French president in India to strengthen strategic ties

NEW DELHI (AP) — French President Francois Hollande began a three-day visit to India on Sunday that could push a multibillion-dollar deal for combat airplanes and closer cooperation on counterterrorism and clean energy.

Hollande landed in the northern city of Chandigarh where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined him at official engagements and lauded France's decision to invest $1 billion every year in India in various sectors.

Chandigarh was designed in the 1950s by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier and is one of three places France has pledged to help develop as so-called "smart cities" - with clean water supplies, efficient sewage disposal and public transportation.

France, India to focus talks on defense deal, clean energy

NEW DELHI (AP) — Amid the pomp of a military parade, the leaders of France and India are planning ambitious discussions next week in New Delhi that could end with a multibillion-dollar deal for combat airplanes and closer cooperation on counterterrorism and clean energy.

French President Francois Hollande arrives Sunday to tour the northern city of Chandigarh before traveling to the Indian capital for meetings with officials and a place as guest of honor on Tuesday at India's Republic Day parade, celebrating 66 years since the country adopted its constitution.

High on the agenda will be India's desire to purchase 36 Rafale combat planes for its air force, which Modi had announced during a visit to Paris in April, touching off several rounds of negotiations over pricing, offsets and servicing.

Plan to clean New Delhi's air may fizzle as auto rules eased

NEW DELHI (AP) — The Indian capital, gasping and choking under record-high air pollution, announced a grand plan to clean its air. But that plan seems to be fizzling before it starts.

Arvind Kejriwal, the top elected official of the Indian capital, had said last month that private cars will be allowed on New Delhi's roads only on alternate days from Jan. 1-15, depending on whether their license plates end in an even or an odd number.

Nuclear part of agenda as Indian PM visits Russia for annual summit

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin is hosting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks expected to focus on nuclear, defense and space cooperation.

Modi began his visit Wednesday with a private dinner with Putin. More talks involving top officials from both countries are to be held in the Kremlin on Thursday.

India's top court issues rules to curb pollution in capital

NEW DELHI (AP) — India's top court issued several orders Wednesday to fight record pollution in New Delhi, including a temporary ban on the sale of large diesel vehicles and a stiff hike on the toll for trucks entering the capital.

The Supreme Court also banned trucks from entering the city if they're over 10 years old or are just transiting through. In addition, all taxis in the area, including private ride-hailing services such as Uber, have to switch to compressed natural gas by March 31.

India worries it compromised too much on climate treaty

NEW DELHI (AP) — As the world celebrates reaching an unprecedented global climate treaty, India is praising nations' willingness to compromise for the good of the planet. But many in the country — which had been among the most strident during the negotiations — worry they had to compromise the most.

In the hours after the treaty was finalized in Paris, India's environment minister gave a speech that verged toward complaint, saying that the "actions of developed countries are far below their historical responsibilities and fair share."

Record heat sets the tone for year's searing headlines

When a devastating heat wave hit India this year, it killed more than 2,500 people and melted the pavement of New Delhi's streets. In California, where an ordinary year sees mountain snow pile six-feet-deep or more — supplying much drinking water — surveyors had nothing to measure in some spots but bare grass.

By the time 2015 is over, it is certain to go down as the warmest year on record. But if the heat was unsettling, it also set the tone for many of the headlines that defined the year, even when they ranged far beyond matters of extreme weather or changing climate.

India and Japan sign deals on military, train sales, nukes

NEW DELHI (AP) — Japan and India signed agreements Saturday that could pave the way for Tokyo to supply New Delhi with military aircraft and high-speed trains, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised to fully support India's efforts to become an economic powerhouse.

The two countries also laid the groundwork for Japan to help India further develop its nuclear power, with a final deal to be signed after technical details are finalized.

Turkmenistan breaks ground on gas pipeline to Afghanistan

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) — Leaders from Afghanistan, India and Pakistan have joined the president of Turkmenistan in breaking ground on a new pipeline intended to deliver natural gas from the energy-rich former Soviet republic to their three countries.

Turkmenistan is believed to have the world's fourth-largest gas reserves, but currently exports mainly to China.

Bullet train, nuke deal top agenda for Japan's Abe in India

NEW DELHI (AP) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi hopes the visit this weekend by Shinzo Abe will be a major step in transforming India into an economic powerhouse with Japan's help in building bullet trains, "smart cities" and accessing nuclear technology.

India and Japan are set to sign a $15 billion agreement for a high-speed train linking the Indian financial hub of Mumbai with Ahmadabad, the commercial capital of Modi's home state, Gujarat. The train would cut travel time on the 505 kilometer (315 mile) route from eight hours to two, and would eventually be extended to New Delhi, Indian officials said.


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