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Sushma Swaraj warns of terrorism threat at Saarc meeting, avoids Pakistan minister

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Sushma Swaraj

United Nations, Sep 28 : In a huge snub to Pakistan, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj left a meeting of the SAARC foreign ministers early, which was attended by her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi, after issuing a call to end the eco-system of terrorism.

Swaraj made a strong statement on terrorism threatening peace and stability in South Asia, saying Regional cooperation in South Asia is not possible without an environment of peace and security.

“The number of threats and incidents that endanger South Asia are on the rise. Terrorism remains the single-largest threat to peace and stability in our region, and indeed in the world. It is necessary that we eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms, without any discrimination, and end the ecosystem of its support,” the foreign minister said in an indirect reference to Pakistan as she addressed the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) foreign ministers held in New York on the margins of the 73rd UN General Assembly and chaired by foreign minister of Nepal Pradeep Kumar Gyawali on Thursday.

“I would like to stress that meetings, including high-level ones, can only be effective if expressions of resolve are translated in to concrete action on the ground,” the minister said.

After making her statement, she left the meeting early, prompting criticism from Qureshi who later told reporters, “No, I didn’t have any talk with her (Swaraj). On the positive gesture, I can say she left the meeting mid-way, may be she was not feeling well”.

Indian diplomatic sources told that it was quite normal in a multilateral meeting to leave early after one has delivered the country’s statement.

Qureshi later took a nasty swipe at Sushma Swaraj telling the Pakistani media that maybe she was feeling unwell, according to Samaa TV.

Qureshi, however, accused India of blocking Saarc progress and said Sushma Swaraj “spoke about regional cooperation, but how will such mutual cooperation come about if the countries in the region are ready to sit down and you are creating a barrier to these talks”, according to Samaa.

After India had called off talks between the two ministers, Sushma avoided any type of interaction with Pakistan minister at the Saarc meeting .

The Saarc event was billed as an “Informal Council of Ministers Meeting”.

 

However, the Indian Minister, who has been keeping a grueling schedule this week, went on to have her scheduled meetings with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Walid al Muallem.

Before the Saarc event, she had spoken at the meetings of the IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) and BRICS (Brazil Russia, India, China and South Africa).

In her address to the Saarc meeting, Sushma Swaraj did not name Pakistan while talking of “scourge of terrorism”.

“An environment of peace and security is essential for regional cooperation to progress and achieve economic development and prosperity of our people. The number of threats and incidents that endanger South Asia’s are on the rise.

“It is necessary that we eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms,A without any discrimination, and end the ecosystem of its support,” she said.

Most of her speech, though, was about a positive outlook for Saarc.

“We attach highest priority to the development and prosperity of our region, under our ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.”

Sushma Swaraj mentioned several successful projects like the South Asia satellite, the Saarc Disaster Management Centre, the South Asian University, extending India’s Knowledge Network and the Saarc agreements on motor vehicle and railways.

“To realise our immense potential for trade, it is imperative that the further trade liberalization under South Asian Free Trade Agreement (Safta) and operationalisation of Saarc Agreement on Trade in Services (Satis) are done at the earliest.”

India initially agreed last week to recently-elected Prime Minister Imran Khan’s request for holding talks between Sushma Swaraj and Qureshi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.

However, New Delhi cancelled the talks a day later after three Indian police personnel were killed in Kashmir and Pakistan issued a stamp honouring a terrorist leader.

 

 

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No boundary dispute with China: Nepal Foreign Minister

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Pradeep Gyawali

Kathmandu, Sep 23 : Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali on Wednesday said that there is no boundary dispute with China, referring to recent media reports that said China had encroached on Nepalese territory and built 11 buildings in Humla district on the Nepal-China border.

Later in the evening, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement and denied any encroachment by the Chinese side. These clarifications came amid media reports that China has unilaterally constructed 11 cemented buildings in Nepalese territory recently and locals of the Lapcha area where the buildings were constructed brought it to the notice of the local Humla district administration and protested the move.

But the Nepal Foreign Ministry said late Wednesday that its attention has been drawn to the media reports about the alleged construction of buildings by China within Nepalese territory between the Nepal-China boundary pillars 11 and 12 at Humla district.

“The Department of Survey, Government of Nepal, based on the official records, reports of the joint field inspection and boundary maps, has verified and confirmed that the said buildings are not located within the Nepalese territory,” the statement said.

Earlier on Wednesday, a group of people had protested in front of Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu and chanted slogans against the land encroachment by the Chinese in Humla. The issue of Chinese buildings in question had also surfaced in 2016, the ministry added, an inter-ministerial team after the field inspection had concluded that the said buildings were located approximately one kilometre inside the Chinese territory from the Nepal-China border.

The ministry stated that the boundary between Nepal and China was delineated and demarcated based on the Boundary Treaty and Boundary Protocols signed between the two countries. Nepal and China have always maintained close communication on border matters, it said.

Addressing a press conference Gyawali who is also the spokesperson of Nepal government said that a probe committee comprising officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Land Reform had later shown that the Chinese side had constructed buildings some 1 kilometre away from the Nepal-China border. New buildings were constructed by Chinese authorities for their border security personnel in the same area now.

Gyawali also said that a team led by Chief District Officer (CDO) of Humla district is currently in the Limi village and further details will be available once the team returns to the district headquarters. The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu also refuted the media reports stating that the buildings mentioned by the media are on the Chinese side and urged the Nepal to verify the construction.

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France’s Macron urges UN mission to visit China’s Xinjiang region

“This is the reason why … France has requested that an international mission under the aegis of the United Nations go to Xinjiang in order to take into account the concerns that we collectively have on the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority,”

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Uighur Muslim rights

PARIS : France’s president on Tuesday called for an international mission under the auspices of the United Nations to visit China’s Xinjiang due to concerns over the Muslim Uighur minority.

U.N. experts and activists say at least a million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centres in Xinjiang. China describes them as training centres helping stamp out terrorism and extremism and giving people new skills.

“Fundamental rights are not a Western idea that one could oppose as an interference … these are the principles of our organisation, enshrined in texts that the member states of the United Nations have freely consented to sign and to respect,” Emmanuel Macron said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

“This is the reason why … France has requested that an international mission under the aegis of the United Nations go to Xinjiang in order to take into account the concerns that we collectively have on the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority,” he said.

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Disaster

Israel reports 2,445 new Covid-19 cases; 193,374 in total

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israel coronavirus

Jerusalem, Sep 23 : Israel’s Ministry of Health reported 2,445 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 193,374.

The total count of deaths from the coronavirus in Israel rose by 12 to 1,285, while the number of patients in serious condition rose from 653 to 668, out of 1,352 patients currently hospitalised, Xinhua news agency reported.

The number of recoveries in the country increased by 3,971 to 140,751, while the number of active Covid-19 cases stood at 51,338.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli government approved a plan to expand the national economic safety net to deal with the pandemic’s impact.

“Expanding the plan will enable immediate economic assistance for businesses and wage-earners who are expected to be hurt by the current Covid-19 nationwide lockdown,” said a joint statement by the Prime Minister’s Office and Finance Ministry.

The expansion includes the lowering of damage threshold for businesses to receive fixed expenditure grants to 25 per cent, providing advances against the fixed expenditure grants, a comprehensive worker retention plan, and deferring the reduction in unemployment benefits.

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