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Senate rebukes Trump over Syria, Afghanistan pullouts






Washington: The US Senate has approved by a large majority an amendment critical of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, in a sign of the deep discontent caused by the policies within his own Republican ranks.

The resolution was sponsored by the Republican leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell, who said last week the measure “would acknowledge the plain fact that Al-Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates in Syria and Afghanistan continue to pose a serious threat to our nation.”

It passed by a majority of 70 to 26 – opposed by only three of the 53 Senate Republicans. The amendment will eventually be incorporated into a broader security law on the Middle East.


According to the text, the “precipitous withdrawal of United States forces” from either country “could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security.”

In December, Trump tweeted plans to remove America’s 2,000 troops out of Syria, arguing that the Islamic State group had been defeated, even though his intelligence chiefs testified last week that the jihadists remain a potent threat and are seeking a comeback.

The president has also vowed to pull half of the 14,000-strong American force from Afghanistan, where the US has had a military presence since 2001, citing the high cost in blood and treasure.

Senators, including prominent Republicans, inflicted a resounding rebuke to the president in December, holding the Saudi crown prince responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi after the Trump administration had been largely supportive of Prince Mohammed bin Salman.



Zardari slams ‘immature’ Imran Khan, calls him ‘back seat driver’




ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari has slammed Prime Minister Imran Khan and said that the cricketer-turned-politician has no idea about international politics.

Zardari also reportedly called Imran Khan ‘immature’ and criticised him for not countering India’s allegation regarding the Pulwama terror attack on a CPRF convoy.

Zardari made these remarks while addressing a press conference.


“During my tenure, Mumbai attacks took place and we were blamed for it too. However, we handled the issue in the right way, forced India to back down and handled the issue diplomatically,” Zardari said.

Responding to a question on India trying to get Pakistan isolated globally, the former president said that Islamabad has faced global isolation for a long time but added that this time under the current regime this has increased manifolds.

Calling Imran Khan a ”back seat driver”, Zardari alleged that he is acting at the behest of others which is why the whole situation is getting worse.

It may be recalled that India has blamed Pakistan for the Pulwama attack and accused it of providing a safe haven to the terrorists.

Responding to India’s allegations, Pakistan PM Imran Khan had denied any role in the Pulwama attack and offered to help New Delhi in probing the matter.

He also assured that no Pakistani national would be spared if found guilty of involvement in Pulwama attack.

However, he also warned that Pakistan will retaliate if Indian forces attack the country.

Husband of former Pakistan PM Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari was the 11th president of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013. During his reign, 10 terrorists from Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) attacked Mumbai which led to the death of 166 people and left over 300 injured.

India later provided evidence to Pakistan and accused Islamabad of backing the perpetrators of the attack.

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‘No rush to denuclearise Korean peninsula’: Trump




Washington D.C. [USA]: United States President Donald Trump (local time) said that he is in “no rush” to denuclearise the Korean peninsula, irrespective of the fact that the agenda was always on top of the table for the US.

“I’d just like to see, ultimately, denuclearisation of North Korea,” Trump said while addressing media at the White House, adding that he has “no pressing time schedule.”

“As long as there’s not testing, I’m in no rush.”


“If there’s testing, that’s another deal. I hope that very positive things are going to happen,” Yonhap News Agency quoted Trump, as saying.

The US President’s remarks come ahead of the second summit between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, slated to be held on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam.

During the first Summit which was held at Singapore’s Sentosa Island, Trump and Kim had agreed on a spectrum of issues, the most prominent being the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

However, the US and North Korea reached an impasse regarding sanctions relief for Pyongyang soon after the first Summit, leading to extremely slow progress on the denuclearisation front.

North Korea has sought relief in sanctions in light of the steps taken by the country towards denuclearisation. The US, however, has repeatedly stated that there would be no sanctions relief until complete denuclearisation is achieved by North Korea.

Reiterating the US’ stance, deputy spokesperson of the Department of State Robert Palladino said: “our policy goals haven’t changed at all.”

“We remain confident in the commitments made by President Trump and Chairman Kim, that those commitments made at the Singapore summit will be fulfilled, and it’s Chairman Kim’s commitment to denuclearization upon which the world is focused right now and that remains our goal,” Palladino added.

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Saudi crown prince in China on latest stop of Asian tour




Riyadh: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in China on the latest stop of a sweep through Asia that aims to expand the kingdom’s influence on the continent.

Prince Mohammed touched down in the morning following earlier visits to India and Pakistan.

He’s due to meet top officials including Chinese president and ruling Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping, on Friday, highlighting Saudi Arabia’s importance as one of China’s top oil suppliers and a market for its exports, including military drones.


Prince Mohammed’s visit to Beijing follows one earlier this week by a high-powered delegation from Saudi Arabia’s chief strategic rival Iran.

At a meeting on Wednesday, Xi told Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani that “China’s resolve to develop a comprehensive strategic partnership with Iran will remain unchanged,” regardless of the evolving international situation, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

The trip comes five months after the crown prince came under intense pressure following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. At the same time, China is facing growing international criticism over its treatment of its Muslim minority groups.

Thus far, Turkey has been the only majority Muslim country to criticise Beijing, with its Foreign Ministry this month calling treatment of minority Uighurs “a great cause of shame for humanity” and saying it is “no longer a secret” that China has arbitrarily detained more than a million Uighurs in “concentration camps”.

Commenting Wednesday on the crown prince’s visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said recent years have “seen a positive momentum in our cooperation with fruitful outcomes in various areas such as infrastructure and space satellites”.

“We hope that through this visit we will enhance our relations enhance mutual trust, deepen cooperation … and inject momentum into our bilateral relations,” Geng said.

Prince Mohammed is due to visit South Korea after Beijing. MBS was in New Delhi yesterday, where he met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi is in South Korea today for a two-day state visit and will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

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February 2019
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