Posts Tagged ‘Modi’

India’s BJP trails in vote count of three state polls, in setback for Modi

December 11, 2018

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was trailing on Tuesday in three big heartland states, two TV networks said, as counting began from local elections seen as a final trial of strength for Prime Minister Narendra Modi before general elections next year.

Analysts say a big loss for the BJP would signal rural dismay and help unite opposition to Modi, though his personal popularity remains high, despite criticism that he was unable to deliver on promises to create jobs for young people and improve conditions for farmers.

The elections are also a test for Rahul Gandhi, the chief of the main opposition Congress party, who is trying to forge a broad alliance with regional groups to mount the most serious challenge to Modi yet in the election that must be held by May.

Image result for Rahul Gandhi, photos

Rahul Gandhi

In the western state of Rajasthan, the Congress was leading in 81 seats of the 199-member assembly against the BJP’s 56 in the initial round of voting, India Today TV said.

In the central state of Chhattisgarh, the Congress was ahead in 46 of the 90 seats at stake with the BJP at 22 and was holding to a slender lead in the most populous state at stake, Madhya Pradesh, the network said.

The Times Now channel also said the BJP was trailing in all three states, where it had grabbed almost all the parliamentary seats in its landslide win in the last general election in 2014.

Poll analysts cautioned that with the counting in preliminary stages, it was too early to predict the outcome of state races involving millions of voters.

Local issues usually dominate state polls, but politicians are seeing the elections as a pointer to the national vote just months away.

The Indian rupee dropped as much as 1.5 percent to 72.465 per dollar, while bond yields rose 12 basis points to 7.71 percent after the resignation of the central bank governor.

The broader NSE share index was down 1.3 percent with investors cautious ahead of the state election results.

Equity analysts had warned that Monday’s surprise resignation of Urjit Patel, the governor of the Reserve Bank of India, after a long tiff with the government, could send the markets crashing.

“As the three erstwhile BJP states have a large agrarian population, the BJP’s drubbing could be interpreted to mean that farm unrest is real,” Nomura said in a research note.

“A rout of the BJP on its homeground states should encourage cohesion among the opposition parties to strengthen the non-BJP coalition for the general elections.”

Regional parties are likely to retain two smaller states that also report results on Tuesday, southern Telangana and northeastern Mizoram, the polls show.

Gandhi, the fourth generation scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, has sought to build a coalition of regional groups, some headed by experienced firebrand, ambitious politicians.

Congress has already said it would not name Gandhi, who is seen as lacking experience, as a prime ministerial candidate.

“When one and one become eleven, even the mighty can be dethroned,” opposition leader Akhilesh Yadav said of the prospect of growing opposition unity.

Reporting by Krishna N. Das, additional reporting by Savio Shetty in MUMBAI; Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez

Reuters

 

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India’s central bank heads quits amid spat with Modi administration; alleged government interference

December 10, 2018

The head of India’s central bank announced his resignation on Monday following a public spat with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration about alleged government interference.

Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel cited “personal reasons” for his decision but media reports have said that he was annoyed by repeated government efforts to influence central bank policy.

His short statement made no mention of the rift, highlighting only what he called the RBI’s “considerable accomplishments in recent years.”

Indian business dailies had reported in October and November that Modi’s government has invoked never-before-used powers to send at least three letters to Patel seeking to impact the central bank’s decision-making.

Image result for Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel, AFP photos

In this file photo taken on June 6, 2018, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel arrives for a news conference at the bank’s head office in Mumbai. (AFP Photo)

The government is believed to be unhappy with the RBI over a number of issues including interest rates, how to deploy reserves and how to respond to India’s sliding rupee.

The rupee has been one of Asia’s worst performing currencies this year while economic growth in the last quarter slowed to under eight percent.

It is understood the government is pressuring the bank to enact policies to help spur growth ahead of next year’s elections, when Modi will run for a second term.

The government would like the RBI to lower interest rates and free up more of its cash reserves to invest in Asia’s third-largest economy, analysts say.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley had also hit out at the RBI earlier this year over a massive multi-billion-dollar bank loan crisis that is hampering India’s corporate sector.

Jaitley accused the RBI of failing to stop indiscriminate lending from 2008 to 2014, saying it had “looked the other way” while banks issued loans that turned sour.

The rift flared up again when economic hardliners from a powerful Hindu nationalist group linked to Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) told Patel to fall in line with the government or quit.

Where India quietly watches China at sea

December 10, 2018

India maintains one of its newest and best-equipped military bases on the remote and restricted Andaman Islands, from where it surveils and looks to counter China in nearby waters

 NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 10, 2018
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An aerial view of India's Andaman islands. Photo: Facebook

An aerial view of India’s Andaman islands. Photo: Facebook

India’s Andaman Islands are where stone-age warfare meets 21st century weapons technology. On November 16, John Allen Chau, an American Christian missionary, was killed in a hail of arrows fired by aboriginal Sentinelese tribesmen as he tried to land on North Sentinel island to spread his faith.

The island, one of the remotest and most isolated islands in the Andaman archipelago, is a no-go territory even for Indian administrators, but was suddenly – if not fleetingly – in the global media spotlight due to the US proselytizer’s demise.

Image result for Andaman Islands, map

But there is a bigger hidden story in the Andamans, one with a modern geo-strategic twist.

On that same chain of remote islands, situated between Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, India quietly maintains one of its newest and best-equipped military bases.

From there, it monitors among other things the movements of Chinese submarines patrolling the entrance to the Malacca Strait shipping chokepoint while also eavesdropping on their radio traffic, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The Andamans, along with the nearby Nicobar Islands, form an Indian union territory run from New Delhi. It is home to what is appropriately called the Andaman and Nicobar Command, the Indian military’s first and only tri-service command.

India-Andaman Islands-Map

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands in regional relief. Map: Facebook

Headquartered at Port Blair, the main town on the islands, the command was established in 2001 to safeguard India’s strategic interests in the waters east of the Subcontinent and coordinates the activities of the navy, army and air force as well as the coast guards in the eastern Indian Ocean.

The main bases are on the larger Andamans, while there is a naval air station on the Nicobars not far from the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Now, as China expands its naval presence in the Indian Ocean, the Andamans have become a new maritime frontline in the increasingly pitched geopolitical rivalry between the two Asian giants.

On December 30, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit the Andamans, officially to mark the 75th anniversary of the hoisting of the Indian tricolor flag and the declaration of Azad Hind, or Free India, in Port Blair.

Free India was a provisional government established in 1943 in then occupied Singapore and supported by Empire Japan, Nazi Germany and Italy’s Social Republic – all Axis allies – during World War II.

The Andamans and Nicobars were occupied by the Japanese during the war, the only Indian territory to come under Tokyo’s control. Japan’s ally at that time was Subhas Chandra Bose, the leader of the Indian National Army, which fought alongside the Japanese Army in Southeast Asia and on the fringes of South Asia.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi listens to a speaker at the India-Japan annual summit on September 14, 2017. Photo: AFP/Prakash Singh

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the India-Japan annual summit on September 14, 2017. Photo: AFP/Prakash Singh

Modi will hoist the historical flag at exactly the same place in Port Blair where Bose performed the same ceremony on December 30, 1943.

Today, Japanese and Indian nationalists are allies once again, as Modi has found a strategic soul mate in Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Japanese naval vessels may soon be seen in Port Blair as well, as the two countries’ navies build a relationship to counter China’s moves in the Indian Ocean.

Talks are already underway between India and Japan to upgrade the laggard infrastructure on the strategically situated islands, in a project that represents a counter to China’s infrastructure building initiative, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Yet the idea of positioning a new Indian military command on the Andamans predates the BRI. It was first hatched in 1995 during a closed-door meeting in Washington between India’s then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao and then US president Bill Clinton, as it was already clear then that China was keen to establish a presence in the Indian Ocean.

The plan was finalized when Clinton visited India in 2000, and since then US naval ships have docked at Port Blair, ostensibly to assist in training rescue teams. But it is hardly a secret among military observers that the larger reason is to strengthen an informal alliance of powers that are concerned about China’s rising maritime ambitions.

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Indian naval vessels in the Andaman islands. Photo: Wikimedia

Speaking at a roundtable conference organized by the New Delhi-based think tank the National Maritime Foundation, US Navy chief Admiral Gary Roughead said that American leaders at the highest level had declared Washington and New Delhi would be strategic partners throughout the 21st century: “I’m here to say that the United States Navy in particular is a committed friend to India for the long term.”

In April 2016, India agreed to open its naval bases to the US in exchange for access to weapons technology to help narrow its gap with China. That month officials also said that Chinese submarines had been sighted in the area on an average of four times every three months. Since then, India has received US assistance in tracking China’s submarines.

But with Donald Trump in the White House, America’s commitment to Asia – and by extension India – may not be as firm as previously. That’s caused New Delhi to look increasingly to Tokyo for assistance in reasserting its position in its traditional sphere of influence.

During an October visit to Tokyo, Modi and Abe concluded a range of agreements to strengthen military cooperation, including an “Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement,” or ACSA, which will grant the two sides’ armed forces reciprocal access to each other’s military bases and facilities.

It is obvious to most why China has moved into the Indian Ocean region and no one questions the legitimacy of its interests: most of China’s foreign trade as well as its crucial oil imports pass through the waters. But it is a new geopolitical development that other powers in the region are watching with increased concern.

India-Andaman Islands-Naval Exercise-2010

Indian Navy Commandos in a water para-jump during an exercise off Port Blair. Photo: Facebook/Indian Navy

China’s military base in Djibouti, its first overseas military facility, has sparked speculation that the Chinese navy is aiming for strategic access to other ports in Beijing-friendly nations in the region such as Kyaukpyu in Myanmar, Gwadar in Pakistan and Hambantota in Sri Lanka.

Today, India’s Andaman and Nicobar Command consists of a joint naval and air force base, two logistics support bases, two naval stations and an air base. Those are rapidly becoming some of India’s most important military outposts, security analysts say.

More transport planes were brought in after the 2004 tsunami disaster, with the Indian Air Force eventually stationing a Sukhoi SU-30 squadron on the Andamans, converting the facility into a fighter aircraft base. Indian military and policy makers now frequently refer to the islands as a “stationary aircraft carrier.”

The Indian Navy also maintains a major Naval Special Forces, known as MARCOS, detachment there, in large part to guard against China’s maneuvers in the Indian Ocean region.

Modi’s upcoming visit there is thus not only a symbolic gesture to honor an old freedom fighter and his budding friendship with Japan, but will also mark more officially the beginning of a new strategic era where Japan and India are once again close partners.

The isolated Sentinelese tribe may be utterly unaware of what is going on so near to their secluded home island. But to the rest of the world, it is obvious that a new Cold War is emerging on the Indian Ocean’s horizon and the Andaman islands are emerging as important outposts in that contest.

http://www.atimes.com/article/where-india-quietly-watches-china-at-sea/

India interest rates on hold as growth slows

December 5, 2018

India’s central bank kept interest rates unchanged on Wednesday after Asia’s third-largest economy slowed ahead of elections next year.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said the benchmark repo rate — the level at which it lends to commercial banks — would remain at 6.50 percent.

It was the second meeting in a row that the bank has kept borrowing rates stable following two rises this year.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said the benchmark repo rate -- the level at which it lends to commercial banks -- would remain at 6.50 percent

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said the benchmark repo rate — the level at which it lends to commercial banks — would remain at 6.50 percent The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said the benchmark repo rate — the level at which it lends to commercial banks — would remain at 6.50 percent AFP/File

The decision was “consistent with the stance of calibrated tightening of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 percent”, the bank said.

India last week reported slowing economic growth, expanding 7.1 percent in the July-to-September quarter, down from 8.2 percent in the previous period.

Analysts say India needs to regularly record growth of at least eight percent to generate employment for the millions entering the workforce each year.

Inflation remains tame however, easing to 3.31 percent in October, below the RBI’s 4-percent target band.

The slowdown in growth was on the back of a liquidity crunch in the banking system, linked to problems in the shadow banking sector, hitting investment.

Another hike in interest rates could have exacerbated the crunch ahead of general elections expected in April or May next year.

Sujan Hajra, economist at Mumbai-based Anand Rathi Securities, told AFP that he expected rates to be kept on hold until the vote.

AFP

Saudi crown prince mingles with G20 leaders as Trump fuels summit tensions — “The summit seems a nonsense to me.”

December 1, 2018

Fissures on trade, climate change and Ukraine divided world leaders Friday as US President Donald Trump came under sustained fire and Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler came in from the cold at G20 talks.

The leaders of countries representing four-fifths of the global economy opened a two-day meeting in Argentina facing the deepest fractures since the first G20 summit convened 10 years ago in the throes of financial crisis.

Trump was attacked for destroying the group’s past unity on trade and climate change. But he won a breakthrough with the signing of a new trade pact for North America and, having ignited a trade war with China, touted “good signs” ahead of a dinner Saturday with President Xi Jinping.

© Kevin Lamarque, REUTERS | Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attend the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 30, 2018.

In remarks to the summit relayed by the Xinhua news agency, Xi reaffirmed his pledges of economic reform “with increased efforts in intellectual property rights protection and more imports.”

If that was designed to soothe Trump, Xi more generally urged his fellow G20 leaders “to stick to openness” and to “steer (the) world economy responsibly,” Xinhua reported.

The summit began in Buenos Aires with a traditional “family photo” by the leaders of a group whose relationships range from warm and friendly to chilly and distrustful.

Elsewhere in Buenos Aires, as Argentina goes through a painful economic crisis, tens of thousands of protesters rallied peacefully to denounce the government for spending millions on the summit while the public endures rocketing inflation and unemployment.

They paraded with signs attacking Trump and the International Monetary Fund, whose largesse is keeping Argentina afloat at the cost of hard-hitting austerity measures.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, under pressure himself after his security forces seized three Ukrainian ships, set the tone for a combative two days by condemning the “vicious” use of sanctions and trade protectionism.

The target was clear, as Trump — who canceled a planned meeting with Putin in Buenos Aires — tears up the stability promoted by the G20 powers a decade ago.

And during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Putin was said by a French aide to have drawn a map of the strait off Crimea to buttress his position that the Ukrainian ships had intruded into Russian waters — a claim denied by Kiev.

Long-lost friend

Earlier, Putin grinned broadly and welcomed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman like a long-lost friend with an enthusiastic hand-shake after the group photo, where Trump looked on somberly and Xi stood impassively.

The summit marks a quick return to the international stage for Prince Mohammed after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May both raised the murder of Khashoggi during meetings with the 33-year-old prince.

May also told British media she intended to use the summit to sell the vision of a “global Britain” after its Brexit departure from the European Union, scheduled for March next year.

European Council President Donald Tusk was more focused on the Ukraine crisis, saying he was “sure” the bloc would roll over its sanctions on Russia next month.

On the G20 front, Tusk admitted the world was undergoing a “difficult moment” overall, as Trump pursues a vision at odds with the idea of collective action on trade and climate change.

Progressive front

US objections on those fronts have seen two major summits this year, of the Group of Seven democracies and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, end without the once-routine statements.

The same disputes were hobbling adoption of a G20 communique, observers said. One French source said European leaders were trying to forge a separate statement on climate change excluding the US.

Such a statement would endorse the Paris Agreement on climate change, repeating one issued at last year’s G20 in defiance of Trump, who has yanked the United States out of the pact despite increasingly urgent warnings from scientists in advance of a UN climate meeting starting in Poland next week.

For Trump, there was no escape from the lengthening shadow of the US investigation over Russian meddling in his 2016 election, which is now reaching into his business affairs.

But on the G20 margins, Trump scored one victory for his “America First” agenda with the signing of a successor to the North American free trade pact NAFTA, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Although the new pact inherits key features from the old one, Trump has declared it a victory for the US workers he claims were cheated by NAFTA and on Friday called it the most “modern and balanced agreement in history.”

“This is a model agreement that changes the trade landscape forever,” Trump said at the signing ceremony in Buenos Aires.

‘Nonsense’

The G20 summit is the biggest international gathering in Argentina’s history, and the protest underlined security concerns after recent football violence forced the relocation of a showpiece final to Spain.

But there was no significant unrest after the government vowed zero tolerance and declared a public holiday, shuttering the metro system and keeping the normally choked roads largely free of traffic.

“The summit seems a nonsense to me,” call center worker Agustina Vianello, 25, told AFP.

“We are in a bad situation, and we’re putting a pile of money into this? Everything’s high security. It’s strange to see everything so empty.”

(AFP)

Related:

Rifts laid bare as world leaders meet at G20

December 1, 2018

World leaders have held the opening session of their annual G20 summit, with any number of disputes and disagreements on the table.

Host president, Argentina’s Mauricio Macri, said the solution was “dialogue, dialogue and dialogue” and called for a clear message of shared responsibility.

PM_MODI_XI_JINPING

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit. (Photo | PMO/ Twitter)

But US President Donald Trump has already cancelled meeting Russia’s Vladimir Putin over Ukraine.

And huge differences remain on climate change, trade and the Khashoggi affair.

The G20, made up of 19 of the world’s most industrialised nations plus the EU, accounts for 85% of the world’s economic output and two-thirds of the world’s population.

Its meetings, which began in 2008, are an opportunity for members to develop global policies tackling major issues – but many of the key decisions will be made in one-on-one encounters.

There is massive security for the summit in Buenos Aires, with a bank holiday declared for Friday and the city’s main business district shut down.

Protesters angry at the money spent on the summit while Argentina struggles through tough austerity demonstrated outside the meeting.

Presentational grey line

Snub test

Analysis by James Landale, BBC diplomatic correspondent

Meeting world leaders at the G20 summit was a test for Mohammed bin Salman to see who would snub him.

He is the only Arab leader in the G20 and already stood out in his traditional dress amid a sea of suits. And at times he looked uncertain, even nervous. Some of his counterparts shared a word or two but few went out of their way to shake his hand.

So the optics of the summit, to use the diplomatic jargon, were not that great for MBS.

Read on

Presentational grey line

What have the opening exchanges told us?

The world leaders were all called on to the stage and assumed their position for the traditional family photograph.

G20 leaders in Buenos Aires
The G20 photo ahead of Friday’s plenary session. Getty Images

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stood on the outside of the photo, far away from Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

This is the crown prince’s first major diplomatic test since the murder in Turkey of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a key critic of the government. Saudi Arabia has blamed “rogue agents” but suspicion has fallen on the prince for ordering the killing.

After the photo was taken, the crown prince did manage a hearty exchange with Mr Putin.

French President Emmanuel Macron held a five-minute exchange with the crown prince during which, a French official said, Mr Macron had conveyed “very firm” messages over the Khashoggi affair.

Mr Trump had a “friendly meeting” with the crown prince, Saudi media said, although the president later said there had been “no discussion”.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May also met the crown prince. A Downing Street spokesman said the PM had “stressed the importance of ensuring that those responsible for the appalling murder of Jamal Khashoggi are held to account” and that “such a deplorable incident” should not happen again.

In addition Mrs May held a 15-minute meeting to discuss trade with Mr Macri. Their two nations have long disputed sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.

Mr Macri’s opening address to the summit admitted there would be issues of disagreement that needed to be managed.

So how does a G20 summit work?

He called for consensus on sustainable development, the future of work, food supply, climate change and international trade, adding: “I am an optimist”.

What will go on on the sidelines?

There are certain to be plenty of bilateral, trilateral or even larger get-togethers, although the one that will not be taking place is the highest-profile.

Mr Trump said he would not meet Mr Putin because three Ukrainian vessels and 24 sailors seized by Russia in the Black Sea near Crimea had not been returned.

“We don’t like what happened. Nobody does,” he said on Friday.

Why tensions between Russia and Ukraine are so high

Mr Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Moscow regretted the decision. But he said: “If this is so, the president will have a couple of extra hours in the programme for useful meetings on the sidelines of the summit.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has blamed the crisis “entirely” on Russia and said she would raise the issue with Mr Putin.

The second-highest profile meeting will also involve Mr Trump. He will have dinner on Saturday with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

The key issue there will be the nations’ trade tariffs dispute.

The US has hit a total of $250bn (£196bn) of Chinese goods with tariffs since July, and China has retaliated by imposing duties on $110bn of US products.

China said consensus was increasing on a deal but that differences remained.

After earlier indicating pessimism on an agreement, Mr Trump said: “They want to and we’d like to. There are some good signs. We’ll see what happens.”

Mr Putin has also weighed in, with a thinly veiled attack on Mr Trump’s America First policy. The Russian president condemned “dishonest competition” along with “vicious” sanctions and protectionist measures.

The Brics group, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, issued a statement saying protectionism ran counter to the “spirit and rules of the World Trade Organization”.

What has been achieved so far?

Ahead of the summit’s official start Mr Trump signed a trade deal with the Mexican and Canadian leaders.

Mr Trump described the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) – which replaces the Nafta free trade deal – as “probably the greatest trade deal ever”.

“All of our countries will benefit greatly,” he said.

Will there be a joint G20 communiqué?

European diplomats told Associated Press there has been tough haggling over a final statement.

Argentine officials indicated differences on trade could be overcome.

However, that will still leave the obstacle of climate change.

Why have thousands of demonstrators been marching against the G20 summit in Buenos Aires?

Mr Trump has not hidden his objection to collective action on the issue.

UN chief Antonio Guterres said in Buenos Aires that “this is a make-it-or-break-it moment” on the issue.

President Macron was quoted by AFP news agency as saying he would refuse to sign a trade deal with South America’s Mercosur bloc if Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro withdrew from the Paris climate accord.

Includes videos:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-46395758

Perceptible improvement in India-China relations, say PM Modi and Xi on G20 sidelines

http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2018/nov/30/pm-modi-meets-chinese-president-xi-jinping-on-g20-summit-sidelines-1905513.html

Call for dialogue and consensus at G20 opening

December 1, 2018

The G20 summit of the most powerful countries in the world opened in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires with a call for dialogue and consensus from Mauricio Macri, the president of the country hosting the event.

“The essence of the G20 is to foster dialogue while respecting differences, and we hope to lay the foundations for consensus for the next 10 years,” Macri said.

US President Donald Trump meets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was among the G20 leaders and was greeted especially warmly by President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Television pictures showed the two statesmen sharing a joke and a warm handshake.

But Macri underlined the challenges facing the gathering, which takes place at a time of increasing tension in political and economic relations between the leading powers.

“Many people look at us and have doubts regarding these summits and what they’re good for. It is our duty to show to the world that today global challenges require global responses,” he said.

He outlined the issues facing the assembled leaders as climate change, sustainable development, food security and international trade, which will be the subject of group and bilateral discussions.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greet each other at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires. (AFP)

Saudi Arabia shares many of the priorities of the G20 in terms of youth employment, female empowerment and technological transformation.

The 20 government leaders — as well as representatives of other invited nations and international institutions — were welcomed on stage at the Costa Salguero Center, the venue for the 13th G20 summit, on the shores of the Rio De La Plata.

The leaders — 35 men and two women — posed for the “family photograph” traditionally taken at G20 gatherings, before heading to the plenary chamber room for initial round-table discussions, to be followed by a series of one-to-one conversations between leaders in the center’s maze of meeting rooms.

The crown prince chatted with US President Donald Trump during the formalities, and had meetings with Narendra Modi, prime minister of India, where a number of commercial initiatives between the two countries were discussed. President Emmanuel Macron of France had a conversation with the crown prince, French officials said in media reports.

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READ MORE:

LIVE: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets world leaders at G20

Saudi crown prince and Indian PM meet in Buenos Aires

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Theresa May, the British prime minister, told journalists that she was planning to meet with the crown prince while in Buenos Aires to discuss the military situation in Yemen as well as other issues.

Saudi Arabia is the only country from the Middle East represented at the G20 gathering, which includes 19 of the largest economies in the world and the EU. The G20 nations account for 85 percent of the world’s economic output and two thirds of its population.

Tough talking is expected at the summit, especially between Trump and Xi Jinping of China, over global trade. There could also be confrontation between the American and Putin over the escalating confrontation in Ukraine, which caused Trump to cancel a planned meeting with Putin.

On climate change, the American president holds different views from many of the other G20 leaders.

The summit was held in tight security conditions, following threats of violent disruption from some groups in Buenos Aires. Armed soldiers in military vehicles manned checkpoints leading to the summit venue and the media center some 5 kilometers away. But there were no serious disturbances reported on the opening day of the summit.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1413731/world

Pakistan: Armies can’t conquer Kashmiris’ passion for freedom

November 30, 2018
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addressing a seminar of the All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addressing a seminar of the All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

“[Indian Prime Minister] Narendra Modi just announced that [his government] will give a package of billions of rupees to [Indian Occupied] Kashmir,” Chaudhry said. “But independence cannot be bought with money. Independence is a sentiment felt in the heart, a narrative of the heart.”

The information minister said that India’s allegation that Pakistan was instigating unrest in Kashmir had no foundation and the Indian government had only adopted this stance because it was unable to crush the struggle for freedom in the region. He urged Indian authorities to realise that “armies cannot conquer the narrative of the heart”.

Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s stance on Occupied Kashmir was not inspired by the “beauty of Kashmir”.

“We don’t view the Kashmir issue from a territorial point of view. We look at it from a humanitarian angle,” he said, adding that the “pain of Kashmiris is felt by Pakistan”.

The information minister further said that pro-Pakistan sentiment in Kashmir was very high and political parties which contested elections in the territory realised this.

“[Kashmiri leader] Umar Farooq told me that political parties contesting elections in Kashmir knew that if they adopted an anti-Pakistan narrative, their voter base would alienate them,” he said.

Quoting author Arundhati Roy, Chaudhry said, “The time when India controlled Kashmir is long gone; now the narrative of Kashmir dominates India.”

He emphasised the importance of peace in the region, saying that friendly relations between India and Pakistan would lead to trade and an improved economy, which would benefit both countries.

Referring to the Indian government’s refusal to attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation conference if it was hosted by Pakistan, the information minister said that “Saarc was suffering” due to Delhi’s position on the matter.

“As soon as Indian authorities and intellectuals realise that they will have to adopt a realistic approach towards the Kashmir issue and that it needs to be solved, we can move forward.”

https://www.dawn.com/news/1448582/armies-cant-conquer-kashmiris-passion-for-freedom-says-information-minister

MBS, Modi meet in Argentina as India looks to find new avenues for oil import

November 30, 2018
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Argentina. — Photo courtesy Saudi Royal Court via Reuters.com
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Argentina. — Photo courtesy Saudi Royal Court via Reuters.com

According to SPA, the two leaders met at the residence of the Saudi crown prince — known by his initials MBS — in the Argentine capital and discussed bilateral cooperation between the two friendly countries in the various fields. Both the leaders are in Buenos Aires to attend the Group of 20 (G-20) summit which kicks off today (Friday).

The meeting between the two leaders comes a few months after it was announced that — following US’s reimposition of sanctions against Iran — India will cut its oil imports from Tehran to zero.

With limited exceptions, the US government’s reimposed sanctions against Iran will hit countries that do not stop importing Iranian oil and foreign firms that do business with blacklisted Iranian entities, including its central bank, a number of private financial institutions, and state-run port and shipping firms, as well as hundreds of individual Iranian officials.

In September, the US government said that it is not going to provide a waiver to any country from curbs on commercial deals with Iran and the restriction applies to India as well.

The following month it was announced that India will be joining other Asian buyers such as South Korea and Japan that have already halted imports from the Persian Gulf state before American restrictions take effect in early November.

In the Buenos Aires meeting, Saudi Aramco’s investment in refineries in India — especially the large refinery on the western coast of India and in the field of crude oil storage — came under discussion, reported SPA.

Prince Mohammed accepted Modi’s invitation to join International Solar Alliance during the meeting. The two leaders discussed investment in solar energy through the Soft Bank Vision Fund and through the Saudi companies which will build solar energy projects.

They also discussed the investment opportunities in the infrastructure through the Public Investment Fund and replacing Saudi Arabia’s agricultural imports from other countries with Indian agricultural products.

According to SPA, the leaders discussed strategies to localise the military industry and cooperation in the field of military manufacturing in both countries and reviewed the available opportunities to export the Saudi non-oil products to India, and ways to develop bilateral trade.

MBS at G-20 Summit

The summit is the Saudi prince’s first significant appearance overseas since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul Consulate. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been sharply critical of Saudi Arabia over the incident, is also in attendance.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who flew into Buenos Aires on Wednesday as one of the earliest arrivers, called for international involvement and “complete clarity” in investigations into the killing, and said European leaders should discuss it at a meeting Friday.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri, the summit’s host, said the matter of the killing would be “on the table” during bilateral and possibly broader meetings.

Saudia Arabia has denied that the crown prince played a role in Khashoggi’s gruesome slaying. Human Rights Watch, however, has accused him of responsibility and also of war crimes in Yemen, and on Wednesday, Argentine legal authorities took initial action to consider a request to prosecute him for alleged crimes against humanity — a move apparently aimed at embarrassing him as he attends the summit.

Associated Press

https://www.dawn.com/news/1448581/prince-mohammed-pm-modi-meet-in-argentina-as-india-looks-to-find-new-avenues-for-oil-import

Indian PM Modi to be invited to attend Saarc summit: Pakistan’s Foreign Office says

November 27, 2018
Dr Mohammad Faisal addressed the Kashmir Conference in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID/File photo
Dr Mohammad Faisal addressed the Kashmir Conference in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID/File photo

While addressing the Kashmir Conference in Islamabad, Dr Faisal recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan in his first address had said that if India took one step forward, Pakistan would take two.

He added that the premier, in his response to Modi’s letter, had expressed Pakistan’s openness to resolving all outstanding issues through dialogue with India.

“We fought a war with India, relations cannot be fixed quickly,” Dr Faisal said.

The FO spokesman said that the Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate the visa-free travel of members of India’s Sikh community to their religious site in Pakistan, will be inaugurated tomorrow and is expected to be completed within six months.

“In this century diplomacy has completely changed,” he said, adding: “Now policies are made based on citizens’ emotions and wishes.”

He said that the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor is a great success for the country.

He added that Indian media had been invited to cover the inauguration ceremony, and that Pakistan is not hiding anything.

Dawn

https://www.dawn.com/news/1447981