SEOUL: Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan plans to visit South Korea next month as part of a four-nation trip to Asia, officials said Friday.
Shanahan, whom U.S. President Donald Trump intends to nominate as his defense secretary, will embark on a trip Tuesday “to visit Hawaii, Jakarta, Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo,” the U.S. Department of Defense said in a release.
The ministry did not specify the exact dates of his visits to each destination, but he is likely to tour the countries in the same sequence stated in the release, according to Seoul officials.
He is expected to fly to Seoul from Singapore, where he is to attend the Asia security forum, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, set to run from May 31-June 2, which will bring about top defense chiefs from the world, including South Korea, Japan and China, they added.
“In Singapore, Secretary Shanahan … will meet with key leaders from the region and announce the Department of Defense’s new strategy for the Indo-Asia Pacific,” the Pentagon said, adding he will meet key leaders throughout his trip “to reaffirm defense relationships and conduct bilateral and multilateral meetings with senior officials.”
US piles pressure on Iran with new troop deployments
WASHINGTON: China and Russia warned Tuesday about escalating Middle East tensions after Washington said it would deploy 1,000 more troops to the region and renewed accusations that Iran was behind a tanker attack.
The US moves came as Iran set a 10-day countdown for world powers to fulfil their commitments under a nuclear deal abandoned by Washington, saying it would otherwise surpass the uranium stockpile limit mandated by the accord.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated ever since the US quit the deal, with Washington bolstering its military presence in the region and blacklisting Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.
On Monday, Washington further upped the ante.
“I have authorized approximately 1,000 additional troops for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East,” acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan said in a statement.
“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Shanahan said.
The United States has blamed Iran for last week’s attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a charge Tehran denies as “baseless.”
Trump says US to begin removing ‘millions’ of illegal migrants
WASHINGTON: The United States will start removing “millions” of illegal migrants next week, President Donald Trump said Monday, adding that Guatemala is preparing to sign a safe third country deal.
“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in,” Trump said on Twitter, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
He added that “Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement,” an apparent reference to a pact in which migrants entering Guatemalan territory would have to apply for refugee status there, not in the United States.
The US is facing a surge in migrant arrivals from Guatemala and other impoverished Central American countries which are plagued by gang violence.
The numbers have overwhelmed the ability of US authorities to temporarily shelter and process them.
Trump has called it “an invasion,” and has made the fight against illegal migration a central plank of his administration.
Earlier Monday the US said it would not offer any more aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras unless they take “concrete actions” to deter undocumented migrants from heading for the US.
For fiscal 2019, $370 million initially planned will be allocated to other foreign policy priorities, the State Department said, and all future aid is now conditional.
“We will not provide new funds for programs in those countries until we are satisfied the Northern Triangle governments are taking concrete actions to reduce the number of illegal migrants coming to the US border,” Ortagus said.
Pak-China agree to expedite work on Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar and Ambassador of China Yao Jing during a meeting here on Monday agreed to expedite the work on Eastern Corridor from Sukkur to Hyderabad in BOT (Build, Operate, and Transfer) mode for its early completion.
The two dignitaries expressed satisfaction over the pace of projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework.
CPEC: Sukkur-Multan motorway benefits people
The Sukkur-Multan section of the Peshawar-Karachi Motorway being constructed under CPEC has vitalized the local economy and benefited the people in the area.
The motorway has a design speed of 120 km per hour, and it is a two-way six-lane road stretched from Sukkur, a city in Sindh province, to Multan, a city in Punjab province, People’s Daily Online reported here on Wednesday.
The project, being completed by the engineers of China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) alongside local Pakistanis, has promoted private sector development and small and micro businesses in the local area and regions along the route.
A Chinese manager said the building materials such as gravel and cement were bought from local companies, accelerating the industrial chain cycle.
The construction corporation also worked with local companies to exploit natural resources, facilitating related industries such as transportation and sales.
The project officially started in the year 2016 has created job opportunities for graduates and specialized workers including 26-year-old Salman who came from a small town 130 kilometers away from Multan. After graduation, he applied for a job in the project.
With excellent English and professional skills, he was hired to lead about 1,000 Pakistani workers. A lot of Pakistani workers like Salman realized their potential in the construction project.
The motorway has created 23,000 positions, including administrative staff and senior technical workers. It has also helped create more than 40,000 jobs through the development of related industries.
The project has trained 4,500 machine operators and 2,300 administrators and technicians for Pakistan so far.
The CSCEC has sent a medical team to provide free services for 3,900 local people and has also built nine schools in Pakistan.
The project is expected to be completed by June 2019. By then, the distance from Sukkur to Multan will be shortened from 463 kilometers to 392 kilometers, and the travel time halved from 8 hours to 4 hours.
The Multan-Sukkur motorway is part of Peshawar-Karachi Motorway. This route starts from Karachi via Hyderabad, Sukkur, Multan, Islamabad, Lahore, and other cities, and ends in Peshawar with a total length of 1,152 kilometers.
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