US president’s desire to meddle in Kashmir imbroglio creates storm in Indian political circles
US approves secret nuclear power work for Saudi Arabia
US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has approved six secret authorizations by companies to sell nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia, according to a copy of a document seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
The Trump administration has quietly pursued a wider deal on sharing U.S. nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia, which aims to build at least two nuclear power plants. Several countries including the United States, South Korea, and Russia are in competition for that deal, and the winners are expected to be announced later this year by Saudi Arabia.
Perry’s approvals, known as Part 810 authorizations, allow companies to do preliminary work on nuclear power ahead of any deal but not ship equipment that would go into a plant, a source with knowledge of the agreements said on condition of anonymity. The approvals were first reported by the Daily Beast.
The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said in the document that the companies had requested that the Trump administration keep the approvals secret.
“In this case, each of the companies which received a specific authorization for (Saudi Arabia) have provided us written request that their authorization be withheld from public release,” the NNSA said in the document. In the past, the Energy Department made previous Part 810 authorizations available for the public to read at its headquarters.
A Department of Energy official said the requests contained proprietary information and that the authorizations went through multi-agency approval process. Many U.S. lawmakers are concerned that sharing nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia could eventually lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS last year that the kingdom would develop nuclear weapons if its rival Iran did. In addition, the kingdom has occasionally pushed back against agreeing to U.S. standards that would block two paths to potentially making fissile material for nuclear weapons clandestinely: enriching uranium and reprocessing spent fuel.
Concern in Congress about sharing nuclear technology and knowledge with Saudi Arabia rose after U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed last October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Part 810 authorizations were made after November 2017, but it was not clear from the document whether any of them were made after Khashoggi’s killing.
Representative Brad Sherman, a Democrat, called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a congressional hearing on Wednesday to release the names of the companies that got the approvals by the middle of April, and
Pompeo said he would look into it. Sherman also said the Trump administration had attempted to evade Congress on sharing nuclear power with the kingdom. Pompeo said the administration was working to ensure any shared technology nuclear power would not present proliferation risks.
Last month, Democratic House members alleged in a report that top White House aides ignored warnings they could be breaking the law as they worked with former U.S. officials in a group called IP3 International to advance a multibillion-dollar plan to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.
IP3 did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it was one of the companies that got a Part 810 authorization. Separately, the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, accepted a request by Senators Marco Rubio, a Republican and Bob Menendez, a Democrat, to probe the administration’s talks on a nuclear deal with Saudi, the GAO said on Wednesday.
Pak badly frustrated after US, France and United Kingdom come to India’s rescue against the terror sponsoring nation PAK
India has won diplomatically at the global level against Pakistan. The three countries of the world, super power United States of America, France and England have credibly stood in favour of India and against Pakistan by supporting India’s anti Pakistan stance and move a resolution in the United Nation’s demanding declaration of brutal n obnoxious Jaish chief as international terrorist in the UN list n pronouncing Pak a terrorist state responsible for engineering umpteen despicable murderous attacks in the Indian soil on several ocassions. This is a huge setback to coward Pakistan n its cricketeer turned flamboyant PM Imran Khan.
This is the right, opportune and most apt time for the world communities especially the western nations n the Europeon union to come forward to help n support India in their fight against global terrorism.
The entire world n humanity has already suffered tremendously at the hands of these divisive, reactionery n murdurous forces who’ve wrecked havoc in the entire global scenerio and India seems to be worst victim of this despicable murdurous n destructive trend at the hands of Pakistan who’d since decades been harbouring, aiding and abetting the terror sanctuaries, killing unfinite number of people within n outside Pakistan despite warnings from US n the peace loving countries.
It’s really shocking that even the United Nations have not been successful in its efforts to declare Pakistan as a hardcore terrorist state despite it’s unambiguous involvement in the US twin Tower attack, Mumbai attack, Pathan Kot attack and hundreds of other misadventures in strife torn Kashmir resulting in the most abominable unprovoked killings of innocent civilians n the army troopers making thousands of children fatherless n mothers widow.
There have been about 1800 or more cross border violations by Pakistan of the Indo Pak peace accord and shockingly over 80 thousand civilians, troopers n extremists have been killed in Kashmir during the last three decades.
There have been several instances of decapitating the heads of Indian Army soldiers at the LOC and Pak sponsored terror blasts in various parts of Kashmir n India.
The Pakistan Army, its ISI n the political dispensation are in league to ensure that India is destabilised from all angles having lost all wars fought with India till date.
The Chinese government is the one that is fully backing bankrupt Pakistan against India n had till date opposed the India’s entry into the elite Nucleur suppliers group as well as India’s every initiative to declare Azar Mehmood as the International terrorist in the UN list.
Entire world knows that the major culprit of 1992/ 94 Mumbai Bomb Blast mastermind Davood Ibrahim is in Karachi being protected by the ISI.
Who does not know that LET chief n mastermind of twin tower attack in US n Mumbai that killed about 6000 innocents obnoxious Hafiz is in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Are people n politicians of the world not aware that Jaish E Mohammed’s chief Azar Masood the mastermind of Pulwama attack n several other attacks in Kashmir lives is Bhawalpur, Rawal Pindi in Pakistan under full police protection.
Who does not know that Burhan Wani killed by Indian Army was the LET n Jaish’s proxy who killed hundreds of innocents in Kashmir and on who’s honour the govt of Pakistan released a postage stamp giving him an honourable status of a martyr.
Is it not true that after the dastardly killing of 41 CRPF troopers in Pulwama, Kashmir the Jaish chief Azhar Masood himself claimed the responsibility of the Avantipora massacre.
There are hundreds of well established proofs with America n India n the UN is still not able to declare Pak as the terrorist state n catch hold of these two dreaded terrorists masterminding terror operations n killing myriad number of innocents worldwide .
Time has arrived when all the peace loving countries of the world should sideline China n Pakistan in the global scenerio and apply sanctions against it including carrying out of flushing operations to arrest Hafiz Sayeed n Azhar Masood out of the Pak territory dead or alive. This is the only n most relevant solution to give a formidable stop to terrorism in Asia n the world. What’s your take friends?
US-China trade talks in Washington to be held next week
The trade talks between China and the US will continue in Washington next week after both sides made “progress” but not enough to seal a final deal, ahead of a planned American tariff hike on USD 200 billion of Chinese imports from March 2.
Top officials from the world’s two biggest economies wrapped up the two-days of talks in Beijing on Friday in a bid to at least create sufficient goodwill to stave off an escalation of their tariff war.
Both sides have agreed to continue talks in Washington next week after two days of negotiations in Beijing produced “progress” but not enough to seal a deal to end the trade war, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted officials as saying.
“Talks will continue next week among the same group of people, but at a different place,” said a source, who declined to be identified. “The last two days in Beijing made progress but not enough to seal a final deal,” the source said, adding that the Chinese delegation may leave for Washington on Thursday.
In Washington, the White House said that much work remains to be done for a comprehensive trade deal with China despite considerable progress being done.
Top US and Chinese officials are scheduled to hold another round of trade talks in Washington next week as part of their efforts to negotiate a trade deal between them before the March 1 deadline.
“These detailed and intensive discussions led to progress between the two parties. Much work remains, however,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said at the conclusion of the talks in Beijing.
“Much work remains, however. Both sides will continue working on all outstanding issues in advance of the March 1, 2019, deadline for an increase in the 10 per cent tariff on certain imported Chinese goods,” the White House said.
Sanders said the US and Chinese officials have agreed that any commitments will be stated in a Memoranda of Understanding between the two countries.
During the talks, the US delegation focused on structural issues, including forced technology transfer, intellectual property rights, cyber theft, agriculture, services, non-tariff barriers, and currency, she said.
The two sides also discussed China’s purchases of US goods and services intended to reduce the US’ large and persistent bilateral trade deficit with China, the press secretary said.
“Next week, discussions will continue in Washington at the ministerial and vice-ministerial levels. The US looks forward to these further talks and hopes to see additional progress,” Sanders said.
Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He met US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin here on Thursday and Friday.
Mnuchin tweeted that he and Lighthizer had held “productive meetings with China’s Vice-Premier Liu He”. Later, both the delegations called on Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Xi’s meeting with the US delegation was stated as reciprocal move as Trump had met the Chinese delegation when it visited Washington in the first week of this month.
This round of talks was held in Beijing in a more relaxed environment as the US President on Thursday hinted that he might “slide for a little while” the March 1 deadline to increase tariffs on USD 200 billion imports from China in order to reach a deal.
Trump is demanding China to reduce the USD 375 billion trade deficit and protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and more access to American goods to Chinese markets.
He has already increased the tariffs on over USD 250 billion Chinese exports to US and threatened to extend tariffs on USD 200 billion Chinese imports to 25 per cent from current 10 per cent.
As the talks began on Thursday, the new official data said China’s export growth to the US slowed in January compared with December, while the imports slide widened, indicating a bleak trade picture between the two biggest economies.
China’s imports from the US edged down by 38.6 per cent year-on-year to 63.7 billion yuan (USD 9.4 billion) in January, compared with a 2.3 per cent yearly decline in December, the state-run Global Times reported.
In terms of exports, China exported USD 279.4 billion-yuan worth of goods to the US in January, up by 1.9 per cent year-on-year, but slowing from the 8.6 per cent growth seen in the previous month, according to data revealed by the General Administration of Customs on Thursday.
China’s January trade surplus with the US widened by 31.2 per cent to hit 188.4 billion yuan, according to the data.
The sliding exports growth and widening imports decline not only show that the uncertainties of the China-US trade situation is forcing the market to take risk aversion measures, but also reflects that China’s dependence on US trade is sliding, Bai Ming, deputy director of the MOFCOM’s International Market Research Institute, told the Global Times.
- Amid the ongoing trade war, China’s economy sank to a 28-year low in 2018 slowing down to 6.6 per cent year on year. It was the lowest growth since 1990.
Tulsi Gabbard says she is proud to be first Hindu-American to run for President
Democratic presidential aspirant Tulsi Gabbard has alleged that she had become a victim of “religious bigotry” and some media outlets were targeting her and accusing her supporters, who have Hindu names, of being Hindu nationalists.
Gabbard, the first Hindu elected to the US Congress, wrote an op-ed for the Religious News Services on Sunday, describing the campaign against her, supporters and donors as “profiling and targeting of Hindu Americans and ascribing to them motives without any basis”.
The 37-year-old had on January 11 announced that she would be running for the White House in 2020.
In the hard-hitting piece, Gabbard pointed out to the accusation against her of being a Hindu nationalist. “Tomorrow will it be Muslim or Jewish Americans? Japanese, Hispanic or African Americans?” she asked.
“My meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India’s democratically elected leader, have been highlighted as ‘proof’ of this and portrayed as somehow being out of the ordinary or somehow suspect, even though President (Barack) Obama, Secretary (Hillary) Clinton, President (Donald) Trump and many of my colleagues in Congress have met with and worked with him,” Gabbard said.
“I am proud to be the first Hindu-American to have been elected to Congress, and now, the first Hindu-American to run for president,” the four-term Democratic lawmaker from Hawaii said.
“And, while the headlines covering my announcement could have celebrated this historic first, maybe even informed Americans at large about the world’s third-largest religion, some have instead fomented suspicion, fear and religious bigotry about not only me but also my supporters,” Gabbard said.
Gabbard said India was one of America’s closest allies in Asia and is a country of growing importance in a critical region of the world.
“The strategic partnership between our two countries has been a priority for several decades now. To question my commitment to my country, while not questioning non-Hindu leaders, creates a double standard that can only be rooted in one thing: ‘religious bigotry’. I am Hindu and they are not,” Gabbard said.
She referred to the attack against her in the past by political opponents. “Religious bigotry and attempt to foment fear of Hindus and other minority religions persist. During my 2012 and 2014 elections, my Republican opponent stated publicly that a Hindu should not be allowed to serve in the US Congress and that Hinduism is incompatible with the US Constitution,” she said.
In the 2016 race for Congress, her Republican opponent said repeatedly that a vote for her was a vote for the devil because of her religion, Gabbard wrote.
“Republicans like Ben Carson said in 2016 that a Muslim-American would be unqualified to serve as president. Democratic Senators have recently grilled and opposed Republican judicial nominees because of their connection to Catholicism,” she alleged.
These actions and attitudes not only undermine the Constitution, but also incite fear and force people into the shadows because of their religion, Gabbard said.
Gabbard said after her 2012 election, she made a personal decision to take “my congressional oath of office on the supreme yoga/Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna’s teachings have provided wisdom and spiritual solace to me throughout my life, including when I was serving our country in the Middle East during the Iraq war.”
“Those who are trying to foment anti-Hindu sentiment expose the dark underbelly of religious bigotry in politics and must be called out. To advocate voting for or against someone based on religion, race, or gender is simply un-American,” she said.
Gabbard had last September refused to be the chairperson of the World Hindu Congress in Chicago, citing her differences with its organisers who were seen close to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
US-Bangla plane crash in Nepal that killed 51 was caused by pilot smoking in cockpit
The US-Bangla airline Bombardier UBG-211 crash that occurred in March last year took place as the pilot who was in charge of the flight had smoked inside the cockpit despite restrictions, authorities confirmed on Sunday.
“The company has a policy of ‘No Smoking’ in all the flights, domestic as well as international. The PIC (pilot in command) was a smoker as per information received by the commission. The commission concluded from CVR (cockpit voice recorder) record that PIC smoked in the cockpit during this flight. However, the operation department and other authorities may not have been sure about this safety violation by the PIC during flight,” the Accident Investigation Commission formed to probe the reasons behind the crash of the airline stated in a statement.
The report clarified that only tobacco was used during the flight duration and ruled out the use of any other sort of banned assorted items consumed during the flight time.
“The Accident Investigation Commission determines that the probable cause of the accident is due to disorientation and a complete loss of situational awareness in the part of the crew member,” the investigation committee said.
As many as 51 people lost their lives when the aircraft crashed immediately after landing on Nepal’s Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA). The reports were published later after the investigation commission submitted it to the Nepali Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.
“The Accident Investigation Commission determines that the probable cause of the accident is due to disorientation and a complete loss of situational awareness in the part of the crew member. Contributing to this the aircraft was offset to the proper approach path that led to maneuvers in a very dangerous and unsafe attitude to align with the runway. The landing was completed in sheer desperation after sighting the runway, at very close proximity and very low altitude. There was no attempt made to carry out a go-around when a go-around seemed possible until the last instant before touchdown on the runway,” the statement read.
The post-mortem of the deceased, performed in the Department of Forensic Medicine in Kathmandu, found “blunt force injury head” to be the reason for the death of the passengers.
The report has pointed to the human discretion and the natural factor that contributed to the downing of the aircraft.
“The aircraft failed to approach the runway in proper touchdown attitude; given that the aircraft attempted touchdown in extreme attitudes, the flight crew followed a non-prescribed procedure and that the situation was further complicated by prevailing westerly crosswind conditions at Kathmandu (VNKT), the aircraft departed the runway surface towards the southeasterly direction,” the committee said.
Further adding, the report also blamed the control tower of the TIA and the crew for the mishap.
“The Cockpit Voice Recorder data revealed some confusion in communication within the terminal area between the crew and the air traffic controller (VNKT Tower) regarding intentions of the flight crew and clearances for runways 02 and 20. Some of the weakness on Air Traffic parts like poor monitoring the aircraft visually after giving landing clearance for RWY 02, confusion on issuing the instruction for a go-around through the ATC alerted the crew that the aircraft was proceeding towards runway 20 even the landing clearance was given for runway 02,” the reports found.
On March 12 last year, the US Bangla Airlines while operating a scheduled passenger flight crashed about 442 meters southeast of the touchdown point of runway 20.
All four crew members of the airline, including two cockpit crew and two cabin crew, along with 45 passengers out of the total 67 aboard were killed during the accident. Two more passengers succumbed to injury later in the hospital during the course of treatment. The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire
Rupee weakens by 26 paise against US dollar in early trade
The rupee weakened by 26 paise to 71.45 against the US dollar in early trade on Monday on increased demand for the American currency from importers amid rising crude prices and foreign fund outflows.
At the interbank forex exchange, the rupee opened lower at 71.38 and weakened further to quote 26 paise down at Rs 71.45 against the dollar.
Forex dealers said the dollar’s gains against some other currencies overseas too weighed on the rupee sentiment.
However, a positive opening of the domestic equity market capped the rupee’s losses, they said.
Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, was trading 0.46 per cent higher at USD 62.99 per dollar, its two-month high.
On Friday, the rupee had shed 16 paise to end at 71.19 against the dollar.
Meanwhile, the benchmark BSE Sensex rose 32.76 points, to 32,419.37 in opening session Monday.
24-year-old American attacks Sikh man in an alleged hate crime in US
A Sikh man has been brutally assaulted in an alleged hate crime by a white man who pulled his beard, kicked and punched him in the face at a store in the US, the latest such incident in the country.
Harwinder Singh Dodd, who was working at a convenience store in the US State of Oregon, was racially targeted on Monday by a 24-year-old Andrew Ramsey.
Ramsey targeted Dodd because of his perception of the employee’s religion, FOX 12 TV news reported, citing a court document.
Ramsey wanted rolling papers for cigarettes but did not have an ID and the clerk would not sell them to him, Justin Brecht, a legislative policy adviser in the Oregon State Capitol and a former combat Marine, was quoted as saying by the report.
When Dodd asked Ramsey to leave, he attacked him by pulling his beard, punching him in the face, pulling him to the ground and kicking him, Brecht said, adding that they held Ramsey down until officers got there, the report said.
“He was bleeding, he had gotten punched quite a bit in the face, and kicked on the ground and thrown to the ground very brutally. It was very serious.” Ramsey has been charged with a hate crime, assault, police said, adding that he threw his shoe at Dodd and tried to steal his head covering.
He was also charged with assault in the fourth degree, disorderly conduct, and criminal trespass.
Hate crimes increased by 40 per cent in Oregon from 2016 to 2017, according to the FBI.
In August 2018, in about a week, two Sikh men were brutally assaulted in the US State of California that raised concerns over increasing incidents of hate crimes in the country.
Last year, the South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) published a report documenting a 45 per cent increase in hate violence and rhetoric against Indians, Sikhs, and South Asian Americans from the year prior
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visits US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii
Defence Minister in Hawaii along with Commander of INDOPACOM Adm. Phil Davidson
In a first, India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii. The visit comes months after Washington changed the name of Pacific Command, its largest command in the world, to Indo-Pacific Command.
She was hosted by Commander of US Indo-Pacific Command Adm. Phil Davidson who said, “Our two democratic nations are committed to upholding a rules-based international order, which has brought decades of peace, stability, and prosperity. We are global partners on defence and security and this exemplifies our mutual cooperation to assure a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”
India’s defence minister also visited the historic Pearl Harbour and boarded US Guided Missile Destroyer USS Michael Murphy.
The visit coincided with the 77th anniversary of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour by Japanese forces, the attack which is considered a turning point in World War 2 and eventually led to the defeat of Japanese forces in the region. Nirmala Sitharaman is on an official visit to the US from 2-7 December 2018, at the invitation of US Secretary of Defence James Mattis.
The visit by Defence Minister comes at a time when India and US have been engaged in talks to expand the Indo Pacific concept. At the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore, PM Modi said that Indo-Pacific is inclusive and “India’s vision for the Indo-Pacific Region is a positive one” with “ASEAN centrality and unity”.
The United States and India have been major defence partners since 2016. During the recently concluded inaugural US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in New Delhi in September, the two countries signed COMCASA or Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement.
Air forces of India and the US are currently conducting a 12-day military exercise in Kalaikunda and Panagarh air bases in West Bengal, with an aim to enhance operational coordination, according to IAF officials. The ‘Ex Cope India-18’ will be the fourth edition in the series of bilateral drills between the Indian Air Force and the US Air Force.
India, US to increase engagement in oil, energy sector
India and the US Wednesday pledged to further strengthen economic cooperation and increase engagement in the oil and energy sector with a view to boost bilateral trade.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US Vice President Mike Pence had “productive discussions on all aspects of global strategic partnership based on growing convergence of interests on regional and global issues” on the sidelines of East Asia Summit here, Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.
Later briefing reporters, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said it was a “very good” meeting.
The two sides had brief discussion on trade-related matters.
In a statement, Pence’s office said he encouraged “free, fair, and reciprocal trade with India.” “We agreed that in a new relationship we are building with the US where trade is expanding, we need to find ways in which we can help that process to take place,” Gokhale said.
The prime minister said that in the last 2 years – since President Donald Trump has assumed office – American exports to India have grown 50 per cent and it is perhaps the only one of the top 10 countries with which the US has a trade deficit, and the deficit has actually reduced last year and is on course to further reduce this year, Gokhale said.
“There was a lot of discussions on energy. This is a new sector in Indo-US relations. We have begun importing oil and gas from the US worth about USD 4 billion this year. We expressed our readiness to import more oil and gas from the US as a way of expanding our trade,” he said.
The defence sector was another area of cooperation between the two sides.
“Both sides agreed that there had been a substantial enhancement in our defence relationship, in our imports of equipment from the US, but the prime minister in particular stressed that there was a great opportunity for the US in India in making defence equipment and setting up defence industry in India.
“Not only that India is a substantial market but because the way we are placed regionally we can become a hub for exports to the rest of the region,” Gokhale said.
Modi said when Indians come to the US, they not only bring their talent and capacity to innovate, capacity to excel but also they are imbued with democratic values. “And in that context the Prime Minister expressed hope that this would be the approach that US might take when it looks at the whole issue of the H-1B visa,” Gokhale said.
Pence acknowledged that India had made substantial progress economically as well as diplomatically in regional and international affairs, Gokhale said.
Pence felt that India is a positive factor in regional and international relations and said the US looks forward to working with India on various issues to ensure that “we have a fair rules-based international order”.
India-US bilateral trade was USD 74.5 billion in 2017-18, up from USD 64.5 billion in the previous year.
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