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India and Iran sign agreement to develop Chabahar Port

Modi’s visit to Tehran is part of a diplomatic push by India to build deeper ties with Middle East countries.

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NEW DELHI—India’s relationship with Iran reached new heights when both the countries signed the agreement to develop a strategic port in southeastern Iran. This new port will provide New Delhi easy access to Central Asia and Afghanistan, bypassing its arch nemesis Pakistan

The agreement to operate the Chabahar was signed in Tehran after Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks.

Both the countries signed 12 agreements out which this was the most significant during Modi’s two –day visit.

New Delhi will invest $500 million in developing two terminals and cargo berths at the port, which India and Iran want to turn into a regional transit hub. India, Iran and Afghanistan are also signing a trilateral agreement to build connecting roads and rail lines from the port.

Calling the project “an important milestone,” the Indian prime minister said it is a “major effort to boost economic growth in the region. We are committed to take steps for early implementation of the agreement signed today.”

Rouhani said “considering all the credit lines that are going to come from India into the Chabahar port, this very strategic port can very well turn into a very big symbol of cooperation between the two great countries of Iran and India.”

Counterbalancing China

Indian officials have called the agreement a “game changer” that will give New Delhi easy access to Afghanistan, where it is involved in several projects to rebuild the war-torn country.

India also hopes the Chabahar Port will give momentum to its efforts to import natural gas and expand trade and strategic ties with Central Asian republics. That effort has been hampered by the lack of connectivity.

India’s Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari pointed out that the distance between Kandla in Western India and the Chabahar Port is less than the distance between New Delhi and Mumbai, so it will allow quick movement of goods first to Iran and then onward to Afghanistan and Central Asia.

The Chabahar Port will also provide Kabul with an alternate to the Karachi port in Pakistan.

India sees the Chabahar port as a counterbalance to China, which has made strategic investments in ports and infrastructure in the neighborhood, raising concerns in New Delhi that China is pressing its footprint deep in the region. Chabahar is less than 100 kilometers from the Gwadar port Beijing is developing in Pakistan.

The Indian leader also focused on renewing close ties with Tehran, which is seeking to rebuild its economy after emerging from the shadows of U.S.-led sanctions.

“Expanded trade ties, deeper connectivity, including railways, partnerships in oil and gas sector, fertilizers, education and culture sphere are driving our overall economic engagements,” Prime Minister Modi said.

India, whose energy needs are growing dramatically, is expected to increase its crude purchases from Iran. New Delhi has always been a big customer of Iranian oil, though U.S. sanctions forced it to slash its imports from Tehran after 2012.

India lost some goodwill in Iran when it voted along with Western countries against Tehran at the International Atomic Energy Commission in 2009. Modi’s visit is expected to reinvigorate the friendship.

Narendra Modi and Hassan Rouhani vowed to step up against terrorism, calling it a major threat in the region

Modi’s visit to Tehran is part of a diplomatic push by India to build deeper ties with Middle East countries. He visited Saudi Arabia last month and is scheduled to visit Qatar next month. (VOA)

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Asia Cup : India Emerge Champions for third time, Beat Malaysia in Asia Cup Hockey Championship

India emerged victorious for the third time

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(representational Image) India vs Malaysia Hockey Match wikimedia

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India overcame Malaysia 2-1 in the final on Sunday to win the Asia Cup hockey championship for the third time.

Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) scored for India. Shahril Saabah (50th minute) scored the reducer for Malaysia. (IANS)

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White House: Judge’s Decision Halting Travel Ban ‘Dangerously Flawed’

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Travel Ban
A sign for International Arrivals is shown at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.VOA

The White House is reacting furiously to a federal judge blocking President Donald Trump’s latest executive Travel Ban order that would have banned entry to travelers from several countries beginning Wednesday.

“Today’s dangerously flawed district court order undercuts the president’s efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the United States,” said a White House statement issued Tuesday shortly after Judge Derrick Watson ruled against restrictions on travelers from six countries the Trump administration said could not provide enough information to meet U.S. security standards.

The travel ban order would have barred to various degrees travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Watson’s temporary restraining order does not interfere with restrictions on North Korea and Venezuela.

Justice Department defends White House

The Justice Department “will vigorously defend the president’s lawful action,” the White House said, contending its proclamation restricting travel was issued after an extensive worldwide security review.

The Justice Department called the ruling incorrect and said it will appeal the decision “in an expeditious manner.”

Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said: “While we will comply with any lawful judicial order, we look forward to prevailing in this matter upon appeal.”

Acting Director of Homeland Security Elaine Duke
Acting Director of Homeland Security Elaine Duke testifies before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

No change for North Korea, Venezuela

The new travel order “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor: it lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be ‘detrimental to the United States,'” Judge Watson wrote in his opinion.

The White House argues that its restrictions “are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our nation.”

Officials in the White House are expressing confidence that further judicial review will uphold the president’s action.

Hawaii involved for third time

Consular officials have been told to resume “regular processing of visas” for people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, according to a State Department official.

The suit on which Judge Watson ruled on Tuesday was filed by the state of Hawaii, the Muslim Association of Hawaii and various individuals.

“This is the third time Hawaii has gone to court to stop President Trump from issuing a travel ban that discriminates against people based on their nation of origin or religion,” said Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin. “Today is another victory for the rule of law.”(VOA)

 

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)