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Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt sever diplomatic ties with Qatar

 
Arab nations sever ties with Qatar, US urges unity
Four Arab countries -- Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt -- today severed diplomatic ties with Qatar over its relations with Iran and alleged support of Islamist groups in a coordinated move that could isolate the energy-rich Gulf state in the region.
 
Saudi Arabia said that it had decided to cut off diplomatic and consular relations with Qatar and close all land, sea and air ports to Qatari vehicles, vessels and flights and prevent their crossing into Saudi territories, air space or territorial waters.
 
The official Saudi Press Agency quoted an official source as saying that the kingdom took the decision in exercise of its sovereign rights and to protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.
 
It said it would start immediate legal procedures for understanding with fraternal and friendly countries and international companies to implement the same procedure as soon as possible for all means of transport to and from the State of Qatar for reasons relating to Saudi national security.
 
In Abu Dhabi, the UAE government issued a similar statement in support of the statements issued by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
 
The UAE said it had severed all relations with Qatar, including diplomatic relations, and gave Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the country. It said it would prevent Qatari nationals from entering the UAE and gave Qatari residents and visitors in the UAE 14 days to leave the country. UAE nationals were likewise banned from travelling to or staying in Qatar or transiting through its territories.
 
The UAE said it would close its airspace and seaports for all Qataris in 24 hours and ban all Qatari means of transport from entering or leaving the UAE.
 
"The UAE is taking these decisive measures as a result of the Qatari authorities’ failure to abide by the Riyadh Agreement on returning GCC diplomats to Doha and its Complementary Arrangement in 2014, and Qatar’s continued support, funding and hosting of terror groups, primarily Islamic Brotherhood, and its sustained endeavours to promote the ideologies of Daesh and Al Qaeda across its direct and indirect media in addition to Qatar’s violation of the statement issued at the US-Islamic Summit in Riyadh on May 21st, 2017 on countering terrorism in the region and considering Iran a state sponsor of terrorism," the statement, carried by WAM, the official Emirates News Agency, said.
 
"The UAE measures are taken as well based on Qatari authorities’ hosting of terrorist elements and meddling in the affairs of other countries as well as their support of terror groups – policies which are likely to push the region into a stage of unpredictable consequences.
 
"While regretting the policies taken by the State of Qatar that sow seeds of sedition and discord among the region’s countries, the UAE affirms its full respect and appreciation for the brotherly Qatari people on account of the profound historical, religious and fraternal ties and kin relations binding UAE and Qatari peoples," it added.
 
Bahrain also issued a similar statement, and said it would withdraw its diplomatic mission in Doha and gave Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the kingdom.
 
"Bahrain is also closing its airspace, ports and territorial waters to air traffic and shipping to and from Qatar within 24 hours of the announcement of the statement," the statement carried by the Bahrain News Agency said.
 
"The Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain is banning its citizens from traveling to Qatar or staying there. It regrets that Qatari citizens are not allowed to enter or transiting through Bahrain. Qatari residents and visitors are therefore given 14 days to leave the Kingdom in order to avoid any hostile attempts or activities that may exploit the situation, despite our pride and confidence in our brethren among the Qatari people and their love for their second country," it said.
 
Egypt, too, said it was ending diplomatic relations with Qatar in view of its "insistence on taking a hostile course against Egypt and the failure of all attempts to dissuade it from supporting the terrorist organizations, especially the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood and harboring its leaders".
 
A statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also referred to Qatar's alleged promotion of the ideology of al-Qaeda and Daesh (ISIS) and its alleged support for terrorist activities in Sinai. It accused Qatar of interfering in its internal affairs and those of other countries in the region.
 
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Soon afterwards, the command of the Arab Coalition in Support of the Legitimacy in Yemen ended Qatar's participation in the coalition. 
 
Airlines in these countries, including Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia, flydubai, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Gulf Air, also announced the suspension of all flights to and from Qatar. The countries also banned Qatari aircraft from landing in their airports.
 
In Doha, the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed "deep regret" over the decision by the four countries and said it was "unjustified" and based on "baseless and unfounded allegations".
 
"Qatar has been exposed to an instigation campaign based on allegations that amounted to absolute fabrications, which proves that there are premeditated intentions to cause damage to the State.  Qatar is an active member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), committed to its Charter, respects the sovereignty of other countries, does not interfere in their internal affairs, and carries out its duties in combating terrorism and extremism.
 
"It is clear that the media campaign failed to convince public opinion in the region and in the Gulf  countries in particular, which explains the continued escalation. The fabrication of reasons for taking action against a sister country in the GCC is clear evidence that there is no legitimate justification for these measures, which were taken in coordination with Egypt, and the purpose is clear : the imposition of guardianship over the State. This in itself is a violation of its sovereignty as a state which is categorically rejected," it said
 
The Ministry said the measures would not affected normal life of the people of Qatar and that the Government would take all necessary steps to ensure this and thwart attempts to influence and harm Qatari society and economy.
 
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Six killed, more than 45 injured in terror attack in south London

At least six people were killed and more than 45 others suffered injuries in a terror attack in the London Bridge and Borough Market areas of south London late on Saturday night, in which the three attackers were shot dead by the police.

 
Six killed in terror attack in London
At least six people were killed and more than 45 others suffered injuries in a terror attack in the London Bridge and Borough Market areas of south London late on Saturday night, in which the three attackers were shot dead by the police.
 
The wounded included an on-duty police officer who responded to the incident at London Bridge, but his injuries were not life-threatening, official sources said.
 
“Since late yesterday evening [Saturday, 3 June], the Metropolitan Police Service has been responding to incidents in the London Bridge and Borough Market areas of south London. We are treating this as a terrorist incident and a full investigation is already underway, led by the Met's Counter Terrorism Command," Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley of Metropolitan Police said.
 
Mr. Rowley said the police began to receive reports at 22.08 hours yesterday that a white van had struck pedestrians on London Bridge.
 
"The vehicle continued to drive from London Bridge to Borough Market. The suspects then left the vehicle and a number of people were stabbed, including an on-duty British Transport Police officer who was responding to the incident at London Bridge. He received serious but not life-threatening injuries. His family has been informed.
 
"Armed officers responded very quickly and bravely, confronting three male suspects who were shot and killed in Borough Market. The suspects had been confronted and shot by the police within eight minutes of the first call. The suspects were wearing what looked like explosive vests but these were later established to be hoaxes," he said.
 
Mr. Rowley said the ongoing operation was led by the Met Police, working closely with British Transport Police, City of London Police, the London Ambulance Service and the London Fire Brigade.
 
“At this stage, we believe that six people have died in addition to the three attackers shot dead by police. And at least 20 casualties have been taken to six hospitals across London.
 
“I'd like to repeat our request for the public to avoid the following areas: London Bridge and Borough Market. This is to allow emergency services to deal with this incident," he said.
 
Mr. Rowley said the investigation was being led by the  Counter Terrorism Command and asked anybody who has images or film of the incident to pass those to police by uploading it at www.ukpoliceimageappeal.co.uk.
 
“Our thoughts are with all those involved and those responding to both incidents. Those who are concerned about a loved one can contact the Casualty Bureau on 0800 0961 233.
 
“We are reviewing and planning to strengthen our policing stance across London over the forthcoming days, and there will be additional police and officers deployed across the Capital.
 
“I would like to ask the public to remain vigilant and let us know if they see anything suspicious that causes them concern and dial 999 immediately," he added.
 
This was the third terror attack in the United Kingdom in three months after the car and knife attack in Westminster in March, in which five people died, and the suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena on May 22 at the end of a concert by American pop singer Ariana Grande, in which 22 people were killed and about 60 suffered injuries.
 
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Modi says Paris Climate Accord is shared heritage of whole world

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that the Paris Comate Accord was a shared heritage of the whole world and this generation's contribution to the hopes of future generations of mankind.

 
Modi meets French President Macron in Paris
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the Paris Comate Accord was a shared heritage of the whole world and this generation's contribution to the hopes of future generations of mankind.
 
At a joint media interaction with French President Emmanuel Macron here after their bilateral talks, Mr. Modi said it was the collective responsibility of all nations to save the earth.
 
He said India is committed to the accord, and even beyond it, India will work and walk together with others to leave a gift for the future generations.  
 
Mr. Modi spoke of the service to humanity and human values that France-India relations have rendered successfully over the years. He expressed confidence that relations will go forward even faster.  
 
In this context, he mentioned the International Solar Alliance, and the joint effort of India and France to this cause.  
 
Mr. Modi described protection of the environment as an article of faith for Indians, and a centuries old tradition.  
 
Describing the city of Paris as an important part of his political journey, the Prime Minister said India and France had worked shoulder to shoulder for the Climate Agreement.
 
Mr. Modi said both leaders also discussed ways to counter terrorism and radicalization. He said India is in favour of a united progressive European Union.
 
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Modi invites global investors to take advantage of opportunities in India

Asserting that the sky is the limit in India, especially in sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and services, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday made a strong pitch for global investors to take advantage of the investment opportunities opening up in the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the plenary session of St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF2017), in St. Petersburg, Russia on June 2, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the plenary session of St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF2017), in St. Petersburg, Russia on June 2, 2017.
Asserting that the sky is the limit in India, especially in sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and services, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today made a strong pitch for global investors to take advantage of the investment opportunities opening up in the country.
 
Addressing the plenary session of St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) here, he said rising urbanization in India required the most modern infrastructure, including metro networks, waste managements and so on.
 
He spoke of the efforts to expand and modernize the railway network in India and also of the initiative to clean the mighty Ganga river, stressing that all these represented great opportunities for investment.
 
The theme of the plenary session was "Achieving a New Balance on the Global Stage." India is a "guest country" at the SPIEF this year, and Mr. Modi was the  "Guest of Honour." 
 
Mr. Modi said India-Russia relations, based on trust, were moving forward with good momentum and deepening in a changing world.
 
He pointed out that he represented 1.25 people, the population of India. He said the world is focused on Asia and, therefore, naturally on India. He said that, since he took over as Prime Minister three years ago, his Government was making progressive decisions on all fronts. He said the country today had an annual GDP growth rate of 7 percent.
 
"Minimum Government, Maximum Governance" and "Red carpet instead of Red tape" have been the basis of governance reforms in India, he said. He said that political will and clear vision are necessary for reforms. Bureaucracy too has to be vibrant and in tune with leadership, he added. 
 
Noting that diversity is India’s strength, the Prime Minister said that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be implemented from July 1, and this will herald a uniform tax system across the country. 
 
Agreeing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who spoke before him, the Prime Minister said technology is going to play a key role, and mentioned the Digital India initiative. He said a "digital divide" cannot be allowed to take root in society. 
 
Mr. Modi spoke of the Government's initiatives in financial inclusion - and the Jandhan, Aadhaar, Mobile (JAM) trinity. He mentioned the scrapping of over 1200 obsolete laws by the Union Government. 
 
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The Prime Minister said India has made 7000 reforms targeting "Ease of Doing Business" - just at the Union Government level. He mentioned initiatives taken for FDI and for competitiveness. He said international rating agencies had identified India as one of the top three destinations for FDI. 
 
Noting the importance of security for investors, the Prime Minister said that India's vibrant democracy and use of English go a long way in ensuring a sense of security. 
 
The Prime Minister said that with the vision of "New India" skill development is a top priority for India's 800 million strong talented youth. In this context he mentioned the success of India's Mars Mission in the first attempt. He said the New India would have youth that are not job seekers but job creators; and can fulfil the global requirements of skilled human resource. 
 
Outlining initiatives in agriculture, Mr. Modi mentioned organic farming and food processing as areas for investment. In the manufacturing sector, he mentioned medical devices and defence equipment manufacturing as key areas for foreign investment. 
 
In the services sector, the Prime Minister said the tourism and hospitality sector will receive high priority. 
 
Mr. Modi said India's economic growth was based not on exploitation of nature - which is a crime- but on its use and preservation and on respecting it. He pointed out that India has a target of generating 175 giga watts of renewable energy by 2022, and added that India is setting up more power generation capacity in renewable energy sector than in thermal. He asserted that India will be a responsible nation with regard to climate and work towards zero-defect, zero-effect manufacturing, entailing no detrimental effect on the environment. He said programmes such as LED bulb distribution had already resulted in huge power savings. 
 
Mr. Modi reached here on Thursday evening on the third leg of a four-nation tour that had earlier taken him to German and Spain and will take him to France before he returns home.
 
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Trump announces US withdrawal from Paris Climate Accord

United States President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that the country would withdraw from the 194-nation Paris Climate Accord which, he said, disadvantages it to the exclusive benefit of other countries, including China and India.

 
Trump decides to pull U.S. out of 'very unfair' Paris agreement
United States President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that the country would withdraw from the 194-nation Paris Climate Accord which, he said, disadvantages it to the exclusive benefit of other countries, including China and India.
 
He, however, said the country would begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris Accord or an entirely new transaction on terms fair to it, its businessses, its people and its taxpayers.
 
"So we’re getting out.  But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair.  And if we can, that’s great.  And if we can’t, that’s fine," he said in a statement to a gathering of top officials, members of Congress and others in the Rose Garden at White House.
 
"One by one, we are keeping the promises I made to the American people during my campaign for President –- whether it’s cutting job-killing regulations; appointing and confirming a tremendous Supreme Court justice; putting in place tough new ethics rules; achieving a record reduction in illegal immigration on our southern border; or bringing jobs, plants, and factories back into the United States at numbers which no one until this point thought even possible.  And believe me, we’ve just begun.  The fruits of our labor will be seen very shortly even more so," he said.
 
In remarks that drew repeated applause from the audience, Mr. Trump said that, as President, he could put no other consideration before the well-being of American citizens.
 
"The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers -- who I love -- and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production," he said.
 
He said that, as of today, the US would cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.  "This includes ending the implementation of the nationally determined contribution and, very importantly, the Green Climate Fund which is costing the United States a vast fortune," he said.
 
"Compliance with the terms of the Paris Accord and the onerous energy restrictions it has placed on the United States could cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025 according to the National Economic Research Associates.  This includes 440,000 fewer manufacturing jobs -- not what we need -- believe me, this is not what we need -- including automobile jobs, and the further decimation of vital American industries on which countless communities rely.  They rely for so much, and we would be giving them so little," he said.
 
He said that, according to the same study, by 2040, compliance with the commitments put into place by the previous administration would cut production for the following sectors:  paper down 12 percent; cement down 23 percent; iron and steel down 38 percent; coal -- and I happen to love the coal miners -- down 86 percent; natural gas down 31 percent.  
 
"The cost to the economy at this time would be close to $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million industrial jobs, while households would have $7,000 less income and, in many cases, much worse than that," he said.
 
"Not only does this deal subject our citizens to harsh economic restrictions, it fails to live up to our environmental ideals.  As someone who cares deeply about the environment, which I do, I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States -- which is what it does -– the world’s leader in environmental protection, while imposing no meaningful obligations on the world’s leading polluters.
 
"For example, under the agreement, China will be able to increase these emissions by a staggering number of years -- 13.  They can do whatever they want for 13 years.  Not us.  India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries.  There are many other examples.  But the bottom line is that the Paris Accord is very unfair, at the highest level, to the United States," he said.
 
"Further, while the current agreement effectively blocks the development of clean coal in America -- which it does, and the mines are starting to open up.  We’re having a big opening in two weeks.  Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, so many places.  A big opening of a brand-new mine.  It’s unheard of.  For many, many years, that hasn’t happened.  They asked me if I’d go.  I’m going to try.
 
"China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants.  So we can’t build the plants, but they can, according to this agreement.  India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020.  Think of it:  India can double their coal production.  We’re supposed to get rid of ours.  Even Europe is allowed to continue construction of coal plants.  
 
"In short, the agreement doesn’t eliminate coal jobs, it just transfers those jobs out of America and the United States, and ships them to foreign countries," he said.
 
Mr. Trump said the agreement was less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.
 
"The rest of the world applauded when we signed the Paris Agreement -- they went wild; they were so happy -- for the simple reason that it put our country, the United States of America, which we all love, at a very, very big economic disadvantage.  A cynic would say the obvious reason for economic competitors and their wish to see us remain in the agreement is so that we continue to suffer this self-inflicted major economic wound.  We would find it very hard to compete with other countries from other parts of the world.   
 
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"We have among the most abundant energy reserves on the planet, sufficient to lift millions of America’s poorest workers out of poverty.  Yet, under this agreement, we are effectively putting these reserves under lock and key, taking away the great wealth of our nation -- it's great wealth, it's phenomenal wealth; not so long ago, we had no idea we had such wealth -- and leaving millions and millions of families trapped in poverty and joblessness," he said.
 
Mr. Trump said the agreement was a massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries.  
 
"At 1 percent growth, renewable sources of energy can meet some of our domestic demand, but at 3 or 4 percent growth, which I expect, we need all forms of available American energy, or our country will be at grave risk of brownouts and blackouts, our businesses will come to a halt in many cases, and the American family will suffer the consequences in the form of lost jobs and a very diminished quality of life," he said.
 
The US President said that, even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100.  
 
"Tiny, tiny amount.  In fact, 14 days of carbon emissions from China alone would wipe out the gains from America -- and this is an incredible statistic -- would totally wipe out the gains from America's expected reductions in the year 2030, after we have had to spend billions and billions of dollars, lost jobs, closed factories, and suffered much higher energy costs for our businesses and for our homes.
 
"As the Wall Street Journal wrote this morning:  'The reality is that withdrawing is in America’s economic interest and won’t matter much to the climate.'  The United States, under the Trump administration, will continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth.  We'll be the cleanest.  We're going to have the cleanest air.  We're going to have the cleanest water.  We will be environmentally friendly, but we're not going to put our businesses out of work and we're not going to lose our jobs.  We're going to grow; we're going to grow rapidly," he said.
 
"And I think you just read -- it just came out minutes ago, the small business report -- small businesses as of just now are booming, hiring people.  One of the best reports they've seen in many years.
 
"I’m willing to immediately work with Democratic leaders to either negotiate our way back into Paris, under the terms that are fair to the United States and its workers, or to negotiate a new deal that protects our country and its taxpayers.  
 
"So if the obstructionists want to get together with me, let’s make them non-obstructionists.  We will all sit down, and we will get back into the deal.  And we’ll make it good, and we won’t be closing up our factories, and we won’t be losing our jobs.  And we’ll sit down with the Democrats and all of the people that represent either the Paris Accord or something that we can do that's much better than the Paris Accord.  And I think the people of our country will be thrilled, and I think then the people of the world will be thrilled.  But until we do that, we're out of the agreement.  
 
"I will work to ensure that America remains the world’s leader on environmental issues, but under a framework that is fair and where the burdens and responsibilities are equally shared among the many nations all around the world.  
 
"No responsible leader can put the workers -- and the people -- of their country at this debilitating and tremendous disadvantage.  The fact that the Paris deal hamstrings the United States, while empowering some of the world’s top polluting countries, should dispel any doubt as to the real reason why foreign lobbyists wish to keep our magnificent country tied up and bound down by this agreement:  It’s to give their country an economic edge over the United States.  That's not going to happen while I’m President.  I’m sorry," he said.
 
Mr. Trump said his job as President was to do everything within his power to give America a level playing field and to create the economic, regulatory and tax structures that make America the most prosperous and productive country on Earth, and with the highest standard of living and the highest standard of environmental protection. 
 
"Our tax bill is moving along in Congress, and I believe it’s doing very well.  I think a lot of people will be very pleasantly surprised.  The Republicans are working very, very hard.  We’d love to have support from the Democrats, but we may have to go it alone.  But it’s going very well.  
 
"The Paris Agreement handicaps the United States economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country’s expense.  They don’t put America first.  I do, and I always will," he said.
 
Mr. Trump said the nations asking the US to stay in the agreement were the countries that had collectively cost America trillions of dollars through tough trade practices and, in many cases, lax contributions to their critical military alliance. 
 
"You see what’s happening.  It’s pretty obvious to those that want to keep an open mind. At what point does America get demeaned?  At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?   We want fair treatment for its citizens, and we want fair treatment for our taxpayers.  We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore.  And they won’t be.  They won’t be.
 
"I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.  I promised I would exit or renegotiate any deal which fails to serve America’s interests.  Many trade deals will soon be under renegotiation.  Very rarely do we have a deal that works for this country, but they’ll soon be under renegotiation.  The process has begun from day one.  But now we’re down to business.
 
"Beyond the severe energy restrictions inflicted by the Paris Accord, it includes yet another scheme to redistribute wealth out of the United States through the so-called Green Climate Fund -- nice name -- which calls for developed countries to send $100 billion to developing countries all on top of America’s existing and massive foreign aid payments.  So we’re going to be paying billions and billions and billions of dollars, and we’re already way ahead of anybody else.  Many of the other countries haven’t spent anything, and many of them will never pay one dime.  
 
"The Green Fund would likely obligate the United States to commit potentially tens of billions of dollars of which the United States has already handed over $1 billion -- nobody else is even close; most of them haven’t even paid anything -- including funds raided out of America’s budget for the war against terrorism.  That’s where they came.  Believe me, they didn’t come from me.  They came just before I came into office.  Not good.  And not good the way they took the money.  
 
"In 2015, the United Nation's departing top climate officials reportedly described the $100 billion per year as 'peanuts', and stated that 'the $100 billion is the tail that wags the dog.'  In 2015, the Green Climate Fund’s executive director reportedly stated that estimated funding needed would increase to $450 billion per year after 2020.  And nobody even knows where the money is going to.  Nobody has been able to say, where is it going to? 
 
"Of course, the world’s top polluters have no affirmative obligations under the Green Fund, which we terminated.  America is $20 trillion in debt.  Cash-strapped cities cannot hire enough police officers or fix vital infrastructure.  Millions of our citizens are out of work.  And yet, under the Paris Accord, billions of dollars that ought to be invested right here in America will be sent to the very countries that have taken our factories and our jobs away from us.  So think of that.  
 
"There are serious legal and constitutional issues as well.  Foreign leaders in Europe, Asia, and across the world should not have more to say with respect to the U.S. economy than our own citizens and their elected representatives.  Thus, our withdrawal from the agreement represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty.  Our Constitution is unique among all the nations of the world, and it is my highest obligation and greatest honor to protect it.  And I will," he said.
 
Mr. Trump said that staying in the agrement could also pose serious obstacles for the United States as it begins the process of unlocking the restrictions on America’s abundant energy reserves, which it has started very strongly. 
 
"It would once have been unthinkable that an international agreement could prevent the United States from conducting its own domestic economic affairs, but this is the new reality we face if we do not leave the agreement or if we do not negotiate a far better deal.
 
"The risks grow as historically these agreements only tend to become more and more ambitious over time.  In other words, the Paris framework is a starting point -- as bad as it is -- not an end point.  And exiting the agreement protects the United States from future intrusions on the United States' sovereignty and massive future legal liability.  Believe me, we have massive legal liability if we stay in.
 
"As President, I have one obligation, and that obligation is to the American people.  The Paris Accord would undermine our economy, hamstring our workers, weaken our sovereignty, impose unacceptable legal risks, and put us at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.  It is time to exit the Paris Accord and time to pursue a new deal that protects the environment, our companies, our citizens, and our country.  
 
"It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania -- along with many, many other locations within our great country -- before Paris, France.  It is time to make America great again," he added.
 
The Paris Agreement builds upon the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and, for the first time, brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. 
 
The Agreement was negotiated at the 21st Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris and adopted by consensus on December 12, 2015.
 
The Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 
 
Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. To reach these ambitious goals, appropriate financial flows, a new technology framework and an enhanced capacity building framework will be put in place, thus supporting action by developing countries and the most vulnerable countries, in line with their own national objectives. The Agreement also provides for enhanced transparency of action and support through a more robust transparency framework. 
 
The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts through “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) and to strengthen these efforts in the years ahead. This includes requirements that all Parties report regularly on their emissions and on their implementation efforts.
 
In 2018, Parties will take stock of the collective efforts in relation to progress towards the goal set in the Paris Agreement and to inform the preparation of NDCs.
 
There will also be a global stocktake every 5 years to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Agreement and to inform further individual actions by Parties. 
 
On 5 October 2016, the threshold for entry into force of the Paris Agreement was achieved. The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016. 
 
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India, Russia ink pact on Kudankulam Units 5-6, agree to strengthen ties in defence, other areas

India and Russia on Thursday signed an agreement for the construction of the third stage of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project in Tamil Nadu and agreed to strengthen cooperation in various areas, including defence and counter-terrorism.

 
Modi meets Putin at India-Russia Summit in St. Petersburg
Underlining the time-tested strategic dimension of their relationship, India and Russia today signed an agreement for the construction of the third stage (Units 5 and 6) of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu and agreed to strengthen cooperation in various areas, including defence and counter-terrorism.
 
At a joint media interaction with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of the 18th Annual India-Russia Summit here, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also welcomed Russia's unconditional support to India on the issue of cross border terrorism. 
 
Recalling his first visit to St. Petersburg as the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001, Mr. Modi said ties between India and Russia spanned the entire spectrum from culture to defence.
 
He said 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries had been marked by a high degree of convergence on various bilateral and global matters. 
 
Mr. Modi described the St. Petersburg Declaration, issued today, as a benchmark of stability in a turbulent, interdependent and interconnected world. He said India's participation as a guest country in SPIEF and his address there tomorrow would further deepen economic cooperation between the two nations. 
 
The Prime Minister described energy cooperation as one of the cornerstones of the relationship between India and Russia, and noted that this cooperation in the nuclear, hydrocarbon, and renewable energy sectors has been considerably deepened by the discussion and decisions taken today, especially the agreement on Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project.
 
He emphasized the role of the private sector in enhancing trade and commerical ties between the two countries, adding that they were close to achieving the target of $ 30 billion worth of investment by 2025. 
 
Speaking on the theme of connectivity, the Prime Minister mentioned cooperation between the two countries in the International North South Transport Corridor. Among other initiatives, the Prime Minister mentioned the "bridge to innovation" to promote startups and entrepreneurship, and the forthcoming commencement of discussions on a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union. 
 
Mr. Modi referred to the coming first Tri-services exercise, Indra 2017, between the two countries as well as defence production joint ventures between the two countries for the production of Kamov 226 helicopters and frigates.
 
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On the cultural side, the Prime Minister said the deep awareness of Russian culture in India, and of Yoga and Ayurveda in Russia, was a matter of deep satisfaction. 
 
The Prime Minister welcomed and applauded President Putin's leadership in the growth of India-Russia relations. 
 
He announced that a road in Delhi has been renamed after Ambassador Alexander Kadakin, whom he described as a friend of India, who passed away recently. 
 
Earlier, addressing CEOs of both countries, the Prime Minister invited Russian companies to invest in key sectors of the Indian economy, and particularly mentioned opportunities in the strategic sector. 
 
India and Russia signed five agreements today in sectors covering nuclear energy, railways, gems and jewellery, traditional knowledge and cultural exchanges. 
 
Earlier today, the Prime Minister paid homage to the heroic defenders and brave soldiers of the Battle of Leningrad, at the Piskarovskoye Cemetery. 
 
Mr. Modi had arrived here yesterday evening on the third leg of a four-nation tour that took him earlier to Germany and Spain and will now take him to France.
 
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Modi meets Spanish President Mariano Rajoy, two sides sign seven agreements

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that in an inter-connected and interdependent world, India and Spain could work together both for their mutual benefit and for the benefit of the world at large.

 
Modi seeks cooperation of Spain in fulfilling vision of New India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that in an inter-connected and interdependent world, India and Spain could work together both for their mutual benefit and for the benefit of the world at large.
 
Speaking at a joint media interaction with Mr. Rajoy after their bilteral talks here, he described the Spanish President as a "visionary leader".
 
Seven agreements were exchanged between the two countries, covering subjects such as energy, security and civil aviation. 
 
During his opening remarks, the Prime Minister said that today's talks will go a long way in furthering ties between the two countries. 
 
He noted that India and Spain had both faced the scourge of terrorism, and would both focus on fighting it. 
 
Mr. Modi said there was immense scope for cooperation in areas such as infrastructure, railways and smart cities.
 
The Prime Minister said that the vision of "New India" will be enhanced through the "new momentum" in relations between India and Spain. 
 
Prime Minister Modi later met with Spanish CEOs. He said during the meeting that there is immense potential for further growth of Spanish investments in India. He mentioned in particular, sectors such as infrastructure, renewable energy, food processing, auto, chemicals and textiles. He invited Spanish participation in the Smart Cities initiative. 
 
He also gave a broad overview of the economic reforms undertaken in India, including the Goods and Service Tax (GST). He asserted that initiatives like Make in India, Digital India and Start up India have become global magnets for investment. 
 
Mr. Modi, who arrived here yesterday evening from Germany on the second leg of a four-nation tour, also called on King Felipe VI during his visit. He will visit Russia and France before returning home.
 
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80 killed, over 350 wounded in massive blast in Kabul

 
Massive Kabul truck bomb kills 80, wounds hundreds
At least 80 people were killed and more than 350 others suffered injuries in a powerful blast that ripped through the heavily protected diplomatic quarter of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, during rush hour this morning in one of the worst terrorist attacks in the strife-torn country in recent years.
 
The scene of the blast was in the close vicinity of the Embassy of India in Kabu, but the Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi that all the Indian officials at the mission were safe.
 
Media reports quoted Ministry of Interior spokesman Najib Danish as saying that the explosion occurred close to the Zanbaq square. He said that a suicide bomber detonated explosives packed in a truck parked in the area.
 
No group, including the Taliban, has so far claimed responsibility for the incident. Reports quoted a Taliban spokesman  as saying that the group had no role in the attack. He also condemned today's attack.
 
The Zanbaq district houses several embassies, government offices, supermarkets and other buildings.
 
Several buildings were badly damaged in the blast and charred vehicles were strewn all over the street as were bodies of victims. Ambulances and police vehicles rushed to the scene and carried the injured to hospitals.
 
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Modi invites German investors, says India has among the most liberal FDI regimes

 
Indo-German Business Summit: Modi highlights initiatives by Govt.
Stressing that India now had one of the most liberal Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Policy regimes in the world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today invited German businessmen to take advantage of the huge investment opportunities opening up in the country.
 
"More than 90% of the foreign investment flows are under automatic route. Last week we formally decided to abolish the Foreign Investment Promotion Board which was made in 1990s to examine the FDI proposals," he said at a business meeting in Berlin, at which German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also present.
 
"The idea is to expand the engagement of overseas investors in the Indian economy. Due to this approach, Our FDI Outlook has been ranked highly positive by various international agencies," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said there had also been tremendous growth in the FDI inflows in the last three years and it had now reached $ 60 billion in 2016-17.
 
"India is a big country. Hence, nothing is enough when it comes to development. We have many dreams. And the dreams are big. But we have small timelines. And this is your opportunity.
 
"These opportunities range from building millions of houses to setting up hundreds of smart cities; modernization of railway networks and stations to setting up of high speed rail corridors; generation of renewable energy to construction of transmission and distribution networks. In addition, there is an ever growing need for National Highways, Bridges, and Mass Urban Transport systems, schools, hospitals and skill training institutes," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said the Government was trying to empower its people to realize this potential through campaigns like Digital India and Skill India. He said that, to tap the youth energy fully, it had launched the Start up India and Stand up India campaigns.
 
"When I spoke in April 2015, our process of reform had just started. Now, I can safely say that we have completed a sizeable part of it. However, we are committed to do more and more; in a faster and better manner. I strongly believe that we should create institutional networks to understand and advocate such reforms. This is necessary to leverage the underlying economic potential of our two countries. At the end, I invite more and more German colleagues and companies to India," he said.
 
"Our direction, desire and dreams create tremendous business opportunity. Never before, India was so much ready for business. We are on a take off stage. Moreover, our democratic values and an alert judicial system will ensure the safety of your investments.
 
"I assure you that we will work hand in hand with you to make your efforts successful," he said.
 
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Mr. Modi dwelt at considerable length on the economic reforms and various other measures initiated by his Government to make India an investor-friendly destination. He also spoke about the participation of German companies in India's growth story and the growing presence of Indian companies in Germany.
 
"Germany ranks 7th among foreign investor countries in India. Major sectors attracting FDI inflows from Germany are engineering, chemicals and services. About 600 Indo-German joint ventures are presently operating in India. They provide employment to around two hundred thousand people. However, there is tremendous further potential in India-Germany economic collaboration. Our economic partnership is still below its full potential. To enhance this, we, in India, are ready with open arms to welcome German companies. With a view to help the German companies, we have put in place a Fast Track Mechanism. A number of issues have already been resolved through this mechanism. We are doing it sincerely because we value German participation a lot," he said.
 
Mr. Modi spoke about the efforts being made to make India a global manufacturing hub and said it offered advantages such as a globally cost-competitive manufacturing eco-system; a vast pool of skilled professionals; a world-class engineering education base and strong R&D facilities; rise in GDP and purchasing power, creating further growth in the domestic market; and Government's focus on easing the business environment further.
 
He said that, due to these strengths, India is already the sixth largest manufacturing nation in the world and the Government was working hard on various enablers to make it better.
 
In this regard, he mentioned the Make in India campaign and various initiatives to improve governance, including the movement towards becoming a digital economy. He also spoke about GST and other reforms, both at the Central and State levels.
 
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Modi has informal interaction with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at an informal dinner hosted by her at the Schloss Meseberg, outside Berlin, on various issues of mutual interest, including smart cities, skill development and clean energy on Monday evening.

 
Modi meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Schloss Meseberg near Berlin
Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at an informal dinner hosted by her at the Schloss Meseberg, outside Berlin, on various issues of mutual interest, including smart cities, skill development and clean energy on Monday evening.
 
Earlier in the day, Mr. Modi had arrived in Berlin at the start of a four-nation trip that will also take him to Spain, Russia and France.
 
Mr. Modi is in Berlin for the Fourth India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) to be held on Tuesday. This is his second bilateral visit to Germany.
 
At the interaction over dinner yesterday, which lasted nearly three hours, there was appreciation for India's economic reform agenda, including the Goods and Service Tax (GST).
 
The leaders reviewed regional and global issues. Mr. Modi reiterated the importance of cohesiveness in the European Union, and its significance as a force of stability in the world. 
 
On Afghanistan, both leaders reiterated the importance of an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned reconciliation process. Issues such as deradicalization and terrorism figured in the discussions. China's belt and road initiative, and climate change, also figured in the discussions. 
 
Earlier, on arrival at the Schloss Meseberg, Mr. Modi signed the visitors' book. The two leaders also took a stroll on the lawns of the country residence.  
 
"Reached Germany. I am sure this visit will lead to beneficial outcomes & deepen India-Germany friendship," Mr. Modi had said on micro-blogging site Twitter soon after his arrival here on Monday evening.
 
"India and Germany are large democracies, major economies and important players in regional and global affairs. Our strategic partnership is based on democratic values and commitment to an open, inclusive and rules-based global order. Germany is a valuable partner in our development initiatives and German competencies fit well with my vision for India’s transformation.
 
"I would begin my visit from Meseberg near Berlin in Germany, where Chancellor Merkel has very graciously invited me to hold discussions on issues of regional and global importance," Mr. Modi had said in a pre-departure statement on sunday.
 
"On 30 May, Chancellor Merkel and I will hold the 4th IGC to review the state of our bilateral relationship. We will also chart out a future roadmap of cooperation with focus on trade and investment, security and counter-terrorism, innovation and science & technology, skill development, urban infrastructure, railways and civil aviation, clean energy, development cooperation, health and alternative medicine," he said.
 
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Mr. Modi will also call on German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier during the visit.
 
"Germany is our leading partner in trade, technology and investment. In Berlin, Chancellor Merkel and I will interact with top business leaders of both the countries to further strengthen our trade and investment ties.
 
"I am confident that this visit will open a new chapter in our bilateral cooperation with Germany and further deepen our Strategic Partnership," he had added.
 
Mr. Randhir Jaiswal, Joint Secretary, West Europe in the Ministry of External Affairs had told newspersons here on May 25 that the India-Germany Inter-governmental Consultations were a unique format in which both leaders are assisted by Ministers to carry forward bilateral and global discussions.
 
"Both the leaders will be taking stock of where we stand on the decisions that were taken at the 3rd IGC which was held in New Delhi in October 2015. They will also talk about what are the future issues that the two sides will like to look into so as to strengthen and deepen Indo-German relations further," Mr. Jaiswal said.
 
Ministers who will be participating in the consultations from the Indian side include Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan, Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State for External Affairs M. J. Akbar.
 
From the German side, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Education Minister Johanna Wanka, Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, Development Cooperation Minister Gerd Muller, Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, and Economic Minister Brigitte Zypries.
 
The two sides are expected to sign several memoranda of understanding (MoUs) aimed at broadening the scope and expanding the canvas of bilateral cooperation.
 
Mr. Modi and Ms. Merkel will interact with a group of CEOs from both countries and later jointly address an India-German Business Summit.
 
Germany is India's largest trading partner in the European Union and one of the leading sources for foreign direct investment (FDI). There are more than 1600 German companies and 600 joint ventures in India.
 
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Modi arrives in Germany, says visit will lead to beneficial outcomes

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Berlin on Monday at the start of a five-day, four-nation tour that will also take him to Spain, Russia and France and is aimed at enhancing India's relationship with the four countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being received on his arrival, in Berlin, Germany on May 29, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being received on his arrival, in Berlin, Germany on May 29, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived here today at the start of a five-day, four-nation tour that will also take him to Spain, Russia and France and is aimed at enhancing India's relationship with the four countries.
 
"Reached Germany. I am sure this visit will lead to beneficial outcomes & deepen India-Germany friendship," Mr. Modi said on micro-blogging site Twitter soon after his arrival here.
 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will host Mr. Modi at her official  Meseberg Country Retreat, where the two leaders will attend the Fourth India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC).
 
"India and Germany are large democracies, major economies and important players in regional and global affairs. Our strategic partnership is based on democratic values and commitment to an open, inclusive and rules-based global order. Germany is a valuable partner in our development initiatives and German competencies fit well with my vision for India’s transformation.
 
"I would begin my visit from Meseberg near Berlin in Germany, where Chancellor Merkel has very graciously invited me to hold discussions on issues of regional and global importance," Mr. Modi had said in a pre-departure statement yesterday.
 
"On 30 May, Chancellor Merkel and I will hold the 4th IGC to review the state of our bilateral relationship. We will also chart out a future roadmap of cooperation with focus on trade and investment, security and counter-terrorism, innovation and science & technology, skill development, urban infrastructure, railways and civil aviation, clean energy, development cooperation, health and alternative medicine," he said.
 
Mr. Modi will also call on German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier during the visit.
 
"Germany is our leading partner in trade, technology and investment. In Berlin, Chancellor Merkel and I will interact with top business leaders of both the countries to further strengthen our trade and investment ties.
 
"I am confident that this visit will open a new chapter in our bilateral cooperation with Germany and further deepen our Strategic Partnership," he added.
 
Mr. Randhir Jaiswal, Joint Secretary, West Europe in the Ministry of External Affairs had told newspersons here on May 25 that the India-Germany Inter-governmental Consultations were a unique format in which both leaders are assisted by Ministers to carry forward bilateral and global discussions.
 
Mr. Modi is scheduled to have a meeting with Ms. Merkel this evening ahead of tomorrow's Inter-governmental Consultations.
 
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"Both the leaders will be taking stock of where we stand on the decisions that were taken at the 3rd IGC which was held in New Delhi in October 2015. They will also talk about what are the future issues that the two sides will like to look into so as to strengthen and deepen Indo-German relations further," Mr. Jaiswal said.
 
Ministers who will be participating in the consultations from the Indian side include Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan, Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State for External Affairs M. J. Akbar.
 
From the German side, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Education Minister Johanna Wanka, Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, Development Cooperation Minister Gerd Muller, Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, and Economic Minister Brigitte Zypries.
 
The two sides are expected to sign several memoranda of understanding (MoUs) aimed at broadening the scope and expanding the canvas of bilateral cooperation.
 
Mr. Modi and Ms. Merkel will interact with a group of CEOs from both countries and later jointly address an India-German Business Summit.
 
Germany is India's largest trading partner in the European Union and one of the leading sources for foreign direct investment (FDI). There are more than 1600 German companies and 600 joint ventures in India.
 
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22 killed, 59 injured in terror attack at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, UK

At least 22 people were killed and as many as 59 others suffered injuries in a suspected terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena in the city centre in Manchester, United Kingdom, late on Monday night at the end of a concert by American pop singer Ariana Grande.

 
Blast kills 22 at concert in Manchester
At least 22 people were killed and as many as 59 others suffered injuries in a suspected terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena in the city centre in Manchester, United Kingdom, late on Monday night at the end of a concert by American pop singer Ariana Grande. 
 
The incident occurred around 10.30 pm when a huge explosion occurred in the foyer of the Arena where people had gathered to buy merchandise.
 
"Our thoughts are with those 22 victims that we now know have died, the 59 people who have been injured and their loved ones. We continue to do all we can to support them," Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said in a statement.
 
He said the injured were being treated at eight hospitals across Greater Manchester.
 
"This has been the most horrific incident we have had to face in Greater Manchester and one that we all hoped we would never see. Families and many young people were out to enjoy a concert at the Manchester Arena and have lost their lives," he said.
 
Mr. Hopkins said the police have been treating the explosion as a terrorist incident and believed, at this stage, that the attack was carried out by one man, who died in the blast.
 
"We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe, at this stage, the attack last night was conducted by one man. The priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.
 
"The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated causing this atrocity.
 
"We would ask people not to speculate on his details or to share names. There is a complex and wide-ranging investigation underway. Our priority is to work with the National Counter Terrorist Policing Network and UK intelligence services to establish more details about the individual who carried out this attack," he said.
 
Mr. Hopkins said it was a fast-moving investigation and the police had significant resources deployed to both the investigation and the visible patrols that people will see across Greater Manchester as they wake up to news of the events last night.
 
"This will include armed officers as people would expect. More than 400 officers have been involvedin this operation during the night," he said.
 
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"To remind you, we were called at 10.33 pm to reports of an explosion at the Manchester Arena at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert. More than 240 calls came in and emergency services were very quickly on scene. Emergency numbers have been established for anyone who is concerned for loved ones who may not have returned home 0161 856 9400 or 0161 856 9900.
 
"We have received tremendous support form across the police services and partner agencies throughout the night.
 
"We regularly carry out exercises to test our ability to respond to such incidents and this has ensured a very swift response from local and national agencies. I want to thank all those members of the emergency services and other agencies who have worked tirelessly through the night in very difficult circumstances. Their response has been outstanding.
 
"There remains a large cordon in place around Manchester Arena and Victoria Train Station which will be in place for some time. The station will remain closed while a detailed forensic search is underway. People should plan their route to work and follow Transport for Greater Manchester for updates in social media.
 
"Terrorists attempt to disrupt our lives and create distrust and fear in communities. We have a long history in Greater Manchester of communities standing together during difficult times. In the coming days we will be working closely with community leaders to address any issues," he said.
 
Mr. Hopkins said it was important that people continued to remain vigilant and also went about their daily lives. "We would ask people to be alert and report any suspicious activity to police on the Anti-Terrorist Hotline 0800 789321 or dealling 999.
 
"As people are waking up to this tragic news on what is a sad day for Greater Manchester, the officers and staff from Greater Manchester Police and the other emergency services will continue to do all they can to help get us through the difficult days ahead.
 
"If you have any images or footage from last night that you believe can assist us then upload them to UKpoliceimageappeal.co.uk or UKpoliceimageappeal.com," he added.
 
 
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British Prime Minister Theresa May said her thoughts were with the victims and that the incident was being treated by the police as "an appalling terrorist attack".
 
Media reports quoted paramedical staff at the scene of the explosion as saying that they had treated some of the injured persons for "shrapnel-like injuries". Others spoke about seeing "nuts and bolts" strewn around.
 
The Manchester Victoria station was closed shortly after the blast and trains were cancelled. "Trains and trams NOT running from Manchester Victoria station. Please avoid the area whilst us & @gmpolice respond to incident at the Arena," British Transport Police (BTP) said on Twitter.
 
Media reports quoted eyewitnesses as saying that they saw bodies lying on the ground. People were going around looking for members of their families. Television pictures showed ambulances and other emergency services vehicles rushing to the spot.
 
The Manchester Arena, which is the biggest indoor venue in Manchester, has a capacity of about 18,000 people for concerts and regularly hosts shows by pop stars.
 
The 23-year-old Ariana Grande has a huge fan following among the young. "broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words," she said on Twitter.
 
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19 killed in terror attack at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, UK

At least 19 people were killed and more than 50 others suffered injuries in a suspected terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena in the city centre in Manchester at the end of a concert by American pop singer Ariana Grande late on Monday night.

 
Blast kills 19 at concert in Manchester
At least 19 people were killed and more than 50 others suffered injuries in a suspected terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena in the city centre in Manchester in the United Kingdom at the end of a concert by American pop singer Ariana Grande late on Monday night.
 
"Currently we have 19 people confirmed dead and around 50 people injured," Greater Manchester Police (GMP) chief constable Ian Hopkins told journalists.
 
"The injured are being treated at six hospitals across Greater Manchester. My thoughts are with all those who have been affected and we are doing all we can to support them," he said.
 
"We are currently treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise. We are working closely with the national counter terrorism policing network and UK intelligence partners," Mr. Hopkins said.
 
He said the police had received reports, around 10.33 pm last night, of an explosion at the venue of the concert.
 
"Officers from GMP and emergency services are working at the scene and are supporting those affected. We are co-ordinating the response from GMP headquarters.
 
"An emergency number is available for those who are concerned about loved ones or anyone who may have been in the area. It is 0161 856 8400," he said.
 
"This is clearly a concerning time for people but we are doing all we can, working with local and national agencies, to support those affected and gather information about what has happened tonight. As you will understand we are still receiving information and updates, so will provide more details we have a clearer picture.
 
"I want to thank people for their support and would ask them to remain vigilant and if they have any concerns report them in confidence to us through on the Anti-Terrorist Hotline 0800 789321. 
 
"It is important people avoid the area so that we can effectively deal with the incident," Mr. Hopkins added.
 
British Prime Minister Theresa May said her thoughts were with the victims and that the incident was being treated by the police as "an appalling terrorist attack".
 
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Various sources said the explosion occurred in the arena's foyer, where people had gathered after the concert to buy merchandise.
 
Media reports quoted paramedical staff at the scene of the explosion as saying that they had treated some of the injured persons for "shrapnel-like injuries". Others said they had seen "nuts and bolts" on the ground.
 
The Manchester Victoria station was closed shortly after the blast and trains were cancelled. "Trains and trams NOT running from Manchester Victoria station. Please avoid the area whilst us & @gmpolice respond to incident at the Arena," British Transport Police (BTP) said on Twitter.
 
Media reports quoted eyewitnesses as saying that they saw bodies lying on the ground. People were going around looking for members of their families. Television pictures showed ambulances and other emergency services vehicles rushing to the spot.
 
The Manchester Arena, which is the biggest indoor venue in Manchester, has a capacity of about 18,000 people for concerts and regularly hosts concerts by pop stars.
 
The 23-year-old Ariana Grande has a huge fan following among the young. "broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words," she said on Twitter.
 
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ICJ orders Pakistan to stay execution of Jadhav pending its final decision in the matter

Kulbhushan Yadav
Kulbhushan Yadav
In a significant development, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) today asked Pakistan to take all measures at its disposal to ensure that former Indian Naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav is not executed pending the final decision in the proceedings intiated by India in the matter.
 
Mr. Jadhav has been sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan for his alleged involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against that country and India had moved the world court at The Hague in The Netherlands against the verdict.
 
"Pakistan shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure that Mr. Jadhav is not executed pending the final decision in these proceedings and shall inform the Court of all the measures taken in implementation of the present Order," Judge Ronny Abraham, president of the ICJ, said, reading out the unsnimoud decision of the 11-judge bench.
 
"The Court also decides that, until it has given its final decision, it shall remain seized of the matters which form the subject-matter of this Order," he said.
 
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The Court has a twofold role: first, to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States (its judgments have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned); and, second, to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by duly authorized United Nations organs and agencies of the system.
 
Earlier, on May 9, the ICJ had asked Pakistan to stay the death penalty awarded to Mr. Jadhav on India's request to it, in proceedings intiated on May 8, to indicate provisional measures.
 
Among other things, India had requested that, “pending final judgment in this case, the Court indicate that the Government of Pakistan take all measures necessary to ensure that Mr. Jadhav is not executed."
 
Accordingly, Judge Abraham had addressed on May 9 an urgent communication to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, with a copy to the Government of India, in the proceedings instituted by India against Pakistan.
 
Article 74, paragraph 4, of the Rules of Court stipulates that “[p]ending the meeting of the Court, the President may call upon the parties to act in such a way as will enable any order the Court may make on the request for provisional measures to have its appropriate effects", the release explained.
 
Pakistan has accused Mr. Jadhav of being an agent of India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and claimed that he was arrested on March 3, 2016 through a counter intelligence operation from Mashkel, Balochistan.
 
Pakistan said last month that Mr. Jadhav was tried by a military court under section 59 of Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952 and Section 3 of Official Secret Act of 1923 and it found him guilty of all the charges. 
 
"He confessed before a Magistrate and the Court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organize espionage / sabotage activities aiming to destabilize and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of Law Enforcement Agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi," a press release from Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) had said on April 10 this year.
 
India had reacted sharply to the announcement and told Pakistan clearly that, if the sentence were carried out, the Government and people of India would regard it as a case of premeditated murder.
 
India has maintained that Mr. Jadhav was kidnapped last year from Iran and that his subsequent presence in Pakistan had never been explained credibly. 
 
The Government of India, through its High Commission in Islamabad, had repeatedly sought consular access to him, as provided for by international law. Requests to that effect were formally made 13 times between 25 March 2016 and 31 March 2017. This was not permitted by the Pakistani authorities, India has said.
 
India has also said that the proceedings that led to the sentence against Mr. Jadhav were farcical in the absence of any credible evidence against him. It said its High Commission had not even been informed that Mr. Jadhav was being brought to trial.
 
In its plea before the ICJ, India said it was not informed of Mr. Jadhav’s detention until long after his arrest and that Pakistan failed to inform the accused of his rights. It further alleges that, in violation of the Vienna Convention, the authorities of Pakistan are denying India its right of consular access to Mr. Jadhav, despite its repeated requests. 
 
India also pointed out that it learned about the death sentence against Mr. Jadhav from a press release. 
 
India submitted that it has information that Mr. Jadhav was “kidnapped from Iran, where he was carrying on business after retiring from the Indian Navy, and was then shown to have been arrested in Baluchistan” on 3 March 2016, and that the Indian authorities were notified of that arrest on 25 March 2016. 
 
India also filed a request for the indication of provisional measures, stating that Mr. Jadhav would be executed unless the court indicated provisional measures directing the Government of Pakistan to take all measures necessary to ensure that he is not executed. It said Mr. Jadhav's execution “would cause irreparable prejudice to the rights claimed by India”.
 
India further indicated that the protection of its rights is a matter of urgency as “without the provisional measures requested, Pakistan will execute Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav before the Court can consider the merits of India’s claims and India will forever be deprived of the opportunity to vindicate its rights”. 
 
India said it was possible that the appeal filed by the mother of the accused on his behalf may soon be disposed of.
 
On the question raised by Pakistan about whether the ICJ had the jurisdiction prima facie to hear the case, Judge Abraham noted that India had cited Article I of the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention, which provides that the Court has jurisdiction over “disputes arising out of the interpretation or application of the [Vienna] Convention”. 
 
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The Court noted that the Parties do indeed appear to have differed, and still differ today, on the question of India’s consular assistance to Mr. Jadhav under the Vienna Convention. It further noted that the acts alleged by India, such as the alleged failure by Pakistan to provide the requisite consular notifications with regard to the arrest and detention of Mr. Jadhav, as well as the alleged failure to allow communication and provide access to him, appear to be capable of falling within the scope of the Convention. 
 
"In the view of the Court, this is sufficient to establish that it has prima facie jurisdiction under Article I of the Optional Protocol," it said.
 
The Court further observed that the existence of a 2008 bilateral Agreement between the Parties on consular relations does not change its conclusion on jurisdiction.
 
The Court observed that the rights to consular notification and access between a State and its nationals, as well as the obligations of the detaining State to inform the person concerned without delay of his rights with regard to consular assistance and to allow their exercise, are recognized in Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Vienna Convention, and that India has alleged violations of this provision. In the view of the Court, therefore, it appears that the rights alleged by India are plausible, Judge Abraham said.
 
The Court said it considered that the measures requested by India are aimed at ensuring that the rights contained in Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Vienna Convention, are preserved. Therefore, a link exists between the rights claimed by India and the provisional measures being sought, it said.
 
The Court considered that the mere fact that Mr. Jadhav is under a death sentence and might therefore be executed is sufficient to demonstrate the existence of a risk of irreparable prejudice to the rights claimed by India. The Court further observed that Pakistan has indicated that any execution of Mr. Jadhav would probably not take place before the month of August 2017. 
 
"This means that there is a risk that an execution could take place at any moment thereafter, before the Court has given its final decision in the case. The Court also notes that Pakistan has given no assurance that Mr. Jadhav will not be executed before the Court has rendered its final decision. In those circumstances, the Court is satisfied that there is urgency in the present case," he said.
 
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India, UK to cooperate in urban transport sector

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India and the United Kingdom have agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on bilateral cooperation in urban transport policy planning, technology transfer and institutional organisation of transport.
 
The decision to enter into a bilateral cooperation arrangement between the Transport For London (TFL) and the Indian Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on a wide range of transport mobility solutions and associated activities in urban environments was taken yesterday during the three-day official visit of the Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari to Britain.
 
During his visit to the headquarters of Transport For London (TFL), Mr Gadkari was given a presentation on strategy and policy reforms, customer experience and data analysis in respect of London buses and other integrated modes of public transport in Greater London area.
 
Under the proposed MoU, the TFL will share with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways its expertise on the mobility and efficiency of the transport system and methodologies to facilitate the planning and delivery of mobility solutions including ticketing, passenger information, major project financing, infrastructure maintenance strategies and behavioural change and public transport promotion.
 
Mr Gadkari later said the signing of the MoU will be done through diplomatic channels shortly. Possibilities of further cooperation on electric buses, bus innovation and capacity augmentation and water transport were also explored during his interaction with the TFL authorities.
 
The TFL provides world class services that keep the British capital better equipped with public transport. The TFL virtually coordinates all the London transport, including London metro, the bus network, Dockland Light Rail, water transport and cable car.
 
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Four Indian Naval ships reach Singapore as part of Eastern Fleet’s overseas deployment

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Four Indian Naval Ships are on a port visit to Singapore from May 12-21, during which they will participate in the International Maritime Review (IMR) and lMDEX-17.
 
In pursuance of India’s Act East policy, Indian Naval Ships Sahyadri, Shivalik, Jyoti and Kamorta are on an overseas deployment to South East Asia and Southern Indian Ocean under the command of Rear Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta, the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet, an official press release said.
 
Admiral Sunil Lanba, the Chief of Naval Staff, Indian Navy would also be attending the events ashore. During the port visit, various calls by the visiting fleet would be organised in addition to those scheduled as part of IMR and IMDEX-17, it said.
 
Thereafter, the four Indian Naval Ships and an Indian Navy Long Range Maritime Patrol and Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft P-8l would exercise with the RSN and RSAF as part of SIMBEX-17. Held since 1994, this year would be the 24th edition of the annual maritime bilateral exercise between the two countries which aims to further cement the defence cooperation between the two countries.
 
The two countries share a rich history and a strategic relationship. A number of bilateral agreements exist between the two countries in various spheres. The visit of the Indian Naval Ships seeks to underscore India’s peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly and harmonious countries towards ensuring good order in the maritime domain, the release said.
 
Indian Naval assets have been increasingly deployed in recent times to address the main maritime concerns of the region. In addition, as part of the Indian Government’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region), the Indian Navy has also been involved in assisting countries in the Indian Ocean Region with EEZ Surveillance, Search and Rescue, and other capacity building and capability enhancement activities.
 
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The current deployment will contribute towards the Indian Navy’s efforts to consolidate inter-operability and forge strong bonds of friendship across the seas, the release said.
 
Over the past few decades, India has made substantial advances in terms of designing and building warships indigenously and the visiting ships bear testimony to these capabilities. INS Sahyadri, a multi-role stealth frigate is commanded by Captain Anil Jaggi while INS Kamorta, an Anti-Submarine Warfare Corvette is commanded by Commander Vipin Gupta. Both ships are indigenously designed and built.
 
During the stay in the harbour, various activities such as official calls, formal reception on board ships, ships open to visitors, guided tours for Indian naval personnel and professional interaction between naval personnel of both the nations have been planned. The last visit by an Indian Naval Ship to Singapore was by INS Satpura in September 2016.
 
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Modi says biggest challenge to world peace is from mindsets rooted in hate, violence

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that the biggest challenge to sustainable world peace today may not be necessarily from conflict between nation states but from the mindsets, thought streams, entities and instruments rooted in the idea of hate and violence.

 
India will help achieve Sri Lanka's efforts towards peace, prosperity: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that the biggest challenge to sustainable world peace today may not be necessarily from conflict between nation states but from the mindsets, thought streams, entities and instruments rooted in the idea of hate and violence.
 
“The menace of terrorism in our region is a concrete manifestation of this destructive emotion,” he said in his address at the International Vesak Day celebrations in Colombo.
 
“Sadly, these ideologies of hate and their proponents in our region are not open to dialogue and hence only open to causing death and destruction. I firmly believe that Buddhism's message of peace is the answer to growing arc of violence all over the world,” he said.
 
Mr. Modi said it was not just a negative notion of peace defined by the absence of conflict, but a positive peace where everyone works to  promote dialogue, harmony and justice, based on compassion and weveisdom. 
 
“On Vesak, my hope is that India and Sri Lanka will work together to uphold the ideals of Lord Buddha and promote values of peace, accommodation, inclusiveness, and compassion in the policies and conduct of our governments. This is the true path to free individuals, families, societies, nations and the world at large from the three poisons of greed, hatred and ignorance,” he said.
 
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, top religious and spiritual leaders, and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
 
Mr. Modi said Vesak is the most sacred of days, a day for humanity to revere the birth, the enlightenment and the Parinibbana of Lord Buddha.
 
“It is a day of enormous significance for you here in Sri Lanka, for us in India, and for Buddhists around the world,” he said, adding that he brought greets of 1.25 billion people from the land of the Samyaksambuddha, the perfectly self awakened one.
 
 
“Our region is blessed to have given to the world the invaluable gift of Buddha and his teachings. Bodh Gaya in India, where Prince Siddhartha became the Buddha, is the sacred nucleus of the Buddhist universe. Lord Buddha's first sermon in Varanasi,which I have the honour to represent in the Parliament,set in motion the wheel of Dhamma. Our key national symbols have taken inspiration from Buddhism. Buddhism and its various strands are deep seated in our governance, culture and philosophy. The divine fragrance of Buddhism spread from India to all corners of the globe,” he said.
 
“Mahindra and Sanghamitra, the worthy children of King Ashoka made their journey from India to Sri Lanka to spread the biggest gift of Dhamma. Today, Sri Lanka takes pride in being among the most important nerve centres of Buddhist teachings and learning. Centuries later,Anagarika Dharmapala undertook a similar journey, but this time, from Sri Lanka to India to revive the spirit of Buddha in the land of its origin. In some way, you took us back to our own roots. The world also owes a debt of gratitude to Sri Lanka for preserving some of the most important elements of the Buddhist heritage. Vesak is an occasion for us to celebrate this unbroken shared heritage of Buddhism. A heritage that connects our societies across generations and through centuries,” he said.
 
Mr. Modi said the friendship between India and Sri Lanka was etched in time by the "Great Master". “Buddhism imparts an ever present radiance to our relationship. As close neighbours, our relationship spreads across many layers. It draws its strength as much through our interconnected values of Buddhism as it does from the limitless possibilities of our shared future. Ours is a friendship that lives in the hearts of our people and in the fabric of our societies,” he said.
 
Mr. Modi used the occasion to announce that, from August this year, national carrier Air India would operate direct flights between Colombo and Varanasi to honour and deepen the links of Buddhist heritage between the two countries.
 
“This will ease travel to the land of Buddha for my brothers and sisters from Sri Lanka, and help you directly visit Sravasti, Kusinagar, Sankasa, Kaushambi and Sarnath. My Tamil brothers and sisters will also be able to visit Varanasi, the land of Kashi Viswanath,” he said.
 
The Prime Minister said he believed India was at a moment of great opportunity in its ties with Sri Lanka.
 
“An opportunity to achieve a quantum jump in our partnership across different fields. And, for us, the most relevant benchmark for the success of our friendship is your progress and success. We are committed to the economic prosperity of our Sri Lankan brothers and sisters. We will continue to invest in driving positive change and economic growth to deepen our development cooperation. Our strength lies in sharing our knowledge, capacity and prosperity. In trade and investment, we are already significant partners.
 
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“We believe that free flow of trade, investments, technology, and ideas across our borders will be to our mutual benefit. India’s rapid growth can bring dividends for the entire region, especially in Sri Lanka. In infrastructure and connectivity,transport and energy,we are poised to scale up our cooperation. Our development partnership stretches across nearly every sector of human activity such as agriculture, education, health, resettlement, transport, power, culture, water, shelter, sports, and human resources,” he said.
 
Mr. Modi said that India’s development cooperation with Sri Lanka today amounted to 4 2.6 billion and its only aim is to support the island nation in realizing a peaceful, prosperous and secure future for its people. “Because, the economic and social well being of the people of Sri Lanka is linked with that of 1.25 billion Indians. Because, whether it is on land or in the waters of the Indian Ocean, the security of our societies is indivisible,” he said.
 
He said that his conversations with President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe have only reinforced their will to join hands in achieving their common goals. “As you make important choices for the harmony and progress of your society, you will find in India a friend and partner that will support your nation-building endeavours,” he said.
 
Mr. Modi said Lord Buddha’s message is as relevant in the twenty-first century as it was two and a half millennia ago. He said the Middle Path shown by Buddha speaks to everyone. “Its universality and evergreen nature is striking. It has been a unifying force among nations. The countries of South, Central, South East and East Asia are proud of their Buddhist links traced to the land of Buddha,” he said.
 
He said the themes of Social Justice and Sustainable World Peace,chosen for the Vesak day, resonate deeply with Buddha's teachings. The themes may appear independent. But, they are both deeply interdependent and interconnected. The issue of Social justice is linked to conflict within and among communities, he said.
 
“Greed has driven the mankind to dominate and degrade our natural habitat. Our desire to achieve all our wants has created income inequalities in communities and disturbed social harmony,” he said.
 
“On the blessed day of Vesak, let us light the lamps of knowledge to move out of darkness; let us look more within; and let us uphold nothing else but the truth. And, dedicate our efforts to follow the path of Buddha whose light shines all over the world,” he said.
 
“I look forward to paying homage at the Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, in Kandy today afternoon. May the Triple Gem of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha bless us all,” he added.
 
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India, Russia agree to strengthen their strategic partnership

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India and Russia yesterday agreed to further strengthen their Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between the two countries.
 
At a meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission, co-chaired by External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin here yesterday, the two sides noted that they had made good progress in implementing the agreements that were signed during the last Summit meeting between the two countries in Goa in October 2016. 
 
"We agreed to work closely in the months ahead to take forward many of the collaborative ideas that emerged in diverse fields including security, nuclear, space, disaster management, trade and economy, science and technology and people-to-people linkages," Ms. Swaraj told mediapersons after the meeting.
 
She said the two sides also took stock of the preparations for the forthcoming 18th India-Russia Annual Summit to be held in St. Petersburg on June 1 between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin. 
 
"As you know, relations with Russia are one of the most important pillars of India’s foreign policy. My meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin has taken place in the year that we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations. The roadmap of events adopted at the last India-Russia Annual Summit is being enthusiastically implemented, and more than a 100 events are scheduled. I am particularly pleased that Ministries, Departments, PSUs, trade and industry associations, private sector, state and city governments are all coming forward to commemorate the occasion," she said.
 
Later, Mr. Rogozin also called on Mr. Modi, who noted with satisfaction the positive all-round progress in bilateral cooperation between India and Russia. 
 
He appreciated the frequent high-level exchanges between the two sides as both countries celebrate the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations this year. 
 
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India is natural destination for markets and business opportunities for Poland: Ansari

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Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari has said that India is a natural destination for Polish business looking for markets and business opportunities beyond Europe.
 
Addressing a Business Summit at the Ministry of Economic Development here yesterday, Mr Ansari said India’s 29 states now offer a climate of both cooperative and competitive federalism, with quantum improvements in investment conditions in different Indian states.
 
The new policy initiatives taken by the Union Government, such as Make in India, Skill India and Digital India schemes, present new business opportunities for Polish companies in areas such as defence, food processing, coal and mining, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, bio-technology and renewable energy, he added.
 
Prime Minister of Poland Beata Szyd?o, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development and Finance Jerzy Kwiecinski besides India's Minister of State for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises Giriraj Singh were among those present on the occasion.
 
“Today, Poland is India’s largest economic partner in Central Europe with bilateral trade that has grown to US $ 2.8 billion in 2016. I understand that this marked a growth of nearly 25% over the level of trade in the previous year. Investments are growing rapidly in both directions.
 
“This strong economic interaction between India and Poland is an indicator of the growing economic strengths of our countries. As Polish business looks for markets and business opportunities beyond Europe, India is a natural destination,” Mr Ansari said.
 
“With a growth rate of over 7%, despite the general global downturn, India today is not just the fastest growing major economy in the world, it is also one of the most open and welcoming destination for investments and technologies. A vibrant democracy of 1.3 billion people with a young, skilled workforce, India offers an aspirational middle class market of over 400 million people,” he added.
 
The constant reforms in fiscal and investment facilitation policies are transforming the economic scenario in India. A landmark Goods and Services Tax reform, for instance, is aimed at making India a unified market, with all 29 states offering an identical and predictable tax environment.
 
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Increasing transparency and a liberalised investment climate now allows the smooth flow of FDI in sectors like defence, railways, civil aviation and pharmaceuticals. We have seen a strong global confidence in the India story, with a surge in Foreign Direct Investments, which reached over US $ 50 billion in 2016, the Vice-President said.
 
"India’s 29 states now offer a climate of both cooperative and competitive federalism, with quantum improvements in investment conditions in different Indian states. Some Polish regions are already availing of the business opportunities that Indian states offer.
 
“Cooperation in the education sector can become an important area of cooperation for us. India’s young are eager to seek educational opportunities that Poland offers. We already have some 2500 Indian students in Poland. These students add to the resources of Poland’s distinguished universities and will act as bridgeheads for our future engagements,” he pointed out.
 
“I understand that the delegation led by the Deputy Prime Minister, Prof. Piotr Glinski that visited India in January for the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, had useful interactions with our political leadership and our business community. We have identified possible opportunities in sectors like food processing, mining, aerospace and defence,” he added.
 
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Terrorism will recoil on those nurturing it, warns Jaitley

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India's Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley has warned against distinctions still sought to be made between good and bad terrorists, despite all the evidence and experience to the contrary, and warned that terrorism would recoil on those who nurture it.
 
“The global nature of this menace and the need for a coherent and sustained international response to it is now widely acknowledged," he said in his address at the 6th Moscow Conference on International Security titled ‘Global Security: Challenges of The 21st Century’ here yesterday.
 
"Nearly all countries present at this conference are taking proactive steps to counter international terrorism," he said.
 
Mr. Jaitley said India would steadfastly partner all friendly countries confronted with the challenge of terrorism. 
 
"We have successfully addressed this threat for over three decades. We will continue to strengthen ongoing cooperation in counter-terrorism with our partners,” he added.
 
Saying that the scourge of terrorism remains the primary security challenge for all peaceful countries, he pointed out that Russia itself continues to be a target, with the attack in St Petersburg still fresh in memory. “I wish to convey India’s strong solidarity with Russia and our sympathy for the victims and the families affected by of this dastardly attack,” he added.
 
Terrorism is being reinvented in newer and even more dangerous manifestations. The manipulation of young minds by fundamentalist groups using new technologies and social media has already caused long-term damage to our societies. One manifestation of this is the recent string of lone-wolf attacks in many countries, Mr. Jaitley said.
 
On the positive side, the territory acquired by ISIS in the Middle East has begun to be effectively challenged by several countries. This is reassuring and should be taken to its logical conclusion. Cooperation between major powers in this effort can become a template for similar steps elsewhere, he said.
 
“However, even as we work to eliminate the breeding grounds of terrorism in West Asia, the dangers of such elements returning to their home countries has become a major challenge. We need to encourage closer information exchanges and intelligence cooperation to address this threat.
 
“We should also resolutely resist opportunistic efforts by some states to support terrorist proxies by training, funding or providing safe havens to such groups for their limited objectives,” he added.
 
The conference was attended by Mr. Alexander Fomin, Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation and Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
 
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Mr Jaitley referred to continued unpredictability in ties between major powers and worrying signs of economic protectionism. New barriers to migration and the closing of borders are other elements of such an approach.
 
“Europe appears pre-occupied with the future of the EU project. We are also witnessing a sharpening of divisions in the European continent not seen since the Cold War,” he said.
 
Later, Mr Jaitley had “a warm and productive meeting” with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu. In his remarks to the media after the meeting, he said, “Diplomatic relations between India – Russia are in the 70th year. This is a relationship which goes far beyond just the relations between the Governments. 
 
"Russia has been a true and trusted friend of India, which is regarded so by the people of India, and there has been a much greater cooperation at the level of Defence. It is a cooperation which extends to Joint Military exercises, training cooperation and also with regard to supply of equipment which India purchases from Russia," he said.
 
“We have future plans to set up manufacturing units in India and these are subjects of discussion which came up in my bilateral meeting with the Defence Minister and I am sure with the level of engagement we have, this relationship will continue to grow”, Mr. Jaitley added.
 
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Three Indian warships arrive at Toulon in France

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Three Indian warships -- INS Mumbai, Trishul, and Aditya -- have arrived at Toulon in France for a three-day visit.
 
The ships were warmly received yesterday by the administration in Toulon and the French Navy at Toulon Naval Base in coordination with the Embassy of India. 
 
The visiting ships are a part of the Indian Navy’s Western Naval Command and the Task Group is headed by Rear Admiral R B Pandit, the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Fleet, who is flying his flag on the guided missile destroyer, INS Mumbai.
 
On completion of the visit at Toulon, bilateral exercise Varuna between the Indian Navy and the French Navy is scheduled this week. The Varuna series of exercises began in 2000 and have grown into an institutionalised form of interaction between the two navies. The last Varuna exercise was held off the Indian coast.
 
The current visit seeks to underscore India’s peaceful presence and solidarity with friendly and like-minded countries towards ensuring good order in the maritime domain and to strengthen the existing bonds between India and France. 
 
The visit of Vice-Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command to France, coinciding with the visit of the IN ships to France and conduct of Exercise Varuna, amply demonstrate the Indian Navy’s engagement with the French Navy, an official press release said.
 
Vice-Admiral Luthra is scheduled to visit the French frigate FNS Auvergne, a French Nuclear Submarine Unit, as well as an Underwater Weapons Facility. He would also call on senior official in France, including Vice Admiral Charles-Henri du Che, Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Sea Area (CECMED), the release said.
 
Relations between India and France have traditionally been close and friendly. Defence cooperation between India and France has grown substantially in the recent past and the interaction between the Indian Navy and the French Navy has been one of the cornerstones of this framework, it said.
 
With the establishment of the strategic partnership in 1998, there has been significant progress in all areas of bilateral co-operation including defence, nuclear energy and space. A high level committee for defence cooperation between the two countries at the level of Defence Secretaries met in Paris in 2015. Bilateral exercises such as Garuda, Shakti and Varuna have been a regular feature between the two nations, it said.
 
The IN warships will engage with the French Navy during their stay in the country and a number of professional interactions including the bilateral exercise Varuna, sports and social engagements are planned.  
 
"The interaction between two professional navies will go a long way in enhancing co-operation and understanding between the two," the release added.
 
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Jaitley raises H-1B visa issue with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley raised the issue of the recent executive orders by the United States Administration which indicated a possible tightening of the H-1B visa regime at a bilateral meeting with United States Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross here on Thursday.
 
Mr. Jaitley outlined the significant contributions the skilled Indian professionals have made to the US economy and expressed the hope that the US administration will take this aspect into consideration while taking any decision, an official press release said.
 
The Minister, who is the US to attend the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), was accompanied to the meeting by Indian Ambassador in Washington Navtej Sarna and Secretar, Economic Affairs, Shaktikanta Das.
 
Both leaders emphasized the strength of India-US economic relations and the bipartisan support it has acquired over the years.  
 
Mr. Jatiley briefed the US Commerce Secretary on the strength of the Indian economy and the significant structural reforms the Government of India had undertaken over the last three years.  
 
Mr. Ross congratulated Mr. Jaitley on making the Goods & Service Tax (GST) a reality, the release added.
 
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Vijay Mallya arrested in London following India's extradition request

Well-known businessman Vijay Mallya, who is wanted by Indian authorities for allegedly failing to repay loans worth more than Rs. 9000 crore given by a consortium of leading Indian banks to the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines, the high profile airline launched by his UB Group, was arrested in London today, official sources said.

Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya
Well-known businessman Vijay Mallya, who is wanted by Indian authorities for allegedly failing to repay loans worth more than Rs. 9000 crore given by a consortium of leading Indian banks to the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines, the high profile airline launched by his UB Group, was arrested in London today, official sources said.
 
Mr. Mallya was produced before the Westminster Magistrates Court in Central London, where he was granted conditional bail. The next hearing in the case will be held on May 17.
 
India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had written to the United Kingdom government in April last year seeking the deportation of Mr. Mallya, who had left India on March 2, 2016.
 
In response to India's request, the UK authorities had recently begun the legal process for extraditing Mr. Mallya to India. But there are several legal formalities that have to be gone through before a wanted person can be extradited to India under UK laws.
 
"Officers from the Metropolitan Police's Extradition Unit have this morning, Tuesday 18 April arrested a man on an extradition warrant," a brief statement from London's Metropolitan Police Service, popularly known as Scotland Yard, said.
 
"Vijay Mallya, 61 (18/12/1955), was arrested on behalf of the Indian authorities in relation to accusations of fraud. He was arrested after attending a central London police station, and will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court later today, 18 April," the statement added.
 
Mr. Mallya, however, said there was the usual media hype over his arrest and that the extradition hearing had started in court today as expected.
 
"Usual Indian media hype. Extradition hearing in Court started today as expected," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
In January, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court had issued a non-bailable warrant against Mr. Mallya in a case relating to the alleged default of a Rs. 720 crore loan from IDBI Bank.
 
In between, Mr. Mallya had tried to settle the issue with the consortium of banks led by State Bank of India (SBI), offering an amount of Rs. 4000 crore, but the banks did not accept the offer.
 
India had requested the UK to deport Mr. Mallya so that his presence could be secured for investigations against him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
 
Among other things, he had been accused of diverting abroad a part of the loan Kingfisher had taken from IDBI.
 
Earlier, on April 24, 2016, the Ministry of External Affairs had said that it had revoked Mr. Mallya's passport.
 
The decision to revoke the passport was taken after taking into consideration the replies furnished by Mr. Mallya to a show cause notice issued to him by the Ministry, facts brought by Enforcement Directorate, and non-bailable warrant under the PMLA Act 2002 issued by Special Judge, Mumbai.
 
Mr. Mallya, 61, who was then a member of the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament, has denied that he had fled from the country and asserted that he was not an "absconder". 
  
Mr. Mallya was supposed to present himself before ED officials on April 15,  2016 but had failed to do so. That was the third time that the ED had summoned him, but Mr. Mallya had sought an extension on the previous occasions.
 
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The sanction of loans for the airline is also being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office.
 
The Opposition had said at that time that Mr. Mallya could not have left the country without the active support of the Government when the consortium of 17 banks had urged the Supreme Court to stop him from leaving India.
 
The Government had hit back by saying that most of the loans were sanctioned by banks during the tenure of the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
 
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said in the Lok Sabha last year that the first sanction for the loans was given by a consortium of banks in September, 2004. The additional amounts and second renewal, were given on February 7, 2008. The accounts were declared as non-performing accounts on April 30, 2009.
 
"Thereafter, notwithstanding the fact that they had been declared non-performing accounts in 2009, a restructuring was done on 21st of December, 2010. So, these dates speak for themselves. I am just giving you a total amount with interest. As on 30th of November, 2015, that is four months ago, along with all interests compounded, the total amount due is to the tune of Rs.9,091.40 crore," he had said.
 
Mr. Jaitley had also asserted then that Mr. Mallya's assets were being attached and that the banks would make all efforts to recover the entire amount due to them.
 
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Pakistan Army court sentences Jadhav to death; India slams verdict

Kulbhushan Yadav
Kulbhushan Yadav
A former Indian Naval officer, Kulbhushan Jadhav, has been awarded the death sentence by a Field General Court Martial (FGCM) in Pakistan which tried him under the Pakistan Army Act (PAA) for his alleged involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against that country, drawing sharp reactions from India.
 
A press release from Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Pakistan Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had confirmed the death sentence awarded by FGCM today.
 
Pakistan has accused Jadhav of being an agent of India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and claimed that he was arrested on March 3, 2016 through a counter intelligence operation from Mashkel, Balochistan.
 
The release said Jadhav was tried by FGCM under section 59 of Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952 and Section 3 of O?cial Secret Act of 1923. FGCM found Kulbushan Sudhir Yadhav guilty of all the charges. "He confessed before a Magistrate and the Court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organize espionage / sabotage activities aiming to destabilize and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of Law Enforcement Agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi.
 
"The accused was provided with defending of?cer as per legal provisions," the release said.
 
In Delhi, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and handed over a demarche to him which, among other things, warned that if the sentence were carried out, the Government and people of India would regard it as a case of premeditated murder.
 
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"We have seen the ISPR press release today regarding Shri Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian citizen, who has been awarded a death sentence by a Pakistani military court martial," the demarche said.
 
"Shri Jadhav was kidnapped last year from Iran and his subsequent presence in Pakistan has never been explained credibly. The Government of India, through its High Commission in Islamabad, has repeatedly sought consular access to him, as provided for by international law. Requests to that effect were formally made 13 times between 25 March 2016 and 31 March 2017. This was not permitted by the Pakistani authorities.
 
"The proceedings that have led to the sentence against Shri Jadhav are farcical in the absence of any credible evidence against him. It is significant that our High Commission was not even informed that Shri Jadhav was being brought to trial. Senior Pakistani figures have themselves cast doubt about the adequacy of evidence. The claim in the ISPR release that Shri Jadhav was provided with a defending officer during the so-called trial is clearly absurd in the circumstances.
 
"If this sentence against an Indian citizen, awarded without observing basic norms of law and justice, is carried out, the Government and people of India will regard it as a case of premeditated murder," the demarche added.
 
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25-year-old Indian shot dead in US during robbery at convenience store

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A 25-year-old Indian, identified as Vikram Jaryal, was shot dead during an armed robbery at a covenience store he was working in at Yakima in Washington state in the United States of America early on Thursday morning, reports reaching here said.
 
Media reports from the town said Jaryal told police what had happened at the AM-PM convenience store, where he worked as a clerk, before he succumbed to his injuries in hospital.
 
The report said police were looking for two people in masks who robbed the store on Yakima Avenue and 6th Street in the town just before 2.00 am on Thursday. 
 
Police have released pictures from the CCTV cameras in the store and have sought the help of the public in finding the suspects.
 
According to the reports, the clerk, who was behind the counter when the masked men barged into the store, cooperated by handing over the money to them, but one of the suspects shot him anyway.
 
Police arrived on the scene a little later and the victim was able to tell them what happened.
 
Meanwhile, in New Delhi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on micro-blogging site Twitter that she had received a report on the incident.
 
She said the victim had reached the United States only 25 days ago and was working at the gas station owned by a family friend.
 
"On 6 April two miscreants entered the shop at 1.30 am. They snatched cash from victim and shot on his chest. This resulted in his death," she said.
 
"We are coordinating with the investigative agencies. They have got the CCTV footage and are in the process of apprehending the culprits," she said.
 
Ms. Swaraj said the Consulate General of India in San Francisco was helping the family and following up the matter with the police authorities.
 
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