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Tuesday,22-September-2020

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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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Nepal PM, Putin among leaders wishing Narendra Modi on 70th Birthday

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As Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned 70 on Thursday, wishes from home and abroad poured in for him.

Extending his greetings, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli tweeted: “Warm greetings to Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi ji on the auspicious occasion of your birthday. I wish you good health and happiness.

“We will continue working closely together to further strengthen relations between our two countries.”

In his message to Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “I look forward to continue constructive dialogue with you and work closely together on topical issues of the bilateral and international agenda.”

Meanwhile, President Ram Nath Kovind also took to Twitter to wish Modi and said: “Happy Birthday to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji. You have set an example of Indian life values and democratic tradition.

“I pray to God that he always keeps you healthy and happy and the nation continues to receive your invaluable services.”

While extending his wishes, Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted: “Wishing a Happy Birthday to the most popular leader of the country who is always committed towards the service of the nation and devoted towards welfare of poor.”

In a tweet, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said: “Greetings and warm wishes to PM Shri Narendra Modi Ji on his birthday. India has benefited tremendously from his astute leadership, firm conviction and decisive action. He has been working assiduously towards empowering the poor and marginalised. Praying for his good health and long life.”

Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi too wished the Prime Minister on his birthday.

In a letter written in Hindu, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu wished the Prime Minister and congratulated him “on your hard work in taking the country to new heights”.

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China hands over 5 ‘missing’ Arunachal Pradesh youth to India

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Five youngsters from Arunachal Pradesh, who went missing on September 2 but were later found to be in Chinese territory, were handed over to India by the People’s Liberation Army on Saturday amid the ongoing stand-off between the two sides at the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.

The five returned to India nearly 10 days after they were allegedly abducted, defence sources said.

The youth were handed over to Indian authorities in Damai near Kibithu in Anjaw district of eastern Arunachal Pradesh.

“The Indian Army took custody of the five individuals at Kibitu on Saturday after completing all the formalities. They will now be quarantined for 14 days as per Covid-19 protocol and thereafter handed over to their families,” Defence PRO Lt Col Harsh Wardhan Pande said in a statement.

The Kibithu (Arunachal)-Damai (China) area is a place where Indian and Chinese armies hold border meetings.

Local media had reported that Toch Singkam, Prasat Ringling, Dongtu Ebiya, Tanu Baker, and Ngaru Diri — all belonging to the Tagin community — had gone to the forest for hunting when they were reportedly kidnapped near Nacho in Upper Subansiri district.

The PLA had on Tuesday conveyed to the Indian Army that the five youth, who went missing on the Sino-Indian border in Upper Subansiri district, were found by them in their territory.

Defence sources had said that persistent efforts of the Indian Army led to the whereabouts of five missing hunters, who had inadvertently crossed the LAC.

Lt Col Pande said that Arunachal Pradesh is known for its rich natural heritage and adventurous people fond of exploring the nature for medicinal herbs and possessing traditional flair for hunting, which involves surviving off the land for weeks in jungles and far-flung remote areas.

“During such adventurous forays, at times, youth inadvertently stray to other side of LAC. The Indian Army has always been proactive in tracing the lost locals and helping them return home. Three such incidents, including the latest one, took place in the current year in Upper Subansiri and West Siang districts. All such individuals were brought back home safely after consistent efforts and coordination by the Indian Army,” he said in a release.

The defence spokesman said: “The Indian Army had approached the PLA on hotline to trace and return the youths. On September 8, a response on the hot-line confirmed that the missing individuals had been traced. The Indian Army, true to its ethos, has once again worked tirelessly for the well-being of the people of north-east.”

According to the local media, the incident first came to light when two members of the group returned home from the forest and informed the villagers that the five were “abducted” by the PLA from Sera-7, an Indian Army patrol zone located about 12 km further north of Nacho.

Nacho is the last administrative circle along the McMahon line and is around 120 km from the Upper Subansiri district headquarters Daporijo, which is itself 280 km from state capital Itanagar. Arunachal Pradesh’s northeast region shares a 1,080 km-long border with China.

Union Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday announced that the PLA had confirmed to the Indian Army to hand over the youths from Arunachal Pradesh to India.

On Tuesday, he had said that the PLA had responded to the hotline message from the Indian Army about the youths.

Congress’ Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha, Gaurav Gogoi, had urged Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to ensure the safe return of the five youths amid local media reports that the youths had been kidnapped.

On September 3, the Indian Army had provided food, warm clothes, and medical assistance to three Chinese who had lost their way in sub-zero temperatures in a border area in north Sikkim, at an altitude of 17,500 feet.

The Indian troops deployed in the area also guided these Chinese, including a woman, to return home. The Chinese expressed gratitude to India and the Indian Army for their prompt assistance.

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US-India resolve to take concerted action against Pakistan-backed terror groups

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The US and India have resolved to take concerted action against pan-Islamist terror groups Al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS0 and also the Kashmir-centric Pakistan sponsored outfits, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizb-ul Mujahideen (HuM).

In a joint statement on Thursday, the US-India counter-terrorism joint working group and designations dialogue, both sides denounced use of terrorist proxies and strongly condemned cross-border terrorism in all its forms.

While discussing the threats posed by the UN-sanctioned terrorist entities, the two sides emphasized the need for concerted action against all terrorist networks, including the Al Qaeda, IS, LeT, JeM, and HuM.

The statement followed the 17th meeting of the US-India Counter Terrorism Joint Working Group and the third session of the US-India Designations Dialogue held virtually on Wednesday and Thursday.

Mahaveer Singhvi, joint secretary for counter terrorism in the Ministry of External Affairs, and Ambassador Nathan A. Sales at the US State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, led the respective inter-Agency/inter-Departmental delegations in a far-reaching conversation on counter-terrorism cooperation.

Both sides resolved to continue close coordination on counter-terrorism, an important element of the comprehensive global strategic partnership that exists between the two countries.

They also shared information about their priorities and procedures for pursuing sanctions and designations against terrorist groups and individuals, particularly in light of recent legislative changes in India.

Both the countries underlined the urgent need for Pakistan to take immediate, sustained, and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for terrorist attacks, and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks, including the 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot.

The US reiterated its support for the people and government of India in the fight against terrorism.

The two sides committed to strengthen cooperation on information sharing and other steps to disrupt the ability of international terrorists to travel, consistent with the important provisions and obligations outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 2396.

Participants also highlighted their efforts to address some of the world’s most pressing counter terrorism challenges, including countering the financing and operations of terrorist organizations, countering radicalization and terrorist use of the internet, cross-border movement of terrorists and prosecuting, rehabilitating, and reintegrating returning terrorist fighters and family members.

The two sides discussed mutual legal and extradition assistance, bilateral law enforcement training and cooperation.

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