Briefing :- 1/06/17

Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 1st of June, 2017 :-

1. World’s largest aircraft rolls out for the first time :-

The world’s largest aircraft rolled out of its hangar early Thursday (IST) in the Mojave Desert, California for the first time.

Stratolaunch is designed to release rockets that will carry satellites into space. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has spent the last six years working on the giant aircraft.

It has a 385-foot wingspan, features six engines used by the Boeing 747, stands 50 feet tall and can carry more than 500,000 pounds of payload.

The double-bodied airplane has the largest wingspan of any aircraft.
According to a company statement, this is the first time the aircraft has held its full weight on its 28 wheels.

The company said they will be actively conducting ground and flight line testing at the Mojave Air and Space Port over the coming weeks and months.

2. India to formally become member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation within a week: President Putin :-

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday (June 1) India was set to become a full-fledged member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in a week’s time.

Putin was speaking at a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is visiting St Petersburg for an annual Russia-India.

“I am very glad to have this opportunity to meet you and to talk on a whole spectrum of bilateral relations as well as international issues. As for our international cooperation, I would like to note just one thing. In a week we secure India’s full fledged entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.”

Modi praised relations between the two countries, saying they were “trust-based”.

“India and Russia have a friendship that goes so far back, are so deep and trust-based that in all issues of the international agenda India and Russia have always stayed together. Soon we will become a full member of the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) thanks to your proactive role. I want to thank you once again for the support that you provided India to become the SCO full member.”

Putin and Modi are scheduled to take part in the St Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday (June 2). It will be Modi’s first time taking part in the event as a guest of honour.

The leaders will meet again at the SCO summit on June 8-9 in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana.

Last October, India and Russia signed billions of dollars of defence and energy deals at a summit in Goa that sought to inject new life into a relationship which has been tested by shifting global alliances and conflict in the Middle East.

Modi’s current foreign trip, which included visits to Germany and Spain, aims to boost India’s economic and defence engagement as well as attract additional investment to the country from some of the biggest economies in Europe.

The SCO is a political, economic, and military bloc founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

3. In abrupt shift, Trump appears to sour on Russia but warm to China and NATO :-

After less than three months in office, President Donald Trump has abruptly indicated a shift in his stance on an array of foreign policy issues from the US relationship with Russia and China to the value of the NATO alliance.

Trump, who ran for the White House on a pledge to shake up the status quo in Washington, repeatedly lashed out at China during the campaign, accusing Beijing of being a “grand champion” of currency manipulation. Candidate Trump also dismissed the NATO military alliance as obsolete and said he hoped to build warmer ties with Russia.

But at a White House news conference and in a newspaper interview on Wednesday, he offered starkly different views on those issues, saying his relationship with Moscow was souring while ties with Beijing were improving. He also lavished praise on NATO, saying it was adapting to changing global threats.

“I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete,” Trump said as he stood at a news conference alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in the White House East Room on Wednesday.

The apparent reversals on Russia and NATO could reassure US allies in Europe who were rattled by Trump’s overtures toward Moscow during the campaign. But the president’s talk of “bonding” with Chinese President Xi Jinping could sow confusion in Asia, where US allies are fearful of a rising China.

Trump’s U-turn in foreign policy came amid infighting within his administration that has lately seen a decline in the influence of political operatives, mainly his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, whose former publication Breitbart News is under FBI investigation for links to Russia.

Six months ago, candidate Trump suggested he was eager for an alliance with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him,” Trump said last September.

On Wednesday, however, Trump said he had growing concerns about Russia’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“We may be at an all-time low in terms of a relationship with Russia,” said Trump, who ordered the firing of US cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield last week after Putin-backed Assad was suspected of using poison gas against civilians in Syria’s civil war.

While many are focused on Trump’s claim that US-Russia relations are at a low, he also said in the very same press conference, “It would be wonderful…if Nato and our country could get along with Russia.”

The Trump administration itself is currently under FBI investigation for its links to Russia, and for its possible role in working with Moscow’s effort to interfere in the 2016 US election to benefit Trump.

While criticising Russia on Wednesday, Trump said he and Xi had bonded during the Chinese president’s visit to the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where they dined together with their wives and held talks.

Ahead of that visit, Trump had predicted “difficult” discussions on trade.

The improving ties with Beijing were underscored when Trump told the Wall Street Journal in an interview on Wednesday that he would not declare China a currency manipulator as he had pledged to do on his first day in office.

Trump, a former real estate developer, took office in January as a government novice whose foreign policy mantra was a vow to keep America safe and build up the US military.

4. Finance minister Arun Jaitley defends India’s GDP growth :-

Several factors including the global situation were responsible for decline in GDP growth to 6.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016-17, finance minister Arun Jaitley said today, dismissing suggestions that it was on account of demonetisation.

The minister further said some slowdown was visible even prior to demonetisation of Rs 500/1000 currency notes announced by the government on November 8 last year.

“Seven-eight per cent growth is fairly reasonable level of growth and very good by global standard and reasonable by Indian standard,” Jaitley said while addressing media on completion of three years of the Modi government.

According to GDP data released yesterday, growth rate slipped to 6.1 per cent in the January-March quarter and 7.1 per cent, the lowest in the three years, during 2016-17.

Referring to the challenges, he said the major ones include resolving the issue of bad loans in the banking sector and encouraging private sector investment.



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