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Linking northeast India to southeast Asia is of US’s interest to counter China



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One of the reasons for the US’s interest in integration of northeast India with southeast Asia is a “lurking concern” about China’s looming presence in the region, a political science expert said here on Thursday.

“Regional integration (by the US) is seen as a good thing as it will lead to prosperity and greater prosperity means greater trade with the US and the possibilities of American investment,” Sumit Ganguly, director, Centre on American and Global Security at Indiana University, told

“… and it would be dishonest not to say at least one word… a lurking concern about China’s looming presence
particularly in Myanmar, Thailand and in Bangladesh,” Ganguly said here when quizzed on the US interest in linking northeast India with southeast Asia.

Ganguly opined China’s presence is probably not entirely benign.

“If this presence was entirely benign then the US could afford to shrug it off but there is probably something more than completely benign in China’s active interest in having possibilities of having bases in Myanmar, increasing Chinese presence in northern Myanmar and Chinese behaviour elsewhere… it is all sort of seamless. That looming shadow does exist,” he contended.

Ganguly is the co-author of the book “Heading East: Security, Trade, and Environment between India and Southeast Asia” that was unveiled here as a follow up to ‘Building Pan-Asian Connectivity Conference’ that was held in the city last year.

“It highlights both the challenges and the promises that are involved in linking northeast India to the southeast of Asia,” he said.

Ganguly, who holds the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilisations at the varsity, pointed out not enough has been done despite the announcement of the Look East policy.

“Despite physical proximity, not enough benefit has accrued to this part of the world and not enough has been done despite the announcement of the Look East policy as early as 1992 and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls it Act East.”

“… and one hopes it will not simply be a stated policy but a policy that will actually have teeth and will have actual significance and help in the development of the people in northeast India.”


Trump administration imposes sanctions against 19 Russians over interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Trump himself ignored a question about the new sanctions Thursday during a short press availability in the Oval Office. He did respond to a question on the U.K. attack, saying it “certainly looks like the Russians were behind it.”



Putin Trump

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration took a tougher tone on Russia Thursday, signing on to a statement sharply criticizing Moscow for allegedly orchestrating a chemical weapons attack against an ex-Russian spy in the U.K., and issuing long-awaited sanctions against Russian “cyber actors” for interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

The new sanctions — against five entities and 19 individuals — come amid criticism that President Donald Trump had failed to firmly confront and aggressively counter alleged Russian attacks on allied soil and continued efforts to destabilize U.S. politics.

The sanctions, while new from the Treasury Department, overlap with previous steps taken by the U.S., including naming all 13 Russians previously indicted by Robert Mueller for 2016 election meddling. The president has previously sought to delegitimize Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt” and called claims that his campaign colluded with Russia “phony.”

On a call with reporters Thursday a senior national security official called the sanctions “just one of a series of ongoing actions we’re taking to counter Russian aggression.”

“There will be more to come,” said the official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity and offering no further specifics.

Speaking to the disinformation campaign that Russia employed during the 2016 U.S. election, another senior national security official advised that propaganda disinformation campaigns “lose their effect if the American people are aware of foreign actors attempting to manipulate them.”

That awareness could be bolstered by the president, who has been reluctant to speak out at length about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. An official demurred when asked if Trump would speak out as part of these stepped up efforts.

Trump himself ignored a question about the new sanctions Thursday during a short press availability in the Oval Office. He did respond to a question on the U.K. attack, saying it “certainly looks like the Russians were behind it.”

The president begrudgingly signed a bill last year that imposed sanctions on Russia, pressured by his Republican Party not to move on his own toward a warmer relationship with Moscow in light of Russian actions during the 2016 elections. Trump called the bill “seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.”

The sanctions announcement came shortly after the release of a joint statement from the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and France on Thursday morning in which the U.S. said it shared British assessments “that there is no plausible alternative explanation” to the military-grade nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, adding that “Russia’s failure to address the legitimate request by the government of the United Kingdom further underlines Russia’s responsibility.”

The White House’s tough response on the chemical attack comes after an initially tepid one from the briefing room lectern on Monday. Asked if the Trump administration shared the U.K.’s assessment that Russia was behind the attack, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered “the fullest condemnation” of the “reckless, indiscriminate and irresponsible” act — falling short of saying Russia was definitely behind it.

Just hours before his surprise firing-via-Twitter, outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson broke with the administration on the issue, telling reporters traveling with him on an overseas trip that the poisoning attack “clearly came from Russia” and “certainly will trigger a response.”

The administration’s response evolved by midweek, however, culminating in a forceful and direct statement from Ambassador Nikki Haley at the United Nations Security Council in New York in which she said “the United States believes that Russia is responsible for the attack on two people in the United Kingdom using a military-grade nerve agent.” She also voiced the “absolute solidarity” of the U.S. with Britain after the U.K.’s decision to expel 23 Russia diplomats in response to the chemical attack.

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Trump sacks Tillerson as secretary of state

The president also nominated Gina Haspel to become the first woman director of the CIA.




US President Donald Trump has sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, replacing him with the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo.

Thanking Mr Tillerson for his service on Twitter, Mr Trump said the new state secretary would do “a fantastic job”.

Mr Tillerson, a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, was only appointed to the job just over a year ago.

The president also nominated Gina Haspel to become the first woman director of the CIA.

A senior White House official told the BBC about the timing of the announcement: “The president wanted to make sure to have his new team in place in advance of the upcoming talks with North Korea and various ongoing trade negotiations.”

Mr Tillerson was on an official tour of Africa last week when he was apparently caught unawares by Mr Trump’s announcement that he would hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The top US diplomat’s team said he was feeling unwell on Saturday and later in the weekend the state department said he would cut short his tour by a day.

On Monday, Mr Tillerson appeared to depart from White House talking points when he backed British authorities in blaming the Kremlin for the poisoning of a former Russian spy near his home in southern England.

The secretary of state said the nerve agent attack “clearly came from Russia” and “certainly will trigger a response”.

But earlier in the day the White House declined to point the finger at Russia.

Reports have swirled of a schism in the Trump administration between the commander-in-chief and his top diplomat, as the US faces a host of vexatious foreign policy conundrums, from North Korea to Iran.

Last October Mr Tillerson was forced to convene a news conference to deny reports that he was considering quitting, though he did not comment on a report that he had called his boss a moron after a meeting last July at the Pentagon.

Last autumn, Mr Trump publicly undercut the former Texas oilman by tweeting that he was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with nuclear-armed North Korea.

Mr Tillerson was reported to be astonished at how little Mr Trump grasped the basics of foreign policy.

The New York Times quoted sources as saying Mr Trump was irritated by Mr Tillerson’s body language during meetings.

Mr Tillerson was said to roll his eyes or slouch when he disagreed with the decisions of his boss.

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Trump’s lawyer used home equity funds to pay porn star




Washington, March 10 : Donald Trump’s personal lawyer used funds from his own home equity line to make a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels on the US President’s behalf, he told CNN.

“The funds were taken from my home equity line and transferred internally to my LLC account in the same bank,” Cohen said in an interview on Friday.

The lawyer also confirmed that he used his Trump Organization email account to communicate details of a payment transfer to Stephanie Clifford, the adult film star known as Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had an affair with the President before his time in office.

Earlier on Friday, Clifford’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, provided an email to CNN in which Cohen confirmed the transfer to Daniels’ former attorney, Keith Davidson.

In the email, both Cohen’s personal email account and email account were used.

The deposit was confirmed to Cohen by a First Republic Bank employee.

Cohen responded later on Friday, saying that he regularly used his business email account for personal matters.

“I sent emails from the Trump Org email address to my family, friends as well as Trump business emails. I basically used it for everything. I am certain most people can relate,” he said.

Avenatti, speaking on MSNBC, said Cohen’s use of his business email to conduct this transaction could be an indication that he was acting in an official capacity as a legal counsel to Trump when he transferred the money to Clifford.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that “arbitration was won in the President’s favour” regarding the case, reports CNN.

The statement was an admission that the nondisclosure agreement exists and that it directly involves Trump.

It was the first time the White House had admitted the President was involved in any way with Clifford.

Clifford filed suit against Trump on Tuesday, alleging that he never signed a hush agreement regarding the alleged affair and therefore the agreement is void.

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