India cancels talks with Pakistan

The combo shows Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, left, and Pakistani Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2018
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India cancels talks with Pakistan

  • India’s Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson pointed to the killings of Indian security personnel by “Pakistan entities” in Jammu and Kashmir and the recent release of series of 20 postage stamps by Pakistan “glorifying terrorists”
  • Modi government under pressure from opposition to respond to killing of policemen by militants

DELHI: India called off high-level talks with Pakistan within 24 hours of their announcement. On Thursday New Delhi had accepted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer of talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries. India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistan counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi were to meet at the United Nation in New York next week. However, the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi said on Friday that since the announcement, two “deeply disturbing” developments had taken place that led India to call off the meeting.
Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, pointed to the killings of Indian security personnel by “Pakistan entities” in Jammu and Kashmir and the recent release of series of 20 postage stamps by Pakistan “glorifying terrorists.” 
He said: “It’s obvious that behind Pakistan’s proposal for talks to make a fresh beginning the evil agenda of Pakistan stands exposed and true face of the new Prime Minister of Pakistan has been revealed to world in his first few months in the office.”
Doubts began to be raised yesterday about the talks when the brutal killing of a Border Security Force (BSF) came to light at the international border.
Modi’s government further came under pressure after the opposition Congress party questioned its Pakistan policy.
“On September 19, 2018, USA clearly stated that Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba are main contributors to terror, and are linked to Al-Qaeda,” said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi. “The government has betrayed each and every part of Jammu and Kashmir. The mutilations are an unspeakable horror,” he added.


Trump picks ambassador to Canada for UN post

U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft takes part in a meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Trudeau's office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, November 3, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 23 February 2019
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Trump picks ambassador to Canada for UN post

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump announced Friday that he has selected Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to Canada, as his nominee to serve as the next US ambassador to the United Nations.
Trump said in a pair of tweets that Craft “has done an outstanding job representing our Nation” and he has “no doubt that, under her leadership, our Country will be represented at the highest level.”
Two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters had told The Associated Press that Trump had been advised that Craft’s confirmation would be the smoothest of the three candidates he had been considering to fill the job last held by Nikki Haley.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, had backed Craft for the post, and she also has the support of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, the people said. Trump’s first pick to replace Haley, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, withdrew over the weekend.
Craft, a Kentucky native, was a member of the US delegation to the UN General Assembly under President George W. Bush’s administration. She is also friends with McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and thanked Chao for her “longtime friendship and support” at her swearing-in as ambassador.
As US ambassador to Canada, she played a role in facilitating the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Trump had also considered US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and former US Senate candidate John James of Michigan for the post.
Nauert’s withdrawal from consideration came amid a push within the administration to fill the position, given a pressing array of foreign policy concerns in which the United Nations, particularly the UN Security Council, is likely to play a significant role. From Afghanistan to Venezuela, the administration has pressing concerns that involve the world body, and officials said there had been impatience with the delays on Nauert’s formal nomination.
Trump said Dec. 7 that he would pick the former Fox News anchor and State Department spokeswoman for the UN job, but her nomination was never formalized. Notwithstanding other concerns that may have arisen during her confirmation, Nauert’s nomination had languished in part due to the 35-day government shutdown that began Dec. 22 and interrupted key parts of the vetting process. Nauert cited family considerations in withdrawing from the post.
With Nauert out of the running, officials said Pompeo had been keen on Craft to fill the position. Although Pompeo would like to see the job filled, the vacancy has created an opportunity for him and others to take on a more active role in UN diplomacy. On Thursday, for example, Pompeo was in New York to meet with UN chief Antonio Guterres.
Trump has demoted the UN position to sub-Cabinet rank, in a move backed by both Bolton and Pompeo, according to three other officials. Grenell had suggested he wasn’t interested in a non-Cabinet role. The officials were not authorized to discuss internal personnel deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Haley had been a member of the Cabinet and had clashed repeatedly with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others during the administration’s first 14 months. Bolton was not a Cabinet member when he served as UN ambassador in President George W. Bush’s administration, and neither he nor Pompeo is eager to see a potential challenge to their foreign policy leadership in White House situation room meetings, according to the officials.
Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, said Craft was appointed ambassador to Canada because of her financial contributions to the Trump campaign, but said that’s not unusual as past ambassadors have also contributed to presidents who have appointed them.
“I think Ottawa has regarded Craft as a light weight, partly because of her background and partly because the sense is that Trump, unlike his predecessors, doesn’t listen to his ambassadors or care what they think,” Wiseman said.
Craft is married to billionaire coal-mining executive Joe Craft, and they are major Republican donors.
Craft has been ambassador during a low point in relations. Last year Trump called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weak and dishonest, words that shocked Canadians.