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Trump to welcome May as US-UK relation enters new era

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Washington, Jan 27, 2017: US President Donald Trump will on Friday welcome British Prime Minister Theresa May, first foreign leader to visit the Oval Office.

Both the new US President and the British Premier, who took office in July last year, have strong political incentives, CNN reported.

May has told Britons their country will be a robust global trading power once it exits the European Union, and a free-trade deal with the US is the most important pillar of that plan.

Trump also seems interested in talking up a trade deal with Britain.

The envisioned agreement with Britain is exactly the kind of bilateral pact the Trump administration says is the model for US trade policy going forward.

However, he previewed the visit by griping that Democrats have yet to confirm his Commerce Secretary pick, Wilbur Ross.

“I’m meeting the Prime Minister tomorrow (Friday), as you know. Great Britain … I don’t have my Commerce Secretary — they want to talk trade. So, I’ll have to handle it myself. Which is okay,” he told Republican lawmakers in Philadelphia on Thursday.

Trump’s need for a successful outcome became more acute on Thursday when a spat with Mexico over his vow to build a border wall caused President Enrique Pena Nieto to cancel a visit to the White House.

May will be in the Oval Office exactly seven days after Trump was inaugurated. It is being seen by her entourage as a sign of the new President’s respect for Britain.

May will use the visit to stress that though Britain is leaving Europe and Trump is suspicious of US attachments abroad, the two nations can still combine to be a force that can shape the world.

“As we rediscover our confidence together — as you renew your nation just as we renew ours — we have the opportunity, indeed the responsibility, to renew the ‘special relationship’ for this new age,” May told GOP lawmakers on Thursday in Philadelphia, her first US stop.

“We have the opportunity to lead, together, again.”

The British Prime Minister will also have the benefit of the advice of former President Barack Obama, who urged her to develop a close relationship with Trump so that she and other centre-right world leaders could be a moderating influence on him, said a former Obama administration official and a British official familiar with the conversations.

Trump and May also have their share of disagreements. Her visit will be the first test of some of Trump’s most controversial views on foreign policy.

Trump’s statements that NATO is obsolete and he wants to improve relations with Russia that has been testing the borders of post-Cold War Europe have triggered alarm on the other side of the Atlantic.

According to the CNN, the no-nonsense Prime Minister is making clear that while she plans to forge a close relationship with Trump, she will not hesitate to speak her mind.

“I am not afraid to speak frankly to the President of the US,” May said in the parliament on Wednesday. “I am able to do that because we have this special relationship.”

Britain’s calls for all members to meet their military spending target of two per cent of GDP, may allow her government to become a point of liaison between states in the western alliance and the new President, who has frequently groused that US allies have not done enough to pay for their own defence.

Trump backed the British exit from the EU and hopes more countries follow suit — in direct contravention of decades of US foreign policy that saw stability in a united Europe.

May did not back Brexit, but in the political carnage that followed the referendum, she found herself Prime Minister and must now manage the most volatile political turbulence in western Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

IANS

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Kabul seeks closure of Taliban’s Qatar office

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Taliban office in Qatar (Photo- The Newyork Times)

Doha, Feb 24: Kabul has started discussions with the Qatari government to close the Taliban office in Doha as it has had “no positive consequence in terms of facilitating the peace talks with the group in Afghanistan”, a senior government official has said.

“There is no need to keep the office open”, said Mohammad Hanif Atmar, National Security Advisor to President Ashraf Ghani, in an interview with Middle East newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat earlier this week.

“The aim behind opening (Taliban’s) Qatar office was to start official peace negotiations with the terror group from the address, but so far no official negotiation from the office has been started with government. Even a single step has not been taken forward in the peace process through this office,” Qadir Shah, a spokesman for Atmar’s office said.

“It had no benefit for us even after seven years… It is better to close it,” Atmar said.

He also said that Kabul has so far witnessed no sign of “sincere” cooperation from Islamabad in counter-terrorism efforts.

The Taliban had earlier reached out to the US with an offer for talks and urged people to pressurize Washington to bring an end to the invasion of Afghanistan.

The Taliban had said that they preferred to resolve the conflict that began in 2001 through peaceful dialogue and warned that the use of force alone would complicate the problem in Afghanistan.

The group had called on the “American people and the peace-loving Congressmen” to pressurize US leadership to end the occupation of the Asian country, a precondition that Taliban has always maintained to begin any negotiation.

IANS

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Moon’s water may be widely distributed: Study

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Washington, Feb 24: A new analysis of data from India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission and NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter suggests that Moon’s water may be widely distributed across the surface, not confined to a particular region or type of terrain.

The water appears to be present day and night, though it was not necessarily easily accessible, according to the study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“We find that it doesn’t matter what time of day or which latitude we look at, the signal indicating water always seems to be present,” said Joshua Bandfield, a senior research scientist with the Space Science Institute in the US, and lead author of the new study.

“The presence of water doesn’t appear to depend on the composition of the surface, and the water sticks around,” Bandfield added.

The results contradict some earlier studies, which had suggested that more water was detected at the Moon’s polar latitudes and that the strength of the water signal waxes and wanes according to the lunar day (29.5 Earth days).

The findings could help researchers understand the origin of the Moon’s water and how easy it would be to use as a resource.

If the Moon has enough water, and if it is reasonably convenient to access, future explorers might be able to use it as drinking water or to convert it into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel or oxygen to breathe.

The new finding of widespread water suggests that it may be present primarily as OH, a more reactive relative of H2O that is made of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom.

OH, also called hydroxyl, does not stay on its own for long, preferring to attack molecules or attach itself chemically to them. Hydroxyl would therefore have to be extracted from minerals in order to be used.

For the study, the researchers analysed data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper spectrometer onboard the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft.

They came up with a new way to incorporate important temperature information, creating a detailed model from measurements made by the Diviner instrument on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO.

The researchers are still discussing what the findings tell them about the source of the Moon’s water.

The results point toward OH and/or H2O being created by the solar wind hitting the lunar surface, though the team did not rule out that OH and/or H2O could come from the Moon itself, slowly released from deep inside minerals where it has been locked since the Moon was formed.

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S.Korea welcomes new US sanctions on N.Korea

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American President, Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un,

Seoul, Feb 24: South Korea on Saturday welcomed fresh unilateral sanctions described as the heaviest ever adopted by the US against North Korea, and said the measures would contribute towards the common goal of the denuclearisation of Pyongyang in a peaceful manner.

The US Treasury Department on Friday imposed the new economic sanctions on 27 companies and 28 vessels located or registered in numerous countries, trading with North Korea, reports Efe news.

“(The sanctions) were a reaffirmation of the US side’s will to move towards a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue,” a South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson told Yonhap news agency.

Seoul considers the measures to be a part of the efforts “to set the North onto a path towards denuclearization” and expressed the hope of continuing its cooperation at all levels with the US in order to resolve the North Korean issue in a peaceful manner.

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that if the new sanctions on North Korea “don’t work, we’ll have to go phase two”, which he said could be “a very rough thing”.

The latest sanctions from Washington come at a moment of thaw in inter-Korean relations owing to the Winter Olympics, currently under way in South Korea’s PyeongChang county.

The sanctions coincide with a trip to South Korea by the US president’s daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump to attend the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics on Sunday, which will also be attended by a high-level delegation from Pyongyang.

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