Archive for ‘foreign minister’

20/04/2019

Indian foreign secretary heads to China for talks amid tense relations

  • Vijay Keshav Gokhale is expected to meet Chinese deputy foreign minister Kong Xuanyou and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during two-day visit
  • Beijing’s refusal to sanction a Pakistani militant leader and its belt and road push in the disputed Kashmir region have strained ties
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale will visit China as part of “regular exchanges” between the two countries. Photo: AFP
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale will visit China as part of “regular exchanges” between the two countries. Photo: AFP
Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale will travel to Beijing on Sunday amid tensions between India and China over Beijing’s refusal to sanction a Pakistani militant leader and its infrastructure push in the disputed Kashmir region.
Gokhale’s two-day visit is part of “regular exchanges” between the two nations, the Indian embassy in Beijing said on Saturday.
During his stay, Gokhale is expected to meet Chinese deputy foreign minister Kong Xuanyou and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

He will return to India on Monday, three days before the second Belt and Road Forum begins in the Chinese capital. Forty foreign leaders will attend the summit on Beijing’s global trade and infrastructure scheme, the “Belt and Road Initiative”, but India is not taking part.

Wang on Friday called on India, and other countries sceptical of the initiative, to join up, dismissing claims that it is a geopolitical tool. He also said China was ready to hold a leaders’ summit with India like the informal meeting held between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Wuhan, Hubei province last year.

A summit between Xi Jinping (left) and Narendra Modi in Wuhan last year was seen as a breakthrough in China-India relations after the Doklam border dispute. Photo: AFP
A summit between Xi Jinping (left) and Narendra Modi in Wuhan last year was seen as a breakthrough in China-India relations after the Doklam border dispute. Photo: AFP

Gokhale visited Beijing in February last year, and the Wuhan summit happened two months later. That meeting was seen as a breakthrough in the

China-India relationship

after a 73-day military stand-off over the Doklam plateau.

But the progress was overshadowed in February after a terror strike on Indian security forces in the Jammu and Kashmir province, which killed 40 Indian soldiers. The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed group claimed responsibility for the attack. India has long wanted to designate its leader, Masood Azhar, as a terrorist under international law, but China has opposed the move.

During a visit to Pakistan in March, Kong said Beijing and Islamabad were all-weather strategic partners and would support each other on issues to do with their core interests.

What ‘Wuhan spirit’? Kashmir suicide attack reopens Modi’s China wound

Wang Dehua, head of the Institute for South and Central Asia Studies at the Shanghai Municipal Centre for International Studies, said China and India were looking to prevent their bilateral relations from deteriorating further.

“Both nations will elaborate on their stance on this matter, and China will probably deliver a message that the China-India relationship should not be affected by the dispute over Masood Azhar,” he said. “The positive sentiment out of Wuhan has been affected, and the two sides are seeking ways to continue the spirit of that informal summit.”

Du Youkang, director of Fudan University’s Pakistan Study Centre in Shanghai, said preparations for another informal summit of the nations’ leaders would only begin after India’s general election was over. Polling is being held in seven phases ending on May 19.

Gokhale’s trip would mainly be a chance to see how the two nations can push forward bilateral ties amid their disputes, Du said.

In addition to Azhar, India is also dismayed that some of China’s belt and road projects pass through the Pakistan-administered section of the disputed Kashmir region.

But Wang told reporters on Friday that the initiative did not target any third country, and that relations between China and India had improved after the Wuhan summit.

Source: SCMP

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07/04/2019

Greece says EU’s China concerns must not harm its economic interests

  • Deputy prime minister Yannis Dragasakis hopes ‘logic will prevail’ ahead of EU-China summit
  • Affirms Greek support for Beijing’s belt and road plan for global trade
Greece’s deputy prime minister Yannis Dragasakis says the European Union’s suspicion about China is in danger of becoming a “self-fulfilling prophecy”. Photo: Alamy
Greece’s deputy prime minister Yannis Dragasakis says the European Union’s suspicion about China is in danger of becoming a “self-fulfilling prophecy”. Photo: Alamy
The deputy prime minister of Greece has warned that European Union suspicion of China is in danger of becoming a “self-fulfilling prophecy” while reaffirming his country’s support for Beijing’s controversial “Belt and Road Initiative”.
In an exclusive interview with theSouth China Morning Post in Athens on Monday, Yannis Dragasakis said he hoped logic would prevail in the EU’s relationship with the world’s second-largest economy.
“We would like to see the EU having good relations with China,” he said.
“Seriously, we should start [the discussion about China] from the opposite end, which is, what are the needs and problems that we can work on with China?”
Dragasakis was speaking ahead of the annual summit between the EU and China in Brussels on Wednesday, which this year will take place against a backdrop of suspicion among some EU countries over Beijing’s political and commercial ambitions in the region.
Europe has been divided over whether to work with China’s enormous belt and road plan, which aims to link China by sea and land with southeast and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, through an infrastructure network along the lines of the old Silk Road.
Italy becomes first G7 nation to sign up for China’s belt and road plan

Washington has criticised the scheme as a “vanity project”, and the EU looks set to refer to China as a “strategic rival”, with some European leaders fearing Beijing’s diplomatic manoeuvres could derail unity among member states.

Last month Italy, which is grappling with its third recession in a decade, became the first G7 nation to join the belt and road programme, in a bid to boost exports and upgrade its port facilities.

Last year Greece – ranked second lowest in economic competitiveness within the EU by the World Economic Forum in 2018 – signed up to the scheme, after years of relying on China to help it through its own financial crisis.

Chinese state-owned shipping company Cosco bought a 51 per cent stake in Pireaus Port, Greece’s most important infrastructure hub in 2016 with an option to buy another 16 per cent after five years.

China aims to make the port the “dragon head” of its belt and road programme, serving as a gateway for its cargo to Europe and North Africa.

Will Greece be China’s bridge to the rest of Europe?

With its warming relationship with Beijing, Athens has, at times, departed from EU positions on China.

In 2016, Greece helped stop the EU from issuing a unified statement against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. The following year, Athens stopped the bloc from condemning China’s human rights record. Days later, it opposed tougher screening on China’s investments in Europe.

Dragasakis was clear that the EU should not devise any policies that may hinder Greece’s ability to revive its economy.

“Greece badly needs investment. We hope logic will prevail at the end of the day, which means we should take advantage of all opportunities and build on these prospects to further our collaboration,” he said.

“Greece will keep following a multidimensional policy, an inclusive policy, without excluding anyone.”

Dragasakis hit back at France and Germany for treating China as a geopolitical rival, while simultaneously signing up to trade agreements with Beijing.

Days before receiving Chinese President Xi Jinping in France last month, President Emmanuel Macron declared that the “time of European naivety” towards China was over – a remark the Greek deputy prime minister described as “interesting” during the interview.

“It’s so interesting, yes. Mr Macron, despite his statement, actually signed very large-scale agreements with China,” he said, adding: “Germany, the same”.

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Elysee Palace in Paris last month. Photo: AFP
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Elysee Palace in Paris last month. Photo: AFP

Macron invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to his meeting in Paris with Xi, where the four sought to reassure each other over economic cooperation between the European trading bloc and China.

Dragasakis said Greece’s relations with China were based on “very solid ground” with the two countries sharing complementary interests, particularly through the belt and road plan.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is understood to be considering joining Foreign Minister George Katrougalos at the belt and road summit in Beijing, which will be hosted by Xi later this month.

More than 40 heads of state are expected to attend the summit, with China’s foreign ministry recently saying that Europe had started to see the value of the scheme.

If confirmed, Tsipras’ presence at the summit will be interpreted as an attempt by Greece to consolidate Chinese support in the wake of Italy’s joining of the scheme.

He will also need to mend ties with Beijing, following a recent decision by Greece’s archaeological body to block a plan by Cosco to upgrade facilities at the Piraeus port, throwing the future of the multimillion euro privatisation deal into uncertainty.

Portugal’s support for China’s belt and road plan ‘bad news’ for EU

Dragasakis said there were strong prospects for the future relationship between Greece and China because of the two countries’ reciprocal interest.

Relations with other Asian countries, while not yet as close as Greek ties with China, would continue to be developed, he said.

Dragasakis said Athens would not adopt discriminatory policies against any country as it looked to shore up foreign investments to boost its economy.

India, for instance, has set its sights on Greece as a potential business partner, with President Ram Nath Kovind becoming its first titular head of state to visit Greece last year.

“Relations with India are lagging behind – they are not at the same level as with China, but of course we are mulling further developments with India,” Dragasakis said, adding that Greece would also work more closely with Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.

EU leaders hold out olive branch to Chinese ‘rival’ by saying they want active role in Belt and Road Initiative

EU leaders hold out olive branch to China over belt and road

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China will not divide Europe, senior diplomat says

China will not divide Europe, senior diplomat says

Read more

Beijing calls for ‘objective’ assessment of human rights record.


Source: SCMP

07/04/2019

Pakistan says India preparing another attack this month

KARACHI (Reuters) – Pakistan has “reliable intelligence” that India will attack again this month, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Sunday, as tension over a February standoff between the two nuclear-armed neighbours had appeared to ease.

The attack could take place between April 16 and 20, he said, adding that Pakistan had told the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council of its concerns.

A suicide car bombing by Pakistan-based militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police on Feb. 14 and the risk of conflict rose dramatically on Feb. 27, when India launched an air strike on what it said was a militant training base.

The following day Pakistan shot down an Indian fighter jet and captured its pilot who was later released.

“We have reliable intelligence that India is planning a new attack on Pakistan. As per our information this could take place between April 16 and 20,” Qureshi told reporters in his hometown of Multan.

He did not elaborate on what evidence Pakistan had or how he could be so specific with the timing, but he said Prime Minister Imran Khan had agreed to share the information with the country.

India’s foreign office didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Khan blamed India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for “whipping up war hysteria” over claims that India shot down a Pakistani F-16 during the February standoff.

India said it, too, had shot down a Pakistani aircraft and the air force displayed pieces of a missile that it said had been fired by a Pakistani F-16 before it went down.
The success of Indian air strikes on a camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group in northwestern Pakistan has also been thrown into doubt after satellite images showed little sign of damage.
Pakistan closed its airspace amid the standoff but most commercial air traffic has since resumed and major airports have opened.
Source: reuters
07/03/2019

China praises Pakistan for ‘restraint’ with India, Islamabad says thank you

The Chinese foreign ministry on Thursday released a statement in Chinese following the visit of vice-foreign minister Kong Xuanyou to Pakistan, lauding Islamabad’s response.

WORLD Updated: Mar 07, 2019 16:42 IST

Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
China,Pakistan,Islamabad
Kong visited Pakistan as Islamabad faced pressure from global powers to act against groups carrying out attacks in India, including Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which claimed responsibility for the February 14 attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel in Pulwama.(REUTERS File Photo)

China has praised Pakistan for its handling of the tense situation with India, appreciating Islamabad’s “restraint” in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir in February.

The Chinese foreign ministry on Thursday released a statement in Chinese following the visit of vice-foreign minister Kong Xuanyou to Pakistan, lauding Islamabad’s response.

“China has paid close attention to the present situation between Pakistan and India, and appreciates Pakistan remaining calm and exercising restraint from the beginning, and persisting in pushing to lower the temperature with India via dialogue,” the foreign ministry statement said.

It paraphrased Kong’s discussions with Pakistan’s leadership comprising Prime Minister Imran Khan, army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Kong visited Pakistan as Islamabad faced pressure from global powers to act against groups carrying out attacks in India, including Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which claimed responsibility for the February 14 attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel in Pulwama.

The Pulwama suicide attack – the worst in Kashmir in decades – led to the most serious conflict in years between the nuclear-armed neighbours with India carrying out a strike on a JeM camp in Balakot and then a dogfight over the skies of Kashmir.

Kong was quoted as telling the Pakistani leadership that China maintains that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be earnestly respected and that Beijing is unwilling to see acts that violate the norms of international relations.

The statement quoted Kong as saying that China calls on Pakistan and India to refrain from taking actions to aggravate the situation, show goodwill and flexibility, launch dialogue as soon as possible, and work together to maintain regional peace and stability.

According to the statement, the Pakistani leaders appreciated China’s objective and fair position on the situation in Pakistan and India and thanked China for its efforts to promote the cooling of the situation.
It added that the Pakistani side reiterated that it is unwilling to see an escalation of the situation and is willing to resolve the contradictions and differences between the two sides through dialogue and peacefully, and welcomes China and the international community to play an active role in this regard.
Source: Hindustan Times
06/03/2019

Belt and Road Initiative mutually beneficial: Rwandan foreign minister

RWANDA-KIGALI-FM-CHINA-BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE

Rwandan Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera speaks at a press conference held by the Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, March 5, 2019. The Belt and Road Initiative is a partnership that is mutually beneficial for Rwanda and addresses Rwanda’s development challenges, Rwandan Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera said here Tuesday. (Xinhua/Cyril Ndegeya)

KIGALI, March 5 (Xinhua) — The Belt and Road Initiative is a partnership that is mutually beneficial for Rwanda and addresses Rwanda’s development challenges, Rwandan foreign minister Richard Sezibera said Tuesday in Rwandan capital city Kigali.

The Belt and Road Initiative is a good initiative, which addresses development requirements of China’s partners, said Sezibera when responding to a question on the Belt and Road Initiative and second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation at a press conference held by Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

China is an important partner for Rwanda at all levels, and Rwanda welcomes the growing partnership with China, he said, adding that Rwanda and China have important relationships in infrastructure development, party-to-party and people-to-people exchanges, and at the political level.

The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is going to be held in April in Beijing.

Source: Xinhua

27/02/2019

Chinese, Russian FMs meet on closer ties

CHINA-WANG YI-RUSSIA-MEETING (CN)

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Wuzhen of Tongxiang City, east China’s Zhejiang Province, Feb. 26, 2019. (Xinhua/Weng Xinyang)

HANGZHOU, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday vowed to enhance strategic communication and promote cooperation within the meeting of the foreign ministers of China, Russia and India (RIC).

The ministers made the remarks during their meeting on the sidelines of the 16th trilateral meeting of RIC foreign ministers in Wuzhen of east China’s Zhejiang Province.

Noting that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Russia, Wang said the two countries should further deepen strategic communication and make new contributions to world peace and development.

It is of great significance for China, Russia and India to enhance communication, coordinate positions and deepen cooperation for the region and the world, Wang said.

China is willing to work together with Russia and India to strive for substantial outcomes in the meeting of RIC foreign ministers, he added.

Echoing Wang’s remarks, Lavrov said it was necessary for Russia and China to jointly safeguard the basic norms of multilateralism and international relations.

The 16th meeting of the foreign ministers of China, Russia and India will be held in Wuzhen on Wednesday.

Source: Xinhua

27/02/2019

Live updates| PM Modi holds key meet on Pak situation with top officials

IAF strike on Jaish camp in Pakistan updates: IAF pilot who engaged Pakistan jets missing in action, said the government. India verifying Pak claims on his custody. Follow live updates here:

Pakistani aircraft violated Indian air space in the Nowshera sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district on Wednesday morning. The Indian Air Force scrambled jets and pushed them back. News agency ANI has reported that a Pakistan Air Force F-16 was shot down in Indian retaliatory fire in Nowshera’s Lam valley.

The Pakistani jets had entered into Indian air space over Rajouri district this morning, sources said.

The air space violation by Pakistani jets comes a day after Indian Air Force jets flew across the Line of Control to blow up Jaish-e-Mohammed’s biggest terror camp.

Watch| India lost one MiG 21, pilot who engaged Pak jets ‘missing in action’: Govt

 

Follow live updates here:

4:55 pm IST

Army’s Eastern Command chief visits Panagarh base in West Bengal amid escalating tensions

Amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, Army’s Eastern Command chief Lt General Manoj Naravane visited Panagarh base in West Bengal on Wednesday and reviewed operational preparedness, a defence official said.

Lt Gen Naravane, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command, emphasised the need for remaining alert at all times to meet the emerging security challenges, the official said.

4:50 pm IST

“Whole country is proud of this brave son,” Arvind Kejriwal tweets for IAF pilot’s safe return

“I pray for the safety of Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan,” tweeted Arvind Kejriwal. “Whole country is proud of this brave son and everyone is hoping for his safe return. We all stand united to keep our country safe and strong,” Arvind Kejriwal said in the tweet.

4:35 pm IST

Pakistan has long denied its role in terror acts in India

In his last televised statement, Imran Khan appeared to ignore the claims made by Jaish. Pakistan has long denied its role in terror acts in India, which has handed it over several dossiers containing evidence of involvement of terror groups working from its soil.

4:33 pm IST

Imran Khan’s fresh call for dialogue comes in the wake of Pulwama terror attack

Imran Khan’s fresh call for dialogue comes in the wake of India’s effort to corner Pakistan among international community in the wake of Pulwama terror attack, in which at least 40 soldiers were killed. Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack.

4:26 pm IST

Imran Khan calls for talks to de-escalate rising tensions with India over Kashmir

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan calls for talks to de-escalate rising tensions with India over Kashmir.

3:57 pm IST

Better sense should prevail: Imran Khan after Pak strike

“We offered that we are ready for any kind of investigation after Pulwama attack in India. We didn’t take action on Tuesday morning because we weren’t aware of the damage caused by air strike by India. We did not want to cause much collateral damage in India when there was not much damage on our side. The only motive of Pakistan’s strike today was to demonstrate that we have the capability to hit back.

All the wars have happened due to miscalculation. With all the weapons that Pakistan and India have, can we afford to miscalculate. If we take to war neither I nor Mr Narendra Modi would be in a position to control its course. This is why I suggest that better sense should prevail,” said Imran Khan.

3:25 pm IST

IAF pilot who engaged Pak jets missing in action: Govt

IAF pilot who engaged Pakistan jets missing in action, said the government. India verifying Pak claims on his custody.

Pakistan used air force to target military installations, attempt foiled successfully, the government added.

3:20 pm IST

Foreign ministry and Air Vice Marshal brief media

Foreign ministry and Air Vice Marshal briefed the media.

3:00 pm IST

Maharashtra on high alert amid border tensions

Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai have been put on high alert’ in the wake of the rising tensions on the country’s north-west border, official sources said in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Heightened security was seen in Mumbai, the commercial capital of the country. Police vigil has been enhanced in Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Nashik and Kolhapur as well. The government is ensuring there is no disturbance to the ongoing HSC (Class XII) examinations in the state, reported news agency IANS.

2:45 pm IST

Pakistan closes its airspace for commercial flights

Pakistan has closed its airspace for commercial flights, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced on Wednesday amid escalating tensions with India.

The aviation authority made the announcement on Twitter after Major General Asif Ghafoor, Director General of the Pakistan Army’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), acknowledged the closure of Pakistan’s airspace due to the security situation, Dawn News reported.

2:35 pm IST

Air India avoiding route of Pakistan air space with immediate effect

Air India avoiding route of Pakistan air space with immediate effect. India use Pakistan airspace for flights to Gulf countries, Europe and USA, said an Air India official

1:25 pm IST

Pakistan says 2 IAF jets shot down, India rejects claim

There are no reports of any IAF jet suffering damage in action by India’s adversaries, defence sources said on Wednesday according to news agency PTI.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan claimed it shot down two Indian military aircraft over Pakistani air space and arrested at least one of the pilots, according to PTI.

1:20 pm IST

Army, BSF troops along IB, LoC on highest degree of alertness: Officials

The Army and BSF have been put on the highest degree of alertness along the border in Jammu after air space violations by the neighbouring country and the night-long heavy firing and shelling by Pakistani troops on forward and civilians areas across the LoC which stopped on Wednesday, reported news agency PTI.

Authorities have ordered temporary closure of educational institutions in a 5-km radius along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri and Poonch districts on Wednesday amid mounting tensions between the two countries, following the Pulwama terror attack on February 14 and an Indian air strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed camp inside Pakistan on Tuesday.

1:14 pm IST

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman chairs DAC meeting

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman met here today and accorded approval for acquisition of defence equipment for about Rs 2700 crores.

Approval was granted for procurement of three Cadet Training ships for the Indian Navy, which would be utilised to provide basic sea training for officer cadets including women officer undertrainees. The ships would be capable of undertaking Hospital Ship duties, providing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, undertaking Search and Rescue (SAR) missions and Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations.

1:08 am IST

China reiterates call for India and Pakistan to exercise restraint

China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said it reiterated its call for India and Pakistan to exercise restraint.

Ministry spokesman Lu Kang made the comment at a regular news briefing in Beijing.

1:00 pm IST

PM Modi rushes to review security situation: Report

Prime Minister Narendra Modi cut short his address at a function in Vigyan Bhawan on Wednesday and rushed to attend a meeting to review the security situation arising out of Pakistan’s attempt to violate Indian air space, reported news agency ANI.

Modi was replying to the questions from youngsters during the National Youth Festival 2019 when he was handed over a small piece of paper by an official of Prime Minister Office (PMO).

The Prime Minister immediately stopped and walked towards the panelist where Union minister Rajyavardhan Rathore was also present.

12:53 pm IST

Pakistan stops domestic, international flight operations from Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Islamabad

Pakistan immediately stops its domestic and international flight operations from Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Islamabad airports, reported news agency ANI.

12:30 pm IST

Sensex turns negative; cracks over 200 points

The benchmark BSE Sensex gave up all early gains and fell over 200 points in afternoon trade Wednesday on widespread selling after Pakistani fighter jets violated Indian air space in Jammu and Kashmir.

After dropping 238 points, the Sensex was trading 161.74 points, or 0.46 per cent, down at 35,811.97 after hitting a low of 35,735.33. The gauge rallied nearly 400 points in morning trade.

The 50-share Nifty also fell 62.55 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 10,772.75.

According to brokers, investor sentiment took a beating after Pakistan claimed that it shot down two Indian military aircraft over Pakistani air space and arrested one of the pilots.

The Pakistani fighter jets on Wednesday violated Indian air space in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch and Nowshera sectors.

12:08 pm IST

Rajnath reviews security situation

Home Minister Rajnath Singh Wednesday reviewed the security situation in the country, especially along the border with Pakistan, a day after Indian fighter jets bombed the biggest camp of terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad in that country, officials said.

During the meeting, attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval among others, a detailed presentation was given about the security situation in the country and steps taken to ensure peace in all sensitive places.

Singh directed the officials to ensure the Border Security Force, which guards the India-Pakistan border continues to remain on highest level of alertness so that any misadventure from across the border could be foiled, a home ministry official said.

12:01 pm IST

‘Don’t want to escalate tensions, but we are prepared’, says Pakistan

“Today, Pakistan Air Force undertook strikes across Line of Control from within Pakistani airspace. This was not a retaliation to continued Indian belligerence. Pakistan has therefore, taken strikes at non military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage. Sole purpose being to demonstrate our right, will and capability for self defence.

We have no intention of escalation, but are fully prepared to do so if forced into that paradigm. That is why we undertook the action with clear warning and in broad daylight. For the last few years, India has been trying to establish what they call “a new normal” a thinly veiled term for doing acts of aggression at whatever pretext they wish on a given day.

If India is striking at so called terrorist backers without a shred of evidence, we also retain reciprocal rights to retaliate against elements that enjoy Indian patronage while carrying out acts of terror in Pakistan. We do not wish to go to that route and wish that India gives peace a chance and to resolve issues like a mature democratic nation,” read a statement released by Pakistan on Wednesday.

11:50 am IST

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval arrives at Home Ministry

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval arrived at the Home Ministry in Delhi.

11:45 am IST

Hope India, Pak conduct dialogue to establish facts through investigation: Wang Yi

“As a mutual friend to both India and Pakistan, we hope that they can conduct dialogue to establish facts through investigation to keep things under control and maintain peace and stability in the region. In this process China is playing a constructive role not the opposite,” said China’s foreign minister Wang Yi.

11:42 am IST

Russia, China and India reaffirmed strong opposition to terrorism: Wang Yi

“Russia, China and India reaffirmed strong opposition to terrorism. At the same time we (China) believe Pakistan has always been opposed to terrorism. China appreciates statements from Indian and Pak friends saying they’ll exercise restraint and avoid escalation of situation,” said China’s foreign minister Wang Yi.

11:37 am IST

Pakistani jets violate Indian air space in Nowshera

Pakistani jets violated Indian air space in Jammu and Kashmir’s Nowshera sector but were successfully confronted.

An official said the jets were immediately pushed back by Indian jets on air patrol.

10:55 am IST

Discussed establishment of UN led global counter-terrorism mechanism: Swaraj

“We need a global strategy, global cooperation. I’m happy to tell you today we discussed the establishment of UN led global counter-terrorism mechanism and finalising CCIT (Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism) proposed by India to implement it,” said external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in Wuzhen, China.

“As far as Pulwama is concerned, I had raised this issue in the bilateral meeting with Mr Wang Yi and also at RIC (Russia-India-China) forum,” she added.

10:42 am IST

All countries need to show ‘zero tolerance’ towards terrorism: Sushma Swaraj

Terrorists attacks like Pulwama are a grim reminder for the need of all countries to show ‘zero tolerance’ towards terrorism, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Wednesday, a day after India conducted pre-emptive air strikes deep inside Pakistan hitting Jaish-e-Mohammad training camps.

The operation was carried out in light of Pakistan’s refusal to acknowledge and act against terror groups operating from its soil and credible information that JeM was planning attacks in India, she said.

10:10 am IST

India’s response to Pulwama attack top agenda of Opposition meet

Left parties will participate in the meeting of the opposition parties, scheduled to be held later today. They had earlier said that they will not participate in the meeting. Pulwama attack and India’s response to it are on the agenda of discussion, reported news agency ANI.

9:55 am IST

Defence minister to meet Army, IAF, Navy chiefs shortly

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa and Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba will attend DAC (Defence Acquisition Council) meeting shortly today.

9:35 am IST

Mumbai on high alert, govt asks schools to exercise caution

In the wake of air strikes carried out by the Indian Air Force (IAF) on terror camps in Pakistan’s Balakot, the Maharashtra government has called for office bearers of the School & Co. Bus Owner’s Association to ensure the safety of school children keeping the prevailing situation in mind, reported news agency ANI.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told the state legislature that security has been tightened across the city and appealed to people not to panic.

After intelligence informed Mumbai police to be on high alert, the vigilance and CCTV surveillance has been increased in places like the airport, railway stations, and other key locations.

9:22 am IST

2 Jaish terrorists killed

At least two Jaish terrorists were killed in an encounter that broke out with security forces in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

9:20 am IST

Villagers being shifted to safer places

After cross LoC shelling and ceasefire violations , the villagers in some areas of Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri are being shifted to safer places according to officials.

9:05 am IST

Balakot camp blown up by IAF was Jaish’s preferred training spot for 18 yrs

Balakot’s Jaba Top first emerged as a preferred training ground for militants in the time of President Zia-ul-Haq. It was an ideal place for a camp for non-state actors — remote, located near a small town, yet far enough from it, on a wooded hilltop, and on Pakistani territory in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. India crossed into Pakistan’s territory in 1971 (and then again, its aircraft on Tuesday), and so the Pakistanis may have thought it was a good place to host a training camp for militants whom the rest of the world called terrorists.

8:58 am IST

Underscore priority of de-escalating current tensions by avoiding military action: Mike Pompeo to Pak foreign minister

“I spoke to Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to underscore the priority of de-escalating current tensions by avoiding military action and the urgency of Pakistan taking meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on its soil,” said US Secy of State Mike Pompeo, according to news agency ANI.

8:50 am IST

Objective was to act against terrorist infrastructure: Sushma Swaraj in China

“It wasn’t a military op, no military installation targeted. Objective was to act against terrorist infrastructure of JeM to preempt another terror attack in India. India doesn’t wish to see further escalation of situation. It’ll continue to act with responsibility and restraint,” said external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj at the 16th Foreign Ministers meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) in Wuzhen, China.

8:45 am IST

Target selected to avoid civilian casualties: Sushma Swaraj

“In the light of continuing refusal of Pak to acknowledge and act against terror groups on its territory and based on credible info that JeM was planning other attacks in parts of India, GoI decided to take preemptive action and target was selected in order to avoid civilian casualties,” said external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj at the 16th foreign ministers meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) in Wuzhen, China, reported news agency ANI.

8:43 am IST

Pakistan outrightly denied any knowledge of Pulwama attack: Sushma Swaraj

“Such dastardly terrorist attacks are a grim reminder for the need of all the countries to show zero tolerance to terrorism and take decisive action against it.

Following the Pulwama terrorist attack instead of taking seriously the calls by international community to act against Jaish-e-Mohammed and other terror groups based in Pakistan, it denied any knowledge of the attack and outrightly dismissed claims by Jaish-e-Mohammed,” said external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj at the 16th foreign ministers meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) in Wuzhen, China, reported news agency ANI.

8:40 am IST

Did the US know of India’s strike on Balakot? And how much?

Asked about India’s right to self-defence, President Donald Trump told reporters last week, “India is looking at something very strong. And, I mean, India just lost almost 50 people and… with an attack, so I can understand that also.”

And his national security adviser John Bolton had on his own told reporters at a briefing that he had conveyed to his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval in a phone call “that we support India’s right to self-defence”.

8:37 am IST

Only 7 people knew of timing of air strike

On February 18, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had approved the strike. According to intelligence officials, only seven people knew of this decision – Modi, Doval, the three service chiefs, and the heads of RAW and Intelligence Bureau.

Starting February 22, the Air Force started flying night sorties from various frontline bases to confuse the Pakistanis. On February 25, intelligence inputs suggested the presence of a large number of JeM terrorists, around 300-350, at the Balakot camp. The same evening it was decided to go ahead with the strike immediately. Modi knew by late evening that an attack could happen in the next few hours.

8:31 am IST

Exercise ‘maximum restraint’: UN chief to India, Pakistan

UN chief Antonio Guterres is following the situation between India and Pakistan “very closely” and has appealed to the governments of both nations to exercise “maximum restraint” to ensure the situation does not deteriorate further, a top UN official said Tuesday.

The UN Secretary General’s remarks came after Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a pre-dawn air strike on a terror training camp inside Pakistan.

8:27 am IST

Pak must take ‘action’ against terror groups: US after IAF strikes

Pakistan must take ‘meaningful action’ against terror groups, says US after IAF strikes on Jaish camp, reported news agency PTI

8:25 am IST

Encounter underway between militants, security forces in J-K’s Shopian

An encounter broke out on Wednesday between militants and security forces in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said. Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Meemendar area of Shopian following information about presence of militants there, the officials said.

They said the search operation turned into an encounter after militants opened firing towards the security forces, who retaliated.

Source: Hindustan Times

26/02/2019

MFA hosts promotional event of Shanxi

BEIJING, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — A promotional event for northern China’s Shanxi Province was hosted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Monday.

As the 17th presentation of the MFA’s Chinese provinces initiative, this Shanxi event was themed “China in the New Era: Shanxi, New Transformation for a Shared New Future.”

“Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Shanxi has moved with the times and embarked on a new journey of innovative development,” said Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Wang added that Shanxi is vigorously promoting a greener economy and forging new industrial clusters.

Shanxi’s primary goals are to build a demonstration zone in transformation and development of a resource-based economy, become a pioneer in China’s energy revolution and turn itself into a landmark in opening-up among China’s inland provinces, said Luo Huining, secretary of Shanxi Provincial Committee of the CPC.

Shanxi is a province that boasts a glorious history and booming development, said Clemens von Goetze, Germany ambassador to China.

He added that Germany has discovered cooperation opportunities in Shanxi since the beginning of China’s reform and opening-up.

Mark Sutton, business development director with Johnson Matthey, a Britain-based global energy and chemical company, first visited Shanxi in 2005.

The environment over the past few years has become cleaner and inspiring, said Sutton, adding that Shanxi’s vision to protect the environment is valued. “I wish to spend more time at Shanxi’s historic sites and surrounded by natural sceneries during my next trip.”

The MFA hosted its first provincial promotional event in March 2016 in order to serve national development, facilitate regional opening-up and offer foreigners a platform to learn more about China.

More than 500 people, including diplomats from over 130 countries, representatives from international organizations, business people and journalists, attended the Monday event.

Source: Xinhua

25/02/2019

India toughens Kashmir crackdown; five dead in battle with militants, more detained

SRINAGAR (Reuters) – Five people were killed in a gun battle between members of a Pakistani militant group and Indian security forces in disputed Kashmir on Sunday as India intensified a security

Indian authorities have killed at least eight JeM militants and detained around 50 militants, sympathizers and their relatives since the bomb attack, which also sparked the roundup of separatists which India says is needed to head off trouble ahead of a general election to be held by May.

Most of those rounded up over the last two days were linked to the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI).

“Since JeI has a wider network across Kashmir and they are mobilising anti-India protests, their arrest could help in curbing such protests ahead of elections,” the senior police officer said.

 

One well-known separatist leader, Abdul Gani Bhat, was placed under house arrest, according to his political party.

Separatists called a strike to protest against the detentions. Many shops, petrol stations, and businesses closed, with few people and vehicles on streets in sensitive areas, except for troop patrols.

In some areas of the main city of Srinagar, the government limited the movement of people and vehicles.

“The restrictions have been imposed as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident,” the police said.

FUEL SUPPLIES LOW

 

The government of Jammu and Kashmir said fuel rationing had been introduced in the Kashmir Valley where there was only enough gasoline for one day, diesel for four days and no liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

The government said it would seek to increase supplies to the region and that shortages are the result of road blockages after the suicide bomb attack.

Indian paramilitary troops in riot gear arrived in strength at first light, said Shakeel Ahmad, a resident of Nowhatta in the Srinagar district.

“At places, they have blocked the main roads with steel barricades and concertina wire,” he said.

State Governor Satya Pal Malik called on residents not to believe “rumours of any extreme nature”. The government said an increase in police numbers was to prevent candidates and voters from being intimidated into not standing or voting in the general election.

Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who chairs the Hurriyat Conference of separatist groups, said arbitrary arrests and jailing of leaders, activists and young people for their political beliefs had happened across Kashmir for 30 years.

“Intimidating activists and leadership will not deter them from their path, nor will it stop people from demanding the resolution of the Kashmir dispute through self-determination,” he said.

Reuters’ telephone calls to the Indian home ministry to seek comment went unanswered.

TENSIONS RAISED

The suicide bomb attack has raised tensions between India and Pakistan which both claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part. India blames Pakistan for harbouring militant groups operating in Kashmir, which Pakistan denies.

After the attack, India dropped trade privileges for Pakistan and prepared to send as many as 10,000 more troops to the contested area, according to a home ministry letter seen by Reuters.

The Indian army said that early on Sunday evening Pakistan violated the two nations’ ceasefire at the Rajouri area of the border, through shelling from mortars and small arms fire. Defence spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Devender Anand said the Indian army was “retaliating strongly and effectively”.

Ceasefire violations are not unusual along the border.

A Pakistani security official said Pakistani forces had not initiated any action but had responded to Indian firing.

Kashmir is likely to be a key issue in India’s election, distracting from concerns about how Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party have managed the economy.

Modi has promised a strong response to the attack, saying in a monthly radio broadcast on Sunday that it had caused anguish to all of India.

Modi added that the army had vowed to destroy the militants and those who helped them.

Islamabad has warned it would respond with “full force” if attacked. On Sunday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called on India to show restraint or it would put “the entire region’s peace and security at stake”.
India’s Supreme Court will hear a case this week seeking to drop a constitutional provision that bars non-residents from moving to the state of Jammu and Kashmir that encompasses the Muslim-majority region.

 

If passed, it could further escalate tensions.

Source: Reuters

24/02/2019

North Korea’s Kim on his way by train to summit with Trump in Vietnam

SEOUL/HANOI (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his way across China by train on Sunday, media reported, bound for a high-stakes second nuclear summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Vietnam’s capital of Hanoi.

Few details of Kim’s trip have been announced but he left Pyongyang by train on Saturday afternoon for the Feb. 27-28 summit accompanied by senior North Korean officials as well as his influential sister, North Korea’s state media reported.

Trump and Kim will meet in Hanoi eight months after their historic summit in Singapore, the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, where they pledged to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

With little progress since then, the two leaders are expected to focus on what elements of North Korea’s nuclear programme it might begin to give up, in exchange for U.S. concessions.

In rare, revealing coverage of Kim’s travel, while it is still going on, the North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper featured photographs of him getting a red-carpet send-off in Pyongyang and waving from a train carriage door while holding a cigarette.

 

He was accompanied by top officials also involved in the Singapore summit, including Kim Yong Chol, a former spy chief and Kim’s top envoy in negotiations with the United States, as well as senior party aide Ri Su Yong, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and defence chief No Kwang Chol.

The North Korean leader’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who acted as a close aide in Singapore, is again part of the delegation, the North’s KCNA news agency reported. It made no mention of his wife, Ri Sol Ju.

The extensive coverage in the secretive North’s official media was a contrast to the limited reporting that has traditionally prevailed during his foreign trips.

Other senior officials, such as his de facto chief of staff Kim Chang Son and Kim Hyok Chol, negotiations counterpart to U.S. envoy Stephen Biegun, were already in Hanoi to prepare for the summit.

With scant progress since the June summit, the two leaders are likely to try to build on their personal connection to push things forward in Hanoi, even if only incrementally, analysts said.

Both sides are under pressure to forge more specific agreements than were reached in Singapore, which critics, especially in the United States, said lacked detail.

 

“They will not make an agreement which breaks up the current flow of diplomacy. (President Trump) has mentioned that they’ll meet again; even if there is a low-level agreement, they will seek to keep things moving,” said Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

LEARNING FROM VIETNAM

The Trump administration has pressed the North to give up its nuclear weapons programme, which, combined with its missile capabilities, poses a threat to the United States, before it can expect any concessions.

North Korea wants an easing of punishing U.S.-led sanctions, security guarantees and a formal end of the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a treaty.

Few details of summit arrangements have been released.

Some lamp posts on Hanoi’s tree-lined streets are decked with North Korean, U.S. and Vietnamese flags fluttering above a handshake design, and security has been stepped up at locations that could be the summit venue, or where the leaders might stay.

It could take Kim at least 2-1/2 days to travel to Vietnam by train.

Some carriages of a green train were spotted at Beijing’s station on Sunday, but it was not confirmed it was Kim’s.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said Kim’s train had passed through a station in China’s port city of Tianjin, southeast of Beijing, at around 1 p.m. (0500 GMT).

China has given no details of his trip. Its foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two top North Korean officials who were not in Singapore but will be in Hanoi are Kim Phyong Hae and O Su Yong, vice chairmen of the party’s Central Committee, respectively in charge of personnel management and industrial affairs, KCNA reported.

O is a former minister of electronics and vice minister of metals and machine building. He might try to learn about Vietnam’s development of manufacturing, analysts said.

Kim Jong Un may tour some economic facilities while in Vietnam.

Vietnam, like North Korea, fought a war against the United States and keeps tight control over its people and economy. It has been touted as a model for North Korea’s development.

Vietnamese media reported that a North Korean cargo plane arrived on Sunday carrying personnel who appeared to be Kim’s security guards and state media workers. They were driven under police escort to a downtown hotel.

Source: Reuters

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