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North Korea threatens US with nuclear

strike if leader harmed

Washington - North Korea on Tuesday threatened a nuclear strike on the United States if it attempts to remove country leader Kim Jong Un.
According to a report by the CNN, Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that a spokesman from the North Korean Foreign Ministry said, “The DPRK legally stipulates that if the supreme dignity of the DPRK is threatened, it must preemptively annihilate those countries and entities that are directly or indirectly involved in it, by mobilizing all kinds of strike means, including the nuclear ones.”
“Should the US dare to show even the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership, we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the US with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time,” the spokesman added.
The threat was in response to comments from Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo, who said last week that the Trump administration needed to find a way to separate Kim from his growing nuclear stockpile.
Recently, the US intelligence also assessed that North Korea had accelerated its intercontinental range ballistic missile programme.

Fresh worry over missing Indians

New Delhi - Doubts have arisen over the whereabouts of 39 missing Indians, taken captive by Islamic militants three years ago, following media reports that the Badush prison in Iraq where they were believed to have been lodged had been reduced to rubble.
Six days ago, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had told kin of the missing construction workers (most of them are from Punjab) that they were probably in Badush, northwest of Mosul. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) did not comment on the media reports. However, some clarity is expected when Iraqi Foreign Minister Dr Ibrahim al-Jaafari arrives on a four-day visit to India on Monday.
Reports emanating from Badush say the prison has been destroyed and that there are no prisoners.  Harjit Masih of Gurdaspur district, among those to have fled from captivity three years ago, had told the media back home that his 39 compatriots had been killed.
Last month, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Bagley had said the Indians were alive since there was no information to the contrary.
Going on the offensive, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala today tweeted: “Unfortunate that Sushmaji & MEA continue to mislead the families of 39 Indians missing in Iraq. Not just clueless but also heartless”.
DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK said the government seemed clueless and that the External Affairs Minister should insist on definite information during her meeting with the Iraqi minister.
Cong to move privilege motion against Swaraj
Chandigarh: Partap Singh Bajwa said on Saturday he would bring a privilege motion against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for "misleading Parliament and the nation" about the missing youths. The Rajya Sabha MP said: "The families of the missing Indians as well as the nation wants to know the truth.”

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.

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