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China and Vietnam agree to manage maritime differences and safeguard the peace and stability of South China Sea

China and Vietnam join forces to take care of maritime miscommunications and maintain the harmony at the south china sea

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South China Sea, Wikimedia

Beijing, Jan 14, 2017: China and Vietnam issued a joint communique, pledging to manage maritime differences and safeguard the peace and stability of the South China Sea.

According to the communique issued on Saturday, China and Vietnam had “a candid exchange of views” on maritime issues, Xinhua news agency reported.

Both countries pledged to seek basic and long-term solutions that both sides can accept via negotiation, and discuss transitional solutions that will not affect each other’s stance including the research of joint development, it said.

Both sides agreed to manage maritime differences and avoid any acts that may complicate the situation and escalate tensions so as to safeguard peace and stability of the South China Sea, said the communique.

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The communique was issued as General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong paid a four-day official visit to China since Thursday.

During Trong’s four-day visit, he met with five of the seven members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

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According to the communique, the two countries agreed that it was of great importance and strategic guidance to bilateral ties that the high-level officials of both countries and parties, especially the top leaders of the two countries, maintain frequent contact.

Both sides also encouraged cooperation on economy and trade, defense, security and law enforcement, cultural, youth and local areas.

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Vietnam supports and will actively participate in a summit forum on the international cooperation along the Belt and Road to be hosted by China in 2017, said the communique. (IANS)

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Inter Faith Meeting in US Aims For Peace and Tolerance

Inter faith meeting at the inauguration of a photo exhibition on Indian religious traditions in the US brought together representatives of various faiths with the aim for peace and harmony

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Inter Faith Meeting
Annual inter-faith Iftar 2015. Wikimedia

July 16, 2017: Inter faith meeting at the inauguration of a photo exhibition on Indian religious traditions in the US brought together representatives of various faiths with the aim for peace and harmony. The meeting also emphasized the need for dialogue among different religions. The meeting witnessed renowned personalities from different religious communities.

Swami Muktidananda of Ramakrishna Mission while referring to the democratic principles on soils of both America and India said, “All faiths can flourish in the world by carrying flags of harmony.”

The Jewish Community Affairs General Secretary A Cohen, who touched on over 200-year history of the Jewish community in Kolkata and the method adopted by Jewish-run schools for imparting lessons of harmony among the children emphasized on not recognizing one’s religion superior as compared to others.

The General Secretary of Mahabodhi Society of India, Ven P Seewali also expressed his view and feels cultural differences to be the only difference among humans.

Father Dominic Gomes, who is the Vicar General of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Calcutta, conveyed about the need of seers to enlighten in regard to the severe and diabolical problems. He said “Somewhere we are not getting to the bottom line. Dialogue is important.”

The Buddhist monk representing Buddhism called for continuing peace initiatives and dialogues and gave a reference to the spiritual history of India where gurus had talked about love and compassion for thousands of years.

Swami Shuddhidananda talked about how Swami Vivekananda’s visit to the US had opened floodgates of spirituality in America and acceptance of Indian spirituality by the Americans. Ajmer Singh, president of Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara Jagat Sudhar and the representative of Sikhism was also present on the occasion. Imam of Nakhoda Mosque, Md Shafique Qasmi, who could not mark his presences due to illness or some other reasons ensures his contribution by sending a message to support the initiative.

Expressing happiness over the discourse, US Consul General Dr Craig L Hal also expressed his pleasure over the discourse and encouraged the people of two countries to share the practice of ideals which will result in demonstrating a common commitment stimulating tolerance towards all religions.

The exhibition ‘Keeping Faith’ displayed photographs of the celebration of multiple faiths Indian festivals in America. Charles River Ganga Aarti at Cambridge, Eid Milan at Houston, and Turban Day at Manhattan, Holi at Harvard, Ganesh Chaturthi in New York were some of the display. These exhibits were also on display in New Delhi and Hyderabad earlier.

– prepared by Surbhi Dhawan of Newsgram. Twitter @surbhi_dhawan 

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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

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Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)

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Satellite sends First Quantum Signal to Earth

This is a big step towards achieving a secure and developed way to encrypt communications because ever-improving computer algorithms can not crack them

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Micius
Micius satellite. wikimedia
  • An orbiting satellite has sent the first entangled pair of photons to Earth
  • It is a big step towards achieving a secure and developed way to encrypt communications
  • They can not be cracked by ever-improving computer algorithms

June 18, 2017: It was reported by scientists today that an orbiting satellite has sent the first entangled pair of photons to Earth. It is a big step towards sending quantum keys from satellites — an approach that has been heralded as a secure and developed way to encrypt communications because ever-improving computer algorithms can not crack them.

A laser on China’s Micius satellite, which was launched last year and is dedicated to researches related to quantum satellite communications, spit out pairs of entangled photons from its position, 500 km above Earth. Then two telescopes on Earth – about 1200 km apart — had 5 minutes each day to look for them as the satellite passed over both telescopes. It was found that paired photons survived the journey through Earth’s atmosphere. They detected 1 entangled pair per second out of the 6 million sent in that time.

So how exactly does all this work?

A quantum key needs to be generated first by two people who are looking to communicate. Then, one person receives one of the entangled photons in the pair, the other person receives the other. When the received photons have measured the photons, they obtain bits of information strung together to create a key that they both have. That key can be used to encrypt and decrypt a message. The users can also share a portion of the key publicly to check if it has been compromised. In case if someone tries to intercept the communication at any point, they would then notice a difference between their strings.

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There is a certain set of problems as well. Caltech’s John Preskill believes even though it is an important proof of concept, the feat doesn’t address one of the biggest problems with quantum communications. Currently, these messages can’t be sent long distances. Photons, using an optical fiber to carry a quantum signal, can only make it about 100 km before the dissipation of the light.

Quantum systems are similar to optical telecommunications here on earth and need repeaters that are able to amplify the message so it can be passed long distances. But amplifying a quantum message in the same way optical ones are done would effectively result in the destruction of the information. That is why satellite-based communication are being eyed by researchers. The reported 500 km from space is an improvement over optical. Quantum signals were measured in another study published today from a satellite 38,000 km away to a single point. But in deploying a global network which would likely be able to combine optical fiber and satellites, the repeater problem still stands.

Preskill has predicted that it is more likely we will first come up with another form of encryption for communication. “There will be other ways of doing classical public key cryptosystems that we won’t know how to break with quantum computers,” he added.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang