Monday, May 14, 2001,  Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM in Malaysia to boost trade ties
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee accompanied by Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar arrives at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, on Sunday.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee accompanied by Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar arrives at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, on Sunday. 
— Reuters photo

Kuala Lumpur, May 13
The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, arrived here this afternoon on a four-day visit to Malaysia which is expected to give a big boost to trade and business ties between the two countries.

On arrival at Bunga Raya Terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, he was received by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia. The ceremonial welcome will be accorded to him tomorrow morning by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Mr Mahathir Mahamad, at the latter’s office.

The Prime Minister is accompanied by Mr Pramod Mahajan, Minister for Information Technology, Mr Omar Abdullah, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, and Mr Brajesh Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, and a large delegation of businessmen.

In a statement issued to the press, Mr Vajpayee noted that India had close and friendly relations with Malaysia. Our cultural and trade relations go back more than two millennia. “My visit is the first to Malaysia by an Indian Prime Minister since 1995, and is a continuation of our policy of strengthening our relations with ASEAN countries”.

The Prime Minister said he would be discussing a wide range of bilateral and global issues of mutual interest with Malaysia’s leaders.

They had similar views and common approaches on a number of international issues and were both committed to a meaningful intensification of South-South cooperation.

He said he hoped to conclude a number of important bilateral agreements at both government-to-government and business-to-business levels.


Badal meets Akal Takht chief
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 13
In the wake of the crucial meeting of the five high priests to be held here tomorrow, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, held a closed-door meeting with Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht.

Though the media adviser to the Chief Minister described the meeting as a “courtesy call” and the visit to the Golden Temple a “pilgrimage”, yet Sikh circles feel that Mr Badal may have urged the Jathedar to adopt a cautious approach on various religious issues, especially on the “Ghalughara divas” (genocide day) to mark the anniversary of Operation Bluestar, least radical Sikhs exploited the situation. Mr Badal reportedly discussed the controversy over the death anniversary of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The World Sikh Council issue was also reportedly discussed during the meeting.

Mr Badal held “sangat darshan” at Gopal Nagar Temple where he announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh. Interestingly, slogans like “bole so nihal” were raised when Mr Badal doled out funds for developmental works as demanded by BJP leaders.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Narinderjit Singh, the SSP, Mr Parmpal Singh Sidhu, SDM Gurpreet Sapra and other officers were present in the temple complex throughout the programme.

Though radical Sikhs and veteran SGPC member of the ruling party Puran Singh Josh has urged Jathedar Vedanti to summon Mr Badal at Akal Takht for visiting a Hindu temple at Patiala, Mr Badal deemed it fit to hold “sangat darshan” in the temple. Circles close to Mr Badal said being the Chief Minister, Mr Badal had to respect every religion. “He is not merely the President of the SAD. This must be understood by the Sikh radicals”.

In the wake of the forthcoming elections, Mr Badal announced that the discretionary quota of MLAs had been increased from Rs 1 crore to Rs 2 crore so that they could carry out developmental works in their respective constituencies as the year 2001 had been announced a ‘developmental year’ by the state government.

Though Mr Pardeep Singh Walia, president of the opposite group of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Urban), claimed that Mr Badal had assured him that he was the ‘real president’ of the district jatha, yet Mr Sardul Singh Sham, who has been declared nominated, accompanied Mr Badal to all “sangat darshan” functions. Mr Walia remained conspicuous by his absence.

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