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Trump praises Putin as ‘very smart’ after Moscow holds off retaliatory actions




Washington, Dec 31, 2016: US President-elect Donald Trump on Friday praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as “very smart” for holding off on retaliatory actions after Obama administration’s new sanctions.

“Great move on delay (by V. Putin) — I always knew he was very smart,” Xinhua news agency quoted Trump as saying in a tweet.

Putin said on Friday that Russia will not expel anyone despite Washington’s latest sanctions, according to the Kremlin press service.

“We will not create problems for American diplomats. We will not expel anyone,” Putin said in a statement.

Three weeks before leaving office, US President Barack Obama on Thursday struck back at Russia over alleged election hacking.

Nine Russian entities and individuals, including two Russian intelligence services, were sanctioned for their alleged interfering with the US election, Obama said in a statement.

In addition, the US State Department on Thursday announced ejection of 35 Russian government officials from the United States, calling them “acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status.”

Two Russian government-owned compounds, one in US State of Maryland and one in New York, would also soon be shuttered, according to the State Department.

Putin regretted that Obama was finishing his term by imposing new sanctions against Moscow, saying that Moscow considered new unfriendly steps of the outgoing US administration a “provocation aimed at further undermining the Russia-US relations.”



India calls for changing Pakistan’s ‘mindset’ that unleashes terror on India, Afghanistan



Syed akbaruddin
Syed akbaruddin India's Permanent Representative to UN

United Nations, Jan 20: Pakistan’s “mindset” that unleashes terrorist attacks on India and Afghanistan must change, India has told the Security Council.

Only by changing the terror mindset can peace come to Afghanistan, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said on Friday during a high-level Council meeting dealing with Afghanistan.

“Terrorism and externally induced instability pose the gravest threat to Afghanistan’s peace, stability and prosperity,” he said. “And the growing arc of terrorist violence endangers our entire region.”

New Delhi has been working with regional and international partners to bring security, peace and development to Afghanistan, he said.

To further these objectives and promote peace, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stopped over in Lahore in December 2015 on his way back from inaugurating the Indian-built parliament house in Afghanistan, he said.

But “a heinous and barbaric terrorist attack” was launched on the Pathankot airbase in a week’s time by “the very same mindsets which attack the spirit of Afghanistan every day,” he said.

“These mindsets differentiate between ‘good’ and bad terrorists,” he said. “These mindsets refuse to see reason in peace. They are mindsets that are reluctant to join hands in moving the region forward to build a shared future for our people and our youth.”

“These mindsets,” Akbaruddin declared, “need to change.”

The high-level Council meeting was presided over by Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov and focused on regional cooperation to promote development and security in Afghanistan. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was among those attending the session.

Terrorism has taken a huge toll on Afghanistan, Akbaruddin said backing up his assertion with World Bank statistics.

Afghanistan recorded a 9.6 per cent annual economic growth rate from 2003 to 2014, but it has fallen to 2.2 per cent in 2016 as terrorism increased and it was 2.6 per cent last year, according to the bank.

Illustrating how terrorism impacts development, he said that a disproportionate amount of resources are diverted from the aid projects to protecting them rather than building more projects.

The New Development Partnership between India and Afghanistan cover education, health, agriculture, infrastructure, renewable energy, drinking water supply and human resource development, he said.

The recent visits by Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah have given the partnership a boost, he added.

India pledged a $1 billion package for Afghanistan last year.


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Pakistan brings up Kulbhushan Jadhav in UN Security Council debate



Kulbhushan Jadhav (File Photo)

United Nations, Jan 20: At a high-level Security Council meeting, Pakistan has raised the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, whom Islamabad has accused of being an Indian spy and given him a death sentence.

“Those who speak of changing mindsets (about terrorism) need to look within and their own record of subversion against my country as our capture of an Indian spy has amply demonstrated and proved beyond any shadow of a doubt,” Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi said during Council meeting on Afghanistan. She did not mention his name.

Her statement was a response to India’s statement at the Council meeting on Afghanistan that India is a victim of the same Pakistani “mindset” that promotes terrorist attacks every day in Afghanistan.

India has denied that Jadhav, a retired Navy officer, worked for the government and said that he was abducted by Pakistan from Iran to stage a show-trial.

Denying that Pakistan was giving terrorists a safe haven or support, Lodhi also took a swipe at the US saying it needed a “reality check.” The administration of President Donald Trump suspended security aid to Pakistan this month citing its provision of sanctuaries and assistance to terrorists attacking Afghanistan.

Jadhav was captured by Pakistan in 2016 and was sentenced to death by a military court-martial last year. India appealed to the International Court of Justice against his sentence and the court has stayed his execution.

Lodhi was originally listed to address the Council two spots before India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin, but she chose to speak later and amended her prepared speech with the response to him.

Akbaruddin said that after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lahore in December 2015 in a bid to promote peace with Pakistan, “a heinous and barbaric terrorist attack” was launched on the Pathankot airbase in a week’s time by “the very same mindsets which attack the spirit of Afghanistan every day.”

“These mindsets differentiate between ‘good’ and bad terrorists,” he said. “These mindsets refuse to see reason in peace.”

“These mindsets, an Akbaruddin declared, “need to change.”

Lodhi said that Pakistan was against terrorism, is itself a victim.

She blamed the conditions in Afghanistan and the drug trade, which she said brings terrorists $400 million every year, for the insurgency and asserted that they didn’t need outside support or sanctuaries because “over 40 percent of the country is under insurgent control, contested or ungoverned.”

“Afghanistan and its partners, especially the US, need to address these challenged inside Afghanistan rather than shift the onus for ending the conflict on to others,” she said.

“Those who imagine sanctuaries outside (Afghanistan) need a reality check,” she added


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Egypt’s Sisi announces intention to run for second term

Egypt is set to hold a presidential vote on March 26-28, with a run-off on April 24-26. Candidates must register between Jan. 20 and 29.



Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced on Friday his intention to run for a second term in office in a March election.

Egypt is set to hold a presidential vote on March 26-28, with a run-off on April 24-26. Candidates must register between Jan. 20 and 29.

Sisi came to power in 2014 after leading the military in ousting elected President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood after mass protests against his rule.

Source : (Reuters)

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