Tuesday, February 10, 2015
The White House says President Barack Obama spoke by phone Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging the Russian leader to back a peace deal for Ukraine set for review Wednesday at a four-nation crisis summit in Belarus.
Obama's call, described in a White House statement, came as Ukraine reported that rocket strikes in the eastern city of Kramatorsk killed at least 12 people and wounded more than 80 others.
The White House will ask Congress by Wednesday for new authority to use force against Islamic State fighters, congressional aides said on Monday, paving the way for lawmakers' first vote on the scope of a campaign that is already six months old.
The United States is leading an international coalition against Islamic State, and PresidentBarack Obama launched an air campaign in August against the militant fighters, who have killed thousands of people while seizing swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.
The administration's failure so far to seek a formal Authorization to Use Military Force for the campaign has caused some members of Congress to express concern that it overstepped the president's constitutional authority.
Others have said that lawmakers should weigh in on an issue as important as the use of military force.
The administration has said the campaign is legal, based on authorization passed under President George W. Bush in 2002 for the Iraq War and in 2001 for fighting al Qaeda and associated groups.
Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House of Representatives' Democrats, told reporters last week the White House would seek an authorization that would last three years. She said there had not yet been decisions about the geographic scope of an authorization or what limits would be placed on combat troops - "boots on the ground."
That issue is expected to be a major sticking point in debate. Many Democrats want to bar sending in U.S. combat forces, but several Republicans have insisted it would be inappropriate to limit military commanders.
Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said hearings on the administration's request would start quickly.
The Obama administration had been in close consultations with lawmakers before making its formal request, which could make the approval process move more quickly, he said.
"There have been serious consultations, and there will be more serious consultations," he told reporters at the Senate.
Obama is also expected to seek a repeal of the Iraq war authorization, but not the 2001 authorization, which passed days after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Congressional aides told Reuters on Monday that was still the expectation for Obama's request, given discussions between the administration, lawmakers and congressional staffers. They requested anonymity because they were speaking about private consultations.
The White House has declined to comment on the timing or details of the request.
At least six soldiers were killed on Tuesday in two separate roadside bomb blasts in Pakistan's restive northwestern tribal region.
Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks. The first remote-controlled improvised explosive device blast occurred in Mansehra district, killing two policemen this morning.
A few hours later, second blast hit a police vehicle and claimed the lives of four cops in Urmagai area of central Kurram Agency bordering Afghanistan, officials said, adding that security forces cordoned off the area and launched a search operation.
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, meanwhile in a statement, said that it has carried out both the attacks.
Kurram is one of the most sensitive tribal areas as it borders three Afghan provinces. It is adjacent to North Waziristan region where security forces have launched an offensive againsgt the Taliban.
A unanimous opposition in the National Assembly on Tuesday boycotted proceedings against the imposition of additional taxes without the approval of Parliament.
Leader of Opposition in NA Syed Khursheed Shah said that the government was imposing these taxes on the behest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and that till the government does not withdraw the additional General Sales Taxes (GST) on POL products, they would not go back into Parliament.
He said that in the past, Atiqa Odho, Ajinomoto, and Suo Moto were famous names and that if the issue of taxes wasn’t solved they would go to court.
He went on to say that the government should not punish the citizens as well as the Parliament due to its own inefficiency and that it is the people and the Parliament that have saved the government so they deserve respect.
Khursheed Shah further said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is making decisions in such a way that it seems the common man is their enemy. He also said that there was no point of metro or bullet trains since the people would still be hungry and that the party members of PML-N should themselves also protest.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MNA Rashid Godil said that the common man wants to dissociate itself from such a democracy.