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An individual rapport and mutual understanding between academic-turned-politicians — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — marked the bilateral talks in Berlin last week. The two leaders were learnt to have shared a good laugh while talking about their respective coalition compulsions. In the mean time, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid hit off quite well with his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle. That they were increasingly getting comfortable was evident when Westerwelle asked Khurshid if he could address him by his first name. Amid all this bonhomie though, Khurshid is learnt to have been slightly distracted by the request from Arvind Kerjiwal's Aam Aadmi Party for donations.
Y K Sinha — additional secretary in charge of the crucial division which handles Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran in the Ministry of External Affairs — is now tipped to be appointed as India's new High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, after many months of waiting. The present High Commissioner, Ashok Kantha, is returning to South Block at a secretary-rank position. Ranjit Rae, who is Indian envoy in Vietnam, is to replace the ambassador in Nepal, Jayant Prasad. Preeti Saran, Consul General in Toronto, is moving to Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital, which will bring her significantly closer geographically to Bangladesh where her husband, Pankaj Saran, is the High Commissioner.
CONFUSION continues to persist about which ministry will control the Rs 1000-crore 'Nirbhaya' fund created by the Finance Ministry and meant to be spent on measures to strengthen security for women. At the two-day meeting of the Women and Child Development Ministry with state governments on sectoral allocation of 12th Plan money, the fund was mentioned several times but no commitment could be made in the absence of any clarity on whether the fund would be placed in the hands of the ministry. On the sidelines of the meeting, Planning Commission member Syeda Hamid said she had been given to understand, in her interactions with the Prime Minister's Office, that the WCD Ministry indeed would be managing the fund. At that point, another senior official said in that case the ministry "should better be told" about this.
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