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Government terms report on official’s ‘objection’ in Rafale deal confusing

The sources said the process is designed to ensure utmost integrity and transparency while allowing for “opinions to be freely expressed, recorded, discussed and, if necessary, modified”.

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Rafale deal scam

New Delhi, Sep 27 : The government on Thursday said the media report which talked about a senior official putting his objections to the benchmark pricing of 36 Rafale fighter jets “seeks to create confusion through distorted and selective presentation of facts” and maintained that the report suffered from “several factual errors that impact its entire tone and tenor”.

Referring to the report carried by a newspaper which said that a Joint Secretary and Acquisition Manager (Air) had raised questions about the benchmark pricing of the jets and put his objections on record, official sources said in making “a lot of certain supposed observations attributed to an individual officer”, the report “betrays ignorance of the collegiate process involving due deliberations and diligence at various levels, through which all major government decisions are typically taken”.

The sources said the process is designed to ensure utmost integrity and transparency while allowing for “opinions to be freely expressed, recorded, discussed and, if necessary, modified”.

The government has stated earlier that it has followed all provisions laid down in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) and other relevant guidelines while finalising the deal, and noted that the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) accepted the necessity for the acquisition of Rafale aircraft and mandated the Contract Negotiating Committee (CNC).

Following the stipulated process, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) accorded its approval to the acquisition on August 24, 2016, and not in September 2016, as has been erroneously claimed in the media report.

The said officer had signed the note considered and approved by the CCS on August 24, 2016. Thereafter, he proceeded in September 2016 for a one-week training programme – and not on leave – for which he had applied in July 2016, the sources said.

They said the media report has sought to raise questions about the price of the 36 Rafale aircraft, and noted that not only the price but also other factors including maintenance, training, armament and equipment, etc. were included in the contract for the 36 jets which represented “better terms as compared to the negotiations conducted by the previous government”.

Parliament has already been informed on July 18, 2018 that the audit of capital acquisition system, including the Rafale aircraft, is being conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, they said.

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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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