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US, Russia discuss Syria over telephone

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Photo Credit: http://www.iranreview.org

By NewsGram Staff-Writer

Washington: US and Russia held discussions over telephone on Friday regarding the situation in Syria.

 US Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Photo Credit: http://www.usnews.com
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Photo Credit: http://www.usnews.com

During the discussions, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter emphasized to his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoygu that no military reinforcements be provided to the Damascus regime.

“The secretary (of defense) emphasized the importance of pursuing such consultations in parallel with diplomatic talks that would ensure a political transition in Syria,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.

Carter told his Russian colleague that “defeating ISIL and ensuring a political transition are the objectives that need to be pursued at the same time”.

The Pentagon has confirmed that Russia is trying to establish an air base in the western Syrian city of Latakia to begin bringing in personnel and heavy artillery to provide the military support so vital for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia, which already has a naval base in Tartus on the Mediterranean, will have a military presence in the Middle East unprecedented since the 1970s.

Carter, who was speaking with Shoygu for the first time since the deployment became known, said through his spokesman that the conversation was “constructive” and that they “talked about areas where the United States and Russia’s perspectives overlap and areas of divergence”.

“They agreed to further discuss mechanisms for deconfliction in Syria and the counter-Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) campaign,” Cook said.

Up to now, Secretary of State John Kerry has led talks with Moscow to express Washington’s concern about Russia’s mobilizations and to line up both governments with a unified Syrian strategy.

The US has tried to apply diplomatic pressure for a negotiated departure of Assad since the civil war began in 2011, but the elements of the opposition acceptable to the West have been weakened by the advance of jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) and the al-Nusra Front, which are also fighting against Damascus.

The US government has spent more than a year leading an international coalition that has bombed IS positions in Syria and Iraq. It has also been involved in training the so-called moderate rebels to eventually represent an alternative to Assad.

But, the plan to train opposition forces are yet to yield any results, and this week the head of the US Central Command, Gen. Lloyd Austin, admitted that the number of American-trained rebels who are actively fighting against IS in Syria number no more than “four or five”.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Chinese Shout ‘Boycott Apple’ as US Goes After Huawei

To avoid the ban, Apple released a small update to iOS, saying that iOS version 12.1.2 contains software changes exclusive to China

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Apple, Campus, China
A customer is entering the Apple store in Fairfax, Virginia. VOA

As the Washington-Beijing trade war intensifies along with fresh restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei in the US, there has been a significant rise in “Boycott Apple” movement in China.

According to BuzzFeed News, there has been a flurry of anti-Apple and anti-Trump messages on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

“I feel guilty watching the trade war. Once I have money I will change my smartphone (iPhone),” one user posted on Weibo.

“I think Huawei’s branding is amazing, it chops an apple into eight pieces,” read another post.

China has urged the US to stop “harassing overseas companies” and slammed US President Donald Trump’s decision to sign a national emergency order that prohibits American firms from using foreign-made equipment, citing espionage fears.

The US move, which effectively takes aim at Chinese telecom giant Huawei, comes as the two economic superpowers are locked in a bitter unending trade war.

Chinese telecom giant Huawei has said that it is still open to addressing US security concerns.

huawei
FILE – A woman stands at the booth of Huawei featuring 5G technology at the PT Expo in Beijing, China, Sept. 28, 2018. VOA

“The functions in Huawei are comparable to Apple iPhones or even better. We have such a good smartphone alternative, why are we still using Apple?” said one user on Weibo.

This isn’t the first time that the “Boycott Apple” movement has gained traction in China.

Chinese companies in December last year rallied behind the tech giant, offering hefty discounts to employees to buy Huawei devices and shun iPhones.

According to Nikkei Asian Review, the move came after the detention of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada at the request of American prosecutors.

Also Read- Samsung Galaxy A70: Equipped for All-round Performance

Over 20 Chinese companies also took to social media to announce that they will increase purchases of other Huawei products.

A Chinese court in December banned the sale and import of most iPhone models after granting Qualcomm an injunction against Apple.

To avoid the ban, Apple released a small update to iOS, saying that iOS version 12.1.2 contains software changes exclusive to China. (IANS)