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Pakistan seeks to shift Obama-Sharif talks focus to India

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Washington: Ahead of his meeting Thursday with President Barack Obama, visiting Pakistan Prime Minister has sought to shift the focus of talks to India rather than counter-terrorism and safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons highlighted by US.

Sharif’s meeting with Obama “will highlight the enduring nature of the US-Pakistan relationship and provide an opportunity to strengthen our cooperation on issues of mutual interest,” a White House statement said Wednesday.

These include “economic growth, trade and investment, clean energy, global health, climate change, nuclear security, counter terrorism, and regional stability.”

“The President looks forward to discussions with Prime Minister Sharif on ways we can advance our shared interest in a stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan.”

According to official Pakistani news agency APP, Pakistan Wednesday handed over three dossiers to US Secretary of State John Kerry about alleged Indian involvement in subversive activities in the country.

The dossiers were handed over to Kerry when he called on Sharif at the Blair House. Kerry, it said, was briefed about the alleged destabilising role of Indian agencies in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Balochistan and Karachi.

Sharif, according to APP, also reiterated his commitment to seek normalisation with India.

However, State Department spokesperson, John Kirby told reporters he was “not aware that we have” received any documents relating to India from Pakistan.

Declining to “get into the specifics of the discussion” between Kerry and Sharif he said: “We continue to believe that India and Pakistan stand to benefit from practical cooperation, and we encourage both India and Pakistan to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions.”

“The normalisation of relations between Pakistan and India is vital to both countries and to the region, and steps that initiate closer regional trade and energy ties we believe will create jobs, lower inflation, and increase energy supply,” he said.

Kirby said “there is much that Pakistan has done and can continue to do to help us get at the counterterrorism challenge there in the region.”

On the issue of nuclear safety, he noted that Pakistan “is engaged with the international community on nuclear safety and security issues.”

“I’d also note that they have a professional and dedicated security force that understands the importance of nuclear security,” Kirby said. “We believe that they believe in the importance of nuclear security issues.”

Declining to “get into specifics” of discussion on nuclear safety, he said: “But obviously it remains a significant challenge, counter terrorism, and it’s something that we continue to want to partner with Pakistan on.”

Kerry, he said, had also thanked Sharif for “Pakistan’s regional efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism, especially in bringing to justice Al Qaeda leadership and disrupting terrorist plots.”

They discussed the recent announcement to keep US troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016, noting that an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process is the surest way to end violence and ensure lasting stability in Afghanistan and in the region, Kirby said.

(Arun Kumar, IANS)

 

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Cepheid to Establish Manufacturing Unit for TB Diagnostics in India

Rifampicin is a drug commonly used in treating TB bacteria in first line of treatment

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The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach.
The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach. (IANS)

Expanding its footprint in India, US-based molecular diagnostics company Cepheid Inc on Thursday announced its plans to establish a manufacturing unit in the country to improve Tuberculosis (TB) diagnostics.

Cepheid’s GeneXpert MTB/RIF test is a closed-cartridge-based system that is easy to operate by minimally trained staff and gives results in approximately two hours, speeding the conventional backlog that used to exist in traditional diagnostic methods.

The new manufacturing unit would produce MTB/RIF test cartridges, contribute to the government’s “Make in India” initiative and thus bringing the company’s global expertise in TB diagnostics to India, the company said in a statement.

As part of the plan, Cepheid also unveiled its latest portable, easy-to-use TB-testing system — the GeneXpert Edge — which is expected to be available in India later this year, the company said.

The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach.

“Cepheid recognises the need for technological advancement and is committed to contributing significantly to India’s goal of TB eradication,” said Peter Farrell, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Operations, Cepheid.

Cepheid's Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB)
Cepheid’s Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB).

“We are hopeful that GeneXpert Edge will help eliminate delays in TB diagnostics by providing definitive results within hours and facilitating fast and easy last-mile delivery even in the remote villages of India,” he added.

India has nearly one-fourth of the global TB patients and an estimated 4.8 lakh lives are lost every year due to delayed diagnosis and inadequate treatment and there are above 2.5 million new cases of TB every year. The country aims to eradicate TB by 2025.

Approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2010, more than 1,200 Cepheid’s GeneXpert Systems have been installed in the last two years at various Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) sites in the country and more than 2.5 million cartridges were supplied last year at various centres of Central TB Division (CTD).

Also Read: Fruit Bats Identified As Source Of Nipah Virus Outbreak in Kerala

Cepheid’s Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB) and rifampicin-resistance mutations, which are markers for MDR-TB strains in under two hours.

Rifampicin is a drug commonly used in treating TB bacteria in first line of treatment.

Xpert MTB/RIF tests also have excellent negative predictive value, which allows clinicians to manage TB-negative patients more effectively to prevent unnecessary and costly respiratory isolations. (IANS)