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Friday,26-February-2021

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United State disputes Indian claim of hitting Pakistan’s F-16

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India’s claim that one of its pilots shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet in an aerial battle in February “appears to be wrong” as US personnel counted Islamabad’s F-16s and found none missing, a US news publication has reported citing military officials.

Foreign Policy publication said in a report that two senior US defence officials with direct knowledge of the situation said that “American personnel recently counted Islamabad’s F-16s and found none missing”.

The Indian government had said that in a dog fight on February 27 — a day after it carried out strikes on a terror training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot — Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman shot down a F-16, one of the Pakistani Air Force jets that tried to target Indian military facilities.

The Indian’s MiG was hit in the aerial engagement and it crashed in Pakistani territory. The Indian pilot was captured by Pakistan and later returned to India as a “peace gesture” by Islamabad to de-escalate the crisis between the two nuclear-armed nations.

The Indian Air Force had on February 28 displayed to the media pieces of the AMRAAM missile, fired by a Pakistani F-16, as an evidence.

According to Foreign Policy, one of the senior US defence officials with direct knowledge of the situation said that Pakistan invited Washington to physically count its F-16 planes after the incident as part of an end-user agreement signed when the foreign military sale was finalized.

The publication said a “US count of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet has found that all the jets are present and accounted for, a direct contradiction to India’s claim that it shot down one of the fighter jets during a February clash.

“Some of the aircraft were not immediately available for inspection due to the conflict, so it took US personnel several weeks to account for all of the jets,” an unnamed US defence official was quoted as saying in the report.

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India and China begin military talks to de-escalate tension at Hot Springs, Gogra, Depsang

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Indian and Chinese military dialogue to de-escalate tension at the Line of Actual Control started on Saturday morning. The 10th round of Corps Commander meeting started at 10 a.m. at Moldo on Chinese side.

Indian military delegation is led by Lieutenant General P.G.K. Menon, Commander of 14 Corps based in Leh. The Corps Commander will discuss disengagement at friction areas like Hot Springs, Gogra and 900 square km Depsang plains.

The build-up in Depsang was not being considered part of the current standoff that started in May last year as escalations here took place in 2013.

However, India has insisted during recent military commander meetings to resolve all issues across Line of Actual Control.

“The initial attempt will be to resolve Gogra and Hot Springs. Finding a solution to Depsang might be tricky and take longer,” said an official.

The representatives during the current round of “corps commander level” meet will also check the status of disengagement at northern and southern banks of the Pangong Lake.

However, just a day ahead of the meeting, China began a “psywar”, where it released a video of Galwan Valley clashes on social media accusing Indian Army of being aggressive and leading to the clash.

Indian Army didn’t react to the video of the clash released by China and maintained silence over the issue.

The video was released on a private news channel in China and thereafter it went viral.

It is after eight months that China has released a video of the clash which took place on June 15 last year. India had lost 20 soldiers and China only this week claimed clearly its four casualties, earler it had been evasive.

China, for the first time, has released the names of their soldiers killed in the clashes on Friday.

So far disengagement process at both banks of the Pangong Lake has taken place.

It was on February 10 that China made an announcement that New Delhi and Beijing has agreed to disengage at Pangong Lake.

Indian Army team along with Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) team are physically verifying and re-verifying disengagement at Pangong Lake.

The agreement states that Chinese troops will move back to Finger 8 and Indian troops will pull back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post between Finger 2 and 3 of the north bank of Pangong Lake. Further, there would be temporary moratorium on military activities, including patrolling to the traditional areas.

The mountain spur jutting into the lake is referred to as Finger in military parlance. The north bank of the lake is divided into 8 Fingers. Indian has claimed its territory till Finger 8 and China dispute it claims till Finger 4.

India and China are engaged in a ten-month-long standoff at the Line of Actual Control. The confrontations began on the north bank of Pangong Lake, both in the waters and the bank as Chinese incursions increased in early May last year.

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International News

India and China military talks on Saturday for further disengagement

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India and China military delegates will meet on Saturday for the tenth round of talks to discuss disengagement at other friction places at the Line of Actual Control, sources said.

During the tenth round, the Corps Commanders will discuss other friction areas like Hot Springs, Gogra and 900 square km Depsang Plains. The talks will start at 10 a.m. at Moldo on the Chinese side.

The build-up in Depsang was not being considered part of the current standoff that started in May last year as escalations here took place in 2013, India has insisted during recent military commander meetings to resolve all issues across the Line of Actual Control.

“The initial attempt will be to resolve Gogra and Hot Springs. Finding a solution to Depsang might be tricky and take longer,” said an official.

The representatives during the tenth round of “corps commander level” meet will also check the status of disengagement at northern and southern banks of Pangong Lake.

The disengagement process at both banks of the Pangong Lake is expected to complete till February 20. It was on February 10 that China made an announcement that New Delhi and Beijing have agreed to disengage at Pangong Lake.

Indian Army team along with Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are physically verifying and re-verifying disengagement at Pangong Lake. “It is a joint inspection team, both from Indian Army and Chinese PLA,” said a senior government officer.

The agreement states that Chinese troops will move back to Finger 8 and Indian troops will pull back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post between Finger 2 and 3 of the north bank of Pangong Lake. Further, there would be a temporary moratorium on military activities, including patrolling to the traditional areas.

The mountain spur jutting into the lake is referred to as Finger in military parlance. The north bank of the lake is divided into 8 Fingers. Indian has claimed its territory till Finger 8 and China dispute it claims till Finger 4.

India and China are engaged in a ten-month-long standoff at the Line of Actual Control. The confrontations began on the north bank of Pangong Lake, both in the waters and the bank as Chinese incursions increased in early May last year.

The confrontation later spilled over to the southern bank following which Indian Army occupied crucial heights irking the Chinese also leading to incidents of gun shots being fired in the air.

Last year on June 15, India lost 20 soldiers during clash at Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh. China back then never revealed about casualties.

For the first time, China on Friday accepted that they lost soldiers and honoured its four People’s Liberation Army soldiers killed and one injured during clashes with Indian Army troops at Galwan.

The China Global Television Network (CGTN), Chinese state media, claimed that five PLA soldiers were honoured with honorary title and first-class merit citation.

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India-Australia partnership to play important role in post-Covid world: Narendra Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that a strong India-Australia partnership will play an important role in shaping the post-Covid world.

The statement came a day after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed to move ahead with his government’s proposed laws that will ensure the US media tech giants like Facebook pay for publishing news media content. Incidentally, the Modi government is also pushing back against the misuse of the US social media platforms for mobilising violence over domestic reforms in India.

On Thursday, Modi had spoken to Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the phone. Both the leaders, while reiterating their commitment to consolidate their comprehensive strategic partnership, discussed regional issues of common interest. The two looked forward to working together for peace, prosperity and security in the Indo-Pacific.

In a virtual address on Friday at the award ceremony of the India Australia Circular Economy Hackathon, Prime Minister Modi said that Indian and Australian youth, innovators and entrepreneurs will be at the forefront of strengthening partnership over the circular economy.

In June last year, Prime Minister Modi and Morrison had discussed the possibility of organising a hackathon on circular economy. Modi said he was glad the idea was realised so soon.

“As humanity faces the challenges posed by Climate Change, the theme of this Hackathon is relevant to the whole world. Consumption-oriented economic models have put a great strain on our planet.

“We must never forget that we are not the owners of all that Mother Earth has to offer, but merely its trustees for all the future generations to come. It is not enough to make our production processes more efficient and less polluting. No matter how fast or slow one drives, if the direction is wrong, then one is bound to reach the wrong destination. And so, we must set the right direction,” Modi said.

Circular Economy, he said, can be a key step in solving many of the challenges. “Recycling and reusing things, eliminating waste, and improving resource efficiency must become part of our lifestyles,” he stressed.

The hackathon has seen innovative solutions from Indian and Australian students, startups and entrepreneurs. “I have no doubt that your innovations will inspire our two countries to take the lead in circular economy solutions. And, for that, we must now also explore ways to scale-up and incubate these ideas,” he said.

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