseff from office on the grounds that she illegally manipulated the national budget. Rousseff who was suspended in May.
Suspended Brazilian President fate to be decided today
Brazil, Aug 31: Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's fate will be decided today with a senate panel scheduled to vote whether to permanently remove her from office or not. Rousseff who was suspended in May, is accused of illegally manipulating government accounts. Earlier, presenting her defence, Rousseff told the Senate that she had been victim to the greatest boycott in the Brazilian Lower House of Congress and in the nation's history.
She denied charges of breaking budgetary rules and denounced the nine-month impeachment process that has paralysed Brazilian politics as a plot to overthrow her.
Kerry in India for Indo-US Strategic & Commerce Dialogue
New Delhi, Aug 30: India and the United States will hold the second Strategic and Commercial Dialogue in New Delhi on Tuesday to review implementation of various decisions taken during the previous meeting. This is the signature mechanism for advancing shared priorities of generating sustainable economic growth, creating jobs and strengthening business ties between two democracies.
India are US are all set to cement their relation with a renewed commitment. The US Secretary of State John Kerry is on a 3-day visit to India during which he will co-chair the meet. John Kerry will participate in the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue along with US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.
India will be represented by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will co-chair the Dialogue. There is frequent interaction between the leadership of the two countries, including telephone calls and meetings on the sidelines of international summits.
Issues to be discussed are: Sustainable economic growth, Creating jobs, Improving the business and investment climate, Enhancing livelihoods, India US trade Ties, Bilateral trade reached $109 billion in 2015, U.S direct investments in India is at $28 bn, More Than 65 large Indian corporations in US, Indian companies have Invested about $17 bn in US,
Italy quake toll hits 247 as rescuers hunt for survivors
Italy, Aug 26: The death toll from a powerful earthquake that shook central Italy rose to 247, officials said, as rescuers desperately searched for survivors in the rubble of devastated mountain villages. Hundreds of others were injured, some critically, and an unknown number were trapped under the ruins of collapsed buildings after Wednesday's pre-dawn quake.
Amid scenes of carnage, dozens of emergency services staff and volunteers were determined to attempt to pluck more survivors from the ruins. Rescuers had pledged to work through the night in the hope of finding people alive in the mangled wreckage of homes.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had earlier warned that the toll would likely rise after visiting the badly hit village of Amatrice. Hundreds of people spent a chilly night in hastily assembled tents with the risk of aftershocks making it too risky for them to return home.
Scores of buildings were reduced to dusty piles of masonry in communities close to the epicentre of the quake, which had a magnitude of between 6.0 and 6.2.
Firefighters gain ground on California wildfire
California, Aug 20: Firefighters were gaining ground on Friday against a wildfire burning in a Southern California mountain pass that has forced some 80,000 residents to flee their homes and has consumed dozens of structures. The Blue Cut fire has blackened 35,969 acres of drought-parched heavy brush and chaparral after breaking out on Tuesday.
Officials said firefighters were able to carve containment lines around 22 percent of the blaze as of Thursday night - up from just four percent earlier in the day - despite dry, hot and windy weather conditions and treacherous terrain.
The Blue Cut fire is one of nearly 30 major blazes reported to have scorched some 530 square miles in eight Western states this week, in the midst of a wildfire season stoked by prolonged drought and unusually hot weather.
California wildfire challenges fight to stem its progress
California, Aug 19: The raging mountain fire in south California's San Bernardino has caused massive power outages across the county, while high voltage grids becoming exposed to the fire pose the most serious safety risk. The fire has already damaged over 100 cable towers or poles, leaving thousands of houses with no power in San Bernardino.
Fire departments have warned evacuating civilians to stay clear of power cables while focusing their task on protecting the grids. Strong winds are hampering firefighters' efforts, while the fire has spread across some 12,000 hectares. Power companies say the power issue cannot be fixed in the short term and have advised residents to be prepared for a blackout that may continue for several more days.
Chinese Foreign Minister meets PM Narendra Modi
New Delhi Aug 13: Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, who arrived in New Delhi called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi today. The two leaders discussed issues of mutual interests. Wang had arrived in Goa on Friday for a three day visit to India. Visit of Wang to India is part of the regular high level dialogue between the two countries.
During their meeting, the two sides will discuss various issues of mutual interests including the upcoming multilateral meetings including G-20 Summit being held in China and BRICS Summit being held in India. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and held delegation level talks.
Prachanda all set to become Nepal's PM
Kathmandu, Aug 3: Nepal Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda" is all set to become the Prime Minister for the second time as he filed his nomination on Tuesday after receiving crucial backing from the agitating Madhesis by signing a three-point pact. The 61-year-old CPN-Maoist Centre president's candidacy was proposed by Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba, which was seconded by senior Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara. Today's vote is expected to bring political stability to the country.
Govt. reaches out to Indians in Saudi
New Delhi, Aug 1: Government reaches out to nearly 10,000 Indians facing food crisis in Saudi Arabia. Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. V K Singh to leave for Saudi Arabia soon to assess the severity of the food crisis. Indian consulate provides food to all affected.
Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. V K Singh will leave for Saudi Arabia soon to assess the severity of the food crisis faced by nearly 10,000 Indians after being rendered jobless and explore remedial measures including possible return of some even as a large number of those affected were provided food by the Indian Consulate in Jeddah.
Gen. V K Singh will travel to the Gulf nation in the next few days to resolve the crisis.
Obama: We'll carry Clinton to victory
US, Jul 29: US President Barack Obama addresses Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia; says future of America will be more bright after the Democrat party candidate Hillary Clinton comes to power in the ensuing presidential polls.
Day three of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia was a high profile one. All eyes were on President Barack Obama's address to the Convention as he walked on to the stage to rapturous roars of "We love you" and "Yes we can".
President Obama delivered a stirring valedictory address hailing Hillary Clinton as his rightful political heir.
Though he acknowledged that Democrats were still divided after a bruising nomination fight and that Hillary Clinton had made "mistakes, he made a fervent appeal for her. Even saying that his former secretary of state is a better qualified candidate than even he or her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
After his address Hillary Clinton joined him on stage hugging him and waving out to her supporters, many of whom seemed reluctant to let go of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America.
Sanders endorses Hillary for White House
US, Jul 26: In the United States, Senator Bernie Sanders has urged Democrats to put Hillary Clinton in the White House, in a speech to the party convention in Philadelphia. Addressing the four-day long convention, the Vermont senator said that Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States.
He further added that Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president. He also called for party unity Republican Donald Trump and stressed his campaign's ability to influence the party's platform.
9 killed in Munich mall shooting, gunman commits suicide
munich, Jul 23: A shooting at a Munich shopping centre which left nine people dead was carried out by one gunman who then killed himself. The suspect was an 18-year-old German-Iranian dual national who lived in Munich, but his motive is unclear. Police also said that over 20 people were injured including three critically. A huge manhunt was launched following reports that up to three gunmen had been involved in the attack.
The body of the suspect was found about 1km from the Olympia shopping centre in the north-western suburb of Moosach. The neighbouring Austria and Czech Republic have boosted their border security. German security forces have been on alert since a teenage migrant stabbed and injured five people on a train in Bavaria on Monday, in an attack claimed by so-called Islamic State.
No casualty to Indian nationals reported in the Munich attack. The Indian Embassy in Munich has asked people to stay indoors.
Further, Indian nationals heading to Munich are advised to avoid travel till situation improves. Helpline Nos. of the Indian Consulate in Munich are: 0171-2885973, 01512-3595006, 0175-4000667.
India, Bangladesh to jointly inaugurate ICP through video conference
New Delhi, Jul 21: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina will jointly inaugurate the second Integrated Check Post along the Benapole-Petrapole part of India - Bangladesh border. Prime Ministers of the two countries will join the inauguration ceremony from Dhaka and New Delhi through video-conferencing, while West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will join from Kolkata.
The Integrated Check Post will ease movement of goods and passengers across the border. The ICP at the Benapole-Petrapole part of the Bangladesh-India border is likely to have all regulatory agencies, including Immigration, Customs and border security.
There will be dedicated terminals for passenger and cargo providing adequate customs and immigration counters, X-ray scanners, passenger amenities. India's second international-standard multi-purpose Integrated Check Post (ICP) and the first along the Bangladesh border opened in November, 2013 at Akhaurah, near Agartala.
Morocco announces its wish to rejoin African Union
France, Jul 19: Morocco has formally announced its wish to rejoin the African Union (AU) 32 years after leaving the organisation. In a message to the AU summit in Rwanda, Moroccan King Mohammed VI said the time had come for his country to retake its place within its institutional family.
Morocco left the AU in 1984 after the organisation recognised the independence of Western Sahara. Moroccans describe Western Sahara as their country's southern provinces.
77 killed as truck ploughs into crowd at Bastille Day celebrations in France
France, Jul 15: In a terror attack at Nice, France, at least 77 people have been killed and many injured as an attacker ploughed an explosive filled lorry into the crowds watching fireworks display on the Bastille Day National holiday.
The driver behind the wheel was shot dead by the police and his identification is being established. In a televised address, French President Hollande said that the terrorist nature of the attack on Nice cannot be denied.
Mr. Hollande said that, France will always be stronger than the fanatics who want to strike it. He said that the state of emergency is to be extended by three months in the country. It was supposed to end on 26th of this month.
Indian Ambassador in Paris is in touch with the Indian community in Nice. So far, no report of any Indians affected has came. The embassy has also launched a helpline number +33-1-40507070 (Repeat: +33-1-40507070).
Blast at Bangladesh's largest Eid gathering kills 2
Dhaka, Jul 7: Two people, including a policeman, were killed and at least 10 others have been injured as bombs exploded near Shoalakia Eidgah grounds in Kishoreganj, northern part of the country, just before Eid prayers this morning.
One suspected attacker has also been killed. Police and miscreants traded heavy gunfire for at least one hour. Police say at least 7 attackers wielding crude bombs and sharp weapons were involved.
Around 3 lakh devotees gathering at the traditional Shoalakia Eidgah congregation were trapped amidst the bomb blasts and gunfire triggering panic among the people.
Bangladesh PM pays homage to 20 slain hostages in Dhaka terror attack
Dhaka, Jul 4: PM Sheikh paid homage to the 20 slain hostages at a solemn function in the Army Stadium in Dhaka. They were killed in a terror attack last Friday in which 2 police officers were also killed. Attended by top brass of the ruling awami league, army, law enforcement agencies,opposition leaders, bureaucrats, members of the diplomatic corps, journalists, photographers and the public.
Indian High commissioner Harsh Vardhan Sringla is among the envoys. The pain of the people of Bangladesh in not being able to protect foreigners on their soil as well as their own citizens is visible everywhere.
Among the dead hostages are 9 Italians, 7 Japanese, 1 Indian and 3 Bangladeshis. The body of 19-year old Indian, Tarishi Jain is among them. Her body was identified on Sunday by her family and is expected to be flown to New Delhi Monday afternoon.
UK loses its top AAA credit rating
UK, Jun 28: The UK has lost its top AAA credit rating from ratings agency S&P following the country's Brexit vote last week. S&P said the referendum result to leave the European Union could lead to "a deterioration of the UK's economic performance, including its large financial services sector".
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the result of the European Union referendum must be respected.
The UK Prime Minister made the comments at his first parliamentary statement since losing the plebiscite.
Cameron however reiterated his call for Brexit itself not to start until his successor is put in place following his resignation.
Britan votes to exit EU in historic referendum
United Kingdom, Jun 24: UK has voted to leave the European Union after 43 years as the 'Brexit' camp on Friday took a seemingly unassailable lead over the 'Remain' camp in a down-to-wire referendum with far reaching implications for the world. 52 per cent of the Britons in Thursday's vote favoured leaving the 28-member EU, while 48 per cent supported staying in the bloc. The final national result is to be officially declared by the UK Electoral Commission's chief counting officer.
London and Scotland voted strongly to stay in the EU but the remain vote has been undermined by poor results in the north of England. Voters in Wales and the English shires have backed Brexit in large numbers.
The vote which saw an extremely high turnout of around 72 per cent with over 30 million people voting- reverses the public verdict back in 1975, when the UK voted to remain a member of then European Economic Community, which later became the EU.
The UK will be the first country to leave the bloc. The argument has swiftly moved to the future and what happens next after the Brexit vote. While the result of a referendum is not legally binding on the UK government, Cameron has repeatedly promised that the will of the people will be accepted. In the immediate aftermath, Britain will remain a member of the EU and nothing will change instantly.
As expected the, the result sent ripples across the world as the pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei was down 7.7 per cent to 14,982.48 points. In South Korea, the Kospi index was 3.9 per cent lower at 1,909.18.
In China, the mainland Shanghai Composite was down 1.2 per cent to 2,857.58 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng is down sharply 4.7 per cent to 19,894.12 points.
EU referendum : UK goes to polls today
UK, Jun 23: Britain is set to go to the polls in an historic referendum on whether the country should remain a member of the European Union or leave. Voting will take place between 7 AM and 10 PM British time.
An estimated 4.6 crore people are entitled to take part in the vote, a record number for a UK election. It is only the third nationwide referendum in UK history and comes after a four month battle for votes between the Leave and Remain campaigns.
The four month campaign was reached a climax with last minute appeals to undecided voters from both sides.
PM David Cameron on Wednesday appeared alongside former Conservative Prime Minister Sir John Major and former Labour PM Gordon Brown, former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman and Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, at events in Bristol and Birmingham.
Record number of UK voters register for Brexit referendum tomorrow
EU, Jun 22: A record number of voters have registered for Britain's European Union (EU) membership referendum tomorrow with around 46.5 million people signed up to cast their ballots. UK Electoral Commission in a statement said, the provisional size of the electorate indicates a UK record of 46.49 million. The previous record was from last year's general election at 46.35 million.
As with British parliamentary elections, Irish citizens living in Britain are allowed to vote. Commonwealth citizens, including nationals of European Union member states Cyprus and Malta, can also vote. The commission said 24,117 people have also registered in Gibraltar. Opinion polls have shown a clear generational divide, with younger voters more in favour of staying in the EU while older voters tend to favour a Brexit.
Thousands mark International Day of Yoga in South Africa
Capetown, Jun 20: Thousands of South Africans gathered at more than a dozen venues across the country today to celebrate the International Day of Yoga that was adopted by the UN General Assembly two years ago. Hundreds of Yoga enthusiasts of all religious and races performed yoga at the main event at Johannesburg's Zoo Lake Park. The Indian High Commission in Pretoria and its three Consulates in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg coordinated events with a host of community organizations in these and other cities and towns.
"Yoga may have been born in India, but given that yoga is practiced by all segments of society in all parts of the world, it belongs to everybody," Indian High Commissioner Ruchi Ghanashyam said.
"We are very blessed that in South Africa, there is already a very big culture of yoga with almost every major school from India being represented in South Africa," Ghanashyam said.
Commenting on the objective of taking yoga to children as well, Ghanashyam said the main event on the actual day on Tuesday would see the Johannesburg Consulate teaming up with the Art of Living Foundation to take yoga to hundreds of mainly Black school children in Soweto.
Obama meets Dalai Lama at White House
Washington DC, Jun 16: United States President Barack Obama met Tibetan Spiritual Leader the Dalai Lama at the White House. During the meeting, Obama voiced support for preserving Tibet's unique religious traditions.
Despite China's objections to the meeting between two Nobel laureates, Obama met with the Tibetan leader.
However, the White House maintained that the U.S. Policy on Tibet that it is a part of China, has not changed. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the Obama's reception of the Dalai Lama in the White House residence, as opposed to the Oval Office, underscored the personal nature of their meeting.
Earlier, Chinese Foreign Ministry had said it had lodged diplomatic representations with the United States over the planned meeting, saying it would damage Chinese-U.S. ties.
US sends strong message to Pak on terror from its soil
Washington DC, Jun 11: In an unequivocal communication from US to Pakistan that is being seen by many observers as a testimony of the deep impact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's US visit has had on Indo-US ties.
The US state department has asked Pakistan to ensure that it's territory is not used for planning attacks in India.
This comes close on the heels of PM Modi's address to a joint sitting of the US Congress, in which he said without naming Pakistan, that terrorism is being incubated in India's neighbourhood.
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to India after a highly productive 5 nation tour including US Obama administration christened his vision of Indo-US ties as "Modi Doctrine" and US asked Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used for planning attacks in India.
While addressing the US Congress Prime Minister Narendra Modi had condemned terrorism in the sternest of words and took an indirect swipe at Pakistan for sheltering terrorists.
No sooner than PM arrived in India..US tightened the screws on Pakistan.US State Department's Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said that this is one of the steps that the US is encouraging Pakistan to take for improvement of its relations with India.
US polls: Obama officially endorses Hillary Clinton as Democratic presidential nominee
Washington DC, Jun 10: US President Barack Obama has officially endorsed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party presidential nominee. His endorsement came after meting Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders yesterday who has been battling Mrs Clinton for the nomination.
Speaking in a video tweeted out by Mrs Clinton, Mr Obama said she may be the most qualified person ever for the role of President. The two are set to start campaigning together soon. Speaking after following the endorsement, Mrs Clinton said Mr Obama's endorsement means the world.
PM Narendra Modi meets Mexican President Nieto
Mexico City, Jun 9: Prime Minister Modi held delegation-level talks with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. The Mexican President will also host a dinner for the Prime Minister Modi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Mexico that is the last stoppage in his five-nation tour. Prime Minister was greeted by enthusiastic crowds of local Indians based who turned in large numbers in Mexico City, upon his arrival there. This was a memorable welcome for PM Modi in Mexico City.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier attended the Congressional reception after his speech to the joint US congress session on Wednesday. The reception was hosted jointly by the Foreign Relations Committees of House of Representatives and the Senate and India Caucus for both.
Addressing the reception, Prime Minister Modi said that he wants the combined power of India and the US to become a force for good in the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also met with people from Indian community after delivering a speech at the joint session of the US Congress at the Capitol Hill.
Prime Minister Modi in Washington, To Meet Obama, CEOs
Washington DC, Jun 8: On his second day of US visit PM Narendra Modi met US President Barack Obama and also attended USIBC 40th AGM in Washington DC. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed CEO's roundtable where he said that all suggestions made by CEOs would be examined. The PM outlined the strengths of the Indian economy and its talented workforce. He discussed solar energy, digital connectivity with CEO's at this business round-table. The PM concluded his address by asking CEOs to work more closely with India.
John Chambers of Cisco told PM that USIBC members are on track to invest 45 billion dollars in India. Key business honchos including top CEOs like Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Indira Nooyi of Pepsico, Ajay Banga of Mastercard, Dilip Sanghvi of Sun Pharma, Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin, Marc Allen of Boeing, Jose Emeterio Guiterrez of Westinghouse attended this round-table with the PM.
US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Blair House in Washington. The two leaders discussed issues related to security. Earlier, PM Modi met President Obama at the Oval Office in the White House. During the meeting between leaders of the world's largest and oldest democracies, a range of issues of mutual interest were discussed.
Prime Minister Modi said that India has made a name for itself as fastest growing economy in the world and the two nations will work together for world's peace and security. Prime Minister Modi said that he will meet President Obama again at the G-20 meeting.
PM Modi interacts with US think-tanks
Washington DC, Jun 7: PM Narendra Modi arrived at Joint Base Andrews in Washington DC, United States on early hours of Tuesday for his second bilateral visit to the country. PM Narendra Modi visited the Arlington National Cemetery to pay respect to the US soldiers and also interacted with Think Tanks.
Visiting the Arlington cemetery has a symbolic significance for Americans. Arlington National Cemetery is the most famous cemetery in the US as it is, a final resting place for some of its greatest heroes. Probing the minds of those who shape foreign policy, PM Modi interacted with Think Tanks in Washington
In a friendly gesture, the United States has handed a few sculptures of cultural heritage dating back to the Pratihara period between 7-11th century to PM Narendra Modi. A couple of them were stolen from a temple ruin at Atru in Baran district of Rajasthan.
After laying a wreath at the tomb of unknown soldier, Prime Minister's also paid his respects at the Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial located in the cemetery. An astronaut of Indian heritage, Kalpana Chawla, was among those lost in the 2003 Columbia tragedy.
India and Qatar sign 7 key agreements
Doha, Jun 6: India and Qatar on Sunday signed 7 important agreements including investments, skills, health and tourism. Agreements were signed in the presence of PM Narendra Modi and Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani. PP Narendra Modi held a round table meeting with the leading businessmen of Qatar.
He addressed business leaders and praised the role of Emir of Qatar in promoting India Qatar business ties.
Inviting the businessmen in Qatar Prime Minister Modi said India is a land of opportunity. Qatar's Minister of Trade & Economy welcomed Prime Minister Modi and sought more intensive economic engagement with India.
PM Modi assured the business leadership that he will address the bottlenecks identified by them.
Qatar is 4th west Asian country Prime Minister Modi visited within a year. India Qatar trade is worth 10 billion dollars, Qatar is India's biggest LNG supplier. India imports 65% of its LNG from Qatar. 6 lakh 30 thousand Indians are living in the gulf state. India is Qatar's third largest trading partner, while Qatar is the eleventh most significant trading partner of India.
PM Modi met Indian workers in Qatar, gave an inspiring speech to boost the spirits, but the most inspirational moment came after he finished his speech.
State of Indian workers and prisoners also came up during the discussion. Interestingly FIFA 2022 World Cup also came up for discussion.
The country will be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. 2022 FIFA World Cup presents an opportunity for Indian investors to increase business and other exports to Qatar.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also met Qatar PM Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Thani who held banquet in PM's honour in Doha on Saturday night.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi received ceremonial honours at Amiri Diwan in Doha on Sunday.
Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam inaugurated in Herat
Afghanistan, Jun4: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday began his five-nation visit to Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, the US and Mexico. Beginning with Afghanistan, PM Modi inaugurated the Afghanistan-india Friendship Dam, earlier known as Salma Dam, in Herat province, along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. This Dam is expected to produce 42 MW of electricity and water nearly 75 ,000 hectares of farmland. Both the leaders will also hold talks on a range of issues including current situation in Afghanistan.
"Looking forward to my visit to Afghanistan tomorrow. I will join President Ashraf Ghani to inaugurate Afghanistan- India Friendship Dam in Herat. It is symbol of our friendship and would usher in hope, light up homes, nourish the fertile fields of Herat and bring prosperity to the people of the region," said the Prime Minister on Friday.
Prime Minister also said that he will exchange notes with "friend" Ghani on regional situation and "setting agenda" for bilateral cooperation in the coming period.
From Afghanistan, PM Modi will travel to energy-rich Qatar on the same day.
About the Qatar visit, Modi said, "This visit will nourish the historical bonds of friendship deeply rooted in people to people contacts, energy, trade and investment partnership."
India donates 2000 bicycles to needy girls in Nepal
Nepal, Jun 3: India has donated 2,000 bicycles to needy girls in Nepal as part of a program that aims to encourage school enrollment and increase the youth literacy rate. In an official statement, Indian Embassy said, bicycles were given away to poor girls studying in different government schools in Nepal.
The program was initiated by the Indian government under its Small Development Project scheme to stop poor Nepali girls from dropping out of schools and to enhance literacy. According to Unicef, literacy rates in Nepal are low, the total adult literacy rate in the country in 2008-2012 was 57.4 percent.
Apart from this, India has been providing assistance to various government programs for the improvement of education and health services across Nepal. India has also granted 59 ambulances, 7 buses and one eye care van to four Nepal districts to serve the medical and educational needs of the local people.
French naval ship detects signal from black box of Egypt airflight
Cairo, Jun 2: Signals have been detected from one of the black boxes of the EgyptAir plane that crashed last month. French investigators confirmed they were picked up by the French vessel Laplace as it was searching the Mediterranean Sea.
There were 66 people on board when the Airbus A320 crashed on 19 May while flying from Paris to Cairo. It vanished from Greek and Egyptian radar screens, apparently without having sent a distress call.
Egyptian investigators first reported that the French vessels had picked up signals from the wreckage search area, saying they were assumed to be from one of the devices.
V Prez Hamid Ansari to deliver lecture at University in Morocco
Moroccan, Jun 1: Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari will deliver a lecture at the Mohammad the 5th University in Moroccan capital, Rabat today. It will be Mr Ansari's final engagement in Rabat after which he will proceed to the city of Marrakech today itself. During his stay there, the Vice President is scheduled to visit Jardin du Menara, the gardens established in the 12th century at the gates of the mountain range in northwestern Africa known as the Atlas Mountains.
He will also pay a visit to the El Badi Palace, a centuries-old ruined palace located in the city.
Tomorrow, Mr Ansari will leave for Tunisian capital, Tunis on the final leg of his 2-nation visit. He will call on Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi and meet Prime Minister Habib Essid. Several MoUs are expected to be signed after the talks with the Prime Minister. The Vice President will return home on Saturday.
Taipei rocked by 6.1-magnitude quake as tremors felt across country
Taipei, May 31: A magnitude 6.1 earthquake has hit Taiwan, with tremors felt in the capital Taipei and across the country. Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau intially put the magnitude at 7.2, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or significant damage.
The USGS issued an alert on Tuesday morning saying the earthquake's epicentre was around 90km off the coast of Taiwan, at a depth of more than 240km. There was no immediate alert or advisory from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
WHO rejects demand for shifting Olympic games out of Rio Zika virus threat
Geneva, May 28: World Health Organization, WHO on Saturday rejected a call from more than 100 leading scientists to move or postponed the Rio Olympic Games due to the threat posed by large outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil. The United Nations health agency said having the Games in Rio as planned would not significantly alter the spread of Zika, which is linked to serious birth defects.
In a statement WHO said based on the current assessment of Zika virus circulating in almost 60 countries globally and 39 in the Americas, there is no public health justification for postponing or cancelling the games. The best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health travel advice, it said.
The WHO advices pregnant women should not travel to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission, including Rio de Janeiro.
It also advises everyone to make all efforts to protect against mosquito bites and to practice safe sex.
In an public letter posted online on Friday, around 150 leading public health experts, many of them bioethicists, said the risk of infection from the Zika virus is too high for the Games to go ahead safely.
Two crowded boats capsize off Libya, 100 migrants feared dead
Libya, May 27: Over 100 migrants are feared dead after two crowded boats capsized off Libya in separate incidents, with one of the tragedies captured on video that shows dramatic rescues and desperate final moments.
The survivors of the first shipwreck, which happened Wednesday, said some 650 people were aboard their boat when it left chaos-wracked Libya. But they spoke of 100 missing people who were stuck in the hull. Italian authorities had initially given a toll of five confirmed dead.
While the Italian navy was able to rescue some 560 people from the water on Wednesday, the shipwreck may be one of the worst tragedies in the Mediterranean in recent months.
Separately, the EU's naval force announced that up to 30 migrants were believed to have died after another ship flipped over yesterday, drawing rescuers to the scene who threw life jackets and floats to those in the water.
Indonesia approves death penalty for child rapists
Jakarta, May 26: Indonesia has toughened its punishments for child rapists to include the death penalty and chemical castration. It follows outrage over several recent violent crimes, including the gang-rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl. President Joko Widodo said the regulation was "intended to overcome the crisis caused by sexual violence against children".
Previously, the maximum sentence for rape, of either an adult or a child, was 14 years in jail. People jailed for sexual offences against children may also now be made to wear electronic monitoring devices after their release.
The gang rape of 14-year-old Yuyun on her way home from school and the rape and brutal murder of a 18-year-old factory worker this month have sparked national outrage.
UK grants asylum to Maldives' ex-president Mohamed Nasheed
London, May 24: Britain has granted political refugee status to ousted former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed. His lawyer Hasan Latheef claimed yesterday that Nasheed had been granted political refugee status but the British government is yet to comment. Maldives' first democratically elected president, 49-year-old Nasheed had been allowed to go to Britain in January for spinal cord surgery following a deal brokered by Sri Lanka, India and the UK.
Nasheed became Maldives' first democratically elected leader in 2008 but was toppled in a coup backed by the military and police. He was jailed for 13 years on terrorism charges after allegedly illegally ordering the arrest of a judge in a trial that put a spotlight on instability in the Maldives.
Chabahar port, a symbol of synergy between Iran and India: Rouhani
Tehran, May 23: India and Iran signed 12 memorandum of understanding and agreements in various areas including building and operating the Chabahar port by India. It followed the delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The other agreements include cooperation in culture, science and technology, library sciences, and cooperation between the exim banks of both the countries.
Later, in a joint statement with PM Modi, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Chabahar port is a symbol of synergy between both the nations. He said, the port can serve as a point of connectivity to different countries. Economic relations between Delhi and Tehran can further be expanded through the project, he said. Dr Rouhani also touched upon commonalities between the two nations and said, promotion of Hindi and Persian in both the countries were also discussed.
Rouhani said, both the nations discussed about sharing of intelligence to check the menace of terrorism, as its tentacles are spreading over Syria, Yemen and other areas in the region. He stressed upon both the nations to work together to bring peace and stability in the region.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his statement said, Chabahar port project has opened a new chapter of friendship and economic partnership between the two nations.
Egypt Air flight MS804 went down into Mediterranean sea
Egypt Air Flight MS804 that went off radar screens early today while en route from Paris to Cairo went down into the Mediterranean Sea, the Al Mayadeen TV channel reports citing airline sources. Egypt Air says it received a distress signal before the plane disappeared from radar. According to the airline, there were a total of 66 people on board the plane, including 56 passengers.
The passengers included 30 Egyptians, 15 French citizens, one Briton, two Iraqis, as well as people from Canada, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan, Chad and Portugal including three children. Egypt Air is following the situation closely with the competent authorities through the integrated operations centre. Egypt Air said, special teams from the Egyptian Armed Forces were are at site located for inspection and rescue.
Maldives decides to sever 40-year-old diplomacy with Iran
Seychelles, May 18: Maldives has decided to sever 40-year-old diplomatic ties with Iran. The Government said that the country's policies in the Middle East are detrimental to peace and security in the region. The Maldives foreign ministry said in a statement last night that peace in the Middle East is also linked to the island nation's own peace, stability and security. Sunni dominated Maldive's decision reflects its increasing closeness to Sunni-led Saudi Arabia.
Last year, Saudi Arabia opened an embassy in the Maldives and severed diplomatic ties with long time rival Shiite dominated Iran this year.
World powers ready to arm Libya's UN-backed unity govt to fight IS
Vienna, May 17: The US and other world powers have said they are ready to arm Libya's UN-backed unity government to help it fight the Islamic State militant group. The joint decision, announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday, followed a meeting in Vienna which was attended by diplomats from more than 20 countries. (Pic: Libyan PM Fayez Serraj (left), US Secy of State John Kerry (centre) and Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni)
Kerry said, IS group is a new threat to Libya and it is imperative it is stopped. Last month, the Libyan government warned that IS could seize most of the country if it was not halted soon.
India is ready for entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group: US
Washington, May 14: The US has said that India meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). State Department Spokesman John Kirby said in Washington last night that US President Barack Obama, during his visit to India in 2015, had said that India meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for NSG membership.
Kirby's remarks came in response to a question on reports that China and Pakistan have joined hands to oppose India becoming a member of the NSG.
Defending its move to block India's entry into the NSG, China yesterday claimed that several members of the 48-nation bloc shared its view that signing of the NPT is an important standard for the NSG's expansion.
Hollande govt survives no trust vote over labour reform bill
Paris, May 13: In France, embattled Socialist government survived a vote of no-confidence over its decision to force a controversial labour reform bill though parliament. The motion brought by the centre-right opposition Les Republicains party won 246 votes in the National Assembly, falling short of the 288 required to bring down the government.
The draft law will now be debated in the Senate. Unions and student groups marched yesterday in Paris and other cities including Marseille, Nantes and Toulouse, as they have done regularly since the government put forward the reform two months ago.
Refrain from interfering in internal affairs: B'desh tells Pak
Dhaka, May 9: Bangladesh has asked Pakistan to refrain from interfering in its internal affairs, few days after it expressed "deep concern" over the death penalty given to fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami chief for the war crimes committed during the 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan.
The reaction came after Pakistan's foreign ministry on May 6 expressed deep concern over the dismissal of Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami's final review petition against his death sentence by the Supreme Court.
Nizami, 72, has been convicted of murder, rape and orchestrating the killing of top intellectuals during the 1971 Independence War. He was given capital punishment in October 2014.
Bangladesh junior foreign minister Shahriar Alam while reacting over Pakistan's overture over the issue said this was a serious issue and asked Pakistan "to stop misinterpreting" the 1974 tripartite agreement signed by Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
London has its first Muslim Mayor in Sadiq Khan
London, May 7: In UK, Sadiq Khan has been elected the new Mayor of London, boosting Labour party after it slumped in Scotland's elections. Khan, son of a Pakistani bus driver, is the city's first Muslim mayor, after beating Tory Zac Goldsmith. He is a former human rights lawyer and an MP from Tooting, east London, since 2005.
The result bolsters leader Jeremy Corbyn after Labour were beaten into third in Scotland by the Tories and lost some English councillors. It marks the return of Labour rule to the British capital after eight years of Conservatives in power.
In Scotland, the SNP said it would form a minority government after winning its third election in a row. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, it was an emphatic victory, her first as party leader, after the SNP emerged as the largest party at Holyrood with 63 seats, ahead of the Conservatives on 31 and Labour on 24. In Wales, Labour remains as the largest party, with 29 out of 60 seats, but was denied a majority as Plaid Cymru and UKIP both made notable gains.
Massive destruction by wildfire in Fort McMurray, Canada
Toronto, May 5: In Canada, a massive wildfire, which has forced the evacuation of all 88,000 people from Fort McMurray, could destroy much of the city. Officials in Alberta province say the blaze that has gutted some 1,600 structures is expected to rage out of control through the rest of the day. A state of emergency has now been declared in the province. The evacuation was the largest in Alberta's history. The blaze broke out south-west of the city on Sunday.
The Anzac Recreation Centre, Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation are now under a mandatory evacuation order.
Evacuees are being moved to Lac La Biche, about 280 kms south, or even further to Edmonton.
A cold front is making its way through Fort McMurray tonight and is expected to lower temperatures. But at the same time, it's also bringing with it high westerly winds gusting close to 70 km/h.
F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan not at subsidised rate
Washington, Apr 30: The US will not provide F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan on subsidised rate. The news comes a day after American lawmakers expressed concern that the aircraft could be used against India and not to combat terrorism.
It comes after Congress refused to approve funding for the deal. As a result, Pakistan will now have to pay the 700 million US dollars to purchase eight F-16s from the US, two-and-a-half times the original cost.
Obama administration had to take the decision not to use tax payers money as Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has put a hold on it.
China cannot survive without US, would ask it to rein-in N Korea
Washington, Apr 29: Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has said he would ask China to rein-in North Korea. He said, otherwise the US will not be doing business with the world's second largest economy which, he said, cannot even survive without America. Trump said there would be a depression in Chinese economy if its business with the US comes down.
In 2009, China, the world's second largest economy, jumped to become the third biggest market for US exports. American companies have invested over 62.2 billion US dollars in 58,000 projects in China.
Meanwhile, Trump managed to convey on Wednesday that Pakistan worries him a great deal, and while he has a profound distrust of the country, its instability is manageable, and he would like to keep Washington's relationship with it on an even keel- sans its nuclear weapons.
Trump wins five primaries while Clinton emerges victorious in four
Washington, Apr 27: In the United States, Republican candidate Donald Trump has won the Presidential primary elections in five states while, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton emerged victorious in four states. Donald Trump has secured Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Now, with this win, Trump's chances of securing the Republican nomination before the party's convention in July brighten. But he would still fall a few hundred delegates short of the magical 1237 delegates required to bag the Republican presidential nomination. Real estate tycoon Trump's victory is not a big surprise, as most recent polls had shown him holding big leads in the states.
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton emerged victorious in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware. Her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders has won Rhodes Island. However, Clinton win gives a blow to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whose hopes of winning the Democratic nomination continue to fade. The wins in the three states also takes former Secretary of States Clinton closer to earning the Democratic Presidential nomination, though she is still short of the required 2383 delegates.
Foreign Secretaries of India, Pak to meet in Delhi
New Delhi , Apr 26: Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet in New Delhi today. Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry is visiting India to attend the Heart of Asia conference in New Delhi. He is leading the Pakistani delegation to the conference. The talks between Mr. Chaudhry and Foreign Secretary S Jaishanker will be held on the sidelines of the 'Heart of Asia' Summit.
India is expected raise the issue of investigation the Pathankot attack, apart from discussing modalities of resuming the comprehensive bilateral dialogue. The foreign Ministers of both the nation had met during SAARC summit in Nepal in November last year. But then the Pathankot attack acted as a speed-breaker in the talks process.
India, China agree for peaceful negotiations to settle border issue
Beijing , Apr 21: India and China have agreed to adhere to peaceful negotiations to settle the border issue and reach a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution. The decision was taken during the annual 19th round of boundary talks between National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi at Beijing yesterday.
Both the sides discussed the vexed border dispute amid negativity over Beijing blocking India's bid to get Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar banned by the UN. Both the leaders had an extensive, deep and candid discussion on the 3,488 km-long Line of Actual Control which remains undemarcated resulting in tensions between the two sides.
Clinton, Trump are projected winners in New York primaries
New York, Apr 20: US television networks are projecting billionaire real estate magnate Donald Trump and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton as the big winners in Tuesday's New York presidential primary.
Both won by huge margins over their rivals and should end up with nearly insurmountable leads in their delegate counts.
On the Republican side, Trump is projected to win more than 60 percent of the vote.
New York City is his home and the headquarters of his real estate empire. His challengers -- Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich -- had all but conceded the race to Trump even before the voting started.
For the Democrats, Clinton is projected to beat Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders also by a landslide, with about 60 percent of the vote. Her win in New York is no surprise, even though Sanders is a native New Yorker. Clinton was a US senator from New York from 2001 until 2009.
Sushma urges for justice to Indian murdered in Russia
Moscow, Apr 18: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today met her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow and raised the issue of the killing of Yasir Javed, a businessman from Srinagar. She enquired about the progress of investigation into the case. Yasir died in Russia's Kazan city last month following an attack on him by unknown local miscreants. Swaraj told Lavrov that at least the guilty must be punished after the probe.
The External Affairs Minister also raised the issue of the death of two Indian girl students, who were killed in a fire at a medical university in western Russia. Pooja Kallur and Krishma Bhonsle, both from Maharashtra, were studying at Smolensk Medical Academy in Russia and lost their lives in a fire accident in February.
India attaches highest priority to ties with China: Manohar Parrikar
Beijing, Apr 18: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said, India attaches highest priority to its relationship with China and is committed to further develop the ties. Mr.Parrikar who is on a five day visit to China made the remarks, while holding talks with his Chinese counterpart Gen Chang Wanquan at Beijing. General Chang hoped that Parrikar's visit will improve strategic mutual trust between the two armed forces. Earlier, Parrikar was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the headquarters of the Chinese military by a contingent of People's Liberation Army(PLA) soldiers.
Quoting sources, PTI reports that recurring incidents of incursions, implementation of an agreement to reduce tensions between border patrols and Sino-India strategic concerns are among the issues expected to figure in talks between the Indian and Chineses Defence Ministers.
Mr. Parrikar will also call on Premier Li Keqiang. Later, he would visit China's recently integrated western command military headquarters which has jurisdiction over border with India.
G20 nations for crackdown on tax havens, financial transparency
Washington, Apr 16: The G20 countries, including India, have sought a crackdown on tax heavens, shell companies and terror financing by increasing financial transparency and sharing of key information in a timely manner. A communique in this regard was issued by G20 countries, yesterday after meeting of its Finance Ministers and Governors of Central Banks at Washington on the sidelines of the annual Spring Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan attended the meeting on behalf of India. ((Pic: Indian Finance minister Arun Jaitley meeting President of World Bank Group, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, in Washington.)
In the communique, the G20 Finance Ministers reiterated that it is essential that all countries and jurisdictions fully implement the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards on transparency.
Seeking a crackdown on terror financing, the Finance Ministers called on all countries to join its efforts including through swift and effective implementation of FATF standards. The communique also called on all countries, which have not committed to implement the standard on automatic exchange of information by 2017 or 2018 to do so without delay and to sign the Multilateral Convention.
Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump push to rebound in Northeast
Washington, Apr 11: Front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump yesterday campaigned in New York ahead of its April 19 primary which offers a large trove of delegates who will select the parties' nominees at their national conventions in July.
Trump is seeking to rebound in his home state after a decisive loss to his main rival, the ultraconservative Texas Sen Ted Cruz, last Tuesday in Wisconsin.
The billionaire real estate developer remains well short of the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the Republican nomination.
If denied the Republican nomination, he went on to warn, "You're going to have a big problem, folks, because there are people who don't like what's going on."
Clinton, who lost Wyoming on Saturday night to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, is trying to maintain her commanding lead among delegates no matter how many states Sanders wins or how much "momentum" he claims.
Panama papers disclosures: OECD calls for spl session on Apr 13
Paris, Apr 9: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has called a special session of countries, including India, on April 13 in Paris to firm up cooperation between nations in the wake of the Panama Papers disclosures. A statement by OECD secretariat said that the meeting, to be held in Paris on April 13, will bring together senior tax administration officials from countries worldwide.
It said, government officials from around the world have called on the OECD to convene a special project meeting of the Joint International Tax Shelter Information and Collaboration (JITSIC) Network in light of the 'Panama Papers' revelations. The OECD said, the JITSIC is a network of tax administration officials with responsibility for responding to global compliance risks through active collaboration and fast and effective information exchange with other tax administrations.
The 'Panama Papers' this week disclosed a list of nearly 500 Indians including celebrities and industrialists who allegedly stashed money in offshore entities in Panama, considered to be a tax haven. After the names of Indians holding overseas accounts appeared, the government set up the MAG comprising officials from the RBI, IT department, Financial Intelligence Unit, Enforcement Directorate and Foreign Tax and Tax Research to investigate whether the money deposited in the tax haven is legal or illegal.
'Panama Papers' law firm says company hacked by servers abroad
Panama, Apr 6: One of the founders of the law firm Mossack Fonesca which is at the centre of the explosive 'Panama Papers' revelations has said, his company was hacked by servers abroad. Ramon Fonseca said the firm had lodged a criminal complaint with Panamanian prosecutors on Monday over the breach. He added that so far nobody is talking of the hack, and that is the only crime that has been committed.
While talking to AFP , Fonseca said that they have a technical report that they were hacked by servers abroad. He did not specify from which country the hack was carried out. Fonseca also rued the fact that reporting on the 11.5 million documents taken from firm's computer system focused on the high-profile clients, who had used the law firm to set up offshore companies to hold their wealth. The hack has badly shaken Panama's financial services sector, which relied on discretion to do its business.
Panama documents leak stirs nations to go for tax evasion probes
Paris, Apr 5: Spain, France and several other countries have launched tax evasion probes after a massive leak of confidential documents lifted the lid on the murky offshore financial dealings of a slew of politicians and celebrities.
The scandal erupted yesterday when media groups began revealing the results of a year-long investigation into a trove of 11.5 million documents from the law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specialises in creating offshore shell companies in the tax haven of Panama.
Among those accused are close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson as well as Barcelona striker Lionel Messi.
A judicial source at the Spain's National Court said they have begun an investigation for money laundering after the release of the documents which named Messi and Oscar-winning Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar among others with offshore holdings.
French newspaper Le Monde cited documents showing that Syria used Mossack Fonseca to create shell companies to help it break international sanctions and fund its war effort. Mossack Fonseca is already subject to investigations in Germany and Brazil, where it is part of a huge money laundering probe that has threatened to topple the current government.
Australia said it had launched a probe into 800 wealthy Mossack Fonseca clients. Prosecutors in France and tax authorities in the Netherlands also announced investigations in those countries.
Indian among 14 foreigners arrested in drug bust in Lanka
Colombo, Apr 4: Sri Lankan police have detained 14 foreigners, including an Indian, in the country's biggest drug bust in nearly three years, after 110 kgs of heroin worth $ 7.5 mn was seized from the sea.
The police has detained 14 foreigners - 10 Iranians, two Pakistanis, an Indian and a Singaporean in connection with the incident.
The police arrested three more local suspects in Negombo. A trawler owned by the smugglers was seized during the operation. While the Pakistani and the Iranians were arrested on board, the rest were arrested later in their lodgings, police said. Police are on the look out for local agents now.
PM calls for high vigil to combat nuclear terrorism
Washington, Apr 2: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stressed the need to remain on high vigil to combat nuclear terrorism and underlined his government's continued priority to nuclear safety by strengthening nstitutional framework. Participating in the plenary sessions of Nuclear Security Summit in Washington Friday night, Mr Modi said India has been adhering to international obligations on nuclear safety through actions at national level.
Briefing media persons on the Prime Minister's participation in the nuclear summit, MEA Joint Secretary, Amandeep Singh Gill said that Mr Modi stressed the importance of strengthening international organisations like the UN for nuclear security. Mr Gill said, the Prime Minister also reiterated the importance of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 to prevent non-state actors gaining access to nuclear weapons.
Mr Gill said, the Prime Minister has announced a contribution of 1 million US dollars to Nuclear Security Fund of International Atomic Energy Agency. Mr Modi said that India would join the basket group of three other countries to combat nuclear smuggling. Quoting the PM, Mr Gill said India has decided to stop the use of Caesium 137 in medical applications as it is produced by nuclear fusion of Uranium 235 which is used in nuclear reactors and weapons. The Joint Secretary further said that nuclear Safety Regulatory Bill which lapsed in last Lok Sabha will be tabled in the current session of Parliament. He said, the next conference of INTERPOL will be held in India next year.
In all, three sessions were held under the chairmanship of US President Barack Obama on the second day of the summit today. In the first plenary, all participant countries released their national plans to enhance nuclear security and the second plenary focused on strengthening international institutions like the IAEA and the UN. The final session deliberated on challenges emerging from threats of nuclear terrorism and how they could be responded to.
Nuclear security must remain abiding national priority: PM
Washington, Apr 1: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stressed that nuclear security must remain an abiding national priority. The Prime Minister said that terrorism is globally networked but we still act only nationally to counter this threat.
On the first day of Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC, the Prime Minister, along with heads of several countries, attended the working dinner hosted by the US President Barak Obama at White House last night. Mr Modi emphasized that all states must completely abide by their international obligations in the realm of nuclear security.
India's role in stewardship of nuclear weapons vital: US
Washington, Mar 31: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Washington DC this morning . He will participate in the Global Nuclear Security Summit to be attended by the heads of about 50 countries and representatives of five international organisations. The Summit is to discuss a gamut of issues pertaining to nuclear security.It will highlight achievements and commitments of several countries towards safeguarding nuclear devices and technologies and reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism.
It may be noted that India has been taking an active part in the summit ever since its inception in 2010.
Meanwhile, the US says, India has an important role to play in responsible stewardship of nuclear weapons and materials. US Secretary of State John Kerry said, US is particularly grateful to India for the leadership it offered in Paris helping to reach a climate agreement. And now, there is more that we can do with respect to the next steps in that agreement, Kerry added.
Kerry said President Obama has called the relationship with India a defining relationship of this century, and there are many reasons for that. He hoped that this Nuclear Security Summit will contribute to everybody's understanding about our global responsibilities and choices.
PM Modi will also hold bilateral talks with his New Zealand counterpart John Key on several issues. Later, he will meet scientists from US-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). A MoU on setting up LIGO facility in India will be signed between India and the US on the occasion.
Taking into view that Indian scientists were also part of the research on gravitational waves, -India has decided to set up state-of-the art- Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) project in the country in collaboration with the United States.
The Observatory will be third of its kind after Hanford in Washington and Livingston, both in the US. India will sign an MoU with the US on setting up LIGO facility in the presence of Prime Minister in Washington.
PM Modi arrives in Washington DC to attend Global Nuclear Security Summit
Washington, Mar 31: After wrapping up his historic Belgium visit, PM Narendra Modi arrived in Washington. The Prime Minister will attend the 4th Nuclear Security Summit beginning today. PM Narendra Modi and president Barak Obama will be among the world leaders who will finalise a new nuclear safety world order. The fourth and the final nuclear security summit in Washington DC on Friday and Saturday will write a new chapter for a world free from nuclear threats.
On the sidelines India also wants a membership for nuclear supplier group during this visit as Modi meets Obama.
Top leaders of the world are sitting together in Washington to get the plan ready to tackle potential threat of nuclear terrorism.
According to an estimate the world has about a huge1800 metric tons of radioactive uranium and plutonium. This lies in hundreds of civilian nuclear reactors and military stations spread over 50 countries.
It becomes must to keep this nuclear material away from any rogue country or from non state actors. Otherwise consequences may be disastorous as terror groups look for a dirty bomb made from pilfered nuclear material.
Currently each country has its own policy to keep its nuclear stuff safe. India also safeguards its nuclear facilities efficiently. The final outcome of the nuclear security summit is likely to adopt best practices and propose sharing of crucial non sovereign information among nations.
Sense of urgency and potential drive to work out action plan to tackle dirty bomb shows the commitment of world leaders to ensure safety and security of humanity at turbulent times.
Egypt airliner hijacked; all but 4 people & crew members released
Cyprus, Mar 29: An EgyptAir airliner has been hijacked and forced to divert to Larnaca airport on the south coast of Cyprus. Most of the passengers on board have been freed, the airline says. Egypt Air said negotiations had resulted in the release of all those on board Flight MS181 apart from the crew and four foreign passengers.
It was taken over after a passenger said he was wearing an explosives belt. Alexandria to Cairo. The airlines said the plane was carrying 56 passengers and 7 crew. Larnaca airport has been closed and scheduled flights diverted elsewhere.
The Egyptian civil aviation ministry said in a statement the pilot said that a passenger told he had an explosives vest and forced the plane to land in Larnaca. Cypriot foreign ministry Alexandros Zenon told the information they have so far is that it is one hijacker. The person has yet to make any demands.
EU ministers stress on better cooperation to dissuade terror acts
Brussels, Mar 25: In the back drop of the recent terror attacks in Brussels, European Union (EU) Interior and Justice Ministers met in the Belgium capital last evening and pledged to better share intelligence on terrorism. In a joint statement, issued after the meeting, the Ministers called to increase, as a matter of urgency, the systematic feeding, consistent use and inter-operability of European and international databases in the fields of security, travel and migration. They also called for making full use of technological developments and including privacy safeguards from the outset.
EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters that they put pressure on everybody to co-operate in a better way. He said, if the member nations share information, they might dissuade terrorist acts. Saying that there was sometimes a lack of trust, Mr Avramopoulos called for more resources for the counter-terrorism centre and for member states to make full use of it.
An EU diplomat said that despite improvements, still only five member states provide 90 per cent of the information.
The attacks in Brussels took place on Tuesday at a metro station and the airport killing at least 31 people and wounding 270 others.
US lawmakers introduce legislation to help India join APEC
Washington, Mar 24: A group of influential American lawmakers have introduced a legislation asking the Obama administration to help India join the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Chairman of the House Sub committee on Asia and the Pacific, Matt Salmon yesterday said that membership of the APEC would provide India a constructive forum to glean insight from other Asian countries that have already taken significant steps to advance their economies. Mr Salmon, who introduced the legislation in the US Congress, said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is striving for major economic reforms to open India's markets, improve trade volume, and facilitate his growing population's need for continued job growth.
The legislation notes that the US-India partnership is vital to the US strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region and across the globe.
Singapore-headquartered APEC is a forum for 21 economies to promote free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Important members of the APEC are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Singapore, and the United States.
Brussels Zaventem airport blasts cause casualties
Brussels, Mar 22: Two blasts have struck the departures area of Zaventem airport in Brussels. The Belgian government has confirmed casualties but has given no numbers. The cause of the explosions is unknown.
Another explosion has now been reported at the Maelbeek metro station close to the EU institutions. The whole metro system has been closed.
The blasts come four days after the capture in Brussels of Salah Abdeslam, the main suspect in the jihadist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015. Belgium has now raised its terror threat to its highest level.
Emergency services are clearing the airport completely. Belgium's Het Laatste Nieuws reports that more bombs have been found. The airport is being evacuated and has been closed to flights.
Barack Obama in Cuba at start of historic visit
Cuba, Mar 21: President Barack Obama is the first sitting US President to visit Cuba since the 1959 revolution which resulted in lots of animosity between the two nations. Speaking at the reopened US embassy in Havana, he called the visit "historic". He also spent time in the old city.
Obama will meet President Raul Castro, but not retired revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, and the two will discuss trade and political reform. The US President emerged smiling from Air Force One with First Lady Michelle and their daughters Sasha and Malia.
Holding umbrellas, the party walked in light drizzle along a red carpet to be greeted by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. Two hours after landing, Obama greeted staff from the US embassy with the words: "It is wonderful to be here".
"Back in 1928, President [Calvin] Coolidge came on a battleship. It took him three days to get here, it only took me three hours. For the first time ever, Air Force One has landed in Cuba and this is our very first stop."
FlyDubai Boeing misses runway in Russian city, 62 dead
Moscow, Mar 19: A passenger jet has crashed in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don killing all 55 passengers and seven crew on board, officials say. The FlyDubai Boeing 737-800, coming from Dubai, missed the runway as it attempted to land at 03:50 local time (00:50 GMT) on Saturday.
It is not clear what caused the crash but poor visibility and high winds are being considered as a factor. There were reports of a fire or an explosion on board.
A CCTV video showed what appeared to be a plane landing at the airport before being engulfed in a huge fire.
Reports say the plane abandoned its initial attempt to land and circled for two hours before crashing at the second attempt. It came down about 250m short of the start of the runway in Rostov, some 950km south of Moscow.
Most of the passengers on board flight FZ981 were Russian, the regional governor said.
Indian PM among the most influential people on Internet : Time
New York: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leader of the world's largest democracy, is also an "Internet star", boasting more than 18 million Twitter followers and over 32 million Facebook likes, said TIME magazine describing the Indian leader as an "Internet star" who often uses social media to "conduct diplomacy".
The magazine cited Modi's unconventional announcement on Twitter of his visit to Pakistan last year while naming him among 'The 30 Most Influential People on the Internet' for the second year in a row in this year's unranked list.
The list includes US presidential hopeful Donald Trump, reality TV star Kim Kardashian and her husband Kayne West, author JK Rowling, former Olympic athlete Caitlyn Jenner and soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.
TIME, however, also cited the faux pas Modi made when he took to Twitter last month to convey his birthday wish to Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, who politely corrected him that his birthday was in May.
"That tweet made headlines for the wrong reasons, though: the Afghan President replied with his thanks, and a polite note that he was actually born on May 19," the magazine said.
Supporters may riot if Republicans deny me nomination
Washington, Mar 17: In US, presidential hopeful Donald Trump has said his supporters would riot if he was denied the Republican nomination despite winning the popular vote. Some Republicans have signalled that they would be open to a brokered convention, where party officials, not voters, would chose the nominee. That would only take place if Mr Trump fell short of the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination. It is unclear if he can hit that threshold before the convention.
Trump has at least 646 delegates and is favoured to win many coming contests, but challenges from opponents Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich have blunted his momentum. On Tuesday, Trump won primaries in four states, Florida, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina. Yet a win by Kasich in Ohio raised the possibly that Trump's delegate count could fall short.
US election 2016: Trump faces long fight as Kasich wins Ohio
Ohio (US), Mar 16: The race for the Republican presidential nomination continues after Donald Trump won a decisive victory in the key state of Florida but lost to John Kasich in Ohio. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton extended her lead with wins in Florida, Ohio, Illinois and North Carolina.
Meanwhile Marco Rubio dropped out of the Republican race after losing in his home state of Florida to Mr Trump. The billionaire has also won in Illinois and North Carolina. But his victories cause a headache for the Republican party because many senior members are concerned by his policies and tone. Five big states on Tuesday chose their preferred candidate for November's presidential election.
The winners for both parties in Missouri are yet to be called with Mrs Clinton locked in tight competition with challenger Bernie Sanders and Mr Trump fighting Ted Cruz.
Redefine terrorism to include those who support such acts: Erdogan
Ankara, Mar 15: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said it is necessary to redefine terrorism to include those who support such acts. He said there is no difference between a terrorist holding a gun or a bomb and those who use their position and pen to serve the aims of terrorists. Mr Erdogan added that this could be a journalist, a lawmaker or an activist.
He was speaking a day after a bomb attack in the Turkish capital Ankara that killed 37 people. No group has so far claimed the blast, but Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said evidence almost certainly pointed towards the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, PKK separatist group. Yesterday, Turkey launched air strikes against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.
US2016: Florida vote pivotal for direction of Republican race
Florida (US), Mar 14: Florida was the key to George W Bush's razor-thin victory over Democrat Al Gore in the 2000 general election and has been a electoral battleground ever since. Now the state has become the top prize in this year's Republican nomination campaign, as it will give its entire 99 national convention delegates to whichever candidate carries even the slimmest of pluralities in its primary vote.
The state will provide the winner with a significant boost toward the magic total of 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination.
Unfortunately for Rubio, it appears increasingly likely that the Florida winner will be Donald Trump.
Japan pays tributes to tsunami victims; pledges to learn lessons
Tokyo, Mar 12: In Japan, a ceremony of remembrance has been held in Tokyo for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 11, 2011. Around 1200 people attended the government-sponsored event yesterday, the 5th anniversary of the disaster that also triggered the nuclear plant accident in Fukushima.
Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined others in observing a moment of silence at 2:46 PM, the exact time the 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck. Mr. Abe in his speech said the government is determined to never allow the valuable lessons learned from the disaster to erode. He pledged that his government will exert its unified efforts to build a strong and resilient nation that is resistant to disasters.
Fulfill promises to end graft and mismanagement: Ukrainians
Kyiv, (Ukraine), Mar 11: The war in Ukraine drags on. Their sufferings, the Ukrainians say, is the result of corruption and mismanagement. Two years after the Maidan Revolution sought to end corruption, many Ukrainians say they see improvements, but that the leadership has yet to make good on its promises to end graft and mismanagement. The goals of the revolution have yet to be fulfilled in the eyes of many Ukrainians. Sergii Leschenko, a legislator who leads anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine’s parliament, said corruption remains the biggest security threat.
Ukraine’s defense minister, Gen Stepan Poltorak, however said that the situation was changing. He said, over 200 different military officials and civil servants were removed from the Ministry of Defense because of corruption.
In Kyiv, street-level corruption has largely disappeared. Residents say traffic police no longer demand bribes, but the public perception is that corruption is still endemic, chiefly among the oligarchs who dominate business.
Street vendors once were easy targets for corrupt police. In these two years, the vendors have stood up to them.
Singapore most expensive city, Bangalore, Mumbai cheapest
Singapore, Mar 10: Singapore has again been judged as the world's most expensive city but costs across the world have been highly volatile, according to researchers. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked Singapore as the priciest ahead of Zurich, Hong Kong, Geneva and Paris.
London was sixth and New York seventh on the list that compares the cost of a basket of goods across 133 cities. The cheapest were Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, followed by Bangalore and Mumbai in India, the EIU said.
Although Singapore was the most expensive, the cost of living there was 10% cheaper when compared to New York than was the case in the EIU survey a year ago. The EIU said India and Pakistan accounted for five of the 10 least expensive cities in the world.
Erdogan moots building 'refugee city' in northern Syria
Istanbul, Mar 5: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested building a new city in northern Syria to house some of the millions of refugees escaping the country`s civil war, reports said Saturday. (Pic: A Syrian refugee family close to a Turkish town)
The new city would be located near the Turkish border and said he had even discussed the idea with US President Barack Obama. He said that the city would be 4,500 square kilometres in area and its infrastructure could be built in cooperation with the international community.
Refugees from Syria could be "resettled" there, he said. Such an area would make the city comparable to some of the largest urban centres in the United States.
"We have discussed this with Mr Obama and even set the coordinates but it has not yet come to fruition," said Erdogan. He gave no timescale for how the project could be realised.
Turkey has repeatedly sought to persuade its Western allies to help create a so-called safe zone inside Syria that could house Syrian refugees.
Turkey is currently home to an estimated 2.7 million Syria refugees who fled the five year civil war and has complained of the lack of international support in looking after them.
Landslide victory for reformist Prez in Tehran elections
Tehran, Feb 29: Iranian voters have given a landslide victory to reformist President Hassan Rouhani's allies. The pro-Rouhani List of Hope is set to take all 30 parliamentary seats in the capital Tehran. Millions voted on Friday to elect the 290-seat parliament as well as members of the Assembly of Experts. The 88-member assembly appoints Iran's Supreme Leader and might end up choosing a successor to Ayatollah Khamenei, who is 76 years old and has suffered ill-health.
Early results gave former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a moderate conservative, and Iran's reformist President Hassan Rouhani the most votes for the assembly. But with a mixed vote outside the capital neither the reformist or hardliners are likely to have overall control of parliament. Final results from Friday's vote are expected today.
Ceasefire comes into effect in Syria; hope for peace, says UN
Beirut, Feb 28: After nearly five years of civil war, peace has returned to Syria with the warring parties agreeing for a ceasefire. A taskforce, constituted under US-Russia leadership, is monitoring the ceasefire. The war in Syria has claimed lives of more than two and a half lakh people. It has displaced or made homeless nearly one crore 10 lakh people.
It may be noted that Russia had joined the war in Sept with airstrikes to prop up President Assad. Moscow’s intervention has foiled the plans of Arabs and western nations to topple Assad.
Meanwhile, Russia suspended strikes against Islamist fighters, in areas not included in the truce on Saturday, in order to avoid wrong targets being hit by mistake.
Resolution in US House of Reps to disapprove arms deal with Pak
Washington, Feb 27: In US, a joint resolution in the House of Representatives has been introduced to express Congress's disapproval over an arms deal with Pakistan. The deal includes the sale of eight nuclear-capable F-16 fighter jets to Islamabad. Lawmaker Dana Rohrabacher, after introducing the resolution, said last night that the Pakistan government has been using weapons from the US to repress its own citizens and especially the people of Baluchistan.
Earlier this month, the Obama administration officially announced it will go through with the 700 million US dollars arms deal with Pakistan. A day earlier, former Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul introduced the joint resolution in the Senate to block sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.
Sen. Paul introduces resolution to block sale of F-16 jets to Pak
Washington, Feb 26: Former Republican presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul has introduced a joint resolution in the US Congress to block the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. The resolution (SJ Res 30) calls for prohibiting sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, which the State Department had recently notified to the Congress.
Introduced by Paul on Feb 24, the resolution also calls for prohibiting sale of other military hardware to Pakistan including eight Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suites and 14 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems. Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has put a hold on the sale of F-16s to Pakistan. The Obama administration is hopeful that it would be able to overcome legislative challenges to proceed with the sale of the F-16s, which it promised to Pakistan several years ago.
India, on its part, had issued a strongly worded statement disagreeing with the US stand that the sale would only contribute to fight terrorism and instead argued that it would be used against India.
Migrant crisis threatens EU survival; meeting underway in Brussels
Brussels, Feb 25: Different stands on accepting migrants taken by European Union nations and Balkan states have led to a crisis situation in the EU bloc. Ministers from EU and Balkan nations are meeting in Brussels to try to heal divisions over a migrant crisis that could threaten the bloc's survival.
Austria, Serbia and Macedonia have taken steps to restrict entry to migrants, angering Greece, which fears the controls will cause a bottleneck. More than 100,000 migrants have reached Europe this year, most via the Balkans.
European Council president Donald Tusk has warned that the failure to make progress towards resolving the crisis could increase the likelihood of the UK voting to leave the EU this year.
The EU interior ministers meeting in Brussels will hear plans drawn up by Austria and eight Balkan countries that seek to restrict the numbers entering their borders. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said his country was turning into a "permanent warehouse of souls" and should not be left to deal with the crisis alone.
Turkey and the EU signed a deal in November under which Ankara agreed to curb the number of refugees crossing to Greece in return for three billion euros ($3.2 billion) in aid and the speeding up of its EU membership bid.
US election 2016: Donald Trump sweeps to victory in Nevada
Washington, Feb 24: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has easily won the US state of Nevada, cementing his lead in the race for party nomination. The billionaire now has three consecutive wins, after victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who have been attacking each other this week, are vying for second place.
Nevada, typically a swing state with a substantial Latino population, is crucial to the election process. Hillary Clinton won the state on Saturday in the Democratic race.
Party officials said they were looking into reports of double voting and not enough ballots at one caucus site. Some volunteers also wore clothing in support of Mr Trump, but officials said this was not against the rules.
In his victory speech, Mr Trump told a roaring crowd of supporters: "We're winning, winning, winning the country, and soon the country is going to start winning, winning, winning."
It also gives him momentum going into an important week in the campaign with more than a dozen states voting on March 1.
India extends USD 1 million immediate aid to cyclone hit Fiji
Fiji, Feb 23: New Delhi has extended one million dollars as immediate assistance to Fiji, which was hit by a severe cyclone . External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said this in twitter.
The island nation was hit by the cyclone Winston which brought with it wind gusts of 325 kilometres per hour and waves up to 12 metres high, flattening crops and decimating villages completely.
Meanwhile, the death toll from the super-cyclone has reached 29. People are sheltering in evacuation centres. There's considerable damage across the main island Viti Levu and the island of Koro, which were directly hit by strong winds.
As aid efforts intensified, communications were established with some of the worst-hit remote communities, revealing the scale of the disaster. Officials say the Pacific nation's recovery from the devastating storm could take months.
Power is gradually being restored in the main centres and roads cleared of felled trees. The international airport at Nadi also reopened yesterday, allowing international tourists caught up in the disaster to return home.
Clinton wins Nevada Demo. caucuses, Trump takes S Carolina primary
South Carolina, Feb 22: Donald Trump has won the South Carolina primary in the Republican race for President, cementing his status as the man to beat for his party's nomination. In the Democratic contest, Hillary Clinton beat Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in a tight race in Nevada.
Both results will be key ahead of the "Super Tuesday" round on the 1st March, when a dozen more states make their choice.
The Trump victory claimed a major scalp when former Florida Governor Jeb Bush dropped out of the race. He finished a distant fourth, days after his brother, former President George W Bush, made a rare political appearance to boost his flagging campaign.
Republican senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were locked in a battle for second place in the state.
Hillary Clinton is breathing a sigh of relief, while the Republican faithful wonder where their party is headed. The former secretary of state has now put a disheartening defeat in New Hampshire behind her.
A loss in Nevada could have sent her campaign reeling. Instead she heads to what should be a friendly reception in South Carolina next week with the possibility of starting a winning streak that she could ride to the nomination.
For Republicans, Donald Trump is the one boasting a winning streak. He has a second-place finish in Iowa and double-digit victories in New Hampshire and now in South Carolina.
Austria puts cap on number of Syrian refugees; EU flays move
Vienna, Feb 19: The war in Syria rages on. It has caused untold hardships to the people there, many of whom are leaving the country to safer places.
Meanwhile, Austria has decided to put a cap on the number of Syrian refugees entering from its borders. However, this step has been criticized by the European Union.
Since 6pm AEDT, a maximum of 80 migrants per day are being allowed to claim asylum in the country, police said.In addition, Vienna is limiting the daily number of people transiting Austria to seek asylum in a neighbouring country to 3,200.Once the quotas have been reached, "the borders will be closed," police spokesman Fritz Grundnig told a news agency.
European migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos shot a letter to Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner saying, "Such a policy would be plainly incompatible with Austria's obligations under European and international law.
EU leaders hold make-or-break summit to seal Britain's fate
Brussels, Feb 18: EU leaders are holding summit talks here to decide the case of Great Britain remaining in the bloc . UK prime minister David Cameron heads for a Brussels summit later hoping to agree a deal on changes that will pave the way for the UK's in/out referendum.
Cameron's demand for key reforms in return for Britain's continued membership has exposed a rift in the politico -economic union. Cameron has already stated that failure to clinch a deal will throw open all possibilities including Britain becoming the first country to leave the 28-nation bloc after an in-or-out referendum that could come as early as this summer.
Cameron has staked his political survival on securing the reform deal and winning the plebiscite in hopes of ending a political feud over Britain's place in the EU.
Leaders will also seek to get a new grip on the refugee crisis, which has seen over a million migrants flood into Europe. Most of them are Syrians making their way from Turkey via Greece, which has been overwhelmed by the numbers.
2 Indian girls killed in Russian medical university fire
Moscow, Feb 16: Two Indian girl students lost their lives in a fire at a medical university in western Russia. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed this in a tweet message late last night. The girls were the students of Smolensk Medical Academy and they belonged to Maharashtra.
Mr Swaraj said, some students are also injured in the incident but they are out of danger. She said, the place is 400 kilometres from Moscow and the team of Indian Embassy has already reached there. The Minister said, the mortal remains will reach Moscow today and the Embassy officials will fly it to Mumbai. She also expressed her condolences.
Pakistan's activities are "immensely problematic": Senator
Washington, Feb 12: Describing Pakistan's activities as "immensely problematic", a powerful Republican Senator has vowed to block the sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to the country that is acting as a "duplicitous partner" and providing safe havens to terror groups.
In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator Bob Corker said he couldn't allow the Obama administration to use taxpayer funds to support the sale of the jets, given that the terrorist organisations like Haqqani network that attack US troops in Afghanistan enjoy safe havens inside Pakistan, The Wall Street Journal said.
It may be noted that the Obama administration has proposed USD 860 million in aid for Pakistan, including USD 265 million for military hardware, which it said would help the country fight terrorists, secure nuclear weapons and improve ties with India.
75% of our management is from India: Oracle CEO
Redwood City (California), Feb 11: Safra Catz, global CEO of the $40-billion software major Oracle Corporation, addressed a Nasscom summit in Mumbai on Wednesday. She is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later in the week and announce a fresh strategic intent for the country.
Catz believes a little bit of marketing can help bring more women into the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) space. Considered among the highest paid women leaders globally, her advice to aspiring women professionals is, "Keep working, don't give up and don't take it personally."
Billionaire Bloomberg to contest US election as independent
Washington, Feb 10: The billionaire former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, has confirmed he is considering running as an independent candidate for the US Presidency.
He told the Financial Times he was looking at all the options. His aides told US media last month he was eyeing a bid but this is the first time he has acknowledged he may run. Last month the unnamed advisers said he had been alarmed by the increasingly polarised nature of the race.
Donald Trump remains front runner to be Republican party nominee, while Democrat favourite Hillary Clinton is facing a strong challenge from self-declared socialist Bernie Sanders.
No third-party candidate has ever won a US presidential election.
Mr Bloomberg was a Democrat before turning Republican in 2001, then later becoming an independent.
According to the BBC, despite pro-business views, his liberal stance on issues such as gun control and abortion mean that an independent bid from Mr Bloomberg would be most damaging to the Democrats.
Germany train crash: Several killed in Bavarian town of Bad Aibling
Berlin, Feb 9: Two passenger trains have collided in the German state of Bavaria, with police saying several people have been killed and scores injured. The head-on crash happened at Bad Aibling, a spa town about 60km (37 miles) south-east of Munich. One of the trains was derailed in the crash and several carriages were overturned, German media reported. Emergency services with several rescue helicopters are at the scene of the accident.
The exact number of casualties was unclear but a tweet by Bavarian police (in German) said there were several fatalities and about 100 injuries. The cause of the collision is not yet known. Roads around the scene have been closed and the railway line between Holzkirchen and Rosenheim is blocked, local media reported.
Headley admits two prior failed attempts before 26/11 attacks
Washington, Feb 8: In a crucial deposition of David Headley before Mumbai's session court through video conference today, Headley admitted two prior failed attempts were made by the same 10 terrorists involved in 26/11 Mumbai attacks, who tried similar attempts in September and October 2008. Finally they succeeded on 26/11 and carried out terrorist attack in Mumbai. Headley was made an approver in the 26/11 attacks case which may further unravel the conspiracy behind the brazen terror strike. The deposition was initiated by establishing the background of Headley. Mahesh Jethmalani appeared as Counsel for Headley. Top Mumbai police and NIA officials alongside US Embassy officials were present in the court.
It is for the first time in the Indian legal history that a foreign terrorist is providing his evidences through video link. In a crucial disposition today headley admitted changing his name from Dawood Gilani to David Headley to enter India and to conceal his identity. Headley visited India 8 times before 26/11 attacks and once after the attack. David Headley also admitted to giving false information in Visa application. David Headley named Raymond Sanders, a man who helped him with the visa process In a vital revelation Headley admitted to meeting Sajid Mir of LeT who was his main contact. Headley said that he changed his name in passport on instruction from Sajid Mir. While deposing Headley also admitted that he had a general idea on 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.
Differences over Kashmir can be resolved through talks: Sharif
Islamabad, feb 6: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that "differences" on all outstanding issues, including on Kashmir can be resolved only through talks.
Addressing a joint session of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir's 'assembly' in Muzaffarabad to mark 'Kashmir Solidarity Day', Sharif also said that Pakistan is ready to cooperate with India on every matter, including terrorism. Pakistan is most affected by terrorism, he added.
"Even after 6-7 decades, India and Pakistan have not been able to get rid of differences," he lamented. Unless we sit together and talk about these issues, they won't be resolved," he said.
Announcing 250 million rupees for development projects in PoK, he said many hydro-electricity projects are being initiated in the area and a railway link from Islamabad to Muzaffarabad is in the pipeline.
12 nations sign historic TPP deal amid protest
New Zealand, Feb 4: All 12 member nations signed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in New Zealand even as the US struggles to get the pact ratified in Congress. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and US Trade Representative Mike Froman led the ceremonial signing at Auckland's Sky City Convention Centre. This is one of the biggest trade deals in history.
The trade deal looks to facilitate investment between 12 countries across the Pacific Rim, which together account for about 40 per cent of the global economy. This includes Singapore, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia and Mexico. The TPP was agreed in October after years of negotiations and multiple missed deadlines.
The US-led initiative is a key part of President Barack Obama's so-called pivot to Asia but has proved to be a controversial issue ahead of the US elections in November. Mr Obama has barely a year left on his term and his administration warns that the US economy will suffer if politicians don't ratify the TPP agreement.
India takes measures to prevent entry, transmission of Zika virus
New Delhi, Feb 3; India has issued guidelines on Zika Virus Disease following epidemic in Brazil and in other South American countries. Health Ministry in a release said, a number of steps are being taken to prevent entry and transmission of virus in India. These include Surveillance in airports and ports and co-ordination with International Agencies and monitoring. In a series of tweets, Health Minister J P Nadda said, his Ministry is fully geared to deal with the Virus. He informed that no case has been reported in the country and there is no need to panic.
Meanwhile, in a new development, a rare case of the Zika virus being transmitted through sex, not a mosquito bite, has been reported in the US. The Centers for Disease Control told a patient infected in Dallas, Texas, is likely to have been infected by sexual contact. The person had not travelled to infected areas but their partner had returned from Venezuela. Zika is carried by mosquitoes and has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains. It is spreading through the Americas and the World Health Organization has declared the virus a global public health emergency.
Ansari on 5-day visit to Brunei, Thailand to enhance cooperation
New Delhi, Feb 1: To give a further boost to India's Act East policy, Vice President Mohd Hamid Ansari will leave for Brunei Darussalam and Thailand this morning on a five-day tour on the invitation of the leaders of the host nations. It is to carry forward India’s bilateral engagements with the two key South East Asian nations.
This will be the first ever visit of a Vice President of India to Brunei after establishing diplomatic relations between the two nations in May 1984. To Thailand, the visit at the level of a Vice President is happening after fifty years.
Enhancing cooperation in various regional and multilateral forums, strengthening traditional bonds in defence, security, health, space, science and technology and a host of other fields will be the focus of the talks during the visit. The Vice President will be joined by Minister of State Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, four Members of Parliament and senior officials.
Peace talks to end Civil War in Syria open in Geneva
Switzerland, Jan 30: The United Nations hosted peace talks to end the Civil War in Syria opened in Geneva Friday. UN envoy Staffan de Mistura met the Syrian government's delegation. Key Syrian opposition group has said, it will join the talks. The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee had, earlier, said it would only join, if Syrian government forces ended their air strikes and blockades.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has welcomed the decision by the main Syrian opposition coalition to take part in the talks. He said, the United States expects that both sides in these negotiations will participate in good faith and achieve early, measurable progress in the days ahead.
The so-called proximity talks are expected to last for six months, with delegations sitting in separate rooms and UN officials shuttling between them.
More than 2 lakh 50,000 people have died and 11 million have fled their homes in almost five years of war in Syria.
Finland joins Sweden to deport failed asylum seekers
Finland, Jan 29: Finland joined Sweden in announcing plans to deport tens of thousands of failed asylum seekers in a bid to contain the migrant crisis. The Finnish government is likely to deport around two thirds of the 32,000 asylum seekers that arrived in 2015.
Earlier, Sweden government announced to deport up to 80,000 people whose asylum applications were set to be rejected. Many countries including Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and France have tightened asylum rules in a bid to discourage new arrivals.
Denmark Parliament approves plans on seizing valuables from refugees
Copenhagen, Jan 27: In Denmark, parliament has backed a controversial proposal to confiscate asylum seekers' valuables to pay for their upkeep. Police will be able to seize valuables worth more than 1,340 euros from refugees to cover housing and food costs. MPs also approved plans to delay family reunions for asylum seekers.
A spokesman for UN chief Ban Ki-moon criticised the decision, saying refugees deserved compassion. The bill has been widely criticised by human rights groups. The government has said that the policy brings refugees in line with unemployed Danes, who also face having to sell assets above a certain level to claim benefits. Denmark received more than 21 thousand asylum seekers in 2015.
East Coast blizzard ends but a long cleanup begins
New York, Jan 25: It will be days before life returns to normal along the U.S. East Coast after a massive winter storm brought blizzards, floods, and record-shattering snowfall to tens of millions of people. So far 28 people are reported dead.
Meanwhile, a rare cold spell has left scores of people dead in Taiwan, many of them in the capital, Taipei, and surrounding areas. Officials say many of the victims were elderly residents who succumbed to temperatures that dropped to 4 degrees Celsius Sunday, with heart trouble and hypothermia listed among the various causes of death.
The US government is closed Monday for all but emergency employees as Washington digs out and recovers. The city's subway system will be running on a very limited schedule, making it impossible for thousands of federal employees to get to their offices. Schools in Washington and the surrounding suburbs are closed and scheduled flights are just starting to trickle in and out of the city's three airports. The US Congress postponed several votes scheduled for Monday.
Huge blizzard hits US, transport system paralyzed
North Carolina, Jan 23: A huge blizzard has begun to hit the United States east coast and is expected to dump near-record levels of snow from Washington to New York. More than 50 million people have been warned that a potentially paralysing storm will drop up to 30 inches of snow in hours. Southern states are already blanketed less than 8 inches. Thousands of flights have been cancelled and people told to stay home.
Weather system affects a huge swath of the country, from Arkansas in the south to Massachusetts in the northeast, with eight people killed so far.
State of emergency has been declared in Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia and parts of other states. Washington's transport system - the second busiest in the US- will remain closed during the weekend.
America to sell bombs, missiles to Iraq to fight ISIS
Washington, Jan 22: The United States has approved the sale of almost two billion US dollar worth of bombs and missiles to equip Iraq's squadron of F-16 attack jets in their battle against ISIS. The Defence Security Cooperation Agency said 400 American government staff and contractors would work in Iraq until at least 2020 to maintain the arsenal and train Iraqi pilots and ground crew.
This proposed sale enables Iraq to fully maintain and employ its aircraft and sustain pilot training to effectively protect Iraq from current and future threats, it said. The sale of the 36 jets had been previously announced, but the 1.95 billion US dollar arms package confirms that the Iraqis will have access to modern smart bombs and missiles.
Tuneful song reveals new species of Himalayan thrush
Jan 21: Scientists have described a new species of bird in northern India and China, called the Himalayan forest thrush. During fieldwork in the mountains, researchers noticed that thrushes in the forests sang much more musically than those on the rocky peaks.
They then discovered physical and genetic differences as well, and have now declared the known "plain-backed thrush" to be two distinct species. The mountain-dwelling variety has been re-christened the "alpine thrush".
"There aren't too many new birds to be found in the world," lead author Per Alström told the BBC. "So it's exciting when you find one." The Himalayan forest thrush is only the fourth species of bird discovered in India since independence in 1947.
Hollande unveils 2-bn-euro plan to revive hiring, boost economy
Paris, Jan 19: French President Francois Hollande has declared a state of economic and social emergency to redefine France's economic and social model. In an annual speech to business leaders in Paris, he unveiled a 2-billion-euro plan to revive hiring and catch up with the fast-moving world economy.
He said, the proposed measures are relatively modest, and they would not put into question the 35-hour workweek. With his country, under a state of emergency since terror attacks in November, Mr Hollande did not seek to assume any new emergency powers over the economy.
The French President laid out plans for training half a million jobless workers, greater use of apprenticeships, and aid for companies that hire young workers. Hollande's Socialist government has struggled to boost long-stagnant French growth or reduce chronic unemployment, which has been around 10 per cent for years.
Economic relationship key to developing Indo-Israel ties: Sushma
Tel Aviv, Jan 19: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has called upon Israel to look beyond trade for building long-term stakes in the Indian economy. Addressing an Indian community reception in Jerusalem, Swaraj said, economic relationship is the key to developing Indo-Israel ties. She said, both countries are expanding co-operation to new areas such as homeland security, innovation, education and science and technology.
Earlier in the day, the External Affairs Minister held talks with the top Israeli leadership and discussed a wide-range of bilateral and regional issues. She said, she had very good meetings with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders.
Fresh US sanctions against Iran over ballistic missile test
New York, Jan 18: United States has imposed fresh sanctions on Iranian companies and individuals over a recent ballistic missile test. The new sanctions prevent 11 entities and individuals linked to the missile programme from using the US banking system. The move came after international nuclear sanctions on Iran were lifted as part of a deal with global powers yesterday. Four American-Iranians were also freed in a prisoner swap as part of the deal.
Quoting US officials, New York Times says, new sanctions are mostly aimed at individuals and some small companies accused of shipping crucial technologies to Iran. In remarks shortly before the US announcement, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani had said, any new American sanctions would be met by an appropriate response.
Lanka govt to release all 104 Indian fishermen in its custody
Colombo, Jan 15: Sri Lanka government has decided to release all 104 Indian fishermen in its custody. These fishermen were arrested by the country’s navy on charges of trespassing and poaching in its territorial waters.
The decision to release the fishermen was earlier expected to be announced on the occasion of the Thai Pongal festival, but according to senior officials in Fisheries Department of Sri Lanka, the fishermen will be produced in magistrate’s court in Jaffna on Monday when the formal orders of their release will be issued.
Meanwhile, 8 Indian fishermen who were released by a Sri Lankan court last week were handed over to the Indian Coast Guard by Sri Lankan Navy today. These fishermen were caught and handed over to police by Jaffna fishermen after the two groups clashed on the seas between the two countries.
Suu Kyi to avoid open confrontation with the powerful military
Myanmar, Jan 14: In Myanmar, election winner Aung San Suu Kyi will not press for an immediate change to the constitution that bars her from becoming President and will instead appoint a ceremonial head of state. A senior official in her party said Wednesday that she will also include in the new cabinet at least one member of the military-linked Union Solidarity and Development Party, which was trounced in the November vote, as well as technocrats from ethnic minorities who have long complained of being sidelined from power.
The democracy champion is keen to avoid open confrontation with the powerful military, perhaps wary that the last time she triumphed at the ballot box in 1990, the Army kept her under house arrest for years and refused to surrender power.
Last month, Suu Kyi met the former head of the junta that ruled the country for 49 years, Than Shwe, pledging the NLD wanted work for the brighter future and not focus on the past.
Italian sailor's 6 months period ends; SC hearing in case today
New Delhi, Jan 13: An Italian Senator says, Massimiliano Latorre, one of the two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012 off the Kerala coast, will not return to India. Senator Nicola Latorre, the Head of Italian Senate's defence committee, was quoted as saying by Italy's ANSA news agency yesterday. The second sailor on trial, Salvatore Girone, is being held in the Italian embassy in New Delhi and Italy has been seeking his return as well.
Supreme Court on July 13 last year, had allowed Latorre to stay in Italy for another six months on medical grounds, after the government did not object to his plea. The six-month period ends today and the matter may come up for hearing in the apex court today. The marines, who were on board ship 'Enrica Lexie', are accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012 after mistaking them for pirates.
Madaya Syria: '400 residents need' urgent evacuation
Madaya (Syria), Jan 12: Some 400 people in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya need to be urgently evacuated for medical treatment, says UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien. After briefing the UN Security Council on the crisis in the rebel-held town near Damascus, he warned that those people could die. Earlier, an aid convoy brought food to 40,000 town residents who have been under government siege for six months.
The UN says it has received credible reports of people dying of starvation. Simultaneously, aid lorries entered two towns besieged by rebel forces in the northern province of Idlib under a deal between the warring parties. The situation in Foah and Kefraya is also said to be extremely dire, with an estimated 20,000 people trapped there since March. The arrival of the aid was delayed until both sets of lorries were ready to enter the towns.
Syria Dy PM Walid, with delegation, on four-day visit of India
New Delhi, Jan 11: Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of Syria Walid Al Moualem will arrive in New Delhi today on a four-day official visit to India. During the visit, Mr Moualem will meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for bilateral talks of mutual interest. He will be accompanied by a high level delegation.
The visit assumes significance in view of fresh initiatives taken by the United Nations to bring peace in war-torn Syria. In Syria, more than 3 lakh people have been killed in the past four years and seven million have fled to other countries. European nations have also witnessed a huge influx of Syrian refugees.
Since the Paris terror attack, many Western nations have directly or indirectly established contact with the Syrian government to counter activities of the Islamic State terrorist group.
Be aggressive in counter-terror operations, US tells Pak
Washington, Jan 9: The United States state department spokesperson John Kirby, in a briefing to reporters has asked Pakistan to conduct a complete and thorough probe into the terrorist attack on the Pathankot Air Base.
He said the US was in touch with Pakistan on this issue. Mr Kirby said the Pakistanis had said they are going to investigate. He reiterated the need for Pakistan to be aggressive in its counter-terror operations and to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack also to justice.
Refusing to get into a debate on the time frame for Pakistan to complete the investigation into the terrorist attack on the Pathankot Air Base, Mr Kirby stressed that the US would like them to be done as quick as possible.
N-test: UNSC to draw new measures against North Korea
United Nations, Jan 7: After the news of North Korea testing a hydrogen bomb, the UN Security Council has agreed to start drawing up new measures against North Korea.
The US, South Korea and Japan have said they will be united in their response to North Korea's claim to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. North Korea released an image it said showed Kim Jong-un signing the order for the test.
North Korea said it carried out the test on Wednesday - if confirmed it would be its fourth nuclear test, and its first of the more powerful H-bomb.
But scepticism remains over whether the North really did conduct such a test.
Experts have said the seismic activity generated by the blast was not large enough for it to have been a full thermonuclear explosion.
Forty five Indians, under 30, make it to Forbes list of achievers
New York, Jan 6: Forty five Indians and Indian-origin people have made it to Forbes' annual list of achievers under the age of 30.
In the past, youth was a handicap to professional success. Getting older meant more resources, more knowledge, more money. No more. Those who grew up in the tech age have way bigger ambitions perfectly suited to the dynamic, entrepreneurial and impatient digital world they grew up in.
If you want to change the world, being under 30 is now an advantage," Forbes said.
In the consumer tech segment is 22-year-old Ritesh Agarwal, the founder and CEO of Oyo Rooms, billed to be the Airbnb of India.
Others in the field are 28-year old Gagan Biyani and Neeraj Berry who co-founded Sprig, a mobile app that lets one find and order healthy meals and have them delivered quickly; and 25-year-old Karishma Shah, the youngest hire at Alphabet's Google X so-called moonshot factory, where the search giant places "smart people to come up with far-out technologies that can be applied to world's big problems."
In the Hollywood and entertainment field is 27-year-old Canadian Lily Singh, writer-comedian and "part of a new generation of stars that has used YouTube to gain a following".
Others making a mark include 29-year-old Divya Nettimi, an investment analyst, 29-year-old Vikas Patel, a senior analyst at hedge fund Millennium Management and 29-year-old Neel Rai.
US expects Pak to take action against Pathankot attackers
Washington, Jan 5: The state department spokesman John Kirby said on Monday US expects Pakistan will take actions against the perpetrators of the terror attack on IAF base in Pathankot.
"The government of Pakistan has spoken very powerfully to this and it's certainly our expectation that they'll treat this exactly the way they've said they would," added Kirby.
Pakistan has said it is working on the "leads" provided by India on this attack.
Describing terrorism as a "shared challenge" in South Asia, the US also asked all countries in the region to work together to disrupt and dismantle terrorist networks and bring justice to the perpetrators of the Pathankot terrorist attack.
"We urge all the countries in the region to work together to disrupt and dismantle terrorist networks and to bring justice to the perpetrators of this particular attack. I would note that the government of Pakistan, also publicly and privately condemned this recent attack on the Indian air base.
"We have been clear with the highest levels of the government of Pakistan that it must continue to target all militant groups," Kirby said.
Obama to take unilateral action to tackle problem of gun violence
Washington, Jan 2: President Barack Obama says he will take unilateral action to tackle the problem of gun violence in the US. In his first weekly address of 2016, Obama said he will meet Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss actions he could take. He said he is using his executive powers as President because the US Congress has failed to address the problem.
Analysts say there will be a backlash from gun activists and Republicans. But Obama told Americans that he has received too many letters from parents, teachers, and children, to sit around and do nothing. He has admitted that his inability to win Congressional backing for what he called "common sense gun laws" is the greatest frustration of his Presidency.
According to the BBC, the President could use his executive authority in several areas, including expanding new background check requirements for buyers who purchase weapons from high-volume dealers. However, he is likely to face stiff opposition to his plans.
Massive fire erupts in 63-storey building located near Burj Khalifa
Dubai, Jan 1: At least 14 people were injured when a fire broke out at The Address Downtown Hotel in Dubai near which a massive New Year’s Eve fireworks display was to take place within hours.
They are being treated on site for suffocation and smoke inhalation, said Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, commander-in-chief, Dubai Police.
It was not immediately known what caused the fire which ran up at least 20-40 floors of the 63-storey building located near Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper.
Burning debris rained down from the building as fire trucks raced to the scene.
The blaze appeared to have started on the lower floors and quickly spread through the building
Indian-origin cancer researcher knighted by Queen Elizabeth
London, Dec 31: An Indian-origin cancer research expert has received Knighthood from Britain's Queen Elizabeth II for his influential work on prevention and treatment of cancer.
Harpal Singh Kumar's name appeared in the annual New Year's Honours list published in London. He is the chief executive of Cancer Research UK. Mr Kumar is hugely influential in promoting research into the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
China to cut 3 lakh troops, asks firms to employ retired soldiers
Beijing, Dec 30: China has ordered state-owned companies to arrange jobs for retired soldiers as the army plans to cut three lakh troops in the next two years. Ministry of Civil Affairs and the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission jointly distributed a document urging the companies to reserve five per cent of their total recruitment for qualified veterans.
Quoting civil affairs minister Li Liguo, state-run Xinhua news agency reported that the document is an important step in military reform, as it will help manage former soldiers and attract more elite recruits, boosting combat power.
China has a tradition of transferring qualified veterans to government organs or enterprises to support their life out of the army. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a cut of three lakh troops during a Victory Day speech in September.
Storms and floods wreak trail of death, destruction in America
Illinois (US), Dec 28: Storms and floods in southern and central states of America have wrought havoc, bringing in a trail of death and destruction. The death toll has been put at 41. The bad weather forced the cancellation of nearly 1,300 flights, about half in Dallas Sunday.
The monster storm system stretching from New Mexico to Michigan and Georgia marched eastward Sunday, bringing a broad mix of weather from tornadoes and flash floods to blizzards and freezing rain.
At least 11 people were killed in the Dallas area over the weekend by tornadoes, including one packing winds of up to 322 km per hour. The twister hit the city of Garland, killing eight people and blowing vehicles off highways. National Weather Service Meteorologist Matt Bishop said that a tornado of that strength is very rare in a metropolitan area. Three other deaths were reported in the Dallas metropolitan area. Scores of people were injured in the region, officials said.
In Illinois and Missouri, flash flooding killed at least 11 people, officials and local media reported Sunday. The storms came on the heels of tornadoes that hit two days before Christmas, killing at least 18 people in Mississippi.
The weather service issued severe weather advisories for large parts of the central United States, including a blizzard warning for parts of New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas and a flash flood watch stretching from Texas to Indiana.
Jizan ICU hospital fire in Saudi kills 25, injures 100 people
Riyadh, Dec 24: In Saudi Arabia, at least 25 people were killed and over hundred injured in a fire at a hospital in southern part of the country today. Saudi Arabia's civil defence agency said, the blaze broke out at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the maternity department of the Jazan General Hospital.
In its latest tweet, the civil defence announced that the accident is now over and investigation is underway to find out its reasons. Those injured in the fire are reported to have been transferred to private and general hospitals in the area.
EU renews economic sanctions against Russia for 6 months
Brussels, Dec 22: The European Union has renewed its economic sanctions against Russia for six months over its involvement in the Ukraine crisis. The 28-member body extended the sanctions until July 31st, 2016, as it assesses Russia's adherence to a peace agreement in eastern Ukraine. Despite signing a cease fire deal earlier this year, Ukraine says it has still not gained control of its border with Russia.
The United Nations has said that over 8,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the conflict. Moscow has repeatedly dismissed the sanctions which target its bank, oil and defence sectors as both ineffective and counter-productive to the better mutual understanding the EU says it wants.
India became largest remittances receiving country in 2015: WB
Washington, Dec 20: World Bank has said that India became the largest remittances receiving country at 72 billion US dollars this year followed by China at 64 billion US dollars. The US emerged as the largest remittance source country with an estimated 56 billion US dollars in outward flows in 2014. In outward flow, the US was followed by Saudi Arabia at 37 billion US dollars and Russia at 33 billion US dollars in 2014.
Noting that the number of international migrants is expected to surpass 250 million this year, an all-time high, as people search for economic opportunity. Migration and Remittances Fact Book 2016 said the fast growing developing countries have increasingly become a strong magnet for people from other parts of the developing world.
UNSC adopts resolution for peace process in Syria
United Nations, Dec 19: UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution outlining a peace process in Syria. The 15-member council reached rare agreement on the issue in a session in New York Friday. The resolution endorses talks between the Syrian government and opposition in early January, as well as a ceasefire.
The Syrian war, which is heading towards its fifth year, has killed more than 2.5 lakh people and displaced millions more, the UN says. However, disagreements remain over the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The US, UK and France called for his departure, saying he had lost the ability to lead the country. Russia and China, however, argued against a requirement for Mr Assad to leave power as a precondition for talks. The resolution itself makes no mention of his future role. There is also disagreement over the definition of which armed groups fall within the remit of the ceasefire.
TAPI pipeline to integrate economies of South, Central Asia: VP
Turkmenistan city Mary, Dec 14: India has called for bringing about an economically integrated South and Central Asia. Addressing the historic ground breaking ceremony for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India, TAPI gas pipeline project yesterday at Turkmenistan city Mary, Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari said, the project will help integrate economies of South and Central Asia.
He said, TAPI is much more than a gas pipeline project. Mr Ansari said, it is a reflection of the common desire of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to re-connect themselves to re-claim their shared geography and revitalise an age-old legacy of mutually enriching interactions.
Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimohamedov, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also attended the ceremony.
Mr Ansari further said, the launch of the 1,800 km long gas pipeline project also marks the first step towards fulfilling the vision of an economically integrated region stretching from the Bay of Bengal to the Caspian Sea to a shared future and to a vision of common prosperity.
Draft agreement ready at Paris Climate Summit
Paris, Dec 12: Organisers of the climate talks in Paris say a final draft text has been agreed after nearly two weeks of intensive negotiations. An official in the office of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the AFP news agency the draft would be presented to ministers at 10:30 GM. No details of the proposed agreement have been released so far. The tentative deal was reached nearly 16 hours after the talks had been scheduled to close.
The official said they have a text to present adding that the draft would be now translated into the UN's six official languages.
Analysts say that this is not a done deal - ratification will only take place if there are no objections raised at Saturday morning's ministerial meeting, and even is unlikely to come before afternoon in the French capital. Mr Fabius, who has presided over the talks, had said earlier that the conditions were never better for a strong and ambitious agreement.
Significant progress had been reported on a range of issues, with evidence of real compromise between the parties. However, the language on cutting emissions in the long term was criticised for significantly watering down ambition.
Climate talks: Deal by tomorrow; India's key issue incorporated
Paris, Dec 11: Negotiators from across the planet are working tirelessly at the Paris climate summit to wrap up a 195-nation UN climate-saving deal tomorrow, one day later than the original deadline.
A new shorter draft incorporates a key issues raised by India of "sustainable lifestyle". India has earlier attacked the developed countries for adopting "extravagant" lifestyles compared to its "need based consumption".
India today said several of its concerns on climate change have not been incorporated in the new draft. It includes voluntary pledges of nations. India also said that the goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times will require developed countries to "massively" reduce their emissions. Indian delegation led by Environment & Climate Minister Prakash Javadekar strongly put across its point that durable agreement at Paris "cannot" be crafted by "diluting" historical responsibilities or by putting the polluters and the victims at the same level.
India,Pak decide to resume composite dialogue process: Sushma
Islamabad, Dec 10: India and Pakistan on Wednesday decided to resume the composite dialogue process. This was announced here following foreign minister Sushma Swaraj's meetings with Sharif and her Pakistani counterpart Sartaz Aziz. Thus, way has been cleared for the Indian PM to visit Islamabad next year to attend the SAARC summit. The meeting took place on the sidelines of Heart of Asia summit.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also called on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Islamabad and discussed connectivity, terrorism and the peace and reconciliation process there.
Ms Swaraj was accompanied by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, and India's envoys to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
India had so far refused to give in to Pakistan's insistence for resumption of the composite dialogue process--diplomatic shorthand for a detailed dialogue spanning terror, J&K and all other outstanding issues-- as it doubted Pakistan's sincerity in addressing its concerns related to 26/11 trial and continuing support to terrorism directed at India.
Sources cited two reasons to explain what some may see as a complete turnaround by the Modi government on Pakistan. First, the government sees the recent dialogue between NSA AK Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Nasir Janjua in Bangkok as a real change from the past as Pakistan committed itself "sincerely" to addressing the issue of terrorism. This was followed by assurances on Mumbai trial from Sharif himself.
US House votes to tighten controls on visa-free travel
Washington, Dec 9: US lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to impose restrictions making it more difficult for visitors to Iraq, Syria and countries listed as supporting terrorism to travel visa-free to the United States. The House of Representatives voted 407 to 19 yesterday in support of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015.
The bill backed by the White House in the aftermath of the deadly attacks in Paris that were conducted by extremists, who could have traveled to America without a visa. It would bar people who traveled after 1st March 2011 to Iraq, Syria, Iran and Sudan from participating in the visa-free program. The Visa Waiver Program is available to citizens of 38 countries, largely US allies and relatively stable developed democracies. US officials say about 5,000 Europeans have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight with extremist groups like the Islamic State and pose an enhanced risk to the United States.
National Security Advisors of India, Pak hold talks in Bangkok
Thailand, Dec 6: In a sudden development today, National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan, Ajit Doval and Nasir Janjua respectively held talks in Bangkok on a wide range of issues including terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir.
The two officials also discussed peace and security and other issues including tranquility along the LoC.
After the talks, the two sides issued a joint press statement, saying 'discussions were held in a candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere. They were guided by the vision of the two leaders for a peaceful stable and prosperous South Asia.'
It may be noted that the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan had a brief but close chat on November 30 in Paris where they had gone to attend the climate summit.
Average global temp will rise by 2.7 degree celsius by 2100
Paris, Dec 4: The International Energy Agency, IEA has said that climate pledges made for the Paris conference will slow growth in energy related emissions, which account for two-thirds of total green house gas emissions.
In its report released yesterday, the Agency however said that the average global temperature will rise by 2.7 degree Celsius by 2100. The aim of the Paris conference is to limit it to 2 degree Celsius. The IEA Report says that if these pledges made through Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, INDC, are met, then countries currently accounting for more than half of global economic activity will see their energy-related green house gas emissions either plateau or be in decline by 2030.
The Agency reports that the full implementation of these pledges will require the energy sector to invest 13.5 trillion dollars in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies in next 15 years.
Suu Kyi holding talks for smooth transfer of power
Myanmar, Dec 2: Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won a landslide victory in elections last month, has met President Thein Sein to discuss the handover of power. A spokesman for Thein Sein said the discussion with Suu Kyi lasted 45 minutes. She will also separately meet the army chief Min Aung Hlaing. Both men have pledged to assist in a smooth transfer of power after decades of military-backed rule.
Suu Kyi is constitutionally barred from becoming president, but has said she will be above the person she nominates for the role.
The current parliamentary session ends in January. After that the new NLD-dominated parliament session begins where they will choose a new Speaker before selecting two Vice-presidents and a President.
Climate summit: Modi calls for national will & genuine global partnership
Paris, Dec 1: Exuding confidence, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India has set ambitious targets. By 2030, we will reduce emissions intensity per unit GDP by 33-35% per cent of 2005 levels, and 40 per cent of our installed capacity will be from non- fossil fuels.
We will achieve it by expanding renewable energy - for, example, by adding 175 Gigawatts of renewable generation by 2022. We will enlarge our forest cover to absorb at least 2.5 billion tonnes worth of carbon dioxide.
We are reducing dependence on fossil fuel through levies and reduction in subsidies; switching sources of fuel where possible; and, transforming cities and public transportation.
We hope advanced nations will assume ambitious targets and pursue them sincerely.
India believes that people and planet are inseparable; human well being and Nature are indivisible.
And, climate justice demands that, with the little carbon space we still have, developing countries should have enough scope to grow.
So, we look to the developed countries to mobilize 100 billion US Dollars annually by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation in the developing countries. They must fulfill their commitment in a credible, transparent and meaningful manner.
Energy is a basic human need. So, we need an ambitious technology initiative, driven by a public purpose, not just market incentives. For this, we need to scale up Green Climate Fund that will improve access to technology and intellectual property.
Migrant crisis: Turkey and EU strike deal to limit refugee flow
Ankara, Nov 30: Turkey and the European Union have reached a historic deal to limit the migrants flow into the EU. Turkey will receive €3bn (£2.1bn) and political concessions in return for clamping down on its borders and keeping refugees in the country. Talks on Turkey's accession to the European Union will also be revived.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said it was a "historic day" in Turkey's relations with the EU.
Under the deal, Turkish citizens may be able to travel without visas in Europe's Schengen zone, which allows free movement between many European countries, by October 2016. However, the rules will be relaxed only if Turkey meets certain conditions.
More than 720,000 migrants have arrived in Europe on Greek shores so far this year, the International Organization for Migration says, with most arriving from Turkey.
Many are fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and lived in makeshift camps in Turkey before their journey.
The €3bn will go towards helping Syrian refugees in Turkey. Ankara has already spent $8bn on helping those in need, Mr Davutoglu said.
"We are paying the price of the failure of the UN system not to solve the problem of the Syrian crisis at the earlier stages of the crisis," he said after the meeting, referring to his country and the EU.
Turkey sees major threat from possible Russian gas cut
Ankara, Nov 28: Speculation of a Russian natural gas cut has sparked major concerns in Turkey as the country only has a 14-day storage supply, the Turkish media reported on Friday. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Russia's President Vladimir Putin not to play with fire over his country's downing of a Russian jet.
EU regulations require member countries to have a 45-day storage reserve of natural gas in the event of a supply cut, while during the winter months countries are expected to have a reserve that would last for at least 30 days. Turkey has not been able to increase the capacity of its natural gas storage facilities despite increasing its consumption in recent years, according to the report.
After downing a Russian jet that briefly flew into Turkish airspace on the Syrian border, a diplomatic crisis has arisen between Ankara and Moscow, the latter of which supplies Turkey with more than half of its natural gas. Relations had already soured between the two countries over Moscow's involvement in Syria, as Russian troops have been bombing rebel forces fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad, who is considered to be a close ally of Russia and a bitter enemy of Turkey.
Concerns have arisen over the possibility of Russia cutting off its natural gas shipments to Turkey, though Russia's deputy energy minister said on Tuesday that such a cut is out of the question and that shipments would continue in accordance with the agreement between the two countries. Turkey is energy dependent on countries such as Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan for its natural gas and oil imports as it possesses very little energy resources of its own.
IS must be fought with military means, says German Chancellor
Paris, Nov 26: Germany will do more in the fight against Islamic State militants, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said. It was Germany's "duty to reflect" and to "act quickly", Mrs Merkel said in Paris, after being urged by President Hollande to commit more resources, in the wake of the Paris attacks. France has invoked a clause requiring EU member states to provide military assistance following the attacks.
IS has said it was behind the attacks on 13 November which killed 130 people. At least one suspected attacker is still at large.
"We are stronger than any terrorism. Nevertheless, terrorism must be fought with all possible force," said Mrs Merkel.
IS "can't be convinced with words, it must be fought with military means," she added.
Meanwhile, a US military inquiry has said a US aircraft attacked a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) clinic in the Afghan city of Kunduz because of "human error".
The investigation found the crew of the AC-130 gunship mistook the clinic for a nearby government building that had been seized by Taliban fighters.
At least 30 civilians were killed in the 3 October attack, amid a campaign to retake Kunduz from Taliban forces.
India, Singapore sign 10 agreements; Papers hail PM Modi
Singapore, Nov 25: India and Singapore signed 10 agreements on mutual co-operation at Istana in Singapore. These include- Joint Declaration on Strategic partnership, agreement on defence cooperation, MoU between Airports Authority of India and Singapore Cooperation Enterprise in civil aviation. Both the Prime Ministers were present on this occasion. Both the countries also signed MoU for the cooperation between NITI AAYOG and Singapore Co-operation in the field of planning.
On cyber security, treaty between Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, Department of IT and Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team has been signed. Mr. Modi will meet CEOs later today and address an economic convention with an aim to boost investment in India. Earlier, Mr. Modi this morning has met prominent Singaporeans. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishanker were also present on this occasion.
Meanwhile, Investors in Singapore hoped that the visit of PM Narendra Modi will further expand the business possibilities in India. George Abraham, Regional Representative (ASEAN) of FICCI said that India should engage in exchange of new technology from Singapore in new and emerging sectors including food processing.
Meanwhile, leading IT group of Singapore Ascendas said that the company is expanding their existing technology parks in Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Singaporean media has given space on the visit of PM Narendra Modi. The newspapers highlighted lecture of Mr. Modi with photographs.
The Straits Times- headline was- Modi lays out India's Act East policy in Singapore Lecture. The New Paper wrote a feature on Mr. Modi where the newspaper said that the Indian PM has overshadowed the US First Lady Michelle Obama in fashion.
French jets struck Islamic State targets in Iraq
Paris, Nov 24: French jets struck Islamic State targets in Iraq, taking off from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier for the first time. The military said on Twitter yesterday that two targets had been destroyed, without elaborating. French President Francois Hollande also said last week France would step up its attacks against IS targets in Iraq and Syria. He has also called for a grand coalition, including the United States and Russia, to eradicate the IS.
Meanwhile, United States has issued a global travel alert for its citizens in response to increased terrorist threats. The State Department said that current information suggested the Islamic State group, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and others continued to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions. The alert, it said, will remain in place until 24th February 2016. France, Russia, Mali and several other countries have seen deadly attacks in the past month.
PM inaugurates Torana Gate in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur, Nov 23: To commemorate historical and cultural ties between India and Malaysia,Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Malaysian Counterpart Nazib Razak inaugurated a traditional gate, named Torana Dwar in Kuala Lumpur. It is the replica of the famous Sanchi Stupa. Speaking on the occasion Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Torana is not merely a piece of art on stone but signifies the deep rooted cultural ties of India and Malaysia.
He also said that Indian tourists come in large numbers to Kuala Lumpur who always go to little India adding that Now Torana Gate will be a major attraction. Torana gate was was first made by Samrat Ashok and dedicated to Lord Buddha. It was built in Madhya Pradesh.
Malaysian PM Razak said India has shown rest of world that a country need not compromise its moral values, social tradition in pursuit of greater economic growth. He added that torana dwar is a symbol of traditional and strong relations between the two countries.
Terror threat keeps Brussels closed
Brussels, Nov 23: Terror alert of the highest order forced the government to impose total shut down in Brussels.
Belgian armed police mounted raids across Brussels after the Prime Minister announced another day of lockdown in the capital apprehending a new, Paris-style mass attack .
Security forces conducted searches in several parts of the capital and cordoned off areas close to the city's main tourist attraction, the Renaissance Grand Place around the town hall.
Police are searching for the prime suspect of the Paris attack, Saleh Abdul Salam, who is believed to have sneaked into Belgium . At least 16 people have been arrested.
Meanwhile, French police has released a photo of the third of three suicide bombers who blew themselves up outside France's national stadium during 13th November Paris attacks.
Investigators had said on Friday that the assailant turned up among refugees on the Greek island of Leros on 3rd October , along with another attacker who remains unidentified.
In order to step up its assault on the ISIS, France has despached its aircraft carrier Charles De Gualle to the Mediterranian sea .From there its aricraft will launch relentless strikes at IS positions in Syria.
India, Malaysia sign several pacts to give boost to bilateral relations
Kuala Lumpur, Nov 23: India and Malaysia have signed several key agreements to give a boost to their bilateral relations. The agreements were signed after delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak in Kuala Lumpur this morning. Prior to the delegation-level talks, both leaders held a restricted meeting.
Issuing a joint press statement after the talks, Mr Modi said that India and Malaysia will deepen co-operation in security and defence. He complimented his Malaysian counterpart for combating extremism and radicalisation and highlighting the real values of Islam.
Mr Modi said that he expressed his desire for enhanced Malaysian partnership in infrastructure upgradation, Make in India and Smart Cities projects. The Prime Minister also invited Malaysian students to study in India and urged for early conclusion of an agreement on Mutual recognition of degrees.
The Malaysian Prime Minister said that he is very satisfied with the outcome of the meeting. He said, India and Malaysia will work together to combat terrorism and climate change. Later today, Mr Modi will present a bust of Mahatma Gandhi to the Malaysian Prime Minister for installation at the Gandhi Memorial Hall that Malaysia built at Kera state of Malaysia. The Prime Minister will also interact with Corporates of Malaysia and inaugurate a Thorana gate built at a cost of one million yen at Little India at brickfields where Indian diaspora lives in large numbers.
Twenty-seven hostages and two attackers killed in Mali hotel seige by terrorists
Mali, Nov 21: The hostage crisis at a hotel in Mali capital Bamako has ended, with at least 27 people reported to have been killed in the incident. Some armed assailants had barged into the hotel Friday taking 170 people hostage. Malian and UN security forces launched a counterattack and escorted the people out.
Twenty captured Indians were evacuated unharmed. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in a tweet that all 20 Indians were rescued. She thanked Indian Ambassador in Mali Ajay Kumar Sharma for his initiative in this regard.
Security forces have reportedly killed two gunmen. Witnesses had said that there were around a dozen armed assailants, but AFP quoting the Malian military said that the total number of gunmen was not more than four.
Security Minister Salif Traore has said, the assailants have no more hostages in their hands and the forces are in the process of tracking them down.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its offshoot al-Murabitoun has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Mali has declared a 10-day State of Emergency following the incident.
Police close- in on suspected attacks mastermind, arrest 7 suspects
Peris, Nov 19: After five days of Paris terror attacks, special Police forces, in a deadly swoop on an apartment in northern Paris suburb, have reportedly cornered the suspected mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud of the attack.
Seven have been arrested in the ongoing shootout during which two, including a woman who blew herself up, died.
Three policemen have been injured in the firing. Several explosions and gunfire are being heard on the raid spot.
Fresh firing took place today when special police forces launched their anti-terror operation in Saint Demis, five days after the terror attacks that killed 129 people. Huge police presence has been reported in the area.
Meanwhile, two Air France flights bound for Paris from the United States were diverted and landed safely after anonymous threats the carrier called a "bomb scare."
One jet was diverted to Salt Lake City, Utah, after taking off from Los Angeles, while the second left Washington and was diverted to Halifax, Canada.
Attacks planned in Syria, launched from Belgium
Paris, Nov 17: Police in France and Belgium staged dozens of raids yesterday on suspected militants in connection with the attacks. 23 people were arrested, while more than 100 people were placed under house arrest. Many weapons have also been seized.
French President Francois Hollande held a joint session of both of Houses of Parliament, and said that Friday's attacks were planned in Syria but launched from Belgium, with French help. He said, France wants to unite with the US and Russia in a grand coalition dedicated to smashing the Islamic State group. Mr Hollande said, he would meet US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the coming days.
He also called for a UN Security Council meeting over the fight against the IS.
The French President said, he would table a bill tomorrow seeking to extend the prevailing state of emergency, granting the police and military greater powers of search and arrest, and local governments the right to suspend demonstrations and impose curfews for another three months.
Meanwhile, the Eiffel Tower reopened yesterday, three days after the attacks. The tower - like monuments the world over - will be lit up in the French national colours blue, red and white from sundown to condemn the attacks.
Thousands of people paused in the streets to observe a minute's silence. President Francois Hollande observed the silence at the Sorbonne University in recognition of the large number of young victims.
India-Australia civil nuclear agreement enters into force
Antalya (Turkey), Nov 16: India and Australia have announced the completion of procedures for bringing the two-nation nuclear deal into force. It was finalized at the bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit at Antalya in Turkey last night. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup has termed it as a milestone achievement that speaks of mutual trust and confidence between India and Australia. He said, with the completion of procedures, including the administrative arrangements, India-Australia civil nuclear agreement will enter into force.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had another bilateral meeting with the President of the European Union Council Donald Tusk and the President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Junker. Earlier, in the G-20 summit session on Inclusive Growth, Global Economy, Growth Strategies, Employment and Investment Strategies, Mr Modi pitched for enhancing public investments to spur growth. He called the multilateral development banks to enlarge their capital base to support the infrastructure needs of developing countries.
Mr Modi also welcomed new lending institutions like the New Development Bank being promoted by the BRICS nations. He advocated hassle free labour mobility.
The civil nuclear deal between India and Australia had been signed in September last year after many rounds of talks. However, the decks for its implementation has been cleared with the announcement of completion of the procedures to enforce the agreement on Sunday night. Australia has the world’s highest Uranium reserves and is also a key member in the Nuclear Suppliers Group where India is making efforts to gain entry. Furthermore, the meeting between Mr Modi and the EU leaders come at a time when the two-way trade flow has exceeded 72 billion Euros as of 2014, which analysts say has the potential to grow even further
Paris attacks:National mourning in France; 3 arrested in Belgium
Paris, Nov 16: France, three days of national mourning has been declared after the multiple attacks across Paris killed at least 129 people and wounded over 300. Eight attackers also reported killed. IS terror group claimed the responsibility of the multiple attacks. Calling the coordinated assault an "act of war", President Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced renewed border checks. Meanwhile, Paris chief prosecutor in a press meeting said that the arrests of three men in Belgium on Saturday were linked to the attacks. He also confirmed that one of the dead attackers had been identified as a Frenchman who had a criminal record but had never spent time in jail. The Greek authorities also confirmed that two people under investigation by the French police had registered in Greece as Syrian refugees. France will pursue its intervention in Syria with the aim of striking Islamic State.
Gun and bomb attacks in Paris leave over 120 dead
Paris, Nov 14: France has declared a national state of emergency and has closed its borders after at least 120 people were killed in gun and bomb attacks in Paris. Some 80 people are reported to have died at the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris. Gunmen took many hostages there before being overpowered by police. Others died in a reported suicide blast near the Stade de France and gun attacks on city centre restaurants. Seven attackers are reported killed. Paris residents have been asked to stay indoors and about 1,500 military personnel are being deployed across the city.
The deadliest attack appears to have targeted the Bataclan concert hall. Speaking after arriving at the concert hall, President Francois Hollande said the attackers would be fought "without mercy". At least three gunmen are reported to have been killed at the venue.
Suu Kyi's NLD scores landslide victory, change of govt after decades
Myanmar, Nov 13: Myanmar's opposition National League for Democracy has won a landslide election victory, officials say.
With more than 80% of seats declared from Sunday's poll, Aung San Suu Kyi's party has more than the two-thirds it needs to choose the president, ending to decades of military-backed rule.
But a quarter of seats were assigned uncontested to the military, meaning it remains hugely influential.
Under the constitution Ms Suu Kyi cannot become president herself.
Despite this, the election was seen as the first openly contested poll in Myanmar - also known as Burma - in 25 years.
Five days after polls closed, and exactly five years to the day since Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, her party's majority in parliament was confirmed.
Current President Thein Sein and the head of the military have already said they would respect the outcome of the election and work with the new government.
They and the NLD are expected to being talks next week on the way forward.
About 30 million people were eligible to vote in the election - turnout was estimated at about 80%.
Progress of India is the destiny of one sixth of humanity: UK
Progress of India is the destiny of one sixth of humanity: UK
London, Nov 13: India has signed a civil nuclear pact with United Kingdom on the very first day of the arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to London Thursday evening. The deal was signed during delegation level talks between Modi and his British counterpart David Cameron.
During a press conference, Modi said that the signing of agreement is a symbol of faith between both the nations.
Modi thanked Cameron when the latter announced that UK supports India's bid for permanent membership of UN Security Council. He said that the progress of India is the destiny of one sixth of humanity.
Modi said that India values UK’s cooperation in security and safety which include defence trade and regular joint exercises and this cooperation will increase.
Dwelling on the vision of Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas he said India would open new doors in the services sector.
Describing India as the land of Gandhi and Buddha, Prime Minister said, there is no place for intolerance in India.
Addressing a specially called joint session of Parliament, Modi said the world must speak in one voice and act in unison to combat terrorism and we must adopt a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN without delay.
He said we need a social movement against extremism in countries where it is most prevalent and, every effort to delink religion and terrorism. He is the first serving Prime Minister of India to address the UK's Parliament.
Modi will address Indian community at Wembley stadium in London today.
Maldives govt declares state of emergency for 30 days
Maldives, Nov 4: Maldives government has declared a state of emergency for a period of 30 days citing threat to national security. The declaration was made a short while ago under Article 253 of Maldivian constitution that gives powers to the President to declare emergency and suspend certain laws and citizen rights.
President Abdulla Yameen is under pressure to release his predecessor, Mohamed Nasheed, whose incarceration has been severely criticised by the UN and international rights groups.
Under the emergency provisions, police can arrest protestors and political leaders without warrant. Political experts are also viewing the declaration in context of the planned anti government public rally by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party on Saturday.
Sources in the government claim that the measure has been taken in view of the recent arms seizure by the police in connection with the investigations into the September blast on the speedboat on which President Abdulla Yameen was traveling.
Confusion over Russian plane crash with 224 onboard
Egypt, Nov 2: All 224 people on-board the Russian airliner that crashed in Sinai province of Egypt, declared dead. Black boxes of the ill-fated plane has been recovered.
Meanwhile ISIS has claimed responsibility. However Russia and Egypt deny any terror link. Sunday has been declared day of mourning in Russia.
the crash site is in an area where the Egyptian government is fighting an insurgency led by a local Islamic State Affiliate but security sources had earlier said there was no indication that the plane had been shot down or blown up.
The IS statement, published through a messaging application, did not say how militants downed the plane.
Search and rescue teams have so far found more than 100 bodies.
Egypt Prime Minister Sharif Ismail went to the scene of the crash alongside the tourism and health ministers and offered his condolences to the Russian ambassador.
The Egyptian air traffic control had lost contact with the aircraft shortly after it took off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh for St Petersburg.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared a day of national mourning.
China decides to end one-child policy, allow to have 2 kids
Beijing, Oct 30: China has decided to end its decades-long one-child policy, the state-run Xinhua news agency reports.
Couples will now be allowed to have two children, it said, citing a statement from the Communist Party.
The controversial policy was introduced nationally in 1979, to slow the population growth rate.
It is estimated to have prevented about 400 million births. However concerns at China's ageing population led to pressure for change.
Couples who violated the one-child policy faced a variety of punishments, from fines and the loss of employment to forced abortions.
Over time, the policy has been relaxed in some provinces, as demographers and sociologists raised concerns about rising social costs and falling worker numbers.
Currently about 30% of China's population is over the age of 50. The total population of the country is around 1.36 billion.
Nepalese parliament elects first female president
Kathmandu, Oct 29: Bidhya Devi Bhandari, of the Communist party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), has become Nepal's first female president. She received 327 votes against her opponent's 214 in parliament on Wednesday, the speaker, Onsari Gharti Magar, announced.
The president is Nepal's ceremonial head, while the prime minister is the nation's leader.
Bhandari, 54, is deputy leader of the party led by the prime minister, Khadga Prasad Oli, who was elected earlier this month and leads a coalition government. The new constitution adopted last month required Nepal to name a new president.
Bhandari is a campaigner for women's rights in Nepal and was among the politicians who pushed to secure their rights under the new constitution. The document says one-third of the members of parliament have to be women and either the president or vice-president must be a woman.
Quake jolts Pak, 353 dead; widespread damage to property in J-K
New Delhi, Oct 27: Nearly 300 people have died, mostly in Pakistan, after a magnitude-7.5 earthquake hit north-eastern Afghanistan.
In Pakistan alone, over 200 people were killed and more than 1,300 others injured.
The temblor collapsed buildings, triggered landslides and stampedes, prompting the government to rush army personnel to the affected areas for rescue operations.
In Afghanistan, the death toll has risen to 63, after officials confirmed 30 fatalities in the eastern province of Kunar.
Around 12 of the victims were Afghan schoolgirls killed in a crush as they tried to get out of their building.
At least 1,500 homes have also been destroyed due to quake.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed an urgent assessment of the damage caused by the quake.
The Prime Minister also spoke to Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif and offered assistance to help them deal with the aftermath of the tragedy.
Tremors arising from the earthquake epicentred in Afghanistan were also felt in northern india .
The massive earthquake caused damage to property across the Jammu & Kashmir while there were no reports of quake inflicted casualties so far.
There were reports of damage to dozens of government and private buildings in Badgam, Anantnag, Baramulla, Pulwama, Kulgam, Kupwara, Bandipora and Ganderbal districts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed to enquire about the damage caused by the earthquake.
Reports of tremors have also come in from Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi NCR.
However, no loss of life or property has been reported from any part of the country so far.
Obama-Sharif statement calls for Indo-Pak dialogue to resolve disputes
Washington, Oct 23: The US has categorically ruled out any kind of negotiations with Pakistan on India-type civil nuclear deal, terming the reports in American media completely false. A senior US official said, Washington neither entered into negotiations on 123 Agreement with Islamabad, nor seeking an exception for Pakistan within the nuclear supplier group in order to facilitate civil nuclear exports.
The official also said that Obama Administration has not notified to the Congress about the proposed sale of eight F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. The official was talking to a group of Indian journalists after US President Barack Obama held wide-ranging talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Washington last night.
Meanwhile, US has stressed the need to normalise Indo-Pak ties, and said Pakistan's relationship with India is critical to Islamabad's future. Talking to media persons in Washington, White House Deputy Press Secretary, Eric Schultz said, normalisation of ties between New Delhi and Islamabad is also vital for the stability in the region.
In the joint statement after the talks, Obama and Sharif called for a sustained and resilient Indo-Pak dialogue process to resolve all outstanding issues. The references to Indo-Pak ties and the need to resolve all outstanding disputes, including Kashmir, figured in the joint statement.
Migrants' crisis: Croatia openes its border with Serbia
Croatia, Oct 20: Croatia has opened its border with Serbia, removing one of the bottlenecks for thousands of stranded migrants trying to make their way north. About 3,000 people had been stuck in cold and wet weather in the Serbian border village of Berkasovo, after Croatia moved to curb new arrivals. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) had described conditions there as "dire".
Many remain stranded near the Croatia-Slovenia border. The Balkan route has been squeezed by restrictions. Hundreds of thousands of migrants, many from Syria, Africa and Afghanistan, have been making their way from Turkey to the Balkans in recent months, in a bid to reach Germany, Sweden and other EU states.
UNHCR spokeswoman Melita Sunjic, who is at the Berkasovo crossing, said late on Monday: "Without any announcement, the borders opened. Everybody rushed."
Describing the conditions at the camp there earlier, she had said: "We have a lot of small children. We have disabled people, we have people who got sick on the road.
"This is not a place for people, they can't sleep - they can just stand upright in the mud."
Hungary closes its border with Croatia to stem flow of migrants
Budapest, Oct 17: Hungary has closed its border with Croatia in an effort to stem the flow of migrants through the country en route to western Europe. Croatia said it would begin directing migrants to Slovenia instead.
Hungary has been a major transit country for migrants, many of whom aim to continue on to Austria and Germany. It announced the closure on Friday after EU leaders failed to agree a plan backed by Hungary to send a force to prevent migrants reaching Greece.
The border, reinforced with a razor-wire fence, closed at midnight (22:00 GMT) on Friday.
A group of several hundred migrants who arrived near the village of Zakany minutes before the deadline were the last to be allowed through.
EU leaders have agreed to speed up visa liberalisation talks for Turks if Turkey stems the influx, as well as to "re-energise" talks on Turkey joining the EU and supply more aid.
Nearly 600,000 migrants have reached the EU by sea so far this year, many of them travelling from Turkey.
Israel a valued partner, says President
Jerusalem, Oct 14: President of India, Pranab Mukherjee attended a reception hosted by Jaideep Sarkar,Ambassador of India to Israel for Indian nationals and Israeli nationals of Indian origin in Jerusalem yesterday.
Speaking on the occasion, the President thanked the people of Israel for making the Indian community there feel welcome and valued. He said India and Israel are two countries with ancient civilizations, much like the two branches of a bountiful tree. India looks forward to strengthening the friendship and co-operation between our peoples in the years to come.
The President said India has always regarded Israel as a valued partner. In fact, West Asia as a whole and the Gulf have always been a priority for India. The countries of this region are India’s vital partners in the energy, hydrocarbon and mineral sectors. We shall continue to pay special attention to them and seek closer cooperation and stronger partnership with them for our mutual benefit.
The President said members of the Indian Jewish community have distinguished themselves through their achievements – both in India and in Israel. In Mumbai they have contributed leaders in business, education and the literary field. In Kolkata, the Magen David Synagogue and the Jewish Girl's School are historic landmarks.
India, US, Japan: First Trilateral Meet
New York, Sept 30: In a first of its kind trilateral engagement between India, Japan and United States; External affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met US secretary of state John Kerry and Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced that India would like to work with the United States and Japan for its early membership of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
The three Ministers highlighted the growing convergence of interest in Indo-Pacific region.
They also underscored the importance of international law and peaceful settlement of disputes...India, Japan and the United states have agreed to work together to maintain maritime security through greater collaboration.
India and US also welcomed Japan's participation in the 2015 Malabar exercise.
The three sides also agreed to convene an experts-level group on humanitarian assistance and disasters relief to enhance ability to respond jointly to complex disasters.
Addressing the India-US-Japan trilateral meeting, Swaraj said that the summit highlighted increasing convergence of the strategic, political, economic and security interests between the three nations.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the India, Japan and US working in close cooperation will be truly significant, not only for the three countries but also for the stability and prosperity of the whole Indo-Pacific region.
External affairs minister sushma swaraj also meet UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond on the sidelines of UNGA.
The two leaders discussed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming visit to the United Kingdom.
Modi's meeting with Obama, David & Hollande to boost bilateral ties
New York, Sept 29: India and the United States have agreed to further deepen cooperation on counter terrorism and radicalism. Both countries will also cooperate on helping Afghan people combat terrorism and build a peaceful and stable future.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a bilateral meeting with the US President Barack Obama in New York last night.
Mr Modi said, economic partnership is a key driver of bilateral relations and the two countries have agreed to work towards a stronger economic cooperation including the Bilateral Investment Treaty and Totalisation Agreement.
Prime Minister said India also sought US support to complete the UN Security council reform process within a fixed time frame while thanking for its support for India’s bid for permanent member.
The two leaders expressed satisfaction that talks between the two countries on cyber security and aircraft carrier technology working group were proceeding well.
In his meeting with the British counterpart David Cameron, the two leaders discussed continuing cooperation in intelligence and cyber security between India and the UK. MEA spokesperson said that Prime Minister Modi invited Britain to become an active partner in Make in India programme.
Prime Minister Modi also held bilateral talk with French President François Hollande. The MEA spokesperson said that Prime Minister Modi raised the issue of Bilateral Investment Agreement between India and EU and hoped that it would be resolved soon.
Prime Minister emphasized that the approach to climate change should not merely be on defining emission cuts but a positive approach of enabling developing countries through active financial and technological support for sustainable development should be adopted.
He said India will contribute additional battalion of up to 850 troops, 3 police units with higher representation of female peace-keepers, technical personnel in UN missions and additional training for peace-keepers.
The Prime Minister raised the issue of absence of role of troop contributing countries in the decision making process. He also said, Peace-keeping missions should be deployed prudently, with full recognition of their limitations and in support of political solutions. The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction that High Level Independent Panel has recognized these issues and hoped for their early consideration.
My dream is to convert India into a $20 trn economy from $8 trn: PM
San Jose (US), Sept 28: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that it is his dream to convert India into a 20 trillion US Dollar economy from the current level of eight trillion. Participating in a Q & A session with a select audience at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, he said government is focusing on agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors for growth. The session was moderated by Mark Zukerberg, CEO of Facebook.
Answering queries on his plans to impart India faster growth, Mr Modi said, use of technology in governance and deregulation are the priorities of his government. In addition to three Ds in India, he said he wants to add another D - and that is de-regulation. The Prime Minister said, investors’ confidence in India has grown over past 15 months and as a result, India has recorded a growth of 40 per cent in foreign investment as compared to a drop of 16 per cent globally.
He expressed confidence that India would move up substantially in Ease of Doing Business index in the next report of the World Bank because of steps taken by the government during the last one year. He said, Make in India presents a good opportunity for investors.
Praising the role of social media in governance, he said the platform has helped in bridging informational gap between the government and the people. He said, social media provides instant feedback on government’s programmes and policies which helps in course correction and modify policy framework on much faster than ever.
Outlining his vision for providing digital access to all, he said an equal importance is being imparted to development of digital infrastructure and physical infrastructure in the country. He said, all 6 lakh villages and two and a half lakh panchayats will be provided with broadband through optical fibre cable network. He called upon investors to avail the opportunity of investing in India’s digital infrastructure growth.
On a question on women empowerment, the Prime Minister said, the government is taking proactive steps and the economic growth can only be realised by including them in the process.
The event also saw an emotional PM when Mark Zukerberg mentioned the contribution of his mother in his life. Mr Modi said, a mother will never want you to become something, she will think about how you will achieve that.
The PM also visited the headquarter of another IT major, Google.
Four Indians among 717 people killed and over 800 injured in Haj stampede in Saudi Arabia
Saudi, Sept 25: Saudi Arabia's King Salman has ordered a safety review of the Haj pilgrimage after at least 717 people died in a stampede at Mina, near the holy city of Mecca. Another 863 people were injured in the incident, which occurred as two million pilgrims were taking part in the Haj's last major rite. Indian Consulate in Jeddah said that four Indians are among those killed in the tragedy.
The King said there is a need to improve the level of organisation and management of movement of pilgrims. A commission to investigate the stampede has also been formed by the Saudi government.
The accident occurred around 11.30 AM Indian time Thursday. Maj Gen Mansour al-Turki, a spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry said the stampede occurred when two large groups of pilgrims converged from different directions on to one street. This is the second disaster to strike Mecca in two weeks, after a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque, killing 109 people.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in New Delhi that Indian Mission in Jeddah is continuously monitoring situation. He said, Indian doctors deployed in Mecca for Haj have been asked to work with government hospitals to take care of the injured.
Emergency numbers in Mecca are 00966125458000, 00966125496000. Toll free number for pilgrims in the Kingdom is 8002477786.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Mohd. Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have expressed sadness over the tragic incident and extended condolences to Government of Saudi Arabia and families of the deceased pilgrims. Congress President Sonia Gandhi also expressed deep shock and distress over the tragedy.
Bring to justice the perpetrators of Mumbai 2008 attack: US
New Delhi, Sep 23: The United States has asked Pakistan to bring to justice the perpetrators of Mumbai 2008 attack. The joint declaration issued after completion of first round of strategic and commercial dialogue between India and the US also affirms to fight the threat of terrorism in the region as well as globally.
In a significant boost to India's claim for permanent membership of the UN Security council, US reaffirmed its support for a reformed UN Security Council with India as a permanent member.
The two countries also set in motion a number of processes and activities to enhance the trade and investment ties between the two country. India and US agreed to raise the level of trade between the two countries from the current level of close to 100 billion dollars by 5 times in the coming few years.
Hungarian police begin building a razor fence on the Croatia border
Croatia, Sept 19: Conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan has forced the common people of these countries to seek safe haven elsewhere. Thousands began entering Croatia from Serbia this week after Hungary closed its Serbian border, and cut off the previous route north.
Croatia had initially said the migrants would be welcome, but on Friday it said it was overwhelmed and would not become a "migrant hotspot".
Croatia reversed its open-door policy after 17,000 arrivals since Wednesday. It is now sending thousands of migrants north, angering Slovenia and Hungary. Hungary, which is putting a fence on its border with Croatia, is reportedly sending new arrivals on to Austria. Two EU crisis meetings will take place next week.
Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic said that more than 17,000 migrants had arrived since Wednesday morning and that 3,000 had now crossed into Hungary.
UNGA adopts document for Security Council reforms; India ecstatic
United Nations, Sept 15: UN General Assembly has unanimously adopted a document for reform of the Security Council. It adopted negotiating text by consensus for the long-pending Security Council reforms, setting the stage for talks on the issue at its 70th session beginning Sept 14.
It will boost India's bid for a permanent seat in the revamped world body. India has welcomed the decision to carry forward the text presented by the UNGA President on the UNSC reform.
External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup described the development as significant and said now text-based negotiations can be commenced after more than two decades of discussions.
New Delhi said it looks forward to early commencement of text-based negotiations with a view to securing concrete outcomes during the upcoming 70th Session of the UNGA.
107 dead in crane collapse at Mecca's Grand Mosque
Riyadh,Sept 12: A towering construction crane toppled over on Friday during a violent rainstorm in the Saudi city of Mecca, Islam's holiest site, crashing into the Grand Mosque and killing at least 107 people ahead of the start of the annual hajj pilgrimage later this month.
Saudi Arabia's civil defense authority provided a series of rising casualty numbers on its official Twitter account as ambulances whisked the wounded to area hospitals. As of early Saturday, it said those injured in the disaster numbered 238.
A photo released by the authority showed police and workers in hardhats inspecting a pile of collapsed concrete slabs inside a part of the sprawling, ornately decorated mosque.
Al-Mansouri said the crane, which was being used in construction work at the mosque, struck a circular area around the Kaaba and a nearby walkway.
BSF -Pak Rangers talks begins in New Delhi
New Delhi, Sept 10: Director Generals of BSF and Pakistan- Rangers are holding talks in New Delhi on Thursday; India set to flag the most important issue of ceasefire violations and cross-border infiltration from Pakistan; a 16-member Pakistani delegation is in Delhi for the talks that are being held after a gap of over one-and-a-half years.
The Rangers DG accorded a guard of honour at the BSF headquarters after which the two sides commenced their discussions.
During the meeting India is expected to raise issues like ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir, including sniper attacks on BSF personnel and infiltration.
The talks will also endeavour to focus on positive issues like different levels of communication, more simultaneous coordinated patrolling and other confidence building measures.
A 16 member Pakistani delegation led by Pak Rangers Director General (Punjab) Maj Gen Umar Farooq Burki arrived in Delhi on Wednesday evening, which was received by Director General of Border Security Force D K Pathak.
Pathak is leading the 23 member Indian team which will hold talks with their Pakistani counterparts.
The DG level talks between India and Pakistan are being held after a gap of over one-and-a-half years.
It is the first high level interaction between the two countries after their National Security Adviser (NSA)-level talks that was to be held in Delhi on August 23-24 were cancelled due to differences over the agenda.
20,000 migrants cross over to Germany from Austria
Europe, Sept 8: As Europe grapples with the refugee crisis Germany, which is currently opening its doors to a record number of refugees, will make an additional six billion euros in public funds available next year to cover the cost of looking after them.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday the record refugee influx to Europe's biggest economy will change the country, which was now seen by many abroad as a place of hope.
Virtually all the refugees who entered Austria continued on to Germany. More than 17,500 migrants arrived in just the city of Munich over the weekend.
French President Francois Hollande said France is ready to take on more responsibility.
However the European countries affected by the influx are still contemplating how to deal with the crisis.
The massive flood of refugees in Europe is pushing Germany and Austria to a tipping point.
Thousands of refugees have poured into the two countries in just the past two days, trying to escape the bombings, terrorists and dire conditions ravaging their homelands. More than 16,000 have streamed into Austria since Saturday.
Meanwhile EU interior and justice ministers are to meet on 14 September in Brussels in an effort to find concrete measures to cope with the escalating migration crisis.
USIBC praises Indian government's ruling on MAT
Washington, Sept 2: US-India Business Council (USIBC) has praised Indian government's ruling on Minimum Alternative Tax, MAT, and said that the tax certainty will promote long-term investments in India.
USIBC President Mukesh Aghi said the announcement demonstrates the Government of India's commitment to attracting long term foreign investment into the country by providing greater tax certainty and ensuring ease of doing business for the global investment community.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced Tuesday the govt's decision to accept the AP Shah Committee's recommendation that the Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT) provisions do not apply retrospectively to FIIs before April 1, 2015.
The govt, he said, has decided to amend the I-Tax Act to clarify the issue with regard to levy of MAT on FIIs & in the meantime CBDT field officers will be asked not to pursue cases against FIIs.
Russia set to ban Wikipedia across the country
Moscow, Aug 25: Russia is set to ban Wikipedia for users across the country because most of its internet service providers (ISPs) don’t have the expensive equipment necessary for blocking specific HTTPS pages, reports The Washington Post.
The decision came about after a prosecutor in the southern village of Chyorny Yar raised concerns about an article describing a form of cannabis known as Charas in the Russian version of Wikipedia.
Chyorny Yar has little reason to worry about Charas destroying its community. The village, home to just about 8,000 people, is many thousands of miles away from places where the drug is popular, such as India and Nepal.
Russia’s Internet watchdog, Roskomnadzor, requested ISPs to block access to the article last week. However, the HTTPS protocol that Wikipedia uses to securely deliver content makes it difficult to block specific pages.
India assures all help to Pacific island nations; PM to open summit
Jaipur, Aug 21: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the second summit of Forum for India Pacific Island Cooperation (FIPIC) in the pink city at 6.25 pm. Heads of States, Ministers and delegates of 14 Pacific island nations, which include Fiji, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Micronesia, Solomon Islands and Tonga, have reached Jaipur to participate in the summit.
They were extended warm welcome by Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje and Union Minister of State for External Affairs Gen VK Singh. They visited historical Amer Fort and cherished the beauty and architecture of the fort.
Union Minister VK Singh has assured the FIPIC nations of all possible cooperation in the field of Information Technology, renewable energy, agriculture, dairy production, space and satellites.
Thailand seeks Interpol help to track blast suspect
Bangkok, Aug 20: Thailand has said that a deadly bomb attack at a popular shrine in Bangkok was 'unlikely' to be the work of international terrorists, but appealed for Interpol help in hunting a foreign man accused of being the prime suspect. The military government was initially reluctant in asking for outside help in the investigation of the blast at the Erawan shrine on Monday evening that killed 20 people and wounded scores. However, it has now sent the international police organisation a sketch of the suspected bomber.
"We sent a request for assistance," Kissana Phathancharoen, deputy national police spokesperson, told Reuters news agency. There has been no claim of responsibility and police have not determined a motive for the worst ever bomb attack in the Thai capital.
The attack left at least 11 foreigners dead, with Chinese, Singaporeans, Indonesians and a family from Malaysia among the victims.
Adm Dhowan on 5-day visit of Singapore and Thailand
New Delhi, July 20: Admiral RK Dhowan, the Chief of Naval Staff shall be proceeding on a five day visit to Singapore (20-22 Jul) and Thailand (23-25 July). These visits are aimed at further consolidating the Navy to Navy cooperation and explore future avenues in further strengthening the relationship in accordance with India's 'Act East policy'.
Singapore Visit. During the Singapore visit the CNS is scheduled to meet various dignitaries, notably the Defence Minister, Chief of Defence Forces and the Chief of Navy. Admiral Dhowan will also visit the prestigious Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute (SAFTI MI) for interaction with the faculty as well as young and middle level officers. An overview of the operational facilities at Changi Naval base is also planned besides briefings on International Data Fusion Centre (IFC), Maritime Crisis Centre, Regional Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR) Coordination Centre (RHCC) and Maritime Security Task Force looking after coastal security of Singapore.
India Singapore relations date back to Cholas who are credited with naming the Island and establishing a permanent settlement. In modern times, India was amongst the first countries to set up diplomatic relations after the independence of Singapore in 1965. The present engagements between the two countries span regular high level interactions including comprehensive defence cooperation.
Navy to Navy cooperation between the two countries covers almost the entire spectrum of naval operations. Bilateral exercise between the two navies started way back in 1994 and has matured into an all encompassing SIMBEX (Singapore India Maritime Bilateral Exercise). SIMBEX 15 was recently held in South China Sea in May 15 wherein ships and maritime patrol aircraft from both navies participated.
Thailand Visit-The Chief of Naval Staff Admiral RK Dhowan shall also visit Thailand from 23 to 25 Jul 15 with an aim of reviewing and furthering the existing maritime cooperation at the highest level.
During his visit, the CNS is scheduled to interact with the Defence Minister, Chief of Defence Forces, Commander-in-Chief of Royal Thai Navy. Major areas being considered for furthering cooperation between the navies include hydrography, developing comprehensive Maritime Domain Awareness through exchange of White Shipping information, increasing scope of coordinated patrolling among other such areas.
India and Thailand located in each other’s extended neighborhood, share a maritime boundary in the Andaman Sea. India’s bilateral relations with Thailand are rooted in age old social and cultural interactions and extensive people to people contact. The shared links of Buddhism is reflected in regular pilgrimage to places of interest in India by a large number of Thai people. Thai language has substantial Pali and Sanskrit influence.
Over the past two decades, with regular political exchanges, growing trade and investment, India's relationship with Thailand has now evolved into a comprehensive partnership. India's 'Act East' policy has been complemented by Thailand's 'Look West' policy and has assisted in bringing the two countries together.
The Navy to Navy cooperation is the leading component of the defence cooperation between the two countries. Indian Navy regularly interacts with Royal Thailand Navy through Navy to Navy Staff Talks. Both Navies also interact in multilateral fora such as Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS), MILAN held biennially at Port Blair. Indian Navy and Thai Navy conduct Coordinated Patrolling (CORPAT) across International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) twice a year. Exchange of best practices and experiences and cooperation in Meteorology / Tsunami warning is another area wherein both navies cooperate.
NASA's flyby sends close-up image of Pluto
Laurel, July 16: NASA's New Horizons mission is sending back the most detailed images of Pluto ever seen. For more than 70 years, it was one of nine planets recognised in our Solar System, but it is now classed as a dwarf planet.
The first close-up image of Pluto has revealed mountains as tall as the Rockies, and an absence of craters - discoveries that, to their delight, baffled scientists working on NASA's New Horizons mission and provided punctuation for a journey 9 1/2 years in the making.
Only 112 years after the Wright Brothers were barely able to get their airplane off the ground, a machine from Earth has crossed the solar system to a small, icy world 3 billion miles away. The flyby on Tuesday, when New Horizons buzzed within 7,800 miles of the former ninth planet, came 50 years to the day after NASA's Mariner 4 spacecraft made a similar first pass by Mars.
Pluto until a few weeks ago was a blurry dot. Within the past couple of days, it has been transformed into a dynamic world with varied geography, discoveries that point to the possibility of ice volcanoes and churning tectonics. All of this new information could provide clues to how planets form and even to the origins of some of the building blocks of life.
'I don't think any one of us could have imagined that this could have been a better toy store,' S Alan Stern, the mission's principal investigator, said during a news conference on Wednesday.
EU marathon talks end with continued support for Greece
Brussels, July 13: Eurozone leaders have reached a 'unanimous' agreement over a third Greek bailout after marathon talks. EU chairman Donald Tusk said leaders agreed 'in principle' on negotiations for the bailout, 'which in other words means continued support for Greece'.
'There will not be a 'Grexit', said European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, referring to the fear that Greece would have to leave the euro. Greece will now have to pass reforms demanded by the eurozone by Wednesday.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told reporters that Greece had fought a 'tough battle', won debt restructuring, and sent a message of dignity to all of Europe. 'The deal is difficult but we averted the pursuit to move state assets abroad,' he said. 'We averted the plan for a financial strangulation and for the collapse of the banking system.'
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the eurozone group of finance ministers, said the agreement included a €50bn (£36bn) Greece-based asset fund, of which €25bn would be used to recapitalise Greek banks.
Parliaments in several eurozone states have to approve any new bailout.
'The road will be long, and judging by the negotiations tonight, difficult,' German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday morning.
Eurozone leaders had been meeting in Brussels for about 17 hours, with talks continuing through the night.
During the night, reports emerged that Greece was holding out over the proposed role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a new programme, and over the fund to hold Greek assets.
USA welcomes India-Pak talks; India full member of SCO
Washington, July 11: The US has welcomed the bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in UFA, Russia on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news conference Friday that he welcomes the meeting between PMs Modi and Sharif and their announcement of future engagement. The US has also hailed among other things the decision of the two countries to revive their stalled dialogue and to accelerate the trial in the Mumbai attack case.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also hailed the bilateral talks between Modi and Sharif, saying positive development in relations between the two countries is important for them and the sub-region.
Meanwhile, India was on Friday accepted as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a six-member regional grouping including China and Russia, with which PM Narendra Modi offered to work in combating terror and boosting trade by easing barriers.
Noting that India's membership ‘reflects the natural links of history’, the PM said, ‘it will also promote peace and prosperity in this vast region that has often been called the pivot of human history.’
PM said that India will deepen its engagement in Human Resources Development, Information and Communication Technology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, banking, capital markets, Micro and Small Medium Enterprises, micro-finance and food security.
PM congratulated Pakistan on becoming member of SCO.
Beijing-based SCO currently has China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as members.
The inclusion of India as a member of this organisation is testimony of the fact that the role of India in international and global fora is increasing day by day and New Delhi is ready to actively play its role.
BRICS calls for UNSC reforms, united fight against terror
Ufa (Russia), July 10: The 7th BRICS summit on Friday, focussed on UN reforms, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, reforms in IMF and World Bank governance structures, co-operation in WTO and the fight against climate change.
Leaders of nearly half the world's population and a third of its GDP came together for the 7th BRICS summit at Ufa in Russia...
Meanwhile, in a new development Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, on the sidelines of the SCO Summit, in Ufa. India and Pakistan have decided to expedite Mumbai terror attack trial. Joint statement says, both the nations decide to release fishermen in each other's custody within 15 days. PM Modi to visit Pakistan in 2016 for the SAARC Summit.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his plenary address called for a united fight against terrorism, without any discrimination between the sponsors, or groups or targeted nations. India took over the chair of BRICS this year.
Addressing the BRICS Business Council, the PM underlined that the New Development Bank has become a reality and is headed by an eminent banker KV Kamath.
He said that he welcomes the setting up of a dedicated BRICS Info sharing & Exchanging Platform and hopes for the conclusion of a pact on Customs Administration for trade facilitation.
Speaking on the BRICS financing arrangements, the PM said he hopes that entrepreneurs will utilise them for export credit insurance and innovation.
A round table restricted interactive session between the BRICS leaders was followed by a working luncheon...which in turn made way for a plenary session.
At the round table, the Prime Minister said that UN reforms can lead to better and faster mitigation of any global challenge. Enunciating ten steps for the future...the PM proposed new initiatives for the BRICS family.
They included a BRICS Trade Fair, Railway Research Centre, Co-operation among Supreme Audit Institution, Digital Initiative, Agricultural Research Centre, State or Local Govt's Forum, co-operation between cities in the field of urbanization, Sports Council and annual Sports meeting, the first New Development Bank project in the field of clean energy and a film festival.
There was consensus at the BRICS summit that all countries need to work together to prevent volatility in the global economy.
The BRICS summit concluded with a Declaration that gave prominence to co-operation in the field of UNSC reforms, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, co-operation in the field of information and communications technology, reforms in IMF and World Bank governance structures, co-operation in WTO and the fight against climate change.
India, Kazakhstan launch first drilling at Satpayev oil block
Astana (Kazakhstan), July 8: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kazakhstan premier Karim Massimov have jointly launched the first exploratory drilling of the Satpayev oil block by Indian company ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) and Kazakhstan company KazMunaiGaz. The two leaders launched the drilling in Kazakh capital Astana yesterday evening through live video conferencing. OVL, the overseas arm of state-run ONGC had in 2011 picked up 25 per cent stake in the Satpayev oil block in the North Caspian Sea. ONGC Videsh has committed to investing 400 million dollar in exploration in the block. This significant step would achieve energy security needs of Make in India programme of the government as well countering the strategic foothold gain of China in the Central Asian region.
The Satpayev oil block is an offshore field in the Northern Caspian sea, with potential reserves estimated at 1.8 billion barrels crude oil and natural gas. OVL estimates a peak output of 2.87 lakh barrels per day from the Satpayev structures. India is to conduct a feasibility study on importing crude oil and gas from Kazakhstan either through a pipeline or as liquid natural gas in ships. The hydrocarbons can be brought first to Iran via the Caspian Sea and transported across the country through a pipeline. The opening of the Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan railway link is also being explored to transport oil and gas to India.
On the second day tour to six central Asian nations, Mr Modi yesterday held talks with his Kazakhstan counterpart Karim Massimov on various key bilateral and regional issues. Addressing a business round table last evening attended by members of the business community from both the countries, the PM praised the huge strides made by Kazakhstan in economic progress over the last decade. Mr Modi will be holding extensive talks with the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev this morning after which the two countries are likely to ink a number of pacts including in the field of energy.
Fulfilling the requirement of nuclear power reactors, India will sign a contract with Kazakhstan to procure several metric tonnes of uranium. The two countries will renew their old contract under which Kazakhstan supplied uranium to India. India and Kazakhstan already have civil nuclear cooperation since January 2009 under which Kazakh company KazAtomProm supplies uranium for Indian reactors.
Indian PM Modi's Kazakh visit to boost energy trade
Kazakhstan, July 7: On his first visit to Central Asian countries, PM Narendra Modi yesterday visited Uzbekistan and held talks with President Islam Karimov on key bilateral and regional issues including the situation in Afghanistan as the two countries inked three pacts to boost cooperation between their foreign offices and in the field of culture and tourism.
He said that India and Uzbekistan have built a strategic partnership on the foundation of mutual respect and shared interests. This includes expanding economic cooperation, combating terrorism, advancing stability in the region and promoting regional integration. Mr Modi has also emphasised to enhance the connectivity between the two countries.
PM Narendra Modi will reach Kazak capital Astana around noon. During his two days stay in Kazakhstan, Modi will have several engagements including delegation level talks with President Nazarbayev and PM Karim Massimov on issues ranging from energy security, talks on the North-South connectivity corridor project, counter-terrorism to issues of mutual interest. Mr. Modi will join a wreath laying ceremony and planting of sapling at the Monument of Defenders of Motherland at Tauelsizdek Street in the capital Astana.
This will be followed by meeting with Kazak PM Karim Massimov this afternoon. Before meeting with CEOs of different organisations in a Business Round Table discussion, the PM will move to Nazarbayev University where he will address students of the university. Later in the evening, Mr. Modi will join in an inaugural function of the India-Kazakhstan Centre for Excellence in Information and Communication Technology at the LN Gumilev Eurasian National University in Astana. The PM will meet Kazak President Nazarbayev tomorrow. There will be delegation level talks with Nazarbayev followed by the signing of documents and a joint press statement.
India has two dozen operating nuclear units with five more, including a fast breeder, under construction. On the other hand, Kazakhstan which has the 2nd largest world's uranium reserves is positive in re-engagement with India on energy trade. Earlier, India has imported some over 8 hundred tonnes of uranium including 300 tonnes of natural uranium from Kazakh nuclear company KazAtomProm. Prime Minister’s forthcoming visit will coincide with the first drilling for oil in the Satpayev block in the North Caspian Sea, in which Indian company ONGC has 25 per cent stake.
His visit would boost in kicking off the multi-modal North South Transport Corridor project which aims to connect Mumbai with St. Petersburg in Russia, while touching Iran’s Bandar Abbas port. The five central Asian countries are also looking for Iran’s Chabahar port to be upgraded fast by India and made operational, so that connectivity to their region could be boosted.
Kazakhstan, the largest of the central Asian Nations, is India’s largest trading partner in Central Asia and has been a valued friend of India at various international forums. India and Kazakhstan have a strategic partnership, and cooperating in a wide range of sectors including economic, energy and space. On his first visit to Central Asian countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday visited Uzbekistan and held talks with President Islam Karimov on key bilateral and regional issues including the situation in Afghanistan as the two countries inked three pacts to boost cooperation between their foreign offices and in the field of culture and tourism.
After completion of the Kazakhstan visit tomorrow, the PM will travel to Russia where he will attend the summits of BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Ufa, before moving to Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. The PM’s five Central Asian countries visit concludes on 13th of this month.
Greece delivers 'No' to crippling cuts and heads for euro exit
Athens, July 6: Nearly 60% of the people in Greece voted 'No' in the Sunday's referendum, meaning they have rejected Europe's latest bailout package. Thousands of anti-austerity voters took to the streets in celebration as the leader of the pro-EU 'Yes' campaign resigned, but there were some minor skirmishes between protesters and riot police as tensions bubbled over.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is understood to have already telephoned European leaders, starting with Hollande. If European leaders refuse to back down on their proposals for Greece's finances, it would lead to the ECB ending its support for the debt-stricken nation and potentially force it out of the Eurozone. Speaking on Greek national television he said: 'I understand that voters have not given me a mandate against Europe, but a mandate for a sustainable solution.
‘Many can ignore the will of the government; no one can ignore the will of the nation.'
But German politicians warned of 'disaster' as they accused Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of 'tearing down bridges' between Greece and Europe, with stock markets expected to take a sharp hit when they open this morning.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande called for an EU crisis summit to find a 'solution' for Greece, with leaders set to meet in Brussels tomorrow.
Invest in smart cities, AMRUT projects., Naidu tells USIBC
Washington, July 3: US industry executives from the US-India Business Council (USIBC) met with the Minister of Urban Development, M Venkaiah Naidu, to discuss opportunities in the recently launched schemes of the Govt of India that will have a significant impact on India’s urban development for the next few years.
Minister Naidu engaged with members on a range of topics, including the Smart Cities Programme, reforms undertaken by the GoI to improve the Ease of Doing Business, prospective passage of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) and Land Acquisition Bill.
Speaking about the resurgence of India under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, Naidu said that `India is fast transforming itself in every sphere of public life. The economy is back on rails, inflation is under control, and growth rate is at 7.3% and likely to cross 8% in the coming years”. He noted that the Indian Parliament had passed a record number of 47 legislations in the past year, including some that had been pending for a long time, like the increase in FDI cap in insurance sector.
Minister Naidu outlined various initiatives of the govt including the Make in India, Skill India, Digital India and Clean India programmes. He also highlighted efforts to build a partnership between the Centre and the States to move forward on reforms like the GST. He noted that the Government is linking bank accounts with the unique ID and mobile telephones to stop leakage in subsidies. It is focusing on greater transparency and accountability. He emphasized the human face of reforms, including social security schemes and affordable housing.
Noting that India has prioritized the creation of 100 smart cities, which will incorporate the use of solar energy, rain water harvesting, good sanitation, drinking water and smart public transportation, Minister Naidu explained the recent guidelines for selection of smart cities, financing infrastructure development and incentives for private sector participation. Expressing appreciation for the US support for smart city development of Ajmer, Allahabad and Vishakhapatnam, he urged the US businessmen to take advantage of the business friendly atmosphere and the great investment opportunities in India, and invited them to invest in smart cities and AMRUT projects.
Expressing hope and optimism in Minister Naidu’s vision, USIBC President, Mukesh Aghi said, “Flagship programs such as Smart Cities, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Housing for All reflect the Indian government’s dedication to innovation and technology, while not overlooking the urgent need to provide all citizens with access to basic necessities such as sanitation, water, power and means to earning a livelihood. Reforms in taxation and land acquisition remain central to the success of these schemes.”
`American enterprise is eager to participate and deepen its commercial dialogue through the 100 Smart Cities & investors are confident that, under Minister Naidu’s leadership, the monsoon session of the Parliament will continue progress toward economic and regulatory reforms that are key to India’s economic progress,’ said Purna Saggurti, Chairman of Global Corporate and Investment Banking at Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and a member of USIBC’s Board of Directors.
Indonesian air force plane crash toll rises to 141
Jakarta, July 1: The death toll in the Indonesian air force transport plane crash rose as 141 bodies have been recovered so far from the residential area of Medan on Tuesday.
The military said none of the 122 people on board the Hercules C-130 survived when it hit houses and a hotel before bursting into flames. Many of the victims are thought to have been relatives of servicemen and women. The cause of the crash is not yet known, but witnesses said the plane appeared to run into trouble shortly after taking off from Medan.
Buildings were left in ruins and cars reduced to flaming wrecks when the plane came down in Medan, a city of two million on the island of Sumatra. A rescue operation swung into action, with ambulances ferrying bodies from the site, and crowds of anxious residents gathering around a police cordon to view the smouldering wreckage.
Greece debt crisis casts its shadow on world markets, Sensex plunges
Athens, June 29: Worsening Greece debt crisis cast its shadow on world markets as the benchmark BSE Sensex tanked over 535 points and the NSE Nifty slid below the 8,300 mark in opening trade today on across-the-board selling by participants.
A weak trend at other Asian markets was the main trigger for the plunge as investor sentiment was dampened by fears of a possible Greece default. All the sectoral indices were trading in the negative terrain, led by realty, capital goods and banking, with losses up to 3.16 per cent.
In Asian markets, Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 1.41 per cent while Japan's Nikkei slumped 1.78 per cent in early trade today. The Greek Prime Minister risks default by calling for a referendum on debt deal, EU ministers debate "Plan B."
On the other side, Lines at Greek bank ATMs grow longer after the government's move to shut banks and impose capital controls.
The lines at the Greek bank ATMs grew longer in the early hours of Monday (June 29), after the government moved to check the growing strains on its crippled financial system by closing its banks and imposing capital controls in a dramatic step that brought the prospect of being forced out of the euro into plain sight.
Banks are expected to be closed all next week with a daily 60 Euro limit on cash withdrawals from cash machines, which will reopen on Tuesday (June 30). Capital controls are likely to last for many months at least.
The Greek cabinet met shortly after the decision to close the banks was announced by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Lankan Prez dissolves parliament; general elections on 17 Aug
Colombo, June 27: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has dissolved the parliament and called for the next general elections which will take place on August 17.
In the gazette notification issued late last evening, the President announced that the nominations for the elections will take place from July 6th to 15th and the new Parliament will meet on 1st of September.
The early dissolution of the parliament comes amidst pressure from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who wanted a fresh mandate from the people.
Mr Wickeremenasinghe was heading a minority government since the election of President Maithripala Sirisena.
Early dissolution of the parliament was a promise that President Maithripala Sirisena had made in his 100 day programme ahead of January Presidential elections.
It however took Sirisena six months to take the step, as he was trying in the last two months to push through electoral reforms.
With the deadlock over the reforms continuing, Sri Lankan President finally decided to end the period of political uncertainty and dissolved the house 10 months ahead of completion of its term.
The elections will be crucial for former President Mahinda Rajapaska who is making a bid for a political comeback, although without the clear backing of his party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
President Sirisena will use the polls to consolidate his hold on the SLFP.
India pledges USD 1 billion for Nepal's reconstruction
New Delhi, June 25: India has pledged an assistance of one billion US dollars to the quake-ravaged Nepal for its massive re-construction programme.
The announcement was made by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during the International Donors' Conference in Kathmandu today. Mrs Swaraj said that one fourth of the assistance will be grant and it will be over-and-above India's existing bilateral developmental assistance of another one billion dollars over the next five years.
Mrs Swaraj conveyed India's commitment to the re-building of Nepal and highlighted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi ensured a prompt rescue and relief operation within six hours of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake.
The conference, organised by the Nepalese government to raise funds to re-build the country, was attended by several countries, including China, Japan and Britain, besides UN, European Union, World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
About 9,000 people were killed due to the devastating earthquake that hit the Himalayan nation on the 25th of April. Around 23,000 were injured, with lakhs of houses destroyed
The highest-profile international donor conference ever held in the country has drawn more than 300 delegates from 60 nations, development partners and donor community.
Similarly, China is likely to commit Rs 60 billion in the form of grant and soft loan.
`The US has promised to provide $130 million and the EU is likely to pledge $100-150 million,’ said an official.
EU to hold emergency summit on Greek debt crisis in Brussels
Brussels, June 22: The heads of the 19 euro zone countries will hold an emergency summit on the Greek debt crisis in Brussels today under pressure to prevent Greece from defaulting on its debt with a June 30 payment deadline fast approaching.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras yesterday presented new proposals to European leaders aimed at ending his country's debt crisis, on the eve of a summit that could determine whether Greece crashes out of the euro zone.
According to Greek premier's office, Tsipras detailed a mutually beneficial deal in a telephonic call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi urged the two sides to seize a window of opportunity, saying all conditions were in place for them to reach a win-win accord. Athens said its new proposals were aimed at reaching a definitive solution to the five-month stand off between Athens and its creditors the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank as fears deepened over a potential Grexit from the euro zone. Meanwhile, the head of Greece's biggest bank Louka Katseli has expressed hope that sanity will prevail today. She said that banks were not under immediate threat of running out of money. However she said that the situation was serious , and without a deal would become severe.
Meanwhile, thousands of people have rallied in front of parliament in Athens, in support of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Yesterday's demonstration by supporters of Tsipras's ruling Syriza party and others opposed to the euro, was the second anti-euro rally in a week in the Greek capital. Protesters called to resist pressure from international creditors to accept more austerity in exchange for unlocking billions of euros in bailout funds. Solidarity demonstrations were also held in Brussels as well as Amsterdam
192 countries to observe first Intl Yoga Day on June 21
New Delhi, June 20: The dream of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to spread the benefits of Yoga for mankind, would become a reality when India along with 191 other nations would observe the first International Yoga Day on June 21.
The declaration of this day came after the call for the adoption of 21 June as International Day of Yoga by Indian PM Narendra Modi during his address to UN General Assembly on Sept 27, 2014.
The PM said: "Yoga is an invaluable gift of India's ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness within yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day."
The government has made elaborate arrangements to deal with any emergencies arising out of prevailing heat wave conditions during the International Yoga Day on Sunday, where more than 35,000 people are expected to perform various asanas at Rajpath.
An official said that the Union Health Ministry has set up dedicated health posts with adequate number of doctors and para-medical staff with necessary equipment across Rajpath.
The official said that the entire venue has been divided into various sectors and each sector will have a dedicated health post to take care of any emergency. Around 40 ambulances will be stationed across the venue.
S telecoms AT&T faces fine for slowing down internet speeds
Washington, June 19: US telecoms company AT&T faces a $100m (£63m) fine for slowing down the internet speeds of millions of customers on unlimited data plans without informing them.
It is the largest fine ever levied by the Federal Communications Commission. AT&T is accused of misleading customers, although it denies any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, wireless operator Sprint announced that it would end its practice of throttling traffic. AT&T is accused of offering a significantly slower service to customers on unlimited data packages after they had used a certain amount of data each month.
According to the FCC, this affected customers' ability to do things such as stream video or use Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping services.
"Consumers deserve to get what they pay for," FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said.
"Broadband providers must be upfront and transparent about the services they provide. The FCC will not stand idly by while consumers are deceived by misleading marketing materials and insufficient disclosure."
AT&T began offering unlimited data plans in 2007, allowing customers to use unrestricted amounts of data.
Although the company no longer offers such plans to new customers, it allows existing customer to renew their contracts for data plans that continue to be labelled as unlimited.
New stricter rules around net neutrality came into force this week, although AT&T was found to be in breach of earlier rules adopted in the 2010 Open Internet Order.
Pope tells Putin: `Sincere' peace efforts needed for Ukraine
Vatican City, June 11: Pope Francis encouraged Russian President Vladimir Putin to engage in `sincere' international efforts aimed at bringing peace to Ukraine as the two men met privately at the Vatican on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the US ambassador to the Holy See, Kenneth Hackett, said his country would like to see the Vatican step up its concern about what is happening in Ukraine during the pope's meeting with Putin, the second time the Russian leader and Francis have met since the pontiff was elected in 2013.
While Francis has deplored the loss of life in Ukraine and called on all sides to respect what has proven to be a shaky cease-fire, he hasn't publicly put any blame on Russia in an apparent bid not to upset the Holy See's delicate and often thorny relations with the Orthodox Church in Russia, where Catholics are a tiny minority.
During the few minutes that Putin and Francis greeted each other and took their leave before and after their 50-minute-long closed door talks, there was no mention of any blame regarding Ukraine, although the protracted hostilities in that Eastern European nation bordering Russia was a main thrust of the discussion.
`As it was possible to predict in the context of the world situation, the talks were dedicated principally to the conflict in Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East,' said a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.
The Holy See is highly worried about the fate of the Christian minority in the Middle East.
Putin and Francis seemed eager to start their talks, which began quite tardily. Pulling into a Vatican courtyard in a black stretch limousine, Putin arrived an hour and 20 minutes late, after flying to Rome from Milan, where he spent the morning touring the Russian pavilion at the world's fair and meeting with Italian Premier Matteo Renzi.
Despite Putin’s delay, a rare breach of protocol for VIPs paying a call on the pope, Francis greeted him cordially in German, a language the Russian knows well from his secret service days. Putin nodded silently in acknowledgement.
Because of the Ukraine crisis, the leaders of the world's industrialized democracies for a second year in a row refused to let Putin join their G-7 summit. At the summit this month, they said sanctions against Russia won't be lifted until Moscow fully implements its part of the Ukraine peace accord, and could be increased if needed.
Russia accuses Ukraine of failing to launch political dialogue with the rebellious east and of keeping its economic blockade of areas controlled by pro-Russian rebels. Kiev, the United States, NATO and European leaders have blamed Moscow for supplying rebels with manpower, training and weapons. Russia denies the claims.
Ending his long day, Putin took off his dark suit jacket and got together with his old friend, ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi gave him a warm hug and two large bottles of unspecified content in an encounter at Rome's main airport, where the Russian was to board a jet to return to Moscow, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.
Modi lauds Bangladesh leadership for positive vision
Dhaka, June 8: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, yesterday said that even as his 2-day visit to Bangladesh was ending, he felt the real journey begins now. He said the welcome accorded to him, was in effect, a welcome to 125 crore Indians.
He was addressing a gathering comprising members of the Indian community, eminent Bangladeshis including political personalities, cultural personalities, business persons, academicians and Dhaka University students. He said that while people thought we were just near (paas-paas) to each other, now the world would have to acknowledge that we are not just paas-paas but also saath-saath (together).
The Prime Minister congratulated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her single-minded focus on economic development. He said a firm foundation is being laid for Bangladesh's economic progress.
The Prime Minister said India and Bangladesh are both blessed to be young nations, with young dreams. He said a nation with such leadership and such strength, like Bangladesh, would progress inexorably.
Lauding Bangladesh, the Indian PM said the country had done unparalleled work in many fields. He said the work done by Bangladesh in the garment sector is well appreciated. He said that if Bangladesh prospers, India too would benefit.
Referring to the Land Boundary Agreement between the two countries, he described it as one which bonded hearts together. The Prime Minister said both India and Bangladesh wanted to establish the Buddhist circuit - and where there was Buddha, there could be no Yuddha. He quoted a newspaper editorial that said that the Land Boundary Agreement was equivalent to the fall of the Berlin Wall. He said the world would have to acknowledge that we are people who find ways to move ahead.
The Prime Minister said the younger generation deserves the chance to achieve its aspirations. He appreciated the contribution of the Dhaka University to Bangladesh. He said that India would work with Dhaka University on oceanography, to build the Ocean Economy.
The Prime Minister said SAARC countries were keen to establish connectivity at the last SAARC summit - but then - not every country is Bangladesh. He said India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan had now decided to move ahead in this direction. He said the European Union had developed a lot because of better connectivity. He said today no country could work alone, as the whole world has become interdependent. He said India and Bangladesh had recognized this fact, and this was reflected in the 22 agreements that had been signed during this visit. He congratulated the farsighted leadership of Bangladesh for accomplishing this.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that some tasks were still to be accomplished. He said he believed and panchhi (birds), pawan (wind), and paani (water) needed no visa - and therefore - the Teesta issue had to be solved with a human approach. Referring to unfortunate incidents on the border, he said it was the responsibility of both sides to ensure that a solution is found. He said illegal human trafficking and fake currency were issues which Bangladesh had expressed an intention to resolve.
9 variants of Maggi unsafe; MP too bans sale of Maggi
New Delhi/Bhopal, June 5: Central food safety regulator, FSSAI ordered Nestle to recall nine variants of Maggi instant noodles from market. FSSAI has found nine variants of Maggi noodles 'unsafe and hazardous' for human consumption. It asked Nestle to stop their production, import and sale with immediate effect. FSSAI said that Nestle launched 'Maggi Oats Masala Noodles' without product approval and without undertaking risk, safety assessment. It has ordered recall of product. FSSAI asked company to submit compliance report on its orders within 3 days.
Earlier, Prime Minister's Office today summoned Union Health Secretary BP Sharma over the Maggi controversy. PMO has sought a report on the issue from the Health Ministry.
Madhya Pradesh government has banned the sale of Maggi noodles in the state from today. After a meeting with Union Chemicals and Fertiliser Minister Anant Kumar, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that till it is proved that Maggi noodles are not harmful for the health, there will be a ban in the state on the sale of this noodle.
Bihar government has also banned the sale of Maggi noodles for similar reasons. The sale of Maggi noodles has already been banned in Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand after concerns were raised over presence of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lead beyond permissible levels in the product.
Singapore authorities have ordered local importers to temporarily suspend sale of Nestle's Maggi noodles imported from India amid reports that high lead content was found in the popular instant snack in India.
Meanwhile, Global CEO of Nestle Paul Bulcke has said that the quality of product is of foremost priority. Bulcke said that the Maggi noodles are safe for consumption and follow same standards worldwide and it has been temporarily withdrawn from the market due to confusion as consumer trust was shaken.
Sweden endorses India's bid for UNSC, MTCR memberships
Stockholm, June 2: Sweden has expressed support for India's claim to permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
President Pranab Mukherjee has appreciated the Swedish support.
In his address at the State Banquet hosted by the King of Sweden in Stockholm last night, Mr. Mukherjee also lauded the proactive efforts of Sweden that helped India to achieve observer status in the Arctic Council during the period of Sweden's Chairmanship.
The President said that the bilateral agreements that have been signed during his visit will lead to further fruitful engagements in many fields. Navtej Sarna, Secretary (West) in Ministry of External Affairs, said that both countries also decided to re-start the strategic dialogue at the level of National Security Advisor.
On the last day of his three-day visit to Sweden, President Pranab Mukherjee will go to Karolinska Institute. The Prestigious Institute situated at Stockholm awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
The President will also visit the one of the oldest educational Institute Uppsala University where a sculpture of Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore has been kept, who got the Nobel prize in 1913 by the Swedish Society. Mr. Mukherjee will also address a business seminar. The President will reach Belarus later today on the final leg of his two-nation visit.
Climate change a top US security issue: Obama
USA , May 21: US President Barack Obama warned in a speech on Wednesday that the threat from global warming poses a national risk rivaling that of terrorism, and should be seen as a top security priority.
In a commencement address for new graduates of the US Coast Guard Academy, Obama declared that "confronting climate change is now a key pillar of American global leadership" which should top national agenda beyond his administration.
"Even as we meet threats like terrorism, we cannot, and we must not, ignore a peril that can affect generations," the president said in the address in New London, Connecticut.
"The best scientists in the world know that climate change is happening. Our analysts in the intelligence community know climate change is happening," said Obama.
"Our military leaders, generals and admirals, active duty and retired know it's happening. Our homeland security professionals know it is happening, and our Coast Guard knows it's happening," he said on Wednesday.
Obama took aim at political opponents in Washington "who refuse to admit that climate change is real," saying that the science against them is "indisputable."
"The levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are now higher than they have been in 800,000 years," the president said.
"Fourteen of the 15 hottest years on record have been in the past 15 years. Last year was the planet's warmest year ever recorded," he said.
"The world's glaciers are melting, pouring new water into the ocean. Over the past century, the world sea level rose by about eight inches," he said.
"That was in the last century. By the end of this century, it's predicted to rise another one to four feet," he said, adding that this newest corps of Coast Guard cadets is likely to be directly affected -- in terms of how they train and the tasks they are asked to carry out -- by the rise in ocean levels.
Obama warned that a one-foot rise in sea levels could cost the United States as much as USD200 billion.
The Pentagon is taking the matter so seriously that according to White House officials, it is assessing the vulnerability of more than 7,000 bases, installations and other facilities to climate change.
The military is also studying the impact of the National Guard being deployed to deal with the aftermath of extreme weather.
In the final stretch of his presidency, Obama increasingly is sounding an alarm about environmental themes, taking advantage of speeches and public events to issue fresh warning on the subject.
PM Modi arrives in Seoul; to hold summit level talks with President of S Korea
Seoul, May 18: Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Seoul on his third and final leg of his three-nation tour.
The Prime Minister will start his official engagements in South Korea by laying a wreath at the National Cemetery followed by a community reception where at least 1500 members of the Indian community are expected to attend.
Bilateral talks between the two countries would be held on the first day of Prime Minister's visit, followed by signing of agreements.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye will host a dinner for the visiting dignitary in the evening.
Prime Minister will participate in the 6th Asian Leadership Conference tomorrow.
He will meet top CEOs of Korean companies who are willing to invest in India.
There would be an interaction with Friends of India in South Korea as well.
The Prime Minister will also visit the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard.
During his two-day visit to south Korea, Prime Minister will also meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
Centre hosting International Buddha Poornima Diwas today
Moscow, May 11: President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated Namaste Russia, a festival of Indian culture, in Moscow on Saturday on the last leg of his tour to Russia.
Inaugurating the festival, the President said, it is cultural bonds that build solid bridges of friendship and understanding between peoples and countries.
President who is Moscow on a four day Russia visit also interacted with the Indian community.
President interacted with academicians studying history, cultures, languages, and literature of the Indian subcontinent.
It was a meeting of minds as the President appreciated deep understanding and appreciation of Indologists.
Present at the interaction, were scholars from across Russia, who acknowledged the lesson of unity in diversity taught by India and said it is extremely important for humankind.
President Mukherjee recalled his 43 years in Parliament and dwelt on the theme of democracy in his reply to the interaction.
Later in the day, the President interacted with the Indian community in Russia.
He asked them to bring in their skills and capital to support the government's initiatives to make the country a global manufacturing hub.
India's trade with Russia is less than 1 percent India's overall trade and he called the Indian community to play an important role in propelling economic ties between the two countries to a higher trajectory.
The president also announced setting up of an annual Distinguished Indologist award for promoting Indology abroad.
The Indian Council of Cultural Relations will also organise a regional conference on Sanskrit and Indology in Russia.
Centre hosting International Buddha Poornima Diwas today
New Delhi, May 4: Buddha Poornima which marks the birth, enlightenment and mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha is being celebrated all over the world today.
Government is hosting International Buddha Poornima Diwas function in New Delhi to mark the occasion. Large number of delegates, eminent Scholars, Buddhist monks and nuns from India and various other countries including Japan, Sri Lanka, US, Thailand and Mongolia will participate in the day long event.
A special prayer to express solidarity with the people of earthquake-hit Nepal will be organized on this occasion. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead the nation in prayers and solidarity.
Briefing media in New Delhi yesterday, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, who is also the Chairman of the Celebration Committee, said the government function is being organised considering the fact that India is the birth place of Buddhism and the entire world looks at the country as the spiritual centre of the religion.
He also said the Centre will develop the Buddha Jayanti Park in New Delhi as an international level place to understand the life and teachings of Lord Buddha . He also emphasized the need to develop India as a hub of religious tourism with regard to Buddhism.
The programme is being organized by the International Buddhist Confederation with the support of Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
PM reviews situation; Center enhances compensation
New Delhi, Apr 28: Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a follow-up meeting late evening on Monday, to review the progress of relief and rescue operations following the major earthquake in Nepal on Saturday. This was the third meeting chaired by the Prime Minister on the subject.
The Prime Minister was briefed on the progress of relief and rescue work being carried out by various agencies involved in relief and rescue work, both in India and Nepal. He took stock of the evacuation of stranded people from Nepal both by air and road routes, and provision of relief supplies and material to the affected areas.
The Prime Minister emphasized on the need for ensuring proper coordination between the Centre and State Governments, both for ensuring smooth flow of relief operations in the affected states, and to streamline the delivery of relief and rescue material to Nepal. He said all necessary medical help should be given to the injured, including treatment in India, if required.
The Prime Minister stressed on the need for effective coordination of relief operations within Nepal, and especially at Kathmandu airport. He suggested that ex-servicemen could be approached to help in the coordination effort.
Meanwhile, the Union Government has revised the guidelines for the National Disaster Relief Fund and increased the quantum of compensation to 6 lakh rupees to the family of the victims.Earlier, the government had announced to give 2 lakh rupees as compensation from the Prime Minister's relief fund, Four lakh rupees compensation will be given from the National Disaster Relief Fund.50 thousand rupees has been announced for those who were seriously injured in the earthquake.
Nepal: Rain, fresh tremors hamper rescue work
Nepal/India, Apr 27: Rain and fresh tremors hamper relief and rescue works in quake hit Nepal. Death toll has risen to over 2500. Indian Meteorological Department appeals to people not to panic.
Earlier Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a follow-up meeting on Sunday, to review the progress of relief and rescue operations following the major earthquake in Nepal on Saturday.
The meeting was attended by Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh and Manohar Parrikar, the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, the Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, Additional Principal Secretary P.K. Mishra, and senior officials from the Government, IMD, and NDRF.
The Prime Minister emphasized the need for further increasing the pace of search and rescue operations, and evacuation of stranded people from Nepal. The Prime Minister directed that in addition to the air route, the road route should also be used for evacuating stranded people at the earliest.
He stressed on the need for ensuring coordination among various agencies involved in relief and rescue operations. The PM also said that highest priority be accorded to food and water supplies, including milk powder, to the affected areas.
Fresh 6.9 magnitude earthquake hits east of Kathmandu; Tremors felt in Delhi, UP, Bihar, W.Bengal
A powerful earthquake struck Nepal and sent tremors through northern India on Saturday, killing nineteen hundred people.
Initial reports said the epicenter of the earthquake was about 80 km away from the battered Kathmandu region.
The tremors, which were felt in Delhi-NCR, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan, triggered panic and forced people to rush out of their houses and offices.
Metro train services in Delhi have been halted for the time being as a precautionary measure.
The quake occurred at around 1239 hrs.
Administration in various states is put on high alert to deal with any eventuality. There were no immediate reports of loss of life or damage
Nepal tremor aftershocks felt in state capital Bhopal
New Delhi, Apr 25: A strong earthquake of magnitude 7.5 on Richter scale and a major aftershock struck Nepal and parts of North and Northeast India on Friday. Widespread damage is being reported from Nepal.
In the State capital Bhopal, people sitting on chairs in their offices felt vibrations and ran outside.
Earthquake of magnitude 7.5 occurred today at 11.41 am between latitude 28.1 North and Longitude 84.6 East. The epicentre was located in Nepal, an IMD statement said.
Mobile phone services affected across Nepal.
Delhi Metro services were briefly suspended after the quake.
There are reports of widespread damage in Nepal.
People were seen rushing out of their homes and offices.
The tremors in Delhi were felt for over a minute.
In India, tremors were felt in Delhi-NCR, UP, Haryana, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim. In the State capital Bhopal too.
PM calls for collective efforts to tackle terrorism
Berlin, Apr 15: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, called upon nations to intensify collective efforts to tackle the menace of terrorism.
The PM also made a strong pitch for the conclusion of the long-pending comprehensive convention on international terrorism (CCIT) at the UN this year. The objective of the CCIT is to strengthen cooperation to combat international terrorism.
Terrorism issue should be dealt with as sensitively as nuclear proliferation, Modi added.
We need to know the sources from where the terrorists get aid and weapons and isolate such parties or governments. India and Germany should increase cooperation in maritime, cyber and space security as these have become our present concerns. Modi also talked about instability in West Asia and how it was affecting the people at home.
World powers, Iran agreed on framework of historic N-deal.
Iran, Apr 3: World powers, Iran agreed on framework of historic N-deal. US President Obama hails Iran framework as historic understanding.
Moscow also hailed 'recognition' of Iran's right to nuclear program while UN Chief said that Iran deal will help Middle East stability. Any Iran deal must 'significantly roll back' nuclear capacity
After marathon talks, the world powers and Iran HAVE agreed on the framework of a potentially historic deal aimed at scaling back Tehran's nuclear programme.
Under the deal, Iran will reduce its uranium enrichment capacity in exchange for phased sanctions relief. Iran's foreign Minister Javad Zarif has thanked all the participants in talks and expressed hope that some of that mistrust could be remedied".
US President Barack Obama said a "historic understanding" had been reached with Iran.
The world powers and Iran now aim to draft a comprehensive nuclear accord by 30 June. The framework agreement was announced by the European Union and Iran after eight days of negotiations in Lausanne.
Iran has agreed to reduce its current stockpile of about 10,000 kg of low-enriched uranium to 300 kg of 3.67 per cent LEU for 15 years.
The talks between the so-called P5+1 - the US, UK, France, China and Russia plus Germany - and Iran at Lausanne's Beau-Rivage Palace hotel continued beyond the original self-imposed deadline of 31 March.
The draft deal was hailed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said he believed it would "contribute to peace and stability in the middle East".
Russia welcomed the deal as recognition of "Iran's unconditional right to a peaceful nuclear programme", while French Foreign Minister termed it a positive step. Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu says Any deal must significantly roll back Iran's nuclear capabilities.
Vice Admiral Sunil Lanba is new C-in-C of Southern Naval Command
Kochi, Mar 30: In an impressive ceremonial parade held at the Naval base today, Vice Admiral Sunil Lanba took over charge as the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command from Vice Admiral SPS Cheema.
The Parade was followed by the traditional ‘Pulling Out’ Ceremony in which the outgoing C-in-C, Vice Admiral SPS Cheema was ceremonially pulled out in a jeep by Flag Officers and Commanding Officers of Ships and Naval establishments of Kochi, amidst emotional ‘Jai’-‘Jai’ by the men of Southern Naval Command.
Earlier in the day, Vice Admiral Lanba laid wreath at the War Memorial, prior to assuming command, as a tribute to the thousands of martyrs who had fought for the country. The Flag Officer, a native of Palwal in Haryana, who was the Vice Chief of Naval Staff prior to taking over as the FOC-in-C (South), had arrived in Kochi on 28 Mar15.
In his farewell address Vice Admiral Cheema praised every member of the Southern Naval Command for their all round contribution. He expressed sincere gratitude to all for the unstinted support. He reminded everyone that, the SNC being a training Command, needs to continuously be on task be it peace or war. He urged everyone to extend the same support to Vice Admiral Sunil Lanba whom he termed as a visionary leader with head and heart.
Vice Admiral SPS Cheema will now assume the charge of the Flag Officer Commanding in Chief, Western Naval Command on 31 Mar 15 on the retirement of the present incumbent, Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chopra.
Did the co-pilot deliberately crash his plane in the Alps ?
Berlin, March 27: Police have seized possessions of the Germanwings co-pilot who prosecutors say deliberately crashed his plane in the French Alps killing 150 people.
They found significant clues suggesting he suffered from "psychological illness", according to Der Spiegel.
Data from the plane's voice recorder suggest Andreas Lubitz had purposely started a descent while the pilot was locked out of the cockpit.
Reports in the German media indicate Andreas Lubitz had been depressed.
The Barcelona-Duesseldorf flight crashed on Tuesday.
Several airlines have now pledged to change their rules to ensure at least two crew members are present in the cockpit at all times.
The revelations by the German police come after officers searched Mr Lubitz's flat in Duesseldorf and the house the 27-year-old shared with his parents in Montabaur, north of Frankfurt, late on Thursday.
Based on data from the recovered "black box" voice recorder, Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said on Thursday that Mr Lubitz appeared to want to "destroy the plane".
The evidence suggested the pilot had left the cockpit, probably to go to the toilet, during which the door was barred. He fought unsuccessfully to get back, he said.
Bild quotes security sources as saying that the pilot used an axe to try to break down the door.
he focus now moves from the mechanics to the man flying the plane. An accident expert has told me the investigators will pore over the co-pilot's background and that of his family too.
Did he owe money? Was there a grudge? They'll look at his religion, whether he was in trouble with the law, whether he had a stable love life. This kind of event is rare but it has happened before, although the reasons vary widely.
After 9/11, they made cockpits impregnable. It keeps the terrorists out, but in the end it also allows someone to keep their colleagues out too. Airlines have to make a call. Which is the bigger threat - terrorism or suicide?
A Germanwings spokesperson would only confirm that an emergency axe is part of the equipment on board an A320.
What happened in the final half hour?
The second "black box" - that records flight data - has still not been found.
Family members of some of the 150 passengers and crew who died have visited Seyne-les-Alpes, near the crash site, reported Reuters news agency.
They were being accompanied by psychologists, paramedics and Red Cross workers, and a youth centre in the town was set up to receive them, it said.
Families are providing DNA samples to allow for identification of victims' remains.
Members of the Westerwald flight club, where the co-pilot was a member, expressed their shock at the revelation.
"Andreas was a very nice young man, who did his training here. He was part of the club," Peter Reucker said.
"[He was] funny, sometimes a bit quiet, but apart from that a young man like many others that we have here. He integrated well.
"I'm absolutely speechless. I have no explanation for this," Mr Reucker added.
France Plane crash: Search and recovery operation resumes
Paris, Mar 25: A search and recovery operation has resumed in the southern French Alps after yesterday's crash of a Germanwings plane with 150 people on board. Officials said the operation could last for days in a remote mountain ravine between Digne and Barcelonnette.
The leaders of Germany, France and Spain are due to visit the crash site. The Airbus A320 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf crashed after an eight-minute rapid descent. There were no survivors.
Officials believe 67 of those aboard the plane were German citizens, including 16 pupils returning from an exchange trip. 45 of the passengers had Spanish names.
Germanwings is a low-cost airline owned by the Lufthansa Group. We hope to find survivors,” Lufthansa said on Twitter.
A day of mourning was being held at the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium school in Haltern-am-See, north-west Germany, where the pupils were from.
The plane's cockpit voice recorder - recovered by a helicopter team on Tuesday - was damaged but could still provide information, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
Finding the second "black box" - the flight data recorder - will be a key aim of Wednesday's search operation.
A team of police officers spent the night on the mountain, securing the site.
State-of-the-art, camera-driven dynamic signal system
New Jersey, Mar 19: One of the most successful-and newest-of these is found in New Jersey's Meadowlands, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, in a traditionally traffic-plagued corridor near MetLife Stadium, where two American football teams, the Giants and Jets, play.
David Liebgold, transportation chief for the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, is responsible for the state-of-the-art, camera-driven dynamic signal system recently installed near the arena. Since the beginning of its rollout in December 2012, the system has led to a net reduction in congestion of 25%, a figure that should improve as the system reaches full implementation later this year.
Liebgold cites an original estimate of 400,000 vehicles per day along the corridor, a figure that proved very conservative, partly because individual cars often traverse the area at least twice per day. Since deploying an adaptive signal system, the commission cites an average travel-time savings of five seconds per car, per day. Such incremental improvements lead to significant savings: about 1,100 driver-hours per day, or nearly 406,000 hours per year; roughly 1m gallons of fuel; and nearly 5,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases.
This $13m, 40-square-mile project links 120 traffic lights in the vicinity, with an additional 24 planned. Cameras feed computers that then calculate the most efficient traffic-light timing for the given moment, where seconds can make big differences. Lights in such a system are wired together and operate as one large brain. And unlike some systems, the Meadowlands solution varies signal timing by a wide margin based on actual traffic flow, not pre-determined hypothetical – and fixed – rush-hour and off-peak calculations.
45 villagers killed by suspected herdsmen in Nigeria
Nigeria, Mar 16: At least 45 villagers were killed in a dawn raid Sunday by suspected herdsmen in Nigeria's central Benue state, a police spokesman and a legislator said. "I confirm that 45 people, including women and children, were killed this morning in an attack on Egba village... of Benue state by suspected herdsmen," state police spokesman Austin Ezeani said on Sunday.
"Several others were injured in the gun and machete attack," he added. Hundreds of people have been killed in attacks and reprisal attacks between farmers and ethnic Fulani herdsmen in the past few years in Benue state.
A state parliamentarian from the local area, Audu Sule, gave a death toll of about 50 from the attack. He also said women and children were among those killed. "They opened fire on the sleepy village, killing residents, including women and children," Sule added.
No arrest has been made yet but police are on the trail of the attackers who fled into the bush after the deadly raid, Ezeani said.
"It was an unexpected attack, the reason for which we still do not know. The attack happened around 6.00am (0500 GMT). Policemen are on the trail of the assailants and we are hopeful to nab them," he stated.
"This area has been volatile for some time following farmers-herdsmen frequent clashes," he added.
Herdsmen and farmers in the state and neighbouring states often engage in bitter dispute over grazing rights that often result in deadly clashes.
Dogs can make out if a person is unreliable !
London, Feb 25: A research carried out on the behavior of dogs has revealed that they are very socially aware, both of humans and of each other.
Many studies have reported that they can sense human emotions. Recent research has found that they can tell the difference between happy and angry faces, and even show jealousy.
It now seems that they can sense when a person is untrustworthy. Once a dog has decided a person is unreliable, it stops following the cues they give.
It's been known for years that dogs understand what it means when a human points at something. If a dog's owner points to the location of a ball, stick or food, the dog will run and explore the location the person is pointing to.
In the first round, the experimenters accurately pointed to where food was hidden in a container. But in the second round, they pointed to an empty container.
In the third round, the same experimenter again pointed to the container with food.
But now the dog did not respond to the experimenter's cue. That suggests, says Takaoka, that the dogs could use their experience of the experimenter to assess whether they were a reliable guide.
After these rounds a new experimenter replicated the first round. Once again, the dogs followed this new person with interest.
Takaoka says she was surprised that the dogs "devalued the reliability of a human" so quickly.
"Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought. This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans."
The latest research shows they are quick to figure out if these gestures are misleading.
US shivers through record-breaking cold
Washington DC, Feb 18: Record-breaking cold gripped different parts of the United States, dumping snow and forcing federal offices in Washington DC to close on Tuesday.
Cold gripped the eastern United States while an icy winter storm crippled the nation's central states and then moved into the mid-Atlantic.
Heavy snowfall and ice moving eastward from the Southern Plains pounded Missouri, Arkansas, southern Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.
With the storm headed east and sleet and freezing rain expected to also take a swipe at the South, states of emergency were declared in North Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, as well as in the capital.
Airlines canceled nearly 2,600 US flights, with the hardest hit airports in North Carolina and Tennessee.
Prez for education as per changing global environment
New Delhi, Feb 5: President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday called for the need to imbue young minds with competitive spirit and a sense of pride in their alma mater. It is important to recognize emerging global trends which are likely to bring sweeping changes in higher education worldwide.
Looking at the rising cost of higher education and the changing profile of education seekers, aided by technological innovation, the central universities have the responsibility to lead the transformative processes of India’s higher education system.
The President came out in support of the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) of earning degrees for students pursuing higher education. This system will ensure seamless mobility of students across higher education institutions in the country as well as abroad. The credits earned by students can be transferred and would be of great value to them in the event of their seeking migration from one institution to the other.
The system operates on a module called `credits’ and defines the quantum of content or syllabus prescribed for a course and determines the minimum number of teaching-learning hours required and undertaken.
It will help in the mobility of students throughout India in central universities as the course being the same, students can take admission elsewhere based on their credits. Twenty-three central universities have already implemented CBCS.
Teachers must encourage the thought to satiate their curiosity, question established knowledge, accept a proposition only after investigation and pursue ingenuity. A scientific temper, which takes one’s imagination beyond the realm of grades and classroom is essential in our students, the President added.
India-China ties will grow in the New Year, says Xi
Beijing, feb 2: India-China relations would further grow in the new year, said the Chinese President Xi Jinping, when the Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on him on Monday here.
Xi said China and India have taken "solid steps" to make new progress in bilateral ties besides implementing the agreements reached between him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He said that since his visit to India in September last year, relations between the two countries have entered into a new stage of growth.
One of the steps taken during Swaraj's visit yesterday was exchange of notes on modalities for opening the second route for the Kailash-Manasarovar Yatra in Tibet via Sikkim by June, that will allow more Indians to undertake the pilgrimage.
Xi told Swaraj: "Last September I visited India and cherish fresh memories about the gracious hospitality extended to me by government and people of India.
"In particular, I cherish the memories of Prime Minister Modi's home province Gujarat and Prime Minister himself accompanied me on that trip." The 61-year-old Chinese President, who is also the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party, conveyed his best wishes to the Indian leadership.
Forecasters warning shuts down New York and Boston
New York, Jan 27: New York City and other areas in the north-east US have shut down, with forecasters warning residents to expect "crippling" amounts of snow.
Forecasters say Winter Storm Juno could dump up to 76cm in some parts of New Jersey, Maine and New Hampshire.
All non-emergency vehicles were banned in New York City from 23:00 on Monday (04:00 GMT Tuesday) and subway services were suspended. Similar measures were in place in Boston, Massachusetts.
Some 60 million people may be affected.
An emergency has been declared in the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Boston, which is forecast to receive some of the highest snowfalls, has also suspended public transport and car travel.
India issues advisory against travelling to Ukraine
Jan 23: India has strongly advised its nationals in Ukraine to leave Donetsk and Lugansk in view of continued hostilities. The External affairs Ministry issued this advisory in view of shelling and fighting in Donetsk and Lugansk regions over the past few days.
India issues advisory against travelling to UkraineIndia issues advisory against travelling to Ukraine.
Despite regular advisories by the Embassy to Indian nationals, especially students, against returning to the region in the recent past, the Embassy had learnt that a handful of students rejoined their educational institutions in Donetsk and Lugansk regions. In case of an Emergency, Embassy of India, Kyiv can be contacted at any time at: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For education related queries, the embassy can also be contacted at telephone number +XXX-XX-4687023 and Mobile number +380-933559957, for consular related queries at +XXX-XX-4686670 and Mobile: +380-933559958 and for other queries at +XXX-XX-4686219, and Mobile:+380-930913855.
11.5 cr Jan Dhan accounts opened; most of India is banked: FM
New Delhi, Jan 21: As many as 11.5 crore bank accounts have been opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, exceeding the enhanced target of 10 crore and covering 99.74 per cent of households, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.
"Most of India today is included in the banking system," he said, adding that more than Rs 9,000 crore has been deposited in the Jan Dhan accounts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the financial inclusion scheme in his first Independence Day speech last year.
It was launched in August with a target to open bank accounts for 7.5 crore poor persons by January 26, 2015. The target was later increased to 10 crore accounts.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Jaitley said the government would use these bank accounts to pass on benefits to individuals under its various social security schemes.
Financial Services Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said that even Guinness Book of World Records has recognised the achievements made under PMJDY.
In its citation, the Guinness Book said: "Most bank accounts opened in one week as part of the Financial Inclusion Campaign is 18,096,130 and was achieved by the Department of Financial Services, Government of India from August 23 to 29, 2014."
Jaitley leads corporate leaders to Davos WEF conclave
Jan 20: The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday said India is expected to grow at 6.3 pc this year and 6.5 pc in 2016, crossing China's projected growth rate by then, also adding that while the new government's reforms are promising, their implementation is key.
India's growth rate in 2014 was 5.8 per cent against China's 7.4 per cent, per the World Economic Report update released by the IMF.
In 2013 however, India's growth rate was five per cent against China's 7.8 per cent.
Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, the Deputy Director of IMF's Research Department told the media, "I think the reform plans of the new Prime Minister are promising. We are going to have to see the speed of the implementation."
In response to a question, the IMF official said that the corollary of India’s Prime Minister- led government's new economic reforms would be difficult to predict since these are structural reforms and shall take time growing over the medium term.
"Key is going to be implementation," Milesi-Ferretti quoted.
As per the latest IMF report, in India, the growth forecast has broadly remained constant, however, the weaker external demand is offset by the combined result of boost to the terms of trade from lower oil prices, and policy reforms resulting in boost in industrial and investment activity.
The report also points out that global growth is likely to receive a boost from lower oil prices, considerably reflecting higher supply.
This boost, however, is speculated to be more than offset by downbeat factors such as investment weakness, as many advanced and emerging market economies continue to adjust to diminished expectations about medium-term growth.
Global growth in 2015- 16 has been estimated at 3.5 and 3.7 per cent, a downward revision of 0.3 per cent relative to the October 2014 World Economic Outlook (WEO).
The said revision points to a reassessment of prospects in China, Russia, the euro area and Japan, as also slumping activity in some major oil exporters because of the steep nosedive in oil prices.
The IMF positioned the United States as the only major economy for which growth projections have been raised; also adding that investment growth in China declined in the third quarter of 2014, and leading indicators point to a further deceleration.
According to the report, in the wake of this forecast, the authorities are now anticipated to put greater weight on reducing vulnerabilities from recent rapid credit and investment growth, which makes the forecast look like less of a policy response to the underlying moderation.
The report added that waning growth rate in China is also speculated to have important regional repercussions, partly explaining the downward revisions to growth in much of emerging Asia.
Among the world’s leading advanced economies, growth in the United States exceeded expectations after contraction in the first quarter of 2014, and unemployment subsided further, also inflation pressure was more widely abated, showing in appreciation of the dollar’s value, and also in the fall in oil prices.
Owing to domestic demand being supported by lower oil prices, more moderate fiscal adjustment, and continued support from an accommodative monetary policy stance, growth is projected to exceed three per cent in 2015- 16, thus overriding the projected gradual rise in interest rates.
The recent dollar appreciation, however, is predicted to reduce net exports, the report concluded.
Jaitley leads corporate leaders to Davos WEF conclave
Jan 19: The annual World Economic Forum, beginning at Davos, from Monday, is expected to be attended by nearly 100 corporate leaders from India. Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is set to talk about the changing business, political and social landscape and highlight the programmes of the new leadership in building investor sentiment.
The minister is also expected to discuss the priorities of BRICS-Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa- block of emerging countries in the context of their trade partnership.
The delegation is likely to include chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanyam, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, AP CM Chandra Babu Naidu; Tata Group chairman, Cyrus Mistry, RIL CMD Mukesh Ambani; ICICI bank MD Chanda Kochar; Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal; TCS CEO N Chandrasekaran and SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya, Essar group's Shashi and Ravi Ruia, Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka, Wipro chairman Azim Premji, Bharti group CMD Sunil Mittal among others.
Bhopal-born Rajan chosen for "governor of the year" award
London/Mumbai, Jan 14: RBI chief Raghuram Rajan has been named as the "governor of the year" in the Central Banking Awards for 2015 by a British magazine for "his deep understanding of the root causes of economic problems of the country combined with an impressive leadership style."
Central Banking Editor Christopher Jeffery said in a statement issued from London "Rajan's disciplined and focused approach in leading the Reserve Bank during his first year as Governor was remarkably impressive. This is the second aajan awardward by the London-based magazine and will be presented in the British capital on March 12.
The statement further noted Rajan, who was the chief economist of IMF and a well-known economist and author's forthright observations about some of the less welcome developments in the global economic, financial and monetary system also represent an important voice for change.
In accepting the award, Rajan said, "I am honoured to be named governor of the year by the magazine. This is a recognition of the part the Reserve Bank and its staff have been playing in bringing macroeconomic stability to our economy, in creating more competition and new growth opportunities in the banking and financial markets, as well as in expanding financial inclusion.
"Of course, no central bank works alone. The important role played by the government in maintaining fiscal discipline, in initiating growth-friendly structural reforms and in launching ambitious new financial sector programmes such as rolling out bank accounts for all, has been critical to any success the economy has had, and is likely to have.
"Moreover, all our collective efforts should be seen as work in progress -- inflation has to be fully tamed, growth has to be brought back to potential and the banking system cleaned of distressed assets, even while we build the platform for the financial sector to support strong and sustainable growth.
"But I am convinced we are moving in the right direction and believe developments will affirm this," Rajan said.
Vibrant Gujarat Summit: leaders hail PM's leadership, vision
Gandhi Nagar, Jan 11: Thirty one Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were inked in various fields on the inaugural day of the 7th Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit in Gandhinagar on Sunday.
A major MoU was signed between World Bank, Govt of India and the Gujarat Govt, according to which the World Bank will support Gujarat in the 'Swachhta Abhiyan' or cleanliness mission, and build smart cities. 12 MoUs were signed in the field of innovation in food processing for sustaining food security.
One of the MoUs included Adani Enterprise's interest to develop integrated solar PV manufacturing cluster and Narmada Bio-chem to produce organic and inorganic fertilizer.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 3-day summit which saw the presence of many world leaders, including UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
In his address, Mr Modi called for sustainable and inclusive growth to minimise fluctuations in the global economy. He promised to make India easiest place to do business. Mr Modi also held seperate bilateral meetings with top world and corporate leaders. The World leaders lauded Mr Modi's leadership and vision.
Maithiripala Sirisena declared elected new President of Sri Lanka
Jan 9: Maithiripala Sirisena has been declared elected as the 7th President of Sri Lanka. Maithripala has defeated incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa by 4 and a half lakh votes. He has secured 51.28 per cent of votes cast.
The swearing in of the new President will take place at 6 in the evening.
Earlier in the morning, Mahinda Rajapaksa conceded defeat after trends showed that Maithripala was securing support from all parts of the country.
Meeting the leader of opposition, Mr Rajapaksa assured the opposition of smooth transfer of power to the new leader.
President Elect Maithripala has asked his supporters to keep calm and celebrate the victory. Ranil Wickremasinghe said that there will be no revenge by the new government as the people have voted for a change in political culture of the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first world leader to call up Maithripala and congratulate him on his historic victory.
This is the first time that an incumbent President has been defeated and ousted at the polls in Sri Lanka. Mahinda Rajapaksa was in power for exactly a decade and saw the end of LTTE militancy in 2009. He was responsible for huge development projects since then, but failed to address the political aspirations of the minority Tamil community, protect the Muslims from Buddhist hardliners or secure a better economic deal for the poor.
Maithripala was Rajapaksa's Health Minister till he crossed over to the opposition a day after elections were announced in November. He heads a rainbow coalition of several parties and has promised constitutional, electoral and administrative reforms within a hundred days of coming to power. He has also promised to abolish Executive Presidency and hand over political power to the Prime Minister and the Parliament.
UN chief asks Pakistan to end executions
Dec 27: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the Pakistan government to bring an end to the executions of convicts and re-impose a moratorium on the death penalty.
Ban's appeal follows Pakistan's recent decision to lift a six-year moratorium on the use of the death penalty following this month's terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar which claimed the lives of 150 people, mostly children.
Ban spoke over the phone with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on December 25 and reiterated his condolences to the people, government and communities affected by the school attack, according to readout of the call provided by Ban's spokesperson on Friday.
"While fully recognising the difficult circumstances, the Secretary-General urged the Government of Pakistan to stop the executions of convicts and re-impose the moratorium on the death penalty," the readout said.
The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister "noted the importance of democracy, rule of law as well as the need for an independent judiciary and the respect for the sentiments of the people of Pakistan," it said adding that Ban welcomed the Sharif's assurance that all legal norms would be respected.
Earlier this week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein had also condemned Pakistan's decision, particularly at a time when the international community is increasingly turning away from the use of the death penalty.
Zeid warned that "no judiciary, anywhere, can be infallible" and stressed that "no justice system, no matter how robust, can guarantee against wrongful convictions".
Make in India to be highlighted at PBD; Around 3,000 diaspora to attend
Government's key programmes, including Make in India, would be highlighted during the Jan 7-9 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) being held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, that is expected to see around 3,000 Indian diaspora attending.
The annual PBD is being held in Gandhinagar to mark the centenary of the return of the "sarva sreshtha pravasi Bharatiya" or foremost Indian diaspora member, Mahatma Gandhi to India from South Africa, said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who is also minister for Overseas Indian Affairs.
An exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi and his contribution to India's independence would also be inaugurated besides other events to mark the centenary of Gandhi's return to India.
Foreign Minister of South Africa Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has also been invited, but her confirmation is awaited, said Sushma Swaraj.
The chief guest of the 13th PBD would be Guyana President Donald Ramotar.
PBD is the world's largest annual gathering of people of Indian origin aimed at enhancing networking and reinforcing commercial linkages. There are 25 million people of Indian origin residing outside India.
The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas would be "different" from earlier PBDs, stressed Sushma Swaraj.
The PBD would be hosting some special events, including a special session for the diaspora youth and also four special sessions. These are - to deal with the concerns of diaspora living in the Gulf countries, for those living in Francophone countries, a session for countries where the descendants of Indian indentured labour live and another session to address concerns of the associations of Indian diaspora, she said.
Gujarat is the partner country for the event. Ten Indian states, including the non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) states of Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Nagaland, are participating.
The BJP states are Gujarat, Goa, AMadhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Maharashtra.
Asked if West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is at loggerheads with the BJP, was invited, Sushma Swaraj said that she had sent letters of invitation to all chief ministers, and so far 10 had confirmed they would be attending.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitey and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would be addressing the session between the 10 chief ministers and NRI businesspersons, she said.
The officials looking after the Make in India, Swachch Bharat, Skill India, Clean Ganga projects and Tourism would tell the diaspora about the schemes and invite investments from the diaspora.
Sushma Swaraj also denied that the decision to host the event in Gujarat this time was taken after the new government came into power.
She said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had four years ago, while he was chief minister of Gujarat, proposed hosting PBD in Gujarat in 2015 and had written about it to the then prime minister Manmohan Singh.
To another question, she said that the ministry is working to merge the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cards with the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cards and ensure lifelong visa to the holders.
On a proposal to grant voting rights to NRIs, Sushma Swaraj said that they are examining several suggestions, including having Electronic Voting Machines placed in embassies during elections, allowing proxy voting or having the diaspora member to come home to vote.
"There is no decision yet, we are thinking of a solution," she said.
To criticism that the PBD events end up becoming places for the businesspersons to interact, she said that this time they have "tried to balance the aam admi and the businessperson" and cited the special events being held for the diaspora to address their concerns.
The Indian ambassadors of six Gulf countries have been invited to address the special session on diaspora living in those countries.
The event would kick off Jan 7 with a Youth PBD where the children of Indian diaspora would participate and be given an insight into the culture and heritage of India as well as its achievements, including in space and IT.
On Jan 8, Prime Minster Modi would Ainaugurate the main session and Jan 9, President Pranab Mukherjee would give away the Pravasi Bharatiya Sammans to 15 eminent diaspora members.
Parliament mourns massacre of children in Pak school
India has offered all possible help to Pakistan in the wake of yesterday's massacre in the Army-run school in Peshawar. 141 people including 132 students and 9 staff members of a school were killed in a terror attack.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif over telephone late last evening and strongly condemned the brutal terrorist attack. Prime Minister said, the people of India shared the heart-rending pain and sorrow of the bereaved families and stood with them in solidarity in this hour of immeasurable grief.
He also hoped that the children who had witnessed the horrific attack and loss of their friends would come through this trauma through counseling.
He told Mr. Sharif that this moment of shared pain and mourning is also a call for India and Pakistan and all those who believe in humanity to join hands to decisively and comprehensively defeat terrorism.
In the wake of dastardly attack in Pakistan, the Prime Minister appealed to schools across India to observe two minutes of silence today as a mark of solidarity. President Pranab Mukherjee also expressed deep anguish and strongly condemned the killing of innocent children and teachers.
In his message, Mr. Mukherjee said such heinous acts are against all tenets of humanity.
In Pakistan, a three-day nationwide mourning has been announced over yesterday's massacre. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has described the attack as national tragedy.
He visited the incident site and reiterated that military operation 'Zarb-e-azab' to flush out terrorists from the country's tribal belt will continue. Mr Sharif has called a meeting of all Parliamentary Parties in Peshawar today to discuss the situation arising out of the attack. Sharif said, Pakistani authorities also talked to their Afghan counterpart on the need to fight terror jointly.
He expressed confidence that the two countries will succeed in their struggle against terrorists. He declared that the war on terror will continue till elimination of this menace from the country. The Pakistani opposition politician and former cricket captain Imran Khan condemned the attack as "utter barbarism".
Chief Military Spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa told a news conference that 960 students and staffers were rescued. All the seven militants were killed in the operation.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has claimed the responsibility for the attack, the bloodiest in recent years. The Taliban spokesman said that it was a revenge for the military's operation against militants in the North Waziristan tribal area close to Peshawar.
have strongly condemned the incident. The United States strongly condemned the Taliban assault on the school. In a statement, the US embassy in Islamabad said, the US strongly condemns senseless and inhumane attacks on innocent students and educators, and stands in solidarity with the people of Pakistan.
UN Secretary General BanKi-moon led the world body in condemning the Taliban attack on defenceless children at an army-run school in Pakistan, saying no cause can justify such brutality and horror.He said no grievance can excuse such horror and it is an act of horror and rank cowardice to attack defenceless children.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President François Hollande have also strongly condemned the terrorist attack.
UK plan to boost brainpower in mathematics, science
School leavers will be offered a substantial sum towards university costs in return for becoming a teacher once they graduate in maths or physics. This is an initiative of the David Cameron government aimed at boosting British brainpower in mathematics, science and technology.
About 15,000 teachers will be sent back to the classroom for retraining under the £67m initiative to raise school standards in the subjects.
A national college for digital skills will be set up in London next year with outposts to follow across the country.
The prime minister is hosting a digital event at Downing Street to mark the start of a campaign to encourage people to learn computer coding skills. He said: “There’s no secret to success in the modern world. If countries are going to win in the global race and children compete and get the best jobs, you need mathematicians and scientists – pure and simple.
“This is all part of our long-term economic plan for Britain – making sure our children have the skills they need to thrive and get on. And by sticking to it, we will lift our children’s horizons and pull our country up in the world.”
Under the plans, specialist training will be given to existing teachers to enhance the way they teach maths and science, including contact with industry to ensure they are up to speed on the latest developments. A further 2,500 teachers will recruited over the course of the next parliament on top of existing plans.
Top A-level students will be offered a bursary to help pay for maths and physics degrees if they agree to a career in the classroom. Details of the scheme, which is expected to be ready for pupils applying to go to university next year, have yet to be finalised but could mean students receive around 75% of their course fees, as well as some living costs, in return for a teaching commitment of between five and seven years.
India improves rating on global corruption index
US President Barack Obama on Thursday praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts to shake up the "bureaucratic inertia" in India, less than a month after he described the Indian leader as a "man of action".
However, Obama said that this was a long-term project and one would have to see how successful Prime Minister Modi is in his efforts.
"Modi has impressed me so far with his willingness to shake up the bureaucratic inertia inside of India. But that is a long-term project and we'll have to see how successful he is," Obama told a business roundtable, which was attended by top corporate leaders of the country.
The roundtable was organised to discuss the current economic condition of the US and across the globe.
Last month in Myanmar on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit, Obama in his brief interaction with Modi had told him that he is a "man of action".
On his return from the 10-day trip to the Asia Pacific region that took him to Beijing, Myanmar and Australia, Obama announced that he has accepted an invitation to be the chief guest at the annual Republic Day Parade in New Delhi on January 26 next year.
In his interaction at the business round table, Obama said the US, over the last six years, has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and the rest of the advanced world combined.
The growth of emerging markets have been slower than anticipated, he noted.
India improves rating on global corruption index
India has showed some improvement in addressing corruption this year, ranking 85th among 175 countries as against 94th last year, graft watchdog Transparency International India (TII) said on Wednesday.
Denmark retained its position as the least corrupt country in 2014 with a score of 92 while North Korea and Somalia shared the last place, scoring just 8, it said.
In India's neighbourhood, China moved to 100th place, down from 80th last year, while Pakistan and Nepal were at 126th position.
Bangladesh was 145th and Bhutan 30th in the ranking. Sri Lanka was ranked 85th with India.
Afghanistan was at a bleak 172.
According to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report by TII, "the CPI score for India increased by 2 points in 2014 from its 2013 score, helping India's rank move up to 85 in 2014 from 94 in 2013".
India's score stood at 38 as compared to 36 last year.
improvement in CPI for India was driven primarily by two data sources -- from the World Economic Forum and World Justice Project's (WJP) index.
"A score increase on WEF suggested businesses in India were viewing the environment favourably with regards to their perception of corruption and bribery in the country".
The WJP score also went up reflecting the perceptions of public sector corruption coming down slightly in India, the report said.
The report noted that in terms of the new government, the CPI possibly captured the anti-corruption mandate on which the new government was elected and the possibility of some new reforms in this area.
"However, the data used for CPI mostly was collected prior to the change of government and therefore this will not reflect directly into any of the CPI sources," it said.
To calculate India's position this year, 9 out of 12 independent data sources specialising in governance and business climate analysis were also used.
These included Bertelsmann Foundation, World Bank and World Economic Forum.
They helped in measuring perceptions of corruption in public sector and cross country comparability.
In his reaction, Chairman of TII S K Agarwal, said the "new Government has got fully majority on agenda of good governance and now it's high time to act and pass all pending anti corruption bills including the right of citizens for time bound delivery of goods and services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill".
India's Mangalyaan among best inventions of 2014
Mangalyaan has been named among the best inventions of 2014 by Time magazine which described it as a technological feat that will allow India to flex its "interplanetary muscles."
"Nobody gets Mars right on the first try. The US didn't, Russia didn't, the Europeans didn't. But on September 24, India did. That's when the Mangalyaan ...went into orbit around the Red Planet, a technological feat no other Asian nation has yet achieved," Time said about Mangalyaan, calling it "The Supersmart Spacecraft."
Mangalyaan is among the 25 'Best Inventions of 2014' listed by Time magazine that are "making the world better, smarter andin some casesa little more fun."
Developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation, the Mars spacecraft cost India just USD 74 million, less than the budget for the multi-Acacdemy Award winning science fiction thriller film Gravity.
Time said at that price, the Mangalyaan is equipped with just five onboard instruments that allow it to do simple tasks like measure Martian methane and surface composition.
"More important, however, it allows India to flex its interplanetary muscles, which portends great things for the country's space programme and for science in general," Time said.
The list also includes inventions by two Indians for developing an exercise space for prisoners in solitary confinement and a tablet toy for kids.
Nalini Nadkarni, forest ecologist and college professor helped develop the 'Blue Room' with Snake River Correctional Institution in Oregon for inmates in solitary confinement, who for 23 hours a day see nothing but a tiny, white-walled cell, an experience some research suggests heightens mental illness and makes prisoners prone to suicide attempts and violence. Last year, officials began letting some of them spend their free hour in a first-of-its-kind Blue Room, an exercise space where a projector plays video of open deserts, streaming waterfalls and other outdoor scenes.
Nadkarni says the imagery is designed to calm prisoners, "much in the way we walk through a park" to relax. Former Google engineer Pramod Sharma developed 'Osmo', a tablet toy that gets physical.
Sharma got the inspiration when he saw his daughter playing with the iPad, but did not want her to be glued to the tablet all day long.
The toy, which debuted in October, has helped Osmo raise USD 14.5 million in capital and is now being sold in the Apple Store.
The other inventions are a reactor developed by aerospace company Lockheed Martin that could realize nuclear fusion, Apple's smart watch that besides telling time, can send messages, give directions, track fitness and make wireless payments and Microsoft's Surface Pro 3, a "hybrid" that bundles laptop into a 12-inch tablet and can run desktop apps.
Signing of 5 pacts, talks on uranium deal mark Modi’s Aus visit
India and Australia signed five pacts on social security, transfer of sentenced prisoners, combating narcotics trade, tourism, and Arts and Culture. The two countries also agreed on seeking early closure on the civil nuclear agreement.
Later, while addressing the Parliament, Australian Prime Minister Abbott said, "If all goes well, Australia will export uranium to India under suitable safeguards because cleaner energy is one of the most important contributions that Australia can make to wider world."
Modi, while talking about India-Australia ties, said, "This is a natural partnership, arising from our shared values and interests and our strategic maritime locations.
India and Australia have a great economic synergy." "There are huge opportunities for partnership in every area we can think of - agriculture, agro-processing, resources, energy, finance, infrastructure, education, and science and technology," Modi said.
Abbott, in Parliament, said, "By the end of the next year we will have a Free Trade deal with what is potentially the world's largest market."
Modi emphasised that the economic climate in India has changed.
"I believe it will be a lot easier to convert opportunities into concrete outcomes," Modi said.
Modi also announced that India will organise a 'Make in India' show in Australia in 2015 while Australia would hold a business week in India in January next year.
"Prime Minister Abbott and I discussed what we should do to impart real momentum to our economic partnership. Reconstituting the CEO Forum is an important step. We have agreed to speed up negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. I also asked for easier access for Indian business to the Australian market and quicker investment approvals," Modi said at the joint press conference.
Australia has about 40 per cent of the world's uranium reserves and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes of yellow cake annually.
India and Australia had commenced negotiations for the sale of uranium in early 2012. The two-way trade stands at a relatively modest USD 15 billion a year compared with USD 150 billion for Australia's two-way trade with China.
Modi’s visit to Australia comes after 28 years of ex-PM late Rajiv Gandhi’s visit in 1986.
No reason why India should lag behind: PM
Indian PM Narendra Modi was given a rousing welcome on his arrival at the Allphones Arena indoor stadium of Olympic park in Sydney on Monday. The PM dedicated the welcome and the respect which people of Indian community gave him in Sydney to the people of India. Mr Modi said, it is his good fortune that he is the first Prime Minister of India to be born post 1947.
The Prime Minister, however, said many of us did not get the opportunity to die for the nation or spend our youth in jail, but people can surely live for the nation. Terming Sydney as a beautiful city and Australia a beautiful Country, the Prime Minister said both the countries are bound by the bond of cricket. He said, there is a need to understand strength of India's democracy. The Prime Minister said he sees no reason that why India should lag behind.
Ahead of Prime Minister's arrival at Allphones Arena indoor stadium, several Indian classical singers performed in the stadium.
Mr Modi is in Sydney on the seventh day of his three nation and multi city tour. He arrived in the Harbour city this morning from Brisbane after attending G-20 summit. The Prime Minister was received by the President of Legislative Council of New South Wales, Ton Harvin. Mr Modi will be attending Indian community reception being hosted by Indian High Commissioner, Biren Nanda.
Earlier, Premier of New South Wales, Mike Baird called on Mr Modi. Mr Modi will also meet Australian political leaders. Prime Minister's main engagement begins tomorrow at Canberra where he will address Australian Parliament and also hold bilateral talks with his counterpart Tony Abott. Some agreements are expected to be signed after the meeting.
Manmohan Singh first Indian to get Japan’s top award
Japan on Monday named former Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh to receive its top national award for his contribution in strengthening the ties between the two countries. With the announcement, Dr Singh becomes the first Indian to receive the honour. According to a statement issued by Japanese embassy in New Delhi, Dr Singh will be awarded “The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers” for his “significant contribution to the enhancement of relations and promotion of friendship” between Japan and India for about 35 years.
It is a “high level national order” and a rare honour awarded to those who are recognized for their distinguished contribution, the statement said, adding, “Manmohan Singh is the first Indian recipient of this Order.”
Dr Singh said he was truly honoured and felt “humbled by the love and affection showered upon me by the people and government of Japan”. He said it had been his dream to see India-Japan relationship grow and prosper and “this is an objective towards which I have worked, not only in my tenure as the Prime Minister of India, but across the larger part of my career in public service”.
Frenchman Tirole wins Nobel economics prize
French economist Jean Tirole won the Nobel prize for economics on Monday for research on market power and regulation. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Tirole for clarifying "how to understand and regulate industries with a few powerful firms." Tirole, 61, works at the Toulouse School of Economics in France.
"From the mid-1980s and onwards, Jean Tirole has breathed new life into research on such market failures," the academy said, adding his work has strong bearing on how governments deal with mergers or cartels and how they should regulate monopolies. "In a series of articles and books, JeanTirole has presented a general framework for designing such policies and applied it to a number of industries, ranging from telecommunications to banking," the academy said. The economics prize completed the 2014 Nobel Prize announcements.
Even though the economics award is not an original Nobel Prize - it was added in 1968 by Sweden's central bank - it is presented with the others and carries the same prize money.
Last year the economics prize went to three Americans who shed light on the forces that move stock, bond and home prices.
The award will be presented on December 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.
India's Satyarthi, Pakistan's Malala win Nobel Peace Prize
Indian child right activist Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistani girl child education activist Malala Yousafzai have been jointly honored with Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 on Friday.
60-year-old Satyarthi, who gave up his job as an electrical engineer to run an NGO in India for rescuing children from forced labour and trafficking, and 17-year-old Malala, who survived a near-fatal Taliban attack two years ago with determination advocating education for girls, were named by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for the prestigious global award this year.
"The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 is to be awarded to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education," the jury said while announcing the USD 1.1 million award to be given in December.
Satyarthi, who runs an NGO Bachpan Bachao Aandolan (Save Childhood Movement), reacted to the announcement with elation, saying the award would spur him into further action to try and eliminate child slavery in India.
Satyarthi, whose organisation has rescued over 80,000 children from forced labour and trafficking, also congratulated co-winner Malala.
"I know her. I will call her and congratulate her. We have to go further and work for peace between the two nations (India, Pakistan)."
A host of leaders including President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Sonia Gandhi congratulated both the winners.
Modi said "The entire nation is proud of his momentous achievement. Kailash Satyarthi has devoted his life to a cause that is extremely relevant to entire humankind. I salute his determined efforts."
Applauding Malala, Modi said that her life's journey has been of immense grit and courage.
Expressing happiness over the honour for Satyarthi and Malala, Gandhi said the awards have brought "glory to the entire South Asia".
The Nobel Committee said Satyarthi has maintained the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and headed various forms of peaceful protests, "focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain".
The Committee said it "regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism."
Malala, who was nominated in the peace prize category last year also, had displayed tremendous courage even after the Taliban attack when she resolutely expressed her determination to carry on with her campaign for child rights and girls education especially in a country like Pakistan.
She has become the youngest Nobel laureate.
Satyarthi, the second Indian after Mother Teresa to be named for the peace prize, and Malala join a select league of eminent international personalities who have shared the Nobel Peace Prize for their outstanding work in furthering world peace and in other fields.
Malala, who was airlifted to Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham where she was treated for life-threatening injuries, continued to campaign for girls' education.
She addressed the UN last year, met US President Barack Obama and was named one of 'Time' magazine's 100 most influential people.
Last year, she published her memoir 'I Am Malala'.
In the statement, the committee said: "Despite her youth, Malala Yousafzai has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations.
"This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls rights to education." This year's record number of 278 nominees included Pope Francis and Congolese gynaecologist Denis Mukwege, although the full list was kept a secret.
In 1993, F W de Klerk, the last president of South Africa in the apartheid regime, and Nelson Mandela were named for the award for their work for ending the apartheid regime.
Next year, Israeli leaders Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin shared the honours with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for their work in reducing tensions in the Middle East.
While in 1997 John Hume (Northern Ireland) and David Trimble (Britain) won the peace prize for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland.
Nobel, a wealthy Swedish industrialist who invented dynamite, provided few directions for how to select winners, except that the prize committees should reward those who "have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind".
Spain quarantines seven people more over Ebola
Seven more people have been admitted to a Spanish hospital for monitoring for Ebola, including two hairdressers who had contact with a nurse infected with the deadly disease, health officials said.
The nurse, Teresa Romero, helped treat two elderly Spanish missionaries who died after returning from west Africa with Ebola.
The 44-year-old tested positive for the disease on Monday, making her the first person known to have caught Ebola outside of Africa.
Romero went on leave after the second of her Ebola patients died on September 25 at Madrid's La Paz-Carlos III hospital, which Spain has designated to handle Ebola cases.
She started to feel ill on September 29 but was not admitted to hospital until seven days later, creating a large window of time in which other people may have been exposed.
Five women and two men were admitted to the hospital for monitoring late on Thursday as a precaution, the hospital said in a statement. T
hey included three nurses and two hairdressers who had contact with Romero while she was on leave from her job.
Meanwhile one person who had previously been under observation at the hospital has been discharged. In total there are now 14 people isolated at the hospital including Romero who is the only person confirmed to have the disease.
Trio win Nobel medicine prize for brain's 'GPS'
British-American researcher John O'Keefe on Monday won the Nobel Medicine Prize with a Norwegian couple, Edvard and May-Britt Moser, for discovering how the brain navigates.
They earned the coveted prize for discovering a positioning system -- an "inner GPS" -which enables us to orient ourselves in space, the jury said.
The research has implications for Alzheimer's and other diseases of the brain, it said. "The discoveries of John O'Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser have solved a problem that has occupied philosophers and scientists for centuries," it said.
"How does the brain create a map of the space surrounding us and how can we navigate our way through a complex environment?"
In 1971, O'Keefe discovered the first component of the system, finding that in lab rats, specific cells in the hippocampus were triggered when the animal was at a certain location in a room".
Other nerve cells were activated when the rat was at other places, leading O'Keefe to conclude that these "place cells" formed a map of the room.
More than three decades later, in 2005, May-Britt and Edvard Moser discovered another piece of the invisible positioning system.
They identified "grid cells" - nerve cells which generate a coordinated system, rather like longitude and latitude, and allow the brain to make precise positioning and pathfinding.
Research into grid cells may give insights into how memories are created -- and explain why when we recall events, we so often have to picture the location in our minds.
The jury pointed out that sufferers of Alzheimer's disease often lose their way and cannot recognise the environment.
"Knowledge about the brain's positioning system may, therefore, help us understand the mechanism underpinning the devastating spatial memory loss that affects people with this disease," it said.
May-Britt Moser told the Nobel Foundation that she was "in shock", and that her husband didn't even know yet as he was on a plane to Munich.
"We have the same vision, we love to understand and we do that by talking to each other, talking to other people and then try to address the questions we are interested in, the best way we can think of," she said.
"And to be able to discuss this when you get an idea on the spot instead of (having to) plan a meeting in one or two or three weeks -- that makes a huge difference."
Indian American community plans grand reception for PM
Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have a hectic schedule during his visit to the United States beginning Sept 26. PM will be in New York City for three days before reaching Washington DC on the night of September 28th.
The Indian American Community Foundation (IACF) would be holding a grand reception for the PM at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on Sept 28 and it is learnt the tickets for the programme have already been sold out. For the convenience of others, the organizers have also made arrangements for the people to gather at Times Square where Mr Modi’s speech would be broadcast live on a large screen.
The Madison Garden event would also be streamed online at www.pmvisit.org. Reports have said that it would have English subtitles and audio translation.
The emcee of the event will be Nina Davaluri. She is the first Indian-American to win the Miss America title in 2013. The event will be co-hosted by PBS news anchor Hari Sreenivasan.
Nearly 400 organizations including NGOs to temples, student bodies, regional, ethnic, and linguistic associations are expected to attend Modi’s function.
Adding to the occasion will be a laser light show, holograms of India's historical luminaries and live folk dances. PM Modi's speech will take place after these.
France holds International Conference on Iraq
An International Conference is being held in Paris today (Sept 15) to help Iraq in fighting the Islamic State militants and accelerate the humanitarian relief operations.
The meeting will be attended by top diplomats from around 20 countries led by United States and its global coalition partners to counter the militant group.
The Paris Conference on Iraq comes at a time when President Obama has announced US is at war against the Islamic militants group and vowed to destroy them.
The talks are slated to firm up the global coalition to fight them. However, the US has refused to allow Iran to attend the conference while Teheran dismissed the talks as just for show.
The US led coalition of 10 western nations to fight Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria has expanded to nearly 40 countries. Most of the Arab nations have agreed to confront the militants both financially and militarily.
Reports quoting US State department officials say many Arab nations have offered to carry out airstrikes against militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. US has expanded airstrikes in Iraq targeting them.
France and Italy have said, they are willing to join air strikes in Iraq if necessary while Britain has ramped up military assistance to Iraq to take on militants.
The radical Islamists have captured vast territory in Iraq and Syria, unleashed a reign of terror carrying out mass executions and beheaded two US journalists and a British aid worker.
Pro-Russian rebels release 650 Ukrainians: Kiev
Pro-Russian rebels have released nearly 650 Ukrainians seized in five months of fighting, a source in the Ukrainian government said today, clarifying earlier figures given by President Petro Poroshenko.
The Ukrainian leader had said during a visit to the flashpoint southeastern city of Mariupol that "we have managed to free 1,200 of our prisoners" since a truce deal with the insurgents was struck on Friday.
A source close to the president said that Poroshenko meant to say that the rebels had seized nearly 1,200 people during the conflict.
The rebels have released 648 captives since the fighting broke out in mid-April, the source said, and more than 500 are expected to be freed soon.
A Ukranian defence spokesman had earlier said that pro-Russian militias had handed over 20 Ukrainian servicemen since Friday, a comment Poroshenko confirmed in a separate part of his Mariupol speech.
Mariupol, a major port and heavy industry hub on the Sea of Azov, has been in the sights of rebels apparently seeking to carve out a land corridor between Russia and the annexed Crimean peninsula.
Email turns 32! Know its Indian-American inventor
Email turned 32 today but how many of us know that this quick method of message transfer was invented by Indian American V A Shiva Ayyadurai when he was just 14.
In 1978, Ayyadurai created a computer programme, which he called "email," that replicated all the functions of the interoffice mail system: Inbox, Outbox, Folders, Memo, Attachments, Address Book, etc.
These features are now familiar parts of every email system. On August 30, 1982, the US government officially recognised Ayyadurai as the inventor of email by awarding him the first US Copyright for Email for his 1978 invention.
At that time copyright was the only way to protect software inventions. Email wasn't created, with a massive research budget, in big institutions like the ARPANET, MIT or the military.
Such institutions had thought it "impossible" to create such a system, believing it far too complex, Huffington Post said.
Ayyadurai was born to a Tamil Family in Bombay.
At the age of seven, he left with his family to live in the US.
At 14, he attended a special summer programme at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University (NYU) to study computer programming, and later went on to graduate from Livingston High School in Livingston, New Jersey.
While attending high school, he also worked at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) as a research fellow.
Ayyadurai's talent, passion and commitment immediately impressed Dr Leslie Michelson, then Director of the Laboratory Computer Network (LCN) at UMDNJ. He gave him a challenge: to convert the old system of paper-based mail communications used at UMDNJ to an electronic one.
This complex system of office-to-office communications was the interoffice mail system.
This system was not unique to UMDNJ but used in nearly every office including those of presidents and prime ministers.
Ayyadurai closely observed that the desktop of each secretary, in addition to the typewriter, had an Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, Carbon Copy Paper, Folders, Address Book, Paper Clips (for attachments), etc, which they used each day to create and process incoming and outgoing mail. The he conceived an electronic version of this system.
He created a computer programme of over 50,000 lines of code, which electronically replicated all the features of the interoffice mail system.
118 feared dead in Bangladesh ferry disaster
At least 118 people were feared dead after an overcrowded ferry with up to 250 passengers on board sank in the Padma river in central Bangladesh, as the efforts to locate the vessel under deep waters is still underway.
"Five more bodies were retrieved today as they were found afloat from Hymechar," an area which is located miles downstream off the accident site at central Munshiganj, magistrate Abul Kalam told reporters.
His comments came after officials said that 118 passengers remained missing with rescuers fearing they were trapped inside the sunken Pinak-6 or washed away by the strong currents of the Padma, swelled by monsoon rains.
Strong current in the turbulent river apparently upturned the boat on Monday which was carrying nearly double the number of passengers then its capacity as it was crossing the Padma.
Over 100 passengers, however, were rescued alive by vessels and speedboats within hours after the accident.
Authorities mobilised two salvage vessels to retrieve the ferry while navy and coastguard divers joined the fire brigade rescuers but officials said the strong current and the bad weather made it difficult for them to locate it under water.
An official of the Bangladesh Water Transport Authority, however, admitted their sonar system with capacity to scan a smaller area appeared a little ineffective in tracking down the ferry as the underwater heavy current might have pushed the vessel elsewhere from the site where it sank.
Hundreds of wailing relatives, rallied on the bank of the river, staged a brief blockade on a nearby highway protesting the "inefficiency" of the authorities as they could not even locate the sunken vessel.
Experts said even if the vessel could be located it would not be an easy job to retrieve the estimated 100-tonne ferry from under nearly 90 feet depth. They said divers would have to go down and tie up the sunken vessel and have it pulled up.
The accident occurred nearly three months after a boat capsized in the same area killing 50 people.
Ferry accidents are common in riverine Bangladesh criss- crossed by some 230 river especially in the southern and northeastern regions while faulty design of boats and ferries alongside poor safety standards are generally blamed for the disasters.
According to statistics tallied by the media, about 5,500 people have died in 658 ferry disasters since 1994 while 1500 people remained missing.
China's Fujian province to be starting point for Silk Road
China has planned to make its southeast Fujian province the starting point of the Maritime Silk Road, a strategic initiative to improve connectivity and trade among Asian nations through sea-route.
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli urged acceleration of the opening-up of southeast Fujian Province, the starting point of the historic Maritime Silk Road (MSR).
Beijing wants to revive the MSR through which its merchants traded silk, ceramics and tea to overseas markets about 2,000 years ago.
China has also invited India to join the initiative.
India, however, sought more details about the road. Fujian is located along the Taiwan straits.
Zhang said the local authorities should strengthen economic ties with countries and regions along the maritime trade route and boost two-way investment.
More efforts should be made to improve infrastructure in the coastal province, such as ports and railways, in a bid to connect overseas market with China's inland regions, he said.
China has been trying to revive the ancient route to promote economic cooperation since last October when President Xi Jinping firstly proposed a 21st century MSR during a visit to Indonesia.
Zhang also said Fujian should develop its pilot economic zone to deepen cooperation and promote person-to-person exchanges between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.
US drone attack kills seven in North Waziristan
At least seven militants, including four foreign fighters, were killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region where the military is currently engaged in an all-out offensive against Taliban insurgents.
A security official said that the pilotless US aircraft fired two missiles at a house and a vehicle in Madakhel village of Dattakhel sub division of the tribal region.
"The initial reports said that seven people were killed and three injured in the attack," he said.
Another official said that four of the killed were foreign militants.
He did not give their nationalities but Dattakhel is stronghold of Haqqani network run by Afghan rebels.
Pakistan launched a full-fledged military offensive last month to clear the district of al-Qaeda linked local and foreign militants.
It was second drone attack since start of Zarb-e-Azb operation on June 15.
Earlier, six militants were killed in a US drone attack on June 18 near Miranshah.
It is the third round of drone strikes to hit the area since the US resumed the campaign following a six-month lull.
The US had stopped its drone programme in December to give Pakistan time to pursue peace talks with the Pakistani Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP). But the talks failed and military launched the operation to flush out militants from the region following a deadly attack on Karachi international airport that left 39 people dead.
Pakistan opposes the US attack as violation of its sovereignty.
3 Indians arrested for taking private tuition in Saudi Arabia
Riyadh: Private tuition is an illegal and punishable offence in Saudi Arabia.
According to an Arab News report on Tuesday, three Indian teachers in Saudi Arabia have been arrested in Riyadh for giving private tuitions, an illegal and punishable offence in the kingdom.
Riyadh Police raided the house of three Indian teachers, employed with the International Indian School here, and found them with students gathered for private tuitions.
Mehboob Pasha from Karnataka, Mohammad Rifai from Tamil Nadu and Tauheed Ahmad Siddiquee from Uttar Pradesh were taken to the Tarheel (deportation centre) jail, it said.
The school management has called for an urgent meeting over the incident.
The school's public relations officer has been asked to bail out the teachers from custody, the paper quoted sources as saying.
Chinese Foreign Minister to arrive on June 8
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will arrive in New Delhi on June 8 as a special envoy of his government to formally establish contacts with Narendra Modi- led dispensation and deepen ties between the two countries.
China has officially conveyed its decision to send Wang, a seasoned diplomat, to greet Modi and interact with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
China had expressed keen interest in establishing high-level contacts with India's new leadership at the earliest to step up engagement in political, trade and economic areas.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was expected to have a telephone talk with Modi.
Officials of both the countries are currently working on a convenient time for the two leaders to speak to each other.
"China attaches high importance to relations with India and is ready to work with the new Indian government to maintain high-level contacts," China's influential State Councillor Yang Jiechi told India's Ambassador Ashok K Kantha during a meeting in Beijing on Tuesday.
China has already conveyed its interest in having a top Indian leader attend the 60th anniversary of Panchasheel, the five principles enunciated jointly by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his then Chinese counterpart Zhou Enlai in 1954.
China is hosting a function to mark the occasion on June 28 in which high level delegation from Myanmar, which too was associated with Panchasheel concept, is expected to participate.
China had already conveyed to India, Chinese President Xi Jinping's wish to visit New Delhi after the Lok Sabha elections.
Xi and Modi will have an opportunity to meet during the next BRICS, (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to be held in Brazil in July.
Last year, Chinese Premier Li made New Delhi his first stop abroad after he took over the high office to convey the importance China's leadership attached to improving relations with India.
Modi's first trip abroad will be keenly watched.
On Monday, Li congratulated Modi after he was sworn-in.
China views India as a "natural cooperative partner" and it is ready to work with the new Narendra Modi-led government to take their strategic cooperative partnership to a "new level", Li said.
Chinese leadership shared familiarity with Modi as he visited China four times during his long tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat.
His victory in the general elections was widely welcomed in the Chinese official media.
Pakistan gives marching orders to two Indian scribes
In a sudden decision which was denounced as a "retrograde step" by India, Pakistan has expelled the two Indian journalists posted there and asked them to leave within seven days without assigning any reason.
Press Trust of India's (PTI) Snehesh Alex Philip and Hindu newspaper's Meena Menon received letters late last night from Pakistan government's External Publicity Wing informing them that an unnamed "competent authority" had decided against any extension of their visas.
Philip and Menon, the only two Indian journalists in Pakistan, have been in Islamabad for just about nine months.
They have been asked to leave by May 20. Reacting strongly to the decision, Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi said not allowing independent journalists to function was a "retrograde step" and termed the expulsion of the scribes as "regrettable and unfortunate".
Asserting that free flow of information between India and Pakistan has long been recognised as an important confidence building measure (CBM), the External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson said this should be safeguarded by all concerned and added that India intends to take this issue up with Pakistan.
Regretting the sudden and inexplicable decision of the Pakistani authorities, PTI's Editor-in-Chief and CEO M K Razdan said, "We have been given no notice, no reason and no rationale for this virtual expulsion by the Pakistan government that keeps affirming that they want improved relations with India."
Pakistan has a system of giving visas to Indian journalists for a few months at a time and they are then required to repeatedly seek extensions.
Philip's two predecessors, K J M Varma and Rezaul H Laskar spent more than six years each in Islamabad.
Philip's wife came to India in January to attend a family wedding but has been unable to go back because she has not been issued a visa.
The move comes days ahead of installation of a new government in India and diplomatic observers say that Pakistan's unilateral action will not go down well with New Delhi.
India and Pakistan had reached an understanding in late 1970s for posting of two mediapersons from each country.
PTI has regularly posted correspondents in Pakistan since then and some Pakistani journalists were stationed in India from time to time, although currently there are none from Pakistan.
Pakistan had also expelled New York Times correspondent Declan Walsh last year at a short notice without any explanation.
Kurdish police women show inked fingers after casting votes at a polling center in Irbil, 350 kms north of Baghdad, Iraq.
Flight MH370: Search teams receive signals again
Search teams hunting for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane have heard the signals again that could be consistent with those emitted by aircraft "black box", even as investigators were racing against time to locate the flight data recorders before its beacons fall silent.
Australian defence vessel Ocean Shield heard the signals again on Tuesday afternoon and evening.
"I can now tell you that Ocean shield has been able to re-aquire the signals on two more occasions," said Air Chief Marshal (retd) Angus Houston, the head of the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) which is leading the search.
He said the detection on Tuesday afternoon was held for approximately five minutes and 32 seconds and the detection late last night was held for approximately 7 minutes.
The ship had first picked up the underwater pulses on Saturday. But then failed to detect any more pulses.
"I believe we are searching in the right area but we need to visually identify wreckage before we can confirm with certainty that this is the final resting place of MH370," Houston said, adding that these signals will assist in better defining a reduced and much more manageable search area.
"We are not yet at the point to deploying the underwater autonomous water vehicle," he said.
"The better Ocean Shield can define the area, the easier it will be for the autonomous underwater vehicle to subsequently search for aircraft wreckage," he said, adding the new information has narrowed the search area to 75,000 square kilometers.
Houston said work is continuing to refine the search area before a submersible can be sent down to search for wreckage.
Finding the black box is crucial to know what happened on 8th March before the Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flight MH370 with 239 people, including five Indians, disappeared under mysterious circumstances in midair.
The batteries powering the black box are certified to be working for 30 days.
Stored in a plane's tail, they are designed to begin sending off distinct, high-pitched signals as soon as they come in contact with water.
Wednesday's search includes up to 11 military planes, four civilian aircraft as well as 14 ships - three of which, Australia's Ocean Shield further north and the British HMS Echo and Chinese Haixun 01 to the south will be focusing underwater.
The mystery of the missing plane continued to baffle aviation and security authorities who have so far failed to trace the aircraft despite deploying hi-tech radar and other gadgets.