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October 2017 - Bilateral

  • India, Sri Lanka ink housing project deal in Hambantota
    Sri Lanka signed an agreement with India to build 1,200 houses in a public ceremony held in the southern port city, Hambantota on 26th October. 

    Following the agitation against the government’s reported move to lease out a nearby airport to India, police arrested eight protesters, including Hambantota parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa, the son of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. 

    The coastal city of Hambantota gained strategic significance after President Rajapaksa built a massive port and an airport with huge Chinese loans. In July this year, his successor government sold majority stakes of the port to China to service an outstanding $8-billion debt it owes China, fanning concerns of countries with competing strategic interests, particularly India and the U.S. 

    The signing of the MoU in Hambantota amid assumes significance not only in its timing, but also in taking India’s housing project to the Sinhala-majority Southern Province. 

    As many as 46,000 homes have been built in the Tamil-majority north and east, while 4,000 houses are currently being built in the hill country in the Central and Uva provinces, where several thousand Sri Lankans of recent Indian origin live and work. 

  • India, France agree to strengthen bilateral defence cooperation
    India and France have reiterated to strengthen bilateral defence cooperation as a key Pillar of strategic partnership between the two countries. 

    Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and French Minister for the Armed Forces, Ms Florence Parly on 27th October discussed a range of measures to expand military to military ties, including enhancing the scope of their joint exercises, in particular the VARUNA naval exercise scheduled in early 2018. 

    Both countries will also actively explore additional measures to facilitate operational level interactions between their respective armed forces. The ministers reiterated their strong intention to further expand bilateral cooperation on counter-terrorism. 

    The two Ministers also comprehensively reviewed developments in defence equipment and industry cooperation, where France is a major partner. They agreed to strongly support projects for defence manufacturing under the Make in India initiative as well as promote defence technology and Research and Defence cooperation. 

  • India starts on implementation of motor pact with Bangladesh, Nepal
    India has embarked on the implementation of the BBIN motor pact with Bangladesh and Nepal, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on 15th October. 

    India in June 2015 had signed the major sub-regional transport project, Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA), for the seamless transit of passenger and cargo vehicles among them. However, Bhutan could not get public and parliamentary support for it. 

    Bhutan, which had inked the pact could not get public and parliamentary support for ratification of the agreement, while India, Bangladesh and Nepal have already ratified the pact. 

    The four SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries had in June 2015 signed the Motor Vehicle Agreement. The pact aims at allowing motor vehicles of all categories registered in three countries to move freely in the region. 

    The government has earlier said that the pact will realise the ultimate objective of free movement of people and goods in the region and said that this would be supplemented through the building and upgrading roads, railways and waterways infrastructure. 

    On bus services with Nepal and Bangladesh, Gadkari said proposals to start such services on Kathmandu-Bodhgaya, Janakpur-Patna and Dehradun-Mahendranagar routes are underway. 

    Bus services between Delhi and Kathmandu, Varanasi- Kathmandu, Delhi-Mahendranagar and Delhi-Pokhra have already been started. India and Nepal Bus Service pact was signed in November 2014. 

  • India, Afghanistan exchange views on facets of bilateral strategic partnership
    India and Afghanistan on 16th October exchanged views on various facets of the bilateral strategic partnership and regional and global issues of mutual interest. 

    National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, who is on a visit to Afghanistan met counterpart Hanif Atmar in Kabul. They emphasized that bilateral and regional cooperation is important for peace, security and stability in the region. Both sides welcomed the opportunities created by the new US strategy for bringing peace and security to Afghanistan. 

    It was agreed to further strengthen strategic dialogue and consultations for achieving the shared objectives. Doval also met Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah. 

    During his meeting, the NSA also extended invitation on behalf of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to President Ashraf Ghani to visit India which was accepted. 

  • India signs pact to send interns to Japan for training
    India has signed a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) with Japan to send youngsters there as technical interns for on-the-job training for a period of three to five years. 

    The MoC on Technical Intern Training Programme (TITP) was signed by Skill Development Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Japanese Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare with Katsunobu Kato at Tokyo on 17th October. 

    India is the third country with which Japan has signed the MoC. As per the Japan’s official data for 2016-end, approximately 2.3 Lakh technical intern trainees from multiple countries are on training in the island nation. 

  • India, Japan to join hands for LNG import
    India and Japan on 18th October agreed to explore joint cooperation in the areas of sourcing, swapping and optimisation of liquefied natural gas sources in the global market and commercial exploitation of methane hydrates. 

    In a bilateral meeting held in Tokyo, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry of Japan, signed a memorandum of cooperation on establishing a liquid, flexible and global LNG Market. India is the fourth largest importer of LNG in the world. 

    The two sides discussed ongoing cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector between companies in India and abroad and explored ways to further enhance the engagement. 

  • India, Brazil, South Africa sign IBSA Trust Fund agreement
    India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) have signed the IBSA Trust Fund Agreement that seeks to fight poverty in developing countries. It was signed at the 8th IBSA trilateral Ministerial Commission Meeting in Durban, South Africa. It is an international tripartite grouping for promoting international cooperation among these countries. 

  • Indian, German Railways sign declaration of intent for feasibility study on Chennai-Kazipet corridor
    India and Germany on 10th October signed joint declaration of intent for carrying out feasibility study on existing Chennai-Kazipet corridor of Indian Railways for increasing the speed trains to 200 kolo-meter per hour. 

    The joint declaration signed between Indian and German Railways in New Delhi is intended to deepen the cooperation in the priority area of Semi High Speed Rail, upgrading of current passenger services to Semi High Speed. 

    The cost of the feasibility study will be shared on 50.50 basis by the two countries. The total length of the Chennai-Kazipet Junction is 643 km and the entire corridor is electrified. 

  • India, Sri Lanka hold ministerial level talks on fishermen’s issues
    India and Sri Lanka held Ministerial level talks on Fishermen’s issues on 14th October in New Delhi. Radha Mohan Singh, Minister of Agriculture met with Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development of Sri Lanka. 

    The talks followed the 3rd Meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries. According to a joint communique issued in New Delhi, the Ministers agreed that a permanent solution to the fishermen issues should be found at the earliest. 

    The Indian side was satisfied with the progress on release of apprehended fishermen and detained fishing vessels in the recent past, while reiterating the release of all the remaining Indian fishing vessels in Sri Lankan custody. 

    Recent initiatives taken by India to end bottom trawling in the Palk Bay area were shared with the Sri Lankan side. 

    These include launching of a programme on diversification of bottom trawlers into Deep Sea Fishing Vessels for tuna long lining under Blue Revolution Scheme, construction of Mookaiyur and Poompuhar fishing harbours etc. Besides, fresh registration for bottom trawlers in the Palk Bay area has been banned by the Government of Tamil Nadu. 

    In addition, alternative livelihood opportunities for the fishing communities in Palk Bay area are being offered through open sea cage farming, seaweed farming and other allied coastal fisheries activities. 

    While acknowledging the efforts taken by India to end bottom trawling, the Sri Lankan side informed about the measures taken by Sri Lanka to prevent illegal fishing. 

  • India opens two border crossing points with Myanmar, Bangladesh
    India has opened two immigration check posts along the borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh. In a gazette notification, the Home Ministry said, the Central government has designated Zorinpui land check post in Lawngtlai district of Mizoram as an authorised immigration check post for entry into or exit from India with valid travel documents for all classes of passengers to or from Myanmar. 

    The Central government has also designated Kawrpuichhuah land check post in Lunglei district of Mizoram as an authorised immigration check post for entry into or exit from India with valid travel documents for all classes of passengers to or from Bangladesh. 

    Zorinpui was selected for a new land custom station along the Indo-Myanmar border in Mizoram for the Kaladan multi-modal project. Kawarpuchiah is situated in Mizoram along a riverine border with Bangladesh. 

  • India, European Union agree to bolster fight against terror
    India and the European Union on 6th October adopted a declaration to counter terrorism as they discussed ways to strengthen their cooperation in key areas of trade and security during the 14th summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the top EU leadership in New Delhi. 

    A joint statement on cooperation and combating terrorism issued after the 14th India-EU Summit in New Delhi on 6th October, strongly condemned recent terrorist attacks in India and European Union member states. The statement reaffirmed the determination of India and EU to jointly come back terrorism and violent extremism in all their forms and manifestations. 

    They also called for an early conclusion of negotiations and adoption of the comprehensive convention on international terrorism in the United Nations. 

    The leaders also agreed to strengthen cooperation to take decisive and concerted action against globally banned terrorists and terror groups including Hafeez Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Dawood Ibrahim, Lashkar-e-Tayibba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizb-ul-Muzahideen, Haqqani Network, Al-Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates. 

    They also agreed on the need for the global community to unite to address the menace of terrorism and safeguard the security of the sea lanes, cyber space and outer space. 

    It was for the first time that there was a mention of terrorists and terror groups in any India-EU document. The two sides resolved to work together in multilateral fora to cut the flows of funds and other financial assets to individuals and entities involved in terrorism. 

    The two sides commended the strong engagement of the European Investment Bank in India in a wide range of key sectors, in particular in the field of climate action and renewable energy. 

    The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening global non-proliferation efforts. India and the EU reaffirmed their commitment to enhance maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean and beyond. 

  • India, Ethiopia sign agreements on trade, communication
    India and Ethiopia on 5th October signed agreements on trade, communication and media to boost bilateral ties. The agreements were signed after wide ranging talks between President Ram Nath Kovind and his Ethiopian counterpart Mulatu Teshome at Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. 

    The two leaders discussed economic relations between the two countries and also support to Ethiopia in the power healthcare, and education sectors. 

    The President also thanked Ethiopia for its participation in the International Solar Alliance (ISA), established in 2015. 

    The aim of the ISA is to provide a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar resource-rich countries and promote the use of solar energy. 

    Later, Mr Kovind and Mr Teshome also addressed the India-Ethiopia Business Dialogue and released a book titled 'India- Ethiopia: 70 Years of Diplomatic Relations'. 

    The India Business Forum is the first partner-country forum of its kind in Ethiopia and represents more than 100 Indian companies. 

    Ethiopia has been the largest recipient of Indian concessional lines of credit in Africa, with commitment of over one billion dollar. Mr Kovind reached Addis Ababa from Djibouti on 4th October on the second leg of his maiden visit abroad. 

  • India to help strengthen Myanmar’s women police force, pact approved
    The Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Myanmar on up gradation of the Women’s Police Training Centre at Yamethin, Myanmar. Myanmar shares a long land border of over 1600 Km with India as well as a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal. Both countries share a heritage of religious, linguistic and ethnic ties. 

  • Indian President Kovind arrives in Djibouti on first overseas visit
    Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on 3rd October arrived in Djibouti City on the first leg of his four-day visit to Djibouti and Ethiopia. This is his maiden trip abroad since taking office. 

    The President, who is the first Indian leader to visit Djibouti, was received by Djiboutian Prime Minister Kamil Mohamed at the airport. Djibouti is an important Indian Ocean partner country with whom India's bilateral trade stands at 284 million US Dollars in 2016-17. 

    India has extended a line of credit of 49 million US Dollars to Djibouti, mainly for constructing a cement plant. It is a strategically located country just off the Gulf of Aden. Kovind's visit will be the first by an Indian President to Ethiopia after 45 years. The last visit was by President V V Giri in 1972. 

    India's bilateral trade with Ethiopia in 2016 was nearly 1 billion US Dollars. The country is among the top three foreign investors in Ethiopia with an approved investment of 4 billion dollars. In both the countries the president will also interact with the members of the Indian community.
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