Indian ex-PM Gujral dies at 92

Updated 30 November 2012
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Indian ex-PM Gujral dies at 92

NEW DELHI: Former Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, who engineered a thaw in the icy relationship with arch rival Pakistan during his time in government, died yesterday at age 92, the government announced.
“I am deeply grieved to inform the house about the demise of Inder Kumar Gujral, the former prime minister of India. He passed away at 3:31 p.m.,” Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told the lower house of Parliament.
Gujral, who served as prime minister in a coalition government from April 1997 to March 1998, was admitted to Gurgaon’s Medanta Medicity hospital 11 days ago with a lung infection.
The former diplomat was born in 1919 in the city of Jhelum, Punjab (now part of Pakistan) into a family of Congress party workers.
He began his career in politics as a student leader and member of the underground Communist Party of India. He was arrested in 1942 and jailed for his involvement in the anti-colonial Quit India movement.
Gujral joined the ruling Congress party after India won independence and rose through the ranks to become minister of information and broadcasting under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from 1969-71 and 1972-75.
The soft-spoken Gujral ran foul of the Congress leadership when he refused to censor radio bulletins during the state of emergency imposed by Gandhi in 1975.
He then spent five years working as India’s ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1976 to 1980.
Gujral left the Congress party in the 1980s and joined the socialist Janata Dal, serving twice as India’s foreign minister before being appointed prime minister in a coalition government in 1997.
He resigned from the post in 1998 after the Congress part withdrew its support for the government, forcing mid-term elections. He effectively retired from politics the following year.
The urbane politician was best known for the so-called Gujral Doctrine, an approach to foreign policy based on peaceful accommodation, arguing that India should treat its neighbors with generosity.
As premier, he attempted to improve India’s strained ties with Pakistan, saying it was time for both nations to leave the past behind and forge a new relationship.


France charges two ex-spies with passing secrets to ‘foreign power’

Updated 10 min 22 sec ago
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France charges two ex-spies with passing secrets to ‘foreign power’

  • Two former French spies, one of whom was reportedly posted in Beijing, have been charged with passing intelligence to a “foreign power,”
  • French media reports, citing sources close to the inquiry, said China is suspected

PARIS: Two former French spies, one of whom was reportedly posted in Beijing, have been charged with passing intelligence to a “foreign power,” a disclosure that has rocked the country’s intelligence services.
Defense Minister Florence Parly, who oversees the country’s General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), said Friday that she was not in a position to identify the country which recruited the agents, who were discovered and indicted in December.
“Two French agents in our service and probably one of the spouses of these agents are accused of serious acts likely to be considered acts of treason, on suspicions of delivering information to a foreign power,” Parly told CNews television.
“I can’t say much else,” she added.
“France has partners but we live in a dangerous world, and unfortunately these types of things can happen.”
French media reports, citing sources close to the inquiry, said China is suspected.
Parly said the agents were “quite likely” still in service at the time but investigators were still determining how long they had been passing along intelligence.
She also declined to specify the nature of compromised information, nor to reveal if the two agents were working together.
A judicial source told AFP late Thursday that two of the three suspects are being prosecuted for “delivering to a foreign power information that undermines the fundamental interests of the nation” and “compromising the secrecy of national defense.”
“One of them has also been charged for direct incitement to the crime of treason,” the source added.
The third person — believed to be the wife — has been indicted for “concealment of treasonable crimes” and placed under judicial control, meaning they are subject to certain constraints pending trial, according to the same source.
The armed forces ministry said: “These acts of extreme gravity have been detected by this service, which has brought these facts to its knowledge to the Paris prosecutor.”