Russia, Bangladesh seal $1 bln arms deal

Updated 16 January 2013
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Russia, Bangladesh seal $1 bln arms deal

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin met the prime minister of Bangladesh for talks that included the signature of a $1 billion arms contract, the Asian nation's biggest since its 1971 independence.
Bangladesh has recently been expanding its defense capabilities, building a new air base close to neighboring Myanmar and adding frigates to its navy.
"Our countries intend to expand their military and technological cooperation," news agencies quoted Putin as telling Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during a Kremlin ceremony.
"Russia will extend Bangladesh a credit of $1 billion, which will be spent on the purchase on Russian weapons and military technology," the Russian leader said.
The arms purchase agreement included orders for armored vehicles and infantry weapons, air defence systems and Mi-17 transport helicopters, a source close to Russia's state arms export agency told the Vedomosti business daily.
The source said the purchase did not include any tank orders because Bangladesh had earlier obtained those from China.
Bangladesh also opted out of its initial plans to purchase eight advanced Mig-29 fighter jets because of their $500 million price tag.
A separate part of the agreements saw Russia assign $500 million to finance the construction of Bangladesh's first nuclear power plant, to be built at a site called Rooppur.
The two planned Rooppur reactors are expected to cost $4 billion, with Russia also agreeing to continue financing construction after the first phase of the project is complete, news reports said.
Bangladesh's military spending spree follows the recent discovery of offshore natural gas deposits, which Russian officials believe means it will have no problems repaying the credit.
A.N.M Muniruzzaman, an analyst at the Dhaka-based Institute of Peace and Security Studies, told AFP it was the biggest defense deal ever to be signed by Bangladesh which gained independence in 1971.


Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

Updated 22 April 2018
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Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

  • The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban.
  • The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims.

WASHINGTON: The first big showdown at the US Supreme Court over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies is set for Wednesday when the justices hear a challenge to the lawfulness of his travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.
The case represents a test of the limits of presidential power. Trump’s policy, announced in September, blocks entry into the US of most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Chad previously was on the list but Trump lifted those restrictions on April 10.
The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban or any other major Trump immigration policy, including his move to rescind protections for young immigrants sometimes called Dreamers brought into the US illegally as children. It has previously acted on Trump requests to undo lower court orders blocking those two policies, siding with him on the travel ban and opposing him on the Dreamers. Trump’s immigration policies — also including actions taken against states and cities that protect illegal immigrants, intensified deportation efforts and limits on legal immigration — have been among his most contentious. 
The conservative-majority Supreme Court is due to hear arguments on Wednesday on the third version of a travel ban policy Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January 2017, and issue a ruling by the end of June. 
The lead challenger is the state of Hawaii, which argues the ban violates federal immigration law and the US Constitution’s prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.
“Right now, the travel ban is keeping families apart. It is degrading our values by subjecting a specific set of people to be denigrated and marginalized,” Hawaii Lt. Governor Doug Chin said in an interview.
The Supreme Court on Dec. 4 signaled it may lean toward backing Trump when it granted the administration’s request to let the ban go into full effect while legal challenges played out.
In another immigration-related case, the justices on April 17 invalidated a provision in a US law requiring deportation of immigrants convicted of certain crimes of violence. Trump’s administration and the prior Obama administration had defended the provision.
'Politically correct'
Trump has said the travel ban is needed to protect the US from terrorism by militants. Just before the latest ban was announced, Trump wrote on Twitter that the restrictions “should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly that would not be politically correct!“
The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims, pressing that point in lower courts with some success by citing statements he made as a candidate and as president. As a candidate, Trump promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
The Justice Department argues Trump’s statements as a candidate carry no weight because he was not yet president. The policy’s challengers also point to views he has expressed as president, including his retweets in November of anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British political figure.
In a court filing last week, US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing Trump in court, said those retweets “do not address the meaning” of the travel ban policy.
Francisco cited Trump statements complimentary toward Muslims and Islam, including in a May 2017 speech in Saudi Arabia.
In defending the ban, the administration has pointed to a waiver provision allowing people from targeted countries to seek entry if they meet certain criteria. The State Department said that as of last month 375 waivers to the travel ban had been granted since the policy went into effect on Dec 8.