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NSA Ajit Doval in US; to meet Secretary of State and other top officials

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Ajit Doval

Washington | A week after the successful 2+2 Dialogue in New Delhi, India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is in Washington to hold meetings with top officials of the Trump Administration.

Doval, who is held in high esteem by the Trump Administration, is scheduled to meet the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department on Friday.

In addition to his meeting with his American counterpart John Bolton, Doval is likely to meet officials from the Department of Defence and from the think-tank community. However, the Indian Embassy in Washington and the White House did not immediately respond to questions about Doval’s visit and his meetings.

“India is a very close friend of the United States,” the State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters at her daily news conference. She had accompanied Pompeo to New Delhi last week for the two-plus-two Dialogue.

“We have among the strongest people-to-people ties. I think there are more than three million Indian Americans living here in the United States, so that was certainly part of the meetings and the conversations, she said in response to a question.

The signing of the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement or COMCASA last week, she said, was something important that had been in the making for a long time, she said.

“So we were pleased to have signed that (COMCASA) with the Indian Government because that not only supports jobs but also supports better military-to-military cooperation. They also agreed to doing more work on the military-to-military front. So that was part of the conversation but also to go over there and thank the new government for our strong friendship that we have, Nauert said.

During the meetings, discussions are likely to be primarily focused on bilateral and security in the Af-Pak region, in particular, those related to counter-terrorism. It is understood that the visit is likely to lay the groundwork of the potential visit of the US President Donald Trump to India.

Trump has accepted an invitation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit India. The two sides are currently looking at various dates including Trump as Chief Guest at the mega Republic Day Parade on January 26, 2019.

Responding to a question on Pompeo’s trip to Pakistan, the spokesperson said the Secretary of State had some meaningful and important meetings with the new government. Looking forward to forging a relationship with that new government, recognizing that there are, of course, some tensions and some areas where the government can work harder. “And so those were the types of meetings that we had and we were pleased to have gone,” she said.

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Shakitikanta Das to be the new RBI governor

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Shakitikanta Das

New Delhi | Former Economic Affairs Secretary Shakikanta Das is likely to be the next Reserve Bank of India Governor after the resignation of Urjit Patel on December 10.

Shaktikanta Das, a retired 1980 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of Tamil Nadu cadre was the member of the Fifteenth Finance Commission of India, and India’s Sherpa to G20. Das also worked as Union Economic Affairs Secretary, Union Revenue Secretary, Union Fertilizers Secretary, special secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Finance and as a joint secretary in the Department of Expenditure of the Ministry of Finance in the Indian government.

Earlier Urjit Patel on December 10 resigned from the post of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor. Patel’s three year team was to end in September 2019. Patel is also the first RBI governor to resign since 1990.

Submitting his resignation, Urjit Patel cited personal reasons and stepped down with immediate effect. He said, “On account of personal reasons, I have decided to step down from my current position effective immediately. It has been my privilege and honour to serve in the Reserve Bank of India in various capacities over the years,” Urjit Patel said in a statement. “The support and hard work of RBI staff, officers and management has been the proximate driver of the Bank’s considerable accomplishments in recent years. I take this opportunity to express gratitude to my colleagues and Directors of the RBI Central Board, and wish them all the best for the future,” he added.

 

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Four policemen killed by terrorists in J-K’s Shopian; weapons snatched

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Jaish-e-Mohammed

Srinagar | Four policemen were killed on Tuesday when Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists attacked a guard post outside a minority pocket in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, officials said.

The attack took place this afternoon when four policemen were sitting in a pre-fabricated room outside the pocket that houses six Kashmiri Pandit families.

A senior police official said that six Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists were led by former Special Police Officer Adil Bashir, who deserted in October and decamped eight weapons from a PDP legislator.

Quoting eyewitnesses, the police officer said that militants fired indiscriminately, killing three policemen on the spot and critically injuring one.

The injured policeman was rushed to an Army hospital, where he also succumbed to injuries, the official said.

The deceased have been identified as Anees Ahmad, Hamidullah, Mehraj ud Din and Abdul Majeed.

At the time of the incident, only one family was present at the minority pocket.

Immediately after the shootout, the terrorists fled with three Self Loading Rifles (SLRs) of the policemen, the official said, adding a cordon and search operation has been launched to nab the criminals.

The official said that an intercept had been received in which it was clear that Jaish-e-Mohammed, a banned terrorist organisation, was behind the barbaric act.

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PM Modi may visit Tripura in Feb to inaugurate projects: Officials

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Narendra Modi

Agartala | Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Tripura in February to inaugurate several development projects, including an upgraded cancer centre, a government official said. The regional centre, which offers treatment to more than 2,000 cancer patients annually, is set to have a new building and modern equipment, he said.

According to government reports, 3,786 patients succumbed to cancer between 2013 and 2016 in the state.

Sanjoy Mishra, the media adviser to chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb, said a high-level meeting was convened Monday to review progress in the cancer hospital project. “The Prime Minister is scheduled to visit Tripura in February to inaugurate several developmental projects. The newly built building at the cancer centre is one of them. Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Monday reviewed the progress of the construction work at the centre,” Mishra said.

Chief Secretary LK Gupta, Public Works Department (PWD) secretary Manoj Kumar, and Health and Family Welfare secretary Samarjit Bhowmik were among those who attended Monday’s meeting, he said. “The CM would be visiting New Delhi tomorrow (Wednesday) and meet the prime minister to discuss various issues, including the inauguration of the cancer hospital building,” Mishra told reporters.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2016-17), 40 percent of all cancer patients in the northeast suffer from head and neck malignancy, mainly caused by tobacco consumption.

Tripura tops in tobacco use in the region with 64.5 percent patients in the state admitting to nicotine consumption, the report added.

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