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Monday, 7 February 2011

From Today's Papers - 07 Feb 2011

India, Pak to carry forward talks  Thimphu (Bhutan), February 6 Putting behind the bitter experience of last July, India and Pakistan tonight appeared to have made a headway in bringing on track the stalled dialogue process as they agreed to carry it forward to resolve all outstanding issues in a constructive and forward-looking manner.  Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir, who met here for about 90 minutes, agreed that positive and cordial relations were in a mutual interest of both countries and they needed to work in this direction. A common press statement issued by both sides said the two Foreign Secretaries had met in pursuance of the mandate given by their prime ministers following their meeting in Thimphu in April, 2010, and the meeting of the foreign ministers in July last year in Islamabad and carry that process forward.  “The foreign secretaries had useful and frank discussions on the steps required to be taken in this context,” Ministry of External Affairs' spokesman Vishnu Prakash said. “They agreed on the need for a constructive dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues. They affirmed the need to carry forward the dialogue process,” he said, adding they would now brief their respective governments on their discussions.  During their talks in Thimphu on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit last April, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani had said the foreign ministers and the foreign secretaries would work to reduce the trust deficit plaguing the relationship.  Sources said Rao and Bashir, who held an informal meeting last night in the run up to tonight's talks, had agreed that the dialogue process should be carried forward in a forward-looking manner. At the meeting, the Indian side maintained that it was open to discussing all issues in a conducive atmosphere, they said.  The next milestone after today's talks will be the visit of Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to India this year, dates for which will be worked out.  The meeting, on the sidelines of the SAARC foreign secretaries meeting, came six months after the talks between the foreign ministers of the countries ended on a bitter note in Islambad.  Even after the failed July talks, the two sides have been maintaining contacts through diplomatic channels and their leaders have met on the sidelines of some multilateral events. A day before the meeting, India and Pakistan exchanged barbs over the issue of the Samjhauta blasts and the Mumbai terror attacks, but the two foreign secretaries chose to set a positive tone hours ahead of their talks. — PTI
Army to probe Kupwara youth’s killing Tribune News Service  New Delhi, February 6 Following the killing of an innocent youth, Manzoor Ahmad Magray, near Handwara in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Army today apologised to the Kashmiri people for its mistake. Magray was killed near a spot where an ambush had been laid. The Army has ordered a probe of its own, while the Jammu and Kashmir police has registered a case of murder against Armymen of the 4 Parachute Regiment, which was tasked to carry out the ambush. A magisterial inquiry is also on. This is the second time in 10 months that the Army troops have been suspected of killing innocents.  In the last incident in April, three youths had been killed at Maachil in Kupwara in North Kashmir, sparking off a summer of discontent in the Valley as separatists used the three deaths to galvanise stone-pelters. About a hundred youth were killed in the ensuing trouble. It also raised the pitch for the removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the Valley.  The Home Ministry and the Defence Ministry have differed over the matter. At present, a committee is reviewing parts of the Valley, which can be removed from the disturbed areas act which in turn will render the AFSPA “non-applicable”. The latest killing will surely give a fillip to the demand and the government will have to show some tangible result, well-placed sources said.  Army Chief General VK Singh today said: “The Army is ordering its enquiry 'on its own', although we are quite sure that to what has happened. But nevertheless to clarify any doubts that may come up, we are doing our own enquiry.”
Indo-Pak talks were frank and useful: Ministry of External Affairs  NDTV Correspondent, Updated: February 07, 2011 06:28 IST Ads by Google  The Economist Magazine – 12 Issues for Rs. 500/- Subscribe Now or Miss out!  Thimphu (Bhutan):  The Indian and Pakistani Foreign Secretaries met after a gap of nearly six months in Thimphu on Sunday to find ways to resume talks that broke down badly last July.  The Indian side termed the meeting, that lasted for an hour and a half, as useful and frank discussions. Both the sides agreed on the need for a constructive dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues.  Government sources say there was good progress made on charting the way forward. India has pressed for a step by step approach dealing with less contentious issues first, but has said no to Pakistan's insistence on a timeline.  Now the two Foreign Secretaries will report back to their respective governments.      * Share this on     * NDTVTwitter     * NDTVNDTV Social     * Share with MessengerLive Messenger     * NDTVGmail Buzz     * NDTVPrint   The delegation consisted of six officials, led by the two Foreign Secretaries, Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir.  Even though the shadow of the Samjhauta blast and recent statements by Pakistan loomed large, both had reiterated ahead of the talks that they were meeting with an open mind.  "We are resuming our contact after interregnum of some time. We have a number of issues to be discussed. As we have always said that dialogue between India and Pakistan is necessary and a must if we are to satisfactorily resolve the outstanding issues between our two countries," Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao had said.  "We have a number of outstanding issues. So, we are going into this with an open mind and constructive attitude," she added.  "I'm looking forward to the meeting, and we are here for the preparation of engagement between the two foreign ministers...My expectations are that we should be working towards continued engagement," Bashir had said.  As India demands progress in the 26/11 case, Islamabad has sought to equate that with the Samjhauta blasts and accused India of lacking the courage to go after Hindu extremists. The Indian government shot back, calling the charges rubbish and refused to allow a link between the two attacks.  Just before leaving for Thimphu, India's Foreign Secretary told NDTV that New Delhi would share details of the Samjhauta probe once it's over.
Defence exports have dropped to 'laughable level' Press Trust of India / New Delhi February 06, 2011, 18:23 IST  Defence exports from the country's Ordnance Factories have fallen to such meagre levels that the quantum is "laughable", a former Army General has said.  Defence exports from Ordnance Factories have slided from "a paltry Rs 41.07 crore in 2008-09 to a laughable Rs 12.28 crore in 2009-10. It is a reflection of the nature and quality of items being produced indigenously," Maj Gen (Retd) Mrinal Suman said.  Suman regretted that India has also not been able to produce "a single defence system with cutting-edge technology".  There has been a "total failure" of policies governing foreign and private participation in defence production, with imports rising to as high as 75 per cent in 2009-10, Suman said writing in an article in the premier journal 'Indian Defence Review'.  Maintaining that all hopes raised by the 2002 Defence Procurement Procedure have been "belied", Suman said the last decade has been "a chronicle of tall claims, missed opportunities and inability to translate policies into implementable programmes. The current regime has been a total failure".  To buttress his point, Suman, who himself was associated with defence procurement while in office, said imports have climbed to 75 per cent rather than dropping to the targeted 30 per cent.  "While every critical item is being imported, India continues to be happy producing (aircraft) doors and windows for foreign aviation majors," Suman said in an article in the premier journal 'Indian Defence Review'.  Despite "repeated assertions" of the government to integrate private sector in defence industry, "there is little progress on ground. The private sector continues to be a peripheral player" producing some low-tech items and components, he said.  Building a strong case for turning India into a manufacturing hub, he said for this, it was imperative that foreign direct investment (FDI) flows in.  However, FDI should be technology-centric with inherent flexibility. "It could be 26 per cent for low-tech products, 51 to 74 per cent for matured systems and 75 to 100 per cent for cutting-edge technologies," he suggested.  Observing that all countries leverage offset clauses in consonance with their national economic priorities to fill an important technological or economic void, he said, "Strangely, India does not accept technology against offsets."  With the "current flawed policy", offsets were not contributing to upgrading of the indigenous technological base, he said, calling for amending the current offset policy to make transfer of technology the preferred mode.  Asserting that India must become a key player in the global supply chain, Suman made a strong plea for setting up of a multi-disciplinary 'Defence Capability Development Board' under the Commerce Ministry to oversee the entire gamut of related activities and act as a single window interface for all entrepreneurs.
BAE has hopes for sales of 145 field guns to India  Last updated at 13:10, Saturday, 05 February 2011  HOPES are growing that Barrow’s arms factory will win an order for 145 hi-tech howitzers.  The Indian army is trying out the ultra-lightweight Field Howitzer, or M777, conceived and designed in Barrow, which has sold in the hundreds to America.  And the prestigious India Defence website, aimed at professionals in the defence industry, says BAE is in the lead to get gun orders worth more than a year’s work from the Indian government.  The Barrow plant is where the complex titanium cradles and saddles of the guns are made.  The guns are made in the UK and in the US, where they are assembled in a BAE factory in Mississippi using an American barrel.  The Indian Defence internet website says BAE is leading the race to win the contract for 145 guns.  The gun sections in Barrow are produced at the rate of 10-a-month.  The Barrow factory employs nearly 400 people, many of whom work on the M777 project.  So far around 900 guns have been sold, with the bulk going to America, but they are also manufactured for Canada and Australia.  BAE is also hoping for sales of the M777 to Denmark, Brazil and the Middle East.  Although the gun, designed in Barrow in the late 1980s has been a big success, more orders are needed at Barrow.  By last autumn 955 guns had been ordered but 750 had been delivered and new orders are needed to keep the production line going.  The India Defence website says: “India is already in an advanced stage of negotiations with the US for procuring over 145 ultra-light howitzers for their deployment in mountainous regions.”  The Indian army is also looking for other types of guns.  There is speculation the expected Indian order for 145 M777s could potentially grow to 400.
China invited for Bangalore Aero Show PTI / Sunday, February 6, 2011 18:38 IST  India has decided to invite a Chinese delegation for Aero India in Bangalore starting February 9, a week after that country along with Pakistan and Iran did not figure among the participating countries for the biennial air show.  Chinese journalists would now also be allowed to get accreditation to cover the show and officers concerned have been asked to provide full cooperation to them, defence ministry officials said here today.  "The External Affairs Ministry gave its clearance for allowing a Chinese delegation to visit the show on Friday and necessary steps are being taken to facilitate their visit," they said.  The Chinese delegation for the show is likely to comprise its military officials based in the capital, they added.  Chinese journalists were barred from covering the show as the Defence Ministry did not keep any slot for China in the list of countries whose journalists could apply online on its website to make them eligible to cover the five-day event  Briefing newsmen on the show last week, secretary (Defence Production) Rajkumar Singh had said the decision not to invite China was taken on the advice of the External Affairs Ministry.  India had invited China for the 2009 edition of the mega event but none had turned up for the show  Officials had said China, Pakistan and Iran were not considered by the committee concerned which selects countries to be invited for the show.  Relations between India and China of late have been marked by a continuing row over Beijing's visa policy under which residents of Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are given stapled visas instead of the regular stamped ones.  The situation took an ugly turn last year when China denied a proper visa to the then Northern Army Commander Lt Gen BS Jaswal as he was based in Jammu and Kashmir.  Jaswal was intending to travel to Beijing to take part in the Annual Defence Dialogue between the two sides.  India reacted strongly to this and suspended high level defence exchanges but China refuses to relent.

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