FRIDAY www.thestatesman.com 01 MARCH 2019 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 16 |` 5.00|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR KIM-TRUMP SUMMIT COLLAPSES WITH NO DEAL P10 WEATHER Mainly clear sky. Maximum-minimum temperature likely to be around 25-16 degree celsius, respectively. RAINFALL: 42.1 mm RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max.96% Min. 71% Max: 23.5°C (-8) SUN RISES 05:58 hrs MOON RISES 02.12 hrs Min: 18.6°C (-1) SUN SETS 17:40 hrs MOON SETS 13:17 hrs TEMPERATURE Next moon quarter on 4 March Gopalpur Port expansion: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik dedicated the expansion of Gopalpur Port to the nation on Thursday and said it will be a strategic port for cargo movement on the east coast. (DETAILS ON PAGE 13) WHAT INDIA OWES TO MEGHNAD SAHA GOVT KEEN ON PSU BANKS’ MERGER P8 P7 REAL MADRID ARE SENT PACKING BY BARCELONA P12 Pak to release IAF pilot today: Imran Wing Commander Varthaman to be released as peace gesture , says Pak PM; Captured pilot safe and sound, says Pak foreign office SNS & PTI ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI, 28 FEB P akistan will set free captured IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on Friday as a peace gesture, its Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Thursday, a move that came just hours after his foreign minister said the Pakistani leader is ready for telephone talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to de-escalate Indo-Pak tensions. The surprise announcement also came on the heels of India sending a strong message to Pakistan rejecting the possibility of any deal for securing the release of the pilot and demanding his unconditional and immediate repatriation. Indian government sources also emphatically said the pilot cannot be a bargaining chip. “In our desire for peace, I announce that tomorrow (Friday), and as a first step to open negotiations, Pakistan will be releasing the Indian Air Force officer in our custody,” Khan said. The announcement during a joint session of Parliament was greeted by thumping of desks by lawmakers. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who had earlier in the day said Pakistan is willing to consider returning the pilot if it leads to “de-escalation” of tensions with India, said PM Khan is ready to talk to Prime Minister Modi to de-escalate Indo-Pak tensions. “Prime Minister Imran Khan is ready to talk to Narendra Modi on the telephone and ready to extend an invitation of peace. Is Modi ready?” he told Geo News. India hails Pak decision, says it was in line with Geneva accord SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 28 FEBRUARY The Indian Air Force on Thursday said it is very happy that captured pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is returning home but dismissed suggestions it was a goodwill gesture, insisting it was in line with the Geneva Conventions. “We are very happy Abhinandan will be freed tomorrow and look forward to his return,” Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, assistant chief of Air Staff, told a news conference. Varthaman's MiG 21 was shot and he bailed out after bringing down one Pakistani F-16 fighters during a dogfight to repel a Pakistani attack on Wednesday morning, he said. He has been in Pakistan since then. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan ann ounced in Parliament on Thursday that Varthaman would be released on Friday as a “peace gesture”. Asked if the IAF sees it as a goodwill move, Kapoor said, “We see it as a gesture in consonance with the Geneva Conventions.”
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