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BY....NRIPRESS/IANS---Nov. 09, 2010

  • US media see Obama visit in positive light (Lead)
  • Obama ends India visit, flies to Indonesia (Lead)  
  • Obama's speech ambiguous: CPI-M  
  • US backs India for UN permanent seat, calls for 26/11 justice (Roundup) 
  •  US backs India for permanent seat in UN Security Council (Lead) 
  • India, US can cooperate for global economic development: President  
  • India, US to work for Evergreen Revolution: Obama  
  • India-US ties will define 21st century, says Obama (Second Lead) 
  • Obama visits Rajghat, pays tribute to 'hero' Mahatma Gandhi (Lead)
  • Obama gifts King memorial stone piece to Rajghat
  • Bukhara's 'Obama Platter' waits for the Obamas
  • Protesting Obama visit, Maoists hit poll-bound Bihar
  • Don't worry about growing Indo-US ties, say Pakistani expert

US media see Obama visit in positive light (Lead)  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, Nov 9-- US President Barack Obama's support for India's bid to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council was splashed across the US media on the front pages Tuesday, with most accounts seeing his performance in a favourable light after the battering his Democratic Party received at home in the mid-term poll.

A number of stories, including all three TV network reports, also highlighted the president's remarks on how his trip was helping to create jobs at home.

The Washington Post said: "India's quest for a seat would face particular opposition from China." USA Today, however, suggested that "analysts played down the significance of Obama's support for an Indian council seat".

The Los Angeles Times similarly noted: "The nation likely won't attain permanent council status anytime soon" but "the promise fulfils India's top priority on the agenda of Obama's visit".

The Washington Times noted that in his joint press conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, "Obama stressed that increased trade with India will not come at the expense of US workers, stressing the partnership as a 'win-win' for both countries".

The New York Times noted that while Obama wooed India with promises of increased trade and UN clout, First Lady Michelle Obama's "charm offensive has included serial hugs and a talent for Indian dance.

"The combination has been an unexpected success," as "an Indian public and news media that were lukewarm before the official three-day visit began on Saturday have since become exuberant" fans of the First Lady, it said.

Obama drew applause in parliament by backing India for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, the CBS Evening News noted. "His other big announcement was meant for the audience back home and it involved jobs for Americans."

NBC Nightly News reported that the president "wants to tap into" India's "growing economic power to create jobs back home".

Obama ends India visit, flies to Indonesia (Lead)  

New Delhi, Nov 9 (IANS) US President Barack Obama Tuesday left for Indonesia after a four-day visit to India where he declared support for New Delhi's bid for a permanent UN Security Council seat.

The Air Force One carrying Obama, his wife Michelle and top officials of his administration, took off around 9 a.m.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar and Union Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who was the minister-in-waiting for the US president, were at the airport to see him off.

Obama flew into India Saturday, and spent a night in Mumbai, where he stayed at the Taj Mahal Hotel, one of the key targets of Pakistani terrorists in November 2008.

He flew into New Delhi Sunday for two hectic days of engagements.

Besides visiting and admiring the Humayun's Tomb with Michelle, Obama held talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and addressed members of both houses of Indian parliament.

The US' declaration of support for India for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council formed the high-point of Obama's maiden visit to this country.

Indonesia is the second leg of Obama's four-nation Asia tour that will also take him to South Korea and Japan.

Obama's speech ambiguous: CPI-M  

New Delhi, Nov 8- "Disappointed" with Barack Obama's speech to parliamentarians, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Monday said the US president's remarks on India's permanent membership of the UN Security Council were "ambiguous".

"With regard to US support to our cause particularly, the UN permanent seat, he only welcomed it. He has not stated in clear terms if the US will support India's bid. It is very ambiguous. We are indeed disappointed," CPI-M parliamentary party leader in the Lok Sabha Basudeb Acharia told IANS.

Obama, in his speech to members of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, said: "We welcome India as it prepares to take a seat at the United Nations Security Council.. In the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member."

Acharia said the CPI-M welcomed the part of Obama's speech praising India as a power that has emerged.

"If we see the speech, the words he has used to describe - historical heritage, powerful and great nation, it is welcome," Acharia said, adding the Left party was still analysing the speech "line by line" to draw its reaction.

However, he said the US president's "main motive" of his four-day visit and the parliament address was to do "business in India".

"Helping India in getting clean energy and nuclear energy, the main motive behind that is to do more business in India... to get jobs from India.

"On agriculture, their intention is to allow multinational companies in our country... We are being pressured to allow GM crops... They are protecting their interests at the cost of ours," he added.

US backs India for UN permanent seat, calls for 26/11 justice (Roundup)  

By Manish Chand
New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) US President Barack Obama Monday declared support for India's bid for a permanent seat in a reformed UN Security Council, renewed a call to Pakistan to bring 26/11 terrorists to justice and eased high-tech exports to New Delhi -- part of New Delhi's wishlist whose realisation would not only bring the two countries closer but would have profound implications for the global order.

The world's two largest democracies, the oldest and the largest, sought to take their ties to a new level by agreeing to work together to deny terrorists "safe havens" in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region with visiting US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiling a slew of pacts ranging from clean energy to health and collaborating in agriculture and food security to spark "an evergreen revolution."

The big announcement - long speculated in India - about support for the UN permanent seat for New Delhi, was the crowning moment of Obama's four-day maiden visit to the country and came amid ringing applause in the cavernous Central Hall of the Indian parliament.

"We welcome India as it prepares to take a seat at the United Nations Security Council," said Obama in his address while lauding India's growing role in leading global decision-making bodies.

"And as two global leaders, the United States and India can partner for global security - especially as India serves on the Security Council over the next two years," he said in a reference to India beginning its two-year stint in the UNSC as a non-permanent member Jan 1, 2011.

"Indeed, the just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate," he said.

"That is why I can say today - in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member," he said to loud applause from 790 MPs from both its houses, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

"For in Asia and around the world, India is not simply emerging; India has already emerged. And it is my firm belief that the relationship between the US and India will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century," said Obama.

The announcement, which ended months of US ambiguity around the issue in the run-up to the presidential visit, brought much cheer to India's political and strategic establishment.

"The US' is a very powerful endorsement. It was long overdue," said Jaswant Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and a former foreign minister who initiated nuclear talks with the US after the 1998 tests.

Obama began his day of back-to-back official engagements Monday morning with a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the imposing British-era presidential mansion, and a visit to Rajghat, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi whom Obama has described as his hero and an inspiration.

The US president then headed for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that focused on adding more economic substance and strategic heft to the burgeoning relationship between the world's two largest democracies.

The talks were summed up by Obama later at a press conference at Hyderabad House where he said that "ours is not ordinary relationship" and such was the depth and sweep of bilateral cooperation that "I cannot remember an occasion when we have agreed to so many new partnership across so many areas as we have done during my visit".

Before the press conference, the two leaders held talks in a restricted format for at least an hour before the delegation-level talks that lasted around 80-90 minutes. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao were present during restricted talks.

The issues included: Expansion of trade and investment, specially high-tech trade, concerns over outsourcing and deepening of counter-terror cooperation and defence issues. Among global and regional discussed were the UN reforms, non-proliferation, climate change, global economic architecture, the Indian Ocean security, East Asia and issues relating to terrorism emanating from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In a key step that brings India a step closer to ending technology-denial regimes targeted against it since the 1998 nuclear tests, Obama announced at a joint press conference the US decision to relax its export controls of high-tech equipment to India, particularly in the defence and scientific areas.

He also agreed to push New Delhi's membership in some multilateral institutions that control global trade in nuclear and dual use technologies. "The US will remove Indian organizations from the so-called Entities List" he said, adding that the two sides will implement their nuclear deal.

The announcement was music to the ears of Manmohan Singh, who launched the initiative to forge a landmark nuclear deal in 2005 with the larger promise of ending nuclear discrimination against India and boosting its civil nuclear energy to meet its power shortfall.

"We welcome the decision by the United States to lift controls on export of high technology items and technologies to India, and support India's membership in multilateral export control regimes such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group"" said a beaming Manmohan Singh, adding that it was "a manifestation of the growing trust and confidence in each other."

"We have agreed on steps to expand our cooperation in the space, civil nuclear, defence and other high-end sector," he said.

According to official sources, the three Indian entities that have been removed from the US export black list include the Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO), Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Bharat Dynamics Limited.

This apart, the US decided to support India for full membership of the top four nuclear clubs, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australian Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

The two sides also decided to deepen counter-terror cooperation and announced a new dialogue between the department of homeland security and India's home ministry officials. They agreed to combat terrorist networks in the region and shared notes on dealing with extremism emanating from the volatile Pakistan-Afghanistan region, said the sources.

"We agreed on the need for all nations in the region to work together and ensure that there are no safe havens for terrorists," said Obama at a joint press conference.

Describing India as "a key actor on the global stage," Obama advocated a bigger role for India in East Asia, a region which has lately seen a bout of Chinese assertiveness and which Beijing sees as its sphere of influence.

In yet another reassurance that allayed anxieties of New Delhi in the wake of a proposed power-sharing deal with the Taliban, Obama lauded India's involvement in reconstruction activities in Afghanistan and stressed that the "US will not abandon the people of Afghanistan - or the region - to the violent extremists that threaten us all."

Tacitly acknowledging India's concerns over terror groups operating from Pakistan, Obama said: "We will continue to insist to Pakistan's leaders that terrorist safe havens - within their borders - are unacceptable and that the terrorists behind the Mumbai attacks be brought to justice."

With Obama by his side, Manmohan Singh, however, underlined his commitment to pursuing peace with Pakistan but made it clear that as long as "the terror machine was active against New Delhi it will be difficult to keep on talking". Obama, on his part, ruled out US mediation but encouraged the two countries to resolve their tensions by themselves.

The two leaders announced a slew of initiatives in areas of clean energy, health and agriculture that included the setting up of a Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Centre in New Delhi, the establishment of a Global Disease Detection Centre in India and an agreement for cooperation in weather and crop forecasting. The two sides also decided to hold a Higher Education Summit next year

"In my discussions with the president, we have decided to accelerate the deepening of our ties and to work as equal partners in a strategic relationship that will positively and decisively influence world peace, stability and progress"," said Manmohan Singh.

Obama, who is on his maiden visit to India, evocatively described the relationship between India and India and the US as "indispensable to addressing key challenges of the 21st century.

"The relations between India and the US are stronger, deeper and broader than ever," he said" "I am confident that India's influence in world affairs will continue to rise," he said

US backs India for permanent seat in UN Security Council (Lead)  
New Delhi, Nov 8-- Lauding India's growing role in global bodies, US President Barack Obama Monday said the US welcomed India as it prepared for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

"We welcome India as it prepares to take a seat at the United Nations Security Council," said Obama in an address to members of the two houses of parliament.

"And as two global leaders, the United States and India can partner for global security - especially as India serves on the Security Council over the next two years,"

"Indeed, the just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate," he said.

"That is why I can say today-in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member," he said to loud applause from over 780 MPs.

Obama stressed that the US valued India's role in global economic decision-making bodies like the G20 and in ongoing consultation over global issues like climate change

India, US can cooperate for global economic development: President  

New Delhi, Nov 8- India and US should work together for global peace and stability and be partners in diverse sectors like international economic development, clean energy, food and health security, President Pratibha Patil said Monday at a state banquet she hosted for visiting US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

She also said the two countries have "responsibilities to work together for peace, stability and security in the world".

"We have, therefore, enormous potential to work together for a sustainable and inclusive global economic development, to address the challenges of infrastructure, clean energy, food security and health security, and educate and empower the youth, especially our women, for the responsibilities of the new era," she said.

Over 100 guests were invited for the state dinner. They included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his wife Gursharan Kaur, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi. Several union ministers, leaders of opposition in parliament Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitely, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and business magnates like Tata group head Ratan Tata.

Clad in a cream and green sari, Patil had Obama, Michelle Obama, Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and former president A.P.J.Abdul Kalam seated on her table.

Patil, in her speech, said: "Our two nations are well placed to harness the power of innovation, not only for technological leadership and global competitiveness, but also as a tool for economic empowerment and social transformation."

"Today, we have built a strong strategic partnership on the solid bedrock of shared ideals and common interests. The historic civil nuclear initiative is an instrument and a symbol of our transformed relations. But, across virtually every field of human endeavour, we have explored new frontiers and redefined the paradigm of co-operation."

Patil said that the two countries are at the "midst at a time when India-US relations have never been stronger and the promise and potential of our partnership has never been greater".

"From different paths and different circumstances, Indians and Americans have reached the same conclusion: that democracy is a universal ideal and justice, dignity and opportunity are universal aspirations," Patil said.

Drawing parallel between India's freedom struggle and America's civil rights movement, Patil said both the countries have inspired each other.

"The lives and message of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King reflect our shared vision, our common struggles and our collective hopes. Nothing echoes this better than the words of Martin Luther King, 'If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable'.

"He lived, thought, and acted, inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony. Your own admiration for Mahatma Gandhi reflects this continuing philosophical bond between our peoples," she added.

Patil also said nearly three million people of Indian origin in the US have acted as a bridge of friendship, including over 100,000 Indian students in the United States, are sowing the seeds of future partnerships.

"Our enterprises, scientists, engineers, technologists and academics are creating partnerships that generate hope for the future," she added.

"I am pleased that today we have announced initiatives to benefit not only our peoples, but also fulfill our responsibility to humankind. We have the humility to know that we do not have all the answers, but we have the strength of our values and the benefit of our experience to make our own modest contribution to this cause.

"We must continue our joint efforts to reform global institutions to reflect contemporary realities, and increase their effectiveness in meeting current challenges."

She raised a toast for the Obamas' good health, prosperity and well-being of the people of the US and for further strengthening of the bonds of co-operation and friendship between India and the United States.

India, US to work for Evergreen Revolution: Obama

New Delhi, Nov 8- US President Barack Obama said Monday that as India's farmers and rural areas face the effects of climate change and drought, both countries will work together to spark an "Evergreen Revolution".

"Cooperation between Indian and American researchers and scientists sparked the Green Revolution. Today, India is a leader in using technology to empower farmers and both the countries can work together to spark an Evergreen Revolution," Obama said in his address to parliamentarians here.

Both countries can pursue joint research and development to create green jobs, give Indians more access to cleaner, affordable energy, meet the commitments made at Copenhagen and show the possibilities of low-carbon growth, he maintained.

India and the US also signed an agreement on "Technical Cooperation for Study of Dynamical Seasonal Prediction of Indian Summer Monsoon Rainfall".

"Together, we're going to improve Indian weather forecasting systems before the next monsoon season. We aim to help millions of Indian farming households save water and increase productivity; improve food processing so crops don't spoil on the way to market; and enhance climate and crop forecasting to avoid losses that cripple communities and drive up food prices," he said.

The main objective of the agreement is to develop through dynamical weather prediction models a fuller understanding of the Indian monsoon and associated precipitation characteristics.

The nodal agencies for implementation are India's Ministry of Earth Sciences and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

A Monsoon Desk is being set up at NOAA's National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) to focus on and coordinate all activities for India's monsoon-related work including 'Monsoon Mission'.

The desk will coordinate numerical model simulations and diagnostics between NCEP and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and the India Meteorological Department.

During Monsoon 2011 Indian and US scientists will work jointly for its predictions utilising a global model.

The Indian government will provide Rs 2.4 crore over a period of five years for activities associated with the establishment and maintenance of the Monsoon Desk and the US government will provide $100,000 per annum to cover any deficits arising out of the Indian government's funding.

India-US ties will define 21st century, says Obama (Second Lead)  

New Delhi, Nov 8- India and the US are the world's largest democracies sharing "certain values" and their relationship will be a defining one in the 21st century, President Barack Obama said after receiving a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan here Monday.

"As I have said earlier, I believe the partnership between the US and India is one of the defining relationships of the 21st century," Obama told reporters in brief remarks at the presidential palace, ahead of opening talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Dressed in his usual conservative black suit with a maroon tie, the president underlined the "extraordinary" people-to-people relations between the US and India.

He credited this largely to the role played by the vast Indian diaspora "who contribute so much to our country".

Obama also thanked "all the people in India ... for the wonderful hospitality we have received... We want to the warmest of regards from the people of the US to the people of India".

Obama spoke minutes after he and his wife Michelle were warmly and formally greeted by President Pratibha Patil and Manmohan Singh at the forecourt of the imposing British-built Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Manmohan Singh had met him when he landed here Sunday from Mumbai, where he began his India visit a day earlier.

The president inspected a special guard of honour in the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The prime minister and Gursharan Kaur, the president and Devisingh Patil as well as a host of cabinet ministers, including Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna were at Rashtrapati Bhavan before the US first couple pulled up in their black limousine.

Obama and Michelle, in a black and green dress, were met by Patil and the prime minister as they alighted from the car.

While Patil was in a white sari with a green border, Gursharan Kaur was in a rich cream sari with an elaborate russet border.

After meeting the Indian ministers, Obama introduced Patil to the US delegation.

President Obama later paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi at the Rajghat and went into talks with Manmohan Singh.

Obama visits Rajghat, pays tribute to 'hero' Mahatma Gandhi (Lead)  

New Delhi, Nov 8- US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Monday paid tribute to the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi when they visited Rajghat, the memorial to the president's "real hero".

The visiting president jotted down a long note in the visitor's book while his wife stood beside him. The first couple were later presented a bust of Gandhi and a khadi scroll containing the seven social sins Gandhi wrote about in "Young India" in 1925.

The couple placed a wreath at the memorial -- a black marble platform located on the right bank of the river Yamuna with an eternal flame burning at one end. The entire programme went on for about 20 minutes.

The US president, who visited the Gandhi Museum at Mani Bhavan in Mumbai Saturday, wrote in the visitor's book: "I am filled with hope and inspiration as I have the privilege to view this testament to Gandhi's life. He is a hero not just to India but to the world."

Obama, accompanied by Michelle, arrived in India Saturday and headed to Mumbai. They reached Delhi Sunday afternoon and will be here until Tuesday morning when they will leave for Indonesia.

Obama gifts King memorial stone piece to Rajghat  

New Delhi, Nov 8- US President Barack Obama Monday gifted a piece of stone - a Martin Luther King memorabilia - to the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat, once again bringing together two of the world's biggest proponents of non-violence.

Wrapped in a box covered in gold paper, the gift was of a piece of white stone from American civil rights activist King's national memorial in Washington. The stone was set on a small black base, embossed with the presidential seal and Obama's signature.

"This is unparalleled," Rajghat committee secretary Rajnish Kumar said, surprised when Obama handed over the King memorabilia.

The committee had earlier handed over a set of gifts, which included three books, a model of a spinning wheel and a bust of Gandhi, to Obama.

The US president had on Saturday pored over King's words written in the Visitor's Book at Mumbai's Mani Bhavan, which had once been home to Gandhi.

Bukhara's 'Obama Platter' waits for the Obamas

New Delhi, Nov 8- Chefs at ITC Maurya Hotel's Bukhara restaurant have been on their toes since morning Monday with indications that US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle will stop by in the evening to sample the 'Obama platter' - a mix of kebabs, tikkas, salad and traditional Indian sweets.

"The president has shown keen interest in tasting our 'thali', which we call the 'Obama Platter'. He also mentioned his love for Indian food. We are sure that today (Monday) will be the D-day. A team of chefs, after carefully understanding their (Obamas) likes and dislikes, has come up with the menu," an official from ITC Maurya's Bukhara restaurant told IANS on condition of anonymity.

The Obama platter is a good mix of north Indian and Mughlai delicacies like tandoori raan, tandoori salad, murg khurchan, fish tikka, reshmi kebab, sikandari raan and tandoori aloo. For desserts, the Obamas will have a choice between ras malai and kulfi.

"Our ras malai and kulfi were loved by Hillary Clinton also. So we are hopeful that they (Obamas) will like it too," the official said.

"The staff and our team of chefs are on their toes since Monday morning. We are expecting them to be here later in the evening," he added.

Obama had a hectic Monday with a presidential banquet at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the evening capping a day when he was ceremonially welcomed to India and held bilateral talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Indian delegation.

The ITC hotel had played host to former US president Bill Clinton in 2000 and his wife Hillary Clinton, now secretary of state, in 2009. While both of them have platters named after them, their daughter Chelsea too has her own vegetarian platter.

"Out of the seven dishes, two of them overlap which were also in Clinton's menu. They are sikandari raan and tandoori aloo," the official said.

"All preparations to give Obama a taste of our dishes are done. We are ready to show our hospitality and eager to know their opinion about our food. Since the president mentioned that he will have at least one meal before going back, we are positive it will be today (Monday)," he said.

"Once all their meetings and visits are over, they may get free by late evening and have dinner here," the official told IANS.

Back in June, Obama had himself declared his intentions to create an 'Obama Platter'.

The US first couple are on a four-day visit to India. They reached Mumbai Saturday and arrived in New Delhi Sunday afternoon. They will leave for Indonesia early Tuesday.

Protesting Obama visit, Maoists hit poll-bound Bihar  

Patna, Nov 8- Maoists in Bihar blew up a railway track and torched trucks and mobile phone towers to protest US President Barack Obama's visit to India. The violence comes ahead of the penultimate round of the Bihar assembly elections Tuesday.

The rebels blasted the railway track near Kurhani railway station in the Hajipur-Muzaffarpur section of East-Central Railway in Muzaffarpur district early Monday that derailed 10 wagons of a goods train.

"It disrupted the movement of rail traffic," a railway official said. Additional director general P.K. Thakur said Maoists blasted a block office and set fire to four trucks in Gaya district Sunday night.

Armed Maoists burnt four trucks near Amas police station in Gaya and also blasted the block office at Banke Bazar.

Thakur said the Maoists unleashed violence to enforce their shutdown to protest Obama's visit to India Nov 6-9. Maoists began their shutdown across India Sunday night.

The violence worried top police officials in the state as it happened a day ahead of polls in 35 constituencies in drought-hit districts Tuesday.

Though campaigning ended peacefully with no major incidents of violence reported, ensuring safe polling in this phase will be a challenging task for the Election Commission as well as the state government as almost a third of the constituencies are in Maoist-affected areas.

Till now, the four phases of state elections - to pick a new 243-member legislative assembly - have passed off peacefully except for stray incidents of violence.

The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-M) early this month declared that it would intensify attacks to disrupt the election process and to enforce its boycott of the polls. As many as 33 of Bihar's 38 districts are Maoist-affected.

After Tuesday, the last round of elections will be held Nov 20. Votes will be counted Nov 24.

Don't worry about growing Indo-US ties, say Pakistani experts  

Islamabad, Nov 8- US President Barack Obama's visit to India and the growing relationship between New Delhi and Washington should not worry Pakistan, experts here said.

Analysts and former diplomats told the Express Tribune that Islamabad should not overreact to Obama's India visit.

Former foreign secretary Shamshad Ahmed asked: "Why are we expecting President Obama to visit Pakistan also? Are we part of India."

"Our concerns should only be confined to the strategic issues. Otherwise, we should not be bothered about who visits India," he was quoted as saying.

When former diplomat Riaz Khokhar was told that in the past Obama's predecessors have visited India and Pakistan in the same trip, he responded: "Those were not visits but just stopovers."

Khokhar said that the fact Obama stopped short of naming Pakistan on 26/11 indicates that he was not willing to toe the India line on the Mumbai attacks. Over 166 people were killed by 10 gunmen from Pakistan who let loose a reign of terror in Mumbai Nov 26-28, 2008.

Khokar went on to say that he doesn't think Obama's visit "will bring any dramatic change in the region".

Experts pointed out that for years the US has been trying to de-link its relations with Pakistan and India.

"President Obama's visit to India is part of that strategy," Ishtiaq Ahmed, professor of international relations at the Quaid-e-Azam University, was quoted in the media as saying.

He told the Express Tribune that the Obama administration cannot ignore Pakistan as it tries to better its relation with India.

"In the emerging scenario Pakistan has a major role in the region."

Foreign Office spokesperson Abdul Basit said: "We hope the US president's visit to India would contribute towards promoting peace and stability in South Asia."




President Obama