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Jaishankar holds talks with Mike Pompeo in Tokyo

The external affairs minister also called on Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga along with his counterparts from the US, Japan and Australia.

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S Jaishankar Mike Pompeo

New Delhi, Oct 6 : External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday held talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Tokyo, focusing on key bilateral and regional issues and resolving to work together to advance peace and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the globe.

Jaishankar and Pompeo are in Tokyo to attend a ministerial meeting of the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition comprising India, the US, Australia and Japan.

It is learnt that both Jaishankar and Pompeo apprised each other about all major issues including security-related concerns in their first face-to-face meeting in seven months though they held a number of telephonic conversations during the period.

“Began my Tokyo visit with a bilateral meeting with @SecPompeo. Pleased to see the progress of our partnership in so many fields. Will work together for stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific,” Jaishankar tweeted.

It is understood that India’s festering row with China in eastern Ladakh figured in the meeting. However, there is no official confirmation about it.

A readout by the US State Department said Pompeo and Jaishankar discussed ongoing bilateral and multilateral cooperation on topics of international concern, and looked forward to the US-India two-plus-two ministerial dialogue later this year.

“They reaffirmed the strength of the United States-India relationship, reviewed our efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and asserted the need to work together to advance peace, prosperity, and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the globe,” it said.

It said both Pompeo and Jaishankar agreed to continue close cooperation on a full range of regional and international issues.

The external affairs minister also called on Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga along with his counterparts from the US, Japan and Australia.

About the meeting with Suga, the external affairs minister said he mentioned the bilateral and global dimensions of special partnership between the two countries.

“Called on PM @sugawitter along with other Quad Foreign Ministers. Spoke about the bilateral and global dimensions of our special partnership,” he said.

The meeting between Jaishankar and Pompeo comes at a time both India and the US are at loggerheads with China.

While India’s ties with China have come under severe strain over the five-month border standoff in eastern Ladakh, the relationship between Beijing and Washington nosedived over trade dispute, the coronavirus pandemic and China’s military offensive in South China Sea.

It is learnt that Jaishankar and Pompeo also deliberated on overall ties including evolving security scenario around India.

In November 2017, the four countries gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the “Quad” to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence.

The first meeting of foreign ministers of the four countries under the ‘Quad’ framework had taken place in New York in September 2019.

The second ministerial meeting of the Quadrilateral coalition on Tuesday is expected to collectively affirm the importance of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of growing Chinese assertiveness in the region.

Last week, the Ministry of External Affairs said the meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries is expected to collectively affirm the importance of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

During his two-day visit to Tokyo, Jaishankar will also hold talks with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi and Australian foreign minister Marise Payne

India is also expanding bilateral cooperation with Japan, the US and Australia in the Indo-Pacific region.

The US has been pushing for a greater role for India in the Indo-Pacific which is seen by many countries as an effort to contain China’s growing clout in the region.

India

NCP should decide on poll alliance soon: Goa leader

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Sharad Pawar

The Nationalist Congress Party should decide its political strategy for the 2022 Assembly polls in Goa well ahead of time, NCP state president Jose Philip D’Souza said on Wednesday.

D’Souza also said that party supremo Sharad Pawar was scheduled to arrive in Goa on Wednesday for a brief visit to meet with the state executive committee members and discuss strategy for the upcoming polls.

“We will be discussing our electoral agenda with Sharad Pawarji, because elections are just a year away,” D’Souza said.

“Planning should be done in advance. If like minded parties want to go together for the 2022 elections, it has to be decided now. We will be discussing this issue,” D’Souza also said.
The party had fared poorly in the 2017 Assembly polls winning just one seat in the 40-member Goa Assembly, after much delayed talks for an alliance with the Congress failed.

D’Souza claims that it was imperative for the party to ensure that if the party was to ally with a “like-minded” party for the 2022 polls, the deal had to be sewn together sooner rather than later.

“Whether we should go with an alliance with other parties or not, it has to be decided now. If we leave it for too late, with a month or two to go for elections, then there is limited scope for discussion and things can go wrong. The talks should begin now,” D’Souza said, adding that he would be discussing the matter with Pawar.

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PM must wake up to reality about poverty: Chidambaram

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chidambaram

A day after 15 migrant construction workers, including a child, were crushed to death by a truck in Gujarat’s Surat, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Wednesday slammed the Modi government at the Centre, saying it is time that the Prime Minister woke up to reality and not repeat the statistics about toilets, housing and open defection-free numbers fed by bureaucrats.

In a statement, Chidambaram said, “The tragedy of 15 migrant construction workers being run over and killed in Gujarat must open our eyes to the reality of poverty in India.”

Firing salvos at the government, former Finance Minister Chidambaram asked “why were the workers sleeping on the roadside? Is not the contractor obliged to provide them shelter near the construction site? Where do they wash, bathe, cook and keep their children? On the roadside in the open?”

“The Prime Minister must wake up to the reality and not repeat the ‘statistics’ about toilets, housing and ODF fed by bureaucrats,” he said.

His remarks came a day after at least 15 migrant labourers from Rajasthan, including a child sleeping near a road were crushed to death and six others injured by a speeding dumper truck in Surat.

The incident happened when the dumper truck lost control and ran over some 20 sugarcane farm labourers. Twelve were killed on the spot, one died while being shifted to hospital and two succumbed later during treatment while six others were being treated in hospital.

–IANS

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Leaking classified info act of ‘treason’: Cong on Arnab chat

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Arnab Goswami

Upping the ante against the government over journalist Arnab Goswami’s purported social media chat leak, the Congress on Wednesday described it as an act of “treason” and demanded an immediate inquiry over leaking of such classified information about the Balakot air strikes.

The Congress also said it will raise the issue of the alleged chat leaks in Parliament’s Budget session.

The Congress brought out several senior members of the party to corner the government over the issue with former Defence Minister A.K. Antony, former Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, former Law Minister Salman Khurshid and party spokesperson Pawan Khera.

Addressing a press conference here at the party headquarters, Antony said, “The contents of the leaked chats between Goswami of Republic TV and the former CEO of BARC is a serious issue for the entire nation.”

Antony said that for a very patriotic Indian, it is a shock and a serious matter of concern because it affects national security.

The Congress leader said that it effects the security of armed forces, especially in this case, the security of brave air warriors. “And also in the way they (Goswami and BARC CEO) mentioned the martyrdom of 40 CRPF men is all a serious concern for us,” Antony said.

He said that the people of the country and the political parties might have differences on several issues but are united when it comes to national security cutting across the religious and party lines to protect the country.

“But now it is very clear that classified documents that too considering the national security and also considering the most sensitive secret air strikes were available with the people who were not expected to know it, and were not authorised to get these documents,” Antony said.

He said “I am very sad and shocked” over the leaked chats between Goswami and former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta and the language they used while mentioning the martyrdom of 40 CRPF troopers.

Firing salvos at the government, the Congress leader said, “Three days before the Balakot air strikes, how did one journalist come to know of the details of it? It would have effected the operation and its effectiveness.”

Only very few people are expected to be in the know of such secret information, to know the details of the military operations. “Even all the Cabinet ministers are not expected to get that as only a few handful of people and few military people are informed about such operations,” he said.

“These documents were leaked to the media, but not the entire media but to only one journalist by the people who were in top positions of the government,” he alleged.

“Leaking official secrets about the military operation, national security matters, sensitive military operations especially air force strike is treason and anti-national activity,” he alleged.

“It is not only criminal activity, it is anti-national activity and a treason. Whoever has done they must be punished for anti-national activities and treason,” he said.

Questioning the silence of the government over the issue, Antony said, “Even till today the government has not said anything on this. I am sure these anti-national activities or leakage of secret military operations was among the four or five civilian people. I don’t suspect anybody. But one of them is suspect. It needs to be enquired immediately on a war footing. And whoever is guilty should be punished for treason.”

He also said that the journalist who got such secret military operation details has to be punished.

“Urgently the government must order an enquiry. And whoever is responsible and whoever is part of the leakage of military operations should be shown no mercy and he has to be punished,” Antony said.

Shinde said that what Goswami has done is not just shameful for the country but also for journalism. “In last several years no media organisation or any journalist has done such act,” he said.

He said that the country has seen several wars and the governments of different parties, but such an act of leakage of official secrets was never witnessed.

“They were celebrating on Pulwama after our 40 CRPF troopers were killed in a terror attack,” the former Home Minister said, referring to the chats of Goswami and Partho Dasgupta.

On Tuesday, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had also slammed the government and said that leaking sensitive information related to national security to a journalist is a “criminal act” and persons behind this should be put in prison.

–IANS

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