Prime Minister Narendra Modi today arrived in Germany after wrapping up his visit to the UK where he attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and held a series of bilateral meetings.
Prime Minister Modi met German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a brief stopover in Berlin and will attend a dinner hosted by Germany's Chancellor. Modi had arrived in the UK on Tuesday night from Sweden on a four-day visit.
Meanwhile, India's national flag was pulled down and burnt by Pakistan-backed pro-Khalistani and Kashmiri protesters at London's Parliament Square on Wednesday. Subsequently, the British foreign office apologised for the flag-burning incident. Indian authorities from the MEA, for their part, said they expected legal action against the people who were involved in the incident. Another diplomatic flashpoint between New Delhi and Islamabad emerged over Prime Minister Modi's revelations regarding the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army in 2016 during his 'Bharat Ki Baat, Sab ke Saath' programme in London. Pakistan rejected Prime Minister Modi's remarks on the surgical strikes across the Line of Control in 2016 as "false and baseless", adding that "repeating a lie doesn't turn it into truth". Pakistan continues to deny that the strikes ever took place, while the Indian establishment stands firm on the military action taken in the aftermath of the Uri terrorist attack.
While Pakistan was busy with its rebuttal, Modi announced the doubling of India's contribution to the Commonwealth fund for technical cooperation.
Here are the top 10 developments around Prime Minister Narendra Modi's UK visit and bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London:
1) BBC apologises for mixing up Modi with Sri Lankan President: The BBC on Friday apologised for mistakenly referring to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a live news broadcast of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) last night. The Sri Lankan President was seen disembarking from his car at the entrance of Buckingham Palace to join the other heads of government for the CHOGM launch hosted by Queen Elizabeth II when the BBC host said Modi, "the Prime Minister of India since May 2014 arriving at Buckingham Palace".
"This was a mistake made during a live broadcast and we apologise for our error," a BBC spokesperson said.
2) India demands legal action against flag desecration in UK: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the matter had been taken up with the UK government and had been regretted at the highest level. "We are deeply anguished with the incident involving our national flag at Parliament Square. The matter was taken up promptly and strongly with the UK side, and it has been regretted at highest level," Ministry of Exernal Affair spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters.
"We expect action, including legal action, against the people involved in the incident and also people responsible for instigating the incident," he said. Prime Minister Modi after his arrival in the country was greeted by some groups protesting against atrocities in India.
2) PM Modi holds bilateral talks with Sheikh Hasina, Seychelles President Danny Faure: Modi on Thursday held a series of bilateral meetings, including discussions with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Seychelles President Danny Faure, on the sidelines of the multilateral CHOGM in London. "Neighbourhood first! Connecting with a neighbour and a close friend, PM Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina had a productive exchange of views on various issues of bilateral interest on the sidelines of CHOGM 2018," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
In his meeting with Seychelles President Faure, Prime Minister Modi discussed cooperation in areas of trade and investment and other bilateral issues, Kumar said. The bilateral talks between Faure and Modi assume significance after Seychelles ordered an inquiry into the leak of a highly classified agreement signed with India to develop infrastructure on Assumption Island, which lies southwest of the mainland of Mahe. The Opposition in Seychelles has decided not to ratify the pact because of Assumption's relative proximity to Aldabra atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to the world's largest population of giant tortoises.
The "pull-aside meetings" with world leaders included an interaction with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Gambian President Adama Barrow, Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela. Modi also interacted with Kiribati President Taneti Maamau, Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, and Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Keith C Rowley.
Read our previous copy on developments around Bharat Ki Baat and highlights of PM Modi's UK visit here: Modi in London: Khalistani elements tear Indian flag; Pak hits out at PM
2) Modi-Hasina meeting focused on development cooperation: According to Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, in his meeting with Prime Minister Hasina, Modi "had a productive exchange of views on various issues of bilateral interest". During a media briefing, Kumar said, "A lot of time was spent on governmental cooperation during the meeting with the Bangladesh Prime Minister."
"Mainly, the focus was on development cooperation," he added. India is a leading development aid partner of Bangladesh and the eastern neighbour is important in India's Neighbourhood First foreign policy.
Neighbourhood first! Connecting with a neighbour and a close friend, PM @narendramodi and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Mrs. Sheikh Hasina had a productive exchange of views on various issues of bilateral interest on the sidelines of #CHOGM18. pic.twitter.com/xbQcBxPtCs— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) April 19, 2018
3) Modi-Turnbull meeting focuses on 'strength in similar values of democracy, pluralism': Following Modi's meeting with his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull, External Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted, "Strength in similar values of democracy, pluralism and Commonwealth traditions!" Kumar said the two leaders discussed issues of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
Strength in similar values of democracy, pluralism and Commonwealth traditions! PM @narendramodi met with Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull on the sidelines of #CHOGM2018 and discussed issues of bilateral and multilateral cooperation. pic.twitter.com/Oyben3G5BY— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) April 19, 2018
India and Australia, which is also home to a large Indian diaspora, are discussing a free trade agreement and are important defence partners. The two countries, along with the US and Japan, are also part of the recently revived quadrilateral grouping that seeks to work for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
4) Modi announces doubling of India's contribution to Commonwealth fund for technical cooperation: Prime Minister Modi announced the doubling of India's contribution to the Commonwealth fund for technical cooperation and stressed the need to focus on providing developmental assistance to small island states, the External Affairs Ministry said. During his interventions at the executive session of the CHOGM in London, Modi highlighted the need for capacity building of small states and small island developing states that are part of the Commonwealth.
The Prime Minister also said that India would also take part in small projects for assisting Commonwealth countries through its permanent mission in New York. "We are also doubling our contribution to the Commonwealth offices of small states in New York and Geneva which would help them enhance their capacity in dealing with multilateral issues," Ruchi Ghanashyam, Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said.
5) India to train 60 young cricketers from Commonwealth nations: The prime minister also announced that with the help of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), India would organise cricket training for 30 young boys and 30 young girls under the age of 16. "The cross-cutting issues within the Commonwealth are around youth and gender. In that context, cricket being a unique game much played within the Commonwealth, with the help of BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) we offered 30 boys and 30 girls the chance to come to India, train in our world class facilities and help lay the network for the future generation of the Commonwealth," the MEA said.
Read our previous copy on developments around Modi's 3-day UK visit here: Modi in London: 'Bharat ki Baat' event, India-UK enhance ties; highlights
6) India bats for small island nations' development at Commonwealth summit: The thrust of the prime minister's interventions at the CHOGM was on providing tailor-made assistance to small states and small island developing states, said Rudrendra Tandon, Joint Secretary, MEA. "The overall objective of the Prime Minister's participation at this CHOGM in 2018 signals our stepped up engagement with the Commonwealth. It conveys India's desire to see the Commonwealth increase its focus on developing country priorities," the MEA said.
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7) India expects legal action over Indian flag-burning incident in London: The MEA has expressed displeasure over the Indian national flag-burning incident at London's Parliament Square and said that they expected a legal action against the people who were involved. "We're deeply anguished with the incident involving our national flag. The matter was taken up strongly with the United Kingdom side. They have regretted the incident. The flag was immediately replaced. We expect legal action against the people who were involved in this," said MEA's official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
ALSO READ: PM Modi arrives at Buckingham Palace to attend CHOGM
8) British foreign office apologises for Indian flag burning incident: The British Foreign Office has apologised for the Indian national flag-burning incident, which took place at London's Parliament Square on Wednesday. "While people have the right to hold peaceful protests, we are disappointed with the action taken by a small minority in Parliament Square and contacted High Commissioner Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha as soon as we were made aware," said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's statement.
UK officials arranged for a replacement flag to be put up at the Parliament Square.
ALSO READ: Indian Flag burnt in London as Police watch
9) Indian flag pulled down, set on fire in London: A group of Pakistan-backed pro-Khalistani and Kashmiri protestors on April 18 pulled down the Indian flag from a pole at London's Parliament Square and replaced it with a flag representing Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Khalistan. The incident took place in the presence of the London Metropolitan Police.
Further, the incident occurred when Prime Minister Modi was addressing the Indian community at Westminster.
10) Pak rejects PM Modi's remarks on surgical strikes as 'false and baseless': Pakistan rejected Prime Minister Modi's remarks on the Indian Army's surgical strikes across the Line of Control in 2016 as "false and baseless", saying that "repeating a lie doesn't turn it into the truth". Speaking at the 'Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath' programme in London, Modi had said that India waited to inform Pakistan about the operation before disclosing it to the media and the people. "I said before India gets to know, we should call Pakistan and tell them. We were calling them since 11 am but they were scared to come on phone; at 12, we spoke to them and then told the Indian media," said Modi.
Reacting to Prime Minister Modi's remarks, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said India's claims about the "surgical strike were false and baseless".
With agency inputs