Mexican president’s visit to White House postponed after testy Trump call

In this file photo taken on July 7, 2017 US President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. (AFP)
Updated 25 February 2018
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Mexican president’s visit to White House postponed after testy Trump call

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto postponed plans for the Mexican leader’s first visit to the White House, after a testy phone call involving Trump’s push for a border wall, a senior US official said on Saturday.
“The two leaders agreed now was not the immediate right time for a visit but that they would have their teams continue to talk and work together,” the official said.
Mexican officials had been talking about a summit between Trump and Pena Nieto in the next few weeks, without specifying when.
The Washington Post, which first reported the delay earlier on Saturday, said the two leaders spoke for about 50 minutes on Tuesday. But the discussion led to an impasse when Trump would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of the wall along the US-Mexico border.
A Mexican official said Trump lost his temper during the conversation, the newspaper reported. But it said US officials described Trump as frustrated and exasperated, because he believed it was unreasonable for Pena Nieto to want him to back off his campaign promise of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall.
Mexico’s foreign ministry said it had nothing to say about the call, other than a statement on Tuesday that said Trump had expressed condolences for a helicopter crash in Mexico and both sides had committed to advancing the bilateral agenda of trade, migration and security.
The wall, a key item for Trump’s political base of supporters, has become a sticking point in talks to keep alive a federal program that protects from deportation young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children.
In his latest budget proposal to Congress, Trump requested $23 billion for border security, most of it for building the wall.
Pena Nieto, who met Trump in July on the sidelines of a G20 summit, canceled an earlier meeting after Trump threatened to impose a tax on Mexican imports to pay for the wall. Trump also met the Mexican president once during the 2016 election campaign.


Thousands attend funeral of 'youngest' rebel killed in Kashmir

Updated 17 min 11 sec ago
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Thousands attend funeral of 'youngest' rebel killed in Kashmir

  • Mudasir Ahmad Parrey was killed alongside two other militants
  • A funeral procession Monday for the slain teenagers turned violent as mourners clashed with police

SRINAGAR, India: Thousands of mourners thronged the funeral on Monday of a 14-year-old rebel shot dead by Indian troops in Kashmir, the youngest-ever fighter killed in the decades-long insurgency, police said.
Mudasir Ahmad Parrey was killed alongside two other militants, one a 17-year-old, outside the city of Srinagar on Sunday.
Parrey, a ninth-grade student, went missing in August before emerging in a photograph on social media brandishing an automatic assault rifle and military knife.
The young militants' deaths sparked angry protests in the restive Himalayan region administered by India but also claimed in full by Pakistan.
A funeral procession Monday for the slain teenagers turned violent as mourners clashed with police, who used tear gas to drive them back.
Rebels fighting for Kashmiri independence or a merger with Pakistan have been warring with Indian troops in the disputed territory since the late 1980s.
The violence has left tens of thousands dead, mostly civilians.
But this year has been the deadliest in a decade in Kashmir, with rights monitors saying more than 500 people have been killed from armed conflict.
Many young men die fighting Indian troops but Parrey's death shocked even a region weary from years of bloodshed.
At 14, police said he was the youngest known fighter to have died in the insurgency.
He was killed in an 18-hour siege by Indian troops in Hajin, outside Srinagar. The home Parrey and the two other militants were holed up in was blasted to rubble.
"He had never failed in school exams," mourned his father, Rashid. The teenager also sometimes worked as a labourer to help out with family expenses, he added.
Many Kashmiris sympathise with the rebels fighting half a million Indian troops stationed in the heavily-militarised Muslim-majority region.
Civilians often pelt soldiers with stones while they are conducting search operations for militants, and funerals for slain fighters draw thousands of mourners and see shops closed.
New Delhi has long accused Islamabad of stoking anti-India sentiment in the region and funding militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba fighting in Kashmir.
Police believe the teenagers killed in Sunday's fighting joined the militant group around August. The third dead fighter is a Pakistani national, police say.
Pakistan says it only provides diplomatic support to the Kashmiri struggle for right to self-determination.