20 March 2017

Iran's top leader faults government's progress on economy

In this picture released by official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader on Monday, March 20, 2017, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sits in a session to deliver his message for the Iranian New Year, Iran. Nowruz, a festival to celebrate the new Persian year starts with the spring. Iranians follow the Persian solar year, and this year, they begin the year 1396. A portrait of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini is placed at right.
Iran's supreme leader has suggested Monday that the government has fallen short in its efforts to improve the economy as moderate President Hassan Rouhani prepares to campaign for re-election in May.

"There is a large gap between what has been carried out, and what the people and what we expect," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised address in honor of the Persian New Year, known as Nowruz.

Pakistan and India discuss water dispute

A delegation of Indian experts, headed by P K Saxena, left, holds talks with his Pakistani counter part Mirza Asif Saeed, right, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, March 20, 2017. Pakistani and Indian experts on Monday opened round-table talks in Islamabad over water disputes between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, even as tensions over competing claims to Kashmir remain high.
Pakistani and Indian experts on Monday opened round-table talks in Islamabad over water disputes between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, even as tensions over competing claims to Kashmir remain high.

Pakistan's minister for water and power, Khawaja Asif, welcomed the Indian delegation for the two-day talks, saying he hoped the discussions will move forward in anticipation of continued talks on April 12 in Washington.

Vodafone's Indian telecom unit merges with local company

British telecom company Vodafone's Indian unit on Monday announced a merger with Idea Cellular, a local company, creating India's largest telecom operator, with around 400 million customers.

Vodafone will own 45.1 percent of the combined company and Idea will have a 26 percent stake, while the rest will be owned by public shareholders after the merger, which is expected to be completed next year, the companies said in a joint statement.

East Timor votes for president in test for young nation

People queue up to give their vote during the presidential election at a polling station in Dili, East Timor, Monday, March 20, 2017. East Timorese went to vote Monday in the first presidential election since the U.N. officially ended the peacekeeping mission in the country in 2012.
East Timor voted for a new president Monday in an election that will test Asia's newest and poorest nation.

Francisco "Lu Olo" Guterres, a former guerrilla leader from the leftist Fretilin party, was up against seven other candidates. He and the Democratic Party's Antonio da Conceicao, the minister of education and social affairs, were the front-runners.

While East Timor's president has a mostly ceremonial role, the prime minister heads the government.