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US government shuts down after Senate blocks spending bill,Trump slams Democrats

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Washington: The U.S. Senate was short of the votes needed to approve a bill to keep the federal government running as a midnight deadline loomed on Friday night, although high-level negotiations continued.
In a dramatic late-night session, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell left voting open despite appearing to fall well short of the 60 votes needed to keep alive a stopgap bill that would fund the government through Feb. 16.
As the clock ticked toward midnight, McConnell and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer huddled in negotiations in a room just off the Senate floor.
Without some type of funding bill, the U.S. government technically will run out of money right after midnight, on the first anniversary of President Donald Trumps inauguration. That would leave scores of federal agencies across the country unable to continue operating, and hundreds of thousands of "non-essential" federal workers would be put on temporary unpaid leave.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a stopgap funding measure on Thursday. But Republicans then needed the support of at least 10 Democrats to pass the bill in the Senate.
Democratic leaders demanded that the measure include protections for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants known as "Dreamers" who arrived in the United States as children with their parents. Republicans refused and neither side has been willing to back down.
Trump last week rejected a bipartisan proposal, saying he wanted to include any deal for Dreamers in a bigger legislative package that also boosts funding for a border wall and tighter security at the U.S. border with Mexico.
In a shutdown, "essential" employees who deal with public safety and national security would keep working. That includes more than 1.3 million people on active duty in the military who would be required to work and would not be paid until funding is renewed.
Although past government shutdowns have done little lasting damage to the U.S. economy, they can rattle financial markets.
A new shutdown now would trigger a political battle between Democrats and Republicans over who is to blame.
This week
s showdown follows a months-long struggle in Congress to agree on government funding levels and the immigration issue.
Democrats have demanded the bill include protections from deportation for about 700,000 Dreamers, who are predominantly from Mexico and Central America and were given temporary legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program started by former President Barack Obama.
In September, Trump announced he was ending the program and giving Congress until March 5 to come up with a legislative replacement.
Trump pointed the finger at his political rivals earlier on Friday.
“Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate – but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming?” he said.
Democrats say the search for a deal has been hurt by Trump sending contradictory messages about what kind of bipartisan immigration proposal he would accept.


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Pakistan among the few countries to successfully turn tide against terrorism: Imran

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Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the country condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including state-terrorism against people under illegal occupation. The PM stated that Pakistan is “among the few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism”.

Addressing the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit at Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Khan reiterated that Pakistan is ready to share its experience and expertise in counter-terrorism. He added that growing intolerance and Islamophobia are threatening to accentuate religious fault-lines. He further said that Pakistan will remain actively engaged in SCO’s counter-terrorism initiatives.

Speaking on Afghanistan, PM Khan said that “the conflict in Afghanistan has no military solution”, adding that Pakistan is fully supporting efforts for “peace and reconciliation, through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process”.

 

“Excellencies, The world stands at a crossroads. For the first time in ages, we are seeing the advent of a multi-polar global order. Epicentres of economic power and growth momentum are shifting eastwards. Regional integration is speeding up. Disruptive technologies are maturing. Threats from terrorism to climate change to narcotics to bacterial resistance continue to loom large,” said PM Khan.

“There are increasing barriers to open trade and innovation. Meanwhile, growing intolerance and Islamophobia are threatening to accentuate religious fault-lines. For its part, Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including State-terrorism against people under illegal occupation. We are among the few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism,” added the Pakistan PM.

“Pakistan remains ready to share its experience and expertise in counter-terrorism. We will also remain actively engaged in SCO’s counter-terrorism initiatives. Excellencies, There is finally a realization that the conflict in Afghanistan has no military solution. Pakistan is fully supporting efforts for peace and reconciliation, through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process,” further said Pakistan PM Khan.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reiterated India’s strong stand against terrorism and appealed that countries supporting, aiding and funding terrorism must be held accountable. PM Modi highlighted the spirit and ideals of SCO to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism even as Khan looked on.

Without naming Pakistan, a country that has made state-sponsored terrorism its biggest policy to counter India for the last several decades, PM Modi said every country needs to come together, unite and fight against the scourge.

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Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state

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Moscow: Vladimir Putin has said Russia will fight for an independent Palestinian state, and called for the issues of the Middle East to be resolved through peaceful means.

Despite international criticism over Russia’s own role in the Ukrainian crisis, Mr Putin was hailed last week by a St Petersburg Cossack group for his ability to “bring order and stop wars”.

In an address to the Arab League summit in Egypt on Saturday, Putin spoke against foreign intervention in countries’ internal disputes and spoke of the role Russia can play in diplomatic channels.

 

While Russia openly opposes the stance of US-backed Israel on the Gaza crisis, its position in the Middle East is complicated. Putin is one of Iran’s key allies, but as he spoke on Saturday the core nations of the Arab League engaged in air strikes on the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

His attempts to urge a peaceful solution in Yemen haven’t had much of an immediate impact – on Sunday, the Arab League agreed to the creation of a joint military forces comprised of around 40,000 elite troops to resolve the future “challenges” of the Middle East.

As one of the “Quartet” entities involved in Middle East peace negotiations, Russia has played a key role in talks about the fallout of last year’s Gaza crisis.

He told the summit this weekend: “Palestinians have the right to establish an independent and habitable state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

“Russia will continue to contribute to achieving this goal through bilateral and multilateral channels,” he said.

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Trump claims Queen had fun with him during his UK visit

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Washington: US President Donald Trump claimed that Britains Queen Elizabeth II had more fun during his state visit to the UK than in the last 25 years."I have such a great relationship, and we were laughing and having fun. And her people said she hasnt had so much fun in 25 years. Then I got criticized for it because they said we were having too much fun,” the Hill quoted Trump as saying.

Trump`s comments come two weeks after his first state visit to London to meet the 93-year-old monarch. During his three-day visit, the president dined with the Queen, members of the British royal family and other British politicians at Buckingham Palace.

Trump and the queen reaffirmed the importance of the Washington-London relationship during an elaborate state banquet.”On behalf of all Americans I offer a toast to the eternal friendship of our people, the vitality of our nations and to the long cherished and truly remarkable reign of her majesty, the queen,” Trump said in his toast during the event.

 

He also met Prime Minister Theresa May. Opposing Trumps visit, thousands of people hit the streets. TheTrump Baby` blimp was flown by the demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament, according to CNN, alongside a 16-foot robot version of Trump sitting on the toilet and tweeting.

Other activists came dressed as gorillas, with signs reading that they “only eat chlorinated chicken” — a nod to concerns in Britain that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US would mean a decline in food standards for imported produce.

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