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US welcomes Imran Khan’s desire for peace with India, Afghanistan

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Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa Alice Wells

Washington, Aug 21 : The US has welcomed newly-elected Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khans statement emphasising the importance of peace with India and Afghanistan, a key official said here.

“We welcome the words of Prime Minister Imran Khan in which he discussed the importance of peace on both sides of Pakistan’s borders,” Alice Wells, who heads the Bureau for South and Central Asian affairs at the US State Department, said on Monday at a press briefing.

Wells is expected to accompany US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo when he visits Islamabad in the first week of September for talks with the new Pakistani leadership following which he will make stopovers in New Delhi and Kabul.

Wells said that America’s South Asia strategy was “obviously pointed to the role India can and should play” in supporting the stabilisation of Afghanistan.

“We want to see Afghanistan stitched back into the region,” said the US diplomat while clarifying that this integration does not have to come at the expense of any other country in the region.

Without mentioning the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the US official expressed concerns over projects in countries where governments involved had not been able to sustain the repayment schedules, which “resulted in the loss of sovereignty over key infrastructures” that they have had to turn over to their lenders.

Wells said that if China stopped pursuing the policy of mortgaging the future of such countries to “unrealistic and unsustainable loan terms, Washington and Beijing could work together on many issues.

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Putin warns US over deploying missiles in European nations

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Moscow, Feb 20 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said he would deploy missiles capable of striking the US if Washington decides to station missiles in European nations within striking distance of Russia.

Giving his annual address to the Parliament, Putin said he was not looking for a confrontation with the US and nor would his country be the first to deploy missiles once Donald Trump’s administration completes the process of withdrawing from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

But he warned of tit-for-tat measures in the case of an escalation by Washington, Efe news reported.

“Russia would be obliged to manufacture and station weaponry that could not only be used against territories where the direct threat comes from but also decision-making centres,” Putin told lawmakers. “We know how to do it and we would put these plans into effect as soon as such a threat became a reality,” he added.

Russia announced it would withdraw from the INF at the beginning of February following Washington’s unilateral decision to break away from the pact, a process that is set to be completed in six months’ time. Either country can backtrack during that period.

Washington and Moscow both accuse each other of breaching the agreement.

The INF Treaty was signed in 1987 between the then Soviet Union and the US on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.

Putin previously said that Russia’s response to the US withdrawal would be “symmetrical” but that nevertheless, Moscow would still refrain from deploying weapons with a range between 500 km and 5,500 km in European Russia and other global regions, so long Washington also agreed not to.

The Russian President questioned Washington’s justifications for pulling out of the treaty. “Our US partners should have been honest about it instead of using thought-up accusations to justify their unilateral exit from the treaty,” he said.

“They should have done it the same way they quit the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2004 when they simply pulled out, openly and honestly.”

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Pakistan government spokesperson’s personal Twitter account suspended

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Pakistan Mohammad Faisal
Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal (Photo Credit- AP)

Islamabad, Feb 20: Twitter has suspended the personal account of Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal.

According to the Pakistan media, the account was blocked late on Tuesday after Indian authorities complained to the microblogging website.

Geo News reported that Faisal’s account was suspended as he was giving his followers updates about “Indian atrocities” in Jammu and Kashmir and the Kulbhushan Jadhav case which is being heard at the International Court of Justice.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Ministry’s official Twitter account, which bears Mohammad Faisal’s name, remains active.

IANS

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Trump urges India, Pakistan to ‘get along’

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Washington, Feb 20 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has urged India and Pakistan to “get along” in the wake of Jammu and Kashmir suicide bombing and said that his country will respond on the issue at an “appropriate time”.

“I have watched. I have got a lot of reports on it. We will have comment (on it) at an appropriate time. It would be wonderful if they (India and Pakistan) get along,” he said in response to a question during an Oval Office signing ceremony on Tuesday.

The US President called the attack that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers last week “a horrible situation”.

“That (the terrorist attack) was a horrible situation. We are getting reports. We will have a statement to put out,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, US State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino, during a press briefing, said that Washington was in touch with both New Delhi and Islamabad regarding the bombing claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

“We have been in close communication with the government of India to express not only our condolences but our strong support for India as it confronts this terrorism,” said Palladino.

“We have a close, cooperative relationship with India, a security relationship, and that includes counter-terrorism operations.

“As far as Pakistan goes, we’ve been in contact with the country on this issue… We urge Pakistan to fully cooperate with the investigation into the attack and to punish anyone responsible,” he added.

However, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has denied his country’s involvement in the bombing and sought “actionable intelligence” from India.

US National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton has already extended support to his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval for India’s bid to designate JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.

Washington also voiced support towards India’s right to self-defence against cross-border terrorism.

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