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Vice-President Dick Cheney watches as President Bush delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. India new competitor, says Bush
Washington, February 1
In an address to the nation, President George W. Bush today warned that “pre-eminent” US economy could not afford to be “complacent” against new competitions from India and China.


Vice-President Dick Cheney watches as President Bush delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. — AP/PTI
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Belgium has new Gandhi statue
Antwerp, February 1
Several Indians of Gujarati origin in Belgium, engaged mainly in the diamond trade, braved freezing temperatures to participate in the unveiling of a statute of Mahatma Gandhi here.

Iran threatens to resume industrial-scale enrichment
Tehran, February 1
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani vowed today the Islamic republic would resume industrial-scale uranium enrichment if a dispute over its nuclear programme is referred to the UN Security Council.



 

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TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Diplomats’ trip not to pressure Iran: Russia
Moscow, February 1
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said today that the trip by Russian and Chinese diplomats to Tehran should not be seen as an attempt to pressure Iran over its nuclear programme.

Singapore plans SEZ in India
Singapore, February 1
Singapore is considering setting up a special economic zone (SEZ) in India to help boost FDI from the city state.
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US troops fire on Canadian envoy's car
Baghdad, February 1
The US troops in Iraq fired warning shots at the Canadian envoy's car after it failed to slow down while approaching an American military convoy, the US military said today.


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India new competitor, says Bush

Washington, February 1
In an address to the nation, President George W. Bush today warned that “pre-eminent” US economy could not afford to be “complacent” against new competitions from India and China.

“The American economy is pre-eminent but we cannot afford to be complacent...in a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors like China and India. This creates uncertainty...,” Mr Bush said in his annual televised State of the Union address before members of the US Congress.

The President, who is looking to restore confidence in his leadership in the wake of war in Iraq, announced no foreign policy initiatives but vowed to continue the fight against terrorism, ruled out withdrawal of troops from Iraq, encourage economic progress abroad and avoid calls for isolationism and protectionism at home.

Mr Bush flayed the Iranian leadership accusing it of sponsoring terrorism and pursuing a programme to gain nuclear weapons, dismissed criticisms of his democracy promotion goals after Hamas won Palestinian polls and ruled out any hasty retreat from Iraq. — PTI

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Belgium has new Gandhi statue

Antwerp, February 1
Several Indians of Gujarati origin in Belgium, engaged mainly in the diamond trade, braved freezing temperatures to participate in the unveiling of a statute of Mahatma Gandhi here.

The bust was unveiled at a poignant function at the King Albert Park here on January 30, Gandhi’s death anniversary. This Belgian port city — also known as the world’s rough diamond capital — is home to nearly 500 families of Gujarati origin.

The event, organised by the Indian embassy in Brussels, Antwerp local authorities and the Antwerp Indian Association, commenced with a reception in Antwerp Governor Camille Paulus’ main headquarters, the Province House.

Mr Dipak Chatterjee, India’s Ambassador to Belgium, lauded the local authorities for their decision to honour Gandhi and their participation in the ceremony. The event is seen as a milestone in Indo-Belgian relations.

“This is a great occasion for Indians in Antwerp. Most of them come from Gandhiji’s home state, Gujarat. We are privileged to have this ceremony here today and are thankful to the Governor, the Mayor and the city council who have been very helpful,” he told INEP agency.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Kaushik Mehta, chairman of the Antwerp Indian Association and Managing Director of the International Diamond Company Euro Star, said: “Belgium has been a home far away from home for Indians. It is a moment of pride to have a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in our own city.” In a tribute to Antwerp’s 500 Indian families, Paulus said: “This ceremony illustrates how close the relationship is between India and Antwerp. The Indian community does not only deserve respect for contributing to our welfare; It is extremely important that they are comfortable here and feel that this is their second home and not just a place for business.

The event concluded with the singing of “Vaishnav Jana to”, Gandhi’s favourite hymn, after which the entire Indian community joined in singing another Indian hymn proceeding to the site where the bust was unveiled.

Gandhiji’s statue was unveiled to the inspiring symphonies of the Indian and Belgian national anthems by Paulus, Chatterjee, Janssens and other officials.

Indian diamond merchants mainly hailing from the small Gujarati town of Palanpur, arrived in Antwerp in the 1970s and globalised the diamond business. Today they control more than 60 per cent of Antwerp’s rough and polished diamond trade which posted a collective turnover of $36 billion last year. — IANS

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Iran threatens to resume industrial-scale enrichment

Tehran, February 1
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani vowed today the Islamic republic would resume industrial-scale uranium enrichment if a dispute over its nuclear programme is referred to the UN Security Council.

He said Iran “does not see any rationale to stop nuclear fuel research, even for one day” rejecting demands for his country to return to a full freeze of sensitive activities the West fears would give Iran the capacity to acquire a nuclear arsenal.

“If Iran’s case is referred or reported to the Security Council, the Islamic republic will be obliged to halt all voluntary measures, which means Iran’s cooperation will decrease,” Larijani said.

“The government will be obliged to remove suspensions, which includes industrial-scale enrichment, and it will do so,” he added.

“Natanz is ready for operation. All we have to do is inform the IAEA... if Iran’s case goes to the Security Council, it will be very soon,” he said, referring to Iran’s uranium enrichment plant.

Iran says it only wants to enrich uranium to make reactor fuel for an energy drive, but the process can be extended to make weapons-grade material.

The foreign ministers of the five permanent Security Council members agreed in London on Monday to haul Iran’s case to New York after the country resumed sensitive nuclear fuel research work and deepened fears it could acquire the atom bomb. — AFP

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Diplomats’ trip not to pressure Iran: Russia

Moscow, February 1
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said today that the trip by Russian and Chinese diplomats to Tehran should not be seen as an attempt to pressure Iran over its nuclear programme.

“It is impossible to put pressure on a sovereign nation,” ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in London, according to Russian news agencies.

He said the joint Russian-Chinese diplomatic team that travelled to Iran today would try to “explain the situation and persuade the Iranian colleagues. ... The task is to inform them of the results of the talks” in London earlier this week between the USA, the European Union, Russia and China.

Meanwhile, Britain today warned Iran “not to walk away” from demands over its nuclear ambitions or to make threats in its dealings with the international community.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw met Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki and “made clear that Iran had an opportunity which it should take”, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. “Mottaki was warned not to walk away from the IAEA additional protocol or to make threats,” the spokesman said, referring to demands of the UN nuclear watchdog the IAEA. — AP, Reuters

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Singapore plans SEZ in India

Singapore, February 1
Singapore is considering setting up a special economic zone (SEZ) in India to help boost FDI from the city state.

The two countries today agreed to work towards establishing an Asian economic community, implement on time the comprehensive economic cooperation agreement to boost trade and explore untapped potential for cooperation in the field of science and technology.

Singapore’s senior minister Goh Chok Tong told visiting President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam here this afternoon that his country was seriously considering the SEZ in India, Secretary (East) Rajiv Sikri said. — PTI

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US troops fire on Canadian envoy's car

Baghdad, February 1
The US troops in Iraq fired warning shots at the Canadian envoy's car after it failed to slow down while approaching an American military convoy, the US military said today.

But a Canadian diplomatic spokeswoman had a different account. She said yesterday there was ''to say the least reasonable'' space between the vehicles and there were no warning shots or signals before three bullets hit the car. However, nobody was injured.

A US military statement said the shots were fired inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the Iraqi government and diplomats and is the headquarters of the US military.

Any vehicles or individuals wishing to enter the zone, which is surrounded by blast walls, must either have a pass or undergo extensive security searches. — Reuters

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