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Sunday, 20 March 2011

From Today's Papers - 20 Mar 2011






Allied intervention begins as French jet strikes Libyan forces  Steven Erlanger, David D Kirkpatrick, The New York Times, Updated: March 20, 2011 00:56 IST Ads by Google  The Economist Magazine – 12 Issues for Rs. 500/- Subscribe Now or Miss out!  EconomistSubscriptions.com  PLAYClick to Expand & Play Paris:  American, European and Arab leaders on Saturday began the largest international military intervention in the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq in an effort to stop Col. Moammar el-Gaddafi's war on the Libyan opposition.  Leaders meeting in Paris on Saturday afternoon announced that air operations to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians had begun over Libya, as approved by the United Nations Security Council on Thursday. The French military announced that a Rafale jet fighter had destroyed a government tank near the de facto rebel capital, Benghazi, in eastern Libya.  Earlier in the day, people in Benghazi reported heavy bombardment and fighting, despite an ultimatum from Western powers that Mr. Gaddafi hold to a cease-fire. A rebel fighter, speaking over the phone, described a procession of tanks as well as rooftop snipers fighting for the Gaddafi forces in the west of the city. And a steady stream of vehicles, some bearing rebel flags, was seen pouring out of Benghazi toward the rebel-held city of Bayda, where crowds were cheering the first French overflights.  "Our assessment is that the aggressive actions by Gaddafi forces continue in many places around the country," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said after the meeting in Paris concluded. "We saw it over the last 24 hours, and we've seen no real effort on the part of the Gaddafi forces to abide by a cease-fire despite the rhetoric."      * Share this on Rediff.com Rediff.com     * NDTVTwitter     * NDTVNDTV Social     * Share with MessengerLive Messenger     * NDTVGmail Buzz     * NDTVPrint   Even though the leaders at the Paris summit meeting presented a united front, there were signs of disagreement over how to proceed.  Two senior Western diplomats said the Paris meeting, which was organized by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, may actually have delayed allied operations to stop Colonel Gaddafi's troops as they were approaching Benghazi. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on the matter.  The initial French air sorties, which were not coordinated with other countries, began before the Paris meeting ended, which angered some of the countries gathered there, according to a senior NATO-country diplomat. Information about the movement of Gaddafi troops toward Benghazi had been clear on Friday, but France blocked any NATO agreement on airstrikes until the Paris meeting, the diplomat said, suggesting that overflights could have begun Friday night before Mr. Gaddafi's troops reached the city.  The initial stage of the military operation will be run by France and Britain with significant American help, including radar planes, command and control, and precision-guided munitions, including cruise missiles and B-52 bombers, NATO officials said. American forces were expected to focus mostly on knocking out Libyan air defenses.  But Mrs. Clinton emphasized that the United States was not leading the effort. "We did not lead this," she said. "We did not engage in unilateral actions in any way, but we strongly support the international community taking action against governments and leaders who behave as Gaddafi is unfortunately doing so now."  By midweek, NATO will take over the operation of the no-fly zone and arms embargo, because it alone has sufficient command and control capabilities, under the direction of the supreme allied commander of Europe, officials said.  Even as Colonel Gaddafi defied demands to withdraw his military, he issued letters warning Mr. Obama and other leaders to hold back from military action against him.  The tone of the letters -- one addressed to Mr. Obama and a second to Mr. Sarkozy, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations -- suggested that Colonel Gaddafi was leaving himself little room to back down.  "Libya is not yours. Libya is for all Libyans," he wrote in one letter, read to the news media by a spokesman. "This is injustice, it is clear aggression, and it is uncalculated risk for its consequences on the Mediterranean and Europe.  "You will regret it if you take a step toward intervening in our internal affairs."  Colonel Gaddafi addressed President Obama as "our son," in a letter that combined pleas with a jarring familiarity. "I have said to you before that even if Libya and the United States enter into war, God forbid, you will always remain my son and I have all the love for you as a son, and I do not want your image to change with me," he wrote. "We are confronting Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, nothing more. What would you do if you found them controlling American cities with the power of weapons? Tell me how would you behave so that I could follow your example?"  In Paris, the summit meeting was held over lunch at the Élysée Palace, and it included prime ministers or foreign ministers from Britain, Canada, Germany, Norway, Italy, Qatar, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Poland and Mrs. Clinton for the United States.  The Arab League secretary general, Amr Moussa, a candidate for the Egyptian presidency, was also there, along with the incoming head of the league, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari of Iraq. Also attending were the European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and Mr. Ban of the United Nations.  While Arab representatives came, following through on the Arab League's call for a no-fly zone in Libya, there were no African leaders, and the head of the African Union, Jean Ping, did not attend, instead going to Mauritania for a meeting with African leaders tasked with mediating a peaceful end to the Libyan crisis.  Washington, Paris and London had insisted that at least some Arab governments be involved, at least symbolically, to remove the chance that Colonel Gaddafi could portray the military action as another Western colonial intervention in pursuit of oil.  Many of the leaders in Paris have called for Colonel Gaddafi to quit, and it may be that military intervention leads to negotiations with the opposition for the colonel and his family to go. But Western diplomats said there was no clear endgame -- one reason that the Obama administration wanted to give others the lead on Libya, given the importance of other transitions under way, especially in Egypt.  As Western leaders dismissed Mr. Gaddafi's proclaimed cease-fire as a sham, Mr. Sarkozy announced that French and allied warplanes were already in the skies over Libya.  "Right now our planes are blocking airstrikes on the city," Mr. Sarkozy said, referring to Benghazi. "French planes are ready to act against armored vehicles that would be threatening unarmed civilians."  He accused Colonel Gaddafi of "totally ignoring" both the Security Council's demands for a cease-fire and his own promises to abide by one. But he added: "There is still time for Colonel Gaddafi to avoid the worst by complying with the U.N. resolution. The doors of diplomacy will open again when the aggression has stopped."  He said it was the duty of France, along with its Arab, European and North American partners, "to protect the civilian population from the murderous madness of a regime that has forfeited all claim to legitimacy."  While the United Nations resolution specifically justified military action in order to protect civilians, officials in Paris said they were interpreting the language broadly to include the protection of Libya's armed rebel forces, which have been in all-out retreat over the past week.  News organizations reporting from Benghazi said that a fighter jet crashed on the outskirts of the city Saturday morning, and several Western Web sites published a dramatic photo of the warplane plunging to the ground in flames after the pilot appeared to have ejected. But it was not clear whether French or other allied air forces were involved. It was possible, too, that the plane, which appeared to be a Soviet-era MIG-23 fighter-bomber, could have been flown by the rebels, who seized some military aircraft in Benghazi in the early days of the uprising against Mr. Gaddafi.  Residents of Benghazi reached by telephone described a heavy military assault on the city. One rebel fighter who gave his name as Mansoor said that there was fighting to the west and that he had seen 12 army tanks moving through the city. Pro-Gaddafi snipers were atop the Foreign Ministry building, not far from the courthouse that is the de facto rebel headquarters, and there was fighting along Gamal Abdel Nasser Street nearby as well.  The government spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, in Tripoli, the capital, denied that pro-Gaddafi units were attacking in Benghazi and said that only the rebels had an incentive to break the cease-fire.  The head of the rebel National Libyan Council appealed to the international community on Saturday to act swiftly to protect civilians from government forces that he said were attacking Benghazi, Reuters reported. "Now there is a bombardment by artillery and rockets on all districts of Benghazi," Reuters said, quoting Mustafa Abdel Jalil in an appearance on Al Jazeera. "Today in Benghazi there will be a catastrophe if the international community does not implement the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council."  The Gaddafi government appeared earlier Saturday to be laying the groundwork for a potential strike in the name of self defense.  Khalid Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, said government intelligence showed tanks, artillery and weapons from Benghazi attacking a town in the east. Government forces, he said, were holding back to observe the cease-fire.

http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/allied-intervention-begins-as-french-jet-strikes-libyan-forces-92833
Close Indo-US ties 'defining partnership' of 21st century: US Press Trust of India / Beijing March 19, 2011, 17:57 IST  The US today described its deepening ties with India as "one of the defining partnerships" of the 21st century, but underlined that it was not at the "expense" of China.  "First of all, the United States considers (the ties with) India to be probably one of the defining partnerships for us in the 21st Century," Robert O Blake, US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, told the media here after his talks with Chinese officials yesterday.  Blake said President Barack Obama's announcement extending US support for India's candidacy as a Permanent Member of UN Security Council "reflects our sense that India is first of all going to be a very important partner for the United States going forward, but also is a very constructive force in the world".  "Things like non-proliferation, climate change, and we're very pleased that India is working closely with us in such areas as Afghanistan, helping to address poverty in Africa, and issues such as that," he replied when asked on the deepening Indo-US ties.  Refuting perception that US is using India as a 'hedge' against China, Blake said: "We support growing relations between India and China and we have reassured our friends in China that growing relations between the US and India will not come at China's expense, and that we want to see the growth of our relations with China, our relations with India, and India's relations with China."  Blake said US is having "sub dialogues" with China on issues concerning South Asia.  For the first time, he held a sub-dialogue on Central Asia with Chinese officials.  The top US diplomat asked China to play more active role in stablising Afghanistan and Pakistan, as "there are groups that are based in Pakistan that are threatening China as well as US and we talked about that today".  "China agrees that the international community needs to do all it can to help both Pakistan and Afghanistan to deal with their many challenges. China has done a lot but we would welcome whatever else it can do to help because it does play such an important role in the region," Blake said.  The US Assistant Secretary underlined that one of "highest objectives" of the US was to increase the integration of Central Asia and South Asia and the best way to do it was to promote the Afghanistan-Pakistan transit trade connecting India and Central Asia.  "We've been very encouraged by the progress that has been made on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline...We think there could be other infrastructure efforts that build on the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, for example, that would allow for greater trade between South Asia and Central Asia," he said.  "So there's a lot to be done, and we think that China can play such an important role in helping to spur this effort at greater integration," he said.                

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/close-indo-us-ties-%5Cdefining-partnership%5C21st-century-us/129576/on
25 yrs in the making, Army inducts Akash Rajat Pandit, TNN | Mar 19, 2011, 04.33am IST NEW DELHI: Indian armed forces are going in for a huge induction of the indigenous Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems to counter the threat posed by enemy fighters, drones and helicopters on both western and eastern fronts as well as protect "vital areas and installations".  Developed by DRDO after 25 years of technical glitches, the 25-km range Akash air defence weapon system finally seems to have found favour with the armed forces, who are desperate to plug existing operational gaps in air defence.  The IAF had earlier ordered eight Akash squadrons — six of them will be based in North East to counter China — for Rs 6,200 crore. Now, the Cabinet Committee on Security on Thursday cleared two Akash regiments, with six firing batteries and hundreds of missiles each, for the Army. The total order for the Army stands at Rs 14,180 crore at present.  The low-reaction-time Akash is designed to neutralise multiple aerial targets attacking from several directions simultaneously, with a digitally-coded command guidance system, in all weather conditions. "The fully-automated Akash has an 88% kill probability within a specified kill zone... It has even intercepted a target with a 0.02 sq metre of radar cross-section (a fighter has a 2 sqm RCS)," said an official.  DRDO, in fact, says the sleek 5.6-metre-long Akash, powered to carry a payload of 60 kg, can even take on sub-sonic cruise missiles. Akash, which DRDO claims is "96% indigenous", is not the only SAM system that the forces are going to induct to replace their obsolete Russian-origin Pechora, OSA-AK and Igla missiles.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/7740830.cms?prtpage=1
Army tightens security around international border in Poonch  Jammu, Mar 19 : The Indian Army has tightened security around the international border in Jammu and Kashmir amid reports of infiltration attempts by the militants.  Security has been upgraded in the high-altitude areas like Doda Shahpur sector and Sawjian sector.  Army officials are maintaining a tight vigil along the border despite the harsh weather conditions.  “Because of the terrain, it becomes very difficult to move around. There is snow till the waist. Though it is very difficult to walk around, these hardships are nothing new to us. We have done it before and we can overcome them now as well. We have taken all the precautions that need to be taken,” said Major Ajay Kumar Pathania.  The villages, which are along the Line of Control (LOC), are also supporting the Indian army in their security efforts.  “It (the Sawjian sector) is a gateway to India and a doorway to Jammu and Kashmir. Here we stay with the army for 24 hours. We always look into the problems of the army and act in accordance with them. Today we sleep in peace because the army constantly patrols around here,” said Mohammad Zaman, head of Sawjian village.  Jammu and Kashmir, which has been affected by militancy for the last two decades, has seen over 47,000 people dead so far. y Tahir Nadeem Khan (ANI)

http://www.indiatalkies.com/2011/03/army-tightens-security-international-border-poonch.html

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