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Modi visit: India, Kazakhstan ink deals on uranium supply, defence

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Astana: India and Kazakhstan on Wednesday focused on boosting trade, energy, defence and security cooperation as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev here.

The two sides inked five agreements, in defence, railways and uranium supply, sports and transfer of sentenced prisoners after the talks held at the Akorda presidential palace.

In his media statement, Modi said Kazakhstan was India’s biggest economic partner in Central Asia but the economic ties have been modest. “We will work together to take economic ties to a new level.”

He said India inked a “much larger second contract” for the purchase of uranium from Kazakhstan, the world’s largest producer of the mineral.

On cooperation in the hydrocarbons sector, Modi said Nazarbayev “responded positively to my request to consider additional mature blocks for Indian investments”.

He also referred to the first exploratory drilling on Tuesday of the Satpayev oil block in the Caspian Sea by India’s OVL and KazMunaiGaz.

Modi said both sides agreed to give priority to investment in manufacturing and infrastructure and also boost cooperation in renewable energy. “India will participate on a large scale in the Expo 2017 in Astana.”

Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation in space and information technology and also boost connectivity, including through the International North-South Transport Corridor, the Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan rail link and Chabahar port in Iran.

He said a new youth exchange programme was launched with six Kazakh universities for the next five years.

“Our defence and security cooperation is an important dimension of our strategic partnership. We both want to make it stronger, including in defence manufacturing. We welcome the new memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation,” Modi said.

He thanked the president for Kazakhstan’s continued support for India’s candidature for a permanent seat in a reformed United Nations Security Council and for a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

“I reiterated India’s support for Kazakhstan’s candidature for a non-permanent seat in the UNSC for 2017-18.”

The joint statement, termed Tej Kadam, said the two leaders “noted the rising challenge posed by terrorism in many parts of the world and in their immediate region and underlined the importance of a stable and secure environment for peaceful economic development. They agreed to continue their active engagement in the fight against terrorism and extremism including exchange of information”.

“In this context, they highlighted the importance of regular inter-agency consultations and meetings of the Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism” and also called for early conclusion of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

Both leaders welcomed the signing of an “agreement on defence and military-technical cooperation which would further widen the scope of bilateral defence cooperation including regular exchange of visits, consultations, training of military personnel, military-technical cooperation, joint exercises, special forces exchanges and cooperation in the area of UN peacekeeping operations”, it said.

They also welcomed signing of an MoU between JSC Kazxnex Invest and JSC Invest India, which includes a “roadmap” on trade, economic and investment cooperation, which would identify concrete projects in various sectors and assist in efficient implementation of projects in both the countries to activate bilateral trade and economic relations, it said.

Both leaders welcomed the establishment of a Joint Study Group between India and the Eurasian Economic Union on the feasibility of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which would boost trade.

Among measures to improve surface connectivity, the leaders welcomed ongoing bilateral discussions aimed at setting up a dedicated freight terminal in one of the western sea ports of India for trade with Kazakhstan.

They hoped that these initiatives, including the International North-South Transport Corridor, will serve as the basis for enhanced economic and commercial interaction between the two countries in the days ahead.

In this connection, the parties welcomed signing of the Memorandum on Mutual Understanding on Technical Cooperation in the sphere of railways between the NC Kazakhstan Temir Zholy JSC and India’s railways ministry, it said.

They noted that the visit “has made a positive contribution towards expansion of the strategic partnership between the two countries”.

Modi also invited Nazarbayev to visit India.

(IANS)

 

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India’s President ‘Ram Nath Kovind’ Designates ‘Narendra Modi’ as PM for Second Term

The Election Commission announced that the BJP won 303 out of 542 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament

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Newly elected lawmakers from India's ruling alliance led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party raise their hands in support of Narendra Modi's election as their leader in New Delhi, May 25, 2019. VOA

India’s president on Saturday appointed Narendra Modi as the prime minister soon after newly elected lawmakers from the ruling alliance, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, elected him as their leader following a thunderous victory in national elections.

President Ram Nath Kovind said in a tweet that he also asked Modi to forward the names of those to be appointed as ministers in his government and the date for the swearing-in for his second five-year term as prime minister. Modi and some leaders of his alliance met the president on Saturday.

Media reports said Modi was likely to be sworn in by Kovind on Thursday.

BJP president Amit Shah announced Modi’s name as the leader of the National Democratic Alliance in a meeting of the lawmakers in the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, second right, hugs senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader M.M. Joshi as L.K. Advani, left, watches after Modi’s election as ruling alliance leader, in New Delhi, May 25, 2019. VOA

The Election Commission announced that the BJP won 303 out of 542 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, after the official vote count from the six-week-long election was completed on Friday. That is well beyond the simple majority a party in India needs to form a government.

The BJP’s top rival, the Indian National Congress led by Rahul Gandhi, won 52 seats, and the All India Trinamool Congress led by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee won 22.

Unity movement

Critics say Modi and his party have applied divisive policies and used a Hindu-first strategy. But Modi said after Saturday’s vote that “this election has become a movement of social unity.” “It is generally said that the election divides, creates distances, makes walls. But the 2019 elections have worked to break the walls,” he said in his address.

On Friday, Modi met with his outgoing Cabinet ministers and later presented his resignation to the country’s president. The president asked the officials to continue to serve until the new government assumes office.

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The Election Commission announced that the BJP won 303 out of 542 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament. VOA

Gandhi, whose great-grandfather, grandmother and father were all prime ministers, personally conceded his seat, long a Congress party bastion, to his BJP rival, India’s textiles minister, marking the end of an era for modern India’s most powerful political dynasty.

Counting of the estimated 600 million ballots cast over six weeks of staggered polling — the world’s largest democratic exercise — began early Thursday.

ALSO READ: Here’s How TikTok Made PM Modi Popular Among Young Voters

Hindu-first politics

The victory was largely seen as a referendum on Modi’s Hindu-first politics that some observers say have bred intolerance toward Muslims and other religious minorities, as well as his muscular stance on neighboring Pakistan, with whom India nearly went to war earlier this year after suicide attacks killed more than 40 Indian security officials in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Modi effectively used the incident as a major campaign tool after responding to the attack with an airstrike in Pakistan that triggered nationalist sentiments, with the BJP saying Modi is the right person to ensure India’s national security. (VOA)