U.S To Deliver 12 Fighter Jets To Nigeria

The United States has promised to deliver 12 Super Tucano fighter jets and other weapons it agreed to sell to Nigeria to combat Boko Haram insurgents and other extremist groups by 2020.

This was disclosed by a senior U.S. Department of State official during a background briefing with selected journalists at the U.S. Consul General’s Residence on Sunday in Ikoyi, Lagos.

The official, who confirmed that the Nigerian government had paid for the war planes, said sale of the aircraft with weapons and services worth over 400 million dollars included bombs and rockets.

The propeller-driven plane with reconnaissance, surveillance and attack capabilities is made by Brazil’s Embraer.

Embraer’s second production line is in Florida in a partnership between Embraer and privately held Sierra Nevada Corp of Sparks, Nevada.

The Super Tucano is said to cost more than 10 million dollars each and the price could go much higher depending on the configuration. It is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT 6 engine.

On the planned visit by President Muhammadu Buhari to the White House on April 30, the official said the Nigerian leader would be the first African president to meet U.S. President Donald Trump.

“We are excited about the planned visit by President Buhari as the first African leader to be engaged by President Donald Trump at the White House.

“The most important is that it is in Washington. It will be a very high level meeting; it will help the U.S. to also understand Nigeria’s projection.

“There will be independent conversation on security, governance, the Lake Chad Basin and Nigeria’s role as a democratic leader in the region,’’ the U.S. government official said.

Commenting on Nigeria’s 2019 general elections, the official said: “U.S. will remain non-partisan as it had the commitment to continue to support Nigeria’s elections.

“Will continue to help Nigeria’s security agencies to build capacity, not only in Nigeria but other countries in Africa,’’ the senior U.S Department of State official said.

On the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the official noted that the electoral umpire had benefited from the U.S. in several ways in ensuring level playing field for all interested parties.

The official, however, tasked the Nigerian media to be professional in their reportage as the 2019 elections get close.

“The media should be able to inform the public on the processes leading to the election proper; you need to educate the public on the importance of Permanent Voter Card (PVC), and this should not be left to INEC alone to handle.

“The media should allow transparency in their relationship with politicians and in carrying out their responsibilities,’’ he added.

 

“Missiles Will Be Coming” To Syria- Donald Trump

The United States President, Donald Trump has warned Russia on Wednesday of an imminent military action in Syria over a suspected poison gas attack, declaring that missiles “will be coming”.

Trump said this in response to Russia’s warning on Tuesday that any U.S. missiles fired at Syria over the assault on a rebel enclave would be shot down and the launch sites targeted.

He lambasted Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming,
nice and new and ‘smart!’,” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

“You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” Trump said, referring
Moscow’s alliance with Assad.

In response, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said “smart missiles should fly towards terrorists, not legal government”.

Damascus and Moscow refer to rebels fighting Assad as terrorists.

The Syrian government and Russia say the reports of a poison gas assault on the Syrian town of Douma are bogus.

After the attack, the rebel group holed up in Douma – Jaish al-Islam – finally agreed to withdraw from the town.

That sealed a big victory for Assad, who has now crushed the rebellion in the eastern Ghouta region near Damascus.

Moscow’s threat to shoot down U.S. missiles came from the Russian ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin,
who said he was referring to a statement by President Vladimir Putin and the Russian armed forces chief of staff.

Zasypkin also said that any hostilities with Washington should be avoided and Moscow was ready for negotiations.

But his remarks could raise fears of direct conflict for the first time between major powers backing opposing
sides in Syria’s protracted civil war.

The WHO said on Wednesday that 43 people had died in Saturday’s attack on the town of Douma from “symptoms
consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals”, and more than 500 in all had been treated.

The Kremlin said on Wednesday it hoped all sides involved in Syria would avoid doing anything that could
destabilise an already fragile situation in the Middle East, and made clear it strongly opposed any
U.S. strike on its ally.

Moscow and Washington stymied attempts by each other at the UN Security Council on Tuesday to set up international investigations into chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

Trump on Tuesday canceled a planned trip to Latin America on Friday to focus instead on talks with Western allies
about possible military action to punish Assad over the suspected gas attack.

Trump had on Monday warned of a quick, forceful response once responsibility for the attack was established.

“If there is a strike by the Americans, then … the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the
missiles were fired,” Zasypkin, the Russian ambassador, told Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV, speaking in Arabic.

The Russian military said on March 13 that it would respond to any U.S. strike on Syria by targeting any missiles
and launchers involved.

Russia is Assad’s most powerful ally and its devastating air power has helped him wrest back large areas of territory from rebels since 2015.

Zasypkin also said a clash between Russia and the United States over Syria “should be ruled out and therefore we
are ready to hold negotiations”.

 

China Seeks Revenge On US After Trump’s Levies

China has implemented her revenge on the US after President Donald Trump’s levies on Chinese steel and aluminum. In March, Trump imposed a 25% tariff on foreign-made steel and 10% for aluminum in response to a national security investigation he initiated last spring, but then waived those levies on certain countries but not China.

The US move was part of the Administration’s second annual trade policy agenda, emphasizing “aggressive” enforcement of US trade laws and limiting the role of the World Trade Organization.

China then countered those measures by saying it would impose a 15% tariff on American imports, which it said in March would include fresh fruit, dried fruit and nut products, wine, ginseng and steel pipes. The Asian country said then that further import duties of 25% would follow in a second-round of levies including pork, processed products and recycled aluminium.

The tariffs were announced by the government-controlled People’s Dailynewspaper on Sunday and came into effect yesterday (2 April).

Back in March, China’s Ministry of Commerce explained its response to Trump’s levies on Chinese goods: “The United States practise of restricting the import of products based on national security has severely damaged the multilateral trade system represented by the WTO and seriously interfered with the normal international trade order.”

America’s National Pork Producers Council warned last month that levies on US goods would “significantly impact” rural businesses. It stated that US pork producers exported US$1.1bn of product to China in 2017, ranking the country third in terms of value for American pork shipments overseas.

On Monday, China urged the US to revoke protectionist measures that violate WTO rules, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

”The trade measures that target just a small number of countries abuse the security exception clause of WTO rules and go against the principle of non-discrimination in multilateral trade, the news agency quoted the Ministry of Commerce as saying.

Trump, meanwhile, suspended tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium from the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea until 1 May. China, however, was not included.

Still, China on Monday followed through with its own measures, which includes a 15% tariff on 120 items from the US including fruit, and a 25% tariff on eight items including pork, Xinhua said.

The Ministry of Commerce said in a statement: “Cooperation is the only valid option for China and the United States,” according to the Chinese news agency, which added that China is calling for dialogue and consultation to address the concerns of both sides and realise common development, and work to prevent more harm to the broader picture of China-US cooperation.

 

Donald Trump Gives Positive Plans On Relationship With North Korea

U.S. President Donald Trump has revealed that there might be an improvement in the relationship with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un after saying North Korean leader looked forward to meeting with him.

Trump also tweeted

“Received message last night from XI JINPING of China that his meeting with KIM JONG UN went very well and that KIM looks forward to his meeting with me,”

“In the meantime, and unfortunately, maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost!”

“Look forward to our meeting!”

After two days of speculation, China announced on Wednesday that Kim had visited Beijing and met Xi, who elicited a pledge from Kim to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

The trip was Kim’s first known journey abroad since he assumed power in 2011 and is believed by analysts to serve as preparation for upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.

The White House said on Tuesday that China briefed Trump on the meetings and that the denuclearisation pledge was “further evidence that our campaign of maximum pressure is creating the appropriate atmosphere for dialogue with North Korea.”

“For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula was not even a small possibility,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity.”

Earlier this month, Trump surprised the world by agreeing to meet Kim at a place and time to be determined. South Korea’s national security chief said the first-ever meeting between U.S. and North Korean presidents would take place in May but details of potential talks have not been made public and the White House has said they will only happen if North Korea keeps “several promises.”

 

US Plans To Impose High Tariffs On Chinese Goods

The US has revealed plans to impose tariffs on up to $60bn (£42.5bn) in Chinese goods and limit the country’s investment in the US.

This according to reports is in retaliation for years of alleged intellectual property theft. The White House said the actions were necessary to counter unfair competition from China’s state-led economy.

It said years of talks had failed to produce change. China said it was ready to retaliate with “necessary measures”.

Beijing also said it would “fight to the end” in any trade war with the US.

US stock markets closed lower on Thursday, as investors responded to the announcement.

The Dow Jones ended the day at 23,957.89, a fall of 2.9% or 724.42 points – making it the fifth biggest points fall ever.

The S&P 500 shed 2.5% or 68.24 points to 2,643.69, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 2.4% or 178.61 points to finish at 7,166.68.

Signing a memo related to the sanctions, Mr Trump said the US and China were negotiating and he was looking for “reciprocal” trade terms for American companies.

He said the tariffs might be imposed on up to $60bn in Chinese goods – boosting the number from the roughly $50bn figure White House officials cited on Thursday morning during a briefing.

 

Donald Trump Makes Another Drastic Change In Cabinet

U.S. President Donald Trump has again fired another vital member of his cabinet and immediately created a replacement. He announced the replacement of his National Security Adviser, Gen. Herbert McMaster, with former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton.

This announcement was made through his Twitter handle that McMaster would handover to Bolton on April 9.

“I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor.

“I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend.

“There will be an official contact handover on 4/9”, Trump announced in a tweet.

However, McMaster said in a statement released by the White House that he was leaving the position following his retirement from the U.S. Army.

“After 34 years of service to our nation, I am requesting retirement from the U.S. Army effective this summer after which I will leave public service.

“Throughout my career it has been my greatest privilege to serve alongside extraordinary service members and dedicated civilians.

“I am thankful to President Donald J. Trump for the opportunity to serve him and our nation as national security advisor.

“I am grateful for the friendship and support of the members of the National Security Council who worked together to provide the President with the best options to protect and advance our national interests”.

McMaster served for about a year following the exit of his predecessor, Michael Flynn, who resigned amid controversy over his contact with Russian officials within a month in the job.

Trump’s was rumoured to sack McMaster last week but White House came out to deny it.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders while denying the claims on Twitter, stated that the pair had a “good working relationship”.

Sanders said: “Just spoke to Donald Trump and Gen. H.R. McMaster – contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the National Security Council.”

McMaster’s exit followed a string of reported disagreements between the him and the President, particularly, the relationship between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump reportedly failed to develop good relations with McMaster after complaining that he was “too rigid” and his “briefings go on for too long”.

Following the dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the president had declared that he was “very close” to having the Cabinet he wanted.

He said: “I’m really at a point where we’re getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want.

“There will always be change and I think you want to see change; I want to also see different ideas,” he said

 

Local Newspaper Requests China Prepares For Military Action Against Taiwan

A local but widely read newspaper in China has asked its Government to prepare for a military action over Taiwan.

The media journal also requested that China mounts pressure on Washington over cooperation on North Korea after the United States passed a law to boost ties with Taiwan.

Recall that the U.S. President Donald Trump signing legislation on March 15 that encouraged the United States to send senior officials to Taiwan to meet Taiwanese counterparts and vice versa caused infuriation in Beijing.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alex Wong said in Taipei on Wednesday the United States’ commitment to Taiwan has never been stronger and the island is an inspiration to the rest of the Indo-Pacific region.

China claims Taiwan as its own and considers the self-ruled island a wayward province, which Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday would face the “punishment of history” for any attempt at separatism.

The Global Times said in an editorial China had to “strike back” against the law, for example by pressuring the United States in other areas of bilateral cooperation like over North Korea and Iran.

“The mainland must also prepare itself for a direct military clash in the Taiwan Straits.

“It needs to make clear that escalation of U.S.-Taiwan official exchanges will bring serious consequences to Taiwan,” said the paper, which is published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily.

“This newspaper has suggested that the mainland can send military planes and warships across the Taiwan Straits middle line. This can be implemented gradually depending on the cross-Straits situation,” it said.

Underscoring China’s concerns, Taiwan’s government and the de facto U.S. embassy on the island said a second senior U.S. official would be visiting Taiwan this week, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing Ian Steff.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reiterated China’s opposition to official contacts between the two, urging people to reread Xi’s comments from earlier in the week.

“The Chinese people share a common belief that it is never allowed, and it is absolutely impossible, to separate any inch of our great country’s territory from China,” Hua said, quoting Xi.
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The island is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint.

Underlining that threat, Taiwan sent ships and an aircraft earlier on Wednesday to shadow a Chinese aircraft carrier group through the narrow Taiwan Strait, its defense ministry said.

China’s hostility toward Taiwan has risen since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, a member of the island’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.

China suspects Tsai wants to push for formal independence, which would cross a red line for Communist Party leaders in Beijing, though Tsai has said she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to ensuring peace.

 

North Korea Request US Dismantles Nuclear Arsenal

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK’s official media has revealed its intentions that the U. S. should dismantle its nuclear arsenal first if it truly desires a nuclear weapons-free world, calling the US a “nuclear criminal.”

The official Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary that the U. S. was the first country in the world to make a nuclear weapon and the only one to ever to use it.

Recall that U.S. President Donald Trump recently said that his country needed to expand nuclear arsenal and modernize nuclear weapons because other countries were doing so.

“It is the U. S. that must abandon its nuclear ambitions before others,” said the official daily of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.

During a meeting with American governors and mayors at the White House recently, Trump said if other countries abandon their nuclear development, the U. S. would do so “in two minutes,” according to media reports.

Accusing Washington of cherishing a “wild ambition to dominate the world with an absolute nuclear upper-hand,” the daily said that “if the U. S. opts for nuclear dismantlement, the denuclearisation issue of the world will be easily settled.”

 

U.S Government Shuts Down Again As Congress Refuse To Meet Deadline

The U.S Congress stumbled past a midnight funding deadline and pushed the federal government into a shutdown for the second time in less than a month.

Although the Senate had reached a deal a day earlier on a measure that would lift spending caps and raise military spending, the bill stalled in the upper chamber for hours as Kentucky Republican Rand Paul held up a vote to protest increases in the federal deficit. His Republican colleagues became noticeably more frustrated as the night wore on, accusing him of grandstanding and of wasting their time.

As the hours to pass a bill dwindled, away the White House instructed the federal government to begin preparing to halt or scale back many of its functions.

The failure to pass a budget bill on time has become a familiar sight in Washington. The government shut down for three days earlier this year as Democrats blocked a bill to try and force a compromise on immigration, and Republicans pushed the government to shutter in 2013 as part of a bid to undo Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

With the deadline hours away, Mr Paul delayed a vote with a lengthy floor speech railing against what he called out-of-control government spending. He lambasted his colleagues for abandoning their commitment to reducing the deficit and warned of bottomless spending on “perpetual war”.

“How come you were against President Obama’s deficits, and then how come you’re for Republican deficits? Isn’t that the very definition of intellectual dishonesty”? the libertarian senator said.

 

 

US Sanctions Four Military Leaders In Congo

The U.S. Treasury Department has announced that the country has sanctioned four military and militia leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to a statement the sanction was for engaging in “destabilising activity” that has prolonged the conflict in that country.

Among those sanctioned are; Brig.-Gen. Muhindo Mundos, accused of a brutal crackdown on civilians in his sector, senior rebels from three different militant groups: Gedeon Mutanga, Guidon Mwissa and Lucien Nzabamwita.

The U.S. action came days after the UN Security Council blacklisted the men for “planning, directing, or committing acts in the DRC that constitute human rights violations or abuses or violations of international humanitarian law.”

The UN accused Mundos of being the commander of the Congolese army’s military operations against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group, in the country’s Beni region from August 2014 to June 2015.

UN said 400 civilians were massacred in attacks attributed to the ADF in that period, and the UN says Mundos was involved.

UN also accused Mundos of recruiting and equipping ex-combatants from local armed groups to participate in extrajudicial executions and massacres by the ADF.

 

US Stands By Kenyatta, Declares Him President By Law

Following the self inauguration of Kenyan opposition leader Railia Odinga on Tuesday as Kenya’s ‘People’s President’, the United State government has declared that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was validly elected as the president of the country in accordance with Kenya’s constitution.

The statement which was issued by Ms Heather Nauert, Department Spokesperson, said: “We reject actions that undermine Kenya’s Constitution and the rule of law.

Recall that “Uhuru Kenyatta was elected as President of the Republic of Kenya on Oct. 26, 2017 in a poll that was upheld by Kenya’s Supreme Court.

“Grievances must be resolved through appropriate legal mechanisms”.

The U.S. commended the restraint shown by security forces and urge them to continue to refrain from any unnecessary or excessive use of force.

The U.S. said any arrests and prosecutions must be made in full accordance with the rule of law and demonstrate transparent due process.

“We urge all Kenyans to reject violence and hatred. Protesters have a right to assemble peacefully, to express their views freely, and to hold opinions without interference.

“We are also deeply concerned by the Government’s action to shut down, intimidate, and restrict the media.

“Freedom of expression, including for members of the media, is essential to democracy and is enshrined in Kenya’s Constitution,” the statement read.

The U.S. urged the Government and all Kenyans to respect freedom of expression and implement court orders calling for the restoration of television broadcasts.

The U.S. further said: “We again urge Kenyan leaders and citizens to begin a national conversation to build cohesion and address long-standing issues.

“The U. S. continues to support efforts by religious, business, and civil society leaders to begin this conversation in the near future and calls on everyone to participate in this endeavour.

“The U. S. stands firmly with the people of Kenya; it is only Kenyans who can find a way to resolve their differences and chart the destiny of this great country”.