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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrived in India on Thursday touting job-creating investment but facing long odds to get his reluctant counterpart Narendra Modi to back Western action against Russia.

Johnson arrived in western Gujarat — Modi's home state — where he is scheduled to meet business leaders and take a cultural tour of the historic Ahmedabad city, the ancestral home to half of the Anglo-Indian population in Britain.
He will leave for New Delhi to meet his Indian counterpart on Friday, providing Johnson some respite from the “partygate” controversy over his criminal violation of pandemic lockdown rules.
Johnson will miss a parliamentary vote on Thursday into whether he deliberately misled the House of Commons in previously denying any Downing Street rule-breaking — normally a resigning matter.
The India trip has been twice postponed because of Covid flare-ups in each country, and was briefly in doubt again this week when the vote was announced, with opposition leaders insisting Johnson stand down.
But UK sources said it was seen as too important to put off again. Downing Street said it would seal two-way investment deals worth more than 1 billion ($1.3 billion), creating almost 11,000 jobs in Britain.
The visit will “deepen the strategic trade, defence and people-to-people ties between our two countries”, Johnson told parliament before flying out of London.
Downing Street said the visit would yield new partnerships on defence, artificial intelligence and green energy, along with investment deals in areas including robotics, electric vehicles and satellite launches.
“Our powerhouse partnership is delivering jobs, growth and opportunities for our people, and it will only go from strength to strength in the coming years,” Johnson added in a statement.
However, London acknowledges that it is some way off clinching a post-Brexit trade deal with Modi's government, which wants more visas for Indians to work or study in the UK.
No lectures
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Gujarat on Thursday and New Delhi on Friday.—AFP India meanwhile has refused openly to condemn the Kremlin for its invasion of Ukraine, reliant as it is on Russian imports of energy, agricultural goods and military hardware.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss came away from New Delhi empty-handed last month when she pressed the Indians to do more against Russia, and Modi has also given short shrift to appeals from US President Joe Biden.
Johnson's spokesman told reporters that Ukraine would feature in summit talks on Friday. But he said the intention was not to “lecture” Modi but to “broaden the (Western) coalition”.

Johnson will tout the benefits of India moving more quickly towards renewable energy, the spokesman said, although he was unable to say how the UK could help achieve that in the near term as Russia launches a new offensive in Ukraine.
Downing Street also denies that, given the war's impact on energy supplies, it is soft-pedalling its commitment to net zero carbon emissions — after India joined with China to torpedo a stronger accord at the COP26 climate summit held in Scotland last year.
The UK also has a sizeable Sikh community, and its leaders have been demanding that Johnson raise the case of Scotsman Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been detained without trial in India for more than four years.

Surpasses 150K Downloads In Just 3 Episodes
Launched as a Ramadan special by Rising Giants Network (RGN), Al Rasool (الرسول) an Arabic narrative podcast retelling the widely known story of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), has officially closed over 150,000 downloads in the first week as it launched its first three episodes. Marked as one of the biggest podcast launches in MENA, this has truly cemented the cultural shift towards podcasting in the region.

The show has become one of the Top 3 Most Listened Podcasts in MENA within its debut week, with a large portion of listeners accessing it via Apple Podcasts and Anghami. Additionally, it has received hundreds of 5 star reviews and critical acclaim.

Al Rasool (الرسول) delves into Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) trials and tribulations as a human, son, husband, prophet, and leader. It showcases the whole story of the Prophet's (PBUH) life and journey, before and throughout prophethood, the message, and the hardships he encountered, with a focus on historically authenticated tellings of his knowledge, teachings, and leadership.

The show is composed of ten episodes, aired throughout Ramadan and targeted towards an Arabic speaking audience. Al Rasool (الرسول) presents the narrative in an immersive manner using audio design, comparable to how the legendary film 'The Message' did through cinema. Original acapella tunes, sans musical instruments, have also been specifically composed for the show.

Sharing his vision for RGN, Co- Founder and CEO Basel Anabtawi said “In recent times, podcast culture has seen a major shift. People are not just listening while on commute or during downtime but in fact, these shows are now sought after and have a large audience base that demand quality content. Through Al Rasool (الرسول), we introduced a unique storytelling approach that drew thousands of people into the realm of podcasting. We hope to maintain this momentum and continue to cater to the ever-growing podcast user base. RGN is committed to producing high-quality podcasts with compelling storylines and unrivalled audio experiences."

With five episodes yet to be released during Ramadan, Al Rasool (الرسول) is available on all major platforms including Apple, Spotify, Deezer and Anghami.

MOSCOW: Russia has announced it was banning entry of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Deputy PM Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, ex-premier Theresa May and the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, after London had imposed sanctions on Russia over its action in Ukraine.
“This step was taken as a response to London’s unbridled information and political campaign aimed at isolating Russia internationally, creating conditions for restricting our country and strangling the domestic economy,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “gave a positive assessment” of joint work in the OPEC+ format during a phone call. They also discussed the situation in Ukraine and Yemen, the Kremlin said.

WASHINGTON, April 12: At least 16 people were injured in a mass shooting that occurred on a subway in the city of New York earlier today, said CNN Tuesday. The White House said that US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the latest developments regarding the New York City subway shooting. White House senior staff are in touch with the Mayor of New York and the Police Commissioner to offer any assistance as needed, it added.

The Consulate General of the State of Kuwait in New York City said it follows up, in close coordination with the competent US authorities, the developments of the shooting that hit in a subway in NYC on Tuesday morning. The US authorities verified that fortunately there were no Kuwaitis among the victims of the attack, according to a statement from the Consulate. The statement called on Kuwaiti nationals in NYC to remain vigilant for their safety, keep away from the site of the attack and follow the instructions of the local security services.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was monitoring what he described as a rise in human rights abuses in India by some officials, in a rare direct rebuke by Washington of the Asian nation's rights record.
“We regularly engage with our Indian partners on these shared values (of human rights) and to that end, we are monitoring some recent concerning developments in India including a rise in human rights abuses by some government, police and prison officials,” Blinken said on Monday in a joint press briefing with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Blinken did not elaborate. Singh and Jaishankar, who spoke after Blinken at the briefing, did not comment on the human rights issue.

Blinken's remarks came days after US Representative Ilhan Omar questioned the alleged reluctance of the US government to criticise Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government on human rights.

“What does Modi need to do to India's Muslim population before we will stop considering them a partner in peace?” Omar, who belongs to President Joe Biden's Democratic Party, said last week. Modi's critics say his Hindu nationalist ruling party has fostered religious polarisation since coming to power in 2014. Since Modi came to power, right-wing Hindu groups have launched attacks on minorities claiming they are trying to prevent religious conversions. Several Indian states have passed or are considering anti-conversion laws that challenge the constitutionally protected right to freedom of belief.

In 2019, the government passed a citizenship law that critics said undermined India's secular constitution by excluding Muslim migrants from neighbouring countries.
The law was meant to grant Indian nationality to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis, and Sikhs who fled Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan before 2015.

In the same year, soon after his 2019 re-election win, Modi's government revoked the special status of occupied Kashmir in a bid to fully integrate the Muslim-majority region with the rest of the country.
To keep a lid on protests, the administration detained many Kashmir political leaders and sent many more paramilitary police and soldiers to the Himalayan region also claimed by Pakistan.
Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) recently banned wearing the hijab in classrooms in Karnataka state. Hardline Hindu groups later demanded such restrictions in more Indian states.

WASHINGTON, April 9: Moderna and ROVI Pharma Industrial Services (S.A.U.) – a specialized Spanish pharmaceutical company, on Friday announced the recall of one lot of Moderna Covid- 19 vaccine (Spikevax) due to a foreign body being found in one vial in the lot. The lot (#000190A) is manufactured at a ROVI site in Spain, the US biotechnology company, Moderna, said in a press release, noting that the impacted vial was punctured and was not administered.

Moderna, through its marketing authorization holder, Moderna Biotech Spain, S.L., and ROVI, were alerted to this issue through a product complaint from a vaccination center in Malaga, Spain. The vial was returned for forensic assessment and investigation, the statement noted. This lot, which consisted of 764,900 doses, was distributed in Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden from 13-14 January 2022. Moderna conducted a cumulative search of its global safety database, and no safety concerns were reported in individuals who received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from this lot.

To date, no safety or efficacy issues have been identified, according to the statement. More than 900 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to date worldwide. Moderna does not believe that this poses a risk to other vials in the lot and does not believe that this affects the significant benefit/risk profile of the vaccine, it added., (KUNA)

LVIV: Ukraine on Saturday called on civilians in the eastern Luhansk region to flee from amassing Russian forces after officials said more than 50 civilians trying to evacuate by rail from a neighbouring region were killed in a missile attack the previous day.

Air-raid sirens sounded in cities across eastern Ukraine, which has become the focus of Russian military action in recent weeks following a withdrawal from areas close to Kyiv.
“They are amassing forces for an offensive,” Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai in a televised address in which he urged remaining civilians to flee shelling that he said had intensified in recent days.
Russia’s invasion, which began on Feb 24, has forced more than 4 million people to flee abroad, killed or injured thousands, left a quarter of the population homeless, and turned cities into rubble.
Johnson visits Kyiv after deadly railway station attack

The civilian casualties have triggered a wave of international condemnation, in particular over the deaths in the town of Bucha, which was until last week occupied by Russian forces.
Russia has denied targetting civilians in what it calls a “special operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” its southern neighbour. Ukraine and Western nations have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for war.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Saturday in a “show of solidarity” with Ukraine a day after a missile strike killed dozens at a railway station in the country’s east.
Johnson tweeted that Britain was “setting out a new package of financial and military aid which is a testament of our commitment to his country’s struggle against Russia’s barbaric campaign”.
As part of the solidarity campaign, a global pledging event for Ukrainian refugees raised 10.1 billion euros ($11 billion), European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in Warsaw.
With thousands killed in fighting and more than 11 million fleeing their homes or the country, Zelensky said the Kramatorsk strike marked a fresh atrocity that required Western action.
“This is another Russian war crime for which everyone involved will be held accountable,” he said in a video message, calling for “a firm global response to this war crime”.
Zelensky later said he was “still ready” to continue talks with Russia to resolve the conflict, after talks with visiting Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer.

US President Joe Biden accused Russia of being behind a “horrific atrocity” in Kramatorsk, the de facto capital of the Ukrainian-controlled Donetsk region, and France condemned the strike as a “crime against humanity”. Moscow denied responsibility for the rocket attack on Friday morning, which killed 52 people including five children and injured a further 109 victims, according to the latest official count.
The Ukrainian president said the bombing had been reported in Russia before the missiles had even landed and called for more weaponry to counter Moscow’s aggression.
“I am sure that the victory of Ukraine is just a matter of time, and I will do everything to reduce this time,” he added.

Moscow has denied targeting civilians, but growing evidence of atrocities has galvanised Ukraine’s allies in the EU, which has approved an embargo on Russian coal and the closure of its ports to Russian vessels.
The bloc has frozen 30 billion euros in assets from Russian and Belarusian individuals and companies, it said.

It also blacklisted Putin’s two adult daughters and more than 200 others as part of its latest sanctions package, according to an official list.

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