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Amid Haley’s visit, US-India 2+2 Dialogue postponed

The news came even as US Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj here.

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US-India 2+2 Dialogue

New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) The first India-US strategic 2+2 Dialogue involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and their US counterparts that was scheduled to have been held in Washington on July 6 has been postponed, the External Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday.

The news came even as US Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj here.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Sushma Swaraj “to express his regret and deep disappointment at the US having to postpone the 2+2 Dialogue for unavoidable reasons”.

According to him, Pompeo sought Sushma Swaraj’s understanding “and they agreed to identify new mutually convenient dates to hold the Dialogue at the earliest, in India or the US”.

Though unconfirmed, speculations are rife that the postponement must have come after the US asserted its position on pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal during the course of Haley’s visit.

The 2+2 Dialogue format was agreed to between the two sides during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington in June last year when he met US President Donald Trump for the first time.

Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh and US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan discussed the agenda for the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue on the sidelines of the G20 Ministerial Meeting in Buenos Aires last month.

During their meeting, they affirmed the strong US-India strategic partnership and India’s status as a Major Defence Partner of the US.

The 2+2 Dialogue was to have been held in April, but was postponed because of changes in the leadership of the State Department after Rex Tillerson resigned and Pompeo was in the process of taking over.

Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis were supposed to host the Indian ministers at the meeting that was to focus on strengthening strategic, security, and defence cooperation with both countries confronting global challenges.

The dialogue was being looked at as a centrepiece of the growing ties between India and the US which Washington wants to scale up by extending the strategic vision from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean.

During his meeting with Haley on Wednesday, Modi voiced his appreciation for Trump’s policies on South Asia and the Indo-Pacific region.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Haley, the first person of Indian descent to hold a cabinet-level position in the US, noted the deepening relations between India and the US particularly in strategic and defence sectors.

America

US unemployment rate falls to 50-year low

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The U.S. unemployment rate fell in September to a new five-decade low of 3.5%, while employers added a modest 136,000 jobs.

The Labor Department says that despite the ultra-low unemployment rate, which was down from 3.7% in August, average hourly wages slipped by a penny. Hourly pay rose just 2.9% from a year earlier, lower than 3.4% at the beginning of the year.

Hiring has slowed this year as the U.S.-China trade war has intensified, global growth has slowed, and businesses have cut back on their investment spending. Still, hiring has averaged 157,000 in the past three months, enough to lower the unemployment rate over time.

The unemployment rate for Latinos fell to 3.9%, the lowest on records dating from 1973.

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America

Trump embarrassed by TV channel

As Trump was speaking to the media after meeting Zelensky to clarify his position, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace cut into it, saying: “We hate to do this but the President isn’t telling the truth.”

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New York, Sep 26 : US President Donald Trump was subjected to an embarrassment when the MSNBC news channel cut away from his press conference while he was speaking on the controversy surrounding him over the Ukrainian probe against former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump on Wednesday was addressing the press conference against the backdrop of impeachment proceedings announced against him by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi following allegations that he put pressure on the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to order a probe against Biden whose family has business interests there.

The allegation against Trump came to light because of a whistleblower and a transcript of the conversation between him and Zelensky in July, which has become public.

As Trump was speaking to the media after meeting Zelensky to clarify his position, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace cut into it, saying: “We hate to do this but the President isn’t telling the truth.”

She added that Trump was trying to do it to deflect the attention from his impeachment.

According to the transcript of the telephonic conversation that has gone public, Trump is heard asking Zelensky to “do us a favour”, after the latter expresses gratitude for the military aid the US provided to his country.

Trump’s words of “do us a favour” is seen as a quid pro quo for the American military aid, because of which the impeachment proceedings have been announced.

After Wallace cut the press conference, her guest on the programme, justice and security analyst Matthew Miller, rebuked Trump for saying that Biden and his son had done wrong.

“This story has been looked at and thoroughly debunked by everyone involved,” Miller said, adding the real issue was whether Trump’s conduct is “impeachable”.

Trump is facing problem at a time when he is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

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Kim Jong-un receives ‘excellent’ letter from Trump

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Pyongyang, June 23 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has received a personal letter with “excellent” and “interesting” content from US President Donald Trump, Pyongyang’s state media said on Sunday.

“After reading the letter, the Supreme Leader of the Party, the state and the armed forces said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content,” the Korean Central News Agency said, referring to its leader.

“Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong-un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content,” it added.

The KCNA did not disclose when and how the letter was delivered to Kim, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The letter appears to be in response to the one Kim sent to Trump recently in time for the anniversary of their first-ever summit in Singapore last June.

Trump had described Kim’s letter as “beautiful” and “very warm”. He also emphasized that the relationship between them remains strong and that “something will happen that’s going to be very positive”.

The exchange of correspondence between the leaders renewed hopes for a resumption of denuclearization talks which have stalled since the breakdown of their second summit in February.

The summit collapsed as Pyongyang wanted sanctions relief as a corresponding measure in exchange for dismantling its Yongbyon nuclear complex, while Washington insisted that sanctions should remain in place until the North completely gives up its nuclear weapons programme.

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