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Kim Jong-un’s secret visit to Beijing: A dress rehearsal for the planned meeting

Beijing’s diplomatic quarters were clouded by speculations and surprise accompanied by what experts described as a strange, highly mysterious, visit by the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.  To anyone closely following the North Korean issue, prospects of this abruptly planned visit of Kim to Beijing including a meeting with Xi raises questions on what North Korea is planning to signal, a sudden unforeseen surge of diplomacy after years of provoking nuclear threats on bombing the U.S territories interspersed by potential missile tests. Talks are scheduled first with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea in April and later with President Trump, perhaps in May.  According to various sources, Kim did his schooling in Switzerland near Bern, he had never traveled abroad since becoming the North Korea’s leader in 2011 after his father’s death. Nor he has never met any head of state or leader so far. . (Xinhua/Ju Peng) For China, meeting with their strategic neighbor makes certa
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Russian Diplomats expelled across the US and Europe: Explaining the Diplomatic Standoff

Trump administration has ordered to expel over 60 Russian Diplomats, joining the chorus of European countries in punishing Moscow for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain. In addition, the administration has also announced shutting down of Russia's consulate in Seattle, citing its proximity to a U.S. Naval base and Boeing, a major defense manufacturer.  Of those 60 unnamed diplomats (intelligence agents) being expelled, 48 of them work at the Russian embassy in Washington and 12 are posted at the United Nations office in New York. "The United States takes this action in conjunction with our NATO allies and partners around the world in response to Russia's use of a military-grade chemical weapon on the soil of the United Kingdom, the latest in its ongoing pattern of destabilizing activities around the world," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Seattle Consulate, Naval base, and Boeing The Naval base at Bangor has e

India and Canada sailing the wrong course, who is to be blamed?

The 46-year-old Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada with his family is in India for the first time on a week-long tour, and it is drawing out a mountain of comment. I thought I would wait a few days to let the dust settle a bit, and then add my own. Criticisms and opinions are coming from many quarters, policymakers, experts, think tanks, and journalists from both India and Canada. More interesting are the comments of independent thinkers and their tweets. To a lot of foreign policy participants, it is baffling when a rock-star premier of a country like Canada making no sound and weight on a visit. Normally, when any foreign premier visits India, until their departure the headlines are reserved for the news and dealings they make. Well, in case of Trudeau, the same pattern is being followed, only in a cold way. Prime Minister Narendra Modi embraces Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a ceremonial reception at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi on Feb

Asma Jahangir: A champion of human rights and free speech is now among the stars

“Eventually things will have to get better. However, the way they will improve is not going to be because of the government or the elite leadership, or the political leadership, or the institutions of our country, most of which have actually crumbled. It will be the people of the country themselves who will bring about the change in society because they have had to struggle to fend for themselves at every level.” – Asma Jahangir, Interview by Farahnaz Junejo, Zameen, Dec 1997. In 1983, Asma Jahangir was under house arrest and later imprisoned for her active participation in a revolution, which was intended to restore the political and fundamental rights taken away during the martial government of Zia-ul-Haq. She faced one of the dark days of her life as her free speech and movement were curtailed. Again in 1993, Asma received frequent death threats for her defense as the lawyer of Salamat Masih, a 14 old boy and his uncles, Manzoor Masih and Rehmat Masih, who was accused of w

PM Modi at Davos: What can be expected?

If one goes by some selective parameters, the world is definitely on an optimistic path, a vibrant one with a healthy future. The global economy is robust, growing from the U.S to India, China to Southern Africa, Brazil to Australia, European markets on a fast recovery mode, progressing technology and energetic stock markets like never before. Getting consumed by all these euphoric numbers, we often tend to overlook certain parameters, exploring deep gives us an altered picture, in simple, we need to worry about a lot of things from growing inequality, concentration of economic wealth in a few, falling governance standards, lack of political consensus while solving global threats and so on. In the recent past, the global setting has evolved swiftly: geostrategic fractures have re-emerged on several fronts with across-the-board political and socio-economic consequences. On global political context, ‘Realpolitik’ is no more a cold war vocabulary. Economic affluence and social con

The U.S. government Shutdown ends with a deal: The Key Takeaways

The U.S. government “shutdown” was definitely, a huge news that seized the headlines of almost every major newspaper – world’s most powerful country is closed. For the people who missed the entire encounter, the shutdown of the U.S federal government began at midnight EST on Saturday, January 20, 2018, after a failure to clear a ‘continuing resolution’ bill to fund the government and its operations. On Monday, President Trump signed, behind closed doors of the White House, a bill officially capping off a 69-hour display of partisan dysfunction which led to a government shutdown, the signed bill will disburse funds to run the federal operations until February 8, according to sources. Both the houses of the Congress voted the bill earlier on Monday, extending funds for next three weeks, only because of the deal reached between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. It was mainly on bipartisan grounds related to the immigration issue

The Mighty US government is “SHUTDOWN” | Time for a Zombie Hunt?

The present shutdown is erratic and unusual, as this is the first time ever since Jimmy Carter’s presidency saw a similar shutdown even when both the houses of Congress and the executive branch was being controlled by one party, the GOP. Precisely, Senate needed 60 votes to pass the chamber to avoid a filibuster, which means that Republican majority needed as many as more than a dozen of Democrats to vote in favor of their plan. Previous hopes for a bipartisan deal were ripped when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan would not agree to bring the bipartisan deals to the floor without President Trump’s approval. By this time, you would have been confused “What is really going on in America?” “What is a Government shutdown?” “Did this ever happen before?” “When will things turn to normalcy?” Except for the last question you can find answers to all your questions in this article. And for that last question, only President Trump and Congress will have

Why countries supported, opposed and abstained the UNGA resolution: Decoding the voting pattern

“The recent emergency United Nations General Assembly session summoned to mandate on President Trump's decision to shift the American Embassy to Jerusalem resulted in another toothless non-binding resolution against Israel. It is neither new nor surprising on seeing the UNGA votes on Israel – considering the U.S. veto at the UNSC, the UNGA has always been a popular forum for passing anti-Israel resolutions in the past. But, this time the resolution explicitly and strategically distanced many countries from the United States in its condemnation of President Trump's decision. Despite the threats from President Trump and his UN ambassador Nikki Haley, most countries voted against Washington. If the U.S. wants to really establish peace in Jerusalem, it is better they drop the plans to cut funds and work constructively in talks. Only diplomacy and negotiations, not bullying and hatred, can establish peace in the world especially in the Middle East.”  Despite the caveats torpedoe

Doug Jones wins the Alabama Senate seat after a nail-biting election race

In any ordinary election in Alabama, a Republican candidate would walk into his seat, zapping away the Democratic candidate like a pesky mosquito. But this time, the candidates were different making the Alabama special Senate election a different kind of race. The election took place in Alabama on December 12, to fill a vacancy in the 100 member senate through the end of the term ending on January 2021, arising from the resignation of Jeff Sessions who was chosen to serve as a U.S. Attorney General. For the first time in over 25 years, Alabama has elected a Democrat to the Senate office. Jones’s greatest advantage was the waning popularity of Republican candidate Roy Moore throughout the campaign, as a former chief justice on the Alabama Supreme Court; Moore is known for his controversies but managed to retain a loyal base of conservatives, that he calculated, would likely lead him to the Senate. Even during the campaigns, Moore got embroiled in a notorious sexual