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China to send negotiator to US for trade talks this month

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Beijing | China will send a top negotiator to the United States in late August to resume trade talks, the commerce ministry said today, the first public meeting on the subject in weeks as the trade conflict intensifies.

Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen, the deputy representative on international trade negotiations, will meet with a senior US treasury official, David Malpass, at the invitation of the United States, the ministry said in a statement.

“The Chinese side reiterates that it opposes unilateralism and trade protectionism practices and does not accept any unilateral trade restriction measures,” the ministry said.

“China welcomes dialogue and communication on the basis of reciprocity, equality and integrity.” US Commerce Minister Wilbur Ross held talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Beijing in June.

But the discussions failed to reduce tensions as the United States slapped tariffs on 34 billion worth of Chinese goods in early July, triggering an immediate dollar-for-dollar retaliation from Beijing. The two countries plan to launch a new round of tit-for-tat tariffs on 16 billion worth of goods from each country on August 23.

Washington has also lined up an additional 200 billion in Chinese imports and US President Donald Trump said he could raise tariffs on those products to 25 percent instead of the previously touted 10 percent.

“It is hard to tell how the talks will go but it’s a positive signal that the two countries are looking for some compromise plan,” said Makoto Sengoku, market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute. “If they were determined to fight it out, they wouldn’t meet,” he told AFP.

Chinese officials say the tariffs have yet to make an impact on the country’s economy, with its exports even beating forecasts in July. But analysts warned that China could feel the full effect of tariffs in August.

Trump has boasted that trade wars are “easy to win” and warned he would hit virtually all Chinese imports if Beijing does not back down and take steps to reduce its 335 billion surplus with the US.

China does not import enough from the United States to match Washington dollar-for-dollar, but it has warned that it could fire back with other measures.

The yuan has declined in recent weeks, helping Chinese exporters as it makes their products cheaper, but it could fuel tensions with Trump, who has accused Beijing of manipulating its currency.

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All leads in global terror attacks ultimately leads to ‘single source’, says PM Modi

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Prime Minister Modi also expressed concern over the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s party contesting the July 25 elections in Pakistan.

 

Singapore| Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday told US Vice President Mike Pence that all the traces and all the leads in the global terror attacks ultimately leads to a “single source and single place of origin”, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

Modi, who held talks with Pence on a wide range of bilateral and global issues of mutual interests on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit here, also expressed concern over the participation of terrorists in the elections in Pakistan.

Briefing the reporters after the meeting, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said there was some discussion on the issue of terrorism. Pence referred to the upcoming 10th anniversary of the deadly Mumbai terror attack on November 26 and hailed cooperation between the two sides on counter-terrorism, Gokhale said.

Some 166 people were killed in the attack carried out by Pakistan-based 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught and hanged after handed down death sentence by an Indian court.

Modi thanked Pence for his words and reminded him that in one way or another all the traces and all the leads in the global terror attacks ultimately leads to a “single source and single place of origin”, without naming any country or organization.

He was apparently referring to Pakistan. A number of terrorist attacks across the world have been carried out by people of Pakistani origin. On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed in a mass shooting by a Pakistani origin married couple in San Bernardino, California.

A Pakistani-origin man was among three knife-wielding militants responsible for carrying out the brutal terror attack in London that killed seven people and injured 49 in June 2017.

Prime Minister Modi also expressed concern over the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s party contesting the July 25 elections in Pakistan.

“He (Modi) did point out that the mainstreaming of people involved in the Mumbai attacks in a political process which has taken place in the recent elections in Pakistan should be a matter of serious concern not just to the two countries – India and US – but to the international community,” Gokhale said.

Some of the dreaded Pakistani militant leaders, accused of spreading religious hatred and instigating sectarian violence, were among hundreds of candidates in the July 25 elections.

Hafiz Saeed-led banned Jamat-ud Dawah, a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group, had fielded its candidates from the platform of little known political entity Allah-u-Akbar Tehreek (AAT).

Another extremist outfit Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), which was banned in Pakistan till early this year, had also fielded dozens of candidates including those who are on Pakistan’s terrorism watch list.

“There was some good understanding of the areas of how we move forward in building cooperation on counter-terrorism and both countries recognized that this is a challenge which we have to fight together and to fight along with the rest of the international community,” Gokhale said.

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PM Modi meets premiers of Australia, Thailand in Singapore

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Modi also said he was confident that his visit to Singapore would impart fresh momentum to New Delhi’s growing partnership with ASEAN and East Asia Summit nations.

 

Singapore| Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday held bilateral meetings with the premiers of Australia and Thailand and discussed ways to further strengthen ties, including in areas of trade, defense, and security.

Prime Minister Modi began his two-day visit to Singapore Wednesday by delivering his keynote address at the prestigious Fintech Festival.

He became the first head of government to address the world’s largest event on financial technology.

The prime minister held bilateral meetings with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and Prime Minister of Thailand General Prayut Chan-o-cha on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit here.

“PM Narendra Modi met with PM of Australia Scott Morrison on the margins of East Asia Summit in Singapore. Both leaders had a good discussion on deepening ties in trade and investment, defense and security and other areas of bilateral cooperation,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.

“PM Narendra Modi met PM of Thailand General Prayut Chan-o-cha on sidelines of EAS Summit. Cooperation in trade and investment, defense and security and connectivity were discussed,” he said in another tweet.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Modi’s meeting with Morrison was “fruitful”.

Modi also held bilateral meetings with global leaders, including US Vice President Pence and Singapore premier Lee Hsien Loong.

During his visit to Singapore, Modi will attend the East Asia Summit, an ASEAN-India informal meet, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership summit.

Before leaving for Singapore, Modi said in New Delhi that his participation in the ASEAN-India and East Asia summits symbolized India’s “continued commitment” to strengthen its engagement with ASEAN members and with the wider Indo-Pacific region.


Modi also said he was confident that his visit to Singapore would impart fresh momentum to New Delhi’s growing partnership with ASEAN and East Asia Summit nations.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising ten Southeast Asian countries, which promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration among its members and other Asian states.

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Firefighters battle blazes on two fronts in California, 50 dead

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Paradise | Thousands of firefighters battled blazes in northern and southern California on Tuesday as body recovery teams searched the remains of houses and charred cars for victims of the deadliest wildfire in the history of the US state.

At least 50 deaths have been reported statewide so far from the late-season wildfires, and with hundreds of people unaccounted for, the toll is likely to rise. Most of the fatalities have been caused by the so-called “Camp Fire” in and around the town of Paradise, population 26,000, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains about 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Sacramento.

“Today an additional six human remains were recovered, which brings the total to 48. All six of those remains were located in Paradise, and they were located within homes,” Sheriff Kory Honea told a news conference. Another two deaths have been reported from the “Woolsey Fire,” north of Los Angeles.

Paradise, which is home to many retirees and has experienced an unusually dry fall, was virtually razed to the ground by the fast-moving “Camp Fire” blaze. Residents have recounted harrowing tales of fleeing the fires on foot with little more than the clothes on their backs. Others escaped by driving through tunnels of smoke and fire as flames licked at their vehicles on gridlocked roads dotted with abandoned cars.

Melissa Schuster, a member of the Paradise town council, told ABC News that the entire town “is a toxic wasteland right now.” “We have teams — you know, coroner teams — that have to go house to house and vehicle to vehicle,” Schuster told ABC.

The “Camp Fire,” which erupted on Thursday, has ravaged 130,000 acres (50,600 hectares) of land and is 35 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. Butte County, where the blaze is located, has seen less than an inch of rainfall in more than 30 weeks. The “Camp Fire” has destroyed more than 6,500 homes and 260 commercial properties. Battling the blaze are more than 5,600 fire personnel, some from as far away as Washington state and Texas.

The “Woolsey Fire,” which also began on Thursday, has razed 97,114 acres (39,300 hectares) and has been 40 percent contained. Cal Fire said more than 3,500 fire personnel were battling the “Woolsey Fire.” “We’re starting to get a handle on this fire,” said Captain Brian McGrath of the Ventura County Fire Department in an online briefing.

“I’m not feeling nearly the amount of wind and it’s a little bit cooler this morning.” The “Woolsey Fire” has destroyed 435 structures including the 100-year-old Paramount Ranch where HBO’s “Westworld” and other popular television shows and movies were filmed.

The fires have forced a quarter of a million people to flee their homes and seven evacuation shelters have been set up in Butte County, three of which are already full, according to the authorities.

On Monday, President Donald Trump — at the request of state authorities — declared that a “major disaster” exists in California. The declaration provides for federal assistance to aid state firefighting and recovery efforts in the counties of Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles.

Trump had earlier earned the ire of state officials with a claim that “gross mismanagement” of forestry in the state was responsible for the damage.

California Governor Jerry Brown said he expects the fires could be worse in the years to come. “Unfortunately, the best science is telling us that the dryness, warmth, drought, all those things, they’re going to intensify,” Brown said. The “Woolsey Fire” on the southern end of the state has devoured mansions and mobile homes alike in the coastal town of Malibu.

Over the weekend, the “Woolsey Fire” engulfed parts of Thousand Oaks, where a Marine Corps veteran shot dead 12 people in a country music bar on Wednesday. Among those who lost their homes was the pop star Miley Cyrus, who tweeted that her “house no longer stands but the memories shared with family & friends stand strong.”

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