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India, Russia address dip in relations, review ties

India and Russia on Saturday attempted to address the perceived dip in their relations by undertaking a comprehensive review of economic cooperation in key areas, including energy, trade and investment.The meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. Deepening the special and privileged strategic partnership, Swaraj welcomed Rogozin, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.”External affairs minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Rogozin undertook a comprehensive review of economic cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, transport, energy, agriculture, industry and space under IRIGC-EC (framework),” Kumar said.Rogozin later called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who noted with satisfaction the marked increase in high-level exchanges between the two countries this year. Modi also recalled his own visit to St. Petersburg in June this year for the Annual Bilateral Summit.The deputy Russian Prime Minister also called on the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The Russian delegation comprised of senior government officials and representatives of trade and industry.Earlier this month, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov visited Delhi for Russia-India-China trilateral meeting. He created a flutter here while arguing for the inclusion of Taliban in the political dialogue process in Afghanistan.Addressing a gathering at a think-tank, he said that Russia had in the past contacted the militant group to sit down for negotiations, adding that American strategy of defeating extremism and terrorism in Afghanistan was not viable as the military method of the last 15 years had not reduced violence in the country.”You cannot resolve the situation without having everybody on board and around the table. The government of Afghanistan, the Taliban, and those who can influence the situation, including neighbours who feel the bad influence of what is going on in Afghanistan should find a political solution,” he had said.The two nations also agreed on raising the level of the Joint Working Group on Trade and Economic Cooperation to that of Deputy Minister / Commerce Secretary level and creating a mechanism to discuss and remove barriers to trade; creation of a Working Group on Agriculture; creation of a Working Group on Pharmaceuticals; an agreement to actively promote inter-regional cooperation which has significant untapped potential for cooperation; decision to expedite implementation of the Green Corridor for exchange of pre-arrival data between Customs Administrations of the two countriesWhat was achieved?Representatives of the two countries’ governments reviewed economic cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, transport, energy, agriculture, industry and spaceDmitry Rogozin, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, also called on PM Narendra Modi who noted the increase in high-level exchanges between the two countries

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India is Afghanistan’s most reliable regional partner: Pentagon tells US Congress

India is Afghanistan’s “most reliable regional partner”, the Pentagon told the US Congress today as it welcomed additional economic, medical, and civic support from New Delhi to the war-torn country.”India is Afghanistan’s most reliable regional partner and the largest contributor of development assistance in the region,” said the Pentagon in its report to the Congress titled ‘Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan’.This assistance includes civil development projects such as the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam and the Afghan parliament building, the report said.India provides significant training opportunities for Afghan officers and enlisted personnel and has frequently offered to increase its burden sharing for Afghanistan, it said, adding that approximately 130 Afghans travel to India each year to attend various military and commissioning programmes.India has also donated limited security assistance, most notably four Mi-35 aircraft, the Pentagon said.”The new South Asia policy highlighted our relationship with India and called on India to provide more assistance to the international efforts in Afghanistan. The United States welcomes additional Indian economic, medical, and civic support to Afghanistan,” the Pentagon said in its report.Also readWinter Session of Parliament begins, Congress seeks PM Modi’s apology over Pakistan remarkThis is the first report of the Pentagon to Congress after President Donald Trump announced his new Afghan and South Asia policy in August.”Our purpose in Afghanistan remains the same: to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a safe haven from which terrorist groups can plan and execute attacks on the United States, or our allies and citizens abroad. To accomplish this, we continue to support our Afghan partners and train, advise, and assist its military and government institutions,” it said.Under the new strategy, the US will continue to support the Afghan government and security forces in the fight against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – Khorasan (ISIS-K), and other insurgents and terrorists, to strengthen the Afghan government and prevent reestablishment of terrorist safe havens in Afghanistan.”A major change from our previous strategy is the shift from a time-based approach to a conditions-based one. This shift underscores the US commitment to the continued development of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF), provided that our Afghan partners satisfy their obligations,” the Pentagon said.The new strategy does not mean a return to US-led combat operations, instead, the key to success lies in improving ANDSF capabilities and allow them to lead in the fight against the Taliban, it clarified.”We will continue to work by, with, and through the ANDSF to help them defeat their enemies and to ultimately arrive at a political settlement in Afghanistan,” said the Pentagon.

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Techfest 2017: IIT-Bombay gears up for its biggest event; Hamid Karzai, Pranab Mukherjee to address students at the fest

Hamid Karzai, Former President of Afghanistan along with Pranab Mukherjee will address thousands of students of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) on like various topics including the Indian Economy, Sustainable Development and Digitalisation during its annual science and technology festival between December 29-31.Along with them, Manohar Parrikarl, Chief Minister of Goa and Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation will also address the students at the convocation hall of IIT-B. While Mukherjee, Parikar and Sinha will address on December 29, Karzai will address on December 31.”The themes of the festival are Digitalisation, Sustainability and Biotechnology as we identified that technological advancement in these segments need to be stressed upon considering the current nation’s scenario and the world at large, said IIT-B in a statement.”Apart from futuristic exhibits coming from all over the world, Techfest will have the honour to host some of the best machines and equipment from Indian Army, Indian Navy and DRDO,” IIT-B said in a statement. Techfest is scheduled to take place on 29th, 30th and 31st December this year, that will see many international students participate in various events of the festival. Students from USA, Canada, UK, China, Italy, Afghanistan, UAE will participate for the festival, however students from Pakistan will not be among participating country for techfest this year too.

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166 cadets commissioned as army officers from Gaya OTA

A total of 166 gentleman cadets were today commissioned as officers in the army during 12th passing out parade at Officers Training Academy (OTA), Gaya.Of the 166 newly inducted officers, four are foreigners while 14 belong to Assam Rifles.Lieutenant General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali, Chief of Staff, Afghan National Army, was the reviewing officer of the passing out parade while Lieutenant General B S Negi, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Central command, was the chief host.Yaftali was welcomed in customary army’s buggy by Lieutenant General B S Negi and OTA and Gaya’s Commandant Lieutenant General V S Srinivas.The reviewing officer gave away the awards to cadets who performed well during the training. Dharmesh Kumar was awarded ‘sword of honour’ for his best performance in TES- 30 course.Addressing the function, Afghanistan’s Army Chief of Staff congratulated gentelman cadets for their fine drill show and gave them best wishes for the future.”Cadets should imbibe the qualities of being a disciplined soldier to be successful in career”, Yaftali admonished them.The OTA, Gaya is the third pre-commissioning military academy in the country and was raised on July, 2011 apart from Dehradun and Chennai.The OTA was established- near Paharpur village on Gaya-Dobhi main road- to train both new entrants and serving army personnel in different modes of conventional as well as non-conventional warfare.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: BJP released manifesto after we raised questions about it, says Rahul Gandhi

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Friday claimed that BJP was forced to release its manifesto after Congress put pressure on it. Rahul said in Anand, ” We raised questions about Manifesto & BJP hastily prepared it behind closed doors. Congress asked for it so Arun Jaitley released it.” He said that not releasing the manifesto so far showed BJP’s arrogance. Rahul claimed that BJP thinks “they’re going to govern here for 100 years”, hence had no intention on publishing its manifesto. On Friday, Union Finance Minister released BJP’s vision document for Gujarat and said that the main focus is that the growth process shouldn’t be hampered. But before that Rahul Gandhi went hammer and tongs demanding why BJP is yet to release its manifesto. “The campaign in half of Gujarat has already ended. Polling will be held shortly. But the BJP has not announced its manifesto yet. The BJP has not told you what it will do for you in the next five years,” Gandhi said. “Modi-ji used to say that the BJP will rule in Gujarat for the next hundred years. But he is not saying a single word about the future of Gujarat at his rallies. “Instead, Modi-ji talks about Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and so many global issues. This election is not about Modi or (Rahul) Gandhi…It’s about THE people of Gujarat,” he said.Also readGujarat Election 2017: BJP releases its manifesto; attacks Congress for making ‘false promises'”The BJP is ruling here for the last 22 years. Now you have an opportunity to elect a government which would focus on you. People want to know what the BJP or Congress would do for them. While the BJP has not declared its manifesto, we held extensive dialogue with THE people and prepared our manifesto accordingly,” Rahul Gandhi said in a meeting before BJP’s manifesto was released. Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | A storm is brewing as Congress will win the elections, says Rahul GandhiAll key demands of tribal communities, such as implementation of Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, filling up vacant posts reserved for STs, scholarships for tribal students and better compensation for land acquisition, have been included in the Congress manifesto, Gandhi said. Voting for 89 seats of Saurashtra and south Gujarat will be held tomorrow, while that for 93 seats of north and central Gujarat, including Chhota Udepur, wILL he held on December 14. Campaigning for the first phase ended yesterday.With PTI inputs

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Kerala ‘Love Jihad’ case: Before marriage, Hadiya’s husband was in touch with ISIS men, says NIA

A week after the Supreme Court freed Hadiya, the Kerala woman at the centre of alleged ‘love jihad’ case from her parents custody, an NIA report has said that her husband was in touch with the ISIS before their marriage.According to a report by the Times of India, the National Investigation Agency’s probe said that Shafin Jahan, Hadiya’s husband, was in touch with Manseed and P Safvan from ISIS via Facebook.The men are key accused in the Omar-al-Hindi case. The NIA said that the Facebook group was involved in activities of the Popular Front of India’s political arm SDPI.Also readHadiya case | Brinda Karat slams NIA for interrogating couples in inter-community marriagesThe probe agency said that it was Manseed and his associate Muneer who brought Shafin and Hadiya together. The finding is contrary to what has been claimed by both Hadiya and her husband that they came together via the matrimonial website ‘waytonikah.com’.Last week on November 27, the Supreme Court had freed Hadiya from her parents’ custody and directed her to continue her education in a Coimtore college.Also readHadiya says she wants meeting with ‘husband’, more ‘freedom’Earlier on October 3, during a hearing, the Supreme Court had questioned about role of a father in his adult daughter’s life. The top court, in fact, had questioned how the Kerala High Court annulled the marriage of Hadiya and Shafeen Jahan under Article 226.Shafin Jahan married Akhila Ashokan in December last year after she converted to Islam and rechristened herself as Hadiya.Also readLove Jihad case: Can’t have terrorist in the family, says Hadiya’s fatherHer father moved the Kerala High Court and claimed his daughter was indoctrinated and forcibly converted. He, in fact, said that his daughter would be be sent to Afghanistan or Syria.The High Court annulled the marriage. But Jahan approached the Supreme Court against the annulment.Earlier in August, the NIA began investigation into the case following the top court’s orders.In compliance with the orders of the apex court, the case was re-registered by the NIA and an investigation was taken up.The Kerala Government had said that if the apex court wants an NIA probe, it has no objections. However, later ina u-turn, the state government said that the policer probe is sufficient and that there’s no requirement of an NIA probe.
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Yogi Adityanath

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India, UK armies begins Ajeya Warrior ’17

Ajeya Warrior 2017 — the two-week-long joint training exercise between the Indian and the British Army — began on Friday at the Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Bikaner district of Rajasthan.Conducted in the backdrop of UN mandate of anti-terrorism, the joint exercise started with a sombre, impressive opening ceremony. It started with an address by Lt Colonel Sangram Yadav and Major David Granfield. They gave a brief of the events that would comprise the two-week exercise scheduled to be held from December 1 to 14.According to sources, both India and UK are facing the scourge of terrorism and have joined hands to participate in this combined military exercise. The exercise will see the two forces carrying out multiple tactical maneuvers jointly to hone their skills. They will understand each others’ concept of anti terrorist operations and imbibe the adaptable aspects. The troops will jointly patrol and lay ambush in a simulated terrorist infested environment.The training contingent comprises one company each from the Indian Army and the British Army. Approximately 120 personnel each from the 20th Battalion of The Rajputana Rifles from the Indian Army and The Royal Anglian Regiment of the British Army.Both the forces have vast experience in the field of anti-insurgency and anti-terrorism. While Indian troops bring on table their experiences in Sri Lanka and Jammu and Kashmir, the 1st Battalion of Royal Anglian Regiment boasts of vast experience operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.Defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Ojha, said, “The exercise will be conducted in multiple modes to achieve complete integration. It also aims to enhance inter-operability while sharing skills and experiences.”Ajey Warrior 2017 is the third joint biannual Indo-UK war exercise. The first exercise was conducted in Belgaum Karnataka in 2013. The second exercise was in 2015 in UK.
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Yogi Adityanath

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Afghanistan pavilion charms visitors at the Trade Fair

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Passing by the Afghanistan pavilion at the India International Trade Fair in Pragati Maidan, this writer cannot help but reminisce about a childhood that was peppered with the story of a little girl, Mini and her friendship with Kabuliwala, a dry fruit seller. Dressed in their traditional attire of Pathani suits, the tall, well-built Pathans at this pavilion seem taken straight out of the tale written by Rabindranath Tagore.Afghanistan, a long standing ally of India, has been provided a special block this year as a mark of decades of long friendship between the two nations. More than 50 different stalls have been put up in the area, bringing to the host nations all the highlights of Afghani culture. It has its most famous advertisement —dry fruits— ranging from almonds, raisins, hazelnuts, spices like saffron, handicrafts, embroidered clothes and marble figurines.Ghulam Rasool, a trader proudly claims that the taste of his country’s produce stands apart, something Rishi Khanna, a visitor at the stall validates.”The almonds I tasted here have a completely different flavour. They have a distinct sweetness, something that we do not have in our dry fruit,” he states.Haider Ali, one of the participants in IITF is elated at the huge space awarded to his country. Visibly pleased with the affection they have received since they set up shop at the exhibition, his lessons in history are also not lost.”Indians are so warm and compassionate towards us. The two nations have seen its shares of ups and downs but their friendship remained intact. The same is reflecting in the way their citizens behave,” he averred.Businessmen are also hopeful that once the Chabahar Port becomes operational, it will increase the influx of traders coming for the Trade Fair as well more diversified merchandise.

US Congressional leaders asks Pentagon to develop enduring defence ties with India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Pentagon has been asked by US Congressional leaders to develop a “forward-looking” strategy to form an enduring defence relationship with India.Congressional leaders reconciling the differences between the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA-2018) also asked the US and India to work closely in Afghanistan.The new version of the NDAA-2018 require the Secretary of Defence to “develop a forward-looking strategy that would build upon current objectives and goals, underlining a mutual desire to develop an enduring defence relationship with India”.According to it, the US and India “should work closely with Afghanistan” to promote stability in the region to include targeted infrastructure development and economic investment, means to address capability gaps in country, and improved humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.The US Congress in its last NDAA-2017 had designated India as a ‘Major Defence Partner’.In its latest conference report, the Congressional leaders on Thursday said that the designation of ‘Major Defence Partner’ is unique to India, and institutionalises the progress made to facilitate defence trade and technology cooperation between the United States and India to a level commensurate with the closest allies and partners of America.”The designation promotes joint exercises, defence strategy and policy coordination, military exchanges, and port calls in support of defence cooperation between the United States and India,” it said.Reconciled version of the NDAA-2018 now heads to the House and Senate floor for formal approval, before it is sent to the White House for US President Donald Trump to sign it into a law.Among other things, it asked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Defence Secretary Jim Mattis to develop a strategy for advancing defence cooperation between the United States and India.

Jammu and Kashmir: Picture of Hizbul terrorrist holding US-made AR-15 M4 rifle goes viral

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Security agencies have launched an investigation after a photograph showing a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist brandishing a US-made AR-15 M4 rifle in an orchard in Kashmir went viral on social media.An intelligence officer said prime facie it looked like a “morphed” picture but “we are investigating the matter”.This is the first time a terrorist in Kashmir has been spotted with an AR-15 M4 rifle, widely used by the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan wars.The militants operating in Kashmir have mostly been using AK assault rifles — both Chinese and Russian made.A senior police official said there was nothing surprising about a Hizbul terrorist being spotted with a US rifle in the valley as weapons of all kinds are freely available in Pakistan’s FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) region.”You can buy any rifle there. What is the big deal? We have been taking on the terrorists and we will continue to do so. The change in weaponry hardly matters,” the official said.

India sends 1st wheat shipment to Afghanistan via Chabahar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj along with Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Salahuddin Rabbani and Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif through a joint video conference on Sunday flagged off the first shipment of wheat from India to Afghanistan circumventing Pakistan, which has been refusing to provide a corridor. The wheat will be transhipped through the Chabahar port in Iran. The shipment is part of India’s commitment to supply 1.1 million tonnes of wheat to the people of Afghanistan on grant basis.The Foreign Ministers welcomed the fact that this will be the first shipment to reach Afghanistan through the Chabahar port after the trilateral agreement on establishment of international transport and transit corridor was signed. It was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Iran in May 2016. Six more wheat shipments will be sent to Afghanistan over the next few months. The two ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to continue their cooperation for the benefit and prosperity of the people of Afghanistan and the region.Indian officials described it as a landmark moment that will pave the way for operationalisation of the Chabahar port as an alternate, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan. Swaraj reiterated India’s continued commitment to support reconstruction, capacity building, and socio-economic development of Afghanistan, including under the framework of the New Development Partnership that she had jointly announced with Foreign Minister Rabbani last month during the meeting of India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Council.She said the people of India, Afghanistan and Iran have been connected for centuries. There is shared commonalities of art and culture, ideas and knowledge, and language and traditions. She said mentioned that the current government is rejuvenating these connects and commonalities. “I am extremely delighted that today we have joined on a momentous occasion for the people of our three countries and the region,” Swaraj said, terming the move as an important step in realising the shared aspiration to carve out “new routes” of peace and prosperity.THE FIRST ONEThis will be the first shipment to reach Afghanistan through the Chabahar port after the trilateral agreement on establishment of international transport and transit corridor was signed.

Sushma Swaraj flags off 1st wheat consignment to Afghanistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India today sent its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar port in Iran, seen as a “landmark” move to operationalise the new strategic transit route, bypassing Pakistan.The shipment was flagged off from the Kandla port in Gujarat with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani joining the ceremony through video conferencing.”The shipment of wheat is a landmark moment as it will pave the way to operationalise of the Chabahar port as an alternate, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan,” the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said in a statement.In June, India and Afghanistan had launched an air freight corridor between the two countries to boost trade as Pakistan has been refusing land transit access through its territory.”I am extremely delighted that today we have joined on a momentous occasion for the people of our three countries and the region,” Swaraj said, terming the move as an important step in realising the shared aspiration to carve out “new routes” of peace and prosperity.The consignment will be transported to Afghanistan from Chabahar through land route.Swaraj also reiterated India’s continued commitment to support reconstruction, capacity building and socio-economic development of Afghanistan, including under the framework of the New Development Partnership announced last month.”The wheat that is leaving the Indian shores today, is a gift from the people of India to our Afghan brethren. It is testament to the continued commitment of the government and the people of India to support our Afghan brethren in building a normal, peaceful, prosperous, secure and bright future for themselves,” Swaraj said.The external affairs minister also renewed commitment to work closely with regional and international partners to bring peace, security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.The Chabahar port is expected to open up new opportunities for trade and transit from and to Afghanistan and enhance trade and commerce between the three countries and the wider region.”The people of India, Afghanistan and Iran have been connected through centuries; shared commonalities of art and culture, ideas and knowledge; language and traditions. Today, we are rejuvenating these connects and commonalities. I believe that this is the starting point of our journey to realise the full spectrum of connectivity,” Swaraj said.Swaraj and Rabbani welcomed the fact that this is the first shipment that would be going to Afghanistan through the Chabahar port after trilateral agreement on Establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor was signed during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Iran in May 2016, the MEA said.It said six more wheat shipments will be sent to Afghanistan over the next few months.India and Iran have already expressed commitment for early completion of the work on the Chabahar port project.The Chabahar port, located in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich Persian Gulf nations southern coast, lies outside the Persian Gulf and can be easily accessed from India’s western coast, bypassing Pakistan.The port is likely to ramp up trade between India, Afghanistan and Iran in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi for trade with the two countries.India has been closely working with Afghanistan to create alternate and reliable access routes, bypassing Pakistan.

Kerala ‘love jihad’ case: After Hadiya’s ‘I will be killed soon’ video, women panel seeks report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a new twist in the Kerala ‘love jihad’ case, a video has surfaced in media where Hadiya, the girl whose conversion to Islam sparked the controversy, is seen pleading for her freedom.In a 17-second video released by activist Rahul Easwar to media, Hadiya, known as Akhila before her conversion, is seen talking about alleged torture. She said that she would be killed soon and that her father is very angry and he keeps on hitting and pushing her.The brief video was taken on August 17 at the house of Hadiya’s parents at Vaikom in Kottayam district.Taking cognizance of the video, the Kerala Women’s Commission has sought report about the well-being of the 24-year-old.In her letter to district police chief, Women’s Panel chief MC Josephine said the officer heading the probe should at least be a Deputy Superintendent.The video of Hadiya’s alleged torture comes after some reports that the parents were sedating the woman.On October 3, during a hearing, the Supreme Court had questioned about role of a father in his adult daughter’s life. The top court, in fact, had questioned how the Kerala High Court annulled the marriage of Hadiya and Shafeen Jahan under Article 226.Shafeen Jahan married Akhila Ashokan in December last year after she converted to Islam and rechristened herself as Hadiya.Her father moved the Kerala High Court and claimed his daughter was indoctrinated and forcibly converted. He, in fact, said that his daughter would be be sent to Afghanistan or Syria.The High Court annulled the marriage. But Jahan approached the Supreme Court against the annulment.Earlier in August, the NIA began investigation into the case following the top court’s orders.In compliance with the orders of the apex court, the case was re-registered by the NIA and an investigation was taken up.The Kerala Government has said that if the apex court wants an NIA probe, it has no objections. However, later ina u-turn, the state government said that the policer probe is sufficient and that there’s no requirement of an NIA probe.

Time for Pak to make a choice: Afghan President Ghani slams Islamabad for supporting terror

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Lambasting Pakistan for its support to terrorism, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani today said time has come for Islamabad to make a clear choice, suggesting the country may have to pay a price under the US’s new South Asia policy if it does not stop backing the terror groups.On the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he mentioned about the sovereignty issue raised by India and said if Afghanistan was not given transit access to Wagah and Attari for trade with India via Pakistan, then Kabul will also restrict Islamabad’s access to central Asia.Hailing India’s role in Afghanistan, he said the new US policy was an important tribute to the importance of New Delhi in bringing peace and stability to the region, hit by the spectre of terror.Ghani was delivering an address at Vivekananda International Foundation, attended by a select gathering of a number of foreign envoys, former diplomats and strategic affairs experts.Identifying terrorism as a major challenge facing the region, Ghani, in a clear reference to Pakistan, said unfettered support is being provided to the terror groups which are destabilising the entire region.”Sanctuaries are provided, logistics are provided, training is provided, ideological base is provided… Pakistan has come to a juncture and it needs to make a choice,” he said, asserting, “Our reaction will be determined by its choices.”Talking about the peace process, Ghani suggested that he does not ignore India’s role in bringing peace and stability to the war-ravaged country. He said the next round of Kabul process will be held in January next year.He said the South Asia strategy announced by the Trump administration was a “game changer” as it recommends multi- dimensional condition-based approach for the region.”It (the strategy) singled out India for engagement in this approach,” he said.Asked about defence cooperation with India, he referred to supply of four attack helicopters to Afghan Air Force by India.”Our collaboration with India is very open. We are delighted with the four helicopters. More Mi 35 helicopters are welcome,” he said refusing to elaborate further.The Afghan president also rejected suspicion in Islamabad that India and Afghanistan have joined hands against Pakistan.”There is no secret agreement between Afghanistan and India. There are no secret Indian facilities. There is no destabilisation of any neighbours from Afghanistan taking place through implicit or explicit collusion. Let’s get out of the world of fiction,” he said.Ghani also talked about announcement of USD 1 billion package to Afghanistan last year by India, saying it was like contribution of USD one dollar by every Indian to his country.Talking about the fragile peace process in Afghanistan, he said efforts will be to win the war morally.”We would like to see a push back from Pakistan vis-a-vis Taliban and not a Pakistan-managed peace process with the Taliban. We want peace with Pakistan and that is a fundamental issue for our stability,” said the Afghan president.Seen as a message to Pakistan, he said if the “hand of peace” is rejected, then he was “ready to serve with honour as the commander in chief to the last breath into the last drop of blood”.Indicating hostilities against Afghanistan by Pakistan, Ghani, in a lighter vein, said Afghanistan cannot exit its neighbourhood as its like a Catholic marriage.He said lack of a regional consensus has eluded peace and stability in Afghanistan and rued about “fragmented response” to terrorism.”Our objective is to pursue the goal of a stable and peaceful Afghanistan within the context of a stable and peaceful region,” he said.Ghani said connectivity was key for integration of the Asian economy and all stakeholders must work unitedly to realise the true potential of trade and commerce of the region.”We are clear, we want to be what we call an Asian roundabout. This is important for integration of the Asian economy,” he said.Ghani also quoted poet Iqbal and said Afghanistan is at the heart of the region and peace in the country will translate into peace in the entire region.

Sushma Swaraj calls on Afghan president, discusses bilateral, regional issues

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday called on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, ahead of his talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on promoting security and stability in the war-torn nation.”#Neighbourhoodfirst. EAM @SushmaSwaraj calls on visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in New Delhi. Bilateral & regional issues discussed,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.Ghani, who is here on a one-day working visit, will hold talks with Modi on furthering the shared objective of promoting security and stability in Afghanistan, and efforts to combat the menace of terrorism.They will also discuss regional and global issues of mutual interest.During his visit, President Ghani will meet with his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind.The invitation to Ghani was extended by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval during his trip to Kabul on October 16.

Partition 70 years on: When tribal warriors invaded Kashmir

Witnesses tell the BBC how men with sticks and axes started one of the world’s longest conflicts.

India express grave concern over spike in terror attacks in Afghanistan, demand elimination of terror hubs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India has expressed grave concern over the spike in terror attacks in Afghanistan and demanded that states “hosting” terrorists and their sanctuaries must eliminate them immediately.Condemning the “barbaric” attack on an army camp in Kandahar province in which 43 soldiers were killed, the Ministry of External Affairs said the recent strikes “demonstrate” that safe havens and support systems continue to be available to terrorists.”We strongly condemn the barbaric attack today at the Afghan National Army base in Kandahar province,” MEA said in a statement yesterday.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 to bring 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 ministry said.In what is being seen as a clear reference to Pakistan, it added, “States hosting the terrorists and their sanctuaries must eliminate them immediately and without distinction.” These concerns were also highlighted by the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, the statement said.”The beginning of Afghan-owned and Afghan-led national reconciliation requires an end to violence.” It added, “India expresses solidarity with the people and the Government of Afghanistan in these difficult times.” In his visit to Kabul earlier this week, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and the top brass of the country’s military establishment. Issues relating to defence and security cooperation were discussed during the meetings.At least 43 Afghan soldiers were killed and nine wounded in a Taliban-claimed assault on a military base in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday.The terrorists blasted their way into the compound with at least one explosives-laden Humvee, the Afghan defence ministry said.

NSA Doval visits Kabul, discusses strategic issues with top leaders

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and Afghanistan today pledged to further strengthen strategic cooperation as National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and the top brass of the country’s military establishment in Kabul.”It was agreed to further strengthen strategic dialogue and consultations for achieving shared objectives,” an official statement here said.Though there was no elaboration of the shared objectives, both sides were believed to have deliberated on challenges of terrorism emanating from Pakistan, ways to deepen bilateral defence and security ties and the fragile reconciliation process in the war-ravaged country.Doval, who is visiting Afghanistan, held wide-ranging talks with his counterpart Hanif Atmar during which both sides exchanged views on various facets of the bilateral strategic partnership and regional and global issues of mutual interest.”They emphasised that bilateral and sincere regional cooperation is important for peace, security and stability in the region. Both sides welcomed the opportunities created by the new US strategy for bringing peace and security in Afghanistan,” the statement added.Atmar hosted a working lunch for Doval where the Minister of Defence, Minister of Interior, Chief of Army Staff and senior officials of the National Security Council were also present.Doval extended an invitation on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to President Ghani to visit India and the invitation was accepted, the statement said.Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah had visited India last month during which combating terrorism was one of the major focus areas of the talks he had with Indian leaders as both sides emphasised the need to dismantle terror safe havens in the region.Defence and security ties between India and Afghanistan have been on an upswing.India has given four military helicopters to Afghanistan which has been trying to strengthen its air power following a significant cut in NATO forces there. The last of the four Mi 24 attack choppers was given in November last year.Afghanistan has also been seeking India’s assistance in making functional Soviet-era helicopters and transport aircraft which were not in a flying condition.Last month, India had announced taking up 116 new developmental projects in 31 provinces of Afghanistan, weeks after US President Donald Trump sought New Delhi’s help in the economic development of that country.India has been playing a key role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and given it assistance worth USD 2 billion in the last few years.

Ravi Shankar Prasad slams Kerala government; says it has a soft corner for terrorism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday hit out at the Kerala Chief Minister P Vijayan-led government, saying it had a soft corner for terrorism.”Is it fair or right for the Kerala government to move the Supreme Court to say that you don’t allow the NIA, we are doing our job? Is that the Kerala government doing its job? The Kerala government is very soft on terrorism and their patent,” Prasad said.Prasad further added that Vijayan shared the dias with Abdul Nasser Madani, one of the main accused in the 2008 Bengaluru blasts and allegedly responsible for the deaths of 38 people. “Didn’t P Vijayan share dias with Madani and said he isn’t terrorist? How can CM share dias with man responsible for killing 38 ppl?” Prasad asked.On October 7, the Kerala government on Saturday told the Supreme Court that there is no need for an NIA probe in the alleged love jihad case.The government told the top court that the claims made by the National Investigation Agency that there was a ‘pattern’ in the way religious conversions were taking place in Kerala were false.The state government also said that the probe done by the Kerala Police has not revealed any startling fact that merits an NIA investigation.It must be noted that earlier, the Kerala government had said that if the apex court wants an NIA probe, it has no objections.The affidavit by the Kerala government comes days after the Supreme Court observed that ‘a father can’t dictate life of a 24-year-old daughter’ while hearing the ‘Love Jihad’ case.In fact, the top court had also question the Kerala High Court how it could annul the marriage of Hadiya and Shafeen Jahan under Article 26.Shafeen Jahan married Akhila Ashokan in December last year after she converted to Islam and rechristened herself as Hadiya.Her father moved the Kerala High Court and claimed his daughter was indoctrinated and forcibly converted. He, in fact, said that his daughter would be be sent to Afghanistan or Syria.The High Court annulled the marriage. But Jahan approached the Supreme Court against the annulment.Earlier in August, the NIA began investigation into the case following the top court’s orders.In compliance with the orders of the apex court, the case was re-registered by the NIA and an investigation was taken up.

Kerala ‘love jihad’ case: No need for NIA probe, Pinarayi Vijayan government tells Supreme Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kerala government on Saturday told the Supreme Court that there is no need for an NIA probe in the alleged love jihad case.The Pinarayi Vijayan government told the top court that the claims made by the National Investigation Agency that there was a ‘pattern’ in the way religious conversions were taking place in Kerala were false.The state government also said that the probe done by the Kerala Police has not revealed any startling fact that merits an NIA investigation.It must be noted that earlier, the Kerala government had said that if the apex court wants an NIA probe, it has no objections.The affidavit by the Kerala government comes days after the Supreme Court observed that ‘a father can’t dictate life of a 24-year-old daughter’ while hearing the ‘Love Jihad’ case.In fact, the top court had also question the Kerala High Court how it could annul the marriage of Hadiya and Shafeen Jahan under Article 26.Shafeen Jahan married Akhila Ashokan in December last year after she converted to Islam and rechristened herself as Hadiya.Her father moved the Kerala High Court and claimed his daughter was indoctrinated and forcibly converted. He, in fact, said that his daughter would be be sent to Afghanistan or Syria.The High Court annulled the marriage. But Jahan approached the Supreme Court against the annulment.Earlier in August, the NIA began investigation into the case following the top court’s orders.In compliance with the orders of the apex court, the case was re-registered by the NIA and an investigation was taken up.The next hearing has been scheduled for October 9.

Pakistan is a peaceful country; India poses perpetual threat to nation, says its army

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Army said on Thursday that India posed a “perpetual threat” to the country which has made its eastern border “unsafe”.Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor’s remarks came during a press briefing about security threats to Pakistan.Ghafoor said Pakistan faced different kinds of challenges on the eastern and western borders due to different nature of threat and the critical question was “whether the threat is because of a state or non-state actors”.”Threats from India (in the east) are perpetual. We are a peaceful country and we do not want war with them, but we will defend ourselves and have the capability to do so,” he said.He said the country’s eastern border had become “unsafe” due to repeated violations at the Line of Control, which he claimed are the highest than any year before.”India has also paid a price due to our response (on LoC) and we will continue to do so if it does not act with restraint,” Ghafoor said.He said Pakistan cannot fire indiscriminately across the LoC as there are Kashmiri brothers on the other side as well.”So when there are casualties on that side, it is Indian soldiers and infrastructure. Nonetheless, war is not a solution, so we are talking to them Indian officials at all levels to stop this (LoC violations],” he said.He accused India of supporting militants.He highlighted the “strategic threat” on the western border with Afghanistan which kept the Army busy due to the threat of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan militants and other non- state actors.”The western border touches both Afghanistan and Iran and our deployment is not against these countries but against non-state actors, he said.He said Pakistan has eliminated militants’ stronghold and there was not “organised bases of any terrorist organisation in the country”.He also said that unlike Pakistan more than 50 per cent of Afghanistan under control of rebels including who are targeting Pakistan.To a question about detained JuD chief Hafiz Saeed-backed Milli Muslim League party taking part in elections, he said that “every Pakistani has the right to participate in the polling process”.He defended the role of the Army to work in aid of civil institutions but ruled out any possibility of direct intervention in political affairs.”Martial law should not even be talked about. We are busy in doing our duty as stated in the Constitution,” he said.Ghafoor said the visit of army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to Afghanistan on Sunday was successful.He said Pakistan hoped that with the improvement in the coordination, trust between the two countries would increase.To a question, he said that 12,000 Indians visited Pakistan to attend a congregation of Bohra community in Karachi last month.

Pak can have strong economic benefits from India if it stops being terror haven: US Def Sec Jim Mattis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan can have strong economic benefits from India if it realises that the “tide has shifted” and stop providing safe havens to terrorists on its soil, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said.Mattis told members of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday that the Trump administration is being very clear and firm in what it expects from Pakistan and is using all aspects of the government to bring about the change, working internationally.His statement comes weeks after President Donald Trump announced his Afghanistan and South Asia policy in which he adopted a tough policy against Pakistan. It also came ahead of Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s talks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other top officials of the Trump Administration.”There are a number of lines of effort being put together now in Secretary of Treasury’s office, Secretary of State’s office, my own office, the intel agencies. We are also working with Secretary General Stoltenberg to ensure that NATO’s equities are brought to bear,” Mattis said responding to a question on why would Pakistan change its mind on terrorist safe havens this time.Certainly, India has a role to play as a neighbour, and potentially a very strong economic benefit to Pakistan, if Pakistan can find a way to carry out its international responsibilities and end any kind of safe haven inside their country, he noted.”There’s a great deal that Pakistan can benefit economically, diplomatically, financially for its government; economically for its people; by finally sensing that the tide has shifted against this,” Mattis said.He said that the Trump administration believes that it would be highly difficult to sustain any stabilisation in South Asia, not just in Afghanistan, but certainly anywhere around Pakistan and India unless safe havens are removed.Mattis was responding to questions from lawmakers who wanted to know why the administration believes that Pakistan will change its behaviour this time.Trump has said that he would change the US approach to Pakistan, which continues to harbour militants and terrorists who target US service members and officials, said Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.”But we still do not know what specific steps the United States will take to convince or compel Pakistan to change its behaviour, or what costs we will impose if Pakistan fails to do so,” McCain said.Indeed, McCain said it is unclear to him if the administration believes any step or series of steps the United States might take will lead Pakistan to cease its support and sanctuary for certain terrorist groups, which has been a “feature of” its national security policy for decades.Ranking Member Senator Jack Reed said if the mission in Afghanistan is to be successful, it is imperative to disrupt the external sanctuaries in Pakistan, which continue to provide the Taliban, the Haqqani network and other associated groups the ability to train, recruit, rest, refit and stage attacks without significant fear of interference.”We have heard that the administration intends to change the relationship with Pakistan in order to compel action that supports our efforts in Afghanistan,” Reed said as he sought details of tools available to press Pakistan to make more progress on these issues.Pakistan, Mattis said has a “convoluted history” with terrorism. There can be little doubt that there have been terrorist groups that have used Pakistan as a haven for attacks outwardly, and not just towards Afghanistan.”We’ve seen the attacks on India, as well. At the same time, probably few nations, perhaps none, have lost as many troops fighting terrorists as they have,” he said. P

Kerala ‘love jihad’ case: Father can’t dictate personal life of a 24-year-old daughter, says Supreme Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Can a father dictate personal life his 24-year-old daughter? No, said the Supreme Court while hearing the Kerala ‘love jihad case’ on Tuesday.The top court, in fact, questioned how the Kerala High Court annulled the marriage of Hadiya and Shafeen Jahan under Article 226.According to The Hindu, Chief Justice of India Deepal Misra said that father can’t insist on his daughter’s custodyDefence Counsel Dushyant Dave argued that the probe by the National Investigation Agency in the case ‘strikes at the very foundation of multi-religious society’.The next hearing has been scheduled for October 9.Shafeen Jahan married Akhila Ashokan in December last year after she converted to Islam and rechristened herself as Hadiya.Her father moved the Kerala High Court and claimed his daughter was indoctrinated and forcibly converted. He, in fact, said that his daughter would be be sent to Afghanistan or Syria.The High Court annulled the marriage. But Jahan approached the Supreme Court against the annulment.Earlier in August, the NIA began investigation into the case following the top court’s orders.In compliance with the orders of the apex court, the case was re-registered by the NIA and an investigation was taken up.The Kerala Government has said that if the apex court wants an NIA probe, it has no objections.The Supreme Court said that after getting inputs from the NIA and Kerala Police probe, it would interview Akhila to ascertain her views.

DNA Morning Must Reads: Stampede at Elphinstone, Tom Alter dies at 67, Hardik Pandya’s fate at No. 4, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Stampede at Elphinstone Road: One year too late for railways to fix bridgeAll MPs wrote to then Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, who approved Rs 1.4 cr for a new foot-overbridge connecting Elphinstone and Parel stations. Read more here2. Veteran actor and Padma Shri awardee Tom Alter dies at 67Padma Shri awardee and veteran film, television and theatre actor, director and writer Tom Alter passed away on late on Friday night after battling with stage four skin cancer. Read more here3. One year after surgical strikes: India has killed 175 terrorists, lost 79 menAfter the surgical strikes, the India Pakistan relationship has been extremely strained and the security forces have borne the brunt for it, losing as many as 79 men in the line of duty. Read more here4. Hope US keeps raising issue of terrorism with Pak: Dr. Abdullah AbdullahIn an exclusive interview with Ramesh Ramachandran, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, chief executive of Afghanistan speaks about the India-Afghanistan relationship, President Donald Trump’s South Asia strategy and how he hopes Pakistan reciprocates Afghanistan’s friendship. Read more here5. Can all-rounder Hardik Pandya be a No. 4 all around?From Rahul to Kedar Jadhav to Manish Pandey to Pandya, the Indian team management has tried to zero in on an ideal No. 4 batsman over the course of the last nine ODIs, five being against Sri Lanka that India won 5-0 and four against Australia in the ongoing series that the hosts lead 3-1. Read more here

India to sign a pact for technical cooperation in police training and development with Afghanistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India and Afghanistan will soon sign a pact for technical cooperation in police training and development which will help the war-torn country in strengthening its security apparatus.The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its approval for signing of a bilateral MoU between India and Afghanistan for technical cooperation in police training and development, an official statement said.The MoU will help in capacity building of Afghanistan National Police and improving the security apparatus in the region, it said.The cabinet’s approval will be effective for a period of five years from the date of signing of the MoU and will be extended for a further period of five years on the condition that there are not further changes and revisions.India and Afghanistan have friendly relations and the police personnel of Afghanistan National Police come regularly to different training institutes of India for training purposes.India and Afghanistan had signed an agreement on strategic partnership in October, 2011.A meeting was held between delegates of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, Afghanistan, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Afghanistan and officials of the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) in New Delhi in October 2016.The delegates from Afghanistan expressed their desire for assistance from India in the field of police training, police development, law enforcement, strengthening the rule of law in Afghanistan and building sustainable long-term cooperation, the statement said.In order to take this cooperation forward, this MoU has been jointly agreed through diplomatic channels, it said.

‘No Indian boots on the ground in Afghanistan’: Nirmala Sitharaman tells US counterpart James Mattis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her US counterpart James Mattis held comprehensive talks covering the entire gamut of the bilateral defence partnership.”The situation in our neighbourhood and the growing menace of cross-border terrorism were discussed in depth.There is growing convergence in the approaches of both our countries on this issue,” Sitharaman said at a joint press conference.She said both sides recognise the importance of holding those who use terrorism as an instrument of state policy to account and to dismantle the infrastructure that supports terrorism.”We have made it clear that there shall not be boots from India on the ground (Afghan),” Sitharaman said while responding to a query on whether India will contribute troops in Afghanistan.Sitharaman also said that Mattis has assured her that he will raise with Pakistan the issue of terrorism emanating from there.US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis held talks with Indian leaders on Tuesday, vowing to jointly stamp out militant sanctuaries and seeking India’s greater involvement in helping to stabilise Afghanistan.The comments come as President Donald Trump’s administration has stepped up pressure on Pakistan for more action against militant groups operating from its soil that are blamed for attacks in India and neighbouring Afghanistan.Islamabad denies giving material support to the militants and instead accuses its arch-rival of trying to use Afghanistan as a base for anti-Pakistan activities.But Mattis, the Trump administration’s first cabinet official to visit India, said the two countries would work together to fight terrorism.”There can be no tolerance of terrorist safe havens,” he said in a statement. “As global leaders, India and the United States resolve to work together to eradicate this scourge.”Washington welcomed Indian efforts to promote stability in Afghanistan, he added. New Delhi has committed $3 billion in development projects in Afghanistan and trains Afghan officers in India.But it has not sent soldiers in the international effort to restore peace. “Our engagement in Afghanistan will continue, we shall expand our engagement,” Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, following talks with Mattis.Defence ties between India and the United States have expanded rapidly, with New Delhi buying U.S. weapons worth $15 billion over the last decade, moving away from traditional supplier Russia.Military experts say U.S. weapons transfers aim at bolstering Indian capabilities to develop a counterweight against China’s growing assertiveness in recent years.Indian and U.S. negotiators are now trying to move forward with a deal to supply the Indian navy with 22 Sea Guardian drone aircraft, whose June approval by the U.S. government was the first such clearance to a non-NATO ally.India wants the unarmed drones to help its navy lengthen the duration of its surveillance in the Indian Ocean, where Chinese naval ships and submarines make regular forays.Expanding naval cooperation with India was a top priority, Mattis said, adding that three-way exercises involving the United States, India and Japan boosted operational cooperation.With inputs from PTI and Reuters

India-US discuss menace of cross-border terrorism; James Mattis says ‘there can be no safe havens’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>US Defence Secretary James Mattis who is on a two-day India visited, on Tuesday held bilateral talks with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the national capital, and said that there can be no safe havens for terrorists.Sitharaman and Mattis discussed the situation in the neighborhood and menace of cross-border terrorism in depth.”Our two countries recognise the threat that global terrorism poses to people throughout the world. There can be no tolerance of terrorists safe heavens,” Jim Mattis said in a joint statement.”As a global leader, India and US resolve to work together to eradicate this scourge,” he added.Stating that the US values India’s invaluable contribution to Afghanistan, Mattis said, “We welcome further efforts to promote democracy, safety, and security in Afghanistan.””India-US share strong and vibrant strategic partnership as world’s largest democracies also share fundamental values and interests,” he said.Mattis also appreciated India’s leadership in the Indian Ocean and sought to work together to build a resilient regional architecture.Mattis is the first cabinet rank official to visit India under the Donald Trump administration.Earlier in the day, Mattis laid a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate and inspected tri-service guard of honour at the South Block lawns.

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis to hold talks with PM Modi in New Delhi to further India, US defence ties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis will visit India and hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman to reaffirm that Washington considers New Delhi a valued and influential ally.This is the first cabinet-level official’s visit to India under the Trump administration.”The secretary will emphasise that the United States views India as a valued and influential partner, with broad mutual interests extending well beyond South Asia,” the Pentagon said in a statement on Friday.During his two-day visit starting from September 26, the Pentagon chief will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the India Gate, and meet the prime minister and Sitharaman in New Delhi.”The secretary will also express US’ appreciation for India’s important contributions toward Afghanistan’s democracy, stability, prosperity, and security,” the Pentagon said.Mattis’ visit to India comes after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, held a bilateral meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly meeting here.During the meeting, the two leaders among other issues discussed Pakistan, Afghanistan and terrorism.They also discussed the strategic relationship between Washington and New Delhi.Modi and President Donald Trump had announced a two plus two strategic and defence dialogue between the two countries at the White House in June after the India-US summit. ​

DNA Morning Must Reads: Updates on Japanese PM’s India visit, Real Madrid fire up in CL 2018 opener, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Shinzo Abe, PM Modi get down to business today, to lay foundation stone for India’s first bullet train projectJapanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will on Thursday lay the foundation stone for India’s first bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai which is expected to be completed by 2022. Read more here2. Donald Trump identifies India among major illicit drug producing, transit nationsIn addition to India, other south Asian countries identified as major drug transit or major illicit drug producing countries are Afghanistan and Pakistan. Read more here3. Snags raise doubts over GSTN tech boneEven as the government swiftly set up a five-member ministerial panel on Wednesday to oversee the technology challenges being faced by Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), the company that manages and maintains the information technology (IT) backbone of the new unified indirect tax, experts said the issue could be more to do with preparedness than technological challenge. Read more here4. WATCH | Champions League: Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo begin campaign with easy win over APOELAn imperious Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice on his first competitive start of the season as Real Madrid beat APOEL Nicosia 3-0 on Wednesday to get their quest for a third successive Champions League crown off on the right note. Read more here5. Shah Rukh Khan’s TV show pushed aheadShah Rukh Khan’s TV comeback show, Ted Talks — India, was to launch in October during Diwali, but now we hear, it has been pushed ahead. Read more here

India supports Afghanistan’s fight against terrorism: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India attaches the highest priority to its ties with Afghanistan and promised strong support to the trouble- torn country’s fight against terrorism “imposed” on it.Modi, while receiving Afghan Foreign Minister, also reiterated India’s full support to the government and people of Afghanistan, including through humanitarian and development assistance, in their efforts to build a peaceful, united, democratic and prosperous nation, a PMO statement said.During the meeting, Rabbani briefed the prime minister on the situation in Afghanistan.”Both agreed that the Afghan peace process has to be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled,” the statement said.It said Modi affirmed that India attaches the highest priority to its ties with Afghanistan.”The prime minister reiterated India’s strong support to Afghanistan in fighting terrorism imposed on that country and its people,” the statement added.Rabbani is in India for the 2nd meeting of the India- Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Council that he co-chairs along with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.Earlier, after the Strategic Partnership Council meeting, Rabbani said India and Afghanistan have agreed to strengthen security cooperation.”India has further agreed to provide assistance to Afghan national defence forces,” he said.

India to provide further defence assistance to Afghanistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India on Monday agreed to provide Afghanistan further assistance to strengthen its security forces as the two strategic partners decided to deepen security cooperation and resolved to work closely to deal with the challenge of cross-border terrorism from Pakistan.After holding wide-ranging talks with her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani, External Affairs Mnister Sushma Swaraj said 116 new “high impact” development projects would be implemented jointly in 31 provinces of Afghanistan.”We remain united in overcoming the challenges posed by cross-border terrorism and safe havens and sanctuaries to both our countries,” Swaraj said at a joint media briefing with Rabbani.Afghanistan has faced a wave of terror attacks in the last few months and the proposed reconciliation and peace process is yet to make any progress.Asserting that its relationship with Afghanistan is an “article of faith” for India, she said New Delhi would continue to work with Afghan people in their efforts to build a secure, stable, peaceful, prosperous, united and inclusive Afghanistan.The two sides also inked four pacts, including one on vehicular movement to boost overland transit and another on fresh batch of development projects by India in Afghanistan.”We support national peace and reconciliation in an atmosphere free from violence and within the framework of Afghanistan’s Constitution,” Swaraj said, reiterating that India would continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Afghanistan in realising their dreams.Both Swaraj and Rabbani were clear in their references about terrorism emanating from Pakistan though they did not name the country.Thanking India for its unflinching support for peace and stability in Afghanistan, Rabbani said both countries agreed to strengthen security cooperation. “India has further agreed to provide assistance for Afghan national defence forces.” India has already invested over USD 2 billion in reconstruction of Afghanistan in the last 15 years but has been adopting a cautious approach in supplying military hardware.India has given four military helicopters to Afghanistan and imparted training to hundreds of Afghan security personnel.Rabbani said the current regional situation brings Afghanistan and India closer to protect and achieve their socio-economic goal and protect citizens.”The enabling environment for terrorism is directly linked to continued support they receive from outside of Afghanistan,” he said.The Afghan foreign minister said the countries have been the target of terrorism and violent extremism which is threatening the stability of the region.He referred to “terrorists groups like LeT and JeM which have been launching attacks against India and indiscriminately killing civilians in this country and engaging in similar terrorist activities along with Taliban Al-Qaeda and Daesh in Afghanistan”.He said Afghanistan’s friendship with India or any other country does not mean hostility with others in the neighbourhood.”Unlike others, Afghanistan has hardly sought security in the insecurity of others.”Afghanistan, Rabbani added, is a landlocked country and its peace and prosperity is dependent on “those of our neighbours near and extended”.”That is why we reject zero sum approaches that undermine our collective security today and years to come.” In her remarks, Swaraj said India was “indebted” to Afghan security forces for ensuring safety of Indians working in Afghanistan.Discussing connectivity projects, Swaraj said the development of Chahbahar Port in trilateral cooperation with Iran was being expedited. The supply of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chahbahar port would begin in the coming weeks.She also announced 500 new scholarships programmes for next of kin of the martyrs of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces from academic year 2018.Rabbani said Afghanistan strongly supports India’s membership of the UN Security Council and other groupings and hoped that it would back Kabul’s entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).The two sides also discussed easing of visas.Swaraj said India would assist in development projects like the Shatoot dam and drinking water supply project for Kabul, low cost housing for returning refugees, water supply network for Charikar city and a polyclinic in Mazar-e-Sharif.”Focus will continue on building governance and democratic institutions, human resource capacity and skill development, including in the areas of education, health, agriculture, energy, application of remote sensing in resource management and space technology in governance,” she said. ​

India signs Motor Vehicle Agreement Act with Afghanistan, Sushma Swaraj praises Afghan cricket team

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing the press after the Indo-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Council with various ministers including Afghanistan FM Salahuddin Rabbani, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that a very fruitful and productive meeting had taken place. Sushma Swaraj praised Afghanistan’s cricket team, reiterated India’s desire to stop cross-border terrorism and said India would keep on working with Afghanistan to ‘build governance and democratic institutions’ She said that for New Delhi, strategic partnership with Afghanistan is an ‘article of faith, which has a spiritual and civilisation connect’.She added: “We have seen unprecedented high-level exchanges in last 3 years; our relations are important not just for our people, but also for the region. We jointly agreed to embark on a New Development Partnership in keeping with the priorities of Afghanistan. 116 new High Impact Development Projects would be jointly implemented that would bring socio-economic and infrastructure development.”She said that focus would be on ‘building governance and democratic institutions, human resource capacity and skill development’. She said that measures to enhance trade and investment cooperation was discussed and India has liberalised visas for Afghan businessmen.She added: “India-Afghanistan trade & investment show in New Delhi on September 27-30, 2017 will provide opportunity to bring businesses together.” The EAM added to improve connectivity and transit, India would be expediting development of Chahbahar Port in trilateral cooperation with Iran.She added: “We commenced Air Freight Corridor in June 2017 to provide direct access to farmers of Afghanistan to the Indian markets. We signed the Motors Vehicle Agreement today. We hope that it would pave the way for overland transit.”India already has a Motor Vehicles Agreement with Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh for the ‘seamless movement of traffic among the countries’. She said India would continue to work with people of Afghanistan in their efforts to build a ‘secure, stable, peaceful, prosperous, united and inclusive nation’.She said India would continue to support Afghanistan in overcoming challenges posed by cross-border terrorism. We support national peace and reconciliation in an atmosphere free from violence and within the framework of Afghanistan’s ConstitutionShe signed off saying: “From 2018, a new 500 scholarships programme for next of kin of the martyrs of Afghan National Defence and Security Forces will begin. India will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Afghanistan in realising their dreams.”Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani said that both countries suffered from terrorism and violent extremism that threatened the ‘region’s stability’.He added: “Current regional trends bring India and Afghanistan closer than ever to protect & achieve our socio-economic and security and trade interests.”However, he added that Afghanistan’s friendship with India or any other country doesn’t mean hostility with others in our neighbourhood. He said: “I must be clear that our friendship with India or any other country does not mean hostility with others in our neighbourhood.”

BRICS Summit: Cooperation in oil and gas sector, Afghanistan discussed in Modi-Putin’s bilateral meeting

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and discussed ways for boosting bilateral trade and investment along with the security situation in Afghanistan.The two leaders met in this southeastern Chinese city on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit. This was Modi’s first bilateral meeting since his arrival last evening. The prime minister is also expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping before he travels to Myanmar tomorrow. “The two sides basically touched upon several aspects of the bilateral relationship. President Putin recalled prime minister’s visit to Russia earlier this year. And, he thanked the prime minister for high-level participation from India at the Eastern Economic Forum,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters at a briefing here.When asked if the two leaders discussed Afghanistan, Kumar said some regional issues, including the situation in Afghanistan was also deliberated upon. He, however, refused to give further details. He also said that during the Modi-Putin meeting several bilateral issues were discussed like the cooperation in the oil and natural gas sector. Kumar said the two leaders also discussed how they should work together to promote trade and investment.
ALSO READ BRICS nations voice concern on terrorism, declaration names Pakistan-based LeT and JeMDuring the meeting, the two leaders also discussed cultural exchanges.”President Putin mentioned about the ‘Festival of India’, which was organised in Russia earlier this year. Discussions also took place on the promotion of tourism between the two countries and also on the student exchange between the two sides,” Kumar said. Later, Modi also met Brazilian President Michel Temer and discussed a partnership based on a “common global vision”. “A partnership based on a common global vision & shared democratic values. PM @narendramodi engages with Brazilian President @MichelTemer,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

Cabinet approves MoU by EC with International Election Management Bodies and Agencies

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of the Election Commission of India to enter into Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration with the Election Management Bodies of other countries/International Agencies.These are as follows:i. The National Electoral Council of Ecuador;ii. The Central Election Commission of Albania;iii. The Election Commission of Bhutan;iv. The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan;v. The National Independent Electoral Commission of Guinea;vi. The Union Election Commission of Myanmar; andvii. The India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).These MoUs contain standard articles/clauses which broadly express promotion of cooperation in exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of organisational and technical development of electoral process; support in exchanging information, institutional strengthening and capacity building, training of personnel, holding regular consultations etc.These MoUs would promote bilateral cooperation, aimed at building technical assistance / capacity support for the said Election Management Bodies.Background:The Election Commission has been participating in promoting cooperation in the field of election matters and electoral processes across the world with certain foreign countries and agencies by adopting the mode of MoU signed by the concerned parties.The Election Commission, a constitutional body, conducts the largest electoral exercise in the world. It is the responsibility of the Election Commission to organize free and fair election in the country of about 85 crore voters with diverse socio-political and economic backgrounds. In recently years, the role being played by the Election Commission ensures greater participation of people in political affairs. India, today, is considered as the world’s largest democratic country.The success of democracy in India has attracted the attention of almost every political system around the world.

Why Trump’s threats to Pakistan raise serious questions

The US is threatening Pakistan and praising India, but the relationship between the three nations is complicated.

‘US wants India to play a more active role in Afghanistan’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The US wants India to play a more active role in finding a political solution in Afghanistan, a senior official has said, as she welcomed India’s financial support in rebuilding the war-torn nation. US President Donald Trump has sought an enhanced role for India in bringing peace in Afghanistan as he ruled out a hasty withdrawal of troops while announcing his Afghanistan and South Asia policy on Monday. Trump had said that a “critical part” of his South Asia policy was to further develop America’s strategic partnership with India. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said: “It (India) has done a lot in terms of development and helping to promote Afghanistan’s economy. “So we appreciate that, we’re grateful to that and we look forward to India continuing to play a role in what we believe is an eventual peace process in Afghanistan”. “It has done a lot in terms of providing development funds to Afghanistan so far. We applaud them for that. It has pledged about USD 3 billion since 2001. So we continue to thank it for that and look forward to it hopefully doing more to be a part of the solution,” she told reporters yesterday. India has provided developmental assistance and provided economic assistance, she said. “India is emerging as a very important regional strategic partner. It has played an important role in supporting the Afghan government and, in particular, supporting the economy,” Nauert said. Trump, in his first prime-time televised address as the commander-in-chief on Monday, also issued the sternest warning yet by an American leader to Pakistan for providing safe havens to terrorists. “We want Pakistan to be able to do more and we intend to work with those countries for an Afghan-led peace process,” the State Department official added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

‘India emerging as important regional strategic partner to US’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is emerging as a very important regional strategic partner for the US that has played an important role in helping Afghanistan by supporting the war-torn country’s economy. “India is emerging as a very important regional strategic partner. They have played an important role in supporting the Afghan government and, in particular, supporting the economy,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters yesterday. “India has provided developmental assistance, they have provided economic assistance, they’re hosting an important economic conference in India next week,” she said, adding, that the US recognises India’s contributions in Afghanistan. “They’ve done a lot in terms of development and helping to promote Afghanistan’s economy. So we appreciate that, we’re grateful to that, and we look forward to India continuing to play a role in what we believe is an eventual what we hope is an eventual peace process in Afghanistan,” Nauert said. “They’ve done a lot in terms of providing development funds to Afghanistan so far. We applaud them for that. They’ve pledged about USD 3 billion since 2001. So we continue to thank them for that and look forward to them hopefully doing more to be a part of the solution,” she said. “We want Pakistan to be able to do more and we intend to work with those countries for an Afghan-led peace process,” the State Department official said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

India emerging as important regional partner for US: Tillerson

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is emerging as a very important regional strategic partner for the US that can help modernise Afghanistan both politically and economically, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today. Tillerson’s remarks came after President Donald Trump unveiled the US strategy in Afghanistan which included expanded authorities to target terrorists. “India is emerging as a very important regional strategic partner with the United States, and has played an important role supporting the Afghan government and in particular supporting their economy,” Tillerson told reporters. He also praised India’s role in Afghanistan. “India has provided development assistance. They’ve provided economic assistance. They are hosting an important economic conference in India this next week. All of that is important to stabilising Afghanistan as a nation,” he said. “Get their economy functioning, stabilise the country so that they can provide more opportunities to their citizens. These are all elements of what will lead to stability and ultimately a peace agreement,” he said. Responding to a question, the Secretary of State sought the help of India in changing Pakistan s behaviour. “It is important that Pakistan begin to think about its ability to contain these groups as well. It’s why, though, we take a regional approach. The US alone is not going to change this dynamic with Pakistan,” he said. “India and Pakistan, they have their own issues that they have to continue to work through. But I think there are areas where perhaps even India can take some steps, a rapprochement on issues with Pakistan to improve the stability within Pakistan and remove some of the reasons why they deal with these unstable elements inside their own country,” Tillerson said. According to the Secretary of State, other regional players have strong interest in Pakistan. “China has strong interest in Pakistan. Having a stable, secure future Pakistan is in a lot of our interests. They are a nuclear power. We have concerns about their weapons, the security of their weapons. There are many areas in which we believe we should be having very productive dialogue that serves both of our interests and regional interests as well,” Tillerson said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

India welcomes Donlad Trump’s resolve to tackle cross-border support

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India on Tuesday welcomed US President Donald Trump’s determination to enhance efforts to overcome the challenges facing Afghanistan and confront issues of safe havens and other forms of cross-border support enjoyed by terrorists.”India shares these concerns and objectives,” External Affiars Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.Kumar said India was also committed to supporting the government and the people of Afghanistan in their efforts to bring peace, security, stability and prosperity to their country.”We have been steadfast in extending reconstruction and development assistance to Afghanistan in keeping with our traditional friendship with its people. We will continue these efforts, including in partnership with other countries,” he said in a statement.India’s reaction came after Trump ruled out a hasty withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan to end America’s longest war, as he warned Pakistan of consequences for providing safe havens to terrorists and sought an enhanced role for India to bring peace in the war-torn country.
ALSO READ ‘We can no longer be silent’: Pakistan will pay for harbouring terrorists, warns Donald TrumpIn his first prime-time televised address to the nation as commander-in-chief, Trump laid out his South Asia policy, saying a “critical part” of it was to further develop US’ strategic partnership with India.

Trump seeks India’s more help in Afghanistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> United States President Donald Trump has sought more help from India in Afghanistan. Speaking from the Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Va., Trump said, ?We will develop a deeper strategic partnership with India, but we want them to help us more in Afghanistan.? He further added that ?India makes billions of dollars with the United States in trade; we want them to help us more in Afghanistan?. It is notable that India has been actively helping Afghanistan in the reconstruction of the terror-torn country. India aided the overthrow of the Taliban and became the largest regional provider of humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Afghanistan. Indians are working in various construction projects, as part of India’s rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan. US President?s desire for an increased role of India in Afghanistan is a blow for Pakistan as it is opposed to Indian presence in Kabul. In the aftermath of the 2008 Indian embassy bombing in Kabul, the Afghan Foreign Ministry quoted India as a “brother country” and the relationship between the two as one which “no enemy can hamper”. Relations between Afghanistan and India received a major boost in 2011 with the signing of a strategic partnership agreement, Afghanistan’s first since the Soviet invasion of 1979. According to a 2010 Gallup survey, Afghan adults are more likely to approve of India’s leadership than Chinese or U.S. leadership. Trump?s desire of a bigger Indian role in Afghanistan is a blow for Pakistan, which has been opposing New Delhi?s presence in Kabul. Pakistan alleges the Indian intelligence agency RAW is working in cover to malign Pakistan and train and support insurgents. This claim has been rejected strongly by India and the United States, which is historically being a strong ally of Pakistan.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Trump to discuss South Asia strategy at Camp David on Friday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>US President Donald Trump would discuss South Asia strategy with his national security team on Friday at Camp David, a picturesque presidential retreat in Maryland, the White House said today. US National Security Advisor Lt Gen H R McMaster would be among those attending the meeting. “The President along with the Vice President will meet with the National Security Team on Friday at Camp David to discuss the South Asia strategy,” the White House said. South Asia strategy primarily means the policy in Afghanistan, but the Trump administration feels that the war- torn country needs a regional approach to resolve the decades old problem. In the past few weeks, senior officials of the Trump administration have gone on record to say that the regional approach to Afghanistan means both India and Pakistan. However, the officials so far have remained tight lipped on what this means for India given that Pakistan has been averse to any Indian role in Afghanistan. During the Bush administration and the initial years of the Obama administration, Pakistan had successfully managed to keep India out of major strategic conferences on Afghanistan. However, the successive administrations in the US have acknowledged the role of India in the development of Afghanistan. After the US, India is one of the largest donors for developmental projects in Afghanistan, as a result of which India s popularity in this war-torn country is much higher than any other nation.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Need to enforce ceasefire & reduce violence in Kashmir: Lt General Ehsan ul Haq

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lt General Ehsan ul Haq retired as Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of the Pakistan military in October 2007. He was chief of much-lambasted Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the premier Pakistan intelligence agency, between October 2001 and 2004, the crucial period that saw American intervention in Afghanistan. He is also one of the key persons to have negotiated the ceasefire enforced along the Line of Control (LoC) in 2003 with his Indian counterparts, that offlate has gone for a toss. Speaking with DNA’s Iftikhar Gilani in Dubai recently, Haq elucidated on some key issues.DNA: You were the Director-General of the Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) when the attack on the Indian Parliament took place. Author Adrian Levy in his recent book – The Exile, has found a link between the attack and US operations to flush out Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan’s Tora Bora mountains. The US had paid the Pakistan army to assist by plugging Tora Bora’s back door – a plan devised by Bob Grenier, the CIA station chief in Islamabad. However, as soon as the attack on the Indian Parliament took place, you took your troops away and let Laden disappear.Lt Gen ul Haq: If you can recall the incident, the attack on the Indian Parliament happened in December 2001, while I joined ISI in October. I came when the Kabul bombing had already begun. Our focus was Afghanistan. At no stage has Bob Grenier ever accused Pakistan of not supporting the US wholeheartedly, even though they did not share their game plan with us. They had not told us what they were doing in Tora Bora and when we didn’t know what was happening, then how they could have expected us to capture bin Laden. Also, at the very same moment, the Indian Army cordoned off our borders in the east. We had made it clear that unless our eastern borders are secure, we will not be able to provide requisite support at our western borders.We wanted to contain any and all cross-border incidents because President (Parvez) Musharraf and I wanted to de-escalate the situation along the eastern border and normalise relations with India to focus on the emerging crisis in Afghanistan. It was during that time that the Indian Parliament attack happened. In my view, attacks like these don’t happen so spontaneously. They need much planning. I am sure the planning for this started much before 9/11 happened. Therefore, I don’t think there is any linkage between the Tora Bora operations, the attack on the Indian Parliament or any other incidents along the eastern border.When you were at the helm, contours of an interim solution for Jammu and Kashmir issue were coming up. How do you look back on this?Right now, we need to prioritise enforcing ceasefire along the LoC and reduce violence inside Kashmir. If there is continuous violence inside Kashmir, we will be unable to avail the opportunity to move towards long-term peace. We have to revive and reinforce confidence-building measures (CBMs) that came about in the last 10-15 years or so. These will create an environment to reach a mid-term/long term solution.

Economic devp important for ensuring peace, stability in

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Economic development is an important factor in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan, a meet to explore confidence building measures (CBMs) on commercial opportunities in the war-torn country felt today. The eighth meeting of the regional technical group of CBMs on trade, commerce & investment opportunities under the ‘Heart of Asia Istanbul Process’ also shared the view that Afghanistan acted as a natural bridge in promoting regional connectivity and economic integration. “There was consensus that economic development was an important factor in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the Heart of Asia Region. In this context, the participants shared views on various measures and steps to promote transit and trade and realising reliable and robust connectivity, with Afghanistan as the hub,” a release by the external affairs ministry said. The meet recognised a need to make the existing transit and trade agreements more inclusive and comprehensive by expanding them both northwards and southwards to connect South Asia with Central Asia; strengthening growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and involvement of women in economic development, including through women entrepreneurship; and simplifying customs procedures, it said. Hosted by India, the meeting was co-chaired by acting director general of economic cooperation department in Afghanistan foreign minister Hassan Soroosh, and joint secretary in the MEA Deepak Mittal. Attended by representatives of 17 participating countries and supporting international organisations, including Azerbaijan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, UAE, Australia, Egypt, Germany, the UK, the US, the EU and the UN, the release said. “The steps taken for development of transit and transport through Chahbahar Port involving India, Afghanistan and Iran, TAPI gas pipeline, CASA-1000, TAT railway line, Lapis Lazuli corridor were assessed positively. All sides agreed on the value of such connectivity and economic integration projects to overall growth, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan,” it added. The release said the recent establishment of the air freight corridor between India and Afghanistan was welcomed as providing fast and assured access to farmers of Afghanistan to the large markets in South Asia and beyond was acknowledged positively as also New Delhi’s assistance for capacity building and training of Afghan officials. India’s initiative to develop a web portal for exchanging information on regional markets, trade and investment opportunities, and facilitating networking between businesses for the participating countries was appreciated, the release added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Nitin Gadkari attends Iran president’s swearing-in

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Soon after voting in the vice-presidential elections, transport minister Nitin Gadkari flew to Tehran on a special diplomatic mission to sort out irritants and placate Iran. He was chosen by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to represent India at the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s second term.Gadkari had played a key role in drafting the Trilateral Transit and Transport Corridor Treaty between India, Iran and Afghanistan that was later signed during Modi’s visit to Tehran in 2016.The project involved developing Chabahar port (barely a thousand kilometres from Kandla in Gujarat) with road and rail connectivity linking it to Zaranj, on the Afghan-Iran border, 900 km to the north.But since then, there has been a dip in ties following delays in the timeline India was to follow for the development of the port.

Kerala: NIA arrests man over alleged links with ISIS

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An Alappuzha native has been taken into custody on Friday by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) over alleged links with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).The development came after the NIA on Thursday conducted searches at two locations in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore, and one location in Kerala’s Alappuzha as part of investigation in connection with the Omar Al-Hindi ISIS Module case.There are indications that CDs, Pen-drives and leaflets relate to the alleged IS connection has been seized from the house of Alappuzha native.Police seized his laptop and mobile phones for forensic examination.His mother, however, told the media that her son never had involved in such activities.A charge-sheet was filed in the case under Sections 120B, 121 and 122 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) besides Sections 17, 18, 18B, 20, 38, 39 and 40 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on March 29 against six arrested accused persons besides absconding accused Shajeer Abdullah Mangalassery, who, while being outside India had hatched the criminal conspiracy and formed the terrorist gang to further the objectives of ISIS in India.An investigation in the case had revealed that charge-sheeted accused Shajeer Mangalassery had migrated to an ISIS controlled territory in Afghanistan from the UAE in June, 2016.After the arrest of accused persons in this case in October, 2016, absconder Mangalassery, using the online identities Abu Ayisha or Sameer Ali, had been radicalizing vulnerable youth on the ideology of ISIS, over the social media platforms and has exhorted them to indulge in violent jihad in India.Based on reliable information, the NIA conducted searches at houses and workplaces of such persons.Inputs had also revealed that such radicalized individuals were inclined to support and further the objectives of the proscribed terrorist organization ISIS.During the searches conducted on the basis of the warrants issued by the Special NIA court, Ernakulam, several mobile phones, laptops, hard disks, pen drives, DVDs/ CDs, memory cards, SIM cards besides documents including books and manuscripts have been seized.One of the three persons whose premises have been searched has admitted that he had been in regular contact with Abdul Rashid Abdullah, accused in the other ISIS related cases of the NIA.The suspects are being examined by the NIA investigators to ascertain the facts regarding their involvement in this case.

Geelani-led Hurriyat warns of Syria-like situation in Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti rejected third party intervention, Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani warned that “if the mediation of UN body or any third country is not solicited or accepted, the situation in Kashmir may become like Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan.”The Hurriyat spokesman noted that both India and Pakistan have failed to solve the Kashmir problem bilaterally. “Nor any tangible progress has been observed through agreements viz Shimla and Lahore Declaration. Besides India, Pakistan, and people of J&K, the UN constitutes as the fourth party to the disputed issue of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.The spokesman said despite 150 rounds of negotiations between India and Pakistan, there is no letup in bloodshed in Jammu and Kashmir.“The present state of chaos and continuous bloodshed is the outcome of noncompliance of these agreements. There is nothing bad, nor does anyone need to feel displeased or annoyed if any of the influential and powerful countries offer their services to resolve this long-pending dispute,” he said.The Hurriyat spokesman maintained that the international community has always lauded and appreciated the intervention of third parties in the resolution of all conflicts. “Kashmir issue was raised in UNO by India, and hence admitted the importance of the status of a mediator. Delay in its resolution will give rise to more complex situations,” he said.The remarks come a day after Mehbooba Mufti rejected third party intervention from China or the US, and batted for bilateral talks between India and Pakistan under Lahore Declaration and Shimla Agreement to solve the Kashmir issue.“We have a roadmap. Even after a war, we (India and Pakistan) have to talk to each other. We have Vajpayee Ji’s Lahore Declaration. We have Shimla Agreement. We have to sit together and talk to each other. What will America, Englistan, and Turkistan do? They have made a mess of the issues confronting the world,” Mufti said.

US, China should mind their business: Mehbooba Mufti

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rejecting any third party intervention from China or the US, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday batted for bilateral talks between India and Pakistan under the Lahore Declaration and Shimla Treaty to resolve the vexed Kashmir issue.”We have a roadmap,” Mehbooba told reporters. “Even after the war, we (India and Pakistan) have to talk to each other. We have Vajpayee-ji’s Lahore Declaration. We have the Shimla Agreement. We have to sit together and talk to each other. What will America, Englistan and Turkistan do? They have made a mess of the issues confronting the world.”Mehbooba’s remarks came against the backdrop of former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah’s call for third party intervention urging New Delhi to seek help from China and US to mediate the Kashmir issue.”America and China should mind their own business,” continued Mehbooba. “Wherever America has intervened, they have made a mess of these countries. China is mired in its own issues in Tibet. Look at the situation in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Does Farooq-sahab want us to suffer like these countries or he wants our state to prosper?”Invoking former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Chief Minister said they should look up to their leaders who have charted a road map for resolving the Kashmir issue. “We should take it the road map forward,” she said. “Every day, there is firing on the borders and our people and soldiers die. Common people on the other side also die. There should be permanent cure to this problem. It can only happen when we respect these agreements.”Earlier, Mehbooba had visited sensitive south Kashmir, which has been the epicenter of the 2016 unrest that affected development in that region, and inaugurated several developmental projects. “People were seen in large numbers enroute, eagerly awaiting the Chief Minister,” says a government spokesperson. “They projected their demands and sought resolution. They were seen struggling to have a word with their leader.”

After facing flak, Pak says fully resolved to fight terrorism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan today said it was fully resolved to fight terrorism and had taken strong measures against the menace, a day after the US listed it among nations providing “safe havens” to terrorists. “Our efforts have been met with success, and acknowledged by a number of countries including the United States,” Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at the weekly briefing. He said that various delegations, who came to Pakistan from the US and other countries, have visited the affected areas, which “we successfully cleansed from terrorism.” His remarks came a day after the State Department in its annual ‘Country Report on Terrorism’, as mandated by the Congress, said that Pakistan did not take substantial action against the Afghan Taliban or Haqqani, or substantially limit their ability to threaten US interests in Afghanistan. “Pakistan did not take sufficient action against other externally focused groups, such as LeT and JeM in 2016, which continued to operate, train, organise, and fundraise in Pakistan,” the report said, noting that the Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed continued to address large rallies. Reacting to the State Department report, Zakaria said Pakistan was fully resolved to fight terrorism and had taken strong measures against it. He, however, accused India of targeting the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Zakaria also that India was not extending support to the a UN observer group, which has the mandate to monitor the ceasefire violations at the LoC and Working Boundary in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions. “We have repeatedly urged the Indian side to permit UNMOGIP to play its mandated role as per the UNSC resolutions,” he said. India maintains that UNMOGIP has outlived its utility and is irrelevant after the Simla Agreement and the consequent establishment of the Line of Control. Zakaria said that 21 civilians were killed and 30 others injured in LoC firing in 2017, while the ceasefire violations have increased from 382 in 2016 to 580 this year. He said Kashmir is a core dispute between Pakistan and India, and it threatens the peace and stability of region. Pakistan believes in peace and resolving all outstanding issues with India through negotiations, he added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Suspected Islamic State operative held at IGIA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a development that might point towards an organised ISIS recruitment cartel being operated from India, the Delhi Police’s Special Cell has arrested a Kerala resident, who was attempting to go to Syria for terror-related activities on the basis of forged documents, and another man for helping him.Identified as Shahjahan Velluva Kandy, 32, a resident of Kannur in Kerala, the suspected ISIS operative has been deported from Turkey to India twice before. He was nabbed by the Special Cell sleuths after the US intelligence agency CIA tipped them off about his arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) last week.”Kandy had been travelling on a forged passport in the name of Mohamed Ismail Mohideen. He was arrested by the Turkish authorities and deported to India in February, after which he got another passport and tried to go to Syria. After receiving information about his arrival, we intercepted him in Delhi. He had come with another person identified as Abdul Razak Kunhil Pocker, who is also being questioned,” a senior police officer said.According to the police, Kandy has revealed his links with some of the terrorists of ISIS, arrested in Kerala in October, 2016. He also disclosed the identity of the man who helped him get the fake passport to travel to Syria. A police team then raided the identified premises in Kerala and arrested his aide, whose name hasn’t been disclosed yet.Police suspect the two to be linked to a larger syndicate involved in radicalising Indians. “He has been arrested and is being questioned for further links. Data on his mobile phone is being scruitinised and a probe through technical surveillance is being carried,” an officer said.Terror trailJuly, 2016: 21 self-radicalised people from Kerala go missing and are suspected to have joined ISIS. They are found to be in Afghanistan.Oct, 2016: Subahani Moideen flees Kerala in April and goes to Mosul to fight for ISIS. Jan, 2017: NIA arrests Abdul Rashid Abdulla Yasmin for motivating 14 youths to join ISIS.Feb, 2017: Moinudiheen Parakadavath, a member of ISIS-inspired group Omar Al-Hind, deported from Abu Dhabi and arrested by NIA for radicalising youths in Kerala through social media.

Enforce laws to curb illegal channels, bad content: Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu today called for effective implementation of laws to restrict broadcast of “unauthorised” channels and “objectionable” content. The information and broadcasting minister said All India Radio would commission two new digital transmitters of 100 kW power each for dissemination of content across the border for Afghanistan-Pakistan region by the end of next month. The minister was addressing a meeting here to review the functioning of the media units under his ministry in the union territories (UTs). The minister urged the UTs to appoint nodal officers who can assist the district magistrates to curb broadcast of unauthorised channels. “Naidu stressed upon the need to ensure effective implementation of Cable TV Act in order to restrict airing of objectionable content and unauthorised channels,” an official release said. However, he did not elaborate on what constitutes objectionable content. With regard to unauthorised channels, the comments come in the backdrop of reports of Pakistani channels being aired illegally in Jammu and Kashmir in May. Naidu had then asked the state government to stop their transmission. Addressing the meeting, the minister also pitched for identifying publications which do not publish anything but submit official documents only for availing government advertisements. Out of 16,132 registered publications in Delhi, only 3,704 publications has submitted their annual returns in the last five years, the release said. Naidu said a new FM transmitter would be installed in Car Nicobar by the end of the financial year, besides replacing the existing transmitters in Daman and Karaikal (Puducherry) with higher power transmitters to enhance outreach. Highlighting the importance of communication in local dialects, Naidu urged the UTs to give emphasis to setting up of community radio stations. Earlier in the day addressing a conference of Prasar Bharati’s Regional News Unit, the minister emphasised that the focus must be on Indian languages spoken in a particular region. “There is no question of thrusting any language on anybody. Focus should be on the mother tongue because you can convey and understand better in your mother tongue. “Some people say don’t impose Hindi at all. We never impose anything and the government does not believe in that. “We are only proposing that along with your mother tongue, learn other languages as well. Proposing is different from imposing,” Naidu said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

5 from Malabar killed while fighting for IS in Syria: Reports

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kerala Intelligence has received reports of death of five persons from Malabar while fighting for Islamic State in Syria, but the news cannot be authenticated as the information was first received by the victims’ family, an official has said. “Such news is not authenticated, it is only information. But the reports could be true as they were received by family circles,” a senior officer in the Intelligence wing said. He said relatives of one Sibi from Kanjikode in Palakkad district, had received the news of his death a few days ago. Sibi was working in Bahrain before joining the IS in Syria. “Further details could not be known,” the official said. Similar is the case of one Muhadis, reportedly killed in Aleppo in Syria in military operations. His brother who works in Bahrain broke the news of Muhadis’ death to family members at Vaniyambalam in Mallapuram district when he came home about a month ago, the officer said. Abu Tahir from Palakkad district was reportedly killed in US military strikes in Syria in April this year. The Intelligence official, however, did not give details of the other two persons reportedly killed in Syria. The official said the earlier deaths of four others from Kasaragod and Kozhikode districts of Kerala at Nangahar in Afghanistan have been confirmed. “But it will be difficult for us to confirm the present deaths of five persons reportedly killed in Syria,” he added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Modi in US: CPI slams PM for ‘accepting’ US position which identifies ‘terror and Islam as one’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The CPI attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the India-US joint statement with regard to terrorism, saying he has “accepted” the American position that allegedly identifies terror and Islam as one.CPI national secretary D Raja also said that India is allegedly playing second fiddle to the US on the issue by buying the theory.”Modi is accepting American theory which identifies terror and Islam as one. It is different from what was India’s position on the issue,” CPI national secretary D Raja said. In a stern message to Pakistan, India and the US today asked the country to ensure that its soil is not used for cross-border terror with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump vowing to boost their fight against terror groups like ISIS, JeM, LeT and D-Company.As the two leaders held their maiden meeting at the White House and displayed a lot of chemistry, the two countries also called on Pakistan to “expeditiously” bring to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai, Pathankot attacks and other cross-border terrorist assaults by Pakistan-based groups.Modi and Trump vowed to strengthen efforts to fight terrorism and eliminate safe havens for terrorists.”Eliminating terrorism is among the top-most priorities for us,” Modi told reporters in his joint press statement with Trump at the White House Rose Garden.A joint statement issued after their meeting said the two sides “called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terror attacks on other countries.” Ahead of the meeting, the US State Department had set the tone for the summit by declaring Syed Salahuddin, chief of Kashmiri militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, as a ‘global terrorist’.The State Department’s action sent out a strong message against the terrorism emanating from Pakistan which is hurting India.During their meeting, the two leaders also “committed to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including al-Qaeda, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e- Taiba (LeT), D-Company (led by underworld don and terror mastermind Dawood Ibrahim), and their affiliates.” During the meeting, that was high on symbolism, there was no mention of contentious issues like the H-1B visa reform and climate change.The Trump administration also confirmed that it had given its approval to the multi-million dollar sale of a transport carrier to India, along with a separate purchase of around 20 Guardian drones.”I would say the relationship between India and the United States has never been stronger, has never been better,” Trump told Modi as they made press statements.”I look forward to working with you, Mr prime minister, to create jobs in our countries, to grow our economies and to create a trading relationship that is fair and reciprocal.” Modi highlighted his government’s economic reforms and the ease of doing business in the country.”We consider the United States as our primary partner in India’s socio-economic transformation in all our flagship programs and schemes,” Modi said.”I’m sure that convergence between my vision for a new India and President Trump’s vision for ‘Making America Great Again’ will add a new dimension to our cooperation,” Modi said, in reference to Trump’s signature campaign slogan.The meeting, however, seemed to be dominated by the discussions on cross-border terrorism with the leaders announcing increased cooperation to prevent terrorist travel and to disrupt global recruitment efforts by expanding intelligence-sharing and operational-level counter-terrorism cooperation.The leaders also affirmed their support for a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that will advance and strengthen the framework for global cooperation and reinforce the message that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism, the joint statement said.During his address to the media, the prime minister said, “We talked about terrorism, extremism and radicalisation and agreed to cooperate on this. Fighting terrorism and doing away with the safe shelters, sanctuaries, and safe havens will be an important part of our cooperation.”Trump said both nations are “determined” to destroy terrorist organisations and the radical ideology that drives them.”The security partnership between the US and India is incredibly important. Both our nations have been struck by the evils of terrorism and we are both determined to destroy terrorist organisations and the radical ideology that drives them. We will destroy radical Islamic terrorism,” he said.Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, while briefing reporters on the meeting, said the two nations noted that in their joint statement that terrorism is a global scourge that must be fought in every part of the world, and the US and India would do it together.”Our militaries are working every day to enhance cooperation between our military forces, and next month they will join together with the Japanese navy to take part in the largest maritime exercise ever conducted in the Indian Ocean,” Trump said.In their address at the White House Rose Garden, the two leaders also touched on trade, security, bilateral co- operation and instability in Afghanistan, among other issues.Modi termed his talks with Trump as an “important page in the history of India-US relationship”. He said he discussed in detail with Trump defence and security cooperation between the two nations.The two leaders had spoken over phone thrice before this meeting.Describing both countries as “global engines of growth”, the prime minister said trade, commerce and investment are key areas of mutual cooperation. “Technology, innovation and knowledge economy are also areas we are actively looking at,” he said.Trump said he is keen to work with Modi on creating a “fair and reciprocal” trade relationship between the two nations and called for the removal of “barriers” for the export of US goods into Indian markets. “It is important that that we reduce our trade deficit with your country,” he added.The US president said that ties between India and the US have never been stronger and better. Before their meeting began, he thanked India for ordering military equipment from the US.Trump said he was pleased with an order by an Indian airline company for 100 new American planes, calling it one of the largest orders of it is kind, which will support thousands and thousands of American jobs.”We’re also looking forward to exporting more American energy to India as your economy grows, including major long- term contracts to purchase American natural gas, which are right now being negotiated, and we will sign them. Trying to get the price up a little bit,” he said.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”.”We’re doing that also, by the way. Creating great new opportunities for your citizens. You have a big vision for improving infrastructure, and you are fighting government corruption, which is always a grave threat to democracy,” he said.India is the fastest growing economy in the world Trump said and added, “We hope we will be catching up you very soon.”Both leaders also expressed concern over rising instability in Afghanistan caused by terrorism, and agreed to continue strengthening coordination for ensuring peace and stability in the war-torn country.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 North Korean regime is causing tremendous problems and is something that has to be dealt with, and probably dealt with rapidly,” Trump said.Vice President Mike Pence, who accompanied the President in most of his meetings with Modi at the White House, tweeted, “Privilege for @POTUS & me to meet PM of India @narendramodi at @WhiteHouse.””As President Trump said our two nations are tied together in friendship,” he said.

Terror figures in PM’s meetings with two key US officials

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ways to enhance cooperation between the US and India in counter terrorism were today discussed as two top Trump Administration officials met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defence James Mattis met Modi just ahead of the prime minister’s first meeting with President Donald Trump, setting the tone for the Summit-level discussions. During the meeting with Tillerson which covered strategic areas and economic cooperation, Modi defined the Indo-US ties as the “defining partnership” and said it has a global importance. The prime minister said the whole world was looking at the partnership, according to External Affairs Ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay. He expressed India’s desire to work with the US for promoting the partnership, said Baglay while briefing the media on these meetings. Referring to terrorism, Modi said it was posing a challenge to both the countries. Modi and Tillerson discussed how the two countries can cooperate in countering the challenge, Baglay said, adding they deliberated on the broad direction in this context. The prime minister emphasised that India wants good relations with all countries, including its neighbours. He said India wants its neighbours to progress like India under his mantra of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas’ (cooperation of all, development of all), the spokesman said. The issue of terrorism figured in Modi’s meeting with Mattis too, along with the situation in Afghanistan. They discussed how the Indo-US relations could be developed into an upward projectile, Baglay said. In the discussions, there was also a veiled reference to the South China Sea over which China is laying an absolute claim. Without naming China, Modi and Mattis emphasised the need for adhering to the international laws, freedom of navigation, air travel and communication.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

PM Modi in U.S.: BJP foreign affairs in-charge says terrorism will be discussed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Throwing light on the issues that will be discussed in an upcoming meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and United States President Donald Trump in Washington on Monday, Vijay Chauthaiwale, In-Charge, Department of Foreign Affairs, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said that counter-terrorism would be a major topic of discussion. ?India and U.S. interactions are multi dimensional in nature that includes developing global counter terrorism strategy and focus on jihadi terrorism born in Pakistan that impacts India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. I’m not aware of any agreement on anti-terrorism, but overall India and U.S. are having a very high level of collaboration of intelligence sharing,” Chauthaiwale said. ?For the first time, India and U.S. defence cooperation is increasing regarding an upcoming deal of Guardian drones and joint production of F-16 ties. Yes, there exist some contentious issues like H1B Visa and immigrants,? Vijay told ANI. Pointing to the statements made by Trump, Vijay said, “There may be differences, but there exist so many things of common interest. Overall, it will reflect the strong and enduring partnership between these two countries.? He also stated that a community event has been organised by Ambassador of India to U.S. Navtej Sarna, where 700 community leaders will be in attendance and said ?it will be a high-impact event.? Earlier, Prime Minister Modi touched down at the Andrews Air Force base to a warm welcome by expat Indians waving flags and the customary “Modi Modi Modi Modi” chant. Prime Minister Modi was received by the Indian Ambassador to the U.S., Navtej Sarna, and his wife, Aveena. “We are here to welcome the Prime Minister. We will be delighted to meet him,” said an expat, just before the arrival of Prime Minister Modi. “We expect a lot from Prime Minister Modi. We think he is a great leader. So I came to see and meet him,” said another.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

In Narendra Modi, Donald Trump has a leader he can truly work with: Experts

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a leader, US President Donald Trump can truly work with and the two should communicate in their first meeting the desire to advance bilateral relations while addressing concerns over H1B work visas, experts here have said.”The visit of Prime Minister Modi couldn’t come at a more opportune time. President Trump badly needs both an opportunity to bolster his presidency and a clear achievement to add to his win column. In India, Trump has a natural partner, and in Modi, he has a leader he can truly work with,” Asia Society Policy Institute Assistant Director Anubhav Gupta said on the eve of Modi’s visit to the US for his first bilateral meeting with Trump.Gupta said Trump and Modi can begin on the right foot by communicating their desire to advance the relationship to new heights. However, the two should also ensure that “legitimate disagreements” on certain issues, including the H1-B work visas and intellectual property rights do not hold the relationship back.”There is strong bi-partisan support in the US Congress for a closer partnership with India. India’s fast growing and increasingly more open economy are huge opportunities for the United States. Additionally, India can serve as a vital partner for the United States in the Asia-Pacific region. For all of these reasons, pursuing stronger ties with India would be a clear win for the Trump administration,” Gupta said.He added that Modi, who has steadily moved India closer to the United States in his three years in office, is well positioned to take the relationship further after consolidating political power in India through big victories in recent state elections in India.With Modi “strongly situated” to win re-election in 2019, the US should take advantage of his good standing.”The visit’s success will depend on whether the Trump Administration has been able to focus enough of its attention on India to decide whether and how it will seek an upgrade in the relationship. It will also depend on whether the White House can reassure India about some of its major concerns,” Gupta said.The Institute’s Director of Asian Security Lindsey Ford said while Trump and Modi may have challenging waters to navigate on the economic front, especially regarding trade deficits and visa issues, a “bright spot” in their conversation is likely to be the security and defence relationship.”The most notable deliverable likely to emerge from the visit is the announcement of the US decision to sell India 22 unmanned Guardian drones, a request which had been at the top of Modi’s wish list. If approved, India will become the first non-NATO country permitted to purchase the high-tech drones,” Ford said.The drones deal, combined with Lockheed Martin’s recent announcement of a new joint venture with Tata Advanced Systems, signifies the rapid growth of US-India defence ties over the past decade, Ford added.Gupta stressed that in his meeting wth Trump, Modi is sure to bring up South Asian stability, in particular US policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan.”India will look for reassurance that the Administration is committed for the longer term in Afghanistan and has a true interest in and strategy for maintaining stability. Modi will also push the administration for a more stern US policy toward Pakistan, which continues to support militancy in Afghanistan and India. Support on these two fronts would reassure India greatly,” Gupta said.The two leaders can commit to strengthening economic ties by agreeing to a genuine dialogue on enhancing trade or negotiating a bilateral investment treaty, Gupta said.Ford added that given the uncertainty surrounding the Trump administration’s Asia policy, and in particular, US strategy in South Asia, Modi will also want to remind Trump of the significance of the US-India strategic partnership and of the US commitment to long-term stability in Afghanistan.Noting that India is the indispensable country for addressing climate change, Asia Society Policy Institute Director of Asian Sustainability Jackson Ewing said India embodies the core climate debate about how much emerging economies should rely on fossil fuels for their development needs.”India will aggressively transition away from fossil fuels only if doing so makes strategic and economic sense to the country’s political and economic leadership,” Ewing said.”Accelerating its transition to a cleaner energy future as Modi makes clear at every opportunity will require substantial international support. It remains to be seen if such support is in the offing,” Ewing added.

Second cargo flight from Afghanistan to arrive Delhi tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The second cargo flight carrying 40 tonnes of fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants is scheduled to arrive here from Kandahar tomorrow. An aircraft with 60 tonnes food items had landed here on June 19, marking the opening of the first air cargo corridor between Afghanistan and India. Similarly, a cargo flight from Delhi to Kabul transported 100 tonnes of goods, mainly pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. The Afghanistan-India Air Freight Corridor was inaugurated by Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on June 19 in Kabul. “The second air cargo flight carrying 10 MTs of fresh fruits and 30 MTs of vegetable and medicinal plants from Kandahar is scheduled to land in Delhi tomorrow,” the Afghan Embassy said in a release. The inaugural flight was received at the Indira Gandhi International Airport by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the presence of Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar. The idea of creating air freight corridor was first put forward by President Ghani during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September last year.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

‘Trump-Modi meet must focus on new priority areas in ties’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump in their maiden bilateral meeting must focus on establishing new priority areas in the Indo-US cooperation, which is an important for Asia’s regional stability, an American expert has said. “Ahead of the first Trump-Modi summit, US-India relations are on uncertain footing. There is not yet a visible, cabinet-level leader in the US willing to take up this relationship as a priority. Trade concerns on both sides are growing,” Richard M Rossow said in an op-ed released ahead of Modi’s visit to the US. “The June 2017 summit must focus on establishing the new priority areas for cooperation. The strength of this relationship is an important component of Asia’s regional stability, and both leaders must ensure that recent momentum is maintained,” Rossow, senior adviser and Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic International Studies said yesterday. Rossow said the notion that Trump and Modi’s shared political characteristics would ensure continued progress in building ties between the US and India is visibly falling apart. “Though leaders in both countries reiterate the standard line that they prioritise the other, in a more practical sense, we have seen increased frictions in the last six months. The US is turning up the heat on India on commercial matters, while India expands its vision of “Make in India” and is courting additional global relationships with new vigour,” he said. “The Modi-Trump summit on June 26 is a singular chance to get an early, favourable course correction. At risk is a possible four-year freeze in ties, with increased friction on trade and backsliding on past commitments to cooperation. The meeting will provide more clarity on whether the past six months have been Act 1 in a surprising friendship or Round 1 of a protracted slugging match,” Rossow said. Lindsey Ford, director of Asian Security, Asia Society Policy Institute said, while Trump and Modi may have challenging waters to navigate on the economic front, especially regarding trade deficits and visa issues, a bright spot in their conversation is likely to be the security and defence relationship. Anubhav Gupta, assistant director, Asia Society Policy Institute, said that Modi is sure to bring up South Asian stability, in particular US policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. The administrations recent decision to let the defence department determine troop levels in Afghanistan could result in a short term influx of US troops there, which India might welcome, he said. “However, India will look for reassurance that the administration is committed for the longer term in Afghanistan and has a true interest in and strategy for maintaining stability,” Gupta said. “Modi will also push the administration for a more stern US policy toward Pakistan, which continues to support militancy in Afghanistan and India. Support on these two fronts would reassure India greatly,” he said. According to Puneet Manchanda, professor of marketing at the Ross School of Business, Modi’s visit to the US is best seen as a reset of economic relations between the two countries. “Given the new regime in the White House, India needs to make sure that US investment in India, especially as related to defence and energy, is not going to change dramatically,” he said. “It also seems that President Trump prefers to build individual relationships with foreign leaders and thus it would help PM Modi to put the building blocks of such a relationship in place during this visit,” Manchanda said. Arun Agrawal, professor of natural resources and environment, at the University of Michigan said India’s ambitious moves in the renewable energy sector mark its emergence as a major global player in solar and wind. “Those who care about climate change and sustainability will be excited about Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the US. India’s future plans to advance on electric cars and pursue greater sustainability will require digital innovations and partnerships,” Agrawal said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Pak begins fencing border with Afghanistan amid tense ties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan said today it has begun to fence its over 2,400-kilometre-long, porous border with Afghanistan, amid a spike in infiltration by militants that has hit their ties. The Pakistan Army said the “phased fencing of entire Pakistan-Afghanistan border has commenced”. Pakistan shares a long and porous border with Afghanistan, which runs through mountainous terrain and is largely unpatrolled. The Durand Line was drawn by the British rulers in 1896 and is disputed by Afghanistan, which also resists Pakistani attempts to erect any border fence. Due to a lack of policing, border skirmishes have often led to escalation in tension between the two countries. In May, at least 15 people were killed and dozens wounded after a hours-long cross-border firing between Pakistani and Afghan forces. However, the Pakistani Army in a statement said, “In phase I, high infiltration-prone border areas in Bajaur, Mohmand and Khyber Agencies are being fenced”, and added that in the second phase, fencing of remaining border areas including the restive Balochistan province will be executed. The decision to fence the selective parts of the border was taken some time ago as part of initiatives to curb infiltration by militants. In addition to fencing, the Army and paramilitary Frontier Corps Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were constructing new forts and border posts to improve surveillance and defence. “A secure Pakistan-Afghanistan border is in common interest of both countries and a well-coordinated border security mechanism is essential for enduring peace and stability,” said the Pakistani Army.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Modi-Trump meeting to set tone, framework for bilateral ties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump would set the tone and the framework for the bilateral relationship going forward, a leading expert on India and Asia has said.”The two leaders will have a chance to get to know each other and to find some common ground on the way they look at the world and a common strategic view that would set the framework on how the two governments pursue the relationship going forward,” said Senior Fellow for India with the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) Marshall Bouton.Bouton, a nationally known expert on India and Asia, said the first meeting between Trump and Modi in Washington on June 26 will be “all about setting the tone and the framework for the relationship going forward” but he does not expect the meeting to be “big bang.””I am not dismissing the possibility, but I am not expecting major breakthrough announcements from this meeting.In some ways those would be the cart before the horse,” said Bouton, who is President Emeritus of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.He said that the “most positive” outcome of the first summit talks between leaders of the world s largest and oldest democracies would be “a meeting of the minds on the issues that the two leaders want to pursue together.” Bouton had last month authored a comprehensive ASPI paper ‘The Trump Administration’s India Opportunity,’ in which he called for the US administration to move decisively and engage Modi s government to deepen cooperation and manage potential disputes.Listing the priority areas for the first Modi-Trump meeting, Bouton said the two leaders must begin by emphasizing the strongest areas of mutual interest, which are clearly security and terrorism issues.He noted that the Trump administration has not yet articulated with India its role in the broader Asia-Pacific region, importance of the US-India partnership over the next two-three decades of bringing stability and peace to Asia and India s “absolutely critical” role in accomplishing that.On terrorism, he said both countries are grappling with the scourge and both are experiencing some growing concerns.”Another area in the security realm is Pakistan,” Bouton said, adding that Modi will want to share with Trump his view and his concerns about Pakistan behaviour vis-a-vis India in their bilateral relationship.Modi will also be very interested to learn what is the strategy of the Trump administration on Afghanistan.”What is the US interest in Afghanistan, that is highly relevant to India s interest. So I am sure that will be a very important subject of conversation. As part of that and also separately what does Prime Minister Modi want to hear from Trump about the US relationship with Pakistan going forward,” Bouton said.Another key issue could be China and what is the Trump administration s strategic view of China going forward, said Bouton, who has previously served as Director for Policy Analysis for Near East, Africa and South Asia in the US Department of Defense and as Special Assistant to the US Ambassador to India.

President Trump is the saviour of humanity: Hindu Sena chief

Vishnu Gupta, National President of the Hindu Sena, who was present at the event, described Trump as the “saviour of humanity. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>US President Donald Trump has a fan following in India and this was seen at an event organised by the right-wing group Hindu Sena in the Capital. Celebrating the birthday of the US President who turned 71 on Wednesday, the Hindu Sena arranged for a cake weighing 7.1 kg and also carried out other rituals such as a tilak ceremony, in front of Trump’s picture. Hindu Sena members also mentioned that they have received gifts for President Trump from different corners of India, which they would give to him whenever he next comes to India.Vishnu Gupta, National President of the Hindu Sena, who was present at the event, described Trump as the “saviour of humanity.” Speaking at the event Gupta said, “The only person who can bring world peace is Donald Trump. He is the one who can destroy radical Islamist terror groups.”Supporting the US President’s measures so far, Gupta added, “It is due to the measures of Trump that the terrorist activities have been curbed across the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. We are hopeful that one day, certain measures will be taken to stop the spread of terrorism by Pakistan along the LoC.”

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