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Nikki Haley demands the removal of ‘secessionist’ flag

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Washington: One hundred and fifty years after the end of the American civil war, South Carolina’s Indian-American Governor, Nikki Haley, finally added her powerful voice to growing demands for removing the rebel Confederate flag from the State Capitol.

Public pressure to remove the red flag with a blue diagonal cross with 13 white stars representing the secessionist states breaking away from the American Union over the issue of slavery peaked after the horrific massacre in a historic black church in Charleston last week.

Hundreds marched in South Carolina over the weekend seeking removal of the Confederate flag from its perch after Dylan Roof. The 21-year-old white man who allegedly came to the church “to shoot black people” and “start a race war” was seen in photographs with a gun waving the flag.

“Today we are here in a moment of unity in our state without ill will to say it is time to remove the flag from our capitol grounds,” said Haley, daughter of Sikh immigrant parents from India and the state’s first non-white Governor.

“This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state,” said the two-term Chief Executive of the state that had led the way out of the Union on December 20, 1860, six weeks after the election of Abraham Lincoln as president.

By March 1861, emboldened by South Carolina’s example, six more states — Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas – also seceded to form the Confederate States of America or the Confederacy. The flag once flew atop the State Capitol, but by a 2000 compromise it was moved to its location in front of the state legislature. The flag can only be removed from there with the approval of two-thirds of the General Assembly.

Haley said if the legislature doesn’t convene on the matter in this last week of the legislative year, she would call up lawmakers to the capital “under extraordinary measures.”

President Barack Obama, who will travel to Charleston Friday to deliver the eulogy for one of the victims, Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a state senator, has said the flag should be removed and placed in a museum.

South Carolina’s two Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, were also alongside Haley at the announcement. Though they did not speak there, they both backed the governor’s call. Graham, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, said in a statement that “after the tragic, hate-filled shooting in Charleston, it is only appropriate that we deal once and for all with the issue of the flag.”

The Republican House speaker of Mississippi, also, unexpectedly declared in a statement on Monday night that the Mississippi state flag, which includes the Confederate banner, “has become a point of offense that needs to be removed.”

Most Republican presidential candidates had earlier hesitated to weigh in on the flag issue as South Carolina is an early and crucial primary state. But Haley’s decision helped them cut their tacit support of the Confederate flag.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Governor John Kasich, quickly expressed their support for Haley, hailing her calls for the flag’s removal as the right decision.

Walmart, the country’s largest retailer, announced that it would remove items bearing the Confederate flag from its stores and stop selling them online. Sears Holdings made a similar announcement.

Calling the Confederate flag a “Symbol of Hatred”, the New York Times said Haley had “acted in the interest of her state and the nation” with her call to remove the flag from the State Capitol grounds.

Saying that the Confederate battle flag is not worthy of respect, The Washington Post added, “It is a symbol of secession and opposition to civil rights and, hence, should be removed.”

(IANS)

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Nikki Haley says North Korea Could Face Stronger Sanctions due to its 7th Missile test in 2017

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nuclear weapons
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un , VOA

US, May 15, 2017: Nikki Haley said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that North Korea could face stronger sanctions and other measures after the reclusive country conducted its seventh missile test this year, the first since South Korea elected a new president.

North Korea’s new strategic ballistic missile, called Hwasong-12, was fired on Sunday and flew 489 miles on a trajectory reaching an altitude of 1,312 miles, North Korean official news agency KCNA said, according to Reuters.

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The missile blast comes less than a week after new South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office.

“Well, I think you first have to get into Kim Jong-un’s head, you know, which is he’s in a state of paranoia,” Haley, the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, said on “This Week,” about the North Korean leader. “He’s incredibly concerned about anything and everything around him. I think this was a message to South Korea after the election.

“And so what we’re going to do is continue to tighten the screws. He feels it. He absolutely feels it. And we’re going to continue, whether it’s sanctions, whether it’s press statements, anything that we have to do,” she continued.

While Moon did not back off of possible talks with North Korea, he added that he was not pleased with the missile launch, according to The Korea Herald.

“The possibility of dialogue is open, but provocations must be met with stern responses to prevent North Korea from making misjudgments,” Moon said at a National Security Council meeting, according to The Korea Herald. “(Seoul) must show that dialogue is possible only when North Korea changes its behavior.”

Haley said Sunday that cooperation with China has been better “than we ever have,” and she expects it will produce dividends for the U.S.

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“We are determined to take care of South Korea, which is why we have our mission there, working and that, as well,” Haley said on “This Week.” “And then we’re going to continue to take care of Japan.

“What we do know is the international community is concern. It’s not just us against them anymore. Now you’re going to see the entire international community isolate North Korea and let them know that this is not acceptable,” Haley continued.

Haley said while President Donald Trump is still open to talk with Kim, “Having a missile test is not the way to sit down with the president, because he’s absolutely not going to do it.”

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US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and Akbaruddin discuss India-US Cooperation

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FILE - United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley attends a meeting of the Security Council at U.N. headquarters in New York, Feb. 7, 2017. VOA

United Nations April 27, 2017: The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, the first Indian American to hold a cabinet rank, visited India’s UN Mission on Thursday for a wide-ranging discussion with Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin.

“We shared perspectives on how India-US can work together at the UN in line with our growing ties,” Akbaruddin told IANS after the meeting.

Haley described their meeting in a tweet as “great”. “We discussed India’s economy, peacekeeping reform and the partnership between India and the US.”

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A US Mission statement added that they also discussed “India’s economic and anti-corruption reforms that have helped businesses and spurred growth” and “the close ties between the two countries and opportunities to further the partnership between the US and India at the UN.”

Permanent Representative to the UN has a cabinet rank in the US government and Haley has emerged as a powerful and outspoken voice on foreign policy in the US, even as she deviated from some of the early positions of President Donald Trump.

However, the differences have virtually disappeared as Trump moved closer to her stances due to realpolitik and Congressional pressures. For example, Trump has embraced her hardline on Russia after chemical attacks allegedly carried out by Syria.

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A critic of how the UN works, Haley has been insistent on reforming it, especially the peacekeeping operations as a cut in US contributions to the world body looms.

“I know for a fact that Nikki feels very, very strongly about taking on problems that really people steered away from,” Trump said on Monday during a White House lunch for Permanent Representatives of members of the Security Council.

Trump thanked Haley for her “outstanding leadership” and said she was doing a “fantastic job.”

It was not known if the Security Council reforms with a permanent seat for India — a priority for New Delhi — came up during the conversation with Akbaruddin.

President Barack Obama has backed India’s quest, but the Trump administration has not publicly endorsed it and Haley has only said that she was open to the idea.

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Asked about it at a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations here in March, she admitted candidly, “First of all, I’m in learning mode. And as I look at that, I know there is conversations of reform of Security Council.”

She then added: “I’m open to hearing anyone on what they have to say and looking at it and going further.”

With the US contributing 28.36 per cent of the peacekeeping budget, Washington is giving priority to reforming the operations.

Historically India has been the largest troop-contributor to the UN peacekeeping operations and 7,678 are serving now.

India has also been advocating reforming the peacekeeping operations, especially how the mandates are set by the Security Council, often without consulting the troop-contributors.

As Governor of South Carolina, Haley showed interest in India’s economy and its potential and led a trade delegation in 2014 to India seeking investments and stronger commercial ties with her state.

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US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley takes aim at Iran and its proxy militia Hezbollah

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FILE - United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley attends a meeting of the Security Council at U.N. headquarters in New York, Feb. 7, 2017. VOA

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations took aim at Iran and its proxy militia Hezbollah on Thursday, saying the United States would act against this “growing menace.”

At the monthly meeting of the U.N. Security Council that focuses on the Middle East, specifically the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Nikki Haley said the council should expand its attention to focus on other threats in the region.

“We need to start with the chief culprit: Iran and its partner militia Hezbollah,” she said, referring to the Lebanese Shi’ite militant group, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization. She said the two have conspired together to destabilize the region through terrorist acts and military action.

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“Today they prop up Bashar al-Assad’s brutality, fighting alongside his forces, adding to the killing of thousands of civilians and the misery of millions of refugees,” Haley said of Iran and Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict. “They train deadly militias in Iraq, and arm Houthi militants in Yemen,” she added.

“While this council has paid too little attention to this growing menace, the United States will not,” she warned. “We are going to speak up about Iran and Hezbollah, and we are going to act against their lawlessness.”

The U.S. ambassador’s strong comments come a day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson criticized Tehran, saying that while it had abided by its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed between the six major powers and Iran in 2015, the deal had not stopped Iran’s ability and determination to develop nuclear weapons.

“An unchecked Iran has the potential to follow the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it,” Tillerson told reporters on Wednesday.

FILE - Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks to the media during a shared press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov following their talks in Moscow, Russia, April 12, 2017
FILE – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks to the media during a shared press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov following their talks in Moscow, Russia, April 12, 2017 , VOA

The Trump administration said this week that it is conducting a 90-day review of the nuclear deal to evaluate whether suspending Iran sanctions are in the vital interest of U.S. national security.

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At the United Nations, Haley told council diplomats that Washington is not waiting to respond to Iran for its non-nuclear related behavior.

“Iran remains a designated state sponsor of terrorism and we continue to enforce all sanctions related to Iran’s support for terrorism and destabilizing activities in the region,” Haley said.

In February, the Trump administration designated for sanctions 25 individuals and entities for their support for Iran’s ballistic missile program, or for their support for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. (vOA)