India ready to share technology, capacity, concessional credit with Mozambique: Modi

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

Obama says to leave more troops than planned in Afghanistan

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

Three Indian warships visit Vladivostok in Russia

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

Moderate earthquake jolts Bangladesh

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

Britain votes to leave EU, Cameron quits, global financial markets plunge

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

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

Modi says India's membership of SCO would strengthen region's security

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

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

Moderate earthquake jolts Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan

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

Modi meets Xi Jinping, urges China to back India's NSG membership bid

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

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

Africa, India centres of gravity in globalized world: Mukherjee

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

Africa visit part of India’s grand strategy, says Mukherjee

President Pranab Mukherjee has described his visit to Africa as not just symbolic, but part of a grand strategy to convey the sense and idea to the people of Africa that India is ready to forge new relationships.
Addressing two separate meetings, a Business Forum as well as the Indian diaspora in Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) yesterday, Mr. Mukherjee referred to the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi last year at which concessional credit of $ 10 billion to African countries over a five-year period, along with grant assistance of $ 600 million, was announced.
The Business Forum was organized by the Centre for Promoting Investments into Côte d'Ivoire (CEPICI) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here yesterday.
He said various schemes like Digital India, Make in India and Skill India had opened up new areas of cooperation among nations, particularly developing countries.
India and Cote d’Ivoire were exploring new areas of friendship, cooperation and investment. A regional office of EXIM Bank has been opened in Abidjan which will facilitate the process, he added.
At the Business Forum, exchange of two MoUs also took place. The first MoU was between CII and CEPICI to enhance cooperation between the chambers of commerce of the two respective countries. The other MoU was between the private companies Tata Group from India and Sutra from Cote d’Ivoire to reinforce the existing transport fleet by import of 500 buses manufactured by Tata.
Speaking at the reception hosted by Indian Ambassador R. Ravindra, the President congratulated the Indian diaspora for their law abiding nature and cooperation with the people of the country of adoption.
“The Indians abroad are aware of their roots and have maintained their links with the past. They are symbols of the soft power of India and unofficial cultural ambassadors of their country,” he said.
The Indian community in Cote d’Ivoire has been contributing to the development of the vibrant country through their hard work and professionalism. The greatest contribution of the Indian diaspora was Mahatma Gandhi who made experiments with truth and non-violence in South Africa which shaped not only his ideology and vision but the future of India, he added.
The President said his visit to Africa was not just symbolic. It was to convey the sense and idea to the people of Africa that India is ready to forge new relationships. 
"India is with you in your struggle to achieve job creation, employment opportunities and a better life to your people," he said.
He said India was committed to share with Africa her experiences in the process of development and develop a relationship on the basis of expanding cooperation in trade and investment.

Cameron assures Modi of UK's support for India's bid for NSG membership

File photo of British Prime Minister David Cameron
File photo of British Prime Minister David Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the telephone this morning about India's application for membership of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
"The Prime Minister confirmed that the UK would firmly support India’s application," a Downing Street spokesperson said after the telephone call.
"They agreed that in order for the bid to be successful it would be important for India to continue to strengthen its non-proliferation credentials, including by reinforcing the separation between civil and military nuclear activity," the spokesperson said.
The NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries that works together to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
The spokesperson said Mr. Cameron and Mr. Modi agreed that the UK-India relationship was going from strength to strength, including through the recent visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

India will remain steadfast partner, Mukherjee assures Cote d'Ivoire

President Pranab Mukherjee meeting the President of Cote d'Ivoire, Mr. Alassane Ouattara, at the Presidential Palace, in Abidjan on June 14, 2016.
President Pranab Mukherjee meeting the President of Cote d'Ivoire, Mr. Alassane Ouattara, at the Presidential Palace, in Abidjan on June 14, 2016.
President Pranab Mukherjee has assured Cote d'Ivoire that India would remain a steadfast partner in assisting the West African country in its economic development and growth.
“We have, over the decades, created unique bonds of trust and mutual understanding - based on our shared values and synergies. Our partnership has, in recent years, become increasingly multifaceted, dynamic and rewarding,” Mr Mukherjee said at a banquet hosted in his honour by Cote d'Ivoire President Alassane Ouattar here yesterday.
Pointing out the steady growth in bilateral trade that is expected to touch $ 1 billion in the next few years, he said, “Given the relative size of our economies and our wide convergences in several sectors of common interests, we both agree that our trade and investment and economic co-operation does indeed have a greater potential that is waiting to be fully realised.”
Mr Mukherjee said that, considering the fertile soil and abundant agricultural and mineral resources of Cote d'Ivoire, India's public and private sector industries would be keen to join in for exploring these resources efficiently and in setting up agro-based industries.
“We would be happy to join your Government in developing the infrastructure that you require in the different sectors of your growing economy. At this time - when both our nations are on the path of rapid development, there are infinite opportunities that must be seized,” he said.
Among other commonalities, he noted that both countries have demonstrated commitment to democratic values and remain active participants in regional and international fora and have worked together in close cooperation on matters of shared interest and concern.
“We both recognize the imperatives of strengthening the UN system and other international organizations. We would like to see them reformed so that they remain effective in addressing the challenges that confront the world today. In this context, India stands ready to shoulder greater responsibilities in the specialized organs of the United Nations, particularly its Security Council,” the President said.
“Both Ivory Coast and India share common concerns in our fight against international terrorism. We have been co-ordinating closely in regional and multilateral fora on this and other key issues including disarmament, climate change and sustainable development,” he added.
“Going forward, as we pursue our bilateral dialogue and implement our decisions, I am confident that we can open more doors to each other and establish the robust trade, economic and political partnership that we both envision today,” he said.
On the occasion, the National Order of the Republic of Ivory Coast was conferred on Mr Mukherjee. “I consider it to be emblematic of the long standing mutual friendship between the peoples of our two countries,” he said.
The President reiterated his invitation to President Ouattar to visit India.
Mr. Mukherjee arrived here yesteday on the second leg of a three-nation tour of Africa that first took him to Ghana and will also take him to Namibia.

India to provide $1m dollar grant to Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in Ghana

President Pranab Mukherjee today announced that India would provide an additional million dollar grant to help the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre for Excellence in ICT here to expand its academic activities.
Addressing a meeting during his visit to the Centre, Mr. Mukherjee said the funds would be used to initiate a Masters programme, expand the laboratory facilities and introduce additional curriculum that will help students stay abreast with rapidly advancing technology.
The Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE) was set up on December 9, 2003 with Indian assistance.
The President said he was happy to see that the Centre had grown into an institution par excellence. Since its establishment in 2003, it has, by now, trained over 20,000 students – not only from Ghana but also from other neighbouring countries, he noted.
“I understand that due to the close co-operation between this Centre and the Indian Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, it has been able to steadily expand its curriculum to include several relevant areas of study such as cyber security, mobile computing, enterprise software, high performance computing and so on,” he said.
“It is also a matter of satisfaction that graduates of the centre have been recognised and valued. I understand that most alumni are presently in good positions in business and industrial organisations, some have started their own businesses and others are using their knowledge to create their own ICT solutions and become employers themselves,” Mr Mukherjee said.
The greatest reward for the Kofi Annan Centre is that its graduates are effectively deployed throughout the Economic Community of West African States. This was India’s primary objective in seeking to build capacity and assist Ghana and its neighbours in their human resource development, he added.
The President said it was appropriate to name the Centre after former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, a great son of Ghana and a long-standing friend of India. He is a respected voice in global affairs and South-South cooperation.
“India has always believed that Africa should take ownership of her resources and define her own interests and goals. Our Government is committed to working with partners in Africa in all areas where we can help them to use and adapt relevant, cost effective technologies, share best practices and realise their goals of technological development,” Mr Mukherjee said.
“India’s experience as a developing country has taught us the necessity of giving due attention to equitable and inclusive growth and development. It is very important to ensure that the digital revolution does not create new imbalances between men and women, between rural and urban centres or between the mainstream languages and others,” he added.
Mr. Mukherjee was in Ghana on the leg of a three-nation trip to Africa that will also take him to Cote d'Ivoire and Namibia. He is accompanied by Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Ofice, Dr. Jitendra Singh, SS Ahluwalia, MP (Lok Sabha) and Mansukh Mandaviya, MP (Rajya Sabha).

All-women crew sails into Port Louis, Mauritus on board Mhadei

Indian Navy’s sail boat INSV Mhadei sailed into Port Louis, Mauritius today with the first all-women crew.
The famous sailing vessel had set sail from her home port, Goa, on May 24 on this historic first open ocean voyage by an all-women crew on any vessel of the Indian Navy.
Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, a naval architect, is the first woman skipper of Mhadei. The boat is crewed by Lieutenant P Swathi, Lieutenant Pratibha Jamwal (Air Traffic Control specialists), Lieutenant Vijaya Devi, Sub Lieutenant Payal Gupta (both education officers) and Lieutenant B Aishwarya, a naval architect.
The 2100 nautical miles voyage was covered by the crew in 20 days passing through rough seas whipped up by the south west monsoon. The timing of the voyage was chosen to expose the crew to rough weather that they are likely to encounter during their attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 2017, an official press release said.
Mhadei encountered winds of up to 35 knots, sea states up to 5 and a swell of up to 5 m during the onward leg from Goa to Mauritius. This adequately met the training aims of the voyage, the release said.
The strenuous journey also provided the crew with an opportunity to consolidate upon their theoretical and practical training undergone thus far, it said.
Mhadei was received by the Mauritian Coast Guard vessel Retriever outside Port Louis harbour and was escorted to her berth. Alongside, she was received by the acting High Commissioner of India, the Commandant of the National Coast Guard and other officers and families of the Indian High Commission.
Ten women police officers of Mauritius embarked Mhadei 10 miles outside the harbour and sailed into port with her crew. During their stay, the crew will call on the President of Mauritius, Minister for Gender Equality and Child Development and various other dignitaries.
The boat will be open to visitors and school children. Mhadei is also expected to undertake day sorties off Port Louis for selected groups of people.
The return journey from Port Louis to Goa is slated to commence on June 24. Mhadei is expected to arrive Goa in early July. The women officers are training to form an all-women crew that would attempt to circumnavigate the globe next year.

Economic cooperation with Ghana could go beyond govt-funded projects: Mukherjee

President Pranab Mukherjee has said that economic cooperation between India and Ghana could be extended beyond government-funded projects and the Indian private sector multi-national companies that are already active in Africa could come up with investments.
Speaking at the India-Ghana Business Forum event here yesterday, Mr Mukherjee said, “Our economic cooperation can be extended further - beyond government-funded projects. With the active involvement of Government of Ghana and organisations such as Ghana Investment Promotion Council, we could together identify viable projects for the Indian private sector to invest in."
“Indian multi-national companies are active and successful in several countries in Africa and would be more than happy to come to a friendly country like Ghana. They recognise that Ghana is the first sub-Saharan nation that marched ahead to become a lower middle income country,” he added.
The peaceful, secure and stable environment of Ghana is a critical requirement for any investor. The Indian private sector is equipped with funding capacity as well as appropriate technologies. They stand ready to work with their Ghanaian counterparts as partners for mutual benefit, the President said.
The event was jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) , the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Mr. Mukherjee was in Ghana on the first leg of a three-nation visit to Africa that will also take him to Cote d'Ivoire and Namibia.
The President pointed out that Indian businessmen and entrepreneurs, due to their long association with this country and their similar experience know what their counterparts in Ghana are seeking. “They, like you, have only recently transitioned from a protected business environment in post-Independence India to succeed as global giants today, competing with the best in the world. They are familiar with the challenges faced in developing economies,” he added.
India is one of the few countries where small and medium Enterprises thrive alongside large conglomerates, creating jobs and ensuring wealth distribution on the one hand and infrastructure development, indigenization and external business linkages on the other, Mr Mukherjee said.
Indian entrepreneurs know that developing countries need to prioritise relevant and eco-friendly technologies that are in sync with the state of economic development of the country as well as its social needs.
“We have learned that calibrated foreign investments are the key to rapid growth in a developing nation. Indian businesses have learned adaptability and would be happy to share their experience with their Ghanaian counterparts,” he added.
'Brand India' is a trusted name today across the developing as well as the developed world. It is trusted because it adds value to the resources of the host countries; it is welcomed because it works and grows together with the local companies; it brings appropriate technologies which create jobs and has the adaptability to absorb local talent; it rejuvenates and invigorates local industry without restricting their growth in any way, Mr Mukherjee said.
Noting that bilateral trade is in favour of Ghana, he said he would, however, encourage the Ghanaian entrepreneurs to diversify and expand their exports to India.
During the third India-Africa Forum Summit in October last year in New Delhi, India earmarked $ 10 billion for diverse projects in Africa and capacity building efforts.The Government was looking forward to working with Ghana to identify projects for utilisation of these funds in this country, he added.

India ready to invest in Ghana, says Mukherjee

President Pranab Mukherjee meeting the President of Ghana, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, at Flagstaff House, in Accra, Ghana on June 13, 2016.
President Pranab Mukherjee meeting the President of Ghana, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, at Flagstaff House, in Accra, Ghana on June 13, 2016.
President Pranab Mukherjee has said that India would continue to extend its hand of cooperation as Ghana marches towards prosperity, including investments by Indian companies if the right opportunities are given to them.
Speaking at a banquet hosted in his honour by Ghana President John Dramani Mahama, Mr Mukherjee said Ghana has become the first sub-Saharan African nation to have successfully halved poverty levels and crossed the threshold to become a low-middle-income country.
“As the Head of State of the world's largest democracy, I would like to congratulate Ghana for its giant strides in strengthening democracy. Not only in Western Africa, but in the entire African continent, Ghana is regarded with respect -- as a nation of robust democratic institutions,” he added.
Noting that bilateral relations have expanded and deepened over the years with both investments and trade having seen rapid growth, the President said the Government and the Indian corporate world recognized the rich potential of the Ghanaian economy.
“Indian companies would be happy to invest in Ghana if the right opportunities are given to them. We look forward to working with you to realise the full potential of our synergies to our mutual benefit,” he said.
“Ghana can always count on India’s hand of friendship and cooperation. India will be happy to offer assistance and support in all areas where it is required by you,” Mr Mukherjee said.
“Our scholarship programmes under the Indian Technical Cooperation Programme and Indian Council for Cultural Relations are open to you and we welcome your citizens to avail our schemes for human resource development,” he added.
Referring to the significant advancement made by Ghana in achieving its Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals, he congratulated President Mahama on his appointment by UN Secretary General as the Co-Chair of the Advocacy group on Sustainable Development Goals.
“India recognised and appreciated Ghana's active role in the fight against Ebola. We also laud Ghana's dynamism in the Economic Community of West African States and welcome your efforts to promote greater integration within the region and across the African continent,” he said.
Referring to the new challenges that confront the global community, Mr. Mukherjee said the world order demands global governance structures that are consistent with these challenges.
“It is a serious anomaly that India, home to every sixth citizen of the world and Africa, a vibrant hub of the global economy, still remains out of the UN Security Council,” he said.
“India, as a victim of terrorism for over three decades, shares your concern that this has become a global menace. It is a scourge that knows no borders; it has no ideology except the ideology of wanton destruction. It must be eradicated through the collective efforts of the civilised world. India stands in solidarity with you as you confront this challenge,” he added.
Earlier yesterday, Mr. Mukherjee arrived here on the first leg of a three-nation visit to Africa that will also take him to Cote d'Ivoire and Namibia. This is the first ever state visit to Ghana by an Indian President. Mr Mukherjee is accompanied by a delegation of Parliamentarians representing diverse regions of India.
During the course of his speech, the President also quoted lines from a poem by Rabindranath Tagore that echoed the sentiments of solidarity of the people of India for decolonization of Africa and the anti-apartheid movement.
Describing Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as “a great son of Ghana and a visionary leader of Pan-Africanism,” Mr Mukherjee said he embodied Africa's dignity, and inspired the peoples and the governments of African countries to claim their rightful place in global affairs.

Mexico backs India's bid for NSG membership

Mexico on Wednesday expressed its "positive and constructive" support for India's bid for membership of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group even as the two countries agreed to upgrade their relationship to a strategic partnership.

Modi thanks Mexico for supporting India's NSG membership
Mexico today expressed its "positive and constructive" support for India's bid for membership of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) even as the two countries agreed to upgrade their relationship to a strategic partnership.
The support was expressed by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto during talks with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mexico City.
"I thank President Pena Nieto for Mexico's positive and constructive support for India's membership of the NSG," Mr. Modi said at a joint media interaction with Mr. Peña Nieto after their talks.
The two sides also agreed to work and develop a roadmap of concrete outcomes to upgrade their ties to a strategic partnership, he said.
This was the third meeting between the two leaders in the last two years and Mr. Modi said he had always found their conversations "deeply stimulating".
Mr. Modi recalled that Mexico was the first Latin American country to recognize India. 
"Since then, the trajectory of our all round bilateral ties has shown growing intensity. In 2007 we established Privileged Partnership.Today, during our conversations, President and I held productive discussions on the entire range of bilateral relations, and on global issues of mutual interests," he said.
Mr. Modi said ties of business and investment were an important driver of their relationship.
"Mexico is an important partner for India’s energy security. We are now looking to move beyond a buyer-seller relationship, and into a long-term partnership. Information technology, energy, pharmaceuticals, and automotive industries are among key growth areas of our commercial linkages," he said.
The Prime Minister said there was potential to expand their commercial and investment, and science and technology partnerships in new areas.
"In this regard, President and I agreed to find ways to deepen our cooperation in Space, and science and technology. We will also prioritize concrete projects in areas of agricultural research; bio-technology; waste management; disaster warning and management, and solar energy. I would like to particularly thank President Peña Nieto for his support to the International Solar Alliance. It will transform the global canvas for solar technology, especially for developing and Small Island Developing countries," he said.
Mr. Modi said that Mr. Peña Nieta and he recognized the opportunities and challenges of this century. 
"We both feel that our growing convergence on international issues allows us to join our capacities to strengthen international regimes of strategic importance," he said.
"I see in you a reformer and believer in the destiny of this country. I too am focused on reforming India's economic and governance structures. This is one area where our sharing of best practices can benefit both our societies. Friends, In his book 'In Light of India', the great author Octavio Paz wrote, "I can understand what it means to be Indian, because I am Mexican”. Of course, it is true the other way, too! I believe we have succeeded today in strengthening this mutual understanding further. It has been a wonderful visit. 
"Excellency, I once again thank you for your welcome, your friendship and belief in India-Mexico friendship. And, I look forward to welcoming you Señor Presidente in India at the earliest opportunity," he added.

Modi sends strong message to Pakistan from Capitol Hill

In a clear reference to Pakistan without naming it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that, although its shadow was spreading across the world, terrorism is incubated in India's neighbourhood and stressed that the fight against the evil had to be fought at many levels.

Modi addresses US Congress
In a clear reference to Pakistan without naming it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that, although its shadow was spreading across the world, terrorism is incubated in India's neighbourhood and stressed that the fight against the evil had to be fought at many levels.
Addressing members of the US Congress here on the last day of his three-day visit to the United States, he said commended them for sending a clear message to those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains. 
"Refusing to reward them is the first step towards holding them accountable for their actions," he said.
Referring to his visit to Herat in Western Afghanistan to inaugurate the Afghan-India Friendship Dam, a 42 MW hydro-electric project built with Indian assistance on the first leg of his trip, Mr. Modi recalled that he was also in Afghanistan on Christmas day last year to dedicate to that proud nation its Parliament, a testimony to their democratic ties. 
"Afghans naturally recognize that the sacrifices of American have helped create a better life. But, your contribution in keeping the region safe and secure is deeply appreciated even beyond. India too has made an enormous contribution and sacrifices to support our friendship with Afghan people. A commitment to rebuild a peaceful, and stable and prosperous Afghanistan our shared objective.
"Yet, not just in Afghanistan, but elsewhere in South Asia, and globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat. In the territory stretching from West of India's border to Africa, it may go by different names, from Laskhar-e-Taiba, to Taliban to ISIS. But, it’s philosophy is common: of hate, murder and violence," he said in a speech that received repeated applause and several standing ovations.
Mr. Modi said the traditional tools of military, intelligence or diplomacy alone would not be able to win the fight against terrorism.
"We have both lost civilians and soldiers in combating it. The need of the hour is for us to deepen our security cooperation. And, base it on a policy that isolates those who harbour, support and sponsor terrorists; does not distinguish between 'good' and 'bad' terrorists; and that delinks religion from terrorism," he said.
"Also, for us to succeed, those who believe in humanity must come together to fight for it as one, and speak against this menace in one voice. Terrorism must be delegitimized," he said.
Saying that the opportunity to address Congress was an honour for India, the world's largest democracy and its 1.25 billion people, Mr. Modi said, "This temple of democracy has encouraged and empowered other democracies the world over."
"It manifests the spirit of this great nation, which in Abraham Lincoln's words, 'was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal'," he said.
He said the threads of freedom and libery formed a strong bond between the two democracies, he said the two nations might have been shaped by differing histories, cultures, and faiths, but their belief in democracy and liberty for their countrymen was common.
"The idea that all citizens are created equal is a central pillar of the American constitution. Our founding fathers too shared the same belief and sought individual liberty for every citizen of India," he said.
"Today, across its streets and institutions, in its villages and cities, anchored in equal respect for all faiths; and in the melody of hundreds of its languages and dialects.India lives as one; India grows as one; India celebrates as one," he said.
Mr. Modi said that, for his government, the Constitution was its real holy book. 
"And, in that holy book, freedom of faith, speech and franchise, and equality of all citizens, regardless of background, are enshrined as fundamental rights. 800 million of my countrymen may exercise the freedom of franchise once every five years. But, all the 1.25 billion of our citizens have freedom from fear, a freedom they exercise every moment of their lives," he said.
Mr. Modi spoke about the engagement between the two democracies over the decades. He said Thoreau's idea of civil disobedience influenced Indians' political thoughts. 
"And, similarly the call by the great sage of India Swami Vivekananda to embrace humanity was most famously delivered in Chicago. Gandhi's non-violence inspired the heroism of Martin Luther King," he said.
"Our independence was ignited by the same idealism that fuelled your struggle for freedom. No wonder then that former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee called India and the U.S. 'natural allies'," he said.
"No wonder that the shared ideals and common philosophy of freedom shaped the bedrock of our ties. No wonder then, that President Obama has called our ties the defining partnership of the 21st century," he said.
Mr. Modi said the India-US relationship had overcome the hesitations of history. "Comfort, candour and convergence define our conversations. Through the cycle of elections and transitions of Administrations the intensity of our engagements has only grown. And, in this exciting journey, the U.S. Congress has acted as its compass," he said.
"You helped us turn barriers into bridges of partnership. In the fall of 2008, when the Congress passed the India-US Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, it changed the very colours of leaves of our relationship. 
"We thank you for being there when the partnership needed you the most. You have also stood by us in times of sorrow. India will never forget the solidarity shown by the US Congress when terrorists from across our border attacked Mumbai in November of 2008. And for this, we are grateful," he said.
Mr. Modi dwelt at length on the development partnership between the two countries through the past decades. He said the embrace of their partnership extended to the entirety of human endeavour-from the depths of the oceans to the vastness of the space. 
"Our S&T collaboration continues to helps us in cracking the age-old problems in the fields of public health, education, food, and agriculture. Ties of commerce and investment are flourishing. We trade more with the US than with any other nation. And, the flow of goods, services and capital between us generates jobs in both our societies. 
"As in trade, so in defence. India exercises with the United States more than we do with any other partner. Defence purchases have moved from almost zero to ten billion dollars in less than a decade. Our cooperation also secures our cities and citizens from terrorists, and protects our critical infrastructure from cyber threats. Civil nuclear cooperation, as I told President Obama yesterday, is a reality," he said.
Mr. Modi said the people-to-people links between the two countries were strong, and there was close cultural connect between their societies.
"SIRI tells us that India's ancient heritage of Yoga has over 30 million practitioners in the US. It is estimated that more Americans bend for yoga than to throw a curve ball. And, no Mr. Speaker, we have not yet claimed intellectual property right on yoga.
"Connecting our two nations is also a unique and dynamic bridge of three million Indian Americans. Today, they are among your best CEOs; academics; astronauts; scientists; economists; doctors; even spelling bee champions. They are your strength. They are also the pride of India. They symbolize the best of both our societies," he said.
Mr. Modi said that his understanding of America began long before he entered public office, having travelled coast to coast, covering more than 25 states in the country.
"I realized then that the real strength of the US was in the dreams of its people and the boldness of their ambitions. Today, ..  a similar spirit animates India. Our 800 million youth, especially, are particularly impatient. 
"India is undergoing a profound social and economic change. A billion of its citizens are already politically empowered. My dream is to economically empower them through many social and economic transformations. And, do so by 2022, the seventy-fifth anniversary of India's independence. 
"My to-do list is long and ambitious. But you will understand. It includes: a vibrant rural economy with robust farm sector; a roof over each head and electricity to all households; to skill millions of our youth; build 100 smart cities; have a broad band for a billion, and connect our villages to the digital world; and create a twenty-first century rail, road and port infrastructure.
"These are not just aspirations; they are goals to be reached in a finite time-frame. And, to be achieved with a light carbon foot print, with greater emphasis on renewables," he said.
The Prime Minister said that, in every sector of India's forward march, he saw the US as an indispensable partner. "Many of you also believe that a stronger and prosperous India is in America's strategic interest. Let us work together to convert shared ideals into practical cooperation. There can be no doubt that in advancing this relationship, both nations stand to gain in great measure."
"As the US businesses search for new areas of economic growth, markets for their goods, a pool of skilled resources, and global locations to produce and manufacture, India could be their ideal partner. India's strong economy, and growth rate of 7.6% per annum, is creating new opportunities for our mutual prosperity. 
"Transformative American technologies in India and growing investment by Indian companies in the United States both have a positive impact on the lives of our citizens. Today, for their global research and development centres, India is the destination of choice for the US companies. 
"Looking eastward from India, across the Pacific, the innovation strength of our two countries comes together in California. Here, the innovative genius of America and India's intellectual creativity are working to shape new industries of the future. 
"The 21st century has brought with it great opportunities. But, it also comes with its own set of challenges.Inter-dependence is increasing. But, while some parts of the world are islands of growing economic prosperity; other are mired in conflicts. In Asia, the absence of an agreed security architecture creates uncertainty. Threats of terror are expanding, and new challenges are emerging in cyber and outer-space.
"And, global institutions conceived in 20th century, seem unable to cope with new challenges or take on new responsibilities," he said.
"In this world full of multiple transitions and economic opportunities; growing uncertainties and political complexities; existing threats and new challenges; our engagement can make a difference by promoting cooperation not dominance; connectivity not isolation; respect for global commons; inclusive not exclusive mechanisms; and above all, adherence to international rules and norms," he said.
Mr. Modi said India was already assuming her responsibilities in securing the Indian Ocean region. 
"A strong India-US partnership can anchor peace, prosperity and stability from Asia to Africa and from Indian Ocean to the Pacific. It can also help ensure security of the sea lanes of commerce and freedom of navigation on seas. But, the effectiveness of our cooperation would increase if international institutions framed with the mindset of the 20th century were to reflect the realities of today," he said.
"The benefits of our partnership extend not just to the nations and regions that need it most. On our own, and by combining our capacities, we are also responding to other global challenges including when disaster strikes and where humanitarian relief is needed.
"Far from our shores, we evacuated thousands from Yemen, Indians, Americans and others. Nearer home, we were the first responders during Nepal's earthquake, in the Maldives water crisis and most recently during landslide in Sri Lanka. We are also one of the largest contributors of troops to UN Peace Keeping Operations.
"Often, India and the US have combined their strengths in science, technology and innovation to help fight hunger, poverty, diseases and illiteracy in different parts of the world. The success of our partnership is also opening up new opportunities for learning, security and development from Asia to Africa. 
"And, the protection of environment and caring for the planet is central to our shared vision of a just world. For us in India, to live in harmony with mother earth is part of our ancient belief. And, to take from nature only what is most essential is part of our civilizational ethos. 
"Our partnership, therefore, aims to balance responsibilities with capabilities. And, it also focuses on new ways to increase the availability and use of renewable energy. A strong US support for our initiative to form an International Solar Alliance is one such effort. We are working together not just for a better future for ourselves, but for the whole world. This has also been the goal of our efforts in G-20, East Asia Summit and Climate Change summits," he said.
Mr. Modi said that, as they deepened their partnership, there would be times when they would have differing perspectives.
"But, since our interests and concerns converge, the autonomy in decision making and diversity in our perspectives can only add value to our partnership. So, as we embark on a new journey, and seek new goals, let us focus not just on matters routine but transformational ideas. Ideas which can focus: not just on creating wealth but also creating value for our societies; not just on immediate gains but also long term benefits; not just on sharing best practices but also shaping partnerships; and not just on building a bright future for our peoples, but in being a bridge to a more united, humane and prosperous world. 
"And, important for the success of this journey would be a need to view it with new eyes and new sensitivities. When we do this, we will realise the full promise of this extraordinary relationship.
"My final thoughts and words would reiterate that our relationship is primed for a momentous future. The constraints of the past are behind us and foundations of the future are firmly in place. 
"In the lines of Walt Whitman, 'The Orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal'. And to that, if I might add, there is a new symphony in play," he said.

Modi says India poised to be new engine of global growth

India can be new engine of global growth: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that India was poised to contribute as a new engine of global growth  and asserted that a larger Indian economy would have multiple benefits for the word.
"Several parts of the world are still facing very difficult conditions. This is a time when the world needs new engines of growth. From the point of view of the world’s oldest democracy, obviously it would be nice if the new engines are democratic engines," he said in his keynote speech at the 40th annual general meeting of the US India Business Council (USIBC).
"Obviously, India presents a large and growing market. But India is much more than a market. India is a reliable partner; a source of high quality scientific, engineering and managerial talent; a crucible of development ideas and experiments; an efficient source of high quality R&D; and a testimony that democracy and rapid growth can co-exist," he said.
Mr. Modi said that, as it embarks on a new era of development, India needed to learn much from America’s tradition of entrepreneurship and innovation. "America remains at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation from air traffic control to air quality improvement, from drugs to drones, from hybrid cars to hydro fracking," he said.
"Indeed, to me, America is not just a country with a great past; it is a country with an exciting future. I am therefore sure, that ours will be a partnership which sees both nations benefit," he said.
Mr. Modi dwelt at length on the various initiatives taken by his government to achieve long-term sustainable economic growth and the efforts made in areas such as economic reforms and improve the ease of doing of business in India.
He also outlined the path that the government would follow in the coming years and declared that it would continue to have disciplined and prudent macro-economic policies. 
"I firmly believe that sound macro-economic fundamentals are a necessary foundation for long term sustainable growth.
"Secondly, we will combine this with a continued stress on inclusion and equity. This is to ensure the fruits of development accrue not to a few, not to many but to all Indians. And this will also mean continuing our attack on corruption.
"Thirdly, we will continue to make progress on improving the investment climate and ease of doing business. We want to make India a destination which not only welcomes business but where it is easy to do business. We have largely achieved the first by drastically liberalizing our foreign direct investment policies. We have made a good beginning on the second and will continue to make further improvements," he said.
Mr. Modi said the government would continue to strengthen the  "Make in India” initiative. 
"It is not intended for only manufacturing for the domestic market or import substitution. It is as much about making world-class products and services for the whole globe. That is why, for us, improvements towards free trade are important. It is very important for us that developed countries open their markets, not only to goods from countries like India but also to services. I see this as a win-win proposition for the US and for India. India is the future human resource powerhouse of the world with a young hard-working population. In my vision, a partnership between American capital and innovation, and Indian human resources and entrepreneurship can be very powerful. I am convinced we can strengthen both our economies through such a partnership," he said.
The Prime Minister said the government would continue to make its tax policies more predictabe.
"We have made major strides towards predictability by signing a number of Advance Pricing Agreements with the United States. We are committed to taking this further. At the same time, like the US, we are cracking down on tax evasion and unfair tax avoidance," he said.
"We will continue to open up our defence sector. I am aware that licensing policies can sometimes slow down the process of investing in India’s defence sector. We are exploring a simpler and more efficient project licensing approach for defence. In the field of nuclear energy, we are purchasing six nuclear reactors from Westinghouse which will mark a new era in our nuclear and scientific cooperation. I was delighted when GE became one of the first companies to make a major investment in the newly liberalized railway sector. It is setting up a locomotive manufacturing plant in the relatively poor state of Bihar. I expect many more such investments," he said.
Stressing that the river Ganga had a special significance for India, Mr. Modi said the ‘Namami Gange” programme to clean the river was on the verge of taking off. 
"It will be a big priority over the coming years. This project offers major opportunities for American companies with their expertise in environmental engineering, water and sewage treatment and the like. This project is a high priority for my Government and our aim is to restore the Ganga to its pristine glory," he said.
"We have begun our journey towards a transformed India. A transformed India, with one sixth of humanity will mean a transformed world. The journey will be long. But the progress we have achieved so far, convinces me that we will reach our destination. I invite you to join us on that journey. It is a journey which offers the exciting possibility of not only building a better balance sheet for your company but of building a better India, building a better America, and building a better world," he said.
Mr. Modi also referred to the critical role of the Indian-American community in the US economy.
"It is rare that emigrants from one nation, who become immigrants in another, enjoy such high respect and repute in both countries. Indian-Americans are a powerful cementing force in our growing economic and cultural ties," he said.
Mr. Modi said that, in his two years in office, his government had managed to overcome various odds and register an impressive economic performance.
He went on to speak about the key elements of the government's policies. "My aim is to reform to transform. For me, reforms are those policies that transform the lives of ordinary citizens. In the last two years, we have taken a comprehensive package of reforms which go beyond more economic reforms. 
"I can classify them into four types. First, macro-economic policies to create a strong foundation; Second, policies to stimulate growth and employment through investment and trade, and to increase efficiency and productivity; Third, policies to ensure that growth benefits the poor and the weaker sections of society, including women and farmers; Fourth, a frontal attack on corruption," he said.
He gave details of the measures taken by the government in these areas and said the fiscal deficit and the balance of payments current account deficit had all fallen, while GDP growth, foreign exchange reserves, stock market valuations and investor confidence had increased.
"This success is the result of a series of well thought out policies. We have legislated a monetary framework with inflation targeting and an independent monetary policy committee to curb inflation. We embarked on a course of fiscal consolidation and our fiscal deficit has been reduced substantially in each of three budgets so far. Even while cutting the fiscal deficit, we have greatly increased productive public investment," he said.
He said the government had undertaken sweeping liberalization in foreign direct investment (FDI).
"We have put most sectors on automatic approval and opened up sectors like defence and railways to foreign investment. The long pending insurance law reform was successfully passed. Several insurance companies, including American companies, have already enhanced their investment in the insurance sector. We have taken major steps to increase the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ and have already begun climbing steeply in the global rankings. We are encouraging foreign and domestic investors to set up high quality and efficient manufacturing facilities. We have greatly enhanced investment in roads, railways, ports and waterways to improve logistics. We have made major process improvements in our ports to reduce the time taken for cargo to enter and exit. We admire the start up eco-system in your country. We are making a beginning in replicating it. Our Start-Up India programme has stimulated a new breed of innovators. In 2016, Bengaluru has become the fifth most preferred location for innovation centres. It was not even in the top 10 in 2015," he said.
"For our economy to succeed, we need a strong banking system. We inherited a system where cronyism and corruption were believed to be rampant in banking decisions and in appointments to public sector banks. I held the first ever retreat of a Prime Minister with bankers. We have set up clear performance measures and accountability mechanisms. We are committed to ensuring adequate capital. Interference in banking decisions has ended. A new process for appointments has been put in place under a Bank Boards Bureau. Credible and capable bankers have been appointed to head banks. For the first time since banks were nationalized 47 years ago private sector professionals have been appointed in key positions," he said.
Mr. Modi also mentioned the Jan Dhan Yojana, new social security scheme, programmes to ensure gender justice and empower women, girls' education, LPG connections for women in rural areas, the Mudra programme for financing self-employment and steps to boost agriculture.
"This brings me to an achievement that I think even our worst critics do not dispute. This is the change in levels of corruption. 
"We have taken decisive steps to curb corruption. I have already referred to what has been done in public sector banks. We removed discretion in allocation of key resources and moved to transparent auctions of mines, spectrum and FM radio licenses and we have plugged leakage through direct benefit transfer. We have revamped our personnel management to ensure that senior positions are held by persons of integrity. We have launched an on-going campaign against tax evasion and black money. The poor are the greatest beneficiaries of the reduction in corruption," he said.

Obama backs India's bid for membership of NSG

In a significant development, US President Barack Obama on Tuesday welcomed India's application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group and, reaffirming that India was ready for membership, called on NSG Participating Governments to support India's application when it comes up at the NSG Plenary later this month.

Modi meets US President Barack Obama in Washington
In a significant development, United States President Barack Obama on Tuesday welcomed India's application to join the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and, reaffirming that India was ready for membership, called on NSG Participating Governments to support India's application when it comes up at the NSG Plenary later this month.
In a joint statement issued here on Tuesday after summit-level talks between Mr. Obama and visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Washington also re-affirmed its support for India’s early membership of the Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement. 
"I am thankful for the help and support that my friend Barack Obama has extended with regard to membership in MTCR and NSG," Mr. Modi said.
The statement noted that the steps the two Governments had taken in the last two years through the US-India Contact Group,  including by addressing the nuclear liability issue, inter alia, through India’s ratification of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, had laid a strong foundation for a long-term partnership between US and Indian companies for building nuclear power plants in India. 
Culminating a decade of partnership on civil nuclear issues, the leaders welcomed the start of preparatory work on site in India for six AP 1000 reactors to be built by Westinghouse and noted the intention of India and the US Export-Import Bank to work together toward a competitive financing package for the project. 
Once completed, the project would be among the largest of its kind, fulfilling the promise of the US-India civil nuclear agreement and demonstrating a shared commitment to meet India’s growing energy needs while reducing reliance on fossil fuels, it said.
Both sides welcomed the announcement by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, and Westinghouse that engineering and site design work will begin immediately and the two sides will work toward finalizing the contractual arrangements by June 2017. 
Mr. Modi had arrived here on Monday afternoon on an official working visit. His meeting with Mr. Obama marked their third major bilateral summit.
The two leaders reviewed the deepening strategic partnership between the United States and India, which they said was rooted in shared values of freedom, democracy, universal human rights, tolerance and pluralism, equal opportunities for all citizens, and rule of law. They pledged to pursue new opportunities to bolster economic growth and sustainable development, promote peace and security at home and around the world, strengthen inclusive, democratic governance and respect for universal human rights, and provide global leadership on issues of shared interest. 
They welcomed the "significant progress" made in bilateral relations between India and the United States during their tenure, in accordance with the roadmaps set out in the Joint Statements issued during Mr. Modi’s visit to the United States in September 2014 and Mr. Obama’s visit to India in January 2015. They  affirmed the increasing convergence in their strategic perspectives and emphasized the need to remain closely invested in each other’s security and prosperity. 
The statement said the US and India shared common climate and clean energy interests and were close partners in the fight against climate change. 
"Leadership from both countries helped galvanize global action to combat climate change and culminated in the historic Paris Agreement reached last December. Both countries are committed to working together and with others to promote full implementation of the Paris Agreement to address the urgent threats posed by climate change. India and the United States recognize the urgency of climate change and share the goal of enabling entry into force of the Paris Agreement as early as possible. The United States reaffirms its commitment to join the Agreement as soon as possible this year. India similarly has begun its processes to work toward this shared objective. The leaders reiterated their commitment to pursue low greenhouse gas emission development strategies in the pre-2020 period and to develop long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies.
"In addition, the two countries resolved to work to adopt an HFC amendment in 2016 with increased financial support from donor countries to the Multilateral Fund to help developing countries with implementation, and an ambitious phasedown schedule, under the Montreal Protocol pursuant to the Dubai Pathway. The leaders resolved to work together at the upcoming International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly to reach a successful outcome to address greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation. Further, the two countries will pursue under the leadership of the G20 strong outcomes to promote improved heavy-duty vehicle standards and efficiency in accordance with their national priorities and capabilities," it said.
The leaders welcomed the signing of an MoU to Enhance Cooperation on Energy Security, Clean Energy and Climate Change, and an MOU on Cooperation in Gas Hydrates.
Reflecting Prime Minister Modi’s call to embrace wildlife conservation as a development imperative, the leaders welcomed the signing of an MOU to enhance cooperation on Wildlife Conservation and Combating Wildlife Trafficking. 
The US said it supported the Government of India’s ambitious national goals to install 175 GW of renewable power which includes 100 GW from solar power. 
It also welcomed the launch of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), recognized the critical role it can play in the development and deployment of solar power, and said it intended pursuing membership in the ISA. 
"To this end, and to strengthen ISA together, the United States and India will jointly launch the third Initiative of the ISA which will focus on off-grid solar for energy access at the Founding Conference of ISA in September, 2016 in India. The United States also remains committed, with other developed countries, to the goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation and adaptation action," it said.
The statement said the US was committed to bring to bear its technical capacity, resources and private sector, and was jointly launching with India new efforts, to spur greater investment in India’s renewable energy sector, including efforts that can serve as a model for other ISA Member Countries.
The two countries announced the creation of a $20 million US-India Clean Energy Finance (USICEF) initiative, equally supported by the US and India, which is expected to mobilize up to $400 million to provide clean and renewable electricity to up to 1 million households by 2020; a commitment to establish the U.S.-India Clean Energy Hub as the coordinating mechanism to focus United States Government efforts that, in partnership with leading Indian financial institutions, will increase renewable energy investment in India; a $40 million U.S.-India Catalytic Solar Finance Program, equally supported by the United States and India, that, by providing needed liquidity to smaller-scale renewable energy investments, particularly in poorer, rural villages that are not connected to the grid, could mobilize up to $1 billion of projects.
They also announced the expansion of handholding support to Indian utilities that are scaling up rooftop solar and continuation of successful cooperation with USAID on "Greening the Grid”. 
The statement said the two countries remained committed to the goals of Mission Innovation, which they jointly launched during COP-21 in Paris to double their respective clean energy research and development (R&D) investment in five years. Toward this end, the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate on research and development, including through the announcement of an upcoming $30 million public-private research effort in smart grid and grid storage. 
Mr. Obama thanked Mr. Modi for his substantive contribution to and active participation in 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., and welcomed his offer to host a Summit on Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism in 2018. The United States and India will work together to combat the threat of terrorists accessing and using chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological materials, it said.
Mr. Modi and Mr. Obama applauded the completion of a roadmap for cooperation under the 2015 US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, which will serve as a guide for collaboration in the years to come. They resolved that the United States and India should look to each other as priority partners in the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean region. 
The talks between the two leaders also covered topics such as maritime security and defence cooperation.
They applauded the enhanced military to military cooperation between the two countries especially in joint exercises, training and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR). They expressed their desire to explore agreements which would facilitate further expansion of bilateral defense cooperation in practical ways. In this regard, they welcomed the finalization of the text of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA). 
Noting that the US-India defense relationship can be an anchor of stability, and given the increasingly strengthened cooperation in defense, the US formally recognized India as a Major Defense Partner. 
As such, the US will continue to work toward facilitating technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners. The leaders reached an understanding under which India would receive license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies in conjunction with steps that India has committed to take to advance its export control objectives. 
In support of India’s Make In India initiative, and to support the development of robust defense industries and their integration into the global supply chain, the US will continue to facilitate the export of goods and technologies, consistent with U.S. law, for projects, programs and joint ventures in support of official US-India defence cooperation. 
The leaders also committed to enhance cooperation in support of the Government of India’s Make in India Initiative and expand the co-production and co-development of technologies under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI). They welcomed the establishment of new DTTI working groups to include agreed items covering Naval Systems, Air Systems, and other Weapons Systems. The leaders announced the finalization of the text of an Information Exchange Annex under the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation. 
Other topics that came up for discussion include cooperation in space and cyberspace.
Emphasizing that cyberspace enables economic growth and development, and reaffirming their commitment to an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet, underpinned by the multistakeholder model of Internet governance, they committed to deepen cooperation on cybersecurity and welcomed the understanding reached to finalize the Framework for the US-India Cyber Relationship in the near term.
They committed to enhance cyber collaboration on critical infrastructure, cybercrime, and malicious cyber activity by state and non-state actors, capacity building, and cybersecurity research and development, and to continue discussions on all aspects of trade in technology and related services, including market access. They have committed to continue dialogue and engagement in Internet governance fora, including in ICANN, IGF and other venues, and to support active participation by all stakeholders of the two countries in these fora. The leaders committed to promote stability in cyberspace based on the applicability of international law including the United Nations Charter, the promotion of voluntary norms of responsible state behavior during peacetime, and the development and implementation of practical confidence building measures between states. 
In this context, they affirmed their commitment to the voluntary norms that no country should conduct or knowingly support online activity that intentionally damages critical infrastructure or otherwise impairs the use of it to provide services to the public; that no country should conduct or knowingly support activity intended to prevent national computer security incident response teams from responding to cyber incidents, or use its own teams to enable online activity that is intended to do harm; that every country should cooperate, consistent with its domestic law and international obligations, with requests for assistance from other states in mitigating malicious cyber activity emanating from its territory; and that no country should conduct or knowingly support ICT-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to its companies or commercial sectors. 
The leaders acknowledged the continued threat posed to human civilization by terrorism and condemn the recent terrorist incidents from Paris to Pathankot, from Brussels to Kabul. They resolved to redouble their efforts, bilaterally and with other like-minded countries, to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism anywhere in the world and the infrastructure that supports them. 
Building on the January 2015 US-India Joint Statement commitment to make the US-India partnership a defining counterterrorism relationship for the 21st Century, as well as the September 2015 US-India Joint Declaration on Combatting Terrorism, the leaders announced further steps to deepen collaboration against the full spectrum of terrorist threats. 
The leaders committed to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from extremist groups, such as Al-Qa’ida, Da’esh/ISIL, Jaish-e Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, D Company and their affiliates, including through deepened collaboration on UN terrorist designations. In this context, they directed their officials to identify specific new areas of collaboration at the next meeting of US–India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group. 
Recognizing an important milestone in the US-India counterterrorism partnership, the leaders applauded the finalization of an arrangement to facilitate the sharing of terrorist screening information. They also called for Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot terrorist attacks to justice. 
The leaders affirmed their support for a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that advances and strengthens the framework for global cooperation and reinforces that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism. 
Mr. Modi and Mr. Obama highlighted the strong and expanding economic relationship between the two countries and committed to support sustainable, inclusive, and robust economic growth, and common efforts to stimulate consumer demand, job creation, skill development and innovation in their respective countries. 
In order to substantially increase bilateral trade, they pledged to explore new opportunities to break down barriers to the movement of goods and services, and support deeper integration into global supply chains, thereby creating jobs and generating prosperity in both economies.
The leaders applauded the strong bonds of friendship between the 1.5 billion peoples of India and the United States that have provided a solid foundation for a flourishing bilateral partnership, noting that two-way travel for tourism, business, and education has seen unprecedented growth, including more than one million travelers from India to the United States in 2015, and similar number from the United States to India.
They resolved to facilitate greater movement of professionals, investors and business travelers, students, and exchange visitors between their countries to enhance people-to-people contact as well as their economic and technological partnership. To this end, they welcomed the signing of an MOU for Development of an International Expedited Traveler Initiative (also known as the Global Entry Program) and resolved to complete within the next three months the procedures for India’s entry into the Global Entry Program. 
The US welcomes India’s interest in joining the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, as India is a dynamic part of the Asian economy. 
The leaders affirmed their nations’ mutual support in exploring the most fundamental principles of science as embodied in the arrangement reached to cooperate on building a Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in India in the near future and welcomed the formation of the India-US Joint Oversight Group to facilitate agency coordination of funding and oversight of the project. 
The two sides reaffirmed their resolve to continue working together as well as with the wider international community to augment the capacity of the United Nations to more effectively address the global development and security challenges. With the historic adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015, and recognizing its universality, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to implement this ambitious agenda domestically and internationally and work in a collaborative partnership for the effective achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. 
The leaders reaffirmed their support for a reformed UN Security Council with India as a permanent member. Both sides committed to ensuring that the Security Council continues to play an effective role in maintaining international peace and security as envisioned in the UN Charter. The leaders said they were committed to continued engagement on Security Council reform in the UN Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Security Council Reform. 
Both sides committed to open additional consulates in each other’s country. India will be opening a new consulate in Seattle and the United States will open a new consulate at a mutually agreed location in India, the statement said.
The leaders announced that the US and India will be Travel and Tourism Partner Countries for 2017, and committed to facilitate visas for each other’s nationals. 

Modi arrives in Washington, interacts with think tanks

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Washington on Monday afternoon at the start of a two-day visit to the United States and had an interaction with think tanks which included the Brookings Institution, the Atlantic Council and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, among others.

Modi interacts with think tanks in Washington
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived here on Monday afternoon at the start of a two-day visit to the United States and had an interaction with think tanks which included the Brookings Institution, the Atlantic Council and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, among others.
Soon after touching down at Andrews Air Force Base, Mr. Modi laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at the Arlington Cemetery. He was received there by US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter and other senior officials.
He also laid a wreath at the Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial. Mr. Jean Pierre Harrison, husband of India-born astronaut Kalpana Chawla - who perished in the Columbia tragedy - was present. Astronaut Sunita Williams was also among those who were present on the occasion. 
Mr. Modi also attended a ceremony for the return of stolen idols to India. US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that the process had begun for returning as many as 200 stolen artefacts to India, with 12 having been returned so far. 
Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said that heritage can be a great binding force between nations. He said that, for some, the value of these artefacts may be measured in monetary terms, but for people in India, their value is beyond that, because they are part of their culture and heritage. 
"I am grateful to President Obama for returning to us these treasures which join us to our past," he said.
He said that, over the past two years, several countries had endeavoured to return India's stolen cultural heritage.
"Many tourists don't want to see only modern sites. They want to see the rich history a place offers and the historical culture. People are attracted to India for its ancient civilisation. We have towns dating back 5000 years
"These treasures are to be enjoyed by the entire world. Technology can help us catch those indulging in illicit trafficking," he said.
"My gratitude to the US Govt for the sensitivity shown to India's heritage. This will evoke  great  respect among the people of India
"Both governments and laws have become more alert about trafficking of cultural artefacts and are working to prevent it," he added.

Modi says India's image has been enhanced globally

India's global image improving because of 125 crore Indians: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that India's image had been enhanced globally in recent times and that there was tremendous enthusiasm towards the country across the world.
Addressing members of the Indian community here at the end of a two-day visit to Qatar, he said this change was due to the 125 crore people of India. 
"When there is a spurt in national confidence and a surge in your global image, your desire to strive for the country is ignited," he said.
He said global agencies were in agreement that India was today the world’s fastest growing major economy. He said that the country had achieved 7.9 percent growth in GDP in the last quarter of 2015-16 despite the global slowdown and the poor rains for the last two years.
He said global purchasing power had gone down and adversely affected India's exports but despite all this the country had clocked a high growth rate.
The Prime Minister said corruption had troubled India for long, and his Government was determined to eliminate it and introduce fiscal discipline and economic reforms.
He said that his Qatar visit witnessed fruitful and comprehensive deliberations that will usher in a new era of strong friendship between the two nations. He expressed gratitude to the people and Government of Qatar for their exceptional warmth and hospitality during the visit. 
"When the leaders of other nations I visit praise the achievements of our diaspora, my heart fills with pride and joy," he told the gathering.
"People of India in Qatar are never away from India even for a minute. They are re-living India on the soil of Qatar," he added.

India, Qatar agree to expand ties, set up panel to review bilateral matters

India and Qatar on Sunday agreed to further broaden and deepen bilateral engagement in diverse fields of mutual interest and to constitute an inter-ministerial High Level Joint Committee to regularly review all bilateral matters, as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Modi receives ceremonial welcome at Emiri Diwan in Qatar
India and Qatar today agreed to further broaden and deepen bilateral engagement in diverse fields of mutual interest and to constitute an inter-ministerial High Level Joint Committee to regularly review all bilateral matters, as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest.
At talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the two sides also agreed to further enhance high-level political exchanges, defence and security cooperation, trade and economic relations and people-to-people exchanges.
Mr. Modi and Sheikh Tamim exchanged views on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of common interest. "The wide-ranging discussions were held in a cordial and friendly atmosphere," a joint statement issued by the two sides after the talks held.
They stressed upon the need for building a strong partnership for the 21st century between the two countries in keeping with their responsibility for promoting peace, stability and security in the region and the world.
During the two-day visit, Mr. Modi also met Qatar Prime Minister  and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
Mr. Modi reached here yesterday on the second leg of a five-nation visit that took him first to Afghanistan and will now take him to Switzerland, the United States and Mexico.
During the meetings, the two sides recalled the historical ties between India and Qatar and noted that the mutually beneficial and traditionally close interaction, which has existed between the peoples of the two countries over several generations, had stood the test of time.
The leaders of the two sides expressed satisfaction with the current state of bilateral relations underpinned by the regular exchange of high-level visits. They welcomed the conclusion of various agreements and MoUs during Mr. Modi's visit and acknowledged that these agreements and those already existing would strengthen the framework for the consolidation of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.
Both leaders appreciated the well-functioning bilateral institutional mechanisms in the fields of trade and investment, energy, defence and manpower and emphasized that the sectoral Joint Working Groups should continue to meet regularly to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries. 
Acknowledging that the agreement on Defence Cooperation signed in November 2008 provided the required framework to strengthen bilateral defence ties, the two leaders agreed to provide further impetus to these relations, including through joint exercises and enhanced training of naval, air and land forces, as also in the area of coastal defence. The Qatari side evinced interest in the opportunities offered under the 'Make in India' initiative for joint production of defence equipment in India.
The Qatari side expressed appreciation for India's offer to conduct special training programmes for the personnel of Qatar Armed Forces and Coast Guard in India and in Qatar.
The two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean regions, vital for the security and prosperity of both countries.
Mr. Modi and Sheikh Tamim expressed strong condemnation of the phenomenon of international terrorism, reiterating their firm resolve to cooperate together to root out this global menace which threatened all nations and societies. 
Both leaders condemned all acts of violence, terrorism and extremism, which cannot be justified under any circumstances, regardless of their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations. They reaffirmed that terrorism could not and should not be associated with any religion, civilisation or ethnic group.
The two leaders highlighted the need to isolate the sponsors and supporters of terrorism and agreed that urgent action against all such entities, which support terrorism and use it as an instrument of policy, must be taken.
Both sides noted that addressing the menace of global terrorism should be based on a comprehensive approach which should include, but not limited to, countering violent extremism, combating radicalisation and recruitment, disrupting terrorist movements, stopping all sources for financing of terrorism, stopping flow of foreign terrorist fighters, dismantling terrorist infrastructure, and countering terrorist propaganda through the internet.
The two sides discussed ways and means to further promote cooperation in cyber security, including prevention of use of cyber space for terrorism, radicalization and for disturbing social harmony. 
Expressing appreciation of their ongoing bilateral cooperation in the area of security, the two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism operations, intelligence-sharing, developing best practices and technologies, capacity-building and to strengthen cooperation in law enforcement, anti-money laundering, drug-trafficking and other transnational crimes. The two sides further agreed to take action against illegal transfer of money. Both leaders welcomed the signing of an MoU on cooperation in exchange of intelligence related to money laundering, related crimes and terrorism financing.
Both leaders highlighted that countering terrorism required a strong collective action by the global community. They further agreed to strengthen their cooperation in combating terrorism within the relevant multilateral institutions.
The statement said the two sides described bilateral trade ties as an abiding link between the two countries. They agreed upon the need to further strengthen these ties, particularly through diversifying the trade basket. 
The Qatari side welcomed the participation of Indian companies in the infrastructure development projects in Qatar in preparation for the FIFA 2022 World Cup and the development plans under "Vision 2030 for Qatar”.
Mr. Modi highlighted the major initiatives taken by the Government of India for ‘Ease of Doing Business’ through simplification and rationalization of existing rules and relaxing of foreign direct investment caps in key areas, including interalia, railways, defence and insurance. Informing about the plans to create world class infrastructure in India through 100 smart cities; metro projects for 50 cities; modern waste management system for 500 cities; affordable healthcare within everyone's reach; sanitation for all by 2019; and a roof over every head by 2022, Prime Minister Modi invited Qatar to be a partner in India’s growth story.
Recognizing the high growth rate and the existing potential of the Indian economy, the importance of partnering in India’s growth and acknowledging Qatar's significant investment capacity, the two sides discussed various avenues/instruments for Qatari investments in India, particularly in different asset classes and various infrastructure sectors as well as the disinvestments of Indian public sector undertakings.
The two sides agreed to increase the level of participation in infrastructure projects in both countries. They further deliberated upon the importance of cooperation between Qatar Investment Authority and National Infrastructure and Investment Fund set up by the Government of India. The two leaders welcomed the signing of the framework agreement for participation of the Qatari institutional investors in the National Infrastructure and Investment Fund.
The two sides expressed satisfaction at the growing bilateral trade in the energy sector, with Qatar being the largest supplier of LNG and LPG to India. The Indian side appreciated Qatar's contribution to India's energy security. The two sides agreed to focus on enhancing cooperation in energy, covering the areas of training and human resources development and cooperation in research and development and through promotion of joint ventures in petrochemical complexes and cooperation in joint exploration in India and other countries.
The Indian side highlighted the interest of its energy companies to pursue opportunities of mutual interest in Qatar, with Qatar Petroleum and other companies, in order to jointly explore new fields as well development of discovered oil and gas assets and exploit the existing resources of natural gas and crude oil in Qatar.
The Indian side invited Qatar to invest in India’s exploration & production sector by bidding for the exploration blocks in India under the new "Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing” Policy and "Discovered Small Fields” Policy.
The Indian side invited Qatar to participate in the second phase of the strategic reserves storage facility being created in India.
The discussions also covered areas such as cooperation in the financial services sector, health and solar energy.
The two sides also discussed ways of strengthening cultural exchanges, sports cooperation and people-to-people contacts.
The two leaders exchanged views on the security situation in West Asia, Middle East and South Asia. They also expressed grave concern regarding security situation in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen and reiterated the importance of peaceful resolution of these issues through dialogue and political negotiations.
In the context of the UN reforms, both leaders emphasized the importance of an effective multilateral system, centred on a UN reflective of contemporary realities, as a key factor in tackling global challenges. They stressed upon the urgent need to pursue UN reforms, including of the Security Council through an expansion in both categories of its membership, to make it more representative, credible and effective.

India-UAE air combat exercise, Desert Eagle-II, concludes

Desert Eagle II, the second in the series of bilateral air exercises between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAE AF), concluded on June 3 at the Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE.
The ten-day air combat exercise saw IAF Su 30 MKI participating along with Mirage 2000-9 and F-16 block 60 of the UAE AF.
Defence cooperation between the two nations gained momentum after signing of the ‘Agreement of Defence Co-operation’ during the visit of the Chief of Staff of UAE Armed Forces to India in 2003, an official press release said. The IAF had participated previously in Desert Eagle I in 2008. 
While referring to the overall exercise, team leader Gp Capt H Assudhani said, “This was an excellent opportunity for both the Air Forces to learn from each other and exchange best practices which in turn would be mutually beneficial.”
A wide variety of missions were flown under the Beyond Visual Range (BVR) environment with varied levels of complexities. Mission commanders from both sides participated in the exercise and availed the opportunity to the maximum to draw valuable operational lessons.
Despite the predominantly hot and arid conditions with temperatures well beyond 40 deg Celsius, IAF maintenance support staff succeeded in maintaining high serviceability state of aircraft and equipment, the release added.

Modi interacts with Indian workers in Doha at start of Qatar visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with Indian workers at a project site at Mesheireb in Doha on Saturday evening at the start of a two-day visit to Qatar on the second leg of a five-nation tour that had taken him to Afghanistan earlier in the day.

Modi arrives in Doha on two-day visit to Qatar
Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with Indian workers at a project site at Mesheireb in Doha this evening at the start of a two-day visit to Qatar on the second leg of a five-nation tour that had taken him to Afghanistan earlier in the day.
Addressing the assembled workers, he said that his first engagement after arriving in Doha was to meet them. 
He said he was aware of the issues being faced by them, and raises them with the Qatari leadership whenever he meets them. 
Earlier in the evening, in a special gesture, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser al Thani received Mr. Modi on his arrival at the Doha airport.
The Prime Minister, who briefly visited a medical camp on the site, before arriving for the interaction, complimented the doctors for the good work they have been doing. 
"India's global image is not made by its Prime Minister or its Ambassador. It is all of you through your behaviour who earn India a good name. This global goodwill is the biggest international reserve currency," he said.
Mr. Modi recalled that Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, had, during his visit to India last year, praised the unmatched contribution of the Indian community in the Gulf State to its development.
"I believe that the leadership in the Gulf has a lot of love and belief in the Indian community here," he said.
"Do work hard but, while doing so, please do focus on keeping your health and body fighting fit," he advised the workers. "If you have some issues on changing some rules and regulations, I will work with you all to bring about these changes," he added.
After concluding his address, the Prime Minister moved from table to table, interacting with groups of workers, and sat down to share a meal with some of them. 
Mr. Modi's first day in Doha ended with a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah, who also hosted a banquet in his honour. He is due to meet Sheikh Tamim for bilateral talks tomorrow.
The Prime Minister will also travel to Switzerland, the United States and Mexico before flying back home.
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