Top US general says ‘not giving up’ on Pakistan ties

In this Nov. 29, 2016 file photo released by Inter Services Public Relations, Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa who says he received a phone call from the head of US Central Command, Gen. Joseph Vogel, offering assurances that the United States would not unilaterally hit targets inside Pakistan. (Inter Services Public Relations via AP)
Updated 15 January 2018

Top US general says ‘not giving up’ on Pakistan ties

BRUSSELS: The top US military officer, Marine General Joseph Dunford, said on Monday he was committed to the US-Pakistan relationship, which has been strained in recent weeks as Washington piles pressure on Islamabad to crack down on militants.
“Do we agree on everything right now? No we don’t. But are we committed to a more effective relationship with Pakistan? We are. And I’m not giving up on that,” Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a small group of reporters during a trip to Brussels.
The United States has long blamed militant safe-havens in Pakistan for prolonging the war in neighboring Afghanistan, giving insurgents, including from the Haqqani network, a place to plot attacks and rebuild their forces.
Still, Pakistan is a crucial gateway for US military supplies destined for US and other troops fighting a 16-year-old war in Afghanistan.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump’s administration, frustrated over Pakistan’s failure to do more to combat militants, announced a plan to suspend up to roughly $2 billion in US security assistance.
That triggered outcry in Islamabad. Pakistan’s military said its army chief told US General Joseph Votel, head of the US military’s Central Command, that Pakistan “felt betrayed” by US criticism.
In a possible sign of efforts to improve relations, Alice Wells, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, met with Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua in Pakistan on Monday.
A statement from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said Wells “acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in eradicating terrorism” and “underlined the need for strengthening intelligence cooperation” to fight terrorism.
Dunford was careful in his public remarks but made clear that Votel would continue to lead the military-to-military discussions. Dunford said he and US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis would also contribute to that dialogue.
“I’m not going to talk about the relationship in public because I’m committed to try to improve the relationship and I do believe that the military-to-military dialogue led by General Votel, with occasional reinforcement from Secretary Mattis, myself and others, is the right approach,” Dunford said.


UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

Updated 47 min 25 sec ago

UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

  • Johnson said he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what
  • “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the Mail

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has compared himself to The Incredible Hulk in a newspaper interview emphasizing his determination to take Britain out of the European Union next month.
Johnson faces considerable legal and political hurdles but told the Mail on Sunday he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the widely read tabloid, invoking the comic book and film character known for formidable but destructive strength.
Johnson remains defiant even though Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek an extension to the deadline if no deal is reached by mid-October. He has also lost his working majority in Parliament and been told by Scotland’s highest court that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal.
Johnson portrays himself as more convinced than ever that Britain will break with the EU at the end of October.
He will have a lunchtime meeting in Luxembourg on Monday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to try to modify the Irish backstop that has been a main sticking point, but EU leaders did not seem impressed by Johnson’s invocation of the Hulk.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the comments showed a lack of maturity.
“Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile,” he tweeted. “Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed?“
Juncker, who has downplayed hopes of a breakthrough at Monday’s meeting, also expressed alarm that many people in Britain seem to feel a British departure without a deal with the EU would be a positive thing.
“It would be terrible chaos,” he said in an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio. “And we would need years to put things back in order. Anyone who loves his country, and I assume that there are still patriots in Britain, would not want to wish his country such a fate.”
The Oct. 31 deadline looms large because Johnson has not said he will seek another extension if no deal is reached, despite legislation passed by Parliament shortly before it was suspended.
Britain’s Supreme Court this week will rule on whether Johnson overstepped the law when he shut the legislature for a crucial five-week period.
The Liberal Democrats, who have been enjoying a revival, voted overwhelmingly at their party conference Sunday to end the Brexit process entirely if they come to power.
Party leader Jo Swinson said Article 50, which triggered Brexit, would be revoked if she becomes prime minister.
The party gained an important member Saturday with the defection of Sam Gyimah, a former Conservative minister. He is the sixth legislator to switch allegiance and join the Liberal Democrats this year.
Johnson also continues to take flak from former Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the 2016 referendum on Brexit.
Cameron said in an interview published Sunday that Johnson didn’t really believe in Brexit when he broke ranks and led the campaign to take Britain out of the EU. Cameron had been expecting Johnson’s help during the hard-fought campaign.
Cameron says of Johnson: “The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”
Cameron is giving interviews to gain publicity for his upcoming memoirs.