Mysterious blast rips through Beirut, ripples felt across the sea

Over 100 people were killed and another 4,000 seriously injured as a gigantic, nuclear-like explosion rocked Lebanon capital Beirut on Tuesday evening. The blast happened at 6 pm local time at the port area in Central Beirut. It as so powerful it sent up a huge mushroom-shaped shock wave flipping vehicles and blowing out windows of even buildings 10 km away. So much so, its impact could be felt even across the Mediterranean sea in…

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Indian Defence Minister Visits Ladakh

Even as the border tension stand-off between India and China is yet to abate, India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited the Stakna forward areas in Leh, the capital of Ladakh on Friday.  During his interaction with soldiers at the Lukung post near Pangong Lake, Singh said, “Not an inch of our land can be taken by any power in the world.” He said India is a peace-loving nation but it will never tolerate attempts to…

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Nepal does a China, and Hou!

Days after China blocked access to Indian newspapers and television channels to deny its citizens of credible news from across the border, China’s vassal Nepal decided to please its master but it did not have the courage to do it openly. So, instead of announcing a government ban on Indian media, the Nepal government nudged its cable TV operators to do so on its behalf. Effective Thursday, all Indian television channels save state-owned Doordarshan have…

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India cuts Pakistan by half

Days after two Indian diplomats faced harassment in Pakistan, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Tuesday summoned the Charge d’ Affaires of Pakistan to convey New Delhi’s decision to “reduce the staff strength in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi by 50%”. This effectively means India will expel half the Pak diplomats. According to a statement issued by the MEA, India will reciprocally reduce its own presence in Islamabad to the same proportion….

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‘Historical injustice as India’s role in WW-II remains unacknowledged’

Excerpts from India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar’s opening remarks at the RIC trilateral foreign ministers’ video conference on June 23, 2020 Friends, We welcome this special RIC meeting of Foreign Ministers to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second World War, as well as the foundation of the United Nations. The victory over Nazism and Fascism was achieved through sacrifices across many theatres by many countries. India made a significant contribution, with…

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Citizenship law: Are Indian Muslims tilting at windmills?

India is going through a peculiar situation. Days after President Ramnath Kovind signed off on the amended law that offers citizenship to the persecuted minorities of three neighbouring countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – Muslims across the country are demanding the law should not be implemented. Reason? Foreign Muslims illegally entering India are not guaranteed automatic citizenship under the amended law. When amendments to the citizenship law were passed by both Houses of Parliament…

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Here’s the world’s youngest PM

When Finnish transport minister Sanna Mirella Marin takes over as Prime Minister of the Nordic country later this week, she will be the world’s youngest Prime Minister at 34 – younger than Ukrain’s 35 years young premier Oleksiy Honcharuk and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern who is 39. Marin was elected to the top post by her Social Democratic party late on Sunday after its leader, Antti Rinne, quit as PM after his credentials were questioned…

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Is Sweden the world’s best country for women?

MONICA BOSE RAGHAVAN There are not many countries in the world where more than half the ministers and over 40% of the Members of Parliament are women. Sweden scores on both fronts. But, then, Sweden is not like any other nation. It proudly calls itself the world’s first ‘feminist government’ where gender equality tops everything else. Facts first. Twelve of the 22 ministers are women, so are 46% of Parliamentarians. The figures stand tall when…

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The Stockholm Ministerial Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament and the Non-Proliferation Treaty

Ministerial declaration, Stockholm, 11 June 2019 We, the participating states – Argentina, Canada, Finland, Ethiopia, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland – to the Stockholm Ministerial Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), met today to discuss how nuclear disarmament can be advanced. We are one year away from the 50th anniversary of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the cornerstone of the global nuclear disarmament…

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Sweden to host ministerial meeting on nuclear disarmament

In a fresh initiative to ratchet up international opinion towards a nuclear weapons-free world, Sweden plans to host an international ministerial meeting in Stockholm on June 11 on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The purpose of the meeting, to be hosted by Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström, is to discuss how governments can work together to create political pressure for disarmament. Argentina, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, New Zealand,…

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Iran: What’s Trump’s game plan?

Clouds of war are hovering over West Asia with the US and Iran hardening their stance. While tensions between the two countries have risen sharply ever since Donald Trump became the US President, the latest impasse was triggered by Iran’s threat that it would stop respecting an international deal it signed in 2015 agreeing to restrict its nuclear pursuits unless its demands are met within two months. Iran wants an end to the US sanctions,…

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Why Italy and India swapped year for hosting G20 summit

Italy was supposed to host the G20 summit only in 2022 but it would now host the group of 20 meeting a year earlier, in 2021. Likewise, India was to be the host of the world leaders’ annual meet in 2021. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India would do it a year later, in 2022, instead. India gained freedom from the British colonial rule in 1947 and year 2022 would mark 75 years…

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Why Pakistan doesn’t bother India

Donald Trump’s New Year gamble seems to be paying off. A day after the US President accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit” and “fooling America” in its commitment to fighting terrorism, events unfolded on Tuesday exactly as the net assessment forecast. A baffled Pakistan first tried to shrug off Trump’s devastating tweet as a non-issue, then questioned the US questioning and finally panicked being forced to knock at the doors of China. And China, exactly as expected, jumped to the rescue of its beleaguered neighbour saying the latter has done enough to wipe out terrorism from its soil and neighbourhood!

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Schools in Pakistan unsafe, India tells its diplomats in Islamabad

Citing unnamed sources, Indian media has reported that New Delhi has told its diplomats in Islamabad that their wards can no longer study in Pakistan schools. While Indian diplomats posted in Pakistan can’t have their children living with them, spouses will be allowed to stay, say the reports. While Indian diplomats posted in Pakistan can’t have their children living with them, spouses will be allowed to stay, say the reports. The reports follow a similar…

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the Joint Session of US Congress

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Distinguished Members of the U.S. Congress Ladies and Gentlemen. I am deeply honoured by the invitation to address this Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress. Thank you, Mr. Speaker for opening the doors of this magnificent Capitol. This temple of democracy has encouraged and empowered other democracies the world over. It manifests the spirit of this great nation, which in Abraham Lincoln’s words, “was conceived in liberty and dedicated to…

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The Trump Card

By EMILY SCHAUER BROWN    Till a few weeks ago, nobody would have taken Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump seriously. His background in business and flare for drama that has led him from industry to industry, including a stint in Hollywood as the creator of the The Apprentice, meant that voters and potential competition alike didn’t view him as a real contender for the oval office. Yet now, in early 2016, America finds itself facing the…

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Pakistan denies visa to Indian actor Anupam Kher

Indian actor Anupam Kher has said he’s been denied visa to attend the Karachi Literature Festival (KLF), which begins February 5. Kher, who was among the 18 Indians invited to participate, was to deliver a speech at the festival. Kher took to Twitter to express his disappointment. “I feel bad for all those people who were looking forward to meet me in Pakistan and vice versa. Sorry to them. Hopefully one day.” Thereafter, in a series…

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Diplomatic News Turns Five!

Dear readers, Diplomatic News – India (www.diplomaticnews.in) was launched on January 1, 2011 to capture the diplomatic, geo-political, strategic developments around the world that have a direct bearing on India. As Diplomatic News turns five, we are in the process of creating a panel of writers from various countries. If you are interested, let us know and we can brainstorm some exciting story ideas. Sincerely, Editor editor@diplomaticnews.in

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India is in Afghanistan to contribute, not compete: Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address at the Parliament of Afghanistan Eight centuries ago, a famous son of Balkh Province, one of the greatest poets in human history, Jalaluddin Rumi, wrote, “Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that gives flowers, not thunder”. This is the wisdom of this magnificent land and a great nation. A land where legends are born – of poetry and beauty, of valour and honour, of pride and…

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Pakistan’s dangerous game in India

The recent terrorist attacks in Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), India’s northern states bordering Pakistan, have once again exposed military-ruled Pakistan’s nasty game in the region. At Gurdaspur in Punjab, three terrorists killed seven people – three unarmed civilians and four policemen, including a superintendent of police – and attacked a police station, before getting themselves killed by Indian forces following a 12-hour gun battle. At Udhampur in J&K, two Pakistani terrorists attacked a…

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What Arun Jaitley’s US visit has achieved

  By EMILY SCHAUER Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley recently made a trip to the US in an effort to maintain ties with the US and drum up foreign investments. Seeking to increase the flow of American investment to India, Jaitley highlighted several improvements in India that boost investment appeal. Specifically, he cited improvements in tax structure and a key shift in perception of foreign investment. The Wall Street Journal quoted him as saying:  “When…

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India reclaims its most relaxing export

By EMILY SCHAUER Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has successfully lobbied the United Nations to adopt an International Day of Yoga, which will debut on June 21, 2015, tying the now-international physical, mental and spiritual practice back to its Indian origins. Yoga is a practice heartily embraced throughout the Western world as people – Americans in particular – seek effective ways to relieve the stress of their fast-paced lives and improve physical fitness. A pose-based…

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A War Between Two Worlds

By George Friedman The murders of cartoonists who made fun of Islam and of Jews shopping for their Sabbath meals by Islamists in Paris last week have galvanized the world. A galvanized world is always dangerous. Galvanized people can do careless things. It is in the extreme and emotion-laden moments that distance and coolness are most required. I am tempted to howl in rage. It is not my place to do so. My job is…

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India foils suspected terror bid by Pakistan

Four suspected terrorists from Pakistan, who were supposedly sailing in a fishing boat in the direction of Gujarat in India, blew themselves up when intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) on January 1, 2015 in the Arabian Sea, India’s defence ministry said in a statement on Friday. The ICG had warned the occupants of the boat – which was “carrying explosives” according to the defence ministry statement – to stop for inspecting its cargo….

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India, Pakistan exchange list of nuclear installations

On the first day of the New Year, India and Pakistan exchanged the list of their nuclear installations under a bilateral treaty that bars the two countries from attacking each other’s atomic facilities. This is an annual practice in vogue since 1991 when the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations was signed between the two South-Asian nuclear powers. Thursday’s was the 24th such exchange between the two countries, the first one having…

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Abe wins re-election in Japan’s snap polls

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe got a shot in the arm with his ruling coalition winning a new two-thirds majority in the elections held on Sunday. The win, in which Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) retained its majority in the House of Representatives, is seen as a referendum on his economic policy, known as Abenomics. LDP and its coalition partner Komeito party have together won 325 seats (LDP 290 seats, Komeito 35), two-thirds of the…

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Climate deal clinched at Lima

After two weeks of intense talks during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima, Peru, delegates from 194 countries came to an agreement on how to tackle climate change. The deal – the “Lima call for climate action” – includes a framework for setting national pledges, which will be submitted to another summit slated to be held in Paris next year. The Paris summit is supposed to finalise the framework, which…

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Russia to retain its position as India’s top defence supplier

During his sixth visit to India on 11 December 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin received an assurance from India that Russia would remain a top defence supplier for India. “Even as India’s options have increased today, Russia will remain our most important defence partner,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement after his meeting with Putin at the 15th annual India-Russia summit. This is significant in that it is meant to clear Russia’s…

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The ticking nuclear bomb

The threat of use, or misuse, of nuclear weapons is real and the consequences of such an event will be catastrophic, the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons warned. The two-day conference, which ended on December 9, 2014 in the Austrian capital, sought to draw global attention to the impact of nuclear weapons on health, environment, agriculture and food security, migration and economy, among others. High-ranking officials from 158 countries and representatives…

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Senate report puts CIA in the dock

The interrogation methods used by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on detainees were ineffective, much harsher than previously revealed and often produced wrong information, according to the executive summary of a report de-classified by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released on Tuesday. Only the 528-page summary has been de-classified. The full report of about 6,700 pages remains classified. The very first point under the “findings and conclusions” in the summary is that, “The…

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Obama names Ashton Carter as new defence secretary

US President Barack Obama picked the man who described the US as “the single most important provider of security in the world” as the new defence secretary. The nomination of Ashton Carter as Pentagon Chief comes about a week after Obama reportedly pressured former defence secretary Chuck Hagel to resign. The Senate still needs to confirm the President’s nomination to make the appointment effective. Carter, a former Deputy Secretary of Defence, has a “unique blend of…

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Will India ever overtake China?

Yes, says Goldman Sachs. And as early as 2016, by which time India’s economy is estimated to grow faster than China’s. According to the American investment bank, India’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016 will grow at the rate of 6.8 per cent, while China’s will be 6.7 per cent. If it indeed happens, it will make history in modern times, as it will be the first time India overtakes China. Goldman Sachs’ prediction is…

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Chuck Hagel bears the burden of America’s disillusionment with Obama

OPINION By EMILY SCHAUER Last week it was announced that Chuck Hagel submitted his resignation to President Obama. In the ensuing days, there was more speculation than fact rolling around the wires as America decided how it felt about this news. Since his announcement, there has been significant talk over why—and especially why now—Hagel is leaving, after having been strongly loyal to the administration. The general feeling is that in the world of politics, someone…

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“Forward Together We Go”

Text of speech delivered by US Trade Representative Michael Froman at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, New Delhi, on November 24, 2014.   “I’ve been coming here for the past 15 years, as a tourist, as a business person and as a government official, but this is my first trip to India as the United States Trade Representative. It’s a special honor to be here to co-chair the U.S.-India Trade Policy…

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Obama announces unilateral immigration reform

By EMILY SCHAUER On Thursday, US President Barack Obama announced his plan to act unilaterally on the hot-button immigration issue by issuing an Executive Order. Opponents, primarily members of the Republican Party, decry his action as unlawful, and to some, it is an impeachable offence. In his speech announcing the reforms, Obama was less than subtle as he discussed mounting frustration with a Congress in stalemate, calling out the millions of people whose lives are…

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Obama to be chief guest of India’s Republic Day

US President Barack Obama on Friday set the ball rolling for creating history by accepting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invitation to be the Chief Guest of India’s Republic Day on January 26, 2015. For one, Obama will be the first US President to be India’s chief guest during Republic Day. In addition, Obama will be the first US President to visit India twice while in office. Obama also visited India in 2010 during his…

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Rajapaksa seeks third term as Sri Lankan president

Seeking a third term, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday announced presidential elections ahead of schedule. The decision to hold presidential polls, expected in January next year, comes two years before the expiry of 69-year-old Rajapaksa’s current six-year term. “I am declaring a secret today. I have signed the proclamation calling for the election, for re-election for the third time. That is democracy,” Rajapaksa said on television Thursday. A statement from his office said,…

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G20 leaders commit to reviving global economy

Ebola and climate change were among the non-economic topics mentioned in a joint statement by the Group of Twenty (G20) after their two-day summit in Brisbane, Australia that ended on Sunday, Nov. 16. On the economic front, the leaders of the G20 committed to reviving the subdued global economy with a $2 trillion, or 2.1  per cent, boost in global GDP over the next five years. Overall, the G20 leaders committed to a package of…

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India, US reach deal to break WTO impasse

In a major victory for India, the US on Thursday agreed to support the former’s demand to be allowed to continue with its food stockpiling scheme. In return, India will lift its veto on a global agreement on streamlining customs rules, known as the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), being negotiated by the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). With this, the TFA – which is estimated to add $1 trillion to the world economy…

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Indian PM Narendra Modi to Visit Myanmar, Australia and Fiji

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have an unusually-long 10-day foreign trip starting November 11, 2014. “Starting 11th November I would be travelling to Myanmar, Australia and Fiji to participate in various summits and bilateral meetings,” Modi said in a statement. The Indian PM is to attend two key multilateral summits – ASEAN & East Asia Summits – in Myanmar. “Our ties with South East Asia are deep rooted. Strengthening relations with ASEAN nations is…

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Sweden Recognises Palestine. Will Others Follow?

One of the first foreign policy announcements made by Stefan Lofven upon taking over as Prime Minister of Sweden early this month was that Sweden would be the first country in European Union (EU) to recognise Palestine. On Thursday, Sweden officially recognised the state of Palestine, a move welcomed by Palestinians but roundly derided by Israel, which is locked in a long-drawn conflict with Palestine. “The purpose of Sweden’s recognition is to contribute to a…

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Singapore is the best country in the world to do business: World Bank

Singapore is the most business-friendly economy in the world, according to the latest annual study by the World Bank, “Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency”. This is the ninth consecutive year the Southeast Asian country has been ranked the best country to do business. The top 10 countries in terms of business business-friendly regulatory environments are Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong SAR, China, Denmark, the Republic of Korea, Norway, the United States, the United Kingdom,…

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India to supply naval vessels to Vietnam

In a subtle message to China, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that India would supply naval vessels to Vietnam. This would be India’s first significant military transfer to Hanoi. The development is notable as it comes at a time when Vietnam is tied in a territorial dispute with China on the south China sea. Modi’s announcement came after his meeting with visiting Vietamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Besides agreeing to help…

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Dilma’s Dilemma

Having won the tightly-contested the Presidential election, albeit by a narrow margin, Dilma Rousseff has her task cut out. In her second term as Brazilian president, Dilma has the tough job of perking up the country’s stagnant economy in her four-year term. Acknowledging the challenge ahead, Dilma said she should take measures to combat inflation as well as boost industrial output. “I will promote actions in the economy to resume our growth speed and ensure…

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US disrupting world order: Putin

Squarely blaming the US for disrupting the world order by seeking to impose its will on other nations, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday warned that new wars will break out if Washington doesn’t learn to respect the interests of other countries. Putin was speaking on “The World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules” to a group of political scholars at a meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi, Russia. The…

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India re-elected to UNHRC

In a notable victory, India has been re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the term 2015-17, receiving the highest number of votes – 162 – in the Asia-Pacific group. India is already a member of the 47-nation UNHRC and its term is due to end on 31 December, 2014. Along with India, Bangladesh, Qatar and Indonesia also made it to the UNHRC. India was competing in the Asia-Pacific group in which…

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Geopolitics of the Syrian Civil War

By Reva Bhalla International diplomats will gather on January 22 in the Swiss town of Montreux to hammer out a settlement designed to end Syria’s three-year civil war. The conference, however, will be far removed from the reality on the Syrian battleground. Only days before the conference was scheduled to begin, a controversy threatened to engulf the proceedings after the United Nations invited Iran to participate, and Syrian rebel representatives successfully pushed for the offer…

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Manmohan Singh’s speech at the 68th UN General Assembly

September 28, 2013 Your Excellency, President of the General Assembly, Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Let me first of all congratulate you, Mr. President, on your election to the presidency of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly. We wish you every success and we assure you of our fullest co-operation. Mr. President, At a time when the world is facing multiple challenges, there is renewed attention on the role of the United Nations…

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Manmohan-Obama joint statement

September 27, 2013 Washington DC The Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh and the President of the United States of America Barack Obama met this morning followed by a working luncheon at the White House. Marking their third bilateral summit, the two leaders reflected proudly on the transformation of United States-India relations during the last decade, affirming that the partnership between the two democratic nations is stronger today than at any point in their…

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US eases sanctions on Syria

Seeking to enable relief and reconstruction activities in opposition-controlled areas of Syria, the US has eased economic sanctions on the country, the US Department of State said in a statement to the media. According to the media note, which was reviewed by Diplomatic News, Secretary of State John F. Kerry signed a limited waiver of the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003. “The waiver authorises the export and re-export, subject to case-by-case…

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Will Israel flare up Syria conflict?

Keeping in line with its policy on such incidents, Israel has chosen to “neither confirm nor deny” its role in the bombing of the neighbouring Syrian capital. According to media reports, Israel did a ‘pre-emptive’ strike on Syrian army facilities in the capital city of Damascus on Sunday. Israeli sources reportedly said that Iranian weapons bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon were the target. Media reports quoted a senior Israeli official as saying the airstrikes targeted…

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Chinese troops withdraw from Indian territory

In a major relief to peaceniks, the three-week face-off between India and China has ended. By Sunday evening, the Chinese troops have started withdrawing from their newly erected tents on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) which India claimed was 19 kms inside Indian territory. The move comes as a result of a flurry of diplomatic activity and behind-the-scenes strategic maneuvering at the highest levels of government on both sides. India had made it amply…

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China refuses to budge, Indo-Sino tension may escalate

China refuses to budge, Indo-Sino tension may escalate

With the standoff between India and China over Chinese troops’ alleged incursion into Indian territory entering the third week, two bilateral visits are at stake. Indian foreign minister Salman Khurshid’s proposed China visit on May 9 and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s trip to India – his first foreign sojourn after taking over – later this month. India accuses China of crossing over 19 kms into the Indian side of line of actual control (LAC) in…

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Why did NTU reject journalism professor’s tenure appeal?

Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has rejected the application for tenure renewal by journalism professor Cherian George, reports Strait Times. This is the second time the university has denied the tenure appeal of the professor. NTU’s decision to let go of Prof George, who is popular among students and has won several awards for excellence in teaching, has not gone down well with students and other faculty members. Four of the university’s most senior faculty…

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Sarabjit Singh is dead, India furious at ‘inhuman’ Pakistan

The love-hate relations between India and Pakistan suffered another blow with the death of Indian citizen Sarabjit Singh in Pakistan. Singh was badly beaten up last week in a Pakistani jail allegedly by fellow inmates. Singh suffered a serious head injury and slipped into coma soon after. He was in a Pakistani hospital for four days. He had been arrested in 1991 and sentenced to death by a Pakistani court on charges of spying and…

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‘US grads a disillusioned lot’

As many as 40 per cent of US college graduates are either unemployed or unemployable as they need further training before they can get their first job, according to an online survey done on Tuesday. The poll was conducted by global management consulting firm Accenture. It surveyed 1,050 workers who finished college in the past two years and 1,010 who will receive their degree this year. A sizeable chunk of respondents who are employed are…

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Multiple explosions shake Iraq

More than 20 people have lost their lives in the latest spate of bomb attacks in Iraq on Monday. About five bombs went off in the majority Shia Muslim areas, bringing the national death toll over the past week to 200. There has been a steady spike in sectarian violence following clashes at a Sunni protest camp in the northern part of the country. Some 20 people had died last week when security forces broke…

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Blast Rocks Prague

A powerful explosion ripped through an office building in Prague, the Czech capital, at 9.56 am local time. Initial reports quote Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda as saying it’s a gas explosion and not a terrorist attack. About 40 people have been reportedly injured and some people could be trapped under the rubble. The building is on a side street near the historic National Theater. Prague’s Charles University and the Film and TV School of the Academy…

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India’s exports rebound

Is Indian economy slowly coming out of the woods? The country’s February exports figures seem to indicate so. The latest exports data, released today, showed that India exported goods worth $26.26 billion in February, a slight improvement over January’s $25.5 billion. When compared to the figures in February last year, the latest exports figures show a growth of 4.23 per cent. This is the second consecutive month that India is showing improvement in exports. Prior…

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Inadequate Budget for India’s defence forces

Amid a slowing economy and dismal foreign investor confidence in the country, India has sought to present a subdued annual Budget for the next financial year (April 2013 to March 2014). In the Budget released on 28 February, Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram proposed to tax the super rich, and increase allocation to pro-poor schemes such as National Food Security programme. Defence spending has got a moderate increase of five per cent over the last year’s…

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Delhi gang rape protests shadow Putin’s India visit

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India comes at a most inopportune time. New Delhi is witnessing an unprecedented massive protest campaign – mostly led by the city’s University students – against the increasing incidence of rapes in the capital city. The latest trigger is the gang rape of a 23-year-old para medical student in private bus last week. As Delhi will likely remain a fortress today with India Gate – the epicentre of the…

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Japan’s LDP sweeps to power

After about three years in opposition, Japan’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won the national parliamentary elections on Sunday, paving the way for former Prime Minister 58-year-old Shinzo Abe’s return to power.  LDP and allies won 325 seats in the 480-seat lower house. Abe, who is widely described as “hawkish” and “nationalist”, was Japan’s PM during 2006-2007. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda accepted the defeat of his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). Political observers hope this…

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Egyptian Military Forces Morsi To Compromise

Three weeks after issuing it, Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi today revoked the controversial decree that gave him sweeping emergency powers. This is expected to defuse the violent protests and growing political tension gripping the country. The decision came after exhaustive talks among representatives of Muslim Brotherhood, the political movement to which Morsi belongs. Although invited, the umbrella opposition group, National Salvation Front, boycotted the meeting. Interestingly, Morsi’s backing down came soon after the powerful Egyptian…

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Is China smiling as India-Male relations sour?

The row between the Maldives and an Indian company, GMR Group, over the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in the tiny island nation, threatens to mar the otherwise friendly relations between the two countries. In the latest development, a higher court in Singapore ruled on 6 December 2012 that Maldives can do what it wants with the airport, which the Indian company is developing, and even take over it. If GMR has to withdraw, it will…

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Will West Asia be a better place with Palestine’s new UN status?

From the looks of it, Palestine has the world on its side. On Friday, it won 139 votes in its favour against 9 votes against it, thus winning a thumping majority for new status at the United Nations (UN) as a non-member UN observer. However, Palestine’s new upgraded status has not helped mitigate the conflict. If anything, the new development has only hardened its opponent’s stand. On Saturday, as if as a response, Israel announced…

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Taliban attacks Shia processions in Pakistan, 36 killed

In one of the bloodiest terror attacks, 36 people have been killed in Pakistan on Wednesday night as Taliban terrorists including suicide bombers targeted security forces and Shia processions in Rawalpindi and Karachi during the Islamic month of Muharram. In Rawalpindi, the bomber blew himself up when security personnel prevented him from joining the procession that was on its way to a Shia prayer hall. As many as 68 people have been seriously injured in…

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Israel, Hamas agree on ceasefire

After eight bloody days that saw 900 missiles being launched into Israel by Hamas militants, 1,500 bombings by Israel in the Gaza strip and the killing of 154 Palestinians and five Israelis, Israel and Palestine group Hamas have agreed on a ceasefire on Wednesday, which alone saw at least 13 people die in Gaza. The ceasefire was announced by Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamel Amr at a news conference in Cairo with US Secretary of State…

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Ajmal Kasab hanged to death

India today executed Mohammed Ajmal Mohammed Amir Kasab, the lone survivor of the 10-member Lashkar-e-Tayyiba terrorist squad that killed more than 160 people of various nationalities in Mumbai on 26 November 2008. The other nine terrorists were killed during the encounter with India’s security forces. Kasab, a Pakistani national, was hanged to death at 7:30 am local time at Pune’s Yerwada jail on Wednesday, 21 October, five days before the fourth anniversary of the bloody…

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Discovery of Nehru

By Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson, National League for Democracy, Myanmar (Excerpts from Suu Kyi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture in New Delhi on November 14, 2012) There can be few occasions in life more fulfilling than those on which debts of kindness and friendship can be repaid. These past few months have furnished me with many opportunities to thank peoples and organizations and governments for their staunch support for the democratic cause in Burma and…

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Obama Irks Indian Politicians

US President Barack Obama’s comment that India should open up more sectors to foreign investment has Indian political leaders up in arms. In an interview to the Press Trust of India, Obama had said that India’s prohibitive investment climate was a matter of concern for the American business community. “They (American businessmen) tell us it is still too hard to invest in India. In too many sectors, such as retail, India limits or prohibits the…

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Ethiopia & India: 2,000 years and beyond

Historical linkages between India and Ethiopia data back at least 2,000 years of recorded history, according to India’s ministry of external affairs (MEA). The oldest African country is looking up to India in more ways than one. In January-end, Ethiopia opened its first honorary consulate in Chennai. Ethiopian ambassador Gennet Zewide announced Manikam Ramaswami, CMD of Loyal Textile Mills Ltd., as an Honorary Consul in Chennai. Then, on 8 February, Ethiopia’s tourism minister Tadelech Dalcho…

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The Politics Of Buddhism

It was a spiritual event keenly watched for any political undertones. However, the 4-day Global Buddhist Congregation concluded in New Delhi on 30 November without turning political – despite the presence of Dalai Lama, who China accuses of masterminding “anti-China activities”. Delegates at the congregation unanimously passed a resolution to form a new world Buddhist body, the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), which will act as an umbrella organisation for Buddhist organisations working in different parts…

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Europe’s Crisis: Beyond Finance

BY GEORGE FRIEDMAN Everyone is wondering about the next disaster to befall Europe. Italy is one focus; Spain is also a possibility. But these crises are already under way. Instead, the next crisis will be political, not in the sense of what conventional politician is going to become prime minister, but in the deeper sense of whether Europe’s political elite can retain power, or whether new political forces are going to emerge that will completely…

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INDIA’S INSURANCE AGAINST TRADE WARS

By A.M. Godbole The notion of mutually assured destruction (MAD) helps prevent a direct full-blown military confrontation amongst nuclear weapons states. This has been an important pillar of the global security architecture in the post-second world war era. With India’s reportedly steady progress in its strategic nuclear submarine project—generally considered the most potent arm of a nuclear triad—India too shall increasingly benefit from greater conventional stability based on mutually assured destruction. Yet, MAD is no…

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Denmark Smiles

After 10 years of central-right rule, Denmark has swiftly swung to the left. In the process, it has got a new face. Literally, a good looking face. Helle Thorning-Schmidt, leader of the Danish Social Democrats, is slated to take over as the next Prime Minister of Denmark. In the recently-concluded elections, she defeated the incumbent Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen. The margin was narrow, but the victory was widely expected. However, political observers say the…

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ROMANCING ROMANIA

By Monika Skupa The land of Dracula, football craze and the Roma nomads… more than this, foreigners don’t know much about Romania. Located at the confluence point where Central, Eastern and Southern Europe meet, this European country offers a handful of breathtaking places to the travellers who are keen not only to see wonderful places, but also to feel the atmosphere and explore new cultures. Before I came to Romania, the country was a mystery…

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Whither Syria?

With the fall of the 42-year autocratic regime under Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, all eyes are now on Syria, where pro-reform activists have been fighting for the ouster of president Bashar al-Assad for the past five months. So far, the protesters have succeeded in making the government withdraw a 48-year Emergency Law but their other demands — President Bashar al-Assad to step down, for the ruling Baath Party to allow other political parties, to end…

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Libya After Gaddafi

The six-month-old liberation struggle in Libya entered a crucial phase with the rebels taking control of capital Tripoli. This more or less portends the end of the Gaddafi regime, which has been ruling the country for the past 42 years. However, at the time of writing this, there is no word about the whereabouts of Col. Moammer Gaddafi — who has not been seen in public for more than two months. There are unconfirmed reports…

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Somalia’s Struggle For Survival

By Sachu Jacob The current famine in Somalia was a disaster waiting to happen. Human suffering has been part of the history of Somalia; years of fighting between various war lords, violence and lack of governance have let this small country in the Horn of Africa sink to anarchy. Peace has been in steady decline since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991, when the Siad Barre regime was overthrown by rebels; since…

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Can Cameron Bring London Riots Under Control?

British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing his first political test. Since Saturday, London has been witnessing the worst kind of riots and looting. The rioting initially started off in Tottenham on Saturday. The trigger was the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old man, Mark Duggan, by armed police officers. Troubled started brewing in Tottenham, which has a long history of police-civilian conflict. A protest march was arranged to the police station on Saturday evening; after…

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America’s Debt Woes

Close on the heels of the US debt ceiling deal, credit agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) downgraded the US government’s credit rating from AAA to AA-plus. This is the first time in history that US gets a credit lower than the coveted AAA. Now the US is in the same league as countries such as Japan, China, Spain, Taiwan and Slovenia. However, the other two leading credit rating agencies — Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch…

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Ranjan Mathai Is India’s New Foreign Secretary

Ranjan Mathai is India’s new foreign secretary. The appointment is for two years, which can be renewed if the government so wishes. He succeeds Nirupama Rao, who has been posted as India’s ambassador to the United States. Fifty-nine-year-old Mathai hails from Kerala, a tiny state in the southern part of India, which has produced many illustrious diplomats — V.K. Krishna Menon, KPS Menon, Shashi Tharoor, Shiv Shankar Menon, Nirupama Rao, to name a few. A…

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Hina’s Maiden India Visit

The new Pakistani foreign minister’s maiden visit to India began with a lot of hope. “I bring the good wishes of the people of Pakistan and the government of Pakistan,” said Hina Rubani Khar immediately upon landing in New Delhi on Tuesday, Interestingly, Khar chose to meet separatist leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a front organisation that espouses the cause of Kashmiri separatism, before her crucial meeting with her Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna…

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Moroccan Plane Crashes, Kills 78

Agence Maghreb Arabe Press, the state news agency of Morocco, has reported that a military airplane belonging to Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces has crashed, killing at least 78 people — 60 soldiers and nine crew members; the rest are civilians. The plane was reportedly about to land at western Sahara, a disputed territory. A statement by Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces ascribed bad weather to the cause of the crash. Western Sahara is a remote mountainous…

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Pakistan Gets A Face-lift

Pakistan’s new foreign minister is only 34 years old. But that’s the least surprising factor of the new minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, who has been promoted from junior minister to the cabinet. In a deeply-conservative Pakistan, it’s the first time a woman has been appointed as a foreign minister. The appointment of the youthful, good-looking Khar in itself appears to be a conscious move. Although Pakistan President Asif Zardari insists that the appointment is purely…

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Angry Mumbai

By Sachu Jacob Mumbai is India’s commercial and entertainment hub. It is also one of the most densely populated cities in the world. So any terrorist attack on it could have maximum collateral damage. Terrorists knew it all along, and perhaps that’s why they have struck the city as often as they could. Mumbai has a long and bloody history of terror attacks starting with the 1993 which saw coordinated bomb attacks at 13 places….

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Hillary Reaches India

Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Secretary of State, arrived in New Delhi on 18 July to attend the second round of Indo-US strategic dialogue. Clinton is accompanied by a large delegation including top US counter-terrorism officials such as Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper and Deputy Secretary, Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute. Clinton will have separate meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, and several senior…

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Aishwarya postpones award ceremony

For the second time, Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan requested the French government to postpone the ceremony of the second-highest French civilian award. On 13 July, Rai was to receive the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) from Jerome Bonnafont, the Ambassador of France to India, in New Delhi. However, Ash – as the actress is fondly called – declined to accept it as she…

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Terror Revisits Mumbai

In a suspected terror attack, Mumbai, the financial capital of India, was rattled during the evening rush as three bombs ripped through crowded places within minutes of each other, killing dozens and injuring many more. Indo-Pak relations are likely to be the first casualty. Initial reports suggest that at least 20 people have lost their lives and more than 100 suffered injuries in what the Indian home minister termed “a coordinated terror attack”. It is…

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China and the End of the Deng Dynasty

By Matthew Gertken and Jennifer Richmond Beijing has become noticeably more anxious than usual in recent months, launching one of the more high-profile security campaigns to suppress political dissent since the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989. Journalists, bloggers, artists, Christians and others have been arrested or have disappeared in a crackdown prompted by fears that foreign forces and domestic dissidents have hatched any number of “Jasmine” gatherings inspired by recent events in…

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Japan Earthquake: Don’t Be Afraid

By Rev. Prof. Renta Nishihara When the great earthquake took place on 11 March, I was at the university. My bookshelves were falling, lights were swaying wildly. Turning on a TV, I saw a great tsunami about to swallow up some people. The city’s public transport at Tokyo was paralyzed, so we opened up the university campus of Rikkyo for the public. I spent the night at the university together with about 5,000 people. The…

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What’s wrong with RBI

Does India want to trade with Iran or not? It seems Indian companies do, but the government doesn’t. Or that is the signal the Indian government is giving out through its thoughtless, preposterous actions. On 27 December 2010, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) through a notice circulated to all Indian banks ruled that all payments for trade transactions would be settled outside the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) mechanism. ACU — set up in 1975…

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BBC’s Kashmir Lessons

BBC lists Kashmir as an independent country, undoes it, quietly Is Kashmir part of India, part of Pakistan, or is it a separate country? The answer might vary depending on who you ask. As far as India is concerned, Kashmir is an integral part of India just like any other Indian state. For the past few months, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) website had been treating Kashmir on par with other counties in South Asia…

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