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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.

Suspected US drone kills 7 in Pakistan: officials

Peshawar, Apr 27 (AFP) A suspected US drone strike on a house in a remote tribal area bordering Afghanistan has killed at least seven militants, Pakistan security officials said today.

If confirmed the attack would be the second drone raid under the administration of United States President Donald Trump.

The use of drones has dwindled in Pakistan, where they have proven extremely controversial with the public and rights groups over human rights and sovereignty concerns.

The suspected strike happened yesterday in the Lawara Mandi area of North Waziristan, one of seven socalled tribal districts stretching along the border with Afghanistan, where Pakistan has been battling a homegrown Islamist insurgency for more than a decade and a half.

"We have received reports of a drone attack in North Waziristan in which some seven militants have been killed," a security official told AFP.

Local intelligence officials said drones were seen in the area before two missiles hit a house in Lawara Mandi area, believed to be used by the umbrella Taliban militant group, TehreekeTaliban Pakistan.

"There are two militant commanders, Abdul Rehman and Akhtar Mohammad among the dead," an intelligence official told AFP requesting anonymity.

Officials said the missiles could have been fired by US drones, but declined to confirm the origin of the strike.

The previous US strike under the Trump government killed two men riding a motorbike in northwestern Kurram in March.

The US has rattled the international community with its recent military moves, including the decision to drop its largest nonnuclear weapon on hideouts of the Islamic State group in eastern Afghanistan in early April.

US National Security Advisor LieutenantGeneral HR McMaster made a visit to Pakistan this month after suggesting Washington may take a stronger line with Islamabad, for years seen as an unreliable US ally.

USled NATO troops have been at war in Afghanistan since 2001, after the ousting of the Taliban regime for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden following the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

The first of the more than 420 drone attacks in Pakistan occurred in 2004 under the government of President George W.

Bush, but it was under President Barack Obama that their use increased substantially, before tapering off in his second term.

Last year there were only three, including the May 2016 drone strike that killed the then leader of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Akhtar Mansour in southwestern Balochistan province.

In 2013, Amnesty International said the US could be guilty of war crimes by carrying out extrajudicial killings.

Pakistan has also targeted militants with domestic armed drone systems, developed two years ago, but it rarely uses them to strike Taliban groups.

China tweaks Taiwan's name, days after Arunachal row

Beijing, Apr 27 (PTI) Days after provoking India by announcing Chinese names for six places in Arunachal Pradesh, China has tweaked the name of Taiwan, which it claims as its inalienable part.

China chose a sports contest to announce the change of the name of Taiwan, a selfgoverned cashrich island.

The staterun China Central Television addressed Taiwan at the 2017 Asian Table Tennis Championships on April 11 as "Zhongguo Taipei" instead of "Zhonghua Taipei," a report in the Global Times website said today.

Zhongguo and Zhonghua both mean China, but Zhonghua refers to a general concept of a Chinese nation, while Zhongguo refers to the People's Republic of China.

The change sparked criticism from Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Katherine Chang.

Katherine said that her "government" would not accept this "unilateral act of dwarfing" from the mainland.

China dismissed accusations that the mainland has "dwarfed" Taiwan by changing how the island is addressed on mainstream media, the report said.

The Chinese mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang defended the move, saying that the mainland media has always reported on Taiwanrelated events according to the OneChina policy, and that the socalled "act of dwarfing" does not exist.

"Our policy is consistent and has not changed. Taiwan's table tennis team is participating based on arrangements made by Olympic committees across the Taiwan Straits," Ma said.

China consistently objects to Taiwan's participation in any international tournament or event pointing to 'One China' policy. It has repeatedly stated that Taiwan is its inalienable part and must be reunified with the mainland even by force.

Significantly the change of name of Taiwan apparently for the first time after it was estranged from the mainland since 1949 came after the China announced the "standardisation" of names of six areas of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as part of 'South Tibet'.

The move was widely seen as a retaliation to India's permission to the Dalai Lama to visit the border areas.

India has rejected China's move to rename six places in Arunachal Pradesh, saying that the state is an integral part of India and inventing names to the towns of ones neighbour does not make territorial claims legal.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry had defended the move, saying it was its "lawful right" to do so.

In recent years, China has come out with "historic" Chinese names to buttress its claims for the South China Sea islands and the disputed islands with Japan to establish its claims.

The change in how Taiwan is addressed on mainland TV comes at a time when crossstraits relations continue to deteriorate following last year's election win of Beijing critic TsaIngwen as President defeating Beijingfriendly Ma YingJeou.

China is bitter that Tsai Ingwen administration in Taiwan refuses to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus, which stresses on the OneChina policy, since it came to power in May last year despite repeated calls from the mainland.

Her attitude has irritated Beijing, which considers the 1992 Consensus the very foundation of all cooperation, the report said.

As a consequence, the number of mainland tourists to Taiwan has fallen 36.2 per cent in the seven months since Tsai's inauguration.

Pakistan maritime agency arrests 29 Indian fishermen

Karachi, Apr 27 (PTI) Twentynine Indian fishermen were arrested by Pakistan's maritime authorities for allegedly fishing in the country's territorial waters, officials said today.

A Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) spokesman said the Indian fishermen were handed over to the Docks Police Station for further legal process.

The authorities also seized five Indian boats.

"The Indian fishermen will be presented before a judicial magistrate," a police official said.

He said the Maritime Security Forces had apprehended the Indian fishermen for fishing illegally in the Arabian Sea in Pakistan s coastal area.

Last month, the PMSA had twice apprehended Indian fishermen.

On March 26, the PMSA had arrested 100 Indian fishermen and seized 19 boats while in early March some 85 Indian fishermen were arrested and sent to jail.

On January 27, the Maritime Security Agency had arrested 60 Indian fishermen and seized 10 boats.

The arrests of fishermen have continued this year even though Pakistan released some 219 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture on January 5 and before that released another batch of 220 Indian fishermen on December 25.

Fishermen from both countries are arrested frequently by the maritime security agencies of both countries for illegal fishing and often stray into illegal waters due to absence of any proper technology to confirm the coastline border between Pakistan and India near Sir Creek in the Arabian Sea.

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