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Sushma Swaraj discusses UNSC reforms, terror with African leaders

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New Delhi: The UNSC reforms, terrorism and capacity building across various sectors were among the issues that figured in 12 bilateral meets that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had on Wednesday during the India-Africa Forum Summit.

On the third day (Wednesday), of the ongoing 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) here Sushma Swaraj met her counterpart Samura M.W. Kamura of Sierra Leone, Jean Claude Gkosso of Congo, Kane Achalou Boulama of Niger, Mouasa Bedializoun Nebie of Burkina Faso, Natumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah of Namibia, Robert Dussey of Togo, Manuel Dos Ramos of Sao Tome and Principe, Sylvester Grigsby of Liberia, Mankeur Ndiaye of Senegal, Lounceny Fall of Guinea, Ibrahim Ahmed Abdelaziz Ghandour of Sudan, and African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

“In the meetings with her (Sushma Swaraj’s) counterparts from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the three countries most affected by the Ebola virus, we reiterated our sympathies and solidarity with the people and the governments of the three countries,” Sanjiv Kohli, joint secretary (West Africa) in the ministry of external affairs, said in a media briefing.

He said the foreign ministers of these three countries thanked Sushma Swaraj for the assistance that India had given to fight the epidemic both at the bilateral level and through the UN.

“At the bilateral level, we gave medical supplies directly to these three countries and cash assistance to the UN trust fund. The total (amount of help) was $12.65 million, which we had committed,” Kohli said.

Sierra Leone’s foreign minister also sought permission to open a diplomatic mission in India.

“Sierra Leone is also the chair of C-10, the African Union (AU) group that coordinates on UNSC reforms,” Kohli said.

Kamura briefed Sushma Swaraj on the C-10’s meetings with various other groups.

“He also said that C-10 as a group would probably meet in December before the AU summit in January next year,” Kohli said.

Niger sought India’s assistance in defense capacity building.

“The foreign minister of Niger briefed the external affairs minister on the threats to the region from various militant groups, in particular the Boko Haram,” Kohli said.

“She (Kane Achalou Boulama) wanted India’s assistance in capacity building for their defense forces and we responded positively.”

Apart from defense, the African foreign ministers sought India’s assistance in capacity building in other sectors like agriculture, information technology and communication, small and medium enterprises, teachers’ training, energy and water.

The countries also sought different lines of credit from India for a variety of projects.

Senegal, with which India has a trade to the tune of nearly $1 billion, sought New Delhi’s help in setting up a railway network.

“Special praise was made by the Liberian side of all the women Indian CRPF contingent, which continued to stay out there at the peak of the Ebola outbreak,” Kohli said.

According to him, Liberia’s Sylvester Grigsby told Sushma Swaraj that the Indian women security personnel inspired many Liberian women to join the police and defense forces in that country.

With the western African nation of Togo, India raised the issue of five Indian nationals detained in connection with an alleged piracy case and sought their early release.

AUC Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was accompanied by two other commissioners of the African Union at the meeting.

“External affairs minister thanked them for their support in holding the third IAFS here,” Kohli said.

(IANS)

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India condemns support systems for terrorists in South Asia, expresses concern over North Korea’s nuclear program

Sushma Swaraj’s statement assumes significance as it comes after the unprecedented BRICS Summit joint statement earlier this month in which Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa unequivocally named Pakistan and the terror groups based there

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Sushma Swaraj talks about support systems of terrorists in South Asia
External affairs minister of India, Sushma Swaraj. Wikimedia
  • India on Thursday condemned support systems for terrorists in South Asia while expressing concern over South Asia’s nuclear program
  • Sushma Swaraj’s statement is significant since it comes after the BRICS Summit where many countries unequivocally named Pakistan and the terrorist groups based there
  • Sushma Swaraj also sought cooperation for early conclusion of negotiations and adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism

New York, Sep 22, 2017:  In an obvious reference to Pakistan, India on Thursday condemned support systems for terrorists in South Asia while expressing concern over North Korea’s nuclear and weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

“The horror of terrorism continues to haunt global peace and security. Terror groups draw sustenance from support systems in South Asia,” Sushma Swaraj said while speaking at the BRICS Ministerial Meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly Session here.

“They continue to find support and shelter in countries which use terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

“We must condemn efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, sustain and sponsor terrorism against other countries,” she added.

Sushma Swaraj’s statement assumes significance as it comes after the unprecedented BRICS Summit joint statement earlier this month in which Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa unequivocally named Pakistan and the terror groups based there.

“There is need for collective efforts to disrupt terrorist networks, their financing and movement,” she said, calling for terrorist funding, their weapons supply, training and political support to “be systematically cut off”.

Sushma Swaraj also sought cooperation for early conclusion of negotiations and adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN Security Council.

On North Korea’s recent offensive military posturing, she said: “The action and rhetoric of North Korea has been a source of growing global concern.”

Also read: Baloch Activist Bugti hails Sushma Swaraj for her speech against Pakistan Atrocities at UN General Assembly

She also touched on climate change and referred to Indian Prime Minister Narendra’s Modi’s suggestion of an alliance between the India-initiated International Solar Alliance and the New Development Bank, a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS nations.

“I hope we can work together to give this ambitious agenda practical shape in coming months,” she said.

The International Solar Alliance, launched at the UN Conference of Parties (CoP) climate summit in Paris on November 30, 2015, by Prime Minister Modi and then French President Francois Hollande, is conceived as a coalition of solar resource-rich countries to address their special energy needs and provide a platform to collaborate on dealing with the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.

It is open to all 121 prospective member countries falling between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. (IANS)

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Kerala Catholic Priest Tom Uzhunnallil Abducted by ISIS Rescued from Yemen: Sushma Swaraj

The priest's release was achieved through the intervention of the Oman government

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Kerala Catholic priest Tom Uzhunnallil
Kerala Catholic priest Tom Uzhunnallil. Sushma Swaraj Twitter handle

Thiruvananthapuram | New Delhi, Sep 13, 2017: Kerala Catholic priest Tom Uzhunnallil, abducted by terrorists in Aden in March last year, has been rescued from captivity from an undisclosed location in Yemen.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted about the release of the Catholic priest, who was abducted in March last year.

“I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued,” she said.

The priest’s release was achieved through the intervention of the Oman government.

According to reports reaching Kerala, after his release the priest was flown from Yemen to Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman.

He has left Oman on a chartered flight — either for New Delhi or for the Vatican, reports said.

The media in Oman confirmed the news of the release of the priest and posted a picture of him — standing in a room with the picture of the Oman king in the background.

He will be flown to Kerala later in the day.

Expressing happiness at the news, the priest’s brother Mathew Uzhunnallil said their prayers have been finally answered.

A spokesperson of the church Fr C. Jimmy told the media that the news has been received with a great sense of happiness.

In March 2016, militants barged into a care home for the elderly set up by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Yemen’s Aden and shot dead many people, including four nuns of the charity organisation, among whom one was from India.

After the shooting, the militants took away the Catholic priest. Since then, other than a few videos released from time to time, there has been no news of his whereabouts.

Uzhunnalil’s ancestral home in Ramapuram in Kottayam district is presently shut as two of his brothers live abroad, while another lives in Gujarat. (IANS)

 

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‘You Never Lamb Alone’: Indian Christians Raise Objections to Ad Campaign by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) Featuring Gods to Sell Meat

The advertisements feature Lord Ganesha, revered in India, Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, Thor, Zeus and others seated at a table enjoying what is a sumptuous non-vegetarian feast

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Meat and Livestock Australia MLA)
Unite Over The Meat More People Can Eat | You Never Lamb Alone advertisement by MLA. Youtube

Mumbai, Sep 12, 2017: The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) on Monday raised strong objections to a new Australian advertising campaign featuring revered Hindu and Christians gods and other mythical figures to ‘sell’ its red meat and meat products.

CSF Founder-General Secretary Joseph Dias said the latest advertising campaign by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) is “bad in taste and offensive to all” and sought boycott of MLA and a ban of their products.

The advertisements feature the elephant-headed God, Lord Ganesha, revered in India, Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, Thor, Zeus and others seated at a table enjoying what is a sumptuous non-vegetarian feast.

The ads have reportedly made an oblique reference to Prophet Mohammed, who is not pictured but is heard excusing himself from the party through a mobile phone call since he has to pick-up a child from daycare.

What has hurt Christians is that the caricature of Jesus Christ who performs what is termed as a ‘reverse miracle’ by turning wine into water so a Grecian goddess, who is a ‘designated driver’ can drive home safely, Dias said.

“We have written to Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj to take note of these ‘insensitive advertisements’ and raise the issue with the top authorities in Australia immediately. We also demand that MLA Chairman Michele Allan and MD Richard Norton withdraw the ads and tender an apology,” Dias told IANS.

Besides writing to Sushma Swaraj, the CSF has shot off emails to Australian Deputy High Commissioner in Mumbai Martin Huber, Indian High Commissioner to Australia Harinder Sidhu and other top officials raising serious objections to the MLA campaign.

“The CSF has always protested against commercial exploitation of religious figures for profit, irrespective of which religion the figures belong to. The MLA ads have hurt not only followers of different faiths, but atheists and agnostics all over,” Dias pointed out.

He termed the campaign as ‘culturally insensitive’ to vegans and communities like Hindus, Jains or Buddhists and said Lord Ganesha is a vegetarian and meat is never offered to him, as depicted in the MLA ads.

Dias warned that unless MLA yanks off the offensive ad campaign and apologises, the global Catholic community would be compelled to boycott its products as “there are many alternatives available worldwide”. (IANS)