17 August 2017

News Report: We Can Work it Out? US, China Announce Intention to Strengthen Military Ties

American and Chinese military leaders have announced a commitment to “work through difficult issues” to strengthen military ties and improve bilateral relations between the world’s two largest economies.

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest-ranking military officer of the United States Armed Forces, traveled to Beijing to meet with his approximate Chinese counterpart Fang Fenghui, chief of the Joint Staff Department of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and one of China's highest ranking military officials.

According to a statement from the Chinese Defense Ministry, Fang told Dunford that both nations should "push forward stable military ties as an important and major stabilizing factor in bilateral relations"

"We have many, many difficult issues where we don't necessarily share the same perspective," Dunford replied. "We share a commitment to work through these difficult issues."

He added that they had signed a framework to build a new communication mechanism between the two states that would strengthen Sino-US cooperation.

News Report: Indian Defense Sector Opens up to Private Players; Clears $2.8 Bln of Orders

Indian private companies would have to forge a joint venture with foreign firms for the purpose of manufacturing specific products with complete transfer of technology. The foreign firms, however, would not hold a majority stake in such joint ventures.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian Army has selected eleven priority defense projects worth $2.8 billion to be awarded to the private sector, in what is being seen as a bid to hasten the plugging of critical shortage.

The contracts mainly comprise development and manufacturing of arms and equipment including short range unmanned aerial vehicles, advanced robotic surveillance systems, 1200-1500 HP modular engine for tank T-90 S/SK, and third generation missile for 125mm gun barrels of T-90 And T-72 Tanks. The biggest of the contracts is the manufacturing of modular engine for T-90 tanks. The project alone is pegged at $1.5 billion.

Development of short-range remotely piloted aircraft system has an indicative cost of approximately $350 million. The Indian Army wants to purchase the robotic surveillance platform for the Rashtriya Rifles battalions which primarily tracks terrorist hide-outs in urban or built up areas.

News Report: India’s New Domestic Artillery Gun Fails Weapons Trials for Third Time

Dhanush howitzer during test firing (File Photo)
India’s homemade Dhanush towed howitzer may be domestically produced, but a multitude of failed tests have proven that the weapon is unready for use in warfare. An Indian Army source told Defense News that the artillery gun has failed three times in as many months, pushing the induction date back further and further.

"The Dhanush 155mm/45-caliber artillery gun has failed on three occasions in a row in the last three months when the shell of the gun hit the muzzle brake in one of the six prototype guns currently undergoing user trials," the source told Defense News.

This isn't the first time the Dhanush has encountered troubles. In July, The Times of India reported that "in May when six guns were being fired at one go, a shell hit the muzzle brake in one of the pieces…Last week when the test fires were being undertaken, again a shell hit the muzzle brake, bringing the whole process back to square one."

"Shells hitting the muzzle brake could be due to a number of reasons such as overexploitation of the munitions, overcharging of the munitions and so on or even faulty ammunition; all of these aspects will have to be evaluated," said Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army brigadier and defense analyst, to Defense News.

News Report: Trump - North Korea 'Wise' to Postpone Missile Launch Toward Guam

Ken Bredemeier

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made "a very wise and well reasoned decision" to postpone a plan to launch missiles toward the shores of the U.S. territory of Guam.

In a Twitter comment, Trump said, "The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!"

The North Korean leader was quoted Tuesday in state media as saying that he would, for the moment, call off the plan to fire four missiles over Japan into the waters near Guam, 3,400 kilometers to the south, to see "if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous, reckless actions."

News Report: Indian, Chinese Troops Square Off in Disputed Himalayan Region

Indian security officials say their troops engaged in a stone-throwing clash with Chinese forces in a disputed area of the Himalayas Tuesday.

The incident occurred after Indian soldiers prevented their Chinese counterparts from entering the mountainous region of Ladakh in Indian-controlled Kashmir. The confrontation ended after both sides retreated to their respective positions.

China did not immediately comment on the incident.

Indian and Chinese forces are locked in a 2-month-old standoff in a disputed area between India’s close ally, Bhutan, and China. The tensions began when Indian troops were deployed to obstruct a Chinese road-building project at Doklam Plateau. The area also known as Chicken’s Neck is hugely strategic for India because it connects the country’s mainland to its northeastern region.

New Delhi cites its treaties with Bhutan, with which it has close military and economic ties, for keeping its soldiers in the area despite strident calls by Beijing to vacate the mountain region.

The standoff is believed to be the most serious confrontation between the two Asian giants, who fought a brief war in 1962.

This story first appeared on Voice of America & is reposted here with permission.

News Story: India Jaguar fighters face upgrade challenges

Indian Air Force SEPECAT Jaguar (Image: Wiki Commons)
By: Vivek Raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI ― The Indian Air Force’s British-made Jaguar aircraft completed its maiden flight last week after integrating an advanced active electronically scanned array radar, but service officials say the Jaguar upgrade program is moving slowly and that there’s uncertainty regarding the mounting of proposed new engines.

The upgrade program of the Jaguar fighter, undertaken by India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, includes mounting new engines from Honeywell of the U.S., but an executive with HAL said it’s ”still awaiting the go-ahead from the Indian Air Force for the new engines.”

“Not only is the upgrade program slow, but the autopilots on the Jaguar aircraft are malfunctioning,” the IAF official said.

Furthermore, only 18 autopilot systems out of a required 108 could be integrated on Jaguar aircraft, according to a second Air Force official. India contracted the purchase of 35 autopilots from Thales of France on the Jaguar, which were received between December 2006 and January 2008.

Due to contractual restrictions, HAL could integrate only 18 out of the 35 autopilots up until March 2017.

And the autopilots installed on the aircraft are functioning at a suboptimal level because a vital component ― the Auto Pilot Electronic Unit, which maintains the flight path of the aircraft ― required repairs by Thales, which are expected to be completed in 7 to 26 months.

The HAL executive placed blame: ”Upgrade of autopilot has been slow because of delays in supplies by French defense companies.”

The Jaguar with the new AESA radar made its maiden flight Aug. 10, but the Air Force will carry out six more tests before induction.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: Cambodian PM says to set up new brigade, naval base in Stung Treng after border dispute with Laos

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said Wednesday that the country would establish a new intervention brigade and a naval station in northern Stung Treng province bordering Laos.

"All preparation does not intend to wage war with the neighboring country, but aims at defending the nation and people and increasing good relations with the neighboring country," he wrote on his official Facebook page while flying by helicopter to Stung Treng province for a troop visit.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Chinese troops patrol control line on China-India border - FM spokesperson

BEIJING, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Chinese border troops have always patrolled the Chinese side of the line of control on the China-India border, said a Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wednesday in response to a recent altercation between the two troops.

According to media reports, Chinese and Indian soldiers yelled and threw stones at each other in Ladakh, a disputed area between China, Pakistan and India in southeastern Kashmir on Tuesday.

Speaking at a daily press briefing, spokesperson Hua Chunying said she was not aware of the latest reports, but added that "Chinese border troops are always committed to maintaining peace on the China-India border and always patrol along the Chinese line of control."

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Afghan gov't launches new security plan for Kabul

KABUL, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Afghan Interior Ministry has devised and implemented a new plan for Kabul to ensure security in the national capital and adjoining areas, the Government Media and Information Center (GMIC) said on Wednesday.

Giving priorities to providing security to diplomatic enclaves, the GMIC said the security plan would cover Kabul and adjoining districts and provinces close to the capital city.

"Up to 26 checkpoints have been placed around the capital's diplomatic areas on priority basis and 10 more mobile-checkpoints have been considered to patrol the roads and streets leading to the capital city," acting Kabul police chief Salim Ehsas said in a statement.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Terrorist Activities In Afghanistan A Threat To India - Envoy

By Mir Aqa Popalzai

Hinting indirectly at Pakistan, the Indian ambassador in Kabul, Manpreet Vohra, said some countries in the region have damaged all peace efforts and are following destructive policies.

“Sadly, in our immediate neighborhood, there are some who deliberately sabotage all attempts for peace and greater regional cooperation and connectivity,” he said. “India hopes that better sense will prevail on them one day and their self-destructive policies will change.”  

Marking the 70th Independence Day of India at the Indian Embassy in Kabul, the ambassador said New Delhi will stand beside Afghans in the fight against terrorism.

“We champion Afghanistan’s cause and stand with it shoulder to shoulder as it faces serious challenges and strives to build a peaceful, secure and prosperous nation,” he stated. 

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Taliban ‘Suffers Heavy Casualties’ in Faryab Operations

At least 80 Taliban insurgents were killed in ongoing operations to clear Ghormach district of insurgents after it collapsed to the Taliban on Sunday, local officials said.

In addition, 30 other insurgents were wounded.

“Four key Taliban commanders are among those killed in ongoing operations,” a spokesman for the provincial governor, Ahmad Jawid Bedar said adding that “Taliban have suffered heavy casualties in the operations.” 

“The forces are also receiving air support from the Afghan air forces,” Bedar said.

Ghormach has been one of the most insecure districts in the past 10 years. 

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: India, China troops in high-altitude clash - officials

Indian and Chinese troops clashed briefly on a disputed area of land in the Himalayas, officials said Wednesday, exacerbating tensions during a months-long stand-off between the two armies.

Chinese troops threw stones at Indian soldiers near Pangong Lake, a major tourist attraction in the picturesque mountain region of Ladakh on Tuesday, an Indian defence official said.

He said Chinese soldiers had twice tried to enter the Indian territory but had been pushed back.

"There was a minor incident. There was some stone pelting from the Chinese side but the situation was quickly brought under control," he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The brief confrontation was resolved after Indian and Chinese sides retreated to their respective positions, he added.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: Thailand-US military exercise kicks off

Bangkok (VNA/NNT) – Around 725 Thai soldiers and 683 American troops are taking part in the Hanuman Guardian joint military exercise 2017 in Kanchanaburi province of Thailand. 

Held at the 9th Infantry Division headquarters, the joint military exercise is hosted by the Royal Thai Army and the US Army Pacific.

Read the full story at VietnamPlus

News Story: Indonesia - Five militants arrested for Presidential Palace attack plot

Jakarta (VNA) – Indonesia’s police on August 15 arrested five Islamic militants in Bandung, West Java province, and seized chemicals that they confessed were being used to make bombs for attacks on the Presidential Palace later this month.

According to the police, among the five, a couple were deported from China’s Hong Kong for allegedly spreading radical ideology. The group studied bomb-making techniques through a website run by an Indonesian who believed to be fighting with the Islamic State in Syria.

Spokesman of West Java province’s police Yusri Yunus said that this was the first time such dangerous chemicals had been detected in the province.

Read the full story at VietnamPlus

News Story: China May be Finished with Island-Building Campaign

China's Artificial Island built on Fiery Cross Reef
On Tuesday, Philippines defense minister Delfin Lorenzana announced that Manila has reached an understanding with Beijing about Chinese expansion in the South China Sea, and that China has promised not to seize any additional land features in the region. "The Chinese will not occupy new features in the South China Sea nor they are going to build structures in Scarborough Shoal," he told a congressional hearing.

China has built a string of seven artificial islands in the Spratly chain, all of them on land features claimed by the Philippines and other nations. The government of former Philippine president Benigno Aquino opposed Chinese expansion in the region, but under the current leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte, Manila has downplayed the dispute in favor of strengthening economic ties.

Also on Tuesday, foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that the Philippines is pursuing an oil and gas exploration agreement with China in disputed parts of the South China Sea, with revenues to be split 60/40 in favor of the Philippines. Last week, Cayetano admitted that there could be sovereignty issues for a partnership with China in contested waters, noting that the joint venture would have to be within a framework that would be consistent with the Philippine constitution.

Read the full story at MarEx

News Story: UN - Use of child soldiers persistent problem in Philippines

Child Soldier in Asia (File Photo)
By Jose Katigbak, STAR Washington bureau

WASHINGTON – The use of child soldiers by armed groups is a persistent problem in the Philippines, officials here said following revelations by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that these groups used child warriors to behead hostages.

The UN reports armed groups operating in the Philippines, including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, New People’s Army, Moro National Liberation Front, the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, continue to recruit and use children, at times through force, for combat and noncombat roles.

The US State Department in its recent Trafficking in Persons Report 2017 said protracted armed conflict and reports of recruitment and use of child soldiers by armed groups in Mindanao were continuing.

It described child soldiering as a grave human rights violation.

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: S. Korea, U.S. defense chiefs speak about N.K. by phone

SEOUL, Aug. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis held a telephone conversation to discuss North Korea's nuke and missile threats, the defense ministry said Wednesday.

The call came as Pyongyang has threatened to shoot ballistic missiles into the nearby waters of Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific, sparking geopolitical tensions.

Song and Mattis discussed bolstering the Seoul-Washington alliance to deal with North Korea's nuke and missile threats, the ministry said. They also strongly condemned Pyongyang's remarks regarding firing missiles towards Guam, urging North Korea to refrain from making further provocations.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: Trump says N. Korea made 'wise' decision for stepping back

SEOUL, Aug. 16 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made a "wise" choice for refraining from making imminent threats against Washington.

"Kim Jong-un of North Korea made a very wise and well reasoned decision. The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!" Trump said in a Twitter posting.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: Main opposition party adopts U.S. tactical nuke redeployment as official party line

SEOUL, Aug. 16 (Yonhap) -- The main opposition Liberty Korea Party on Wednesday adopted its demand for the redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear arms as an official party line amid North Korea's unceasing saber-rattling.

During a general meeting of its lawmakers, the conservative party made the decision to pursue a redispatching of the U.S. arsenal, which was withdrawn as the two Koreas signed a joint declaration for a nuclear-free peninsula in 1991.

Following a spate of North Korean provocations, including long-range missile tests last month, the party has ratcheted up pressure on the liberal government to start discussions with Washington over the redeployment to create a "nuclear balance of power" with Pyongyang.

"The joint declaration for a nuclear-free peninsula has (already) been scrapped by the North, and I believe it has become virtually meaningless for us to hold fast to it," Chung Woo-taik, the party whip, said during the meeting.

"The time is ripe for us to hold in-depth discussions over the redeployment of the U.S. military's tactical nukes to cope with the dangers of the North's nuclear and missile programs and deter any conflict on the Korean Peninsula," he said.

Tactical nukes refer to short-range nuclear arms designed to be used on a battlefield, as opposed to the strategic nuclear weapons with much higher yields that are delivered by strategic bombers and longer-range ballistic missiles with the aim to eliminate the adversary's will to fight.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: PM negative about calls for S. Korea's nuclear armament

SEOUL, Aug. 16 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon reacted negatively Wednesday to calls for South Korea to possess nuclear weapons, saying the move would undermine Seoul's calls for North Korea to denuclearize, trigger a nuclear arms race and put the country under international sanctions.

Calls for nuclear armament have gained traction as Pyongyang stepped up its nuclear and missile programs, with two nuclear tests last year, as well as a series of missile launches, including those capable of reaching the continental U.S.

Reflecting such calls, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party adopted a demand Wednesday for the redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear arms as its official party line during a general meeting of its lawmakers.

"If we say we're going to have nuclear weapons while putting forward the goal of North Korea's denuclearization, it will end up undermining the justification of our demand for denuclearization and further accelerating nuclear armament in Northeast Asia," Lee said in an interview with YTN television.

"It will also mean that we have to be prepared for international economic sanctions. This is not an issue that we can make a hasty decision on," he said.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: Seoul proposes three-way talks with China, U.S. over THAAD deployment

SEOUL, Aug. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has proposed holding three-way discussions with the United States and China over the deployment of the U.S. missile shield THAAD here that is strongly opposed by Beijing, an informed source said Wednesday.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the proposal was made at a bilateral summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, held on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, early last month.

Xi did not offer any immediate answer at the summit, according to the source. China has apparently remained silent.

South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae refused to confirm, saying it would be "inappropriate" for it to release details of Moon's talks with other heads of state.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: Tillerson - U.S. still interested in talks with N. Korea

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15 (Yonhap) -- The United States continues to be interested in dialogue with North Korea, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday, as the two sides appeared to tamp down escalating tensions over the regime's nuclear and missile programs.

Tillerson made clear, however, that the ball is in North Korea's court.

"We continue to be interested in finding a way to get to a dialogue but that's up to him," he told reporters at the State Department, referring to the North's leader, Kim Jong-un, after announcing the release of a new religious freedom report.

He did not go into details, but the secretary has previously said the North could signal a willingness to hold talks on its denuclearization by stopping missile tests.

Tensions flared last week after Pyongyang threatened to fire four intermediate-range ballistic missiles towards the U.S. territory of Guam. Kim suspended that plan early Tuesday, saying he would watch Washington's behavior "a little more."

"I have no response to his decisions at all at this time," Tillerson said.

North Korea conducted two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July, sharply increasing tensions in an already volatile region.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

16 August 2017

Think Tank: Sea, air, land and space updates (16-Aug-2017)

Jack Viola, Eliza Chapman, Harley Comrie and Jacqueline Westermann

Sea state

It looks like the Russian government might have spoofed naval GPS in the Baltic Sea. A report from an American ship says that the GPS placed the ship at an airport 25 nautical miles from its actual position at the Russian port of Novorossiysk. GPS spoofing has been worrying experts for some time, but this is thought to be the first time the technique has been used ‘in the wild’. These technologies are of such concern that some countries, such as South Korea, have been developing alternative navigation systems in case of an attack on GPS.

Navantia of Spain has submitted its response to the request for tender for Australia’s future frigate project. The proposed F-5000 anti-submarine warfare vessel is an evolution of Navantia’s Hobart-class guided missile destroyer, currently used by the Australian navy, and will draw on lessons from Navantia’s F-310 for Norway.

The Chinese navy has conducted a live-fire drill in the Yellow Sea, which separates China from the Korean peninsula. During the exercise, ‘various missiles, dozens of torpedoes and hundreds of shells’ were fired. China’s defence ministry claimed that the drill was a regularly scheduled military exercise, but some pundits believe it was a response to North Korea’s recent missile tests.

USA: USS Rushmore to support Oceania Maritime Security Initiative

From U.S. 3rd Fleet Public Affairs

USS Rushmore (LSD 47) file photo. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Amanda R. Gray) >>

PACIFIC OCEAN - The Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), with embarked U.S. Coast Guard District 14 maritime law enforcement personnel, departed San Diego in support of Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI), Aug. 14.

OMSI is a secretary of defense program aimed to diminish transnational illegal activity on the high seas in the Pacific Island Nations of Oceania's exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and enhance regional security and interoperability with partner nations.

"Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing undermines efforts to conserve and manage global fish stocks,” said Lt. Kenji Awamura, Coast Guard 14th District response enforcement. “The goal of combined efforts by the Navy and Coast Guard through the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative mission is to deter these devastating practices. In partnership with Australia, New Zealand, France, and the Pacific Island Nations, OMSI further promotes economic and environmental stability throughout Oceania."

News Report: Taliban Flatters Trump, Urges US to Pull Troops from Afghanistan

Ayaz Gul

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — The Taliban has called on U.S. President Donald Trump to pull out all forces from Afghanistan as a “responsible” leader of the United States and stop listening to “stooges” in Kabul.

In a so-called “open letter” to the American president Tuesday, the Islamist insurgent group asserted that “a number of war mongering congressmen and generals” are pressing Trump to prolong the Afghan conflict “because they seek to preserve their military privileges.”

About 8,400 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, training, advising and assisting local forces under a NATO-led military coalition, in addition to conducting counterterrorism operations.

“If you failed to win the Afghan war with disciplined U.S. and NATO troops, advanced technology, experienced military generals, consecutive strategies and mighty economy, you shall never be able to win it with mercenaries, notorious contractor firms and immoral stooges,” said the Taliban letter.

The insurgency's main spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, released the letter to media outlets, including VOA.

News Report: Signs of Diplomacy Appear as North Korea Delays Guam Missile Test

Brian Padden

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Tuesday appeared to postpone a plan to fire missiles toward Guam, a move that could help defuse the potential for imminent conflict, and give new momentum to reported behind the scenes efforts underway to find a peaceful resolution to the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

President Donald Trump’s harsh warning last week that the United States would respond to any North Korean threat with “fire and fury” set off a flurry of confrontational rhetoric from both sides. The North Korean People’s Army pushed back saying preparations were underway to launch a missile over Japan to land near the U.S. territory of Guam. Trump said the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” and ready to respond to any attack on its territories.

On Tuesday, the North Korean leader was quoted by the KCNA state media outlet saying he will wait and see “if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous, reckless actions” before going forward with the missile test targeting the Guam area.

Kim also urged the United States to “show through actions if they wish to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and prevent a dangerous military clash,” according to the KCNA report.

News Story: Restrictions, shutdown in Indian-controlled Kashmir on India's Independence Day

SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Tuesday held India's Independence Day celebrations amid tight security arrangements, officials said.

The main celebration was held at Bhakshi stadium in Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Region's Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti hoisted the Indian national flag and took the salute by the contingents of police, paramilitary troopers, cadets and school children who marched past the podium.

In her address, Mufti said all the political parties in the region "were like one fist" to protect its special status.

The authorities had imposed severe restrictions around Bhakshi stadium and deployed sharp shooters on the rooftops of houses around the venue to keep tight vigil and ward off any possible militant attack during the official celebration.

"Multi-tier security measures were put in place to ensure hassle free function here," said a senior police officer in Srinagar. "The function ended smoothly."

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Security forces foil possible attack on Bangladeshi PM

by Naim-Ul-Karim

DHAKA, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- A suspected militant was killed in a suicide blast during a raid on a hotel in Bangladesh capital Dhaka on Tuesday, the country's police chief told journalists.

After the raid on the militant hideout ended on Tuesday morning at about 11 a.m. local time, AKM Shahidul Hoque, inspector general of Bangladesh Police, told journalists at the scene that "Militant Saiful Islam has blown himself up during the raid despite repeated requests to surrender."

The law enforcement agencies early on Tuesday cordoned off Hotel Olio International.

A portion of the hotel's fourth storey reportedly collapsed and fell onto the road after the explosion.

A pedestrian was injured in an explosion that rocked the area during the operation codenamed "August Bite."

The hotel is located a few blocks away from the memorial museum of Bangladesh's founding president Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who was assassinated on Aug. 15, 1975 along with 13 members of his family.

On Tuesday morning. Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the nation in paying homage by placing wreaths at the portrait of Bangabandhu installed in front of the memorial museum in Western Dhaka's posh Dhanmondi area.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: U.S. unilateral measures to shaken multilateral trade framework - UN official

GENEVA, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. unilateral punishing trade measures, based on outdated national laws, against its trade partners are not in line with the international laws and could shaken the foundation of an established multilateral trade framework, a UN trade official warned on Tuesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday directed the U.S. trade representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer to examine China's intellectual property practices, despite worries about potential harms to China-U.S. trade ties.

The USTR will determine "whether to investigate any of China's laws, policies, practices, or actions" that "may be harming American intellectual property rights, innovation or technology development" under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, according to a memorandum released by the White House.

Section 301, once heavily used in the 1980s and the early 1990s, allows the U.S. president to unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions against foreign countries, but the U.S. has rarely used the trade tool since the WTO came into being in 1995.

Liang Guoyong, Economic Affairs Officer at the Investment and Enterprise Division of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said such an examination under Section 301 could serve as a tool for the U.S. to strike a bargain with China, and any tariffs or restricting trade measures thereof imposed unilaterally by the U.S. could shaken the foundation of a multilateral trade framework.

The repercussions would be a high risk of a trade war which will benefit neither of the two countries, he added.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: U.S. remains open to dialogue with DPRK - top diplomat

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday that the United States remains open to talks with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

"We continue to be interested in trying to find a way to get to dialogue but that's up to him (DPRK) top leader Kim Jong-un," Tillerson told reporters here at a press conference.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Chinese FM urges peaceful settlement of Korean nuclear issue in phone talk with Lavrov

BEIJING, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday called for a peaceful settlement to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula in a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Peacefully settling the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is fully compatible with the common interests of all parties concerned, including China and Russia, Wang said, adding that both countries have maintained close coordination on the issue, a reflection of the high-level strategic collaboration between them

Wang also said that under the current circumstances, China and Russia should further communicate to ensure the situation remains under control while sparing no effort in promoting negotiations. Wang added that no one should be permitted to stir up tensions on China and Russia's doorstep.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China tells ROK to stop THAAD deployment

BEIJING, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- China on Monday told the Republic of Korea (ROK) to stop the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.

The new ROK defense minister has said the deployment process would be accelerated to tackle tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Full Withdrawal From Afghanistan Is An Option - Mattis

The US Defense Secretary James Mattis said at a press conference on Monday that President Donald Trump's administration was "very, very close" to finalising its new strategy for Afghanistan but warned it had not been settled yet.

"The strategic decisions have not been made," Mattis said adding that "all options" remained on the table for how to approach Afghanistan, and said those options included a full withdrawal as well as a proposal for the use of more contractors to manage the US effort there.

Mattis added that all options for a new strategy in Afghanistan, including the use of private security contractors, remain under consideration by Trump.

The plans could lead to sending an additional 3,000-4,000 US troops to Afghanistan, but the president reportedly has been frustrated by his options in the nearly 16-year-old conflict and has considered firing the US commander in Afghanistan.

"We're sharpening each one of the options," Mattis said. "You can see the pluses and minuses of each one so that there's no longer any new data you are going to get. Now, just make the decision. There's the options."

In response to a question on whether Trump had confidence in Gen. John Nicholson, the US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, he said: “He is our commander in the field. He has the confidence of NATO.”

“He has the confidence of Afghanistan. He has the confidence of the United States, and the President again is looking at all aspects of our effort over there as he must in his responsibilities as the commander-in-chief,” he said.

Read the full story at TOLOnews


PacificSentinel: I hope these idiots in Washington realize that a complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan would be a betrayal of the soldiers that died and their families, it would also give other nations reason to think twice about supporting US operations in the future.

News Story: Mass Graves Discovered In Mirza Olang Following Massacre

By Samim Faramarz

Three massive graves containing dozens of bodies have been found in Mirza Olang valley in northern Sar-e-Pul province following a coordinated attack by militants in the area last week. 

TOLOnews reporter Samim Faramarz says that according to residents, the majority of those buried in these graves were civilians and some of them members of the public uprising forces but the bodies of three children, who were beheaded, were also recovered. 

42 bodies so far have been removed from these graves, Faramarz said.

Reza, a resident of Mirza Olang, who returned to his village, after ten days, in search of his father, said he has found a pair of shoes belonging to his father.

“These are my father’s shoes. He is no longer alive. He has been killed. My father and 22 others were buried in a corner of this hill in the mass grave,” he said.

It is said that these civilians were massacred while trying to escape an attack by the Taliban and Daesh militants. 

The Taliban has rejected these claims but Daesh on Tuesday claimed responsibility. 

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Envoy Calls For Olive Branch To Pakistan

By Mir Aqa Popalzai

Further close cooperation must be ensured between Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to overcome common challenges, including terrorism, facing the two nations, said Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Addressing Pakistan’s 70th Independence Day ceremony at Pakistani embassy in Kabul on Tuesday, he claimed that Afghanistan should extend the hand of friendship towards Pakistan instead of taking orders from western countries.

“We are sharing common interests, our benefits and losses are one. If we stand alongside each other, I am confident that hopefully no power in the world can cast an evil eye toward us,” he told the gathering.

Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Zahid Nasrullah Khan said the Pakistani armed forces have fought bravely against all militant groups without any discrimination.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Police chief says IS planning Merdeka attack in Perak

Intelligence reports indicate that the terrorist group will target public areas such as banks and places of worship, says Perak police chief Hasnan Hassan.

PETALING JAYA: Police have revealed that the Islamic State (IS) is planning to launch an attack in Perak during the upcoming Merdeka Day celebrations.

In a report by China Press, Perak police chief Hasnan Hassan cited intelligence reports indicating that IS would target public areas such as banks and places of worship.

He added that the police were taking necessary precautions and had enhanced police patrol in the state.

This comes just over a year after IS launched its first ever successful attack on Malaysian soil at the Movida club in Puchong.

The attack took place at 2am on June 28, 2016, as customers were watching a live screening of the Euro football tournament. Eight people were injured in the explosion which was caused by a grenade.

IS later claimed responsibility, saying the attack was aimed at vice activities during Ramadan.

Read the full story at Free Malaysia Today

News Story: Navantia pitches F-5000 design for Future (Aus) Frigates bid

Navantia Australia has submitted its response to the Commonwealth’s Request for Tender for the Sea 5000 Future Frigate program with what it regards as “a comprehensive plan for a leading edge anti-submarine warfare (ASW) vessel and Australia’s continuous shipbuilding industry”.

The F-5000, an evolution of the soon to be commissioned Navantia-designed Hobart Class DDG, will be designed locally to meet specific requirements of the Royal Australian Navy, and built in Adelaide using expertise, experience and equipment from Australia, according to the company.

With capabilities based on the Hobart Class, the F-5000 also incorporates lessons learnt from the operational requirements of the Navantia designed and built Norwegian F-310 ASW frigate. The F-5000 will also provide operational flexibility and force multiplication by incorporating 48 strike length missile cells, a Mk45 5” gun, an advanced above water sensor suite, and integration of the MH-60R combat helicopter and UAV featured in the F-5000’s design.

Navantia says that incorporating the Navantia-SAGE Automation Group’s (NSAG) Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS), which will already be operated by 1,500 men and women of the Navy across seven existing naval platforms, additional training requirements will be reduced and the Adelaide based NSAG will continue to grow as a key input to capability.

“By using an in service Australian ship as our reference to build the F-5000, we will be ensuring that Australia’s future ASW frigate is able to seamlessly integrate into the RAN’s fleet and provide the savings through economies of scale for shipbuilding, training, maintenance and supply support.” Navantia Australia’s Donato Martínez said.

Read the full story at Australian Defence