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China Bound To Be A Future Threat To India: Army Vice Chief

Addressing a joint seminar of the Army's Master General Ordnance and Confederation of Indian
Industry, Lieutenant General Chand also slammed Pakistan for shelling a school.

NEW DELHI:  China is bound to be a threat to India in the years to come, Indian Army's Vice Chief
Sarath Chand said on Tuesday as a stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops continues along the
border in the Sikkim sector.

Addressing a joint seminar of the Army's Master General Ordnance and Confederation of Indian
Industry, Lieutenant General Chand said: "On the North, we have China which has a large landmass,
huge resources and a large standing army....despite having the Himalayas between us, China is bound to
be a threat for us in the years ahead."

He also said that China was racing with the US in militarisation.

"As the second largest economy in the world, it is racing to catch up with the US," he said.

According to latest figures released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the US
remains world's largest spender on defence registering a growth of 1.7 per cent between 2015 and 2016
to $611 billion while China is second on the list spending $215 billion in 2016, an increase of 5.4 percent.

India was fifth largest military spender in the world in 2016 at $55.9 billion, with its military expenditure
growing around 8.5 per cent from the previous year.

The Army Vice Chief also noted that a large amount of China's defence spending remains undeclared.

"A large portion of Chinese defence expenditure remains undeclared... On the west, Pakistan smaller
economy, smaller army... thus they took route of low intensity conflict, which suits China," he said.


Lieutenant General Chand also stressed that India needs to pay more attention to security.

"We have to pay much more attention to security, that's what we are doing now. India, being at the
center of the volatile region is the net security provider," he added.

A stand-off is continuing between Indian and Chinese troops along the border in the Sikkim sector, after
China attempted road construction in Bhutan's territory around mid-June.

Both sides have reinforced troops and are maintaining position along the border, with no signs of a
withdrawal soon.

Lieutenant General Chand also slammed Pakistan for targeting a school building in cross border firing,
adding that India would never do something like that.

"Pakistan shelled schools, it is not something we would do; when we retaliate we assure Pakistani
military is targeted. It is unfortunate to see that they've stooped so low and caused casualty to the
children," he said.
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Saudi Arabia has made significant progress with Vision 2030 : IMF

Citing Saudi Arabia’s bold reform program under Vision 2030 announced in 2016, the IMF has
concluded that non-oil growth in the Kingdom is expected to pick up this year.

The IMF in its latest assessment of the Saudi Arabian economy commended the progress in
implementing the ambitious reform agenda. They emphasized that proper calibration and sequencing of
reforms will be crucial to their success.

The Kingdom’s “non-oil growth is projected to pick up to 1.7 percent in 2017,” it said, while overall real
GDP growth is expected to be close to zero as oil GDP declines in line with Saudi Arabia’s commitments
under the agreement between OPEC and other non-OPEC producers.

But growth is expected to strengthen over the medium-term. It noted that the Saudi economy is adjusting
to the effects of lower oil prices and fiscal consolidation, but that non oil growth is expected to pick up
this year and overall growth is expected to strengthen over the medium term as structural reforms under
the 2030 Vision are implemented.  

Fiscal consolidation  
“The authorities have made considerable progress in initiating the implementation of their ambitious
reform agenda. Fiscal consolidation efforts are beginning to bear fruit, progress with reforms to improve
the business environment are gaining momentum, and a framework to increase the transparency and
accountability of government is largely in place,” according the statement released on Friday based on a
consultation held on July 17, 2017.

ALSO READ: Know the aims of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 privatization program

The IMF statement, however, points out that risks mainly come from uncertainties about future oil
prices. Job growth has weakened, and the unemployment rate among Saudi nationals has increased to
12.3 percent, it noted.

The Kingdom’s fiscal deficit is projected to narrow substantially in the coming years. “It is expected to
decline from 17.2 percent of GDP in 2016 to 9.3 percent of GDP in 2017 and to just under 1 percent of
GDP by 2022.”

The Consumer Price Index has also turned negative in recent months, it noted, after increasing in early
2016 due to higher energy and water prices. “It is, however, expected to increase over the next year due
to the recently introduced excises taxes, further energy price reforms, and the introduction of the VAT at
the beginning of 2018.”

The Executive Directors in their assessment welcomed the direction of the authorities’ fiscal reforms and
agreed that a large, sustained, and well paced fiscal adjustment is needed over the medium term.

Boosting non-oil revenue

Efforts to enhance non oil revenue were commended, and emphasized the importance of establishing an
effective and efficient tax system. They noted the recent implementation of excises on tobacco and
carbonated/energy drinks, and welcomed the commitment to introduce the VAT at the beginning of 2018.

They noted the good progress being made in identifying and removing obstacles to private sector
growth, and welcomed the intensive consultation with the business community. They also welcomed the
authorities’ privatization and public private partnership plans.
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New Sanctions to Further Poison Iran-US Ties: FM Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif blasted the new anti-Tehran sanctions announced by the
Trump administration and said the new US president should stop sending hostile signals to Iran.

The new sanctions introduced by the US administration are poisoning the already strained relations
between the two countries, Zarif said in an interview with the CBS News.

“It [new US sanctions] violates the spirit of the [nuclear] deal. We will look at it and see whether it
violates the letter of the deal, and we will act accordingly,” he noted.

Zarif pointed to the US president’s remarks about how bad the nuclear deal between Tehran and world
powers is, and said, “It isn’t [a bad deal]. Well, no deal is completely acceptable to everybody.”

“This is a multilateral deal, approved by the Security Council, and it’s not a bilateral deal to be withdrawn
from or to be renegotiated,” he said, rejecting the idea of renegotiating the JCPOA.

While the White House accuses Iran of supporting terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Zarif disputed the claim
and placed blame on US allies like Saudi Arabia.

“These are the countries that are producing terrorists for you. And the United States is going after Iran. I
don’t know why,” Zarif said.

“What the United States has done against the Iranian people over the past several months has been really
repugnant,” he noted.

“I certainly think it is up to the US government to stop sending all these hostile signals,” he said.
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Erdogan threatens to 'chop off traitors' heads' on anniversary of failed coup

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to "chop off the heads" of traitors in a speech
marking the first anniversary of the failed coup bid that aimed to oust him from power.

"First of all we will chop off the heads of those traitors," Mr Erdogan told a rally in Istanbul, prompting
cries from the crowds that capital punishment should be restored in Turkey.

Reaffirming previous comments, Mr Erdogan vowed to sign any bill passed by parliament to restore
capital punishment in Turkey, a move that would effectively end Ankara's European Union membership
ambitions.

"We are a state governed by rule of law. If it comes to me after parliament, I will sign it," he said.

More than 240 people died before the July 2016 coup was put down, a show of popular defiance that
has likely ended decades of military interference in Turkish politics.

But along with a groundswell of nationalism, the coup's greatest legacy has been the far-reaching
crackdown.

Some 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from jobs in the civil service and private sector
and more than 50,000 detained for alleged links to the coup.

Yesterday, the government said it had dismissed another 7,000 police, civil servants and academics for
suspected links to the Muslim cleric it blames for the putsch.
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Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif rejects graft report as 'slander'

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday for the first time explicitly dismissed a report from a
corruption investigation that raised questions about the source of his family's wealth, rejecting it as
slander.

Sharif, 67, serving his third term as prime minister, faces opposition calls to step down but he was
defiant in his condemnation of the report that alleges his family's income from business was not large
enough to explain its wealth.

A Joint Investigation Team (JIT), set up by the Supreme Court to investigate corruption allegations that
surfaced following the Panama Papers leak, also accused his children, including heir apparent Maryam
Sharif, of signing falsified documents about ownership of off-shore companies.

"The JIT report about our family businesses is the sum of hypotheses, accusations and slander," Sharif
said in a statement after meeting his cabinet. "Accusations amounting to billions are being made here but
no wrongdoing has been proven."

The investigation team, which included officials from a military intelligence agency, presented its report
to the Supreme Court on Monday.

Copies of it were then leaked to the media, prompting a chorus of demands from political parties that he
resign from office.

"Nawaz's authority is completely eroded," Shah Mehmood Qureshi, vice chairman of the opposition PTI
party, told Reuters. "There is no legal, moral or political justification for him to continue."

Pakistan has for decades been plagued by pervasive graft, and by rivalry between the military and civilian
politicians.

WORRIES HIT STOCKS

Sharif's term expires in June 2018 and elections are expected two months later. If he were forced to step
down, his ruling PML-N party could appoint a new leader as prime minister until the polls.

Nevertheless, worries generated by the 254-page report has sent stocks tumbling amid fears of chaos
after several years of relative stability and accelerating economic growth.

The economy expanded by 5.3 per cent last fiscal year - its fastest in a decade. Big infrastructure
investment by China has boosted growth while confidence has been buoyed by a decline in militant
attacks.

After years of electricity shortages and cuts, power outages have also been reduced but not eradicated.

Sharif said the economic progress made since his election in 2013 showed the government was on the
right track and any disruption would only hurt progress.

"We will not let darkness once again prevail in our towns and factories," he said.

Sharif, the son of an industrialist, will have his fate decided by the Supreme Court, which could
disqualify him or order a trial.

Sharif was originally nurtured by the military as a civilian politician who would protect their interests, and
he served as prime minister twice in the 1990s.

But he later fell out with an army chief and was ousted in a 1999 coup leading to a decade of exile.

"Our family has gained nothing from the politics, in fact it has lost a lot," Sharif said.
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Pakistan wants solution to all issues with India, including Kashmir: Sartaj Aziz

Pakistan is seeking a dialogue with India and wants to resolve all outstanding matters, including the
Kashmir issue, through talks, a senior Pakistani leader has said.

Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif's advisor Sartaj Aziz on Sunday said Islamabad wanted to restore
peace in the South Asian region and would continue extending "political, moral and diplomatic support to
Kashmiris until they achieve freedom from India".

According to The News International, Aziz said, "India will have to give freedom to Kashmiris".

He said that Indian atrocities in the Kashmir Valley had reached the peak after Hizbul commander Burhan
Wani's death last year during clashes with Indian security forces.

Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had on Monday denied that India was rejecting medical
visa applications of Pakistanis and asked Aziz to respond to her letter seeking travel permission for the
mother of alleged Indian spy Kulbushan Jadhav who is on a death row in that country.

In a series of tweets, the minister said Aziz should not hesitate to write a recommendation for Pakistanis
seeking medical treatment in India.

The remarks come amid media reports in Pakistan that the Indian Embassy in Islamabad had rejected the
medical visa application of a 25-year-old Pakistani tumour patient who was to travel to India for
treatment.
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