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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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Lake Victoria ferry crash: 44 dead, Search on for hundreds missing

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Indonesia ferry fire
Photo: Representational Image

Washington, Sep 21 : At least 44 people were killed when a passenger ferry carrying hundreds capsized in Tanzania’s Lake Victoria on Thursday while rescue teams have launched search operation for hundreds of missing ferry passengers on Friday.

The rescuers were also retrieving bodies from the water.Only 37 people were rescued from the water before poor visibility halted operations.
The accident took place on Thursday between two islands in Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, which straddles the borders of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

The exact number of those on board wasn’t immediately known because the ferry was overloaded, according to media reports.

Reports varied but the ferry may have carried between 400 and 500 people.

Regional Commissioner John Mongella told Tanzanian television channel ITV that emergency teams would continue their search on Friday morning.

Boat disasters are frequent on Tanzania’s waters, where ferries often exceed their capacity.

Some 200 people were killed after an overloaded vessel hit strong winds off the island of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean in 2011.The boat had a capacity of 620 passengers but was carrying over 1,000 people.

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Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang dies at age 61

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Sep 21 : Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang, one of the country’s top three leaders, died on Friday after an a “serious illness” state television and radio announced.

Quang, 61, died in a military hospital in Hanoi from a “serious illness despite efforts by domestic and international doctors and professors”, Vietnam Television reported.

President Tran Dai died at 10:05 am on the 21st of September at the military hospital,” the official Vietnam News Agency said.

Quang had passed away “despite efforts by domestic and international doctors and professors,” Vietnam Television reported.

He did not appear in public for more than a month last year, raising questions about his health. His last public appearance was at a Politburo meeting and a reception for a Chinese delegation on Wednesday.

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Muslims, STs, Dalits made most progress in combating poverty: UN

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Triple Talaq

United Nations: While India has taken tremendous strides in combating poverty in the past decade, Muslims, members of the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Dalits saw the most progress in reducing the impact of poverty, according to data compiled in a UN project.

The “very positive trend” during the decade between 2005-06 and 2015-16 in India is that “the poorest are catching up”, Sabina Alkire, Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHDI), said on Thursday at the presentation of the 2018 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) here.

The MPI prepared by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the OPHDI, takes into account various indicators of development rather than just income and aligns them to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, while serving as a measure of the intensity of poverty felt by different groups.

While ST members were still the poorest group, they have seen the fastest reduction in MPI, as have the Dalits, Alkire said.

Explaining it, Diego Zavaleta Reyles from OPHDI told IANS that the average number of deprivations or “the intensity of their poverty” measured by the MPI fell for these groups even though the proportion of poor people in these categories was relatively the same or unchanged.

Between 2006 and 2016, the MPI of the STs came down from 0.447 to 0.229 even though the percentage had fallen only from 79.8 to 50 during the decade, according to OPHDI data.

During the same period, the MPI of Dalits fell from 0.338 to 0.145 while the percentage of poor came down from 65 to 32.9.

“If we look at the religious groups, the Muslims are the poorest and they again had the fastest reduction in MPI,” Alkire said.

While MPI for Muslims was 0.331 in 2006, it fell to 0.144 in 2016, and the percentage of the poor in the community came down from 60.3 per cent to 31.1 per cent.

Nationally, 54.7 per cent of the people in all groups taken together were poor in 2006, but only 27.5 per cent in 2016, and the MPI came down from 0.279 to 0.121, the data show.

In terms of numbers, 271 million people had moved out of poverty during the decade, with the number of poor people coming down 635 million in 2005-06 to 364 million according to the MPI standards.

But “we are seeing a shift of global proportions occurring in India over a ten-year period and that is really encouraging”, Alkire said.

India is the only country for which changes of this magnitude are taking place at this time, she added.

Bihar remains the poorest state, but along with other high-poverty states – Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Chhatisgarh – had the fastest reduction in multi-dimensional poverty, she said.

In spite of the progress, these states still remain the poorest.

Among age groups, children, who are still the poorest, saw the fastest reduction in MPI, she said.

Such reduction in poverty among these groups or states did had not happened in India in the earlier periods according to a previous study for the period 1998-1999 to 2005-06, she said.

UNDP Administrator Adam Steiner said that when governments start looking carefully at who the poor are and where they are, the analysis leads to programmes that help the poorest of the poor, whether by ethnicity, religion or geography, and results like those in India can be achieved.

Traditional poverty measures – often calculated by numbers of people who earn less than $1.90 a day – shed light on how little people earn but not on whether or how they experience poverty in their day-to-day lives, according to UNDP.

On the other hand, MPI takes into account health, education and living standards in areas like access to clean water, sanitation, nutrition and primary education, with those lacking in at least a third of these defined as multi-dimensionally poor.

According to the income-based measurement, only 270 million Indians are considered poor but according to the MPI standards a far larger number – 364 million — were categorised as multi-dimensionally poor in 2016.

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