New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao Thursday formally declared 2012 as the year of India-China friendship, and decided to enhance political trust to resolve all outstanding issues like the border dispute and trade imbalance.
Taking note of the growing momentum in bilateral ties, the two leaders also decided to scale up their bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2015.
The talks lasted for nearly an hour and covered a range of bilateral issues as well as the need for closer coordination on global issues like climate change, the G20 and the Doha round of development negotiations.
Hu is understood to have appreciated India for curbing Tibetan protests during his two-day visit, probably his last to India before he makes way for Xi Jinping in a planned leadership succession later this year.
The two leaders formally lit an oil lamp to declare 2012 the “Year of India-China Friendship and Cooperation.”
They unveiled a host of initiatives to bolster cultural, academic and people-to-people contacts, including setting up of a media forum to promote better public perception of their bilateral relationship. India raised the issue of huge imbalance in trade which has exceeded $70 billion, with the surplus heavily in China’s favour, official sources said.
India also asked China to allow market access to Indian IT and pharmaceutical companies.
On the sidelines of the BRICS summit, Indian and Chinese officials are also understood to have held initial talks on firming up the mechanism of maritime cooperation that was decided during the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to India last month.
Hu assured his Indian host that China was encouraging Chinese companies to scale up imports from India, said official sources. The two leaders decided to give a political push to resolve their boundary dispute that led to a war in 1962. In this context, both leaders agreed that the mechanism of special representatives to resolve the boundary dispute should continue.
Earlier in the day, the Chinese side struck an upbeat note on the course of bilateral ties. “The Chinese side appreciates the effective and concrete measures taken by the Government of India in overcoming the disruptions and the disturbances and in ensuring the safe and smooth holding of the (BRICS) summit,” senior Chinese official Luo Zhaohui told reporters here.
Lou stressed that India and China were enjoying “very sound momentum” in their bilateral ties which is marked by frequent political contacts at the highest levels and cooperation in international issues.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.
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