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US approves P-8, Patriot missile sales for South Korea

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Washington, Sep 14 : US President Donald Trump’s administration has approved the sale of 64  Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles and six P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft for an estimated cost of $2.6 billion.

“The proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing Korea’s naval capabilities to provide national defence and significantly contribute to coalition operations,” the US State department announced.

Purchasing the Patriot Advanced Capability missiles will allow South Korea “to improve its missile defence capability, defend its territorial integrity and deter threats to regional stability”, the Department said.

It will also “increase the defensive capabilities of the (South Korean) Military to guard against hostile aggression and shield the allies who train and operate within South Korea’s borders”.

If approved by Congress, the sale of the P-8A patrol aircraft will provide an upgrade over the older, US-made P-3 surveillance planes that South Korea has used for over 25 years.

The P-8A is the newest maritime, patrol and reconnaissance aircraft built by the US.

 

As part of the sale, South Korea would also receive tactical radio, navigation and early missile warning sensors for the aircraft.

Thursday’s announcement comes as the US and allies are days away from launching a new effort to “name and shame” North Korea by publicly exposing violations of sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear and missile programmes, defence officials told CNN.

The new effort will make more public US and allied military efforts to enforce UN sanctions against North Korea, particularly the monitoring of ships performing illicit transfers of refined petroleum to North Korean oil tankers in the East China Sea.

America

White House restores press pass for CNN’s Jim Acosta

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Jim Acosta

The White House on Monday said that CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass has been “restored,” bowing to days of pressure and a federal lawsuit against the administration.

CNN signaled that it would drop the ongoing litigation over Acosta’s access to the White House.

“Today the White House fully restored Jim Acosta’s press pass. As a result, our lawsuit is no longer necessary,” the network said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to cover the White House.”

Monday afternoon’s announcement, what the White House called a “final determination,” was an abrupt shift from the administration’s earlier positions.

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India

India, Vietnam should revive maritime connect : Kovind

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Hanoi, Nov 19 : President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday called for reviving maritime connect between India and Vietnam as he exhorted increase in bilateral trade from the current $ 12.8 billion and  more cooperation in the areas of agriculture, pharmaceuticals, textiles and IT.

“There was a flourishing maritime connect in the past. In the last 8 years, we have seen almost four fold increase in bilateral trade, from 3.7 billion US dollars in 2010 to 12.8 US dollars last year. Agriculture has been a key sector of our cooperation involving trade, investment and training,” Kovind said while addressing the Vietnam-India Business Forum here.

“We feel privileged to have supported the Vietnamese agricultural revolution through the establishment of Cuu Long Rice Research Institute,” he said.

Stating that Vietnam is a huge agricultural economy with agro-marine-forestry exports surpassing $35 billion last year, Kovind said that agricultural products already occupy over 45 per cent of India-Vietnam bilateral trade.

“Agro-processing, agro-chemicals, farm machinery, bio-technology and high-tech farming hold immense potential for bilateral cooperation,” he said.

“Indian industry can also learn from Vietnam’s success in crops such as coffee, pepper, cashew, fruits and vegetables.”

The President also said that the Indian pharmaceuticals industry, the third largest in terms of volume and the world’s largest provider of generic drugs, can partner Vietnam in providing quality health-care, medicines and medical devices for the public health system at an affordable cost.

“Indian pharmaceutical companies are also looking at domestic production opportunities in Vietnam,” Kovind said.

He pointed out that both India and Vietnam are leading players in the textile industry.

“We must cooperate further to facilitate integration of value chains,” Kovind said.

He also highlighted significant opportunities between the two sides in the oil and gas, power, infrastructure and renewable energy sectors.

Stating that the Indian IT services, including digital economy and fin-tech sector have much to offer to Vietnamese growth, Kovind said start-up sectors and innovation based industry must be encouraged to leverage each other.

“We must also learn from each other on how to improve productivity; how to approach the Fourth Industrial Revolution; how to promote innovation and entrepreneurship; and not the least, how to leverage technology for governance,” he stated.

Vietnam is a key partner country of India in Southeast Asia and served as New Delhi’s coordinator country with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) regional bloc till July this year

India and Vietnam have set a bilateral trade target of $15 billion by 2020.

Later, Kovind also addressed an Indian community reception during which he invited members of the community to attend next year’s Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the External Affairs Ministry-organised conclave of the Indian diaspora.

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Pakistan PM Imran Khan Lashes Out at Trump ‘Tirade’

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Imran Khan

Islamabad, Nov 19 :Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday rejected the US President’s allegations that Islamabad failed to cooperate with the US and had helped the former Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden hide in the country until his death at the hands of the US military in a covert operation in 2011.

Imran Khan said in a series of tweets that Islamabad had joined the American war on terror even though no Pakistani national was involved in the 9/11 terror attack in the US.

“Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 140,000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops and reportedly $1 trillion spent on war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before,” Imran Khan tweeted in response to Donald Trump’s remarks.

On Sunday, Trump accused the Pakistani government of hiding Bin Laden in its territory in an interview to broadcaster Fox News and claimed that despite the US giving $1.3 billion annually to Islamabad, the latter had done nothing.

“(Bin Laden) lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year. I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us,” Trump had said.

“Think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion,” said the US President, adding that Laden’s hideout had been next to a military academy.

In January, Washington announced the suspension of the major part of its security aid to Pakistan until Islamabad took “decisive” steps against terrorist groups such as the Taliban, which threaten “regional stability and American interests”.

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