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Thursday, 9 June 2016

From Today's Papers - 09 Jun 2016

Terrorism ‘incubated’ in India’s vicinity, PM tells US Congress
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 8
In his address to the US Congress in Washington today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about various aspects of the India-US relationship, including 'shared values'. The new inject was the PM's statement, "Today, our relationship has overcome the hesitations of history. Comfort, candour and convergence define our conversations." This could be interpreted as a signal to the US that India is ready to move from being a non-aligned player to a natural ally of the US.
The PM's message on terrorism was loud and clear. Without mentioning Pakistan, he said terrorism was being "incubated in India's neighbourhood" and pressed for action against groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Taliban and ISIS. "Distinguished members, not just in Afghanistan, but elsewhere in South Asia, and globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat.

In the territory stretching from West of India's border to Africa, it may go by different names, from Laskhar-e-Taiba to Taliban to ISIS. But, it’s philosophy is common: of hate, murder and violence. Although it's shadow is spreading across the world, it is incubated in India's neighbourhood." He commended the members of the US Congress for "sending a clear message to those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains," and thanked the US for showing solidarity during the Mumbai attack.
The PM started his address by referring to his visit to the Arlington Cemetery two days ago and paid his respects to the brave men and women who laid down their lives for their nations. "Freedom, liberty form strong bonds between our two democracies," said the PM.  He added that diversity, equal respect for all faiths were some of the values that India shared with the US. "India lives as one, India grows as one, India celebrates as one," he said.

His remarks seemed to convey to the US his government's response to critiques of intolerance and lack of religious freedom. "For my government, the Constitution is the real holy book," Modi said and went on to add that "1.25 billion Indians have freedom from fear every moment of their lives." He recalled former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee had described India and the US as 'natural allies' and went on to talk about the 2008 phase.
He skipped any mention of the man responsible for the civil nuclear deal then, former PM Manmohan Singh.

His tongue-in-cheek reference to the bipartisan workings of the US Congress and the workings of the Indian Parliament provoked a chuckle. He also spoke of the defence purchases that had moved 'from almost zero to 10 million dollars in less than a decade."

The PM said that strong ties between India and the US could anchor stability- from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. And in his closing remarks, he played to the gallery by quoting famous American poet Walt Whitman: "Orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal.' And to that, if I might add, there is a new symphony in play. "
India-US defence ties now have new script
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 8
Contours emerging from last night’s India-US joint statement hint at a new script in the defence relationship of the two nations.

The text of the logistics exchange memorandum of agreement (LEMOA) — which will allow US warships and planes to be refuelled and repaired in India — has been finalised. The US now recognises India as “major defence partner” and New Delhi’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) means it can now shop armed drones and other long-range missiles.

The joint statement was made around 3 am IST on Wednesday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama met in the US. The LEMOA will not just help the US, it will act as a vital tool for India as it expands its Naval footprint and outreach. The US has a string of bases in East Africa, Persian Gulf, Diego Garcia (Indian Ocean), The Philippines, Japan, Australia and Japan. Indian warships and planes can seek similar refuel and repair facilities at these bases on long deployments, which are very frequent nowadays.

The LEMOA will cover four aspects — training, exercises, port calls and the humanitarian assistance. Indian planes used refuelling facilities at Djibouti for evacuating Indian citizens from Yemen last year. Both countries will have to seek advance permission to seek facilities and it does not entail any permanent bases for the US in India like it has in countries like Japan.

A formal signing of the LEMOA could happen soon and the pact will go through the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The LEMOA will be facilitator as earlier such matters of refuelling and repair were considered on a case-to-case basis.

The other important aspect of the statement is the US recognising India as a “Major Defence Partner”. This will be a new nomenclature for the US bureaucracy and lawmakers to apply as a priority-yardstick on dealing with India-related issues. Though this does not mean that India will get unhindered access to technology like the NATO allies of the US get, it will fix a kind of parameter and send a signal to the officialdom. The US is looking toward facilitating technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.
Army to train Namibian forces
Pact to set up a training school likely during Prez’s visit to African nation next week
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 8
The Indian Army will help establish a Signals training school for the Namibian armed forces in the African country as part of its growing engagement with countries located in what was known as the dark continent. At the same time, India, besides focusing on bilateral trade and cultural relations, will also push for procurement of uranium from Namibia.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) for helping setting up the military school was expected to be signed between the two countries during President Pranab Mukherjee’s state visit to Namibia next week, senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said. Besides Namibia, the president will also visit Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).

While this is the first-ever visit of an Indian President to Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, a presidential visit to Namibia, is being undertaken after 21 years. The reaching out to African countries, many of which have historical and cultural ties with India, comes in the backdrop of China having made significant inroads in that continent. China has major presence in the aforementioned countries with major developmental projects and high volume of trade. A team of three Indian Army officers and other staff will proceed to Namibia for the project once the formalities are worked out. A defence cooperation agreement with Namibia was signed in 1995, following which Indian Air Force training teams have been stationed in Namibia, which has also procured some defence equipment from India, including three transport helicopters from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

MEA officials said an agreement was signed with Namibia, which is the fourth largest producer of uranium, for peaceful civilian use of nuclear energy, but its implementation had been held up as it was still to be ratified by the Namibian legislature. An agreement among African countries on uranium export is another impediment to the agreement. A number of other agreements are also expected to be signed with the countries that the President is visiting, besides holding delegation level talks with leaders of the respective countries and interaction with the local diaspora.

An agreement for setting up a gas-powered fertiliser plant in Ghana and reopening the regional office of the EXIM Bank for West Africa are also on the agenda. The President will address a joint business forum and students and faculty of the University of Ghana besides unveiling a statue of Mahatma Gandhi gifted by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations. In Cote d’Ivoire, among other official engagements, Mukherjee will be honoured with the National Order of the Republic of Ivory Coast, the highest civilian award of that country.
4 Army men killed, 8 hurt in Samba road accident
Tribune News Service

Samba, June 8
Four Army   men were killed and eight critically injured after their truck fell 25 feet down the road on the Jammu-Pathankot highway near Jatwal in Samba district today.

According to the police, the Army truck was on its way to Akhnoor area of Jammu district from Amritsar when it met with the accident at Jatwal. “The victims were on way to Akhnoor when the accident took place,” the police said.

“The driver of the truck lost control over the vehicle while trying to save a cow crossing the highway. The truck skidded off the road and rolled down nearly 25 feet from the road before turning turtle,” the police said. The police, assisted by local people and Army jawans from a nearby unit, rushed to the spot and started the rescue operation. The Army had to use cranes to retrieve the bodies from the truck. The injured have been shifted to Military Hospital, Samba.
Indian army's arsenal in Eastern Command is safe, says senior officer
The Eastern Command conducted a thorough security check in its various installations in the wake of the deadly fire at Pulgaon.
Kolkata: The Indian Army's arsenal under the Eastern Command is safe, according to General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (Eastern Command) Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi at Fort William on Monday.

In the wake of the devastating fire in the ammunition depot in Pulgaon where over a dozen people including two Army officers were killed, the Eastern Command conducted a thorough security check in its various installations.

Lt Gen Bakshi said, "While we learn from incidents, steps are already being taken. It is not that any of our facilities are in unsafe mode. It is just the refinement of the procedure. We have done a quick review of our own though I will not mention the places. All the security checks have been done and they are absolutely safe. There is nothing called unsafe. I can assure that."

He was speaking to the media after the inauguration of a 24X7 veteran helpline for the triservices 'VEcare 1904' which was launched by former Army chief retired General Shankar Roy Chowdhury. Lt Gen Bakshi elaborated that the Army would conduct a major disaster management exercise for three days in Guwahati, being a disaster prone area with the monsoon coming up, on June 28 following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's advice.

"We will simulate and coordinate it with other agencies including National Disaster Response Force. In his address to all the army commanders the PM wanted us to give our best practices to other agencies since we have been handling disasters for a long time. The PM also wants a better civil-military exercise. Later similar exercises will be held at other places," he explained.

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