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India and Russia sign energy, defense deals worth billions

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(Last Updated On: October 16, 2016)

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during exchange of agreements event after India-Russia Annual Summit in Benaulim, in the western state of GoaWritten by: Reuters

India and Russia signed billions of dollars of defense and energy deals on Saturday at a summit that sought to inject new life into a relationship that has been tested by shifting global alliances and conflict in the Middle East.

Under the biggest agreement, a group led by Russian state oil major Rosneft (ROSN.MM) said it would pay $12.9 billion for a controlling stake in both India’s Essar Oil and port facilities that it owns.

The countries, which had strong ties during the Cold War, announced plans for a joint venture to build helicopters in India. New Delhi said it would also buy surface-to-air missile systems and stealth frigates from Moscow.

“Ours is a truly unique and privileged relationship,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the western seaside state of Goa.

Modi said that his views were aligned with Putin’s on the unstable situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East, where Moscow is at odds with the West in the five-year-old civil war in Syria that has killed hundreds of thousands.

“We are conducting a comprehensive dialog on a wide scale of international issues, in which Indian and Russian approaches are close to each other or coincide,” said Putin.

Modi also praised Putin’s support for the fight against international terrorism, which India accuses its neighbor and rival Pakistan of sponsoring. “Russia’s clear stand on the need to combat terrorism mirrors our own,” Modi said.

MULTIPLE DEALS

The Rosneft-Essar deal will be the biggest foreign takeover in India, and Russia’s largest outbound deal, according to Thomson Reuters data.

It comes as Russia moves to reassert its role in global affairs and at a time when its own economy is stagnant, hit by Western sanctions and low oil prices.

Under the deal, a group led by Rosneft will acquire 98 percent of Essar Oil, and with it a 400,000 barrels-per-day refinery and port at Vadinar for $12.9 billion, the two sides said.

Russian state bank VTB (VTBR.MM) said it would refinance $3.9 billion owed by the Essar Group. Rosneft would pay $3.5 billion and its partners, oil trader Trafigura and investment fund UCP the same amount for an equal joint stake.

The refinery deal follows a string of upstream investments in Russia by Indian companies in recent months that, Modi said, were worth $5.5 billion.

Also on display was Russia’s nuclear prowess, with the second reactor of the Russian-built Kudankulam plant in Tamil Nadu hooked up to the grid and concrete being poured in a ceremony carried by a TV linkup to mark the start of work on the third and fourth reactors there.

Putin said that Russia would be able to build a dozen nuclear reactors in India over the next 20 years to back Modi’s growth strategy for Asia’s third-largest economy, which continues to suffer chronic power shortages.

HELICOPTERS, MISSILES, SHIPS

The defense pacts will also deepen military ties between the two countries that dates back to the Soviet era, when India entirely depended on Moscow to equip its armed forces. The United States has since taken over as India’s top arms supplier.

Indian military officials have said the plan is for the joint venture to build at least 200 Kamov 226t helicopters required by the country’s defense forces. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd will be the local partner of Russian Helicopters and state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.

The S-400 surface-to-air missiles would strengthen India’s defenses along its borders with China and Pakistan, Indian military officials have said. Also agreed were plans to build and supply stealth frigates for the Indian navy.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is in charge of space and military industries, said two frigates could be built in India and two in Russia, RIA news agency reported. Rogozin said the ships may later be equipped with missiles manufactured by BrahMos Aerospace, a venture co-owned by the Indian and Russian governments.

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ATN employee Sulaiman Yousufi dies of Coronavirus

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(Last Updated On: May 29, 2020)

COVID19 took the life of an employee of the Ariana International Television Network.

Sulaiman Yousufi, an employee of Ariana News and Ariana TV, died of coronavirus today.

Mr. Sulaiman Yousufi was infected by the Coronavirus a few days ago and died early today after severe suffering from respiratory troubles.

Yousufi had been working in the transportation department of Ariana TV and Ariana News for over a decade.

He is survived by a son and two daughters.

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Prisoner release; Taliban’s technical team negotiating with gov’t

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(Last Updated On: May 29, 2020)

Both the Taliban team and the government are negotiating on how to verify and release the prisoners, as well as obtaining guarantees of not returning to the war, Arg said.

An agreement on peace between the Taliban and the government has not yet been reached, but the US-Taliban peace agreement which was signed three months ago in Doha, Qatar says that the Afghan government should release 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1,000 prisoners from the Taliban side.

A Taliban delegation is now in Kabul negotiating the prisoners’ release.

However, the Taliban has said that the team was in Kabul only to monitor the release of prisoners and has no further authority over other aspects of the peace process.

The Afghan government and the Taliban in their latest actions came to an agreement about a three-day ceasefire on the occasion of Eid ul-Fitr.

The Afghan government is now urging the Taliban to take new and more practical steps in the process of starting Intra-Afghan negotiations.

Arg said that the government’s negotiating team was ready and that the government was committed to take new measures.

Sediq Sediqqi, the presidential spokesman said that the Afghan government had taken major steps towards peace and it was time for the Taliban to show the green light.

Sources close to the Taliban said that the unannounced ceasefire by the group is ongoing, but they will not start the Intra-Afghan negotiations until thousands of the Taliban prisoners are released.

The United States and the international community are waiting for the Afghan government and the Taliban to begin the first round of Intra-Afghan Talks, as the start of these talks could open new doors to the Afghan peace process.

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Official: Laliga to resume on June 11

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(Last Updated On: May 29, 2020)

The Spanish Football league known as La Liga will officially resume on June 11, says the Laliga’s president Javier Tebas.

While the Coronavirus shutdown the European football leagues for two months, the major football leagues are now preparing to resume their matches.

The Germany’s Bundesliga is already resumed, whereas the other major leagues are yet to resume their matches.

According to Javier Tebas, the Laliga’s president, the match between Real Betis and Sevilla on June 11 could restart the league.

Tebas added the 2020-2021 season of Laliga will start on September 12.

This comes as all matches of the league for this season will be held behind the closed doors.

The England’s Premier League is expected to start on June 17th, while the Italy’s Serie A will resume on June 21st.

The French Football League was cancelled for this season, and Paris Saint German became the early champion of the season.

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