Wednesday, September 17, 2014  


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Narendra Modi bonds with Xi in Ahmedabad, ties on upswing

AHMADABAD: China's president Xi Jinping arrived to a lavish welcome on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home turf on Wednesday, kicking off a threeday visit aimed at rebooting ties with massive Chinese investments in India, especially in infrastructure.

The choice of Ahmedabad as Xi's first stop in India, rather than New Delhi, marked a departure from protocol that many see as part of an effort to put a positive gloss on bilateral ties that still suffer from lingering distrust, despite growing trade.

Xi, accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan and a delegation of senior party and government officials, was received by Modi at the Hyatt hotel, where Modi was waiting for him at the porch and greeted him with a long and warm handshake. The two leaders then had a brief meeting followed by the signing of three memoranda of understanding (MoUs).

The MoUs included one on setting up of an industrial park in Gujarat and another to make Guangzhou and Ahmedabad sister cities. By the end of Xi's trip, Chinese investments totalling some $100 billion, particularly in modernising Indian railways, are expected to be announced.

Shortly after, Modi and Xi, both dressed in informal, halfsleeved jackets, met at the Sabarmati Ashram, where the prime minster personally guided the president through an exhibition on Gandhi's life.

Xi paid respects to a Gandhi statue with a namaste. The two leaders sat on the floor next to a charkha, and through the tour, continued to engage in a conversationsometimes with interpreters and sometimes on their own. The president was also given gifts by the ashram.

Haj flights to begin form Sept 20 in J&K: Peerzada

Jammu: Haj flights from the state will resume from Saturday and around 3,750 people are expected to fly to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage, Jammu and Kashmir's Minister for Hajj and Auqaf Peerzada Mohammad Sayed said on Wednesday.

"The flight for 3,575 Hajjis would be started from September, 20 and devotees should report to Srinagar Airport at 7 AM," Sayed said, during a highlevel meeting to discuss modalities to resume Hajj flights for the left over pilgrims.

The meeting was attended by Commissioner Secretary Revenue Vinod Kaul, Director Information Tasudaq Geelani, Director Airports, Hajj office and other senior officers of police and civil administration.

The pilgrims of the flight which would depart at 12 PM for their onward journey to Mecca. Similarly, pilgrims of the second flight would be required to report at 12 noon which would depart at 2 PM.

Each flight would ferry 275 pilgrims and in total 13 flights would be operate for the pilgrims, he said.

It was also informed that there would be no flight for September 23, and pilgrims would be provided ahram at Srinagar and they are also requested to bring their passports and tickets with them, he added.

It was also decided that haj pilgrims, who reports directly at the airport, shall be provided all facilities so that the movement was hassle free.

It was also informed that since the pilgrims shall be giving to Makkah Mubarak, they will have to wear ahram at airport for which there shall be adequate facilities.

The pilgrims are requested to keep the ahram and chappal in the handbag.

It was emphasised that only one person driving the vehicle should accompany the pilgrims as no other person shall be allowed to enter the airport.

Praise of NDA government based on facts: President

On Board Air India One: President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday said his praise of the Narendra Modi government was based on facts.

"It's all facts. Everyone knows the Indian economy has been doing badly since 200809. The steps taken by the new government will lead to the possibility of greater FDI," he told journalists in a media interaction while returning from Vietnam.

"There are certain positive signs (for the Indian economy," he said.

Prime Minister Modi Tuesday got a welcome boost from Mukherjee, who unexpectedly largely abandoned his prepared speech to a gathering of the Indian community in Vietnam and instead extolled the NDA government's steps to improve the economy and burnish India's global image.

"After the new government (led by Modi) came out with a massive mandate they also worked out... of course, it is too early to formulate cogent policies for the full five years and get it reflected in the plan document and other documents but the first budget presented by the new government outlines some of the crucial policies and there is substantially continuity and there is change (in policy) where it has been found necessary to do it," Mukherjee said in an extempore address at the Indian community reception in Ho Chi Minh on the penultimate day of his fourday state visit to Vietnam.

He also praised the National Democratic Alliance's (NDA) foreign policy ventures, especially Modi's recent visit to Japan.

"One very positive aspect is that there is possibility of substantial FDI which was an important outcome of the prime minister's visit to Japan. And it is expected that in the next five years, investment from Japan would be around $2535 billion," he said.

Mukherjee also expressed high hopes for the muchawaited summit between Modi and US President Barack Obama in Washington later this month.

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