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PM Modi speaks to Belgian counterpart on India-EU partnership, bilateral ties

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New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday spoke to Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and discussed ways to further strengthen bilateral ties while congratulating him on the successful hosting of the First Nuclear Energy Summit.

In a telephone conversation, the two leaders affirmed their commitment to further bolster the India–EU Strategic Partnership under the ongoing Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

“Spoke to Belgium PM @alexanderdecroo. Congratulated him on the success of the First Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels. Exchanged views on strengthening bilateral ties; advancing India-EU Partnership under Belgian Presidency; and cooperation on regional and global issues,” Prime Minister Modi wrote in a post on X on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Modi and his Belgian counterpart reviewed the “excellent relations” between India and Belgium and discussed ways to further strengthen the bilateral partnership in diverse sectors.

These included trade, investment, clean technologies, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, green hydrogen, IT, defence, and ports, among others.

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They agreed upon the need to enhance cooperation and support for the early restoration of peace and security in the West Asia region and the Russia-Ukraine war, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Exchanging views on regional and global developments, the two leaders agreed to remain in touch.

The first-ever Nuclear Energy Summit, held in Brussels last week, was jointly organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Belgium.

For the summit, global leaders came together to reaffirm their commitment to nuclear energy as a way to reduce carbon emissions and meet development goals.

In a statement delivered at the summit, India said that as a responsible nuclear power with advanced technology, it remains committed to expanding peaceful applications of nuclear technology, both in the power and non-power sectors, while ensuring the security of nuclear and radiological materials.

“India has a robust nuclear safety culture and impeccable safety record. India will continue to support the Agency in its efforts to provide a robust, sustainable and visible global nuclear safety and security framework,” Ajit Kumar Mohanty, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, said.

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“Our aim is for nuclear energy to have significant share in electricity mix of India by the year 2047 when India celebrates 100 years of independence.”

Mohanty added that as a medium-term target, India aims to achieve tripling nuclear power generation capacity by 2030 from around 7.5 GW at present.

Speaking of India’s three-stage nuclear power programme, India in a statement at the summit said that the country is committed to full international civil nuclear cooperation for the development needs of the nation, and is engaged in discussions with foreign companies to further expand the nuclear energy programme.

–IANS

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Iran rules out sabotage explosion behind Raisi's helicopter crash

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Tehran, May 30 (IANS) Iran has ruled out the possibility of a sabotage explosion leading to the helicopter crash that resulted in the deaths of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his entourage, local media reported.

The General Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces released the second report on the causes of the helicopter crash on Wednesday, reports the official news agency IRNA.

The report said given the results of the tests on the helicopter’s wreckage and remaining parts and the way the remains had been scattered at the scene of the incident as well as their distance from the fuselage, the possibility of an explosion caused by an act of sabotage during the flight or moments before the chopper’s crash into the mountain was dismissed.

No sign of an act of electronic warfare was detected on the crashed helicopter, it said, adding that the weather conditions on the way back to Tabriz, the capital of East Azerbaijan province, would need further investigations.

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According to the report, the total weight of the passengers and equipment onboard was proportionate to the helicopter’s maximum load limit at the time of takeoff and during the flight.

In addition, during the flight and until 69 seconds before the incident’s occurrence, contact had been maintained with the crashed helicopter’s flight crew on the specified frequencies, which dismisses the possibility of any disruption in the communication system or frequency interference, reports Xinhua news agency.

The first report of the investigation committee of the General Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces was released on May 23.

–IANS

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Child among four injured in London shooting

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London, May 30 (IANS/DPA) Three adults and a child have been injured in a shooting near a restaurant in the London neighbourhood of Hackney.

London’s Metropolitan Police said the child is in a serious condition and that they are awaiting updates on the condition of the adults after the shooting on Kingsland High Street.

The four were taken to an east London hospital with “gunshot injuries.”

Police said they were called to the scene at around 9.20 pm (1820 GMT) on Wednesday with specialist firearms officers attending.

The force said no arrests have yet been made.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Ward said: “We know Londoners will be shocked by what has taken place tonight.

“Our thoughts go to all those affected.

“Fast-moving inquiries are underway and we will update as soon as we can. If anyone has any information, please contact us.”

–IANS/DPA

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Fourteen Hong Kong activists convicted under national security law

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Shenzhen, China, May 30 (IANS/DPA) Fourteen Hong Kong opposition figures were convicted on Thursday under Beijing’s controversial national security law, the South China Morning Post reported.

Meanwhile, former district councilors Lawrence Lau and Lee Yue-shun were acquitted, becoming the first to do so after trial since the legislation was implemented in June, 2020.

The 16 pro-democracy activists were among 47 people charged with subversion in relation to an unofficial primary election for Hong Kong’s 2020 Legislative Council (LegCo).

The 16, which include former lawmakers Leung Kwok-hung and Helena Wong, had contested the charge while the remaining 31 pleaded guilty before the start of the four-month trial, the Post reported. The charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The landmark case saw the highest number of activists ever charged under the national security law at one time since it was imposed in response to mass pro-democracy protests.

The national security law has made it easier for the Chinese authorities to crack down on activists for behaviour they class as secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with a foreign power.

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–IANS/DPA

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Thousands protest in New Zealand as government reveals budget

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Wellington, May 30 (IANS/DPA) Thousands of New Zealanders took to the streets on Thursday in a nationwide protest ahead of the new government’s first budget.

Te Pati Maori (the Maori Party) alongside the Toitu Te Tiriti (Honour the Treaty) called for the protests to demonstrate a unified response to “the Government’s assault” on Maori and New Zealand’s founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Te Pati Maori called for the establishment of a Maori Parliament after the protests.

“Up and down the country, near 100-thousand people have taken part in activation rallies and we have saturated social media networks. We have mobilised our people in a matter of days in a beautiful harmonious activation against this Government,” it said in a statement.

“Seeing Tangata Tiriti (non-Maori) and Tangata Whenua (Maori) as one, which is the true intent of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, is exactly what scares the bejesus out of this government.”

“We now begin the process of establishing our own Parliament. Our people will design what this looks like for us, nobody else.”

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Police Assistant Commissioner Mike Johnson said officers were monitoring multiple gatherings across the country.

“While there has been disruption to travel in some locations, the participants have been well-behaved overall.”

Johnson said in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, hundreds of vehicles had clogged roads.

Groups were converging in Auckland central, on Parliament Grounds in Wellington, and in many other cities and towns.

“Police are in attendance and are focused on maintaining public safety while recognising the right to peaceful protest,” Johnson said.

Finance Minister Nicola Willis revealed her first budget on Thursday afternoon in Wellington.

“This year’s Budget is the clean-up job New Zealand needs after six years of economic mismanagement,” she said.

“We are welcoming in a new era of careful government spending, lower taxes for hard-working New Zealanders and a strong focus on rebuilding the economy.”

The protests were a follow-up of Te Pati Maori’s Day of National Action in December, in response to the policies of the coalition government.

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Since the new government was formed in November, it has overturned some of the anti-tobacco laws introduced by the previous left-wing government, axed the country’s Maori Health Authority and encouraged its ministries to roll back the use of the Maori language.

–IANS/DPA

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Mayoral candidate killed during campaign appearance in Mexico

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Mexico City, May 30 (IANS/DPA) An aspiring mayor was killed in Mexico, the latest in a string of attacks in the Latin American country ahead of elections.

Alfredo Cabrera, a candidate for the mayoral position in Mexico’s Coyuca de Benitez, in the southern state of Guerrero, was shot during a campaign rally on Wednesday.

Guerrero Governor Evelyn Salgado condemned the “cowardly crime.”

Salgado had asked the state prosecutor’s office to bring “the full weight of the law against the person or persons responsible,” she wrote on social media platform X.

Prosecutors said that they started the investigation into the homicide. They added that the alleged assailant was killed at the scene.

At least 20 people running for office have been killed since September, according to local media.

Presidential, parliamentary and regional elections are due to be held in Mexico on Sunday.

–IANS/DPA

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