Qureshi to meet Swaraj on sidelines of UNGA

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday that foreign ministers from both countries will meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, to be held in New York, next week. Pakistan said on Thursday that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan sent a letter to his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, requesting the resumption of talks on all outstanding issues. (Combo image of AFP file photos)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Qureshi to meet Swaraj on sidelines of UNGA

  • Pakistan and India foreign ministers to hold talks after three years
  • Move follows PM Khan’s letter to Indian PM Modi proposing a “meaningful dialogue”

NEW DELHI, ISLAMABAD: Signaling a thaw in frosty relations between India and Pakistan, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday that foreign ministers from both countries will meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, to be held in New York, next week.

The development, considered a major breakthrough in the stalled relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, follows a letter written by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, requesting the resumption of talks on all outstanding issues.

PM Khan, in the letter dated September 14, had proposed a meeting between Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi. He said that an informal meeting of the Saarc (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation), on the sidelines of the UNGA, would be the ideal platform to kickstart the dialogue. 

“We have just agreed to the meeting. The agenda is not finalized,” Raveesh Kumar, MEA spokesperson, said during a press briefing, in New Delhi, on Thursday.

“This should not be confused with the resumption of any dialogue; this is just a meeting on the request of Pakistan. This does not indicate any change in our policy as far as our stand on terrorism and cross border terrorism is concerned,” he added.

Earlier on Thursday, Pakistan’s Special Assistant to Prime Minister, Iftikhar Durrani, told Arab News: “We believe in peace with our neighbors and that's why Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged his Indian counterpart for a dialogue.”

Durrani said that PM Khan acknowledges the fact that “Pakistan remains ready to discuss terrorism” and that the letter was his initiative to restart the negotiation process. He added that the only way forward for the two countries “lies in constructive engagement,” even as both the neighbors had an “undeniably challenging relationship”.

Kashmir-based Indian political analyst, Siddiq Wahid, said he believed “any call for the resumption of talks is very good and should be welcomed.” 

But not before he added a caveat. “I am doubtful if Prime Minister Modi can make any conciliatory gesture towards Pakistan considering the current reality of the domestic politics in India and the mood of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cadres in the country. It seems that for anything substantial to come out between India and Pakistan one will have to wait till 2019, when general elections get over,” Wahid, a scholar on Central Asia and Tibetan history, said. 

He underlined the fact that “dialogue between India and Pakistan does not influence the situation in Kashmir much”, even though the outcome of the talks “would be directly proportional to the political climate within Jammu and Kashmir”. “The most important thing is to stop the human rights violations in the valley,” he added.

Ayaz Wazir, a senior Pakistani diplomat, concurs.

Terming PM Khan’s letter as a “good initiative”, he said any issue, including Kashmir, can be resolved through negotiations. “Peaceful resolution of the issues should be the top priority of both governments as this will bring prosperity not only to the people of the two countries but to the entire region as well,” he told Arab News.

In the past, analysts from both sides had suggested that with the Indian general elections slotted for 2019, it may be domestically challenging for the Modi government to make any concessions for Pakistan, considering Modi’s BJP derives considerable electoral support from the more conservative elements of the Indian political spectrum.

Zaigham Khan, an Islamabad-based political analyst, said that both countries should take “extraordinary measures” to build a positive public opinion for talks, arguing that a meaningful dialogue was not possible without strengthening the peace constituency on both sides of the border.  “Unfortunately hawks on both sides have always played their role to stall the dialogue process and the leaders of both countries should first devise a strategy to deal with them,” Khan told Arab News.

Adding that talks between Qureshi and Swaraj could pave way for a subsequent meeting between the prime ministers of both countries, PM Khan said in his letter to PM Modi that the summit “will offer an opportunity for you to visit Pakistan and for us to re-start the stalled dialogue process”.  

However, MEA spokesman Kumar reasoned that “the atmosphere in the region is not conducive for the Saarc summit”, dispelling expectations of India’s participation in the same.

It was in December 2015 that India had a substantive engagement with Pakistan when Foreign Minister Swaraj had traveled to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia conference.


Surveillance clips show Chinese billionaire with accuser

JD.com founder Richard Liu attends a Reuters interview in Hong Kong, China June 9, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 min 46 sec ago
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Surveillance clips show Chinese billionaire with accuser

  • The son of peasants, Liu built a Beijing electronics shop into JD.com, China’s biggest online direct retailer, selling everything from clothes to toys to fresh vegetables
  • Jingyao Liu is a Chinese citizen studying at the university on a student visa and was a volunteer in the doctorate program while Richard Liu was there

MINNEAPOLIS: An attorney for JD.com founder Richard Liu said Monday that surveillance video showing the Chinese businessman in an elevator and walking arm-in-arm with a woman who has accused him of rape provides a different account of what happened that night.
Two edited videos of Liu and his accuser were posted Monday to a Chinese social media site. One video shows the pair leaving a group dinner in Minneapolis on Aug. 30, with the woman getting up to leave after Liu gets up, then following him out the door. The other video shows the woman holding onto Liu’s arm as they walk to her apartment, where she says he raped her as she begged him to stop.
Liu, founder of the Beijing-based e-commerce site JD.com, was arrested Aug. 31 in Minneapolis on suspicion of felony rape, but prosecutors announced in December that he would face no criminal charges because the case had “profound evidentiary problems” and it was unlikely they could prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The woman, Jingyao Liu, a Chinese college student at the University of Minnesota, sued the businessman and his company last week. She alleged she was groped in Richard Liu’s limousine and raped in her apartment after a dinner at Origami, a Japanese restaurant in Minneapolis, in which she felt pressured to drink as Liu and other executives toasted her. At one point, Richard Liu said she would dishonor him if she did not join in, the lawsuit says.
Richard Liu and Jingyao Liu are not related.
It’s not clear who posted the videos, which were posted on Weibo under an account for Mingzhou Events. The clips are short and the content is edited, but Richard Liu’s attorneys in China confirmed their authenticity. The videos do not contain audio, and they do not show what happened in his limousine or in the woman’s apartment.
Jill Brisbois, Richard Liu’s attorney in Minnesota, said in a statement to The Associated Press that the clips “further dispel the misinformation and false claims that have been widely circulated and clearly support the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office decision not to file charges against our client.”
Brisbois said the videos speak for themselves and show events as they are happening. While the woman has alleged she was impaired and coerced to drink, she appears to be walking without assistance and linking her arm with the businessman.
The law firm of Florin Roebig, which is representing the woman, said the clips that have been posted online, as well as the full surveillance videos, are consistent with what the woman alleged in her lawsuit and with what she told law enforcement. The lawsuit says the woman went to her apartment building with Liu to be polite and respectful, and believed he was simply walking her to the door.
The clip in Jingyao Liu’s apartment complex shows Richard Liu and the woman walking through multiple lobbies and taking multiple elevators. Initially, Richard Liu’s female assistant is with them and the woman leads the way. At one point, the assistant does not get on an elevator with Richard Liu and the woman, and when they exit the elevator, she has her hand through his arm and he has his hands in his pockets.
She leads him up a short stairway, then through another set of doors and continues to link her hand through his arm. As they get off another elevator, she leads him down a hallway to an apartment. She opens the door and goes in, and Richard Liu follows.
The other clip features surveillance video from the end of the dinner at Origami. It shows Jingyao Liu seated at a table with other men, and Richard Liu is a few seats away, appearing to have an animated conversation with others at the table. One man at the dinner party is slumped over and appears to be passed out. The woman is seen talking to the man next to her, and when Liu gets up to leave, she gets up and appears to follow him. They walk out next to each other. Video from outside the restaurant shows her leaving with Richard Liu and his assistant.
Richard Liu walks ahead and it appears the woman and Liu’s assistant have a brief conversation, then she follows Liu.
Text messages previously reviewed by The Associated Press and portions of the woman’s interviews with police show the woman alleges Liu pulled her into a limousine and made advances and groped her despite her protests. The lawsuit says Liu forcibly raped her at her apartment, again over her protests and resistance. She texted a friend: “I begged him don’t. But he didn’t listen.”
The alleged attack happened while Richard Liu was in Minneapolis for a weeklong residency as part of the University of Minnesota’s doctor of business administration China program. The four-year program in the university’s management school is geared toward high-level executives in China and is a partnership with Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management.
Jingyao Liu is a Chinese citizen studying at the university on a student visa and was a volunteer in the doctorate program while Richard Liu was there. The Associated Press does not generally name alleged victims of sexual assault without their consent, but the Florin Roebig law firm has said she agreed to be named. She was 21 at the time of the alleged attack.
Richard Liu, known in Chinese as Liu Qiangdong, is a prominent member of the Chinese tech elite, with a fortune of $7.5 billion. He is part of a generation of entrepreneurs who have created China’s Internet, e-commerce, mobile phone and other technology industries since the late 1990s. The son of peasants, Liu built a Beijing electronics shop into JD.com, China’s biggest online direct retailer, selling everything from clothes to toys to fresh vegetables.