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September 2017 International Affairs

  • China to cut oil exports, ban textile imports from North Korea
    China will restrict oil exports to and ban textile imports from North Korea, the commerce ministry announced on 23rd September, as Beijing joined global efforts to enforce tighter UN Security Council sanctions on Pyongyang for its provocative nuclear and missile tests. China, the closest ally of North Korea, accounts for about 90 per cent of Pyongyang’s foreign trade. 

    China has halted its imports of coal, iron ore, seafood and other goods, implementing UN sanctions imposed on North Korea for its provocative nuclear and missile tests. As China is North Korea most important trading partner, the suspension of textile imports is expected to affect Pyongyang’s income. 

    The Ministry of Commerce said it will implement UN Security Council Resolution 2375 by halting the export of liquefied natural gas and gas condensate to North Korea from 23rd September and limit exports of refined oil from October 1. 

    The ban on textile imports will be effective from 23rd September, it said. Refined oil exports to North Korea from all UN members is capped at 500,000 barrels from October 1 to the end of the year and two million barrels annually from January 1, 2018. 

    China will suspend such exports once the total exports approaches the ceiling, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. 

    Exported refined oil products must be used fully on civil purposes, not for North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, or other activities banned by the UN Security Council, the ministry said. 

    A limited amount of petroleum products and liquefied natural gas, allowed under the UN resolution, would still be exported to North Korea. 

    The UN Sanctions followed recent missile and nuclear tests by the North Korean regime violating the previous resolutions. 

    China’s latest tougher stance is expected to bring about a financial isolation for Pyongyang, cutting off its international transactions routed through Chinese banks. 

  • Angela Merkel wins fourth term in Germany's parliament elections 
    Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives beat their rivals on 24th September to win her a fourth term in an election that will brought a far-right party into Germany's parliament for the first time in more than half a century. The elections left Merkel's bloc weakened — with only 246 of the new parliament's 709 seats. However, the result leaves no other party able to lead a new government, and Merkel herself lacks any obvious internal challenger. 

    Her conservative bloc won 32.9 percent of the vote, down 8.6 points from the 2013 election and hitting its lowest level since 1949. 

    Merkel now faces lengthy talks to secure an alliance with parties that have a tradition of mutual suspicion as well as differences on issues including migration, European financial policy and the auto industry's future. 

    One of the biggest shocks was the strength of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) which won 13 percent of the vote. It was the first time a far-right party entered the German parliament in more than half a century. 

  • North Korea, Venezuela and Chad in new US travel ban
    U.S. President Donald Trump issued a new open-ended travel ban on 24th September that saw North Korea, Venezuela and Chad among a list of eight countries cited for poor security and lack of cooperation with U.S. authorities. 

    The new restrictions replace an expiring 90-day measure that had locked Mr. Trump in political and legal battles since he took office in January over what critics alleged was an effort to block Muslims from the country. But the White House stressed that the measure was to protect the United States from terror attacks. Sudan, one of the six majority-Muslim countries on the original travel ban, was removed from the list. 

    The U.S. has recently praised Sudan’s efforts in fighting terrorism ahead of a decision expected in October on whether to lift decades-old sanctions on Khartoum. Full bans were newly placed on nationals from North Korea and Chad, and extended for five countries on the original list: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. 

    Limited restrictions meanwhile were placed on Venezuela, for officials from government agencies including Interior and Foreign Ministries, the main police and intelligence services, and other agencies. Mr. Trump’s order said Caracas was not cooperating on security issues. 

  • UN says 480,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh 
    The United Nations said on 26th September that some 480,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since violence broke out in Myanmar on August 25, increasing its estimate by 45,000 in two days. A report by UN agencies and international charities said the change was due in large part to an estimated 35,000 Rohingya moving into two refugee camps who had not been accounted for before. 

    It also said numbers crossing the border had started to rise again. The UN gave a figure of 435,000 Rohingya arrivals on 24th September. 

  • US imposes new economic sanctions against North Korea
    US President Donald Trump has warned North Korea that any U.S. military option would be devastating for North Korea, but said the use of force was not Washington's first option to deal with the North's ballistic and nuclear weapons program. According to Trump US is totally prepared for military action which is not a preferred option. 

    The strong reaction from the US president came a day after North Korea said that it was ready to defend itself by shooting down US bombers. 

    United States has imposed sanctions on eight North Korean banks and 26 bank executives, ratcheting up pressure on the country amid increasingly bellicose exchanges with North Korea over its nuclear programme. 

  • More than 500,000 Rohingya enter Bangladesh: UN
    United Nations on 28th September said, the number of Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh since violence broke out in Myanmar's Rakhine state on August 25 has exceeded half a million. The new figure of 501,800, up from around 480,000, was due mainly to the counting of refugees not previously included in the tally rather than a dramatic increase in arrivals. 

  • North Korean firms in China ordered to close by January, 2018
    China has ordered North Korean companies in the country to shut down by January as it applies UN sanctions imposed following Pyongyang's sixth nuclear test. 

    China's commerce ministry said on 28th September that the companies, including joint ventures with Chinese firms, have 120 days to close from the date the United Nations resolution was adopted, September 11. 

    The announcement comes days after China confirmed that it will apply another major part of the sanctions: a limit on exports of refined petroleum products to North Korea starting October 1 and a ban on textiles from its neighbour. 

    China's application of UN sanctions is particularly biting for North Korea. Beijing is Pyongyang's main ally and trading partner, responsible for around 90 per cent of the hermit nation's commerce. The US has pressed China to use its economic leverage to strongarm North Korea into giving up its nuclear ambitions. 

  • US lawmakers introduce resolution to support India’s UNSC membership 
    A resolution has been introduced in the US House of Representatives by two influential lawmakers to support India’s permanent membership in the UN Security Council, saying the time has come to recognise India’s role in increasing global prosperity. 

    Introduced by Congressman Ami Bera, Vice Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressman Frank Pallone, founder of Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, the resolution would put the House officially on record in supporting India’s bid. 

    Bera said securing a permanent spot for India on the UN Security Council would strengthen democracy around the world. 

    Pallone said it was in the interests of the US and the world to have a UN Security Council whose members combine military strength with respect for democracy and pluralism, and an appreciation of the dangers posed by rouge states and terrorist groups. 

    The UN Security Council still reflects the world as it was in 1945 when the United Nations was created, a Congressional statement said. 

    Despite the fact that the UN has grown from 51 member nations at its inception to nearly 200, the Security Council has not grown to reflect these changes. 

    There are currently five permanent members of the council, including the US, the UK, Russia, China and France. The bill was introduced on the last day of the UN General Assembly session in New York. 

  • UNICEF to set up another 1300 schools for Rohingya children
    The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund-UNICEF announced to setup more than 1,300 educational centers for Rohingya children who have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh as refugees. 

    UNICEF is currently running 182 learning school in Rohingya camp s and at Cox's Bazar, and has enrolled more than 15,000 children. According to press release, UNICEF also plans to increase the number of learning centres to reach 200,000 children by next year. 

    The UNHCR says, around half a million Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh after the latest spell of violence to erupt in Myanmar's insurgency-affected Rakhine state. Children constitute a huge part of the displaced Rohingyas. 

    The learning centres are providing early education to children aged 4 to 6 years and non-formal basic education to children aged 6 to 14 years. In each learning centre there are three shifts, with each shift comprising of 35 children. 

    Children learn Bengali, English, Maths, Burmese, Science and Arts in the learning centres. They also receive counselling, and are taught hygiene and life skills. The children are given books, pens, colouring pencils, school bags and other educational materials. 

    The official of Bangladesh Relief and Disaster Management ministry said that, the World Food Programme (WFP) will provide food assistance to 500,000 Rohingyas, who entered Bangladesh fleeing violence in Myanmar. 

  • Russia, Iraq restore commercial airlines services after 13-years
    Russia and Iraq restored scheduled commercial airline services on 17th September for the first time after thirteen years. It is a sign of stability returning to the war-torn country. Russia suspended regular flights to Iraq in 2004 after the US-led invasion in 2003 plunged the Arab country into war. 

  • US resume premium processing of H-1B visas after five months
    The US has resumed fast processing of H-1B work visas in all categories subject to Congress-mandated limit, five months after it was suspended temporarily to handle the huge rush of applications for the work visas popular among Indian IT professionals. 

    The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year. Premium processing of H-1B visa was suspended in April to handle huge rush of new petitions. 

    The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed premium processing on 18th September for all H-1B visa petitions subject to the Fiscal Year 2018 cap. The Fiscal Year 2018 cap has been set at 65,000. Premium processing has also been resumed for the annual 20,000 additional petitions that are set aside to hire workers with a US higher educational degree. 

  • UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons, nations signed
    About fifty countries signed the United Nations treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Brazil was the first country to sign onto the ban, followed by nations from Algeria to Venezuela. More than 120 countries approved the new nuclear weapons ban treaty in July. 

  • India seeks probe into nuke proliferation links between Pakistan, North Korea
    India has 21st September asked for investigations into North Korea's nuclear proliferation linkages and said those responsible for it must be held responsible, in a veiled reference to Pakistan. 

    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made the assertion during her trilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono, on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly session in New York. 

    Her remarks came days after North Korea fired another mid-range ballistic missile over Japan. On September 3, North Korea had conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in direct defiance of United Nations sanctions and other international pressure. 

    The leaders of the three countries - India, Japan and the US - also emphasised on the need for ensuring freedom of navigation, respect for international law and peaceful resolution of disputes, as they held a trilateral meeting in the backdrop of Doklam crisis and assertive Chinese behaviour. 

    India and China last month ended a 73-day standoff in Doklam area of the Sikkim sector that was triggered by China's move to build a road in the border area. The road would have been a serious security issue because it would give Beijing access to the so-called Chicken's Neck, a narrow piece of land linking mainland India with its seven north-eastern states. 

    China is also engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. China claims sovereignty over all of South China Sea. However, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims. 

  • China launches fastest bullet train in the World, running between Beijing and Shanghai
    China launches the world's fastest bullet train ‘Fuxing’ between Beijing and Shanghai at 350 kms per hour, covering the 1,250-km-long distance in just 4 hours and 30 minutes. China has the world’s longest high-speed rail network of over 22,000 kilometres, about 60% per cent of the world’s total. 

  • China, Russia begin naval drills near North Korea
    China and Russia began naval drills near North Korea on 18th September amid continuing tensions over the isolated state’s nuclear ambitions and ahead of a United Nations General Assembly meeting this week. The joint exercises will take place between Peter the Great Bay, just outside of the Russian far eastern port of Vladivostok, near Russia-North Korea border, and into the southern part of the Sea of Okhotsk, to the north of Japan. The drills are the second part of China-Russian naval exercises this year, the first part of which took place in the Baltic in July. 

  • Bhutan backs G-4 countries bid for permanent UN Security Council membership
    Bhutan on 22nd September said countries like India,Japan, Brazil and Germany must be given permanent seats in the UN Security Council, as it backed reforms in the world body to revitalise and strengthen it. 

    Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said the UN reforms would be incomplete without reforming the Security Council to reflect the changing realities of the world. 

    In his address to the UN General Assembly Tobgay said countries like India and Japan, Brazil and Germany must be called upon to serve as permanent members in the Security Council. He also said Africa must be appropriately represented. 

    Portuguese support to India: Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Luis Da Costa has supported India’s bid for a permanent membership of the UN Security Council, asserting that efforts must continue to ensure greater representation in the most powerful wing of the world body. 

  • WHO to monitor health issues of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh
    The World Health Organization has set up a control room to monitor health issues affecting the over 4,22,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, who are living in camps and settlements in Bangladesh’s Cox Bazar. The control room will help strengthen disease surveillance system and daily reporting of morbidity and mortality, a World Health Organisation (WHO) statement said. 

    WHO Representative to Bangladesh Dr N Paranietharan, after inaugurating the control room, said the system will help in the management of the health situation, as the population is very mobile, dispersed in 68 camps, and is undocumented. In general, there is limited reliable data on the health profile of the newly arrived population

  • Qatar Airways becomes the Worlds First Airline to launch Double beds in Business Class
    Qatar Airways has launched the first-ever double bed within business class. The Qsuite allows passengers to recline two middle seats into a fully flat bed and features partition panels to create a private bedroom with two entertainment screens inside. The suite features a fully reclinable double bed enclosed with partition panels which ensure guests unrivalled privacy. Qatar’s Boeing 777 is the first to fly the luxurious new business class feature, on a daily service from London Heathrow. 

  • 3.4 magnitude earthquake hits North Korea
    In North Korea, a 3 point 4 magnitude earthquake reported to have occurred near a nuclear test site where previous quakes have occurred during weapons' tests. Chinese seismologists said it was a suspected explosion. But South Korea says that it could be a natural quake not caused by a nuclear test. 

    North Korea carried out a massive nuclear test on the 3rd of this month which has been widely condemned at the UN. The size of tremor is smaller than that usually detected when North Korea has tested weapons. 

  • China and Australia joint military training exercise called Panda Kangaroo 2017 held in Kunming
    China and Australia joint military training exercise called "Panda-Kangaroo 2017" concluded in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, on September 20. This exercise kicked off on September 10, China and Australia each sent 10 soldiers to participate in the joint training. 

  • North Korea exported $270 mn of commodities illegally, says UN
    According to UN experts North Korea illegally exported coal, iron and other commodities worth at least $270 million to China and other countries, including India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, during the six-month period ending in August in violation of UN sanctions. 

    A report released on 9th September by the experts monitoring sanctions says Kim Jong Un’s government continues to flout sanctions on commodities, an arms embargo and shipping and financial restrictions. 

    The experts say North Korea is also reportedly continuing prohibited nuclear activities with weapons-grade fissile material production at the Yongbyon nuclear complex. 

  • Hurricane Irma makes landfall in South Florida
    Hurricane Irma struck Florida after devastating much of the Caribbean. The eye of the Hurricane first hit the Florida Keys before moving north toward the west coast of the state and making landfall around Marco Island and Naples. 

    Massive storm surges have flooded areas across South Florida, including Miami and Fort Lauderdale, while downed trees and power lines have left over 2 million residents without power. 

    Hurricane Irma has since been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane as it continues to move up the west coast toward Tampa, which is bracing for what may be a devastating hit. 

  • UN Security Council imposes new sanctions on North Korea
    The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on 11th September unanimously adopted new sanctions on North Korea for conducting its sixth and largest nuclear test. The resolution is designed to accomplish six major goals: cap pm North Korea's oil imports, ban textile exports, end additional overseas laborer contracts, suppress smuggling efforts, stop joint ventures with other nations and sanction designated North Korean government entities. 

    But later in the day, the US put forward another draft that removed the full oil embargo, asset freeze, travel ban for Kim and softened the language on foreign workers and other issues. 

    Although the resolution won unanimous backing from all 15 council members, the weakened penalties reflected the power of Russia and China, which had objected to the original language and could have used their votes to veto the measure

    Ahead of the vote, North Korea warned that United States will pay a "due price," if harsh sanctions against Kim Jong Un and the country are agreed at a United Nations Security Council meeting. 

    The International community condemned North Korea for testing the hydrogen bomb on August 27, marking the sixth time the isolated state has tested a nuclear weapon. 

  • US Supreme Court allows President Trump to implement refugee ban
    The US Supreme Court has allowed President Donald Trump to implement broadly a ban on refugees entering the country from around the world. 

    The court granted a request from the Trump administration to block a federal appeals court decision that would have eased the restrictive refugee policy and, according to the Justice Department, allowed up to 24,000 additional refugees to enter the US before October. 

    Mr Trump had signed a revised executive order in March that banned travelers from six Muslim-majority countries - Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - for 90 days and locked out most refugees for 120 days. The US President had said, the move was needed to prevent terror attacks. 

  • British Parliament passed EU Withdrawal Bill
    The Union Government to extract the UK from EU law in time for Brexit passed its first Parliamentary test. The EU Withdrawal Bill was backed by MPs by 326 to 290. The bill which will end the supremacy of EU law in the UK now moves onto its next Parliamentary stage. It was previously referred to as the Great Repeal Bill, the EU Withdrawal Bill overturns the 1972 European Communities Act which took the UK into the then European Economic Community. 

  • EU announces additional aid of 3M euros to Rohingya 
    The European Union has announced additional aid of three million euros to address the pressing needs of the Rohingyas both in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Making the announcement, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Cristos Stylianides said, the funding comes on top of the 12 million euros aid announced in May 2017 when he visited Rakhine State. 

    As more and more refugees continue pouring into Bangladesh, the additional funding will be used to provide emergency shelter, food, water and medical assistance to the Rohingyas. 

    Like all EU aid, the funding will be chanelised through international NGOs, the UN or the Red Cross. The EU continues to call for full humanitarian access to the Rohingyas in Myanmar so as to be able to address the precarious humanitarian situation there and to ensure that it does not spiral into a crisis. 

    In a separate statement, EU Vice President Federica Mogherini said besides full humanitarian access, the priority is also to address the root cause of the conflict by implementing the recommendations of the Kofi Annan commission. 

  • North Korea fires ballistic missile across Japan
    North Korea has fired a ballistic missile across Japan, creating new tension in the region after its nuclear bomb test less than two weeks ago. The launch took place from the Sunan airfield north of Pyongyang. South Korea military says, the missile reached an altitude of about 770 kms, travelling 3,700 kms before landing in the sea off Hokkaido. It flew higher and further than one fired over Japan late last month. 

    As with the last test on the 29th of last month, the missile flew over Japan's northern Hokkaido island before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. There are no immediate reports of damage to aircrafts or ships. Sirens sounded across the region and text message alerts were sent out warning people to take cover. 

  • North Korea fires missile eastwards from Pyongyang towards Japan
    North Korea has fired a missile eastwards from its capital, Pyongyang, towards Japan. South Korea’s military said, North Korea fired the missile from the Sunan district in its capital. It said, South Korea and the US are analysing the details of the launch. Japan has said that the missile likely passed over its territory and has warned residents to take shelter. 

    Seoul's Defence Ministry said the missile probably travelled around 3,700 kilometres and reached a maximum altitude of 770 kilometres, which is both higher and further than the previous device. 

  • Bangladesh announces to build shelters for Rohingya Muslims fleeing from Myanmar
    The Bangladeshi government has announced plans to build shelters for up to 400,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing from neighbouring Myanmar. 

    The army and aid agencies are due to erect 14,000 shelters, each housing six families, near the city of Cox's Bazar. Since late August over 400,000 Rohingya are thought to have fled to Bangladesh, to escape a government offensive. 

    Meanwhile, a fresh diplomatic row between Bangladesh and Myanmar has broken out over alleged violations of Bangladeshi airspace in the past week. Bangladesh Foreign Ministry summoned the Myanmar envoy and strongly protested the instances of violation of the country's airspace by Myanmar's military drones and helicopters on 10, 12 and 14th of this month. Foreign Ministry sources said Bangladesh expressed concern to the envoy Aung Myint and handed him a protest note saying these provocative acts may lead to unwarranted consequences. 

    According to sources, Myanmar's helicopters and military drones have violated Bangladesh air space more than 20 times since the military crack down on insurgents on August which has led to a constant influx of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh. This is the fifth time in 3 weeks that the envoy has been summoned and handed over protest notes. 

  • North Korea conducts 'strongest' ever nuclear test, says it was Hydrogen bomb
    North Korea said it set off a hydrogen bomb on 3rd September in its sixth nuclear test, which judging by the earthquake it set off appeared to be its most powerful explosion yet. 

    North Korea conducted two nuclear tests in 2016, the last nearly a year ago, on the Sept. 9 anniversary of the nation's founding. It has since maintained a torrid pace in weapons tests, including its first two intercontinental ballistic missiles test in July. North Korea fired a potentially nuclear-capable midrange missile over northern Japan. 

    North Korea's nuclear and missile program has made huge strides since Kim rose to power following his father's death in late 2011. The North followed its two tests of Hwasong-14 ICBMs by threatening in August to launch a salvo of its Hwasong-12 intermediate range missiles toward the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam. 

  • BRICS summit strongly deplores terrorism in all its forms and manifestations
    Xiamen BRICS summit has strongly deplored terrorist attacks worldwide, including attacks in BRICS countries. In its declaration BRICS has condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stressed that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism. 

    BRICS expressed concern on the security situation and violence caused by the Taliban, ISI or DAISH, Al-Qaida and its affiliates the Haqqani network, Pakistan based terrorist organisations Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and TTP. 

    BRICS leaders also strongly deplored the latest nuclear test conducted by the North Korea. In Xiamen Declaration they expressed deep concern over the ongoing tension and prolonged nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, and emphasized that it should be settled only through peaceful means and direct dialogue of all the parties concerned. 

    The declaration reaffirmed BRICS support to the people of Afghanistan in their efforts to achieve Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and national reconciliation, to the ongoing international efforts. 

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also held bilateral meetings with Russian president Putin and Brazilian President Temer on the sidelines of the Summit. Mr. Modi discussed a partnership based on a common global vision with Brazilian President Michel Temer during his bilateral meeting. 

    Signed four documents
    BRICS leaders have signed four documents during the summit on Action Agenda on Economic and Trade Cooperation, Innovation, Customs Cooperation and MOU with Development Bank on Strategic Cooperation. 

    The documents signed by the BRICS leaders are aimed at improving and broadening cooperation mechanism and promoting industrial and technical upgradation to enhance economic complementarties. 

    BRICS action plan for innovation cooperation intends to facilitate innovation driven development for sustainable development. 

    Strategic frame work of BRICS custom cooperation is meant for mutual sharing of information recombination of customs control and mutual assistance in enforcement as guiding principles. 

    MoU between BRICS business council and New Development Bank on strategic cooperation is for economic and financial research activities in local markets, knowledge exchange financial institution cooperation and human resource development. 

    Naming of the Pakistan-based terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad and calling for a comprehensive approach to combat terrorism by BRICS leaders is being seen as a big achievement for India's campaign against terrorism emanating from Pakistan. 

  • US President Donald Trump scraps Obama-era amnesty programme
    US President Donald Trump has scrapped an Obama-era amnesty programme that granted work permits to immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as children. This move is likely to impact 8 lakhs undocumented workers including more than seven thousand Indian-Americans. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions on 4th September announced the revocation of the programme also known as the Deferred Action for Children Arrival (DACA). India ranks 11th among countries of origin for the DACA students, according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services statistics available till March 31st of this year. 

  • China military holds drills in waters near Korean Peninsula
    China carried out military drills in waters near the Korean Peninsula two days after North Korea said it exploded a hydrogen bomb, the Chinese defense ministry reported. 

    The ministry said that the exercise in the Bohai Gulf was aimed at “boosting the forces expulsion mission capability” and not at any specific nations or targets. The drills had been pre-planned as part of routine training, according to the statement posted by the ministry’s official Sina Weibo microblog account. 

    While it is usual for the Chinese military to hold drills in the Bohai Sea off its northeastern coast, the timing of present exercise has drawn special attention. China has repeatedly said it will not tolerate an armed conflict on its doorstep and says there can be no military solution to the current tensions on the Korean Peninsula. 

  • EU to impose sanctions against North Korea
    EU Foreign Ministers have agreed to consider additional sanctions against North Korea which recently conducted its 6th nuclear test. Foreign Ministers of 28 member countries of the European Union ended an unofficial 2-day meeting in Estonia's capital, Tallinn. 

    They agreed that they cannot tolerate North Korea failing to fulfill its international obligation and threats to international security. EU senior representative Federica Mogherini, who's in charge of foreign policy and security issues, said the EU will increase economic pressure, and will aim to eventually make the Korean Peninsula fully nuclear-free. According to EU diplomats, member countries are considering sanctions targeting North Koreans working in the EU. 

  • Powerful earthquake measuring 8.1 strike southern Pacific coast of Mexico
    One of the most powerful earthquakes ever to strike Mexico has hit off its southern Pacific coast. The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake hit off Chiapas state near the Guatemalan border with a magnitude of 8.1 slightly stronger than the magnitude 8 quake of 1985 that killed thousands and devastated large parts of Mexico City. 

  • 270,000 Rohingya Muslims seek refuge in Bangladesh: UNHCR
    The United Nations refugee agency says an estimated 270,000 Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar have sought refuge in Bangladesh over the past two weeks. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, said the numbers are so alarming-it really means that it is necessary to step up our response to address the situation in Myanmar urgently. 

    Meanwhile, US Ambassador to United Nations, Nikki Haley said in a statement issued that over the past week, conditions in Rakhine have continued to deteriorate. She said United States will continue to urge Myanmar security forces to respect civilians as it conducts security operations. 

    The US, however, welcomes Myanmar government committing humanitarian assistance to all displaced by violence. While, the Government of Bangladesh is accommodating many displaced Rohingya, significant numbers of civilians are stranded along the border waiting for much-needed relief.
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