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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

From Today's Papers - 04 Nov

Air chief marshal FH Major reaches China

Navneet 03 November 2008, Monday

THE CHIEF of air staff of the Indian air force, air chief marshal Fali Homi Major reached China today (November 3) for his week-long visit to strengthen air force to air force cooperation between the two nations. Fali Major reportedly arrived in Beijing, at the invitation of general Xu Qiliang, commander of the Chinese peoples liberation army air force (PLA AF). The visit by the Indian chief of air staff is expected to deepen understanding and strengthen mutual confidence between the two armed forces.

The visit is believed as an important milestone in bilateral defence exchanges, as it is the second ever visit of the chief of air staff of the Indian air force to China, coming seven years after air chief marshal Tipnis visited China in May 2001.


After reaching there, he met Qiliang and held discussions on bilateral issues. He will also be meeting the Chinese defence minister general Liang Guanglie during his visit. Fali Major is also supposed to visit military units in Hangzhou and witness the Zhuhai air show in which the Indian air forces’ aerobatic team, the Surya Kirans will be participating.

Cross-border terrorism threat to peace: Pranab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 3
Terrorism, which emanates from our neighbourhood, was the biggest threat to peace and security in the region, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said today, adding that the issue was compounded by danger posed by terrorists’ accessing weapons of mass destruction or related technologies.

“The series of attacks in Pakistan show the fragile internal situation of that country, a situation we continue to monitor closely and which we hope will not deteriorate. The situation in Afghanistan remains a grave concern and a resurgent Taliban poses a threat beyond Afghanistan,” he said in an address on India’s Security Challenges and Foreign Policy Imperatives at National Defence College here.

With China developing its military capabilities in outer space and doing a global search for resources, he said Beijing posed new strategic and geopolitical challenges, forcing India to look for more sophisticated ways to deal with the Asian giant.

“We (India) would need to develop more sophisticated ways of dealing with these new challenges (strategic and geopolitical) posed by China. We are today faced with a new China.”

“Today’s China seeks to further its interests more aggressively than in the past, thanks to the phenomenal increase of its capacities after 30 years of reforms,” he said.

Noting that relationship between India and China was “somewhat normalised,” the minister said there still existed “some unresolved issues” between the two countries.

“However, we need to factor in the fact that as a result of our engagement, we today have a completely different situation than when we started. Further, the economic developments in the period had given both countries new capabilities,” he added.

IAF chief on 5-day visit to China
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 3
In a move to strengthen Air Force-to-Air Force cooperation with China, the chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal F.H. Major is on a five-day visit to China.

Air Chief Marshal Major arrived in Beijing on the invitation of General Xu Qiliang, Commander of the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).

In defence circles, the visit is seen as an important milestone in bilateral defence exchanges. This is the second ever visit of an Indian Air Force Chief to China. The previous one was when Air Chief Marshal A.Y. Tipnis visited China in May 2001.

IAF chief met General Xu Qiliang, Commander of the PLAAF, and held discussions on bilateral issues. He will also be meeting the Chinese defence minister Liang Guanglie during his visit.

The Air Force Chief will also be visiting military units in Hangzhou and also witness the Zhuhai Airshow in which the Indian Air Force aerobatic team of Surya Kirans is participating. The Chief would also be visiting the capital Air Defence centre of the PLAAF and the 28 Air Division.

Separately, the Commander Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), Admiral Wu Shengli, is visiting India concurrently, in a continuing exchange of high-level contacts between the two countries.

In May 2006, during the visit of then defence minister Pranab Mukherjee, a MoU on exchanges and cooperation between India and China in the field of Defence was signed. The MoU laid a solid foundation and institutionalised the framework for further development of defence cooperation between the two countries.

Sino-Indian defence visits

NEW DELHI, Nov. 3: In what is seen as a boost to Sino-Indian defence cooperation, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major, reached Beijing yesterday on a week-long visit while the Commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Admiral Wu Shengli is here on a five-day visit, the first one by a Chinese naval chief.
The Air Chief is the second top ranking IAF official to visit China with the last one by an IAF chief being in May 2001 by Air Chief Marshal AY Tipnis. The IAF chief is in China at the invitation of Commander of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLA AF) General Xu Qiliang. The Air Chief who was given a guard of honour at the PLA AF headquarters in Beijing would be meeting the Chinese defence minister, Mr Gen. Liang Guanglie. Meanwhile, the Chinese naval chief met his Indian counterpart and is slated to meet the defence minister, Mr AK Antony. He would also be going to Mumbai to interact with senior officers of the Western Naval Command headquarters. n SNS


ANALYSIS-U.S. war aims in Afghanistan grow doubtful

Mon Nov 3, 2008 2:22pm EST

WASHINGTON, Nov 3 (Reuters) - U.S. war aims in Afghanistan that call for the defeat of the Taliban and a strong central government in Kabul have become increasingly unrealistic in the face of growing violence and corruption.

Even as the Bush administration and U.S. military look for ways to improve strategy, analysts say the next U.S. president could best curb soaring violence through political reconciliation backed by regional states including Iran and India.

"I don't think we ever really set realistic expectations. Things have been going badly in Afghanistan since 2005 and so we appear to be getting further away from our goals. It's probably time for us to examine them," said Samuel Brannen of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The future of U.S. policy on Afghanistan will soon be in the hands of a new president, as the United States votes on Tuesday on whether to send Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain to the White House in January.

Both men have said they would focus more strongly on defeating the Taliban and send more troops. Obama, who leads in the polls, has said he also would favor negotiations with some Afghan tribes who have backed the Taliban up to now.

Meanwhile, experts see further need for fundamental change in U.S. thinking.

Brent Scowcroft, former President George H.W. Bush's national security adviser, is especially concerned about the U.S. push for a highly centralized government in Kabul, a sharp departure from Afghanistan's history of tribal governance.

"What I'm afraid of is that by trying to create a unified central government, we're not going to be able to succeed. And in failing, we may fail more catastrophically than if we try, however imperfectly, to form a coalition of governing groups," he said in an interview.

"We ought to see if we can use the natural forces of Afghanistan to create a structure we can live with," Scowcroft told Reuters. "It's been a basically tribal or warlord society presided over by a loosely governing entity."

U.S. and NATO forces face growing violence from Taliban insurgents aided by al Qaeda safe havens in Pakistan. Rampant corruption has eroded the credibility of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government.

Top U.S. officials including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, complain that the West has not coordinated adequate development assistance.

MORE FORCES

A Western military presence that already includes 32,000 U.S. troops also needs well over 10,000 additional forces at a time when top administration officials concede that some NATO allies are looking for the exit.

Despite all that, U.S. military officials say the objectives assigned to them by policymakers -- the defeat of the Taliban and creation of stability to foster political and economic development -- remain firmly in place.

"Our goals for success in Afghanistan have not changed. They're not at all being watered down, despite the urging of some defeatists out there," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said.

But the debate has already turned to talk of reconciliation with some Taliban members and enhanced diplomatic efforts to reach a solution involving Afghanistan's neighbors.

Reconciliation could help the majority of Afghans who live in rural villages by empowering local authorities, a prospect U.S. military officials say they have begun to examine as a way to counter Taliban influence outside larger towns and cities.

U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, credited with helping save Iraq from all-out civil war, has made reconciliation and regional involvement major themes of a review of U.S. military policy in Afghanistan that he is overseeing as the new head of U.S. Central Command, a military official said.

That means U.S. expectations have already begun to change, said Barnett Rubin, an expert at New York University.

"I think it's pretty much a consensus view now that they don't expect to have a complete military victory," said Rubin.

Some analysts have called for Washington to engage Iran, which has made investments in Afghanistan since the Taliban was ousted and has an interest in stability there. Some say Tehran might welcome cooperation against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Others argue India could prove even more important to stabilizing Afghanistan.

If Washington could help India and Pakistan address their differences over the disputed Kashmir region, analysts say, it could defuse an issue that has long dominated Pakistani security fears and fueled Islamist militancy inside Pakistan.

"Ultimately, you are never going to deal with Pakistan's preoccupation with Afghanistan if you don't deal with its fundamental psychological insecurity, which is India," said J. Alexander Thier of the U.S. Institute of Peace. (Additional reporting by Caren Bohan in Jacksonville, Florida, editing by David Storey)

India to ink pact with Qatar

Shubhajit Roy Posted: Nov 04, 2008 at 0026 hrs IST

NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 3 : In an attempt to give greater depth to her maritime security, India is expected to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Qatar during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s four day visit to Oman and Qatar beginning this Saturday. The agreement ,which will include cooperation in defence and security matters, assumes significance in view of the fact that Qatar will become only the second country in the Gulf region after Oman to have such a pact with India. The agreement with Qatar will include joint exercises, particularly maritime exercises and training of officers.

The Prime Minister will be the first Indian PM to visit Qatar. Last year, then Defence secretary Shekhar Dutt had visited the nation and had identified areas for cooperation, including training of personnel, joint exercises and service-to-service information sharing. This was followed by a high level delegation from Qatar, which visited several defence locations in India and three areas, including vacancies for Qatar’s officers in training courses at higher military education institutions, leasing of artillery firing ranges for practice and training, hiring of firing ranges for mechanised forces, were identified for cooperation.

While Naval officers from Qatar have already been training in India, the signing of the agreement will institutionalise the cooperation and set up annual programmes, official sources said.

India has defence co-operation agreements with US, UK, France, South Africa, Australia, Singapore, Germany and Japan. The PM’s visit to the Middle East is long overdue and is intended to dispel the perception that that India’s foreign policy is skewed towards US.

China posing new challenges to India: Mukherjee

New Delhi (PTI): With China developing its military capabilities in outer space and doing a global search for resources, India on Monday said its neighbour posed new strategic and geopolitical challenges, forcing it to look for more sophisticated ways to deal with the Asian giant.

"We (India) would need to develop more sophisticated ways of dealing with these new challenges (strategic and geopolitical) posed by China. We are today faced with a new China," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the National Defence College here.

"Today's China seeks to further its interests more aggressively than in the past, thanks to the phenomenal increase of its capacities after thirty years of reforms," Mukherjee said, delivering a lecture on 'India's Security Challenges and Foreign Policy Imperatives'.

There were also new set of challenges which China posed, "such as the strategic challenge as China develops its capabilities in outer space; the geopolitical challenge as it reaches out to various parts of the globe in search of raw materials and resources," he added.

Noting that relationship between India and China is "somewhat normalised", the minister said there still existed "some unresolved issues" between the two countries.

"However, we need to factor in the fact that as a result of our engagement we have today a completely different situation than when we started. Further, the economic developments in the period had given both countries new capabilities," he added.

Polish Defence Minister arrives tuesday on a three-day visit to India

13:36 IST

The Polish Defence Minister Mr. Bogdan Klich arrives here just after midnight tonight on a three-day visit to India. Besides a delegation level meeting with the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony, Mr Klich will hold talks with the Chairmen of top Defence Public Sector Undertakings including HAL, BEL, BEML and Ordnance Factories Board (OFB).

This follows the fourth meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) held here last month. During the JWG Meeting held between 15-17th October, the two sides agreed to consolidate cooperation in Defence Industry and specialized training of their Armed Forces. The India-Poland JWG on Defence Cooperation was set up with the signing of an agreement on Defence Cooperation in February 2003 during the visit of Polish Prime Minister to India. The first meeting of the JWG was held in April 2006.

India has shared with the former Soviet bloc ally a long tradition of friendship and cooperation in various fields including Defence Production and Supplies. The Minister of National Defence of the Republic of Poland will visit a Para Brigade of the Indian Army at Agra on Wednesday before leaving for Vietnam early Thursday morning.

India considers army tunnel network for Kashmir border

Mon Nov 3, 2008 5:00pm IST

By Ashok Pahalwan

JAMMU (Reuters) - India is considering building deep tunnels along its borders with China and Pakistan in Indian Kashmir to protect its troops from nuclear, chemical and biological attacks, officials said.

"The Northern Command has mooted a proposal and the same will be discussed at army commanders' meeting in New Delhi today", defence spokesman Col. D K Kachari said on Monday.

Relations between India and its two nuclear-armed neighbours have improved in recent years, although serious differences remain over their vast Himalayan borders.

The written proposal says "the use of tunnels would help in evading enemy satellites from gauging the exact troop strength and their position in the forward areas".

Another Indian army official, who wished not be named, said China has already started a large scale tunnel project on the border between India and China's Tibetan region.

Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full but rule in parts.

Border disputes have plagued relations between India and China for decades, and led to war in 1962, but both sides are forging new ties amid soaring trade and business links.

India says Beijing is illegally holding a slice of Kashmir, while China lays claim to large tracts of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, and says parts of it once belonged to Tibet.

Although India and China have signed a treaty to maintain "peace and tranquillity" along the disputed frontier and agreed to find a political solution to the row, talks over a 3,500 km (2,200 mile) disputed frontier have made little progress.

India has been pursuing closer relations with the United States, identifying a civilian nuclear deal as the cornerstone of that friendship, a worrying development for China.

But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called a China-India relationship an "imperative necessity".

India and Pakistan opened a trade link across Kashmir for the first time in six decades in October, a step aimed at reducing tension over the de facto border.

India rejects Russian aircraft carrier price demand

India's finance ministry has for the second time rejected a proposal from the nation's defence ministry to approve an additional $1.2 billion in funds to complete a retrofit project to the decommissioned Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov.

Moscow had originally agreed to deliver the modernised vessel for $1.5 billion, but demanded the additional payment after citing factors including an underestimation of the level of work required at its Sevmash shipbuilding yard.

India, which has already paid Russia two-thirds of the original programme cost, has made no further payments since January 2007, and the 44,500t carrier's expected delivery date has slipped from 2009 until at least 2012. The finance ministry's latest decision also stemmed from a request to allocate $60 million to perform sea trials of the refurbished vessel during 2011.

The Indian navy has ordered 12 RSK MiG-29K fighters and four MiG-29KUB trainers to operate from the ex-Russian navy ship.

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