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UK ‘must be prepared to fight wars without US’

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British Foreign Secretary Ben Wallace has warned that the UK must be prepared to fight wars without the US as its key ally, it was reported on Sunday.

“I worry if the US withdraws from its leadership around the world… That would be bad for the world and bad for us. We plan for the worst and hope for the best,” the BBC quoted Wallace as saying to the Sunday Times.

He said the defence review should be used to make the UK less dependent on the US in future conflicts.

“Over the last year we’ve had the US pull out from Syria, the statement by (President) Donald Trump on Iraq where he said NATO should take over and do more in the Middle East,” Wallace said.

“The assumptions of 2010 that we were always going to be part of a US coalition is really just not where we are going to be.

“We are very dependent on American air cover and American intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. We need to diversify our assets.”

Wallace’s comments come as the UK prepares to carry out the “deepest review” of Britain’s security, defence and foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.

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Nuke talks should be fruitful, says Iranian FM

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The negotiations to revive the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), should be “productive and fruitful”, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said.

Making the remarks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Amir Abdollahian said on Friday that currently, Iranian delegation does not have any negotiation on the JCPOA with the remaining parties to the deal, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We have held talks with different parties individually and bilaterally. When the review of the JCPOA dossier is completed in Iran, the materials and views will be exchanged at the negotiating table,” he was quoted as saying.

“We are examining approaches to the issue of returning to negotiations, and we will return to the negotiating table at the earliest opportunity,” the Minister added.

Amir Abdollahian’s remarks on Friday came just two days after he said that the new government of President Ebrahim Raisi will resume the nuclear talks, without giving a scheduled date.

The JCPOA Joint Commission, attended by the US delegation indirectly, began in-person meetings on April 6 in Vienna to continue previous discussions over a possible return of the US to the nuclear deal and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement.

After six rounds of talks which ended on June 20, the parties said serious differences remain between Iran and the US for restoration of the deal.

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Quad leaders urge N.Korea to engage in dialogue

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The leaders of the Quad nations — US, Australia, Japan and India — have called on North Korea to engage in dialogue and abide by the UN Security Council resolutions that prohibit its ballistic missile tests.

The call came on Friday at the end of the first in-person summit of the four countries in Washington, reports Yonhap News Agency.

“We reaffirm our commitment to the complete denuclearisation of North Korea in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions, and also confirm the necessity of immediate resolution of the issue of Japanese abductees,” the leaders said in a joint statement.

“We urge North Korea to abide by its UN obligations, refrain from provocations. We also call on North Korea to engage in substantive dialogue,” they added.

US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga held their first-ever Quad summit virtually in March and reaffirmed their “commitment to the complete denuclearisation of North Korea in accordance with UN Security council resolutions”.

Their latest call for dialogue comes after North Korea test-fired a new short-range ballistic missile earlier this month in violation of the resolutions.

Pyongyang has maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range ballistic missile tests since late 2017.

The Biden administration has made several overtures for dialogue with Pyongyang since taking office in January, but the North remains unresponsive.

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India responds to Imran: Pak a ‘supporter of terrorists, suppressor of minorities’

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 India has denounced Pakistan as a patron of terrorism and a suppressor of minorities in reply to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s tirade against the country.

“This is the country which is an arsonist disguising itself as a firefighter,” Sneha Dubey, a First Secretary in India’s UN Mission, said on Friday.

“Pakistan nurtures terrorists in their backyard in the hope that they will only harm their neighbours. Our region, in fact, the entire world has suffered because of their policies.

“Today, the minorities in Pakistan, the Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, live in constant fear and state-sponsored suppression of their rights. This is a regime where anti-Semitism is normalised by its leadership and even justified,” she said.

Responding to Khan’s claims about treatment of minorities in India, Dubey said: “Pluralism is a concept which is very difficult to understand for Pakistan which constitutionally prohibits its minorities from aspiring for high offices of the State. The least they could do is introspect before exposing themselves to ridicule on the world stage.

“Unlike Pakistan, India is a pluralistic democracy with a substantial population of minorities who have gone on to hold highest offices in the country including as President, Prime Minister, Chief Justices and Chiefs of Army staff. India is also a country with a free media and an independent judiciary that keeps a watch and protects our Constitution.”

As for Khan’s allegations of “war crimes” by India, Dubey recalled the genocide perpetrated in Bangladesh in 1971 during and before the War of Independence in which more than 300,000 people were killed by Pakistan and hundreds of thousand women raped.

Pakistan “still holds the despicable record in our region of having executed a religious and cultural genocide against the people of what is now Bangladesh. As we mark the 50th anniversary this year of that horrid event in history, there is not even an acknowledgement, much less accountability”, she said.

Khan in his speech said that after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, “terrorism has been associated with Islam by some quarters” and “increased the tendency of right-wing, xenophobic and violent nationalists, extremists and terrorist groups to target Muslims”.

He then went on to link this to the BJP and the RSS.

Dubey said: “We marked the solemn occasion of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks a few days back. The world has not forgotten that the mastermind behind that dastardly event, Osama Bin Laden, got shelter in Pakistan. Even today, Pakistan leadership glorify him as a ‘martyr’.

“Regrettably, even today we heard the leader of Pakistan trying to justify acts of terror. Such defence of terrorism is unacceptable in the modern world.”

Pakistan has made an annual ritual of using up most it time at the high-level General Assembly session to attack India, which it also does at all meetings, regardless of the topic.

Dubey said: “This is not the first time the leader of Pakistan has misused platforms provided by the UN to propagate false and malicious propaganda against my country, and seeking in vain to divert the world’s attention from the sad state of his country where terrorists enjoy free pass while the lives of ordinary people, especially those belonging to the minority communities, are turned upside down.

“This is a country which has been globally recognized as one openly supporting, training, financing and arming terrorists as a matter of State policy. It holds the ignoble record of hosting the largest number of terrorists proscribed by the UN Security Council.”

Khan said that Pakistan “desires peace with India” but it is “contingent upon resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and the wishes of the Kashmiri people”.

Pakistan, however, is in violation of Security Council Resolution 47 adopted in 1948 that requires it to withdraw all its personnel from Kashmir.

Dubey declared: “Let me reiterate here that the entire Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh were, are and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India. This includes the areas that are under the illegal occupation of Pakistan. We call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.”

On the conditions for peace, she said: “We desire normal relations with all our neighbours, including Pakistan. However, it is for Pakistan to work sincerely towards creating a conducive atmosphere, including by taking credible, verifiable and irreversible actions to not allow any territory under its control to be used for cross border terrorism against India in any manner.”

Khan blamed the US for the developments in Afghanistan, recalling the support Washington under President Ronald Reagan gave mujahidin fighting the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

“We were left with sectarian militant groups which were never existed before,” he said.

After 9/11, the US needed Pakistan’s help to invade Afghanistan, he said.

As a result, the same Mujahidin also turned against Pakistan and the Taliban attacked his country, he claimed.

After Dubey gave the right of reply speech, a Counsellor in Pakistan’s UN Mission, Saima Saleem, replied to the right of reply.

Saleem repeated many elements of Khan’s speech, in addition to quoting Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and UN human rights bodies, ignoring their scorching criticism of her country.

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