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In the wake of chemical attack in Syria, India reiterates its position against chemical weapons use anywhere in the world

A civil defense member breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria, April 4, 2017. VOA

New Delhi, April 13, 2017: Following last week’s chemical attack in Syria that claimed over 80 lives, India on Thursday reiterated its position against the use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world.

“You know that India is a signatory of the chemical weapons convention,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said in weekly media briefing here.

“It has been our consistent position that the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere under any circumstances should not happen,” he said. “And any perpetrator of such an act should be held accountable.”

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On April 4, a reported toxic gas attack hit the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s Idlib, killing over 80 people and wounding scores of others.

Two days later, the United States launched 59 cruise missiles against the Shairat military base in central Syria, where from, according to the US, airplanes carrying chemical weapons took off.

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On Wednesday, Russia vetoed a UN resolution that would have required Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government to cooperate with international inquiries into the attack.

On India’s position vis-a-vis the rest of the world on the issue, Baglay referred to a statement by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after he met Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday which said: “We both believe in a unified and stable Syria and we agree we want to deny a safe haven to terrorists.”

He said that India believed that it was important to defeat terrorism “which in that particular theatre is represented, among others by the IS (Islamic State) and cooperation of all countries is vital to achieving this objective”. (IANS)

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Facebook to Bring Specific Tools to Boost Election Engagement

Both the new tools are being made available in 12 local languages across India

Facebook, data, vietnam
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

Social-networking site Facebook on Tuesday launched two new India-specific tools — “Candidate Connect” and “Share You Voted” — to boost civic engagement on its platform during the general elections that commence in April.

While “Candidate Connect” will help people learn more about candidates, the “Share You Voted” will provide people with polling information and enable them to announce and celebrate their vote, the company said in a statement.

“We have more than tripled the team working on safety and security to 30,000 people, introduced unprecedented transparency requirements for political advertising, improved our ability to detect and remove fake accounts and stepped up our efforts to fight false news and misinformation,” said Samidh Chakrabarti, Director, Product Management for Civic Integrity, Facebook.

Facebook, Data
A photo shows the Facebook app icon on an iPhone in New York, Feb. 19, 2014. VOA

Starting next week, voters in India, either through a bookmark in their settings, or through a message in their News Feed would be able to watch 20-second videos of candidates contesting from their respective constituencies.

The company said that the questions included in “Candidate Connect” are outcomes of locally conducted consumer research programmes.

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“We aim to better equip our users as they look forward to participating in the political process of the country,” Chakrabarti further added.

Both the new tools are being made available in 12 local languages across India. (IANS)