India, US launch joint project to fight TB; United States warns Russia ahead of referendum in eastern Ukraine; India First Group launched with an objective of boosting India-US bilateral relationship
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  • (MAY 5-11)

    According to reports, the Union ministry of science and technology, department of biotechnology (DBT), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID, US) and the office of Aids Research of the US National Institutes of Health have launched a collaborative project under the Indo-US vaccine action programme to address the growing challenges in controlling tuberculosis in India. The collaborative project was conceived three years ago to involve global TB experts in addressing tuberculosis in India. India has not achieved the desired results in reducing the prevalence of tuberculosis despite launching the revised national TB control programme. More than 60 experts from the US and Indian institutes, including Jawaharlal Institute of postgraduate Medical education and Research (Jipmer) and Christian Medical College, Vellore, deliberated on the strategies to be adopted in reducing the prevalence of tuberculosis in India. Prominent among those who participated include DBT secretary K Vijay Raghavan, DBT senior advisor T S Rao, Gray Handley from NIAID and Amy Dubois from the US Health Attache.” 1

    According to reports, the United States has termed the referendum being planned in eastern Ukraine on Sunday as “illegal”, warning Russia of imposing greater costs on Moscow if it continues to destabilise its neighbouring country. “As the United States has said, the referenda being planned for May 11 in portions of eastern Ukraine by armed separatist groups are illegal under Ukrainian law and are an attempt to create further division and disorder,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said. “If these referenda go forward, they will violate international law and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The United States will not recognize the results of these illegal referenda,” Psaki said, as the U.S. warned Russia of greater cost if it continues to destabilize Ukraine. “As President (Barack) Obama and (German) Chancellor (Angela) Merkel stated on May 2, the Russian leadership must know that if it continues to destabilize eastern Ukraine and disrupt this month’s presidential election, we will move quickly to impose greater costs on Russia,” Psaki said. In a statement, the State Department expressed disappointed that the Russian government has not used its influence to forestall these referenda since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s suggestion on May 7 that they be postponed, when he also claimed that Russian forces were pulling back from the Ukrainian border. 2

    In other developments, reports noted that Ron Somers, who recently resigned as the president of the influential US India Business Council (USIBC), on May 7 announced the launch of his India First Group, with an objective of boosting India-US bilateral relationship. Somers, who as USIBC president for about a decade played a key role in Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, said India is on the move and India First Group which was recently registered as an international strategic advisory firm argued that in the interest of bilateral relationship it is time that the Obama Administration issue a statement welcoming Narendra Modi, BJP's prime ministerial candidate, to visit the United States. "Now it is imperative for the US Government to make a statement welcoming the Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to visit the United States at any time," Somers said. 3