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G20: PM Modi, President Trump discuss Iran, trade, 5G, bilateral and defence ties

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Osaka, June 28: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday held talks with US President Donald Trump and discussed various bilateral and global issues including Iran, 5G communications networks, trade and defence ahead of the G-20 Summit.

Modi held bilateral talks with US President Donald Trump in Osaka ahead of the formal opening of the G-20 Summit.

During the meet, US President Donald Trump congratulated Prime Minister Modi on his victory in the Lok Sabha elections.

Speaking on the bilateral relations, the US President said the two countries have become great friends. “Our countries have never been closer. I can say that with surety. We’ll work together in many ways including military, we’ll be discussing trade today,” US President said.On Iran, Trump said: “We have a lot of time. There’s no rush, they can take their time. There is absolutely no time pressure”.

Prime Minister Modi thanked Trump for expressing his “love towards India” in a letter recently delivered by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The two leaders, who met shortly after the Japan-America-India trilateral meeting, discussed Iran, 5G, bilateral and defence relations between the two countries.

The two leaders exchanged “perspectives on progress in the strategic partnership and develop new ideas to bring it to the next level”, at their bilateral meeting here on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, the White House said in a readout of their meeting.

They “acknowledged the unprecedented breadth and depth of bilateral ties, including economic, trade, energy, defense and security, counter-terrorism, and space”, the statement said.

“The leaders affirmed that, as responsible democracies, a close partnership between the US and India is central to global peace and stability. They reiterated their commitment to provide strong leadership to address global challenges and build prosperity for their citizens in the decades to come,” it added.

Before their bilateral meeting, Modi and Trump held a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinto Abe.

After the trilateral meeting, Modi tweeted: “Today’s meeting of the JAI (Japan, America, India) Trilateral was a productive one. We had extensive discussions on the Indo-Pacific region, improving connectivity and infrastructure development”.

A White House statement of the trilateral meeting said the leaders “reaffirmed the critical importance of strengthening US-India-Japan cooperation to reinforce shared core democratic values, which promote global security and prosperity”.

“They agreed to meet every year aceto ensure successful cooperation in multiple areas, including maritime security, quality infrastructure, and advancing peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean and Pacific region and beyond.”

Before his meeting with Modi, Trump said he thought they will have a “very big trade deal to announce”.

“I think we will just continue to get along with India,” he told reporters as they got ready for the talks. “We certainly work together on trade and we’ll be discussing trade today.”

“I think we going to have some very big things to announce. Very big trade deal.”

Trump has put sanctions on oil trade with Iran, an important energy source for India.
https://twitter.com/ANI/status/1144413376862412801

Trump has also criticised India’s high import tariff on the iconic Harley Davidson motorcycles as “unacceptable” though acknowledging that his “good friend” Prime Minister Modi has reduced it from 100 per cent to 50 per cent.

Last February, India slashed the customs duty on imported motorcycles like Harley-Davidson to 50 per cent after Trump called it “unfair” and threatened to increase the tariff on import of Indian bikes to the US.

The government on June 21 last year decided to impose these duties in retaliation to the US decision of significantly hiking customs duties on certain steel and aluminium products.

America, in March last year, imposed 25 per cent tariff on steel and a 10 per cent import duty on aluminium products.

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Pakistan’s economy shows positive indicators: PM’s Office

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Imran Khan Pakistan PM

Islamabad, Feb 28 : Pakistan’s economic indicators are seeing a constant improvement due to efforts made by the current government to overcome the serious economic challenges, the Prime Minister’s Office said on Friday.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, chairing a meeting of his economic team, expressed satisfaction over the improvement in all sectors, adding that his government is making efforts to bring a trickle-down effect of the improving economy on general public and in this regard steps are being taken to provide relief to low income and salaried class of the country, Xinhua reported.

He also directed the economic team to keep the public updated about the positive indicators of the economy in a bid to win the confidence of the local businessman to invest in the country.

Earlier this month, the prime minister approved subsidy of Pakistani Rs 10 billion ($65 million) on five essential food items for controlling rampant inflation in the country.

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Iranian vice president tests positive for coronavirus

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Tehran, Feb 28 Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Masoumeh Ebtekar has tested positive for the coronavirus, an official said on Thursday.

Ebtekar’s adviser Fariba Ibtihaj said the vice president tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, Iran’s official IRNA news agency  reported.

“Everyone in the vice president’s team was also tested and the results will be available on Saturday,” she said.

Ebtekar is not the first high-ranking Iranian official to contract the virus.

Ebtekar, joins the deputy health minister, the head of the national security commission and a reformist MP who have been infected with the virus, reports Efe news.

She tested positive on Thursday after showing symptoms the previous day during a cabinet meeting, according to state TV.

The politician is one of the most recognizable in the Islamic Republic and previously held the position of environment minister.

Iran has reported 26 deaths from the deadly disease and 245 cases total with a dramatic surge of 106 new infections registered on Thursday, the Health Ministry said.

Tehran authorities have decided to close down schools and universities in the country to curb the spread of the disease.

Friday prayers in the capital have also been cancelled.

Amid the spread of the virus, neighbouring countries have closed their land borders with Iran and most airlines have suspended their flights or imposed restrictions on air travel to the country.

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COVID-19 cases in South Korea reach 2,022, 13 deaths

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Seoul, Feb 28 The number of coronavirus cases in South Korea increased to 2,022 on Friday, with a total of 13 fatalities as the nation aggressively counters the fast-spreading virus with massive testing, particularly for 210,000 followers of a religious sect at the centre of the epidemic.

The 256 new cases brought the nation’s total infections to 2,022, the Yonhap News Agency quoted the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) as saying.

Only two days ago, the number of infections exceeded 1,000.

More than half of newly confirmed cases were linked to a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeastern city of Daegu, 300 km southeast of Seoul.

Of the 256 new cases, 182 are in Daegu, and 49 are in the neighbouring North Gyeongsang Province.

Since raising the virus alert level to “red”, the highest level, on Sunday, health authorities have focused on halting the spread of the virus in Daegu, the epicentre of the virus outbreak in South Korea, and North Gyeongsang.

Experts said the number of confirmed cases is expected to jump in the coming days as health authorities have begun testing more than 210,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.

The government also ordered another 1,638 Shincheonji followers to self-isolate as they have shown symptoms, Yonhap News Agency said in its report.

Since the first coronavirus case — a Chinese woman from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak — on January 20, the pace of infections had not been alarming until February 18, when a 61-year-old woman who is tied to the Daegu religious sect tested positive for the virus.

Since then, the nation has seen an explosion in infections as it accelerated virus tests on potential cases.

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