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‘US ready to help India’s defence but buying S-400 from Russia a problem’

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Washington: The US is ready to help India’s defence needs with the latest technologies and equipment, but New Delhi purchasing long-range S-400 missile defence system from Russia would limit cooperation, the Trump administration has cautioned.

The statement came weeks after an identical warning from a senior State Department official who had said that New Delhi’s deal to procure the lethal missile system from Moscow would have “serious implications” on the India-US defence ties.

The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system. China was the first foreign buyer to seal a government-to-government deal with Russia in 2014 for the system.

 

India and Russia signed a USD 5 billion S-400 air defence system deal in October last year after wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Senior State Department official (South and Central Asian Affairs) Alice G Wells told House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee for Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation that the US now did more military exercises with India than any other country.

“Under the Trump administration, we’ve been very clear that we’re ready to help meet India’s defence needs and we are seeking a very different kind of defence partnership building on the ‘Major Defence Partner’ designation that India has received from Congress,” Wells said.

She was replying to the Congressional sub-committee on India buying S-400 from Russia and how to make India-US ties as robust and as meaningful as possible.

Just a few weeks ago, India, the United States, the Philippines and Japan did a sail by in the South China Sea, she said.

“In both our bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral formats, we’re working together in ways that we didn’t even conceive of 10 years ago. And so we’d like all aspects of our military relationship to catch up to this new partnership,” Wells said.

Noting that India has a historical dependence on Russian arms, she said what caused concern with the S-400 is that it effectively could limit India’s ability “to increase our own interoperability”.

At a certain point, she argued, a strategic choice had to be made by India about partnerships and a strategic choice about what weapon systems and platforms it is going to adopt.

“It is the case that 10 years ago we did not offer the range of military equipment to India that we’re prepared to offer today. We’re very much engaged in a conversation with India over how we can broaden our defence relationship,” Wells said in response to a question.

Signing of COMCASA agreement between the two countries, she said, was a key step forward which allowed for the classified sharing of information, which is one of the basic foundational agreements that fostered military interoperability.

“So we’re making significant strides forward in our military relationship,” she said.

“There is no a blanket waiver or country waiver when it comes to an S-400. We have serious concern about a possible S-400 purchase (by India) and we’re continuing our conversations on what the United States or other defence providers could assist India,” Wells said.


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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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