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Indonesia, India can learn inter-religious harmony: Envoy

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New Delhi, Aug 10: Ahead of the first India Indonesia Interfaith Dialogue (IIID) to be held in the Southeast Asian nation in October, Indonesian Ambassador to India Sidharto R. Suryodipuro said that both countries can learn about inter-religious harmony from each other.

“Both of us have something to share in terms of how we manage pluralism while we strengthen tolerance, inter-religious harmony,” Suryodipuro said in response to a question by IANS during an interaction with a group of journalists here organised by the Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents.

“Both India and Indonesia are countries that are quite successful in managing pluralism in a democratic setting,” he said.

Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population. The first IIID will be held from October 3 to 5 in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta.

Observing that both Indonesia and India have a complex ethnic make-up, Suryodipuro said: “We also can learn from each other on what we are doing to strengthen this.”

He was also of view that both countries can also have a message that can be sent to the international community on how to manage pluralism and tolerance.

“Out of this dialogue, we can also have something concrete come out in terms of what we should be doing internally, what we should be doing with our youth and others,” he said.

The Ambassador said that in Indonesia itself, there are over a dozen or more such kind of dialogues.

“And we have been undertaking it since the early 2000s,” he said.

Suryodipuro also said that Indonesia and India are enjoying one of the best periods of bilateral ties in 70 years of their diplomatic relationship.

Bilateral trade stood at $20 billion last year, the highest ever.

The Ambassador said that while half a million Indians visited Indonesia last year, 40,000 Indonesians visited India.

He also said that both India and Indonesia share the same view on the Indo-Pacific regional architecture and recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s keynote speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, the Track I annual inter-governmental security forum organised by the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), think tank in Singapore in June.

In his speech, Modi highlighted the centrality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region in the Indo-Pacific region.

Indonesia is the largest country in the 10-nation regional bloc.

In terms of defence cooperation, Suryodipuro said that both Indonesia and India are in the process of laying down the groundwork.

“For example, we have been holding the coordinated patrol between Andamans and North Sumatra for over a decade,” he said.

“But that had not expanded. Now, it is starting to expand into naval exercises as well as the other services of the armed forces.”

The Ambassador said that both sides are looking at other than exercises, how they can exchange information better, how the members of the respective services can be sent for training in each other’s countries.

Also underlining the importance of the soft side in the bilateral relationship, he identified things like “connectivity, infrastructure, trade, people-to-people connectivity and more student exchanges.”

IANS

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Clashes between Taliban and Afghan security forces kills 466

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Kabul, Aug 14 :At least 466 people, including 40 civilians, have been killed in ongoing clashes between the Taliban and Afghan security forces in Ghazni city as the Islamist group launched an offensive to seize control of the eastern Afghan city five days ago.

“Taliban deaths increased to 326 while we have 100 security forces martyred, among them 70 policemen. Up to 40 civilians have also been killed,” Defence Ministry spokesperson Ghafoor Ahmad Javid said.

Javid said the casualties had increased from 325 on Monday to 466 as the Afghan security forces, with support from the US Air Force, have been clearing the city and forcing the insurgents to the outskirts.

The data on civilian casualties was still preliminary and the exact number would be released after operations to clear the city of remaining insurgents was complete, he said.

“All areas inside the city are cleared of the Taliban fighters and currently the operation is focused on the western and northern outskirts of the city.”

Javid said the priority for authorities was to provide food and water to the approximately 270,000 residents of Ghazni.

They were also working to restore telecommunication services, electricity and water distribution services, which have been severely disrupted.

This has been the heaviest Taliban offensive on a provincial capital since the brief occupation of the western city of Farah in May.

In 2015, the Taliban seized the northern city of Kunduz and held out for several days.

In 2016, the Taliban surrounded and managed to enter Trinkot, the capital of Uruzgan province, and Lashkargah — the capital of Helmand — but in both cases they were able to maintain control for only a few days.

According to information released in 2017 by the US, the Afghan government controls about 56 per cent of the country and the Taliban 11 per cent, while the rest of the territory is under dispute.

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Car Crashes Outside UK Parliament in Suspected Terror Attack

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London, Aug 14:A car crashed into security barriers outside the UK House of Parliament on Tuesday injuring number of  cyclists and pedestrians and the driver  was arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences .

The Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command is investigating an incident in Westminster this morning during which a number of people were injured.

Armed police swooped on the scene moments after the vehicle collided with the barriers at 7.37 a.m, pointing their weapons at the vehicle before a male driver in his late 20s emerged.

Though he has not yet been identified, the man is not thought to be previously known to security services, according to Neil Basu, the U.K.’s counter-terrorism police chief.

He was detained and taken to a police station in south London where he remains in custody.
London Ambulance Service said it had taken two patients to hospital with non-life threatening injuries after cyclists and pedestrians were hit. A third patient with minor injuries was assessed at the scene. No one else was in the car and no weapons were found, the police said.

The decision to treat the incident as “terrorist” was made for several reasons, including CCTV recovered by the police showing the vehicle driving at pedestrians and civilians, outside an iconic site, which is seen as a high-profile target for terrorist attacks, reports said.

Westminster tube station was closed and streets around Millbank, Parliament Square and Victoria Tower Gardens were cordoned off. The nearby Strutton Ground was also closed to the public.

“My thoughts are with those injured and my thanks to the emergency services for their immediate and courageous response,” said Prime Minister Theresa May.

The Houses of Parliament, as it is known, are surrounded with security barriers of steel and concrete. The measures were extended after the Westminster Bridge attack in March 2017 when a Khalid Masood ploughed a car into crowds on the bridge, killing four people.

Masood abandoned his car and then stabbed and killed an unarmed police officer, Keith Palmer, before he was shot by police in a courtyard outside Parliament.

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Pakistan celebrates Independence Day

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Islamabad, Aug 14 : People all across Pakistan on Tuesday celebrated the country’s 72nd Independence Day.

As the clock struck midnight, fireworks began across the county while buildings were lit up to celebrate Independence Day.

The day-long festivities began with thanksgiving prayers and the hoisting of the national flag at all important public buildings in the country, which had been decorated with bunting and lights ahead of August 14, reports Dawn online.

The day began with a 31-gun salute in the capital, followed by 21-gun salutes in all four provincial capitals.

Pakistan Rangers officials at the Wagah border crossing exchanged sweets with Indian Border Security Force personnel.

The main ceremony will be hosted at the Islamabad’s Convention Centre, where President Mamnoon Hussain is expected to hoist the national flag. Caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk, the three chiefs of the armed forces and other notable personalities will be in attendance.

Change-of-guard ceremonies were also held at the mausoleums of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal in Karachi and Lahore, respectively.

People across the country flocked to stalls that lined up streets to purchase national flags in different sizes, t-shirts, badges and other merchandise to display their national pride.

IANS

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