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Perpetrators of terrorist acts should be brought to justice: UN spokesperson

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Mumbai

United Nations | Any person who takes part in terrorist attacks or any acts of violence should be brought to justice, the UN has said as India marked the 10th anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks carried out by terrorists belonging to Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.

About 166 people, including six Americans, were killed in the terror attack carried out by 10 LeT terrorists over a period of three days. Nine of the attackers were killed by the police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was captured and hanged after he was handed down death sentence by an Indian court.

“As a matter of principle, we always believe that those who are responsible for violence..random violence for acts of terrorism should be brought to justice,” Spokesperson for Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric said at his daily press briefing Monday.

Dujarric was responding to a question by PTI on the 10th anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks and the US State Department announcement to offer a five million dollar reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of any individual who was involved in planning or facilitating the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Spokesperson for President of the General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Monica Grayley also said that any person or persons who take part in terrorist attacks or any acts of violence “should be held accountable and they should be brought to justice.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the “barbarity” of the Mumbai terror attacks had “shocked” the entire world, adding that it is an affront to the families of the victims that, after ten years, those who planned the Mumbai attack have still not been convicted for their involvement.

“We call upon all countries, particularly Pakistan, to uphold their UN Security Council obligations to implement sanctions against the terrorists responsible for this atrocity, including Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and its affiliates,” Pompeo said in his message.

He added that the US is committed to seeing that those responsible for this attack face justice. The Department of State Rewards for Justice (RFJ) Program is offering a new reward for up to USD 5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of any individual who was involved in planning or facilitating the 2008 Mumbai attack, he added.

India International

Indian diplomat walks out of SAARC meeting in Pakistan over minister’s presence

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India-Pakistan

Islamabad | An official of the Indian High Commission in Pakistan staged a walkout of a SAARC meeting over the presence of a minister from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) at the event, according to source here. Diplomat Shubham Singh, left the meeting to register India’s protest over the presence of PoK minister Chaudhary Muhammad Saeed at the SAARC Chambers of Commerce and Industry meeting on the SAARC Charter Day in Islamabad on Sunday.

India considers Kashmir as its integral part and does not recognise any minister for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).  In 2016, India had pulled out of the 19th SAARC summit that was to be held in Islamabad after the deadly terrorist attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri. The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to attend. No SAARC meeting has happened ever since.

India called off the foreign minister-level talks with Pakistan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in September after the brutal killing of policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and the release of a postage stamp by Pakistan that glorified Kashmiri militant commander Burhan Wani.

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Donald Trump’s potential next chief of staff pick leaving White House

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Donald Trump

Washington | The White House official widely touted as Donald Trump’s favourite to succeed his outgoing chief of staff John Kelly is instead leaving the administration at year’s end, he tweeted.

Nick Ayers, the 36-year-old chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, tweeted on Sunday that “I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause,” referring to Trump’s campaign.

“Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House.” Trump announced Saturday that Kelly, 68, would leave the administration – the latest key personnel move at a time of mounting pressure from the Russia election-meddling probe that comes amid increased focus on preparing for the 2020 elections.

Shortly after Ayers said he would not take on the role, Trump jumped online to tweet: “I am in the process of interviewing some really great people for the position of White House Chief of Staff.”

“Fake News has been saying with certainty it was Nick Ayers, a spectacular person who will always be with our #MAGA agenda,” he continued, adding that “I will be making a decision soon!” Ayers reportedly would not commit to signing on through 2020 to the president’s irritation.

And according to sources cited by The Washington Post, the youthful but politically savvy senior staffer was “skeptical” of taking the position because of the rocky tenures of Kelly and his predecessor Reince Priebus.

When Kelly was picked in July 2017 to replace Priebus, he inherited a White House plagued by political intrigue and internal disorder, and under a cloud because of the allegations of collusion with Russia.

Other potentials on Trump’s shortlist include Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Republican congressman Mark Meadows, a leader of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, according to the Post. The impending departure leaves Trump reliant on a reduced group of key advisers even as he prepares to deal in the new year with a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

The opposition party will have the power to launch investigations, issue subpoenas, and generally make his life more difficult.

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International News

‘I can’t breathe’ were Jamal Khashoggi’s final words: Reports

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Khashoggi

Washington | Jamal Khashoggi‘s final words were “I can’t breathe”, CNN has said, citing a source who has read the transcript of an audio tape of the final moments before the journalist’s murder. The source told the US network the transcript made clear the killing was premeditated, and suggests several phone calls were made to give briefings on the progress.

CNN said on Sunday Turkish officials believe those calls were made to top officials in Riyadh. Khashoggi, a Saudi contributor to The Washington Post, was killed shortly after entering the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2. The transcript of the gruesome recording includes descriptions of Khashoggi struggling against his murderers, CNN said, and references sounds of the dissident journalist’s body “being dismembered by a saw.”

The original transcript was prepared by Turkish intelligence services, and CNN said its source read a translation version and was briefed on the probe into the journalist’s death. Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Sunday meanwhile rejected demands to extradite suspects connected to the murder of Khashoggi as sought by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has repeatedly called on Saudi Arabia to hand over suspects in the killing. According to Turkey, a 15-member Saudi team was sent to Istanbul to kill Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia, however, holds that it was a “rogue” operation gone wrong — a claim undercut by the reported transcript.

For his part US President Donald Trump has refrained from blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, even though the CIA reportedly concluded that he ordered the assassination. The murder has damaged Riyadh’s international reputation and Western countries including the United States, France and Canada have placed sanctions on nearly 20 Saudi nationals.

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