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Modi greets Trump with a hug, shakes hands with Melania

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A red carpet welcome was given to US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on Monday amid sounds of conch shells after their Air Force One landed at Ahmedabad Airport. Trump is accompanied by his daughter Ivanka and a 12-member delegation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted Donald Trump with a hug and shook hands with the First lady.

Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner came out of the Air Force One first. After some time, President Trump and the First Lady came out of the aircraft, waving at the waiting crowd below.

The Trumps got into the US President’s black car, the ‘Beast’

This is Trump’s first visit to India since he assumed office.

Trump’s first stop in India is the Sabarmati Ashram where he will spend some time.

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Donald Trump tweets Baahubali Video

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US President Donald Trump is all set for Indian visit and a bunch of funny videos are breaking the internet. Donald Trump himself retweeted a funny meme video which was made from ‘Saahore Baahubali’ video song from the film Baahubali. “Look so forward to being with my great friends in India” captioned Trump after he shared the video. Donald Trump and Narendra Modi share a close bonding and they are strengthening it with their visits.

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US House passes Trump impeachment

The Democrat-led US House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

As voting ended, Trump became the third president in the US history to be impeached, Xinhua reported.

Prior to and amid the House debate before the impeachment votes, Trump issued and retweeted tweets from early Wednesday morning, calling Democrats’ impeachment effort “an assault” on the country as well as on the Republican Party.

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Trump, Kim begin summit meeting in Singapore

United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met at the Capella Hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa Island on Tuesday morning and began a first-ever summit in history between the sitting leaders of the two countries.

The summit began at 9 a.m. local time (6.30 IST) with a handshake greeting before the cameras.

Trump and Kim then began around 45-minute meeting behind closed door before having a working meeting with their respective delegations and a lunch, Efe reported.

Trump arrived at the Capella Hotel at 8.14a.m. in the morning, after a journey of less than 15 minutes from Shangri-la Hotel, where he stays. Kim left a little later from his hotel, St. Regis, and arrived shortly after 8.30am at the meeting place.

The initial handshake took place in a courtyard of the British colonial-style hotel, amid US and North Korean flags that flank the red carpet.

Tuesday’s summit in Singapore, which aims to address the possible denuclearisation of North Korea, is the first between the two countries’ sitting leaders after nearly 70 years of confrontation in the wake of the Korean War (1950-1953), and 25 years of failed negotiations and tensions over the North Korean nuclear programme.

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Trump admin toughens H1-B visa procedure

The Trump administration is working on proposals to streamline the H-1B visa procedure, the most sought after by Indian IT professionals, to focus on attracting the best and the brightest foreign talents, according to a top federal agency official.

The proposed regulation also aims to intensify efforts to crackdown on H-1B visa fraud, said Francis Cissna, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director in a letter to Senator Chuck Grassley.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is working on two proposed regulations to improve the H-1B programme. The first regulation proposes to establish an electronic registration programme for petitions subject to numerical limitations for the H-1B non-immigrant classification.

“This rule is intended to allow USCIS to more efficiently manage the intake and lottery process for these H-1B petitions,” said Cissna.

The later is dated April 4, the content of which was first reported yesterday by Axios news website.

“The second regulation will propose to revise the definition of specialty occupation, so as to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme and to revise the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to better protect US workers and wages,” Cissna said.

In addition, Department of Homeland Security will propose additional requirements designed to ensure employers pay appropriate wages to H-1B visa holders, it said.

The USCIS is also drafting a proposed rule to remove the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), as announced in the regulatory agenda. Due to the court order which invalidated the IER delay rule, the International Entrepreneur Final Rule is currently in effect.

“We have not approved any parole requests under the International Entrepreneur Final Rule at this time,” it said.

Briefing the Senator on its efforts to prevent fraud in H-1B, Cissna said USCIS now has a dedicated email addresses to make it easier for the public to report suspected fraud and abuse in the H-1B and H-2B programmes.

Other steps that the USCIS has previously announced include establishing a more targeted approach in our H-1B employer site visit programme.

“We initiated these targeted site visits to help us determine, among other things, whether H-1B-dependent employers are actually paying their workers the statutorily required salary to qualify for an exemption from recruitment attestation requirements,” it said.

The USCIS is also expanding its administrative site visit programme to include L-1B petitions.

“We are initially focusing on employers petitioning for L-1B specialised knowledge workers who will primarily work offsite at another company or organization’s location to ensure that they are complying with the requirements from the L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2004. These requirements were meant to help prevent United States workers from being displaced by foreign workers,” the USCIS said.

Cissna said it also published a policy memorandum that instructs officers to apply the same level of scrutiny to both initial petitions and extension requests for non-immigrant visa categories. The guidance applies to all non-immigrant classifications filed using Form r-129, Petition for a Non-immigrant Worker.

The previous policy instructed officers to give deference to the findings of a previously approved petition, as long as the key elements were unchanged and there was no evidence of a material error or fraud related to the prior determination.

“The updated policy guidance rescinds the previous policy. Under the law, the burden of proof in establishing eligibility for the visa petition extension is on the petitioner, regardless of whether users previously approved a petition,” it said.

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Ex-Playboy model claims having affair with Trump

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A former Playboy model claimed that she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006 and has also described the US President’s alleged system for concealing affairs, a media report said.

The New Yorker in the report on Friday said that Trump met Karen McDougal in June 2006 after he taped an episode of his reality-television show, “The Apprentice”, at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.

Late Playboy owner Hugh Hefner threw a pool party for the show’s contestants with dozens of current and former Playmates in attendance including McDougal.

At the time of the party, Trump had been married to Slovenian model Melania Knauss, the future first lady, for less than two years and their son, Barron, was a few months old.

In an eight-page, handwritten document obtained by The New Yorker, McDougal wrote that Trump “immediately took a liking to me, kept talking to me… telling me how beautiful I was, etc. It was so obvious that a Playmate Promotions exec said, ‘Wow, he was all over you… I think you could be his next wife.'”

The interactions that McDougal outlines in the document share striking similarities with the stories of other women who claim to have had sexual relationships with Trump, or who have accused him of propositioning them for sex or sexually harassing them.

But her account provides a detailed look at how Trump and his allies used clandestine hotel-room meetings, payoffs, and complex legal agreements to keep affairs, sometimes multiple affairs he carried out simultaneously, out of the press, reports The New Yorker.

“No paper trails for him,” McDougal wrote.

Meanwhile, a White House spokesperson on Friday night denied the affair in a statement to the magazine, reports CNN.

“This is an old story that is just more fake news. The President says he never had a relationship with McDougal,” the spokesperson said.

After ending the affair in April 2007, McDougal signed a limited life-story rights agreement in August 2016, granting American Media, Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, exclusive ownership of her story for $150,000.

However, the company, run by David Pecker, a friend of Trump’s, never ran her story and, according to The New Yorker, instead used the purchase to kill the piece.

The company told the magazine it did not print it because it did not find McDougal’s story to be credible.

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Report that Trump allegedly imitated Modi’s accent sets Twitter aflutter

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Trump allegedly imitated Modi’s accent

A Washington Post report that US President Donald Trump imitated the accent of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a private conversation about Afghanistan has set Twitter aflutter.

Someone identified as “Professor Qa @MuslimDiasporas,” tweeted that it was “racist impressions of Indian accent” and “Sagar Keer @sagark1985” tweeted: “I wonder what the bhakts will think about Trump imitating Modi’s accent.”

And dozens of tweeters posted the extract from the Washington Post or commented on it.

The Hill, an influential Internet publication specialising in politics, likened the alleged incident to Trump using a word for excrement to refer to African countries and Haiti as claimed by a Democratic Party leader, Senator Dick Durbin.

However, Hillary Clinton, the Democrat who ran against Trump, has publicly dishonoured Mahatma Gandhi with her stereotype of Indian Americans, saying “He (Gandhi) ran a gas station down in St. Louis.”

Some gas stations in the US are run by Indian, leading to one of the derogatory steretypes.

The alleged use of the Indian accent by Trump was buried in a report on Afghanistan in the Washington Post, which is owned by the Amazon billionaire, Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the US.

The story about the US considering adding 1,000 more troops in Afghanistan had a very brief mention of the incident attributed to unnamed sources as an example of Trump justifying Washington’s role in Afghanistan.

“Senior administration officials said that the President has been known to affect an Indian accent and imitate Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in an Oval Office meeting last year told him, ‘Never has a country given so much away for so little in return’ as the United States in Afghanistan,” the report said.

“To Trump, Modi’s statement was proof that the rest of the world viewed the United States as being duped and taken advantage of in Afghanistan, these officials said,” according to the newspaper.

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Pakistan PM chairs security meet over Trump tweet

Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) on Tuesday to discuss US President Donald Trump’s move to cut all further aid to Islamabad on charges of harbouring terrorists.

The high-level meeting, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday, was attended by the country’s civilian and military leadership. Pakistan is expected to issue a response to Washington following the meeting, Geo News reported.

In his first tweet of 2018, Trump accused Pakistan of basing its relationship with the US on “nothing but lies and deceit”.

“The US has foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit.

“They give safe havens to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!, Trump tweeted on Monday.

According to reports, the NSC meeting was expected to be briefed by the Foreign Ministry on Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts while the Director General Military Operations will detail the efforts taken in the fight against terrorism.

Pakistan’s Ambassador the US Aizaz Chaudhry also arrived in Pakistan to attend the meeting.

On Monday, Pakistan’s Foreign Office summoned US Ambassador David Hale to record a protest over Trump’s tweet.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, replying to the President’s tweet, said Pakistan would let the world know the truth. “There is a difference between facts and fiction.”

Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir said Pakistan had extended unprecedented cooperation to the US to eliminate Al Qaeda from its soil and Afghanistan besides fighting the war against terror.

“Pakistan does not have any safe havens for terrorists”, he said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan accused Trump of “working on the agenda of Pakistan’s enemies”.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a series of tweets said “the US was no longer interested in defeating terrorism”.

Washington’s latest move comes after the US was denied access to a member of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network in Pakistani custody.

According to the New York Times, the Haqqani member was one of the abductors who held an American and Canadian, along with their three children, hostage for five years.

US officials told the daily that the Americans demanded access to the man who they feel might have valuable information about the whereabouts of at least one other American hostage.

But Pakistani officials rejected the requests.

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Pakistan summons US ambassador over Trump tweet, registers protest

Pakistan summons US ambassador over Trump tweet

The Pakistan Foreign Office summoned US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale on Monday night and lodged its protest against US President Donald Trump’s tweet wherein he accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit”, the media reported.

The US Embassy confirmed that Ambassador Hale was summoned by the Foreign Office at 9 p.m., The Express Tribune reported citing Express News.

Informed sources said Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua sought an explanation from the ambassador over the US President’s tweet.

Earlier, Trump tweeted that the US ‘foolishly’ gave aid to Pakistan over the course of 15 years but Islamabad remained deceitful by providing safe havens to ‘terrorists’ from Afghanistan.

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” Trump said in his tweet.

In May 2016, Pakistan had summoned the US ambassador to express its reservations over a drone strike inside its territory that reportedly killed Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

Trump’s announcement follows an increasingly tense back-and-forth between Washington and Islamabad after the US President unveiled his administration’s National Security Strategy.

He had then reminded Pakistan about its obligation towards helping the US because it got “massive payments” from Washington every year.

“We have made it clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory,” Trump had said. “They have to help.”

Pakistan is also accused by Afghanistan and India of harbouring terrorists ranged against the two countries.

Islamabad routinely denies such charges.

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Trump was offered women during 2013 Russia trip: Ex-bodyguard

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US President Donald Trump’s long-time confidant and former bodyguard has testified that he rejected a Russian offer to send five women to then private-citizen Trump’s hotel room during their 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant.

Keith Schiller, while testifying before the House Intelligence Committee earlier this week said that he took the offer as a joke, CNN cited multiple sources with direct knowledge of the deposition as saying.

On their way up to Trump’s hotel room that night, Schiller told the billionaire businessman about the offer and Trump laughed it off, Schiller told the committee.

He testified that he stood outside Trump’s hotel room for a time and then went to bed.

The 2013 trip was at the epicentre of one of the most salacious claims in a research dossier financed by Democrats during the 2016 presidential campaign. The document alleged that Trump consorted with prostitutes during his time in Moscow — a claim the President vehemently denied, the Washington Post reported.

Schiller, who frequently accompanied Trump on trips, told congressional investigators that he saw no compromising, illicit or illegal behaviour by Trump while in Moscow.

The offer to send women to Trump’s room came after Schiller said he attended a meeting in Moscow with about 15 people to discuss details of the pageant.

Among those in attendance were Russian pop star Emin Agalarov and his father, Aras Agalarov, a business magnate with close ties to the government of President Vladimir Putin, the Times reported.

Schiller was also asked about a wide-range of issues, including meetings between Trump associates and Russians. He denied having knowledge of many of those interactions.

He also denied knowing about the deliberations around the firing of FBI Director James Comey, saying he was only called into deliver a letter with the news to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A White House lawyer familiar with the matter said that the White House “and fair-minded people are pleased that Schiller was able to debunk yet another of the false claims in the fantasy dossier funded by the DNC and the Clinton campaign and prepared during a time its foreign author worked closely with paid Russian operatives”.

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Trump sends immigration plan to Congress, mum on H1-B visas

US President Donald Trump has sent a new 70-point enforcement plan to Congress proposing the stiffest reforms ever offered by an administration, but kept mum on the H1-B visas.

Trump’s request for sweeping immigration reforms unveiled by the White house Sunday night would continue to allow the spouses and children of immigrants to get green cards or permanent resident status but not their brothers, sisters and parents.

“The goal of the merit-based system that awards green cards based on factors like education, employability and English language proficiency is “to promote assimilation and financial success,” the White House said.

A merit-based system is likely to benefit India if the national quotas limiting green cards to about 20,000 per country per year are also done away with and they are awarded purely on merit.

Because of the large number of highly qualified Indians, for most of the professionals from the country there is a 11-year wait to get green cards and a merit-based system could cut down the delay. Professionals from all countries except India and three others do not have to wait for their green cards.

Trump’s package of wide-ranging proposals made to keep his election promise of getting tough on immigration faces stiff opposition in the Congress from Democrats and some Republicans and is unlikely to pass in the near future.

The request to Congress for legislation formalises the immigration reform plan he announced in August.

The proposals sent on Sunday deal only with permanent immigration and with illegal immigration, and not with the temporary H1-B visas given to professionals and advanced degree-holders from US universities.

India has expressed concern over the future of H1-B visas because Trump had said during his election campaign that he would limit them because he asserted they affected the employment prospects of Americans.

When External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month, she raised the H1-B visas.

So far the H1-B system has been functioning without any changes and the immigration service is processing applications at the same levels as before.

One of the items in the proposal that concerns Indians is the future of those brought in illegally by their parents as children and have grown up here.

It is estimated that there about 7,500 Indians in this category referred to as “Dreamers”.

Former President Barack Obama issued a presidential order allowing the “Dreamers” to remain in the US and to work.

Trump is rescinding the order and asking Congress to pass a law to allow them to stay on.

Yet another issue that concerns India is that of illegal immigrants and criminals whom the US wants to deport, but New Delhi has refused to accept some of them because of what it says are inadequate proof of their identity and Indian citizenship.

Trump wants Congress to enact laws to circumvent court rulings against indefinite detention of criminals who cannot be deported and allow the government to keep them in custody.

Three other major requests from Trump include funding the building of a wall along the Mexican border to keep out illegal immigrants, tightening standards for admitting asylum-seekers, and enabling the “prompt” deportation of unaccompanied minors and families illegally entering the country.

“The administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the ‘Dreamers’ if they begin with a list that is anathema to the ‘Dreamers’,” Democratic leaders, Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi, said.

Explaining the request for a merit-based immigration system, the White House said they were to “establish a point-based system for awarding green cards that protects US workers and taxpayers, encourages assimilation, and ensures the financial self-sufficiency of newcomers”.

Administration officials who briefed reporters by phone, pointed out that the US was the only major industrialised country that did not have a merit-based immigration system.

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Trump sends merit-based visa system plan to congress

US President Donald Trump has sent a 70-point enforcement plan to Congress proposing the stiffest reforms ever offered by an administration, including calls for a border wall with Mexico and a merit-based system of granting visas, the media reported.

The plans sent on Sunday also include call for more deportation agents, a crackdown on sanctuary cities and stricter limits to chain migration, all issues the White House said it needs to be part of any bill Congress passes to legalise illegal immigrant “Dreamers” currently protected by the deportation amnesty known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Nearly 800,000 undocumented young people currently benefits from DACA.

The plans also break serious new ground on the legal front, giving federal agents more leeway to deny illegal immigrants at the border, to arrest and hold them when they are spotted in the interior, and to deport them more speedily, reports The Washington Times.

The goal, the White House said, was to ensure major changes to border security, interior enforcement and the legal immigration system.

“Anything that is done addressing the status of DACA recipients needs to include these three reforms and solve these three problems,” a senior White House official told The Times.

“If you don’t solve these problems then you’re not going to have a secure border, you’re not going to have a lawful immigration system and you’re not going to be able to protect American workers.”

The plan includes a total of 27 different suggestions on border security, 39 improvements to interior enforcement and four major changes to the legal immigration system.

The White House said the plan was built from the ground up, with inputs from the Justice, State and Labour Departments and the three main immigration agencies at Homeland Security, each of whom was asked what tools they needed to finally get a handle on illegal immigration, The Washington Times reported.

Also on the list are proposals that have been included in past immigration bills that garnered bipartisan support such as cancelling the annual visa lottery that doles out 50,000 green cards at random, and requiring all businesses to use E-Verify, the government’s currently voluntary system for checking to make sure new hires are legally eligible to work.

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Donald Trump administration introduces green card hurdle

US immigration authorities will soon require an in-person interview for certain applicants for green cards, a change that is likely to slow the process of obtaining one and may jam the already-backlogged visa application system, a media report said.

The new requirement, which was confirmed on Friday by a spokesman for the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), will apply to anyone moving from an employment-based visa to lawful permanent residency, Politico reported.

Visa holders who are family members of refugees or people who receive asylum will also be required to undergo an in-person interview when they apply for provisional status, a stage that precedes receiving a green card, according to USCIS.

The new policy will take effect from October 1, the report said.

In fiscal year 2015, nearly 168,000 immigrants in these categories obtained lawful permanent residency, according to annual statistics from the Department of Homeland Security.

Most (roughly 122,000) moved from an employment-based visa to a green card. The interview mandate is part of President Donald Trump’s plan to apply “extreme vetting” to immigrants and visitors to the US.

The travel ban executive order signed by Trump in January and revised in March called for federal departments to develop “uniform screening and vetting standards” to identify terrorists or people who “present a risk of causing harm”. The standards could include an in-person interview, the order stated.

Carter Langston, a spokesperson for USCIS, told Politico that the categories of visas that require interviews will expand in the future, calling it “an incremental expansion”.

The policy, Langston said, is “part of a comprehensive strategy to further improve the detection and prevention of fraud and security risks to the US”.

The requirement for an in-person interview is not, technically, new, said the report.

But the agency currently waives the interview requirement for these visa holders “most of the time”, according to William Stock, a Philadelphia-based attorney and former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Under the new policy, such waivers won’t be granted, he said.

The added interview workload will almost lengthen wait times from green card applicati.

Source:EconomicTimes

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How will Trump’s India card play in the Afghan great game?

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United States President Donald Trump has played the India card against Pakistan in the Afghan great game, but would that become a true trump card for India?

Earlier this week, Trump assigned a “critical” role for India in his country’s South Asia strategy for fighting terrorism, building up a safe Afghanistan and appealed for help, while at the same time warning Pakistan of repercussions for the double game of unleashing terrorists against the Afghans and the US while collecting billions from Washington.

It amounts to threatening Islamabad that Washington could pivot to India if it didn’t stop supporting “the same organisations that try every single day to kill our people”, as Trump put it.

The US move comes as the civilian leadership is unmoored after Nawaz Sharif was removed as Pakistan Prime Minister by a court order.

It also coincides with the simmering military standoff between India and China, the other power with deep involvement in the region and patron of Pakistan. How Beijing reacts would be a factor in the way things work out for India.

There are two other players in the great game, Iran and Russia, with whom the US has a hostile relationship. They can influence developments in Afghanistan and India can play a covert intermediary role between them.

Past US Presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have in joint statements acknowledged New Delhi’s humanitarian and development assistance to Afghanistan, but what makes Trump’s statement different is that he openly incorporates India into the US strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia and juxtaposes it with his warnings to Pakistan.

Trump putting Pakistan on notice directly marks a change from the tradition of the Cold War that made Pakistan the indisputable and indispensable ally and there is a twist of irony here.

Soon after 9/11 in 2001, as the US prepared to go into Afghanistan, India offered the use of its airbases, but it was turned down and Washington decided to go with Pakistan despite its history of aiding both the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Trump’s request to India was deliberately open-ended, while stressing what is already being done. “We want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development,” he said.

New Delhi has committed more than $3 billion in aid to Kabul and has undertaken important projects like constructing a Parliament house and building major highways in the face of Taliban attacks.

And there limits to what more it can do.

India couldn’t send troops in combat or frontline advisory roles. But it already trains Afghan troops and police in India — and had one time set a target of putting 30,000 of them through the paces. Now, trainers could work in Afghanistan itself, if India chooses and the US agrees to drop its opposition driven by Pakistani sensibilities — but away from areas of direct conflict.

But it could let the US use airbases in India, though Islamabad could ban overflights and a route through Iran is out of question.

India has provided military helicopters to Afghanistan, and General John Nicholson, the US commander in that country, has recently said that Kabul could do with more of them — as well as other military supplies. New Delhi could also increase its role as middleman for supplying Russian weaponry and spares given the Washington-Moscow standoff.

In the development sphere, India could increase — and probably will — its aid to Afghanistan in cash and kind. However, it may not be able to sustain a major expansion of assistance programmes requiring the deployment of Indian citizens because that would likely require security personnel to protect them and risk direct confrontation.

A major component of India’s economic assistance to Afghanistan runs counter to US interests as dictated by the Middle East because it is linked to Iran. India is developing the Chhabahar port in Iran that will provide landlocked Afghanistan an outlet to the world using the Indian-built Delaram-Zaranj highway to the Iran border. In turn, that highway will link to the Ring Road project that connects important Afghan cities.

This will provide a significant boost to Afghanistan’s economy.

At the same time, dire strategic compulsions could make the US overcome its repugnance to Tehran and through India use the Chhabahar link to get supplies into Afghanistan.

What is behind the changed US attitude to Islamabad — and to India as a collateral — and Trump’s own reluctance to further get involved in Afghanistan? It is the influence of the triumvirate of generals, Chief of State John Kelly, Defence Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, with personal connections to the Afghan war.

Kelly lost his son, a Marine officer in Afghanistan to a terrorist roadside bomb, making the war on the Taliban personal. Mattis was the commander of the CENTCOM that oversaw the Afghan war and McMaster as the deputy to the planning commander at the international forces headquarters in Kabul.

Both have seen Islambad’s double game. Already last month, the US withheld $50 million in aid Pakistan citing its failure to rein in the Haqqani terrorist network.

Add to that Trump’s disenchantment with China over its refusal or inability to rein in North Korean taunts and threats.

How will the military and Islamist establishments react? To acquiesce to the US is one option that may be accompanied by the diversion of Islamist terrorists to India.

The other option of defiance would depend on China. Beijing sees Washington-New Delhi ties in the larger picture — its state media has accused the West, specifically the US, of instigating war between it and India.

But Beijing has some limitations here. Beyond making up for the loss of US billions to Pakistan if Islamabad stood firm, China also has strategic interests in the region that could be endangered by terrorism: The One Road One Belt project and the likelihood of terrorism getting a boost in the Uighar region and in Central Asia.

The real danger would be a Pakistani terror push towards India with Chinese backing.

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Trump Clueless About Retweeting Bot

US President Donald Trump, who claims to be a devoted user of Twitter as a medium to disseminate authentic information to his followers, has retweeted a bot and is yet to realise it. According to a report in the Newsweek on Monday, the account retweeted by Trump used the handle “@protrump45” and was run under the name Nicole Mincey. As of Monday, the account has been suspended.
“We do not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons,” a Twitter spokesperson was quoted as saying.

The bot or the fake account had tweeted an image of Trump emblazoned with the message “Trump fights for us.” The bot tweeted the image in a reply to Trump that read “Trump working hard for the American people….thanks,” followed by emojis of a heart and the US flag. After Trump shared @protrump45’s tweet, his followers began to suspect something fishy. It was found that the “@protrump45” was a bot account created to share pro-Trump messages.

“Twitter user (@protrump45) appeared to be running an advertising campaign linked to a site selling pro-Trump merchandise,” said Eliot Higgins, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. “The account was linked to a website, “protrump45.com”, which sells merchandise associated with the Trump campaign, such as T-shirts and hoodies carrying messages like ‘Make America Great Again!’ or ‘Deplorable Lives Matter’,” the report noted.

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Trump endorses bill that cuts the number of legal immigrants to half

President Donald Trump endorsed a legislation that will slash the level of legal immigration into the United States.

The bill titled Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act replaces the permanent employment-immigration framework with a skill-based system that operates on the basis of individual merits.

Trump supported the effort from Republican Sens. David Perdue and Tom Cotton in a “merit-based system” act which targets at issuing green cards for extended family members of the U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. While it will be regulating chances for grown children and siblings, minor children and spouses would still be eligible to apply for green cards.

The new application process will support those who have skills that will help the U.S. economy, can communicate in English and are capable of financially fending themselves and their families

The legislation would put an end the State Department’s Diversity visa lottery, by allotting only 50000 visas for the 2018 fiscal year.

It also has a cap of 50000 on the number of refugees accepted which is about half of the Obama administration’s target for 2017.

The current system also termed as “lottery system” by the POTUS, has over the decades allowed a number of immigrants to come to the country to work or to join kinfolks residing legally.

Trump during his address recalled his campaign promise on creating a merit-based immigration system that protects U.S. workers and taxpayers.

However, the Raise Act must pass through both houses of Congress before it becomes law.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

World leaders in social media Trump and Modi meet

When “true” friends meet, there is obvious display of visible warmth. President of United States Donald Trump hosted Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on June 26 at Washington, D.C. Trump and Modi managed to strike a good rapport at the first instance as the India gets Salahuddin, US gets to sell 20 drones to Indian military. Additionally, the white house confirmed the sale of $366 million of a transport carrier to India.

Trump said that the relationship with India has never been better and stronger. Both the leaders used deepest words to counter terrorism. They are “determined” to “eliminate” terrorism. Furthermore, they extended mutual cooperation in defence and in developing Afghanistan

The two leaders discussed about expanding trade, defence and economic ties. Trump said “I look forward to working with you to create jobs in both countries and to grow our trade relationship in a fair manner to bring down the trade deficit”. On the other hand, Modi said “I’m sure that convergence between my vision for a new India and President Trump’s vision for ‘Making America Great Again’ will add a new dimension to our cooperation”

Trump congratulated India for implementing Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill and said that the US is also doing the same. He noted that, ” (He’s) looking forward to exporting more US energy to India as your economy grows, including a major long term contract to purchase natural gas”.

Prime Minister Modi said that “Your(Trump) vast and successful experience in the business world will lend an aggressive and forward-looking agenda to our relations.”

Controversial topics such as immigration and climate change remained behind closed doors.

Modi welcomed Ivanka Trump for the entrepreneurship summit. He also invited the Trump and his family to visit India. After the joint address, Melania hosted a reception for the PM of India.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Modi meets Trump: No good news for Srikakulam nuclear reactors

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United States President Donald Trump will be discussing important strategic issues with “true friend” Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. The bilateral talk apparently will include Indo-US civil nuclear deal. But reports suggest it is “unlikely” for the two countries to ink an agreement between the NPCIL and Westinghouse to build six power reactors in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh.

State run Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) are not keen on signing the agreement with the American nuclear giant, due to a financial disorder in Westinghouse. Another reason is the need for the foreign company to demonstrate a functional nuclear plant. This is a mandatory requirement to get permission from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). Currently there is an absence of an operative reference atomic plant.

It may be recalled that towards the end of March this year, nuclear giant Westinghouse Electric, a US firm, owned by Japanese Toshiba has filed for bankruptcy with $9.8 billion in liabilities. The firm was supposed to set up six nuclear reactors for Kovvada nuclear power project in Ranasthalam mandal of Srikakulam district in partnership with the NPCIL.

In 2008, a historic nuclear cooperation deal was signed between India and the U.S. Trump and Modi are likely to discuss the progress on this deal. However only two years ago the democracies decided to finalise contractual arrangements by June 2017.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

H-1B visa issue likely to figure during Modi-Trump meet

Problems being faced by the domestic IT industry on the H-1B visa front are expected to figure during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump next week in Washington.

Modi is slated to visit the US during June 25-26.

Asked whether India would raise the H-1B issue during Modi’s visit, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said: “I cannot say what would be the issues that would come up in the discussion. This is one of the issues on the table. (But) it is not the only issue. But in the event the issue comes up, it would certainly be taken up.”

Teaotia also said the US has started a trade policy review of those countries with which it has adverse trade balance and India is ninth on that list.

India has time and again raised the issue of H-1B with the US authorities and asked them to liberalise their visa regime as Indian companies contribute significantly to the American economy.

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialised fields. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.

On the trade policy review being carried out by the US, she said India and the US have a robust mechanism under the trade policy forum (TPF) to discuss matters like stents and others.

She said other issues like market access for products and those relating to investments are all being dealt with regularly at the TPF meetings.

“The US has commenced a trade policy review of those countries with which it has adverse trade balance and India is ninth on the list of those countries. So certainly, we would figure, but we are confident that our exports to the US are a win-win for both countries in the sense that we are able to provide cheaper products,” Teaotia added.

The secretary further said a cross-section of Indian companies supports American industry in becoming much more competitive.

“Therefore, this is a partnership that has many benefits across sectors and I think this would be the trend of our communication with the US,” she added.

The bilateral trade between the two increased to USD 64.67 billion in 2016-17, from USD 62.11 billion in the previous fiscal. The trade balance is in favour of India.

The US, under a new executive order, proposes to replace the current lottery system for issuing H-1B work visas with a merit-based approach. The country is reviewing its visa programme for foreign workers to curb purported abuse and frauds related to visas.

Indian IT companies use temporary work visas to send employees to work on client sites. With visa programmes in countries like the US becoming more rigorous, domestic technology firms will face challenges in movement of skilled professionals and spike in their operational costs

Source:PTI

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Ronald & Donald: From Reaganian history to Trumpian future of planet Earth

“Tear down this wall,” Ronald Reagan, former Republican President of the US, challenged Mikhail Gorbachev in his speech at Brandenburg Gate, in Germany, exactly this week of June in 1987.

Reagan was speaking next to the iconic Berlin wall. He was referring not only to the brick and mortar wall erected in 1961 by the then communist East Germany with unflinching support from Soviet Union, but also to the ideological firewall that separated an inward-looking, isolated, centralised, socialistic economy from the capitalist West. It was a time when open market globalisation was blazing a trail towards a New World Order.

During his candidacy announcement speech this month in 2015, Donald Trump, also Republican, first proposed the idea of building a real wall along America’s southern border with Mexico. He boasted that due to his real estate experience, he was uniquely qualified for the job.

A little over a year after Reagan ended his tenure, again this month in 1990, the demolition of the Berlin wall officially began and was completed within two years. The open market economy and waves of globalisation started sweeping eastward. Regulations started taking a back-seat and creativity draped in innovation began proliferating.

Trump, in his bid to “Make America Great Again”, has isolated Americans at a crucial time, depriving them of the opportunities offered by a globalising and digitalising world. He is doggedly firm that fulfilling election promises — at any cost — is his urgent priority. His unilateral decisions, without multilateral consultative dialogue, is poised to make a serious impact on the social, economic and environmental fabric of planet Earth.

When the world, in the 1980s, was strengthening multilateralism, the foundation on which the UN was built, Reagan was riding a wave that was demolishing the archaic walls of unilateralism that dotted the globe. Those dots were the unfortunate post-war memorials of the bilateral and unilateral treaties that started the wars in the first place. Reagan, alarmed by the risks to the planet, engaged his administration in negotiations on multilateral environmental agreements.

Reagan’s record on environmental protection at the national level may not be without controversies. As Governor of California during 1967-75, his environmental record was highly appreciated by many, particularly his path-breaking California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

But his first term was marked by “Reaganomics” — tax reduction, economic deregulation, reduction in government spending and an aggressive policy of issuing leases for oil, gas and coal development on tens of millions of acres of national land. Later, in his second term, he signed into law 38 bills that added more than 10.6 million acres of spectacular forests, mountains, deserts and wetlands to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Trump has a “hate at first sight” relationship with multilateralism, particularly its recent product — the Paris Climate Agreement. That starkly contrasts with Reagan’s consultative and multilateral approach. Trump is wading through unilateral processes by connecting the dots of American job-loss, rise of China and India, and loss of US’ manufacturing base and trying to present the climate change crisis as a diversion from his “America First” slogan.

The multilateral negotiations under the UN held 30 years back to carve out the global environmental treaty, the Montreal Protocol, skilfully traded by Reagan in the wake of threats to American industry and jobs, was an extraordinary example of Republican stewardship. The Montreal Protocol was aimed at protecting the life-saving Ozone layer threatened by man-made chemicals. Without Reagan’s leadership, a depleted ozone layer could have resulted in millions of deaths due to skin cancers and other diseases.

More than $125 billion worth of equipment in American supermarkets, buildings, automobiles, electronic instruments and foam blowing relied on the Ozone-depleting man-made chemicals which were proposed for phase-out under the Montreal Protocol were at risk of premature obsolescence when the Reagan administration was negotiating the treaty under the umbrella of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

American chemical industries sold about 100 ozone-depleting chemicals at the time of negotiations. Just one of them — CFCs — was valued at half a billion dollars annually. The value of goods and services from these chemicals was $28 billion every year.

The predicted American job losses due to provisions of the Montreal Protocol were threatening not just base of Republican popularity, gained by Reagan over his two terms, but the very tenets of American superiority and competitiveness. The “hoax” cries against the science of Ozone layer-depletion by human interference echoed all over America, just like what we hear today from the lawns of the White House on climate change.

Reagan, in partnership with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and, surprisingly, USSR President Gorbachev, held a number of informal consultations on the possible options of negotiations of the Montreal Protocol, including financial and technical support to developing and emerging countries like India and China.

Many diplomats have termed the Reagan-Gorbachev summits of 1987-88 that included ozone and climate issues as “Ozone-Glasnost”. Reagan and Gorbachev even collaborated on stratospheric ozone research through joint satellite missions. For the troika, “Planet First” was the slogan.

The Trumpian stance today on Paris Climate Agreement, his alleged cyber space-affair with Russia and his buzzing campaign of “America First”, in comparison to the Reaganian past, appears to be in pitiful defiance of the gravity of the situation.

Thirty years back, Reagan sent the Montreal Agreement for the Senate’s ratification stating that, “In this historic agreement, the international community undertakes cooperative measures to protect a vital global resource of ozone layer.” The Senate approved Reagan’s recommendation unanimously.

Three decades after, Reagan, an actor-turned-politician is remembered as the key contributor to the unique success of the Montreal Protocol, implementation of which averted a global catastrophe.

Wonder how, 30 years from now, Trump, real estate businessman-turned-politician, would be described by historians.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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