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NSA surveillance on France: media reports are false, says US

 James R. Clapper/ File photo.

Washington: The U.S. has described the reports of collecting more than 70 million recordings of French citizen’s telephone records as “false” and subsequently the news reports published in a French newspaper as inaccurate and misleading regarding foreign intelligence activities.

“Articles published in the French newspaper Le Monde contain inaccurate and misleading information regarding U.S. foreign intelligence activities,” James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, said in a statement.

Chinese premier hails Singh's visit as 'landmark' event

Beijing: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Wednesday hailed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to China as a 'landmark' event in bilateral relations, which will inject new impetus to ties between the two countries, reported Xinhua.

"This is another high-level visit between China and India after my visit to India in May, and it is the first time since 1954 that the Chinese premier and Indian prime minister visit each other in the same year," Li said during talks with Manmohan Singh.

Shutdown costs US 120,000 jobs, says White House

 Photo courtesy: AP

Washington: The partial US government shutdown has cut 0.25 percentage point off the fourth-quarter economic growth and cost the country 120,000 jobs in October, the White House has said.

The government shutdown has translated into 0.25 percentage point off the fourth-quarter US economic growth rate, Xinhua quoted Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, as saying Tuesday.

"We're 120,000 fewer jobs than we otherwise would have had in the month of October," Furman said.

Sharif seeks US intervention on Kashmir despite rebuff

Washington: Despite a rebuff from both India and the US, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Tuesday once again sought to draw Washington into the Kashmir dispute ahead of his meeting with President Barack Obama.

"Given its relationship with India, US has capacity to do more to help Pakistan-India resolve their disputes, including Kashmir," he said in an address to the US Institute of Peace, a US Congress funded federal institution, on the eve of his meeting with Obama.

French anger over US spying simmers as top diplomats meet

 French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius welcomes U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Foreign Affairs ministery.

Paris: French fury about a report that the U.S. spied on millions of phone calls made by French citizens continued to simmer on Tuesday, with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius using a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to issue a fresh admonishment.

Mr. Fabius and Mr. Kerry had breakfast together in Paris before both left for London, where they attended a meeting of the pro-opposition Friends of Syria group.

Border issues to figure in talks as PM flies to China

Moscow: After a visit to Moscow, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday left for Beijing on the second leg of his visit where border issues are set to top the agenda of his talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

The prime minister held over four and a half hours of restricted talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday signifying the closeness of their relations and he now flies into comparatively tougher terrain in China.

US giving $1.6 bn aid to Pakistan to fight terror

Washington: The US justified plans to release more than $1.6 billion in aid to Pakistan saying it was doing so partly to build Islamabad's counterinsurgency and counterterrorism capabilities "encouraged by an improvement in bilateral ties".

"This is part of a long process of restarting security assistance cooperation that was slowed during 2011-12 when we had some bilateral challenges," state department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters Monday.

US to discuss spy row with France: Kerry

Paris: The US will discuss its global espionage programme with France, US Secretary of State John Kerry was quoted as saying Monday here after France summoned the US ambassador earlier in the day on spy claims.

Calling France as one of "oldest allies," Kerry said US will have bilateral consultations with France to address the question, reported Xinhua citing media reports.

Maldives to hold presidential vote Nov 9

Colombo: Elections Commission of Maldives has decided to schedule the first round of the presidential election Nov 9, and if necessary, the second round Nov 16, Xinhua reported.

Speaking at a press conference Monday night, President of Elections Commission Fuad Thaufeeg said that this announcement follows discussions with representatives appointed by the government and the presidential candidates.

Manmohan gets special present from Putin

Moscow: In a gesture marking their close friendship, Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday presented visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a lithograph painting of Russian monarch Nicholas II who had visited India in the 19th century, a map of India of that time as well as a Mughal coin.