Indian, Pakistan soldiers to hold talks on rising Kashmir violence

Updated 14 January 2013
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Indian, Pakistan soldiers to hold talks on rising Kashmir violence

NEW DELHI/JAMMU, India/MIRANSHAH, Pakistan: Military officials from India and Pakistan hold talks today at the Line of Control, which divides disputed Kashmir, in a bid to defuse tensions after a series of deadly attacks in the region, Indian army officials said.
Four soldiers were killed last week in the worst outbreak of violence in Kashmir since the nuclear-armed neighbors agreed a ceasefire nearly a decade ago.
“Yes the two sides will be meeting today. This is a local commander meet,” Colonel Rajesh Kalia, a spokesman for Indian Army’s Northern Command, told Reuters by phone.
Another Indian Army spokesman, Colonel Jagdeep Dahiya, said in New Delhi that the meeting would take place in Mendhar, the scene of one of the deadly attacks, at 1 p.m. (0730 GMT).
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.
Firing and small skirmishes are common along the 740-km (460-mile) LoC despite a ceasefire that was agreed in 2003. The Indian army says eight of its soldiers were killed in 2012, in 75 incidents of ceasefire violations.
Last Sunday, a Pakistani soldier was killed in what Islamabad said was a cross-border raid mounted by the Indians. The Indian army denied any of its troops breached the control line, but said there had been an exchange of fire.
Two days later, further south along the LoC in the Mendhar district, two Indian soldiers were killed in a thick forest after what Indian officials said was a deep incursion into their territory by Pakistani forces. The head of one of the bodies had been “badly severed,” according to Indian officials.
On Thursday, hostilities erupted again in another part of the ceasefire line, and this time Pakistan said one of its soldiers was killed.

Roadside bomb kills 14 Pakistani troops

Meanwhile, at least 14 Pakistani soldiers were killed and 25 others injured yesterday when a roadside bomb hit a military convoy in a lawless tribal area bordering Afghanistan, officials said.
The improvised explosive device struck the convoy in Dosali village in the troubled North Waziristan tribal district, a notorious stronghold of Taleban and Al- Qaeda-linked militants, a senior military official said.
“At least 14 soldiers embraced martyrdom and 25 others were wounded in an IED (attack),” he said about the bombing which was confirmed by local security officials.
All the soldiers killed were in one truck and those injured were in vehicles behind it, he added.
Local residents said military helicopter gunships had reached the scene after the attack. Nobody immediately claimed responsibility but Taleban militants frequently attack security forces in the area.
The seven northwestern tribal districts are rife with homegrown insurgents as well as Taleban and Al-Qaeda-linked operatives.
Islamabad says more than 35,000 people have been killed as a result of terrorism in the country since the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
On Saturday, Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taleban, had circulated a leaflet calling for an end to the Taleban’s infrequent attacks on Pakistani soldiers in North Waziristan.
Thousands of Pakistani soldiers are stationed in North Waziristan.
FROM: AGENCIES


Taiwan’s Tsai urges world to stand up to China

Updated 25 June 2018
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Taiwan’s Tsai urges world to stand up to China

  • Tsai Ing-wen urged other nations to unite with Taiwan in defending against China’s expansionist aims and to protect shared liberal values
  • Against Beijing’s growing global influence, the island’s desire to promote its status internationally as a beacon of democracy in Asia remains an uphill struggle

TAIPEI: Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen called on the international community to “constrain” China by standing up for freedoms, casting her island’s giant neighbor as a global threat to democracy.
Her comments in an exclusive interview with AFP on Monday come as Taiwan faces what Tsai called “immense pressure” from Beijing.
She urged other nations to unite with Taiwan in defending against China’s expansionist aims and to protect shared liberal values.
“This is not just Taiwan’s challenge, it is a challenge for the region and the world as a whole, because today it’s Taiwan, but tomorrow it may be any other country that will have to face the expansion of China’s influence,” Tsai said.
“Their democracy, freedom, and freedom to do business will one day be affected by China,” Tsai added.
“We need to work together to reaffirm our values of democracy and freedom in order to constrain China and also minimize the expansion of their hegemonic influence.”
Her comments come after a sustained period of aggression from China toward Taiwan, which Beijing believes is part of mainland territory, to be reunified by force if necessary.
Self-ruling Taiwan is a democracy and sees itself as a sovereign country, although it has never formally declared independence from the mainland.
An increasingly hardline President Xi Jinping has made it clear that what he sees as threats to China’s territorial integrity will not be tolerated.
China is deeply suspicious of Tsai as her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is traditionally pro-independence.
Since she took office in 2016, Beijing has ramped up military drills near the island and has successfully pressured some major international companies to list Taiwan as part of China on their websites.
It has also exerted diplomatic pressure by ensuring Taiwan is excluded from major international forums and wooing away some of its few remaining official allies.
Tsai said China should “be aware of their own responsibility” in the region and “engage in conversation with Taiwan.”
Countries both around the region and further afield have expressed concern over China building military facilities on remote islands in the South China Sea.
Beijing has also been seeking to extend its power with its globe-spanning Belt and Road infrastructure project, which aims to connect the world’s second-largest economy with Africa, Asia and Europe through a vast network of ports, railways, roads and industrial parks.
But despite escalating tensions, Tsai said she would still “be willing” to meet with China’s President Xi Jinping.
“Of course, I hope that during my term as president, there is a chance for both sides to sit down and talk,” Tsai said.
She added she would meet Xi on an equal footing and with no political pre-conditions, a position she has long taken.
However, Beijing insists Tsai must agree that Taiwan is part of “one China” in order for any meeting to take place, which she has refused to do.
Tsai said the recent summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had “provided a lot to think about.”
“Their two countries are very far apart in terms of cultural values and other aspects, as well as the positions they hold,” said Tsai.
“But they were able to sit down and talk on the basis of reciprocity and mutual respect in Singapore. I think this was a positive development for the international community.
“It is also an encouragement for countries that are at odds with one another.”
With its number of official allies dwindling to 18 as Beijing lures them away, Taiwan is now trying to forge new friendships.
Its most powerful ally is the United States, which is its major arms supplier even though it does not have formal diplomatic relations with the island.
Tsai said Taiwan had seen growing support from the United States, where Congress recently passed bills paving the way for higher level official visits, and recommending greater US-Taiwan military exchanges. The US State Department also approved a preliminary license for sensitive submarine technology, riling Beijing.
The warming relationship comes as Taiwan tries to boost its homegrown defense force.
“In the face of China’s threats, we feel the need for us to improve self-defense capabilities,” she said.
Tsai said Taiwan is looking to bolster ties with “like-minded” countries.
But against Beijing’s growing global influence, the island’s desire to promote its status internationally as a beacon of democracy in Asia remains an uphill struggle.
“Of course, there are times when we feel frustrated, but the Taiwanese people do not have the option of giving up,” she said.