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PM reaches Seoul for G-20 Summit, calls for sustainable, balanced growth

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached Seoul on Wednesday for the G-20 Summit, which he said would focus on a framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth, including an ambitious outcome in the form of the Seoul Action Plan.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives at the Incheon International Airport, Seoul, on his visit to South Korea to attend the G-20 Summit on November 10, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives at the Incheon International Airport, Seoul, on his visit to South Korea to attend the G-20 Summit on November 10, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached Seoul in South Korea today for the G-20 Summit, which he said would focus on a framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth, including an ambitious outcome in the form of the Seoul Action Plan.

Dr Singh and Mrs Gursharan Kaur were received at the Incheon International Airport in Seoul by senior South Korean and Indian officials.

"We will work with the others towards this end, and also encourage the G-20 to focus on the development agenda which is being introduced for the first time in Seoul. We must also give thought to how we can leverage global imbalances to bridge the infrastructure gap between rich and poor nations," he said in a pre-departure statement issued here.

He noted that this would be the second G-20 Summit this year and said this reflected the high expectations the world had from the grouping in moving beyond the immediate crisis the world faced in 2008 to ensuring a sustained and balanced economic recovery in the long term.

He also pointed out that the Seoul Summit was the first G-20 Summit outside a G-8 country, and the first in Asia. The theme of the summit is "Shared Growth Beyond the Crisis".

"Given the vast development challenges we face it is in India’s interest to have an open, stable and rule-based international economic environment, whether in the field of trade, investment flows, technology transfers or open markets. We have to be particularly wary of protectionist sentiments. There are also developmental imbalances within and between countries, and rebalancing of the world economy is a major challenge. The success of the Mutual Assessment Process is important in this regard. India will actively participate in this process to strike the right balance between ensuring its credibility as well as the national interests of countries," he said.

Dr Singh said that, in the financial sector, it was necessary to build upon the process of International Monetary Fund (IMF) reform on which good progress was made last month at the G-20 Finance Ministers meeting with an agreement on shifts in quota shares, including in favour of India, while protecting the voting share of the poorest.

He said the summit would also look at issues of regulatory reforms of the financial sector, and consider the new Basel-III norms. "This is a key area of work, and we must guard against complacency in the pursuit of a strong financial regulatory framework and effective supervision," he said.

"The world economy is on the path of recovery but we should keep our focus on how to optimize global outcomes in an increasingly interdependent world. As the Indian economy moves to a higher growth path, and opens to the world, our stake in a stable, inclusive and representative global economic and financial system will only grow," he said.

The Prime Minister said that he looked to separate bilateral meetings with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The Prime Minister's delegation to the November 11-12 Summit will include Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who is India's "sherpa" for the G-20, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and senior officials.

This will be an unprecedented fifth summit in two years of the multilateral grouping that has been designated as the "premier forum" for international economic cooperation.

Dr Singh will reach Seoul late today and has a busy schedule over the next two days. The summit will start tomorrow with a welcome reception followed by a working dinner by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, the host.

On November 12, there will be an opening plenary session, followed by plenary working sessions in the morning and afternoon, a G-20 "Family Photograph", a Leaders' Working Lunch and the Final Plenary Session in the afternoon. Dr Singh will fly back to India the same day.

The G-20 Summit is attended by the G7 (the United States, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada), 4 Asian countries (India, China, South Korea and Indonesia), 3 Latin American countries (Brazil, Argentina and Mexico), 4 European countries (Russia, Australia, Turkey and the European Union Chair), South Africa and Saudi Arabia.

The G-20 had met at the summit level in Washington in November 2008 and then followed it up with summits in London in April 2009, Pittsburgh in September 2009 and Toronto in June this year.

"This is indicative of the importance, dynamism and credibility of the G-20 as a grouping, which since the Pittsburgh Summit has been designated as the ‘premier forum’ for international economic cooperation. We also value the G-20 as the principal platform for North-South dialogue with our developed country interlocutors," Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told mediapersons yesterday.

The G-20 came into being in 1999 following the East Asian financial crisis It is an informal forum comprising major developed countries and leading emerging market economies representing around 90% of global GDP, 85% of the world trade and two-thirds of humanity.

"It has achieved credibility for having been able to address the international financial and economic crisis or ‘the Great Recession’ of 2008 in a concerted, coordinated and effective manner," Ms Rao said.

Apart from G-20 member-countries, South Korea, as the hosts, has invited leaders from Spain, Malawi (Chair of African Union), Ethiopia (Chair of NEPAD), Vietnam (Chair of ASEAN) and Singapore. In addition, top officials from the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organisation, the Financial Stability Board and others are expected to be present.

Ms Rao said Dr Singh would interact with leaders of the participating countries on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Ms Rao said the leaders are expected to review the global economic situation, the status of the world recovery as well as the progress of implementation regarding the past G-20 Summit decisions. In the light of these, they will decide on the future mandate and direction of G-20.

Some of the topics the leaders can be expected to address are Global Economy and Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth, International Financial Institution (IFI) Reforms, Financial Regulatory Reforms, Trade and Protectionism, Climate Change, and Development, which is a new issue on the G-20 agenda mandated at the last Toronto Summit. The summit is expected to issue, as per past practice, a Declaration or Communique.

South Korea has also organised a major business summit as a side event on November 10-11. About 100 CEOs from G-20 member-countries and other countries are expected to attend.

The theme of the business summit is "Role of Business in Sustainable and Balanced Growth". It will have Round Tables on (i) Revitalising trade and foreign direct investment, (ii) Enhancing financial stability and supporting economic activity, (iii) Harmonising green growth, and (iv) Delivering on the corporate social responsibility promise. The outcome of the Business Summit will also be presented to the G-20 leaders.

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Pakistan says disappointed by US support for India's UNSC bid

File photo of Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
File photo of Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The Pakistan Government today expressed its serious concern and strong disappointment over the United States' decision to support India's bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).


The US support was conveyed by President Barack Obama in his address to a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament here on November 8.


"This decision has grave ramifications for the direction and prospects of the system of multilateral cooperation as envisaged by the founding fathers of UN Charter. It also has implications for peace and security and stability in Asia, particularly South Asia," a resolution adopted by the Pakistani cabinet at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani here today.


It said it was incomprehensible that the US had sought to support India, saying its credentials with respect to observing UN Charter principles and international law were "at best checkered".


"This is most explicitly illustrated by India’s disregard of Security Council Resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir and gross and systematic violations of the fundamental human rights of the Kashmiri people," the resolution said.


The Pakistan Government said the future of the UN and of succeeding generations could not and must not be premised on considerations of power politics, politics of expediency, bereft of morals and ideals, which must be the guiding spirit for an enlightened international order.


"Pakistan, along with a large number of members of the international community, supports a principled process of reform of the Security Council. This process should be based on respect for the cardinal principles of UN Charter including the principle of sovereign equality of states," the resolution added.


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China says ready to discuss UNSC reforms with India

China today said it favoured "rational and necessary" reforms of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and was willing to maintain contacts and negotiate with other UN member-states, including India, in this regard.


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a briefing in Beijing that increasing the representation of developing countries in the UNSC should be accorded priority and hoped that all parties could reach a consensus on the reform-related issues.


The Chinese news agency, Xinhua, quoted him as saying that China valued the role India plays in international affairs and understood and supported India's aspiration to play a bigger role at the UN.


The spokesman's remarks came a day after United States President Barack Obama, in an address to Parliament here yesterday, backed India's bid for a permanent seat in the UNSC.


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US targets financial, suport networks of LeT, JEM ahead of Obama visit

Two days before United States President Barack Obama reaches Mumbai at the start of a four-day visit to India, the US today targeted the financial and support networks of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM).


The US Department of Treasury also acted against Azam Cheema, who it said had helped train operatives for the November 26, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai and was the "mastermind" behind the July 2006 train bombings in the metropolis.


A press release from the Department said Cheema had acted for or on behalf of LeT.


The Department of Treasury also acted against Hafiz Abdul Rahman Makki, head of LeT's political affairs department, for acting for or on behalf of the organisation.


The Al Rehmat Trust, an operational front for JEM, was designated for providing support to and for acting for or on behalf of JEM. Mohammed Masood Azhar Alvi, JEM's founder and leader, was also designated today for acting for on behalf of JEM.


"Today's action, taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with these individuals and entity and freezes any assets the designees have under U.S. jurisdiction," the release said.


"LeT and JEM have proven both their willingness and ability to execute attacks against innocent civilians," Mr Stuart Levey, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said.


"Today's action – including the designation of Azam Cheema, one of LET's leading commanders who was involved in the 2008 and 2006 Mumbai attacks – is an important step in incapacitating the operational and financial networks of these deadly organizations," he said.


According to the release, Cheema is a key commander in the operations of LeT, which has links to Osama bin Laden and his al Qaida network.


LeT was designated by the United States and as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in December 2001, and also designated by the UN 1267 Committee in May 2005.


Cheema has also been described as LeT's surveillance or intelligence chief and has been involved in its training activities, specifically training LeT members in bomb making and skills needed to infiltrate India. The cell that carried out the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai received some of their training from Cheema, the release said.


According to it, in 2008, Cheema, the former LeT commander for Bahawalpur, Punjab Province, Pakistan, was appointed to be an operations advisor to LeT senior leader Zaki-Ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who was also previously designated by the UN 1267 Committee. As of 2004, Cheema was identified as being responsible for LeT's external operational planning.


The release said that, as of late 2008, Makki was reported to be head of LeT's political affairs department and served as head of its foreign relations department. Makki has also played a role in raising funds for LeT. In early 2007, he gave approximately $248,000 to an LeT training camp and approximately $165,000 to an LT-affiliated madrassa, the release said.


The release said the JEM had started using the Al Rahmat Trust as a front for its operations after it was designated in October 2001 by the US and by the UN 1267 Committee, and also designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation by the US State Department that year.


It said the trust had provided support for militant activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including financial and logistical support to foreign fighters operating in both countries. In early 2009, several prominent members of Al Rehmat Trust were recruiting students for terrorist activities in Afghanistan.


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Obama greets Indians on Diwali, looks forward to India visit

Two days before he arrives in Mumbai at the start of a four-day visit to India, United States President Barack Obama today greeted Indians in America and around the world on the occasion of Diwali, the festival of lights.


"Tomorrow, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, here in America and around the world, will celebrate the holiday of Diwali – the festival of lights. This is a day when members of some of the world's oldest religions celebrate the triumph of good over evil," he said.


Mr Obama said last year he had marked this holiday, as many would this weekend, by lighting the Diya, or lamp.


"This lamp symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance," he said.


The US President said Diwali was a time for celebration, but also a time for reflection. He said it was a time when people must remember that there were always others less fortunate than themselves.


"This holiday reminds us all that we should commit ourselves to helping those in need. For many, this is also a time to gather with family and to pray.


"To those celebrating Diwali in India, I look forward to visiting you over the next few days. And to all those who will celebrate this joyous occasion on Friday, I wish you, your families and loved ones Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak," he added.


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DRDO conducts maiden flight test of Kaveri engine in Russia

The IL-76 aircraft which flew withIndia's indigenous Kaveri engine at Gromov Flight Research Institute in Moscow on November 3, 2010.
The IL-76 aircraft which flew withIndia's indigenous Kaveri engine at Gromov Flight Research Institute in Moscow on November 3, 2010.

The maiden flight test of the indigenously designed and developed Kaveri engine was successfully conducted by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) during the Flying Test Bed (FTB) trials at the Gromov Flight Research Institute in Moscow yesterday.

An official press release said the engine was tested from take-off to landing and flew for a period of over one hour up to at an altitude of 6000m at a speed of 0.6 mach in its maiden flight.

The engine control, engine performance and engine health during the flight were found to be excellent, the release said.

With this test, the Kaveri engine has completed a major milestone of the development programme. During the coming months further 50-60 test flights will be carried out to mature the engine in terms of reliability, safety and airworthiness. These trials would pave the way for further flight trials of Kaveri engine with a fighter aircraft, it said.

According to the release, an existing IL-76 aircraft was modified as a Flying Test Bed for this trial, with the Kaveri engine replacing one of the four engines of the aircraft. The modifications included instrumentation required for trials as well as integration of mechanical, electrical and fuel systems. The engine was controlled by the pilot from the cockpit. A number of taxi trials were carried out with Kaveri engine integrated with the aircraft, before this maiden flight. The engine data was recorded in the aircraft as well as transmitted to ground station by telemetry.

A team of 20 scientists from Gas Turbine Research Establishment, DRDO, has been working along with GFRI for these trials. Dr Prahlada, Chief Controller, R&D (Aeronautics & Services Interaction) briefed the media about the significance of the first flight.

Kaveri engine is being developed for fighter aircraft, at Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), a DRDO laboratory based in Bangalore with the active support of several other DRDO laboratories, academic institutions and industry partners. During the development phase, Kaveri engine has successfully completed various stages of development including component testing, safety tests, ground based engine tests, endurance tests and so on, both at GTRE as well as test facilities abroad, the release added.

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Qantas aircraft lands safely in Singapore after speculation about crash

A Qantas Airways Airbus A 380 aircraft with 459 people on board returned safely to Singapore's Changi airport on Thursday after speculation that it had crashed.

File photo of a Qantas Airbus A380 aircraft.
File photo of a Qantas Airbus A380 aircraft.

A Qantas Airways Airbus A 380 aircraft with 459 people on board returned safely to Singapore's Changi airport today after speculation that it had crashed.

"Some media reports suggested the aircraft had crashed. These reports are incorrect. No Qantas aircraft has crashed," a statement by the airline said.

It said the aircraft, operating flight QF32 from Singapore to Sydney, had experienced an "engine issue" soon after take off and had returned to Singapore.

The statement said the aircraft had 433 passengers and 26 crew on board.

"In line with procedure, the pilot sought priority clearance for its return to Singapore. The aircraft landed safely at 11.45am local time," the statement from Qantas said.

Media reports said the pilot was forced to shut down one engine, which had developed problems, and had to circle Singapore for some time to burn fuel before finally landing safely. The reports said no one on board the aircraft had been injured.

There were media reports that the aircraft had crashed after an explosion over the Indonesian island of Batam, near Singapore.

Later, the airline said in an update that the aircraft was deboarded and hotels were being organised for passengers and crew.

"We are currently planning for an aircraft to depart for Singapore to bring passengers back to Sydney tomorrow morning. Passengers on QF32 are being accommodated in Singapore," it said.

Qantas said it had commenced its own investigations as to how this incident occurred and had notified the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).

"We will continue to work with them as they investigate the issue," the statement said, adding that the flight crew carried out standard procedure for this situation.

Qantas has also indicated that, in accordance with its commitment to the highest safety standards, it has suspended scheduled A380 takeoffs until sufficient information has been obtained about what occurred on QF32.

"Qantas Chief Executive Officer, Alan Joyce said Qantas would suspend A380 services until we are confident that Qantas safety requirements have been met," the statement said.

Passengers on affected flights will be accommodated on alternative flights, the statement added.

Photo: Courtesy Qantas website.

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PM says Asia-Pacific integration should be built around ASEAN

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday that ASEAN should be the core of economic integration of the Asia-Pacific region.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with the other Heads of State, at the 8th ASEAN-India Summit, in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 30, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with the other Heads of State, at the 8th ASEAN-India Summit, in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 30, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said India believed that ASEAN was the core around which the progress of economic integration of the Asia-Pacific region should be built.

In this context, he said India's economy had been growing rapidly for the past few years and it hoped to achieve a growth rate of 8.5 per cent this year.

"In the coming years, we hope to sustain a growth rate of 9-10% per year which will offer many opportunities for trade and investment. Our government has undertaken programmes for a massive transformation of rural India that is creating a huge and booming rural market for goods and services," Dr Singh told the 8th India-ASEAN Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.

He hoped that all formalities for implementing the India-ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement by all ASEAN States are completed at an early date.

"The conclusion of a Services and Investment Agreement will be an important step in our goal of comprehensive economic cooperation," he said.

Dr Singh said that, for the past five years, the achievement of the India-ASEAN partnership had been to initiate cooperation in a diverse range of sectors covering political and security ties, economic cooperation and the promotion of socio-cultural links.

He commended the officials of both sides for developing a Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity for the years 2010-2015.

"It is an ambitious road map and the 82 Action Points reflect the vast potential and desire to develop a multi-faceted India-ASEAN relationship," he said.

The Prime Minister said the experience of implementation showed that hard work was needed at all levels to accelerate the pace of engagement as outlined in the Plan of Action.

"I recall that the theme of the ASEAN Summit this year is 'Vision to Action'. This theme is equally appropriate for our own partnership," he said.

Dr Singh invited ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan to visit India to review the mechanisms and procedures in place so that the pace of implementing agreed projects could be speeded up.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with the other Heads of State, at the 8th ASEAN-India Summit, in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 30, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with the other Heads of State, at the 8th ASEAN-India Summit, in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 30, 2010.

He urged the two sides to make further efforts to identify concrete projects for cooperation under the India-ASEAN Science & Technology Fund, India-ASEAN Green Fund and the $ 50 million India-ASEAN Fund announced last year.

He noted that, in recent years, there had been a substantial increase in people to people exchanges as a result of better air connectivity between India and ASEAN. More than 3 million Indian tourists visit ASEAN every year and about 380 flights connect Indian and ASEAN cities every week. This is well below the potential, he said.

Dr Singh invited many more tourists from the ASEAN countries to visit India to see the splendour of its rich cultural heritage.

"I am happy that the text of the ASEAN-India MoU for cooperation in Tourism has been finalized. I am also pleased to note that ASEAN will soon establish an ASEAN Promotional Chapter for tourism in Mumbai," he said.

As a concrete measure, he announced that India would extend its visa on arrival facility to nationals of Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines and Laos with effect from January 1, 2011.

He said India had always accorded high priority to the countries covered by the "Initiative for ASEAN integration". He said India hoped to upgrade the level of youth exchanges as well as establish Vocational Training Centres in each of these countries.

Stressing that connectivity is another important area of cooperation, he announced that India would, as a further measure to support the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity, offer 100 IT scholarships to each of the 10 ASEAN countries over the next 5 years.

In the area of Science & Technology, he said it should be another focus area of cooperation. He said India was ready to set up a Centre for Tracking and Data Reception and an Imaging facility for the ASEAN countries. This Centre would utilize data provided by Indian remote sensing satellites and harness it for multiple developmental applications. He proposed a meeting of the heads of the space agencies of ASEAN countries and India to work out the exact details of cooperation.

The Prime Minister said India-ASEAN cooperation in political and security matters was progressing well, including through expanded bilateral exchanges.

"These are important areas of our cooperation not only because of the common threats that we face but also because such cooperation helps to built mutual trust and understanding," he said.

Dr Singh said India looked forward to hosting the commemorative India-ASEAN Summit in India in the year 2012.

"This will be a land mark event and we must begin preparations early. The Eminent Persons Group should be set up quickly so that it can formulate a vision statement towards a long term strategic partnership between ASEAN and India that could be the theme of the Summit," he added.

Dr Singh had reached Hanoi on Thursday evening on the last leg of a week-long three-nation tour that had earlier taken him to Japan and Malaysia. He is due to leave for home from Hanoi later today.

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PM meets Chinese Premier Wen in Hanoi, raises all "difficult" issues

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao agreed on Friday that there was enough space in the world for both countries to realise their development aspirations.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asian Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 29, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asian Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 29, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao today agreed that there was enough space in the world for both countries to realise their development aspirations and expressed their determination to take the bilateral relationship forward.

The 45-minute meeting took place on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam and covered the entire gamut of the relationship, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon told journalists after the talks.

"Premier Wen Jiabao recalled what Prime Minister had said before that there is enough space in the world for both India and China to realize their development aspirations. He actually added to it and he said that there is enough space for China and India to also have cooperation in all areas," Mr Menon said.

He said the meeting, the tenth between the two leaders in the last six years, was held in a warm and friendly atmosphere.

Mr Menon said the two leaders took a broader strategic view of the significance of India-China bilateral relations. They expressed satisfaction at the development of the relationship and also discussed specifics, he said.

Mr Wen indicated that he hoped to visit India before the end of this year, which happens to be the 60th anniversary year of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Mr Menon said Dr Singh underscored the need for both sides to show sensitivity to each other's core issues.

This was the first contact at the highest level between the two countries after they suspended high-level defence exchanges in July this year because of China's denial of a visa to Lt Gen B S Jaswal, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command, to visit that country because he is in charge of the Army's operations in Jammu and Kashmir.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 29, 2010
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 29, 2010

China has, in recent times, been refusing to issue visas to Indians from Jammu and Kashmir on their passports because it considers the state as a "disputed" area. Instead, the visas are issued on loose sheets of paper which are stapled to the passports of the applicants.

India has objected to this practice several times and also made it clear that immigration authorities at the airport would not allow people with such "stapled" visas to travel to China.

Asked if Dr Singh had brought up the issue of stapled visas, Mr Menon said, "The Prime Minister raised the issue of all difficult questions and showing sensitivity to each other."

He said the Special Representatives and officials on both sides were instructed to prepare for Mr Wen's visit and to work their way to solutions of all the issues that are difficult in the bilateral relationship, including the boundary question.

"As I said, they covered the entire range of the relationship," he said. In reply to another question, Mr Menon said the leaders felt both sides had to work their way through the various issues.

He said the two sides would continue their discussions on these issues as they lead up to Mr Wen's visit. He said the visit promised to be a "very successful and productive" one.

On the issue of climate change, both leaders recalled their work together at the Copenhagen summit last year and spoke of continuing to work together on a range of global issues – climate change, counter-terrorism, disaster management, energy security and food security - on which the two countries have similar or identical positions.

On the boundary question, the two sides said they looked forward to an early resolution of the issue. Both leaders mentioned the need to carry the process forward from the guiding principles and political parametres agreed and signed between the two sides in 2005.

"Both said they would ask the Special Representatives (SRs) to do so with a sense of urgency. And they agreed that in the meantime, pending a settlement, we will maintain peace and tranquility along the boundary. The SRs are likely to be meeting towards the end of November," Mr Menon said.

The National Security Adviser is the Indian Special Representative for the talks with China on the boundary question. He said the meeting would take place in Beijing.

To repeated questions about the stapled visas issue and the Chinese response to it, Mr Menon said these and other issues would be dealt with by officials on both sides in the run-up to Mr Wen's visit.

"We will continue the process of engagement and continue to deal with the issues that concern each of us as we have done for several years and will continue to do," he explained.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a bilateral meeting with the South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 29, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a bilateral meeting with the South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 29, 2010.

Dr Singh and Mr Wen also discussed the economic relations between the two countries, especially India's concerns about the trade imbalance in favour of China. India has been seeking greater access for its pharmaceuticals and services sectors to the Chinese market.

Bilateral trade between the two countries has touched $ 45 billion in the first nine months of this year and are expected to touch $ 60 billion in the entire year, but there is a $ 16 billion surplus in China's favour.

Mr Menon said Mr Wen said China was very conscious of the trade imbalance and of the need to do something about it. He outlined some fo the steps that the Chinese Government had taken to address the issue.

"There is some diminution in the imbalance, but there is still an imbalance, and we will continue to work at those issues," he said.

On defence exchanges, he said the two sides would continue to work the issue. Some high-level defence exchanges are paused for the moment, he said.

Dr Singh also had a meeting this morning with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, during which they reviewed the bilateral relationship.

They took note of the considerable progress that has been made in the relations since President Lee visited India as the Chief Guest on Republic Day.

"Since then we have agreed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement; we have also finalized an agreement on cooperation in civil uses of nuclear energy which now awaits signature. We have made considerable progress in cooperation in civil aviation and space, and several areas. The economic relationship too is moving forward steadily," Mr Menon said.

The two sides also discussed G20 issues, the stress that President Lee wishes to place on development as an outcome, and for the need for meeting not just to take decisions but to have a system of systematic implementation of those decisions so that they are carried forward over several years.

"They both agreed on that. Both agreed that they would work together in the G20 to that end," Mr Menon said.

To a question, Mr Menon said the issue relating to the Posco project in Orissa did not come up at the meeting.

Dr Singh reached Hanoi yesterday evening on the last leg of a three-nation tour that had earlier taken him to Japan and Malaysia. He is due to attend the India-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit in Hanoi tomorrow before flying back home.

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PM meets Chinese premier Wen in Hanoi, discusses stapled visas issue

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Hanoi on Friday when the two leaders discussed ways of taking the bilateral relationship forward.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asian Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 29, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asian Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 29, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Hanoi, Vietnam today when the two leaders are understood to have discussed ways of taking the bilateral relationship forward.

The official Chinese news agency Xinhua said Dr Singh and Mr Wen discussed various aspects of the bilateral relationship and other issues of mutual concern.

This was the first contact at the highest level between the two countries after they suspended high-level defence exchanges because of China's denial of a visa to Lt Gen B S Jaswal, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command, to visit that country because he is in charge of the Army's operations in Jammu and Kashmir.

China has, in recent times, been refusing to issue visas to Indians from Jammu and Kashmir on their passports because it considers the state as a "disputed" area. Instead, the visas are issued on loose sheets of paper which are stapled to the passports of the applicants.

India has objected to this practice several times and also made it clear that immigration authorities at the airport would not allow people with such "stapled" visas to travel to China.

According to sources, Dr Singh is understood to have raised the issue of stapled visas at the meeting.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 29, 2010
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 29, 2010

The two leaders are understood to have agreed that there was enough space in the world for both India and China to grow.


Mr Wen is learnt to have agreed to visit India before the end of this year, most likely in mid-December.

Dr Singh and Mr Wen are also understood to have discussed the economic relations between the two countries, especially India's concerns about the trade imbalance in favour of China. India has been seeking greater access for its pharmaceuticals and services sectors to the Chinese market.

Bilateral trade between the two countries has touched $ 45 billion in the first nine months of this year and are expected to touch $ 60 billion in the entire year, but there is a $ 16 billion surplus in China's favour.


Dr Singh is understood to have told Mr Wen that the two countries needed to be sensitive to each other's core concerns. Official sources said the discussions covered the entire gamut of the relationship, including all "difficult issues" such as the border question.

The Special Representatives of the two countries are expected to meet in Beijing by the end of November for the next round of talks on the boundary question.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a bilateral meeting with the South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 29, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a bilateral meeting with the South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 29, 2010.

The meeting, the tenth between the two leaders in the last six years, was held in a warm and friendly atmosphere, sources said.

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Obama to visit India Nov 6-9, focus on emerging economic relationship

United States President Barack Obama will leave Washington on November 5 and arrive in Mumbai on the next day at the start of a historic four-day visit to India during which the two sides will seek to build on their emerging economic relationship and strengthen their growing bilateral ties.

"We believe that Asia is critical to our foreign policy strategy. It's the fastest growing markets in the world. It's fundamental to our export initiative. So India is a cornerstone of our broader Asia approach," Mr Ben Rhodes, US Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications, told journalists at the White House on Wednesday while unveiling the President's itinerary.

He said this approach was, again, focused on expanding exports for U.S. goods, deepening partnerships in an important part of the world and partnering together in the G20 and other fora.

Mr Rhodes said Mr Obama's first engagement in Mumbai would be to make a statement at the Taj Mahal Hotel, where he will be staying, to commemorate the November 26, 2008 terror attacks in which the iconic hotel had been the main target.

He said India was a close counterterrorism partner of the US and had shown remarkable resilience in responding to terrorism.

"And the Taj, where the President is staying, was, of course, a centerpiece of those attacks in Mumbai. So the President wanted to take the time to pay his respects to the victims who lost their lives and to sign the guest book there, but also to make some brief remarks to an assembled group of people who are connected to those attacks," he said.

From there, Mr Obama will drive down to the Gandhi Museum. Mr Rhodes pointed out that the US and India were two of the world's largest democracies.

"And of course, the example of Gandhi is one that has inspired Americans, inspired African Americans, including Dr. (Martin Luther) King, and it’s very personally important to the President. So we're looking forward to visiting the Gandhi Museum to underscore those shared experiences and shared values," he said.

This will be followed by a business summit organised by the US-India Business Council. Mr Rhodes said the President would participate in three events at the summit. The first is a roundtable with entrepreneurs. The second is a roundtable with some U.S. CEOs where they’ll be able to discuss the challenges and opportunities around doing business in India. Finally, he will address the business summit, focusing on the US-India economic relationship, the enormous potential for both countries to expand growth and opportunity for people in both countries through that relationship.

Mr Rhodes said that, on the second day in Mumbai, Mr Obama would have a number of events focused on the future partnership the US is trying to build with India and how it was a relationship that Washington believed was going to be indispensable to shaping the 21st century.

He will begin the day by visiting a school and celebrating Diwali there. There will be a town hall meeting with university students at which Mr Obama will speak to the young people about the future partnership that the two countries were trying to build.

On the margins of that event, he will have a couple of roundtables that will focus on agriculture and food security and on democracy.

Mr Obama will then fly to Delhi, where the first event will be a cultural stop, a visit to Humayun's Tomb. "The President felt it was important, given the rich civilization that India has, to pay tribute to that through this stop," Mr Rhodes said.

That day, President and Ms Michelle Obama will have a private dinner with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Ms Gursharan Kaur.

Mr Rhodes spoke about the close personal relationship that Mr Obama had with Dr Singh and said the President was very much looking forward to the private dinner.

The official programmes in Delhi will be on November 8, beginning with the laying of a wreath at Raj Ghat. Mr Obama will then have a bilateral meeting with Dr Singh and the two leaders are expected to address a press conference after that.

Apart from meetings with other Indian leaders, which are still being finalised, Mr Obama is slated to address a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament that afternoon when he will speak about the broad range of issues on which the two countries cooperate - political, security and economic - and the alignment they have on various issues.

That evening, President Pratibha Patil will host a state dinner for Mr Obama. On November 9, he will fly to Jakarta.

"This really is one of the most important emerging economic relationships for the United States, both multilaterally and bilaterally. We worked very closely with India in the context of the G20, and the G20 was really all about bringing countries like India to the table on economic -- on global economic issues. And we have a very strong and growing bilateral relationship," Mr Mike Froman, Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs, said.

"As you all know, with 1.2 billion people and an economy growing -- expected to grow at 8 per cent a year for the next several years, we really see India as a potentially very important market for U.S. exports," he said.

Mr Froman said US goods exports had already quadrupled over the last seven years to about $ 17 billion and service exports tripled to about $ 10 billion a year.

"So it’s a fast-growing economic relationship. And it’s a two-way street as well. Indian companies are the second-fastest-growing investors in the United States. And they are creating -- they now support about 57,000 jobs here in the U.S.," he said.

"So it’s a great market for U.S. exports. It’s a good place -- source of investment for the United States. There are a lot of jobs in the United States tied to both of those things. And that’s the reason why the President will be there, focusing, as Ben said, on the first day on the economic and commercial relationship --," he said.

Mr Froman said Mr Obama would use his meetings with Indian leaders the importance of removing barriers to US exports and US participation in the Indian market.

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns said the US-India partnership for a number of years had been a genuine bipartisan priority in Washington as well as in India.

"The simple truth is that India’s rise and its strength and progress on the global stage is deeply in the strategic interest of the United States," he said.

"Second, the President has called our relationship a defining partnership of the 21st century. In many ways, we’re natural partners, as Ben has suggested. We’re the world’s two largest democracies. We’re both big, diverse, tolerant societies. We’re two of the world’s largest economies. We both have an increasing stake in global stability and prosperity, especially across Asia and the Pacific.

"Third, defense cooperation between us is expanding in ways that were hard to imagine a decade ago. India now holds more defense exercises every year with the United States than it does with any other country. Some $4 billion in defense sales have been made by the U.S. to India over the last couple of years alone, with more possibilities ahead. India is today one of the biggest contributors to U.N. peacekeeping forces.

"Fourth, we have a lot to gain, as Mike was suggesting, by working together in high-tech cooperation and innovation. The civilian nuclear agreement that was completed at the end of the last administration removed the single biggest irritant in our relationship and opened the door to wider cooperation. We’ve worked hard in this administration to follow through, completing, for example, a reprocessing agreement between the U.S. and India six months ahead of schedule," he said.

Mr Burns said the Obama Administration looked forward to US companies contributing to Indian civil nuclear development.

"And the signing today by the Indian government in Vienna of the Convention on Supplemental Compensation is a very positive step toward ensuring that international standards apply and that U.S. companies are going to have a level playing field on which to compete," he said.

He said the US was also making progress on cooperation in space with India and updating export controls to reflect the reality of a 21st century partnership in which India is treated as a partner and not as a target.

"And finally, I think it’s important to stress that the growth of our partnership is about not just ties between governments but deepening connections between our societies. Today there are more than 100,000 Indian students in American universities, more than from any other single foreign country. Three million Indian Americans play a very vibrant role in American society. And as Mike said, bilateral trade has quadrupled in the last decade.

"So that’s the backdrop to the President’s visit. As Ben said, the fact that the President will spend three days in India, the longest single foreign visit of his presidency so far, the fact that this follows the first state visit of the Obama presidency by Prime Minister Singh last year, the fact that India is the first stop on a trip to four major Asian Democratic partners -- all of that underscores the significance and the potential of Indian/American partnership," he said.

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PM reaches Hanoi on last leg of three-nation tour

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached Hanoi on Thursday evening from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on the last leg of a three-nation tour that had earlier also taken him to Japan.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur being welcomed by the Justice Minister of Vietnam, Ha Hung Cuong, on their arrival, at the Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi, in Vietnam on October 28, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur being welcomed by the Justice Minister of Vietnam, Ha Hung Cuong, on their arrival, at the Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi, in Vietnam on October 28, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached Hanoi this evening from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on the last leg of a three-nation tour that had earlier also taken him to Japan.

Dr Singh and Mrs Gursharan Kaur were received at the Noi Bai International Airport by Vietnamese Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong and senior Vietnamese and Indian officials.

In Vietnam, Dr Singh will attend the 8th India-ASEAN Summit and the 5th East Asia Summit (EAS) as well as hold bilateral meetings with several world leaders, including Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. He is due to return home on Saturday.

"The scale and range of our interaction with the ASEAN countries has expanded significantly in the last six years. I will discuss with the ASEAN leaders a road map for our future cooperation which will be reflected in an India-ASEAN Plan of Action for 2010-2015," Dr Singh had said on October 24 before leaving on the week-long trip.

Dr Singh had said that the East Asia Summit represented the desire of the Asia Pacific region to build an open and inclusive architecture of regional cooperation.

"In its short period of existence, the EAS process has made significant progress. This year’s Summit is expected to welcome the United States and Russia into the EAS process. I will update the EAS leaders on steps taken by us on the revival of the Nalanda University, which was endorsed by the Summit in 2009," he had said.

Among the others Dr Singh will meet on the margins of the EAS are the Prime Minister of Vietnam, the President of South Korea, the Australian Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of Singapore.

The India-ASEAN Summit will take place in the forenoon of October 30 when Dr Singh will hold discussions with his 10 ASEAN counterparts.

"Our relationship has indeed come a long way. The India-ASEAN Trade-in-Goods Agreement became operational on 1st January, 2010. We expect to complete negotiations on the Trade in Services and Investment Agreement soon. To give a fillip to our economic engagement an India-ASEAN Trade Fair and Business Summit is planned at New Delhi in March, 2011. The India- ASEAN Plan of Action for 2010-15, is proposed to be adopted during the Summit. A series of events are also being contemplated next year leading to the first ever India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit in India in 2012," Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had told journalists ahead of the visit.

The EAS, to be held on the same day, will deliberate on the issues of (a) Energy, Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (b) Financial Cooperation (c) Pandemics (d) Natural Disaster Mitigation (e) Education and (f) Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA) and Economic and Research Institute of ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).

The leaders will also exchange views on regional and international issues and on the future cooperation in EAS.

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India doubles contribution to Partners in Population Development

India has enhanced its annual contribution to Partners in Population Development (PDP), an inter-governmental alliance of 24 countries aimed at achieving the objectives of the International Conference on Population Development (ICPD) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


The enhancement of the contribution from $ 40,000 to $ 80,000 was announced by Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad at the Annual Executive Committee and Board meeting of the PPD at Yogyakarta in Indonesia from October 26-28.


India is the Chairman of PPD and China is the co-chair of the organisation. During the three-day meeting, there were intense discussions on ways of strengthening the PPD movement. A two-day international conference on "Promoting Family Planning and Maternal Health for Poverty Alleviation" was organised by PPD on this occasion.


During the Annual Board meeting, five countries - Srilanka, Nepal, Brazil, Philippines and Tanzania - participated as observers who wanted to join the movement. Mexico expressed its interest in reviving its membership.


In his opening remarks, Mr Azad urged the participating countries to increase their contributions to strengthen the alliance. He also announced ten scholarships for the post-graduate diploma course in Public Health Management for one more year at the National Institute of Health & Family Welfare, Delhi.


India had offered these scholarships last year for which nine students from the participating countries enrolled for the course.


PPD has a permanent observer status at the United Nations General Assembly. It was launched during the ICPD in Cairo in 1994. The alliance include countries such as India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Egypt, South Africa and Kenya. The PPD member countries represent more than 57% of the global population.


Mr Azad pointed out that PPD was the only organisation in the world fully dedicated to the promotion of South-South partnerships and cooperation in the field of population and development.


He said it provided an excellent platform for expanding and improving South-South collaboration in the fields of reproductive health, population, and development and served as an instrument to unlock the economic potential of the developing countries for the realization of an equitable and universal development paradigm.


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India signs Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage

India today signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC), which seeks to establish a uniform global regime for the compensation of victims in the event of a nuclear accident.


The convention was signed on behalf of India by the country's Ambassador Dinkar Khullar at a brief ceremony at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.


Four States have so far signed and ratified the Convention - Argentina, Morocco, Romania and the United States.


With India signing the Convention today, the number of signatories to it has gone up to 14. The Convention is set to enter into force on the 90th day after the date of ratification by at least five States who have a minimum of 400,000 units of installed nuclear capacity.


The Convention was adopted on 12 September, 1997 and was opened for signature at the IAEA's 41st General Conference at Vienna that same month.


According to the IAEA, the CSC is consistent with principles set forth in previous international agreements governing nuclear liability, including the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage and the Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy.


It provides a bridge between these two regimes, is open to States that are party to neither of these two regimes, and establishes an international fund to increase the amount available to compensate victims. The CSC also allows for compensating civil damage occurring within a State's exclusive economic zone, including loss of tourism or fisheries related income. It also sets parameters on a nuclear operator’s financial liability, time limits governing possible legal action, requires that nuclear operators maintain insurance or other financial security measures and provides for a single competent court to hear claims.


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PM inaugurates Little India at Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Malaysian counterpart  Mohammed Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak jointly launching the Little India, Brickfields, in Kuala Lumpur on October 27, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Malaysian counterpart Mohammed Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak jointly launching the Little India, Brickfields, in Kuala Lumpur on October 27, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today officially inaugurated "Little India" in Kuala Lumpur's Brickfields area, which is one of the oldest Indian settlements in Malaysia.

The Malaysian Government had decided to dedicate the area as Little India as a tribute to the contribution of all Malaysias of Indian origin to the task of nation-building

Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammed Najib and several of his ministerial colleagues were present at the function.

"Malaysia represents the best of Asia. It is diverse, welcoming and beautiful. It is home to people of different ethnic backgrounds, races and religions. Malaysia sets an example for the world of tolerance and peaceful co-existence," Dr Singh said.

He noted that the Indian community had made important contributions to the development of Malaysia during the past hundred years.

"They have worked with sincerity and dedication. They have excelled at medicine, law, engineering and accountancy. They have participated at each stage in the building of Malaysia," he said.

Dr Singh said India would be presenting a Torana Gate to the residents of Brickfields as a mark of India-Malaysia friendship.

"In the long march of history the paths of India and Malaysia have often crossed. We share close bonds of history and culture. We are pluralistic nations, committed to a composite culture that is unique and tolerant of the diversity in our societies," he said.

"Swami Vivekananda, one of India's greatest philosophers, once said that 'Variety is the first principle of life.' Brickfields embodies that principle. It is a place in which the three communities of Malaysia live in peace and harmony with each other.
It is here that the Vivekananda Ashram, built in 1904, is located. And it is here in Brickfields, that Malaysians of Indian origin can give full expression to their individualism and culture," he said.

The Prime Minister welcomed the desire of Malaysians of Indian origin to re-connect with their cultural roots even as they serve their country of adoption. He said the Indian community was well-placed to be the bridge of friendship and understanding between the two countries.

Referring to his talks with Mr Najib earlier in the day, Dr Singh said said India-Malaysia relations were poised for significant expansion in the coming years.

"Improving ties with Malaysia will be a very high priority of India’s foreign policy in the years ahead," he added.

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India, Malaysia conclude negotiations on CECA, will forge strategic partnership

India and Malaysia on Wednesday agreed on the framework for a strategic partnership and concluded negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between the two countries.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Malaysian counterpart Mohammed Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak at a Joint Press Conference at Putrajaya, the Prime Minister's Office, in Malaysia on October 27, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Malaysian counterpart Mohammed Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak at a Joint Press Conference at Putrajaya, the Prime Minister's Office, in Malaysia on October 27, 2010.

India and Malaysia today agreed on the framework for a strategic partnership and concluded negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)as part of efforts to lay the basis for a multi-faceted relationship between the two countries.

"We have agreed to work closely with each other on regional and international matters of common interest, including on combating the scourge of terrorism," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a joint media interaction with Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammed Najib Tun Abdul Razak after their official talks in Kuala Lumpur this morning.

A Joint Statement on the Framework for the India-Malaysia Strategic Partnership issued by the two sides after the talks outlined a road map for enhanced contacts between the two countries at the political, business and people-to-people levels, based on their shared values of democracy and multi-culturalism;

Dr Singh said the partnership between the two countries would contribute to the peace, prosperity and development of Asia.

The Prime Minister, who reached Kuala Lumpur from Tokyo yesterday evening on the second leg of a week-long trip that will also take him to Vietnam, said his first bilateral visit to Malaysia reflected the commitment of his Government to advance bilateral relations to new heights.

"India and Malaysia are two major countries of Asia. Malaysia is an influential member of the world community whose voice is heard with great respect in global institutions," he said.

Dr Singh said it was a matter of deep satisfaction that the two countries had succesfully concluded negotiations for a CECA. He said the two sides had agreed that they would work to complete the formalities in this regard by January 31, 2011 so that CECA could come into force by the agreed dae of July 1, 2011.

"I am confident that this Agreement will transform our economic engagement in a substantive way," he said.

The two sides will also formally launch the India-Malaysia CEOs Forum which will encourage direct interaction between business and industry in each other’s countries as well in third countries.

Dr Singh said he had conveyed to Mr Najib that India would welcome greater Malaysian investment in its infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, and that Indian companies similarly looked forward to doing greater business in Malaysia and the ASEAN region.

He said the two sides had also agreed to further enhance exchanges in the fields of tourism, civil aviation, culture, higher education and labour.

The Prime Minister said the two sides had discussed regional and international issues of common interest.

"We agreed on the need to reform the United Nations, including its Security Council, and international financial institutions. Both of us share the view that the regional architecture for cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region should be open, inclusive and transparent," he said.

Dr Singh thanked Mr Najib for Malaysia’s constructive role, as ASEAN Coordinator, in helping to work towards a early conclusion of the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement in Services and Investment.

"The year 2010 is a turning point in the history of India-Malaysian relations. The understandings and agreements that we reached today have established a solid foundation for the building of a Strategic Partnership, and bringing our two peoples together for a better future," he added.

Commerce & Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohammed exchanging the signed documents of the agreement towards implementing Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), between India and Malaysia, in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Malaysian counterpart Mohammed Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak, at Putrajaya, the Prime Minister's Office, in Malaysia on October 27, 2010.
Commerce & Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohammed exchanging the signed documents of the agreement towards implementing Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), between India and Malaysia, in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Malaysian counterpart Mohammed Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak, at Putrajaya, the Prime Minister's Office, in Malaysia on October 27, 2010.

According to an official press release, the CECA proposes, in trade in goods, commitments between the two countries which would be more liberal than those under the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement.

In trade in services, the Agreement envisages that, under the CECA, trade in services will be progressively liberalized on a preferential basis, with substantial sectoral coverage, including Movement of Professionals and Skilled Persons, Cross-border Supply, and Telecommunications Services to provide commercially meaningful market access to both parties.

Similarly, the investment chapter under the CECA will include commitments leading to progressive liberalisation of investment regimes in order to promote investments and create a liberal, facilitative, transparent and competitive investment regime. The CECA will also include economic cooperation in areas such as infrastructure development, creative industries, tourism, SMEs, business facilitation, science and technology, and human resource development.

Malaysia is India's third largest trading partner amongst ASEAN members. Bilateral trade increased from US$ 3.38 billion to US$ 8.01 billion between 2004-05 and 2009-10 after reaching a peak of US$ 10.60 billion in 2008-09.

The main exports of India include petroleum products, metals, machinery, meat, chemicals, spices and cereals; our main imports include petroleum products, electronic goods, edible oil, wood, chemicals and metals.

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PM reaches Kuala Lumpur on second leg of three-nation tour

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached Malaysia on Tuesday evening on a visit during which the two countries are expected to firm up a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement and sign several agreements.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife, Ms Gursharan Kaur, being received by Malaysian Human Resource Development Minister S Subramaniam at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on October 26, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife, Ms Gursharan Kaur, being received by Malaysian Human Resource Development Minister S Subramaniam at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on October 26, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached Kuala Lumpur this evening on a three-day visit to Malaysia during which the two countries are expected to firm up a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and sign a number of agreements.

Dr Singh, who was in Tokyo on an official visit to Japan, and his wife, Ms Gursharan Kaur, were received at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport by Malaysian Human Resource Development Minister S Subramaniam and his wife and senior Malaysian and Indian officials.

This is Dr Singh's first bilateral trip to Malaysia, a country which plays a key role in the ASEAN region. It follows the landmark visit of Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammed Najib Tun Abdul Razak to India in January this year, which reflected the strong mutual desire for a qualitatively new partnership between the two countries.

"I will seek new areas of understanding with Prime Minister Najib that reinforce the rich bonds of history and culture that unite us. In today’s unsettled world, it is all the more important for societies that are democratic, multi-religious and multicultural to work together. We share a special bond with Malaysia because it is home to one of the largest People of Indian Origin (PIO) communities of over two million, and I look to forward to meeting some of them," Dr Singh had said in a statement in Delhi before his departure on the week-long, three-nation visit.

Dr Singh had said he expected his visit to lead to greater integration of the two economies and cooperation in the the areas of infrastructure development, railways, knowledge industries, energy, defence and greater people-to-people exchanges.

He is also scheduled to deliver the Khazanah Global Lecture 2010 on India’s development experience in Kuala Lumpur.

Dr Singh will meet the King and Queen of Malaysia and the two Prime Ministers will launch the CEOs' Forum. He is also slated to a pay a visit to "Little India" and attend an Indian community reception hosted by the Indian High Commissioner.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being welcomed by a Guard of Honour on his arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia on October 26, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being welcomed by a Guard of Honour on his arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia on October 26, 2010.

India and Malaysia are likely to sign a number of agreements during the visit as both countries strive to give a strategic orientation to their partnership and craft broad-based ties focusing on key sectors like IT, infrastructure, health & medicine, biotechnology and energy.

Malaysia is India's second largest trading partner in the ASEAN region and Malaysian investors are increasingly viewing India as an attractive destination. Malaysian construction companies have a good presence in India and have already completed 52 construction projects worth $ 2.34 billion. About 35 more projects are in the pipeline.

The Prime Minister is accompanied by a high-level delegation that includes Commre and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Mr T K A Nair, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon.

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Head of Hong Kong Government to visit India to promote economic ties

Donald Tsang
Donald Tsang

Mr Donald Tsang, the head of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, will make his first official visit to India from October 26-29 to promote government and economic relations.

A press release issued here by the Hong Kong Government said Mr Tsang would spend two days in Delhi and two in Mumbai.

He will use the visit to promote the advantages of Hong Kong as a regional base and a fund-raising platform for Indian firms and highlight new opportunities arising from the growth of renminbi business in Hong Kong. The renminbi (RMB) is the official currency of China, whose principal unit is the yuan.

According to the release, Mr Tsang will lead a 30-strong business delegation comprising leaders of Hong Kong's biggest businesses, banks and financial institutions.

"India and Hong Kong have always shared very promising bilateral relations; both have benefited each other immensely in trade and other areas. The total trade between Hong Kong and India in the first eight months of 2010 amounted to HK$94 billion (approximately US$12 billion), an increase of 43% over the same period last year," Mr Tsang said.

"We welcome the opportunity to partner with Indian enterprises to expand their presence in Hong Kong and the Mainland Chinese markets, riding on Hong Kong’s sound legal, economic and communications infrastructure," he said.

Apart from meeting Government officials and business leaders, Mr Tsang will address a business conference jointly organised by Invest Hong Kong (Invest HK) and the Guangdong Province of Mainland China in New Delhi.

He will also participate in the opening ceremony of "Festive Hong Kong Week", a tourism promotion event organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB). He is also slated to speak at a luncheon meeting jointly organised by FICCI and NASSCOM.

In Mumbai, he will attend the opening ceremony of the "Lifestyle Expo in Mumbai" organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and the Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of Guangdong Province.

The exhibition, to be held from October 28 to 30 at the Grand Hyatt Exhibition Ground, will feature products from more than 160 suppliers of consumer electronics, gifts, houseware, fashion and fashion accessories from Hong Kong and Guangdong, the release added.

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India, Japan decide to simplify visa procedures

India and Japan today signed a memorandum on simplifying visa procedures between the two countries as part of the efforts to strengthen relations between the two countries and facilitating more contacts between their nationals.

The agreement was reached during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's ongoing visit to Japan.

The following is the text of the memorandum:

The Government of the Republic of India (hereinafter referred to as "GOI"), and the Government of Japan (hereinafter referred to as "GOJ")

Considering the desire of both countries to strengthen their friendly relations;

Desirous of facilitating the contacts between nationals of both countries;

Have mutually confirmed their intentions to take or maintain the following measures to simplify their respective visa procedures subject to the laws and regulations of their respective countries.

1. Measures related to Business Visas in India and Temporary Visitor’s Visas for Businessmen in Japan

(a) Each side may issue multiple entry visas valid for up to 5 years to each other’s businessmen who travel to the other country on a temporary visit for business purposes on receipt of a letter of request from a duly recognized company or employer of each country or on a request from recognized chambers of commerce and industry and business organizations of each country, such as Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), National Association of Software Services Companies (NASSCOM) and Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India (ASSOCHAM) and government recognized business and trade promotion councils in India and NIPPON KEIDANREN in Japan subject to the following:

(i) The stay in India during each visit should not exceed 180 consecutive days;

(ii) The stay in Japan during each visit should not exceed 90 consecutive days.

(b) Each side may issue entry visas to each other’s businessmen who are not covered under (a) above as follows:

(i) The Indian side may issue multiple entry business visas valid for up to 6 months with the period of stay up to 180 consecutive days to nationals of Japan who travel to India on a temporary visit to establish industrial or business venture, to explore possibilities of setting up industrial or business venture, for purchase or sale of industrial or commercial products, or for purpose of trade and other short term business related activities (not employment).

(ii) The Japanese side may issue single entry temporary visitor’s visas valid for 3 months with the period of stay up to 90 consecutive days to nationals of India who travel to Japan on a temporary visit for business purposes such as trade, short-term business projects and other short-term business related activities (not employment).

(c) The Japanese side may issue multiple entry temporary visitor’s visas valid for up to 3 years with the period of stay up to 90 consecutive days on each visit to family members (spouse and children) of the Indian businessmen mentioned in (a) above.

(d) Neither conversion of business visas to employment visas in India nor change of immigration status of persons who enter Japan with temporary visitor’s visas, not due to special unavoidable reasons, may be permitted, unless the applicant returns to his or her country of nationality and applies to the Embassy or Consulate of the other country.

2. Measures related to Employment Visas in India and Entry Visas for Working in Japan

Each side may issue employment visas/entry visas for working as follows:

(a)(i) The Indian side may issue multiple-entry employment visas to Japanese technicians or??experts coming to India in pursuance of bilateral arrangements between the GOI and the GOJ or in??pursuance of arrangements between non-governmental organizations including arrangements??regarding cultural or academic exchanges that have been approved by the GOI for duration stated in??the arrangement or a period of 5 years, whichever is less.

(ii)For those Japanese applicants who are not covered under (a)(i) above but are highly skilled and qualified professionals employed by a company, organization or industry in the IT software and IT enabled sectors in India, the Indian side may grant multiple-entry employment visas valid for 3 years initially. The applicant must submit proof of his or her employment contract or engagement by the company, organization or industry in India or of the undertaking in India. The applicant may be asked to submit proof of registration of the company, organization or industry under domestic laws and regulations. The Indian side may grant extensions of the period of stay for 2 more years on a year to year basis beyond the initial 3 years to those Japanese applicants who entered India with visas mentioned in this paragraph, in accordance with the procedures determined by the GOI. In this connection, the GOI will ensure that such procedures will be completed as expeditiously as possible.

(iii) For those Japanese applicants who are highly skilled and qualified professional coming to India for employment by a company, organization or industry in India or engaged in an undertaking in India on contract not covered in (a) (i) and (a)(ii) above, the Indian side may grant multiple-entry employment visas valid for up to 3 years or the term of assignment whichever is less. The Indian side may grant extensions of the period of stay for 2 more years on a year to year basis beyond the initial 3 years to those Japanese applicants who entered India with visas mentioned in this paragraph subject to provision of necessary documents.

(iv) The Indian side may issue to family members (spouse and children who are dependent on the applicant and forming part of the same household) of the nationals of Japan mentioned in (i), (ii) and (iii) above, multiple entry visas co-terminus with employment visas issued to the nationals of Japan, upon presentation of proof of their relationship and a sponsoring letter from their employer.

(b) (i) The Japanese side may issue single entry visas for working valid for 3 months with the period of stay of 3 years or 1 year depending on the intended length of their stay in Japan to nationals of India who have an appropriate Certificate of Eligibility issued by the regional immigration offices of Japan. After the arrival in Japan, nationals of India can obtain from the regional immigration offices a multiple re-entry permission valid for up to 3 years consistent with the period of stay marked on the landing permission granted at the port of entry. The GOJ will endeavour to deal with visa applications as expeditiously as possible from the date of application.

(ii) The Japanese side may issue to family members (spouse and children), who are dependent on the nationals of India mentioned in (b) (i) and forming part of the same household, single entry visas valid for 3 months with the period of stay co-terminus with the visas of the nationals of India depending on the intended length of their stay in Japan, on presentation of an appropriate Certificate of Eligibility issued to each family member by the regional immigration offices of Japan. After the arrival in Japan, family members can obtain from the regional immigration offices a multiple re-entry permission valid for up to 3 years consistent with the period of stay marked on the landing permissions granted at the port of entry.

(iii) The Japanese side may issue to family members (spouse and children), who are not dependent on the nationals of India mentioned in (b) (i) as well as family members (spouse and children)? who are dependent on the national of India but not forming part of the same household, multiple entry visas valid for up to 3 years with the period of each of stay up to 90 days, on presentation of proof of relationship with the national of India and proof of his or her employment in Japan.

(iv) In case of parents of the nationals of India mentioned in (b)(i)or parents of his or her spouse, the Japanese side may issue single entry temporary visitor’s visas valid for 3 months with the period of stay up to 90 consecutive days on presentation of proof of relationship, travel bookings and documents to prove the capacity of the applicants or nationals of India mentioned above to cover their travel expenditures.

(c)The nationals of Japan and their family members mentioned in (a) above will complete formalities for residence permits by applying to the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office under the Ministry of Home Affairs of India (hereinafter referred to as "FRRO") within 14 days after their arrival in accordance with the relevant regulations of India. The residence permits issued by the GOI above need to be renewed on annual basis.

3. Measures related to Tourist Visas in India and Temporary Visitor’s Visas for the Purpose of Sightseeing in Japan

Each side may issue tourist visas/temporary visitors visas for the purpose of sightseeing as follows:

(a)The Indian side may issue multiple entry tourist visas valid for up to 5 years??with the period of stay up to 90 consecutive days to the nationals of Japan. An interval of at least 2 months between 2 visits to India is required on a tourist visa. However, with a view to ensuring that genuine tourists are not affected, nationals of Japan with tourist visas, after initial entry into India, may visit another country largely on account of neighbourhood tourism and need to re-enter India within 60 days, before finally exiting. Such tourists may be permitted up to 3 re-entries (on the basis of the needs) by the Indian Missions or Posts subject to their submission of a detailed itinerary and supporting documentation such as ticket bookings.

(b)


(i) The Japanese side may issue single entry temporary visitor’s visas for the purpose of sightseeing valid for 3 months with the period of stay up to 90 consecutive days ,on presentation of travel bookings, to the nationals of India, as well as to their families, who meet certain criteria, such as members of companies listed on recognized stock exchange, members of state and municipal enterprises, government officials and cultural figures and other persons judged by the Chief of Mission to be reliable.


(ii) The Japanese side may issue single entry temporary visitor’s visas for the purpose of sightseeing valid for 3 months with the period of stay up to 90 consecutive days to those other than (i) above on presentation of travel bookings as well as documents to prove the applicant's capacity to cover their travel expenditures.


(iii) If the nationals of India participate in package tours organized by tour operators registered with the GOI and designated by the Japanese side, single entry temporary visitor’s visas for the purpose of sightseeing valid for 3 months with the period of stay up to 90 consecutive days may be granted on presentation of necessary documents by the tour operator.

4. Measures related to Student Visas in India and Entry Visas for Students in Japan

Each side may issue student visas/entry visas for students as follows:

(a) The Indian side may issue student visas to Japanese applicants valid for up to 5 years, or duration of the course, whichever is shorter on presentation of a letter of confirmed admission from a recognized educational institution, proof of finances to cover travelling expenses and other expenditure in India. A maximum of 3 re-entries per academic year may be allowed. In emergency situation additional entries may be granted. The Japanese applicant should be required to register himself or herself with the concerned FRRO for a residence permit within 14 days of his or her arrival.

There will be no restriction with reference to the number of courses a Japanese student can attend in one institution or multiple institutions, provided the institutions are recognized. In case a Japanese student wishes to change a course midway and join another course, the period of validity of the residence permit will be adjusted to the duration of the latter course.

(b) The Japanese side may issue single entry visas valid for 3 months, with the period of stay up to 2years and 3 months to Indian students to receive education at Japanese colleges ,high schools or equivalent educational institutions or to take courses such as Japanese language at other equivalent educational schools. Indian students can obtain from the regional immigration offices a multiple re-entry permission valid for up to 2 years and 3 months consistent with the period of stay marked on the landing permission granted at the port of entry. The GOJ will endeavour to deal with applications for extension of the period of stay from such students of India beyond the permitted period of stay, as the case may be, for studying in Japan as expeditiously as possible from the date of application.


(c) In the case of applicants covered under the Cultural Exchange Programme or the Education Exchange Programme or other mutually approved Programme between the two sides, each side may issue relevant visas on presentation of a letter of authorization from the concerned Government body in each other’s country.

5. Short-Term Visas (India)/Temporary Visitor’s Visas (Japan)

Each side may issue relevant entry visas to the nationals of one country travelling to the other country for conferences, seminars and other short-term academic exchanges in accordance with applicable procedures as set forth in laws and regulations of each side.


6(a) Each side will, within a reasonable period that does not exceed 5 working days after an application requesting entry visas is considered complete under its domestic laws and regulations, inform the applicant of the decision concerning the application. At the request of the applicant, each side will endeavour to provide, without undue delay, information concerning the status of the application.


(b)The period referred to in paragraph (a) can be extended if additional consideration on the documents provided by the applicant is necessary.

7. Each side reserves the right, for reasons of security, public order or public health, to suspend temporarily, either in whole or in part, the implementation of the foregoing measures upon notification given to the other side through diplomatic channels.

8. The foregoing measures will be implemented from a date to be mutually decided by both sides through diplomatic channels. These measures are subject to all other conditions for grant of visas as per the extant instructions issued by both Governments being applicable. Such extant instructions are issued subject to the applicable laws and regulations of each country.

9. Both sides may, as necessary, hold consultations through diplomatic channels to deal with any issues that may arise relating to the foregoing measures.

10. Each side, when it terminates the foregoing measures, either in whole or in part, will give 1 month’s notice to the other side in writing through diplomatic channels.

11. Both sides will continue consultations to explore measures to further simplify visa procedures.

Signed at Tokyo, Japan, on October 25, 2010 in two originals.

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India, Japan clinch Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement

India and Japan on Monday concluded negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which Prime Minister Mamohan Singh described as a "historic achievement".

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan at a joint press interaction in Tokyo on October 25, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan at a joint press interaction in Tokyo on October 25, 2010.

India and Japan today concluded negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which Prime Minister Mamohan Singh described as a "historic achievement" that signalled the economic alignment of two of the largest economies in Asia.

"It will open up new business opportunities and lead to a quantum increase in trade and investment flows between our two countries," Dr Singh told mediapersons at a joint press interaction with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan after their talks.

Dr Singh said his talks with Mr Kan had been "very productive and fruitful". He said the tradition of regular high-level dialogue was the hallmark of the India-Japan Strategic and Global Partnership.

"Our annual Summits have set the pace and direction of this partnership, which rests on the firm foundation of shared values of democracy, rule of law and respect for fundamental human freedoms," he said.

Dr Singh said he had suggested to Mr Kan that the two countries should redouble their efforts in progressing major infrastructure projects in India such as the Dedicated Freight Corridor project and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project. Both these are proceeding on schedule and will have a transformational impact on the two economies, he said.

He also conveyed to Mr Kan the gratitude of the Government and the people of India for Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA) to India.

The two sides discussed ways to expand high technology trade and Dr Singh hoped that Japan would make its export control regulations for such trade easier and predictable.

He said he appreciated the Japanese government’s decision to cooperate with India on civil nuclear energy. He conveyed India's satisfaction with the High-Level Energy Dialogue between the two countries through which they are partnering in the development and utilization of new and renewable energy sources.

The two leaders reviewed the implementation of the Action Plan on Security Cooperation signed last December. The Defence Ministers of the two countries have agreed to meet annually. Dr Singh said he had discussed with Mr Kan the possibility of further deepening the strategic partnership.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan at the Indo-Japan delegation level talks in Tokyo on October 25, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan at the Indo-Japan delegation level talks in Tokyo on October 25, 2010.

The year 2012 will mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Japan and the two sides discussed ways to celebrate the occasion in a befitting manner including through expanded people-to-people exchanges, especially amongst their youth.

The two sides agreed to enhance their cooperation, both bilaterally and within the G-4, in the reform of the United Nations, and especially of the Security Council. They also agreed to continue to work together on global issues such as climate change, the Doha round of trade negotiations and the G-20.

"We will continue to work closely within the framework of the East Asia Summit and the region as a whole," Dr Singh said.

A joint declaration issued by the two leaders on the conclusion of the CEPA said the agreement would be signed at the earliest at the Ministerial level on completion of necessary formalities by both sides.

We noted with satisfaction that India and Japan have succeeded in rendering the India-Japan CEPA truly comprehensive, as indicated by its name, by including fields that range from Trade in Goods, Investment, Trade in Services, and Movement of Natural Persons to Intellectual Property, Competition, Improvement of the Business Environment, Bilateral Cooperation and so forth. We also expressed our determination to put the India-Japan CEPA into effect soon after its signing and the completion of necessary procedures in each country," they said.

Dr Singh and Mr Kan said the CEPA would elevate the Strategic and Global Partnership between India and Japan to a new level.

"The India-Japan CEPA will develop areas of potential mutual complementarity, further strengthen the bilateral economic relationship, and promote economic development by increasing the cross-border flows of goods, persons, investment and services. It will also strengthen the foundation for the economic development of India and Japan through closer cooperation between the two countries in various fields," the declaration said.

The two leaders hoped that, through the India-Japan CEPA’s implementation, India and Japan would be able to make maximum use of respective competitive advantages to promote the development of both economies.

"This will bring about increased prosperity and stability to the peoples of both countries, and thus, contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Asian region and the international community," they said.

Dr Singh and Mr Kan said the CEPA was also expected to foster new business opportunities, enhance competitiveness of the private sectors of both countries, and encourage closer partnership between those private sectors, from SMEs to infrastructure-related enterprises.

"We affirm the intention of the two Governments to support private sector efforts to fully utilize their potential," they added.

The two leaders also issued a joint statement unveiling their vision for the India-Japan Strategic and Global Partnership in the next decade.

"The two Prime Ministers reiterated the fundamental identity of values, interests and priorities between Japan and India. They reaffirmed the political commitment in both countries cutting across party lines and popular desire for upgrading bilateral relations, and valued their cooperation for sustained peace and prosperity in a changing and dynamic Asia and the world. In this context, they expressed their common desire to further consolidate, enhance and expand the Strategic and Global Partnership between them through the second decade of the 21st Century," it said.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the steady growth of political exchanges, dialogue and policy coordination at all levels, including the Ministerial-level annual dialogues and exchanges.

They also supported the establishment of a Ministerial Level Economic Dialogue between India and Japan to give strategic and long-term policy orientation to their bilateral economic engagement, taking into account the regional and global context and to coordinate economic issues of cross-cutting nature, including infrastructure development and financing. They welcomed the launch of the "2 plus 2" dialogue at Subcabinet / Senior Official level and the launch of a dialogue on Africa at the official level in 2010 as a reflection of wider policy consultation and coordination on foreign policy and security issues.

Dr Singh and Mr Kan welcomed India-Japan cooperation in development of new and renewable energy, and clean coal technology and enhancing energy efficiency in India’s power sector and encouraged the India-Japan Ministerial Level Energy Dialogue to facilitate pragmatic and mutually beneficial cooperation in other related areas to further strengthen energy security.

In this context, they also welcomed the establishment of a Nuclear Energy Working Group under the Energy Dialogue in April 2010 to exchange views and information on their respective nuclear energy policies from the energy, economic and industrial perspectives. They further welcomed the exchange of information between the nuclear energy industries of the two countries including through business missions.

The two Prime Ministers recognized the importance of promoting cooperation between the two countries’ industries in expanding bilateral energy cooperation on a commercial basis, including through the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). Recognizing the importance of rare earths and rare metals for future industries, the two Prime Ministers decided to explore the possibility of bilateral cooperation in development, re-cycling and re-use of rare earths and rare metals and in research and development of their industrial substitutes.

Dr Singh and Mr Kan welcomed the commencement of negotiations between India and Japan on an Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy in June 2010. They affirmed that cooperation in this sector will open up new opportunities for further developing the India-Japan Strategic and Global Partnership. They encouraged their negotiators to arrive at a mutually satisfactory agreement for civil nuclear cooperation at an early date.

The two Prime Ministers condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purpose. Mr Kan condemned terrorist attacks in and against India, such as the bomb blast in Pune on 13 February 2010 and in Kabul on 26 February 2010, in which Indians as well as other nationals were targeted. They decided to enhance greater cooperation in combating terrorism through information-sharing and counter-terrorism training as well as utilizing the India-Japan Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism. They recognized the urgent need to finalize and adopt the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations and called upon all States to cooperate in resolving the outstanding issues expeditiously. Japan welcomed India’s membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and India appreciated Japan’s support towards this.

The two Prime Ministers welcomed the progress made in Science and Technology cooperation, including the India-Japan Cooperative Science Programme.

The two Prime Ministers recognized the importance of strengthening cultural, academic and people-to-people exchanges between India and Japan to reflect their strategic partnership and popular goodwill.

The two Prime Ministers expressed their commitment to assisting Afghanistan to become a stable, democratic and pluralistic nation free of terrorism and extremism. They emphasized the importance of a coherent and united international commitment to Afghan-led initiatives.

Mr Kan expressed that such a commitment encompasses security assistance, including assistance towards Afghan National Police, reintegration of insurgents, and development. Dr Singh emphasized the importance of strengthening and adequate training of the Afghan National Security Forces so that they can defend the sovereignty and independence of Afghanistan. They concurred that the process of reintegration should not deviate from the principles expressed in the Kabul Conference. The two Prime Ministers pledged to explore opportunities for consultation and coordination on their respective civilian assistance projects, including those projects implemented in the neighboring countries, that advance Afghan leadership and ownership and build civilian capacity.

The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Mr Kan stressed the importance of bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) at an early date. Dr Singh reiterated India’s commitment to a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.

They supported the strengthening of international cooperation with a view to addressing the challenges of nuclear terrorism and clandestine proliferation and expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the Nuclear Security Summit of April 2010, including the establishment by Japan of the Integrated Comprehensive Support Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Security to be established in Japan and the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership to be established by India.

The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to working together for immediate commencement and an early conclusion of negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) in the Conference on Disarmament. They further reiterated that nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation are mutually reinforcing processes. They also underscored the importance of peaceful uses of nuclear energy and of further strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation efforts. They decided that both countries will enhance cooperation in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation through close dialogues, including at regularly held bilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation meetings as well as at the Conference on Disarmament.

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PM calls for greater Japanese investment in Indian industry, infrastructure

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday called for greater Japanese involvement in Indian industry, especially foreign direct investment in creating new capacity in India's manufacturing sector.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing the luncheon meeting organised by the Japan Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Japan -India Business Co-operation Council, at the Nippon Keidanren, in Tokyo on October 25, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing the luncheon meeting organised by the Japan Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Japan -India Business Co-operation Council, at the Nippon Keidanren, in Tokyo on October 25, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called for greater Japanese involvement in Indian industry and hoped this would go beyond mergers and acquisitions to see Japanese foreign direct investment (FDI) creating new capacity in India's manufacturing sector.

"We also hope Japanese investment will engage in greenfield infrastructure projects as well," Dr Singh said at a business luncheon hosted by Nippon Keidanren in Tokyo on the second day of his three-day visit to Japan.

He said he would also like to see freer flow of high end technologies to India and that it was a welcome sign that the number of Japanese companies with an established business presence in India had more than doubled in the past four years.

Dr Singh said India and Japan must work together to create a business environment conducive to much greater two-way trade and investment flows.

"It was with this perspective that we launched negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) almost four years ago. I am happy to share with you that our efforts have finally been crowned with success and an Agreement which enables business from both sides to exploit their respective strengths for mutual benefit is ready for conclusion," he said.

He pointed out that companies in Europe and America had derived significant benefits from collaboration in the IT sector with Indian companies. He hoped that Japanese companies would also take advantage of these opportunities to enhance their efficiency and competitiveness through expanded partnerships with India's IT sector.

He said he expected the CEPA to create new opportunities for India's pharmaceutical industry in the Japanese market, helping to meet Japan's growing demand for high quality and relatively inexpensive generic medicines.

Dr Singh said India's infrastructure deficit imposed a major constraint on manufacturing growth and could adversely impact FDI flows.

He said that, during the next Five Year Plan from 2012-17, the Government envisaged financial outlays of over $ 1 trillion on infrastructure projects and private investment would play a large role in achieving this target. He said India would welcome a much greater role by Japanese companies in the development of economic infrastructure in the country.

He pointed out that Japan was India's partner of choice in the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project, which will cover a length of 1480 km across six States and had the potential to become the hub of the bilateral economic engagement in the area of manufacturing.

"Some of the notified investment regions are almost the size of Singapore in terms of their area. We welcome in particular the involvement of Japanese companies in the development of 'smart communities" in the DMIC area," he said.

The Prime Minister said that, with India's rapid economic growth, the demand for energy in the country had been rising rapidly and Japan, as a global leader in energy efficient technologies, could play a significant role in helping it meet its energy needs in an environmentally sustainable manner.

"We seek Japanese technology and investment in conventional as well as new and renewable energy," he said.

He said nuclear energy could provide India's growing economy with a clean and efficient source of power. Cooperation in this area will enable Japanese companies to participate in India's ambitious nuclear energy programme, he said.

Dr Singh dwelt at length on the recent global economic crisis and the steps taken by India to cope with it. He said India's growth had recovered to 7.4 per cent in 2009-10 and was now projected to be 8.5 per cent in the current fiscal year. He expected the country to return to a 9 per cent growth path in 2011-12.

"I am confident that the strong fundamentals of the Indian economy will enable us to achieve our objective of double digit growth in the coming years. I do not underestimate the many challenges we face in achieving such high levels of growth. We need to close the infrastructure deficit, especially in the fields of power and transport and communication. This is a major constraint on our development and we shall give high priority to infrastructure development and modernization in the years ahead. We will rely on both public investment and public private partnership to achieve our infrastructure targets. We will also invest in education, health and rural development to ensure that growth is inclusive and broad-based," he said.

He said he was confident India's saving rate would rise to 40 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). During the last three years, India had received cumulative FDI worth more than $ 100 billion. "We have seen a slow down in recent months but I see that as being temporary," he said.

The Prime Minister said his Government was determined to continue the process of economic reforms that would create a favourable investment environment and facilitate higher investment flows.

"We are continuing the process of reform of both direct and indirect taxes and hope to unify in due course all indirect taxes into a single Goods and Services Tax. We are pursuing reforms in the financial sector, capital markets, higher education and skill development," he said.

Dr Singh said India deeply appreciated the generous assistance which Japan had provided to it for building economic and social infrastructure.

"India has been the largest recipient of Japanese ODA since 2003. The highly successful Delhi Metro project has been followed by ODA assistance for Metro projects in Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai. The Dedicated Freight Corridor project between Delhi and Mumbai, launched with Japanese ODA support, is designed to transform India's freight logistics," he said.

He said the two countries had witnessed a steady expansion of their trade and investment relations in recent years. Bilateral trade should exceed $ 20 billion by 2012, he said.

"However, you will agree with me that India-Japan trade is still at a low threshold, apart from being unbalanced," he said.

Dr Singh said the weight of global economic power was shifting inexorably towards Asia.

"I am confident that irrespective of the current slowdown Japan will remain Asia's most advanced industrialized nation for decades to come. Japan’s role and influence in the global economy cannot be underestimated. India is participating fully in the rising tide of economic expansion in Asia. It is my hope that India and Japan will continue to work together for the creation of a broader Asian Economic Community," he said.

"In my more than four decades in public life, I have had the privilege of working closely with Japan. During this period, I have steadfastly nurtured the vision that Japan must be an important partner in India's economic development. Together we can contribute to global stability, prosperity and development.

"As I stand among this distinguished gathering of leaders of Japan's business and industry, I sense a new enthusiasm and a vibrancy that gives me reason to believe that my long held vision will be realized. I invite you to repose your faith in India. I assure you that we will spare no effort to make Japanese business welcome. Together, we can ensure the long term prosperity of our peoples for the greater benefit of our region and the world," he added.

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PM confident India, Japan will conclude "win-win" civil nuclear deal

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that he was confident that India and Japan would be able to conclude a civil nuclear cooperation agreement that would be a "win-win" proposition for both countries.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being received by the Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ikuo Yamahana, at the Tokyo International Airport, in Japan on October 24, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being received by the Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ikuo Yamahana, at the Tokyo International Airport, in Japan on October 24, 2010.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that he was confident that India and Japan would be able to conclude a civil nuclear cooperation agreement that would be a "win-win" proposition for both countries.

"We are negotiating an Agreement on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy with Japan..We have not laid down any deadline for concluding these negotiations," he said in an interview to Japanese media ahead of his two-day visit to Tokyo beginning today.

Dr Singh said both India and Japan would benefit from such an agreement that provides a long-term and stable basis of cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

"Since negotiations are continuing on the bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement, I do not wish to comment on specific details," he said.

He said such an agreement would contribute towards meeting energy security requirements and also help in the global efforts to combat climate change.

Dr Singh said India's position on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) was well known and it had an impeccable non-proliferation record which had been recognised by the international community

"We are committed to maintaining our unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. India has been steadfast in its support for global and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament in a time-bound framework. We are ready to work with Japan and other like minded countries in realizing the vision of a nuclear weapon free world," he said.

The Prime Minister said developing countries like India sought new energy sources to sustain high rates of economic growth.

Asked about China's "aggressiveness" in the region, Dr Singh said Asia was witnessing an unprecedented period of sustained economic growth in recent years.

He said countries in the region were engaged in improving standards of living of their people, and overcoming the effects of the global economic downturn. They were all trying to respond and readjust to global trends towards multi-polarity and managing the regional environment in Asia in a manner which enhances peace, security and overall development of our societies.

"It is incumbent on all countries of the region to build cooperative partnerships and work towards an open and inclusive regional architecture. Inter-state relations must be based on the five principles of peaceful co-existence. It is in this context that we also approach our relations with China, with whom we have established a Strategic and Cooperative Partnership," he said.

Dr Singh said India sought a global order which was conducive to its rapid, sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development.

"India has been playing a constructive role in responding to changing global realities. We have been working with the likeminded countries to address the major challenges of our times such as poverty eradication, terrorism, food and energy security and climate change," he said.

"As major nations in Asia sharing common values of democracy, rule of law and shared interests of peace and prosperity in Asia, it is important for both India and Japan to work together at the bilateral, regional and global levels, including in the United Nations and G-20," he added.

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India reaffirms commitment to balanced outcome of Doha Round

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma meeting WTO Director General Pascal Lamy in Geneva on October 20, 2010.
Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma meeting WTO Director General Pascal Lamy in Geneva on October 20, 2010.

Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma met World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General Pascal Lamy in Geneva yesterday and reaffirmed India's commitment to an ambitious and balanced outcome of the Doha Round.

According to an official press release issued here today, Mr Sharma recalled that world leaders had also reaffirmed their commitment to an early conclusion of Doha Round at the G-20 Summits and added that the issue would come up again in the G-20 meeting in Seoul next month.

"Sustaining trade and investment flows is critical for the future prosperity of developed and developing economies alike. They recognized that one of the main threats to the revival of trade flows is the rising protectionist pressures and continued delay in concluding the Doha Round," he said.

"Therefore, strengthening the multilateral trading system by concluding the Doha Round at the earliest is a vital imperative," he said.

Mr Sharma also met Ambassadors of the key players in the Doha Round, including the G33, NAMA 11 and the recently constituted G11, Chairs of Agriculture, NAMA and Services.

He pointed out that since the March 2010 stock taking, while some progress has been achieved in small group meetings, the text-based negotiations led by the chairs must resume at the earliest. He said that while there are still a few gaps and large number of unresolved issues, the December 2008 texts of Agriculture and NAMA presented a fine balance and any attempt to revisit settled issues would potentially unravel the round itself.

The Minister said that 2011 presented a "year of opportunity" for conclusion of the round and felt that, through the G20 summit in Seoul, a strong articulation of political intent would lend the necessary momentum to negotiations.

He stressed that the Doha Round negotiations held the promise of raising standards of living worldwide, alleviating global poverty, removing inequities in the trade regime, and enhancing international stability, especially in times of global financial and economic crisis.

Mr Sharma said that, while there were signs of recovery, there were also continuing concerns on the uncertainty on the prospects of the recovery as many countries had not fully recovered from the impact of the crisis. The conclusion of the Round would provide a big boost to help recovery, he said.

He reiterated that this is a Development Round and the mandate of the Doha Round is non-negotiable and should be respected.

"The final outcome must correct the historical distortions and address structural flaws in the global trading regime, while responding to the legitimate concerns and aspirations of the poor in the developing world. The special safeguard mechanisms and special products are crucial to protect the livelihood concerns of millions of small and marginal farmers in the developing world," he added.

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India, South Korea sign Social Security Agreement

India and South Korea signed a Social Security Agreement (SSA) in Seoul today which is expeced to enhance the movement of professionals between the two countries and strengthen bilateral trade and investment.


The agreement was signed by Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi and South Korean Minister for Trade Kim Jong-hoon.


An official press release said that the agreement provided, on a reciprocal basis, for the following benefits to Indian nationals working in South Korea:


a) For short term contract up to five years no social security contribution would need to be paid under the Korean law by the detached workers provided they continue to make social security payment in India.

b) The above benefits shall be available even when the Indian company sends its employees to the Republic of Korea from a third country.

c) Indian workers shall be entitled to the export of the social security benefit if they relocate to India or a third country after the completion of their service in the Republic of Korea.

d) The self-employed Indians in the Republic of Korea would also be entitled to export of social security benefit on their relocation to India, or a third country.

e) In case of Independent Professionals, provisions of paragraph 3 of Article 8.3 of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed between India and Republic of Korea shall apply and in case of any other category of workers, the SSA shall apply.

f) The scope of bilateral cooperation in social security under SSA and under paragraph 3 of Article 8.3 of CEPA covers only the old age, survivors and disability pension under the legislations and regulations of both countries.

g) The period of contribution in one contracting state will be added to the period of contribution in the second contracting state for determining the eligibility for social security benefits in order to avoid loss of contributions.


Several professionals and self-employed Indians are working in South Korea and there is a huge potential for employment of more Indian professionals and workers in that country, the release said.


It said that India was likely to become a major source of migrant professionals due to its vast reservoir of technically qualified manpower in sectors like Information Technology, Engineering, Health, Finance and Management.


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SriLankan Airlines to acquire 7 more aircraft by 2011-end

SriLankan Airlines today said it would acquire its first brand new aircraft in more than a decade as part of the seven aircraft it plans to take delivery of by the end of 2011.


They include five Airbus A320s, including three brand new aircraft, and two Twin Otter floatplanes, a press release from the airline said.


"We will be celebrating an important new chapter in the history of SriLankan Airlines with the arrival of this large number of aircraft within a short period," SriLankan’s CEO Manoj Gunawardena said.


"They will allow SriLankan to significantly enhance the passenger experience on board our flights, give us the ability to fly to more cities in the Subcontinent, Middle East and Southeast Asia, and to also increase capacity to existing destinations in these regions," he said.


The last time Sri Lanka’s national carrier took delivery of a brand new aircraft was in June 2000 when it received the last of six A330-200’s. The three brand new aircraft are scheduled to be acquired in from May-November 2011, and will sport the latest comforts and entertainment systems including Audio-Video On Demand (AVOD) in both Business and Economy Classes, the release said.


These three aircraft would be preceded by two other A320’s which are likely to arrive in December 2010 and early 2011. All five aircraft would be on operating leases at very attractive terms of monthly payments. In addition, two Twin Otters are to be acquired for the re-launch of its domestic service SriLankan Air Taxi this winter.


The airline is also exploring the possibility of obtaining at least one more long-haul wide-body aircraft to launch services to more new destinations in Europe and the Far East.


"Our fleet expansion plans are constantly updated to support Sri Lanka’s rapidly growing tourism industry, while keeping in mind the financial requirements of the airline," Mr Gunawardena said.


The airline began a re-fleeting programme shortly after its management changed hands in April 2008, acquiring three A320s in 2008 and 2009 to replace old aircraft. A wide-body A330-200 was also added to the fleet two months ago.


These seven aircraft will join SriLankan’s fleet of 13 – three A320s, five A330s, and five A340s – with a global network covering 49 cities in 31 countries. The twin-engined A320s operate to destinations in the sub-continent, Maldives, South-East Asia, and parts of the Middle East, while the A330s and A340s operate to the Middle East, Europe, and the Far East, the release added.


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