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PM Modi faces lawsuit in Houston over Kashmir

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Modi in Russia

Houston/Washington, Sep 21 With separatist Sikh groups and Pakistanis planning to hold protests in Houston, and two US-based Kashmiri activists having filed a federal lawsuit accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of rights violations in Kashmir, New Delhi is known to be in touch with Washington over the Prime Minister’s security.

The Indian mission is also working to find out the implications of the federal lawsuit.

According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, the 73-page lawsuit filed jointly by two US-based Kashmiri activists and the Khalistan Referendum Front, alleges that Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah; and Commander of Indian Army’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lt. Gen Kanwal Jeet Singh Dhillon carried out extrajudicial killings and inflicted “cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment” upon Kashmiris following the revocation Article 370 — that granted a special status to Jammu and Kashmir — on August 5.

The civil complaint has been filed under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991, a federal statute that allows civil suits on the US soil against foreign officials suspected of committing torture or extrajudicial killing.

The New York-based attorney of the Khalistan Referendum Front said he planned to submit the case as a class action.

Human rights protesters are expected to converge in large numbers outside the Houston’s NRG Stadium to hold a counter event to the ‘Howdy Modi’ gathering that will see 50,000 members of the Indian diaspora in attendance on Sunday. US President Donald Trump is also participating in the event, underlining the importance of India-US relations.

The Pakistani elements have made elaborate arrangements to pick up people from outside mosques in Houston for the anti-Modi protest.

Middle East

‘US troops withdrawing from Syria to western Iraq’

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US troops from Syria

Washington, Oct 21 : US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said roughly 1,000 US troops withdrawing from the northeastern Syria will be repositioned into western Iraq, according to a transcript released by the Pentagon.

“The US withdrawal continues apace from northeast Syria. Again, we’re talking weeks not days. We want to be very deliberate and very safe as we go about it,” Esper told reporters on Saturday en route to Afghanistan, according to the transcript released on Sunday.

According to Xinhua news agency, based on the “current game plan,” those forces, which are about 1,000, will be repositioned into western Iraq to help defend the war-torn country and perform a counter-the Islamic State (IS) mission, the Pentagon chief added.

The United States has been withdrawing around 1,000 US troops from northern Syria amid Turkey’s military operations targeting the Kurdish forces in several parts of northeast Syria launched about two weeks ago.

US President Donald Trump said last week that the US troops leaving Syria will remain in the Middle East region to “monitor the situation,” while a small number of US forces will remain at At Tanf Garrison in southern Syria to counter the remnants of the IS.

The United States and Turkey reached an agreement on Thursday over a five-day truce in northern Syria.

According to the pact, Washington will help facilitate an “orderly withdrawal” of Kurdish-led troops from what Ankara has termed as a “safe zone” on the Syrian-Turkish border.

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Russia and the United States must normalise diplomatic missions: Russian FM

Lavrov expressed regrets the US Congress stood in the way of US President Donald Trump’s efforts to bring relations with Russia back on track.

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Sergei Lavrov

Moscow, Oct 21 : Russia and the United States must normalize the work of each other’s diplomatic missions, and Moscow is ready to do that on the basis of the “zero option” plan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“When we understood that sanctions are not only not frozen or lifted, but are also expanding and deepening, we also responded and insisted that the number of American diplomats in Russia and Russian diplomats in the US be equal,” Lavrov said in an interview with Rossiya-1 TV channel, according to the transcript of the interview published by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

In March 2018, Russia announced the decision to expel 60 US diplomats and close the US consulate general in St. Petersburg, in retaliation to Washington’s move to expel 60 Russian diplomats and intelligence officials in the United States.

Lavrov expressed regrets the US Congress stood in the way of US President Donald Trump’s efforts to bring relations with Russia back on track.

“I repeat, we are ready at any time to resolve these issues on the basis of the ‘zero option’ and return to the normal functioning of our diplomatic institutions,” Lavrov said.

He said that he had already discussed the issue with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, who understands that “sometime we must return to this. The sooner, the better.”

The “zero option” refers to an American proposal for the withdrawal of all Soviet and United States intermediate-range nuclear missiles from Europe.

On August 2, Russia and the United States formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty after accusing each other of violating the landmark arms control deal.

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Middle East

Iran’s nuclear industry ‘indigenised’: Official

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Iran Nuclear Power Plant

Tehran, Oct 21 : Iran’s nuclear industry has been entirely indigenised, a senior official at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said.

“One hundred percent of Iran’s nuclear industry activities has been indigenized and, today, we are self-sufficient in designing and manufacturing various kinds of centrifuges,” Ali Asghar Zare’an, special assistant to the AEOI head, was quoted as saying by Press TV on Sunday.

According to Xinhua news agency, Zare’an said, “Once others were not willing to give us a single centrifuge or see a centrifuge spinning, but now, thousands of centrifuges are running at (Iranian) Natanz and Fordow (nuclear) facilities.”

Iran is now producing the raw material of yellowcake domestically and this move has greatly increased “the bargaining power at the international level,” he added.

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