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Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel capital

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WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump plans to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday and set in motion the relocation of the US Embassy to the ancient city, senior US officials said, a decision that upends decades of US policy and risks fuelling violence in the Middle East.

Senior administration officials called Trump’s expected recognition of Jerusalem an affirmation of ‘reality’ — both historical and current, pointing out that the city is already home to Israel’s parliament, supreme court and other government sites.

Palestinians, however, also claim Jerusalem as their capital, and Trump’s anticipated announcement has touched off an uproar in the Arab world.

Trump, in a landmark speech, will announce he has ordered the State Department to begin developing a plan to move the embassy from Tel Aviv in what is expected to be a process that takes three to four years, the officials said.

Trump will sign a national security waiver that authorises him to delay the embassy relocation for now, since the US diplomats do not yet have a building in Jerusalem to move into, security arrangements or housing for diplomats, the officials said.

Trump’s endorsement of Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital would reverse long-standing US policy that the city’s status must be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The international community does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions.

The officials, who briefed reporters ahead of Trump’s speech at 1 pm EST (1800 GMT) on Wednesday, insisted that Trump’s decision, intended to fulfill a key campaign promise, was not meant to pre-judge the outcome of eventual talks on the final status of Jerusalem or other major disputes between the two sides.

Instead, one of the officials contended that Trump’s announcements reflected the “historic reality” of Jerusalem as the center of Jewish faith and the “modern reality” that it is the seat of Israeli government.

Such arguments are not likely to sway the Palestinians and the broader Arab world.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who all received telephone calls from Trump on Tuesday, joined a mounting chorus of voices warning that unilateral US steps on Jerusalem would derail a fledgling US-led peace effort that has stymied previous US administrations and unleash turmoil in the region.

The White House said Trump had also spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close US ally and longtime proponent of a US embassy move to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu was the only leader whose office did not release a statement following the call. A senior Israeli minister welcomed Trump’s decision while vowing that Israel would be prepared for any outbreak of violence.

Reuters/GNN

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South Korean company selected for Kathmandu-Terai fast track DPR

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KATHMANDU — A South Korean Consultancy Company has been selected to prepare the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Kathmandu-Terai Fast-Track project — a national pride and strategic importance mega project.

The Nepal Army (NA) had earlier assigned an Indian company named IL and FS but it did not agree with the cost of the report prepared by the Indian company.

Hence, the South Korean company, Soosung, has been assigned to prepare the DPR for the 76-kilometer fast-track highway project.

The Project Chief and Major General Yogendra Bahadur Khand shared that construction agreement would be made between the South Korean company chosen to prepare DPR for the estimated Rs 111 billion-project and the NA by the end of September.

The preparation cost of DPR as demanded by the Indian company was Rs 510 million higher than what it has been agreed with the South Korean company – at Rs 100.15 million, informed Project Chief Khand.

The South Korean company is committed to prepare DPR within four months of the purchase agreement with the NA.

It has been 13 months since the NA was entrusted with the responsibility to manage the construction of the Fast-Track.

The NA has been carrying on the basic and preliminary works relating to the Fast-Track based on the feasibility study conducted by the Asian Development Bank in 2008.

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