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India & Pak should work together to solve the problem: Kerry

(Washington, Jan 4, 2016): US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Pakistani Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar over phone on Indus Water Treaty issue and encouraged both the South Asian neighbours to work together to resolve their differences.

"I can confirm that he (Kerry) did speak on the 29th of December with Finance Minister Dar.

"I am not going to read that out in any great detail," State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at his daily news conference.

"The Indus Waters Treaty has served, as a model for peaceful cooperation between India and Pakistan for now 50 years.

"We encourage, as we have in the past, India and Pakistan to work together to resolve any differences," Kirby said.

However, he refused to entertain questions on if the US has offered help to India and Pakistan resolve the issue.

"As I said, we encourage India and Pakistan to work together bilaterally to resolve their differences," he said.

"We are in regular communication with the Indian and Pakistani governments on a wide range of issues," Kirby said.

Earlier, Pakistan had sought support of the US on the implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) with India even as Secretary of State John Kerry had called for an amicable settlement of the issue between New Delhi and Islamabad. (PTI)

5 Indian Americans take oath as members of Congress

(Washington, Jan 4, 2016): Creating history for a minority ethnic community that comprises just one per cent of the US population, five Indian Americans took oath as members of the Congress.

52yearold Kamala Harris whose mother was from India and father from Jamaica of African heritage, was sworn in yesterday as the Senator from California by the outgoing US Vice President Joe Biden. She is the first Indian American to have ever served in the Senate.

She was accompanied by her husband Doug Emhoff, sister Maya Harris and other members of her immediate family members during the swearing in ceremony.

Harris, who before the swearing in held the position of California Attorney General replaced Senator Barbara Boxer, who decided against seeking reelection. She is one of the seven new Senators to have taken office in the new Congress.

"Today I was swornin to the US Senate. I am humbled and honoured to serve you and the people of California. Let's get to work," Harris said immediately thereafter.

After her elections, she has made it clear that her top priority would be to fight out the alleged divisive policies of the Republicans who are now in majority in both the House of Representative and the Senate.

A few hours later, the focus of the community shifted to the House Chambers wherein as many as four Indian Americans were sworn in as its members, including Congressman Ami Bera, who has been reelected for the third consecutive term.

In the process he equalled the record of Dalip Singh Saundh, who exactly 60years ago became the first Indian American to be elected as a member of the US Congress.

Joining Bera were young and dynamic Ro Khanna (40) representing the Silicon Valley. He was sworn in on a bicentennial edition of the Constitution on loan from the rare books division of the Library of Congress.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, 42, who won the election from Illinois took the oath on Gita. He is only the second US lawmaker after Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii to take the oath on a Gita. Gabbard, the first ever Hindu to be elected to the US Congress took the oath for third consecutive term. (PTI)

Trump ripped into Australian leader on call: report

Washington, Feb,2,2017 :President Donald Trump ripped into his Australian counterpart during their call last week, reports said, castigating a refugee accord he later described on Twitter as a "dumb deal."

The Washington Post said Trump abruptly cut short the fiery conversation after criticising the agreement to resettle people kept in Pacific camps, sparking a war of words with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today after the report surfaced.

Australia is considered a close US ally one of the socalled "Five Eyes" with which the US routinely shares sensitive intelligence and the call might have been expected to be smooth sailing.

But, according to the Post, Trump's assessment was the opposite.

Of his four conversations with world leaders that day "This was the worst call by far," it cited him as telling Turnbull, shortly before he terminated the telephone meeting.

Australian government sources told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the report was "substantially accurate".

Turnbull said he was disappointed details of the "very frank and forthright" exchange had been leaked.

"As far as the call is concerned I'm very disappointed that there has been a leak of purported details of the call in Washington," he told Sydney radio station 2GB.

"But I want to make one observation about it the report that the president hung up is not correct. The call ended courteously."

He added that Canberra had "very, very strong standards in the way we deal with other leaders and we are not about to reveal details of conversations other than in a manner that is agreed".

The Post's account is markedly different from the official readout of the call provided by both governments.

Turnbull said Monday that Trump had agreed to honor the deal struck with then president Barack Obama to resettle an unspecified number of the 1,600 people Australia holds in offshore processing centers in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

There were fears the new US president would rescind it after he signed an executive order last week to suspend the arrival of refugees to the US for a least 120 days, and bar entry for three months to people from seven Muslimmajority countries.

After the Post story broke late Wednesday, Trump weighed in on Twitter and threw the agreement into doubt.

Kuwait imposes visa ban on five Muslim-majority nations including Pak

Moscow, Feb,2,2017:Tourism, trade, and visitor visas from the above mentioned nations have been restricted following an order from the Kuwaiti Government to slap a "blanket ban" on possible migrants, according to Sputnik News.

The Kuwaiti Government has asked wouldbe migrants from the five banned nations not to apply for visas, as Kuwait City is worried about the possible migration of radical Islamic terrorists.

A group of militants bombed a Shia mosque in 2015, killing 27 Kuwaiti nationals. A 2016 survey conducted by Expat Insider ranked Kuwait one of the worst nations in the world for expatriates, primarily due to its strict cultural laws.

Kuwait was the only nation to prohibit the entry of Syrian nationals prior to Trump's executive action. Kuwait City previously issued a suspension of visas for all Syrians in 2011.

Trump Imposes New Sanctions on Iran as Tehran Vows to Retaliate

Washington, Feb 4, 2017: The U.S. imposed fresh sanctions on Iran as President Donald Trump sought to punish Tehran for its ballistic missile program, prompting a warning from the Islamic Republic that it will respond in kind.

The Treasury Department published a list Friday of 13 individuals and 12 entities facing new restrictions for supporting the missile program, having links to terrorism or providing support for Iran’s hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The entities include companies based in Tehran, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and China.

In response, Iran “will take action against a number of American individuals and companies that have played a role in generating and supporting extremist terrorist groups in the region or have helped in the killing and suppression of defenseless people in the region,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement published by the staterun Islamic Republic News Agency. It said the targets of its sanctions will be named later.

The Trump administration has sought to take a harder line on Iran, banning its citizens from entering the U.S. and accusing the nation of interfering in the affairs of U.S. allies in the Middle East. But the U.S. sanctions announced Friday were limited in scope, serving mostly as a warning signal.

“These are not major players,” Sam Cutler, a sanctions lawyer at Horizon Client Access in Washington, said of those on the list. “It seems to be a followup on a previous action that the Obama administration took in terms of identifying people in existing networks that had been previously sanctioned. I see this as consistent with prior policy rather than anything new, the rhetoric notwithstanding.”

The sanctions wouldn’t affect a deal signed between Boeing Co. and Iran’s national carrier in December, according to a Trump administration official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity. The agreement to sell 80 planes is valued at $16.6 billion and is the first of its kind since 1979.

“This action reflects the United States’ commitment to enforcing sanctions on Iran with respect to its ballistic missile program and destabilizing activities in the region,” the Treasury Department said in its statement. It called the actions “fully consistent” with a nuclear accord Iran reached with the U.S. and five other world powers.

While Trump’s decision to take action against Iran early in his administration pleased U.S. lawmakers in both parties who were never comfortable with President Barack Obama’s tentative rapprochement with Iran, it could unsettle domestic Iranian politics as President Hassan Rouhani seeks reelection in May.

“With the increase in sanctions, the perception that the U.S. might be rolling back on the Iran deal and the antiIran mood that is emerging in Washington will further empower hardliners in Iran, where the rhetoric will be, ‘we told you so these people cannot be trusted,” said Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center.

US moves parts of controversial missile defense to South Korea

(SEOUL, march,07,2017):U.S. missile launchers and other equipment needed to set up a controversial missile defense system have arrived in South Korea, the U.S. and South Korean militaries said Tuesday, a day after North Korea testfired four ballistic missiles into the ocean near Japan.

The plans to deploy the Terminal HighAltitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, within this year have angered not only North Korea, but also China and Russia, which see the system's powerful radars as a security threat.

China responded quickly, saying it will take "necessary measures" to protect itself and warning that the U.S. and South Korea should be prepared to bear the consequences.

Washington and Seoul say the system is defensive and not meant to be a threat to Beijing or Moscow. The U.S. military said THAAD can intercept and destroy short and mediumrange ballistic missiles during the last part of their flights.

"Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday's launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea," Adm. Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said in a statement.

Some South Korean liberal presidential candidates have said that the security benefits of having THAAD would be curtailed by worsened relations with neighbors China and Russia.

"China firmly opposes the deployment of THAAD," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular briefing Tuesday. "We will definitely be taking necessary measures to safeguard our own security interest. All consequences entailed from that will be borne by the U.S. and (South Korea). We once again strongly urge the relevant sides to stop the process of deployment and refrain from going further down that wrong path."

China's condemnation of South Korean plans to deploy THAAD has triggered protests against a South Korean hypermarket chain, Lotte Mart, whose parent company agreed to provide one of its golf courses in southern South Korea as the site of THAAD. Visits by South Korean film stars and singers have been canceled and shipments of South Korean cosmetics have been held up at customs.

Experts say China could also send Chinese coast guard ships to escort fishing boats into waters claimed by South Korea, dispatch military aircraft and ships into South Korean air and sea space, and suggest that it might do less to restrain North Korea from provocative behavior.

Russia has supported China's opposition to the system. Militarily, Russia and China could deploy more missiles, especially those with maneuverable warheads to overwhelm THAAD, along with the use of decoys and attempts to jam the system, analysts say.

On Tuesday, China's Global Times, an outspoken nationalist tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party's flagship People's Daily, criticized North Korea over its missile tests.

"By firing four missiles at once this time, the military confrontation between Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington escalates a notch," the newspaper said. "Noticeably, the Chinese public is angry that Pyongyang's nuclear program has provided an excuse for Seoul to deploy THAAD."

An official from South Korea's Defense Ministry, who didn't want to be named, citing office rules, said the equipment that arrived in South Korea included launchers, but didn't confirm how many.

While South Korean media speculate that the THAAD deployment could be completed as early as April, the ministry official couldn't confirm those reports. The official said the plan was to have the system operational as soon as possible.

On Monday, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles in an apparent protest against ongoing U.S.South Korean military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal. The missiles flew about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) on average, three of them landing in waters that Japan claims as its exclusive economic zone, according to South Korean and Japanese officials.

The North's state media on Tuesday said leader Kim Jong Un supervised a ballistic rocket launching drill, a likely reference to the four launches reported by Seoul and Tokyo. Involved in the drills were artillery units tasked with striking "U.S. imperialist aggressor forces in Japan," according to the Korean Central News Agency.

There was pride and defiance among the elite citizens who live in North Korea's showcase capital, Pyongyang.

"If the U.S. imperialists and their South Korean puppets shoot even just one spark into our sovereign territory, we will completely destroy those aggressors, without any mercy, with our invincible Hwasong artillery, which are loaded with nuclear warheads," Sim Chol Su, echoing the propaganda often found in state media, told The Associated Press.

North Korea uses "Hwasong" to describe a broad range of its ballistic missiles, including Scuds and the midrange missiles that are referred to as Rodong and Musudan by outside analysts.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles fired by the North were believed to be "improved versions" of Scud missiles. South Korean experts say North Korea's extendedrange Scuds and midrange Rodong missiles are capable of hitting Japan, including U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

Kim "ordered the KPA (Korean People's Army) Strategic Force to keep highly alert as required by the grim situation in which an actual war may break out anytime," a KCNA dispatch said.

Italian train derails in Switzerland, at least 3 injured

Geneva, Mar 22 (AP) An Italian train derailed in the central Swiss city of Lucerne today and one carriage tipped over, authorities said. At least three people were injured.

The train from Milan, Italy, to Basel derailed shortly before 2 pm as it was pulling out of Lucerne's main train station, Swiss railway company SBB said.

The Trenitalia train's fourth carriage tipped over and a power line was interrupted. There were 160 passengers aboard at the time.

Lucerne police said the passengers were evacuated and three people were given treatment. SBB said that train service to and from the station was suspended at least for the rest of the day.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the derailment.

Islamic State claims attack outside British parliament

(London, Mar,23,2017):The socalled Islamic State on Thursday claimed responsibility for the terror attack in the Westminster village on Wednesday that left four dead, 29 injured, and the heart of Britain’s political establishment shocked but determined to ‘keep calm and carry on’.

Amaq, the news agency used by IS to broadcast propaganda, said the group was responsible for the attack that included the attacker ploughing a car through pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge and later trying to enter the houses of parliament.

It called the as yet unidentified attacker “a soldier of Islamic State”, as Prime Minister Theresa May informed the House of Commons that he was known to intelligence services, was born in Britain, and had been investigated some years ago by MI5 in relation to terrorism. She called him a “peripheral figure” who was not on the radar in recent times.

May also revealed that eight people had been arrested in overnight raids in London and Birmingham. Some reports said the car used by the attacker was hired in Birmingham, where raids were carried out, besides at some addresses in London.

MPs paid moving tributes to police officer Keith Palmer, who died after being stabbed several times by the attacker, as May said the threat level from international terrorism will remain at the secondhighest level of ‘severe’.

She confirmed that the attack was related to Islamist terrorism: “Our working assumption is that the attacker was inspired by Islamist ideology. We know the threat from Islamist terrorism is very real. But while the public should remain utterly vigilant they should not and will not be cowed by this threat”.

The large number of tourists who usually throng the picturesque Westminster Bridge was reflected in the nationalities of those injured. May said those injured included 12 Britons, three French, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one German, one Chinese, one Irish, one Italian, one American and two Greeks.

May, MPs and others paid tributes to Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood, who was called a ‘hero’ for trying his best to save the life of police officer Keith Palmer, who was stabbed to death by the attacker within the parliament precincts.

Striking a defiant note on London and Britain returning to normal, May said:”But the greatest response lies not in the words of politicians, but in the everyday actions of ordinary people.For beyond these walls today – in scenes repeated in towns and cities across the country – millions of people are going about their days and getting on with their lives”.

“The streets are as busy as ever.The offices full. The coffee shops and cafes bustling.As I speak millions will be boarding trains and aeroplanes to travel to London, and to see for themselves the greatest city on Earth.It is in these actions – millions of acts of normality – that we find the best response to terrorism”.

The Union Jack flew at halfmast, some roads around the Westminster village remained closed, but the humdrum of everyday life quickly returned in most of London on Thursday as parliament sent out a message of defiance against terrorism.

In fact, even as Wednesday’s terror attack was taking place and was being dealt with by Scotland Yard near the Big Ben and parliament square, few appeared elsewhere in this sprawling metropolis appeared concerned or changed routines.

Eight arrests were made and addresses raided in Birmingham, London and elsewhere as Scotland Yard, parliament, London ambulance service and others observed a minute’s silence in memory of those killed. Leaders and cities across the world expressed solidarity with London.

London mayor Sadiq Khan announced a vigil at Trafalgar Square on Thursday evening. The threat to Britain from international terrorism remains since August 2014 at ‘severe’, and officials insisted that it would not be upgraded to the highest level of ‘critical’.

Mark Rowley of Scotland Yard said:“It is still our belief which continues to be borne out by our investigation that this attacker acted alone yesterday and was inspired by international terrorism…Clearly our investigation is ongoing developing all the time and is focused on his motivation, his preparation and associates”.

10 soldiers killed in bomb blasts in Egypt

(Cairo, Mar,23,2017):Ten Egyptian army personnel, including three officers, were killed today when two bombs exploded during raids on Islamic State terrorists in the country's restive north Sinai governorate, the military said today.

Fifteen militants were also killed and seven others arrested during the raids on one of the "dangerous" terrorist hideouts in central Sinai, military said.

The 10 army personnel, including three officers, were killed when two Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) detonated, targeting two army vehicles during early morning raids on Islamist extremists in central Sinai, army spokesman Colonel Tamer elRefa'e said.

The bombs went off as they were attempting to chase militants during the raid, he said, adding that a huge cache of arms and ammunition was also recovered.

The incident comes four days after army said it had killed 18 "highly dangerous terrorists" in different parts of the restive North Sinai.

North and Central Sinai have witnessed many terror attacks since the January 2011 revolution that toppled expresident Hosni Mubarak.

The attacks, targeting police and military, increased after the ouster of Islamist expresident Mohamed Morsi in 2013 by military following massive protests against his rule.

The military has launched security campaigns in the North Sinai area where some terrorists are based.

The security forces have arrested suspects and demolished houses that belong to terrorists, including those facilitating tunnels leading to the Gaza Strip.

Hundreds of security personnel have been killed in terror attacks in recent years, while the army claims to have killed hundreds of militants in the governorate.

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