US, UK condemn terror attack on Army base in Uri

The United States and the United Kingdom have strongly condemned the terror attack on an Army administrative base at Uri in Jammu & Kashmir on Sunday morning, in which 17 soldiers and four terrorists were killed.
"The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack on an Indian army base in Kashmir during the early morning of September 18," Assistant Secretary and State Department spokesperson John Kirby said.
"We extend our condolences to the victims and their families. The United States is committed to our strong partnership with the Indian government to combat terrorism," he said.
In London, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and offered his deepest condolences to the victims and their families and friends.
"The UK condemns all forms of terrorism, and stands shoulder to shoulder with India in the fight against terrorism, and in bringing the perpetrators to justice," he added.

India says NAM must cooperate to combat terrorism

Vice-President Mohammed Hamid Ansari addrsssing the plenary session of the 17th Non-Aligned Movement Summit at Margarita Island in Venezuela on September 17, 2016.
Vice-President Mohammed Hamid Ansari addrsssing the plenary session of the 17th Non-Aligned Movement Summit at Margarita Island in Venezuela on September 17, 2016.
India has called upon the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to establish a mechanism that will ensure effective cooperation in combating terrorism that has emerged as the main threat to the security, sovereignty and development of nations across the world.
"You will agree that the time has come for our movement to recognize the need for concrete action in the fight against terrorism," Vice-President Mohammed Hamid Ansari, the leader of the Indian delegation, said at the plenary session of the 17th NAM Summit on Margarita Island in Venezuela on Saturday.
Mr. Ansari said that the biggest threat to international peace, and to the sovereignty of States today was the phenomenon of terrorism. 
"No cause justifies the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians as a means to achieve a political goal or change of policies. Terrorism is one of the most egregious sources of human right violations today, and its use as an instrument of State policy is to be unequivocally condemned. It has become a major impediment to development.
"It is therefore imperative for the Non-Aligned Movement to galvanize the international community to strengthen the international legal framework to address this menace,including by adopting the draft Comprehensive UN Convention on Terrorism, to ensure the closest cooperation amongst the international community to counter the scourge of terror," he said.
Mr. Ansari said the movement must also ensure that all existing structures that are the building blocks of UN’s Global Counter Terrorism Strategy functioned in a non-partisan and professional manner.
He noted that the world of today would certainly appear very different to the founding leaders of the movement who took the initiative to meet in Belgrade in 1961. 
"While the global landscape has changed, the values and principles on which they laid the foundations of our Movement, namely 'respect for sovereignty', 'peaceful settlement of disputes' and 'international cooperation' – are as relevant today as they were at the time of our first Summit," he said.
Mr. Ansari said NAM's theme for the next three years – "Peace, Sovereignty and Solidarity for Development” – was in congruence with its founding principles.
"We do believe that cooperation, and Development Cooperation, is an essential means of promoting and developing international solidarity, of putting a human face on the impact of economic globalization. This becomes all the more important in the light of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Agenda 2030 which, if implemented successfully, will transform the lives of all our citizens. It would be a reaffirmation of our commitment as a Movement to ensure the dignity and development of all humankind," he said.
"As a Movement that has stood steadfastly in the forefront by highlighting global economic issues that affect the developing world, we must ensure wholehearted and holistic implementation of the SDGs and remain attentive to any effort to modify or distort Agenda 2030 by laying overemphasis on particular SDGs over others, or by trying to create a standard of measurement that could be intrusive and has no relationship to national contexts," he said.
The Vice-President said sustainable development was both the bedrock and the highest aspiration of NAM's efforts; hence the importance of solidarity that this Movement attaches to achieving it.
"This is epitomised in the theme of the Summit – Solidarity for Development," he said.
"The other two elements of our triad of objectives – Peace and Sovereignty – are a pre-requisite for development. A peaceful global environment is essential for development and for development cooperation; such cooperation must be undertaken in exercise of the sovereign will of each member of the community of nations. The interdependence of the three is thus evident and essential. The impediments to each must also be discerned clearly," he said.
Mr. Ansari said United Nations lay at the heart of the multilateral system set up at the end of the Second World War.
"Today we need to ask whether an organization designed in 1945 with just 51 member States, is really appropriate to serve the needs of an international community that now comprises 193 independent sovereign States facing 21st century challenges to their citizens’ well-being and security.
"World leaders at their Summit at the UN in 2005 had called for urgent reform of the Security Council as part of the effort to make the United Nations fit for the 21st century. The Inter-governmental Negotiations process currently underway in the UN General Assembly seeks to fulfil that mandate. We must use the forthcoming 71st UNGA to ensure that our discussions in the IGN move forward," he said.
He said that, as the largest peace movement of the world, NAM must be in the vanguard of the principal international debates on political, strategic and even economic and social issues to achieve that ideal. 
"I do hope that one of the priorities during your Chairmanship of this Movement will be to modernize the manner in which we function. We began a discussion on this at the Cartagena Summit in 1995; this discussion must continue and fructify so that NAM may achieve its full potential," he added.

Minor earthquake shakes Bhutan

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale, shook Bhutan today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 27.1°N and longitude 90.0°E, occurred at 1647 hours IST at a focal depth of 25 km, an IMD bulletin added.

US agrees to be partner country for Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017

United States Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal at a meeting with a delegation from Gujarat led by Mr. Bharat Lal, the state's Resident Commissioner in Delhi. in Washington on September 15, 2016.
United States Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal at a meeting with a delegation from Gujarat led by Mr. Bharat Lal, the state's Resident Commissioner in Delhi. in Washington on September 15, 2016.
The United States has agreed to participate as a Partner Country in the eighth edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit that will be held in Gandhinagar from January 10-13, 2017.
The announcement was made by US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal at a meeting with a delegation from Gujarat led by Mr. Bharat Lal, the state's Resident Commissioner in Delhi. here on Thursday.
India's Charge d'Affaires in Washington Taranjit Singh Sandhu and other Indian officials were present at the meeting.
Others present at the meeting included Special Assistant to the US President and Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council Peter Lavoy; U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets Arun Kumar; Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin; and Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs Ziad Haider.
During the meeting, Ms. Biswal praised Gujarat's efforts to become a model of innovation and sustainable economic growth and reform for India, a press release from the Department of State said.
The Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, which was started in 2003 to rekindle the pace of investments in the state, is a biennial investors' summit that brings together global business leaders, investors, corporations, thought leaders, and policymakers.
It has, over the years, become one of the most important business events in India.
The event is now positioned as a forum for ideation, knowledge sharing, networking, explore business opportunities, signing cooperation agreements and partnerships and setting the policy agenda to meet some of the current national challenges.
The 2017 summit is expected to bring together Heads of States and Governments, Ministers, executives from the corporate world, senior policy makers, heads of international institutions and academia from around the world.
Mr. Lal and his delegation were in Washington as part of a trip that earlier took them to Toronto and Montreal in Canada and to Houston and Chicago in the United States. The delegation later travelled to New York. In all these places, they held road shows about the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit and held meetings with leaders of business and industry to brief them about the investment opportunities available in Gujarat.

Pope Francis declares Mother Teresa a saint

Pope declares Mother Teresa a saint
Pope Francis today proclaimed Mother Teresa, the Albanian-Indian nun who founded the Kolkata-based Missionaries of Charity, a saint, praising her for serving the most needy and unwanted and for shaming the powers of the world for the crimes of poverty they created.
"We decree and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a saint, and we place her name in the catalogue of Saints, decreeing that in the universal Church she is to be venerated among the Saints with pious devotion," he said as he celebrated the Rite of Canonization at a mass offered in St Peter’s Square here.
"She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime – the crimes! – of poverty they created," he said.
For Mother Teresa, who died on September 5, 1997, mercy was the “salt” which gave flavour to her work, it was the “light” which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering, he said.
Pope Francis said there were always two protagonists in history: God and man. "Our task is to perceive the call of God and then to do his will. But in order to do his will, we must ask ourselves, 'What is God’s will in my life?'"
He went on to say that God is pleased by every act of mercy, "because in the brother or sister that we assist, we recognize the face of God which no one can see".
He said it took a certain daring and courage to recognize the divine Master in the poorest of the poor and those who are cast aside, and to give oneself in their service. 
"Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded. 
"She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that 'the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable'. She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime – the crimes! – of poverty they created," he said.
"Her mission to the urban and existential peripheries remains for us today an eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor. Today, I pass on this emblematic figure of womanhood and of consecrated life to the whole world of volunteers: may she be your model of holiness! 
"I think, perhaps, we may have some difficult in calling her 'Saint Teresa': her holiness is so near to us, so tender and so fruitful that we continue to spontaneously call her 'Mother Teresa'. May this tireless worker of mercy help us increasingly to understand that our only criterion for action is gratuitous love, free from every ideology and all obligations, offered freely to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion.
"Mother Teresa loved to say, 'Perhaps I don’t speak their language, but I can smile'. Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer. In this way, we will open up opportunities of joy and hope for our many brothers and sisters who are discouraged and who stand in need of understanding and tenderness," he added.
The tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square erupted into applause even before Francis finished pronouncing the rite of canonization.
Nuns and volunteers of the Missionaries of Charity order gathered at its headquarters in Kolkata and in other cities across India and the world to watch the live telecast of the mass.
About 250 nuns of the order, dressed in their trademark white sarees with blue borders, were seated in the front rows at the mass, along with 1,500 homeless people and official delegations from several countries, including 13 heads of state or government.
The Indian delegation to the canonization was led by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was amongst those present.
In keeping with the spirit of Mother Teresa, the Pope later offered Neapolitan pizza to the 1,500 homeless people invited to the canonization in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall.
The invitees were poor and needy people, especially from the houses of Sisters of Mother Teresa from places such as Milan, Bologna, Florence, Naples and all the houses in Rome.
Born as Agnes Bojaxhiu Gonxha in Skopje, on August 26, 1910, Teresa entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland in 1928 to pursue her desire to serve as a missionary. She went to India in 1929, professed first vows in May 1931 and perpetual vows in May 1937. She spent 20 years teaching in a school in Darjeeling.
In 1948, she obtained ecclesiastical permission to begin her apostolate in the slums of Calcutta. The Missionaries of Charity became a Religious Congregation of diocesan right on October 7, 1950 and were raised to a Congregation of pontifical right on February 1, 1965. When she died in 1997, the Congregation numbered 3,842 Sisters working in 594 houses in 120 nations. Soon after her death, Vatican had put her on a fast-track for sainthood.
Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. The Government of India honoured her with the Bharat Ratna, the coutry's highest civilian honour, in 1980.

China willing to work to maintain hard-won sound ties with India: Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Hangzhou on Sunday, ahead of the 11th G20 Summit, and told him Beijing was willing to work with India to maintain their "hard-won sound relations" and strengthen their cooperation.

Modi meets Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of G20 Summit
Chinese President Xi Jinping met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here today, ahead of the 11th G20 Summit, and told him Beijing was willing to work with India to maintain their "hard-won sound relations" and strengthen their cooperation.
"China is willing to work with India to maintain their hard-won sound relations and further advance their cooperation," Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, quoted Mr. Xi as saying at the meeting.
Mr. Modi said the India-China partnership was important not just for the region, but the entire world.
He stressed that both countries must be sensitive to each other's strategic interests and ensure that there were no negative perceptions about each other.
He said India had worked to forge closer ties with China and strengthen their development partnership by ensuring peace and tranquility on their border and working for stronger cultural and people-to-people contacts.
Mr. Modi, who reached here yesterday evening after a two-day visit to Vietnam, was accorded a warm reception on his arrival at the Hangzhou airport. 
The meeting with Mr. Xi was his first engagement here. It was also their first meeting since China stalled India's bid for membership of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in late June by insisting that it must first sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
India has consistently refused to sign the NPT, describing it as discriminatory, but has always insisted that it has been adhering to all non-proliferation norms on a voluntary basis.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that it was a "cordial" meeting, which Mr. Xi noted was their eighth in the last two years.
Mr. Modi said this could become Asia's century only if all Asian countries took responsibility for taking steps to make the dream a reality. He said the people of India and China expected their leaders to take concrete steps for their progress, development and prosperity.

Modi visits Quan Su Pagoda in Hanoi, interacts with monks

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today visited the Quan Su Pagoda in Hanoi and offered prayers.
Interacting with the monks, the Prime Minister said that he was fortunate to visit the Pagoda. India’s first President Rajendra Prasad had visited this shrine in 1959, he added.
Noting that links between India and Vietnam were 2000 years old, Mr Modi said that while some came to make war, India had come with the message of peace – the message of Buddha, which has endured.
He said the world must walk on the path of peace, which brings happiness and prosperity. Buddhism took the sea route from India to Vietnam, and therefore Vietnam has received the purest form of Buddhism. He said he has seen a glow on the faces of the monks who have been to India and a great curiosity on the faces of those who wish to travel to the country.
The Prime Minister invited them to visit the land of the Buddha, and especially Varanasi, which Mr Modi represents in Parliament.

India, Vietnam upgrade ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership

India and Vietnam on Saturday decided to upgrade their relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and deepen their defence and security engagement to advance their common interests.

Modi announce $500m line of credit to Vietnam for defence cooperation
India and Vietnam today decided to upgrade their relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and deepen their defence and security engagement to advance their common interests.
"We have agreed to scale up and strengthen our bilateral engagement," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a joint media interaction with Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc here after their bilateral talks.
"My conversation with Prime Minister Phuc has been extensive and productive. Our discussions covered the full range of bilateral and multilateral cooperation," he said.
Mr. Modi said that, as two important countries in the region, they felt it was also necessary to further their ties on regional and international issues of common concern. 
"We agreed to tap into the growing economic opportunities in the region. We also recognized the need to cooperate in responding to emerging regional challenges. 
"Our decision to upgrade our Strategic Partnership to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership captures the intent and path of our future cooperation. It will provide a new direction, momentum and substance to our bilateral cooperation. Our common efforts will also contribute to stability, security and prosperity in this region," he said
Mr. Modi said he and Mr. Phuc realized that their efforts to bring economic prosperity to their people needed to be accompanied by steps to secure them.
"Prime Minister and I have, therefore, agreed to deepen our defence and security engagement to advance our common interests. The agreement on construction of offshore patrol boats signed earlier today is one of the steps to give concrete shape to our defence engagement. I am also happy to announce a new Defence Line of Credit for Vietnam of US$ 500 million for facilitating deeper defence cooperation. The range of agreements signed just a while ago point to the diversity and depth of our cooperation," he said.
Mr. Modi thanked Mr. Phuc for the special gesture of personally showing him to Ho Chi Minh's house.
"Ho Chi Minh was one of the tallest leaders of the twentieth century. Thank you for extending me the privilege. Let me also congratulate the people of Vietnam on their national day that you celebrated yesterday," he said.
He referred to the links between the two societies that go back over 2000 years.
"The advent of Buddhism from India to Vietnam and the monuments of Vietnam’s Hindu Cham temples stand testimony to these bonds. For people of my generation, Vietnam holds a special place in our hearts. The bravery of the Vietnamese people in gaining independence from colonial rule has been a true inspiration. And, your success in national reunification and commitment to nation building reflects the strength of character of your people. We in India have admired your determination, rejoiced in your success and have been with you all along in your national journey," he said.
Mr. Modi noted that Vietnam is undergoing rapid development and strong economic growth.
"As Vietnam seeks to empower and enrich its people; modernize its agriculture; encourage entrepreneurship and innovation; strengthen its Science and Technology base; create new institutional capacities for faster economic development; and take steps to build a modern nation, India and its 1.25 billion people stand ready to be Vietnam's partner and a friend in this journey," he said.
"Prime Minister and I agreed to take several decisions today to move on the pledge of our partnership. India will be offering a grant of US$5 million for the establishment of a Software Park in the Telecommunications University in Nha Trang. The framework agreement on Space cooperation would allow Vietnam to join hands with Indian Space Research Organization to meet its national development objectives. Enhancing bilateral commercial engagement is also our strategic objective. For this, new trade and business opportunities will be tapped to achieve the trade target of fifteen billion dollars by 2020. I also sought facilitation of ongoing Indian projects and investments in Vietnam. And, have invited Vietnamese companies to take advantage of the various schemes and flagship programmes of my government," he said.
Referring to the centuries-old cultural connect between their people, Mr. Modi hoped hoped for the early establishment and opening of the Indian Cultural Centre here.
He said Archaeological Survey of India could soon start the conservation and restoration work of the Cham monuments at My Son. He said India was thankful for Vietnam's leadership in facilitating inscription of Nalanda Mahavihara as a UNESCO World Heritage site earlier this year.
"ASEAN is important to India in terms of historical links, geographical proximity cultural ties and the strategic space that we share. It is central to our 'Act East' policy. Under Vietnam's leadership as ASEAN Coordinator for India, we will work towards a strengthened India-ASEAN partnership across all areas," he said.
"We can take satisfaction from the nature and direction of our partnership. At the same time, we must stay focused to keep up the momentum in our ties. I have enjoyed your hospitality. It would be my pleasure to host you and the leadership of Vietnam in India. We look forward to welcoming you in India," he added.

Indian warship INS Satpura on four-day visit to Singapore

Indian Naval Ship Satpura arrived here yesterday on a four-day visit as part of deployment of the Eastern Fleet to the South China Sea and Western Pacific.
The ship is enroute to India after participation in Exercise Malabar 16 and Exercise RIMPAC-16.
During the visit, the ship will have professional interaction with the Republic of Singapore Navy towards further enhancing co-operation between the two forces.
Calls on senior Government and military authorities, sporting and cultural interactions, aimed at strengthening ties and mutual understanding between the two Navies, are also planned.
The visiting ship is also likely to conduct exercises at sea with the Republic of Singapore Navy, aimed at enhancing interoperability in communication as well as search and rescue procedures, upon departure from Singapore.
At the helm of the ship is Commanding Officer Captain A N Pramod.
Bilateral relations between India and Singapore are characterised by strong bonds of friendship based on cultural, religious and economic ties over two millennia, an official press release said.
"Today, economic, cultural and defence relations are the mainstay of India-Singapore relationship. Singapore is India’s 10th largest trade partner globally and 2nd largest in ASEAN (2014) accounting for nearly 26% of India’s overall trade with ASEAN," it added.

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan detained at LA airport, US officials apologise

File photo of Shahrukh Khan
File photo of Shahrukh Khan
Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan was detained at the Los Angeles Airport in the United States on Friday, prompting the actor to express his displeasure and and two top American diplomats apologised to him within hours.
"I fully understand & respect security with the way the world is, but to be detained at US immigration every damn time really really sucks," Khan, who suffered similar treatment at US airports twice in past six years, said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
"The brighter side is while waiting caught some really nice Pokemons," he said.
"Sorry for the hassle at the airport, @iamsrk - even American diplomats get pulled for extra screening!" US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal responded on the social media site.
To which Khan said, "No hassle ma’m. Respect the protocol,not expecting to b above it. Appreciate ur graciousness, its just inconvenient."
A little later, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma tweeted: "Sorry for the trouble at LAX @iamsrk. We are working to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Your work inspires millions, including in the US.
"No trouble sir, respect the protocol & not expecting 2 b above it. It’s just a tad inconvenient. Thx for ur concern," Khan told him.
On April 11, 2012, the actor was detained at the White Plains airport near New York for more than two hours by immigration officials and US authorities had later apologised for the inconvenience caused to him.
Khan himself was unfazed by that incident and he joked about with students at Yale University, where he was honoured as a Chubb Fellow.
The actor had arrived at the airport on a private plane along with Nita Ambani, the wife of Reliance Industries Limited chairman Mukesh Ambani. The Ambanis' daughter Isha was president of the South Asian Society at the university at that time.
Whie the others in the group were cleared without delay, Khan had to wait for a considerable length of time, during which his hosts at the university and Indian consulate officials took up the matter with the Department of Homeland Security in Washington and other US authorities.
Khan was, as a consequence, late for an event at the university and he explained to the crowd that he had been "detained at the airport as always". "It was nice, as it always happens," he had said, in a reference to the previous incident in August 2009, when he was similarly detained at New Yorks' Newark International Airport.
"Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself, I always take a trip to America. The immigration guys kicked the star out of stardom," he said to loud applause from the audience.
"They always ask me how tall I am and I will always lie and say 5 feet 10 inches. Next time I am going to get more adventurous. If they ask me what colour are you, I am going to say white," he joked.

Rajnath calls for "strongest" steps against nations supporting terrorism

Sending a clear and unambiguous message to Pakistan from its soil, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said the strongest possible steps needed to be taken not only against terrorists and terrorist organisations, but also those individuals, institutions or nations that support them.

Rajnath: Strongest action needed against nations backing terrorism
Sending a clear and unambiguous message to Pakistan from its soil, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said the strongest possible steps needed to be taken not only against terrorists and terrorist organisations, but also those individuals, institutions or nations that support them.
"Those who provide support, encouragement, sanctuary, safe haven or any assistance to terrorism or terrorists must be isolated," he said in his statement at the 7th Meeting of SAARC Ministers of Interior/Home here.
"Only this will ensure that the forces engaged in promoting the heinous crime of terrorism against humanity are effectively countered," he said.
Mr. Singh said that it was vital that the South Asian environment has necessary conditions for achieving greater regional prosperity, connectivity and cooperation, if their efforts to meet SAARC's objectives are to succeed. 
The South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional grouping of eight South Asian nations -- India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Afghanistan.
"However, we are witness to mounting threats and incidents that endanger our region’s peace and stability. Terrorism remains the biggest challenge and threat to our peace. South Asia continues to be deeply affected by this malady, as witnessed most recently in cowardly terrorist attacks in Pathankot, Dhaka, Kabul and other places. Merely strong condemnation of such terrorist attacks is not enough. We must harden our resolve to eradicate this menace and also take serious steps to this end," Mr. Singh said.
"It also needs to be ensured that terrorism is not glorified and is not patronized by any state. One country’s terrorist cannot be a martyr or freedom fighter for anyone. I also speak for the entire humanity- not just for India or other SAARC members – in urging that in no circumstances should terrorists be eulogised as martyrs," he said.
Mr. Singh said the will and the mandate of the international community against proscribed and wanted terrorists and their organisations must also be respected and implemented. 
"If we are to rid ourselves of terrorism, we will have to genuinely believe that attempts to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorists are misleading. No type of terrorism or support to it can be justified on any grounds whatsoever. Immediate and effective action is required against all those who support or encourage international terrorism in any way, whether they are state actors or non-state. Only then justice will be ensured for the victims of terrorist attacks such as in Mumbai and Pathankot. We must have the approach of ‘zero tolerance’ against any type of terrorism," he said.
He said that, in their common fight against terrorism, implementation of the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and its Additional Protocol became crucial. This also included ensuring effective measures so that those committing terrorist acts did not escape prosecution and punishment, and were extradited or prosecuted, he said.
"The menace of terrorism is greatly amplified by the misuse of digital technology. In our effort to tackle terrorism, we should look into all possible avenues of cyber-crime, its linkages with the terrorist world, and how these could be dealt with. Attention and efforts need to be devoted to ensure that social media and other modern technology is not misused for misleading especially the youth or promoting terrorism in any way," he said.
He said he was happy that all SAARC members had supported India's proposal to hold the second Meeting of the High Level Group of Eminent Experts to Strengthen the SAARC Anti-Terrorism Mechanism from 22-23 September in New Delhi.
"I would also draw the attention of my esteemed colleagues to the need for immediate ratification of the SAARC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. We have not been able to benefit from the Convention, as some Member States are yet to ratify it. I would urge remaining Member States to consider ratifying the Convention at the earliest.
"Trafficking of drugs and its abuse is a grave challenge which has an immeasurable adverse impact. It is a problem which is connected with all types of organized crime. Today, drug business generates the highest illegal fund flows. Trafficking of drugs, coupled with the problem of increasing circulation of fake currency, feeds into supporting terrorism and can create economic de-stabilization in our region. Towards implementation of the Regional Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, we have offered our full support and cooperation by way of capacity building and training programmes. There is also a felt need to achieve the full potential of the SAARC Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk and the SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk," he siad.
"Safety and security of women and children will determine the well-being and strength of our nations. It is timely and relevant that SAARC has accorded due priority to this area of cooperation, since new threats are emerging with increasing access to information technology and the changing nature of global economy. In India, we have taken a number of new initiatives such as the 'Track Child' national portal and 'Operation Smile' to rescue children. We shared our experience at the Ministerial Meeting of the South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children, which we were privileged to host recently. Our Prime Minister had launched the flagship 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' programme. It has rapidly expanded and has started contributing to ensuring the survival, protection, education and empowerment of the girl child," he said.
Mr. Singh said the Narendra Modi government in India, right from its formation more than two years ago, had reaffirmed that good relations with its neighbours were its highest priority.
"Under our 'neighbourhood first' policy, we have spared no effort in further building our engagement, and working together with our partners in the region, to secure peace and prosperity for our people. I have come to this meeting with the same purpose. 
"I recall that under this Forum, we last met before the Eighteenth SAARC Summit that was held in Kathmandu in November 2014. At that Summit, our leaders committed to deepen regional integration for peace, stability and prosperity in South Asia. With 30 years of SAARC’s existence, today the need is more than ever that we take regional cooperation to a level that realizes the aspirations and expectations of our people," he said.
Mr. Singh said that India's vision for the region, as outlined by Mr. Modi at the 18th SAARC Summit, rested on the pillars of trade, investments, wide-ranging development cooperation, contacts between their people -- and, all through seamless connectivity. 
"We have accordingly carried forward the initiatives announced by Prime Minister. I am also happy to note that we have implemented the India business card scheme, which would facilitate eligible business leaders in their visits to India," he said.
Mr. Singh mentioned that achieving greater transparency and good governance was a cornerstone of the Modi government's policy.
"To give just one example, through our financial inclusion scheme Jan Dhan Yoyana that leverages world's largest biometric Unique ID system Aadhar, and Direct Benefit Transfers, we have been able to transform our services delivery to ensure that benefits of public schemes reach the grass-root levels. 
"In a few months, leaders of the region would come together in this city of Islamabad for the 19th SAARC Summit. It is my hope that we would be able to demonstrate to our leaders concrete progress in areas of our mutual concern and interest that I mentioned in brief. The time for us to act is now," he added.

Emirates sets up helplines for families of passengers of EK 521

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


Emirates flight from Trivandrum crash lands at Dubai airport

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

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

US-India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group to meet on Thursday

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

India highlights importance of having verifiable data on HFCs

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

61 killed, 207 injured in suicide blast in Kabul

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

Gadkari experiences latest techniques in highway engineering, safety during US road trip

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

Gadkari goes on study tour of Mississippi inland waterways in US

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

Turkish President Erdogan says he remains in charge after coup attempt

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

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

Ansari calls for international cooperation to deal with terror threat

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

Indian Coast Guard, Pakistan Maritime Security Agency meet in Islamabad

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

Golden opportunity to invest in India, Gadkari tells US investors

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

India ready to join hands with Kenya in its development priorities: Modi

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

India, Kenya agree to forge closer commercial, investment, defence ties

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

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

Modi says India working to grow at over 8% in coming years

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

Modi addresses members of Indian community in Johannesburg
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that India had, in a world marked by reducing growth rates and economic slowdowns, registered a healthy growth rate of 7.6 percent in 2015-16 and was working to grow at over 8 percent and more in the years ahead.
"India's dynamism is not of mere words. It is driven by concrete action. And, is defined by our commitment to change the face ofthe Indian economy. Not, just through sustained rapid economic growth. But, through multiple transformations," he said in an address to members of the Indian community here on the second day of a two-day visit to South Africa as part of a four-nation Africa tour.
He said these transformations aimed to uplift India's 1.25 billion people, its 500 cities and its 600,000 villages.
"We want enterprises to flourish , businesses to grow and the country to rise. For this, we are already shaping a policy framework that strengthens India's ability to build trade, manufacturing, innovation and investment partnerships with other countries in the world. Our focus on Ease of Doing Business is aimed at ensuring that the public, private and personal businesses can grow to their full potential in India. And, we want it to be driven by state-of-the-art infrastructure. Infrastructure that not only provides basic needs of housing, shelter, electricity, water and sanitation to the people. But, also engineers a modern network of ports, airports, rail and road for them to serve as gateways of economic prosperity for our people," he said.
Mr. Modi said the government's plan to build 100 smart cities was aimed at creating an urbanized society that is sustainable, and easy on the environment and on the country's resources. Backed by the strength of the best information technology specialists in the world, the government was also shaping a digital revolution, he said.
"A revolution that would change the way a government engages with its citizens; a business interacts with its clients; and a society relates to its old and new structures. A revolution, which rests on digital infrastructure, that allows free flow of information, innovation and ideas on the information high-ways," he said.
Mr. Modi visited Mozambique on July 7 and will visit Tanzania and Kenya before flying back home.
"We may live on distant shores; in different time zones; and on different hemispheres; our ancestors may have been separated in history; our nationalities may be different; and ur support may be for different cricket teams. But, our common cultural, religious and spiritual heritage ensured that we remain close and connected. Both, in our hearts and our minds," he said.
"Centuries ago, our ancestors travelled to the unknown shores of South Africa. They faced hardship and extreme poverty. Yet, they endured and kept going. Under decades of apartheid isolation, they not only preserved their culture, traditions and language. They also gave them new wings to flourish. And, today, the beauty of Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Urdu and Telugu continues to enrich the fabric of South African society. The colours of Holi, the sparkle of Diwali, tastes of Pongal, and festivities of Eid are not just the rainbow of Indian cultural traditions. They also symbolize the vibrant diversity of South Africa. 
"The story of your ancestors in this nation may have been of poverty and oppression. But, their legacy is one of pride and sacrifice. And, it is reflected in your success and prosperity. Its reality rests in your immense contribution to the economic and social well-being of this country. In staying true to the Indian ethos, the notion that the world is a family, you have cared for others. And, in so doing you have also echoed the South African ethos of Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu (Meaning: You are what you are because of other people)," he said.
Mr. Modi reminded the gathering that their ancestors were among the first to leave the shores of India. "Their sacrifice, their determination to preserve their cultural roots, and will to succeed against all odds not only shaped the generations of South African Indians. It also impacted, influenced and guided the mind-set of Indian diaspora the world over. In many ways, what Indian diaspora stands for all over the world today is because of what your forefathers were able to achieve despite all adversity," he said.
"This city and its people mean a lot to us. It was here that Mahatma Gandhi conceptualised his politics. This is the birthplace of Satyagraha. South Africa transformed Mohandas into a Mahatma. But, Gandhi was not alone in his fight against racial oppression. The South African freedom struggle also has many heroes among you. Who can forget the sacrifice of sixteen year old, the fearless Thambi Naidoo and the selfless Mohammed Cachalia? I had the privilege of meeting Ahmed Kathrada earlier today. He spent 26 years in prison alongside Nelson Mandela. The harshness of the Robben Island prison could not bring down Lalu Chiba , Mac Maharaj or Billy Nair. Alongside their African brothers and sisters, generations of Indians fought, suffered and sacrificed so that all of South Africa could breathe freely. I salute you all, and the countless others, dedicated to this country. You are the proud sons and daughters of the Indian heritage. You are the hardworking and loyal citizens of South Africa. You are also a part of the flourishing global Indian family. You form a unique bond between our two great nations. A bond that is nurtured by our shared values and struggles. A bond on whose foundation we are building the promise of our prosperous future," he said.
Mr. Modi said South Africa was the land of Nelson Mandela and the "karmabhoomi" of Mahatma Gandhi. "The path these two great men have shown us, and the freedom that they have won for us, is an inspiration for all of mankind. Their tireless spirit, courage and moral force will remain a guiding beacon for the generations to come. The Mahatma led India's march to freedom from the British, which gave birth to modern India. The forgiveness of Nelson Mandela and his Long March to Freedom gave rise to A Rainbow Nation. Gandhi held South Africa dear to his heart," he said.
"We live in a world that is inter-dependent and hyper-connected. Many of you are now closely engaged with developments in India. Your desire to connect with the lands of your forefathers may be an emotional urge. But, you need not limit yourself to that alone," he said.
Mr. Modi said India, today, was also a land of opportunity for those who want to connect and collaborate; innovate and create; trade and Invest; and produce and engineer. 
"India, like South Africa is a young nation. The energy and drive of our 800 million youth fuels and mirrors the ambition and aspiration of the entire country. We want them to be the engine that pulls India's economy and society. And, for this, we are working in campaign mode to skill India's youth. The plan is to generate over 500 million new jobs in India by 2022. We want them not just to fulfil India's needs. But, also to meet the growing global demand of skilled manpower. It is not just economy and society that is racing ahead. The mind sets of our people are also changing. And, the change that I am talking about is not just on paper and in our plans. It is already visible on the ground. The villages are buzzing with new momentum, drive and purpose. The cities are full of enterprise and energy. There is confidence in our youth. And, the citizens of India are full of optimism," he said.
Mr. Modi said India's rise was a story of "rare resilience, renewed resurgence, superb speed and spectacular scale".
He said the credit for this went not to him but to the 1.25 people of India and to the fact that they placed their faith in his government and gave it a mandate to govern.
"In doing so they opted for: Action over words; Positivity over negative approaches; A sense of focus and purpose over a feeling of drift; Willingness to shape the international agenda rather than react to it; and Transformational jump rather than incremental change," he said.
"Our two countries have similar aspirations and challenges. India was one of the leaders of the international movement for freedom in this country. We led from the front in the global fight against apartheid. But, as I said earlier, as the Rainbow nation was born, we were also the first ones to extend the warm embrace of our friendship," he said.
"With this, began a new and glorious chapter in our ties. In our economic choices, we can do many things together for our youth and for our peoples. Both India and South Africa, have huge demographic opportunities. We both have a young population. Two-thirds of our people in India are below the age of 35. Similar is the story on the African continent, and in South Africa. We must share our experiences, our partnership and our expertise to meet our development goals. 
"As South Africa works towards economic prosperity, safety and security for its people, it will find in India a trusted and reliable partner. India is ready to join you in this journey. Our development and business partnerships are already doing well. But we must do more to help them gallop, to run as the springbok . Together we can create new enterprises, new skills and new social values. India and South Africa are strategic partners. We should build a partnership that spans the entirety of the human endeavour.
"A partnership that scales new heights in diverse fields: from agriculture to health care; from culture to commerce; from tradition to trade; from Industry to institution building; from investment to information technology; from mining to manufacturing; from sports to science and technology; and from defence to development.
"We are also active drivers of regional partnerships. Together, we can also create new values for our friends in Africa. Our companies are already partnering and bringing economic benefit to our people. They can also be instrument of change on this continent. We can work together, to empower youth, to fight poverty, malnutrition, disease and hunger. Again, not just in our countries, but across Africa and other developing regions. 
"We live in an age of global challenges. Fight against terrorism and piracy, AIDS and ebola are some of the key priorities of our partnership. Our partnership for economic prosperity also has to be sensitive to climate change. We agreed to a landmark deal in Paris. We now have to work together as strong partners to look at new energy pathways and technology solutions for a climate smart world. 
"To galvanise global action, India has started the International Solar Alliance, which has the support of over 120 countries. Solar rich South Africa is a critical partner in this programme. Through IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) and BRICS, our partnership is also shaping priorities within the global agenda," he said.
Mr. Modi told the gathering that a resurgency India awaited them and that the government had taken several steps towards eliminating barriers of entry. He said the Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) schemes had been rolled into one.
"In February this year we launched e-visa for South Africa. You can now get Indian visa sitting at home in your email, and that too at no cost! 
"India and South Africa have much to benefit from a closer partnership. You are a window to India's heritage, to our ethos and to our values. And, you form an important life line for our ties with this land. In conclusion, let me say that your achievements, your contributions and your success makes us all proud. It has been a privilege for me to connect with you," he added.
Syndicate content
© Copyright 2012 NetIndian. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of NetIndian content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of NetIndian Media Corporation. Write to info[AT]netindian[DOT]in for permission to use content. Read detailed Terms of Use.