VIF News Digest: International Developments (US) 16-29 Feb 2020
Trump's trip demonstrates value US places on ties with India: Mike Pompeo
28 Feb 2020

President Donald Trump's just-concluded India trip demonstrated the value the United Stated placed on its ties with New Delhi, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday.

Trump's "first official trip to India this week demonstrates the value the US places on the US-India partnership", Pompeo said in a tweet, a day after the president returned from his historic two-day visit to India with stops in Ahmedabad, Agra and New Delhi.

"Democratic traditions unite us, shared interests bond us, and under the President's leadership our partnership has and will only grow stronger," Pompeo said as he re-tweeted the White House post with remarks by Trump.

"As we deepen our partnership with India, we remember that our two countries have always been united by shared traditions of democracy and constitutions that protect freedom, individual rights, and the rule of law," Trump said in the White House post that also had four pictures of his meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Click here to read...

US gas developer rattled as biggest Indian buyer seeks competing deal
27 Feb 2020

An emerging U.S. natural gas developer, along with its $28 billion export project, has been rattled by the attempts of a potential major customer in India to probe the market for competing supplies, highlighting mounting pressure on sellers amid a global glut of the fuel.

India’s largest liquefied natural gas buyer, Petronet LNG Ltd., has started soliciting offers for supply under terms similar to a tentative agreement it signed with Tellurian Inc. last year, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The Petronet tender, combined with the lack of a deal announcement that was expected during President Donald Trump’s visit to India this week, adds to doubts that Tellurian will be able to secure a sizable anchor investment from Petronet for its Driftwood LNG project, according to Michael Webber, managing partner of Webber Research & Advisory LLC.

“It’s supportive of our overall skepticism of the deal," he said. Click here to read...

C.D.C. Officials Warn of Coronavirus Outbreaks in the U.S.
25 Feb 2020

Federal health officials starkly warned on Tuesday that the new coronavirus will almost certainly spread in the United States, and that hospitals, businesses and schools should begin making preparations.

“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a news briefing.

She said that cities and towns should plan for “social distancing measures,” like dividing school classes into smaller groups of students or closing schools altogether. Meetings and conferences may have to be canceled, she said. Businesses should arrange for employees to work from home.

“We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare, in the expectation that this could be bad,” Dr. Messonnier said.
Shortly after the news conference, stock markets plummeted for the second day as investors dumped stocks and turned to the safety of government bonds. The S&P 500 fell by more than 3 percent, following a 3.4 percent slide on Monday — the worst day for the American markets since February 2018. Click here to read...

Trump announces $3B defense deal with India
25 Feb 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that India has signed a deal to purchase more than $3 billion of advanced military equipment, including helicopters.

The announcement comes as the president visits with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Asian nation.

Trump also said the two leaders made progress on what he describes as a “comprehensive trade deal" after bilateral talks.
Modi, meanwhile, said the two had a productive exchange on issues including defense cooperation, energy and technology, adding that talks will continue.

He also said that he and Trump have now met five times over the past eight months, noting that ties between the two nations is the “most important partnership of the 21st century." Click here to read...

Trump's India visit: Indo-US energy relations set to touch a new high
25 Feb 2020

The $12 billion worth of annual crude oil imports to India along with a possible LNG deal are set to take the energy relations of India and the US to a new high. The energy ties between the two nations had picked up after Donald Trump took over as President of the United States in 2017. Under the deal, India is to get a share in natural gas from the proposed Driftwood project in Louisiana.
Petronet LNG had signed a deal with US’s Tellurian for the project last September. The over $2 billion the deal is likely to get final shape during the current visit of Trump. Click here to read...

First phase of India-US mega trade deal expected to be sealed soon
27 Feb 2020

India and the US are set to sign the first phase of a mega trade deal soon under a model followed by the Donald Trump administration in finalising a similar deal with China.

Official sources said India and the US have almost completed negotiations for first phase of the ambitious deal and it will be formalised soon.

The US and China inked an initial trade deal last month, ending an 18-month-long dispute. The two countries are now working on a final trade deal.

Sources said India and the US have also decided to launch talks on a totalisation agreement which relieves Indians from double taxation.

Any Indian working in the US has to contribute to social security from his salary, but the money is not released if the employee returns to India without completing a period of 10 years of service.

"The issue was raised during delegation-level meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Trump. We hope to begin negotiations on the totalisation pact soon," said a source. Click here to read...

Trump govt. seems supportive of India as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy, while also counting gains for itself
24 Feb 2020

The stage is now set for the 36-hour Donald Trump show. He will arrive today in Ahmedabad, and will be received, in a gesture usual towards visiting US presidents, by the prime minister himself at the airport. They will drive together to the newly constructed Motera stadium, with a record capacity of more than one lakh. He has cited this approvingly in several of his recent speeches in US, pointing out that this is double of what he draws in the US. He says he has been promised huge crowds along the route. These are the only two aspects he has repeatedly mentioned while talking publicly about the India visit. After a three-hour stay, he will fly to Agra, for the iconic moment with his wife in front of the Taj Mahal, and reach Delhi later the same evening.

In Delhi, the programme is a standard one, with the ceremonial welcome in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, homage at Rajghat, talks with the PM and subsequent press comments at Hyderabad House, a business meeting arranged by the US embassy, a banquet hosted by the US President, and then flying out immediately thereafter. He will not be addressing a joint session of Indian parliament, reflecting, no doubt, the opposition he inevitably generates in political groups everywhere. Click here to read...

India-US security cooperation in eastern Indian Ocean and Pacific must be extended to western frontiers
23 Feb 2020

As India receives Donald Trump on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be eager to get a first-hand briefing from the US President on his plans for the Af-Pak region and the Gulf — two regions vital to India’s economic, political and military security. The impending withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and the downsizing of the American security role in the Gulf region mark the end of an important era in India’s northwestern frontiers — both land and maritime.

The question is whether Modi and Trump can overcome the past reluctance in both capitals to collaborate in the regions west of India. On the face of it, there is a good fit between America’s downward adjustment in the region under Trump, and India’s ambition to play a larger role in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Click here to read...

As Trump visits India, on the table: plan to counter China’s reach with Blue Dot network
24 Feb 2020

With China moving to expand its strategic footprint through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), India and the US will discuss the Blue Dot network, a new proposal to cover infrastructure and development projects across the region and other countries.

The Blue Dot network is “a multi-stakeholder initiative to bring together governments, the private sector and civil society to promote high-quality, trusted standards for global infrastructure development”, sources said. The US, which is leading the proposal, has already got Japan and Australia as partners in this idea. Click here to read...

Trump campaign ads target a new audience: Indian Americans
27 Feb 2020

Donald Trump’s campaign has launched a five-figure digital ad buy targeting an unlikely voting demographic for Republicans: Indian Americans.

It’s likely the first time a Republican presidential candidate has spent a large amount of money on ads tailored for Indian American voters, according to five people involved in recent Republican presidential campaigns.

The move comes just days after the president flew to India for a political-style rally with over 100,000 cheering fans, earning him wall-to-wall Indian media coverage. But back home, Trump hasn’t polled well with Indian Americans. Still, the group represents a growing voting bloc that registers and votes at high rates, making it a desirable target. And Trump’s team thinks its message on tax cuts and illegal immigration, as well as Trump’s friendship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will play well with some Indian Americans.

The ad campaign began Wednesday on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, streaming services and online publishers, according to a senior campaign official. It will run for two weeks. Click here to read...

Labor union unveils $150M campaign to help defeat Trump
27 Feb 2020

One of the nation’s largest labor unions is unveiling plans to invest $150 million in a nationwide campaign to help defeat President Donald Trump, a sweeping effort focused on eight battleground states and voters of color who typically don’t vote.

The investment marks the largest voter engagement and turnout operation in the history of the Service Employees International Union, which claims nearly 2 million members. The scope of the campaign, which quietly launched last month and will run through November’s general election, reflects the urgency of what union president Mary Kay Henry calls “a make-or-break” moment for working people in America under Trump’s leadership.

“He’s systematically unwinding and attacking unions. Federal workers rights have been totally eviscerated under his watch,” Henry said in an interview. “We are on fire about the rules being rigged against us and needing to elect people that are going to stand with workers.” Click here to read...

Trump shakes up Justice Department, intelligence community
27 Feb 2020

President Trump is challenging two institutions with crucial roles to play in the next election with a controversial appointment to the intelligence community and tweets directed at the Justice Department.

The intelligence appointment underscored Trump’s priority of loyalty over experience, according to critics, while the tweets complicated proceedings at the Justice Department while creating turmoil for Attorney General William Barr.

This has led to stringent criticisms that he is weakening the Justice Department and intelligence community, two institutions with crucial roles to play in the next election.

“You’re seeing a real strain on these institutions and the strain is coming in the form of really challenging the norms under which they’ve operated in the past,” said Lisa Monaco, who served as assistant attorney general for national security during the Obama administration. Click here to read...

India-U.S. Defence Deal: Bernie Sanders Slams Donald Trump for Selling Weapons to India

25 Feb 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders has slammed U.S. President Donald Trump for selling weapons to India, saying that Washington D.C. should instead partner with New Delhi to fight climate change to save the planet. Sanders, who has won the Nevada and New Hampshire primaries and tied in Iowa, made the comments after Trump, who is on a two-day visit to India, on Monday announced a $3 billion India-U.S. defence deal. In an address at a massive 'Namaste Trump' rally at Motera stadium in Ahmedabad, Trump announced that deals to sell state-of-the-art military helicopters and other equipment worth over $3 billion will be sealed with India on Tuesday. “Instead of selling $3 billion in weapons to enrich Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed, the United States should be partnering with India to fight climate change,” Sanders said in a tweet, the first by a Democratic presidential candidate on Trump's India visit. “We can work together to cut air pollution, create good renewable energy jobs, and save our planet.” Click here to read...

Bloomberg qualifies for Wednesday's Democratic debate -- his first
18 Feb 2020

Michael Bloomberg has qualified for Wednesday's Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, paving the way for the former New York mayor's first appearance on stage with his 2020 rivals.

Bloomberg met the Democratic National Committee-mandated polling threshold on Tuesday with a NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist survey finding the former New York mayor at 19% nationally. The result is Bloomberg's fourth poll at or above 10% nationally, which was the requirement from the DNC to qualify.

Bloomberg is second in the poll behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is well ahead of the rest of the field with 31% support.

Bloomberg's presence on the debate stage injects a significant new variable into the event that falls just days before Nevadans caucus on Saturday. But the former New York mayor is skipping the first four contests, including Nevada, instead hoping to make his mark when several states vote on March 3, also known as Super Tuesday.

Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said in a statement Tuesday that the candidate is "looking forward to joining the other Democratic candidates on stage and making the case for why he's the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump and unite the country. The opportunity to discuss his workable and achievable plans for the challenges facing this country is an important part of the campaign process." Click here to read...

Bolton issues plea that his upcoming book isn't 'suppressed' by White House
18 Feb 2020

John Bolton issued a rebuke against White House "censorship" of his book manuscript in his first public remarks since the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump concluded, and expressed uncertainty about whether the public will ever have an opportunity to read what he described as his "effort to write history."

Bolton, who departed from his job in September following some policy disagreements with the President, reiterated some of those differences during the event at Duke University on Monday, but declined to corroborate any of the details offered by witnesses in the impeachment inquiry or divulge other details from his highly anticipated book, which is currently under review by the White House.

"I hope it's not suppressed," Bolton told the audience, referring to the White House's review of his book.

"I say things in the manuscript about what he (Trump) said to me," he added. "I hope they become public someday." Click here to read...

Democrats make final push ahead of Nevada caucuses
17 Feb 2020

There are already long lines of early voters in Nevada ahead of Saturday's Democratic caucuses. While the race appears to be tight, the leading contenders are turning their focus on a candidate who isn't even on the ballot — Michael Bloomberg.

Democrats blanketed the state while Senator Bernie Sanders, running ahead of the pack there, campaigned in neighboring California. The state is the biggest delegate prize on the March 3, Super Tuesday primary slate.

Early caucus voting in Nevada showed more than 26,000 casting ballots, many first-time caucus-goers. But there is anxiety about the weekend vote. Nevada scrapped the same tabulating app that collapsed during the Iowa caucuses. Training is now on iPads.
"If they don't make some changes, we are going to be Iowa the second time," said Seth Morrison, Democratic volunteer for the Nevada caucus. Click here to read...

Can America elect a gay president?
19 Feb 2020

As former mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg emerges as a leading contender for the Democratic nomination for president following his strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, an issue in the background of his campaign is also moving onto centre stage: Can America elect its first openly gay president?

In a stunning political and intellectual profile in Commonweal, eminent historian and Buttigieg’s former professor at Harvard, James Kloppenberg addresses Buttigieg’s growth both as a scholar and in all aspects of his career; it is a deep and arresting account. In regards to his sexuality, Professor Kloppenburg observed:

“Buttigieg is the first openly gay candidate for the presidential nomination of a major party in the United States. That fact seems to matter less to many voters than most people had expected. Yet there are clearly people who would not vote for him for just that reason; opposition to LGBTQ rights remains as persistent as racism..." Click here to read...

U.S. special envoy discusses Taliban deal with re-elected Afghan president
20 Feb 2020

U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday discussed a U.S. deal with Taliban militants on a weeklong reduction in violence, meeting the day after Ghani was declared a winner of a disputed presidential poll.

Ghani’s main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, who came in second, rejected the result and vowed to form his own government, threatening new political turmoil as the United States strives to seal a U.S. troop withdrawal deal with Taliban militants.

The Afghan presidential palace in a statement quoted President Ghani as telling Khalilzad he had held “effective” meetings with local leaders on how the Afghan government would handle the peace process.

The U.S.-Taliban deal was struck in protracted negotiations in the Qatari capital Doha and was announced on Friday after a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ghani and U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper in Munich. Click here to read...

Contact Us