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Peace process on course
India, Pak exchange maps on Sir Creek

New Delhi, May 18
India and Pakistan today concluded their fresh round of talks on Sir Creek dispute with some advancement as they exchanged maps and charts showing their respective positions on delineation of boundary in Sir Creek and the maritime boundary.

India re-elected external auditor of WHO
New Delhi, May 18
India has been re-elected the external auditor of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for a 3-year term.

No comments on top post: PM
New Delhi, May 18
Even as the race for the President’s post is hotting up with the Left expressing its keenness to back external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee for the highest constitutional office in the country, PM Manmohan Singh remained highly circumspect and guarded, refusing to offer any comment on the ground that it will be “highly inappropriate” to do so.

Selvi gets home portfolio
New Delhi, May 18
DMK member of parliament V. Radhika Selvi was inducted in the union council of ministers as a minister of state today.
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EARLIER STORIES




Blast caused by crude bomb: Patil
New Delhi, May 18
The explosion in Mecca mosque in Hyderabad was caused by a crude bomb, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said here.

Mumbai tense after blast
Mumbai, May 18
The bomb blast at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad reverberated in Mumbai today afternoon with miscreants in parts of central and south Mumbai attempting an impromptu bandh to protest the attack.

20 injured in Guwahati blast
Guwahati, May 18
At least twenty persons were injured when members of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) set off a bomb near the central jail in Fancy Bazar here this noon.

391 UP MLAs take oath
Lucknow, May 18
As many as 391 newly elected MLAs of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly were today administered oath in the House.

SC permits Shilpa to go abroad
New Delhi, May 18
The Supreme Court allowed Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty to go abroad, staying a look out notice issued against her, here today.


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  Asia's first gunpowder factory in Goa being razed.
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Peace process on course
India, Pak exchange maps on Sir Creek
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
India and Pakistan today concluded their fresh round of talks on Sir Creek dispute with some advancement as they exchanged maps and charts showing their respective positions on delineation of boundary in Sir Creek and the maritime boundary.

From a larger perspective, Sir Creek talks indicated that the three-year-old peace process

between the two neighbours was very much on course, despite a volatile political situation in Pakistan.

This is the first time ever when India and Pakistan have exchanged maps on Sir Creek - a 96 km estuary in Rann of Kutch that separates India’s Gujarat from Pakistan’s Sindh. The maps pertain to land and maritime boundary between the two nations.

The two sides have come thus far after technical experts from the two countries conducted a joint survey that began this January and concluded about two months ago.

It is understood that maps exchanged by the two sides showed many convergences, though certain fundamental differences remain. From the Indian point of view, Sir Creek boundary lies in the middle of the channel, while Pakistan contends that it is on the east bank.

The significance of exchange of maps and charts is that the two sides now know exactly where they stand.

The maps and charts would be studied by experts from the two sides which would enable their respective governments to take a final call on the dispute.

Under the United Nations’ convention on the Law of the Seas, India and Pakistan have time until May 2009 to resolve the Sir Creek dispute and notify their respective EEZ. Failure by New Delhi and Islamabad to meet the deadline would mean that both the countries would have to forgo their hundreds of kms of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The May 17-18 talks on Sir Creek took place in Pakistan’s Defence Ministry headquarters at Rawalpindi under the Fourth Round of Composite Dialogue. The Indian delegation was headed by Maj Gen M.Gopal Rao, surveyor general of India and the Pakistan delegation was led by Rear Admiral Tanveer Faiz, additional secretary, Ministry of Defence.

A joint statement issued at the end of the talks said the two sides expressed satisfaction at successful completion of the joint survey of Sir Creek and adjoining areas. The two sides discussed the delimitation of maritime boundary as well as delineation of boundary in Sir Creek in the light of results of the joint survey.

Unlike Siachen, Sir Creek is one bilateral dispute that India and Pakistan can resolve in near future.

Resolution of the longstanding dispute over Sir Creek would mark a tangible gain for Indo-Pak peace process, apart from helping them demarcate maritime boundary between them.

From a humanitarian perspective, resolution of Sir Creek problem would save hundreds of fishermen from prison sentences on charges of straying into each other’s waters inadvertently every year.

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India re-elected external auditor of WHO
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
India has been re-elected the external auditor of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for a 3-year term.

In a closely contested election, comptroller and auditor general of India V.N. Kaul was elected by getting the votes of 80 countries out of the 124 countries present and voting at Geneva, a statement issued here today said.

The other contenders for the post of the external auditor were Philippines and Indonesia.

The appointment of Kaul as the external auditor of this large international organisation is a recognition both of the contribution of Indian public audit practices in the field of international public audit and its adoption of audit methodologies that are internationally benchmarked.

The CAG of India is currently also the external auditor of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the World Tourism Organisation.

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No comments on top post: PM
T R Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
Even as the race for the President’s post is hotting up with the Left expressing its keenness to back external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee for the highest constitutional office in the country, PM Manmohan Singh remained highly circumspect and guarded, refusing to offer any comment on the ground that it will be “highly inappropriate” to do so.

This was all the more so as discussions on the subject were underway in the Congress-led UPA. Dr Singh explained, “It is too premature to say anything without discussing with all the allies.”

In rapid fire succession, Mukherjee came out with a statement that media reports mentioning him as a likely contender for the post of President were “speculative and it was for the Congress leadership to decide his role in the party and the government.”

In a calculated move, the Left had come out in support of Mukherjee yesterday for the post of President with CPM leader Sitaram Yechuri telling mediapersons that if the Congress and the UPA put up Mukherjee, "then we will support it."

The Left's eagerness to come out with its nominee for the high office of President without the process of consultations having been completed, has created an embarrassing and piquant situation for Mukherjee who has been quick to put things in perspective through a brief statement.

The Left clearly did not want to pitchfork one of its own nominees though the name of Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee had been doing rounds for a few months.

The Left also wants the Congress and partners of the UPA to bring round BSP supremo and UP CM Mayawati to support their nominee.

There is still some distance to traverse in this regard as far as Mayawati is concerned who has been telling the leaders of other parties, seeking the BSP's patronage, that she will get back to them once she has given proper thought to who she would like to back as the country's next First Citizen.

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Selvi gets home portfolio

New Delhi, May 18
DMK member of parliament V. Radhika Selvi was inducted in the union council of ministers as a minister of state today.

An MP from Tiruchendur, she was administered the oath of office and secrecy by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at a brief ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhawan here.

Later a Rashtrapati Bhawan communque said Selvi was allocated the home portfolio. — TNS

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Blast caused by crude bomb: Patil
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
The explosion in Mecca mosque in Hyderabad was caused by a crude bomb, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said here.

Patil, who spoke to Andhra Pradesh CM Y S Rajashekhar Reddy soon after the blast said two live bombs were recovered from the spot and defused.

According top priority to providing immediate relief to those injured and to kin of the deceased, Patil said a 16-member bomb and forensic experts team have been rushed to the blast site from here to assess the nature of explosion and to lift clues to trace the culprits.

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, who was here, said there were three bombs in all, two of which were later defused. “If these two bombs had also exploded then the situation would have been worse,” Mr Reddy told newspersons here.

Asked whether there was an intelligence failure, the Chief Minister said two and half months ago the government had received intelligence inputs that some elements were trying to disturb peace in the state and all needful steps were taken to avert such an incident.

“The police is very vigilant… inspite of all this at times things like this do happen,” Reddy said replying to another question.

The CM also announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to next of kin of those killed in the blast and Rs 20,000 each to those injured.

PM Manmohan Singh while condemning the bomb blast in Hyderabad, has urged members of all communities to maintain peace and communal harmony.

He expressed his condolences to the relatives of the victims.

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Mumbai tense after blast

Mumbai, May 18
The bomb blast at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad reverberated in Mumbai today afternoon with miscreants in parts of central and south Mumbai attempting an impromptu bandh to protest the attack.

Police said miscreants coming out of a mosque after namaaz in Kurla, central Mumbai, stoned BEST buses to register their anguish at the Hyderabad blasts. Several passengers and a bus driver suffered minor bruises.

Though police patrolling is high on Fridays near the city’s main mosques, police could not prevent miscreants from attacking buses.

Police in Maharashtra is on high alert following the Hyderabad blast.

“We rushed in reinforcements and brought the situation under control,” Deputy Commissioner of Police D.M. Phadtare said. The state government has sounded a high alert.

Security is also tight in Nagpur after some anonymous phone calls were received, home department officials said.

Mumbai’s police commissioner D.N. Jadhav said security has been tightened at vital installations like the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. — TNS

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20 injured in Guwahati blast
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 18
At least twenty persons were injured when members of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) set off a bomb near the central jail in Fancy Bazar here this noon.

The bomb was planted under a handcart placed near the vegetable market in the area.

Kamrup district deputy commissioner Avinash Joshi said the ‘anti-national elements’ (ULFA) had targeted Fancy Bazar, the biggest business centre in the north east, to disrupt commercial activity.

This is the fifth such blast caused by ULFA this year in the Fancy Bazar area, which is dominated by Hindi-speaking traders.

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391 UP MLAs take oath

Lucknow, May 18
As many as 391 newly elected MLAs of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly were today administered oath in the House.

The oath was administered by a panel of senior members comprising Congress’ Pramod Tewari, Samajwadi Party’s Janardan Prasad Ojha and Gaurishankar and BSP’s Rampal Verma, who were nominated by Governor T.V. Rajeswar.

Current strength of the 403 member house is 401, following resignation of former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had won from two seats, from Gunnaur and countermanding of elections in Khaga constituency, following the death of Congress candidate there during campaigning.

Prime accused in poetess Madhumita murder case, Amar Mani Tripathi, who is currently lodged in a Dehradun jail, independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh and nine others could not be sworn in as they were absent.

Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Sukhdev Rajbhar was elected the unopposed speaker of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly today. — Agencies

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SC permits Shilpa to go abroad

New Delhi, May 18
The Supreme Court allowed Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty to go abroad, staying a look out notice issued against her, here today.

A bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan paved the way for Shilpa's visits abroad by staying the look out notice, linked to the arrest warrant issued against Hollywood actor Richard Gere.

As Shilpa's counsel mentioned the matter about the Mundawar police issuing a look out notice, the bench, which also had Justice B.P. Singh and Justice G.P. Mathur on it, stayed the notice and granted her permission to go abroad.

Ironically, the actress had to approach the court for suspension of the notice against her despite the apex court staying all criminal proceedings against her in various courts over the Gere kiss episode merely three days back. — IANS

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