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Cong leader dubs Mulayam as BJP agent


Moradabad/New Delhi:At a time when the SP is backing Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential race, Congress leader Rashid Alvi has sparked off a controversy by dubbing Mulayam Singh Yadav as the "biggest agent" of BJP, attracting instant disapproval from the AICC today.




Ecuador weighing Assange death sentence risk

QUITO: Ecuador is weighing the risk that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could face the death penalty in the United States in reaching a decision on whether to grant him asylum, its foreign minister said Wednesday.

"We are now studying Assange's charge that he risks being tried for political reasons and could be sentenced to death," foreign minister Ricardo Patino said on his Twitter account.

"Ecuador declares that it will protect the human right to life and to freedom of expression," Patino said, adding that Assange's request for political asylum "requires profound analysis."

Assange, 40, turned up in Ecuador's embassy in London on Tuesday, requesting asylum after Britain's top court denied a last ditch appeal to avoid extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes.

Assange maintains that the allegations are politically motivated and that Sweden will deport him to the United States to be put on trial for WikiLeaks' disclosure of a huge trove of US classified documents.




India, China agrees for defence and security dialogue

Rio de Janeiro: India and China today agreed to step up their defence and security dialogue and work to take steps to ensure that the two countries achieve a $100 billion trade target by 2015.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao spoke of the need to continue with this dialogue at their 40-minute meeting on the sidelines of the Rio+20 Environment Summit here.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said that during the discussion on trade and economic cooperation Prime Minister Singh invited Chinese investment in infrastructure in India.

Mathai also said that Indian rice exports to China will commence soon.Reflecting the good chemistry shared between them, Wen told Singh that their meeting in Brazil was the 13th between them.

Mathai said the two leaders also discussed the issue of trans-border rivers flowing in India and China during which Beijing agreed to transfer of information in this regard to New Delhi.Official sources said this move sent a strong signal from China on sharing of information with India on the rivers issue. This was also important since India was a lower riparian country."Defence and strategic dialogue (between India and China) should continue and be stepped up," Mathai said.

The two countries have already agreed to establish a "strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity". They have also reiterated their intention to promote regular ministerial-level exchanges and make full use of the strategic dialogue and other bilateral dialogue mechanisms. Prime Minister Singh also spoke of Indian naval ships recently visiting China. On the boundary question, Singh and Wen said the Special Representatives of the two countries have been asked to prepare a joint work done so far. The two leaders also spoke of the joint mechanism set up by the two countries. The mechanism was floated by Wen last year.

Mathai described as good the bilateral meeting. He said the two countries are on track to achieve $ 100 billion trade target by 2015.

Chinese authorities have already given the green light for Indian exports of basmati rice following a long and tortuous six-year process that has been seen as underscoring the difficulties of navigating the complex bureaucratic hurdles that bar entry into the China market.





Paes rejects 2-team compromise

New Delhi: The All India Tennis Association (AITA) will announce India's team for the London Olympics today. Leander Paes, India's highest-ranked player has threatened to pull out of the Olympics if AITA sends two teams.

Here's your 10-point cheatsheet to the latest developments:

1. Leander Paes on Wednesday wrote a strong letter to AITA saying that he is not in favour of sending two teams to London. "It would not be acceptable, if with my ranking as the best Indian tennis player, I give up the best option of partner for winning a medal for my country and am made to play the Olympics with a player ranked 207 / 306 in the world while the No.13 and No. 15 ranked players form another team together based on their refusal to play with me."

2 The tennis association originally wanted Leander Paes to be paired with Mahesh Bhupathi. However, after his refusal they asked Rohan Bopanna to partner Paes but he also declined.

3. Bhupathi and Bopanna are in favour of AITA sending two teams as that would allow them to pair together. Both of them had written to the association, saying, "We have worked together on strengthening our partnership and have proved its benefits. As a result, we have maintained our position as one of the top Men's Doubles teams in the world."  The pair won a Masters 500 title in Dubai, in February this year.

4. Paes, however says in his letter to the Tennis Association, "We cannot be condoning or rewarding the drama enacted by Mahesh and Rohan. This would be a bad precedent."

5. The AITA has indicated that it will stick to its original decision of sending only one team and said that it is difficult to imagine a team without Leander. AITA was expected to announce its decision on Wednesday but postponed the announcement till Thursday, which is the last day to submit names for the Olympics.

6. Sports Minister Ajay Maken had tried to intervene, and asked why the Tennis Association is adamant on sending just one team.

7. The tennis association wrote back saying that it would be meaningless to send Paes with a younger player who has not played a Grand Slam. "Leander being the best player must be paired with either Rohan Bopanna or Mahesh Bhupathi," the letter said.

8. Paes is also keen on partnering Sania Mirza. Paes' ranking as World No. 7 and Sania's as World No. 12 give them a combined rank of 19, which means they qualify directly but Mahesh, ranked 15, and she come at 27 and don't qualify directly.

9. In the mixed doubles, AITA wants Sania to pair with Bhupathi as the duo has had success together and recently won the French Open title. They had also won the 2009 Australian Open. AITA has asked for a singles and doubles wildcard for Sania.

10. However, according to the rules if Bhupathi does not feature in the men's doubles event, he cannot play in the mixed doubles.




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