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US wants to quickly deploy new missiles in Asia: Defense Secretary Esper

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Washington wants to quickly deploy new intermediate-range missiles in Asia, to counter the rise of China in the region, new US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday.

“Yes I would like to,” Esper said when asked if the US was considering deploying new medium-range conventional weapons in Asia now Washington is no longer bound by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

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“We would like to deploy a capability sooner rather than later,” Esper told reporters on a plane to Sydney at the start of a week-long tour of Asia. “I would prefer months … But these things tend to take longer than you expect.”

The new Pentagon chief did not specify where the US intended to deploy these weapons.

“I would not speculate because those things depend on plans, it’s those things you always discuss with your allies,” he said.

Washington withdrew from the INF treaty on Friday after accusing Russia of violating it for years.

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Under the pact signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Washington and Moscow agreed to limit the use of conventional and nuclear medium-range missiles (with a range of 500-5,000 kilometres, 300-3,000 miles).

But its unravelling had been on the cards for months amid worsening ties between Russia and the US.

Washington is now free to compete with China, whose arsenal is largely made up of weapons prohibited under the INF Treaty, to which Beijing was never a signatory.

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Esper said China should not be surprised by the US plans.

“That should be no surprise because we have been talking about that for some time now,” he said.

“And I want to say that 80 percent of their inventory is INF range systems. So that should not surprise that we would want to have a like capability,” he said.

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What Zelensky knew: The devastating and darkly ironic impact of Trump’s attempt to bribe Ukraine

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In their effort to exculpate President Donald Trump in the impeachment inquiry, Republicans put Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s denial that he ever felt pressure from the White House to open up investigations into Democrats at the center of their argument. A new GOP memo says that both leaders have acknowledged “there was no pressure” on the famous July 25 call that sparked the inquiry and thus argues that the allegations made by Democrats that Trump abused his power don’t hold.

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Greta Thunberg says ‘people must finally wake up’ to the fact Trump is ‘so extreme’ on climate change

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Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg said Tuesday that US President Donald Trump's climate change denialism was "so extreme" that it had helped galvanize the movement to halt long term planetary warming.

She spoke in an interview with AFP on the eve of her departure from North America where she has spent almost three months.

"He's so extreme and he says so extreme things, so I think people wake up by that in a way," the 16-year-old said from on board a sailboat preparing to depart from the East Coast town of Hampton, Virginia for Europe early Wednesday.

"I thought when he got elected, now people will finally, now people must finally wake up," she continued.

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Trump praises ‘amazing warrior’ Sean Hannity for saying impeachment hearings are a ‘phony showtrial’

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President Donald Trump thanked Fox News personality Sean Hannity for his over-the-top defense the evening before impeachment hearings begin.

According to Trump's quoting, Hannity said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) was a, "corrupt, compromised, coward and congenital liar."

Hannity called the Schiff's Intelligence Committee hearings a "phony showtrial" -- despite the reality that an impeachment trial would occur in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Still, Hannity lashed out at the inquiry as "another fraudulent hoax conspiracy theory" and "witch hunt."

Trump thanked, "Sean the amazing warrior!"

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