Prime Minister Narendra Modi and newly-elected US President Joe Biden are expected to meet on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Cornwall in June. India has been invited as a guest country by the UK, alongside South Korea and Australia.
Sources said growing proximity between China and Pakistan has been included in the agenda prominently that will come up during the talks between both the leaders. If Covid-19 situation remains under control, PM Narendra Modi will make it to G7 in the month of June, says an official. Sources said PM Modi has had a word with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in this regard.
According to sources, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials in South Block and diplomats in Washington have been asked to fine-tune the agenda in consultation with the officials of the Biden administration. Preliminary rounds of meetings have also been held ahead of this meeting, added the sources. China’s coercive behaviour and its connivance with Pakistan in furthering the anti-India agenda will be what will come prominently during the interaction, sources told The Sunday Guardian.
India’s Ambassador in Washington is learnt to have called on Biden and his some key advisers in what is being seen as an important development ahead of the June meet between Indian premier and the US President. This will be the first personal meeting between both the leaders after Biden got elected as POTUS.
However, PM Modi and President Biden have had telephonic talks on a couple of occasions in the past. In the latest such phonic conversation, the two leaders agreed to strengthen Indo-Pacific security through the Quad grouping of countries. This group is seen as a way to push back against China’s growing assertiveness in the region.
The diplomats of the MEA are also analysing the content of the recent telephonic chat between Biden and Chinese president Xi Jinping. What made this communication important for India was the statement of Biden itself. “Last night, I was on the phone for two straight hours with Xi Jinping,” Biden had told reporters. This was seen as an unusually long interaction for a US president, with whom even face-to-face meetings rarely stretch beyond an hour.
The foreign officers dealing with the US matters were assigned the task to ascertain what transpired between Biden and Xi. “Inputs are being analysed threadbare in the context of US-China policy under the new Biden administration,” say sources. Indian officials posted in the embassy in Washington are learnt to have established contact with their counterparts in the Biden administration to get the inputs of talks between Biden and Xi.
What is good for India is the fact that Biden during the talk with Chinese leader underlined his fundamental concerns about “Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices”. The MEA takes it as a positive development from India’s point of view.
When China is discussed during PM Modi and President Biden interaction on the sidelines of G7, Beijing’s behaviour baffling the entire world would be one of the key agendas. Sources said that PM Modi will be meeting other world leaders on that occasion. Apart from this, Pakistan’s growing ties with China at the cost of regional security is also one of the prime concerns that PM Modi and Biden will be sharing. Both the leaders will also be sharing their views on how to strengthen the Quad all the more.
India, United States, Japan and Australia are members of the Quad, an informal group that Washington has been promoting to work as a potential bulwark against Beijing’s increasing political, commercial and military activity in the Indo-Pacific. It is no secret that China has denounced the Quad as “an attempt to contain its development” and urged the United States to drop its “Cold War mentality”.
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IAF carries out multi-aircraft sortie to commemorate Balakot Operations’ second anniversary
New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Saturday said it has carried out a long-range precision strike against a practice target to mark the second anniversary of the Balakot Operations.
The strike was carried out by members of the same squadron who carried out the actual operations.
Indian Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria flew in an upgraded Mirage-2000 fighter aircraft during the multi-aircraft sortie to commemorate the second anniversary of the Balakot Operations.
On February 14, 2019, Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) targeted a CRPF convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway near Pulwama in South Kashmir killing 40 CPRF personnel.
Days later the IAF launched an air-strike on a JeM camp in Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
The air-strike was launched in the early hours of February 26 and Pakistan’s efforts to launch an offensive the next day to target Indian military installations in Jammu and Kashmir was thwarted by an alert the IAF.
In the dogfight, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, flying a MiG-21 Bison fighter plane and chasing Pakistani jets, crossed over to PoK where his aircraft was shot down. He was taken into custody by Pakistan. India also shot down a Pakistani fighter jet. (ANI)
Ceasefire agreement with Pakistan won’t affect counter-terrorism operations, says Lt-Gen Joshi
Udhampur (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], February 27 (ANI): Two days after the ceasefire agreement signed between India and Pakistan, Lieutenant General Yogesh Kumar Joshi, GOC-in-C of Northern Command on Saturday said that the pact will not affect the counter-terrorism operations being carried out by the Indian Armed forces.
“Joint statement by the Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan, of both sides agreeing for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along Line of Control (LoC) from February 24-25, will not affect counter-terrorism operations. We will continue to remain alert,” Joshi said at a function here.
On Thursday, India and Pakistan had released a joint statement saying that they have held discussions regarding establishing a mechanism for hotline contact among both nations. Both sides also agreed to a ceasefire along the LoC starting from February 25.
Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan also reviewed the current situation across the LoC and other sectors “in a free, frank and cordial atmosphere”.
During the Army’s Northern Command event ‘Investiture Ceremony 2021’, Lt Gen Joshi presented Gallantry and Distinguished Service awards to the family members of the soldiers who laid their lives for the nation.
In his address during the event, Lt Gen Joshi termed 2020 as a “watershed year” for the Armed Forces as they displayed boldness in standing up to unprovoked aggression by Chinese forces in Eastern Ladakh.
“There has been a reduction in terrorist initiated incidents, and other internal matters as a result of tireless efforts of the security forces and the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The Northern Command of the Indian Army works diligently for peace in Kashmir. Our mission is to maintain peace in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. (ANI)
8 held for cow slaughtering in Telangana’s Siddipet
Siddipet (Telangana) [India], February 27 (ANI): Telangana police on Saturday arrested eight persons who were allegedly involved in cow slaughtering in Siddipet.
“8 persons of Siddipet district who were involved in cow slaughtering in last few days have been arrested. The arrests took place after a few locals have exposed the slaughterhouse on Friday. Immediately, one town police of Siddipet reached the spot and seized the slaughterhouse,” said Joel Davis, Commissioner of Police, Siddipet.
“A case has been registered under sections 429, 153, 153-A of Indian Penal Code and section 10 of Prohibition of Cows Slaughter Act (PCSA), section 11 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act (PCAA).
The accused were taken into custody today and produced before the court which sent them to judicial remand, the police commissioner said. (ANI)
With Kerala Assembly polls on his mind, Rahul Gandhi stays away from Bengal battle
By Siddharth Sharma
New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): West Bengal may be the most talked about in the upcoming assembly elections 2021, but former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has so far kept himself away from campaigning in the state.
Tomorrow’s Left-Congress joint rally in Kolkata will not see the presence of Congress top brass, although the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in charge of the West Bengal Jitin Prasada and Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel will attend the rally.
Except for West Bengal, Rahul has been continuously campaigning in poll-bound states like Assam and the Union Territory of Puducherry. In Kerala and Tamil Nadu he has had more than one tour this month.
Rahul Gandhi has chosen to skip the Left-Congress joint rally that is being pegged as one of the biggest events ahead of Assembly polls in West Bengal. According to sources, he will turn to Bengal, probably after Kerala elections are wrapped up.
Polling for the 140-member Kerala Assembly in 14 districts will be held in a single phase on April 6, while West Bengal will witness eight-phased Assembly Polls for 294 seats starting from March 27. The counting in both the states will be held on May 2.
“In Kerala, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) has a big challenge to defeat the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government, which is being led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPM. The Congress party has joined hands with CPM to fight Assembly polls in West Bengal. Congress strategists feel that if Rahul shares the stage with CPM leaders in Bengal, then it may be at a disadvantage in Kerala. Rahul Gandhi is also an MP from Kerala. In such a situation, nobody wants to take any pleasure in forming their government in Kerala,” a source told ANI.
According to sources, Congress strategists are aware of the ground reality that “Left and Congress alliance in Bengal is being considered out of the main fight for the Assembly polls.”
“It is obvious that Congress does not want to miss the chance of winning Kerala Assembly polls. That is why the map of Bengal is still missing from Rahul Gandhi’s election programs,” they said.
State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has already said that “Bengal Congress is self-sufficient in the matter of campaigning.”
Jitin Prasad, in-charge of the West Bengal Congress, said, “Rahul Gandhi has to campaign in all five states. Our schedule is fixed at an appropriate time. According to the phase, we are fixing the schedule of Rahul Gandhi’s meetings.”
According to sources even after April 6, the date when Kerala will go to polls, Rahul Gandhi will do very limited campaigning in Bengal.
“The Congress wants that, in case if BJP government formed in West Bengal, then Opposition front at national level including TMC could not blame the Congress. Overall, Congress feels that it does not have a profitable deal but there is a possibility of loss in West Bengal,” they said.
In West Bengal, the Congress is contesting in alliance with the Left parties and the new entrant Indian Secular Front.
West Bengal is likely to witness a triangular contest this time with TMC, Congress-Left alliance and BJP in the fray.
In the 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections, out of the 294 seats, Congress had managed to win 44 seats while the Left Front bagged 33 seats. The ruling TMC secured 211 seats and the BJP had won three seats.
The BJP made deep inroads in the state in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections winning 18 seats and reducing TMC’s tally to 22. Out of the total 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal, Congress won two seats, the Left drew a blank.
After BJP’s performance in the 2019 polls, several TMC leaders have joined the party led by JP Nadda. (ANI)
Tarun Bajaj takes additional charge of Revenue Secretary
New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): Tarun Bajaj, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs will take the additional charge of Secretary, Department of Revenue, said the Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India on Saturday.
The development comes after the superannuation of Ajay Bhushan Pandey.
Pandey, who is a 1984 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of Maharashtra cadre, is scheduled to retire on February 28. He was given the charge of Revenue Secretary in the Finance Ministry in November 2018. (ANI)
Army commander southern command visits Golden Katar Division
Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India], February 27 (ANI): A two-day visit of General Officer-Commanding-in-Chief Southern Command of Army Lieutenant General JS Nain to the Golden Katar Division has concluded, informed PRO Defence of Rajasthan Lt Col Amitabh Sharma on Saturday.
According to a release issued by Sharma, during his visit, Nain carried out a comprehensive review of the operational preparedness along the international boundary in the Southern Sector.
In his interaction with senior commanders, the Lt Gen urged the Army personnel to continue to maintain a high state of battle readiness in an environment of tri-service synergy to safeguard the territorial integrity of the nation.
“It is heartening to see a highly motivated team having a high degree of professionalism and commitment towards training for all eventualities,” Nain said.
The Lt Gen called upon the formation to continue working hard and strive for excellence in all fields. He also complimented the troops for the multiple measures undertaken by them to overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19 (ANI)
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