Canada rescinds invitation to militant to dine with Trudeau

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau speaks during the India Canada business session in New Delhi on Thursday. (AFP)
Updated 23 February 2018
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Canada rescinds invitation to militant to dine with Trudeau

NEW DELHI: Canadian officials Thursday admitted a Sikh extremist convicted of attempting to murder an Indian minister had been invited to dinner with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in New Delhi, in the latest controversy to dog the premier’s week-long visit to India.
A statement confirming Jaspal Atwal’s invitation to Thursday’s official event had been canceled comes less than a day after Trudeau sought to quash perceptions his administration was soft on Sikh extremists.
The Canadian Embassy told AFP it “has rescinded Mr. Atwal’s invitation.”
Atwal was convicted for a botched assassination attempt on an Indian minister in Canada in 1986, and was sentenced to 20 years by a Canadian court.
He reportedly attended an event in Mumbai on Tuesday, where he was photographed alongside Trudeau’s wife Sophie Gregoire, according to Canada’s public broadcaster CBC.
The embassy would not comment on whether Atwal was part of Trudeau’s official delegation, although reports in Canada said Trudeau’s office had denied this.
“We do not comment on matters relating to the PM’s security,” it said.
Atwal was a member of the International Sikh Youth Federation, an organization outlawed in India and Canada, among other places, that seeks an independent Sikh state of Khalistan.
India’s Foreign Ministry said it was investigating how Atwal — a Canadian passport holder of Indian origin — managed to obtain a visa to travel to India.
“We are trying to find out, and ascertain details from our mission (in Canada),” ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters in New Delhi.
Canada is home to roughly half a million Sikhs and Trudeau’s administration has been accused of being too cosy with those agitating for a separate homeland in India’s northern Punjab state.
Trudeau particularly riled New Delhi last year when he attended a parade in Canada at which Sikh militants were feted as heroes.
Tensions over the Khalistan issue have marred Trudeau’s visit, and fueled speculation the prime minister was being snubbed by his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Modi has been notably absent since Trudeau and his family arrived Saturday evening.
Government officials greeted the Trudeaus at the Taj Mahal and in Modi’s home state of Gujarat.
Trudeau on Wednesday sought to dispel perceptions his administration was too close to Sikh separatists, telling Punjab’s chief minister Canada did not sympathize with extremist movements.
But photographs of Atwal flanked by Canadian officials at the Mumbai event attended by Trudeau have thrust the controversy back into the headlines.
Modi and Trudeau are scheduled to meet on Friday in New Delhi at the tail end of his first visit as prime minister to India.


Japan airlines change ‘Taiwan’ to ‘China Taiwan’ on websites

Updated 4 min 50 sec ago
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Japan airlines change ‘Taiwan’ to ‘China Taiwan’ on websites

TOKYO: Japan’s two largest airlines have changed “Taiwan” to “China Taiwan” on their Chinese-language websites, officials said Tuesday, a move likely to please Beijing but anger the self-ruled island.
The change was made on June 12 and is meant to accommodate customers, Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) said.
The description remains “Taiwan” on their websites in Japanese and other languages.
Both carriers said they had not received any protest from Taiwan so far, though Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported Taiwan’s foreign ministry would lodge a complaint with the airlines through Japan’s de-facto diplomatic mission in Taipei.
“We made the judgment (to change the name) while consulting and reporting to the transport ministry and foreign ministry,” a spokesman at Japan Airlines said.
“The change came on June 12 as our preparations were done by then,” he said.
June 12 was the date of the historic summit between North Korea and the United States, which attracted international attention.
“We chose a description that is easy to understand and acceptable for users of our websites,” added the JAL official, who declined to be named.
A spokesman at ANA said the change was intended to make the description “easy to understand and acceptable for customers when they use our websites.”
“We do not mean any particular group of customers here but mean all customers,” he said without elaborating further.
The airlines are not the only international carriers who have made the change recently, with Australia’s Qantas earlier this month defending its decision to list Taiwan as part of China.
The Chinese Civil Aviation Administration sent a notice to 36 foreign airlines in April, asking them to comply with Beijing’s standard of referring to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as Chinese territories.
Japan’s ties with China are improving after years of acrimony over historical and territorial issues.
Japan has close business ties with Taiwan but has acknowledged the “One China” policy, which describes Taiwan as an integral part of China.
Asked about the change, Japan’s top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo was “not in favor of government authorities demanding certain measures from private companies based on a specific political stance.”
“The government has expressed Japan’s interest in this issue on the Chinese side,” he added.