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Events in Nandigram unfortunate, says PM
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

Singapore, November 20
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today pointed a finger at the Left saying that “events in Nandigram have taken a most unfortunate turn” and found understanding with the “outpourings of grief and anguish by artists and intellectuals in Kolkata” over the tragic issue.

Taking to mediapersons during the Prime Minister’s onboard press conference, the Prime Minister obliquely blamed the Left government in West Bengal for the loss of lives and destruction of property saying that it was “the duty of the state government to ensure that all sections of the population regardless of their political views and affiliations are entitled to and do receive protection of the law enforcement agencies”.

While the Prime Minister was careful about his words on the sensitive issue as he instead of spontaneously reacting to reporters question on developments in Nandigram chose to read out a prepared statement which was abundantly clear in its intent and purpose.

“I sincerely hope the state government will be able to take necessary steps to restore the confidence of the people through effective deployment of security forces”, Manmohan Singh said condoling the loss of lives and regretting the destruction of property.

Responding to a pointed question, the Prime Minister said this was a matter that should be discussed in Parliament. The presiding officers of both the houses of the Parliament are looking at how such a discussion can be facilitated, under what rule etc.

Stating that he would not like to say anything more on the issue as the Parliament was in session, the Prime Minister said he had asked the home minister to be in touch with the West Bengal Chief Minister. “I would not like to comment further while I am out of the country”, he observed.

On the political developments in Karnataka, the Prime Minister said the union cabinet at its meeting in the morning before his departure has forwarded Governor Rameshwar Thakur’s recommendation of imposition of President’s rule to the President.

About the law and order situation in Manipur, the Prime Minister said he had discussed the issue with the state Chief Minister frequently and “I have impressed upon him that the situation needs to be handled firmly and with tact”.

On the rising petrol prices in the international markets and the Indian economy, he said that the cabinet had discussed the issue and added that he had appointed a Group of Ministers to examine the issue of price hike of petroleum products.

Manmohan meets Myanmar PM
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (L), his wife Gursharan Kaur (2nd from left) and Indonesian Prime Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with his wife Ani Bambang Yudhoyono (R), at a dinner, held on the sidelines of the 13th ASIAN Summit, in Singapore on Tuesday.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (L), his wife Gursharan Kaur (2nd from left) and Indonesian Prime Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with his wife Ani Bambang Yudhoyono (R), at a dinner, held on the sidelines of the 13th ASIAN Summit, in Singapore on Tuesday. — AFP

Singapore, November 20
India today told Myanmar to broad base its reform process by including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and various other ethnic nationalities.

In his first bilateral meeting during the two summits here, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conveyed India’s position to Mayanmar Prime Minister General Thien Sien that the reform process should be broad based and should include Aung San Suu Kyi and other ethnic nationalities.

While India was conveying a relatively tough message to Myanmar, Yangon succeeded in getting a briefing of UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari to the East Asia Summit tomorrow cancelled.

Singapore called off a briefing on the situation in Myanmar by Gambari to the EAS after Myanmar’s objections.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told reporters after an informal working dinner of ASEAN leaders on Monday night that the Myanmar Prime Minister had made clear the situation in Myanmar was a domestic affair and that the country was fully capable of handling the situation by itself.

Sien reportedly explained that Gambari had visited Myanmar four times and that the country had implemented many of his proposals.

Sien stressed that Gambari should only report to the UN Security Council and not to ASEAN of the EAS and that Myanmar had confidence in Gambari’s mission and the good offices of the UN.

“In view of Myanmar’s position, Gambari will not brief ASEAN or EAS leaders”, Sien said.

Earlier, Singh told the Myanmar Prime Minister that the reform process should be carried forward expeditiously and to a satisfactory conclusion.

Sien briefed the Prime Minister about the developments in Myanmar and Yangon’s efforts for political reforms and the process of national reconciliation.

The two leaders also reviewed bilateral and regional issues, a spokesman of the ministry of external affairs said here.

The Prime Minister is also scheduled to meet the Prime Ministers of China, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.

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PM hopeful of getting N-deal through
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

Singapore, November 20
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed hope that a final satisfactory outcome of the Indo-US nuclear deal could be reached.

Addressing mediapersons aboard his special AI flight en route to attend the two summits with ASEAN here, the Prime Minister admitted that there has been some delay in finalising the deal. “But I still hope that the process of bringing about a viable national consensus will yield results. So I have not given up hope that we can reach a final satisfactory outcome”, the Prime Minister observed.

To a question whether the nuclear safeguards agreement will be brought to the UPA-Left coordination committee this year, Manmohan Singh said, “Well I hope as soon as possible”. “The negotiations are going to begin with the IAEA. We will bring them back to the Left-UPA” panel, he said.

Dismissing reports about a nuclear deal not being finalised with Russia, the Prime Minister said, “We have entered into an MoU with” Moscow for four additional nuclear reactors at Koodankulam and “well let me say that what is stated in so many newspapers is not the truth”.

To a question if the Russian deal and 123 agreement were interlinked, he said “well it has always been understood as such by us as well as the Russians”.

Whether India has Russian support in the NSG, the Prime Minister said he had “discussed the matter with President Vladimir Putin now and in the last two years. Russia has been very supportive of India. They are supportive of India in dealing with the IAEA and we have the assurances of their support when the matter goes before the NSG”.

On China’s support at the NSG, Manmohan Singh gave a diplomatic answer saying that “well, I think the Chinese have not said that they would not support us”.

Stating that he would not like to comment on developments in Pakistan, the Prime Minister reiterated that the destinies of the two countries were interlinked.

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PM keen to attend Question Hour today
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

Singapore, November 20
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided to return home for barely 12 hours late on Wednesday night so that he did not miss Question Hour in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

Soon after the India-Asean summit and the East Asia meeting here tomorrow, Dr Manmohan Singh would fly back home.

Even though the chances of having Question Hour appears bleak with the BJP demanding a discussion on Nandigram and the Left insisting it will not allow the same on the ground that law and order is a state subject necessitating adjournment of both the Houses of Parliament over the past two days, the Prime Minister insisted on being present for his Question Hour in the Lok Sabha.

The exercise is also aimed at avoiding criticism at this juncture when the government is under attack for keeping mum on the Nandigram issue in West Bengal and the main Opposition BJP demanding that the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal be renegotiated.

Thus the Prime Minister returns home late at night on Wednesday and takes off for Kampala, Uganda, after attending Question Hour in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

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