Tag Archives: Brussels

Political settlement with Afghan Government is the only way to end conflict with Taliban: John Kerry

Newsroom24x7 Staff

The US Secretary of State John Kerry
The US Secretary of State John Kerry

Brussels: The US Secretary of State John Kerry said here today that after the peace agreement between the Afghan Government and the militant group headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar that was announced last week, there is a path forward towards an honorable end to the conflict that the Taliban have waged. It cannot be won on the battlefield. A political settlement negotiated with the Afghan Government is the only way to end the fighting and ensure lasting stability.


Brussels Confrence on Afghanisatn
Brussels Conference on Afghanistan. 

Kerry was addressing the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, hosted by a combination of European Union and Afghanistan, on Wednesday 5 October. He said that the agreement with the Afghan Government requires Hekmatyar, one of the country’s most notorious figures, and his commanders to cease violence, cut all ties with their international terrorist organizations, and accept the Afghan constitution, including its guarantee of the rights for women and minorities. In return for keeping these commitments, Hekmatyar’s group will be able to emerge from the shadows to rejoin Afghan society.

Today, Kerry pointed out, the Taliban are again just trying to test the Afghan Government’s resolve. And Afghan forces continue to bravely repel these challenges.

Regarding the Afghan forces, Kerry went on to underscore “a few years ago, the United States of America had 140,000 troops in Afghanistan. We are now down to slightly shy of 10,000, and we have been there for the last few years. And guess what? The Afghan army, an army of 190,000 forces and a police force of 160,000, 320,000 strong in the security sector, have stood up, have resisted, have fought back within their current capacity, which we all have the ability to grow even further.”

Last month, the US Secretary of Sate said, the Taliban attacked the American University of Afghanistan, which is a bastion of progress and learning for the next generation of Afghan leaders. A movement that attacks Afghanistan’s youth, my friends, has no legitimacy whatsoever to claim to lead the country’s future.

Brussels Conference on Afghanistan
Brussels Conference on Afghanistan

Emphasising that “their goal of ridding Afghanistan of external forces will not occur by the demand or by the continued insurgency; it will come through peace. Make no mistake: The world community fully recognizes the stakes. And that is why at the NATO Warsaw Summit in July, the United States and other donors pledged to continue supporting the country’s security needs through 2020. And I think everybody here at the table knows and understands that if this progress continues and we continue to see the possibility of Afghanistan free and whole and stable in the future, no nation, I think, will walk away.”

Kerry observed “since we joined forces 15 years ago, since 2001, maternal mortality in childbirth in Afghanistan has gone down by 75 percent. Average life expectancy has risen from 42 years to 62 years. Access to basic health care has skyrocketed from 9 percent to 67 percent. In 2001, there was only one television station and it was owned by the government. Now, there are 75 stations and all but two are privately owned. Back then, there were virtually no cell phones, zero. Today, there are 18 million cell phones covering about 90 percent of residential areas connecting Afghans to the world.

We know that Afghanistan is going to continue to develop socially and economically. We know the Afghan people are, broadly, committed to peace and security, and that is something that they have been denied for too long by a small group of armed insurgents.”

India stands in solidarity with the Belgian people: Narendra Modi

Newsroom Staff


Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays wreath at Maelbeek Metro Station in Brussels during his visit to Belgium
Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays wreath at Maelbeek Metro Station in Brussels during his visit to Belgium

Brussels: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today offered floral tributes to those who lost their lives in the terror strikes here last week and said in this time of crisis, the whole of India stands in full support and solidarity with the Belgian people.

Addressing the media jointly with Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel, the Indian Prime Minister said:

” Last week has been a sad week for Belgium. Let me say Mr. Prime Minister that we share the depth of sorrow and grief that the people of Belgium have experienced in the last 8 days. My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones to the terror strikes in Brussels last week. Having experienced terrorist violence ourselves on countless occasions, we share your pain. Mr. Prime Minister, in this time of crisis, the whole of India stands in full support and solidarity with the Belgian people. I deeply appreciate your welcome and the time that you have devoted to me despite pressing demands on you. As part of our efforts to respond to this common challenge we could resume discussions on a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. Negotiations on Extradition Treaty and a Treaty on Exchange of Sentenced Prisoners could be concluded expeditiously .

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium in Brussels during his visit to Belgium
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium in Brussels during his visit to Belgium

Our two countries share a long history of friendship. A hundred years ago, more than 130,000 soldiers from India fought in the First World War alongside your countrymen on Belgian soil. More than 9,000 Indian soldiers made the supreme sacrifice. Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of India-Belgium diplomatic ties. To celebrate this important milestone in our friendship, we look forward to welcoming His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium in India next year. We would also be commemorating it with a joint programme of activities in each others’ countries. My conversation with Prime Minister Charles Michel today covered the whole spectrum of our ties. A system of bilateral foreign policy consultations would recommend concrete ways to upgrade our partnership.

India is one of the brightest economic opportunities in the world today. Our macroeconomic fundamentals are robust , and at 7% plus, we are one of the fastest growing economies of the world. I believe that a combination of Belgian capacities and India’s economic growth can produce promising opportunities for businesses on both sides. Prime Minister and I have just held a productive interaction with Belgian CEOs and business persons earlier today. I invite the Belgian government and companies to pro-actively associate with India’s ambitious development projects including Digital India, Start Up India and Skill India. Belgian businesses can make their global supply chains more cost effective by manufacturing in India. India’s goal to modernize infrastructure, especially railways and ports, and building of 100 plus smart cities also presents a unique investment opportunity for the Belgian companies. These partnerships can help us reach new heights in our trade and commercial partnership. I have invited Prime Minister Michel to visit India with Belgian businesses to see first-hand the reality of India’s economic and political promise. Clearly, it is not just diamonds that can bring shine to our partnership. Climate change is one of the greatest challenges before mankind. Prime Minister and I have agreed to enhance our cooperation in renewable energy. We would also build partnerships in areas such as harnessing waste for energy, small wind turbines and zero emission buildings. Advancement in S&T and High technology areas is of particular importance for India’s development priorities. We welcome Belgium’s collaboration in these areas. Prime Minister Michel and I have just activated , remotely, India’s largest optical telescope. This product of Indo-Belgian collaboration is an inspiring example of what our partnership can achieve. The work is also afoot on other agreements in the areas of Information and Communication Technology, audio-visual production Tourism biotechnology and shipping and ports.

Prime Minister meets Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council and Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission at the 13th India-EU Summit in Brussels. Photo Courtesy: M.Asokan
Prime Minister meets Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council and Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission at the 13th India-EU Summit in Brussels.
Photo Courtesy: M.Asokan

In a couple of hours from now, I would meet the E.U. leadership for the 13th India-E.U. Summit. For India, E.U. is one of our strongest strategic partners. Trade, Investment, and technology partnership between India and the E.U. would be one of the focus areas of our discussions. I feel that a progressive path and creative mind-set to India-E.U Trade and Investment Agreement can enable all the European countries, including Belgium, to benefit from India’s strong economic growth. I once again express my sincere gratitude to Prime Minister Charles Michel for his time, welcome and hospitality. I look forward to welcoming him in India.


Modi salutes the resilience of the Belgian citizens, talks of India’s robust ties with Saudi Arabia

Newsroom24x7 Desk

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Representative photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Representative photo)

New Delhi: Before his departure for Belgium, USA and Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi today saluted the resilience and spirit of the people of Belgium and said:”We stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the wake of the horrific attacks in Brussels and share the grief of those who lost their loved ones.

Modi will be in Brussels on March 30 to meet with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. There he will also be holding the 13th India-EU Summit with the E.U. leadership.

In a statement today, the Indian Prime Minister said: “Our relations with Belgium are deep rooted and have stood the test of time. Within the E.U., Belgium is India’s 2nd largest trading partner. My meeting with the Prime Minister aims to expand trade, investment and high technology partnership with this important E.U. member.

Along with Prime Minister Charles Michel, I would remote activate the India-Belgium ARIES (Aryabhatta Research Institute for Observational Sciences) Telescope.

The European Union is a vital trading partner and the biggest export destination for India. This Summit will advance our multifaceted engagement across a whole range of domains.

In Brussels, I would also be meeting with the Members of European Parliament (MEPs), Indologists, Belgian CEOs as well as a wide cross section of the Indian diaspora in Belgium. I would also interact with the Board Members of the Association of Diamond Traders in Belgium.

The same evening, I will address a Community Programme and interact with the Indian community.

After Belgium, I will be in Washington DC on 31st March to participate in the 4th Nuclear Security Summit, where several nations and global organisations would be represented.

The Summit would deliberate on the crucial issue of threat to nuclear security caused by nuclear terrorism. Leaders would discuss ways and measure through which to strengthen the global nuclear security architecture, especially to ensure that non-state actors do not get access to nuclear material.

On the sidelines of the Summit, I would meet with several world leaders to carry forward the agenda of bilateral cooperation with those nations.

I also look forward to my interaction with the scientists associated with LIGO project.

On 2nd and 3rd April, at the invitation of H.M. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, I will be visiting Saudi Arabia.

India’s ties with Saudi Arabia are special. Robust people-to-people ties constitute a key component of our engagement. I plan to work with the Saudi leadership to expand and deepen our bilateral relations. Discussions on the regional situation would also be on the agenda.

Our economic ties are also expanding. Saudi Arabia is India’s 4th largest trading partner, and is also India’s largest crude oil supplier.

In addition to meeting with H.M. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, I also look forward to my discussions with other important members of the Royal family.

We want the prominent Saudi businesses to partner with India’s development priorities. That would be one of the key objectives of the business event planned in Riyadh.

I will visit the Masmak Fortress, ‘L&T Workers’ Residential Complex and TCS All Women IT & ITES Center in Riyadh.”

Top priority is to defeat ISIL and eliminate the threat of terrorism: Barack Obama

Newsroom24x7 Staff

US President ObamaWashington DC: Speaking in Cuba on March 23, President Obama made a statement on horrific bombings at the Brussels airport and Maelbeek metro station in Belgium.

Obama has affirmed that his top priority now is to defeat ISIL and eliminate the threat of terrorism.

Addressing the media in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Obama said:

“I’ve got a lot of things on my plate. But my top priority is to defeat ISIL and to eliminate the scourge of this barbaric terrorism that’s been taking place around the world. And we see high-profile attacks in Europe, but they’re also killing Muslims throughout the Middle East — people who are innocent, people who are guilty only of worshipping Islam in a different way than this organization. They are poisoning the minds of young people everywhere.”

“So there’s no more important item on my agenda than going after them and defeating them. The issue is how do we do it in an intelligent way. And our approach has been continuously to adjust to see what works and what doesn’t. What has been working is the airstrikes that we’re taking on their leadership, on their infrastructure, on their financial systems.”

“One of the great strengths of the United States, and part of the reason why we have not seen more attacks in the United States, is we have an extraordinarily successful, patriotic, integrated Muslim American community. They do not feel ghettoized, they do not feel isolated. Their children are our children’s friends, going to the same schools. They are our colleagues in our workplaces. They are our men and women in uniform fighting for our freedom. And so any approach that would single them out or target them for discrimination is not only wrong and un-American, but it also would be counterproductive, because it would reduce the strength, the antibodies that we have to resist terrorism.”

“Groups like ISIL can’t destroy us, they can’t defeat us. They don’t produce anything. They’re not an existential threat to us. They are vicious killers and murderers who perverted one of the world’s great religions. And their primary power, in addition to killing innocent lives, is to strike fear in our societies, to disrupt our societies, so that the effect cascades from an explosion or an attack by a semi-automatic rifle.

“And even as we are systematic and ruthless and focused in going after them — disrupting their networks, getting their leaders, rolling up their operations — it is very important for us to not respond with fear. As I said, that’s hard to do because we see the impact in such an intimate way of the attacks that they make. But we defeat them in part by saying, you are not strong; you are weak. We send a message to those who might be inspired by them to say, you are not going to change our values of liberty and openness and the respect of all people.”