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U.S., India expected to sign defence pact on Monday

in.reuters.com

U.S., India expected to sign defence pact on Monday

NEW DELHI – july 20 – The United States and India are expected to sign an agreement on Monday that would take a major step towards allowing the sale of sophisticated U.S. arms to the South Asian nation, three senior U.S. officials said.

Known as an “end-use monitoring” agreement and required by U.S. law for such weapons sales, the pact would let Washington check that India was using any arms for the purposes intended and preventing the technology from leaking to others.

The deal would be a tangible accomplishment of Hillary Clinton’s first trip to India as U.S. secretary of state and it could prove a boon to U.S. companies such as Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co.

Both U.S. defence contractors are in the running to compete for India’s plan to buy 126 multi-role fighters, which would be one of the largest arms deals in the world as India takes steps to modernise its largely Russian-made arsenal.

The two U.S. companies are competing with Russia’s MiG-35, France’s Dassault Rafale, Sweden’s Saab KAS-39 Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon, made by a consortium of British, German, Italian and Spanish firms, for the contract.

The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition that they not be identified, said the defence agreement was not finalised as of late Sunday but that they expected it to go through in time for Clinton’s signature on Monday.

“If we don’t sign that, it will be a definite slap in the face,” said a U.S. congressional aide ahead of Clinton’s visit to New Delhi, where she will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Monday.

Clinton’s visit aims to deepen ties with India, a country whose economic power and political stability make it a natural U.S. ally, according to analysts, despite the long history of U.S.-Indian tensions during the Cold War when Washington at times tilted toward India’s rival Pakistan.

U.S. officials hope for two other tokens of a closer relationship to be confirmed during Clinton’s trip: an Indian announcement of two nuclear sites reserved for U.S. companies to build reactors and a broad strategic dialogue to be led by the U.S. secretary of state and the Indian foreign minister.

U.S. officials estimate that the nuclear sites represent up to $10 billion in business for U.S. nuclear reactor builders such as General Electric Co. and Westinghouse Electric Co, a subsidiary of Japan’s Toshiba Corp.

In addition to her official talks with Singh and Krishna, Clinton planned to meet Sonia Gandhi, the head of the ruling Congress party, and with L.K. Advani, the aging leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, on Monday.

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Prosecutors to resume their case in Hosni Mubarak’s trial

 Cairo (CNN) — Prosecutors are scheduled to continue their case Wednesday in the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is accused of ordering protesters killed during the country’s uprising last year.

The former president also faces corruption charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors started presenting their case Tuesday with their opening statements.
“Mubarak is a tyrant who aimed to hand the rule to his younger son Gamal, who promoted corruption in Egypt, allowing his friends and relatives to destroy the country without accountability,” Suleiman told the court, according to Khaled Abu Bakr, a civil rights lawyer involved in the trial.
As during his previous appearances, Mubarak was wheeled into the courtroom on a stretcher, with a green blanket draped over him.
After hearing Suleiman speak for an hour Tuesday, the judge adjourned the court until Wednesday.
Abu Bakr said he expected a verdict “before January 25, the anniversary of the revolution,” referring to the beginning of the uprising that ended Mubarak’s 30-year rule in February.
Many Egyptians are critical of the court proceedings and some worry that Mubarak may be acquitted of the murder charges. Five police officers accused of killing protesters were acquitted last week.
Mubarak’s health has been in question since his detention began in April after reports of his cancer and heart problems surfaced in the media.
Former Egyptian Interior Minister Habib El Adly, six of his aides and two of Mubarak’s sons are also on trial on a variety of charges.Sons Gamal and Alaa have also pleaded not guilty.

About 840 people died and more than 6,000 were wounded in the 18 days of uprising that toppled Mubarak, according to Amnesty International.

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Tokyo election: Result is a sign of LDP losses to come

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The defeat of the Liberal Democratic Party in the Tokyo assembly election is merely a taste of what is to come for a party that has ruled Japan almost uninterrupted for more than half a century.

The LDP lost 10 seats while the opposition Democratic Party of Japan picked up 20, making it the single largest party in the 127-seat chamber and giving the opposition alliance a majority.

The reaction was immediate, with the DPJ planning to file a motion of no-confidence against the government later on Monday and Prime Minister Taro Aso reportedly telling his key aides that he would dissolve the Diet on Tuesday and set the date for the general election.

Analysts believe there is very little chance that Mr Aso will fare any better at the national level.

“He has completely outlived his usefulness to the LDP and his political capital at the moment is zero, if not negative,” said Noriko Hama, a professor at Kyoto’s Doshisha University.

“The LDP does not seem to know how to react to the crisis that it is in and that has not been lost on the electorate,” she said. “I expect this result will be repeated in the general election because the feeling amongst the voters is that this party is on the run and it needs to go.”

And while the DPJ celebrates its victory, it is clear it was built on the failure of the present government rather than any great hopes for rapid improvements in the state of the economy or Japanese society under a DPJ administration.

“It is perhaps true that the voters are blinding themselves about what will happen with a new government, but the main feeling is that we have nothing to lose under the DPJ,” said Professor Hama.

Candidates supported by the LDP have now lost in five by-elections or regional votes and Mr Aso’s support rating before Sunday’s poll stood at 20 per cent.

The only choice that appears left to him is whether he resigns, the party forces him out of office or the electorate passes its unanimous judgement on an administration that is a mere 10 months old.

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