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US NSA advises prudence in India's relations with Russia

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Washington, July 11 (IANS) US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan on Thursday said a “bet on Russia as a long-term, reliable partner is not a good idea” for India or any other country and now that Russia has become a “junior partner” to China, Moscow will side with China in any conflict between the latter and India.

Sullivan, who was in India in June for a meeting with his counterpart Ajit Doval to discuss the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology, was responding to a question during an interview on MSNBC about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Moscow earlier in the week – followed closely by the US government and news media as, among other things, it coincided with the ongoing NATO summit here that has been dominated by concerns about Russia and its growing ties with China, Iran, and North Korea.

“We’ve made clear to every country in the world including India that a bet on Russia as a long-term, reliable partner is not a good bet,” he said.

“And that’s especially true, in our view, for India because Russia is becoming closer to China. In fact, it’s becoming the junior partner to China. And in that way, they would side with China over India any day of the week. And … Prime Minister Modi, of course, has profound concerns about the potential for Chinese aggression against India. Which we have seen over recent years.”

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Sullivan went on to essentially lay out what has been the Biden administration’s overall approach to India’s long-term relationship with Russia — that is part of a “long game”.

“We’ll keep making that case. But countries like India do have a historic relationship with Russia. So none of this is going to change dramatically overnight. This is playing the long game. It is making investments in democratic partners and allies around the world including countries like India and we think that that will pay off as we go forward.”

India’s long-term ties with Russia have been an issue that the US has sought to deal with a mix of privately expressed misgivings to public statements of understanding.

State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller said on Tuesday the US has privately conveyed its concerns in private conversations, including one that took place within 24 hours of the Prime Minister’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin. But he did not share details of this conversation.

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Occasionally, the US response hovers between frustration and anger. India’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 air defence systems, for instance, caused considerable consternation. Some US lawmakers called for sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which seeks to punish Russia by threatening countries that buy Russian goods of a sizable value with secondary sanctions.

US officials have said India’s Russian arms acquisitions are an impediment to interoperability between the militaries of India and the US and there is fear of US technology landing up in Russian hands.

“We are seeking to develop a much deeper and stronger technological relationship between the United States and India,” said US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, who had accompanied Sullivan on the June visit to India, when asked about arms transfers at a news briefing on his return.

“We have been clear which areas are affected by the continuing relationship between India and Russia militarily and technologically. I think we will take what steps we can to mitigate some of those engagements, and we have expressed some concerns, but at the same time we have confidence and trust in India and we’re seeking to advance our partnership in technology even in the context of those enduring ties.”

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On the larger issue of India’s ties with Russia, he said: “I do want to underscore that the United States and India are both great powers. We have many areas of alignment, but it is not surprising that there would be areas where we’ve had perhaps different perspectives, views, historical ties. And I think in the context of our strategic partnership, I think what’s been important is our ability to share views on areas where we occasionally have disagreements, do those respectfully, and seek where possible to narrow those areas where there are differences.”

–IANS

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Kenyan president orders swift probe into mysterious killings

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Nairobi, July 14 (IANS) Kenyan President William Ruto has directed security agencies to speed up investigations into the mysterious killings in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, after nine mutilated bodies were retrieved from a dumpsite in a slum.

Ruto, who spoke in Elgeyo-Marakwet County, northwest Kenya, on Saturday, assured citizens that those behind the killings will be held to account, saying no stone will be left unturned, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Nine bodies have been retrieved from Kware dumpsite in Mukuru kwa Njenga (slum), the majority being bodies of women and girls,” he said and appealed to every Kenyan to uphold peace and conduct their business without breaking the law.

The President has been under intense pressure to take firm action on security officers who have been abducting young Kenyans who have been holding anti-government and anti-tax hike demonstrations across the country.

The bodies were well-wrapped in sacks and black polythene bags and later tied with ropes, while some had burns and were decomposing.

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The state-funded Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) said at least nine deceased people were dumped less than 100 metre from the Kware police station.

–IANS

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Floods force closure of schools in central Myanmar

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Yangon, July 13 (IANS) Five basic education schools in Minbu town of central Myanmar’s Magway region have been temporarily closed due to flooding triggered by rising river levels, state-run daily Myanma Alinn reported on Saturday.

The water level of Ayeyarwady River in Minbu town hit the town’s warning mark on Saturday and is expected to rise two more feet in the next day, the country’s Department of Meteorology and Hydrology said on Saturday.

According to the weather agency, the water level of Ayeyarwady River on Saturday reached and exceeded the warning marks in 10 towns in central and northern Myanmar, and Chindwin River’s water level was above the warning marks in seven towns in central and northern Myanmar.

The weather agency has advised residents living near riverbanks and in low-lying areas to take precautionary measures, reported Xinhua news agency.

Since the beginning of July, heavy rains have triggered rising water levels in rivers across northern and central Myanmar, displacing over 30,000 people.

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In Myanmar, July and August are in the middle of the rainy season and heavy rains are typical during this period.

–IANS

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China issues alerts for mountain torrents

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Beijing, July 13 (IANS) China’s meteorological and water resources authorities on Saturday evening issued a warning of impending mountain torrents in some regions.

According to an orange alert issued by the Ministry of Water Resources and the China Meteorological Administration, mountain torrents are expected to occur in parts of Sichuan and Yunnan between 8 pm Saturday to 8 pm Sunday.

The two departments also issued a yellow alert for mountain torrents in parts of Xinjiang, reports Xinhua news agency.

Localities have been advised to strengthen real-time monitoring and flood warnings, prepare for possible evacuations, and implement other risk-mitigation measures.

China has a four-tier, color-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe warning, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

–IANS

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Trump close to announcing his V-P nominee

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Washington, July 13 (IANS) Former US President Donald Trump is expected to name one of these three Republicans as his running mate for the 2024 presidential election any time now — Senators Marco Rubio and J.D. Vance, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

Who will it be?

Trump might announce the name later Saturday at a rally or Sunday, before the Republican convention to formally crown him as the Republican nominee kicks off on Monday, or during the party meet.

In 2016, he announced Mike Pence as his running mate just two days before the convention in Colombia, Ohio. By tradition, the vice-presidential nominee is the star speaker of the convention’s penultimate night, with the final night reserved for the presidential nominee.

The former president has been conducting a very public audition for the job with contenders required to show up together or individually when required in a throwback to the TV show ‘The Apprentice’ in which Trump tested contestants for their business skills. The show ran from 2004 to 2017 and played a major role in shaping his public persona across the country.

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Trump has said he is looking for a nominee who, as he said in April, “can be a good president, which Biden doesn’t have” and, he added this Monday, “somebody that helps you get elected”.

He is reported to have narrowed the field to Rubio, Vance and Burgum.

Rubio knows the former president the longest. But they started out on the wrong foot. As contenders for the Republican nomination in 2016, they clashed bitterly with personal insults and innuendoes. They have made up since and Rubio was among the early endorsers of Trump for this third bid for the White House. As a Latino, Rubio’s appeal among Latino voters makes him someone who can help Trump win.

The problem: Trump and Rubio are residents of the same state, Florida. The 12th Amendment to the US Constitution states that presidential and vice presidential candidates running on the same ticket “shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves”. One of them will have to move out of the state if Trump picks Rubio.

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Vance, a venture capitalist millionaire, has the shortest experience in US politics. He was sworn into the US Senate only in 2023. And his other drawback, which will be exploited by Democrats if he is named running mate, is his previous criticism of Trump — called him “America’s Hitler” and an “idiot”. He has since emerged as a forceful and erudite spokesperson for Trump’s MAGA (Make America Great Again) agenda. And he is telegenic and comes across well on TV, which is a big qualification for Trump. Additionally, he has Trump’s eldest son Don Trump Jr as his loudest advocate, along with TV personality Tucker Carlson.

Burgum, a millionaire businessman, appeals to pro-business Republicans but he doesn’t help the ticket much. North Dakota, the state that elected him twice for governor, is a reliably Republican state, which will vote for Trump even if Burgum was not on the ticket. But the wealthy businessman has been backed by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

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Trump could announce the winner at the rally he is addressing in Pennsylvania later Saturday, or Sunday.

–IANS

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North Korea threatens 'unimaginably harsh price' following Seoul-Washington nuclear deterrence pact

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Seoul, July 13 (IANS) North Korea condemned the joint nuclear deterrence guidelines signed by Seoul and Washington as a “reckless provocative act,” threatening that the allies will pay “an unimaginably harsh price” if they commit further provocations.

The message was published by the official Korean Central News Agency in a press statement from a defense ministry spokesperson after South Korea and Washington adopted “Guidelines for Nuclear Deterrence and Nuclear Operations on the Korean Peninsula” in Washington, DC, on Thursday.

The document is expected to significantly expand the assignment of US strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula by increasing the frequency and level of their deployment during both wartime and peacetime, reports Yonhap news agency.

“The DPRK Ministry of National Defence strongly denounces and rejects the reckless provocative act of the US and the ROK that pushes the regional military tensions to extremes through extremely incendiary and malicious rhetoric and provocative action,” the spokesperson said.

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DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea, while ROK refers to the South, the Republic of Korea.

“The provocative behavior” by the allies is the “root cause of endangering the regional security,” and it requires North Korea to “further improve its nuclear deterrent readiness and add important elements to the composition of the deterrent,” the North Korean official noted.

The spokesperson warned the countries “not to commit such provocative acts causing instability any more,” adding that “If they ignore this warning, they will have to pay an unimaginably harsh price for it.”

–IANS

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