No phones, scripted tweets - How Trump’s Afghanistan trip was kept under wraps

Summary Sentiment Deep Analyze

BAGRAM AIRFIELD      -      Notorious for leaks and chastened by previous security lapses, the White House went to unusual lengths to keep President Donald Trump’s Thanksgiving trip to Afghanistan under wraps, devising a cover story for his movements that included posting scripted tweets while he was in the air, administration officials said.

On Thursday, Trump dropped in unannounced on troops at Afghanistan’s Bagram military air base in his first trip to the country and only his second to a war zone during his presidency. He served soldiers a turkey dinner and posed for selfies, before telling reporters that the United States and Taliban hoped to resume peace talks.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the 33-hour roundtrip, which White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said had been weeks in the making, was the administration’s success in keeping it secret until shortly before the president left Afghanistan to return home.

Frequently wrong-footed by leaks and Trump’s freewheeling use of Twitter, the White House informed only a tight circle of officials about the trip. On Tuesday, Trump travelled to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida as scheduled, accompanied by the regular caravan of reporters which follows the president on all trips.

When those journalists waited for him to emerge for a Thursday afternoon conference call with the troops, per his official schedule, they learnt that overnight he had flown the 13,400 km (8,331 miles) to Afghanistan to visit them in person.

“It is a dangerous area and he wants to support the troops,” Grisham told a small group of correspondents aboard Air Force One on Wednesday evening, explaining why the White House had concealed Trump’s true movements.

Only hours before, that second group of reporters had secretly gathered at a parking lot near the Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, a regular departure spot for Trump, from which they were driven in minivans into the complex. They had been told ahead of time that Trump would be travelling incognito to an undisclosed location.

Once inside the base, all smart phones and any devices that could send a signal were confiscated and not returned until at least two hours after Trump’s arrival at Bagram, the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan. Throughout the 13-hour flight, nobody on board Air Force One had access to their phones, including White House staff, Grisham said. The cabin lights were mostly switched off and window blinds stayed shut.

Last Christmas, en route to a troop visit in Iraq, Air Force One was identified above England by a plane spotter who tweeted a photo of its distinctive turquoise livery, sparking a social media storm.

Many speculated then that Trump was on his way to a war zone, pointing to his unusually quiet Twitter account, which had sent dozens of tweets the day before.

This time, Grisham said the White House made arrangements to ensure continuity in the president’s Twitter account, which posted happy Thanksgiving tweets as he was in the air, including one thanking the military. “We just had a nice Thanksgiving dinner,” Trump said amid chants of “U-S-A” during his speech at the Bagram base. “I thought I was going to be doing it someplace else.”

 

 

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NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind’s flight from Zurich to Slovenia was delayed on Sunday after the Air India Boeing 747 that was to fly as AI One developed a snag. According to sources, the president drove to Zurich airport where a last-minute glitch on the 26-year-old jumbo jet (VT-ESO) was suspected. The VVIP returned to his hotel and AI aircraft engineers immediately started working on the aircraft "Khajuraho".During this time, an AI Boeing 777 that was to operate on London-Mumbai sector with a schedule departure time of 1.15 pm (local time London) as flight 130 was kept on standby at Heathrow as alternate AI One to be flown to Zurich for the President’s journeys if needed.Luckily AI engineers rectified the jumbo jet which then flew President Kovind to Slovenia with a delay of a few hours. And AI 130 flew to Mumbai at 2.30 pm (local time London) from Heathrow without requiring to fly as alternate AI One to Zurich, say sources.Keeping an Air India aircraft at a foreign base nearest from where AI One has to operate as standby is a regular practice. This overseas trip of President Kovind first made news when Pakistan on September 7 denied permission for it to fly over its airspace from India to Europe and back.The B747 took a longer route to Europe when it left last Monday (Sept 9) and will take the longer route back home too. Now India is not going to seek clearance for VVIP flights to use Pakistan airspace till relations between he two countries improve.AI has been using over 25-year-old B747s as Air India One for long haul VVIP flights. They are used for commercial flights when not needed for VVIP flights and are retrofitted for them when required. Converting a passenger B747 into a VVIP aircraft takes about 12 days.By the end of this year or early next year, India will get dedicated state-of-the-art long haul aircraft when first of the two Boeing 777s currently being retrofitted in the US with the most most advanced security gizmos, including missile warning and counter-measure dispensing systems, for the president, VP and PM will join the VVIP fleet. While the first is expected in December, the second one may arrive a month later, say sources.Given their ultra hi-tech security and communications systems — at par with Air Force One — they cannot be used for regular flights. The over 26-year-old Boeing 747s are perfectly safe to fly but due to their advanced age, they are fuel guzzlers. The four-engine jumbo jets cannot fly longhaul routes like India-US nonstop and do so with a stop in Europe, something the twin-engine B777 has been doing for AI for years

NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind’s flight from Zurich to Slovenia was delayed on Sunday after the Air India Boeing 747 that was to fly as AI One developed a snag. According to sources, the president drove to Zurich airport where a last-minute glitch on the 26-year-old jumbo jet (VT-ESO) was suspected. Now India is not going to seek clearance for VVIP flights to use Pakistan airspace till relations between he two countries improve.AI has been using over 25-year-old B747s as Air India One for long haul VVIP flights. They are used for commercial flights when not needed for VVIP flights and are retrofitted for them when required. The over 26-year-old Boeing 747s are perfectly safe to fly but due to their advanced age, they are fuel guzzlers.

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Original Text

NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind’s flight from Zurich to Slovenia was delayed on Sunday after the Air India Boeing 747 that was to fly as AI One developed a snag. According to sources, the president drove to Zurich airport where a last-minute glitch on the 26-year-old jumbo jet (VT-ESO) was suspected. The VVIP returned to his hotel and AI aircraft engineers immediately started working on the aircraft "Khajuraho".During this time, an AI Boeing 777 that was to operate on London-Mumbai sector with a schedule departure time of 1.15 pm (local time London) as flight 130 was kept on standby at Heathrow as alternate AI One to be flown to Zurich for the President’s journeys if needed.Luckily AI engineers rectified the jumbo jet which then flew President Kovind to Slovenia with a delay of a few hours. And AI 130 flew to Mumbai at 2.30 pm (local time London) from Heathrow without requiring to fly as alternate AI One to Zurich, say sources.Keeping an Air India aircraft at a foreign base nearest from where AI One has to operate as standby is a regular practice. This overseas trip of President Kovind first made news when Pakistan on September 7 denied permission for it to fly over its airspace from India to Europe and back.The B747 took a longer route to Europe when it left last Monday (Sept 9) and will take the longer route back home too. Now India is not going to seek clearance for VVIP flights to use Pakistan airspace till relations between he two countries improve.AI has been using over 25-year-old B747s as Air India One for long haul VVIP flights. They are used for commercial flights when not needed for VVIP flights and are retrofitted for them when required. Converting a passenger B747 into a VVIP aircraft takes about 12 days.By the end of this year or early next year, India will get dedicated state-of-the-art long haul aircraft when first of the two Boeing 777s currently being retrofitted in the US with the most most advanced security gizmos, including missile warning and counter-measure dispensing systems, for the president, VP and PM will join the VVIP fleet. While the first is expected in December, the second one may arrive a month later, say sources.Given their ultra hi-tech security and communications systems — at par with Air Force One — they cannot be used for regular flights. The over 26-year-old Boeing 747s are perfectly safe to fly but due to their advanced age, they are fuel guzzlers. The four-engine jumbo jets cannot fly longhaul routes like India-US nonstop and do so with a stop in Europe, something the twin-engine B777 has been doing for AI for years

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NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind’s flight from Zurich to Slovenia was delayed on Sunday after the Air India Boeing 747 that was to fly as AI One developed a snag.According to sources, the president drove to Zurich airport where a last-minute glitch on the 26-year-old jumbo jet (VT-ESO) was suspected.The VVIP returned to his hotel and AI aircraft engineers immediately started working on the aircraft "Khajuraho".During this time, an AI Boeing 777 that was to operate on London-Mumbai sector with a schedule departure time of 1.15 pm (local time London) as flight 130 was kept on standby at Heathrow as alternate AI One to be flown to Zurich for the President’s journeys if needed.Luckily AI engineers rectified the jumbo jet which then flew President Kovind to Slovenia with a delay of a few hours.And AI 130 flew to Mumbai at 2.30 pm (local time London) from Heathrow without requiring to fly as alternate AI One to Zurich, say sources.Keeping an Air India aircraft at a foreign base nearest from where AI One has to operate as standby is a regular practice.This overseas trip of President Kovind first made news when Pakistan on September 7 denied permission for it to fly over its airspace from India to Europe and back.The B747 took a longer route to Europe when it left last Monday (Sept 9) and will take the longer route back home too.Now India is not going to seek clearance for VVIP flights to use Pakistan airspace till relations between he two countries improve.AI has been using over 25-year-old B747s as Air India One for long haul VVIP flights.They are used for commercial flights when not needed for VVIP flights and are retrofitted for them when required.Converting a passenger B747 into a VVIP aircraft takes about 12 days.By the end of this year or early next year, India will get dedicated state-of-the-art long haul aircraft when first of the two Boeing 777s currently being retrofitted in the US with the most most advanced security gizmos, including missile warning and counter-measure dispensing systems, for the president, VP and PM will join the VVIP fleet.While the first is expected in December, the second one may arrive a month later, say sources.Given their ultra hi-tech security and communications systems — at par with Air Force One — they cannot be used for regular flights.The over 26-year-old Boeing 747s are perfectly safe to fly but due to their advanced age, they are fuel guzzlers.The four-engine jumbo jets cannot fly longhaul routes like India-US nonstop and do so with a stop in Europe, something the twin-engine B777 has been doing for AI for years

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Original Text

NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind’s flight from Zurich to Slovenia was delayed on Sunday after the Air India Boeing 747 that was to fly as AI One developed a snag. According to sources, the president drove to Zurich airport where a last-minute glitch on the 26-year-old jumbo jet (VT-ESO) was suspected. The VVIP returned to his hotel and AI aircraft engineers immediately started working on the aircraft "Khajuraho".During this time, an AI Boeing 777 that was to operate on London-Mumbai sector with a schedule departure time of 1.15 pm (local time London) as flight 130 was kept on standby at Heathrow as alternate AI One to be flown to Zurich for the President’s journeys if needed.Luckily AI engineers rectified the jumbo jet which then flew President Kovind to Slovenia with a delay of a few hours. And AI 130 flew to Mumbai at 2.30 pm (local time London) from Heathrow without requiring to fly as alternate AI One to Zurich, say sources.Keeping an Air India aircraft at a foreign base nearest from where AI One has to operate as standby is a regular practice. This overseas trip of President Kovind first made news when Pakistan on September 7 denied permission for it to fly over its airspace from India to Europe and back.The B747 took a longer route to Europe when it left last Monday (Sept 9) and will take the longer route back home too. Now India is not going to seek clearance for VVIP flights to use Pakistan airspace till relations between he two countries improve.AI has been using over 25-year-old B747s as Air India One for long haul VVIP flights. They are used for commercial flights when not needed for VVIP flights and are retrofitted for them when required. Converting a passenger B747 into a VVIP aircraft takes about 12 days.By the end of this year or early next year, India will get dedicated state-of-the-art long haul aircraft when first of the two Boeing 777s currently being retrofitted in the US with the most most advanced security gizmos, including missile warning and counter-measure dispensing systems, for the president, VP and PM will join the VVIP fleet. While the first is expected in December, the second one may arrive a month later, say sources.Given their ultra hi-tech security and communications systems — at par with Air Force One — they cannot be used for regular flights. The over 26-year-old Boeing 747s are perfectly safe to fly but due to their advanced age, they are fuel guzzlers. The four-engine jumbo jets cannot fly longhaul routes like India-US nonstop and do so with a stop in Europe, something the twin-engine B777 has been doing for AI for years

Output

NEW DELHI: An inter-ministerial panel on fintech has suggested legislative changes be made to enable fixed deposits (FDs) and other financial instruments to be issued in dematerialised form as it is customer-friendly and secure.The Steering Committee headed by the economic affairs secretary also suggested that the department of financial services (DFS) and Reserve Bank of India may examine the suitability of virtual banking system in the Indian context.The panel, which submitted its report to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday, said dematerialisation of financial instruments is customer-friendly given the wide reach of mobile technologies and also leads to disaster resilience and speedy recovery. the report said.Necessary suitable amendments to enable dematerialisation of financial instruments such as FDs and other deposits of the Post Offices, other forms of small savings certificates issued, Gold Deposit Certificates issued under GMS, Sovereign Gold Bonds, etc.may be undertaken, it said.Pending changes in laws and regulations that may be required to enable depositories to store all financial assets, the information pertaining to the assets may be stored in repositories so that consumers can access this information through a single window, it said.With regard to virtual banking, it said the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has recently issued guidelines for setting up virtual banks and is examining applications for virtual banking licences.The Committee recommends a thorough review of the PPI system with a view of considerably liberalising its use with adequate non-monetary limits safeguards to enable expansion of fintech, it said.It noted that there is an urgent need to reduce the costs of KYC to promote financial inclusion among the weaker sections.

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