Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Democracy, respect for fundamental freedoms best paths for stability in Hong Kong: Pompeo

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo

Washington D.C. [US], September 8 (ANI): Taking a dig at Beijing over its authoritarian policies in Hong Kong, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said democracy, respect for fundamental freedoms, and government accountability to the people are the best paths to stability in the erstwhile British colony.

"Democracy, respect for fundamental freedoms, and government accountability to the people are the best paths to stability in Hong Kong - not draconian efforts to limit free expression, delay elections, and restrict travel," Pompeo tweeted.

Beijing imposed the National Security Law in Hong Kong in June targeting acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, with punishments of up to life in prison for the most serious offenses.

The move came after months of social upheaval triggered by opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill but that morphed into wider demands, including universal suffrage.

The legislation, which came into effect on July 1, punishes what Beijing terms secession, subversion, terrorism, and foreign interference with punishment ranging up to a life-term in prison.

At least 289 were arrested for allegedly violating the national security law in Hong Kong as protestors took to the streets protesting the draconian law imposed by mainland China in June.

As per the South China Morning Post, the people gathered following online calls by anonymous activists who aimed to draw 50,000 people on the streets. The police fired pepper-balls at the anti-government protestors. (ANI)

EAM Jaishankar lands in Moscow, to attend SCO Foreign Minister's meet

EAM S Jaishankar landed in Moscow, was received by Ambassador and senior officers from Russian Foreign Ministry (Picture tweeted by Indian Embassy)

Moscow [Russia], September 8 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday landed in Moscow for Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers' meet.

Upon his arrival, the EAM was received by Ambassador and senior officers from Russian Foreign Ministry.

"EAM Shri @DrSJaishankar landed in Moscow ; received by Ambassador and senior officers from Russian Foreign Ministry," Indian Embassy in Russia said in a tweet.

EAM met his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran, enroute to Moscow, to discuss strengthening of bilateral cooperation.

During the meeting both Ministers also reviewed regional developments. Taking to Twitter, Jaishankar said, "A productive meeting with FM @JZarif during a stopover in Tehran. 

Discussed strengthening our bilateral cooperation and reviewed regional developments. Thank him for his gracious hospitality."

Earlier on Friday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh attended the joint meeting of the Defence Ministers of CIS, the SCO and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Moscow. (ANI)

COVID-19 recovery rate in Nepal increases

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Kathmandu [Nepal], September 8 (ANI): Recovery rate of COVID-19 patients has increased significantly in past 7 days, Ministry of Health and Population of Nepal claimed on Tuesday.

In last 24 hours, a total of 2,287 corona virus infected patients were discharged from various hospital and isolation centers around the nation, Health Ministry announced in its regular press briefing.

"The number of people getting discharged is on rising trend. A total of 2,287 have been discharged in last 24 hours while the number of new infection stands at 902 in the same period. Recovery rate now stands at 68.5 per cent and it is rising on daily basis. This shows that we are heading to improving situation," Dr. Jageshwor Gautam, Spokesperson at Ministry of Health and Population said on Tuesday's daily briefing.

Recovery rate of Himalayan Nation had continued to slide to less than 55 percent by the end of August but it has increased significantly from the starting of this month.

On Tuesday alone, a total of 2287 people were discharged whereas on Monday number stood 1814, Sunday-1566, Saturday- 1354, Friday-917, Thursday-1112 and Wednesday 768.

A total of 32964 people have successfully recovered from the virus till 8th of September while the number of active cases also stands at 14 Thousand 4 Hundred and 68. Nepal has recorded a total of 48138 which also includes 306 fatalities out of which 6 occurred in last 24 hours, according to the ministry.

In a sign of recovery, a total of 6 districts of the Himalayan Nation host zero number of active cases as of September 8 along with the number of district hosting more than 500 active cases of COVID-19 has also slashed.

Taplejung, Manang, Mustang, Dolpa, Mugu and Humla host zero cases of COVID-19 while Morang, Sunsari, Dhanusha, Sarlahi, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Chitwan and Rupandehi hosts active cases exceeding 500 in number.

Despite the improvements seen over the week, the Ministry also has warned people not to flaunt the safety protocols and exercise high caution. Though the number of recovery and cases from around the nation has continued to decline, capital Kathmandu still is witnessing surge in cases.

On Tuesday, Kathmandu recorded 300 new COVID-19 cases while Bhaktapur recorded 58 and Lalitpur recorded 38 new cases. (ANI)

INS Nireekshak in Mauritius to search sunken tug Sir Gaetan Duval

INS Nireekshak joined in search and salvage of the Mauritius Port Authority Tug Sir Gaetan Duval (ANI)

Port Louis [Mauritius], September 8 (ANI): INS Nireekshak joined the National Coast Guard, Mauritius in search and salvage of the Mauritius Port Authority (MPA) Tug Sir Gaetan Duval.

According to a release, the diving team confirmed the location of the wreck on September 3 undertaking underwater filming which was shared with Mauritius authorities.

"The tug was towing a barge to convey equipment being used for pollution control from the MV Wakashio oil spill, before rough weather caused a collision of the tug with the barge causing it to sink," it said. As per the release, the request for diving assistance was received by the High Commission of India at Mauritius following which INS Nireekshak, which was conducting EEZ surveillance based on request from Government of Mauritius, was diverted back.

"The ship's specialised diving team conjoined rescue efforts with the National Coast Guard. So far, no oil spill has been observed from the sunken tug and salvage operations are underway," it said.

The diving operations were carried out on September 3 and 4 and location of the sunken tug Sir Gaetan Duval identified utilising High Definition underwater camera in 18 meter depth.

"In addition to the assessment of damage incurred by the sunken tug, underwater videography and photography was also carried out by the specialist divers and handed over to the Mauritius authorities to facilitate further investigation," the release informed.

It stated that on September 7, the ship deployed four cement blocks of 1.2 tonnes each around the site of sunken tug to be used by the Mauritian Pollution Response Team to fix booms at the scene of action towards containing fuel in the event of an oil spill. "This involved conduct of diving operations in rough weather conditions including night diving." (ANI)

Indian, Chinese friends would find a mutually acceptable solution through dialogue: Russian Deputy Chief

Roman Babushkin, Russian Deputy Chief of Mission in Delhi. (Photo: ANI)


New Delhi [India], September 8 (ANI): Roman Babushkin, Russian Deputy Chief of Mission in Delhi on Tuesday said that Russia has "no doubt that Indian and Chinese friends would find a mutually acceptable solution through dialogue."

"We're very encouraged to know that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met his Chinese counterpart, as well as Dr Jaishankar would also meet his Chinese counterpart on sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) event," said Roman Babushkin.

"We would be very happy to see positive results of these discussions," he said.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday met his Russian counterpart General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow wherein the duo discussed about strengthening defence and strategic cooperation between both the two countries.

"Excellent meeting with the Russian Defence Minister General Sergey Shoigu in Moscow today. We talked about a wide range of issues, particularly how to deepen defence and strategic cooperation between both the countries," said Rajnath Singh in a tweet.

Speaking about the ongoing border tension between India and China, Babushkin said Russia enjoys special and independent relations between India and China. "We have no doubt that Indian and Chinese friends would find a mutually acceptable solution through dialogue," he said. (ANI)

Chinese soldiers armed with stick-matchates deployed along LAC

Chinese soldiers armed with stick machetes during their deployment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh sector (Photo: ANI)

Leh (Ladakh) [India], September 8 (ANI): Chinese soldiers are armed with stick-machetes during their deployment along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh sector amid the ongoing border tension between India and China.

According to Army sources on the pictures which have emerged. Chinese soldiers can be seen with stick machetes even with their rifles slung on their back.

As the Chinese Army is armed with stock machetes, Indian Army soldiers are not allowing them to come close otherwise there may be another violent face off like what happened in Galwan valley, said Army sources.


The Chinese troops had used nail studded iron rods during the Galwan clash in the month of June which claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers including Colonel Santosh Babu, the Commanding Officer of 16 Bihar.

An unspecified number of Chinese soldiers were also killed, though China did not reveal its casualties in the clash.

India recently outflanked China by taking control of strategic height near Pangong lake's southern bank. It thwarted an attempt by the Chinese army to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh.

india and China have been engaged in a stadoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including the Finger area, Galwan Valley, Hot springs, and Kongrung Nala. (ANI)

ICG continues efforts to reduce fire onboard oil tanker MT New Diamond

Indian Coast Guard helping Sri Lankan to douse the fire onboard oil tanker MT New Diamond. (Photo credit: ICG twitter)

New Delhi [India], September 8 (ANI): Indian Coast Guard has continued with its persistent efforts to reduce the fire onboard oil tanker MT New Diamond.

"Persistent FireFighting efforts by @IndiaCoastGuard, Srilanka ships, Tugs & ETV Ocean Bliss reduced fire considerably onboard #MTNewDiamond. #ICG handed over 2200 Kgs Dry Chemical Powder to Srilankan authorities at Trincomalee AM 08 Sep to augment aerial #FireFighting efforts," ICH tweeted.

On Monday, a Dornier aircraft was launched from Chennai to Trincomalee on the northeast coast of Sri Lanka with 700 kilograms of dry chemical powder (DCP) for fire-fighting" operation onboard oil tanker MT New Diamond.

"Indian Coast Guard invoking SACEP and MoU provisions, ICG ship Abheek entering Trincomalee harbour this morning to hand over 1500 kg of DCP to SL authorities for Fire Fighting MT New Diamond. Dornier aircraft being launched Chennai to Trincomalee with 700 kg DCP," the ICG tweeted.

The Indian Navy on Monday said re-ignition of the fire was observed on the starboard side of the oil tanker MT New Diamond.

"Re-ignition of fire observed on Starboard (Right) side of MT New Diamond. Fire-fighting and boundary cooling efforts intensified to bring fire under control. Salvage Team has arrived at scene. Additional assets, salvage personnel & FF equipment also enroute," Indian Navy said in a tweet.

The fire onboard oil tanker MT New Diamond off Sri Lanka coast has been doused, said the Indian Coast Guard on Sunday, adding that cooling of the ship is in progress.

The ICG had been engaged in fire-fighting" and pollution response operation for MT New Diamond since September 3.

Motor Tanker (MT) New Diamond caught fire after a major explosion in its engine room on September 3 when it was transiting in Sri Lankan exclusive economic zone.

The large 333-metre long crude carrier is carrying over three lakh metric tons of crude oil for the Indian Oil Corporation from Kuwait to Paradip. (ANI)

India-Angola hold first joint commission meeting, reaffirm commitment to strengthen bilateral ties

The meeting was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Angola counterpart Tete Antonio

New Delhi [India], September 8 (ANI): The Indian side offered to share its expertise to support the Angolan Government's economic diversification plans through capacity building, infrastructure development in key areas, a joint press communique after India-Angola first joint Commission meeting said on Tuesday.

The Angola-India Joint Commission held its first session on September 7 through video-conferencing.

The session was co-chaired by the External Affairs Minister of India, Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and the Minister of External Relations of the Republic of Angola, Ambassador Tete Antonio.

"The two Ministers satisfactorily acknowledged the excellent bilateral cooperation between the two countries and reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen bilateral ties based on the principles and values of democracy," the joint press communique said.

It said the two Ministers reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations in the areas of political, economic, trade and investment, defence and security and development cooperation. "They also exchanged views on regional and global developments of mutual interest, including counter-terrorism and security."

Stressing that the two sides noted that bilateral exchanges had acquired a renewed push, following the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joao Lourenco at Johannesburg in July 2018 on the sidelines of the BRICS summit, it said the meeting set the way forward for intensification of bilateral economic relations.

"The Indian side offered to share India's expertise to support the Angolan Government's economic diversification plans through capacity building, infrastructure development in key areas of health, education, solar electrification, mining, agriculture, fisheries, food processing etc, while also leveraging Angola's strengths in the petroleum and diamonds sector," the joint communique said.

The Joint Commission noted that Angola-India development partnership could be further strengthened through lines of credit and buyer's credit arrangements to enhance capacity of Angolan entities in areas like agriculture, defence, energy, industry, and sustainable water projects, health and pharmacy etc, said the joint communique.

As per the communique, both sides expressed satisfaction at the tangible outcome of the 1st Joint Commission in the form of signing of the following documents -- Agreement on visa exemption for holders of diplomatic, official and service passports; MoU for cooperation in the field of Health ; and MoU for cooperation between Ministry of External Relations of Angola and Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service.

"The Angolan Minister of External Relations congratulated his Indian counterpart on India's election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the term 2021-22. On his turn, the Indian Minister of External Affairs thanked the Angolan Minister for continuing support of Angola to India at the UN and other multilateral bodies and appreciated the positive leadership provided by Angola in facilitating the resolution of disputes and conflicts in Africa through dialogue and negotiation," it said.

"Both the Governments shared the view that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is a global scourge and resolved to combat it through coordinated regional and global efforts, including at the UN," it added.

As per the communique, it was agreed that the 2nd session of the Angola-India Joint Commission would be held in New Delhi in 2022 on a mutually convenient date. (ANI)

Poor quality environments contribute to 13 per cent of deaths in Europe: Environment Agency

European Environment Agency logo

Brussels [Belgium], September 8 (ANI/Sputnik): Poor environmental conditions in European countries contribute to as much as one in eight deaths, a report on the environmental risks to health released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) released on Tuesday said.

"Air and noise pollution, the impacts of climate change such as heatwaves, and exposure to dangerous chemicals cause ill health in Europe. Poor quality environments contribute to 13 per cent (one in every eight) of deaths according to a major assessment on health and environment," the EEA report's press release read.

Much of the burden of disease in Europe continues to be attributed to environmental pollution arising from human activity, the release went on.

"There is a clear link between the state of the environment and the health of our population. Everyone must understand that by taking care of our planet we are not only saving ecosystems but also lives, especially the ones who are the most vulnerable," Virginijus Sinkevicius, the commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said, as cited in the press release.

The EEA report also found a major disparity between Eastern and Western Europe, with the highest share of deaths related to the poor environment recorded in Bosnia and Herzegovina -- 27 percent, and the lowest in Norway and Iceland -- 9 percent.

"Within the EU, the European Green Deal represents a critical direction-setting change in the European policy agenda and sets out a sustainable and inclusive strategy to improve people's health and quality of life, care for nature, and leave no one behind," the statement read.

Europe's "green deal" implies radical reforms in the economy, energy and transport, with the aim of becoming as green and carbon neutral as possible. It will cost the European Union, according to preliminary estimates, about three trillion euros (about $3.5 trillion). Brussels promises to cover only a third of these costs, while the rest, according to the plan, will be provided by the European Investment Bank and the EU countries themselves. (ANI/Sputnik)

Second batch of Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine for civil circulation being produced: Gamaleya

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Moscow [Russia], September 8 (ANI/Sputnik): The second batch of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 for civil circulation is already being produced by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, and the Federal Service for Surveillance in Healthcare (Rosdravnadzor) will maintain control over the treatment, the head of the institute told Sputnik on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the Russian Health Ministry said that the first batch of the vaccine was released into civil circulation.

"The second batch is already being produced, it is going through Rosdravnadzor's control. Rosdravnadzor controls every batch," Alexander Gintsburg said.

In August, Russia became the first country in the world to register a vaccine against COVID-19. (ANI/Sputnik)

Facilitating return of 363 NORI visa holders, 37 Indians from Pakistan, says Indian High Commission

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Islamabad [Pakistan], September 8 (ANI): Indian High Commission in Pakistan on Monday said it is facilitating the return of 363 NORI (No Objection to Return to India) visa holders and 37 Indians from Pakistan on September 15.

"The High Commission of India in Pakistan is facilitating the return of 363 NORI visa holders and 37 Indians from Pakistan to India on September 15, 2020. The repatriation will be carried out as per the attached list," India in Pakistan tweeted. (ANI)

Chinese authorities questioned two Australian journalists in accordance with law, says Foreign Ministry

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Beijing [China], September 8 (ANI): China on Tuesday said that questioning of two Australian journalists, who have now returned to Australia, was in accordance with the law.

"While investigating a case, Chinese authorities investigated and questioned @billbirtles and @MikeSmithAFR in accordance with the law, which is a normal law enforcement procedure," Chinese Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying by state-run Global Times.

Chinese Foreign Ministry said China "welcomes" foreign reporters. If foreign journalists conduct their work in keeping to the country's relevant laws and regulations, there is no need for them to worry, said Chinese Foreign Ministry, according to Global Times.

Two Australian journalists working in China for their country's media outlets were "forced out" and have returned to Sydney following a diplomatic standoff.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Bill Birtles, correspondent of the ABC in Beijing, and Michael Smith, the Australian Financial Review's Shanghai-based correspondent returned to Sydney on Monday after living for five days "under protection" in the Canberra's diplomatic missions in the country

According to the report, the two journalists had to leave after a "diplomatic stand-off in which police demanded an interview with both reporters."

The duo were forced to seek the protection of Australia's diplomatic mission after the Chinese security officers visited them on Wednesday last week and told them that they were "persons of interest in a national security case."

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne put out a statement today saying that the Australian Government has provided consular support to two Australian journalists in China to assist their return to Australia and engaged with Chinese Government authorities to ensure their wellbeing and return to Australia.

It further said that Australia's current travel advice for China warning Australians that they could be at increased risk of arbitrary detention and which was updated on July 7, remains appropriate and unchanged. "We encourage all Australians who are overseas, or are seeking to travel, to closely monitor Smartraveller," it said.

The Foreign Minister further said that Canberra continues to provide consular support to Australian citizens detained in China, including Cheng Lei.

"We are unable to provide further comment owing to privacy obligations," she said.

Last month, Australian television anchor Cheng Lei working with CGTN, China's state-run news channel, was detained "in a highly sensitive case."

A statement by Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed Cheng Lei was being held by authorities in the Chinese capital and Australian diplomats were permitted to speak to her last week via video conference, reported ABC.

The statement informed that formal notification was received on August 14 from Chinese authorities regarding Lei's detention.

Relations between China and Australia have deteriorated the in recent times over a series of issues including trade issues.

Cheng is the second Australian, after writer and former Chinese Government employee Yang Hengjun, to be detained in Beijing.

Yang, who is under an espionage investigation was taken by authorities in January 2019. (ANI)

Jaishankar expresses condolence for victims of Baitus Saldam

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar

Dhaka [Bangladesh], September 8 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has expressed condolence to victims of the gas explosion in the Baitus Saldam mosque in Bangladesh, which claimed at least 24 lives.

"External Affairs Minister of India Dr S Jaishankar wrote to Hon'ble Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dr AKA Momen conveying his heartfelt sympathy and deepest condolences to victims of the unfortunate accident at the Baitus Saldam Mosque in Narayanganj on Friday, 4 Sep 2020," India in Bangladesh tweeted.

According to Al Jazeera, the fire service officials suspect that the explosion on September 4 was caused by leakage from the pipeline in the mosque.

While at least 24 people were killed, dozens of injured worshipers are still receiving medical treatment.

The explosion occurred on Friday evening when people had gathered in the mosque for the evening prayer. (ANI)

Comments attributed to NSA Ajit Doval in Chinese state media are false: MEA

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New Delhi [India], September 8 (ANI): India on Tuesday refuted reports published in Chinese media that Indian troops "illegally crossed" the Line of Actual Control (LAC) near Pangong Tso and said the comments attributed to National Security Advisor Ajit Doval are "false".
According to an official statement by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), "We have seen reports in Chinese state media, including in China Daily and Huanqiu Shibao (Global Times), which had attributed some comments to NSA Shri Ajit Doval. These reports are completely false and are not based on facts. We urge the media to refrain from such speculative reporting."
On Monday, the Chinese government-owned Global Times had claimed that Indian troops "illegally crossed" the Line of Actual Control (LAC) near Pangong Tso on Monday and accordingly Chinese troops were forced to take "countermeasures" to stabilise the situation.
"Indian troops crossed the LAC at the west section of the China-India border, into the Shenpao mountain region near the south bank of Pangong Tso Lake," the Global Times reported quoting senior Colonel Zhang Shuili, a spokesperson of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) western command theatre.
Responding to such claims the Indian Army issued a statement saying that the Chinese soldiers fired in the air while attempting to close in on Indian positions across the LAC in Eastern Ladakh on Monday night.
The firing is apparently taking place on the LAC after a halt of almost four decades.
In a detailed statement the Army said on Tuesday that the Chinese troops yesterday were "attempting to close-in with one of our forward positions along the LAC and when dissuaded by own troops, PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate."
"It is the PLA that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres, while engagement at military, diplomatic and political level is in progress," the Indian Army said.
"Indian Army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity, however, it is also determined to protect national integrity and sovereignty at all costs," it further said and refuted the statement by the Western Theatre Command (one of the five commands of China's PLA) as an "attempt to mislead their domestic and international audience." (ANI)

Jaishankar meets his Iranian counterpart enroute Moscow for SCO Foreign Ministers' meet

EAM S Jaishankar holding meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday. (Photo credit: S Jaishankar Twitter)

Tehran [Iran], September 8 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday met his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif to discuss strengthening of bilateral cooperation.

During the meeting both Ministers also reviewed regional developments.

Taking to Twitter, Jaishankar said, "A productive meeting with FM @JZarif
during a stopover in Tehran. Discussed strengthening our bilateral cooperation and reviewed regional developments. Thank him for his gracious hospitality."

Jaishankar's Tehran visit is taking place following the unprecedented arrival of the Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh to Tehran on September 6 when he held meetings with his Iranian counterpart Brigadier Amir Hatami, IRNA reported.

Later in the day, Jaishankar will be reaching Moscow for Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers' meet that will be held on September 9-10. (ANI)

Indian, Chinese Army continue to communicate even as troops remain in face-off position near Rezang La heights

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New Delhi [India], September 8 (ANI): Armies of India and China continue to communicate with each other even as Chinese troops are in a face off position with Indian troops near the Rezang La heights, Indian Army sources said.

Chinese soldiers fired in the air while attempting to close in on Indian positions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh on Monday night, the Indian Army said today adding that Chinese PLA troops has been "blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres."

In a detailed statement the Army said on Tuesday that the Chinese troops yesterday were "attempting to close-in with one of our forward positions along the LAC and when dissuaded by own troops, PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate."
"It is the PLA that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive maneuvers, while engagement at military, diplomatic and political level is in progress," the Indian Army said.

The Army's statement came after China claimed that Indian troops "illegally crossed" the LAC near Pangong Tso on Monday and accordingly Chinese troops were forced to take "countermeasures" to stabilise the situation.

It added that despite this provocation, the Indian troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a responsible manner.

"Indian Army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquility, however, it is also determined to protect national integrity and sovereignty at all costs," it further said and refuted the statement by the Western Theatre Command (one of the five commands of China's PLA) as an "attempt to mislead their domestic and international audience."

Earlier, sources told ANI that an incident of firing had taken place on the LAC in the Eastern Ladakh sector where troops of India and China have been engaged in a stand-off for over three months.

India recently outflanked China by taking control of strategic height near Pangong lake's southern bank. It thwarted an attempt by the Chinese army to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh.

India and China have been engaged in a standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including the Finger area, Galwan Valley, Hot springs, and Kongrung Nala.

The situation worsened after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan valley in June. (ANI)

Council of Foreign Ministers meeting will review preparations for uncoming SCO Summit: MEA

External Affairs Ministers S Jaishankar

New Delhi [India], September 8 (ANI): The meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to be held between September 9-10 will be reviewing the preparations for the forthcoming SCO Summit and also exchange views on international and regional issues.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will be attending the meeting of the CFM of SCO in Moscow on September 9-10.

According to an official statement by the Ministry of External Affairs, this will be the third CFM meeting that India will be attending as a full member of the SCO.

"The CFM meeting in Moscow will review the preparations for the forthcoming SCO Summit and also exchange views on international and regional issues," read the statement.

The MEA further said Jaishankar's visit to Moscow will include his participation in other bilateral meetings as well.

Earlier, two meetings were held in Beijing on April 23-24 in 2018 and Bishkek in Kyrgyz Republic on May 21-22 in 2019.

"India has been active in various SCO dialogue mechanisms under the Chairmanship of the Russian Federation in this year. The SCO Summit will be held in the near future," the MEA added. (ANI)

Indian troops fired 'warning shots' at China's border patrolling troops, claims China

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian (Photo/ANI)

Beijing [China], September 8 (ANI): China Foreign Ministry on Tuesday claimed that Indian troops blatantly fired "warning shots" at its border patrolling troops who were there for consultation, following which the Chinese troops were compelled to take measures to stabilise the situation.

The Indian Army however denied the claim and put out a statement today stating that "at no stage has the Indian Army transgressed across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) or resorted to use of any aggressive means, including firing." It also said that Chinese PLA troops had fired in air while attempting to close in on Indian positions across LAC in Eastern Ladakh on Monday night and that the Indian soldiers had exercised great restraint.

At a press conference here Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: "On September 7, Indian troops illegally crossed LAC and entered the south bank of Pangong Tso. Indian troops blatantly fired warning shots at our border patrolling troops who were there for consultation. Our troops were compelled to take measures to stabilise the situation."

"India's behaviour violated agreements...It's a serious military provocation. We've made representations through diplomatic and military channels asking them to immediately stop dangerous moves, withdraw people who crossed the line and discipline frontline troops," he added.

The Indian Army, however said that the Chinese PLA troops have been "blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres."

In a detailed statement the Army said on Tuesday that the Chinese troops yesterday were "attempting to close-in with one of our forward positions along the LAC and when dissuaded by own troops, PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate."

"It is the PLA that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive maneuvers, while engagement at military, diplomatic and political level is in progress," the Indian Army said.

"Indian Army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquility, however, it is also determined to protect national integrity and sovereignty at all costs," it further said and refuted the statement by the Western Theatre Command (one of the five commands of China's PLA) as an "attempt to mislead their domestic and international audience."

Earlier, sources told ANI that an incident of firing had taken place on the LAC in the Eastern Ladakh sector where troops of India and China have been engaged in a stand-off for over three months.

India recently outflanked China by taking control of strategic height near Pangong lake's southern bank. It thwarted an attempt by the Chinese army to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh.

India and China have been engaged in a standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including the Finger area, Galwan Valley, Hot springs, and Kongrung Nala. The situation worsened after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan valley in June. (ANI)

Russia records 5,099 COVID-19 cases in past 24 hours

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Moscow [Russia], September 8 (ANI/Sputnik): Russia has registered 5,099 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours (5,185 yesterday), which brings the cumulative total to 1,035,789, the country's coronavirus response centre said on Tuesday.

"Over the past 24 hours, Russia has confirmed 5,099 COVID-19 cases in 83 regions, of which 1,184 (23.2 per cent) have been detected actively, with people showing no clinical symptoms," the response centre said in a statement, adding that the total count has reached 1,035,789.

Moscow recorded 695 cases, St. Petersburg registered 210 cases, and the Rostov region confirmed 147 new cases. No new cases were recorded in the Chukotka Autonomous Region and the Nenets Autonomous Region.

In the past 24 hours, Russia recorded 122 COVID-19 fatalities, bringing the death toll to 17,993, and 6,772 recoveries, taking the total to 850,049.

According to the public health watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, over 38.9 million tests to detect COVID-19 have been conducted in Russia since the beginning of the pandemic, and 205,000 suspected carriers remain under medical monitoring. (ANI/Sputnik)

Thailand: Once China's friend now stalls defence deal, cancels massive infra project

Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Bangkok [Thailand], September 8 (ANI): Thailand, which once was the strongest ally of China in the South China Sea region, had decided to not only postpone the procurement of two submarines from China but has also put on hold the Chinese proposal for building a canal in the Bay of Bengal and replaced it with its own project.

According to EurAsian Times, under a 2015 deal, Thailand was one of the first countries to buy Chinese naval hardware and finalised its purchase of three submarines in 2017, with the first one expected to be delivered in 2023.

Following a public outrage on the USD 724 million purchase of two submarines from China amid the country's declining economic situation, Thailand decided to not only postpone the procurement of two submarines from China but has also put on hold the Chinese proposal for building a canal in the Bay of Bengal and replaced it with its own project.

"The navy will negotiate with China to delay for another year," Anucha Burapachaisri, a government spokesperson, was quoted as saying.

"The Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has given priority to the concern of the public who are worried about the economy," he added.

Thailand has also taken a step back from the Kra Canal proposal, thus, dampening Beijing's hopes for a strategic alternative to the Strait of Malacca.

The Kra Canal proposal was to construct a 120-kilometre mega canal cutting through the isthmus of Kra in Thailand.

Citing a report in the Foreign Policy, EurAsian Times reported, "The real concern is that it [Thai Canal] would further undermine the independence of poor southeast Asian countries like Myanmar and Cambodia, which have comparatively weak civil societies that are highly vulnerable to Chinese interference. And it absolutely imperils Thailand."

Thailand's step to replace this proposal with its own project will be a relief for all.

With Thailand is going against the interests of China, the latter is now left with almost no allies in the South China Sea region. (ANI)

Chinese PLA troops fired in air, our troops exercised great restraint, says Indian Army

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New Delhi [India], September 8 (ANI): Chinese soldiers fired in the air while attempting to close in on Indian positions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh on Monday night, the Indian Army said today adding that Chinese PLA troops has been "blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive manoeuvres."

The firing is apparently taking place on the LAC after a halt of almost four decades.

In a detailed statement the Army said on Tuesday that the Chinese troops yesterday were "attempting to close-in with one of our forward positions along the LAC and when dissuaded by own troops, PLA troops fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate."

"It is the PLA that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive maneuvers, while engagement at military, diplomatic and political level is in progress," the Indian Army said.

The Army's statement came after China claimed that Indian troops "illegally crossed" the LAC near Pangong Tso on Monday and accordingly Chinese troops were forced to take "countermeasures" to stabilise the situation.

It added that despite this provocation, the Indian troops exercised great restraint and behaved in a responsible manner.

"Indian Army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquility, however, it is also determined to protect national integrity and sovereignty at all costs," it further said and refuted the statement by the Western Theatre Command (one of the five commands of China's PLA) as an "attempt to mislead their domestic and international audience."

Earlier, sources told ANI that an incident of firing had taken place on the LAC in the Eastern Ladakh sector where troops of India and China have been engaged in a stand-off for over three months.

India recently outflanked China by taking control of strategic height near Pangong lake's southern bank. It thwarted an attempt by the Chinese army to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh.

India and China have been engaged in a standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including the Finger area, Galwan Valley, Hot springs, and Kongrung Nala. The situation worsened after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan valley in June. (ANI)

Massive protests continue in PoK against construction of dams by China, Pakistan

A protest was held in PoK's Muzaffarabad city on Monday night against the mega dams proposed to be constructed by Chinese companies on Neelum-Jhelum River. (Photo/ANI)

Muzaffarabad [PoK], September 8 (ANI): A massive protest along with a torch rally was held in Muzaffarabad city of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) on Monday night against the mega dams proposed to be constructed by Chinese companies on Neelum-Jhelum River.

The protesters of 'Darya Bachao, Muzaffarabad Bachao' (Save River, Save Muzaffarabad) committee chanted slogans like "Neelum-Jhelum behne do, humein zinda rehne do" (let the Neelum and Jhelum rivers flow, let us live).

The rally was attended by hundreds of residents of the city and and people from other parts of PoK.

Recently, Pakistan and China signed agreements to construct Azad Pattan and Kohala Hydropower Projects in PoK region.

Azad Pattan Hydel Power Project of 700.7 megawatts of electricity is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) signed on July 6. The USD 1.54 billion project will be sponsored by the China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC).

The Kohala Hydroelectric Power Project which will be built on Jhelum River is roughly 7 km upstream of Azad Pattan Bridge in the Sudhanoti District of PoK and 90 km from Pakistan's capital Islamabad.

The project, expected to be completed by 2026, will be sponsored by China Three Gorges Corporation, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Silk Road Fund.

The residents of Muzaffarabad are irked by the high Chinese presence in the area, massive construction of dams, and river diversions threatening their very existence.

Pakistan and China are jointly plundering the natural resources of PoK and Gilgit Baltistan in the wake of China Pakistan Economic Corridor. The resentment in the occupied territories is high against Pakistan and China. (ANI)

Two Australian journalists forced out from China after diplomatic stand-off

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Canberra (Australia), September 8 (ANI): Two Australian journalists working in China for their country's media outlets were "forced out" and have returned to Sydney following a diplomatic standoff.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Bill Birtles, correspondent of the ABC in Beijing, and Michael Smith, the Australian Financial Review's Shanghai-based correspondent returned to Sydney on Monday after living for five days "under protection" in the Canberra's diplomatic missions in the country

According to the report, the two journalists had to leave after a "diplomatic stand-off in which police demanded an interview with both reporters."

The duo were forced to seek the protection of Australia's diplomatic mission after the Chinese security officers visited them on Wednesday last week and told them that they were "persons of interest in a national security case."

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne put out a statement today saying that the Australian Government has provided consular support to two Australian journalists in China to assist their return to Australia and engaged with Chinese Government authorities to ensure their wellbeing and return to Australia.

It further said that Australia's current travel advice for China warning Australians that they could be at increased risk of arbitrary detention and which was updated on July 7, remains appropriate and unchanged. "We encourage all Australians who are overseas, or are seeking to travel, to closely monitor Smartraveller," it said.

The Foreign Minister further said that Canberra continues to provide consular support to Australian citizens detained in China, including Cheng Lei. "We are unable to provide further comment owing to privacy obligations," she said.

Last month, Australian television anchor Cheng Lei working with CGTN, China's state-run news channel, was detained "in a highly sensitive case."

A statement by Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed Cheng Lei was being held by authorities in the Chinese capital and Australian diplomats were permitted to speak to her last week via video conference, reported ABC. The statement informed that formal notification was received on August 14 from Chinese authorities regarding Lei's detention.

Relations between China and Australia have deteriorated the in recent times over a series of issues including trade issues.

Lei has not been charged but is being held under what is called "residential surveillance at a designated location", a form of detention in which investigators can imprison and question a suspect for up to six months while cutting them off from lawyers and the outside world.

She is the second Australian, after writer and former Chinese Government employee Yang Hengjun, to be detained in Beijing.

Yang, who is under an espionage investigation was taken by authorities in January 2019. (ANI)

Entry of foreign students still not allowed in China, remain in touch with universities; Indian Embassy advises students

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Beijing [China], September 8 (ANI): Indian students">students studying in Chinese universities and colleges have been advised to remain in touch with their respective educational institutions as Beijing has still not allowed the return of foreign students">students to resume their studies, the Indian Embassy here said.

Responding to the Indian mission in Beijing the Chinese government on Monday said that following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year it was not permitting foreign students">students to enter the country for the time being and permitting such entry only in specific circumstances.

The statement by the Chinese Ministry of Education in response to the concerns raised by Indian embassy was tweeted by the latter.

"At present, foreign students">students in China cannot enter the country for the time being, but the Chinese Government attaches great importance to the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of foreign students">students in China. It requires relevant universities in China to maintain close contacts with the students">students, immediately notify relevant information..," posted the Indian Embassy quoting the reply by the Chinese Ministry of Education to its query.

The Chinese Ministry also suggested the Indian students">students to be in contact with their respective institutions and arrange to study in China in strict accordance with the suggestions and guidance of the colleges and universities.

The Indian Embassy, therefore, also advised the students">students to remain in touch with their respective colleges/universities and also keep monitoring the website of the Indian Embassy/Consulates for latest information regarding their return.

Earlier on September 1 and August 17 too the Embassy had addressed the concerns of Indian students">students over their return to China.

Thousands of Indian students">students, pursuing various courses, had returned to India amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The statement, however, comes at a time when tensions between New Delhi and Beijing are simmering over the ongoing standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including the Finger area, Galwan valley, Hot springs, and Kongrung Nala. The situation worsened after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan valley in June.

Sources said on Tuesday that recently an incident of firing took place on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh where troops of India and China have been engaged in a stand-off for over three months.

India recently outflanked China by taking control of strategic height near Pangong lake's southern bank.

It thwarted an attempt by the Chinese army to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh. (ANI)

Egypt's COVID-19 case count surpasses 100,000

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Cairo [Egypt], September 8 (ANI/Sputnik): The number of recorded cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Egypt has topped 100,000, the country's Health Ministry said in a statement.

"The total number of coronavirus cases in Egypt is 100,041 people," ministry spokesman Khaled Mugahed sai
d in a statement obtained by Sputnik.

Mugahed said that overall, 5,541 patients had died from COVID-19 and more than 79,000 people had recovered.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of the new coronavirus a pandemic on March 11. The WHO says the global coronavirus death toll has topped 881,000 people, and the global case count exceeds 27 million. (ANI/Sputnik)

China claims Indian troops crossed LAC near Pangong Tso

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New Delhi [India] September 8 (ANI): The Chinese government owned Global Times has claimed that Indian troops "illegally crossed" the Line of Actual Control (LAC) near Pangong Tso on Monday and accordingly Chinese troops were forced to take "countermeasures" to stabilise the situation.

"Indian troop
s crossed the LAC at the west section of the China-India border, into the Shenpao mountain region near the south bank of Pangong Tso Lake," the Global Times reported quoting senior Colonel Zhang Shuili, a spokesperson of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) western command theatre.

"The Indian side's move seriously violated related agreements reached by both sides, stirred up tensions in the region, and would easily cause misunderstandings and misjudgments, which is a serious military provocation ...", the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson demanded that the Indian Army personnel "to immediately stop dangerous moves, withdraw personnel who crossed the LAC at once".

"We demand Indian side to immediately stop dangerous moves, withdraw personnel who crossed the LAC at once, strictly control frontline troops, seriously investigate and punish the personnel who fired the provocative shot and ensure similar incidents won't take place again," Zhang was quoted as saying.

An incident of firing took place on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Eastern Ladakh sector where troops of India and China have been engaged in a stand-off for over three months, sources said on Tuesday.

India recently outflanked China by taking control of strategic height near Pangong lake's southern bank. It thwarted an attempt by the Chinese army to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh.

"On the night of August 29-30, People's Liberation Army troops violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in Eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo," said Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand in a statement.

India and China are engaged in a standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including the Finger area, Galwan valley, Hot springs, and Kongrung Nala. The situation worsened after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan valley in June. (ANI)

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