Live: President leaves on two-nation visit

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 02, 2013 09:09 hrs

2.30 pm:

President leaves on two-nation visit

President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday left on a week-long foreign trip that will see him inaugurate a major Indian cultural festival in Brussels, Belgium, and pay a state visit to Turkey.

He will visit Belgium from Oct 2-5 on the invitation of King Philippe. It would be the first visit by an Indian president to Belgium. He will visit Turkey from Oct 5-7, at the invitation of the President of Turkey Abdullah Gul.

The president is accompanied by a high-level delegation, including four vice chancellors of Indian universities.

1.30 pm:

Goa to crack down on traffic cops harassing tourists

Admitting that needless harassment of tourists driving two-wheelers and cars in Goa was "creating a bad image", a senior police official said Wednesday that traffic policemen who flag down tourists needlessly and demand money will be punished severely.

"We will take the harshest measures against police officers who indulge in such matters," Director General of Police Kishan Kumar said. He also asked victims of such harassment to write to him directly for action against the errant cops.

"We don't want bad image created about Goa. No one should be stopped on road without a specific reason. Whomsoever is caught indulging in such practice will not be spared. Harshest measures will be taken against policemen indulging in these action," Kumar said.

1.00 pm:

Once imperial language, Manchu facing extinction

Less than a hundred people today know the Manchu, once the language of China's Qing dynasty's imperial family, and it is now on the verge of extinction, linguists have warned.

"China has 10.68 million Manchu people, but fewer than 100 who know the language, while the number who have mastered the language is no more than 10," said Cao Meng, director of the Northern Chinese Ethnic Minority Culture Research Centre, citing a report by the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences.

The Manchu language was standardised as the national language by the Manchus, China's third most populous ethnic group, which founded the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and ruled the country for over 260 years.

12.30 pm:

PM meets President, asks for Ordinance to be withdrawn

The Prime Minister has met the President Pranab Mukherjee with an official request for the Ordinance to protect convicted MPs to be withdrawn.

The Ordinance had been sent to the President last week, however he had put off signing it and had met other political leaders in an apparent sign of his dissent towards the Ordinance.

12.00 pm:

Congress core group to repeal Ordinance

According to reports, the Congress core group, which just held a meeting with the PM, has decided to backtrack and withdraw the Ordinance protecting convicted MPs. The PM will later meet the President and convey the decision of the Government.

11.30 am:

'PM's appeal against Modi a call of desperation'

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday lashed out at Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for asking all secular forces to unite against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, saying it is a call of desperation.

"The PM's appeal to the secular parties to come together to fight Modi is a call of desperation because they know very well, they can read the writing on the wall that increasing popularity of Modi, increasing mobilization behind BJP is sure to knock them out. And that's why, they are now afraid," said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.

"And therefore, they are trying everything possible. This is a call of a person who is desperate to cling on to his position. So, this tells the story of the mood of the nation," he added.

Dr. Singh yesterday appealed to all secular forces to 'combine' to face the 'onslaught' of BJP's prime ministerial candidate Modi.

11.00 am:

Rahul meets PM over stand on Ordinance

Rahul Gandhi held a meeting with the PM over his outburst against the Ordinance protecting convicted netas. The Ordinance itself is considered all but dead on arrival, with the Cabinet now looking like it will drop the ordinance.

The Gandhi-Singh meeting is just the first of many scheduled for the day as the debate over the Ordinance heats up.

10.30 am:

PM, Sonia pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, along with the Congress president Sonia Gandhi, paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi on his 144th birth anniversary Wednesday.

The leaders paid floral tributes at Rajghat -- the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi on the banks of the Yamuna river. They were accompanied by Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath.

A minute's silence was observed at the black stone memorial by all the leaders.

The birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti across the country. It is also marked as the International Day of Non-Violence.

Gandhi, born this day in 1869 at Porbandar in Gujarat, played a key role in India's independence struggle. He was assassinated Jan 30, 1948.

9.40 am:

Barca tops Champions League group with 'narrow' win

Barcelona had narrowly claimed a 1-0 win over Scottish side Celtic in their Champions League clash in Glasgow on Tuesday, leaving the Spanish giants on the top of Group H.

Despite failing to get the better of Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster in the opening 45 minutes, the Catalans made their recovery helped by the red-card dismissal of Celtic skipper Scott Brown in the 59th minute and gained revenge for their defeat at the same venue last season with a second-half goal from Cesc Fabregas.

According to Fox News, with the victory, Barcelona is leading at the top of the Group H table on six points following the 1-1 draw between AC Milan and Ajax, while Celtic has been handed a rare home defeat in the Champions League.

Although Barcelona has made a 100 percent start to their season, its manager Gerardo Martino hailed Celtic as their toughest opponents till date, although he said that their combination of long balls with their one-touch game managed to make them more dynamic and unpredictable in the game.

Barcelona was missing Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano, Jordi Alba and Carles Puyol through injury and had opted for Neymar, Fabregas and Pedro Rodriguez up front, the report added.

9.00 am:

Pakistan violates ceasefire as PM returns

Pakistani troops fired at Indian positions on the line of control (LOC) in Mendhar sector of Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir, in yet another violation of the bilateral ceasefire, a defence spokesman said Wednesday.

"Pakistan troops used small arms and automatics to target our positions in Mendhar sector of the LOC yesterday (Tuesday). Pakistan firing started at 2.30 p.m.," Captain S.N. Acharya, defence spokesman, told IANS here today.

"Our troops retaliated with same calibre weapons and the exchange of firing continued up to 3.30 p.m. No damage was caused to our troops in this firing exchange," the spokesman added.

8.30 am:

US denies it conspired against Venezuela

The US State Department Tuesday denied Venezuelan charges that three US diplomats in Caracas conspired against the Andean nation, while adding that it was mulling a response to the trio's expulsion.

"We completely reject the Venezuelan government's allegations of the US government involvement in any type of conspiracy to destabilise the Venezuelan government," department's spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

"In accordance with the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations and on consular relations, the United States may take reciprocal action," for Caracas' decision to expel the three diplomats, she said.

"We're still considering what actions we might take," Psaki added.

The Venezuelan government ordered Kelly Keiderling, Elizabeth Hunderland and David Mutt to leave the country within 48 hours.

Keiderling is the highest-ranking US diplomat in Venezuela.

8.00 am:

US shutdown closes offices, parks in Puerto Rico

The partial US government shutdown, which went turned effective from Oct 1 midnight, has paralysed activity in various offices and facilities in Puerto Rico, including national parks and monuments.

About 10,000 federal employees in Puerto Rico, a US commonwealth, were affected Tuesday by the shutdown, where there was practically no activity at several of the agencies that are directed from Washington.

The most noteworthy effect occurred in San Juan, where Fort San Felipe del Morro and Fort San Cristobal, two of the city's - and the island's - main tourist attractions, remained closed.

The El Yunque National Park -- the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest System -- also could not be visited by tourists due to the government shutdown.

7. 30 am

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for a cabinet meeting today to review the controversial ordinance trashed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, informed sources said.

The meeting will be held at the official residence of the prime minister today.

Before that, a meeting of the Congress core group, which includes party chief Sonia Gandhi and the prime minister, is also expected, the sources said.

The prime minister, who is returning from the US, has arrived in New Delhi.

The cabinet meeting comes in the backdrop of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's public outburst against the ordinance, which aims to save convicted lawmakers from disqualification.

The ordinance is currently with President Pranab Mukherjee after the cabinet cleared it Sep 24.

Before that it had been cleared by the Congress core group.

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