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March 2019 - International News

  • Oman signs agreement allowing United States military to use its ports. 
    Oman has signed an agreement with the United States that allow American ships and warplanes to take advantage of his ports and airports. The state-run Oman News Agency said the framework agreement is aimed at bolstering Omani-American military relations.

    The agreement will allow the US forces to take advantage from the facilities offered at some of the Sultanate's ports and airports during visits of the US military vessels and aircraft, particularly in the port of Duqm, it said.

    Duqm port is located in southern Oman on the Arabian Sea and around 500 kilometers from the Strait of Hormuz. At the mouth of the Gulf, the strait is crucial to global energy supplies. The US-Omani deal was signed by the defence ministries of both countries.

  • China to import more goods from US to balance bilateral trade. 
    Ahead of the crucial talks next month to finalize the texts of trade deal with the US to end the trade war, a top Chinese official said that China will import more goods from the US to balance bilateral trade, a key demand of US President Donald Trump.

    The US is demanding China to reduce the USD 375 billion trade deficit and protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), technology transfer and more access to American goods to Chinese markets. Vice-Premier and Politburo Standing Committee member Han Zheng said that China will work to boost imports and achieve a more even balance of trade with the US. Han said, his government was committed to leveling the playing field.

  • World leaders hail defeat of Islamic State in Syria. 
    World leaders have hailed the defeat of Islamic State after US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announced that they have liberated the terror group's last stronghold Baghuz town in Syria.

    US President Donald Trump welcomed the fall of the group's five-year caliphate but said that it remained a threat. He said, the US would remain vigilant until IS finally defeated.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to carry on fighting the terrorist ideology. She also praised the courage of the British forces that fought in Syria and Iraq alongside a US-led global military coalition.

    French President Emmanuel Macron said, the fall of the caliphate has removed a source of potential terror attacks against France. He said, a significant threat to the country has been eliminated but the fight against terror groups must continue.

  • European Parliament adopts controversial copyright reforms.
    European Parliament adopted controversial copyright reforms championed by news publishers and the media business. However, tech giants including Google have opposed it.

    After intense debate by Members of European Parliament, MEPs meeting in Strasbourg passed the draft law with 348 votes in favour, 274 against, and 36 abstentions. The reform was loudly backed by media companies and artists, who want to obtain a better return from web platforms that allow users to distribute their content.

    But it was strongly opposed by Silicon Valley, and especially Google that makes huge profits from the advertising generated on content it hosts. It was also criticised by supporters of a free internet who fear it will result in unprecedented restrictions to web freedom.

    Under the reform, European law for the first time would hold platforms legally responsible for enforcing copyright, requiring them to check everything that their users post to prevent infringement.

  • US moves draft resolution in UN to designate Azhar as global terrorist.
    The US, supported by France and the UK, has directly moved a draft resolution in the UN Security Council to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.

    The move comes two weeks after China put a hold on a proposal to blacklist Azhar.

    This is the first time the three countries have moved a draft resolution directly in the Security Council to designate Azhar.

  • China, US resume trade talks.
    China and the US on 29 March 2019 resumed trade talks in Beijing, giving another push to their high-stakes negotiations to end their months-long tariff war. Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He met US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

    The top US and Chinese trade officials have been holding a series of talks to end the tariff war between the world's two largest economies. The talks were kicked off by US President Donald Trump last year who demanded Beijing to reduce the 375 billion dollar trade deficit, protection of intellectual property rights technology transfer and more access to American goods into China's markets.

  • AFINDEX-19 to begin from March 18, 2019.
    A 10-day long Africa-India field training exercise (AFINDEX-19) between the Indian army and 16 African nations will be conducted from 18 to 27 March 2019. The Exercise will be conducted in Pune, Maharashtra.

    The Aim of the exercise is to train the participating contingents in Humanitarian Mine Assistance (HMA) and peace keeping operations (PKO) under the United Nations Charter.

  • First BRICS Sherpa meeting concludes.
    The first BRICS sherpa meeting under the presidency of Brazil concluded on 15 March 2019 at curtibia in Brazil. TS Tirumani, secretary of Economic Relations in the Ministry of external Affairs, led the Indian delegation at the TWO- day meeting. Brazil has identified countering terrorism as one of its priority areas for BRICS under its presidency.

  • Kazakhstan President resigns after nearly 30 years in power.
    Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev has announced his resignation after nearly 30 years in power. The 78-year old leader had ruled the country since it emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

    In a televised address last night, Mr. Nazarbayev said, the decision was not easy but he wanted to help a new generation of leaders. He said, the Chairman of the Kazakh Senate would take over. The announcement came less than a month after the President sacked his government, citing a lack of economic development despite the country's vast energy resources.

  • United Nations patent data show Asia innovation surge.
    United Nations said that more than half of all international patent applications filed in 2018 came from Asia, a further sign of innovation shifting from west to east. In the latest annual breakdown of patent filings released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), US remained the leading individual country for applications in 2018. However, on a regional basis, Asia's surge continued.

    Agency’s Director General Francis Gurry said, Asia is now the majority filer of international patent applications via WIPO. He said, it underscores the historical geographical shift of innovative activity from west to east.

    WIPO's complex system of registering international patents involves multiple categories. In the main category-the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the US led the way with 56,142 applications, followed by China (53,345) and Japan (49,702).

    India registered the largest innovation jump of any country last year. Patent applications jumped more than 27 per cent from 1,583 in 2017 up to 2,013.

  • Maldives reaffirms ‘India first’ policy.
    Maldives reaffirmed its “India-First Policy”, saying it looks forward to working closely with India on all issues and will remain sensitive towards its security and strategic concerns during the meeting with Sushma Swaraj in Maldives.

    The Maldivian leaders also expressed commitment to support India’s efforts to combat terrorism, particularly cross-border terrorism, and crimes such as piracy, organized crime, narcotic drugs and human trafficking. The two foreign ministers agreed on the importance of maintaining peace and security in the Indian Ocean Region and to strengthen coordination in enhancing regional maritime security.

    India and the Maldives signed three agreements -- on exemption from visa requirement for holders of diplomatic and official passports, regarding Indian grant assistance for implementation of high-impact community development projects through local bodies and on collaboration in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

    The Maldivian side expressed its support for India’s candidature for permanent membership of an expanded and reformed UNSC. The Maldivian side also reiterated support for India’s candidature for non-permanent seat for 2020-21.

  • Kazakhstan to rename country's capital Astana as Nursultan.
    Kazakhstan's parliament on 20 March 2019 voted to rename the country's capital Astana as Nursultan in honour of longtime ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev, a day after he resigned as president. Astana replaced Kazakhstan's largest city Almaty as the capital in 1997.

  • Indian-origin Jagmeet creates history, enters Canada parliament.
    Indian-origin Jagmeet Singh has created history in Canada when he made his debut in the House of Commons as the first non-white leader of a major opposition party in the country.

    The arrival of the turbaned leader, as the leader of the New Democratic Party into the house on 18 March 2019, cheered by all members, coincided with the induction of a senior woman member into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet.

    Singh, the leader of the New Democratic Party, was elected in federal by-elections held on February 25. Singh's first words as an elected lawmaker were about last week's terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand. He then launched his first question about housing in Burnaby-South.

  • New Zealand bans assault weapons.
    New Zealand has imposed an immediate ban on assault weapons following last week's Christchurch massacre that claimed the lives of 50 mosque-goers. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said assault rifles and military-style semi-automatic weapons would be banned with immediate effect, making a pledge to ensure that nothing like the last week's attack ever occurs in the Pacific nation again.

    She added that high-capacity magazines and devices similar to bump stocks - which allow users to fire weapons faster - will also be banned.

  • India-funded educational campus inaugurated in Nepal. 
    Educational campus constructed with Government of India's financial grant of 35.5 million Nepalese rupees was inaugurated. Education creates building blocks for the process of nation-building and is the first step towards the development of any country.

    As part of the Development Partnership Programme, the Government of India is providing assistance to institutions at all levels from primary schools to universities in Nepal.

  • Donald Trump orders withdrawal of sanctions against North Korea. 
    President Donald Trump has abruptly ordered the withdrawal of additional large-scale sanctions on North Korea, immediately after the Treasury Department imposed

    Trump walked out of that summit after refusing to agree to North Korea's demands of lifting all sanctions. Trump said, he has ordered the withdrawal of large-scale additional sanctions announced by the Treasury Department. The Treasury Department had on 21 March 2019, announced sanctions on Chinese shipping companies doing business with North Korea.

    Those sanctions prompted a swift pushback from the Chinese and North Korean governments. The sanctions were the first new sign of pressure since talks between Trump and Kim broke down in Hanoi.

  • UN health chief visits DRC Ebola treatment center after attacks
    The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) visited an Ebola treatment centre in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after it had been attacked by militants.

    UN health Chief Ghebreyesus toured the centre in the city of Butembo after the assault on 09 March 2019, which was attacked last week also. While thanking personnel for their steadfast dedication, he called for protection of these centres amidst a deadly epidemic outbreak.

    The visit came as he concluded a three-day mission to the DRC, along with other WHO leadership and senior US officials who met with the president, government officials, partner organizations and local responders involved in the outbreak response.

  • Mohammad Shtayyeh named as Palestinian Prime Minister. 
    Mohammad Shtayyeh has been named as Palestinian Prime Minister by President of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. A member of the West Bank's dominant Fatah party is a long time ally of Abbas.

  • China, US reach consensus on many key issues.
    China and the United States have reached a consensus on many key issues, including exchange rates, during the latest round of talks to negotiate a comprehensive trade deal, in Washington.

    Governor of China's central bank, Yi Gang on 10 March 2019 said that top trade officials from America and China discussed how to respect the autonomy of each other's monetary authorities in determining the monetary policy. The discussion also involved mutual adherence to the market-decided exchange rate mechanism.

    The Governor said, both the countries will be honouring the commitments made at previous G-20 summits, such as choosing not to adopt competitive depreciation, not to use exchange rates for competition purpose, and maintaining close communication on foreign exchange markets.

    Yi, along with Chinese vice Premier Liu He, took part in the talks, while the American side was represented by the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin. US and China have held several talks during the past few months to end a trade war in which the world's two largest economies are locked in since 2018.

  • China orders airlines to ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 after crash.
    On 11 March 2019, China ordered domestic airlines to suspend the commercial operation of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, citing the Ethiopian Airlines crash and another deadly accident of that same model in Indonesia.

    Noting the similarities between the two accidents, China's Civil Aviation Administration said domestic airlines asked to ground all 737 MAX 8 aircraft until 6pm local time (10:00 GMT). The administration said the operation of the model will only resume after ensuring flight safety.

    The statement cited the Kenya-bound Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board. It also mentioned the Indonesia Lion Air flight, which crashed after takeoff from Jakarta in October 2018, killing all 189 people on board.

  • UN warns Bangladesh of new crisis over Rohingya relocation plan.
    The UN has warned Bangladesh of a new crisis if the country goes ahead with plans to relocate 23,000 Rohingya next month (April) to an uninhabited island prone to cyclones.

    The UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee told the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 11 March 2019 that she was unsure if the Bay of Bengal island was truly habitable. She also warned that ill-planned relocations without the consent of refugees have the potential to create new problems for the country.

  • Nepal appreciates India for its support in post-earthquake reconstruction projects.
    Nepal has appreciated Government of India for its support in the post-earthquake reconstruction projects in the country.

    A meeting of India-Nepal Joint Project Monitoring Committee to review the progress of post-earthquake reconstruction projects in housing, education, health and cultural heritage sectors was held in Kathmandu on 11 March 2019. Both sides agreed that through their combined efforts considerable progress has been made in the housing sector since the signing of sector-specific MoU. Discussions were also held on the Education, Health and Cultural Heritage sectors.

    The two sides agreed to take steps to expedite progress in all sectors. India is providing 250 million US dollars grant for supporting reconstruction in these sectors. The meeting was chaired by Arjun Kumar Karki, Secretary, National Reconstruction Authority, and Government of Nepal.

    The Indian delegation was led by Sudhakar Dalela, Joint Secretary (North), Ministry of External Affairs. The next meeting would be held on a mutually convenient date.

  • UN requests Sri Lanka to establish hybrid court to probe war crime allegations during LTTE war.  The United Nations has again requested Sri Lanka to establish a hybrid court consisting of international judges, lawyers and investigators to probe war crime allegations during three-decade long LTTE war. The demand had been rejected by Sri Lankan government earlier saying it has its own strong justice system.

    The annual report on Sri Lanka presented to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at its ongoing session in Geneva recommended the government to adopt legislation establishing a hybrid court to investigate allegations of human rights violations.

    It recommended that the Government promptly investigate and prosecute all allegations of torture and other gross human rights violations and give highest priority to long-standing emblematic cases so as to regain public confidence in the justice system.

    Sri Lankan government has requested for more time and roll over of resolution which it co -sponsored in 2015 to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights in the country. Sri Lankan President has requested the international community to let Sri Lanka solve its own problems adding that independence of a country is very important.

  • Boeing recommends temporary suspension of its entire world fleet of 737 MAX aircraft.
    One of the largest global aircraft manufacturer Boeing has recommended a temporary suspension of its entire world fleet of the 737 MAX aircraft. The move comes after several countries, including India, China, European Union and the United States banned the use of the aircraft in wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 people on board.

    Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing's President, CEO and chairman said that the company was doing everything to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators and help ensure this does not happen again. Ethiopia Airlines crash was the second accident involving the US-based aerospace giant's MAX 8 model within six months.

    Last October (2018), a Lion Air-operated MAX 8 went down in Indonesia in October, killing 189 people. Both crashes took place shortly after takeoff and have prompted intense scrutiny over the plane's control systems. There were 371 of the 737 MAX family jets in operation before this week’s groundings. Boeing has grounded an entire fleet of planes before.

    In 2013, Boeing told airlines not to fly their 787 Dream liners because the planes' batteries were catching fire.

  • India awards 200 Golden Jubilee Scholarships to Nepali students.
    The Indian Embassy in Nepal on 13 March 2019 awarded 200 Golden Jubilee Scholarships to meritorious Nepali students for continuing various undergraduate courses at colleges and universities.

    Awarding the certificates to the students in Kathmandu, Nepal's Secretary of Education Khaga Raj Baral said, India has been providing valuable support for the development of education in Nepal. This year (2019) the scholarships recipients covered for 36 undergraduate courses including MBBS, BDS, BE, B Sc, BBA and B Com etc. The students have been shortlisted from 50 districts of Nepal. They include around 45 per cent girls and 8 per cent differently able students.

    The Government of India had started the prestigious Golden Jubilee Scholarship Scheme in 2002 to mark the completion of 50 years of India-Nepal Economic Cooperation. Under this scheme, an MBBS/BDS student receives 4000 Nepali Rupees (NRs.) per month for five years, a BE student receives 4000 NRs. per month for four years and students studying in other under-graduate courses receive 3000 NRs per month for three years. So far more than 2350 Nepali students have been awarded the Golden Jubilee Scholarships from across 77 districts of Nepal.

    The Government of India provides a total 3000 scholarships in Medical, Science, Veterinary Sciences, Pharmacology, Dental science, Agriculture, Engineering, Arts, Commerce, Science, Computer Science, Nursing and many other disciplines to study in Universities and Colleges in Nepal and India. These Scholarships are part of India’s efforts to support human resources development in Nepal for the overall socio-economic development of the Himalayan nation and its people.

  • British lawmakers vote in support of delaying Brexit.
    British lawmakers have voted to seek a delay to the 29th March 2019 deadline for the UK to exit the European Union (EU). The motion was passed in the House of Commons last night by 412 votes to 202.

    The MPs, however, rejected an amendment to the motion that sought to hold another referendum during the delayed period.

    The delay in the Brexit process would now require the unanimous approval of all 27 remaining EU member states, which in effects gives the 28-member bloc the power to dictate the terms of an extension.

    EU Council Chief Donald Tusk said the bloc could approve a long postponement if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it.

    Last night's vote follows a rejection by Parliament on 13 March 2019 to rule out leaving the EU without any deal.

    Ms. May will make a third attempt to get her withdrawal deal pass through next week, after it was rejected by huge margins on two previous votes.

    The UK had voted to leave the EU in a referendum in June, 2016.

  • All American diplomats have left Venezuela, says US Secretary of State
    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the United States has withdrawn all remaining diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Caracas as the crisis in Venezuela deepens.

    He said, all US diplomats remaining in Venezuela have departed the country.

    He said, US government is fully dedicated to its mission of supporting the Venezuelan people's aspirations to live in a democracy and build a better future for their families. Venezuela is gripped by an acute economic crisis that has fueled the rise of opposition leader Juan Guaido, the national assembly speaker who in late January declared himself to be the interim leader.

    Mr. Pompeo said, the United States government, at all levels, remains firm in its resolve and support for the people of Venezuela and Interim President Juan Guaido.

    The US has already imposed sanctions designed to choke off Venezuelan oil sales, the lifeblood of the leftist government led by embattled President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas.

  • United States slams China for its human rights violations in country.
    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighted the abuses in China, Iran, South Sudan and Nicaragua in the state department's annual reports on Human Rights Practices. He said, China was in a league of its own, when it comes to human rights violations.

    Head of State Department's human rights and democracy bureau Michael Kozak said, the sort of abuses China had inflicted on its Muslim minorities had not been seen since the 1930s.

  • Nepal: Students call upon to follow Gandhian path for peace & harmony.
    The students in Nepal have called upon to follow the Gandhian path for peace and harmony in the world. Participating in a speech competition on Gandhiji in Kathmandu on 15 March 2019 the students said Mahatma Gandhi's principles are more relevant in today's world to tackle increasing violence, hatred and intolerance.

    The participants said peace and nonviolence are invaluable gifts of Mahatma Gandhi to mankind. They said Gandhiji guided people all around the world to solve conflicts in a nonviolent way.

    The event was organized by the Embassy of India and Ministry of Culture as part of ongoing Festival of India in Nepal and to celebrate 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

  • General Wolters is new NATO supreme commander.
    US Air force General Tod Wolters was nominated to become the north Atlantic treaty organization’s chief. General Wolters is currently serving as commander, United States Air forces Europe, United States Air forces Africa and Allied Air Command.

  • US officially closes Jerusalem consulate.
    The United States has officially shuttered its consulate in Jerusalem downgrading the status of its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians by folding it into the U.S. Embassy to Israel.

    The U.S. State Department, in a statement said that this decision was driven to increase the efficiency and effectiveness in diplomatic engagements.

    For decades, the consulate functioned as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians. Now, that outreach will be handled by a Palestinian affairs unit, under the command of the embassy.

  • Syria takes part in first Arab meeting since 2011
    Syria attended a meeting of Arab states for the first time since conflict broke out there in 2011.

    Syria's parliament speaker, Hammouda Sabbagh, travelled to Amman for an Arab inter-parliamentary meeting.

    A growing number of Arab states have voiced support for Syria's return to the Arab League, which suspended the country's membership in November 2011 as the death toll mounted in its war. UAE already reopened its embassy in Damascus, last December.

  • US lawmaker introduces legislation seeking probe into American non-profit body's activities in Pakistan and Kashmir.
    A US lawmaker has introduced a legislation in the Congress seeking a probe into an American non-profit body's activities in Pakistan and Kashmir. The activities include the reported collaboration with components of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the outlawed outfit which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

    The resolution, introduced by Republican Congressman Jim Banks from Indiana, has been moved to House Foreign Relations Committee for necessary action. The resolution said, 'Helping Hand for Relief and Development', a registered charitable organization, openly partnered in 2017 with Pakistan's Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, which the US government designated as a terrorist organization in 2016.

    The resolution also calls on the US Agency for International Development, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and other relevant agencies to halt all partnerships and funding arrangements with groups affiliated with Jamaat-e-Islami and its domestic affiliates.

  • Medha Narvekar appointed as Vice President and Secretary of University of Pennsylvania.
    Indian American Medha Narvekar has been appointed as the Vice President and Secretary of the University of Pennsylvania.

    As per the University release, Narvekar, an MBA from Wharton School, will be taking over the new position on 1st July. Prior to this appointment, she served as senior associate vice president of the Pennsylvania Development and Alumni Relations.

  • Russia suspends participation in Intermediate-Range Nuclear treaty with US.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially suspended the country's participation in a key Cold War-era nuclear arms-control treaty with the United States.

    In a statement, Kremlin said that Mr. Putin signed a decree regarding the suspension of Russia's participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, INF treaty between the USSR and the US in 1987. It said that the move was taken following a violation of the United States of its obligations under the treaty.

  • India nudges Myanmar action on Naga militants.
    India’s improved ties with Myanmar led to that country’s crackdown in late January on the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), considered the mother lode of most extremist groups in the northeast.

    Another factor that made the Tatmadaw — Myanmar’s military — take over the headquarters of NSCN-K in an operation from January 29 to February 5, was the Naga outfit’s violation of an agreement not to allow Myanmar territory to be used by “any rebel group to attack a neighboring country (India)”. The agreement was that Myanmar territory should not be used by any rebel group to attack on any neighboring country [India].

    The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) is a Greater Naga Revolutionist, Christian Naga nationalist insurgent group operating mainly in Northeast India, with minor activities in northwest Myanmar (Burma) until 2012.

    The main goal of the organization is to establish a sovereign Naga state, “Nagalim“, which would consist of all the areas inhabited by the Naga people in Northeast India and Northwest Myanmar. The Naga Peace Accord, a framework agreement as it has been termed, signed between the National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) and the Government of India.

  • Sri Lankan Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera to present this year’s budget.
    Sri Lankan Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera will present this year’s budget in parliament, with a likely focus on elections later this year. The budget was to be presented last November but was delayed due to political crisis in the country.

    Presidential elections are scheduled later this year and the budget will aim to give a further push to welfare programmes and improve investment climate. The economic growth during 2018 has dipped to record low of 3 percent.

    Finance ministry said the budget will target a deficit of 4.4 to 4.5 percent of GDP after provisionally reaching a gap of 5.3 percent last year.

  • Two Nobel Prizes for literature will be awarded this year: Swedish Academy.
    The Swedish Academy has said that two Nobel Prizes for literature will be awarded this year. The decision comes after a sex scandal causing the suspension of the award last year.

    The Academy in a statement at Stockholm said the Nobel Prize in Literature will awarded this autumn for both 2018 and 2019. The much-awaited award had to be postponed last year for the first time since 1949 after the Academy, which annually chooses the winner.

  • India-Bangladesh began joint exercise. 
    The 8th edition of joint military exercise Sampriti between India and Bangladesh began on 3rd march 2019 in Tangail, Bangladesh.

    “Sampriti” aims to increase mutual cooperation between the armies of two countries. Bangladesh side was represented by, the 36 East Bengal battalion, while Indian side was represented by 9th battalion of the rajputana rifles.

  • Israel's Arkia Airlines to introduce direct flights to two Indian cities.
    Israel's Arkia Airlines will introduce direct flights to two Indian cities -- Goa and Kochi from September 2019.

    Company officials said Arkia will operate the new flights from September 2019 onwards using recently acquired Airbus 321 neo LR.

  • Bilateral joint exercise between India, Oman to begin from Mar 12.
    The third edition of the bilateral joint exercise between India and Oman, Al Nagah 2019 will begin from 12th of this month at Jabel Al Akhdar Mountains in Oman. It will continue till 25th of March. In the exercise, both the armies will exchange expertise and experience in tactics, weapon handling and firing.

    Defence Ministry in a release said, the aim of this exercise is to enhance interoperability in counter terrorist operations in semi urban mountainous terrain. India-Oman bilateral security ties have continued to develop since the beginning of India-Oman Joint Military Cooperation meetings in 2006. The Ministry said, the exercise will go a long way in enchaining understanding of capabilities and strengthening camaraderie between both the Armies.

  • Venezuelan government announces to expel German ambassador Daniel Kriener from country.
    The Venezuelan government has announced to expel German ambassador Daniel Kriener from the country. President Nicolás Maduro’s embattled government yesterday declared the German ambassador persona non grata and ordered him to leave the country within 48 hours.

    According to an official statement, he was accused of recurrent acts of interference in internal affairs of Venezuela. Mr Kriener was among a group of diplomats who helped opposition leader Juan Guaidó return to Venezuela on Monday by meeting him at the airport.

    Meanwhile, UN Human Rights Chief said, sanctions have worsened Venezuela's crippling economic and political crisis, as Washington warned it may expand measures targeting the Maduro government. UN Rights chief Michelle Bachelet said, sanctions had exacerbated the crisis but also slammed Maduro's violations of civil and political rights.

  • ISRO, French space agency seal agreement on maritime security.
    National space agency ISRO and its French counterpart CNES on 06 March 2019 sealed an agreement to set up a joint maritime surveillance system in the country in May.

    The two nations will explore putting up a constellation of low-Earth orbiting satellites that will identify and track movement of ships globally – and in particular those moving in the Indian Ocean region where France has its Reunion Islands.

    Before that, they will initially share data from their present space systems and develop new algorithms to analyses them, according to the Paris based National Centre for Space Studies. The agreement comes a year after the broad collaboration plan the two governments initiated during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit in March last 2018.

    “The CNES-ISRO agreement [intends] to supply an operational system for detecting, identifying and tracking ships in the Indian Ocean. It provides for a maritime surveillance centre to be set up in India in May this year; sharing of capacity to process existing satellite data and joint development of associated algorithms”.

    “For the next phase of the programme, studies for an orbital infrastructure to be operated jointly by the two countries are ongoing. CNES is working with its industry partners and with ISRO to devise the most appropriate technical solution.”

    The two agencies have put up two climate and ocean weather monitoring satellites Megha-Tropiques (of 2011) and SARAL-AltiKa (2013) that are considered a model. “This fleet will be augmented with the launch of Oceansat-3-Argos mission in 2020 and a future joint infrared Earth-observation satellite under,” CNES said.

  • UNDP appoints Padma Lakshmi as Goodwill Ambassador.
    Indian-American television personality and food expert Padma Lakshmi has been appointed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as its newest Goodwill Ambassador, supporting the agency's fight against inequality and discrimination around the world.

    The announcement was made by UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, on the eve of International Women's Day.

  • NATO Chief rules out nuclear missile deployment to Europe.
    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has ruled out deploying ground-based nuclear missiles to Europe. Poland Stoltenberg said the 29-nation alliance had already started planning for a world without the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

    The United States decision to suspend participation in the INF has prompted concerns of its European allies. It formally suspended its obligations under the 1987 INF Treaty on February 2 and triggered the six-month withdrawal process, citing alleged Moscow's violation of the deal.

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had warned that Europe would be most vulnerable to any negative consequences of the potential collapse of the deal. The agreement bans all ground-launched missiles, conventional or nuclear, with ranges of 310 to 3,400 miles.

  • Japanese woman honored by Guinness as oldest person at 116.
    A 116-year-old Japanese woman who loves playing the board game Othello is being honored as the world’s oldest living person by Guinness World Records.
    The global authority on records officially recognized Kane Tanaka in a ceremony on 09 March 2019 at the nursing home where she lives in Fukuoka, in Japan’s southwest. Her family and the mayor were present to celebrate.

  • EU to continue working with Iran to promote peace, stability: European Commission.
    The European Union will continue to cooperate with Iran toward peace and stability in the Middle East region and the entire world.

    The European Commission Secretary-General Martin Selmayr said in Washington on 07 March 2019 that Iran's cooperation is a must in ensuring peace and stability in the Middle East.

    Last month, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a meeting expressed their commitment to cooperate for further implementation of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) with Iran, which allows bypassing US sanctions.

    US sanctions against Tehran were reinstated in 2018 after the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which provided for the relief of economic sanctions against Tehran in return for Iran's pledge to keep its nuclear program peaceful.



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