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May 2018 - Bilateral

  • India and China agree to start talks on bilateral social security agreement
    India and China have agreed to start formal negotiations on a bilateral social security agreement aimed at protecting Indian professionals and skilled workers abroad. 

    The understanding was reached between the two sides during the two-day talks held in Beijing on 28th and 29th May. 

    Indian Embassy in Beijing said, during the talks, India and China carried out detailed and extensive discussions on the next steps towards the formal negotiation phase on the social security agreement that is expected to begin next year (2019). 

    An official release said, so far, India has signed social security agreements with 18 countries from different parts of the world. India is currently engaged in discussions with a number of other countries. 

    The bilateral social security agreements are aimed at protecting the interests of Indian professionals and skilled workers working abroad by providing them benefits like avoidance of double social security contributions and facilitating remittances of accumulated social security contribution. 

  • Joint military exercise SURYA KIRAN-13 between India and Nepal begin at Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand
    The joint military exercise SURYA KIRAN-13 between India and Nepal began at Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand on 30th May. 

    The military exercise, which is set to conclude of 12th of June, is a biannual event which is conducted alternatively in Nepal and India every six months. 

    Over 300 soldiers from both the countries are taking part in the exercise. During the exercise, both nations will share their experiences gained during conduct of various counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations in the past. 

    The aim of this exercise is to conduct battalion level joint training with emphasis on counter terrorism operations in mountainous terrain. Aspects of disaster management and joint effort towards relief work have also been included. 

  • Indonesia, India upgrade ties with 15 agreements
    Indonesia and India agreed on 30th May to upgrade bilateral relations by signing more than a dozen agreements on a broad range of areas including defense, maritime affairs, trade and investment. 

    After meeting with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said they agreed to make their economies open and hoped a comprehensive economic partnership can be completed this year (2018). 

    The 15 agreements include cooperation in defense, exploration and use of outer space, science and technology, capacity building of public officials, dialogue and interaction between governments and think tanks as well as in health and railways. 

    Jokowi said that India is Indonesia’s largest export trading partner in South and Central Asia with a value of nearly $15 billion while the number of Indian tourists also rose sharply, up 28 percent to nearly 500,000 in 2017

    A joint statement said the two leaders agreed to hold annual summit meetings, including on the margins of multilateral events. Indonesia was the first leg of Modi’s three-nation visit that will also take him to Malaysia and Singapore. 

  • India, World Bank sign $500 million additional financing for PMGSY Rural Roads Project
    India and World Bank on 31st May signed a 500 million Dollar loan agreement to provide additional financing for the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) Rural Roads Project. 

    The project was implemented by Ministry of Rural Development, which will build 7,000 km of climate resilient roads, out of which 3,500 km will be constructed using green technologies. 

    The World Bank has supported PMGSY since its inception in 2004. So far, it has invested over 1.8 billion dollars in loans and credits mostly in the economically weaker and hill states across North India - Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh. It has built and improved about 35,000 km of rural roads and benefited about eight million people with access to all-weather roads. 

  • India, Singapore to upgrade Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement
    India and Singapore have agreed to upgrade their Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement soon to boost bilateral trade as the two sides signed eight agreements in the fields of the training of public service officials, cyber security, narcotics control and defence cooperation. 

    The two sides concluded the second review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong. The review includes expanded tariff concessions for an additional 30 products and improved rules to provide more flexibility for Singapore exports into India to qualify for preferential tariffs under the agreement, Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry said after the completion of review. 

    Another key benefit from the upgraded CECA includes a mutual recognition agreement on nursing to facilitate a better understanding in regulating training and practice of nursing. The India-Singapore CECA entered into force on August 1, 2005, and had its first review concluded on October 1, 2007. 

    During PM Modi's visit, the two sides signed eight agreements, including a mutual recognition pact on nursing. Implementation agreement signed between the Indian Navy and Republic of Singapore Navy concerning mutual coordination, logistics and services support for naval ships, submarines and naval aircraft (including Ship borne Aviation Assets) visits. 

    Extension of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) and the Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team (SINGCERT) in the area of cybersecurity. The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of India and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) of Singapore signed an MoU on cooperation to combat illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors. 

  • PM Narendra Modi unveils Mahatma Gandhi's plaque with former Singaporean premier Goh Chok Tong
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Singapore's former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong jointly unveiled a plaque to pay tribute at the immersion site of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes at the waterfront Clifford Pier. Adding to that, the exceptional musical performance of 'Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram' also sent a strong message of peace to the world. 

    India's history is closely linked to Clifford pier of Singapore. Prime Minister Narendra Modi added a new chapter in this page of history in Singapore on 2nd June. It was the year in 1948 that Mahatma Gandhi's ashes were immersed in the Singapore water. And In memory of the world's greatest leader of peace and non-violence, PM Narendra Modi unveiled a plaque at the immersion site of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes at the waterfront Clifford pier in the city. 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks in Sochi
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on 21st May held talks on various international and domestic issues of mutual interest in Sochi. Both leaders also discussed steps to strengthen deep and long standing bilateral ties during their one and one talks at Bocharov Ruchey. 

  • India and China discussed security and law enforcement cooperation
    India and China on 21st May discussed security and law enforcement cooperation between both the countries, weeks after an informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan. 

    Deputy National Security Advisor Rajinder Khanna held talks with Chinese Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi in Beijing. 

    The two sides discussed security and law enforcement cooperation between the two countries after the Wuhan Summit, an Indian Embassy tweet said. The two officials met on the sidelines of the SCO security officials meeting. 

    National Security Council Secretaries of the SCO met in Beijing ahead of the SCO summit to be held in the Chinese city of Qingdao next month. 

  • India and other Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member countries discuss counter-terrorism cooperation
    India and other member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) have discussed ways to strengthen cooperation within the grouping in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and transnational crimes. They discussed the security situation in Afghanistan as well as other topical issues of regional and international importance. 

    The security officials met ahead of the SCO summit in the Chinese city of Qingdao to be held on 9th and 10th June. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to take part in the summit. It will be first summit of the SCO after India and Pakistan were admitted into the bloc last year (2017). 

    The SCO, in which China plays an influential role, is also comprised of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. 

  • United States, India affirm their strategic partnership 
    The United States and India affirmed their strategic partnership as Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan met Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh in Argentina. The meeting was held on the margins of the G-20 foreign ministers summit. 

    The State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said the two leaders affirmed the strong US-India strategic partnership and India's status as a Major Defense Partner of the United States. 

    During the meeting, Sullivan and Singh also discussed the agenda for the inaugural 2+2 ministerial dialogue to be hosted in the coming months. They also discussed opportunities to advance stability in Afghanistan and the region. 

  • PM Narendra Modi holds talks with his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte in New Delhi
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte in New Delhi on 24th May. The two leaders reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and discussed issues of mutual interest. 

    After the meeting, the Netherlands signed the International Solar Agreement and became the 64th country to do so. India and the Netherlands also signed several agreements across different sectors including education, water, agrifood, horticulture, IT and Health. 

    The Prime Minister said, areas of agriculture and food processing are important to India, and the Netherlands has expertise in both the fields. He added that Indo-Dutch Centre of Excellence for vegetables has started in Pune's Baramati. 

    Other agreements
    India and the Netherlands agreed that terrorist and extremist organisations need to be denied space to radicalise, recruit, and conduct attacks on innocent people. 

    The two sides deplored the violence caused by Al Qaeda, Daesh/ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Tayabba, and their affiliates as well as terrorist groups threatening peace and security in South Asia and Europe. 

    In a joint statement after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, both leaders reiterated their strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Both sides also affirmed that terrorism cannot be justified on any grounds. 

    The two leaders agreed to intensify their resolve to enhance cooperation under the aegis of the MoU in the field of water management signed in June 2017 with focus on the Clean Ganga campaign. 

    The Indian side invited the Dutch side to explore the feasibility of assisting in setting up food valleys and invest in cold chain as well as food processing facilities. 

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina inaugurate Bangla Bhavan in Shantiniketan
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina jointly inaugurate Bangladesh Bhawan at Shanti Niketan in West Bengal. 

    The Prime Minister received his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on the Santi Niketan campus. The two leaders then paid floral tributes to Rabindra Nath Tagore. PM Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina shared their thoughts in the visitor’s book. 

    The two prime ministers also inaugurated Bangladesh Bhavan, which has been set up on the university campus. It is a symbol of the cultural ties between the two countries. It was built at a cost of Rs. 25 crore, which was provided by the Bangladesh government. A fund of Rs. 10 crore would be given to help to maintain the museum premises. The building has been constructed by National Building Construction Corporation

    After the inauguration the two leaders took a look at the model of the Bangladesh Bhavan. The red and yellow two storey building has a glass roof so that the centrally airconditioned building can get direct sunlight from above. It features a museum that showcases Rabindranath Tagore's association with the country, the Liberation War of Bangladesh and Indo-Bangla relations. 

  • India, Nepal reiterates their commitment to take bilateral relations to newer heights
    India and Nepal have reiterated their commitment to take bilateral relations to newer heights by strengthening ongoing cooperation in diverse spheres. 

    In a joint statement issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day visit to Nepal, both sides agreed to expand partnership for socio-economic development on the basis of the principles of equality, mutual trust, respect and mutual benefit. 

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart K.P.Sharma Oli emphasized the need for regular convening of bilateral mechanisms to review the overall state of bilateral relations and for the expeditious implementation of the economic and development cooperation projects. 

    The two Prime Ministers also underscored the importance of trade and economic ties between India and Nepal. They have underlined the catalytic role of connectivity in stimulating economic growth and promoting movement of people. Both the Prime Ministers also agreed to take further steps to enhance economic and physical connectivity by air, land and water. 

    Recognizing the vibrant people to people contacts and friendly bilateral ties they also directed respective officials to expand cooperation in civil aviation sector. 

    The two Prime Ministers reiterated the importance of advancing cooperation in water resources for mutual benefit in areas such as river training works, inundation and flood management, irrigation and to enhance pace of implementation of ongoing bilateral projects. 

    The two Prime Ministers directed their respective officials to address outstanding matters by September 2018 with the objective of advancing cooperation in all areas. 

    They also underscored the importance of regional and sub-regional cooperation under BIMSTEC, SAARC, and BBIN frameworks for forging meaningful cooperation in identified sectors. The two Prime Ministers agreed that the landmark third visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal has further strengthened the age-old friendly relations between the two countries and has injected a fresh impetus to growing partnership. 

  • India releases grant of Neplaese Rs 18.07 crore to Nepal for river training and construction of embankment
    India has released grant of Neplaese Rupees (NRs) 18.07 crore for river training and construction of embankments along Lalbakeya, Bagmati and Kamla rivers in Nepal. 

    Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjeev Singh Puri handed over a cheque of grant to Dr. Sanjay Sharma, Secretary Ministry of Energy, Irrigation & Water Resources, Nepal in Kathmandu on 15th May. 

    Minister for Energy, Irrigation & Water Resources Barsha Man Pun was also present on the occasion. 

    The river training and embankment works in the Lalbakeya, Bagmati and Kamla rivers in Nepal aimed at flood control and water resources management, which benefit several million people inhabiting in the watershed of these rivers in India and Nepal. 

    Since 2008 the Government of India has given NRs. 4.68 billion to Nepal for the river training and embankment works. 

    India remains committed to continue working closely with Nepal for further cooperation in the field of river training, flood control and water resources management in these and other rivers. 

  • Union Cabinet Decisions: 
    In the legal field between India and Morocco
    The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU for cooperation in the legal field between India and Morocco. 

    In the field of law and justice in seminars, symposiums and workshops of both the countries
    The MoU will give an opportunity to the Lawyers, Law Officers and law students to discuss issues in the field of law and justice in seminars, symposiums and workshops arranged by authorities of both the countries. 

    Between India and Morocco in the field of mining and geology
    The Cabinet also gave its ex post facto approval to the signing of MoU between India and Morocco in the field of mining and geology. The agreement was signed on 11th of April this year (2018). 

    Between the India and Swaziland on cooperation in the field of Health and Medicine
    The Cabinet gave its ex-post-facto for the MoU between the India and Swaziland on cooperation in the field of Health and Medicine. The MoU was signed on 9th of April this year (2018). 

    Between India and Suriname on cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration
    The Cabinet also approved the MoU between India and Suriname on cooperation in the field of electoral management and administration including exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of organizational and technical development of electoral process. 

    Between India and Equatorial Guinea for cooperation in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine
    It also gave its ex-post facto approval to MoU between India and Equatorial Guinea for cooperation in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine. The MoU was signed on 8th of April this year (2018). 

    In the field of medicinal plants between India and Equatorial Guinea
    The Union Cabinet also gave its ex-post facto approval to the MoU on Cooperation in the field of medicinal plants between India and Equatorial Guinea. 

    Between India and Colombia on establishing cooperation on Traditional Systems of Medicine of India
    The Cabinet also gave its approval to the signing of MoU between India and Colombia on establishing cooperation on Traditional Systems of Medicine of India. 

  • India drags US to WTO over hefty tariff hike in steel, aluminium
    India has dragged the US to the World Trade Organisation's dispute settlement mechanism over the imposition of import duties on steel and aluminium. India has stated that the decision will impact exports of these products to the US and it is not in compliance with global trade norms. 

    The country has sought consultations with the US under the WTO's dispute settlement mechanism. Seeking consultation is the first step of dispute settlement process. If the two nations are not able to reach a mutually agreed solution through consultation, India may request for a WTO dispute settlement panel to review the matter. 

    On March 9, US President Donald Trump imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium items, a move that has sparked fears of a global trade war. 

    Trump signed two proclamations that levied a 25 per cent tariff on steel and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium imported from all countries except Canada and Mexico. 

    India too has sought exemptions from the hefty tariffs. India's exports of steel and aluminium products to America stood at about $1.5 billion every year. 

    Some experts, however, opined that dragging the US in the dispute over the issue is not in favour of India as New Delhi has a trade surplus with America. India's exports to the US in 2016-17 stood at $42.21 billion, while imports were $22.3 billion. 

    Both the countries are already involved in disputes at the global trade body. The disputes are in the areas of poultry, solar and steel. The US recently filed a dispute against India on export incentives alleging these support measures harm its workers by creating an uneven playing field. 

  • India and Guatemala sign an agreement to boost cooperation in education sector
    A pact has been signed between India and Guatemala for strengthening diplomatic cooperation through Respective Foreign Service Institutes in the educational field. 

    The agreement was inked after a meeting between Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and his Guatemala counterpart, Jafeth Cabrera Franco in Guatemala City. Mr Venkaiah Naidu also held meeting with the Guatemala President and others on various bilateral and international issues. 

    According to the Secretary (East), Ms Preeti Saran said that various issues on trade, cultural diversity, economic growth were discussed. She also said that the main focus was on core sectors such as; pharmaceutical, cooperation in education, technology, conservation of wildlife, Yoga, Tourism and Automobiles. 

    Ms Preeti Saran further added that the Vice President also urged Guatemala to be a part of International Solar Alliance and assured all kinds support for solar energy and renewable energy. She also said that both the leaders have agreed to work together to combat the menace of terrorism. 

  • India, Panama sign two agreements on exemption of Visas
    India and Panama have signed two agreements on exemption of Visas for holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports and in the field of Agriculture. 

    These agreements were signed in the presence of Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and President of Panama Juan Carlos Varela Rodrigues and Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado in Panama city 

    In a joint statement, Mr Venkaiah Naidu and Panama's President said that India and Panama always had cordial relations. They said, these ties are based on our common values and a shared commitment to democracy, pluralism, multi-culturalism, and the rule of law. 

    The Vice President said that two centres for Biodiversity and Innovation will be setup by India in Panama worth US $10 million and US $15 million each. 

  • India and Peru signs an agreement in field of Renewable Energy at Lima
    India and Peru signed an agreement in the field of Renewable Energy at Lima. The pact was signed in the presence of Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and the Prime Minister Cesar Villanueva Arevalo. 

    Briefing media in Lima, Secretary (East), Preeti Saran said, Mr Venkaiah Naidu had a fruitful discussion with Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs. During the meeting, the leaders discussed various bilateral and international issues of mutual interest. 

    Vice President's visit comes at a time when India is celebrating the 55th anniversary of establishment of Diplomatic Relations with Peru. 

    The discussions were held in the field of pharmaceuticals, space, defence, supply of LPG, clean energy, agriculture and science & technology. 

    Vice President’s visit to Guatemala, Panama and Peru is very important as this will enhance and strengthen the bilateral relations and will increase trade, investments and cooperation among these countries

  • India, Nepal to increase people-to-people contact
    India and Nepal on 12th May expressed common intent to revise key trade and transport agreements that may allow Kathmandu greater access to the Indian market. 

    The bilateral understanding came during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to the Himalayan country where he held discussions with all sections of Nepali politics and set a September 2018 deadline for his officials to address bilateral issues. 

    Both sides agreed to intensify land, air and water connectivity and increase people-to-people contact, the declaration said. 

    Nepal has been demanding a change in the way it conducts its diplomacy and trade with India and the common understanding reached during the visit indicates a forward movement in these matters. Both the Prime Ministers set a deadline of September 2018 for officials to address outstanding bilateral issues in all areas. 

    The focus of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest visit to Nepal was more on connectivity and trade, in comparison to earlier emphasis on ensuring relief and rehabilitation of the people affected by the devastating earthquake of 2015. The joint statement described connectivity as “catalytic” in triggering economic growth. 

  • India and Nepal agree to review bilateral trade treaty by July, 2018
    India and Nepal have agreed to review their bilateral trade treaty. The decision was taken at a meeting of India-Nepal Inter-Government Committee (IGC) on Trade, Transit and Cooperation to Control Unauthorised Trade, held in Kathmandu in last week of March. Both countries agreed to initiate a comprehensive review of the treaty by July this year (2018). The treaty was last revised in 2009. 

    The two sides also discussed amendments to the bilateral Treaty of Transit signed in 1999 to further facilitate movement of Nepal’s trade with third countries. Since most of the bilateral trade takes place through land customs stations across the border between India and Nepal, the two countries also agreed on synchronising development of border trade infrastructure to ensure timely utilization of investment in border infrastructure. 

    In order to enhance the volume of trade, both sides also emphasised the need for harmonisation of standards and expediting progress on MoUs between the concerned agencies, including BIS and FSSAI, from the Indian side. 

  • Bilateral trade between India and China resumes through Nathu La border
    The bilateral trade between India and China through Nathu La border has resumed. General Secretary of the Indo-China Border Traders' Welfare Association, Tenzing Tsepel, said, trading through Nathu La was possible only for two weeks last year (2017) due to the Doklam standoff which resulted into losses. He expressed hope of a better transaction this year (2018). 

    A meeting was also held between the representatives of both sides on how to make this year's trade more efficient and cordial. An official said, Issues like currency exchange, road connectivity and problems due to inclement weather were discussed at the meeting. 

    Trade between India and China through Nathu La border, located at a height of 14,200 feet, resumed in 2006, 44 years after it was closed. 

    The trade, scheduled till 30th November, will take place four days a week - Monday to Thursday. Despite inclement weather in the last few days, the trade opening day was blessed with sunny weather and officers and traders of both the sides reached the Nathula for the resumption of trade for the year 2018. 

    Officials and traders from India and China wished each other a prosperous trade and assured to extend the best possible help to each other for a smooth and peaceful trade. As per the agreement both countries agreed the list of items to 36 as export items and 20 as import items. 

  • Sri Lanka, India hold 29th International Maritime Boundary line meeting
    The 29th International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) meeting between India and Sri Lanka was held onboard Indian Naval Ship ‘Sumithra’ at the Indo-Sri Lanka Maritime Boundary Line off Kankasanthurai

    The meeting discussed matters related to maritime security in the region. The IMBL meeting is held to strengthen relationship and operational readiness between the navies and Coast Guard personnel of two neighbouring countries. 

    Indian delegation comprised of 9 officials and was headed by Flag Officer Commanding of Tamil Nadu Naval Area, Rear Admiral Alok Bhatnagar. The Sri Lankan delegation consisted of Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Coast Guard officials headed by Commander North Central Naval Area, Rear Admiral Muditha Gamage.
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