NATO chief to discuss anti-Daesh strategy in Washington talks

French Navy Frigate Montcalm participates in NATO’s Dynamic Manta 2017 anti-submarine warfare exercise in the Mediterranean sea, Italy, recently. (Reuters)
Updated 20 March 2017
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NATO chief to discuss anti-Daesh strategy in Washington talks

BRUSSELS: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg headed for Washington on Monday for the first time since US President Donald Trump was elected, holding talks with senior officials about defeating Daesh, his office said.
Stoltenberg will meet US Defense Secretary James Mattis on Tuesday, then meet foreign ministers from the US-led coalition working to defeat Daesh, his office said in a statement.
He will also hold a series of unspecified meetings during the visit beginning later Monday and ending Tuesday, it added.
During a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels last month, US Vice President Mike Pence said Trump expects NATO allies to make real progress by the end of this year toward meeting the increased defense spending target agreed by the alliance.
The transatlantic alliance set a goal in 2014 of raising defense spending to two percent of GDP over a decade.
So far, of the 28 NATO members, only the US, Britain, Poland, Greece and Estonia have met the two percent target.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel has underlined Germany’s rejection of a claim by President Trump that it owes NATO large sums for underspending on defense. She has pointed to a history of decades of post-World War II military restraint.
Trump tweeted on Saturday that “Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO.” Germany is short of a NATO target of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense, with the figure currently at 1.23 percent.
Merkel said on Monday that defense spending is “not just about contributions to NATO, but also about European contributions in Africa for example, UN missions.” She added: “Not a single NATO member state pays its entire defense budget into NATO.”
Merkel said that defense spending “cannot be uncoupled from historical developments from one day to the next.”


Indian court finds spiritual guru guilty of raping devotee

Updated 13 min 58 sec ago
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Indian court finds spiritual guru guilty of raping devotee

NEW DELHI: An Indian court on Wednesday found a high-profile spiritual guru Asaram Bapu guilty of raping a teenage female devotee in 2013 and he faces a maximum of life in prison.
The verdict against 77-year-old Bapu was read out inside a prison in the city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan state because of fears that his followers may resort to violence.
The case is the latest in a series of high-profile rape cases in India that have fueled public protests and raised questions about how police handle the cases and treat the victims.
In August last year, another popular and flamboyant Indian spiritual guru, Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of raping two female followers.
Judge Madhusudhan Sharma will announce the prison term for Bapu later after hearing arguments from the prosecution and Bapu’s attorneys.
Bapu has denied the rape and can appeal his conviction in a higher court.
The girl in her complaint to the police in 2013 accused Bapu of raping her when she visited his retreat in Jodhpur with her mother. The girl’s family said they had been followers of Bapu for more than a decade.
Bapu has been in prison since his arrest in the case in 2013.
On Wednesday, security was tight around the prison complex and in states where the self-styled guru has a considerable following.
Religious sects also wield considerable political clout in India with several politicians as followers. Asaram is also on trial along with his son Narayan Sai in a separate rape case where two sisters have accused the two men of sexual assault.