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German Defence Minister Lambrecht announces resignation

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German Defence Minister Lambrecht announces resignation
GLOBALTIMESPAKISTAN

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht resigned from Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government on Monday, the culmination of growing scepticism about her ability to revive Germany’s armed forces against the backdrop of the Ukraine war.

“Today I asked the chancellor to dismiss me from the office of federal minister of defence,” Lambrecht, a member of Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), said in a statement.

Her decision to step down comes as Germany is under pressure to approve an increase in international military support for Kyiv, and Germany’s defence capabilities have been called into question after several Puma infantry tanks were put out of service during a recent military drill.

Lambrecht has been blamed for failing to get the Bundeswehr back in shape quickly, despite a 100 billion euro special fund being agreed for that purpose after Russia invaded Ukraine.

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Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Eva Hoegl, junior defence minister Siemtje Moeller, SPD party head Lars Klingbeil and Labour Minister Hubertus Heil have been named as potential successors by German media.

It was unclear whether Scholz would name a successor on Monday, according to government sources.

The pressure to find a successor quickly is also mounting because U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is expected in Berlin on Thursday and will attend a conference on Friday at the U.S. military base in Ramstein, in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, to discuss further support for Ukraine.

Lambrecht was most recently criticised by media and opposition figures for posting an outdoor video on social media on New Year’s Day in which she thanked servicemen and women, but struggled to be heard against background noise from firecrackers and seemingly mixed up the war in Ukraine with pleasant personal encounters.

“What kind of a year was 2022? It faced us with many incredible challenges. There is a war raging in the middle of Europe. Associated with this were for me many special impressions, many encounters with interesting, great people,” Lambrecht said in the video.

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India stops visa processing in Canada as diplomatic row intensifies

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India stops visa processing in Canada as diplomatic row intensifies

 India on Thursday suspended the issuing of visas in Canada, the service provider said, amid a diplomatic row sparked by Ottowa’s accusation New Delhi was involved in the killing of a Sikh separatist near Vancouver.

“Important notice from Indian mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from September 21, 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice,” BLS International posted on their website on Thursday.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has demanded India treat with “utmost seriousness” allegations that Indian agents played a role in the June murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

The fallout prompted tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions and a forceful denial from India, which said any suggestion it played a role in Nijjar’s killing was “absurd”.

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The suspension of visas comes a day after India’s foreign ministry said it was concerned for the safety of its citizens in Canada because of “politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence”.

“Threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda,” a ministry statement said on Wednesday.

“Indian nationals are therefore advised to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada that have seen such incidents.”

The advisory did not name specific cities or locations for Indians to avoid.

Nijjar was shot dead by two masked assailants outside the Sikh temple he presided over in Surrey, an outer suburb of Vancouver.

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An activist for the creation of a Sikh state known as Khalistan, Nijjar was wanted by Indian authorities for alleged terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder.

He had denied those charges, according to the World Sikh Organisation of Canada, a nonprofit organisation that says it defends the interests of Canadian Sikhs.

The Indian government accuses Ottawa of turning a blind eye to the activities of radical Sikh nationalists who advocate the creation of an independent Sikh state to be carved out of northern India.

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US Senate confirms Biden pick as top US military officer

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US Senate confirms Biden pick as top US military officer

 A majority of the US Senate backed US Air Force chief General Charles Q. Brown on Wednesday to be the top US military officer, as lawmakers moved to confirm some of the top senior officers whose promotions have been stalled by a Republican senator’s blockade.

The Senate backed President Joe Biden’s nomination of Brown to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by 83 to 11.

Brown is a former fighter pilot who brings command experience in the Pacific to the position at a time of rising tension with China.

He will be only the second Black officer to chair the Joint Chiefs after Colin Powell two decades ago.

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The Senate moved ahead with votes on Brown and two other top military officers as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, used a procedural maneuver to sidestep a blockade by Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville.

Tuberville began blocking confirmations to senior Pentagon posts in March to protest a Defense Department policy enacted last year that provides paid leave and reimburses costs for service members who travel to get an abortion.

Brown and other military officials had said Tuberville’s blockade of hundreds of military promotions could have a far-reaching impact across the armed forces, affecting troops and their families and harming national security.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin congratulated Brown on his confirmation, thanked Schumer for bringing the vote and chastised Tuberville for his obstruction. “It is well past time to confirm the over 300 other military nominees,” Austin said in a statement.

Biden’s nomination of Brown, which was announced in May, followed his appointment of Austin as the first Black US secretary of defense, the top civilian position at the Pentagon.

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Brown’s confirmation means Black Americans hold the top two positions at the Pentagon for the first time, a major milestone for an institution that is diverse in its lower ranks but largely white and male at the top.

Schumer also cleared the way for Senate votes on Biden’s nomination of General Randy George to become chief of staff of the Army, and General Eric Smith to become the next commandant of the Marine Corps.

Schumer’s procedural motion did not address hundreds of other military promotions still being delayed by Tuberville’s action.

The Senate’s approval of military promotions is usually smooth. Tuberville’s hold cannot prevent the Democratic-majority Senate from voting on any promotion, but it can drastically slow the process.

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Trump says if elected again he will send troops to US-Mexico border

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Trump says if elected again he will send troops to US-Mexico border

Former US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that if elected again he would shift resources from federal law enforcement agencies and send thousands of overseas-based troops to the US-Mexico border.

Speaking to supporters in Iowa, where the Republican Party’s first nominating contest for the November 2024 election will be held in January, Trump also promised to expand on a travel ban that barred people from several countries with majority Muslim populations during his 2017-2021 presidency.

Calling record illegal US-Mexico border crossings under President Joe Biden an “invasion,” Trump sought to place blame for the problem on the current administration. Biden, a Democrat, is running for re-election and could have a rematch election against the Republican front-runner Trump.

“Upon my inauguration I will immediately terminate every open borders policy of the Biden administration,” Trump said at a rally in Dubuque. “I’ll make clear that we must use any and all resources needed to stop the invasion, including moving thousands of troops currently stationed overseas.”

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Trump provided few specifics, including on exactly how he planned to expand on any ban imposed on Muslim-majority countries. It was unclear if Trump would face any legal hurdles to implementing such measures.

The Biden administration has defended its border policies, saying it is using the tools available, while calling on Congress to pass laws to fix a broken system. Most people seeking to cross the southern US border come from Central American countries.

Trump’s rivals have stepped up their rhetoric on immigration in recent weeks, promising tough action on crossings at the US-Mexico border in a sign of the importance of the issue to Republican primary voters.

About one in six Republicans consider immigration as the most pressing issue facing the country, making it the third most important issue to them after the economy and crime, a Reuters/Ipsos poll this month showed.

Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said in an interview with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell that if elected president he would send the military to the border and authorize the use of deadly force against members of drug cartels.

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DeSantis is Trump’s top rival but remains some 40 percentage points behind him in opinion polls.

The Dubuque rally was one of two afternoon stops for Trump in Iowa on Wednesday. His campaign is scheduling a series of visits to the state in the coming weeks, as he seeks to fend off a push there by his primary rivals, some of whom have spent considerably more time and money in Iowa.

Trump was the only major candidate to skip the annual Faith and Freedom Coalition banquet in Des Moines over the weekend, missing a chance to connect with evangelicals, a critical voting bloc in the state.

His visit on Wednesday came as he confronted fresh criticism from conservatives for his stance on abortion, triggered by his Sunday appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” in which he declined to commit to national restrictions on the procedure and called DeSantis’ signing of a six-week ban a “terrible mistake.”

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who is popular in her state, and DeSantis were among the Republicans to blast Trump’s remarks.

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Trump told the crowd in Dubuque that they needed to “follow their heart” on abortion but warned that Republicans needed to “learn how to talk” about legislation in a way that doesn’t turn off voters. He said it was important to carve out exceptions for any ban for instances of rape, incest and the mother’s life.

“Without the exceptions, it is very difficult to win elections. We would probably lose the majorities in 2024 without the exceptions and perhaps the presidency itself,” he said.

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