Details of troop deployment in Saudi Arabia will be shared with Parliament, says Pakistani PM

In this file photo, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi reviews the honor guard in Islamabad, Pakistan Aug. 3, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 23 February 2018
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Details of troop deployment in Saudi Arabia will be shared with Parliament, says Pakistani PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has explained that an additional 1,000 troops will be deployed to Saudi Arabia to “train and advise” Saudi forces.
There are already over 1,600 Pakistani armed forces personnel in the Kingdom, and Abbasi explained to “Center Stage” talk show on Express News that such deployments have happened regularly over the past 40 years.
MPs had earlier questioned Defense Minister Khurram Dastagir as to why Parliament had not been informed of the decision to deploy the troops, with some — including Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani — threatening to “initiate contempt proceedings” against him and the prime minister.
Abbasi told “Center Stage” host Rehman Azhar that he would provide the House with any requested information. He dismissed the idea that Pakistan was intending to assist Saudi Arabia in an assault on Yemen.
“We shall provide whatever details the House asks for. The defense minister gave his statement in the Senate, (but) if the House deems it necessary, I can go and give a statement. There is nothing new (about the deployments), but an impression was created that thousands of troops are being sent to Saudi Arabia with plans to attack Yemen,” he said, adding that Pakistani troops would likely constantly be in Saudi Arabia “sometimes in large numbers and sometimes in small numbers, sometimes trainers of one kind and sometimes trainers of some other kind.”
Discussing the Supreme Court’s ruling that Nawaz Sharif had to step down as head of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party on Wednesday, just ahead of the Senate elections on March 3, Abbas stressed his party respected “all the judges.”
However, he added: “The courts previously gave judgments that caused billions of dollars of exposure to the Government of Pakistan, which means that today, we owe billions of dollars because of these decisions and we do not have the right to appeal against them.”
Abbas also suggested that dialogue on such issues should be conducted “among the institutions” rather than through the media.


Despite summit, North Korea still a nuclear threat, says Trump

US President Donald Trump. (REUTERS)
Updated 31 min 30 sec ago
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Despite summit, North Korea still a nuclear threat, says Trump

  • The US and South Korea agreed to indefinitely suspend two exchange program training exercises, to support diplomatic negotiations with North Korea
  • At their summit, Kim and Trump signed a pledge “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Friday cited “an unusual and extraordinary threat” from North Korea’s nuclear arsenal to extend sanctions on Kim Jong Un’s regime, despite touting the success of a historic summit earlier this month.
After flying back to Washington last week, boasting of success, the US leader tweeted: “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
“Sleep well tonight!” he added on June 13, a day after the Singapore meeting.
But a presidential declaration sent to Congress on Friday struck a different note as it explained why the administration would keep in place tough economic restrictions first imposed by former president George W. Bush.
“The existence and risk of proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean Peninsula and the actions and policies of the Government of North Korea continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” it said.
“I am continuing for one year the national emergency with respect to North Korea,” added the statement.
Though the notice is considered pro forma, the disparity in tone reflects the work that US officials concede remains to be done as negotiators thrash out the details of Pyongyang’s disarmament.
At their summit, Kim and Trump signed a pledge “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a stock phrase favored by Pyongyang that stopped short of longstanding US demands for North Korea to give up its atomic arsenal in a “verifiable” and “irreversible” way.
Critics have pointed to the vague wording of the non-binding summit document and raised fears that the summit could weaken the international coalition against the North’s nuclear program.

Also Friday, the US and South Korea agreed to indefinitely suspend two exchange program training exercises, to support diplomatic negotiations with North Korea, the Pentagon said.
The move came after the two countries had previously announced the shelving of the large-scale Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises slated for August, making good on a pledge by Trump during his summit.
The decision followed a meeting between Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford, and National Security Adviser John Bolton.
“To support implementing the outcomes of the Singapore Summit, and in coordination with our Republic of Korea ally, Secretary Mattis has indefinitely suspended select exercises,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement.
Two Korean Marine Exchange Program training exercises scheduled to occur in the next three months have now been shelved.
US and South Korean forces have been training together for years, and routinely rehearse everything from beach landings to an invasion from the North, or even “decapitation” strikes targeting the North Korean regime.
Pyongyang typically reacts furiously. Following drills last year, the North fired ballistic missiles over Japan, triggering global alarm.