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US special envoy for Afghanistan Khalilzad holds talks with Jaishankar, Doval

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NEW DELHI: The Afghan sides should ensure that Afghanistan’s territory must not be used by any terror group against any country, the US said on Tuesday soon after its special envoy for the Afghan peace process

Zalmay Khalilzad

held

extensive talks

with External Affairs Minister S

Jaishankar

and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval here. Indian government sources said Khalilzad appreciated India’s participation in the opening ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations in

Doha

last week and shared the

US perspective

on the Afghan peace process.

Khalilzad arrived here on Tuesday to discuss the historic Afghan peace talks with Indian leaders. It was his fifth visit to India since January last year.

In a statement, the US said both it and India share the view that the peace process in Afghanistan must continue until there is an agreement on a political roadmap and a “comprehensive and permanent ceasefire”.

On Saturday, an Indian delegation attended the inaugural ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha while Jaishankar joined it through video conference.

The Taliban and the Afghan government are holding direct talks for the first time to end 19 years of war that has killed tens of thousands of people and ravaged various parts of the country.

The US’ view that the territory of Afghanistan must not be used by any terrorist group against any other country appeared to be in sync with India’s long-held position.

In his address at the inaugural ceremony of intra-Afghan negotiations, Jaishankar too said India expects that the soil of Afghanistan is never used for any anti-India activities.

There have been apprehensions in India over the possibility of use of Afghan soil for anti-India activities if a new dispensation that is friendly to Pakistan emerges from the intra-Afghan negotiations.

“Glad to receive Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad @US4AfghanPeace this evening. Useful discussions on the Doha Meeting and its follow-up,” Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting with Khalilzad. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla was also present during the talks.

Glad to receive Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad @US4AfghanPeace this evening. Useful discussions on the Doha Meeting and its… https://t.co/Mb4kBQtGE3

— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) 1600179163000

The US embassy said Khalilzad discussed the recently inaugurated Afghan peace negotiations.

“The US and India share the view that the peace process must continue until there is agreement on a political roadmap and a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire. The Afghan sides should ensure their territory must not be used by any terrorist group against any other country,” the US embassy said.

“The US and India expressed similar views on the importance of long term assistance, trade, and investment for consolidating a peace agreement for the benefit of the people of Afghanistan, the region, and beyond,” it added.

The US said Ambassador Khalilzad stressed that regional and international support is critical for the success of the negotiations and the implementation of any agreement, adding that India and the US will work together in support of this objective.

The Indian government sources said the two sides discussed future steps and possible cooperation between India and the US in furthering the Afghan peace process.

They also deliberated upon how to promote regional and international cooperation with regard to Afghanistan, the sources said.

“Today’s discussions are a reflection of the India-US strategic partnership which provides for close consultations between the two countries on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest,” said a source.

Khalilzad visited Islamabad on Monday where he met

Pakistan Army

chief Gen

Qamar Javed Bajwa

and discussed the Afghan peace process among other issues

India has been a major stakeholder in peace and stability in Afghanistan. It has already invested $2 billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country.

India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

India has been keenly following the evolving political situation after the US inked a peace deal with the Taliban in February. The deal provided for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, effectively drawing curtains to

Washington

‘s 18-year war in the country.

The US has lost over 2,400 soldiers in Afghanistan since late 2001.

India has also been maintaining that care should be taken to ensure that any such process does not lead to any “ungoverned spaces” where terrorists and their proxies can relocate.

India has been calling upon all sections of the political spectrum in Afghanistan to work together to meet the aspirations of all people in that country including those from the minority communities for a prosperous and safe future.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

Pandemics caused by new virus infect humans in multiple waves: Govt

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NEW DELHI: Pandemics caused by a new virus have the propensity to infect human population in multiple waves and some countries which initially successfully contained the Covid-19 outbreak are now reporting a resurgence of cases, the Lok Sabha was told on Wednesday.

Government of India has accordingly advised states to upgrade health infrastructure based on the case growth trajectory in respective states and districts, besides taking stringent containment measures, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey said in a written reply.

He was responding to a question on whether the government has anticipated and is ready for the second wave of Covid-19 during the winter months in India.

“Pandemics caused by a new virus have the propensity to infect human population in multiple waves, each time affecting a cohort of susceptible population.

“Some countries, which had initially successfully contained the Covid-19 outbreak earlier are now reporting a resurgence of cases,” the minister said in his reply.

Giving details of the steps taken by the government to provide funds and medical equipment for Covid-19 care management, Choubey said states and UTs are being provided required technical and financial assistance to manage the public health challenge.

With public health and hospitals being a state subject, the primary responsibility of strengthening the healthcare system lies with respective state governments, the minister said.

All the states and UTs are provided with necessary financial support under India Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package.

During FY 2020-21, Rs 4256.81 crore in funds were released to states and UTs.

In addition, states are being supported in terms of supply of logistics. So far 1.42, crore PPE kits, 3.45 crore N-95 masks, 10.84 crore tablets of hydroxychloroquine, 30,841 ventilators and 1,02,400 oxygen cylinders have been supplied to states, UTs and central government hospitals (as reported on September, 20), the minister said.

For appropriate management of Covid-19 cases, Government of India has advised state governments to set up three-tier arrangement of health facilities exclusively for Covid-19.

These are Covid Care Centres with isolation beds for mild or pre-symptomatic cases; Dedicated Covid Health Centre (DCHC) with oxygen-supported isolation beds for moderate cases and Dedicated Covid Hospitals (DCH) with ICU beds for severe cases.

DCHCs or DCHs may be full hospitals or a separate block in a hospital with preferably separate entry/exit/zoning. In addition, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has set up large dedicated Covid-19 field hospitals with capacity ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 isolation beds, the minister said.

These temporary hospitals have been set up in Delhi, Bihar (Patna and Muzaffarpur).

All states, including Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, have accordingly taken action to create such infrastructure, Choubey said on whether the Union government has any plans to start exclusive Covid-19 treatment and care blocks in states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu where a large number of people got infected.

Hospital infrastructure in the country for managing coronavirus cases is being continuously monitored by Government of India. States have been advised to prepare for requisite surge capacities to manage cases in accordance with existing and projected growth rates, he said.

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Is your conduct consistent with claim for fair trial, investigation: Delhi high court to Mehul Choksi

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NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Wednesday asked Mehul Choksi, an accused in the $2 billion PNB scam who went to the US for treatment and ended up taking citizenship of Antigua, whether his claims for a fair trial and investigation were consistent with his own conduct.

The query by a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan was posed to Choksi’s counsel during the hearing of his appeal against a single judge order which dismissed his plea for pre-screening of Netflix docu series ‘Bad Boy Billionaires’.

Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, appearing for Choksi, said there is a footage about his client in the series which allegedly shows him in a bad light and therefore, could affect the various proceedings against him in India.

Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for Netflix, told the bench that the trailer, based on which the initial plea was filed before the single judge, does not refer to Choksi or name him.

This claim of Netflix was opposed by Aggarwal who sought permission from the court to show the trailer of the series on the next date of hearing, September 29.

During the hearing, the bench said the “conduct of the petitioner is also of some relevance” when a constitutional court is deciding whether to exercise its writ jurisdiction.

The single judge had dismissed Choksi’s plea on the ground that he had an alternative remedy available — of filing a civil suit — and that a writ petition for enforcement of a private right was not maintainable.

Aggarwal contended that his client’s fundamental right to a fair trial and investigation would be affected by the airing of the series and therefore, a writ was maintainable.

He urged the bench that the matter be sent back to the single judge for being heard as a writ.

The court, however, asked, “Is your (Choksi) conduct consistent with what you desire? You are not under trial now. You claim fair trial and fair investigation, but is your conduct consistent with that claim?”

It also noted that after going to the US for treatment, Choksi obtained citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda with “terrific alacrity”.

The observation by the court came after Aggarwal said that Choksi left for New York for treatment on January 4, 2018 and then took the oath of allegiance in Antigua and Barbuda on January 15, 2018.

“It is terrific alacrity for someone with medical ailments,” the bench observed.

Aggarwal responded to the comment by saying that it was only a four hour flight from New York to Antigua and Barbuda and his client went to the US as his doctor was there and he was being treated there for some time.

He also told the court that when his client applied for citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda he also got a NOC from Mumbai Police stating that no cases were pending against him.

It was on January 29, 2018 that a complaint was made aganist Choksi and a case was lodged by CBI on January 30, 2018, Aggarwal told the court.

Netflix, which has opposed the plea, would continue its arguments on the next date.

In its reply to the appeal, Netflix has contended that irreparable loss or injury would be caused to it if the episode relating to Nirav Modi, of which Choksi wants a pre-screening, was stayed.

It has contended that Choksi was aware of the subject matter of the docu series since early January 2019 when he was contacted for an interview in relation to the program and he was also interviewed for the same in May 2019.

However, the interview was not utilized as it did not meet the objective of the episode, Netflix has said in its affidavit.

It has also said that the petition was not maintainable as the high court has in the past held that over the top (OTT) or internet video streaming platforms cannot be regulated and the only option was to file a civil suit.

It has further said that there can be no pre-censorship in the form of a preview or pre-screening of the docuseries as the same would be violative of the freedom of speech and expression.

B Ramalinga Raju and Subrata Roy Sahara — who also find mention in the docuseries — have obtained stays from courts in Andhra Pradesh and Araria in Bihar, respectively.

Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali Gems, and his nephew, Nirav Modi, are accused in the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.

The documentary, which was scheduled for release in India on September 2, was promoted by Netflix as: “This investigative docuseries explores the greed, fraud and corruption that built up – and ultimately brought down – India’s most infamous tycoons”.

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INDIA

G-4 nations call for ‘decisive push’ for long-delayed UNSC reforms

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NEW YORK: The G-4 nations of India, Germany, Brazil and Japan on Wednesday called for a “decisive push” for the long-delayed reforms of the UN Security Council.

“Participated in G4 Foreign Ministers Meeting that called for a decisive push for UNSC reforms during UN75. Unanimous call for text based negotiations in a fixed time frame. Reformed Multilateralism guides India’s approach to the United Nations,” external affairs minister S Jaishankar tweeted.

Participated in #G4 Foreign Ministers Meeting that called for a decisive push for UNSC reforms during #UN75 . Unani… https://t.co/GeDAcITGIM

— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) 1600866525000

The meeting of G4 foreign ministers is held on the sidelines for the annual UN General Assembly. With the high-level session being held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, all meetings on the sidelines of the General Assembly are also being held on a virtual platform.

In the 75th year of the United Nations, India will begin its two-year term as elected non-permanent member of the powerful Security Council from January 1 next year.

Effective response to international terrorism, reforming multilateral systems, comprehensive approach to peace and security, technology with a human touch and inclusive solutions to foster development are India’s priorities for its UNSC tenure.

In a video address to the High-Level meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the world body faces a “crisis of confidence” without comprehensive reforms.

He asserted that today’s interconnected world needs a reformed multilateralism that gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges and focuses on human welfare.

India has been spearheading decades-long efforts to reform the Security Council, saying a structure set up in 1945 does not reflect contemporary realities of the 21st century and is ill-equipped to handle current challenges.

There is widespread support, including by four of the five permanent members of the Security Council – US, UK, France and Russia – for a permanent seat for India at the Council.

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