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July 2018 International Affairs

  • China offers fresh grant of $295 million to Sri Lanka
    Chinese President Xi Jinping has offered Sri Lanka a fresh grant of two billion yuan ($295 million), as Beijing tries to expand its influence in the island-nation. 

    Sri Lanka, a partner in China’s Belt and Road project, made the announcement on Saturday at a ceremony to mark the start of construction of a Chinese-funded kidney hospital in Polonnaruwa. 

    The grant offer comes at a time when a Chinese firm is facing heavy criticism for allegedly financing the last election campaign of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. 

    • Mr. Sirisena had at the start of his term suspended most of the Chinese-backed infrastructure projects started under Mr. Rajapaksa over suspected corruption, overpricing and for flouting government procedures.
    • But more than a year later, the Sirisena government allowed Chinese projects to resume after a few changes in some of them.

  • China Minister arrives in Bhutan on first top-level visit after Doklam
    Bhutan is hosting Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou who is on a three-day visit that started Sunday. 

    Kong has met Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay. 

    The timing of the visit is significant since polls are likely to be held in Bhutan in October. 

    While Bhutan has formal diplomatic relations with 53 countries, it does not have official bilateral relations with its northern neighbour. 

    Bhutan and China have unresolved border issues, and the two countries are in negotiations to resolve the dispute. 

    They have held 24 rounds of boundary talks so far — the last round took place in in August 2016. The 25th round could not take place in 2017, because of the two-and-a-half-month border stand-off. 

    While India has been supportive of Bhutan’s outreach to the world, it has always been cautious when it comes to Thimpu’s ties with Beijing. 

  • North Korea begins dismantling nuclear and ballistic missile facilities
    North Korea has begun dismantling key facilities at a site used to develop engines for ballistic missiles, according to an analysis of satellite imagery of the location, the first significant step towards denuclearization following last month’s historic summit between Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump. 

    The Sohae Satellite Launching Station has been the main site for North Korean satellite launches since 2012. 

    New commercial satellite imagery of the Sohae station indicates that the North has begun dismantling key facilities

    Since these facilities are believed to have played an important role in the development of technologies for the North’s intercontinental ballistic missile programme, these efforts represent a significant confidence building measure on the part of North Korea. 

  • List of MOU’s signed between India and Uganda during visit of Prime Minister to Uganda
    1. MoU on Defense Cooperation
    2. MoU on Visa exemption for Diplomatic and official passport holders.
    3. MoU on Cultural Exchange Programme.
    4. MoU on Material Testing Laboratory.

  • The 10th edition of BRICS Summit began in Johannesburg, South Africa
    It is the 3-day long summit and will be attended by all the BRICS leaders. 

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-nation tour of Africa will culminate in South Africa. 

    The theme for this summit is ‘BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for inclusive growth and shared prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution'. 

    He is likely to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the summit. 

  • Ireland to hold international conference of female parliamentarians
    "The International Congress of Parliamentary Women's Caucuses" will be held at Dublin Castle on September 9-10 and the event will be attended by an estimated 300 delegates from over 27 countries. 

    This conference is organised by the Irish Women's Parliamentary Caucus (IWPC), a cross-party forum for female parliamentarians within the Irish parliament. 

    Pakistan polls conducted
    It is for the second time that the power is being transferred from one Civilian Government to the other, in Pakistan. It was the military that ruled Pakistan for about half of its history and still sets key security and foreign policy in the nuclear-armed nation. 

    The Economy of Pakistan is in a crisis. Whichever party wins Pakistan’s upcoming general election will take over an economy on the brink of a balance of payments crisis. Growth is likely to slow sharply regardless of who wins the election,” said Gareth Leather, senior Asia economist at Capital Economics.
    • Capital Economics forecasts GDP growth at 3% in the next two years, down from 5.8% in 2018.
    • Influence of the extremist groups has been seen to be increasing.

    The Pakistan Muslim League (N)) has sought to turn the vote into a referendum on Pakistan’s democracy, and has said it is campaigning to protect the “sanctity of the vote,” a reference to a history of political interference by the military. While Pakistan’s cricketer turned politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-insaf (PTI) was on the lead. 

  • Sanctions relief: on waiver for India under CAATSA
    The U.S. Congress has released a report allowing the introduction of a presidential waiver of its controversial Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). 

    The matter was particularly heated with India making it clear it would go ahead with the S-400 missile system deal with Russia regardless of the U.S. law and the threat of sanctions. CAATSA, signed reluctantly by President Donald Trump last August (2017) would have forced his administration to impose sanctions on any country carrying out significant defence and energy trade with sanctioned entities in Russia, Iran and North Korea. Mr. Donald Trump had objected, arguing that the law took away his powers to decide on such matters. 

    India’s three-fold case for the waiver: 
    1. No weapons India bought would be used against the U.S.
    2. The U.S., which wants to partner with India in the Indo-Pacific, would hamper India’s military abilities by applying the sanctions or denying the country crucial technology.
    3. India has significantly reduced its dependence on Russian military hardware while increasing defence purchases from the U.S., and it would be unfair if the U.S. rewarded the effort with punitive measures.

  • India to raise H1B visa issue with U.S. 
    India will raise the issue of H1B visas for IT workers during the upcoming ‘two plus two dialogue’ with the United States

    U.S. had sovereign right to decide on H1B visa but had declared that India would leave “no stone unturned” in ensuring a fair procedure on this issue. 

    The government has been in touch with the U.S. administration regarding the issue

    Despite the tightening of rules by the Trump administration, the number of visas has actually gone up from 1, 08,000 in 2014 to 1,29,000 in 2018. 

  • U.S., EU agree to ease trade tensions
    U.S. President Donald Trump and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on 25 July, 2018 agreed on a plan to defuse the festering trade dispute between the two major economies. 

    Washington will not follow through with a threat to impose tariffs on autos that would hurt the dominant German car industry — as a “breakthrough” that “can avoid trade war.” 

    The leaders agreed to “launch a new phase” in the relationship and “to work together towards zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods. 

    In addition, the EU has made a commitment to buy U.S. soybeans and natural gas. 

  • Pakistan ready to improve ties with India: Imran Khan
    Pakistan is ready to improve its ties with India, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan said on July 26. 

    He stated to resolve all disputes, including the “core issue” of Kashmir, through talks

    The PTI has emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly elections, amid claims by rival political parties “blatant” rigging in the counting. 

    India-Pakistan relations will be beneficial for the entire region and suggested to increase trade ties between the two neighbors. 

    India-Pakistan ties nose-dived in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place. 

    On ties with the U.S., he said Pakistan wants a balanced relations with America which should be mutually beneficial, not one-sided. Additionally, Mr. Khan said he and his party wanted stronger ties with both Iran and Saudi Arabia. 

    He wants to strengthen relations with China, as they have provided us an opportunity by investing in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. 

  • BRICS summit: PM Narendra Modi meets Xi Jinping, third time in four months
    India-China ties have been bedevilled by a number of irritants —an unsettled boundary problem dating back to their brief but bitter 1962 war, a ballooning trade deficit against India, China’s close ties with India’s arch rival Pakistan and Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative running through disputed Kashmir that New Delhi says violates its sovereignty, to name a few. 

    Last year (2017), however, Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in an unprecedented tense standoff that ended after 73 days —seen as an offshoot of their unresolved boundary problem. 

    In a bid to stabilize ties bruised by the Doklam standoff, Modi and Xi held an informal summit in the central Chinese city of Wuhan on 27-28 April where the two sides agreed to “respect each other’s sensitivities, concerns and aspirations,” and to maintain peace and tranquillity along their common but yet to be demarcated frontiers. 

    In June 2018, the two leaders met again on the margins of the regional Shanghai Cooperation Organization meet in the Chinese city of Qingdao where they agreed on a further set of measures to boost mutual trust. These included announcements on meetings between their defense and home ministers and setting a bilateral trade target of $100 billion in trade by the year 2020. 

    The foreign ministers of the two countries are also expected to meet in New Delhi in October to take forward a plan to step up people to people interaction, he said. There will also be a meeting of the two special representatives who are discussing a solution to their boundary problem and this will take place in China. 

    In a bid to bridge the trade deficit between India and China, that has zoomed to $ 50 billion in the past year, an Indian trade delegation will be travelling to China on 1-2 August. 

  • Eritrean–Ethiopian War to be concluded with a peace agreement mediated by African Union
    What is Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict? 
    The Eritrean–Ethiopian War, one of the conflicts in the Horn of Africa, took place between Ethiopia and Eritrea from May 1998 to June 2000, with the final peace only agreed to in 2018. 

    According to a ruling by an international commission in The Hague, Eritrea broke international law and triggered the war by invading Ethiopia. At the end of the war, Ethiopia held all of the disputed territory and had advanced into Eritrea. 

  • 2017 BRICS National Security Advisors (NSAs) meeting held in China
    2017 BRICS National Security Advisors (NSAs) meeting was held on 27th and 28th July 2017, in Beijing, China. 

    National Security Advisor (NSA) AjitDoval represented India at this meeting. 

    This meeting is a major platform for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) countries to discuss and conduct cooperation in politics and security fields. 

    Discussions were held on topics including global governance, anti-terrorism, internet security and energy security, as well as major international and regional hotspot issues. 

    Chinese and Indian troops have been locked in a face-off in Doklam area for more than a month, since Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the area. 

  • Sri Lanka, China sign $1.5 billion Hambantota port deal
    On July 29, 2017, Sri Lanka’s government signed an agreement to sell a 70% stake in a $1.5 billion Hambantota port to China in a bid to recover from the heavy burden of repaying a Chinese loan obtained to build the facility. 

    The deal document was signed between the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and China Merchants Port Holding Co. in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 

    According to the agreement, the Chinese company will invest $1.12 billion in the port, which sits close to busy east-west shipping lanes. 

    Two local companies whose shares will be split between the Chinese enterprise and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority will be set up to handle the port’s operations, security and services. 

    The Chinese company will be responsible for commercial operations while the Sri Lanka Ports Authority will handle security. 

  • India becomes vice chair of Asia Pacific Region of World Customs Organization
    India has become the Vice-Chair, Regional head, of the Asia Pacific Region of World Customs Organization (WCO) for a period of two years, from July 2018 to June 2020. The underlying Theme of the Inaugural Ceremony is “Customs – Fostering Trade Facilitation”. 

    WCO represents 182 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98% of world trade. 

    The WCO has divided its Membership into six Regions. Each of the six Regions is represented by a regionally elected Vice-Chairperson to the WCO Council. Being the Vice Chair of the Asia-Pacific region of WCO, India will be able to take on the leadership role at the WCO. 

  • India ranks 116 out of 157 nations on SDG index
    India is ranked 116 out of 157 nations on a global index that assesses the performance of countries towards achieving the ambitious sustainable development goals (SDGs). The SDG Index and Dashboards Report produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Bertelsmann Stiftung. 

    India is ranked 116th on the index with a score of 58.1, behind countries such as Nepal, Iran, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and China. 

    Pakistan is ranked 122. Sweden leads the list, followed by Denmark and Finland. 

    The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has been operating since 2012 under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. 

    SDGs were adopted in September 2015 at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York, US. 

  • Faster visas for minorities from three nations
    The Home Ministry has further liberalized the process for granting long-term visas (LTVs) to minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. 

    The Home Ministry has reduced the time limit for security clearance of applicants from 45 days to 21 days. 

    After an application reaches the central system, it’s forwarded to three agencies for verification — the State government, the Intelligence Bureau and the Home Ministry. 

    The State government, through the local police, has to run a background check on the applicants who has applied for an LTV. If the State doesn’t reply within 21 days, the system will log them out and the application will be deemed to be cleared. 

    About LTV’s: Since 2011, nearly 30,000 Pakistanis had been granted LTVs and, currently, 1,500 such applications were pending. The LTVs are precursors to citizenship, based on the report given by the State governments. 

    The visa facility, first introduced in 2011 for persecuted Hindus from Pakistan in 2011, was further liberalized after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government came to power in 2014. The LTVs granted to Pakistani Hindus from 2011 to 2014 stood at 14,726. 

    In 2015, the government granted concessions to Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Afghanistan nationals belonging to the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian and Jain communities, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, in respect of their entry and stay in India without proper documents or after the expiry of relevant documents. 

    It also empowered revenue authorities in some States, not including Assam, to allow them to register properties and take up employment. 

  • India, Iran looking at European assurances on US sanctions
    India and Iran are looking closely at European assurances that can salvage the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iranian nuclear deal

    Both sides are looking at “experiences” from the past — when Iran was under sanctions by the US, UN and European Union — and want to develop banking mechanism to deal with the impending sanctions. 

    The first set of sanctions are set to kick in on August 6, which will cover banking channels, and the second set will kick in November, which will cover other areas like petroleum, insurance, infrastructure etc. 

    The restrictions were announced in May when the US withdrew from JCPOA. Other signatories to the deal —Russia, China, Germany, Britain, and France — have refused to leave the nuclear agreement and introduce sanctions against the country. 

  • Iran files complaint with ICJ against US over renewed sanctions
    Iran has filed a complaint with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the United States for reimposing sanctions. 

    US President Donald Trump had re-imposed sanctions affecting Iran’s economy, such as petrochemical, energy and financial sectors after withdrawing from a nuclear deal with world powers. 

    The effect of the re-imposition of the US sanctions was visible in the drop of India’s oil import from Iran. 

  • India keen to join Russia in WTO case against US on metal tariffs
    Trump has imposed 25% tariff on steel and 10% on aluminium imports. 

    What is the news? 
    India has expressed its willingness join the World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute consultation requested by Russia as a third party against the US decision to impose high duties on certain steel and aluminium imports. 

    In May, India dragged the US to the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism over the imposition of these import duties. 

    To understand the developments on the issue, India is joining the dispute cases on the subject as a third party member. India has also stated that it is a significant exporter of steel and aluminium products to the US. In 2017, India was the 10th largest exporter of steel to America. 

  • Russia tests new nuclear weapons after summit with Donald Trump
    Russia’s military is testing an array of new nuclear and other weapons, from a high-powered laser weapon system to a nuclear-powered cruise missile with “unlimited” range. 

    It has tested the Burevestnik cruise missile on the ground and is now readying flight tests. 

    Also they are practicing use of the Peresvet high-powered laser weapon system, and launching trials of the Poseidon underwater nuclear drone. 

    This comes after the meeting happened between Trump and Putin about continuing START treaty. 

    Burevestnik cruise missile: 
    The Burevestnik (Stormbringer in English) or “Unstoppable” as it was named in Western media, is an intercontinental cruise missile designed to attack a variety of important enemy targets, such as command posts, missile defence bases, and radars. It is a new type of strategic weapons that do not use ballistic flight paths on the way to the target. 

    The main purpose of the new cruise missiles is the suppression of the operational bases of the probable enemy and the destruction of interceptor-based missile defen?e systems or group of ships with Aegis Ballistic Missile Defen?e System. 

    The missile has an intercontinental range in excess of 10,000+ kilometers (probably close to 20,000 kilometers) and may be equipped with a nuclear warhead. 

    The key element of the cruise missile is a nuclear power unit which allegedly provides an intercontinental range. The missile is expected to follow any trajectory to reach its intended target. The first test firing of the Burevestnik cruise missile occurred in late 2017. 

  • Poseidon underwater drone
    Poseidon or Status-6 or Kanyon (American code name)) is a nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed unmanned underwater vehicle under development by the Russian Federation that can deliver conventional and nuclear payloads. 

    It may be able to deliver a thermonuclear cobalt bomb of up to 100 megatonnes against enemy's naval ports and coastal cities. 

    In 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review stated that Russia is developing a "new intercontinental, nuclear armed, nuclear-powered, undersea autonomous torpedo".

    The Poseidon weapon is designed to create a tsunami wave up to 500 metres (1,600 ft) tall, which would contaminate a wide area on an enemy's coast with radioactive isotopes, as well as being immune to anti-missile defence systems such as anti-ballistic missiles, laser weapons and railguns that might disable an ICBM or a SLBM. 

  • North Korea, Eritrea have highest rates of modern slavery: Report
    2018 Global Slavery Index published by the human rights group Walk Free Foundation stated that North Korea and Eritrea have the world’s highest rates of enslaved people. 

    In North Korea, one in 10 people are in modern slavery with the clear majority forced to work by the state. 

    The Central African nation of Burundi also has a high prevalence of slavery. 

    Each of these three countries has state-sponsored forced labor, where their government puts its own people to work for its own benefit. 

    More than 40 million people were enslaved around the world as of 2016

    India was home to the largest total number with an estimated 18.4 million slaves among its 1.3 billion population, according to the Walk Free Foundation’s 2016 index. 

    China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan rounded out the top five nations, accounting for about 58 per cent of people living in slavery globally. 

    Other countries with the highest rates of modern slavery were the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, South Sudan. 

  • Djibouti ask United Nations to end border dispute with Eritrea
    Djibouti’s UN ambassador, Mohamed SiadDoualeh, asked Guterres in a letter circulated Wednesday to work with the Security Council to bring his tiny port nation and Eritrea together. 

    He said Djibouti’s preference would be to refer the dispute “to judicial settlement or arbitration” that would be legally binding. 

  • BRICS news portal soon
    A decision to establish a BRICS Media Academy and a BRICS news portal were among those taken at the 2018 BRICS Media Forum at Cape Town in South Africa 

    The Forum, a high-level dialogue among media organizations from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, was held over two days under the theme — ‘Fostering an Inclusive, Just World Order’. 

    It pledged to strive to create a media landscape that upholds the integrity of news that is created and shared through the BRICS nations. 

    It also committed itself to limit the spread and effect of fake news and increase people-to-people exchanges between journalists and others employed in the media. 

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in On 4-Day Visit to India
    South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrived in New Delhi evening on a four-day visit to India. He is being accompanied by First Lady Kim Jung-sook on his maiden visit to the nation. 

    A financing arrangement of 10 billion dollars has been set by the Korean side for infrastructure development in India. 

    Major items of India’s exports to Korea are mineral fuels/oil distillates, cereals, iron and steel. 

  • Tropical Storm Chris set to become hurricane
    A tropical storm that formed off the North Carolina coast was forecasted to become a hurricane

    Tropical Storm Chris, the third named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, was about 180 miles (290 km) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina with top sustained winds of 50 miles per hour (85 kph) 

    Beryl, which had weakened to a tropical storm from a hurricane, degenerated on Sunday into an open wave, according to the NHC. 

    It said Beryl could reform into a tropical cyclone in a few days when its remnants are forecast to move through the Bahamas. 

  • China courts EU to counter trade headwinds from U.S
    China, Europe setting up their weapons to fight against US initiated trade war. 

    USA increased import tax against Chinese products worth $ 34 billion, with additional 25 per cent duties. 

    China want to join its hands with Germany — an industrial giant — as its key partner for transitioning its economy towards internet-based “smart manufacturing”. 

    The Made-in-China 2025 strategy — the key to China’s attempt to achieve automated manufacturing — is based on Germany’s Industry 4.0 model. 

    Beijing will host a summit of EU leaders on July 16-17, apparently, as a stepped up effort to build a coalition to counter U.S. protectionism. 

  • China to cut tariffs on Indian cancer drugs
    A new Chinese film on the plight of a leukemia patient, highlighting the pressing need for China to pave the way for import of cheap Indian cancer drugs. 

    India and China have reached an agreement on reduction of tariffs on Chinese imports of Indian medicines, particularly cancer drugs. 

    It is not yet clear whether China has agreed to grant licenses to Indian companies to sell cancer drugs in the huge market here, which could be a major step. 

    About 4.3 million people are diagnosed with cancer annually in China

    Indian drugs, especially cancer-curing medicines, are in big demand in China as they are far cheaper than their western counterparts. 

  • India to ease visa curbs for Bangladesh citizens
    India will sign a pact with Bangladesh to ease visa restrictions for citizens from the neighboring country. 

    The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on revised travel arrangements will be signed during Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s three-day visit to Dhaka. 

    Bangladesh has demanded that travel restrictions for senior citizens be eased and further concessions be given to Muktijoddhas — those who participated in the 1971 Liberation War. 

  • India going ahead with purchase of S-400 air defense systems from Russia
    India is going ahead with the purchase of S-400 air defense systems from Russia despite American concerns, and has told the U.S. that it is for them to address concerns over its recent Russia sanctions. 

    India’s decision about purchasing defense from Russia may affect Indo-US relations and consensus is yet to arrive regarding matters like COMCASA. 

  • What is Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)? 
    It will enable Indian military to obtain encrypted communication systems from the U.S., Ms. Sitharaman indicated that no agreement has been reached yet. 

    What is CAATSA? 
    The U.S. has passed the CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act) that proposes to impose sanctions on nations that have significant defense relations with Russia. 

    While the U.S. Administration has said waivers will be incorporated in it to protect friends and allies, it is yet to be done. 

    This has generated significant concern in India which is heavily dependent on Russia for military hardware. 

  • India’s first ‘2+2’ dialogue with US to take place in September
    India’s first 2+2 dialogue with the US, which was postponed this month, would now take place in the first week of September

    In the last week of June, the United States of America postponed its first ‘2+2’ dialogue with India, which is a meeting between the ministers for External Affairs and Defense and the US secretaries of state and defense, citing “unavoidable reasons”. 

    The “2+2” dialogue is meant to replace the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue between the foreign and commerce ministers of the two countries that was held during the previous Obama administration. 

    The delay had led to several speculations doing the rounds that US was apparently not happy with India going ahead with its plan to buy S-400 missiles from Russia, which falls under the category of equipment targeted under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). 

  • Government gives nod to Iran bank in Mumbai before US sanctions
    The Finance Ministry has conveyed to the RBI that it has no objection to allowing the Tehran-based Bank Pasargad to open its branch in India. 

    The clearance to the Iranian bank comes amidst the US announcing sanctions and asking other countries to minimize oil purchases from Iran

    The Federation of Indian Export Organisations had earlier approached the RBI suggesting that they should allow the entry of Iranian banks into India to facilitate bilateral trade. Apart from the Iranian Bank, branch licence proposals of two South Korean banks, KEB Hana Bank and Kookmin Bank, have also been approved by the Centre. 

    The RBI gives its first internal clearance to a foreign bank branch proposal, it is vetted by a committee comprising senior officials of the ministries of Finance, Commerce, External Affairs and Home Affairs. Clearance from each ministry is required before the RBI issues a license to a foreign bank. 

    In the wake of US sanctions, India may explore the possibility of reviving the rupee-rial arrangement to import oil from Iran that it has used in the past. 

    The presence of an Iranian bank in India will open up a significant financial channel that will ensure the smooth flow of funds between the two countries. 

    India imports a large quantity of oil from Iran and has committed an investment of $500 million for the development of the crucial Chabahar port. 

    The rupee-rial arrangement was used to buy oil from Iran before US sanctions were lifted against it three years ago. 

    Under this mechanism, India paid in Euros to clear 55 per cent of its dues, while the remaining 45 per cent payment was remitted in rupees into accounts Iranian oil companies had with UCO Bank. 

  • 19 killed in suicide bombing targeting Sikhs, Hindus in Afghanistan
    A suicide bomber targeted a convoy of Sikhs and Hindus on their way to meet Afghanistan’s president in the eastern city of Jalalabad on 1st July, killing at least 19 people. 

    At least ten of the 20 wounded were also from the same minority community and are undergoing treatment at a Jalalabad hospital. 

  • Iran looks to private sector for oil exports to combat U.S. sanctions
    Iran’s first vice president Eshaq Jahangiri anounced the country’s private sector will be able to buy and export crude oil under a new plan to combat U.S. sanctions. 

    US President Donald Trump’s administration has threatened close allies such as South Korea with sanctions if they don’t cut off Iranian imports by early November. It comes as Mr. Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in May, 2018. 

  • North Korea named 'worst human trafficking country'
    The US State Department categorised North Korea as one of the "worst human trafficking nation" for the 16th straight year, citing the use of forced labour. 

    According to the annual '2018 Trafficking in Persons Report', North Korea has been included in the Tier 3 category, which is the lowest ranking, along with China, Russia and Iran. 

    "The government (of North Korea) does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so," the report said. 

    "It used proceeds from state-sponsored forced labour to fund government functions as well as other illicit activity. It did not screen for or protect potential trafficking victims when they were forcibly repatriated from China or other countries," it added. 

  • Leftist López Obrador is Mexico President after landslide victory
    Lopez Obrador won a landslide election victory, getting more than double the votes of his nearest rival becoming the first leftist to win the Mexican presidency since oneparty rule ended in 2000. 

    The core promises of Mr. López Obrador’s campaign — to end corruption, reduce violence and address Mexico’s endemic poverty — were immensely popular with voters. 

    In his third bid for the presidency, Mr. López Obrador, 64, won in what authorities called the largest election in Mexican history, with some 3,400 federal, state and local races contested in all. 

  • Former Malaysian PM charged with criminal breach of trust
    Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of using his position for gratification as part of a probe into missing money from state fund 1MDB. 

    The charges are in connection with how 42 million ringgit ($10 million) went from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit, into Najib's personal bank account. ($1 = 4.0440 ringgit). 

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautions Donald Trump against launching trade war
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel on 4th July warned U.S. President Donald Trump against unleashing an all-out trade war after he threatened to impose steep tariffs on cars from the European Union. 

    In a speech to the Bundestag federal parliament, Ms. Merkel said both sides were effectively locked in a “trade conflict” since Mr. Donald Trump’s decision to slap punitive tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. 

    “It is worthwhile to prevent this conflict from becoming a real war,” she said, adding, however, that this “would require both sides” to take steps. 

    The EU has slapped tariffs on iconic U.S. products, including bourbon, jeans and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, as a symbolic tit-for-tat response to the metals duties. 

  • 25 Countries in Global Banks’ ‘High Risk’ List
    China, UAE, Cyprus and significantly, Mauritius, along with 21other countries have been tagged as “high-risk jurisdictions” by global banks acting as custodians for foreign funds which comprise the largest group of investors in the Indian stock market. 

    Large investors and beneficial owners of these funds entering India through these high-risk jurisdictions will face close scrutiny while non-resident Indians and persons of Indian origin will run into new hurdles in participating in funds set up in these countries for trading on Indian exchanges. 

    SEBI - registered foreign portfolio funds invest in India through 56 countries. Of these, 25 are now considered ‘high risk’. 

  • US-China trade war begins: Donald Trump raises stakes 
    Donald Trump has threatened to impose tariffs worth hundreds of billions of dollars on Chinese imports to the US as a trade war between the world's two largest economies began on July 6, 2018. 

    US tariffs on $34bn (£25.7bn) of Chinese goods have come into effect. 

    China retaliated by imposing a similar 25% tariff on 545 US products, also worth a total of $34bn. 

    Mr. Trump said the US might target Chinese goods worth $500bn - the total value of Chinese imports in 2017. 

    Beijing accused the US of starting the "largest trade war in economic history" and has lodged a case with the World Trade Organization (WTO). 

  • Pakistan ex-PM Nawaz Sharif given 10-year jail term
    A Pakistani court has sentenced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to 10 years in prison on corruption charges related to four luxury London flats. 

    The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court handed down the verdict after a series of delays. 

    His daughter and son-in-law were also convicted. 

    Judge Mohammad Bashir ordered Sharif to serve 10 years for owning assets beyond income and one year for not co-operating with the NAB. 

    Daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif, also in London, received seven years for abetting a crime and one year for not co-operating - again to run concurrently - while son-in-law Safdar Awan was given a one-year sentence for not co-operating. 

    Sharif and Maryam also received fines of £8m ($10.6m) and £2m respectively. 

    The Panama Papers leak in 2015 revealed several of Sharif's children had links to offshore companies, which were allegedly used to channel funds and buy foreign assets - including luxury flats in Avenfield House, on London's Park Lane.


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