India and US agreed to expand coopera tion in defence
In the first high level contact between the defence departments of India
and the U.S. since President Donald Trump took charge, Defence Minister
Manohar Parrikar and his U.S. counterpart agreed to expand cooperation.
Two discussed cooperation under the Defence Technology Trade Initiative
(DTTI) and the Major Defence Partner status and agreed to take forward the
joint development of defence platforms.
The Defence Ministry said Mr. Parrikar and Gen. Mattis emphasised the
high priority placed by both countries on the relationship, and resolved to
work together to expand this partnership.
Key appointments in the Pentagon are yet to made. There will be some
clarity only after that on the defence front.
For instance the portfolio of Frank Kendall, Under Secretary for
Acquisition, Technology and Logistics is likely to be bifurcated. He heads
the DTTI from the U.S. side.
India rejects criticism from U.S. Commission on International Religious
India rejected criticism from the U.S. Commission on International
Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that religious minorities in the country
continued to face vigilantism and constitutional challenges.
In the report titled “Constitutional and Legal Challenges Faced by
Religious Minorities in India” made available online, the USCIRF cited the
killing of Mohammed Akhlaq in September 2015 over beef eating, and said such
It further criticised the Indian Constitution for giving favourable
treatment to the majority Hindu community and curtailing the unique identity
of the minority groups.
Questioning the authority of the report, the Ministry said the
government did not see the locus standi of the USCIRF to pronounce on the
state of Indian citizens’ constitutionally protected rights.
Six nations to participate in conference for future of Afghanistan
India is among six nations participating in a conference on
Afghanistan’s future in Moscow, two months after Russia hosted a similar
conference with only China and Pakistan.
After India and particularly Afghanistan objected to being cut out of
the discussion, Moscow agreed to expand its ambit, announcing a six-nation
conference of Russia, India, Iran, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.
The issue of exclusion was raised by Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar
during his talks with the Russian delegation at the Heart of Asia conference
in Amritsar in early December last year.
The invitation may not however, smooth over serious differences between
New Delhi and Moscow over the past few months on their moves in the region.
To begin with, India is increasingly uncomfortable with Russia’s overtures
to Pakistan on defence issues.
Significantly, Russia did not join the U.S., U.K. and France in
sponsoring a resolution against Jaish chief Masood Azhar at the U.N.
sanctions committee last month, a resolution which China then put a hold on.
Russia has been seen as favouring a softer line on the Taliban as a
counter to the spread of Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan; Russia and China
have also been coordinating to demand the delisting of senior Taliban
leaders designated as terrorists by the U.N. sanctions committee.
India moved to stabilise ties with China
India moved to stabilise ties with China, saying there was nothing
political in the ongoing visit of a delegation from Taiwan, which criticised
Beijing’s One China policy.
India’s statement came after China filed a diplomatic protest after the
delegation argued that Taiwan’s independence is an international reality.
The statement, which came within hours of a major dinner hosted by BJP
leader Ram Madhav in Delhi in honour of the delegation, Foreign Secretary is
expected to visit Beijing, which will be the 1st high-level visit from India
to Beijing in 2017.
“The reason why China lodged the representation is because that we have
been requiring countries that have diplomatic relations with China to fulfil
their commitment to the ‘One China policy,” China said.
“Some Indians view the Taiwan question as an Achilles’ heel of the
mainland. They have long wanted to use the Taiwan question and the South
China Sea and Dalai Lama issues as bargaining chips in dealing with China,”
said Global Times.
Leader of the delegation Kuan Bi Ling had emphasised that Taiwan’s
freedom and sovereignty is a reality in international affairs.
MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup is new High Commissioner to Canada
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Vikas Swarup has been
appointed the new High Commissioner to Canada.
Mr. Swarup, a well-known author, became the MEA spokesperson in April
2015. He is expected to join his new post in Ottawa by mid-March.
Canada is a crucial country in India’s diplomatic agenda. Relations
between the two countries have expanded in recent months following Prime
Minister Justine Trudeau’s push for engagement with India.
Last year, the North American country sent the ministers of
infrastructure and immigration to India to bolster ties. However, it is yet
to support New Delhi’s candidature for permanent membership in the U.N.
A visible face of the government, Mr. Swarup dealt with several
high-tension matters, including India’s campaign to isolate Pakistan
following the Pathankot and Uri attacks.
India and Afghanistan goes against the dominant view on Afghanistan process
India and Afghanistan took a hard line at the six-nation talks in
Moscow, opposing the dominant view from Russia, China and Pakistan to
involve the Taliban in reconciliation efforts.
External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that denying “safe
havens or sanctuaries to any terrorist group or individual in countries of
our region,” was essential to stabilising the situation in Afghanistan.
Reconciliation efforts must be driven by the Afghanistan government and
could only be facilitated by “friends and well wishers of Afghanistan,” he
He indicated that the previous round of QCG (Quadrilateral Cooperation
Group) hosted by Pakistan was not acceptable.
He said: “The key challenge to the process remains a policy selectivity
by some to distinguish between good and bad terrorists, even though
terrorism is a common threat that confronts the whole region."
He also siad "where if one of us doesn’t stand firm against it, others’
counter-terrorism efforts will not bear the results we all seek.”
Another point of contention that emerged was over the composition of the
talks hosted by Russia. Afghanistan made a strong pitch for the United
States to be included as one of its most important partners.
It said it was a necessary part of all processes to “end war and usher
in sustainable peace in Afghanistan”.
With U.S. troop levels down to their lowest of about 8,400 at the end of
President Obama’s tenure, Afghanistan’s government has been hoping President
Trump will increase assistance to the country.