In a sign of renewed momentum in bilateral ties, four Indian Navy ships will be docking inShanghainext week on a goodwill visit, a key step to building trust in the maritime domain asIndiaandChinaThursday decided to fastrack crucial dialogues on Central Asia, West Asia andAfrica.
A day after Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna met Chinese Vice Premier Li Xeqiang to take a big picture view of the bilateral relationship, he met his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and held wide-ranging talks on the sidelines of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in the Chinese capital.
Krishnaalso briefly met Chinese President Hu Jintao in the Great Hall of the People after the banquet hosted for the leaders of the SCO countries.
The two ministers discussed a swathe of bilateral issues, including the contours of the maritime dialogue and intensification of economic and trade ties.
The visit by Indian ships toChinasignals a keen desire on part of the two rising Asian powers to build greater trust in the maritime domain, which is widely seen as a potential source of friction amidChina’s assertiveness inSouth China Sea.
The meeting between the two ministers lasted for around an hour and was marked by warmth and mutual desire to take this crucial relationship to new heights, Indian officials said.
The meeting underscored strong political will on both sides to nurture and sustain this relationship despite occasional differences over some issues.
The differences betweenIndiaandChinaare minor and that will not disturb the entire relationship, Yang toldKrishna.
Chinawill push forward developmental aspirations ofIndiaand will handle sensitive issues very carefully keeping in mind the positive growth and economic relations between the two countries, said Yang.
Krishnaalso took up the issue of Indian traders embroiled in a dispute with locals in the eastern Chinese commodity hub of Yiwu.
The Chinese minister conveyed that while the case was sub-judice, he will try to see if the process can be fast-tracked.
HAL TO INVEST RS 600 CRORE IN NEW FIGHTER PLANE UNIT
BANGALORE: Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd will invest Rs 600 crore in its new fighter plane facility inBangalore.
The company signed an MoU with the State Government on Thursday during the Global Investors’ Meet. The facility will come up on 40 acres of HAL land at Challaghatta, next to the old airport, the defence enterprise said.
The unit will licence-produce the fourth-generation fighters – the MMRCA or medium multi-role combat aircraft – for the Air Force. The Government is negotiating with the French aviation major Dassault for the purchase of the MMRCA .
HAL is creating two new divisions, one for aircraft assembly and testing and the other for engine assembly and testing.
Chairman, Mr R.K.Tyagi, said, “The new unit requires access to the runway. It is a time-bound programme to establish the infrastructure, production facilities and supply of the aircraft.”
The new facility is expected to potentially employ 1,200 people directly and another 3,600 by way of related services and outsourcing.
INDIAN NAVY BEGINS SEA TRIALS OF RUSSIAN-BUILT AIRCRAFT CARRIER
The Indian Navy’s Russian-built aircraft carrier Vikramaditya (formerly Admiral Gorshkov) began sea trials early on Friday morning in theWhite Sea- four years after it was originally due to take to sea again. The ship was refitted at the Sevmash shipyard in northernRussia. It was originally scheduled to begin sea trials, which will last 120 days, on May 25.
Refitted at the Sevmash shipyard in northernRussia, the ship is carrying a mixed Russian-Indian crew is on board the vessel, with the Indian sailors learning how to operate the vessel.
The ship will sail to the Barents Sea for exercises with the military aircraft after sea trial in theWhite Seahave been concluded.
The purchase of the carried was signed in 2005 for an estimated $947 million but delivery has been delayed twice thus taking the refurbishing cost up to $2.3 billion.
India has already begun inducting MiG-29K naval fighter aircraft for the Russian-made carrier which has a displacement of 45,000 tons, a maximum speed of 32 knots and an endurance of 13,500 nautical miles (25,000 km) at a cruising speed of 18 knots.
The MiG-29K was reportedly selected over the larger and more-capable Su-33 naval fighter becauseIndiaalso hopes to operate them from its smaller, indigenous “Project-71 Air Defense Ship” carriers.
US PIVOT TOWARDS ASIA IS UNTENABLE
With US defence secretary Leon Panetta’s high-profile visit to Asia, the slowly building tensions between theUSandChinareached a new level this week. Panetta’s announcement that 60% of US naval assets would be deployed in Asia by 2020, his visit to Vietnam’s fabled Cam Ranh Bay and his meetings with India’s defence leadership were intended to signal to China the seriousness of America’s commitment to the region. For all its symbolism, though, the main impact of Panetta’s visit may simply be to annoyChina. The reality of theUSbudget crisis and dysfunctional politics inWashingtonis unlikely to reassure the region. Meanwhile, the ballyhooed return of theUSto Cam Ranh Bay may be less than meets the eye.
Ever since 2010 when China began flexing its muscle the US, through a number of diplomatic and symbolic military steps, has taken to signalling Beijing not to believe the talk of American decline. In July 2010, secretary of state Hillary Clinton showed up inHanoi,China’s historic rival, to tell Chinese and Asean diplomats that theUSwas back. This was followed by President Obama’s visit in November last year toAustralia, where 2,500 marines will soon be deployed to ensure Asian security.Clinton’s ice-breaker visit toBeijing’s long-time allyMyanmar, and theUS’s strategic consultations with its old ally thePhilippinesfollowing its spat withChina, were other signals. Panetta’s maiden visit toIndiato promoteNew Delhias playing “a decisive role in shaping the security and prosperity of the 21st century” too has an unmistakable subtext of counteringChina.
The overall message Panetta brought to Asia is that the so-called US “pivot toAsia” is not an empty promise. At the annual Shangri-La Dialogue — defence ministers’ meeting inSingapore— he announced the planned boost toUSnaval presence inAsiato 60% — including six carriers — of the entire fleet by 2020. He offered the usual boilerplate assurances that the increase had nothing to do withChina, but the Chinese were not buying it.Beijingkept its senior military officers away from the meeting and pooh-poohed the claim thatChinawas not the target ofAmerica’s military expansion.
WhileChinawas annoyed, those in Asia Panetta sought to offer protection wondered if theUSwould have the means to carry out its projects. Panetta reassured theSingaporeaudience that the Pentagon did have funds in the five-year budget plan to meet its targets. But the toxic political feud between the Republican and Democratic parties, which has brought theUSto the precipice of a financial disaster and caused the S&P downgrade, raises serious doubts. Under current law, the legislators’ failure to agree on deficit reduction would trigger automatic cuts of $600 billion in defence allocation for the next 10 years — this could happen by the beginning of 2013.
Moreover,Chinais not alone in its wariness about US plans to boost its presence inAsia. Other regional economies are too closely tied to China to risk Beijing’s wrath by taking sides in a big power conflict — even if only by providing access and services to the US navy. EvenVietnam, which wants to show off its growing warm relations with theUS, nevertheless, chooses to wink atChinaover its shoulder. To reassureChinathat it is not in bed with the Americans,Hanoistrenuously insists that its defence cooperation is in the civilian and humanitarian domain. Even though Cam Ranh Bay is known as a massive former American air-naval base,Vietnampoints out that only non-combatant US navy vessels are allowed to call at the civilian side of the port for servicing. Of course, after long insisting on protecting its sovereignty,Vietnamdid allow Soviet aircraft and ships to base in Cam Ranh Bay after the Chinese invasion of 1979.Vietnamcould similarly change its policy towards theUSnavy in the event of open hostilities withChina.
ButHanoiknows that the hugeUSbase did not prevent the Americans from losing the Vietnam war or, for that matter, the Soviet successors to the base did nothing to protectVietnamagainstChina. After the television light on Panetta’s symbolic visit fades the region will still have to deal with a powerfulChina, relying mainly on its own strength.
INDIAN ARMY DOCS TREAT PAK SOLDIERS IN CONGO
NEW DELHI: Indian Army doctors posted inCongoon a UN Mission are nowadays treating Pakistani soldiers who have been injured in a clash while on UN peacekeeping deployment in the same country.
The Pakistani soldiers are also on a UN Mission, but are deployed elsewhere inCongo. Sources said the Indian Army unit at Goma treated injuries to eight soldiers, including one officer, of the neighbouring country.
They were injured in a gunfight with Congolese rebels in theSouth Kivuprovince. Indian troops are deployed inNorth Kivuprovince.
As many as 11 Pakistani soldiers sustained injuries, including a few serious ones, in the armed clash.
Due to a lack of adequate UN medical facilities inSouth Kivu, the injured were immediately airlifted to the Indian hospital at Goma.
Two of them needed life-saving surgeries which have been performed. The duo has been moved to a hospital inPretoria,South Africa. Four others have been discharged while remaining two are recuperating at the Indian hospital. Sector Commander ofPakistanvisited the hospital. He met Indian Brigade Commander Harinder Singh, and thanked him. Lt Gen Chander Prakash, Force Commander of theMission, also called on the injured.
COURT SUMMONS VK SINGH IN DEFAMATION CASE
NEW DELHI: Just-retired General VK Singh, who created history by becoming the first serving Army Chief to drag the government to court over his age issue, today was summoned as an ‘accused’ in a criminal defamation case filed by Lt Gen Tejinder Singh (retd).
Four other officials, including the serving Vice Chief of the Army, have also been summoned by Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja who said all five have been “summoned as accused in the present matter”. The court directed them to appear before it on July 20. This is perhaps the first case of its kind when the court has summoned such top-ranking officials. The summons have been issued to SK Singh,Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen BS Thakur, DG Military Intelligence, Maj Gen SL Narshiman, additional Director General of Public Information and Lt Col Hitten Sawhney.
Tejinder Singh has accused them of misusing their official positions, power and authority to level false charges against him through a press release on March 5.
Tejinder Singh , a former Director General of the Defence Intelligence Agency, had been accused of offering bribe of Rs 14 crore to General VK Singh for clearing a deal for 600 trucks, a charge strongly refuted by the former. The CBI is probing the matter separately.
The court clarified that the summons are only for the alleged offence of defamation. “The accused are not being summoned qua the allegation of hatching a criminal conspiracy against the complainant,” it said.
The officials have been summoned under Section 499 (defamation) read with Section 35 (act done with criminal knowledge or intention) of the IPC, the magistrate said.
Tejinder Singh had filed the complaint alleging that he was defamed by the Army through its press release issued on March 5. The press release blamed Tejinder Singh and some disgruntled serving officers of the Military Intelligence for planting story in the media relating to purported tapping of some sensitive phones in the Capital.
VERMA, WIFE IN CBI NET FOR TWEAKING DEFENCE DEALS
NEW DELHI: The CBI on Friday arrested controversial businessman Abhishek Verma and his wife Anca Neacsu for allegedly seeking to manipulateIndia’s defence orders to suit his clients.
The arrests came a day after the agency filed a case of corruption against him and a Swiss defence company and raided numerous premises in the national capital region.
Claiming to have evidence of Verma receiving more than half a million dollars from the European defence firm and acting on allegations that he may have parked a few hundred million dollars in an escrow account in the United States, the agency is widening its probe against Verma, who is being prosecuted for allegedly leaking defence secrets in what is known as the navy war room leak case.
CBI suspects that the bulk of the money in Verma’sUSescrow account may be kickbacks that he allegedly received from various foreign companies for manipulating Indian government deals.
Sources said the investigations could spread to cover more defence firms that may have links to Verma.
The defence deal drama involving controversial businessman Abhishek Verma and his wife Anca Neacsu is set to get murkier as at least three more firms figure in details provided by Verma’s estrangedUSattorney , C Edmonds Allen to the CBI. The attorney, after their fallout, wrote to Indian authorities providing details about an escrow account in theUSand money received in it from various companies for fixing deals.
CBI sources said they have been able to verify the evidence of a payment of $530,000 from Rheinmetall Air Defence (RAD),Zurich, to Verma’s company in theUS.
CBI sources said that Verma was until Friday evasive in explaining about the money deposited by Rheinmetall in the account of Ganton Limited, a Verma company, according to Allen. Verma has denied the charges. In written comments to TOI, Verma had said in May, “Please ask C Edmonds Allen about … who is the president and owner of Ganton Group. I have nothing to do with GantonIndianor other group companies of Ganton.”
Sources said Verma reached the CBI headquarters in the morning, accompanied by Neacsu, and they were questioned for the entire day. Later in the evening, the agency placed both of them under arrest.
According to CBI sources, $530,000 was deposited by the Swiss company on February 17, 2011, in theUSescrow account of Ganton. This was after the ministry of defence had initiated the process to blacklist six defence firms, including RAD, after CBI reported in 2010 about evidence of them bribing Sudipto Ghosh, an ex-chairman of ordnance factory board. The payment to Verma was to get RAD removed from the blacklisting .
In its case filed on Thursday , the CBI has named Verma , RAD and other unknown persons under section eight and 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. After registering the case, 10 CBI teams, who were later joined by the criminal investigation unit of Income Tax, swooped down at 10 locations in Delhi and Gurgaon which included four premises of Verma, offices of RAD in Vasant Vihar and Satya Niketan and farmhouse of its director Mohinder Singh Sahni in Kishangarh and three associates of Verma, they said. Sahni also figures in the ‘undesirable contact men’ list circulated by the CBI to senior government officials recently.
Police said the other foreigners aboard were a Dutchman, a Czech and a Swede.
7 RASHTRIYA RIFLES (PUNJAB) BUSTS HIDEOUT
In a major incident during early hours of 02 Jun 2012, Delta Coy of 7 Rashtriya Rifles (PUNJAB), busted a hideout in general area Point-3137 (MT-8023) approx 20 km North East of Srinagar.
A cache of arms and ammunition was recovered, which included two AK-56 Assault Rifles, four grenades, four AK-56 magazine, two Radio Set (ALINCO DJ-195E & ICOM) and large scale of AK-56 ammunition.
7 Rashtriya Rifles (PUNJAB) has been instrumental in sanitizing the area and limiting militant movement in the Area of Responsibility. As also the unit has played a pivotal role in appeasing the local population, who have played a major role in generating intelligence in a number of operations carried out by the unit in the recent past.
The incident has limited the capacity of militants to carry out any action in the valley and thwarted their maligned intentions to disrupt the peace and tranquility prevailing in valley.