Washington:The Trump Administration plans to continue to expand its defence and security cooperation with India and support New Delhi’s growing relationships throughout South Asia, a top US official has said.
Speaking with PTI, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells said the US-India strategic partnership was based on a shared commitment to uphold the rule of law and free and fair trade among other things.
“The US-India strategic partnership stands firmly upon a shared commitment to uphold the rule of law, freedom of navigation, democratic values, and free and fair trade. We plan to continue to expand our defence and security cooperation and support India’s growing relationships throughout the region,” Wells said.
Wells has been running the crucial South and Central Asia Bureau of the State Department for more than a year now in the Trump Administration in the absence of an Assistant Secretary of State.
Responding to a question on her impression about the India-US relationship in more than a year of the Trump Administration, Wells quoted the US President and said the ties “had never been stronger, never been better”.
“His words have rung true for me since taking this position last summer. The USA and India, as the world’s oldest and largest democracies respectively, collaborate on a broad scope of issues to support the freedom, openness, and peace that have brought so much prosperity to Indo-Pacific over recent decades,” Wells said.
These issues were at the top of her agenda during her recent trip to India, Wells said.
She said she was “excited” about the first US-India 2+2 to be held in the coming months.
“We are working to identify mutually convenient dates. This engagement will further support our efforts to deepen diplomatic, security and military cooperation to confront our most pressing global challenges, from Afghanistan and North Korea to the threat of terrorism,” Wells said.
“We are also focused on strengthening economic ties, including increasing two-way trade, which has more than doubled over the last decade to roughly USD 125 billion,” she said.
The two countries are also working hard to strengthen their energy partnership, Wells said, adding that Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s recent visit to New Delhi for the Strategic Energy Partnership “elevates the role of energy in advancing shared goals”.
“Our collaboration in oil and gas, renewables, coal and civil nuclear cooperation is helping to improve India’s energy security and support its inclusive development while supporting thousands of US jobs and reducing our trade deficit,” Wells said. PTI
Pakistan puts major CPEC power project on hold, asks China to delete it from list
Islamabad: In a setback to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Pakistan government has decided to put on hold a major power project, Rahim Yar Khan power project, and has reportedly informed the Chinese government about the same. According to a report in Pakistan-based Dawn News, the Pakistan government will shut down several other schemes under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).
The report further said that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government has asked Beijing to “formally delete the project from the CPEC list”. The same was communicated to China in a meeting of the CPEC Joint Coordination Committee by Pakistan on December 20, 2018. According to the report, the project was pushed by the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz government in the past.
The development comes months after China refuted charges that Pakistan’s current economic crisis crumbled because of projects under CPEC. China had said that blaming CPEC was uncalled for and that the corridor in fact was something that would bolster Pakistan economy in the years to come.
The defence of CPEC was necessiated after rising voices in Pakistan against it. Several people questioned the loans taken from China and asked the terms for their repayment. Even the United States has said that the current state of Pakistani economy is a result of loans it has taken from Beijing and has made it clear that it won’t allow any bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which would be used by Islamabad to repay Chinese debt.
The IMF also later observed that increasing Chinese involvement in Pakistan’s economy could be disastrous on the latter’s future.
Islamabad has already cut the size of the biggest Chinese “Silk Road” project in Pakistan, a reconstruction of the main rail line between the port city of Karachi and Peshawar in the northwest by $2 billion, citing government concerns about the country’s debt levels. The changes are part of Islamabad’s efforts to rethink key Belt and Road Initiative projects in Pakistan, to which China has pledged about $60bn in financing.
Trump threatens to ‘devastate’ Turkey’s economy if it attacks Kurds
Washington: US President Donald Trump said that America would “devastate Turkey economically” if the NATO-allied country attacks Kurds in the region. “Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining IS (Islamic State) territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms,” the President tweeted.
“Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” but followed up in a second tweet, “Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey.”
Turkey views some Kurdish groups in the region as terrorist organisations and Kurds make up the majority of US-allied fighters operating in Syria in the civil war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad`s regime, CNN reported.
It`s a stark threat toward an ally in the region that has partnered with the US in the fight against the IS. CNN reported on Thursday that the first US military ground equipment has been withdrawn from Syria, according to an administration official with direct knowledge of the operation.
Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly lashed out at US National Security Adviser John Bolton for saying the US withdrawal was contingent upon Ankara`s pledge not to attack US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria once troops leave.
Bill for delisting Pakistan as major ally tabled in US Congress
WASHINGTON: A bill seeking to remove Pakistan from a list of America’s major non-Nato allies has been introduced in the US Congress, even though the Trump administration enhances its contacts with Islamabad in its pursuit of a peaceful end to the Afghan war.
The resolution — introduced by Congressman Andy Biggs who, like the Trump administration, is a Republican — sets new conditions for future re-designation.
If a US president desires to put Pakistan back on the list, he or she will have to certify to Congress that Pakistan continues to conduct military operations that are contributing to significantly disrupting the “safe haven and freedom of movement” of the Haqqani Network in the country.
The president also has to certify that Pakistan has shown progress in arresting and prosecuting Haqqani Network’s senior leaders and mid-level operatives.
Take a look: Pakistan has given us nothing but lies and deceit, says US President Donald Trump
The re-designation will require another certification from Congress that Pakistan has taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to preventing the Haqqani Network from using any Pakistani territory as a safe haven and that Pakistan actively cooperates with Afghanistan to restrict the movement of militants along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Known as Resolution H.R. 73, the bill has been sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for necessary action.
Mr Biggs, a second-term legislator, has no cosponsor and his move will need a strong support from the Trump administration and the Democratic Party to pass a House dominated by the Democrats.
In recent statements, President Donald Trump has clearly expressed his desire to withdraw at least half of the 14,000 US troops still stationed in Afghanistan.
Senior Democrats — both in and outside Congress — have also said that the United States cannot remain involved in these apparently unending wars in Afghanistan and Syria.
But before an ultimate withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Trump administration wants to ensure that the pullout does not lead to the collapse of the US-backed Afghan government in Kabul.