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Modi inks four agreements with Kyrgyzstan including one in defense cooperation

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Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), July 12 (IANS): India and Kyrgyzstan on Sunday inked four agreements, including in defense cooperation and between their election commissions, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with President Almazbek Atambayev.

Visiting Bishkek, the penultimate stop of his tour of Central Asian countries, Modi in his media statement said his visit to all five countries in the region “demonstrates the importance that we attach to a new level of relationship with Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan is a key part of that vision”.

Modi said resource-rich Central Asia has an important place in India’s future and both sides seek a peaceful and secure neighborhood and have a shared interest in combating extremism and terrorism.

The agreement on defense cooperation was in matters relating to defense, security, military education and training, conduct of joint military exercises, exchange of experience, and information, exchange of military instructors and observers.

Modi said their defense ties were strong and the agreement would help to broaden their defense cooperation.

The Special Forces of the armed forces of the two countries held joint exercise “Khanjar 2015” in Kyrgyzstan in March, “which reflected continuity in exercises held in India in 2011. It was decided to hold joint exercises on an annual basis”, said the joint statement.

The Kyrgyz side expressed its appreciation to India for “training Kyrgyz military officers for conducting various UN Peacekeeping Courses, including by the Centre for UN Peacekeeping in New Delhi”, the statement said.

Modi said the IT Centre in the Kyrgyz Military Academy “is an example of innovative cooperation that is important to both countries” and the new agreement would provide a framework to broaden engagement.

Modi expressed happiness at the cooperation agreement between the election commissions, and said he looked forward to the visit of a Kyrgyz parliamentary delegation to India.

The other two agreements were a MoU between Kyrgyzstan’s economy ministry and the Bureau of Indian Standards on cooperation in the field of standards, and an agreement on cooperation in culture.

Modi said both sides discussed at length about boosting trade, investment, tourism, culture, and human resource development and added that the connectivity initiative between India and Central Asia will further boost economic ties.

Modi also thanked Kyrgyzstan for its support to India’s candidature for a permanent United Nations Security Council seat.

In the joint statement, India reaffirmed support of the candidacy of the Kyrgyz Republic for the UN Human Rights Council for 2016-2018.

Both sides expressed “grave concern at the rising trend of extremism, radicalism, and terrorism in the region and whole world” and India “highly appreciated the steps taken by the Kyrgyz government in counteracting terrorism and in retaining the secular character of Kyrgyz society”.

The two sides agreed to expeditiously consider signing an agreement on “combating international terrorism and other crimes”, the statement said.

They also agreed to boost economic, trade, and investment linkages which were below potential.

Modi also congratulated Atambaev on Kyrgyzstan’s joining the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union and both Sides agreed to work together for early conclusion of a Free Trade Agreement between the Eurasia Economic Union and India, said the joint statement.

Modi said both sides would hold a roundtable in Bishkek in the field of agriculture to explore possible avenues for cooperation and identify concrete projects.

India has offered to share its experience in agro-processing, greenhouse technology, water conservation, and agricultural research with Kyrgyzstan.

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The joint statement also expressed satisfaction over “growing links in the health sector, including regular visits by doctors from super-specialty hospitals in India to Kyrgyzstan, visits of patients from Kyrgyzstan to India for medical treatment, complex surgery at affordable cost and international standards, and the gifting of a computed tomography machine to the National Center for Cardiology and Internal Medicine (NCCIM) by the government of India in September 2014”.

It also welcomed the launch of a project to establish tele-medicine links between highly specialized hospitals of India and six medical establishments of Kyrgyzstan.

At the lunch banquet, Atambayev said “India has a calling to become a great economic power like the US and China”.

Modi later met Kyrgyz parliament Speaker Asylbek Jeenbekov and also held talks with Prime Minister Temir Sariyev.

During his meeting with Sariyev, Modi gifted a medical equipment to Kyrgyzstan’s Level II Field Hospital.

He also visited the Kyrgyz-India Mountain Biomedical Research Centre.

Modi gifted the president a hand-knotted carpet of very fine grade wool blended with silk.

Next Story

The Rafale Deal: Corporate Rivalry Impacting National Interest

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie's dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on 'India's strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal'.Pixabay

A recent European Union intelligence sharing exercise with India has revealed that Lockheed Martin, the US-headquartered company which manufactures the F-16 fighter jets, has been up to mischief mongering on the Rafale issue.

The Rafale jets, which India wants, is manufactured by the French aerospace company Dassault Aviation, a rival of Lockheed Martin.

That Lockheed Martin could be working in the shadows to sour the Rafale deal for India so that it could move in with its own deal was validated when Vivek Lall, Lockheed Martin’s high-profile head of strategy and India operations, said that the company was in the process of finalising the sale of 200 fighters to India.

During the UPA regime, the government had signed an MoU for 126 Rafale fighter jets to replenish a major shortcoming in air defence preparedness because the Indian Air Force did not have quality fighter jets. When the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, this deal was revised and an inter-government deal was struck to receive 36 fully-loaded Rafale jets. The controversy now raging in India is related to the pricing for the fighters negotiated by the NDA.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’. Pixabay

In December when the Rafale case came before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed that processes were generally followed over the procurement. He also noted that the controversy had been triggered by comments by former French President Francois Hollande over the selection of the offset partner and that mere comments could not form the basis for a probe.

However, this has not prevented the Rafale purchase controversy from becoming a high-octane political battle between the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Repeatedly over the past few months and more stridently now in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has led a no-holds barred attack on the government and the Prime Minister specifically on the issue. From the earlier public disinterest on the controversy, it is now now getting some traction — the Congress party believes this could be possible because it has relentlessly raised the matter at all public forums.

Bringing up the case of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was said to be part of the orhestrated plan to present the case of the American companies while also appearing nationalistic. In the government’s estimate, HAL’s record is abysmal and it cannot be given a big responsibility like building fighter jets — more so in the light of the safety record of MiG fighters purchased from Russia and made under licence from HAL.

The BJP-led government at the Centre believes — and it is certain it has evidence of this — that the Congress party is doing this as it has become a party to corporate rivalry between the US and French aerospace companies. For the record, Lockheed Martin is believed to have found a sympathetic ally in another US aerospace major, Boeing, which manufactures the F-18. Dassault has another rival in French manufacturer Airbus Industrie, which is associated with BAE for the manufacture of the Eurofighter. It is also angling for a fighter jet contract with India.

Rahul Gandhi’s attacks on the government over the Rafale issue started after his visit to the US in August 2017 when he met several defence lobbyists, CEOs of US defence companies and Pentagon officials.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’.

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Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Pixabay

The government’s efforts to trace the footprints of the dramatis personae at the forefront of the campaign to target the government over the Rafale deal has produced surprising results. It has found what it believes are eye-opening linkages between Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie — who filed a PIL in the Supreme Court accusing the Prime Minister of corruption in the deal — and arms dealers and defence manufacturers. At least in one case, the linkages show deep connections between members of Shourie’s family with aerospace companies, arms dealers and defence lobbies.

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie’s dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

Also Read: The Craft of Distilling Is Ancient, Different Story Behind Every Bottle

The government is also aware of the links between a top BJP leader’s son-in-law and a French manufacturer. The son-in-law is said to be advising Rahul Gandhi and is believed to be making government documents available to him for the campaign against Rafale.

Lockheed Martin’s alleged actions to work the political ecosystem to pull down the Rafale procurement deal also has a larger strategic context. Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.  (IANS)