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Donald Trump signs declaration on Golan Heights

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Washington, March 26 (IANS) The US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation on Monday officially recognising Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, a part of Syria that has been under Israeli military occupation since the Six-Day War of 1967.

The White House released a statement on Monday confirming the move that Trump had expressed a willingness to make a few days earlier, making the US the first country to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the disputed territory, Efe reported.

“Now, Therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the US, do hereby proclaim that, the US recognises that the Golan Heights are part of the State of Israel,” the presidential proclamation said.

Syria’s state-run SANA news agency quoted an anonymous source at the Foreign Ministry as saying that the US move was “a flagrant aggression on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.”

The White House said it was a necessary step for “any possible future peace agreement in the region,” which “must account for Israel’s need to protect itself from Syria and other regional threats.”

The note also said that “aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hizballah, in southern Syria continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks on Israel.”

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “Israel has never had a better friend than you,” referring to Trump.

International media reports, meanwhile, quoted UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric as saying that “it is clear that the status of Golan has not changed.”

“The UN’s policy on Golan is reflected in the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and that policy has not changed,” Dujarric said.

On December 17, 1981, the UN Security Council adopted, unanimously, Resolution No. 497, which rejected the Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights and considered it as “null and void and without international legal effect.”

In its latest annual report on human rights around the world, the US State Department departed from its previous practice by referring to the Golan Heights as “Israeli-controlled” rather than “Israeli-occupied.”

Trump’s talk of recognising Israeli sovereignty over the Golan is seen as a further signal of support for Netanyahu as the White House is putting the finishing touches on its Middle East peace plan.

Most of the 26,000 members of the Druze religious community in the Golan Heights have refused assimilation into the Israeli state and nearly all of them boycotted Israel’s first-ever attempt to hold municipal elections in the territory last October.

International media outlets reported that around 20,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the Golan Heights.

UN peacekeepers have been stationed in the Golan for decades.

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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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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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