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US 'looks forward' to working with Prez-elect Kovind


Washington - The United States has congratulated president-elect Ram Nath Kovind on his electoral victory and said that it looks forward to working with him on regional and global issues.
Kovind, a low-key lawyer-turned-politician, was on Thursday elected as India's 14th President, the first BJP member and the second Dalit to occupy the country's highest office.
"We want to congratulate the President-elect Ramnath Kovind on his victory," State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters at a news conference yesterday.
Noting that the US and India have a "deep and growing strategic partnership", she said: "We look forward to working with the president-elect on regional and global issues."          
Nauert credited the close people-to-people contact between the world's two largest democracies with the type of partnership they share.
"That partnership is obviously underpinned by our very close people-to-people contact with the Indian government and our shared democratic values," Nauert said in response to a question.
A former Bihar governor, Kovind, 71, received 2930 votes with a value of 7,02,044, to defeat the joint opposition candidate Meira Kumar, a former Lok Sabha speaker, who got 1844 votes with a value of 3,67,314.
Kovind garnered 65.65 per cent of the votes in the electoral college against the BJP's projected 70 per cent vote for him.

Amarnath terror attack: Woman pilgrim succumbs to injuries; toll rises to 8


Srinagar - A woman devotee, injured in the deadly militant attack on Amarnath pilgrims, succumbed at a hospital late last night, taking the death toll in the incident to eight.
Lalita, 47, who had received a bullet in her abdomen, was operated upon by doctors. She succumbed to her injuries at SKIMS Hospital here, a police official said.
With this, the death toll in the July 10 attack has climbed to eight.

Three militants killed in encounter in Kashmir's Budgam


Srinagar - Three militants were on Wednesday killed in an overnight encounter with security forces in central Kashmir's Budgam district, police said.
"Three militants were killed this morning in the encounter," a police official said.
He said security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Redbug area of Budgam last evening after receiving specific intelligence inputs about the presence of militants in the area.
The search operation turned into an encounter as the search party of the security forces was fired upon by the militants.
The operation was halted for the night but the security forces maintained the cordon of the area to stop the militants from escaping, the official said.
He said the gun fight resumed this morning and three militants were killed. The identity and group affiliation of the slain militants is being ascertained, he added.

Army back in violence-hit Darjeeling


Kolkata - The Army was today called in, the second time in 30 days, as Darjeeling and neighbouring Sonada erupted after the body of a youth was recovered in Sonada. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, blaming the BJP-led Union Government for the crisis, said if enough CRPF companies had been made available to the state in time, violence would not have occurred in the hills.
“There is total non-cooperation from the Centre”, she alleged at a press conference here. “The Union Government did send seven companies of central forces after trouble broke out in Darjeeling, but six of the seven companies had inherent limitations as these consisted of three companies each of SSB and women CRPF personnel,” she said.
Pointing out that personnel of the SSB and women CRPF were not geared up for the job at hand, Mamata said this only showed that “there was a deliberate attempt” by the Centre to deny her help. She announced a judicial inquiry into the communal violence in Baduria and Basirhat in North 24 Parganas district as well as a probe to ascertain who was responsible for the death of a young man at Sonada on Friday night.
Young Tashi Bhutia’s body was found at Sonada this morning with bullet wounds. The Gorkha National Liberation Front, which had earlier spearheaded the movement for Gorkhaland but was reduced to a fringe force following the emergence of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), claimed that the deceased was one of its activists. “Another Gorkha martyred. Tashi Bhutia alias Khitta, a Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) cadre,  was last night martyred by CRPF in Sonada @ around 11 PM”, Neeraj Zimba Tamang, GNLF spokesman, posted on his Facebook page.
Residents of Sonada took out a procession with Bhutia’s body and clashed with the police who used tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the mob. Miscreants set afire the waiting room of the Sonada railway station — a heritage station on the Siliguri-Darjeeling toy train route. In Darjeeling, Gorkhaland supporters set ablaze an office of the ruling Trinamool Congress and clashed with the police at Chowkbazar. One person was reportedly killed in the violence.  The Army was first deployed in Darjeeling on June 8 and withdrawn on June 24, much to the chagrin of the CM.

Amid 'escalated' North Korea threat,

US carries out missile drill with S Korea


Washington - The US on Wednesday confirmed that North Korea test launched an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time and warned of an "escalated threat" from Pyongyang, while carrying out a joint missile drill with South Korea in response.
In the show of strength that followed the ICBM launch by the hermit nation, US and South Korean soldiers fired missiles into the latter's territorial waters yesterday to showcase their "precision fire capability", chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said.
According to a statement by US forces in South Korea, the exercise "utilised the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) and the South Korea's Hyunmoo Missile II, which fired missiles into territorial waters of South Korea along the East Coast."                
The Pentagon said that America's commitment to the defence of its allies in the region -- South Korea and Japan -- in the face of threats is "ironclad".
"The launch continues to demonstrate that North Korea poses a threat to the United States and our allies. Together with the Republic of Korea, we conducted a combined exercise to show our precision fire capability," White said.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who confirmed the launch in a statement, said America would never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.
"The United States strongly condemns North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world," Tillerson said.
The US has also requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, which is expected to take place today.
"We intend to bring North Korea's provocative action before the UN Security Council and enact stronger measures to hold the DPRK accountable," Tillerson said.
He also called for "global action" to stop a "global threat".
"The US seeks only the peaceful denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and the end of threatening actions by North Korea," he added.
At a White House event, US President Donald Trump, without mentioning North Korea, said that the US will handle its challenges. "We do have challenges, but we will handle those challenges. Believe me.


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