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India, Myanmar sign three accords
Yangon, March 9
Taking bilateral cooperation to a higher plane, India and Myanmar today signed three agreements in petroleum, space and education sectors in the presence of President A P J Abdul Kalam and Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Senior General Than Shwe here.


Kalam visits Zafar’s mazar

Myanmese Senior General Than Shwe toasts with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam following a singing ceremony of memorandum of understanding between the two countries in Yangon on Thursday Myanmese Senior General Than Shwe (right) toasts with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam following a singing ceremony of memorandum of understanding between the two countries in Yangon on Thursday.
— AFP photo



EARLIER STORIES

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50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

India to give $ 34.5 m aid to Myanmar
Yangon, March 9
India today announced a total of 34.5 million dollars credit and financial assistance to Myanmar for purchase of heavy duty water pumps, development of a multi-modal transport project and upgrading remote sensing ground receiving station in Yangon.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad West will suffer more than Iran: Ahmadinejad
Tehran, March 9
President Mahmoud said today that Western countries were vulnerable and would suffer more than Iran if they continued to try to impede its attempts to develop nuclear technology, local media reported. Speaking a day after it became clear that the U.N. Security Council would take up Iran's nuclear case, Ahmadinejad said Tehran would not be bullied or humiliated.

US rejects arguments against N-deal
Washington, March 9
While ruling out any amendment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to accord the status of a nuclear weapon state to India, the US says the landmark deal brings India into the non-proliferation mainstream and rejected the argument that it could encourage “rogue nations” like North Korea and Iran to continue to pursue their nuclear weapons programme.

Watch your borders, Nepal tells India
Kathmandu, March 9
The Nepal government has drawn India's attention to the growing problem of smuggling of explosives and ammunition from across the border, urging the country to monitor India-Nepal border points.

Former teacher takes 20 students hostage
Le Mans, France, March 9
An unemployed teacher took 20 students, a teacher and another man hostage at gunpoint at a big high school in western France today, officials said.
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India, Myanmar sign three accords

Yangon, March 9
Taking bilateral cooperation to a higher plane, India and Myanmar today signed three agreements in petroleum, space and education sectors in the presence of President A P J Abdul Kalam and Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Senior General Than Shwe here.

The Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the petroleum sector pertains to transport of natural gas from the Arakan port of Myanmar either through a pipeline via the North East or Bangladesh.

India has been pressing to build a pipeline from Myanmar through Bangladesh to meet a yawning energy supply gap.

The option of converting the gas into Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) for shipping it is also under consideration as it would be cost-effective, considering that the distance was not too much.

The MoU was signed by Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas Prabh Das and Director-General of Energy Planning Department of the Ministry of Energy of Myanmar, sources said.

Another MoU on cooperation in Buddhist studies was inked by Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and Brig General Thura Aung Ko, Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs, Myanmar.

A Framework Agreement on mutual cooperation in the field of remote sensing was concluded for setting up of a ground station in Myanmar. The station will receive remote sensing data from the IRS satellite for various uses, including agriculture purposes like survey of soil and minerals.

Kalam visits Zafar’s mazar

President Kalam visited the mausoleum of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor of India who was exiled to Yangon after the British quelled the first war of Independence.

President Kalam, on the second day of his three-day visit to Myanmar paid homage to Zafar, who was kept in a garage attached to a bungalow of a junior British officer in Yangon, where he died in 1862.

Alongside Bahadur Shah Zafar's grave, his wife Zeenat Mahal and granddaughter Raunaq Zamani were also buried.

The Bahadur Shah Zafar Trust was set up only in 1935 after a court decree, under the chairmanship of Sikander Bux and the tomb was handed over to the trust, which maintained the mausoleum with the collection and donations made by the general public — PTI

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India to give $ 34.5 m aid to Myanmar

Yangon, March 9
India today announced a total of 34.5 million dollars credit and financial assistance to Myanmar for purchase of heavy duty water pumps, development of a multi-modal transport project and upgrading remote sensing ground receiving station in Yangon.

The Indian Government has also promised to extend a 10 million dollar line of credit to Myanmar's multi-modal transport project.

The financial package was announced following a meeting visiting Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam had with Myanmar's State Peace and Development Council chairman Senior General Than Shwe.

India also decided to grant three million dollars for assistance with delineation of Myanmar's continental shelf and a 20 million dollar line of credit for purchase of heavy duty water pumps for agriculture and water supply.

As part of the package of human resource development initiatives,20 students from Myanmar will be allowed to pursue PhD programmes in India. It was also agreed that India would provide necessary assistance in upgrading scientific laboratories in various universities in Myanmar.

New Delhi also welcomed Myanmar's decision to depute 50 officials for an
e-governance project to be conducted in India. — UNI

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West will suffer more than Iran: Ahmadinejad

Tehran, March 9
President Mahmoud said today that Western countries were vulnerable and would suffer more than Iran if they continued to try to impede its attempts to develop nuclear technology, local media reported.

Speaking a day after it became clear that the U.N. Security Council would take up Iran's nuclear case, Ahmadinejad said Tehran would not be bullied or humiliated.

"They (Western countries) know that they are not capable of inflicting the slightest blow on the Iranian nation because they need the Iranian nation," the semi-official ISNA students news agency quoted him as saying in a speech in western Iran.

"They will suffer more and they are vulnerable," he said, without elaborating.

A senior Iranian security official warned yesterday Iran could inflict "harm and pain" to match whatever punishment Washington persuaded the Security Council to mete out for Iran's refusal to heed calls that it halt atomic fuel research.

Iran says it wants to master nuclear fuel cycle technology to feed atomic reactors generating electricity. Washington and its allies believe Iran wants nuclear fuel to make atomic bombs.

Some Iranian officials have warned that if pressured further over the nuclear case Tehran could restrict its vital oil exports to push prices even higher.

They have also hinted Iran could use its influence with militants in regional troublespots such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine to stir up trouble for the United States and Israel.

"Our enemies will never succeed in forcing the Iranian nation to step back on its rights over peaceful nuclear technology because it never accepts humiliation," state television quoted Ahmadinejad as saying today.

"This nation ... will not allow others to treat it with a bullying attitude, even if those who treat it with a bullying attitude are international bullies," he added, ISNA reported.

ISNA said Iranian lawmakers chorused "Death to America" today in response to Iran's case being sent to the Security Council.

Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation said hundreds of people would form a symbolic human chain on Thursday around the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in central Iran — the most sensitive facility in Iran's nuclear programme.

Meanwhile, Iran today said it was still open to talks over its disputed nuclear programme despite being reported to the Security Council, but stuck by its refusal to return to a full freeze of sensitive atomic work.

Although Tehran has proposed suspending industrial-scale enrichment, it is refusing to halt enrichment research - but critics of the country argue that even this would allow the clerical regime to acquire nuclear weapons know-how. — Reuters, AFP

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US rejects arguments against N-deal

Washington, March 9
While ruling out any amendment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to accord the status of a nuclear weapon state to India, the US says the landmark deal brings India into the non-proliferation mainstream and rejected the argument that it could encourage “rogue nations” like North Korea and Iran to continue to pursue their nuclear weapons programme.

The White House also mocked at Pakistan's non-proliferation record and said the Bush Administration did not intend to pursue a civil nuclear cooperation initiative with Islamabad on the lines of the Indo-US accord.

No sooner did President George W. Bush return from his New Delhi trip where he announced the nuclear deal, critics of his administration and proliferation experts have began to question “the wisdom” of hurriedly signing an agreement with India that would allow it to gain US nuclear technology and fuel for its growing energy needs.

“Greater use of nuclear reactors to produce energy for the Indian people will not undermine regional security or stability,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in a point-by-point rejection of critics’ arguments against the deal.

Meanwhile, defending the nuclear deal, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns has said it enjoyed multilateral support and would bring India’s civilian nuclear programme into the international non-proliferation mainstream.

Mr Burns, testifying before the House International Relations Committee yesterday, was replying to Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman who raised certain concerns about the deal.

Mr Ackerman, who is also co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, wanted to know how the Bush administration planned to muster international support against Iran’s nuclear standoff while it bent rules for providing sensitive technology to India, which had not signed the NPT.

The White House spokesman said, “It is not credible to compare the rogue regimes of North Korea and Iran to India. Unlike Iran or North Korea, India has been a peaceful and vibrant democracy with a strong nuclear non-proliferation record.” — UNI

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Watch your borders, Nepal tells India

Kathmandu, March 9
The Nepal government has drawn India's attention to the growing problem of smuggling of explosives and ammunition from across the border, urging the country to monitor India-Nepal border points.

''The government wanted to draw the attention of the Indian government over the huge quantity of explosives seized from Indian trucks near the India-Nepal border in recent weeks,'' Kathmandu Post quoted Home Minister Kamal Thapa as saying.

The explosives seized by security forces near Sunauli were enough to blow up a big city, Mr Thapa said. ''Some of the devices are completely new and modern,'' he said. — UNI

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Former teacher takes 20 students hostage

Le Mans, France, March 9
An unemployed teacher took 20 students, a teacher and another man hostage at gunpoint at a big high school in western France today, officials said.

The drama was unfolding in the Colbert de Torcy state school in the town of Sabia-sur-Sarthe, sourthwest of Le Mans.

Officials said the hostage-taker, a 33-year -old contract supply teacher whom they did not identify, had last taught at the school two years ago.

They said he was bellewed to be armed with a pistol.

He had seized 20 teenagers aged between 16 and 18, the officials said, revising their number up from 18. — AFP

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