‘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

Delhi MCD polls: Amit Shah has final say in BJP’s first poll list

BJP President Amit Shah. (File Photo) BJP President Amit Shah. (File Photo)

THE DELHI BJP unit on Sunday released its first list of 160 candidates for the polls to the municipal corporations of Delhi (MCD), slated to be held on April 23. BJP national president Amit Shah had the final say on the selection of candidates, sources said.

The BJP, which has decided not to field its sitting councillors in the elections or allow candidates to jump wards, has given tickets to a lot of mandal and district-level workers. Nearly 75 women candidates have made the cut in the first list. Besides, five seats have been kept aside for candidates belonging to Shiromani Akali Dal.

Among those whose names feature in the first list are three who hold posts in the state unit. Two are Shikha Rai and Kamaljeet Sehrawat, who are vice-presidents in the state unit. They would be contesting from Greater Kailash and Dwarka respectively. Rajesh Lawodia, the secretary of the Delhi BJP unit, will contest from Karol Bagh.

Three district presidents too have got tickets — Pravesh Sharma, who will contest from Ram Nagar, is the president of the Naveen Shahdara district; Santosh Kumar Pal, district president Shahdara, will contest from Laxmi Nagar ward; and Tilak Raj Kataria, the polling booth coordinator of Panch Pramukh, will contest from Shalimar Bagh (south).

Kailash Sakla, who lost the MLA elections, will now fight from Punjabi Bagh. Kiran Vaidya, wife of late ex-MLA Sunil Kumar Vaidya, too has been given a ticket.

Kunwar Radio (Zakir Nagar), Famudin Saudi (Delhi Gate), Sartaj Ahmed (Chauhan Banger) and Sabra Malik (Mustafabad) are four Muslim candidates fielded by the BJP. The five seats that have been given to the Akalis are Pratap Nagar, Tilak Nagar, Kalkarte , GTB Nagar and Rajendra Nagar. However, the candidates will contest elections on the BJP symbol.

Former Mahila Morcha post holders too have got tickets. Many Mandal presidents, such as Subhash Bairana from CR park and Gagan Sahni from Subhash Nagar, have also got tickets.

Asked about the selection process, a senior party leader said, “It has been most thorough, with Shah himself eliminating those who do not deserve a candidature. Even MPs were asked to explain why the names proposed by them should get tickets. For the first time, many workers who have been with the party for a long time have got tickets.”

Many aspirants, however, protested after the list came out. Monika Chopra from Kishan Ganj alleged that she was not selected even though she has given 10 years of her life for the party. She also said Anuradha Sharma, wife of former councillor Anil Sharma, who allegedly switched from the Congress to BJP recently, was given a ticket from her ward. “ We were told only karyakartas will get tickets. But I will still work for the party,” she alleged. Senior leaders, including Manoj Tiwari, were not at the office on Sunday.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/delhi-mcd-polls-amit-shah-has-final-say-in-bjps-first-poll-list/

Donald Trump presses China on North Korea ahead of Xi talks

US President Donald Trump. (AP File Photo) US President Donald Trump. (AP File Photo)

U.S. President Donald Trump held out the possibility on Sunday of using trade as a lever to secure Chinese cooperation against North Korea and suggested Washington might deal with Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs on its own if need be.

The comments, in an interview published on Sunday by the Financial Times, appeared designed to pressure Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of his visit to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida this week.

“China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t. And if they do that will be very good for China, and if they don’t it won’t be good for anyone,” Trump was quoted as saying, according to an edited transcript published by the newspaper.

Asked what incentive the United States had to offer China, Trump replied: “Trade is the incentive. It is all about trade.”

Asked if he would consider a “grand bargain” in which China pressured Pyongyang in return for a guarantee the United States would later remove troops from the Korean peninsula, the newspaper quoted Trump as saying: “Well if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.”

It is not clear whether Trump’s comments will move China, which has taken steps to increase economic pressure on Pyongyang but has long been unwilling to do anything that may destabilize the North and send millions of refugees across their border.

It is also unclear what the United States might do on its own to deflect North Korea from the expansion of its nuclear capabilities and from the development of missiles with ever-longer ranges and the capacity to deliver atomic warheads.

NORTH KOREA REVIEW COMPLETED

Trump’s national security aides have completed a review of U.S. options to try to curb North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs that includes economic and military measures but leans more toward sanctions and increased pressure on Beijing to rein in its reclusive neighbor, a U.S. official said.

Although the option of pre-emptive military strikes on North Korea is not off the table, the review prioritizes less-risky steps and “de-emphasizes direct military action,” the official added, saying it was not immediately known if the National Security Council recommendations had made their way to Trump. The White House declined comment on the recommendations.

Trump and Xi are also expected to discuss Chinese ambitions in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, when they meet on Thursday and Friday. China claims most of the resource-rich South China Sea, while Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims on the strategic waterway.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke on Sunday with China’s top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, about Xi’s visit “and other issues of bilateral and regional importance,” a State Department official said on condition of anonymity.

Trump’s deputy national security adviser, K.T. McFarland, said there was a “real possibility” North Korea could be capable of hitting the United States with a nuclear-armed missile by the end of Trump’s four-year term, the Financial Times reported. McFarland’s estimate appeared more pessimistic than those of many experts.

“The typical estimates are that it will take five years or so,” said Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States and a leading expert on North Korea’s nuclear program.

Such estimates are notoriously hard to make both because of the scarcity of intelligence about North Korea and uncertainty about how high a success rate Pyongyang might want for such missiles.

John Schilling, a contributor to the “38 North” North Korea monitoring project, said Pyongyang might have missiles capable of limited strikes on the U.S. mainland by the end of Trump’s term, but “it will most likely be a bit later than that.”

“I doubt that any missile they could put into service by the end of 2020 will be very reliable, but perhaps it doesn’t have to be – one or two successes out of six launches against the U.S. would be a political game-changer to say the least,” he said.

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Courtesy: http://indianexpress.com

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/world/donald-trump-presses-china-on-north-korea-ahead-of-xi-talks-4597109/

Tagore was ambassador for India’s culture: Pranab Mukherjee

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI Photo by Manvender Vashist

In Ranchi to lay the foundation stone for Rabindra Bhawan, an auditorium complex, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Sunday that Rabindranath Tagore was an ambassador for India’s culture across the world. After laying the foundation stone online, Mukherjee said in Hindi, “Wherever he (Tagore) went, be it across Pacific, across Atlantic, anywhere, he was always the ambassador for India’s culture. He was a great artist.”

Mukherjee, who reached Ranchi on Saturday evening, recalled how on Tagore’s birth centenary in 1961, it was decided that each state capital will have a Rabindra Bhawan. At that time, Jharkhand did not exist, said Mukherjee, adding that after the state’s creation there was no Rabindra Bhawan in Ranchi. “Ek kamti tha…..wo kamti aaj khatam ho gaya (There was one gap….that gap has been plugged now),” he said.

The Rabindra Bhawan has been envisaged as a state-of-the-art auditorium with 1,500 seats, along with four mini-auditoriums, that would be used for various cultural programmes. The project cost is around Rs 155 crore and is supposed to be completed within two years.

Mukherjee also laid the foundation stone for a Haj House in the city. “As External Affairs Minister, I came to know that not Pakistan, not even Bangladesh, not any other country, it is India that sends maximum pilgrims for Haj,” said the President. During his visit, the President also laid foundation stone for a software technology park, a drivers’ training institute and skill development centres in Deoghar. He also offered prayers at the Shiva temple in Deoghar and inaugurated a 44-km solar street lighting project between Baba Baidyanath Dham and Basuki Dham Temple.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/tagore-was-ambassador-for-indias-culture-pranab-mukherjee-4597010/

FIR against 5 JNU students for removing CCTV

JNUSU president Mohit Pandey removes the camera JNUSU president Mohit Pandey removes the camera

The JNU administration has registered an FIR against five students, including three office-bearers of the JNU Students’ Union, for removing a CCTV camera from the Brahmaputra Hostel. It had earlier lodged two FIRs against students for staging a blockade at the administrative block and illegally confining the vice-chancellor and other officials.

“On March 31, a complaint was received from JNU’s chief security officer. He alleged that when the administration was getting CCTV cameras installed at the hostel entrance, JNUSU president Mohit Pandey — along with other students — manhandled workers, threatened them and took away the camera. Based on the complaint, an FIR was lodged at Vasant Kunj (north) police station,” said Additional DCP (south) Chinmoy Biswal.

JNU Registrar Pramod Kumar said, “We had completed the entire wiring work for installation of CCTV cameras at Brahmaputra Hostel. But some students, led by the JNUSU president, removed everything and took it away. They also abused those who tried to stop them. Students cannot do this to government property.”

JNUSU general secretary Satarupa Chakraborty said the move to install CCTVs was “neither discussed in the IHA meeting nor passed by the hostel GBMs”.

Meanwhile, JNU has also moved the High Court seeking directions to restrain its students from staging any demonstration within 100 metres of the administrative block.

Man held for stalking JNU student

A 26-year-old man was arrested Saturday evening for allegedly stalking a JNU student for a month. ACP Biswal said, “The accused, Shailesh Kumar, was held from outside a girls’ hostel in JNU.”

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/education/fir-against-5-jnu-students-for-removing-cctv-4597008/

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to discuss security during Australia visit

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, above. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, above.

Afghanistan’s President is to discuss security and female empowerment during a meeting with Australia’s prime minister.

Ashraf Ghani arrived in the Australian capital, Canberra, late on Sunday on the first Australian visit by an Afghan president.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement the visit reflected a strong bond between the two countries. He says security and female empowerment will be discussed on Monday.

Ghani will meet Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and lay a wreath at the Australian War Memorial before he meets with Turnbull.

Australia lost 41 troops in Afghanistan following the US-led invasion in 2001.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/world/afghan-president-ashraf-ghani-to-discuss-security-during-australia-visit-4597099/

This 12-year-old predicted the March Madness final four [Video]

Walter: The job of President Trump is not to have a PC policy of immigration that the left would like. The job and duty of President Trump is to ensure the safety and protection of the American citizens.
Courtesy: https://news.yahoo.com/health/

Source: https://news.yahoo.com/video/12-old-predicted-march-madness-133236449.html

What do Russian-Americans think of President Trump? [Video]

By Sarah B. Boxer

Brighton Beach, N.Y., home to one of the largest Russian-American communities, is known as “Little Russia.” What do local residents think of President Trump and his alleged ties to Vladimir Putin?

At Gourmanoff, a bustling market along Brighton Beach’s main drag, Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga finds a mixed (grocery) bag.

“We love him,” says Kzenia. “Because my parents are still in Russia, and we do think that he’s going to be better for the U.S.”

“He obviously hasn’t delivered on anything he’s promised so far, everything has been more of a show than actual governing,” Michael tells Golodryga.

And Russian president Vladimir Putin?

“He’s very smart,” says Lina. “He’s doing what he’s supposed to do.”

What about accusations that Putin has murdered journalists and stifled democracy?

Golodryga asks Alan, a lawyer. “I can only quote our president, who had an interview with Fox News, and when he was asked about Putin, he said that we are not so innocent either,” he responds.

“What do you think about U.S.-Russian relations and the fact that they’re strained now?” Golodryga asks. “It will get better, because the United States and Russia are neighbors,” Alan responds, citing Russia’s proximity to Alaska. “Since we are neighbors, it’s destiny, and you can’t change destiny.”
Courtesy: https://news.yahoo.com/health/

Source: https://news.yahoo.com/news/what-do-russian-americans-think-of-president-trump-165117443.html