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Sunday, 6 December 2009

From Today's Papers - 06 Dec 09

Ladakh road issue taken up with China: Rao
Says Pakistan has no proof on Baloch charges
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
India has raised the issue of construction of a road in the remote Demchok area of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir near the line of actual control (LAC) with China, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao confirmed here today. Beijing had recently objected to the road project recently.

The issue was taken up with the Chinese side at one of the flag meetings between the two countries at the ground level, Rao said, while briefing the media on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s three-day visit to Russia from tomorrow.
On reports that the construction work on the road project had been stopped following Beijing’s objection, the top Indian diplomat said: “I am not aware of any instruction having been passed on to the people working in that area to stop the construction of the road.”
She explained that the whole issue of the differing in perception of the LAC around Demchok had been taken up on many occasions with Beijing. “This is not a new issue that has cropped up in the discourse or relating to the boundary question between India and China.”
Both countries were working to resolve the border issue peacefully through dialogue, she claimed.
Regarding reports that top ULFA commander Paresh Baruah had now taken shelter in China and whether India had taken up this issue with Beijing, the Foreign Secretary said, “Paresh Barua is wanted in India for crime against the Indian people. We are in touch with neighbouring countries and expect all of them to behave responsibly.”
When her attention was drawn to Pakistan’s latest statement that India was involved in Balochistan and the proof would be disclosed at the appropriate time, she asserted that Islamabad had not given even a shred of evidence to substantiate its charge. “It is not our policy to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. We would also like other countries not to interfere in our affairs,” Rao said.
Meanwhile, she indicated that expansion of civil nuclear cooperation and an extended defence pact would top the agenda PM’s agenda during his visit to Moscow.
The agreement on civil nuclear cooperation, expected to be inked during the annual summit talks between Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday, will ensure continuation of Moscow’s support for the ongoing civil nuclear programme in India and will ensure any unforeseen disruption of fuel supply and technology from Russia for nuclear power projects in India.
Other highlights of the agreement are reprocessing consent rights for all future Russian reactors supplied to India. India will also be allowed to enrich Russian-supplied uranium up to 20 percent, according to the draft agreement.
Apart from these, accords expected to be signed during the visit are:
l Agreement on extending the programme for military and technical cooperation for the period 2011-2020.
l Agreement on after sales support for Russian arms and military equipment supplied to India.
Protocol to the agreement on cooperation in Development and production of Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA);
l Dollar credit line agreement between Vnesheconombank of the Russian Federation and the Exim Bank of India for the extension of a 100-million dollar credit to Russia for certain imports of equipment from India.
l MoU on cultural exchanges between India and the Russian Federation.
A joint declaration would be issued by the two leaders during the visit on deepening the strategic partnership to meet global challenges.
In a statement before his departure for Moscow, the PM said at his meeting with President Medvedev, he hoped to review the bilateral cooperation, including in the key areas of defence, civil nuclear energy, space, science and technology and hydrocarbons.
He said he would also exchange views with the President on key regional and global issues such as terrorism, recovery of the global economy, energy security, climate change, nuclear disarmament and reform of international institutions. 

Fake Currency
Security agencies want India-Nepal border fenced
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
Finding it increasingly difficult to control Pakistan’s ISI-backed smugglers from pumping fake currency into India besides carrying out other illegal activities, the government is now thinking of having a barbed wire fence on the highly porous India-Nepal border.

India already has a fence on the India-Pakistan border and also a partially completed fence on the India-Bangladesh border. The volume of the fake currency is worrying, said an official while confirming that the security forces wanted a fence. Finally, however, it was a political decision. India’s relations with Nepal are not so strained as those with Pakistan.
Sources say the border is largely unguarded. The Seema Surkasha Bal (SSB) guards the border and has its sentry posts at fixed distances and only small border pillars earmark the territory which has several kutcha pathways that have been used by local residents for centuries.
Patrolling the border is impossible and expensive, the sources said. A fence is the only answer. With the growing interest of China in Nepal, it is getting even more restive for India.
The figures of fake currency that was recovered in the past four years were tabled in Parliament this week. The racket and nexus is clear. In 2008 alone, fake currency worth 10.8 crore was seized in Uttar Pradesh alone. The state shares the longest of the 1,800 km-long India-Nepal border. The countrywide figure of seized fake notes is around Rs 25.79 crore. The states of Maharashtra (Rs 2.47 crore) and Andhra Pardesh (Rs 1.13) crore are the ones where fake currency had been seized in big numbers.
In 2009, between January and September, the security and police agencies had seized fake notes worth Rs 15. 31 crore. These figures may be just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Security agencies believe that hundreds of crores of rupees are pumped in every year. The Reserve Bank of India had refused to put a figure to the amount of fake currency circulating in India.
The ISI-backed fake note printing business is going on so well that fake notes look exactly like the genuine ones. The well-entrenched smugglers are now asked to pay half the sum of the face value of a fake note to buy it from the handlers based in Neapl. The agenda is to fund terror network in India and also derail the economy.
A high-level committee headed by the Home Secretary, GK Pillai, and comprising officials from central agencies has also been constituted to monitor and draw a comprehensive strategy to combat the fake currency menace. The CBI has been designated as the nodal agency for dealing with the fake currency racket.

New Delhi, December 5
The first four Russian-made MiG-29K fighters to be deployed on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, formerly the Admiral Gorshkov, when it is inducted into the Indian Navy have been received in a knocked-down condition and will now be assembled in this country, an official said today. The jets arrived in the country on December 4, celebrated as Navy Day.

“The four jets, in a knocked-down condition, were delivered yesterday by an AN-132 aircraft. It will be a while before the jets are assembled and start flying,” an Indian Navy official said but refused to divulge the present location of the aircraft.
The jets were purchased by the Navy as part of a $1.5 billion deal signed with Russia in January 2004 for the Admiral Gorshkov. Of this $740 million was meant for the aircraft and the balance for the refitting of the carrier. Russians have now upped the price to between $2.2 billion and $2.9 billion and negotiations on this are currently underway.
The Navy will eventually be getting 12 MiG-29K single-seater aircraft and four MiG-29KUB twin-seat trainer aircraft, some in flyaway condition. The trainer version is similar to the single-seater but with a slightly reduced operational range.
The Navy has named its MiG-29K squadron the “Black Panthers”. As the 45,000-tonne Kiev class aircraft carrier, is scheduled to be delivered by 2012, the jets will undertake shore-based sorties from Goa.
The contract for the jets also stipulates the procurement of hardware for pilot training and aircraft maintenance, including flight simulators and interactive ground and sea-based training systems.
The Navy’s MiG-29Ks have arrester gear and stronger landing gear for carrier landings, folding wings and rust-proofing to prevent corrosion from salt water.
The aircraft features a fully digitised glass cockpit, improved engine protection against ingestion of foreign particles like birds, a multi-mode radar and increased range. The contract ensures that the Navy gets the entire spectrum of services, including a full mission simulator.
The MiG-29K will provide aerial cover for the carrier’s battle group, acquire air superiority and destroy sea-borne and ground-based targets with guided high-precision weapons during the day and at night and in any weather conditions. — IANS

France calls for better defence ties with India

Dec 5
France has called for a stronger defence cooperation with India and take it to the level beyond mere buyer-seller relationships. The visiting French Defence Minister Herve Morin told reporters in New Delhi that he has delivered a letter from French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on all the issues related to defence cooperation between the two countries. President Sarkozy is expected to visit India early next year. Morin said that during his meetings with Defence Minister A K Antony and the three Services chiefs, the two sides agreed to strengthen their strategic partnership and open new areas of military cooperation and discussed equipment programmes for the Indian armed forces. Terming the announcement of dates for 197 helicopter competition field-trials as a source of satisfaction, he said it is offering its 'Caesar' howitzers for India's requirement for future artillery guns. Several French companies are vying for various Indian defence contracts including 126 combat aircraft, 197 choppers for IAF and Army and artillery systems. He also projected France to be a better contender in Indian Defence market.
The Minister said France is also keen on expanding its cooperation with India in fields of intelligence sharing and land systems. He said India has suffered a great deal and France wants to exchange information in order to fight against terrorism. Maintaining that India and France shared same vision of global issues, Mr Morin said issues such as Iranian nuclear programme and Indian role in Afghanistan and anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden were discussed during his meetings with Indian leadership.

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