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Donald Trump thanks Kim for taking ‘first bold step’ toward North Korea’s bright future

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Washington | US President Donald Trump today thanked Kim Jong-un for taking the “first bold step” towards a bright new future for his people and said the North Korean leader holds the opportunity to be remembered as one who ushered in a glorious new era of security and prosperity for his citizens.

Kim yesterday pledged to work toward the “complete denuclearisation” in return for security guarantees from the US as Trump wrapped up his historic summit with outcomes that could ease tensions and reshape the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific region.

“I want to thank Chairman Kim for taking the first bold step toward a bright new future for his people. Our unprecedented meeting the first between an American President and a leader of North Korea proves that real change is possible!” Trump said in a tweet aboard Air Force One on his way back to Washington DC.

In Singapore yesterday, Trump held an epoch-making summit with Kim, the first-ever between the leaders of the two countries. After the meeting, North Korea agreed to give up its nuclear weapons and achieve a denuclearised Korean peninsula.

“There is no limit to what NoKo (North Korea) can achieve when it gives up its nuclear weapons and embraces commerce & engagement with the world. Chairman Kim has before him the opportunity to be remembered as the leader who ushered in a glorious new era of security & prosperity for his citizens!” Trump said in another tweet.

Trump described his Singapore trip as a “truly amazing” visit.

“Great progress was made on the denuclearization of North Korea. Hostages are back home, will be getting the remains of our great heroes back to their families, no missiles shot, no research happening, sites closing…,” he said.

“Got along great with Kim Jong-un who wants to see wonderful things for his country. As I said earlier today: Anyone can make war, but only the most courageous can make peace!” Trump said in another tweet to his more than 52.7 million followers.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed for Seoul and then to Beijing to brief S Korean and Chinese counterparts on the just concluded summit meeting between Trump and Kim. Soon after the Singapore meeting concluded, he called his counterparts in South Korea and Japan to provide a brief readout of the talks.

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Three-fourths of H1B visa holders in 2018 are Indians: US report

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Washington | Nearly three out of every four H-1B visa holders as of October 5 are Indian citizens, an official US report has said.

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), there were as many as 419,637 foreign nationals working in the US on H-1B visas as on October 5.

Of these, 309,986 are Indians, the USCIS said in its report ‘H-1B petitions by gender and country of birth fiscal year 2018’.

The report reveals a massive gender disparity – only one out of every four H-1B visa holders is female. Of the 419,637 H-1B visa holders, 106,096 (or 25.3 per cent) are females as against 311,997 (or 74.3 per cent males), it said.

Gender disparity is wider among Indians.

Of the 309,986 Indians on H-1B visas in the US this October, only 63,220 or 20.4 per cent are females while nearly 245,517 Indians on H-1B visas or 80 per cent (79.2 per cent to be precise) are males. As many as 1,249 Indians on H-1B visas have been characterised in the category of missing/others.

Indians, who account for 73.9 per cent of the total H-1B visa holders in the US, are followed by a distant Chinese with 47,172 on H-1B visas, accounting for 11.2 per cent of the total foreign nationals on this work visas.

But there is not much gender disparity among the Chinese on H-1B visas. According to the report, 21,342 or 45.2 per cent are females and 25,718 or 54.5 per cent are males.

After India and China, Canada and South Korea are the only two countries which account for a little over one per cent (1.1 per cent to be precise) each on H-1B visas.

After that all other countries constitute less than one per cent of the H-1B visas as of October 5.

The Philippines is the only country in top 10 H-1B visa holders wherein there are more females (1712 or 52.7 per cent) on H-1B visas than males (1519 or 46.7 per cent) on H-1B visas. As of October 5, as many as 3,250 professionals from the Philippines were on H-1B visas.

The H-1B gender report was released days after the Trump administration came out with its unified fall agenda, in which it said that it plans to make changes in the definition of specialty occupation for the definition of H-1B visas and re-redefining the relationship between employees and employers.

The proposed regulations, it said, is aimed at attracting the best and the brightest from across the world, prevent the abuse of H-1B visas which is consentient with the hire American agenda of the Trump administration.

The USCIS is also proposing to introduce a pre-registration system for foreign students in the US. Technically it is possible that if 85,000 such students succeed in getting H-1B visas, no overseas applicants could apply.

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White House says ‘saddened’ to hear Khashoggi’s death

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Washington | The White House said on Saturday it was “saddened” to hear the confirmation of Saudi Arabia’s dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death, but made no mention of action against the major US ally.

Saudi Arabia on Saturday said Khashoggi, 60, was killed inside its consulate in Istanbul after “discussions” at the consulate devolved into an altercation, without disclosing any details on the whereabouts of his body.

“We are saddened to hear confirmation of Mr Khashoggi’s death, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, fiancée and friends,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said after the Saudi Arabia issued a statement saying the journalist was killed in a fist fight with unidentified men inside the consulate.

President Donald Trump said he doesn’t think he was lied to by Saudi leaders over the death of Khashoggi.

“I think it’s a great first step,” Trump said on Saudi Arabia’s statement which he says he considers credible.

As many as 18 people have been taken into custody, according to Saudi officials. An investigation in this regard is on.

“The United States acknowledges the announcement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that its investigation into the fate of Jamal Khashoggi is progressing and that it has taken action against the suspects it has identified thus far,” Sanders said.

“We will continue to closely follow the international investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent and in accordance with all due process,” the White House Press Secretary said.

The Saudi statement confirming the death of Khashoggi in a fist fight did not appear to be credible for some US lawmakers, who demanded that Riyadh be held accountable for the incident.

Senator Lindsay Graham said it’s hard to find this latest “explanation” as credible.

“To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr Khashoggi is an understatement,” he said.

“The claim that Khashoggi was killed while brawling with 15 men dispatched from Saudi Arabia is not at all credible. If he was fighting with those sent to capture or kill him, it was for his life. The kingdom must be held to account. If (the Trump) administration doesn’t lead, Congress must,” Congressman Adam Schiff said.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Elliott Engel demanded a full account of what happened.

Congressman Jim Costa said that he is appalled by the reports that Saudi officials were involved in the death of Khashoggi.

“As we learn more details of Khashoggi’s disappearance, the US must send a clear message that we will not condone such reprehensible behaviour that goes against our American values.

“We must carefully examine both the facts surrounding Khashoggi’s disappearance as well as our relationship with Saudi Arabia, and I call on the President to take strong action in unwavering defence of our values. If the President will not stand up to Saudi Arabia, then we in Congress must stand strong for our nation, our values and journalists throughout the world,” Costa said. “Where is the body?” asked Congressman Eric Swalwell.

“Khashoggi’s family deserve immediate custody of the remains as they seek some measure of closure,” he added.

Khashoggi, who lived in the US as a legal permanent resident and worked for ‘The Washington Post’, was last seen on October 2 entering his country’s consulate in Istanbul.

In a statement, Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said: “Preliminary investigations… revealed that the discussions that took place between him and the persons who met him… at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul led to a brawl and a fist fight with the citizen, Jamal Khashoggi, which led to his death, may his soul rest in peace.

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Trump says missing Saudi journalist Khashoggi likely dead, warns of ‘very severe’ consequences

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Washington: US President Donald Trump has said it looks like Saudi Arabia’s missing dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead and warned of “very severe” consequences if the kingdom is responsible. Trump’s remarks came after he was briefed on the investigation by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Khashoggi, 60, who has not been seen since entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, is feared to have been killed inside the mission. The incident has resulted in a global outrage, more so in the US where he lived as a legal permanent resident and worked for ‘The Washington Post’. “It certainly looks that way to me. It’s very sad. Certainly, looks that way, Trump told reporters at Joint Air Force base Andrews before boarding Air Force One on his way to Montana for a campaign rally. This is the first time that the US has officially acknowledged about Khashoggi’s death, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish investigators have told local media and also to the US media that Khashoggi was brutally killed inside the consulate on October 2. “Well, it’ll have to be very severe. I mean, it’s bad, bad stuff. But we’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters when asked what would be the consequences of such an unfortunate incident. The President’s remarks came hours after he had a detailed meeting with Pompeo, who a night earlier arrived from his trip to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, where he talked to them about the missing journalist. “We are waiting for some investigations, and waiting for the results. We will have them very soon, and I think we’ll be making a statement, a very strong statement. But we’re waiting for the results of about three different investigations, and we should be able to get to the bottom fairly soon,” Trump said.

Trump so far has resisted the call for strong action against Saudi Arabia. During his meeting with Trump, Pompeo advised that Saudi Arabia is given some more time to complete investigation. “We’ve made clear to them that we take this matter with respect to Mr Khashoggi very seriously. They’ve made clear to me they, too, understand the serious nature of the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi,” Pompeo said. “They also assured me that they will conduct a complete, thorough investigation of all of the facts surrounding Mr Khashoggi, and that they will do so in a timely fashion, and that this report itself will be transparent for everyone to see, to ask questions about, and to inquire with respect to its thoroughness,” he said. “And I told President Trump this morning that we ought to give them a few more days to complete that, so that we, too, have a complete understanding of the facts surrounding that. At which point we can make decisions about how or if the United States should respond to the incident surrounding Mr Khashoggi,” said the top American diplomat.

Meanwhile, several lawmakers led by Congressman Jim McGovern introduced a legislation in the House to prohibit all US arms sales to Saudi Arabia until Secretary of State determines that the Saudi regime is not responsible for the disappearance or death of Khashoggi. If the Saudi government is found to be culpable in Khashoggi’s disappearance, the legislation prohibits all US military aid and sales to Saudi Arabia until Congress passes a resolution approving such sales. House Democratic Whip Steny H Hoyer said the reported death of Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi officials is appalling, as is the Trump Administration’s failure to hold the government of Saudi Arabia accountable for its actions. “Given the reports surrounding Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance, America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia ought to be carefully scrutinised, as should any possible sale of US weapons to Saudi Arabia,” he said. “If the President refuses to stand up to Saudi Arabia, it is incumbent upon Congress to take a stand to not only defend US values, but to send a strong signal of support to journalists and democracy activists everywhere,” Hoyer added.

In a related development, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Reporters Without Borders on Thursday urged Turkey to urgently ask UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to establish a UN investigation into the possible extrajudicial execution of Khashoggi.

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