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December 2003 - January 2004

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Mahathir's Parting Shot: Bush Objects

BANGKOK: President Bush told MalaysianPrime Minister Mahathir Mohamad his remarks about Jews controlling the West by proxy were "wrong and divisive," the White House spokesman said,"It stands squarely against what I believe," Bush told Mahathir during an Asia-Pacific summit in Bangkok, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

Mahathir, attending his last major summit before retiring this month after 22years in power, was in the same room with Bush during a session of the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum which ends Tuesday. Mahathir, 78, has not commented on his encounter with Bush. The outspoken Malaysian leader provoked strong protests from the westeren world when he told an Islamic summit last week the Jewish people had an influence in the world that far outweighed their numbers. "The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy," Mahathir said.

The White House said earlier Monday people of all faiths should condemn Mahathir's remarks. It's not the first time that he's made outrageous remarks, and those remarks were hate-filled remarks," McClellan said. Malaysian officials say the remarks were taken out of context and the thrust of his speech was that the Arabs should stop fighting a losing battle with Israel and sue for peace.

Mahathir himself was unapologetic when asked last week about the furor his comments had caused, and some Arab leaders said he was simply telling it like it is. "The fact is that they are biased, most of them are biased. They think while it is proper to criticize Muslims and Arabs, it is not proper to criticize Europeans and Jews," he told reporters after closing the Islamic summit hosted by Malaysia.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar gave Secretary of State Colin Powell an explanation of Mahathir's speech, but he did not convince Powell that the remarks were innocuous, a State Department spokesman said in Bangkok.

Integrated Ocean Drilling Program led by Indian professor

An international partnership of scientists and research institutions named India-born geoscientist Manik Talwani to head a multi-billion dollar programme called the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program. The project, the most ambitious geoscience venture ever undertaken, aims to explore the evolution and structure of the Earth.Dr. Talwani will oversee work on two ships that will sail the world and sink its drills into the ocean floor at different sites to find answers on everything from continent formations to how oceans developed. The lead agencies in the project are the US National Science Foundation and the Japanese Ministry of Education & Technology. The two vessels to be used are Chikyu, a Japanese one and the other a US vessel called Joides Resolution. Dr Talwani, Professor of Geophysics at Houston's Rice University, is an alumnus of Delhi University. He was pleased with the appointment and looked forward to contributing to the understanding of how continents and oceans evolved.

Vajpayee's Visit to Russia, Tajikistan and Syria

Russia, of course, comes first. His visit to Moscow, a crucial relationship in the books of India's foreign policy, strengthened India's ties with Russia in almost all areas. In political matter, Vladimir Putin endorsed India's stand on Kashmir. Moscow once again support Indian stand that an end to cross-border terrorism is a pre-requisite for a peaceful dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues in a bilateral framework.

In the field of space cooperation, a memorandum of understanding between the Indian Space Research Organisation and Russia's Aviation and Space Agency was among ten bilateral agreements signed in Moscow this week. Russia's plans to create a space-based navigation system comparable to America's Global Positioning System and India's 'Chandrayaan-1 mission to send a spacecraft to the moon in 2008 will need each other's co-operation.

The Prime Minister's visit to Tajikistan and Syria reflects the importance India attaches to its relations with important countries in Central Asia and West Asia. Both Russia and India are deeply interested and involved in the stabilisation of Afghanistan and Iraq. Both Tajikistan and Syria are important players in bringing peace and security to these two regions. Moreover, India's security consideration and economic interest are bound with peace in the Middle East and Central Asian region.

Fighting for Governorship of Louisiana

The dream of Indian American Bobby Jindal, the 'wonder boy' who fought closely for governorship of Louisiana has been shattered by the strong black voters turnout in favour of Blanco, a veteran black politician and a woman. Bobby Jindal, a Republican candidate poled 48% while his Democratic rival emerged as the winner with 52%. "I stand here tonight disappointed, but not discouraged. We made the case that the American dream is more alive in Louisiana than anywhere else in America. Something special happened here," said Jindal, whose parents emigrated from Punjab in India.

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