World en Tue Aug 06 14:52:42 IST 2019 lahore-high-court-grants-bail-to-ailing-sharif-on-medical-ground <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A top Pakistani court on Friday granted bail to jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif who was undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with an acute immune disorder.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The 69-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo was rushed to the Services Hospital in Lahore from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) office late on Monday night after a massive drop in his platelet count.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A two-member bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC), headed by Justice Baqar Najafi, heard the petition of PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif seeking the release of his elder brother from the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on medical grounds in the money laundering case and accepted it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, Sharif will not be released immediately as the Islamabad High Court adjourned the hearing of his bail plea in a separate Al-Azizia steel mills case until Tuesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The three-time premier's lawyer Ashtar Ausaf told the court that his condition is "extremely serious" and he should be granted bail.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The NAB's prosecutor did not challenge the defence's plea, saying since it is a matter of serious health issue of the former premier, it does not oppose his bail.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sharif has been under treatment at the Services Hospital since Monday night after his condition deteriorated in the NAB's custody. He is also serving a seven-year imprisonment in the Al-Azizia corruption case.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A 10-member medical board, headed by Services Hospital Principal Ayaz Mahmood, also submitted his report to the court declaring his condition "very serious".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dr Ayaz said the board has diagnosed the reason for his declining health.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"It is acute immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a bleeding disorder, in which the immune system destroys platelets. Since Sharif's platelet counts are constantly reducing, we inject platelets every day but they destruct every day," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On Thursday evening, Sharif's platelet count again dropped from 20,000 to 6,000.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;"The medical reports of the PML-N supreme leader have been sent to doctors abroad for their opinion," a party leader said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Renowned hematologist and bone-marrow transplant expert Dr Tahir Sultan Shamsi said Sharif did not have bone cancer, but rather acute ITP which is treatable in Pakistan.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Expressing relief over the diagnosis, the doctor further said that the ailment can be cured with the right medications.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Senior PML-N leader Khawaja Muhammad Asif told reporters on Thursday that going abroad for treatment if granted bail would be the discretion of Nawaz Sharif.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To come out of jail and custody of the NBA, Sharif needs bails from the IHC and the LHC.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Prime Minister Imran Khan has also expressed concern over Sharif's health, saying "political differences notwithstanding, my sincere prayers are with Nawaz Sharif for his health. I have directed all concerned to ensure provision of the best possible health care and medical treatment to him".</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Islamabad High Court (IHC) also took up a petition to release him on medical grounds in Al-Azizia steel mills case in which he was convicted for seven years in December last year and was kept in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A two-member IHC bench, comprising Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar, was informed that Sharif's condition was not good as his platelets count was not stable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The court sought complete medical reports of Sharif and adjourned the hearing till October 29.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sharif was in Kot Lakhpat jail but early this month was sent to the custody of NAB which is probing the Sharif family in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid told reporters that Prime Minister Khan has ordered to provide the best medical treatment to Sharif.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Khan has issued directives to keep Maryam Nawaz with her father Sharif at a leading hospital here after the federal government faced criticism for shifting her back to jail.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Maryam was admitted to the Services Hospital in Lahore on Wednesday where she was rushed from the high security Kot Lakhpat jail to meet Sharif on account of his deteriorating health on the directives of Khan and felt sick.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The 45-year-old leader was admitted to VVIP ll, while her father is admitted in VVIP-l. She underwent some tests after which she was shifted back to the jail.&nbsp;</p> Fri Oct 25 17:36:01 IST 2019 trump-impeachment-republicans-take-charge-of-defending-president <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A gang of loyal Republican congress members stormed a secure briefing room to stop a Democratic-led impeachment hearing, claiming that a "Soviet-style" process was underway. Trump, is fighting for survival as the impeachment inquiry progresses, even before he can focus on 2020 re-election. Some of them even brought mobile phones along as they tried storming into Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. Earlier in the week, Trump had urged Republicans to 'fight for him'.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The display delayed the testimony of Laura Cooper, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, for five hours. She resumed giving her statement to Congress later in the afternoon. The Republicans insisted that the press should be allowed in the room'.</p> <p>Commenting on Republicans trying to barge-in on the hearing, Republican Jim Jordan indicated that they were merely fed up with the lack of transparency in the inquiry.</p> <p>The media and everyone else in Washington, in the meanwhile, have argued over what exactly Trump's 2016 political opponent Hillary Clinton meant when she rambled about Russia's "grooming" of a third-party candidate in 2020. And Democrat Barack Obama's former national security advisor Susan Rice went on air to brand a senior Republican senator and Trump booster, Lindsey Graham, a "piece of shit."</p> <p>The engine driving the DC train, are serious charges that Trump is abusing the position of power. Dark details, however, are emerging from initial rounds of testimony in Congress.</p> <p>The President has been accused of running a secret scheme to get Ukraine's president to initiate a corruption investigation aimed at discrediting Joe Biden, a top opponent in the 2020 polls. And to prod the Ukrainians, Trump allegedly withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in US military aid meant to help the former Soviet state fight Russian-backed separatists.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This, according to Democrats, is a classic impeachable offence. Trump responded on Tuesday by saying that this was "a lynching," and in this case, he was the victim.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Detailed testimony to Congress on Thursday from the US acting ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor, painted a picture of Trump recklessly pursuing his political vendetta.</p> <p>The point man in these alleged manoeuvrers was former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has since reinvented himself as Trump's colourful but often erratic fixer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Allegedly helping him was a Trump-friendly trio of officials: the US ambassador to the European Union, the special Ukraine envoy and the energy secretary. According to Taylor, the trio's goal was to strongarm fledgeling Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky into announcing a probe of the Biden family on CNN.</p> <p>Trump's loyal former attorney general Matthew Whitaker told Fox this week that "abuse of power is not a crime." According to one of his lawyers, Trump is immune to investigation even if he shot someone at Fifth Avenue as he's president.</p> <p>President Trump, in the meantime, expressed his concern over the level of tension between India and Pakistan<b>.</b>&nbsp;He discussed Kashmir directly in his meetings with Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Imran Khan, the official said on condition of anonymity<b>.</b>&nbsp;A US State Department official said that the US will continue to encourage an atmosphere that allows for constructive Indo-Pak dialogue<b>.</b></p> <p>Referring to the 'Howdy Modi' event in Houston in September, the official said this demonstrated the very close partnership and friendship that the US has with India<b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">.</b><br> </p> Fri Oct 25 16:31:38 IST 2019 imran-khan-issues-orders-to-keep-maryam-nawaz-with-father-in-hospital <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has issued directives to keep Maryam Nawaz with her father and former premier Nawaz Sharif at a leading hospital here after the federal government faced criticism for shifting her back to jail, according to a media report.</p> <p>Maryam was admitted to the Services Hospital in Lahore on Wednesday where she was rushed from the high security Kot Lakhpat jail to meet Sharif on account of his deteriorating health on the directives of Khan and felt sick.</p> <p>The 45-year-old leader was admitted to VVIP ll, while her father is admitted in VVIP-l. She underwent some tests after which she was shifted back to the jail.</p> <p>The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's vice president was sent to jail on a 14-day judicial remand last month by an accountability court in a money laundering case. Her remand was further extended by two more days on Wednesday.</p> <p>Punjab governor Mohammad Sarwar on Thursday said that Khan had sought a briefing on Maryam and Sharif's health. He issued directives to the government to fulfill legal requirements to shift Maryam to the hospital with Sharif, local media reported.</p> <p>Sources claimed that Khan also spoke to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and directed him to make arrangements for Maryam's stay with her father at the hospital, the report said.</p> <p>Earlier, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Maryam was experiencing high blood pressure and her heart rate was not normal at the time when she was returned to jail.</p> <p>Aurangzeb said that by taking Maryam to jail in this way was another attempt to bring mental agony to former prime minister Sharif.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The health condition of Sharif, 69, who was admitted to the hospital on Monday from the Kot Lakhpat jail, deteriorated with critically low platelet count.</p> <p>Sharif's deteriorating health raised alarms bells on Wednesday as his blood platelet count fell sharply to a life-threatening level of 7,000.</p> <p>The Dawn newspaper reported on Friday that a six-member medical board, headed by Services Hospital Principal Ayaz Mahmood has diagnosed Sharif with having an immune disorder.</p> <p>It is acute immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a bleeding disorder, in which the immune system destroys platelets, a board member was quoted as saying by the newspaper.</p> <p>He said the treatment was given to Sharif in the light of his diagnosis.</p> <p>We are hopeful that his condition will improve in a few days, he added.</p> <p>He is serving a seven-year prison term in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case since December 24, 2018 in the wake of the Supreme Court's July 28, 2017 verdict in the high-profile Panama Papers case.<br> </p> Fri Oct 25 12:40:01 IST 2019 pak-bans-party-with-religious-outlook-ahead-of-protest-against-pm-khan <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Aiming to weaken the next week's mega protest, Pakistan has banned a little known organisation affiliated with Fazl-ur Rehman-led JUI-F which has planned the sit-in against the Imran Khan government alleging poll rigging.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Ministry of Interior on Thursday issued a notification banning Ansarul Islam, saying the outfit was "capable of functioning as a military organisation".</p> <p>The Azadi March in Islamabad on October 31 will be led by Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Fazl. All major Opposition parties including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Peoples Party of former president Asif Ali Zardari have announced their support.</p> <p>Fazl has demanded Khan's resignation, alleging that the election held in July, 2018 was rigged to help his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.</p> <p>According to the notification, "the federal government through the ministry of interior entrust the provincial governments the power to take appropriate actions under Section 2 of the Private Military Organisations (Abolition and Prohibition) Act, 1974 against Ansarul Islam".</p> <p>The group came to prominence after it recently held military-style parades and offered salute to Rehman on the pattern of guard of honour given to the head of state.</p> <p>The exact number of followers of the group is not known but they must be in tens of thousands, according to government sources.</p> <p>The members often carry large sticks (laathis or baton) and provide security to the meetings of the JUI-F.</p> <p>There is no record of involvement of the group in any terrorist activity.&nbsp;<br> </p> Fri Oct 25 12:25:49 IST 2019 kashmiri-pandits-say-us-congressional-hearing-was-one-sided <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The <a title="US congressional hearing on Kashmir sees lawmakers point fingers at India, Pakistan" href="">Congressional hearing on human rights situation in South Asia</a> with a focus on Kashmir was one-sided, a top organisation of Kashmiri Pandits has alleged in a letter to the Congressman who chaired the committee, saying it left out one of the indigenous races of Jammu and Kashmir against whom human rights violations have been committed for the last 30 years.</p> <p>The Kashmiri Overseas Association (KOA), in a letter to Brad Sherman who chaired the Congressional hearing on Tuesday, said that the goal of the hearing on October 22 was to bring forth &quot;The Human Rights in South Asia&quot;.<br> </p> <p>&quot;But the hearing failed in doing so as it left out one of the indigenous races of Jammu and Kashmir against whom human rights violations have been committed for the last 30 years.</p> <p>&quot;Without their testimony, the committee hearing promoted anti-Hindu sentiment, peddle an anti-Indian propaganda machine to appease the Muslim population in the United States and or the globe,&quot; KOA alleged in the letter to Sharman, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.</p> <p>&quot;Though you had invited panelists with varying perspectives, the hearing was conducted to favour a one-sided narrative which was clearly illustrated with only three of the six panelists dominating the hearing,&quot; it said.</p> <p>It said senior journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh is a victim of the brutal forced exodus of Kashmiri Hindus of 1990. She was in the Valley of Kashmir a fortnight ago. She is an eyewitness of the ground situation.</p> <p>&quot;Who better to talk about the situation than her? It was clear that she was getting cut off multiple times to express herself.</p> <p>&quot;We were hopeful when you asked what happened to the 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits who left the Valley 30 years ago, but to our quick dismay, you never gave her the opportunity to expand her response. It was clear that you did not intend to hear the reality,&quot; KOA president Dr Shakun Malik and KOA Secretary Amrita Kar said in the letter.</p> <p>The denial, misinformation and silence of the forced exodus of the Kashmiri Hindu community has been rampant in narratives by the press and in discussions and debates all across the US post abrogation of the articles, they said.</p> <p>India on Thursday termed as &quot;regrettable&quot; criticism by several US Congressmen over the situation in Kashmir, and said the <a title="India hits out at 'regrettable' US congressional hearing on Kashmir" href="">comments reflected a very limited understanding of the country's history and its pluralistic society.</a></p> <p>Referring to the comments by several US lawmakers at a Congressional hearing, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said instead of criticising New Delhi, the occasion should have been used to ascertain facts on the state-sponsored cross border terrorism in Kashmir.<br> </p> Fri Oct 25 11:58:41 IST 2019 boris-johnson-says-he-wants-election-on-december-12 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday offered MPs more time to debate his Brexit Bill but only if they agree to a General Election on December 12.</p> <p>His latest announcement came soon after an urgent Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street and ahead of confirmation from the European Union (EU) on whether it is open to an extension to the October 31 Brexit deadline, which is expected on Friday.</p> <p>"The way to get Brexit done is, I think, to be reasonable with Parliament and say if they genuinely want more time to study this excellent deal, they can have it, but they have to agree to a General Election on December 12," said Johnson.</p> <p>"It's time frankly that the Opposition summoned up the nerve to submit themselves to the judgement of our collective boss, which is the people of the UK," he said.</p> <p>Johnson had struck a renewed withdrawal agreement with the EU last week, which ditched the controversial Irish backstop clause, and went on in theory to find the backing of MPs in a vote 329 to 299 earlier this week.</p> <p>But having lost the crucial fast-track timetable vote attached to it meant he lost out on his "do or die" pledge to get Brexit done by the end of October. Speculation had mounted around an early election since the Parliament vote on Tuesday.</p> <p>All eyes are now on the EU to see what kind of an extension it offers. If it delays until the middle or end of November, Johnson will try to get his deal through Parliament again. But if the extension is until the end of January 2020, he will hold a Commons vote next week on a December 12 election.</p> <p>Under the UK's Fixed Term Parliament Act, he would require the Parliament's backing for such an early election. And, given his lack of majority in Parliament, the prospect of such a bill passing through is not entirely certain.</p> <p>"We would campaign day after day for the people of this country to be released from subjection to a Parliament that has outlived its usefulness," Johnson said, in reference to the prospect of his election bid failing to clear the Commons hurdle.</p> <p>In a Twitter statement, he went on to release a letter to Opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn calling on him to “end this nightmare” and provide a solution.</p> <p>"An election on 12 December will allow a new Parliament and government to be in place by Christmas… It is time for MPs finally to take responsibility,” he said in his letter.</p> <p>The Labour Party has so far seemed divided on the issue of whether to give in to an early election within this year or push it for next year.</p> Thu Oct 24 23:44:35 IST 2019 nato-slams-turkey-over-syria-operation-but-no-punishment <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Turkey's military operation in Syria will provoke "forceful" discussion at a NATO defence ministers' meeting Thursday and Friday but Ankara risks little from its allies because of its strategic position, diplomats said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The issue looks certain to overshadow the meeting in Brussels, with Turkey isolated among the 29 member states because of its incursion this month against Kurdish fighters, considered "terrorists" by Ankara but which were key in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has refused to condemn Turkey, saying it has "legitimate security concerns" along its border with Syria.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On arrival Thursday, he confirmed the meeting "will address the situation in northeast Syria" where he said a Turkey-US "ceasefire" accord struck last week had reduced fighting.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Diplomats, however, described exchanges with Ankara's representatives as "frank". But they admitted that Turkey's location at the gates of the Middle East and next to Russia gave it a strategic value weightier than the objections.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Discussions among the ministers "are going to be forceful" but "there's no question of arguing," a high-ranking diplomat said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"There is no question of sanctioning Ankara or excluding Turkey (from NATO) -- there is no procedure for that," the diplomat said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, speaking at a think tank conference in Brussels just before the meeting, said Turkey was "heading in the wrong direction", especially with its deal struck this week with Russia to jointly patrol a "safe zone" in Syria it aims to set up.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Turkey put us all in a very terrible situation and I think the incursion's unwarranted," Esper said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He defended the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria to leave a clear path for the Turkish operation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"I was not about to put less than 50 US soldiers in between a 15,000-man-plus Turkish army preceded by Turkish militia and jeopardise the lives of those servicemen". Nor was he "about to start a fight with a NATO ally," he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>US President Donald Trump on Wednesday summed up American strategy in Syria more bluntly, saying: "Let someone else fight over this long blood-stained sand."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nevertheless, Turkey's recent actions, growing closer to Russia and threatening its European allies in NATO with a wave of refugees if they dared criticise the assault in Syria, have unnerved many in the transatlantic alliance.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ankara has earned the ire of Washington for deciding to buy a Russian S-400 anti-aircraft defence system.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>President Recep Tayyip Erdogan compounded concerns on Tuesday by agreeing with Russian leader Vladimir Putin to have Russian forces clear Kurdish militia out of Turkey's "safe zone" and deploy forces to jointly patrol it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>European NATO members are worried about the developments.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Germany has floated the idea of an international force with a European component to establish a security zone in northeastern Syria.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Its defence minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said she would raise the plan with her counterparts at the NATO meeting. The US has said it would welcome the initiative.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"It is important that international action to resolve this crisis is not limited to Turkey and Russia," German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman told reporters on Wednesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"Europe must deal with current events taking place at the border of our continent because these are issues that directly affect several EU member states."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Stoltenberg said the German proposal would need UN approval to be implemented and therefore "needs to be discussed more in detail before any decision can be made".&nbsp;</p> Thu Oct 24 22:29:22 IST 2019 india-saudi-arabia-ties-on-the-rise-as-modi-to-visit-kingdom-in-october <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The warmth of the embrace continues. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Saudi Arabia for a “short and intensive’’ visit next week. This will be Modi’s second visit to the country in three and a half years. It also comes on the heels of a visit by Saudi Crown Prince <a href="">Mohammad Bin Salman to India</a> in February.</p> <p>The visit comes against the background of Modi’s continued engagement with Gulf countries to forge a new closeness. In August, Modi travelled to the UAE and to Bahrain. The newfound India-Saudi closeness is one of the biggest success stories of Modi West Asia outreach. This is especially important post the removal of article 370, as the most visible aspect of the Saudi softening is their rather careful statement on Kashmir.<br> </p> <p>“Let me assure you, Saudi Arabia has shown understanding on Jammu and Kashmir. I am sure that stand will have a salutary effect on Pakistan,’’ said T.S Tirumurti, secretary Economic Relations, Ministry of External Affairs at a media briefing on Thursday. The NSA, Ajit Doval, visited Riyadh earlier this month, just before the crucial FAFT meeting, which evaluated Pakistan’s compliance to weeding out terrorism.<br> </p> <p>On October 2, ANI reported that Saudi Arabia had told India that it understands “India’s approach and actions” in Jammu and Kashmir.<br> </p> <p>Saudi Arabia’s decision to issue a rather bland statement on Kashmir proved a victory for the Modi brand of diplomacy. In the statement, the Kingdom expressed “concern” over the development, but affirmed that the resolution of the conflict is “through peaceful settlement in accordance with the relevant international resolutions.” In addition, the statement “calls on the parties concerned to maintain peace and stability in the region and to take into account the interests of the people of the region.”<br> </p> <p>The T-word is also an area of understanding, with India and Saudi Arabia reportedly on the same page when it came to terrorism. “There were clear cut references in the joint statement,’’ said Tirumurti, referring to the agreement signed by the Crown Prince and the Prime Minister earlier this year. “Both countries are equally concerned about terrorism.’’ Saudi Arabia had condemned both the Pulwama and Uri attacks, he added. India, for its part, had condemned the <a href="">drone and missile attacks</a> on the oil facilities of Saudi Aramco, the country’s national petroleum company.<br> </p> <p>Beyond Kashmir, Saudi Arabia has also chosen to demonstrate that it values India with its wallet: Recently promising to invest <a href="">$100 billion in India</a>. The Prime Minister will also be wooing Saudi business, and will attend the third edition of the Future Investment Initiative.<br> </p> <p>Saudi Arabia has agreed to release 450 Indian prisoners, and also, to increase the annual quota for Hajj travellers, Modi’s request to bring it up to two lakh pilgrims. “There is cooperation in the area of tourism,’’ said Tirumurti.<br> </p> <p>It helps that, in addition, Saudi Arabia has opened its doors for tourism, with Saudi nationals now eligible for an e-visa to India.<br> </p> <p>In an attempt to boost ties that go deeper than strategy, India also trains Saudi defence personnel at the National Defence Academy, the National Defence College as well as at the Staff College in Wellington. “We already have a defence cooperation agreement,” said Tirumurti, adding that “the first joint naval exercise will take place either end of this year or beginning next year.”<br> </p> <p>Also on the cards for the visit is a possible agreement for Saudi Arabia—an oil rich country—to participate in India’s strategic petroleum reserves.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br> </p> Thu Oct 24 20:58:26 IST 2019 uk-truck-catastrophe-39-dead-were-chinese <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The 39 people found dead in a refrigerated truck trailer in Britain were Chinese nationals, according to reports by British media. The victims were discovered in a container on the back of a truck in Grays, east of London, on Wednesday, shortly after arriving by ferry from Belgium, were reportedly immigrants.</p> <p>The local Essex Police force, which is working with immigration officials, said their initial priority was to try to identify the victims, thought to be 38 adults and one teenager. Searches in County Armagh on Wednesday night led to the arrest of the driver, named as 25-year-old Mo Robinson, from Portadown, who is currently being questioned for murder.&nbsp;</p> <p>Police officers were called after ambulance staff discovered the truck. The truck and trailer left the port at Purfleet shortly after 1.05 am. It was moved on Wednesday to a more secure location at the nearby Tilbury docks so the bodies could be removed.</p> <p>Essex Police believe that the truck entered the UK from Belgium. It is not yet clear when the victims were placed in the container.&nbsp;</p> <p>Essex Police and the Chinese embassy in London did not respond to requests for comment.</p> <p>In 2000, the bodies of 58 clandestine Chinese immigrants were discovered in a Dutch truck at the southeastern English port of Dover. Two people survived.&nbsp;</p> Thu Oct 24 17:14:25 IST 2019 abe-skorean-premier-agree-to-keep-talking-to-mend-ties <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>South Korea's Lee Nak-yon handed Japanese leader Shinzo Abe a letter from South Korean President Moon Jae-in while they met for the first high-level meeting since the neighbours' relations nosedived over trade and history disputes, 13 months ago.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lee attended Emperor Naruhito's enthronement ceremony Tuesday before meeting with Abe.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Both prime ministers agreed on the importance of improving ties but made no apparent breakthrough on Thursday.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ties between Tokyo and Seoul, deteriorated since South Korea’s top court last October ordered some Japanese firms to compensate Koreans forced to work in their wartime mines and factories.&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Japan, however, the matter was settled by a 1965 treaty, that called the decision a violation of international law. Japan also maintained that compensation issues of South Korean women who were held as sex slaves at front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers, were settled under the 1965 bilateral treaty under which Tokyo provided $500 million in economic cooperation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The trade spat has also spilt over to security issues. South Korea in August announced a decision to terminate a bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact despite North Korea's resumption of missile tests over the last several months, triggering Washington's concern. The pact is set to expire in late November.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Relations are currently in quite a severe state but should not be left that way. If South Korea can keep bilateral promises, that could be a chance to return to a healthy relationship,” Abe said. Abe expressed during the meeting that South Korea should keep its promise, per the 1965 agreement.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The spat between the two nations had escalated when Japan imposed export controls on materials vital for South Korean chipmakers and dropped Seoul from a list of countries eligible for fast-track exports. Both measures were denounced by South Korea.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Moon's letter congratulated Japan on the new imperial era of Reiwa and wished for an improvement in bilateral ties, said an official in Seoul. Abe expressed his gratitude for the letter, said South Korea's first vice foreign minister, Cho Sei-yong.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cho said Lee and Abe agreed the two countries must improve their ties and that coordination between them and with Washington was important. Lee called for promoting diverse communications and exchanges to try to resolve their frayed ties, Cho said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lee, who is known as a Japan expert, didn't disclose more details about the talks as he left Abe's office.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Abe told Lee that cooperation between the two nations is crucial as they face North Korean nuclear and missile threats. He added that Seoul should take the first step to mend strained relations.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The talks reported very little progress. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the talks were "meaningful" as the two sides exchanged views and reassured that their efforts are continuing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Oct 24 15:31:51 IST 2019