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Old 11-05-2010, 07:00 AM
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Default Obama should facilitate talks on Kashmir: Shabir Shah

Ahead of US President Barack Obama's arrival on a four-day official visit to India, prominent separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah on Thursday appealed to him to facilitate India-Pakistan talks to resolve the Kashmir issue.



AP Separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah ( holding a file) looks on as police remove members of the Bharatiya Janata Party's youth wing, who disrupted his press conference in Jammu on Thursday.


The president of the Jammu Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party and a member of the executive council of All Party Hurriyat Conference was released from a jail in Jammu on late Wednesday night.
Talking to reporters, he said it was "because of the Kashmir issue that India is unable to get a permanent seat in the UN Security Council".
Shah sought demilitarization of Gilgit and Baltistan areas of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.


In September, Gilgit and Baltistan areas came to grab international attention due to the presence of Chinese troops. The areas were part of undivided Jammu and Kashmir until 1947.


Shah, also called "Nelson Mandela of Kashmir", said that if there was a need to demilitarize Jammu and Kashmir, so was the need for withdrawing military from areas under the control of Pakistan, including Gilgit Pakistan.
Earlier, activists of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the main opposition party of India, tried to disrupt his press conference.



Order was restored with the intervention of police.
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Old 11-05-2010, 07:01 AM
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Default Pranab could head Bengal govt: Mamata

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said she is ready to let finance minister Pranab Mukherjee become chief minister should the Congress-Trinamool alliance come to power in West Bengal after the assembly polls next year.



The Hindu A file picture of Union Minister for Railways, Mamata Banerjee. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt


Banerjee said she might not even contest assembly polls and devote her time for campaigning instead. “I may as well campaign for the elections.”
On who would handle the railway portfolio if she became the chief minister, she contended it would remain with the Trinamool Congress as long as it was an ally of the Centre. “After all, the Trinamool Congress has only one cabinet minister.”


The ruling CPM-led Left Front government is widely expected to be unseated, as the Trinamool Congress has won a string of civic, panchayat, assembly by-polls and Lok Sabha elections since 2008. Banerjee also said she was confident the Opposition would win all the seats in the Maoist-affected districts of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura.
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Old 11-05-2010, 07:02 AM
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The Hindu The American Center in Kolkata ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to India. Mike Hammer, spokesman of the National Security Council, White House has said that 'strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation' will figure in Obama's agenda during his India visit.

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In the wake of reports that the U.S. did not convey critical information on Mumbai attack plotter David Headley to India, a top official underlined that improving counter-terrorism cooperation was on President Barack Obama’s agenda during his visit to the country.

“I can assure you that strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation will be on the agenda,” National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer told journalists in New York and Washington during a digital video-press conference.


“The president will have an event that will focus on this as soon as he arrives at the Taj hotel," he said. "On the Headley case, we shared information relating to terrorist threats as we had them at the time.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. has launched a review of the U.S. agencies’ handling of inputs provided by two of the three wives of Headley about his radical connections and involvement in the 26/11 strikes.

"The Director of National Intelligence (James Clapper) is conducting an after action review to look back and see if there are lessons learned,” Hammer said.

"We have to recognise this happened sometime ago, and I don’t want to preempt what the president may specifically discuss with Prime Minister Singh," he added in response to whether the two leaders would discuss the Headley case in New Delhi.

A federal law enforcement official was quoted as saying in a report on ProPublica website that the State Department did report information about a 2007 warning from Headley’s Moroccan wife after she met twice with officials of the U.S. diplomatic security bureau and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Pakistan.

Officials have determined that the diplomatic security officer sent a written report about her allegations to the FBI, CIA and DEA, ProPublica said.
The events which succeed this development will be a focus of the inquiry to be conducted by Clapper.

The White House and the State Department have so far maintained that there was no lapse in the investigation based on the information provided by the two wives of Headley — first in 2005 and then in 2007.

India a rising power
India, a rising power on the global stage, is an indispensable partner of the United States, a top American official has said, hours ahead of the visit of President Barack Obama to India.



“In the case of India, we have a strategic partnership which we’re trying to develop. It’s an indispensable partner, one that we recognize is rising on the global stage, one that we want to embrace, because we think that together with India, as we have historically with our European partners - there are many things we can do together that advance both our countries’ interests and also that provide for others,” said Mike Hammer.

“I think that what you’ll see on this trip is a manifestation of some of these ideas. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves in terms of making any announcements. I’ll leave that to the President. But clearly we will be working very closely in the future on that,” Mr. Hammer said in a briefing with foreign correspondents on the eve of the departure of the U.S.

President Barack Obama on his four-nation Asia trip beginning with India.
“On this trip, we’re going to four vibrant democracies in Asia, strong market economies, and that’s something that is rather important to see,” he said.
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