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China amassed more than 60,000 troops along LAC with India: Mike Pompeo

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China has amassed more than 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control with India, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said as he hit out at Beijing for its “bad behaviour” and the threats it poses to the Quad countries.

The Foreign Ministers from the Indo-Pacific nations known as the Quad group – the US, Japan, India and Australia – met in Tokyo on Tuesday in what was their first in-person talks since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The meeting took place in the backdrop of China’s aggressive military behaviour in the Indo-Pacific, South China Sea and along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

“The Indians are seeing 60,000 Chinese soldiers on their northern border,” Mike Pompeo told The Guy Benson Show in an interview on Friday after his return from Tokyo where he attended the second Quad ministerial with his counterparts from India, Japan and Australia.

“I was with my Foreign Minister counterparts from India, Australia, and Japan – a format that we call the Quad, four big democracies, four powerful economies, four nations, each of whom has real risk associated with the threats imposed attempting to be imposed by the Chinese Communist Party. And they see it in their home countries too,” he said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in Tokyo on Tuesday and they underscored the need to work together to advance, peace, prosperity and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the globe. He described his meeting with Mr Jaishankar as “productive”.

“They see, the people of their (Quad) nations understanding that we all slept on this for too long. For decades, the West allowed the Chinese Communist Party to walk all over us. The previous administration bent a knee, too often allowed China to steal our intellectual properties and the millions of jobs that came along with it. They see that in their country too,” he said in the interview.

In another interview with Larry O’Connor, Mr Pompeo said in his meetings with his counterparts from Japan, India and Australia, they began to develop a set of understandings and policies that can jointly take these countries to work to present a true resistance to the threats that the Chinese Communist Party poses to each of these nations.

“They absolutely need the United States to be their ally and partner in this fight,” he said.

“But they’ve all seen it, whether it’s the Indians, who are actually having a physical confrontation with the Chinese up in the Himalayas in the northeastern part of India, the Chinese have now begun to amass huge forces against India in the north whether it’s the Australians who did the simple thing of saying the Chinese screwed this deal up with the virus, and we’d like to understand what happened and said we ought to have a full investigation, and in exchange for that, the Chinese Communist Party began to extort, coerce, bully the Australians,” Mr Pompeo said.

Every one of these countries has seen this, he said, adding that people in each of these countries now understand the Chinese Communist Party presents a threat to them.

“The world has awakened. The tide’s begun to turn. And the United States under President Trump’s leadership has now built out a coalition that will push back against the threat and maintain good order, the rule of law, and the basic civic decency that comes from democracies controlling the world and not authoritarian regimes,” Mike Pompeo said.

In his third-interview to Fox News, Mr Pompeo said that the US under Trump administration has begun to build out all the edifice of the structure and the allies and the coalition to push back against China.

“We aim to protect the American people from the threat that the Chinese Communist Party poses,” he said.

Referring to his Quad ministerial meeting, Mr Pompeo said that the three other countries Japan, India, and Australia were building out a coalition, build partners and allies around the world who understand the threat from the Chinese Communist Party in the same way that “we do so that they can protect jobs here at home”.

“Look, they’ve stacked 60,000 soldiers against the Indians in the north. When the Australians had the temerity to ask for an investigation of the Wuhan virus and where it began, something that we know a lot about, the Chinese Communist Party threatened them. They bullied them,” Mike Pompeo told Fox News.

“We need partners and friends. They’ll certainly try to react. But what the Chinese Communist Party had become accustomed to, frankly, for an awfully long time was watching America bend a knee, watching us turn the other cheek and appease them,” he said.

“That only encouraged their bad behaviour, their malign activity. Our push back they understand we’re serious about it. They’ve watched that we’re going to confront them and impose costs upon them. I am confident that this activity, over time, will change the nature of what the Chinese Communist Party tries to do to harm America,” Mr Pompeo said.

India is expanding bilateral cooperation with Japan, the US and Australia in the Indo-Pacific region.

The US has been pushing for a greater role for India in the Indo-Pacific which is seen by many countries as an effort to contain China’s growing clout in the region.

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Amid backlash, Union Minister assures country will be given free COVID vaccine

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Union Minister Pratap Sarangi on Sunday said that all people of the country will be given free COVID vaccine, amidst the demand by opposition parties in the country for it and not only in poll-bound Bihar as announced by the BJP.

The BJP announcement of free COVID vaccine for Bihar, where assembly polls begin this week, had kicked up a controversy with the opposition parties tearing into the NDA government alleging that the ruling party was using the pandemic for political reasons.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the announcement was in order as it was an election manifesto announcement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that all people will be provided free of cost vaccines. An estimated ₹ 500 odd will be spent on vaccination of each person, Mr Sarangi told reporters after addressing a campaign meeting for the November 3 assembly by-poll in Balasore.

PM Modi had in a televised adddress to the nation on October 20 said that Indian scientists are in the process of developing several vaccines that are at different stages of clinical trials and the results seem encouraging.

Mr Sarangi, the union minister of state for animal husbandry, dairy, fisheries and micro, small and medium enterprises spoke in reply to question raised by Odisha Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister, RP Swain.

Mr Swain had earlier in the day sought clarification from Dharmendra Pradhan and Sarangi, the two union ministers from Odisha questioning them for their silence on their party BJP’s stand on free COVID-19 vaccination for the people of the state along the lines of the one being promised in Bihar.

The governments of Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Puduchchery have already announced free of cost COVID vaccines for the people of their states, while Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has demanded free vaccine for all citizens across the country.

Mr Swain had tweeted “I am asking questions to two Odisha union ministers from Balasore soil to clarify as to why the people of the state will not get free of cost COVID vaccine. The union ministers should clarify BJPs stand on the corona vaccination in Odisha.”

On the state governments steps for vaccination, Mr Swain said it has signed an agreement with a vaccine manufacturer and is committed to extend the facility to all people of the state.

He, however, did not say whether the state government will provide the vaccine to the people free of cost.

BJP deputy leader in Odisha Assembly Bishnu Charan Sethi said the Centre has been supporting Odisha fully during the pandemic and has granted ₹ 22,000 crore for the purpose.

“But large scale lapses have been detected in the utilisation of the fund,” he alleged.

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‘Looking forward to collaborate closely with India’: US ahead of 2+2 dialogue

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The third edition of the 2+2 dialogue between India and USA is set to begin as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper are on their way to New Delhi.

Ahead of the important talks, the US State Department said the country welcomes India’s emergence as a leading regional and global power.

“As outlined in our National Security Strategy, the United States welcomes India’s emergence as a leading regional and global power. The United States looks forward to collaborating closely with India during its upcoming term on the UN Security Council,” the US said, reported NDTV.

“Wheels up for my trip to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia. Grateful for the opportunity to connect with our partners to promote a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific composed of independent, strong, and prosperous nations,” Mike Pompeo tweeted last night.

The top US leaders will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hold discussions with other government and business leaders on ways to advance the US-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership, the State Department said.

US said that the subjects to be covered included regional security cooperation, defence information sharing, military-to-military interactions and defence trade.

“We have made significant progress towards concluding the last foundational defence enabling agreement – the Exchange and Cooperation Agreement or BECA,” senior officials of the Trump administration said last week in an online news briefing.

“This agreement will allow for expanded geospatial information sharing between our armed forces. We are also seeking to expand secure communication capabilities between our respective militaries as well as between our foreign defence ministries and that figures prominently in what we are trying to accomplish in the information-sharing space,” they added.

The relations between US and India have been strengthening in last few months as the Quadrilateral grouping of US, Japan, India and Australia are sending their warships for the Malabar Exercise next month.

Quadrilateral grouping, which experts say is to be mirroring NATO, has already been criticized by China many times.

In another major development in direction of strengthening the ties, New Delhi and Washington are also stepping up efforts to conclude the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) ahead of the Indo-US 2+2 ministerial meeting on October 26-27.

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‘CM stayed indoor when migrants walked home; steps out only to get votes’: Tejashwi Yadav

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RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav launched scathing attacks on Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during an election rally in the state’s Nawada district on Friday.

The attack was Covid-specific coming hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciated the Bihar CM for tackling the century’s major health crisis.

He criticized Kumar for staying put at home for more than four months because of the Covid threat and only coming out to ask for votes.

“Nitish Kumar stayed inside the CM house for 144 days. But now he is out of his house. Why? Tab bhi corona tha, ab bhi corona hai. But now he wants your vote, so he has to step out,” he said.

In the month of June when migrant crisis surfaced in the country and most migrants were from Bihar itself, Nitish Kumar had faced widespread criticism over his decision to remain indoors and avoid public interaction.

In early June, after spending 84 days inside, he finally stepped out to drive 20 meters to the official secretariat.

Back then also, Tejaswi Yadav had mocked him in a tweet, telling him “if you are afraid (to step outside), I will go along with you”.

“Did Nitish Kumar give you jobs in 15 years, did he eradicate poverty? What happened to the promised government jobs? What happened to the factories?” Yadav asked.

“I welcome Modiji to Bihar, now tell us what happened to the Bihar package?” he asked.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday at his first rally in Bihar for the election praised Chief Minister Nitish Kumar government for his “quick response” to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

“If Bihar’s Nitish Kumar government had not acted fast, there would have been many more coronavirus deaths and unimaginable mayhem,” PM said.

“But today Bihar, having battled Covid, is now celebrating the festival of democracy,” PM said.

“But today Bihar, having battled Covid, is now celebrating the festival of democracy,” he said.

PM was addressing a joint rally in Sasaram with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

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