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Exclusive: India readying $2.6 billion U.S. naval helicopter deal ahead of Trump trip

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India is set to give final approval to a $2.6 billion deal for military helicopters from U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin ( LMT.N) ahead of a proposed visit by U.S. President Donald Trump this month, defense and industry sources said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is trying to pull out all the stops for Trump’s trip in a bid to reaffirm strategic ties between the two countries, which have been buffeted by sharp differences over trade, to counter China.

India’s defense purchases from the United States have reached $17 billion since 2007 as it has pivoted away from traditional supplier Russia, looking to modernize its military and narrow the gap with China.

Modi’s cabinet committee on security is expected to clear the purchase of 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for the Indian navy in the next two weeks, a defense official and an industry source briefed on the matter separately told Reuters.

“It’s a government-to-government deal, it is close,” said the industry source.
To cut short lengthy negotiations between Lockheed and the Indian government, the helicopters that will be deployed on India’s warships will be bought through the U.S. foreign military sales route, under which the two governments will agree details of the deal.

Trump is expected in India around Feb 24 on his first official visit to the country, although no formal announcement has yet been made.

Both countries are separately working on a limited trade agreement ahead of the trip, after earlier imposing tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s imports.

Trump has called India the “tariff king of the world” but the Modi government has been trying to address some of his concerns.

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Trade officials have pointed to large-scale U.S. arms purchases, from surveillance planes to Apache and Chinook helicopters, as proof of India’s willingness to tighten strategic ties.

The multirole helicopters will be equipped with Hellfire missiles and are meant to help the Indian navy track submarines in the Indian Ocean, where China is expanding its presence.

Many of India’s warships are without any helicopters because of years of underfunding, and the navy had sought their acquisition as a top priority.

The government outlined only a modest rise in its 2020/21 defense spending to $73.65 billion in the budget on Feb. 1, of which a part will go toward making a down payment on the helicopter purchase, a defense official said.

“We expect a positive announcement soon on the helicopters,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of service rules. “There are limited resources, but there is an allocation.”

The U.S. State Department approved the sale of the choppers to India last year along with radars, torpedoes and 10 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

The clearance came after the Trump administration rolled out a new “Buy American” plan in 2018 that had relaxed restrictions on sales, saying it would bolster the American defense industry and create jobs at home.

The United States has also offered India the armed version of Guardian drones that were originally authorized for sale as unarmed for surveillance purposes, the first such approval for a country outside the NATO alliance.

India plans to buy 30 of these unmanned aircraft for surveillance of the Indian Ocean, at a cost estimated to be about $2.5 billion, from General Atomics.

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However, the defense official said the deal is unlikely immediately because of lack of funds.

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Breaking News-U.S. ambassador to Iraq hit by multiple rockets

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Russia Today (RT) just reported that the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad in Iraq was hit by multiple rockets.

RT reports also said that there were multiple explosions at the scene.

Russia Today (RT) just reported that the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad in Iraq was hit by multiple rockets.

RT reports also said that there were multiple explosions at the scene.

Russia Today (RT) just reported that the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad in Iraq was hit by multiple rockets.

RT reports also said that there were multiple explosions at the scene.

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Nigerians Trapped In Wuhan, China Cry Out “Bring Us Home” (Photos)

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The Coronavirus cases have risen to over 17000 infections in total with 21,588 in mainland China. It should be noted too that over 361 persons have died.

Over 60 Nigerians are trapped in Wuhan the epicentre of the of the out break.

Nigerians in wuhan China needs help from Nigeria government as they carry their placards bearing ….Bring Us Home, Nigerians Trapped In Wuhan China.

Nigerians in wuhan China needs help from Nigeria government as they carry their placards bearing ….Bring Us Home, Nigerians Trapped In Wuhan China.

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Sanwo-Olu Opens 11 Road Network, Health Centre In Bariga (Photos)

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Residents of Bariga Local Council Development Area (LCDA) in the eastern part of Lagos State have reaped what could be termed “bountiful dividends” of local government autonomy entrenched in the State.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was in the area on Friday to inaugurate 11 road network recently completed by the council chairman, Hon. Alabi Kolade. Governor Sanwo-Olu’s intervention accelerated the completion of the 1.6-kilometre long road projects, two years after they started.

The Governor, accompanied by his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, and members of the State Executive Council, commissioned a state-of-the-art CMS Primary Health Centre and fully furnished three blocks of classrooms built by the council in Gbagada Girls Junior Secondary School.

Sanwo-Olu said he was thrilled by the quality of the projects delivered while paying glowing tributes to the council chairman, whom he described as a “true grassroots leader”. He said the projects were the core of social intervention programmes whose benefits to the people could not be quantified.

The Governor said: “This is the first local government that I have taken a full tour to commission projects. I am not only impressed by the quality of projects, but I am also totally encouraged by what we have seen. We have seen three strategic life-changing interventions in Bariga LCDA. The chairman has intervened in the health sector by providing a Grade-A Primary Health Facility.

“Hon. Kolade intervened in the education sector with the building of three modern classroom blocks in Gbagada Girls Junior Secondary School and donated buses to carry the pupils free of charge. He also intervened in infrastructure, given all the roads he has built for the people of Bariga. This is a real transformation of a local government and I will use this good example in Bariga LCDA as a point of encouragement to other local council chairmen.”

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As a reward for the quality of projects delivered, Sanwo-Olu promised to appoint additional Special Adviser from Bariga LCDA to support the State Government’s effort in driving more development at the grassroots. He charged other council chairmen to emulate the example set by the Bariga LCDA boss, saying their social programmes and capital projects must address the welfare of their residents.

Sanwo-Olu also said the State Government would be embarking on massive rehabilitation of key roads in the council, pointing out that the long-awaited re-construction work on St. Finbarr’s Road would be starting soon.

“As a Government, the quality of projects we have inaugurated today demonstrates our commitment to lifting people at the grassroots and show them that our labour is to improve their wellbeing. We will be starting massive rehabilitation of St. Finbarr’s Road, starting from the gate of the University of Lagos (UNILAG). We will be rehabilitating Jagunmolu Street, Diya Street and Shoniyi Street,” the Governor said.

Hon. Kolade said the projects were part of social intervention programmes being implemen

ted by the council, adding that more capital projects would be completed in various communities within the council in the coming weeks.

The council boss recalled how Sanwo-Olu facilitated the completion of the inaugurated roads, noting that the Governor, after listening to the council’s complaint, immediately re-mobilised contractors handling the projects back on the sites.

He said: “Bariga LCDA has been benefiting from the magnanimity of Governor Sanwo-Olu. I recall his efforts towards the completion of the roads being inaugurated today. I made a complaint to him about the neglect of the roads and he immediately approved that the contractor should return to the site to ensure the projects are delivered.”

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Kolade said the usefulness of the projects to the people demonstrated the capacity of the LCDA to transform development programmes in the grassroots. He said the council had embarked on the construction of additional 21 roads, out of which 18 would soon be delivered and opened for use.

The council boss said the development agenda of the Sanwo-Olu administration, known as Project T.H.E.M.E.S, inspired the council to carefully select programmes it would invest in, adding that the projects being commissioned were products of the current administration’s development efforts.

The CMS Primary Health Centre is built with Accident and Emergency section, laboratory, pharmacy, and maternity. There is also a fully kitted ambulance stationed in the health centre for emergency purpose.

Other projects inaugurated by the Governor in Gbagada Girls Junior Secondary School included a mini school hall, 24 modern lavatories, recreational arena and five buses that will take pupils on a free ride to and from the school.

Source:- Brandspung

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