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Brussels, July 12 : US President Donald Trump on Thursday said that NATO countries have agreed to increase their military spending after he threatened to pull out at the summit here.

Speaking after a two-day summit in Brussels, he said allies had committed to spending more than 2 per cent of their annual output (GDP) on defence budgets, the BBC reported.

The President has been highly critical of the alliance, complaining the US pays more than other NATO members do. He singled out Germany on Wednesday for its “lagging defence spending” and accused it of being beholden to Russia as it buys energy from Moscow.

Trump said he would have been “very unhappy” if other NATO members didn’t increase their defence spending.

“I told people that I would be very unhappy if they didn’t up their commitments very substantially. Because the US has been paying a tremendous amount, probably 90 per cent of the cost of NATO.”

But, after the Thursday conference, Trump said he believed in NATO and it was “presently unnecessary” to consider quitting it. “We made a tremendous amount of progress today… It has been really amazing to see the level of spirit in that room.”

On being asked whether he was still threatening to potentially pull the US out of the NATO for any reason, Trump said: “I think I probably can, but that is unnecessary. They have stepped up today like they have never stepped up before.”

He defended his approach to dealing with NATO allies, in particular Germany, calling it “a very effective way to deal”.

Trump pointed to increased financial commitments from NATO allies as a measure of his success, though it was not immediately clear what specific pledges he secured and the President declined to elaborate beyond saying NATO allies will spend more on defence and faster.

He also pointed to progress over the last year, prior to this NATO summit. “We took in $33 billion more,” Trump said, pointing to increased financial commitments.

Trump went on to say everybody in the room had thanked him, including NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and described himself — not for the first time — as a “very stable genius”, adding that he would not waver on his message.

In a separate briefing, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was a clear commitment to NATO from all attendees.

Trump’s next stop after Belgium is the UK, where he will arrive on a two-day working visit. He will spend time with the Queen and Prime Minister Theresa May before flying to Scotland to spend the weekend at his golf resort.

Thousands of people are expected to protest against his visit across the UK. On July 16, he will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Finland’s capital Helsinki.

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All options under study: Imran’s advisor on India’s MFN move

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Protest against CRPF Attack

Islamabad, Feb 16 (IANS) Pakistan will consider all available options to retaliate for the Indian governments decision to withdraw the Most Favo­ured Nation (MFN) status, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Advisor on Commerce Razak Dawood has said.

India withdrew the MFN status it gave to Pakistan in 1996 following the February 14 terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district that has till now claimed the lives of 49 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers.

Dawood said on Friday that Pakistan might take unilateral measures against India or revoke concessions under the South Asia Preferential Trade Agreement (Sapta) and might take up the issue in the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation, Dawn online reported on Saturday.

“We would not overreact… We would take action with great care,” he added while addressing the media at the office of board of investment on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s visit.

A Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist crashed a car bomb into a CRPF convoy in Pulwama district on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway on Thursday, making it the worst ever attack on security forces on any single day since a separatist campaign broke out in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989. It drew international condemnation.

The attack further damaged the already tense India-Pakistan diplomatic relations, with New Delhi saying it had evidence of Islamabad’s involvement in the carnage. Pakistan, however, dismissed accusations that it had links with the militants behind the attack.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua met the envoys of the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council – US, Russia, China, France and UK – on Friday and denied her country’s role in the dastardly strike.

India, however, rejected Janjua’s claims and said the “links are clear and evident and for all to see”, noting that JeM was based in Pakistan.

A spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry termed as “preposterous” demands for an investigation saying there was a video of the suicide bomber declaring himself a member of the JeM.

India also demanded that Pakistan take immediate and verifiable action against terrorists and terror groups operating from territories under its control.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is currently in Munich, slammed India, saying that New Delhi should have acted more responsibly and engaged themselves with Pakistan by sharing evidence.

“Accusing Pakistan is very easy, you pass the buck,” he said.

“Pakistan has been very clear, our viewpoint is clear, and, specifically, the stance of this government has been plain and simple: we desire peace,” Qureshi said.

“We desire good relations with our neighbours, we neither wish to opt for the path of violence nor has this ever been part of our intentions,” he added.

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Saudi Crown Prince’s Pakistan visit delayed in wake of Pulwama terror attack

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Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman

New Delhi, Feb 16: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan has been delayed by a day. He is now scheduled to arrive in the country for a two-day visit starting from February 17 (Sunday), Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

Earlier, the Saudi Crown Prince was slated to arrive in Islamabad on Saturday, but now the visit has been postponed by a day. The Pakistan foreign ministry did not divulge the reason behind the change in schedule, adding that the bilateral engagements “remains unchanged,” The Dawn reported.

This will be the Saudi Crown Prince’s maiden visit to Pakistan since becoming the heir to the throne in 2017. Security has been beefed up in the Pakistani capital ahead of his arrival.

The sudden change in schedule comes after Saudi Arabia strongly condemned the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district that claimed the lives of 40 CRPF soldiers. Pakistan-backed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Denouncing the deadly assault, Saudi Arabia on Friday reinforced its support to India against terrorism and extremism, wishing for the speedy recovery of the wounded.

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US for India’s bid to name JeM Chief Masood Azhar as global terrorist

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John Bolton

New Delhi, Feb 16: The United States on Saturday, has extended support for India’s bid to designate Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as an international terrorist.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton in a telephonic conversation with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, backed India’s right to self-defence against cross-border terrorism.

Bolton offered all assistance to India to bring the perpetrators and backers of the attack promptly to justice. NSA Doval appreciated US support.

The suicide attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy carrying troopers towards Srinagar had blown up a bus when an explosives-packed SUV hit into the paramilitary vehicle, claiming lives of 40 troopers at the spot on February 14.

“The two NSAs vowed to work together to ensure that Pakistan cease to be a safe haven for JeM and terrorist groups that target India, the US and others in the region,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

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