India’s ambassador to the United States discussed developments in the Middle East last Thursday, saying that the region’s peoples should determine how they’re governed, that Israel should have secure borders, and that Iranian oil will continue to flow into India despite international sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.The ambassador, Nirupama Rao, said India supports Iran’s right to develop peaceful nuclear power but opposes any clandestine move to develop nuclear weapons. Though India shares international concern about a possible weapons program, she suggested that India cannot simply disengage economically from Iran. That’s because India gets about 10 percent of its oil from that country. Though the percentage has been falling in recent years, it would be impossible to halt imports immediately.“Continued oil imports from Iran, albeit at reduced levels, are … tied to sustenance and survival of millions of our people,” Rao said.Rao spoke amid rising international tensions concerning Iran’s nuclear program. Earlier this month, the United States tightened its existing sanctions, freezing U.S. assets of the Iranian government, the Central Bank of Iran, and other Iranian financial institutions. Even as the United States and other nations have imposed sanctions, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad this week showed off new nuclear technology and announced that his nation would begin producing yellowcake uranium, from which enriched uranium is made.Rao’s comments came during a session of the Middle East Seminar, sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Lenore Martin, a research associate at both centers, introduced the ambassador during the event in Harvard’s Knafel Building.Ties between Iran and India date far into the past, long before the discovery of oil and development of the modern energy economy, Rao said. She labeled as false reports that India is paying Iran in gold for its oil and that India is amidst a major re-engagement with Iran.Beyond India’s own oil needs, Rao said, there are practical reasons for India to remain engaged with Iran. With Pakistan barring Indian transit to Afghanistan, Iran is the only land route through which Indian aid — which totals $2 billion — can reach war-torn country.Rao said any military conflict involving Iran would be disastrous for the region. She also addressed the ongoing turmoil from the Arab Spring popular democratic uprisings. She said India believes that the region’s peoples have the right to determine how they’re governed and that change should not be imposed militarily from outside.She said it is unclear how recent developments will change the region, and the path toward a new normal may be a long one. It is critical, she said, that extremists not hijack popular movements and step into the vacuum left by fallen regimes.India also has strong ties to Israel, she said, with the two nations recently marking 20 years of diplomatic relations. A comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian question is essential to the region’s future, she said.Rao said that India has significant interests in the Middle East that are likely to grow. India’s bilateral trade with nations in the region totals $130 billion. India gets 70 percent of its energy from Middle Eastern nations. India’s response to developments there are influenced by the well-being of its own people, including some six million Indians who work in the region and send $20 billion home to their families each year.“India has a deep and abiding interest in this region,” Rao said.
ATLANTA (AP) — A reporter and photojournalist were kicked out of a public town hall event and threatened with arrest for trying to ask a question of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Greene is a freshman Republican lawmaker from Georgia who has come under heavy criticism for supporting social media posts that advocated violence against Democratic officials. The journalists from WRCB-TV were removed from the public town hall event in Dalton, Georgia, on Wednesday. A spokesman for Greene defended the action, saying the town hall was for constituents and not a press conference. WRCB-TV news director Callie Starnes tells The Associated Press that the journalists were invited to attend the event and given credentials for it.
NEW YORK, USA (Reuters) – World number one Rafael Nadal dismissed Dusan Lajovic 7-6(6), 6-2, 6-2 to ease into the US Open second round yesterday, setting the Spaniard on a collision course for a long overdue Flushing Meadows showdown with Roger Federer.While the year’s final grand slam is just underway tennis fans have circled September 8 when, if all goes to form, Nadal and Federer would meet to decide a place in the final.One of the great rivalries in sport, Federer, a five-time US Open winner and Nadal, twice champion, have clashed 37 times over the years but never have they stood across the net on Flushing Meadows’ hard courts.On French Open clay, Wimbledon’s manicured lawns and in Australian heat, the elegant Swiss maestro and muscular Spaniard have played for titles and while no trophy would be on the line a New York meeting would still have the Big Apple buzzing.Federer was due to follow Nadal on to Arthur Ashe Stadium later yesterday looking to hold up his end against American Frances Tiafoe.After a sluggish run-up to the US Open that included a shock round-of-16 loss to Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov in Montreal and another to Australian Nick Kyrgios in the Cincinnati quarter-finals, Nadal needed a few games to find his range against the 85th-ranked Serb.The 21-year-old, chasing a first US Open win, showed no sign of nerves, using his stylish groundstrokes to grab the early break on the way to a 4-2 lead, the four games as many as he won in his only other meeting with Nadal, a round-of-16 loss at the 2014 French Open.But a steely Nadal found his comfort zone, breaking back at 5-5 to force the opener to a tiebreak that he took 8-6.A ruthless Nadal delivered the young Serb another tennis lesson, breaking his opponent at the first opportunity in both the second and third sets to improve his record in first round US Open matches to 13-0.