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Trump invites Modi to G7 meet, discusses China standoff

NEW DELHI, June 2: A day after Donald Trump declared that he wanted to expand the G7 to include other important countries, the US president on Tuesday spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to invite him to the grouping’s next meeting to be held in the United States of America.

As the 40-minute conversation went on, Trump and Modi also discussed other issues such as the India-China border standoff and the reforms of the World Health Organisation, a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The two leaders are learnt to have shared their perceptions about the standoff that was triggered last month after China’s People’s Liberation Army activated the Line of Actual Control at Naku La area in north Sikkim and then at three points in Galwan and one point at Pangong Tso in Ladakh sector.

The convergence in the views of the two leaders was also reflected in their view on the reforms at the World Health Organisation. Both leaders have been votaries of reforms in the WHO but have chosen to take a vastly different approach.

Modi also expressed concern regarding the ongoing civil disturbances in the US, conveyed his best wishes for an early resolution of the situation, a PMO statement said.

“The phone conversation underscores that even in such an unsettled world and the changing dynamics in the post-Covid-19 pandemic, the relationship between India and the United States remains strong,” said a top government functionary.

“The Indo-US relationship is at a historic high,” a second official said.

“When was the last time that a prime minister of India spoke about civil disturbances in the US and expressed confidence that the US President would be able to handle it. Or when did the US President call the Indian Prime Minister during a serious border standoff. All this shows that both the leaders have taken the relationship to a very different level,” he said.

Donald Trump had first given an indication of his intent to invite India to the G-7 on Saturday when he described the grouping of the seven countries - some of them among the most advanced economies of the world - as “outdated” and advocated rechristening it as “G-10 or G-11” to include India, Australia, South Korea and Russia.

“We want Australia, we want India, we want South Korea. And what do we have? That’s a nice group of countries right there,” he had said, hinting that the heads of these nations could be invited for the next summit to be hosted by the US on a reschedule date in September or November.

Prime Minister Modi commended President Trump for his creative and far-sighted approach, acknowledging that such an expanded forum would be in keeping with the emerging realities of the post-Covid world. Modi said that India would be happy to work with the US and other countries to ensure the success of the proposed Summit.

The G-7 currently includes the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan. India is a member of the larger version of the body that is called the G-20. However, according to an aide of the US President, Trump’s plan seems to bring together important allies on a platform to deal with China, a country with which the United States’ relations have gone from bad to worse under the Trump administration.

China Using Tactical Situation On Ground To Its Advantage: Mike Pompeo

WASHINGTON, June 1: China is using a tactical situation on the ground to its advantage and it has been making threats, like the one that is happening on its border with India, for a long time, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

Pompeo, responding to a question on the aggressive Chinese behaviour on the India-China border and the South China Sea during an interview with Fox News, said that the threat posed by China is real.

"The Chinese Communist Party has been on this effort, on this march, for an awfully long time. They'll certainly use a tactical situation on the ground to their advantage. But each of the problems that you identified there are threats that they have been making for an awfully long time," he said.

Threats like the one that is happening on its border with India, they have been making for an awfully long time, the Secretary of State said.

With respect to the Chinese Communist Party's military advances, they are real, Pompeo said.

"General Secretary Xi (Jinping) is intent on building out his military capabilities. Our Department of Defence is doing everything it can to make sure it understands this threat," he said.

"I am confident that under President (Donald) Trump, our Department of Defence, our military, our national security establishment will keep us in a position where we can protect the American people, and indeed we can be good partners with our allies from India, from Australia, from South Korea, from Japan, from Brazil, from Europe, all around the world.

"We can be good partners alongside them and ensure that the next century remains a Western one modeled on the freedoms that we have here in the United States," he said.

Currently there are more than 60 bills in Congress, a majority of whom are bipartisan, against China, Pompeo said.

"This is something that I think people all across the political spectrum understand is a real risk. I don't know which of those will make it to the President's desk. Last week there was one that had to do with the Uighurs in China.

"I would encourage the members of Congress to continue to study this issue, to work to help this administration do the things it needs to do to prevent the Chinese Communist Party from its advances and to keep the American people safe. I know that they will. It's bipartisan," said the top American diplomat.

The Chinese Community Party of 2020 is a different one than it was 10 years ago, he said.

"This is a Chinese Communist Party that has come to view itself as intent upon the destruction of Western ideas, Western democracies, Western values. It puts Americans at risk.

"The list is long, whether it's stealing American intellectual property, destroying hundreds and millions of jobs here in the US, or their efforts to put at risk sea lanes in the South China Sea, denying commercial traffic the opportunity to move through, armed encampments in places that China has no right to be," Pompeo said.

The list of actions from the Chinese Communist Party is long, he said.

"For the first time we have a President of the United States who is prepared to push back against that and protect the American people, he said.

"They (the Chinese Communist Party) have become more aggressive in their efforts to do disinformation campaigns like we saw when the coronavirus was moving around the world, when they closed down their own province but allowed travel around the world, infecting hundreds of thousands of people. We saw the disinformation of that campaign trying to deflect attention," he alleged.

US House panel chair slams Chinese ‘aggression’ in border dispute with India

WASHINGTON, June 1: Eliot Engel, chairman of the powerful US House foreign relations committee, on Monday, slammed Chinese “aggression” for continuing tensions along the border with India, adding to growing US support for India in this dispute.

“I am extremely concerned by the ongoing Chinese aggression along the Line of Actual Control on the India-China border,” Engel, a Democrat, said in a statement. “China is demonstrating once again that it is willing to bully its neighbours rather than resolve conflicts according to international law.”

He added: “I strongly urge China to respect norms and use diplomacy and existing mechanisms to resolve its border questions with India.”

The chairman of the committee, which has oversight over the state department, is the latest US official to weigh in on India’s side in this border dispute with China.

Alice Wells, the outgoing head of the state department’s South and Central Asia department, had earlier said the border flare-ups were a “reminder that Chinese aggression is not always just rhetorical”.

“Whether it’s in the South China Sea or whether it’s along the border with India, we continue to see provocations and disturbing behaviour by China that raises questions about how China seeks to use its growing power,” she had added.

Also on the India-China dispute, President Donald Trump made an unsolicited offer of mediation which has been turned down by both India and China.

4,000 across US arrested as protests over George Floyd’s death continue

WASHINGTON D.C., June 1: Around 4,000 people across the United States have been arrested during the massive protests over the death of African-American man George Floyd last month.

The first arrests were made on May 26 and since then there have been around 4,000 arrests across the US so far, CNN reported.

While the anger continues to spread, the country is waiting for an address from President Donald Trump about the protests following the death of Floyd.

On Friday night (local time), Trump had briefly moved to an underground bunker as violence raged outside the White House. He again took shelter on Sunday night.

Meanwhile, several organisations like Google and Youtube have expressed support for racial equality.

Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai shared a picture of Google homepage which had a black ribbon at the bottom with a message that read, “We stand in support of racial equality and all those who search for it.”

Also, Youtube’s official Twitter handle’s icon has been changed to black from red.

Protests erupted in Minneapolis and other US cities last Tuesday after Floyd died following his arrest by four officers.

A viral video showed a police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinning the 46-year-old Floyd to the ground with his knee on his neck for nearly eight minutes. Floyd died at a local hospital shortly thereafter.

The four police officers were fired. Chauvin was also charged with murder and manslaughter, according to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.

 

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