VIF News Digest: International Developments (25-30 June, 2018)

US postpones high-level dialogue with India as Donald Trump’s tariff threats ratchet up global tensions

28 June 2018

The United States has announced postponement of a high-level dialogue with India scheduled for next week in Washington, DC, without assigning any reasons even as its ambassador to the United Nations met with top Indian leaders in New Delhi to step up ties in various fields. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and expressed regret over the dialogue postponement for “unavoidable reasons”, said India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar in a tweet.

No new dates were announced for the meeting. Click here to read....

U.S. Mattis reassures uneasy Japan over U.S.-North Korea talks
29 June 2018

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to reassure Japan on Friday that Washington was mindful of its interests in talks with North Korea, during a stop in Tokyo that underscored the close U.S. ally's concerns about the negotiations.

Japan's defence establishment was taken aback by the U.S. President Donald Trump's recent decision to halt "expensive" military exercises with South Korea that have long been seen in Tokyo as a deterrent to North Korea's threats. Click here to read....

Trump administration disputes UN claims that 18.5 m Americans are in 'extreme poverty'
25 June 2018

The Trump administration says the United Nations is overestimating the number of Americans in "extreme poverty" by about 18.25 million people, reflecting a stark disagreement about the extent of poverty in the nation and the resources needed to fight it.

In May, Philip Alston, special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights for the U.N., published a report saying 40 million Americans live in poverty and 18.5 million Americans live in extreme poverty. Click here to read....

Is a second civil war likely? one third of Americans think so
28 June 2018

Nearly one third of Americans think another civil war could break out in the U.S. in the next five years over opposition to President Donald Trump’s policies with more than one in ten believing it is very likely to happen. Of the 59 percent of people who do not believe that a second civil war could happen sometime before 2023, only 29 percent said the scenario is “not at all likely” according to a Rasmussen survey of 1,000 likely voters.
The survey found that, overall, Democrats (37 percent) are marginally more fearful than Republicans (32 percent) of an upcoming civil war. A further breakdown reveals 44 percent of African Americans think that a civil war will break out within five years, compared to 28 percent of white Americans and 36 percent of other minority voters. Women and those under 40 are also more worried about a possible civil war compared to men and older voters. Click here to read....

President Trump set to meet with Russia's Putin on July 16
27 June 2018

President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss relations between the United States and Russia and a range of national security issues when they meet in Helsinki on July 16. The meeting will follow a NATO summit in Brussels on July 11.

"I think we'll be talking about Syria. I think we'll be talking about Ukraine. I think we'll be talking about many other subjects," Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. "Maybe something positive will come out of it," the President said. "I've said from day one, getting along with Russia and with China and with everybody is a very good thing. It's good for the world. It's good for us. It's good for everybody." Click here to read....

India offers huge opportunity for US energy sector: Rick Perry
26 June 2018

India offers an "amazing opportunity" for US energy sector as it is a huge market for the American energy products including clean coal technology, Energy Secretary Rick Perry has said. Perry, who visited India in April this year as part of the Trump administration's move to enhance bilateral energy cooperation, said he had "very good conversations" with his Indian counterpart on clean coal and carbon capture utilisation.
During the first meeting of the US-India Strategic Energy Partnership in April, the two countries decided to increase its co-operation in oil and gas, power, renewable energy and coal sectors. Click here to read....

US Ambassador Nikki Haley on 3-day visit to India to advance ties with US
26 June 2018

Nikki Haley, the first American of Indian descent to hold a cabinet-level position in the US, begins a three-day visit to India on Tuesday to advance relations between the two countries, according to the US Mission to the UN. Haley, who is the Permanent Representative to the UN with cabinet rank, is to meet senior Indian government officials and NGO and inter-faith leaders to “underscore the US’ shared values and strong alliance with the people of India”, the mission said. She is also scheduled to speak to a group of business and government leaders, and representatives of students and civil society on “advancing the US-India relations, according to the mission. Click here to read....

India, US hold consultations on bilateral trade issues
26 June 2018

Senior officials of India and the United States on Tuesday held consultations on issues related to bilateral trade and investments. "A meeting on trade issues between India and US was held today in New Delhi. The foreign nation was the second highest trading partner of India in 2017-18, registering the total trade of more than Rs 4,80,000 crore," the department of commerce said in a tweet.
The two-day meeting, starting from today, assumes a greater significance as India last week announced the decision to raise customs duties on as many as 29 products, including pulses as well as iron and steel products imported from the US as a retaliatory action against the tariff hikes by Washington. Click here to read....

COMCASA: Why US, India can’t connect
27 June 2018

A US military negotiating team was in Delhi last week to respond to Indian objections and formulate a mutually acceptable text for the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, COMCASA. COMCASA is a military agreement meant to provide a legal framework for the transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India that would facilitate “interoperability” between their forces — and potentially with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secured data links. The general agreement signed by the US is called the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) but the name was changed to COMCASA to reflect its India-specific nature.
It is part of a set of three military agreements that the US considers “foundational” for a functional military relationship. In August 2016, India had signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), which allows the military of each country to replenish from the other’s bases. Negotiations on the third agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA), have not yet begun. Click here to read....

Russia welcomes Erdogan’s re-election

26 June 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin was among the first world leaders to congratulate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party following their electoral victory. On June 25, the day after the vote, Putin sent a telegram congratulating Erdogan on his re-election as the president of the Turkish Republic and the victory of the Justice and Development Party in the parliamentary election. Later that day he called his Turkish counterpart to wish him success in “further state administration.”

“The presidents confirmed their mutual interest in expanding partnership between the two countries and noted as priorities joint strategic energy projects, including the construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant and the TurkStream pipeline. President Putin and President Erdogan agreed to maintain close cooperation in the Syrian conflict resolution,” said the Kremlin statement. Click here to read....

Russia’s advanced Protivnik-GE mobile 3D surveillance radar enters service in Volga area
27 June 2018

Russia’s fifth-generation Protivnik-GE mobile 3D surveillance radar has entered service with air defense regiments headquartered in the Volga area region of Samara, a spokesperson for Russia’s Central Military District told TASS on Tuesday. "A fifth-generation multipurpose mobile radar, Protivnik-GE, has entered service with air defense units in the Samara region. This radar station is the first of its kind in the Volga area," the source said.

The Protivnik-GE radar is a highly mobile, jamming-proof decimetric surveillance radar with a track data processing capability. Featuring digital phased array and digital space-time signal processing, the radar is designed to automatically or semi-automatically detect, position, and track strategic and tactical aircraft, cruise missiles, ballistic targets and small-size low-speed aerial vehicles. It can also classify targets, conduct friend-or-foe identification, locate active jammers, as well as to generate radar data for direction of fighter aircraft and designation data for surface-to-air missile systems when operating as part of automated Air Defence and Air Force command-and-control systems. Click here to read....

Russia leads world in trade restrictions against EU
28 June 2018

Russia has imposed more trade barriers against the European Union than any other country in the world, according to the bloc’s annual report.
The EU remains Russia’s largest trading partner despite economic sanctions and retaliatory measures against Russia after its annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. Russia overtook Switzerland last year as the third main source of imports for the European bloc. Click here to read....

Landmark Putin-Trump summit unlikely to halt arms race
29 June 2018

The upcoming meeting in Helsinki between Russian and US Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump in mid-July is unlikely to put the brakes on the arms race and reduce global military tensions, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes on Friday, judging by the statements made by US officials preparing for the summit.

After his meeting with Putin earlier this week, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said Washington would not give up its plans on deploying its missile defense system in Europe and would even boost spending on it. Washington's position on Syria also remains very rigid. Although Trump’s adviser said a military standoff between the US and Russia in Syria is unlikely, Washington would not make any concessions, the paper says. The US continues accusing Russia of whipping up military tensions in Syria, especially in the southeast, where the Americans jointly with Russia and Jordan have established the so-called southern de-escalation zone. Click here to read....

Bulava missile accepted for service by the Russian Navy
29 June 2018

The D-30 missile system including R-30 Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile, has been accepted for service by the Russian Navy following successful tests, a source in the Russian military-industrial complex told TASS.
"The verification firing program, set by the military department, has been fully and successfully accomplished, the reliability of the Bulava has been proved, which removed all obstacles for the missile to be taken into service. The corresponding decision has been made, the necessary documents have been signed, “the source said Click here to read....

China-Africa Defense, Security Forum Opens in Beijing: Xinhua

26 June 2018

Representatives from 50 African countries and the African Union discussed China-Africa defense and security cooperation at a forum which opened in Beijing Tuesday. The China-Africa Defense and Security Forum, the first of its kind, was hosted by China's Ministry of National Defense.

Participants are scheduled to discuss topics including the security situation in Africa and Africa's independent capacity-building in security. They will also visit China's land, navy and air forces. Hu Changming, head of the international military cooperation office of the Central Military Commission, said the forum will help deepen China-Africa defense and security cooperation and elevate China-Africa military ties. Click here to read....

ECOWAS to Enhance Electricity Access in 19 West African Countries: all Africa
26 June 2018

Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is set to enhance sustainable electricity access through solar in 19 West African countries and the Sahel region to promote development in the region.

Stakeholders from the energy sector in the region, therefore, gathered in Accra on Tuesday at a regional workshop to develop modalities to implement the Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project (ROGEP). Click here to read....

Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed Ready to Open New Chapter in Eritrea Ties: Aljazeera
27 June 2018

Ethiopia's prime minister said his country was ready to open a new chapter in their relations with long-time foe Eritrea following a high-level meeting with a delegation from Asmara.

Abiy Ahmed received on Tuesday a delegation led by Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and President Isaias Afwerki's right-hand man, Yemane Gebreab. Click here to read....

Six dead in the attack against the G5 Sahel Force HQ in Mali: africanews
29 June 2018

Six people were killed Friday in an attack on G5 Sahel joint force headquarters in Sévaré, central Mali, which also injured many people, hospital and military sources said. “I see only six bodies, the others are injured,” said a hospital source, without further details. A military source confirmed a provisional death toll of six, suggesting the possibility of casualties.

The G5 is a task force of soldiers from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania created last year to root out jihadist violence in West Africa’s semi-arid Sahel region. Click here to read....

Al-Qaeda-linked support group claimed attack on Mali HQ of G5 Sahel Force: africanews
20 June 2018

A suicide bomber in a vehicle painted in UN colours attacked the Malian headquarters of an international anti-terror task force, the G5 Sahel, on Friday, killing two soldiers and a civilian, according to a security source and a local leader. The building’s entrance wall was destroyed, with the force of the blast throwing the vehicle inside it, according to witnesses and pictures of the scene.

The Al-Qaeda-linked Support Group for Islam and Muslims, the main jihadist alliance in Africa’s Sahel region, claimed the attack in a telephone call to the Mauritanian news agency Al-Akhbar. Click here to read....

AU Heads of State 31st Summit Opens with focus on corruption: CGTN
1 July 2018

The 31st AU Summit has officially kicked off with at least 30 heads of state present committing to strengthen development in ending the war on corruption in Africa, in line with its’ theme sustainable development to Africa.

While addressing the opening ceremony in Nouakchott, Mauritania, African Union (AU) Chair Moussa Faki noted that corruption thrives in the face of the continent and African nations must all come together to slay this dragon once and for all. Click here to read....

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