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Let’s Discuss Mutual Interests; Let’s Go Through Unified Understanding

Modi has to show diplomatic expertise. He knows that India cannot have enmity with the US

mutual interests
Mike Pompeo came in advance for the final round of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's face-to-face meeting with American President Donald Trump. Wikimedia Commons

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came in advance for the final round of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s face-to-face meeting with American President Donald Trump. Trump sent him to fix the schedule of the two top leaders’ meeting. It was just before June 28 that a bilateral meeting would be held in the G-20 summit in Japan. But with Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar, Pompeo also held an advance meeting basically for themselves. Trump praised Modi with a tweet as soon as his second innings started, but his main goal was to ensure that India withdrew tax on US items – India has taxed medicine, cars, toys, and this tax had to be reduced.

US goods and services trade with India was estimated at $142.1 billion (2018). But the volume of this trade has now reduced. There is now a US trade deficit with India. There are complaints that India has increased tariffs in 29 of the US products that are coming into India.

Trump has opposed the buying of the S-800 TRIUMF missile system of India from Russia. From 2020, this missile will be available in India. According to the American consumers legislation, the US authorities are opposing this defence agreement. According to US law, the country will ban those who enter into a defence agreement with Russia. Again, the angry US authorities made it more difficult for Indians to get an opportunity to get H-1 visas. The cost of US visas has increased. As a result, Indian students and information technology workers are in trouble.

mutual interests
There is now a US trade deficit with India. Wikimedia Commons

There is also trouble on the Iran issue. In August 2012, the Trump administration issued fresh financial sanctions on Iran. US officials wanted India to freeze diplomatic ties with Iran, but New Delhi did not care about American threats. India did not change Modi’s policy on Iran. Understanding the situation in India, US officials have also given a concession to Iran on this issue till May this year. Now see what they do. In ‘self-interest’, there has been a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Peace negotiations with the Taliban for India is not very happy news.

Support within the country is giving Modi the strength to fight a world leader like Trump. He is able to bargain. If a government is not backed by a majority in Parliament, if it is weak, or a patchwork coalition government, the government would be weak internationally.

However, the foreign policy of Trump is also difficult to understand – trade war with China; Russian sanctions; a shaky deal with North Korea; a fight with a neighbour like Canada and problems with Mexico. After the end of the Cold War, US relations with India have been consistently good. In 2008, George W. Bush and then Barack Obama finalised the nuclear deal with India. Then, the relationship between the two countries became stronger. After Trump became President, there were dark clouds over the bilateral relationship. But Trump is an amazing character. He often conflicts with a lot of small issues without emphasizing the large context of relations between two countries.

mutual interests
Modi has to show diplomatic expertise. He knows that India cannot have enmity with the US. Wikimedia Commons

Here, Modi has to show diplomatic expertise. So far, both Modi and Jaishankar have been successful on this front. Modi knows that India cannot have enmity with the US. However, submission in the name of friendship cannot be called successful diplomacy either. So both sides are seeking good relations, and Modi and Trump are fighting nervous wars in diplomatic negotiations.

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Meanwhile, another US presidential election is coming up. What if Trump is elected President once again? Ahead of the 2020 election, he is now becoming more conservative and more aggressive. The primary reading of foreign policy is that every sovereign state has some expectations which is called desire and real evaluation of how much is possible in the expectation is called effective desire or effective expectation. Now India should not expect that all claims of Modi will be accepted by Trump. Or India will accept all expectations of Trump. There is always a difference between these basic needs and effective demands. There is a conflict between the demands of the two sovereign states. The path of getting through these conflicts is wide.

All the countries are plagued by various problems today. The British ruled India once, but imagine what is happening in London today. In this situation, almost all sovereign states are becoming more protectionist. There is increasing nationalist Swadeshi conservatism but this mentality will increase conflict. So now let’s discuss mutual interests. Let’s go through a unified understanding. (IANS)

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Trump to Pursue Higher Sales Age for Vaping Devices: ‘An Age Limit of 21 or So’

Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details

Trump, Sales, Vaping
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Nov. 8, 2019. VOA

President Donald Trump said Friday his administration will pursue raising the age to purchase electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21 in its upcoming plans to combat youth vaping.

Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details.

“We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we’re going to have an age limit of 21 or so,” said Trump, speaking outside the White House.

Currently the minimum age to purchase any tobacco or vaping product is 18, under federal law. But more than one-third of U.S. states have already raised their sales age to 21.

Trump, Sales, Vaping
FILE – A woman buys refills for her Juul at a smoke shop in New York, Dec. 20, 2018. VOA

A federal law raising the purchase age would require congressional action.

Administration officials were widely expected to release plans this week for removing virtually all flavored e-cigarettes from the market. Those products are blamed for soaring rates of underage use by U.S. teenagers.

However, no details have yet appeared, leading vaping critics to worry that the administration is backing away from its original plan.

Trump resisted any specifics on the scope of the restrictions.

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“We’re talking about the age, we’re talking about flavors, we’re also talking about keeping people working — there are some pretty good aspects,” Trump said.

Mint flavor

Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month.

Fruit, candy, dessert and other sweet vaping flavors have been targeted because of their appeal to underage users.

Trump, Sales, Vaping
FILE – A man blows a puff of smoke as he vapes with an electronic cigarette, Oct. 18, 2019. VOA

On Thursday, Juul Labs, the nation’s largest e-cigarette maker, announced it would voluntarily pull its mint-flavored e-cigarettes from the market. That decision followed new research that Juul’s mint is the top choice for many high school students who vape.

With the removal of mint, Juul only sells two flavors: tobacco and menthol.

Vaping critics say menthol must be a part of the flavor ban to prevent teens who currently use mint from switching over.

‘Tobacco 21’ law

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Juul and other tobacco companies have lobbied in support of a federal “Tobacco 21” law to reverse teen use of both e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco products. The effort also has broad bipartisan support in Congress, including a bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The logic for hiking the purchase age for cigarettes and other products is clear: Most underage teens who use e-cigarettes or tobacco get it from older friends. Raising the minimum age to 21 is expected to limit the supply of those products in U.S. schools.

Delaying access to cigarettes is also expected to produce major downstream health benefits, with one government-funded report estimating nearly 250,000 fewer deaths due to tobacco over several decades.

Still, anti-tobacco groups have insisted that any “Tobacco 21” law must be accompanied by a ban on flavors, which they say are the primary reason young people use e-cigarettes. (VOA)