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July 2019 - International News

  • Pakistan PM Imran Khan on maiden trip to US. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is in the US on his maiden trip to the country during which he will hold talks with US President Donald Trump.

    Mr Khan will try to reboot bilateral ties that were hit after the US president publicly criticised Islamabad, cancelled military aid and asked it to do more to fight terrorism.American leadership is likely to press him to take decisive and irreversible actions against terrorist and militant groups operating from Pakistani soil and facilitate peace talks with the Taliban. Nawaz Sharif was the last Pakistani prime minister to visit the US on an official trip in October 2015.

  • British PM Theresa May to hold emergency meeting on seized tanker in Iran.
    Prime Minister Theresa May will hold a meeting of Britain's emergencies committee to discuss Iran's seizure of a UK-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf. The meeting will discuss the maintenance of the security of shipping in the Persian Gulf as well as receive the latest s from ministers and officials.

    British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt spoke to his French and German counterparts over the issue. Both ministers agreed with the foreign secretary that safe passage for vessels through the Strait of Hormuz is a top priority for European nations while avoiding any possible escalation.

    Iranian authorities impounded the Stena Impero with 23 crew members aboard off the port of Bandar Abbas after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized it in the highly sensitive Strait of Hormuz.

  • UK was considering options in response to Iran's seizure of oil tanker.
    Britain's junior Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood on 21 July, 2019 said the government was considering several options in response to Iran's seizure of a British-flagged tanker. He was talking to a news channel in London. Ellwood, however, denied that Britain had been negligent in providing protection to its ships passing through the Gulf and said the Royal Navy was too small to manage UK interests around the globe.

    London priority is to de-escalate tensions with Iran in the Gulf, and has called for the release of the Stena Impero oil tanker which was seized in what Britain said was an illegal move in Omani waters.

  • In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition secured a majority in the upper house of parliament in elections. According to vote counts by public television and other media, Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner Komeito had won 64 seats in the upper house after two hours of voting.

  • Israel Aerospace signs $50 Million deal. State-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries has signed a $50 million follow-up contract to provide complementary missile systems to the Indian navy and India’s MDL Shipyard. The agreement involves a range of maintenance and other services for sub-systems of Israel Aerospace's naval medium-range surface-to-air missile.

  • Boris Johnson elected as UK Prime Minister. Boris Johnson elected as the leader of Britain's governing Conservative Party. He is declared as country's next Prime Minister. Johnson will formally take over as Prime Minister. He succeeds Theresa May. She got stepped down over her failure to get parliament to ratify her Brexit deal. Johnson served as UK foreign minister and London's Mayor.

  • North Korea fires two projectiles toward East Sea.  North Korea has fired two projectiles toward the East Sea, according to South Korean officials. The South Korean military said that North Korea launched the two unidentified projectiles from the Wonson area, and that the flight distance was approximately 430 kilometers. They were launched early morning on 25 July, 2019, local time.

    A senior US administration official told CNN that they are aware of reports of a short-range projectile launched from North Korea but declined to offer further comment. The firing comes ahead of US-South Korean military exercises next month that North Korea has warned could affect the planned resumption of denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

  • US regulators on 24 July, 2019 formalized a record 5 billion US Dollar fine on Facebook for violation of users' privacy in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving 87 million users.

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said the penalty was the largest ever imposed on any company for violating consumers' privacy and one of the largest penalties ever assessed by the US government for any violation.

    The FTC initiated the investigation after a scandal involving former British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which was accused of illegally accessing data of more than 87 million Facebook users without their prior knowledge.

  • Motihari-Amlekhgunj Oil Pipeline ready for commercial operation.  The landmark Motihari-Amlekhgunj petroleum products pipeline between India and Nepal has been completed and ready for commercial operation.

    Indian Oil Corporation and Nepal Oil Corporation successfully completed testing transfer of the pipeline.  It is a 69 kilometer-long pipeline that will run from Motihari in Bihar to Amelkhgunj in Nepal. It has been constructed by India in just 15 months, which is half of its 30 months deadline.

    The prestigious project is the 1st oil pipeline in Nepal, 1st transnational petroleum pipeline from India as well as the 1st South Asian oil pipeline corridor. Since 1974, Nepal has been importing its entire major petroleum products including petrol, diesel, aviation turbine fuel (ATF) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) from India.

    The annual export worth of these products is more than Rs.8500 crore thus this new oil pipeline will be a game-changer for Nepal as it will ensure smooth, cost-effective and eco-friendly supply of petroleum products to Nepal. It will help in tackling oil storage problem in Nepal and doing away with the transportation of petroleum products via tankers.

  • Plastic-like Jute material developed in Bangladesh.  Scientists in Bangladesh developed a method to convert Jute fibre into low cost biodegradable cellulose sheets named Sonali. It is used to wrap material along with a carry bag. Mubarak Ahmad Khan Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) developed the new 'sonali'. It denotes the physical qualities of the invented jute fibre and plastic are quite similar.

    The Eco-friendly jute poly bags made up of Sonali can be used in garments and food packaging work. The commercial production of these bags is likely to start by the year end. Government of Bangladesh approved 9 lakh dollars in April to help in large-scale production of these bags.

    The main challenge in the large scale adoption of Sonali sheet is the relatively high cost of production which is almost double that of polythene.

  • Pakistan on July 25 announced that it will send its first astronaut to space in 2022 using close ally China’s satellite launch facilities. Pakistan’s decision came as India on July 22 successfully launched its second lunar mission Chandrayaan 2. Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s Minister for Science and Technology, said the selection process of the astronaut for the space mission would start from February 2020.

    The Pakistani Air Force will play a lead role in the selection process of the astronaut for the space mission that initially 50 pilots will be selected, from which the list will be brought down to 25 and then 10. In 2018, Pakistan launched two indigenously-built satellites, onboard the Chinese Long March (LM-2C) rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre located at the Gobi desert, The Express Tribune reported.

    One of them was a remote sensing satellite (PRSS1) — a dual-purpose Earth observational and optical satellite. The second test satellite launched was a PAK-TES-1A to enhance satellite manufacture capabilities in the country.

  • North Korea says missile launch a warning to South Korean 'warmongers'. North Korea on 26 July, 2019 described the test of two new missiles a solemn warning against what it described as "South Korean warmongers". The short-range missiles were fired into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, from Wonsan on North Korea's east coast.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said his country was forced to develop weapons to eliminate potential and direct threats. He said the test involved a new tactical guided weapons system. The North criticized a decision by South Korea and the US to hold military drills next month. North Korea has long regarded the drills as preparation for an invasion.

  • WHO says Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal & Thailand achieve Hepatitis B control. 
    Bangladesh along with Bhutan, Nepal and Thailand in South-East Asia Region has been able to achieve Hepatitis B control. The prevalence of the deadly disease has come down to less than one per cent among five-year-old children says the WHO in its report published on 26 July, 2019.

    Reviewing the immunisation data for the region, WHO found that Bangladesh has consistently provided above 90 percent immunisation to infants for Hepatitis B over the last many years leading to the control of the disease.

    Preventing Hepatitis B infection in infancy substantially reduces chronic infections and cases of liver cancer and cirrhosis in adulthood. According to WHO data viral hepatitis kills 4,10,000 people every year. in the eleven South-East Asian countries where it is running its programme.

  • US Supreme court allows Trump to use 2.5 billion dollar of Pentagon funds for border wall. 
    The US Supreme Court has allowed President Donald Trump to use 2.5 billion dollar of Pentagon funds for building sections of a border wall with Mexico.

    The court ruled by five votes to four to block a ruling by a federal judge in California that barred the President from spending the money on the wall. The wall, dividing the United States and Mexico, was Mr Trump's major campaign promise during the 2016 election. It is a big victory for Border Security and the Rule of Law. The decision by the Supreme Court means that the money will be used for wall projects in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

    The President has argued that a new wall would help to curb illegal immigration, which he says is fuelling crime and placing a strain on the economy. Donald Trump declared an emergency earlier this year, saying he needed 6.7 billion dollar to build the wall as a matter of national security. He ended the shutdown in February after the Congress gave him approximately 1.4 billion dollars in border wall funding.

  • US President Donald Trump has said that he would impose a tax on French wine in retaliation of France's digital tax that would impact American companies.

    Trump told President Emmanuel Macron not to do it, because if he does it, Washington is going to tax French wine. Trump spoke to Macron over the phone. The two leaders discussed a host of issues, including the continued threat posed by Iran to commercial shipping traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, France's decision to adopt a digital services tax and the upcoming G7 Summit.

  • Congo confirms 1st Ebola case in city of Goma.  The Health Ministry Congo has confirmed the country’s first Ebola case in the city of Goma, home to more than 2 million people. The regional capital in eastern Congo borders neighbouring Rwanda, which has been preparing for possible cases since an outbreak began nearly a year ago.

  • Over 5 billion dollar penalty imposed on Pakistan in Reko Diq case.  An international arbitration court has imposed a penalty of over five billion dollars on Pakistan for unlawful denial of a mining lease to a company for the Reko Diq project in 2011.

    The Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) had filed claims for international arbitration before the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in 2012 after the Balochistan government rejected a leasing request from the company. The company had claimed 11.43 billion dollars in damages. The case between the Pakistan government and the company continued for seven years.

    The TCC completed an extensive and detailed bankable feasibility study establishing the basis for mine development at Reko Diq during August 2010 and submitted a mining lease application in February 2011, along with an environmental and social impact assessment.

    The Reko Diq mine is famous for its vast gold and copper reserves. The project stopped in November 2011, when the Balochistan government summarily rejected the application by the TCC's local operating subsidiary for a mining lease in respect of Reko Diq.

  • In the US, slow-moving tropical storm Barry weakened after making landfall in the southern state Louisiana. After briefly becoming the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, Barry was downgraded to a tropical storm following its landfall.

    Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards warned that Barry could still cause disastrous flooding across a wide stretch of the Gulf Coast of the United States overnight. Edwards warned residents to remain vigilant as it is expected to produce days of heavy rain.

    Flash flood warnings have affected about 11.7 million people in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois.  Mississippi and Alabama have been hit the hardest so far, with the Alabama city of Mobile reporting a total of 136mm of rain in the last 36 hours.

  • United States regulators have approved a five billion dollar penalty to be levied on Facebook to settle a probe into the social network's privacy and data protection lapses. This was reported in Wall Street Journal, which says that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved the settlement in a 3-2 vote with the two Democratic members of the consumer protection agency dissenting.

    According to the report, the deal, which would be the largest penalty ever imposed by the FTC for privacy violations, still needs approval from the Justice Department before it is finalized.

  • UN holds high-level meeting on Ebola outbreak in Congo.  Almost a year after the outbreak of Ebola was declared in eastern Congo, the UN has held a high-level meeting in Geneva to take stock of the coordinated response and galvanize further support for the government-led effort to defeat the deadly disease.

    The meeting was chaired by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock. Dr Ghebreyesus said, together with the government, the Global Body can and will end the outbreak. The first case of Ebola was confirmed in Goma, a city of about one million people south of the outbreak's epicentre.

  • The Saudi military has intercepted a drone launched at the kingdom's southern border by Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen. Col. Turki al-Maliki, was quoted in the state-run Saudi Press Agency as saying the drone was launched by the Houthi rebels from Yemen's Governorate of Sanaa toward the Saudi city of Jizan.

    A Saudi-led coalition allied with Yemen's Government has been at war with the Houthis since 2015. The fighting has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis, with Saudi-led air strikes blamed for many civilian deaths.

  • United States President Donald Trump has announced that the US would not sell the F-35 fighter jets to Turkey after Ankara purchased the S-400 missile defence system from sanctions-hit Russia.

    The decision by the Trump Administration against a major NATO ally could be an indication for India as it has also signed up with Russia to buy the S-400 missile defence system against the advice of the US.

    India inked an agreement with Russia in October 2018 to procure a batch of the S-400 missile systems at a cost of Rs 40,000 crore.

  • World Health Organization (WHO) declares ebola outbreak in Congo a global health emergency.
    The deadly Ebola outbreak in Congo is now an international health emergency, the World Health Organization announced after the virus spread this week to a city of two million people.

    A WHO expert committee had declined on three previous occasions to advise the United Nations health agency to make the declaration for this outbreak, which other experts say has long met the conditions. More than 1,600 people have died since August in the second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, which is unfolding in a region described as a war zone.

  • Iran urges Europe to accelerate efforts to save nuclear deal. Iran has asked Europe to speed up efforts to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal.

    French President Emmanuel Macron told that Europe must accelerate its efforts to realize Iran's legitimate interests and bring about a ceasefire in Washington's economic war against Iran. That missed opportunities would force Iran to drop further commitments under the deal.

  • UN reaches agreement with Yemen rebels to resume food aid.  Chief  of  The World Food Programme (WFP) has reached an agreement with Yemen's Houthi rebels to resume food aid to areas under their control. Malnutrition is widespread in Yemen after four years of civil war.

    But the United Nations suspended deliveries of food aid to rebel-held areas last month following accusations of diversion of food.

    UN Security Council the new agreement with the rebels will allow food to be quickly delivered to the rebel-held capital Sanaa. He further said that around 20 million people in Yemen are food insecure. International commitments of aid to Yemen were not being honoured.

  • Donald Trump says U.S. ship destroyed Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz.  U.S. warship destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions between the two countries. Iran’s attempts to disrupt the freedom of navigation and global commerce in the strategic waterway in the Persian Gulf region.

    The USS Boxer took defensive action after the drone closed to within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down. The president says the drone threatened the safety of the American ship and its crew.

    Iran recently shot down a U.S. drone that it said was flying over Iran. Trump called off a planned retaliatory airstrike at the last minute.

  • G7 Finance Ministers meeting in France on 18 July, 2019 agreed a plan for taxing digital companies such as Facebook and Google that will set a minimum level of taxation for them. A statement from France said that Ministers fully supported a two-pillar solution to be adopted by 2020.

    France, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the group of world's most developed countries, said, new rules should be developed to address new business models allowing companies to do business in a territory without any physical presence. The statement said, Ministers agreed that a minimum level of effective taxation would contribute to ensuring that companies pay their fair share of tax. It added the G7 looks forward to further progress in the context of the G20 and a global agreement on the outlines of the architecture by January 2020.

    The French Parliament  passed a new law that will tax digital giants on revenue accrued inside the country, even if their European headquarters are elsewhere, in a move that will affect huge US groups Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. The move infuriated President Donald Trump and the US announced an unprecedented probe against France which could trigger the imposition of tariffs.

  • Palau became the 76th country to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA).  Palau, an archipelago of more than 500 islands in Oceania, has become 76th signatory country to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The agreement was opened for signature during COP22 at Marrakech, Morocco on 15 November 2016. Countries which have signed agreement until now include India, United Kingdom (UK), Japan, France, Australia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), amongst others.

  • Bulgarian lawmakers ratify US 1.3-billion deal to buy eight F-16 fighter jets from US. Ratified a hefty 1.3-billion US Dollar deal to buy eight F-16 fighter jets from the US in the country's biggest military equipment purchase since the fall of communism three decades ago. Significantly the rate was higher than what other countries have paid for F-16s.

    The deal with the US government, equivalent to 1.1 billion Euros, is for eight F-16 Block 70 multi-role fighters including six single-seaters and two double-seat jets. These will replace the NATO country's ageing Soviet-built MiG-29s. The US fighters have technology that features in more advanced jets such as the F-35 and F-22. That Bulgaria will be the first Balkan country to have this brand-new version of the aircraft.

  • UN calls for better-coordinated 'global response' to terrorism, organised crime.  The United Nations Security Council called for a better-coordinated global response to international terrorism and organised crime by working together to identify and eliminate such threats. The council unanimously adopted the Peru-drafted resolution on 19 July, 2019, which calls for increased cross-border collaboration in efforts to investigate and dismantle the links between terrorist groups and organized crime networks.

    The resolution asked states to enhance coordination of efforts at all levels in order to strengthen a global response to linkages between international terrorism and organized crime. The resolution also called for states to investigate, disrupt and dismantle organized crime networks in accordance with national legislation regarding money laundering, corruption and bribery.

  • Indian Haj mission in Saudi Arabia has adopted digital technology to reach out to a large number of pilgrims as part of the Government of India’s initiative of Digital India.

    With the introduction of Haj App, Indian diplomats in Saudi Arabia are trying to form a bridge with the pilgrims not only to facilitate a smooth and hassle-free Haj operation but also to receive grievances and feedbacks to improve the service. This was announced by Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed on 06 July, 2019 along with Consul General Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh to brief about ongoing Indian Haj operation in Saudi Arabia.

    The App - Indian Haj Information System- developed by the consulate is to receive feedback, a grievance from Hajis, Ambassador said. Currently, it receives feedback in English, Hindi and Urdu, other regional languages will be incorporated later, he said.

    Explaining about medical facilities to visiting pilgrims, Ausaf Sayeed said that health status and medical history of pilgrims is being stored at online “e-MASIHA” (Medical Assistance System for Indian Hajis Abroad). E-MASIHA would retrieve pilgrims’ health information to apply appropriate treatment whenever he or she visits Indian medical facilities during Haj.

  • World’s most powerful passports revealed.  Henley Passport Index 2019 was launched by Henley and Partners.

    The Indian passport has been ranked 86 with a mobility score of 58.

    Japan and Singapore hold the joint top spot on the Henley Passport Index.

    The index includes 199 passports and 227 travel destinations — including micro-states and territories.

  • Sri Lanka: Construction begins for upgradation of Palali airport near Jaffna.
    Construction work has begun for upgradation of Palali airport near Jaffna in Tamil-majority Northern Province. It may be mentioned that Palali airport was used for air travel between then Madras and Jaffna in the 1960s but got disrupted due to decades-long LTTE War.

    The development of the north is a high priority of his government, and an international airport in the Jaffna peninsula would boost the economy in the region.

  • Iraqs Babylon listed as UNESCOs World Heritage Site.  United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee voted to list sprawling Mesopotamian metropolis of Babylon as a World Heritage Site (WHS) 30 years of lobbying efforts by Iraq. Iraq to have Babylon site recognised by UNESCO.

    It is a massive 10sq-km complex of which just 18% has been excavated. It was the Centre of ancient Babylonian empire more than 4,000 years ago. The excavation of the site began in the early 1800s. It is the largest populated city in the ancient history. It is internationally known for its hanging gardens, the Ishtar Gate and Tower of Babel.

  • Italy's Prosecco hills added to UNESCO World Heritage list.  Italy’s Prosecco hills northeast of Venice cultivated for centuries added to the World Heritage list by the UN cultural Organization. The grapes produce the famous prosecco sparkling wine are grown.

    The landscape is characterized by hogback hills, ciglioni and small plots of vines on narrow grassy terraces, forests, small villages and farmland. The region became Italy's 55th World Heritage site. The prosecco sparkling white has the highest classification available to Italian wine. It is produced in a territory spread over nine provinces in Italy's northeast. The sales of the wine rose six per cent in 2018 to 460 million bottles

  • U.S. State Department approves possible $2.2 billion arms sale to Taiwan.  The U.S. State Department has approved the possible sale to Taiwan of M1A2T Abrams tanks, Stinger missiles and related equipment at an estimated value of $2.2 billion, the Pentagon said, despite Chinese criticism of the deal. The sale of the weapons requested by Taiwan, including 108 General Dynamics Corp M1A2T Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger missiles, would not alter the basic military balance in the region.

    DSCA notified Congress the possible arms sale, which it said could also include mounted machine guns, ammunition, Hercules armoured vehicles for recovering inoperative tanks, heavy equipment transporters and related support.

  • Sri Lanka inaugurates first model village.  Ranidugama- The 1st Model Village having 2400 houses and built with Indian assistance in Sri Lanka was inaugurated. This is a part of housing project meant for civil war-affected people and estate workers.

    India has partnered with Sri Lankan Ministry of Housing and Construction and Cultural Affairs and will also provide a grant of Rs 1,200 million (USD 17.5 million) for the same.

  • Budj Bim Cultural Landscape received UNESCO's World heritage list. The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape in south-west Victoria has received UNESCO's World heritage list. It is the first in Australia to be in the list. UNESCO's desicion recognises Budj Bim’s significance to all of humanity. Budj Bim is the 20th site in Australia to make it on to the UNESCO World Heritage List,

    The landscape is marked for its Aboriginal cultural importance after a decades-long campaign run by traditional owners, some of whom were present for the decision. It is considered as one of the oldest aquaculture sites in the world. More than a decade of fervent lobbying, the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape has finally been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The landscape was cared for over 6,600 years and is important to the Gunditjmara People.

    There are also remains of about 300 stone huts. These are the only remaining permanent houses built by an indigenous community in Australia. It challenges the common perception that all Aboriginal people were nomadic.

  • Sharjah issues 1st permanent residency visa. Sharjah’s first Golden Card visa was issued to an Indian expat businessman Lalu Samuel. The move is a part of the permanent residency system tailored for investors.

    The Golden Card is a 10-year long-term visa eligible for investors and entrepreneurs to engage them in the renaissance and development of the UAE.

  • Sri Lanka has become fifth country in the World Health Organisation (WHO) Southeast Asia region to eliminate measles. The other countries in the region which have achieved this feat are Bhutan, Maldives, DPRKorea and Timor-Leste. Measles is a highly infectious illness caused by the rubeola virus. WHO estimate that 2.6 million people who have not had the vaccine die of measles every year.

  • France to impose green tax on plane tickets. France will impose green tax up to €18 on plane tickets from 2020. The move aims to fund less-polluting transportation projects. A similar tax was introduced in Sweden in April 2018, which imposed an added charge of up to €40 on every ticket in a bid to lessen the impact of air travel on the climate.

  • The French senate on 11 July, 2019 approved a digital services tax despite threats of retaliation by the US, which argues that it unfairly targets American tech giants. The 3 percent tax will be levied on sales generated in France by multinational firms like Google and Facebook.

    The French government has argued that such firms headquartered outside the country pay little or no tax. Meanwhile, the US administration has ordered an inquiry into the move which could result in retaliatory tariffs.

  • Ukraine inaugurates world’s largest Metal Dome.  Ukraine has inaugurated the world’s largest movable metal dome encasing the destroyed reactor at the infamous Chernobyl plant. It is a 108-meter high dome which weighs 36,000 tonnes.

    The Chernobyl nuclear power station was the scene of the world's worst civilian nuclear accident on April 26, 1986. Thirty people were killed in an explosion and many hundreds died of related illnesses.

  • The United Nations observes 11 July every year as World Population Day. This year’s World Population Day calls for global attention to the unfinished business of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development.

    United Nations Headquarters - New York, USA.
    Founded - 24 October 1945.

  • Indian Minister of State for Shipping and Chemical & Fertilizers, Shri Mansukh Mandaviya will flag off an inland waterways vessel containing cargo from Bhutan to Bangladesh via River Brahmaputra (NW 2) and the Indo Bangla Protocol Route. This is a first of its kind movement where an Indian inland waterways is being used for connecting two countries – landlocked Bhutan and Bangladesh.

  • Qu Dongyu became the first Chinese national to be elected to head the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). He will succeed Brazil's Jose Graziano da Silva. FAO looks into the issue of food security, agricultural development, agro-business, trade, and biotechnology.
    The headquarters of FAO is in Rome.

  • Abu Dhabi to host first ISA's joint security exercise ISALEX19.  Representatives of 50 law enforcement agencies of the International Security Alliance are taking part in the first joint security exercise in Abu Dhabi, which will start on 30 June, 2019.

    The participants include representatives from tactical teams, rapid intervention units, communications, civil defence, and explosive ordnance disposal, teams. The International Security Alliance, launched in 2017 in Abu Dhabi, is an international working group to confront organised, transnational and extremist crimes. The alliance now comprises nine countries, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, France, Italy, Spain, Senegal, Singapore, and the Slovak Republic.

  • Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has embarked on a five-day visit to China. She arrived in the Chinese city of Dalian. She will attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) known as 'Summer Davos' in Dalian and subsequently leave for Beijing to hold bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping.

    The Rohingya issue will come up as a major topic during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit. Dhaka expects that China will take a ‘proactive role’ in resolving the issue of repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar. Bangladesh is also making a strong pitch to draw Chinese investment in the country for which eight instruments are scheduled to be signed by the two countries. These agreements will focus on investment in the power sector and technical cooperation between Dhaka and Beijing.

  • Iran exceeds uranium limit set in nuclear deal.  The country has exceeded the 300-kilogramme limit on its enriched uranium reserves set by the 2015 nuclear deal. This was confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.

    Iran still planned to suspend other commitments under the deal in 10 days unless European powers took practical and tangible steps to implement their new mechanism for facilitating trade. The mechanism, known as Instex, essentially allows goods to be bartered between Iranian and foreign companies without direct financial transactions.

  • Germany's Ursula von der Leyen nominated to lead EU Commission.  European Union (EU) leaders have put forward their nominations for the bloc's top jobs, with a woman proposed as European Commission Chief for the first time. German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen has been nominated for the post to replace Jean-Claude Juncker.

  • Britain has warned China of serious consequences if it breaches a bilateral agreement to preserve Hong Kong's freedoms, after an unprecedented night of anti-government protests.

    British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in Belfast on 02 July, 2019 that Hong Kong is part of China but the freedoms in Hong Kong are enshrined in a joint declaration signed with former colonial ruler Britain. The legally binding agreement should be honoured.

    The British government rejected Beijing's assertion that the joint declaration was no longer valid. The government's clear view is that the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 obliges the Chinese government to uphold Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and its rights and freedoms.

  • Hungarian parliament passes controversial science sector reform bill.  The Hungarian parliament passed a bill on 02 July, 2019 enabling the takeover of research institutes by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government, which is accused by critics of seeking to control key institutions and sectors. The bill, approved by 131 of lawmakers in the 199-seat assembly, gives Mr Orban's nationalist, anti-migration government control of a vast network of research institutes currently run by the two-century-old Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA).

    That since coming to power in 2010, he has tightened his control over most key institutions in Hungary, including public media, the judiciary and the education sector. Scientists have condemned the move against research institutes as a threat to academic freedom. 

  • US declares Balochistan Liberation Army as global terrorist organization.  The United States has declared the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as a global terrorist organization, a move decried as unjustified by the separatist group fighting Pakistani rule in the resource-rich Balochistan province.
    Pakistan banned the outfit in 2006 and have been urging the US to do the same.

  • Egypt's 4,000-year-old Lahun pyramid has opened its doors to the public for the first time, displaying a network of passage ways and an ancient burial chamber. A small team of archaeologists from the Egyptian ministry of antiquities spent around a year clearing out the burial chamber inside the pyramid. A variety of artefacts were excavated including amulets, scarabs, shells, and chains.

  • Sudan's ruling military council and a coalition of opposition and protest groups have reached an agreement to share power during a transition period leading to elections. The two sides agreed to establish a sovereign council by rotation between the military and civilians for a period of three years or slightly more. The two sides also agreed to form an independent 'technocratic' government and to launch a transparent, independent investigation into violent events in recent weeks.

    Omar al-Degair, a leader of the Forces for Freedom and Change -- an umbrella organization of opposition groups, hailed the agreement as the beginning of a new era and said the agreement opens the way for the formation of the institutions of the transitional authority. General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, Deputy Head of the Transitional Military Council, said that the agreement will be comprehensive and will not exclude anyone. The power-sharing agreement came after two days of talks in Khartoum that resumed on 03 July, 2019.

  • Dubai Duty Free has announced that Indian Rupee will now be an accepted currency at all the retail outlets of the Dubai airport. However, the change, if any, will be given back in Dirhams and not the Indian currency.

    Stores at the Dubai Airport will accept notes of various denominations, including 100s, 200s, 500s and 2000s. The move makes the Indian rupee the 16th international currency to be accepted at Dubai's airports. Out of the 90 million passengers who used Dubai's airports, 12 million of them travelled to or from Indian destinations.

  • Tunisia's Premier banned the Niqab, Muslim face covering for women in government offices, citing security concerns after attacks in the North African country. Prime Minister Youssef Chahed signed a government circular banning access to public administrations and institutions to anyone with the face covered for security reasons.

    The ban on the Niqab, which covers the entire face apart from the eyes, comes at a time of heightened security following a June 27 double suicide bombing in Tunis that left two dead and seven wounded.

  • Iran has condemned interception of one of its oil tankers in Gibraltar where authorities said they suspected it was carrying crude to Syria in violation of EU sanctions. The detention of the 330 metre Grace 1 vessel comes at a sensitive time in Iran-EU ties as the bloc mulls how to respond to Tehran announcing it will breach the maximum uranium enrichment level it agreed to in a 2015 nuclear deal. Iran summoned the British ambassador in protest. US National Security Advisor John Bolton welcomed the interception of the supertanker as excellent news.

  • Bahrain & UK first to pilot new AI guidelines. Bahrain has announced it will pilot new guidelines for the procurement of Artificial Intelligence in the public sector. It partnered with the UK government to help design the guidelines and assesses them in real-world conditions.

    It is produced by the World Economic Forum (WEF) Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. By this Bahrain and UK became first in the world to do so.

  • Vladimir Putin signed a bill to suspend Russias participation in nuclear treaty. Vladimir Putin has signed a bill suspending Russia's participation in a pivotal nuclear arms pact with the United States.

    The Russian president’s decree formalises his country’s departure from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Russia has denied any violations and accused the US of breaking the accord.



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