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U.S. eases some high-tech export curbs on India

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By Doug Palmer

The U.S. Commerce Department said on Monday it was easing restrictions of exports of high-technology goods to India in recognition of the two countries’ stronger economic and national security ties.

India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D3), blasts off carrying the communication satellite GSAT-4 from the Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota, north of Chennai,

“Today’s action marks a significant milestone in reinforcing the U.S.-India strategic partnership and moving forward with export control reforms that will facilitate high-technology trade and cooperation,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement.

It follows President Barack Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November in New Delhi, where they announced plans to expand cooperation in civil space, defense and other high technology sectors.

It also contrasts with remarks made by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner before Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit last week to the United States.

Geithner tied the possibility of increased U.S. high-technology exports to China to movement by Beijing on currency and a number of trade reforms.

As a first step in implementing Obama and Singh’s commitment, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security said it would publish a new rule changing how India was treated under Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

A key measure removes several Indian space and defense-related organizations from the U.S. Entity List, which imposes extra export licensing requirements on foreign groups or individuals whose activities have aroused concern about the possible diversion of U.S. high-technology products that could be used to build weapons of mass destruction.

Those removed from the Entity List include Bharat Dynamics Limited, four subordinates of India’s Defense Research and Development Organization and four subordinates of the All Indian Space Research Organization.

The reforms also “realign” India’s standing in the U.S. export control regime by removing it from several country groups associated with proliferation concerns. It adds India to a more favorable category consisting of members of the Missile Technology Control Regime.

“These changes reaffirm the U.S. commitment to work with India on our mutual goal of strengthening the global nonproliferation framework,” Under Secretary of Commerce Eric Hirschhorn said in a statement.

Locke will lead 24 U.S. businesses on a high-tech trade mission to India in February.

The group includes Boeing, Exelon Nuclear Partners, Lockheed Martin and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

The delegation, which also includes senior officials from the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the Trade Development Agency, will make stops in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

An administration official, who briefed reporters on condition he not be identified, said less than 1 percent of current U.S.-India trade was affected by export controls.

However, “the perception of onerous export controls certainly has been a hindrance to high-technology trade over the years,” the official said.

No death for Dara Singh in Staines case; SC upholds life term

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New Delhi, (PTI) In a setback to CBI, the SupremeCourt today dismissed its plea for death penalty to DaraSingh, convicted for burning alive Australian missionaryGraham Staines and his two minor sons in January 1999 whileupholding life sentence given to him by the Orissa High Court.

A bench comprising justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan,while dismissing the agency”s plea for death penalty, said thepunishment can be imposed only in the “rarest of rare” casesdepending upon the facts and situation of each case.

In the present case, the apex court said, the offencecommitted by the convicts, though highly condemnable, does notfall in the category of rarest of rare to warrant deathsentence. (More) PTI RB RKS SDG SC

Dara Singh and Mahendra Hembrom were found guilty of burning to death Staines and his sons, who were sleepinginside a van outside a church, at Manoharpur village inKoenjhar district of Orissa on January 22, 1999.

The bench had on December 15 last year reserved itsjudgement after hearing at length the arguments of CBI”scounsel and Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha andcounsel for the convicts.

Senior counsel K T S Tulsi and Ratnakar Dash, besidescounsel

Sibo Shankara Mishra, appeared for the 12 convicts.

Appearing for CBI, Tankha had told the bench that DaraSingh deserves death sentence as the murders were committed ina most “diabolic and dastardly manner” which warrantedexemplary punishment.

Dara had filed an appeal challenging his convictionand the life sentence awarded to him. The appeals wereadmitted by the apex court in October 2005.

On May 19, 2005, the Orissa High Court had commuted tolife imprisonment the death penalty imposed by the sessionscourt on Dara Singh for the murder of Staines and his twominor sons — Philip, 10, and Timothy, 6. Along with Dara,another person Mahendra Hembram was convicted in the case.

However, the High Court had acquitted 11 others whowere awarded life terms by the trial court in the case.

The trial court in Khurda had in September 2003convicted all the 13 accused. While Dara Singh was awardeddeath sentence, others were given life imprisonment.