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4 January, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Trump warns aid cut to Palestinian territories

Pakistan says it can review cooperation with US
AFP
Trump warns aid cut to Palestinian territories

President Donald Trump admitted the Middle East peace process was in difficulty and threatened to cut aid to Palestinians worth more than $300 million a year, drawing a rebuke that they would not be "blackmailed", reports AFP.

"We pay the Palestinians hundred of millions of dollars a year and get no appreciation or respect," Trump tweeted.

"With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of not immediately clear whether Trump was threatening all of the budget, worth $319 million in 2016, according to US government figures. “We will not be blackmailed,” senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement Wednesday after Trump’s tweet.

“President Trump has sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice. Now he dares to blame the Palestinians for the consequences of his own irresponsible actions!” The US has long provided the Palestinian Authority with much-needed budgetary support and security assistance, as well as an additional $304 million for the UN’s programs in the West Bank and Gaza.

Unless Trump follows through on his customary tough talk, the message is likely to be seen as primarily political. Trump came to office boasting that he could achieve the “ultimate deal” that secures peace in the Middle East, something that has eluded presidents since the late 1960s.

The decision sparked almost universal diplomatic condemnation and deadly protests in the Palestinian territories.

It also prompted Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas — 82-years-old and facing the prospect of entering the history books as the leader who “lost Jerusalem” — to cancel a planned meeting with Vice President Mike Pence. Christian and Muslim leaders in Egypt took similar steps. Pence was forced to delay his December visit to the Middle East until later this month, and aides were on Tuesday forced to reject rumors of further delays.

“As we’ve said all along, the vice president is going to the Middle East in January,” said Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah. “We’re finalizing details and will announce specifics of the full trip in the coming days.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Maleeha Lodhi yesterday condemned the United States (US) administration’s aggressive remarks against Pakistan and said that Islamabad could “review its cooperation if it is not appreciated”, Pakistan’s Dawn reports.

Referring to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s comments a day earlier where she had accused Pakistan of playing a “double game” with the US, Lodhi cautioned against “shifting the blame for (the US’) own mistakes and failures onto others”.  Speaking to the media yesterday, Lodhi said that Pakistan has “contributed and sacrificed the most in fighting international terrorism”.

The diplomat added that Pakistan’s role in the war against terrorism did not depend on US aid but on “national interests and principles”. A war of words was triggered after Trump, in his first tweets on New Year’s day, lashed out against Pakistan, calling the country a “liar”.  Elaborating on Trump’s tweets, Haley on Tuesday said that the US had withheld $255 million of military aid to Pakistan for the latter’s alleged “harbouring of terrorists”.

On the same day, US Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said at a press briefing that a detailed policy will be announced within the next 24-48 hours.

The US president’s tweets evoked a strong response from the Pakistani civil and military leadership. The Foreign Office (FO) sought an explanation from American ambassador David Hale while the country’s leadership expressed “deep disappointment” at the accusations levelled by the US president in a National Security Council meeting on Tuesday.

 

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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