Follow Indian model in ties with Afghanistan, China told

Lauding India’s constructive role in Afghanistan, the U.S. has asked China to follow the Indian model of engagement and developmental efforts in the war-torn country.

“India has played a constructive role over the last several years inside Afghanistan, and we would look to other nations like China to do the same,”.

India has so far given financial assistance worth over $2 billion to Afghanistan and has been involved in massive developmental efforts in this war-torn country.

“I think everybody in the international community could benefit from an Afghanistan that is secure and stable and prosperous. We want to make sure that we’re all pulling on the same oars here to get Afghanistan to that better future,”.

Source: The Hindu

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Libya shipwreck toll touches 105

UNHCR says 200 people are still missing, feared dead.

In this August 27, 2015 photo, a girl holds a sign at a demonstration by local residents against illegal immigration after hearing news that a boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized off the coast, in Zuwara, Libya.

At least 105 people have died after a ship carrying hundreds of migrants and refugees sank off the coast of Libya, a spokesman for the Libyan Red Crescent said on Friday.

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said as many as 200 people on two boats were feared dead.

“Until now 105 bodies have been retrieved from the sea and 198 people have been rescued,” said Mohammad al-Misrati of the Libyan Red Crescent.

Libya’s coast guard initially said 30 people had died in the disaster that unfolded on Thursday near the western port of Zuwara.

“There are still people missing but we don’t know how many,” Misrati said, adding that the figures of dead and rescued came from the local Red Crescent branch, medical facilities in Zuwara and the Libyan coast guard.

“The boat was in a bad condition and people died with us,” said Ayman Talaal, a Syrian survivor, standing next to his daughter. “We have been forced into this route. It’s now called the grave of the Mediterranean Sea.”

Source: The Hindu

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India rebuffs Afghanistan on strategic meet

Stung by Afghanistan’s security and strategic shift towards Pakistan in the past year, India has rebuffed another invitation from Kabul to revive the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) signed in 2011 to hold a meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council (SPC).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to attend the inauguration of Afghanistan’s Parliament building in Kabul.

Diplomatic sources at the highest level have confirmed to The Hindu that India has conveyed its inability to hold the meeting that would be chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani “due to prior commitments.”

New Delhi has also conveyed that Ms. Swaraj will not attend the upcoming Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) in Kabul on September 3 and 4, and instead Sujata Mehta, Secretary, Multilateral and Economic Relations, will represent India at the conference. India’s representation will be in sharp contrast to some of the other regional countries participating at the Foreign Minister-level, while Iran is expected to send its Interior Minister and Pakistan its National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz, RECCA official Asadullah Hamdard confirmed to The Hindu.

While India’s decision to not attend the RECCA conference, which is essentially a development and donor conference, may not affect relations given India’s $2.3-billion strong commitment to Afghanistan, Afghan officials said the delay in the SPC meeting is more significant. India and Afghanistan have held only one meeting of the SPC (in 2012) since former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and former India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed the historic agreement in 2011.

Trust deficit

“After Karzai, we have never trusted Ashraf Ghani’s motivations given the overtures he made to the Pakistan Army,” said the former Ambassador to Kabul Rakesh Sood, adding, “India has always been hesitant about what it wanted from the SPA anyway. The demand for defence equipment, for example, was something we were never able to deliver on.”

India’s development commitment remains robust, and Mr. Modi’s visit is expected to take place once the Afghan Parliament is completed by the Indian Public Works Department by January 2016.

Source: The Hindu

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Bangladesh launches raid on Myanmar separatists

The joint operation by the Army and border guards aims to neutralise the rebel Arakan Army

The Bangladesh Army and the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) have launched a joint operation in Bandarban hill district after a gun battle between the Arakan Army, a Myanmar rebel group, and the border guards.

Additional border guards and army troops have been flown into the area, where the separatists are illegally treading the remote forests on the border.

Director General of BGB Major General Aziz Ahmed told the media that authorities in Myanmar have been apprised of the ongoing raid.

The BGB has also asked the Myanmar Army and border force to seal their border. “The situation in the area is normal now. The combing operation to capture the separatists is on. Myanmar authorities are also firm on the issue,.

Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, who visited the Bandarban on Thursday, told journalists that the joint operation would continue to neutralise the separatist Arakan Army.

On Thursday, the BGB  detained 10 horses used to transport goods to the rebel group.

Source: The HIndu

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Tropical Storm Erika nears Antigua en route to Puerto Rico

The fast-moving storm dumps rain on the eastern Caribbean.

Tropical Storm Erika is pictured in the Atlantic Ocean northeast of Venezuela in this NASA handout satellite photo of Wednesday. A fast-moving Tropical Storm Erika neared Antigua and Barbuda early on Thursday, dumping rain on the eastern Caribbean on a path expected to take it by Puerto Rico later in the day.

A fast-moving Tropical Storm Erika neared Antigua and Barbuda early on Thursday, dumping rain on the eastern Caribbean on a path expected to take it by Puerto Rico later in the day.

Across the region, officials ordered schools, airports and even casinos to close and they prepared shelters ahead of the storm, which was not expected to strengthen over the next two days.

Late Wednesday night, Erika was located about 110 miles (175 kilometres) east-southeast of Antigua and was moving west at 16 mph (26 kph) with a maximum sustained speed of 45 mph (75 kph), according to the National Hurricane Centre in Miami.

Flash floods warning

Authorities in Antigua and Barbuda warned of flash floods given the extremely dry conditions caused by the worst drought to hit the Caribbean in recent years. Boats at Shell Beach Marina on Antigua’s north coast have been out of the water since Saturday, with people not taking chances as Erika approaches, said Caroline Davy, a marina employee.

She said many people were caught off-guard when Tropical Storm Gonzalo battered Antigua last October.

“Too many times we’ve seen things happen that were not predicted,” she said.

No business as usual

Authorities in the nearby Dutch Caribbean territory of St. Maarten said schools and government offices would close on Thursday. They also asked that casinos, restaurants and other businesses close by midnight on Wednesday. Officials warned they might temporarily suspend power and water service as the storm approaches.

The hurricane centre said Erika would move near Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Thursday.

All airports in the U.S. Virgin Islands would be closed to incoming flights until Friday, and government offices would close as well, said Gov. Kenneth Mapp.

“This is a fast-moving storm, and so we expect conditions to deteriorate rapidly,” he said.

Storm watch

Tropical storm warnings were issued for Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and the Leeward Islands. A tropical storm watch was in effect for the northern Dominican Republic, the Turks & Caicos Islands and south-eastern Bahamas.

The storm is expected to be near South Florida by Monday, according to James Franklin, chief hurricane forecaster at the Miami-based centre. But its intensity is still uncertain.

“We don’t know how much of the storm will be left,” he said, adding that it faced strong upper-level westerly winds in the next two to three days.

Ignacio now a hurricane

Meanwhile in the Pacific, Ignacio strengthened into a hurricane. The storm’s maximum sustained winds increased to 75 mph (120 kph).

Source: The Hindu

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WTO rules against India in solar dispute with US: report

The panel found India violated global trade rules by imposing local content requirements for solar cells and solar modules.

India has said it expects peak solar power demand to double over the next five years.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled against India in a dispute with the United States over its solar power program, an Indian newspaper reported on Wednesday.

It quoted an unnamed official from the Indian Commerce Ministry as saying the country planned to appeal the decision, made after the United States complained about domestic content requirements in a program aimed at easing chronic energy shortages in India.

India has said it expects peak power demand to double over the next five years from around 1,40,000 megawatts. To help meet that demand, India wants 1,00,000 MW of new capacity from solar panels, with at least 8,000 MW from locally made cells.

The newspaper said the WTO dispute settlement panel, in a confidential report to New Delhi and Washington, found India violated global trade rules by imposing local content requirements for solar cells and solar modules, and also struck down incentive policies such as subsidies provided for domestic solar companies to manufacture cells and solar modules.

The WTO circulates decisions on disputes to the parties before they are made public.

Source: The Hindu

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Australians call for crocodile culling to prevent fatalities

The local population have sought selective culling and large-scale removal of the dangerous reptiles to prevent human fatalities.

A saltwater crocodille basking in the sun in Kimberley in this file photo. With the population of crocodiles tripling in the last three decades in western Australia, the local population have sought selective culling and large-scale removal of these dangerous reptiles to prevent human fatalities. Residents in Kimberley region are seeking to review crocodile management as some locals favour culling of the reptiles.

With the population of crocodiles tripling in the last three decades in western Australia, the local population have sought selective culling and large-scale removal of the dangerous reptiles to prevent human fatalities.

The local population in Kimberley region are seeking to review crocodile management as some locals seeking culling of the reptiles.

Time for removal

Broome Deputy Shire President Harold Tracey said it was time for a large-scale removal of reptiles from waterways around Broome, Derby and Kununurra.

“I think it’s only a matter of time before we do have a fatality, purely from croc numbers and they’re getting a lot more bold,” he said.

“We’ve got to keep in mind we can’t keep putting human life at risk, or putting a crocodile’s life as more important than a human life,” Mr. Tracey said.

Needed: mature debate

Mr. Tracey said the highly divisive debate over shark culling in other parts of Australia showed why a mature, informed debate was needed.

Currently, the Department of Parks and Wildlife only traps and removes or shoots dead a crocodile if it is behaving aggressively in popular fishing or swimming areas.

Culling not for now

East Kimberley district manager Luke Bentley said there were no plans to change the policy.

“There are no plans at this stage for any crocodile cull,” he said.

“The reality of a cull is that even if you remove an animal from a certain location, there’s no guarantee another one would [not] come back into that location.

“Because they are so mobile, it’s a tough one, and you probably would [not] get the solution you are looking for,” he said.

Educating the public

Mr. Bentley said the department’s focus remained on educating the public about the crocodile risk, including signposts and brochures distributed to tour companies that escort tourists to the most high-risk coastal areas.

While, crocodile attacks are said to remain rare in West Australia’s north and there has not been a death recorded since 1987, according to a survey, the population of crocodiles have tripled in the last 30 years in major breeding rivers.

Source: The Hindu

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