US, India begin talks amid escalating trade tensions

Agencies
July 12, 2019

New Delhi, Jul 12: India and US trade officials held talks on Friday in a bid to resolve the pertaining trade differences.

The US delegations headed by Assistant USTR for India Christopher Wilson reached New Delhi on Thursday. The delegation also includes Deputy Assistant USTR Brendan Lynch.

The two sides are holding a comprehensive dialogue in the Commerce and Industry Ministry with the Additional Secretary. This is the first engagement between the two sides on trade issues after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Trump in Osaka on the sidelines of G20 Summit last month.

Trump has repeatedly raised the issue of India putting high import duties on American products. The trade tensions between the two nations escalated on June 5 when Washington rolled back the privileges that New Delhi was enjoying under their GSP or Generalised System of Preferences programme.

The GSP, implemented since 1974, is the largest and oldest US trade-preference scheme and it allows duty-free imports for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries.

On its part, India had imposed retaliatory tariffs on 25 American goods, less than two weeks after the Trump administration announced an end to the preferential trade treatment for India.

Yesterday, India on Thursday said that it seeks very constructive and positive engagement with the US counterparts.

"Meeting with the US delegation is underway as we speak. There was a meeting followed by lunch, in the afternoon, and also it will resume again. It was decided in Osaka, where Prime Minister Modi and President Donald Trump met, that officials from both sides will meet to resolve all outstanding issues related to trade very soon," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at the weekly briefing.

During the visit of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to New Delhi last month, India and the US had acknowledged there were issues between the two countries on trade and committed themselves to remove differences between them.

After talks with Pompeo, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had told the media that both the countries should take "constructive and pragmatic view" on the issues pertaining to trade.

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Agencies
January 20,2021

Donald Trump says his movement 'just beginning' in farewell remarks |  Financial Times

Washington, Jan 20: US President Donald Trump said he will be "back in some form" before boarding Air Force One for Florida on Wednesday ahead of the inauguration of his successor, Joe Biden.

"This has been an incredible four years," Trump said in brief remarks to staff, supporters and members of his family gathered at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington.

"We've accomplished so much together," he said. "I will always fight for you.

"We will be back in some form."

Trump did not address Biden by name but said he wishes the new administration "great luck and great success."

Trump will be at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida when Biden is sworn in at noon (1700 GMT).

He is the first president in more than 150 years to snub the inauguration of his successor.

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Agencies
January 14,2021

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London, Jan 14: The UK government on Wednesday reiterated its unchanged stance that the situation in Kashmir remains an issue for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the issue.

Responding to a debate held in the House of Parliament complex on the Political situation in Kashmir , Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) minister Nigel Adams stressed that it is not for Britain to play any mediatory role in a bilateral matter, even as he accepted there were human rights concerns on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC).

The government's policy [on Kashmir] remains stable, it's unchanged. We continue to believe that this is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political resolution to the situation that takes into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people as laid out in the Simla Agreement, said Adams, in his capacity as Minister for Asia.

It's not appropriate for the UK government to prescribe a solution or act as a mediator, he said.

At the end of the debate held at Westminster Hall in the House of Commons, the minister made reference to the District Development Council (DDC) democratic elections held in the region in December last year, which Labour Party MP Barry Gardiner pointed out attracted the free and fair participation of over 50 per cent of the local electorate.

And, responding to issues raised by cross-party MPs around the revocation of Article 370, which led to the creation of Jammu and Kashmir as Union Territories in August 2019, the minister welcomed the release of politicians held in protective custody and reports of broadband restrictions being lifted in the region.

We understand some of these restrictions may have been relaxed, with broadband/internet partially restored along with some access to social media. This is welcome news, but more should be done , he said.

The debate, organised by backbench members of Parliament led by Labour's Sarah Owen, included the participation of cross-party British MPs, many of whom have a large Kashmiri diaspora constituency base.

The people of Kashmir deserve the opportunity to thrive and succeed, so more broadly we welcome the commitment that the Indian government has made to the economic and social development" of Kashmir, said Adams.

Indian has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was its internal matter. It also advised Pakistan to accept the reality and stop all anti-India propaganda.

The Indian High Commission in London sought to highlight that since last year, a smart wi-fi project has enabled high-speed internet access in the region and that despite threats of terror attacks, challenging weather conditions and the Covid-19 pandemic, landmark DDC elections were concluded in December 2020.

J&K has not only normalised since August 2019 but is actually progressing on a positive trajectory of optimism and development in all sectors, a High Commission fact-sheet notes.

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Agencies
January 14,2021

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Wuhan, Jan 14: A team of WHO experts arrived in the central Chinese city of Wuhan on Thursday to investigate the origins of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Tuesday said that the team will fly from Singapore to Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in December 2019.

The World Health Organisation team's visit has become a bone of contention as Beijing, which questions the widely-held view about the virus' origins in Wuhan, had delayed granting permission to it.

China has been proactively questioning the view that the deadly outbreak took place in a wet market in Wuhan where live animals, birds and reptiles are sold and spread to humans. The market remained closed and sealed since early last year.

According to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker, over 92,313,000 people have been confirmed with the disease across the world and more than 1,977,000 people have died.

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