Briefing :- 6/7/17

Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 6th of July, 2017 :-

1. Russia ‘could have’ interfered with 2016 US election, says US President Trump :-

US President Donald Trump admitted that Russia may have interfered in the 2016 US election of which he was proclaimed the winner, but said that other countries may also have been involved, AFP reports.

“I’ve said it very simply. I think it could very well have been Russia. I think it could well have been other countries. I won’t be specific. But I think a lot of people interfere,” Trump said while in Warsaw.

On January 10, 2017, Trump told reporters, “as far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” reports the New York Times, marking the first time he agreed with multiple US intelligence agencies which conclude that Russia interfered in the election to help him, Trump, win.

But then moments later Trump compared US intelligence agencies to Nazis and dodged questions about whether he or anyone on his team had contact with Russia during the election. “They said it totally never happened,” Trump said of Russia denying their involvement in the hack. “I respected the fact that he said that,” Trump said of Russia’s denial, adding, “it could have been others also”.

About the fact that there was an election breach, Trump has shown little outrage, then or since.

Another major NATO power Germany has since said they fear Russian interference in their election. Emmanuel Macron’s campaign team has also blamed Russia for a “massive hacking attack” days before the French election, that he eventually won.

Trump has launched an investigation into alleged voter fraud, in what he called without evidence a “rigged” election, in order to prove that Clinton, who won the popular vote by about 3 million votes, did not really win the popular vote.

Donald Trump lost the popular vote by more than any US president in American history.

President Trump’s commission has sought to obtain the personal data of voters, including the “name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting history back to 2006 of potentially every voter in the state”, reports the Washington Post.

So far 44 states have refused. Virginia’s judge issued a blunt denial, along with the reasoning behind it:

“I have no intention of honouring this request. Virginia conducts fair, honest, and democratic elections, and there is no evidence of significant voter fraud in Virginia.

“This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November. At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worse is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression.”

2. Indian, Israeli firms sign pacts worth $5 billion at Indian PM Modi’s meet with CEOs in Tel Aviv :-

Indian and Israeli companies signed MoUs worth over five billion dollars and agreed to a five-year trade target of USD 20 billion during PM Modi’s meeting with CEOs in Tel Aviv on Thursday.
PM Modi, who shared photographs from the event on Twitter, said he “interacted with Indian and Israeli CEOs to discuss the immense opportunities in India and the wide scope of India-Israel economic cooperation.” The Indian PM added that the key focus areas of his Israel visit were start ups and technology.

As many as 12 strategic pacts envisaging investments worth USD 4.3 billion were signed between Indian and Israeli companies, India’s industrial body, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) said.

“The forum identified and stressed on the need to realise opportunities in focus sectors identified during the first meeting of the CEOs forum. There was a consensus that the current trade volume amounting to just over USD 4 billion has the potential to reach USD 20 billion in the next five years. To realise this goal, the forum underlined key recommendations to two heads of states,” FICCI said in its statement.

CEOs from both sides also identified focus sectors for mutual collaboration in the spheres of agriculture, irrigation, water treatment, urban infrastructure, transport (including high speed railways and metro), pharma, life-sciences, digital technologies, Information Technology, start-ups and innovation and defence and homeland security.

Pankaj R Patel, Deputy President of India-Israel CEOs forum confirmed that 12 MoUS worth over 4.5 billion dollars have been signed between Israeli and Indian companies.

“We expect a lot of business development between the two sides with an aim of reaching a business of 20 million dollars in the next five years,” he added.

Shraga Brosh, President India-Israel CEOs forum said ahead of the meet, “The goal of the CEO forum is to increase the cooperation between the Indian and the Israeli businesses. We have identified a few sectors like agriculture, water treatment, healthcare, medical devices and others that we are sure we can reach a goal of 20 billion dollar.”

“We have created six working groups dealing with each sector separately and experts from both sides will be part of this group,” he added.

Prime Minister Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel.

Earlier in the day, the Indian PM and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu paid homage to Indian soldiers martyred during World War I at the Haifa Cemetery. Before his departure for Hamburg, Germany for the G20 summit, PM Modi also interacted with Indian students in Tel Aviv.

3. Qatar’s response to demands ‘negative’, boycott to continue: Saudi and allies :-

Four Arab states that have cut ties with Qatar said on Wednesday their diplomatic and economic boycott of the emirate would remain, adding that Qatar responded “negatively” to their list of demands.

The foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, meeting in Cairo, “regret the negative response from Qatar,” they said in a statement.

Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said Qatar’s response to the bloc’s conditions had “no substance” and “reflects a lack of understanding of the gravity of the situation”.

Earlier on Wednesday, Qatar had called for “dialogue” to resolve the Gulf diplomatic crisis.

“Qatar continues to call for dialogue,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told the Chatham House think tank in London, as the Arab states held talks in Egypt to discuss their next move.

“We welcome any serious efforts to resolve our differences with our neighbours,” he said, adding: “We don’t accept intervention in our own affairs”.

On June 22, the Saudi-led bloc presented a list of 13 demands and gave Doha 10 days to comply.

They extended the deadline by 48 hours on Monday.

The demands include the shutting down of Al Jazeera news network, reducing diplomatic ties to Iran,  ending support for the Muslim Brotherhood and shutting down a Turkish military base in the emirate, among others.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt suspended diplomatic relations and cut off land, sea and air travel to Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and destabilising the Gulf region.

Doha has strongly denied the claims.

4. US, South Korea conduct joint military drill in response to North Korea’s ICBM launch :-

The United States and South Korea on Wednesday conducted a joint military exercise “as a strong message of warning” to North Korea after it successfully launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The live-fire training was held at the order of South Korean President Moon Jae-In, Yonhap news agency said.

The missiles deployed in the drill feature “deep strike precision capability,” enabling the United States and South Korea “to engage the full array of time critical targets under all weather conditions,” the US military

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting today, AFP cited diplomats as saying.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the launch, warning that it “constitutes a dangerous escalation of the situation”.

US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, confirmed North Korea had conducted its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and called for global action against the regime.

“The United States strongly condemns North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world,” Tillerson said.

“As we, along with others, have made clear, we will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea,” he added.

North’s leader Kim Jong-Un said the missile test was a 4th of July gift to “American bastards”.

North Korea’s official news agency announced that the ICBM is capable of carrying a “large, heavy nuclear warhead” that can survive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

The North’s Academy of Defence Science, which developed the missile, said it reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometres and flew 933 kilometres, calling it the “final gate to rounding off the state nuclear force.”

Some experts said such a missile could reach Alaska or go even further toward the US mainland. But there was widespread skepticism of the North’s claim of the missile being able to “strike any place in the world.”

5. Will use military force on North Korea if we must: US :-

The United States on Wednesday said it is prepared to use the full range of its capabilities against North Korea if the need arises.

At the emergency UN Security Council meeting, US Ambassador Nikki Haley, pushing for tougher sanctions on North Korea, said Tuesday’s ICBM test had made “the world a more dangerous place”.

But Haley also made clear Washington would exhaust diplomatic avenues before it resorts to confrontation, promising to submit a new draft sanctions resolution within days.

“Make no mistake, North Korea’s launch of an ICBM is a clear and sharp military escalation,” Haley warned.

Hailey added that Pyongyang’s actions were “quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution”.

In response to North Korea’s ICBM launch, the US and South Korea conducted a joint military exercise on Wednesday.

“The United States is prepared to use the full range of our capabilities to defend ourselves and our allies,” Haley said.

“One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. We will use them if we must. But we prefer not to have to go in that direction.”

Hailey said the US’ focus was on how to push through tighter sanctions.

But everyone didn’t agree to the US call for sanctions with Russia warning that “sanctions will not resolve the issue”.

Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi once more pushed Beijing’s alternative proposal for talks based on a freeze of North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, in exchange for a halt to US-South Korean military drills.

“China has always been firmly opposed to chaos and conflict on the Korean peninsula. Military means must not be an option in this regard,” Liu said.

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