New Delhi: With exquisite desi cuisine on the platter and live yoga sessions on display, the annual Swiss jamboree of the rich and powerful from ‘a fractured world’ will begin in Davos where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to pitch India as a growth engine for the global economy.
Over 3,000 world leaders from business, politics, art, academia and civil society will attend the 48th World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting over the next five days in the small ski resort town on snow-covered Alps mountains, where the Indian presence will be the largest ever with over 130 participants.
WEF Chairman Klaus Schwab will declare the summit open with a welcome message on the meeting’s theme, ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’.
It will be followed by honouring Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan, Australian actress Cate Blanchett and legendary musician Elton John with the annual ‘Crystal Awards’ for their respective work towards improving the state of the world.
The evening will also see a ballet performance, while India will host the ‘welcome reception’ with the country’s “exquisite cuisine and age-old Yoga heritage as well as the spirit of a young, innovative New India”.
The official sessions will begin when PM Modi will deliver the ‘opening plenary’, during which he is expected to pitch India as an open economy that is ready for investments from across the world and also as a major engine to drive the global economic growth.
PM Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to attend Davos meeting in about 20 years since HD Deve Gowda in 1997.
During his 24-hour-visit, described by officials as “short but very focused”, PM Modi will also host a dinner for CEOs from across the world, 20 of Indian companies and 40 from elsewhere, on Monday evening and will interact with a large gathering of 120 members of WEF’s international business community .
Besides, he will hold a bilateral meeting with Swiss President Alain Berset, among other pull-asides, as per the government officials.
PM Modi will be accompanied by six union ministers — Arun Jaitley, Suresh Prabhu, Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, MJ Akbar and Jitendra Singh.
The CEO delegation, led by top industry body CII, will include Mukesh Ambani, Gautam Adani, Azim Premji, Rahul Bajaj, N Chandrasekaran, Chanda Kochhar, Uday Kotak and Ajay Singh, among others.
Among global leaders, US President Donald Trump will be there to deliver the closing address, but any meeting with Prime Minister Modi is unlikely as the two would not be in town on the same day.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will also be in Davos, but officials in India have said no meeting is planned between him and PM Modi.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are among the other attendees.
While US President Donald Trump is expected to talk about his ‘America First’ policy, officials in India said PM Modi’s central message at this multilateral forum will be about India being an economy that can be an engine of global growth and which wants others to participate in its growth and also wants to contribute to others’ development.
A lot of focus is expected on what President Trump says and what would be the response of other world leaders, including from Germany, France and the UK.
US confirms Taliban talks in Qatar
Washington:The United States confirmed Wednesday that its envoy is meeting in Qatar with the Taliban, seeking to negotiate an end to the Afghanistan war despite a new major attack claimed by the insurgents.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative on Afghan reconciliation, met Tuesday in the Qatari capital Doha with Taliban representatives, the State Department said.
“We can confirm that Special Representative Khalilzad and an interagency team are in Doha today talking with representatives of the Taliban,” a State Department spokeswoman said, adding that the talks were taking place over two days.
Khalilzad has sat down several times with the Taliban but it marks the first time that the United States has confirmed his meetings so directly.
The meeting came even though the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack Tuesday against an Afghan intelligence base in central Wardak province.
A local official said that at least 65 people were killed, in the latest high-casualty attack in Afghanistan.
A Taliban spokesman announced the meeting with Khalilzad on Monday, saying that the United States accepted an agenda of “ending the occupation of Afghanistan and preventing Afghanistan from being used against other countries in the future.”
President Donald Trump has ordered a halving of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan as he voices eagerness to end America’s longest-ever war, launched in 2001 after the September 11 attacks.
The Afghan-born Khalilzad, a key US policymaker under former president George W Bush, met the Taliban after talks in Afghanistan as well as stops in key regional players China, India and Pakistan.
In Kabul, Khalilzad spoke with President Ashraf Ghani and vowed that the United States would maintain security support to Afghan forces.
“We agreed military pressure is essential while we prepare to engage in negotiations for peace,” he tweeted.
China to pick Afghan Taliban as political force: envoy
PESHAWAR: Chinese Ambassador in Islamabad Yao Jing has said that his country will “pick Afghan Taliban as a political force” in the backdrop of their participation in the ongoing peace talks with the US and at other forums.
Speaking at a roundtable conference at the Area Study Centre, University of Peshawar, , he said that Beijing supported Pakistan’s fresh initiatives for facilitating efforts for political settlement of the Afghan conflict and confidence-building measures in relations with Kabul.
Asked about apparent lack of eagerness on the part of China in the ongoing talks for political settlement of the Afghan issue, the envoy said that his country had contacts with both the Taliban and the Afghan government. China had deputed a special envoy who was visiting the Taliban’s political office in Doha, he added.
“China will pick them (Taliban) as a political force because they are now part of the Afghan political process and they have some political concerns. They have to be allowed to play a legitimate role in the future political settlement,” he further elaborated his government’s policy on the Afghan peace process being discussed at different forums.
“If possible, China can exert pressure on the Taliban to join the peace process,” said the ambassador who had served in Kabul and New Delhi before taking over his new assignment in Pakistan. He urged all external stakeholders, including Afghanistan’s neighbours, to play their role for peace in the war-ravaged country.
“Afghans have been suffering for the last 40 years and they deserve peace and stability,” he said.
Supporting Pakistan’s fresh initiatives for facilitating talks between the Taliban and US administration, he said that China backed this ongoing process and had also played its role in the Moscow meeting and at other forums.
Mr Yao said that Afghans were very friendly towards China which had close relations with their country. “When we look towards west, the immediate challenge for us is Afghanistan having many international terrorist organisations.”
He said that Central Asian states had their own version and vision about Afghanistan and the same was the case of Russia, Iran and Pakistan.
“We are very much hopeful about a peaceful settlement of the Afghan issue, but this is a very complicated issue, which requires a lot of patience,” the envoy said. The US might announce withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan where elections were around the corner, he added.
Four held in New York state for ‘plotting’ against Muslims
New York:Three men and a teenage boy have been arrested and charged for an alleged plot against a small Islamic community in New York state, police said.
The suspects have been accused of possessing homemade bombs and firearms, and planning to attack Islamberg, founded by a Pakistani cleric in the 1980s.
The three men — Andrew Crysel, 18, Vincent Vetromile, 19, and Brian Colaneri, 20 — were due to appear in court on Wednesday.
All were charged with criminal possession of a weapon and conspiracy. A 16-year-old boy is also facing charges, the police said, adding that at least three of them served together as boy scouts.
Investigators say the group, based in the city of Greece in the northwest of the state, made at least three improvised explosive devices using duct tape and large jars and cylinders containing nails and other projectiles.
They were found in the 16-year-old’s home, a police officer added. Some 23 firearms were also found at various locations. The alleged plot was revealed following a tip-off from a school student, the BBC reported.
Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan said the investigation was launched after comments made by the 16-year-old at school on Friday were overheard by a fellow student.
The Islamberg community, located west of the Catskill mountains near the city of Binghamton, has become a target for conspiracy theorists.
The mainly African American group settled there to escape crime and overcrowding in New York City. The community has been described as peaceful and friendly, but right-wing conspiracy-led media outlets keep suggesting that it was a training camp for Islamist militants, the BBC said.
In 2017 Robert Doggart, from Tennessee, was jailed for plotting to burn down the community’s mosque. In 2015, Arizona man John Ritzheimer threatened the community with an armed confrontation.
Pahari Community gets reservation
JAMMU, JANUARY 24: Governor, Satya Pal Malik today give his assent to the Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2014,...
EVM row: Not going back to ballot papers, says CEC Sunil Arora
New Delhi, January 24: Amid renewed demands against the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora...
Govt gunman-turned-soldier Lance Naik Nazir Wani to be conferred with Ashok Chakra
New Delhi: Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani, who was killed during a gunfight with the militants in south Kashmir’s Shopian...
Lolab Avalanche: Bodies of two hunters found
Srinagar: Bodies of two hunters who were swept away by a snow avalanche in Lolab forests of north Kashmir’s Kupwara...
Body of Rajouri Man Killed In Saudi Arabia reaches home, family thanks MEA
Rajouri: Nearly a month after he was murdered in Saudi Arabia, the body of Rajouri man, Mohammad Khalil Mirza, was...
SC refuses to stay amendment in SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay the amendment in Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities)...
Jammu-Srinagar highway closed for fourth consecutive day
Jammu: The Jammu-Srinagar highway will remain closed on Thursday for the fourth consecutive day following fresh snowfall in Bannihal sector,...
Two hunters go missing as avalanche hits Lolab forests
Srinagar: Two hunters have gone missing a snow avalanche swept them along in Lolab forests of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district...
BJP is family, democracy runs in party: PM’s dig at Priyanka’s political debut
New Delhi: Addressing party workers, PM Modi says for BJP “the party is family” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that...
Nawaz Sharif’s condition very serious, says doctor
Lahore: Pakistan’s jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s condition is “very serious” after heart complications and he should be shifted...