‘Hope Modi’s US visit will be an action-forcing mechanism … bilateral investment treaty would be a significant milestone’

With the White House having announced that US President Donald Trump will be hosting Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this year in Washington, Ambassador William J Burns, President of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former US Deputy Secretary of State, spoke to Nalin Mehta on what New Delhi can expect from the first bilateral Modi-Trump meeting, Indo-US relations and the shifts in US diplomacy:

The White House said President Trump spoke with PM Modi to congratulate him on the outcome of Uttar Pradesh elections, to express support for Modi’s economic reform agenda, and to say that he was looking forward to hosting the PM in Washington. What are your expectations from the PM’s upcoming visit?

My strong hope is that when it comes to India, the Trump administration will look to sustain and deepen the efforts of its Democratic and Republican predecessors to further strengthen the bilateral partnership and put it to work to address shared global challenges.

I hope this visit will be used as an action-forcing mechanism to check off a number of important items from our shared to-do list.This includes the purchase of a US fighter for India’s armed forces and other defence cooperation items.

It includes continued progress in the economic sphere, where i believe we still have a long way to go to fully realise the promise of our strategic partnership.

Concluding the Bilateral Investment Treaty would be a significant milestone worthy of a significant effort by both governments.

President Trump is fundamentally changing long held pillars of US diplomacy. How will this impact India-US relations which have been recast in the last 15 years under both Democrat and Republican administrations?

You are right that beneath the surface, this Trump administration presents a fundamentally different approach to foreign affairs – a profound, and in my view troubling, deviation from the core elements on which American leadership and international order rest.

The United States, for all its imperfections, has stood for political and economic openness, respect for human dignity, and a sense of possibility. We have demonstrated a willingness to mobilise others to deal with shared problems. And we have invested in the institutions at home and abroad that can get ahead of crises and prevent conflict through wise, long-term investments.

To the extent that we walk away from these ideas, initiatives and institutions at the core of American leadership, i fear that we will see serious and long-term damage to America’s standing in the world, and in turn, to the potential for US-India relations.

What impact do you see of US policies on Asia and the balance of power in the region under President Trump?

Much of President Trump’s foreign policy seems to be reverting to the mainstream on first contact with reality, and that includes his approach to the Asia-Pacific.

But it’s clear that the Trump administration believes the United States is being held hostage in many respects by the very international order it created. It seems to see multilateral trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership as constraints rather than opportunities, and international and regional organisations as distracting, if not irrelevant.

That attitude could undermine our capacity and credibility to work together with India to shape a Pacific Century that reflects our shared interests and values.

Carnegie has been in India for a year. How different is working in India compared to other countries?

I have been deeply impressed by what my colleagues in Delhi have accomplished in such a short time. That is not a result of any imports from Washington or any of our global centres in Beijing, Beirut, Brussels or Moscow. It is a consequence of the fact that Carnegie India is led and staffed by extraordinary Indian experts who have a deep stake and commitment to India’s own domestic and international evolution.
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Source: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/academic-interest/hope-modis-us-visit-will-be-an-action-forcing-mechanism-bilateral-investment-treaty-would-be-a-significant-milestone/?utm_source=Popup&utm_medium=Old&utm_campaign=TOIHP

Chandigarh school fee hike: ‘City school managements and UT responsible for this situation’

Are there any laws in Chandigarh to regulate school fees?

The Punjab government recently passed a law which restricted the hike of school fees to 8 per cent. The UT Administration has no such laws to regulate the fee hike. After the Punjab decision, the UT Administration moved a file that the Punjab law should be adopted by Chandigarh as well. The file has been approved by UT Administrator already and has to be approved by the Home Ministry. Since the approval is now expected, the school managements hiked the fees this year, because they know if the decision is approved, they won’t be able to hike the fee further.

Who is responsible for this situation? What are parents planning to do now?

School managements are responsible for the situation. Also, the inefficient and unresponsive UT Administration is responsible for it. We have filed so many complaints but nothing has been done. After not getting a response from the administration, we have started approaching the courts.

How are all the parents connected?

Parents are connected with the help of social media. On Facebook, the number of parents is 1,500 and we have created WhatsApp groups through which we have connected over 5,000 parents.

What is the general feeling about the fee hike?

There are some schools in city from where no complaint has been made because the parents belong to elite class. But then in most of the schools, people belong to the salaried class and they are worried about the situation. There is also a large section of parents who are worried about the problem but they fear that if they raise the voice, school will start targeting their children.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/education/chandigarh-school-fee-hike-city-school-managements-and-ut-responsible-for-this-situation-4597042/

White House says real story is about leaking, not Russia

FILE – In this Feb. 1, 2017, file photo, then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington. On the defensive, the White House is throwing counter punches to deflect attention from three investigations into the Kremlin’s interference in last year’s election and possible Russian ties to President Donald Trump or his associates. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — On the defensive, the White House is throwing counter punches to deflect attention from three investigations into the Kremlin’s interference in last year’s election and possible Russian ties to President Donald Trump or his associates.

The White House says the real story is not about Russia, but about how Obama administration officials allegedly leaked and mishandled classified material about Americans. Reaching back to campaign mode, Trump aides also contend that Hillary Clinton had more extensive ties to Moscow than Trump.

Arguing the White House’s case Friday, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said: “There is a concern that people misused, mishandled, misdirected classified information — leaked it out, spread it out, violated civil liberties.”

The White House has not pointed to any hard evidence to support its allegations, and instead has relied on media reports from some of the same publications Trump derides as “fake news.” The truth is buried somewhere in classified material that is illegal to disclose.



Trump fired national security adviser Michael Flynn following news reports that Flynn misled the White House about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. But the White House says the problem is that Flynn’s conversations were in the news at all.

“The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?” Trump tweeted after firing Flynn in February.

The White House has called for investigations into the disclosure of multiple intercepted conversations that Flynn had with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before the inauguration. The government routinely monitors the communications of foreign officials in the U.S. It’s illegal to publicly disclose such classified information.

Officially, the White House said Flynn was forced to resign because he’d give inaccurate descriptions of the discussions to Vice President Mike Pence and others in the White House. But Trump has continued to defend Flynn, suggesting he was only fired because information about his contacts came out in the media.

“Michael Flynn, Gen. Flynn is a wonderful man,” Trump said. “I think he’s been treated very, very unfairly by the media.”



White House officials say some Obama holdovers are part of a so-called deep state out to tear Trump down.

This week, the White House latched onto a month-old television interview from an Obama administration official who said she encouraged congressional aides to gather as much information on Russia as possible before the inauguration.

Evelyn Farkas, the former deputy assistant secretary of defense, said she feared that information “would disappear” after President Barack Obama left office.

Spicer called Farkas’ comments “devastating” and said they “raised serious concerns on whether or not there was an organized and widespread effort by the Obama administration to use and leak highly sensitive intelligence information for political purposes.”

Farkas was no longer in government when she urged officials to collect intelligence on “the staff, the Trump staff, dealing with Russians.” She left the Pentagon in 2015, just over a year before the election. She says she was offering advice to associates and did not pass on actual information.

Obama administration officials have acknowledged that there were efforts to preserve information that could be related to the Russian investigations, as was first reported in The New York Times. Former Obama officials contend that intelligence was disseminated to pockets of the government where officials had clearance to see classified reports, not publicly leaked.

Still, Farkas herself connected the concerns among government officials about the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia to the information winding up in the press.

“That’s why you have the leaking,” Farkas said in the March 2 interview on MSNBC. “People are worried.”



The White House has embraced a top Republican’s assertion that information about Trump associates were improperly spread around the government in the final days of the Obama administration. It appears the White House played a role in helping House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., acquire some of that information.
Courtesy: https://news.yahoo.com/health/

Source: https://news.yahoo.com/news/white-house-launches-counteroffensive-amid-183446741.html

US exports to India encounter barriers, says Donald Trump administration

According to the report, US goods exports to India were USD 21.7 billion, up 1.1 per cent (USD 237 million) from the previous year. According to the report, US goods exports to India were USD 21.7 billion, up 1.1 per cent (USD 237 million) from the previous year.

US exports to India continue to face barriers as Indian customs officials generally require extensive documentation, leading to frequent and lengthy processing delays, the Trump administration has alleged.

Despite the Indian government’s efforts to pursue economic reforms, the structure of India’s customs tariff and fees system are “complex and characterised by a lack of transparency” in determining net effective rates of customs tariffs, excise duties, and other duties and charges, the US Trade Representative (USTR) said it its annual report.

Noting that US exporters have raised concerns regarding India’s application of customs valuation criteria to import transactions, it said India’s customs officials generally require extensive documentation, inhibiting the free flow of trade and leading to frequent and lengthy processing delays.

This is a consequence of India’s complex tariff structure, including the provision of multiple exemptions, which vary according to product, user, or intended use, it said.

India, the report said, lacks an overarching government procurement policy and, as a result, its government procurement practices and procedures vary among the states, between the states and the central government, and among different ministries within the central government.

In its annual 2017 National Trade Estimate, the first under US President Donald Trump, the US goods and trade deficit with India was USD 24.3 billion, a 4.2 per cent increase (USD 970 million) last year, the USTR said.

The report came hours before Trump was expected to sign an executive order instructing his administration to examine the cause of trade imbalances with over 15 countries, including China and India.

According to the report, US goods exports to India were USD 21.7 billion, up 1.1 per cent (USD 237 million) from the previous year. Corresponding US imports from India were USD 46.0 billion, up 2.7 per cent.

India was the US’ 18th largest goods export market last year, the report said.

On the other hand, US exports of services to India were an estimated USD 18.1 billion in 2015 (latest data available) and US imports were USD 24.7 billion.

Sales of services in India by majority US-owned affiliates were USD 22.7 billion in 2014 (latest data available), while sales of services in the US by majority India-owned firms were USD 13.4 billion, it said.

Further, the US Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India (stock) was USD 28.3 billion in 2015 (latest data available), a 4.4 per cent increase from 2014. The US FDI in India is led by professional, scientific, and technical services, manufacturing, and wholesale trade, USTR said.

Taking note of the national Goods and Services Tax (GST), the report said it would replace most indirect taxes, including various charges on imports.

The GST is designed to simplify the movement of goods within India, it said.

In 2015, the Indian government introduced the GST Bill in Parliament and it was passed in July last year. India is working on the implementation of the GST law, which would put in place a two-part system.

The first part of the system are the State and Central GST that will be levied simultaneously on every transaction of goods and services within a state. The second part is an “integrated GST” that covers goods and services sold between all Indian states. The integrated GST would apply to imports. India intends to implement GST by July, the report said.

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Courtesy: http://indianexpress.com

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/business/business-others/us-exports-to-india-encounter-barriers-says-donald-trump-administration-4595081/

Violation of norms: Mohali administration reseals drug de-addiction centre at Kharar

Officials seal a private drug de-addiction centre in Kharar on Friday. Express Officials seal a private drug de-addiction centre in Kharar on Friday. Express

Following the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the district administration re-sealed a private drug de-addiction centre in Kharar on Friday. The High Court found that the owners of drug de-addiction centre were not following the norms set up by the state government. The court had also directed the district health authorities not to renew the licence of the owners of the centre. Talking to Chandigarh Newsline, additional deputy commissioner Nayan Bhullar said a case was going on in the High Court, which had formed a committee of two doctors to submit a report after the centre was sealed by the health authorities last year.

She added that the division bench the High Court, after going through the details of the report submitted by Dr Sukhwinder Kaur and Avnash Kaushik, ordered on March 27 that the centre should be sealed. “The court has also ordered us not to renew the licence of the owners of the centre. I along with my team comprising health and police officers sealed the centre on Friday evening,” Bhullar said.

Bhullar said the health authorities first received complaints against the centre in October last year that more than 150 inmates were kept there by flouting the norms. Only 50 inmates could be kept in the centre at a time. Regular check-ups of patients were also not conducted and the administration also received complaints that the people who were running the centres allegedly used to beat the inmates and were not providing proper food to the inmates.

After receiving the complaints, the health authorities carried out a raid on the centre on October 9 last year and sealed it. The police also registered a case under sections 341 ( wrongful restrain ), 342 (wrongful confinement), 465(forgery ) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The case was registered at a local police station against the three owners of the centre.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/violation-of-norms-mohali-administration-reseals-drug-de-addiction-centre-at-kharar-4594655/

UGC grants 1-year extension to 3 TISS centres

THE University Grants Commission (UGC) has given extension to the three centres of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which would have otherwise closed from April 1, much to the relief of the institute’s administration and students. But the fate of the teachers associated with the centres remains uncertain. “The UGC has decided to grant year-on-year extension. We now have extension for the year 2017-18,” said S Parasuraman, director, TISS, who met UGC officials on Friday. “We are yet to receive a written confirmation but the officials told me that the centres can continue,” he added. The UGC decision comes over a week after the TISS administration issued letters to around 25 teachers from the three centres — the Centre of Excellence for Human Rights Education, Advance Centre for Women’s Studies and Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies — that their contracts would be terminated after March 31 as the UGC had not granted extension to the centres.

Though the centres are safe for another year, whether the teachers, or how many of them, will be reinstated is unclear. The three centres have around 25 teachers. “We hope that all the teachers are retained,” said Parasuraman, refusing to comment further. On Saturday, the teachers were relieved from service and their official email addresses were discontinued. The recently-formed teachers’ association will now write to the institute’s administration seeking an explanation on the matter.

The three centres were funded by the UGC under the 11th Five Year Plan and later granted a five-year extension in the 12th Plan. Parasuraman told the Indian Express that the institute had not received any funds for the payment of salaries and other operating costs of the centres for the past one year. Moreover, a cashflow deficit of Rs 5.11 crore had made things worse for the institute. “We are in no position to run the centres on our own,” Parasuraman had said.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/education/ugc-grants-1-year-extension-to-3-tiss-centres-4595776/

Standing committee meeting: PCMC administration not in favour, BJP seeks transparency

The election for the post of chairman of the PCMC standing committee is scheduled to be held on Friday. The election for the post of chairman of the PCMC standing committee is scheduled to be held on Friday.

EVEN AS the ruling BJP in Pimpri-Chinchwad is in favour of throwing open the civic standing committee meetings, the civic administration is not in favour of it although it won’t oppose the move. “We feel the proceedings of the standing committee should be confidential but if the ruling BJP intended to throw open the meetings, we have no problem with it,” Municipal Commissioner Dinesh Waghmare said on Thursday. The PCMC administration, however, said it was in favour of allowing cameramen inside the standing committee meeting hall. “We can even allow video recording…,” the civic chief.

Waghmare said some sort of confidentaility is necessary in the standing committee working. “Even during the state cabinet meetings, the media is barred,” the civic chief said. Waghmare, however, said it was up to the ruling party to take the call. “We have no issues if they want to throw open the meetings for the media,” he said. BJP general secretary Sarang Kamtekar said the BJP has been for years demanding that there should be transparency in the functioning of the standing committee meetings and therefore, wants to remove the veil of secrey in the way it functions. “No deal should be allowed to be struck in closed-door meetings. This is what happened during the NCP regime. The committee members had an eye on commissions and thereby approved contracts at their whims and fancies,” he said. The standing committee holds the keys to civic finances and it should be made accountable for every penny it sanctioned, he added.

The BJP is in favour of initially throwing open the standing committee meetings for media and later for the general public. “Since there is less space in the meeting hall, we intend to allow journalists initially. Once the standing committee hall is revamped, we would have more space and then can even allow the general public,” Kamtekar said. Kamtekar said journalists from only a few newspapers would be allowed. “We will allow select journalists from top newspapers…but are not in favour of allowing television channels who are prone to distorting quotes,” he said.

The election for the post of chairman of the PCMC standing committee is scheduled to be held on Friday. The BJP has nominated three-time corporator Seema Savle from Indrayani Nagar-Balajinagar for the post. In the 16-member standing committee, the BJP has 10 members which means Savle’s election is a certainity. Savle, who herself has been in the forefront of anti-corruption campaign in PCMC and one of the votaries of open-door standing committee meetings, is likely to make an announcement regarding throwing open the standing committee meetings for journalists and the media after her election is announced on Friday morning.

Civic activists said the onus is on Savle as she had aggressively taken up corruption issue during NCP regime. “She had exposed several corruption cases in PCMC. As standing committee chairperson, Savle will have to set an example in shunning anything that is even remotely corrupt and lead from the front,” said activist Deepak Vichare. For past 10 years or so, activists have been demanding that standing committee meetings should be thrown open for the media and the general public to do away with the secrecy that shrouds the working of the committee. However, the NCP that ruled PCMC for a decade refused to do so. Consequently, the committee couldn’t shrug off the tag of the “commission committee.” In fact, its members itself openly accused the committee of blatantly indulging in wrong practices.

Activist-turned-politician Maruti Bhapkar, one of the campaigners, had sent a petition earlier this month to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to keep his word of ensuring transparency in civic functioning.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/standing-committee-meeting-pcmc-administration-not-in-favour-bjp-seeks-transparency-4593107/

Indo-US ties: Long, tedious statements won’t rack up ratings, but a sharp, focused agenda will

It’s not easy, but Indian officials are trying hard to read the Trump administration. Recent forays by senior officials have been aimed at ensuring continuity while trying to detect any unnatural or unusual activity.

So far, the signals seem normal for the most part. Even positive. Every senior Cabinet member has expressed a desire to visit India this year to continue the concert of democracies and send a clear message to China that ‘might is not right’ in Asia.

Donald Trump is expected to welcome Narendra Modi at the White House in September. Exact dates are being worked out and India wants a big show with all the attendant frills to underscore the importance of the relationship.

Trump may agree but only if there is a big, shiny gain he can advertise. “India might have to give more than it is used to giving,” a US official told me with a wry smile. Can New Delhi’s relationship managers be more flexible and imaginative to make Modi’s visit a true success and not just a bureaucratic one?

But Washington also might want to appoint an ambassador to India sometime soon to show it cares. Yes, the administration has a million mutinies on its hands, but absence in this case doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. Even in Twitter raj, an ambassador is necessary.

A new name is in the mix for the important position: Kenneth Juster, currently deputy assistant to the president on international economic affairs and lead negotiator for the G-7, G-20 and Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summits. Juster knows India well.

He negotiated the ‘Next Steps in Strategic Partnership’, an initiative launched in 2004 by George W Bush and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, which ultimately begat the Indo-US civil nuclear deal in 2008. An experienced and sophisticated player, he would be a steady hand at steering the relationship in these times of relative uncertainty.

They say US secretary of state Rex Tillerson has sent a list of 25 names for various ambassadorships to the White House but hasn’t heard back. Tillerson is surviving without the crucial second and third rung of officers and coming up short.

On the India front, Tillerson is expected to attend the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue this summer in Delhi to accommodate India’s request to repeat the venue. He won’t lead a ‘caravan’ of officers to Delhi as his predecessor did in the past but will take a small delegation for a more compact meeting.

The Trump administration would like to zoom in on three areas with India — energy cooperation, counterterrorism and defence technology and trade. It wants to focus on the long term to make the dialogue ‘truly strategic’.

India should lay out its ‘expectations’ to make the interaction more fruitful. Under the Obama administration, both sides took pride in saying India and the US were talking on every aspect of ‘human endeavour’. Indeed, there were so many dialogues and working groups, the Americans dedicated a full-time officer to keep track.

Perhaps, both capitals found the dialogue business useful to hide a lack of progress on the real stuff. Some working groups haven’t met for years. But now endless discussions are clearly out. If it can’t fit on a one-page memo, it won’t fit the new mindset.

Long, tedious joint statements — the pride of many an Indian diplomat — won’t rack up ratings, but a sharp, focused agenda will. US diplomats, themselves no strangers to verbosity, are undergoing what one officer described as a ‘lobotomy’ to learn the one-page rule.

More importantly, one faction in the Trump administration is apparently ‘ready to open the wallets for India’. But not for free. They want something real in return — remove import taxes on some biggies such as Harley Davidson motorcycles, medical devices and IT hardware.

It would certainly gladden American hearts and may open the door for new Indian exports like scooters. Recall that Trump criticised the 100% tax on Harleys in his speech to Congress without naming India. It took a lot of restraint on his part especially because he was calling out China and others.

For his part, Modi could highlight Indian investments in the US. Anand Mahindra announced last month he wants to double his bets here in the US. If Mahindra is serious, the timing could coincide with the visit, and Trump and Modi could ride into the sunset on a tractor. The photos would be eminently tweetable.

As defence secretary James Mattis told National Security Adviser Ajit Doval last week, “No relationship stays the same — they either decline or they get better, they get stronger.” The India-US relationship may be due for a makeover.
Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports

Source: http://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/letterfromwashington/indo-us-ties-long-tedious-statements-wont-rack-up-ratings-but-a-sharp-focused-agenda-will/

Trump administration pursues sale of F-16’s to Bahrain: source

A Lockheed Martin F-16 Jet fighter performs during a demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport. (Francois Mori/AP)

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s administration has informed Congress of its plan to pursue the $5 billion sale to Bahrain of 19 Lockheed Martin F-16 aircraft and related equipment, which was held up last year by concerns about human rights, a congressional source said on Wednesday.

The State Department originally notified Congress of the sale last September during President Barack Obama’s administration. It was pulled back because of concerns that Bahrain had not made promised improvements to its human rights record.

The Trump administration has separated the human rights issues from the transfer, the source said.

Members of Congress were not immediately available to comment on whether they would object to the sale over human rights concerns this time.

The $4.867 billion sale includes the aircraft, 23 engines, radars and other avionics, air-to-air and air-to-ground ordnance and related equipment.

The latest notice sent to Congress provides for 40 days of additional congressional review, then a formal notice to Congress as required by the Arms Export Control Act, after which the licenses for the sale would be approved.

Lockheed Martin declined comment.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Peter Cooney)
Courtesy: https://news.yahoo.com/health/

Source: https://news.yahoo.com/news/trump-administration-pursuing-sale-f-16s-bahrain-source-221207247–finance.html?.tsrc=jtc_news_index

Ivanka Trump taking formal role in administration amid ethics concerns

President Donald Trump’s elder daughter, Ivanka Trump, announced today that she will take an official position in his administration, according to a statement.

Her unofficial role has grown in recent weeks, and she was granted security clearance and a West Wing office, drawing scrutiny from some.

Ivanka Trump will be an assistant to the president but will not take a salary, she said in a statement first reported by The New York Times.

“I have heard the concerns some have with my advising the president in my personal capacity while voluntarily complying with all ethics rules, and I will instead serve as an unpaid employee in the White House Office, subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees,” she said in a statement today.

She added, “Throughout this process, I have been working closely and in good faith with the White House counsel and my personal counsel to address the unprecedented nature of my role.”

She is not the only family member in her household to have a title. Her husband, Jared Kushner, is a senior adviser to the president.

The White House released its own statement about the move, saying that it is “pleased.”

“Ivanka’s service as an unpaid employee furthers our commitment to ethics, transparency and compliance and affords her increased opportunities to lead initiatives driving real policy benefits for the American public that would not have been available to her previously,” the White House statement read.

When her increased security clearance and West Wing office were announced, Ivanka Trump said, “There is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president.”

At the time, Kathleen Clark, an ethics expert and a professor at Washington University, described the arrangement as “outrageous.”

View gallery Ivanka Trump taking formal role in administration amid ethics concerns (ABC News)

“This is extremely troubling because the White House seems to be pretending that it can treat somebody as a government employee — give them an office and responsibilities — and not be bound by government ethics standards,” she said.

“They assert that she will voluntarily comply with government ethics standards. That means they think she doesn’t have to comply,” Clark continued.

Now she thinks that the formal title is “absolutely a step in the right direction.”

“The most significant thing about today is the White House has walked away from the indefensible position that it had last week, that she didn’t have to comply with ethics rules but she was doing so voluntarily. That ‘voluntary’ language was what really obscured the point. They were claiming that she had a choice to do it,” Clark told ABC News.

In spite of the title, Ivanka Trump is not technically required to divest from her company, Clark said.

“She must either divest or recuse herself from any matters that can affect her financial interest. For example, half of her business is based on jewelry, so pretend the administration is weighing an enormous tax on jewelry. That’s something she would not be able to be in the room for if she doesn’t fully divest,” Clark said.

ABC News political commentator Cokie Roberts said that “she is solving the ethics issue” with the title, as it forces her to comply with ethics rules.

The title formalizes her existing role, though she has been no stranger to the White House. She has been present for family events — like the various inauguration celebrations — as well as closed-door meetings and sit-downs with foreign leaders.

In February she met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House, where they were part of a roundtable discussion on female entrepreneurs, and she met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

When German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the White House earlier this month, Ivanka Trump was seated right beside her.

Ivanka Trump’s involvement in business roundtable discussions could be attributed to her business background at her namesake fashion label and her father’s real estate empire, but she has also had a say in other causes that she is passionate about.

When the president held a listening session about domestic and international human trafficking on Feb. 23, he started his remarks by thanking his daughter and then–senior counselor for economic initiatives Dina Powell “for working so hard to set this up.”

ABC News’ Alex Mallin contributed to this report.
Courtesy: https://news.yahoo.com/health/

Source: https://gma.yahoo.com/ivanka-trump-taking-formal-role-administration-210905057–abc-news-topstories.html