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India army chief says talks can resolve border row with China

India's army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane says he is confident the continuing border standoff with China can be resolved through talks, even as thousands of troops remained amassed along a disputed Western Himalayan region.

"We are sure that the problem can be resolved fully through talks," Naravane told Reuters partner ANI on Friday during a visit to the Ladakh region, where tensions flared earlier this week after the rivals accused each other of seizing territory on their contested border at the Pangong Tso lake area.

Tens of thousands of troops from the two nuclear-armed countries have been squaring off since border skirmishes erupted in April. India accuses China of violating bilateral agreements by pushing its troops through the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between the two Asian giants.

"The situation along the LAC is slightly tense," Naravane said, adding that India had deployed additional troops in some areas to stall any attempted Chinese incursions.

China, however, has blamed India for trespassing over the LAC over the weekend, saying the "move has grossly violated China's territorial sovereignty," according to a Chinese embassy spokesperson in New Delhi.

However, both countries have repeatedly said that they are keen on talks to resolve the process, with military officials meeting for several days this week south of the Pangong Tso lake, where the latest flare-up occurred.

Possible meeting between Chinese and Indian defence ministers

Indian and Chinese media on Friday reported a possible meeting between defence ministers of both countries in Moscow, where they are attending a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation gathering.

"Based on what I know, this arrangement between the two sides has made progress. The meeting between Wei Fenghe and Rajnath Singh has a big probability to be held," Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of China’s Global Times newspaper said on Twitter, naming the two defence ministers.

On Thursday, India's Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said that a solution to the border row has to be resolved through diplomacy.

Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in brutal hand-to-hand fighting in Ladakh's Galwan Valley on June 15, with the Chinese side also suffering an undisclosed number of casualties.

Accusing each other of instigating the violence, both sides have pledged to safeguard their territory but also to try to end the standoff that dramatically changed India-China bilateral relationship.

India on Wednesday banned another 118 Chinese apps in a stepped-up backlash over the increasingly bitter border showdown. New Delhi had already banned 59 Chinese apps - including the video-sharing platform TikTok - following the June incidents.

China and India vie for clout in Bangladesh with COVID vaccines

DHAKA -- China and India are competing to deliver coronavirus vaccines to Bangladesh in a diplomatic offensive carefully choreographed to expand their influence in the densely populated South Asian nation. Last month, Bangladesh cleared the way for privately owned Chinese company Sinovac Biotech to conduct a stage three clinical trial of its CoronaVac vaccine.

Dhaka-based clinical research institute icddr,b will conduct the trial and said Wednesday that a conditional deal is in place for the vaccine to be produced locally.

"If the CoronaVac vaccine is successful, it has been agreed with Sinovac that a local competent vaccine manufacturer in Bangladesh will be selected and enabled through a license from Sinovac to manufacture the vaccine in Bangladesh," icddr,b told the Nikkei Asian Review in a written response to questions.

The Bangladeshi government, however, is making sure not to put all its eggs in one basket. On Aug. 28 it welcomed a tie-up that ensures local company Beximco Pharmaceuticals gets prioritized vaccine supplies from the Serum Institute of India. (READ FULL REPORT TOMORROW IN SAM)

Sri Lanka gazettes Constitution Amendment draft that proposes legal immunity for president

The Sri Lankan government has gazetted the 20th Constitution Amendment draft, the new proposed legislation that would replace the 19th Amendment introduced in 2015 that curtailed the powers of the President and strengthened the role of Parliament.

The 19A was seen as the most progressive pro-democracy reformist move since Sri Lanka came to be governed under the all-powerful executive presidency in 1978. It depoliticised the government administration by ensuring the independence of key pillars such as the judiciary, public service and elections.

However, the 20th Amendment proposes to restore full legal immunity to the President, removing the provisions made in the 19A to take legal action against the President.

Udaya Gammanpila, the minister for energy and also the co-spokesman of the government, said that a minimum 3 weeks must be allowed from the date of gazetting the 20A before it could be placed on the order book of parliament for debate and adaptation. "This can be six weeks if legal action is to be instituted at the Supreme Court by interested parties," he said. (READ FULL REPORT TOMORROW IN SAM)

Intra-Afghan talks imminent

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday that his government has met all pre-conditions for the start of talks with the Taliban, namely, the release of the last of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners required by the peace deal signed between the militant group and the United States in February.

Talks were due to begin last month, but progress was stalled after the Afghan government chose to withhold the remaining 320 “hardcore” prisoners. According to an anonymous government official speaking to AFP, the government has released 200 of those prisoners, and will continue to release the remaining 120 in the coming days.

TAILPIECE

Remembering film legend Uttam Kumar

KOLKATA: The 94th birth anniversary of Uttam Kumar was observed with enthusiasm. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted: “Fondly remembering film legend Mahanayak Uttam Kumar on his 94th birth anniversary. In 2012 we instituted the Mahanayak Samman in his memory. Uttam Kumar continues to rule the hearts of Bengali film lovers across the globe”. Fans of Uttam Kumar garlanded his statue at Tollyginge. The Tollygunge Metro station has been named after him.

The popularity of Uttam Kumar is ever growing even after 40 years of his death. Many youths who were not born in 1980 when he died are Uttam’s fans. Uttam was a versatile genius and played all sorts of roles. He was unparalled in character acting and had directed and produced films and composed music for them.

Uttam fans in North America and Canada observed his birth anniversary. Uttam had observed his last birthday at Toronto on September 3, 1979.

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