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Trump will be seventh US President to visit India

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New York, Feb 24 : When Donald Trump is greeted with a crescendo of “Namastes” when he lands in Ahmedabad he will be the seventh US President to visit India while in office.

He visited India in 2014 as a real estate businessman, but this will be a presidential visit.

President Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, who came to India in 1959 at the height of the Cold War was the first to visit India as it was coming into its own as an independent nation and the laboratory of democracy.

The visits reflect in some ways the status of India in the US world view.

Eisenhower’s visit was to explore India as young democracy with hopes of closer cooperation, perhaps moving away from Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s nonalignment.

While there have been gaps of about a decade between some of the visits, since Bill Clinton in 2000 every president has come to India in a sign of its rising importance in world efforts.

There was a ten-year gap between Eisenhower’s visit and the next.

Democrats John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson had skipped India firmly ensconced in the nonaligned movement. (Johnson, however, had visited Pakistan, then a US ally.)

President Richard Nixon, another, Republican, visited India in 1969 and his successor Gerald Ford did not.

Nine years later, Democrat Jimmy Carter made the India trip in 1978 while Moraji Desai of the Janata Party was prime minister.

His mother, Lillian Carter, had been a Peace Corps volunteer in Mumbai.

Ronald Reagan and George Bush (the senior) skipped India.

Democrat Bill Clinton came to India in 2000, ending the 12-year gap in presidential visits.

Since then, every president has come to India.

The highlight of Republican George W Bush’s visit in 2006 was the signing of the landmark US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement – which was the only time a substantive agreement between the two countries was signed during a presidential visit.

The agreement, which he signed with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, virtually recognises India as a nuclear weapons power exempting it from some of the US nuclear nonproliferation restrictions in order for both the countries to cooperate in the nuclear field with access to some civilian nuclear technology and materials.

It effectively neutralised some of the stringent sanctions imposed on India after its 1974 nuclear test.

Barack Obama, a Democrat, is the only president to have visited India twice.

He first visited India in 2010 when Singh was the Prime Minister.

Modi was the Prime Minister during his second visit in 2015 when he was the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected])

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India-Australia ready to share COVID-19 research efforts

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New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) As the number of COVID-19 patients has swelled past a million in just over three months across the globe, India and Australia on Monday agreed to share “collaborative research efforts” in the context of the health crisis.

Both the countries agreed on the “importance of bilateral experience sharing” amid the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 crisis in a telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Monday morning.

The two leaders discussed the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the domestic response strategies being adopted by their respective governments. “They agreed on the importance of bilateral experience-sharing in the context of this health crisis, including through collaborative research efforts,” a Prime Minister’s Office statement said.

Modi conveyed that the government of India stands ready to provide necessary facilitation and support to any Australian citizens stranded in India due to travel restrictions. Morrison similarly assured that the Indian community in Australia, including Indian students, would continue to be valued as a vibrant part of Australian society, the statement said.

“Both leaders agreed to remain attentive to the wider significance of the India-Australia partnership, including in the Indo-Pacific region, even as they focus on solving the present health crisis.”

The talks took place between the two leaders when 109 deaths were reported in India with over 4,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases A total of 39 deaths and over 5,000 confirmed cases have been reported in Australia.

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Pope marks Holy Week alone for 1st time in history

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Vatican City, April 6 Pope Francis held the Palm Sunday mass alone in the St Peter’s Basilica here for the first time in history due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, the rites to mark the beginning of Holy Week, an important religious festival in the Catholic calendar, were not held in the Vatican Square as usual and there was no congregation present at the ceremony, reports Efe news.

Instead millions of people followed the liturgy on the internet, radio and television amid widespread isolation measures imposed around the world due to the deadly outbreak.

The Pope said during his homily: “The tragedy we are experiencing summons us to take seriously the things that are serious, and not to be caught up in those that matter less; to rediscover that life is of no use if not used to serve others. For life is measured by love.”

Only a small group of people were present with the pontiff for the service, respecting social distancing measures by maintaining a safe distance at all times.

The Vatican has been forced to adopt preventive measures since the emergence of the outbreak which has seen more than 1.2 million global infections and 66,500 deaths.

Italy has been one of the worst affected countries in the world with 128,948 confirmed cases and the highest number of deaths in the world at 15,887.

St Peter’s Square and Basilica in the Vatican City were closed to the public in March.

The Pope told people feeling lonely to cling to their faith in these difficult times.

“When we have our back to the wall, when we find ourselves at a dead end, with no light and no way of escape, when it seems that God himself is not responding, we should remember that we are not alone,” he said.

“Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: �Courage, open your heart to my love. You will feel the consolation of God who sustains you’.”

The Pope will officiate at a mass on Maundy Thursday but without the traditional foot washing that he used to carry out at migrant shelters or in prisons.

Good Friday mass will be held inside the Basilica and there will be no faithful at the Easter Vigil on Saturday or at mass on Easter Sunday.

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CoronaVirus: US COVID-19 deaths surpass 9,000

Globally, the death toll is more than 59,100, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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New York, April 6 : The total number of deaths of COVID-19 in the United States topped 9,000 as of 1.30 p.m. Sunday local time (1730 GMT), according to the data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

A total of 9,132 people have died of the pandemic among 321,762 confirmed cases in the country, the CSSE said, reported Xinhua news agency.

The state of New York suffered most deaths in the country, which stood at 4,159. Among other hard-hit states, New Jersey reported 846 fatalities, Michigan recorded 540 deaths, and California reported 324 deaths, according to the CSSE data.

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