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Emirates sets up helplines for families of passengers of EK 521

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Emirates airline has set up helplines for the benefit of families of the passengers of its flight EK 521 from Trivandrum that crash landed at Dubai airport this afternoon.
 
The airline confirmed that all passengers and crew were safe and accounted for. There were 282 passengers and 18 crew on board the flight.
 
"We can confirm that there are no fatalities among our passengers and crew. All passengers and crew are accounted for and safe. We are expecting a 4-hour network wide delay, more information will be available on the Emirates website and social media channels.
 
"The main priority remains with those involved and offering support to concerned family and friends. Dedicated telephone lines are now active for family members: 
UAE - 8002111 UK - 00442034508853 US - 0018113502081," a statement by the airline added.

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Emirates flight from Trivandrum crash lands at Dubai airport

An Emirates flight from Trivandrum to Dubai made a crash landing at the Dubai International Airport on Wednesday afternoon but all passengers and crew were evacuated safely from the aircraft, sources said.

 
Emirates flight from Trivandrum crash lands at Dubai
An Emirates flight from Trivandrum to Dubai made a crash landing at the Dubai International Airport here this afternoon but all passengers and crew were evacuated safely from the aircraft, sources said.
 
"Emirates can confirm that today, 3rd August 2016, flight EK521 travelling from Trivandrum International Airport in Thiruvananthapuram, India to Dubai has been involved in an accident at Dubai International Airport," the airline said in a statement.
 
There were 282 passengers and 12 members of crew on board, it said. The incident occurred at about 12.45 pm local time (2.14 pm IST).
 
Of the passengers and crew, 226 were Indians, while 24 were from the United Kingdom and 11 from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
 
The nationalities of the other passengers were 6 - US, 6 - Saudi Arabia, 5 - Turkey, 4 - Ireland, 2 - Australia, 2- Brazil, 2 - Germany,
2 - Malaysia, 2 - Thailand, 1 - Croatia, 1 - Egypt, 1 - Bosnia & Herzegovina, 1 - Lebanon, 1 - Philippines, 1 - South Africa, 1 - Switzerland and 1 - Tunisia.
 
"We can confirm that there are no fatalities among our passengers and crew. All passengers and crew are accounted for and safe," the Dubai-based airline said.
 
"Our main priority at this time is the safety and well-being of all involved and full co-operation is being extended to the authorities and emergency services managing the situation.
 
"We will update the Emirates website and social media channels as more information becomes available," it said.
 
"The main priority remains with those involved and offering support to concerned family and friends. Dedicated telephone lines are now active for family members:  UAE - 8002111
UK - 00442034508853 US - 0018113502081," the airline added.
 
"All passengers were evacuated safely and no injuries have been reported so far," the Dubai Media Office said.
 
"Concerned authorities at #Dubai International Airport are dealing with the incident at the moment to ensure safety of all. All departure flights from #Dubai International Airport have been delayed until further notice," it added.
 
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Pictures posted on Twitter by people present at the airport showed thick plumes of smoke billowing from the aircraft as it landed and came to a halt. Fire tenders could  seen trying to extinguish the fire. A video showed that the nose of the aircraft exploding in flames a little after it landed, after the passengers had been evacuated. Some parts of the aircraft, including the right wing, appeared to break loose in the explosion.
 
The General Civil Aviation Authority later confirmed that a firefighter had lost his life while battling the blaze in the plane and trying to save others. The firefighter was identified as Jasim Issa Mohammed Hassan from Ras Al Khaimah.
 
Some of the passengers told television channels that there was no announcement from the cockpit as the aircraft came in to land and that all of them were evacuated quickly as soon as it came to a halt.
 
The Boeing 777 aircraft had taken off from Trivandrum International Airport at 10.19 am and was scheduled to land at 12.50 pm at the Dubai International Airport.
 
"We are in the process of opening our customer assistance line and will share these details soon but at this stage we have no further information on what may have caused the accident. Our priority remains with the passengers and crew involved.
 
"We are expecting a 4-hour network wide delay, more information will be available on the Emirates website and social media channels," the airline said.
 
"Emirates crew and emergency teams at Dubai Airport are well trained to deal with such incidents at the highest professional standards," the Dubai Media Office said.
 
Flight operations resumed later this evening at the Dubai International Airport after remaining suspended for some hours. In the interim, Emirates cancelled several flights for the day, and diverted many others to different airports in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), while many more flights were delayed.
 
The aircraft, a Boeing 777-300 with registration A6-EMW, was powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 800 engines. It was delivered to Emirates in March 2003. Both the Captain and the First Officer have over seven thousand hours of flying experience each. 
 
Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum told a press conference this evening that medical teams dealt with 13 persons with minor injuries, who left after some time.
 
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US-India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group to meet on Thursday

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Indian and United States officials will meet here later today for the 14th US-India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group (JWG).
 
Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Justin Siberell will lead the US delegation, which includes officials from the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security. 
 
The Indian delegation will be led by Ministry of External Affairs Additional Secretary Ravi Thapar.
 
The US-India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group is a regularly planned policy consultation designed to advance the common agenda of the two countries and opportunities for cooperation across the full range of counterterrorism issues. 
 
Topics include regional terrorist threats, information sharing, border security, and efforts to counter violent extremism, a media note from the US Department of State said.
 
"The United States looks forward to continued counterterrorism exchanges with India to broaden and deepen the partnership between the two countries," the note added.
 
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India highlights importance of having verifiable data on HFCs

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Parties across the developing and developed world have reiterated their commitment to moving away from high Global Warming Potential (GWP) HFCs (hydrofluorocarbon) for limiting increase in global warming.
 
The key issue that the parties have started discussing at the 38th meeting of the Open Ended Working Group of Parties to the Montreal Protocol, which is underway here, is the baseline for non-Article 5 and Article 5 parties.
 
The parties have highlighted that absence of verifiable historical data is a challenge in establishing a baseline for Article 5 and Non-Article- 5 countries.
 
The Indian delegation highlighted the importance of having verifiable data on HFCs to calculate the baseline and deciding upon baseline years. As such having baseline in the past without objective verifiable data is not logical, in the absence of which, it will be difficult to deal with future and work with uncertainties.
 
In addition, India has also submitted a Conference Room Paper (CRP) aimed at improving the transparency and flexibility of the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol (MLF).
 
MLF has been the key in supporting the earlier transition away from Ozone Depleting Substances, and is widely recognised for its success as the only global scale financial transfer mechanism for mitigating environmental impacts.
 
However, based on earlier experience of developing countries, there have been concerns around the flexibility and transparency of this extremely important mechanism.
 
The Indian submission emphasises developing guidelines for incorporating the principle of flexibility, improving understanding of methodologies for calculating incremental cost, developing cost guidance for enhancing energy efficiency, increasing institutional strengthening for supporting any new commitments and prioritising technical assistance for building capacity to address safety issues.
 
Actual data on production and consumption of HFCs is necessary for understanding the historical evolution and establishing a baseline. The baseline is instrumental in determining future consumption and emissions. 
 
Many non-Article 5 parties like Canada, Norway, Japan and the EU . have submitted that they have got reliable data for historical HFC consumption. 
 
Such data is not in public domain, besides data for most Article 5 parties (developing countries) is not available at all. Some of the Article 5 parties raised strong concerns that many countries in this grouping do not have an accounting system and inventory of HFCs in place.
 
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61 killed, 207 injured in suicide blast in Kabul

 
61 killed, several wounded in Kabul twin bomb attack
At least 61 people died and 207 others suffered injuries in a suicide bomb attack that targeted crowds at a mass demonstration in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, today.
 
The attack took place in the Deh Mazang area where the demonstrators had gathered for a sit-in protest, local media reports said.
 
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack, the reports said.
 
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said he was deeply saddened by the attack.
 
“The President of Afghanistan has said organizing peaceful rallies is the right of every citizen of the country and the government uses all efforts to maintain security of the protesters but the opportunist terrorists infiltrated among the protesters and carried out explosions which led to the martyrdom of several citizens of the country as well as security personnel," a statement from the Office of the President said.
 
Mr. Ghani directed authorities to ensure the best possible medical treatment for those who had suffered injuries in the blasts.
 
Thousands of people had gathered in West Kabul this morning and marched towards Deh Mazang, where they staged a protest to demand that the government a power transmission project along its original route in Bamyan province.
 
The commander of NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan strongly condemned the attack.
 
"Our condolences go out to those who are affected by today's attack," said Resolute Support Commander Gen. John W. Nicholson. "We strongly condemn the actions of Afghanistan's enemies of peace and remain firmly committed to supporting our Afghan partners and the National Unity Government."
 
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He also praised Afghan law enforcement officals and medical personnel whose efforts prevented additional casualties.
 
In Delhi, President Pranab Mukherjee condoled the loss of lives. “I am shocked and saddened to learn ofthe blast which hit Deh Mazang square in Kabul today. I strongly condemn the perpetrators of the incident," he said.
 
"I convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives in the blast and pray for the speedy recovery of the injured. The Government of India stands ready to extend all possible assistance to the Government and people of Afghanistan," he added.
 
"Strongly condemn dastardly terror attack on innocent civilians in Kabul. Sincerely condole loss of lives & injuries in senseless violence. India stands with Afghanistan in resolutely opposing all forms of terrorism," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
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Gadkari experiences latest techniques in highway engineering, safety during US road trip

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Union Minister of Road Transport, Highways & Shipping Nitin Gadkari undertook a coastal drive by road from San Francisco to Los Angeles to gain first-hand experience of the latest techniques in road engineering, highway construction, road signage and other effective measures for road safety along this prestigious ocean route.
 
On the last leg of his week-long official visit to the United States, Mr Gadkari left San Francisco early in the morning yesterday by road and completed the journey in ten hours covering a distance of 800 km in the winding hilly terrain, thick forests and some desert patches along the west coast overseeing the Pacific Ocean.
 
Mr Gadkari said the idea behind undertaking the journey was to understand the technology, machinery and construction material being used by the transportation department and other local agencies in the US in constructing and maintaining the amazing overhangs and cliffs along the difficult coastline and the innovative engineering involved in the improvement of projects both on and off the highway system.
 
He said the Government was currently engaged in constructing national highways in the difficult terrains of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, the North-Eastern region and Himalayas -- from Pithoragarh to Mansarovar and from Haridwar to Gangotri, Yamunotri, and Badrinath & Kedarnath.
 
Mr Gadkari said he was impressed by the tunneling technology and the lovely scenic spots along the curves on the highways and coastal roads which have been converted into centres of tourist attraction with road side amenities like restaurants, shops, entertainment facilities and camping sites.
 
He was told that most of California's highways are more than a half-century old and carry nearly half of the nation's goods traffic. Heavy loads pound California's highways more than any other state and sustain 190 billion vehicle kms travelled in 2015.
 
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Mr Gadkari appreciated the projects being undertaken for repairing bumpy pavements, preserving roads that are in good condition from deteriorating and upgrading bridges to make them safer and stronger.
 
He also witnessed widening of hard shoulders and installation of drainage, relocation of utility, and realignment of local road intersections along the route he travelled along with a team of senior officials from his ministry.
 
These highways and coastal roads are regularly maintained and upgraded with crash barriers, signage to make all weather travel safe, he was told.
 
The Minister also witnessed improved safety measures such as metal screens and mesh along the hilly terrain to prevent landslides hitting the roads, road markings, proper signage with adequate warning signals and SOS call boxes being run with solar panels.
 
He was informed that maintenance staff works day and night to keep the highways clear and safe for all motorists. They do patching pavement, replacing signs, striping lanes, clearing vegetation, and removing trash and graffiti.
 
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Gadkari goes on study tour of Mississippi inland waterways in US

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Union Shipping and Road Transport & Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari exchanged views on land port operations with the St. Louis port authorities during a tour of the world’s most commercially viable inland waterways system on the Mississippi river on Thursday.
 
Mr Gadkari, on a mission to study the structure of the Mississippi River inland waterway, also assessed during the meeting the feasibility of similar arrangements in making the Ganga waterways navigable in an effective and commercially viable manner.
 
During his visit, the Minister also undertook a boat ride in the gruelling heat and witnessed effective lock based system along with senior officials of his ministry, an official press release said.
 
He was highly impressed with the barrages and the manner in which the authorities have been able to keep navigation cost effective, something which he plans to do in India, it said.
 
Mr Gadkari took keen interest in the mechanism of regular dredging of the river and maintenance of its freight barges through a system of locks. He was told that the principal value of the inland waterways was its ability to efficiently convey large volumes of bulk commodities over long distances.
 
Mr Gadkari examined the tow boats pushing barges lashed together to form a big tow as an extremely efficient mode of transportation, moving about 22,500 tons of cargo as a single unit.
A single 15-barge tow is equivalent to about 225 railroad cars or 870 tractor-trailer trucks. If the cargo transported on the Mississippi inland waterways each year had to be moved by another mode, it would take an additional 6.3 million rail cars or 25.2 million trucks to carry the load, the officials told him.
 
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In the context of the inland waterways in India, Mr Gadkari said the ability to move more cargo per shipment will make barge transport both fuel efficient and environmentally advantageous.
 
Carbon dioxide emissions from water transportation will be much less as compared with rail transportation. Inland waterways will thus allow tremendous savings in fuel consumption, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, reduced traffic congestion, fewer accidents on railway and highways and less noise and disruption in cities and towns, he said.
 
He said barges, when built in India, would help the movement of large quantities of bulk commodities and raw material like coal, petroleum, stones, sand and gravels used in road and highway building and food grains at relatively low cost.
 
He said, like in the US, the central government will manage the inland waterways in India. “We can maintain a draft of two and half to three meters as in the Mississippi river inland waterways. Indian river waterways can be operational all round the year unlike in the US where they remain closed for some time during a year,” he added.
 
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Turkish President Erdogan says he remains in charge after coup attempt

At least 60 people were killed and more than 330 detained across Turkey after an attempted coup staged by some elements in the military late on Friday set off a night of violence across the country, official sources said on Saturday.

 
Gunfire and explosions rock Istanbul in attempted coup
At least 60 people were killed and more than 330 detained across Turkey after an attempted coup staged by some elements in the military late on Friday set off a night of violence across the country, official sources said today.
 
Many of those who died were civilians and most of those detained are soldiers, they said.
 
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government said the coup attempt had been foiled and that they were in charge.
 
The Anadolu Agency (AA) quoted a Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement as saying that the coup attempt was "foiled by the Turkish people in unity and solidarity."
 
"Our president and government are in charge," according to the statement, carried by Turkey’s Washington Embassy and Permanent Mission to the UN on Friday.
 
"Turkish armed forces were not involved in the coup attempt in their entirety. It was conducted by a clique within the armed forces and received a well-deserved response from our nation,” it added.
 
Mr. Erdogan said the coup plotters would pay for the chaos they caused and that the country would never give in to "occupiers".
 
''This is a movement of treason and an insurgency. Let me tell you that they will pay a heavy price for this treason,'' Mr. Erdogan told TV networks during a live broadcast from Istanbul's Ataturk Airport.
 
''There is a government in power and a president in power elected by the people. We are on duty and we will continue to conduct our duty until the very end,'' Erdogan said. He assured the people that  ''the outcome of this will be good.''
 
Mr. Erdogan said that a small group within the Turkish army had mounted a military coup attempt, "acting illegally and out of the chain of command".
 
The president also warned soldiers participating in the attempted overthrow. ''You are our soldiers. It is impossible for us to accept you pointing your gun at the people, your parents, your brothers and sisters. These weapons have been given to you by the people. If you point these to the people, you will pay a hefty price.''
 
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Arrests in the military would go higher up the ranks, he said. “I am calling on our nation. Go to the squares, let us give them the best answer," he said.
 
The agency said the chaotic events began late on Friday with reports of soldiers trying to take control of bridges and other key installations in major cities and before long army helicopters began air strikes and shelled key locations in the capital, Ankara.
 
The reports quoted witnesses as saying that bombs went off near the Turkish Parliament, injuring 12 people, two of them critically.
 
Shelling was reported at several locations including the ruling AK Party headquarters, the presidential complex and the General Staff, the AA report said.
 
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced a no-fly zone had been enforced above Ankara. He said army commanders, including Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar, were on duty and working to stop the illegal military action.
 
Thousands of Turks remained on the streets across the country throughout the night, in an apparent show of support for the government, the agency said.
 
The reports said dozens of police officials lost their lives during the operations to retain control of the government.
 
According to the reports, at least 42 people were killed during the coup attempt in Ankara's Golbasi district.
 
The reports quoted the district’s prosecutor office as saying that the "attempted overthrow has been repelled and that the situation is now under control".
 
The head of Turkey’s national police said this morning that law enforcement authorities were in control in Istanbul, the country's business capital and largest city.
 
“The situation is pretty good, from this moment the police is in control of Istanbul. In Ankara there are still some challenges, the battle with them goes on. God willing, by all means we will overcome this trouble,” the official, Mr. Celalettin Lekesiz, was quoted as saying.
 
“Unfortunately these traitors who know which capacity and capability can hinder their attempt, as soon as they attempted the coup they landed in Special Operations and martyred some 20 officers. They bombed our helicopters and airplane hangar facilities,” he told AA.
 
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Ansari calls for international cooperation to deal with terror threat

Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari addressing the plenary session of the 11th ASEM Summit, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on July 15, 2016.
Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari addressing the plenary session of the 11th ASEM Summit, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on July 15, 2016.
Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari today said that in the face of unprecedented levels of terrorism, the most recent unfortunate example being yesterday's attack in France, nations needed to cooperate meaningfully to deal with the threat.
 
Addressing the plenary session of the 11th Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) here, Mr Ansari described the summit  as a “dynamic bridge” between the two continents.
 
He urged ASEM to pledge to work together to erase the scourge of terrorism by taking speedy action against the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of terror.
 
“Early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism under the aegis of the UN is an imperative today,” he said.
 
Noting that the 11th ASEM Summit marks two decades of multilateralism between Asia and Europe, he said, “Our shared endeavour has been to promote multi-dimensional connectivity between our continents."
 
“The theme of ASEM 11, '20 Years of ASEM: Partnership for the Future through Connectivity', is, therefore, pertinent,” he added.
 
"However, physical connectivity is merely the means to meeting the aspirations of our citizens; to building mutually beneficial partnerships, and to collectively addressing our regional and global challenges. The networks of connectivity must also include institutional, digital, economic and socio-cultural aspects," he said.
 
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“Let us facilitate trade and commerce, and build integrated production networks and value chains for mutually beneficial development. Let us create energy alliances, such as the International Solar Alliance of solar rich countries, to enable energy security for all. Let us build networks of partnership between our business communities as also among our universities, cultural and civil society organizations,” Mr Ansari said.
 
ASEM should also collaborate to protect global commons such as the seas and oceans in accordance with international conventions, he said.
 
ASEM members should resolve disputes peacefully, without threats or use of force, and exercise self restraint in the conduct of activities that could escalate disputes effecting peace and stability, he said.
 
“As a State Party to the UNCLOS, India urges all parties to show utmost respect for the UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans,” the Vice- President added.
 
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Indian Coast Guard, Pakistan Maritime Security Agency meet in Islamabad

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The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) held a delegation level meeting here on July 13-14 when they discussed, among other things, operational issues relating to safeguarding of their respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs).
 
The meeting was held in accordance with the extant provisions of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Government of India and the Government of Pakistan for the establishment of a communication link between the ICG and th PMSA.
 
The ICG delegation to the meeting was led by Director General Rajendra Singh,and the PMSA delegation by Rear Admiral Jamil Akhtar.
 
A press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said the two delegations also discussed exchange of information about pollution incidents affecting the EEZ of the two countries, facilitation of maritime search and rescue operations in accordance with national laws and regulations, and humane treatment and early release of fishermen apprehended by both sides as well as early repatriation of their boats.
 
The Director General of the Indian Coast Guard also paid a courtesy call on Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah, the Chief of Naval Staff of Pakistan Navy. He extended an invitation to his Pakistani counterpart to visit India for the next meeting which will be held in 2017.
 
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Golden opportunity to invest in India, Gadkari tells US investors

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Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari has called upon investors in the United States to invest in India, saying it is a golden opportunity for them, with the present government giving topmost priority to infrastructure development.
 
At an event hosted by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) here on Monday, Mr Gadkari held discussions with senior executives of US and Indian companies regarding the Government's plans and vision to strengthen India’s infrastructure, investment opportunities in road construction and port-led industrialization, and how US industry could collaborate with India.
 
The USIBC is the premier business advocacy organization, comprising 400 top-tier US and Indian companies, advancing US-India commercial ties. It is the largest bilateral trade association in the US, with liaison presence in New York, Silicon Valley, and New Delhi.
 
Speaking to investors, Mr Gadkari said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made the country’s infrastructure development the top-most priority of the government. We are committed to improving the country’s road, highways, and port connectivity in a time-bound, result oriented, corruption-free and transparent manner that includes e-governance and fast-tracking decision-making."
 
“The pace of road construction has accelerated to an all-time high of 20 kilometers per day and next year we plan to increase it to 41 km per day. This is a golden opportunity to invest in India,” he added.
 
The Minister also spoke on the new highways under construction in the country, financing mechanisms under PPP models, framing policies for logistics parks, modernization of roads, building intelligent traffic systems for road safety and further innovation and technology to India’s logistics sector.
 
Mr Gadkari’s team also outlined the progress that has already been made in the roads, highways, and shipping sectors. Mr Rohit Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, highlighted specific investment opportunities in the highways sector while Mr Alok Srivastava, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, shared details on the Sagarmala Programme – the Ministry’s flagship port-led development initiative to bring down logistics cost and boost investment, exports, and jobs.
 
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USIBC President Mukesh Aghi said, “With an upsurge in India’s e-commerce markets and the unprecedented growth in Indian cities, there is a critical need for advanced logistical services and better transportation infrastructure."
 
“India needs $1 trillion for developing new roads, ports, rail lines, and airports over the next few years and U.S. companies can provide the necessary expertise as well as capital to enable the robust growth of this sector,” he added.
 
“We are excited to witness the rapid growth of this sector— under Minister Gadkari’s leadership, road construction rates have gone up, infrastructure spending has received a boost and India has jumped ranks in the Logisitics Performance Index. It is timely and urgent to explore the full potential of U.S.-India collaboration in this sector,” Mr Aghi said.
 
Dr. Ravindra Verma, Managing Director of TransAsia Infrastructure Group,which manages and executes multi-modal integrated transport and logistics infrastructure in Asia, provided an industry perspective during the discussion.
 
“The Indian highways sector is now at a critical turning point. More than $100 billion in capital is now needed over the next several years to expand existing corridors and build new ones to keep up with the growth in traffic. This presents an opportunity for all players in North America to mobilize resources on a major scale. We are now actively gathering over $1 billion in global capital towards a dedicated multi-modal surface transport platform RoadStar, with major focus on India,” he added.
 
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India ready to join hands with Kenya in its development priorities: Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India was ready to join hands with Kenya in fulfilling the African nation's development priorities in sectors of their choosing and at their own pace.
 
Delivering his address at a banquet hosted by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta here, he said the cooperation would cover agriculture, health care, meeting educational needs including vocational training, development of small businesses, renewable energy, power transmission and building of institutional strengths.
 
“We have a thriving economic and commercial relationship. But, it is not a temporary or transactional relationship. It is a time-tested bond, built on the foundation of shared values and shared experiences,” the Prime Minister said.
 
Pointing out that both India and Kenya have young populations and both cultures valued education, he said it was time for skill development. 
 
“Kenya and India have always worked for world peace. We can also unite our efforts with other developing countries, not just for the well-being of the weak and the poor. But, also to help preserve our Mother Earth.
 
“We can learn from each other in the crucial area of conservation of natural assets. As Mzee Jomo Kenyatta said, 'Our children may learn about heroes of the past. Our task is to make ourselves architects of the future'," he added.
 
The Prime Minister noted that communities from the western shores of India, especially from his home State of Gujarat, and the eastern coast of Africa have settled in each other's lands.
 
In end 19th century, Indians came to Kenya during the colonial era to build the iconic Mombasa Uganda railway. Many of them stayed and contributed to the economic development of Kenya.
 
“Several joined the freedom struggle, and stood shoulder to shoulder with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, the founding president of Kenya. I count Makhan Singh, Pio Gama Pinto, Chaman Lal, M.A Desai among others. Ancient links between societies have also enriched our cultures. The rich Swahili language includes many Hindi words,” he added.
 
Mr Modi said he was happy to return to Kenya which he first visited in 2008. 
 
“This visit may have been short but the outcomes have been significant. I have been able to rekindle our personal friendship which began in New Delhi in October 2015. In the last few hours, we have been able to impart new vigour and momentum to our long-standing relations. Our political understanding and commitment have deepened,” he added.
 
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India, Kenya agree to forge closer commercial, investment, defence ties

India and Kenya on Monday agreed to forge closer commercial links for the benefit of their economies, diversify their trade basket and expand their investment ties further.

 
Modi hands over field ambulances to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
India and Kenya today agreed to forge closer commercial links for the benefit of their economies, diversify their trade basket and expand their investment ties further.
 
"This would also enable greater regional economic prosperity. And, in this while governments would play their part, it is the businesses of the two countries that have a key role and responsibility to drive our commercial partnership," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a joint media interaction with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta after their talks here.
 
"India is one of the brightest spot in the world economy. And, Kenya is a land of strong opportunities. India is Kenya's largest trading partner, and the second largest investor here. But, there is potential to achieve much more," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said that, while they were aware of their development challenges, Mr. Kenyatta and he also shared concerns of security and stability.
 
"We both have strong maritime traditions. As such, our closer cooperation in the field of maritime security occupies an important place in our overall defence and security engagement," he said.
 
He said memorandum of understanding on Defence Cooperation signed by the two sides today would strengthen the institutional cooperation between their defence establishments. This would include greater staff exchanges; sharing of expertise and experiences; training and institution building, cooperation in hydrography, and supply of equipment. 
 
Mr. Modi said Mr. Kenyatta and he recognized that terrorism and the rapid spread of radical ideologies posed a common challenge to their people, their countries, to the region and to the whole world. 
 
"We have agreed to deepen our security partnership including in the fields of cyber security, combating drugs and narcotics, and human trafficking," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said Kenya is a valued friend and trusted partner of India. "The bonds between the two countries are long-standing and rich. We share a common legacy of struggle against colonialism," he said.
 
"Our historical people-to-people ties provide a strong basis to our wide-ranging partnership, which extends from agriculture and health to developmental assistance; from trade and commerce to investment; from closer contacts between our peoples to capacity building; and from regular political consultations to defence and security cooperation," he said.
 
He said Mr. Kenyatta and he had reviewed all aspects and the full range of their relationship.
 
Mr. Modi said India and Kenya were two developing countries and also two innovation societies.
 
"And, the important part is that whether it is the process, products or technologies, our innovations are relevant not just to our societies.They also help improve the lives of people in other developing countries. The success of M-Pesa is one such classic innovation that has empowered millions the world over. Both sides have been working together in commercializing innovative technologies, and some of it will be evident at the Business Forum later today," he said.
 
The Prime Minister, who was in Nairobi on the last leg of a four-nation Africa visit that had earlier taken him to Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania, said the multifaceted development partnership wass a key pillar of their bilateral relationship. 
 
"Our development priorities are more or less aligned. As true and trusted partner, India is ready to share its development experiences and expertise, and concessional credit and capacities to assist in Kenya's development objectives. We look forward to early implementation of the Indian lines of credit for projects in agricultural mechanization, textiles and the development of the small and medium sector. 
 
"We are also encouraged by the progress in the power transmission project under an Indian line of credit of 60 million dollars.Kenya's highly successful geothermal sector, and energy efficiency projects such as LED based smart street lighting, are a couple of new areas where we could build our engagement. I understand that health care is President Uhuru's key priority. India's strength, especially in pharmaceuticals, can join hands with your priorities to shape an affordable and efficient healthcare system in Kenya. This would not only meet the needs of your society. It could also help Kenya become a regional medical hub. 
 
"In this regard, I am happy that the prestigious Kenyatta National Hospital will soon have the state of the art made in India cancer therapy machine – Bhabhatron. We are also donating essential medicines and medical equipment for Kenya's public health system, including for the treatment AIDS," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said both sides recognized that, without the opportunities for the success of their youth, their societies could not grow. For this, India was ready to partner with Kenya in the fields of education, vocational education and skill development, he said.
 
"Yesterday, President and I had an unforgettable interaction with the Indian diaspora in Kenya. As President Uhuru said, they are proud Kenyans even as they cherish their Indian roots. As we shape deeper contacts between our economies and societies, they form a trusted bond and a strong bridge. I am also happy to announce that the vibrant Indian culture, which is already a part of Kenya's rich society, will be showcased in a Festival of India in Kenya later this year," he added.
 
This was the first visit to Kenya by an Indian Prime Minister in 35 years.
 
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Apart from the MoU on defence cooperation, two sides also signed six other agreements, including an MoU on cooperation in the field of National Housing Policy Development and Management and an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on Income
 
They also signed an MoU between Bureau of Indian Standards and Kenya Bureau of Standards and an agreement on exemption of visa for holders of diplomatic passports.
 
India agreed to provide a line of credit (LoC) for $ 15 million to IDB Capital Limited, for development of small and medium enterprises [SMEs] and another LoC for $ 29.95 million to the Government of Kenya for upgrade of Rift Valley Textiles Factory [RIVATEX).
 
The two leaders commended the robust defence cooperation and to further enhance these ties, Mr. Modi handed over 30 field ambulances to the Kenya Defence Forces. President Uhuru thanked him for the gift and appreciated India’s support for Kenya’s defence and security sector. 
 
The Kenyan side noted India’s offer of an LoC for acquisition of defence equipment. Both sides agreed to continue cooperating in this sector and to share information and expertise in counter terrorism, cyber security, combating drugs and human trafficking. The two leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and agreed to work together in building a new global resolve and strategy for combating terrorism, including expediting the finalization of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the United Nations.
 
Both sides expressed mutual interest in application of space technology for peaceful purposes. India agreed to share expertise with Kenya on space-based application possibilities addressing natural resources management, weather forecasting and disaster management support.
 
On Development Assistance, India proposed to extend LoCs for geothermal projects and for agricultural mechanisation. 
 
The two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation in trade, investment and economic cooperation. The possibility of export of pulses from Kenya to India was also explored. They tasked the Joint Trade Committee of the two countries to explore further ways of enhancing trade cooperation.
 
Kenya welcomed the Indian initiative ‘African Development through Indian Technologies and Innovations’ (ADITI) to explore sharing, implementing and commercializing technologies and innovations that aim to spur growth, both in Africa and India.
 
The two leaders agreed on the importance of bolstering cooperation in the health and pharmaceutical sector. To this end, Mr. Modi announced the gifting of a telecobalt cancer therapy machine – the Bhabhatron II; a donation of essential/ARV medicines and medical equipment and capacity building/training programmes in the health sector. The Indian side assured that positive consideration will be given to extend a LoC for the establishment of 100-bed cancer hospital in Kenya. 
 
Mr. Kenyatta appreciated the role of Indian universities in training Kenyan graduates who are making positive contributions to the economy. He requested India to consider expanding training and capacity building programmes in areas such as medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and ICT which are relevant to Kenya’s national development priorities.
 
The two leaders reiterated the importance of cultural interactions and people to people contacts in strengthening bilateral relations. The two sides affirmed their commitment to renew the Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) for 2016-19 which will provide a framework for cooperation in culture.
 
The two leaders also welcomed the setting up of an ICCR Chair for Indian Studies at the University of Nairobi. Mr. Modi announced a grant of $ 1 million for renovation of the Mahatma Gandhi Graduate Library at the University of Nairobi. In response to Kenya’s request to develop Kenya’s film industry, India offered to consider deputation of Indian faculty to the School of Film Making in Nairobi.
 
The two sides agreed to exchange coaches for training in athletics and cricket as a way of promoting sports cooperation.
 
The two leaders emphasized the importance of an early reform of the United Nations Security Council, in both permanent and non-permanent membership categories, so that it reflects the current realities and functions in an accountable, representative and effective manner.
 
Given the two countries shared interest in the Indian Ocean and the importance of the Blue Economy, the two leaders agreed to pursue initiatives in the sustainable management and extraction of ocean based resources.The two leaders reaffirmed the importance that both countries attached to the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and agreed to work towards finalizing the agreement on Cooperation in the Blue Economy.
 
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Modi says India working to grow at over 8% in coming years

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that India had, in a world marked by reducing growth rates and economic slowdowns, registered a healthy growth rate of 7.6 percent in 2015-16 and was working to grow at over 8 percent and more in the years ahead.

 
Modi addresses members of Indian community in Johannesburg
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that India had, in a world marked by reducing growth rates and economic slowdowns, registered a healthy growth rate of 7.6 percent in 2015-16 and was working to grow at over 8 percent and more in the years ahead.
 
"India's dynamism is not of mere words. It is driven by concrete action. And, is defined by our commitment to change the face ofthe Indian economy. Not, just through sustained rapid economic growth. But, through multiple transformations," he said in an address to members of the Indian community here on the second day of a two-day visit to South Africa as part of a four-nation Africa tour.
 
He said these transformations aimed to uplift India's 1.25 billion people, its 500 cities and its 600,000 villages.
 
"We want enterprises to flourish , businesses to grow and the country to rise. For this, we are already shaping a policy framework that strengthens India's ability to build trade, manufacturing, innovation and investment partnerships with other countries in the world. Our focus on Ease of Doing Business is aimed at ensuring that the public, private and personal businesses can grow to their full potential in India. And, we want it to be driven by state-of-the-art infrastructure. Infrastructure that not only provides basic needs of housing, shelter, electricity, water and sanitation to the people. But, also engineers a modern network of ports, airports, rail and road for them to serve as gateways of economic prosperity for our people," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said the government's plan to build 100 smart cities was aimed at creating an urbanized society that is sustainable, and easy on the environment and on the country's resources. Backed by the strength of the best information technology specialists in the world, the government was also shaping a digital revolution, he said.
 
"A revolution that would change the way a government engages with its citizens; a business interacts with its clients; and a society relates to its old and new structures. A revolution, which rests on digital infrastructure, that allows free flow of information, innovation and ideas on the information high-ways," he said.
 
Mr. Modi visited Mozambique on July 7 and will visit Tanzania and Kenya before flying back home.
 
"We may live on distant shores; in different time zones; and on different hemispheres; our ancestors may have been separated in history; our nationalities may be different; and ur support may be for different cricket teams. But, our common cultural, religious and spiritual heritage ensured that we remain close and connected. Both, in our hearts and our minds," he said.
 
"Centuries ago, our ancestors travelled to the unknown shores of South Africa. They faced hardship and extreme poverty. Yet, they endured and kept going. Under decades of apartheid isolation, they not only preserved their culture, traditions and language. They also gave them new wings to flourish. And, today, the beauty of Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Urdu and Telugu continues to enrich the fabric of South African society. The colours of Holi, the sparkle of Diwali, tastes of Pongal, and festivities of Eid are not just the rainbow of Indian cultural traditions. They also symbolize the vibrant diversity of South Africa. 
 
"The story of your ancestors in this nation may have been of poverty and oppression. But, their legacy is one of pride and sacrifice. And, it is reflected in your success and prosperity. Its reality rests in your immense contribution to the economic and social well-being of this country. In staying true to the Indian ethos, the notion that the world is a family, you have cared for others. And, in so doing you have also echoed the South African ethos of Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu (Meaning: You are what you are because of other people)," he said.
 
Mr. Modi reminded the gathering that their ancestors were among the first to leave the shores of India. "Their sacrifice, their determination to preserve their cultural roots, and will to succeed against all odds not only shaped the generations of South African Indians. It also impacted, influenced and guided the mind-set of Indian diaspora the world over. In many ways, what Indian diaspora stands for all over the world today is because of what your forefathers were able to achieve despite all adversity," he said.
 
"This city and its people mean a lot to us. It was here that Mahatma Gandhi conceptualised his politics. This is the birthplace of Satyagraha. South Africa transformed Mohandas into a Mahatma. But, Gandhi was not alone in his fight against racial oppression. The South African freedom struggle also has many heroes among you. Who can forget the sacrifice of sixteen year old, the fearless Thambi Naidoo and the selfless Mohammed Cachalia? I had the privilege of meeting Ahmed Kathrada earlier today. He spent 26 years in prison alongside Nelson Mandela. The harshness of the Robben Island prison could not bring down Lalu Chiba , Mac Maharaj or Billy Nair. Alongside their African brothers and sisters, generations of Indians fought, suffered and sacrificed so that all of South Africa could breathe freely. I salute you all, and the countless others, dedicated to this country. You are the proud sons and daughters of the Indian heritage. You are the hardworking and loyal citizens of South Africa. You are also a part of the flourishing global Indian family. You form a unique bond between our two great nations. A bond that is nurtured by our shared values and struggles. A bond on whose foundation we are building the promise of our prosperous future," he said.
 
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Mr. Modi said South Africa was the land of Nelson Mandela and the "karmabhoomi" of Mahatma Gandhi. "The path these two great men have shown us, and the freedom that they have won for us, is an inspiration for all of mankind. Their tireless spirit, courage and moral force will remain a guiding beacon for the generations to come. The Mahatma led India's march to freedom from the British, which gave birth to modern India. The forgiveness of Nelson Mandela and his Long March to Freedom gave rise to A Rainbow Nation. Gandhi held South Africa dear to his heart," he said.
 
"We live in a world that is inter-dependent and hyper-connected. Many of you are now closely engaged with developments in India. Your desire to connect with the lands of your forefathers may be an emotional urge. But, you need not limit yourself to that alone," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said India, today, was also a land of opportunity for those who want to connect and collaborate; innovate and create; trade and Invest; and produce and engineer. 
 
"India, like South Africa is a young nation. The energy and drive of our 800 million youth fuels and mirrors the ambition and aspiration of the entire country. We want them to be the engine that pulls India's economy and society. And, for this, we are working in campaign mode to skill India's youth. The plan is to generate over 500 million new jobs in India by 2022. We want them not just to fulfil India's needs. But, also to meet the growing global demand of skilled manpower. It is not just economy and society that is racing ahead. The mind sets of our people are also changing. And, the change that I am talking about is not just on paper and in our plans. It is already visible on the ground. The villages are buzzing with new momentum, drive and purpose. The cities are full of enterprise and energy. There is confidence in our youth. And, the citizens of India are full of optimism," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said India's rise was a story of "rare resilience, renewed resurgence, superb speed and spectacular scale".
 
He said the credit for this went not to him but to the 1.25 people of India and to the fact that they placed their faith in his government and gave it a mandate to govern.
 
"In doing so they opted for: Action over words; Positivity over negative approaches; A sense of focus and purpose over a feeling of drift; Willingness to shape the international agenda rather than react to it; and Transformational jump rather than incremental change," he said.
 
"Our two countries have similar aspirations and challenges. India was one of the leaders of the international movement for freedom in this country. We led from the front in the global fight against apartheid. But, as I said earlier, as the Rainbow nation was born, we were also the first ones to extend the warm embrace of our friendship," he said.
 
"With this, began a new and glorious chapter in our ties. In our economic choices, we can do many things together for our youth and for our peoples. Both India and South Africa, have huge demographic opportunities. We both have a young population. Two-thirds of our people in India are below the age of 35. Similar is the story on the African continent, and in South Africa. We must share our experiences, our partnership and our expertise to meet our development goals. 
 
"As South Africa works towards economic prosperity, safety and security for its people, it will find in India a trusted and reliable partner. India is ready to join you in this journey. Our development and business partnerships are already doing well. But we must do more to help them gallop, to run as the springbok . Together we can create new enterprises, new skills and new social values. India and South Africa are strategic partners. We should build a partnership that spans the entirety of the human endeavour.
 
"A partnership that scales new heights in diverse fields: from agriculture to health care; from culture to commerce; from tradition to trade; from Industry to institution building; from investment to information technology; from mining to manufacturing; from sports to science and technology; and from defence to development.
 
"We are also active drivers of regional partnerships. Together, we can also create new values for our friends in Africa. Our companies are already partnering and bringing economic benefit to our people. They can also be instrument of change on this continent. We can work together, to empower youth, to fight poverty, malnutrition, disease and hunger. Again, not just in our countries, but across Africa and other developing regions. 
 
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"We live in an age of global challenges. Fight against terrorism and piracy, AIDS and ebola are some of the key priorities of our partnership. Our partnership for economic prosperity also has to be sensitive to climate change. We agreed to a landmark deal in Paris. We now have to work together as strong partners to look at new energy pathways and technology solutions for a climate smart world. 
 
"To galvanise global action, India has started the International Solar Alliance, which has the support of over 120 countries. Solar rich South Africa is a critical partner in this programme. Through IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) and BRICS, our partnership is also shaping priorities within the global agenda," he said.
 
Mr. Modi told the gathering that a resurgency India awaited them and that the government had taken several steps towards eliminating barriers of entry. He said the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) schemes had been rolled into one.
 
"In February this year we launched e-visa for South Africa. You can now get Indian visa sitting at home in your email, and that too at no cost! 
 
"India and South Africa have much to benefit from a closer partnership. You are a window to India's heritage, to our ethos and to our values. And, you form an important life line for our ties with this land. In conclusion, let me say that your achievements, your contributions and your success makes us all proud. It has been a privilege for me to connect with you," he added.
 
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Modi invites investment from South Africa, says India has improved ease of doing busines

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today invited South African businessmen to invest in India, saying that, as part of the Make in India exercise, his goverment had given emphasis on improving the ease of doing business and taken decisive steps to ease the licensing processes and rationalize the provisions relating to clearances, returns, and inspections. 
 
Speaking at the India-South Africa Business meet here today, he said both countries were important players in the BRICS economies. 
 
"Our people at home and the world at large are looking at us with great expectations. We can join hands to fulfil these twin expectations. 
 
"It is heartening that we have had very active and fruitful engagement on all possible fronts. This august gathering is also an important part of the same process," he said.
 
South African President Jacob Zuma and the country's Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation and Trade and Industry as well as captains of South African and Indian industry were present at the event.
 
"Our leaders like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi brought political freedom for us. Now, it is the time to work for economic freedom. Thus, our relations rest upon our common desire to fulfil the aspirations of our people. We have been friends in adversities. Now we should franchise in opportunities. With the blessings of our great leaders, both the countries have marched on the path of development," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said South Africa is India's key trade and investment partner, with bilateral trade growing almost 380% in the last ten years. There was also continuous flow of investments both ways, he said.
 
More than 150 Indian companies are operating in South Africa. Similarly, many companies of South Africa are doing excellent work in India, he said.
 
"However, the scope is tremendous. The potential is increasing day by day. This is because both countries are strengthening their economic fundamentals. Therefore, we must look at ways to diversify our trade basket, to complement our needs and to serve the people. Our active partnership across various facets and forums is a testimony to the fact that such engagement is possible," he said.
 
"For Indian companies, South Africa is a home in this continent. Many leading Indian companies have a foot-print here. They are engaged in a wide range of activities. Many Indian CEOs are here with us. My advice to them is to see that their business results into socio--economic transformation of this great country," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said skill development and community empowerment should be central to their business plans and the spirit of African humanism, Ubuntu, should reflect in their business ethos.
 
"South African companies are also active in India. Many of them have presence on ground. We have learnt from your knowledge and benefited from your innovative products. South African business excellence and Indian capacities must leverage each other; for growth and development in our two countries," he said.
 
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Mr. Modi said that, in the last two years, the government had worked very hard on all fronts to set the economy right.
 
"We have got very encouraging results of our sincerity and hard work. Today, India is a bright star in the global economy. We are being seen as the engine of global growth. India has become the fastest growing large economy in the world. At a time of global slowdown, we have registered 7.6% growth in GDP. World Bank, IMF and other institutions have projected even better growth in the coming days.
 
"Not only that, in 2014-15, India contributed 12.5% of global growth. Its contribution to global growth is 68% higher than its share of the world economy. The FDI in this year has been the highest ever. The ratings agency Moody's has said that FDI inflows were all-time high in 2016, highlighting the success of our 'Make in India' initiative," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said Make in India had become the biggest brand that India has ever had. "Both within and outside the country, it has captured the imagination of people, institutions, industries, businesses, media and the political leadership. 
 
Talking about other indicators, he said India had consistently been ranked as the most attractive investment destination by several global agencies and institutions.
 
"We have jumped 12 ranks in the latest global ranking by the World Bank on ease of doing business. India has also improved its UNCTAD ranking of investment attractiveness. Against 15th so far, now we are at 9th place. India has also jumped 16 places on the World Economic Forum’s global competitive index.
 
"Due to positive impact of our policies and practices, our confidence has gone up. This also gives us motivation to further simplify our processes to become an easier place to do business," he said.
 
The Prime Minister mentioned initiatives such as Start-Up India, all of which would help India become a place with better quality of life and higher living standards.
 
"We have ensured that our growth is inclusive and embraces both rural and urban communities. We are taking a leap towards next generation infrastructure in both core areas and social sectors. 
 
"Socio-economic challenges of both our countries are more or less same. My advice is that the wheels of development should not be re-invented. Our two countries are very uniquely positioned to complement each other," he said.
 
"Nature has been kind on both of us. We have immense natural resources. The need is to properly harness them and to use them sustainably for welfare of the common man. We can learn a lot from each other in this. 
 
"We particularly want to engage with your world class mining companies. Some of them are already active in India. But we want strategic engagements on this front. Our interest in this sector is not one sided.
 
"Secondly, the challenge of climate change and the need of fast track development is before both of us. We are both committed to clean and green pathways to progress. At the same time, we need energy resources. With the help of a number of countries, we have formed the International Solar Alliance. I hope that we will enrich and take advantage of this forum," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said that India, with its huge domestic market, offered massive opportunities for South Africa's food processing industry. 
 
He also mentioned the government's ambitious plans for infrastructure development in India.
 
"Together, we can do a lot to fill these gaps. India is best suited to help you in technology and skills. Efforts are already underway in these areas. At the India Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi last year, we undertook to educate and train 50,000 Africans in India over the next five years," he said.
 
"We can work together in a number of areas. From defence to dairy; from hardware to software; from medicines to medical tourism; from soft skills to science and technology. There are opportunities for us. 
 
"India today is among the most open economies. We have liberalised our FDI regime in most of the areas and in all possible ways. We have rationalised our norms and made it simple for businesses to establish and grow. 
 
"To conclude, I would like to say that we have added institutional depth to our partnership. Our BRICS business engagement and CEOs Forum have helped to expand and enrich our partnership. Today, we have successfully held the 3rd Meeting of the India-South Africa CEOs Forum. We value your recommendations and look forward to putting them into practice," he added.
 
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India, South Africa agree to expand economic ties, cooperate against terrorism

India and South Africa on Friday agreed to expand their economic, business and investment ties, work more closely on international issues and emerging global challenges and cooperate actively to combat terrorism.

 
Modi holds talks with South African President Jacob Zuma
India and South Africa today agreed to expand their economic, business and investment ties, work more closely on international issues and emerging global challenges and cooperate actively to combat terrorism.
 
Speaking at a joint media interaction with South African President Jacob Zuma after their bilateral talks here, Mr. Modi said terrorism was another shared threat that put at risk the safety and security of their people.
 
"The President and I agreed that our two nations need to stay vigilant and cooperate actively to combat terrorism, both in our region and in the world," he said.
 
Mr. Modi began by saying that, even though this was his first visit to South Africa, his delegation and he were already feeling at hme in this Rainbow Nation.
 
"For me personally, this visit is an opportunity to pay homage to two of the greatest human souls to have ever walked this Earth - Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela," he said.
 
He said that, through centuries, India and South Africa have nurtured strong people to people ties. "We stood together in our common fight against racial subjugation and colonialism. It was in South Africa that Gandhifound his true calling. He belongs as much to India as to South Africa," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said that their shared values, suffering and struggles provided a strong foundation to their strategic partnership and that its success was visible across a range of sectors.
 
He said that, in their discussions today, President Zuma and he reviewed the full spectrum of their engagement.
 
"We agreed that in the last two decades, our relationship has been a story of strong advances and concrete achievements. Two-way trade has grown by over 300 percent in last ten years. Indian companies hold strong business interests in South Africa. About one fourth of our investments in Africa are in this country," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said there was potential to expand their business and investment ties further, especially in the areas of minerals and mining; chemicals and pharmaceuticals; high-technology manufacturing; and information and communication technology.
 
"I am convinced that industry to industry ties can not only bring rich economic gains to our societies. They can give a new shape to our partnership, and drive it to new levels. And, in the process, also help both our nations to play a more robust regional and global role. Later today, the President and I will sit down with the business leadership of the two countries to identify synergies in our engagement," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said the nature of their developing economies demanded that their engagement should also focus on improving their human capital.
 
"Our capacities and needs in the fields of vocational, technical and professional education complement each other, and can benefit both our people. India is also ready to share its expertise and capacities for the development of small and medium business in South Africa. Beyond economic ties, and links of business, trade and investment, we can also partner in the field of defence and security. Both, at the level of industry and for our strategic and security needs. In India, this is one of the sectors witnessing a complete transformation. It offers exciting opportunities in defence trade. Our companies can also pool their capacities to jointly develop or manufacture defence equipments and platforms. And, not just to meet our defence needs, but also to respond to regional and global demand," he said.
 
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Mr. Modi said Mr. Zuma and he also agreed on the need to work more closely on international issues and emerging global challenges.
 
"I thanked the President for South Africa's support to India's membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. We know that we can count on the active support of our friends, like South Africa. Climate change, and its impact on the world, is our shared concern. We agreed that a large scale effort and focus on renewable energy is needed to address this challenge. It was with this in mind that India had led the efforts to form an International Solar Alliance at COP 21 in Paris. I believe that it can be the most effective platform for access to knowledge, technology and finance for promoting solar energy.I am thankful to President Zuma, for South Africa’s partnership in this Alliance, which already has the support of over 120 countries," he said.
 
He said the waters of the Indian Ocean were their common sea frontiers. He said the Indian Ocean Rim Association had emerged as a key platform of engagement for the maritime neighbours connected by the Indian Ocean.
 
"I welcome South Africa’s chairmanship of the organization for 2017-19. India and South Africa are also working together to shape priorities of international agenda through IBSA [India, Brazil and South Africa] and BRICS. I look forward to welcoming President Zuma in Goa for the BRICS Summit later this year, in October," he said.
 
"Let me say this in the end: from the Satyagraha of Gandhi to the forgiveness of Madiba; from ports of Gujarat to the shores of Durban; united by our shared values and common struggles; in the vast opportunities of our oceans and economies; and through the spirit of Vasudaiva Kutumbakum and Ubuntu, our relationship has been a story of resolve, determination, justice and the excellence of human endeavour. It is truly exceptional and unlike any other," he added.
 
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India ready to share technology, capacity, concessional credit with Mozambique: Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today expressed India's readiness to share its experiences, technology, capacity and concessional credit with Mozambique, in line with the African nation's priorities.
 
In his address during a banquet hosted by Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi, Mr Modi said, “Our trade and investment ties have particularly flourished in recent years. We want to build further on it.”
 
Applauding Mozambique as one of the fastest growing economies of the world in recent decades, he said, as two developing countries both faced similar challenges. “Our development and economic partnership, therefore, has been an essential part of our relationship,” he added.
 
Mr Modi pointed out that the relationship between the two countries was not new. Thousands of Indian-origin people call Mozambique their home. “I am told that most of the Siddi community that resides in parts of India is known to trace its ancestry to Mozambique. These communities are a living testimony to age old links that have connected our people, their ideas and traditions, and culture and commerce,” he said.
 
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While both countries had suffered under the colonial rule, in the case of Mozambique, the struggle was much longer. Independent India was one of the leading advocates of Mozambican freedom from colonial rule. “We were proud to see Mozambique join the ranks of free nations in 1975,” he added.
 
"Last year marked the 40th anniversary of Mozambican independence and of establishment of diplomatic ties. It also saw a level of interaction between the two nations, never seen before. Its high point was your own state visit to India in August 2015," he said.
 
“Later, your Prime Minister honoured us with his presence during the third edition of the India-Africa Forum Summit. Excellency, I am aware that I am the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Mozambique in 34 years. This gap should never have been so long. And, I am confident that it will not be so in future,” Mr Modi added.
 
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Obama says to leave more troops than planned in Afghanistan

 
US to keep 8,400 troops in Afghanistan until end of year: Obama
United States President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that the US would maintain about 3000 more troops in Afghanistan than originally planned, which means that his successor would have to grapple the country's involvement in the Afghan civil war that began after the 9/11 terror attacks.
 
"Instead of going down to 5,500 troops by the end of this year, the United States will maintain approximately 8,400 troops in Afghanistan into next year, through the end of my administration," Mr. Obama announced in a statement from the White House.
 
"The narrow missions assigned to our forces will not change.  They remain focused on supporting Afghan forces and going after terrorists.  But maintaining our forces at this specific level -- based on our assessment of the security conditions and the strength of Afghan forces -- will allow us to continue to provide tailored support to help Afghan forces continue to improve.  From coalition bases in Jalalabad and Kandahar, we’ll be able to continue supporting Afghan forces on the ground and in the air.  And we continue supporting critical counterterrorism operations," he said.
 
According to media reports, there are some 9800 US troops supporting the Afghanistan government in the fight against the Taliban, the al Qaeda, which is trying to regroup, and a nascent threat from the ISIS.
 
"More than 14 years ago, after al Qaida attacked our nation on 9/11, the United States went to war in Afghanistan against these terrorists and the Taliban that harbored them.  Over the years -- and thanks to heroic efforts by our military, our intelligence community, our diplomats and our development professionals -- we pushed al Qaida out of its camps, helped the Afghan people topple the Taliban and helped them establish a democratic government.  
 
"We dealt crippling blows to the al Qaida leadership.  We delivered justice to Osama bin Laden.  And we trained Afghan forces to take responsibility for their own security," Mr. Obama said.
 
"And given that progress, a year and a half ago -- in December 2014 -- America’s combat mission in Afghanistan came to a responsible end.  Compared to the 100,000 troops we once had there, today, fewer than 10,000 remain.  And compared to their previous mission -- helping to lead the fight -- our forces are now focused on two narrow missions:  training and advising Afghan forces, and supporting counterterrorist operations against the remnants of al Qaida as well as other terrorist groups, including ISIL.  In short, even as we’ve maintained a relentless case against those who are threatening us, we are no longer engaged in a major ground war in Afghanistan," he said.
 
Mr. Obama said that even these narrow missions continued to be dangerous. He noted that, over the past year and a half, 38 Americans -- military and civilian -- had lost their lives in Afghanistan on behalf of US security.
 
"And we honor their sacrifice.  We stand with their families in their grief and in their pride.  And we resolve to carry on the mission for which they gave their last full measure of devotion. 
 
"This is also not America’s mission alone.  In Afghanistan, we’re joined by 41 allies and partners -- a coalition that contributes more than 6,000 troops of their own.  We have a partner in the Afghan government and the Afghan people, who support a long-term strategic partnership with the United States. And, in fact, Afghans continue to step up.  For the second year now, Afghan forces are fully responsible for their own security. Every day, nearly 320,000 Afghan soldiers and police are serving and fighting, and many are giving their lives to defend their country,: he said.
 
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Mr. Obama said that, to their credit -- and in the face of a continued Taliban insurgency and terrorist networks -- Afghan forces remained in control of all the major population centres, provincial capitals, major transit routes and most district centres.  
 
"Afghan forces have beaten back attacks and they’ve pushed the Taliban out of some areas.  Meanwhile, in another milestone, we recently removed the leader of the Taliban, Akhtar Mohammad Mansur.
 
"Nevertheless, the security situation in Afghanistan remains precarious.  Even as they improve, Afghan security forces are still not as strong as they need to be.  With our help, they’re still working to improve critical capabilities such as intelligence, logistics, aviation and command and control.  At the same time, the Taliban remains a threat.  They have gained ground in some cases.  They’ve continued attacks and suicide bombings, including in Kabul.  Because the Taliban deliberately target innocent civilians, more Afghan men, women and children are dying.  And often overlooked in the global refugee crisis, millions of Afghans have fled their homes and many have been fleeing their country," he said.
 
"Now, as President and Commander-in-Chief, I’ve made it clear that I will not allow Afghanistan to be used as safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again.  That’s why I constantly review our strategy with my national security team, including our commanders in Afghanistan. 
 
"In all these reviews, we’re guided by the facts, what’s happening on the ground, to determine what’s working and what needs to be changed.  And that’s why, at times, I’ve made adjustments -- for example, by slowing the drawdown of our forces and, more recently, by giving U.S. forces more flexibility to support Afghan forces on the ground and in the air.  And I strongly believe that it is in our national security interest -- especially after all the blood and treasure we’ve invested in Afghanistan over the years -- that we give our Afghan partners the very best opportunity to succeed," he said.
 
"Upon taking command of coalition forces this spring, General Nicholson conducted a review of the security situation in Afghanistan and our military posture.  It was good to get a fresh set of eyes.  And based on the recommendation of General Nicholson, as well as Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford, and following extensive consultations with my national security team, as well as Congress and the Afghan government and our international partners, I’m announcing an additional adjustment to our posture," he said.
 
"And in reaffirming the enduring commitment of the United States to Afghanistan and its people, the decision I’m making today can help our allies and partners align their own commitments.  As you know, tomorrow, I depart for the NATO Summit in Warsaw, where I’ll meet with our coalition partners and Afghan President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah.  Many of our allies and partners have already stepped forward with commitments of troops and funding so we can keep strengthening Afghan forces through the end of this decade.  The NATO Summit will be an opportunity for more allies and partners to affirm their contributions -- and I’m confident they will, because all of us have a vital interest in the security and stability of Afghanistan," he said.
 
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Mr. Obama said his decision was also a message to the Taliban and all those who have opposed Afghanistan's progress.
 
"You have now been waging war against the Afghan people for many years.  You’ve been unable to prevail.  Afghan security forces continue to grow stronger.  And the commitment of the international community, including the United States, to Afghanistan and its people will endure.  I will say it again -- the only way to end this conflict and to achieve a full drawdown of foreign forces from Afghanistan is through a lasting political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban.  That’s the only way.  And that is why the United States will continue to strongly support an Afghan-led reconciliation process, and why we call on all countries in the region to end safe havens for militants and terrorists.
 
"Finally, today’s decision best positions my successor to make future decisions about our presence in Afghanistan.  In January, the next U.S. president will assume the most solemn responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief -- the security of the United States and the safety of the American people.  The decision I’m making today ensures that my successor has a solid foundation for continued progress in Afghanistan as well as the flexibility to address the threat of terrorism as it evolves," he said.
 
"So, in closing, I want to address directly what I know is on the minds of many Americans -- especially our troops and their families who’ve borne a heavy burden for our security.  When we first sent our forces into Afghanistan 14 years ago, few Americans imagined we’d be there -- in any capacity -- this long. As President, I focused our strategy on training and building up Afghan forces.  It has been continually my belief that it is up to Afghans to defend their country.  Because we have emphasized training and their capabilities, we’ve been able to end our major ground war there and bring 90 percent of our troops back home.
 
"But even as we work for peace, we have to deal with the realities of the world as it is.  And we can't forget what’s at stake in Afghanistan.  This is where al Qaida is trying to regroup.  This is where ISIL continues to try to expand its presence.  If these terrorists succeed in regaining areas and camps where they can train and plot, they will attempt more attacks against us.  We cannot allow that to happen.  I will not allow that to happen," he said.
 
Mr. Obama said this September would mark mark 15 years since the attacks of 9/11. 
 
"And once more, we’ll pause to remember the lives we lost -- Americans and peoples from around the world.  We’ll stand with their families, who still grieve.  We'll stand with survivors, who still bear the scars of that day.  We’ll thank the first responders who rushed to save others.  And perhaps, most importantly, we’ll salute our men and women in uniform -- our 9/11 Generation -- who have served in Afghanistan and beyond for our security.  We’ll honor the memory of all those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice, including more than 2,200 American patriots who have given their lives in Afghanistan.  As we do, let’s never forget the progress their service has made possible.
 
"Afghanistan is not a perfect place.  It remains one of the poorest countries in the world.  It is going to continue to take time for them to build up military capacity that we sometimes take for granted.  And given the enormous challenges they face, the Afghan people will need the partnership of the world -- led by the United States -- for many years to come.  But with our support, Afghanistan is a better place than it once was.  Millions of Afghan children -- boys and girls -- are in school.  Dramatic improvements in public health have saved the lives of mothers and children.  Afghans have cast their ballots in democratic elections and seen the first democratic transfer of power in their country's history.  The current National Unity Government continues to pursue reforms -- including record revenues last year -- to strengthen their country and, over time, help decrease the need for international support.   
 
"That government is a strong partner with us in combatting terrorism.  That's the progress we’ve helped make possible.  That’s the progress that our troops have helped make possible, and our diplomats, and our development personnel.  That's the progress we can help sustain, in partnership with the Afghan people and our coalition partners.  And so I firmly believe the decision I’m announcing today is the right thing to do -- for Afghanistan, for the United States, and for the world," he added.
 
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Three Indian warships visit Vladivostok in Russia

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In a demonstration of India’s commitment to its long-standing strategic partnership with Russia and the Indian Navy’s increasing footprint and operational reach, Indian Naval Ships Sahyadri, Shakti and Kirch reached Vladivostok today on a four-day visit.
 
The ships, under the command of Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet, Rear Admiral S V Bhokare,are part of deployment of the Eastern Fleet to the South China Sea.
 
During the visit, the Navy ships will have professional interactions with the Russian Navy aimed at enhancing co-operation between the two forces.
 
In addition, calls on senior Government and military authorities, sporting and cultural interactions and sharing of best practices, aimed at strengthening ties and mutual understanding between the two Navies, are also planned.
 
The visiting ships are also likely to conduct exercises with the Russian Navy, aimed at enhancing interoperability in communication as well as search and rescue procedures, post departure from Vladivostok.
 
INS Sahyadri is commanded by Captain K S Rajkumar, INS Shakti by Captain Gagan Kaushal and INS Kirch by Commander Sharad Sinsunwal.
 
An official press release said bilateral relations between India and Russia are characterised by time-tested bonds of friendship based on cooperation and interactions in fields of culture, trade and economy, science and technology, and most importantly defence.
 
Other significant areas of collaboration between the countries include space technology, hydrocarbon exploration and peaceful use of nuclear energy.
 
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India-Russia military technical cooperation has evolved from a simple buyer-seller framework to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced defence technologies and systems.
 
BrahMos missile system, joint design and development of fifth generation fighter aircraft, licensed production of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks and induction of aircraft carrier Vikramaditya into the Indian Navy, are testimony to this strategic partnership, the release said.
 
The Indian Navy and Russian Navy have forged enduring linkages with each other, beyond commonality of weapon systems and equipment, overcoming barriers of distance and language.
 
The two navies engage with each other annually through the Indra Navy series of maritime exercises in addition to reciprocal visits by training teams, high-level delegations and ships. The last visit by Indian Navy ships to Russia was in July 2014, when Ranvijay, Shivalik and Shakti berthed at Vladivostok.
 
"The current visit seeks to enhance maritime cooperation between the Indian Navy and the Russian Navy. It will further bolster the strong bonds of friendship between India and Russia and contribute to security and stability in this vital part of the world," the release added.
 
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Moderate earthquake jolts Bangladesh

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An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale, jolted Bangladesh early this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 22.6 N and longitude 92.0 E, occurred at 0557 hours IST at a focal depth of 20 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Britain votes to leave EU, Cameron quits, global financial markets plunge

Britain has voted to leave the European Union in a move that sent the global financial markets plunging on Friday and forced British Prime Minister David Cameron to announce his decision to step down within the next three months so that his successor would be in place by early October.

 
Brexit: Easier said than done
Britain has voted to leave the European Union in a move that sent the global financial markets plunging today and forced British Prime Minister David Cameron to announce his decision to step down within the next three months so that his successor would be in place by early October.
 
Results of yesterday's referendum which came in early this morning showed that the "Leave" side had prevailed by 52 percent to the 48 percent registered by the "Remain" side led by Mr. Cameron.
 
People in Britain are hoping that the decision would give them greater control over its economy and its borders, but, in initial reactions, the pound dipped by about 10 percent against the dollar to touch a three-decade low. The euro fell by about three percent.
 
The vote has given rise to fears of a fall in investment in Britain and it could also affect London's position as the financial capital of the world.
 
Stocks took a beating across the world, including in India, with indices in many countries recording their sharpest one-day falls.
 
The vote has undone the stability of European unity forged after World War II and could mean years of negotiations for Britain on trade and other ties with the EU.
 
The results have also given rise to fresh calls in France and the Netherlands for similar referendums in their countries.
 
"I fought this campaign in the only way I know how – which is to say directly and passionately what I think and feel – head, heart and soul. I held nothing back," Mr. Cameron, 49, said outside 10, Downing Street shortly after the results were announced.
 
"I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the European Union, and I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone – not the future of any single politician, including myself.
 
"But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path, and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction," he said.
 
Mr. Cameron said he would do everything he could as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but he did not think it would be right for him to try to be the captain that steers the country to its next destination.
 
"There is no need for a precise timetable today, but in my view we should aim to have a new Prime Minister in place by the start of the Conservative party conference in October. Delivering stability will be important and I will continue in post as Prime Minister with my Cabinet for the next three months. The Cabinet will meet on Monday," he said.
 
Mr. Cameron said this was not a decision he had taken lightly, but he did believe that it was in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required.
 
He said the Governor of the Bank of England would make a statement about the steps that the Bank and the Treasury were taking to reassure financial markets. 
 
"We will also continue taking forward the important legislation that we set before Parliament in the Queen’s Speech. And I have spoken to Her Majesty the Queen this morning to advise her of the steps that I am taking.
 
"A negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new Prime Minister, and I think it is right that this new Prime Minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.
 
"I will attend the European Council next week to explain the decision the British people have taken and my own decision," he said.
 
Mr. Cameron noted that more than 33 million people  –  from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar – had had their say in the giant democratic exercise.
 
"We should be proud of the fact that in these islands we trust the people with these big decisions. We not only have a parliamentary democracy, but on questions about the arrangements for how we are governed, there are times when it is right to ask the people themselves, and that is what we have done.
 
"The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected. I want to thank everyone who took part in the campaign on my side of the argument, including all those who put aside party differences to speak in what they believed was the national interest.
 
"And let me congratulate all those who took part in the Leave campaign – for the spirited and passionate case that they made. 
 
"The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered. It was not a decision that was taken lightly, not least because so many things were said by so many different organisations about the significance of this decision. So there can be no doubt about the result.
 
"Across the world people have been watching the choice that Britain has made. I would reassure those markets and investors that Britain’s economy is fundamentally strong. And I would also reassure Brits living in European countries, and European citizens living here, that there will be no immediate changes in your circumstances. There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move or the way our services can be sold.
 
"We must now prepare for a negotiation with the European Union. This will need to involve the full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments to ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced. But above all this will require strong, determined and committed leadership.
 
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"I am very proud and very honoured to have been Prime Minister of this country for 6 years. I believe we have made great steps, with more people in work than ever before in our history, with reforms to welfare and education, increasing people’s life chances, building a bigger and stronger society, keeping our promises to the poorest people in the world, and enabling those who love each other to get married whatever their sexuality.
 
"But above all restoring Britain’s economic strength, and I am grateful to everyone who has helped to make that happen," he said.
 
"I have also always believed that we have to confront big decisions – not duck them. That’s why we delivered the first coalition government in 70 years to bring our economy back from the brink. It’s why we delivered a fair, legal and decisive referendum in Scotland. And why I made the pledge to renegotiate Britain’s position in the European Union and hold a referendum on our membership, and have carried those things out," he said.
 
"The British people have made a choice. That not only needs to be respected – but those on the losing side of the argument, myself included, should help to make it work.
 
"Britain is a special country. We have so many great advantages. A parliamentary democracy where we resolve great issues about our future through peaceful debate. A great trading nation, with our science and arts, our engineering and our creativity respected the world over.
 
"And while we are not perfect, I do believe we can be a model of a multi-racial, multi-faith democracy, where people can come and make a contribution and rise to the very highest that their talent allows.
 
"Although leaving Europe was not the path I recommended, I am the first to praise our incredible strengths. I have said before that Britain can survive outside the European Union, and indeed that we could find a way. Now the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way, and I will do everything I can to help.
 
"I love this country – and I feel honoured to have served it. And I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed," he added.
 
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Modi says India's membership of SCO would strengthen region's security

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that India's membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) would contribute to the region's prosperity and also strengthen its security.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivering his address at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on June 24, 2016.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivering his address at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on June 24, 2016.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that India's membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) would contribute to the region's prosperity and also strengthen its security. 
 
"Our partnership will protect our societies from the threats of radical ideologies of hate, violence and terror," he said in his address to the SCO Summit at Tashkent in Uzbekistan.
 
"India will unite with SCO countries to work towards this goal. And, we will adopt zero tolerance and a comprehensive approach in fighting terrorism at all levels," Mr. Modi said.
 
"With the same goal in sight, a stable, independent and peaceful Afghanistan is not just a sincere desire of each Afghan. It is also necessary for greater security and stability in the SCO region," he said.
 
India had been accepted as a member of SCO at the organisation's summit in the Russian city of Ufa last year and today the country signed the memorandum of obligations, formalising its membership.
 
"And, as a logical extension India's age old ties with the region, one-sixth of humanity will join the family of SCO. We are indeed grateful to the SCO Member States and its leaders for their overwhelming support for India’s membership of the SCO," Mr. Modi said.
 
He also wecomed Pakistan as the new member of the SCO and Belarus as a first time observer to the organisation.
 
"India is not new to the region. Our historic linkages with you are centuries old. And, its just not geography that connects us. Our societies have been enriched by links of culture, cusine and commerce. They form the bed rock of our modern day relationships with Russia, China and the countries of Central Asia," he said.
 
Mr. Modi pointed out that, with India as its full member, SCO boundaries would stretch from the Pacific to Europe; and from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean. 
 
"We would represent forty percent of humanity and over a billion youth. To this group, India brings principles that are in tune with the philosophies of the SCO. 
 
"India has always enjoyed good relations with the Eurasian land mass. We also share global goals of stability, security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. India would no doubt benefit from SCO's strengths in energy, natural resources and industry. In turn, India's strong economy and its vast market could drive economic growth in the SCO region," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said India's capacities in trade, investments, information and communication technology, space, science & technology, agriculture, health care, and small and medium scale industry could bring wide spread economic benefit to SCO countries. 
 
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"We can partner to develop human resources and institutional capacities in the region. Since our priorities match, our development experiences would be relevant to your national needs," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said the interdependent world of the 21st century was full of economic opportunities but it also faced geo-political complexities and security challenges.
 
He said connectivity among the countries of the region was crucial to our economic prosperity -- not just physical connectivity but a  seamless flow of goods, services, capital and people among themselves.
 
"But, that alone is not enough. Our region also needs to nurture strong rail, road and air links with the rest of the world. Within SCO, India will be a productive partner in building strong trade, transport, energy, digital and people to people links. Our decision to join the international North South Transport Corridor, the Chabahar Agreement, and Ashgabat Agreement reflects this desire and intent," he said.
 
"I am confident that India's engagement with all SCO members will help us build a region which is an engine of economic growth for the world; is more stable and secure internally; and strongly connected with other geographies," he added.
 
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Moderate earthquake jolts Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan

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An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale, shook the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan this evening, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 36.4 N and longitude 70.7 E, occurred at 1705 hours IST at a focal depth of 170 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Modi meets Xi Jinping, urges China to back India's NSG membership bid

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Tashkent on Thursday and urged China to make a "fair and objective" assessment of India's application for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on June 23, 2016.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on June 23, 2016.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Tashkent today and urged China to make a "fair and objective" assessment of India's application for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
 
The meeting, which was Mr. Modi's first bilateral interaction after his arrival in Tashkent, was devoted almost entirely to India's bid for entry into the elite 48-member group.
 
Briefing newspersons after the meeting, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Mr. Modi told Mr. Xi that China should judge India's applicaiton for NSG membership on its own merits.
 
Mr. Modi also said China should "contribute to the consensus that is emerging on the issue in Seoul", where the plenary session of the NSG is being currently held.
 
At the outset, Mr Xi welcomed India's accession to the SCO as a full-fledged member. He said India would strengthen the grouping. Mr. Modi thanked Mr. Xi for China's support for India's entry into the SCO.
 
The rest of the meeting was devoted to the issue of India's application for membership of the NSG, Mr. Swarup added. He declined to provide any further details about the discussions, including Mr. Xi's response to Mr. Modi, pointing out that "complex and delicate negotiations" were taking place in this regard in Seoul.
 
India's application is expected to be discussed at a special meeting of the NSG in Seoul this evening.
 
Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, who had flown to Beijing for meetings with his Chinese counterpart on June 16-17, is in Seoul to monitor the developments and push India's case.
 
China has appeared in the last few weeks to be blocking India's entry into the elite group though there seems to have been a softening of its position in recent days, with the United States, the United Kingdom, France and several other NSG members backing India's bid. The US has called on all participating governments of the NSG to support India's application for membership.
 
 
China says India's entry not on NSG agenda
Meanwhile, in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at her regular briefing yesterday that it was "inappropriate" to suggest that China was "blocking" India's entry into the NSG.
 
"As the entry of non-NPT countries has never been on top of the NSG agenda, the idea of 'blocking' is out of question. It is true that all parties attach great importance to the entry of non-NPT countries, and the group has had three unofficial discussions on various issues related to the entry of non-NPT countries through Friends of Chair presided over by the Argentine Ambassador. 
 
"Although parties are yet to see eye to eye on this issue, such discussions help them better understand each other. China hopes to further discuss this issue and will play a constructive role in the discussions," she added.
 
Membership of the NSG would, among other things, enable India to get better access to low-cost and clean nuclear energy.
 
“I will travel to Uzbekistan for a brief visit to attend the SCO Summit and interact with leaders of SCO nations," Mr. Modi had said in a brief pre-departure statement earlier this morning.
 
"India is glad to be a member of the SCO and looks forward to fruitful outcomes particularly in the field of economic cooperation through SCO. 
 
"India attaches great importance to ties with Central Asia and always seeks to expand economic and people-to-people ties with the region," he added.
 
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Africa, India centres of gravity in globalized world: Mukherjee

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Describing Africa and India as centres of gravity in today’s globalised world, President Pranab Mukherjee said both have a responsibility to work together for peace, security, and sustainable development.
 
Speaking at a banquet hosted in his honour by Namibia President Hage G. Geingob here yesterday, he said, “We share the view that reform of the United Nations and its principle organs - created in the wake of the Second World War - is an imperative. We agree that they need to be made more reflective of today’s changed world - so that they can respond more effectively to the complex challenges confronting the world today."
 
The President said India looked forward to working closely with Namibia in the common effort to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and in addressing other important global issues that require collective action by the international community.
India, as a steadfast friend and reliable partner, will always consider it a matter of pride to stand shoulder to shoulder with Namibia in realising its people’s aspirations, progress in its region and peace in the world, he added.
 
Mr Mukherjee said India attached importance to enhancing her bilateral relations with Namibia. The two countries have focussed on human resource development, capacity building, cultural exchanges and closer cooperation in the education and defence sectors. India’s flagship programmes like Skill India, Make in India, Digital India and 100 Smart Cities could be workable models in Namibia as well.
 
“The flourishing bilateral trade and economic relations between the two countries remind us of the still greater potential that is waiting to be realized. India is fully committed to the implementation of the projects and initiatives that have been jointly identified,” he added.
 
Earlier, addressing the Namibian Parliament, the President noted that his State Visit, the first by an Indian President since 1995, takes place at a time of excellent bilateral relations between the two countries. India attaches great value to her long standing friendship with Namibia, he said.
 
Saying that India-Namibia relationship has been built on the firm foundation of mutual trust and understanding, he pointed out that the two nations were bound by a common experience of colonial rule and the struggle of the people for freedom.
 
“India believed that her own independence was incomplete so long as her brethren in Africa continued to suffer oppression by foreign masters. India was proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the leaders and people of Namibia in their liberation struggle. We were among the first nations to raise the question of Namibian independence in the UN,” he added.
 
“It was India that inscribed on the agenda of the UN General Assembly in 1964 the problem of colonial oppression and racial discrimination in South Africa and Namibia. The first ever SWAPO Embassy abroad was established in New Delhi in 1986 and it was this move by India that started the chain of diplomatic recognition by other countries and the inevitability of Namibia’s independence,” the President said.
 
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A retired Indian Army officer, late General Prem Chand commanded the force under the United Nation’s Transition Assistance Group. Diplomatic relations with independent Namibia were established right from the moment of its independence, with the Observer Mission being upgraded to full-fledged High Commission in March 1990.
 
“We welcomed the opening of Namibia’s full-fledged resident Mission in New Delhi in March 1994,” he added.
 
The founding President and Father of the Namibian Nation, Dr. Sam Nujoma, respected leader of the SWAPO Party for 47 years, is greatly admired in India as a world leader and friend of the Indian people, Mr Mukherjee said.
 
India had conferred upon him the prestigious Indira Gandhi Peace Prize for Disarmament and Development for the year 1990 in recognition of his outstanding contribution in leading the people of Namibia to freedom.
 
“Last November, we had the privilege of hosting him as a Distinguished Guest of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. I recall his inspiring words in October 1992, in Libreville, Gabon at the 17th Conference of the Heads of State & Government: and I quote “There cannot be democracy in an unstable political environment. Neither can there be development in an undemocratic environment…...”
 
True to his legacy, Namibia is, today, a shining example of a nation that has repeatedly ensured a trouble-free and peaceful transfer of power from one elected Government to another. Namibia has, once again, proven that a vibrant democratic system offers the best possible ecosystem for inclusive development and growth.
 
Namibia’s commitment to democracy and the success of her national reconciliation programme has made her a role model for Africa. “We, in India, admire Namibia's transformation into a vibrant, peaceful and fast progressing nation. We appreciate the vision of His Excellency, President Geingob in introducing the 'Harambee Prosperity Plan'. India stands ready to extend any assistance that Namibia may require for achieving the 'Harambee Prosperity Plan's socio-economic objectives.
 
India would also be happy to partner with Namibia in the implementation of "Vision 2030" through inclusive development and capacity building,” he added.
 
The President pointed out that Namibia was one of the few societies in the world that has realised the goal of an equitable gender balance, to consciously focus on the aspirations of the youth is another sure step in the right direction. “India firmly believes that it is through investing in its youth that a nation can enhance its capacity to forge ahead towards progress and growth,” he said.
 
“Both our nations seek to address complex governance issues in our own ways. But it will be through empowerment of the disempowered - and by ensuring that in the “Harambee house”, no section is excluded, that we will succeed,” Mr Mukherjee said.
 
"India remains committed to a strong development partnership with Namibia in the South-South framework. We will continue to extend all possible assistance in human resource development and capacity building in Namibia.
 
“India’s expertise in IT and digital technologies, agriculture and dairy development can be utilized to further cement our economic partnership. We look forward to more students and officials from Namibia coming to India, availing the scholarships and training programmes offered by our Government,” he added.
 
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