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January 2018 - Bilateral

  • WEF ties up with RIL to set up Fourth Industrial Revolution centre in Mumbai
    The World Economic Forum, which has been championing for the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, is to set up a new centre in Mumbai, in partnership with the Centre and Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). This is the first centre to be opened outside Silicon Valley. 

    The Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) in India will operate as a sister centre to WEF’s centre in San Francisco. 

    It will provide policy-makers and thought leaders in India with insights in new forms of governance and new technology applications, and connections with cutting-edge technology innovators globally

    The new economy will greatly benefit from 4IR in a digital age and is expected to create significant value to countries that embrace them quickly by accelerating their GDP and job growth. 

    These opportunities include artificial intelligence and machine learning, internet of things (IoT) and blockchain, among others, the statement added. 

  • Sushma Swaraj inaugurates India-ASEAN Friendship Park
    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on 24th January inaugurated India-ASEAN Friendship Park (Bharat-ASEAN Maitri park) in New Delhi. 

    The name of the park has been inscribed in the all the languages of ASEAN countries. Speaking on the occasion, Mrs Swaraj said, the park will attract the attention of all the visitors. 

    She said, it demonstrates the shared commitment of India and the ASEAN nations of protecting the environment. 

  • ASEAN nations agree to further strengthen strategic partnership
    The ASEAN nations have agreed to further strengthen and deepen the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership for mutual benefit, across the whole spectrum of political-security, economic and socio-cultural and development cooperation. 

    The Delhi declaration of the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit to mark the 25th Anniversary of ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations was issued. 

    In the summit, the ASEAN nations decided to continue to exert efforts and cooperate towards the full, effective and timely implementation of the Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity. They decided to strengthen maritime cooperation to address common challenges on maritime issues. 

    ASEAN countries also decided to deepen the cooperation in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations through information sharing, law enforcement cooperation and capacity building. 

  • India, Cambodia to strengthen bilateral trade and investment ties
    India and Cambodia on 27th January inked four pacts, including one to improve cooperation in prevention, investigation of crimes and legal assistance in criminal matters and a Line of Credit to fund Cambodia's Stung Sva Hab water resources development project for 37 million dollar. The pacts were signed after delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen in New Delhi. 

    According to Narendra Modi: 
    India and Cambodia are committed to take their relationship at a newer level

    India is eager to take forward its relationship with Cambodia in the fields of economy, culture, trade and people to people contacts

    The roots of cultural and historical relationship are deep and there is a possibility to take it further

    In the last two decades, Cambodia has registered 7 per cent economic growth annually while India is also one of the fastest growing economy in the world. 

    The Cambodian Prime Minister said, his country has benefited from India's Act East policy. He invited Indian businessmen to invest in his country. 

    Both leaders discussed issues of mutual interest related to development partnership, trade and investment, HRD and people-to-people contacts. 

  • India, Britain sign agreements on illegal Indian migrants 
    India and Britain have signed agreements on illegal Indian migrants' return and sharing criminal records and intelligence. The development comes close on heels of India seeking Britain's help in early extradition of liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya from Britain to face the law at home in connection with cases of fraud and money laundering amounting to around 9,000 crore rupees. 

    The memorandums of understanding (MOUs) were signed by Britain's Minister of Immigration Caroline Nokes and Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju. According to a British government press release issued in London, the new deals reflect increased co-operation between the two countries, which already enjoy a close relationship. 

    The statement said MoU on criminal records exchange will lead to British and Indian law enforcement bodies sharing criminal records information and assist the police in protecting the public from known criminals. It will also allow the courts in both countries to access more information to support tougher sentencing decisions. 

    The agreement on returns paves the way for a quicker and more efficient process for documenting and returning Indian nationals who have no right to be in Britain. 

  • India and Israel agreement
    India and Israel on 15th January inked nine pacts across diverse sectors, from increasing cooperation in the oil and natural gas sector to film co-production, marking 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. 

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India and Israel would seek to strengthen cooperation in sectors that touch the lives of “our peoples”, in agriculture, science and technology, and security. He invited Israeli companies to take advantage of the liberalised foreign direct investment (FDI) regime for joint production in the defence sector. 

    Apart from oil and gas, India and Israel also signed agreements for cooperation in cyber security, space, science and technology, air transport and agreed to have early conclusion of a bilateral investment treaty. A commerce ministry delegation is to visit Israel next month

    Apart from nine pacts, Nasscom and startup accelerator Mass Challenge Israel committed scholarship support of $5,000 each for up to 10 Indian startups. 

    A 'Trilateral Fund' of $50 million has also been created by Israel-India Technology Group (I-ITG) to promote entrepreneurship and trilateral business opportunities between the US, India and Israel. 

    Israel has investments over $130 million in India, mainly for agricultural, irrigation and renewable energy sectors. New investments are also looking at the manufacturing space. Modi said the two leaders agreed to do more to increase trade and investment. 

  • India Japan Coastguards conduct joint search and rescue exercise
    A joint Search and Rescue exercise named SAREX-18 was conducted in the Bay of Bengal off Chennai on 18th January between Indian and Japan Coast Guards. A total of nine Indian Ships and eight aircraft participated in the exercise. 

    Other stakeholders like the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) also sent their assets for the exercise that has been held for the seventh time. It focused on acquainting each other’s capabilities, strengthening their working level relationship and further refine joint operating procedures. 

    The exercise was witnessed by Director General Rajendra Singh of the Indian Coast Guard and Admiral Satoshi Nakajima, Commandant of the Japan Coast Guard. It was also witnessed by International observers from 17 countries and members of National Maritime Search and Rescue Board. 

    The highlights of the exercise encompassed the scenario of the hijacking of a cruise vessel and subsequent mass rescue of the passengers in a joint Coast Guard operation of both the countries. Operation of helicopters of the two coast guards from the ships of each other, interdiction of pirate vessel, cross boarding and search and rescue demonstration were the other highlights of the exercise. It culminated with an impressive steam past by the ships and fly past by aircraft. 

  • India joins Australia Group export control regime
    India on 19th January joined the Australia Group export control regime, an informal forum which seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons. 

    The inclusion is expected to raise India's stature in the field of non-proliferation and help in acquiring critical technologies. 

    India has managed entry into Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group despite not being a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. 

    India is the 43rd member of the Group. The group is looking forward to work together to strengthen the collective efforts against the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons. 

    India thanked Australia Group participants for inducting it into export control regime, after MTCR and Wassenaar Arrangement. 

    According to External Affairs Minister Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, India’s entry into the AG will be mutually beneficial and further contribute to international security and non-proliferation objectives. 

  • Indian diaspora a platform for stronger ties with ASEAN: Sushma Swaraj
    India’s dialogue partnership with ASEAN has evolved into a strategic partnership and the Indian diaspora provides a platform for stronger ties with the grouping, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on 7th January. 

    Addressing the Indian diaspora at the ASEAN-India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Swaraj reaffirmed India’s commitment to ASEAN. Noting the 25-year milestone of ASEAN-India partnership, she said, “Our dialogue partnership has evolved into a strategic partnership.” “India’s engagement with the ASEAN region lies in the clarity of the principles that we share. 

    ASEAN is India’s 4th largest trading partner, accounting for 10.2% of India’s total trade. India is ASEAN’s 7th largest trading partner. Trade is back on track and registered an 8% increase in 2016- 17, as compared to the previous year. New Delhi will host a commemorative summit on January 25 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Dialogue Partnership between India and the ASEAN in which all the leaders of the grouping are expected to participate. 

    ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. 

  • 1st PIO-Parliamentarian Conference held in New Delhi
    The 1st PIO-Parliamentarian Conference was inaugurated by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi in New Delhi on 9th January. The Prime Minister said that PIOs (Persons of India Origin) are like permanent ambassadors of India and partners for India's development, who have an important position in the Action Agenda till 2020, drafted by the NITI Aayog. 

    The session also witnessed distinguished PIO Parliamentarians placing their experiences before the gathering and how they are still very much connected to their roots in India through the Principles of Peace and Harmony that they have imbibed from their ancestors. 

  • Strongest diaspora linkages between India, Seychelles: Sumitra Mahajan
    Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on 11th January said diaspora linkages between India and Seychelles are among the strongest and the presence of the Indian Ocean has actually connected them. 

    Mahajan, who is leading an Indian parliamentary delegation to the island nation, attended the 'Pravasi Bharatiya' celebrations in Victoria, the capital city of the Seychelles. 

    In an official statement issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat, Mrs Mahajan was quoted as saying relations between the two nations are characterised by historical ties, cultural linkages, friendship, and understanding with a view to moving forward together. 

    She said that Seychelles enjoys the unbound love, affection and unconditional support of India. 

    Appreciating the role of Indians in development of Seychelles, she said Indian nationals have been among the earliest inhabitants of the islands and have evolved over the decades to constitute the heart and soul of the Seychelles. 

    Mahajan attended various sessions of the 24th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth held in Victoria from January 8-11 and also delivered the keynote address. 

  • Committed to ‘India First’ Policy, Male Tells New Delhi
    The Maldives on 11th January assured the Indian leadership of its ‘India first policy’ – an affirmation which comes amid a chill in bilateral ties over a host of issues, including the signing of an FTA between the Maldives and China. 

    The assurance was given by Maldivian foreign minister Mohamed Asim during talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj. 

    Asim, a part of the special envoy of the President of the Maldives Abdulla Yameen, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and reiterated “the commitment of his government to maintain close relations with India under Maldives’ ‘India first’ policy”, an external affairs ministry release said. 

    Modi affirmed that India would always be a reliable and close neighbour of the Maldives, supporting it in its progress and security. 

    The visit by the Maldivian leader is seen as an effort by Male to assuage concerns of New Delhi following a free trade pact with China after which India had made it clear that it expected that as a close and friendly neighbour, the island nation would be sensitive to its concerns in keeping with its ‘India first’ policy. 

    External affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India was committed to supporting democracy, development and stability in the Maldives. 

    The external affairs ministry release said discussions centred around strengthening of the development partnership between the two countries, and enhancing defence and security cooperation. 

  • India, China will soon have a hotline
    A hotline will be set up between the Indian and Chinese armies very soon, Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat said on 12th January. It is moving very fast. Very soon we will have a hotline with the Chinese side. 

    He said both India and China were very keen on having a hotline between the Indian Army’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) and the Chinese officer holding similar position. 

    The Army Chief said a hotline will help resolve incidents such as transgressions along the border promptly. “We are very keen to start the hotline. The Chinese are also very clear,” he said. 

    Currently, India and Pakistan have a hotline between their DGMOs. Replying to a question on procurement of Spike anti-tank missile from Israel through government-to-government route, the Army Chief said such a proposal was being considered. 

    In November, the defence ministry had decided to retract the process to acquire a batch of Spike missiles from Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defence Systems. Subsequently, the ministry had asked premier defence research laboratory DRDO to develop similar missiles with indigenous technology. 

    Gen. Rawat said the government was considering procuring the missile system from Israel using the government-to- government route. 

  • India and Pakistan exchange list of nuclear installations
    India and Pakistan on 1st January exchanged the list of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations between the two countries. 

    The exchange took place through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad. The Agreement, which was signed on 31st December 1988 and entered into force on 27th January 1991 provides, inter alia, that the two countries inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the Agreement on the first of January of every calendar year. 

    This is the twenty-seventh consecutive exchange of such list between the two countries, the first one having taken place on 1st January, 1992. 

  • India ends $500-m missile deal talks with Israel
    India has decided to pull out of talks to procure ‘Spike’ anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) from Israel’s state-owned Rafael Advanced Systems after protracted negotiations to buy 1,600 units for the Indian Army. The $500-million deal, which was almost finalised by the Defence Ministry last year to meet the long-pending demand of the Army’s infantry battalions, had gathered momentum when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Israel. 

  • Central Cabinet approves Indo-Myanmar agreement on land border crossing
    Cabinet has approved the Agreement between India and Myanmar on Land Border Crossing. The Agreement will facilitate regulation and harmonization of already existing free movement rights for people ordinarily residing in the border areas of both countries. 

    It will also facilitate movement of people on the basis of valid passports and visas which will enhance economic and social interaction between the two countries. The Agreement is an enabling arrangement for movement of people across India-Myanmar border. It is expected to provide connectivity and enhance interaction of the people of North Eastern States of India with the people of Myanmar. 

    It would give a boost to the economy of the North East and allow us to leverage our geographical connections with Myanmar to boost trade and people to people ties. 

    The Agreement will safeguard the traditional rights of the largely tribal communities residing along the border which are accustomed to free movement across the land border. 

  • India, Indonesia call for ending state sponsorship of terror
    India and Indonesia unequivocally condemned all forms of terrorism irrespective of its motivation and origin. After co-chairing the fifth meeting of the Joint Commission with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Jakarta on 5th January, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said, both the nations expressed strong opposition to any selective approaches to deal with this global menace. 

    The minister said, India and Indonesia called upon all countries to stop providing state sponsorship of terrorism and prevent their territories being used for establishing terrorist safe havens. 

    Ms Swaraj said, during the discussions, there was clear recognition that India and Indonesia, as two close maritime neighbours, are natural partners in peace and prosperity. 

    She said, both nations are two major countries in the Indo-Pacific region. She said Indonesia, as one of the largest countries and the biggest economy in ASEAN, has a critical role to play in evolution of the new security architecture in the Indo-Pacific region. 

    Ms Swaraj said, both nations agreed on expansion of civil aviation links to further enhance bilateral economic and tourism ties. 

    The two countries also agreed to work together for a balanced and sustainable trade by providing greater market access, both in goods and services. 

    Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma called on Indonesian Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla and discussed ways to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two nations. 

    Ms Swaraj arrived in Jakarta from Thailand on the second leg of her three-nation tour. She will also call on Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and have other official engagements, including an interaction with the representatives of the Indian community. 

  • India eager to enhance ties with ASEAN region, says Sushma Swaraj
    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said, India wants to evolve a regional architecture based on the twin principles of shared security and shared prosperity in South-East Asian region. 

    Inaugurating the 5th Round Table of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) India Network of Think Tanks in Jakarta, She said that India looks out for a deeper economic integration with the dynamic ASEAN region. 

    The Minister said, India stresses on enhancing maritime security, trade and investment, education and cultural heritage among the grouping of ASEAN. 

    Mrs. Sushma Swaraj reached Singapore to participate in ASEAN-India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas conference which began on 6th January.
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