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India calls for ‘comprehensive resolution’ of Middle East conflict, united action against extremists

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United Nations: India has called for united action against extremist outfits operating in northern Iraq and Syria and a “comprehensive political resolution” of the conflict. India stressed the need to stop the “dangerous trends” emerging in the Middle East and Gulf regions that are endangering peace and stability of the religion. It also stressed the need for bringing all parties to the negotiating table, but said it should be a “Syrian-led process”.

Speaking at a Security Council debate Tuesday on the Middle East, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin expressed India’s “deep concern with the activities of proscribed outfits, radicalized and extremist groups in the West Asia and Gulf region, especially in northern parts of Iraq and Syria.” They “are critically impacting on peace and stability in the region,” he said. “Efforts must be taken by all parties and stakeholders in the region to curb these dangerous trends.”

Although he refrained from naming the groups, it was a reference to the principal operator in the region, the Islamic State, which is also known by the acronym ISIS, and others like the al-Nusra Front.

Opposition to these outfits, which control parts of Syria and Iraq and draw supporters from as far away as the United States, is fragmented. The US, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are ranged on one side and Syria, Russia and Iran on the other.

“We believe the consolidation of political processes and solutions while building durable state institutions will be the effective way of addressing such extremism and radicalism in the region,” Akbaruddin said.

“India has consistently called for a comprehensive political resolution of the conflict, bringing all parties to the negotiating table,” he added in a nuanced statement. “It has to be a Syrian-led process, taking into account the legitimate aspirations.”

He expressed support for the UN-sponsored Syrian peace conference that was to have started Monday, but was postponed because of questions over who should represent the opposition to al-Assad.

“We remain hopeful that the UN’s mediation efforts will yield results,” he said. “We urge all parties to demonstrate the requisite political will, exercise restraint, and commit to seeking common ground in accommodating their differences.”

Akbaruddin said that India had donated $4 million in humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees and would contribute more at the Syrian Donors Conference for refugee assistance next month in London.

Turning to the other regional hotspot, Yemen, Akbaruddin said, “We have been urging all concerned parties in Yemen to amicably resolve their differences and we hope that the UN-mediation efforts would assist the people of Yemen in finding a consensus-based solution.”

Speaking about the long-running Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Akbaruddin said, “India remains firmly convinced that dialogue remains the only viable option that can effectively address the issue.”

Straddling a middle path between traditional friend, the Palestinians, and Israel, with which India has developed closer ties more recently, he said, “The imperative need is for restraint, to avoid provocation and unilateral actions and to return to the peace process. We remain hopeful and urge both sides to resume the peace process soon, for a comprehensive, just and lasting resolution of the Palestinian issue.”

He added, “India supports a negotiated solution resulting in a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognized borders, side by side at peace with Israel.”

Reiterating India’s support for the Palestinian cause, Akbaruddin said, “India has always played a proactive role in garnering support for the Palestinian cause in multilateral fora.”

He referred to visits by President Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and said, “These visits and interactions reinforce and renew our political and diplomatic support to the State of Palestine in its endeavors to realize an independent and sovereign State of Palestine.”

During those journeys, they both also visited Israel.(IANS)

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Amazon’s Alexa Can Now Learn Hindi And Other Indian Languages

Apart from Hindi, using "Cleo" customers can respond to Alexa's English statements in Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Bengali, Telugu, Gujarati and other Indian languages.

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Amazon,com. Flickr
Amazon,com. Flickr

Amazon on Tuesday launched a new category of Alexa skills that would enable customers in India help Alexa learn Hindi and other Indian languages.

Using the new “Cleo” skill, Amazon allows users to teach Alexa more about Indian languages and culture by interacting with the voice assistant.

“During each round, Alexa will ask you to say at least five things in your language. She may ask you to say something specific in the chosen language or to just say anything at all,” the company said in a statement.

Amazon Alexa. Flickr
Amazon Alexa. Flickr

The process of creating new languages for Alexa benefits data availability, computing power and machine learning, in which systems improve organically as they incorporate more data.

Cleo’s availability in India will help improve Alexa’s language model and help her to gradually speak in local languages, the company added.

Also Read: Amazon India, HackerEarth partner for Alexa Hackathon

These skills can be accessed on all Amazon Echo devices as well as the free Alexa app for smartphones.

Apart from Hindi, using “Cleo” customers can respond to Alexa’s English statements in Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Bengali, Telugu, Gujarati and other Indian languages. (IANS)