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PM Modi to meet Chinese President Xi, will discuss steps to stabilise ties between India and China

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit China this week for an informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a move aimed at resetting relations between the neighbour countries, rocked by the 73-day-long Doklam military standoff last year.

The two-day meet on April 27 and 28 will be an informal summit between President Xi and PM Modi during which both world leaders will try to reboot bilateral ties bogged down by a host of disputes and differences.

The surprise announcement came after talks on bilateral ties between Indian and Chinese foreign ministers in Beijing on the sidelines of the regional Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet in Beijing on Sunday. Besides his visit to China this week, Modi is also to travel to China again in June for a summit of SCO leaders in Qingdao.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, “President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have an informal summit from the 27-28 April in Wuhan, Hubei province. The two leaders will have communications of a strategic nature…concerning the shifts going on in the world.”

There are signs that Xi will seek Modi’s support in the most important task on his hand, which is to find ways to deal with the rising antagonism from Trump over trade issues, and the possibility of a US-China trade war.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is in Beijing for the two-day meeting of Foreign Ministers of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) that starts tomorrow, has been laying the groundwork ahead of the PM’s visit.

 

 

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All leads in global terror attacks ultimately leads to ‘single source’, says PM Modi

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Prime Minister Modi also expressed concern over the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s party contesting the July 25 elections in Pakistan.

 

Singapore| Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday told US Vice President Mike Pence that all the traces and all the leads in the global terror attacks ultimately leads to a “single source and single place of origin”, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

Modi, who held talks with Pence on a wide range of bilateral and global issues of mutual interests on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit here, also expressed concern over the participation of terrorists in the elections in Pakistan.

Briefing the reporters after the meeting, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said there was some discussion on the issue of terrorism. Pence referred to the upcoming 10th anniversary of the deadly Mumbai terror attack on November 26 and hailed cooperation between the two sides on counter-terrorism, Gokhale said.

Some 166 people were killed in the attack carried out by Pakistan-based 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught and hanged after handed down death sentence by an Indian court.

Modi thanked Pence for his words and reminded him that in one way or another all the traces and all the leads in the global terror attacks ultimately leads to a “single source and single place of origin”, without naming any country or organization.

He was apparently referring to Pakistan. A number of terrorist attacks across the world have been carried out by people of Pakistani origin. On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed in a mass shooting by a Pakistani origin married couple in San Bernardino, California.

A Pakistani-origin man was among three knife-wielding militants responsible for carrying out the brutal terror attack in London that killed seven people and injured 49 in June 2017.

Prime Minister Modi also expressed concern over the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s party contesting the July 25 elections in Pakistan.

“He (Modi) did point out that the mainstreaming of people involved in the Mumbai attacks in a political process which has taken place in the recent elections in Pakistan should be a matter of serious concern not just to the two countries – India and US – but to the international community,” Gokhale said.

Some of the dreaded Pakistani militant leaders, accused of spreading religious hatred and instigating sectarian violence, were among hundreds of candidates in the July 25 elections.

Hafiz Saeed-led banned Jamat-ud Dawah, a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group, had fielded its candidates from the platform of little known political entity Allah-u-Akbar Tehreek (AAT).

Another extremist outfit Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), which was banned in Pakistan till early this year, had also fielded dozens of candidates including those who are on Pakistan’s terrorism watch list.

“There was some good understanding of the areas of how we move forward in building cooperation on counter-terrorism and both countries recognized that this is a challenge which we have to fight together and to fight along with the rest of the international community,” Gokhale said.

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PM Modi meets premiers of Australia, Thailand in Singapore

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Modi also said he was confident that his visit to Singapore would impart fresh momentum to New Delhi’s growing partnership with ASEAN and East Asia Summit nations.

 

Singapore| Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday held bilateral meetings with the premiers of Australia and Thailand and discussed ways to further strengthen ties, including in areas of trade, defense, and security.

Prime Minister Modi began his two-day visit to Singapore Wednesday by delivering his keynote address at the prestigious Fintech Festival.

He became the first head of government to address the world’s largest event on financial technology.

The prime minister held bilateral meetings with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and Prime Minister of Thailand General Prayut Chan-o-cha on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit here.

“PM Narendra Modi met with PM of Australia Scott Morrison on the margins of East Asia Summit in Singapore. Both leaders had a good discussion on deepening ties in trade and investment, defense and security and other areas of bilateral cooperation,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.

“PM Narendra Modi met PM of Thailand General Prayut Chan-o-cha on sidelines of EAS Summit. Cooperation in trade and investment, defense and security and connectivity were discussed,” he said in another tweet.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Modi’s meeting with Morrison was “fruitful”.

Modi also held bilateral meetings with global leaders, including US Vice President Pence and Singapore premier Lee Hsien Loong.

During his visit to Singapore, Modi will attend the East Asia Summit, an ASEAN-India informal meet, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership summit.

Before leaving for Singapore, Modi said in New Delhi that his participation in the ASEAN-India and East Asia summits symbolized India’s “continued commitment” to strengthen its engagement with ASEAN members and with the wider Indo-Pacific region.


Modi also said he was confident that his visit to Singapore would impart fresh momentum to New Delhi’s growing partnership with ASEAN and East Asia Summit nations.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising ten Southeast Asian countries, which promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration among its members and other Asian states.

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Firefighters battle blazes on two fronts in California, 50 dead

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Paradise | Thousands of firefighters battled blazes in northern and southern California on Tuesday as body recovery teams searched the remains of houses and charred cars for victims of the deadliest wildfire in the history of the US state.

At least 50 deaths have been reported statewide so far from the late-season wildfires, and with hundreds of people unaccounted for, the toll is likely to rise. Most of the fatalities have been caused by the so-called “Camp Fire” in and around the town of Paradise, population 26,000, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains about 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Sacramento.

“Today an additional six human remains were recovered, which brings the total to 48. All six of those remains were located in Paradise, and they were located within homes,” Sheriff Kory Honea told a news conference. Another two deaths have been reported from the “Woolsey Fire,” north of Los Angeles.

Paradise, which is home to many retirees and has experienced an unusually dry fall, was virtually razed to the ground by the fast-moving “Camp Fire” blaze. Residents have recounted harrowing tales of fleeing the fires on foot with little more than the clothes on their backs. Others escaped by driving through tunnels of smoke and fire as flames licked at their vehicles on gridlocked roads dotted with abandoned cars.

Melissa Schuster, a member of the Paradise town council, told ABC News that the entire town “is a toxic wasteland right now.” “We have teams — you know, coroner teams — that have to go house to house and vehicle to vehicle,” Schuster told ABC.

The “Camp Fire,” which erupted on Thursday, has ravaged 130,000 acres (50,600 hectares) of land and is 35 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. Butte County, where the blaze is located, has seen less than an inch of rainfall in more than 30 weeks. The “Camp Fire” has destroyed more than 6,500 homes and 260 commercial properties. Battling the blaze are more than 5,600 fire personnel, some from as far away as Washington state and Texas.

The “Woolsey Fire,” which also began on Thursday, has razed 97,114 acres (39,300 hectares) and has been 40 percent contained. Cal Fire said more than 3,500 fire personnel were battling the “Woolsey Fire.” “We’re starting to get a handle on this fire,” said Captain Brian McGrath of the Ventura County Fire Department in an online briefing.

“I’m not feeling nearly the amount of wind and it’s a little bit cooler this morning.” The “Woolsey Fire” has destroyed 435 structures including the 100-year-old Paramount Ranch where HBO’s “Westworld” and other popular television shows and movies were filmed.

The fires have forced a quarter of a million people to flee their homes and seven evacuation shelters have been set up in Butte County, three of which are already full, according to the authorities.

On Monday, President Donald Trump — at the request of state authorities — declared that a “major disaster” exists in California. The declaration provides for federal assistance to aid state firefighting and recovery efforts in the counties of Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles.

Trump had earlier earned the ire of state officials with a claim that “gross mismanagement” of forestry in the state was responsible for the damage.

California Governor Jerry Brown said he expects the fires could be worse in the years to come. “Unfortunately, the best science is telling us that the dryness, warmth, drought, all those things, they’re going to intensify,” Brown said. The “Woolsey Fire” on the southern end of the state has devoured mansions and mobile homes alike in the coastal town of Malibu.

Over the weekend, the “Woolsey Fire” engulfed parts of Thousand Oaks, where a Marine Corps veteran shot dead 12 people in a country music bar on Wednesday. Among those who lost their homes was the pop star Miley Cyrus, who tweeted that her “house no longer stands but the memories shared with family & friends stand strong.”

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