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Donald Trump hails ‘new American moment’ in State of Union address

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Washington, Jan 31: A bullish US President Donald Trump has proclaimed a “new American moment” as he delivered his maiden State of the Union speech.

In his address to Congress on Tuesday from the Capitol Hill, he told lawmakers: “There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.”

Addressing the joint session of Congress in the chamber of the House of Representatives, Trump outlined his administration’s goals for the next year, including policies on trade, immigration, infrastructure and national security.

In an upbeat message, a world away from the apocalyptic tone that he had struck in his “American carnage” inaugural address in 2017, Trump said his administration was “building a safe, strong and proud America”.

He defended “the extraordinary success” he has achieved since taking office on January 20, 2017, and called on the Congress to work together and set aside differences.

Trump started off with: “Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success.”

He asked the Democrats and Republicans “to set aside” their differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity “we need to deliver for the people. This is really the key…”

As many as 40 million television viewers were expected to tune in to the primetime address as he implored the nation to come together as “one team, one people and one American family”, the excerpts released by the White House said.

Although the American economy is booming, Trump’s approval rating languishes, the BBC said.

On foreign policy, Trump noted that nearly all the territory in Syria and Iraq once controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group has been retaken. He vowed: “We will continue our fight until IS is defeated.”

Trump praised an army staff sergeant, Justin Peck, who risked his life to save a comrade in Iraq and was awarded a Bronze Star.

Peck stood behind the First Lady Melania Trump. Peck received waves of applause as he shook hands with her.

Terrorists are not just evil but unlawful criminal combatants, Trump said and came down heavily on earlier “weak” US policy to release terror faces like IS chief Al Baghdadi.

“Detain terrorists”, he said. “In the past, we have foolishly released hundreds of dangerous terrorists, only to meet them again on the battlefield — including the IS leader, Al-Baghdadi.

He vowed to keep open the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay.

“As part of our defence, we must modernise and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression,” he said.

Trump said one day there would be a magical moment when countries of the world would get together to destroy all the nuclear weapons,” unfortunately that time has not come yet”.

On Iran he said: “When the people of Iran rose up against the crimes of their corrupt dictatorship, I did not stay silent. America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom.

“I am asking the Congress to address the fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal.”

Trump’s address was well punctuated by loud applause, thumping of approval and standing ovations.

For an hour and 20 minutes Trump spoke to unify the country as he ended with: “The people dreamed this country. The people built this country. And it is the people who are making America great again.”

He stepped down from the rostrum after the winning line for the Republican side: “As long as we are proud of who we are, … there is nothing we cannot achieve…”

IANS

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Xi overcomes challenges to his authority in CCP central committee plenary

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New Delhi/Beijing: President Xi Jinping overcame all the challenges to his authority at the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee’s fifth plenary session.

Top sources told IANS that Xi, who was facing disapproval from some of the members of the CCP over his aggressive policies, dodged all the internal political pressure at the plenary of the 19th Central Committee of the CCP, the highest decision-making body of the party, which concluded on Thursday after four days of deliberations.

Analysts in New Delhi said that Xi has evaded questioning at least for the time being. “An immediate effect will be endorsement of his assertive foreign policy, including with India. This could mean Xi Jinping might initiate military action against India this winter,” an analyst said.

Since the initial mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic and the Cold War-like situation with the US, sources said, there was some discontent among some members of the Central Committee of the CCP against Xi’s leadership.

Following the violent face-off between the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Indian troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, the disaffection rose further, sources said.

However, Xi prevailed at the plenary session, sources said, adding that the Chinese President outmanoeuvred every critic and opponent.

His vision presented in the 14th five-year plan, which includes six new objectives – to realise socialist modernisation by 2035, build strong nation, set a new development pattern, innovate, revitalise rural China, set up new opening-up structure for trade -were endorsed by the Central Committee.

Xi headed the task force for the drafting of the plan and personally oversaw the draft process, Chinese media said.

Chinese officials on Friday said that China under the plan will continue to be open for trade, “although it would adopt new development strategies that put heavy emphasis on boosting the domestic market and pursuing indigenous innovation in the next five to 15 years.”

The effusive commentary admiring Xi’s vision, which appeared in the China Daily and the Global Times, both mouthpieces of the CCP, after the Central Committee’s press conference on Friday, corroborated that the President vanquished the opposition to his authority.

Backing Xi, the Global Times wrote in an editorial, “The plenary session has continued the overall plan of the 19th National Congress of the CPC, and maintained the strategic pace and spiritual outlook of China’s advancement, which shows China’s strong endurance and stamina amid changes.

“Profound changes are taking place in the world. China has withstood two major challenges: One is the strategic containment from the US, and the other the public health challenge posed by the novel coronavirus. Both challenges are fierce, having brought uncertainties. The 14th five-year plan and the 2035 long-term goal are formulated in this context.”

Defending Xi’s policies, the Global Times said, “The two challenges didn’t derail China’s development. They didn’t even have an impact on its speed. They brought about new situations and conditions, which have driven China’s amazing adaptability. Chinese people have developed a broader vision and become more capable in dealing with challenges, just like the country’s strength and renewal of resistance outperformed a mutating virus.”

The plenary session has not only made the 14th five-year plan, but also looked ahead to 15 more years, the newspaper said while praising Xi’s vision.

Patting the President on his back, it further wrote, “One of the biggest achievements China has made in recent years is that it has stabilised the country’s development. No matter how large the variable is, it diminishes after being dealt with China’s system. The fight against US suppression, coupled with the battle against the coronavirus, created an unprecedented stress test for China, which also has provided us with a yardstick for the future.”

China, it said, has the “courage” to set goals in six areas in the 14th five-year plan.

“The coronavirus is likely to have a lasting influence, and the US may find more trouble with China, but the central government has the confidence to eliminate and curb the negative impact that those risks may have on the country’s economic and social development. The government’s confidence is bolstered by that of the public. The US cannot crush China,” it added.

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India And US Discuss UNSC Agenda, Will Work Together On ‘Rule-Based International Order’

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India and the US have held wide ranging discussions on issues on the UN Security Council agenda and agreed to work closely given their shared values of democracy, pluralism and rule-based international order, officials in Washington said.

Earlier this year, India, along with Mexico and Ireland, was elected a non-permanent member for a two-year term starting January 1, 2021.

The consultations between India and the US are reflective of the efforts on the part of the two countries to coordinate on a host of global issues that would come up before the powerful organ of the United Nations next year.

“Both sides held wide-ranging discussions on issues on the UN Security Council agenda and recent developments,” the Embassy of India here said in a statement on Thursday.

“They agreed to work closely together given their shared values of democracy, pluralism and rule-based international order, during India’s upcoming term as a non-permanent member of the UNSC during 2021-22,” it said.

India has been pushing for reforms of the United Nations, including the Security Council, stating that its composition doesn’t reflect the current realities and is not representative enough.

The UNSC has 15 members, including five permanent members – the US, the UK, France, Russia and China. China is the only permanent member of the UNSC which is opposed to India’s inclusion into the powerful organ. Half of the 10 non-permanent members are elected every year for a two-year term.

Indian delegation for the two-day consultations on Wednesday and Thursday was led by Vinay Kumar, Additional Secretary (International Organisation and Summits) in the Ministry of External Affairs.

The delegation included senior officials from the Ministry of External Affairs, the Permanent Mission of India in New York and the Embassy of India in Washington, DC.

The US delegation was led by Pamela D Pryor, Acting Assistant Secretary for State Department’s Bureau of International Organisation Affairs, and included other senior State Department officials.

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India asks Saudi Arabia to take corrective steps on bank note

The world map on the new 20 Riyal banknote, released to mark Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20 grouping, does not feature Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as part of India.

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Anurag Srivastava

New Delhi, Oct 30: India has asked Saudi Arabia to take corrective steps on the misrepresentation of its territorial boundaries on a new bank note.

The world map on the new 20 Riyal banknote, released to mark Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20 grouping, does not feature Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as part of India.

MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said India has asked Saudi Arabia to take “urgent corrective steps” in the matter, and emphasized that the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are integral parts of the country.

“We have seen the banknote referred by you which gives an incorrect depiction of India’s external territorial boundaries. The note was issued by Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority on October 24 to mark the occasion of Saudi presidency of the G20,” the MEA spokesperson said.

“We have conveyed our serious concern to Saudi Arabia, both through their Ambassador in New Delhi as well as in Riyadh, for this gross misrepresentation of India’s external territorial boundaries on an official and legal banknote of Saudi Arabia and asked Saudi Arabia to take urgent corrective steps in this regard,” Srivastava said.

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