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December 2019 - Bilateral News




  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar co-chaired the 19th Joint Commission meeting with Foreign Minister of Iran in Tehran. The meeting was very productive and reviewed the entire gamut of the cooperation. Both the nation agreed on accelerating the Chabahar project. He said, India and Iran will work together closely on their shared interests.


  • India, Iran satisfied with progress of Chabahar Port. India and Iran have expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved in the operationalization of the Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar. External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar and the Foreign Minister of Iran Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif recognized that it has a potential to act as a gateway between the Indian subcontinent, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and Europe. They also welcomed the utilization of the port for exports from Afghanistan and discussed ways to promote it for enhancing wider regional connectivity for trade and transit. The 19th session of the India-Iran Joint Commission was held in Tehran.


  • The Cabinet has given its approval for signing of MoU between India and Brazil on Bioenergy Cooperation. India and Brazil are major consumers of energy in the world and Brazil is one of the most important trading partners of India in the entire Latin America and Caribbean region. Brazil is currently the world's second largest producer and consumer of biofuels.


  • China says its military relationship with India is improving. The military relationship between India and China is improving due to the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping. Two countries maintain strategic dialogues and conduct practical cooperation. He said, they have also strengthened their exchanges along their borders.

    China is willing to work with the India to follow the guidance of Prime Minister Modi and President Xi for development of military-to-military relationship. The two countries also held the 22nd round of the boundary talks in New Delhi last week. Both nations agreed to intensify efforts to achieve a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary issue.


  • Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Costa will be on a two-day visit to India from 19th December, 2019. He will attend the second meeting of the Organising Committee on the celebrations for the 150th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The Organising Committee meeting will be presided over by President Ram Nath Kovind. The Portuguese Prime Minister is also scheduled to hold official talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This will be the third official meeting between the two leaders in a span of 3 years.

    The high level political exchanges between India and Portugal have imparted a robust momentum to bilateral relations, including in several new areas such as science and technology, defence, startups, shipping, youth exchanges and culture. This visit will provide another opportunity to the leaders to review the whole gamut of bilateral relations and forge closer cooperation in areas of mutual interest.


  • India donates solar-powered lamps to marginalised Palestinian children. India has donated solar powered study lamps to Palestinian elementary school children from a marginalised Bedouin community to spread the principles of self-sufficiency and raise awareness towards the adverse effects of climate change. The lamps were donated as part of the 150th Gandhi Jayanti Students Solar Ambassador Workshop. The solar powered study lamps supplied by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay aims at making the student beneficiaries for the future propagators of renewable energy.

    Representative of India (ROI) in the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Sunil Kumar, visited the Governorate of Jericho and Jordan Valley where he was received by Governor Jehad Abu Al-Asal, Director of the Jericho Directorate of Education, and representatives of the local community. As part of India's outreach and cooperation programme in the local Palestinian community, Kumar visited the Ka'abneh Bedouin School with Palestinian dignitaries where he presented portable solar-powered lamps to the elementary school children.


  • India, US to hold 2 plus 2 ministerial dialogue in Washington on 18th Dec. India and US will hold 2+2 ministerial dialogue in Washington where two countries are likely to exchange views on regional and global issues. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will lead the Indian side, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper will represent the US at the meeting. Some key agreements are likely to be signed between the two countries to augment bilateral security ties.

    The two nations are expected to announce the signing of the Industrial Security Annex, an enabling pact that will allow American manufacturers of defense equipment to work with Indian private sector companies. The first 2+2 ministerial dialogue was held in New Delhi in September, 2018 after the mechanism was approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump.


  • India rejects Pakistan national assembly's resolution on Citizenship Amendment Act. India on 17 December, 2019 rejected the resolution adopted by Pakistan's National Assembly on the Citizenship Amendment Act. The resolution intentionally mischaracterizes the objectives of the Act which gives citizenship to persecuted religious minorities from selected countries.

    The Ministry asserted that the Act does not take away the citizenship of any Indian, irrespective of their faith. It said the resolution is a poorly disguised effort to divert attention from Pakistan’s appalling treatment and persecution of its own religious minorities.


  • India, US sign industrial security agreement for transfer of defence technology. India and the United States have agreed to deepen the bilateral cooperation and increase defence trade. They also agreed to intensify their coordination with like-minded countries like Japan for a peaceful Indo-Pacific region and put up a decisive fight against terrorism. The second 2 plus 2 India US ministerial dialogue in Washington chalked out a pathway to take the bilateral relationship between the two countries in 2020 to a new level.

    A number of agreements ranging from greater interaction between elected representatives, Industrial Security Annex (ISA), for collaboration in space, science and water and people-to-people contact were signed. The US values India's perspective on security in the Indo-Pacific region. The signing of the ISA will enable smooth transfer of classified technology and information between private entities of the US and India.


  • Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Costa will be on a two-day visit to India from 19th December, 2019. He will attend the second meeting of the Organising Committee on the celebrations for the 150th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The Organising Committee meeting will be presided over by President Ram Nath Kovind. The Portuguese Prime Minister is also scheduled to hold official talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This will be the third official meeting between the two leaders in a span of 3 years.

    The high-level political exchanges between India and Portugal have imparted a robust momentum to bilateral relations, including in several new areas such as science and technology, defence, startups, shipping, youth exchanges and culture. This visit will provide another opportunity for the leaders to review the whole gamut of bilateral relations and forge closer cooperation in areas of mutual interest.


  • Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh will embark on a four-day visit to Sri Lanka from 19th to 22nd December, 2019. The visit is intended to consolidate and enhance bilateral maritime relations between the two countries. During the visit, Admiral Singh will hold bilateral discussions with Commander of Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral KKVPH De Silva, the Services Chiefs and other senior Government officials.

    Admiral Singh will interact with the Sri Lanka Navy Board of Management which comprises senior hierarchy of the island nation's Navy. He will also take part as the Chief Guest during the Commissioning and Passing Out Parade of the 60th Intake Midshipmen at Naval Maritime Academy in Trincomalee on the 22nd December, 2019.


  • Lahore-Wagah shuttle train service resumed after 22 years. The train service between Lahore and Wagah resumed operations after 22 years on December 15, 2019. The shuttle train services between the two stations will complete three round trips daily. The train service will enable over 1000 passengers to commute between the stations in three trips. The fare for the travel has been fixed at PKR 30. The train would take about an hour to reach Wagah.


  • India, US agree for comprehensive review of cross-cutting foreign policy, defence and bilateral security issues. The Second India-US 22 meeting undertook a comprehensive review of cross-cutting foreign policy and defence and security issues in the bilateral relationship between two countries.

    External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar informed that some discussion also took place on a vision for building up a comprehensive enduring and mutually beneficial defence partnership and India welcomed US as a founding member of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).


  • Portugal announces Gandhi Citizenship Education Prize. Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa has announced that in order to help perpetuate Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals, Portugal will be launching a Gandhi Citizenship Education Prize, each year inspired by his different thoughts and quotes.

    The first edition of this prize will be dedicated to animal welfare as Mahatma Gandhi said that the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated. Mr. Antonio Costa was addressing the second meeting of the National Committee for Commemoration of the 150th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

    There is global reverence for Mahatma Gandhi as the world is realizing that his vision of peace, equality and non-violence are more relevant. Gandhiji can show the world the way forward on the issue of strife and climate catastrophe being faced by it. All citizens need to imbibe Gandhian thought and vision in their lives and take it ahead in the times to come.


  • Railway Ministry signed MoU with Birmingham University to establish Centre of Excellence. The National Rail Transport Institute (NRTI) signed an MoU with the University of Birmingham on 18th December 2019 in New Delhi. The aim is to set up the first Centre of Excellence for Next-Generation Transportation Systems in Railways. The MoU was signed by Mr. Vinod Kumar Yadav, Chairman of NRTI, and Professor Clive Roberts, Head of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) at the University of Birmingham.

    As per the MoU, it will provide proprietary data, spare equipment, professional expertise, and other available resources directly or through the Centralised Training Institutes and research organizations. The centre will invite partnerships from other industry and academic organizations in the future.

    The center aims to promote the Rail and Transportation sector in India by offering customized training programmes for in-service professionals, post-graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral programmes. It will also undertake joint research projects in areas such as communication, signalling, asset maintenance, traction and safety and developing standards, benchmarks, and certifications for specialized skills. It will organize knowledge events, conferences, workshops to disseminate trends, latest research, global best practices and developments in the transportation sector, access to industry and academia.


  • Bill introduced in US House to promote Gandhi's legacy. America's legendary Civil Rights leader Congressman John Lewis introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to promote the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. It also sought a budgetary allocation of 150 million dollars for the next five years.

    This Bill, which has the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is being considered as a significant landmark initiative by the United States Congress to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. India's Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla said, it reinforces the close cultural and ideological bonds between India and the US.

    Mahatma Gandhi, who employed the principle of Satyagraha, has come to represent the moral force inspiring many civil and social rights movement around the world, says the Bill. Among other things, the Bill proposes establishing a Gandhi-King Development Foundation, which will be created by the USAID under the Indian laws.

    This foundation would have a governing council convened by governments of the United States and India and would oversee grants to NGOs in the areas of health, pollution and climate change, education and women empowerment, says the Bill. The Bill also proposes the establishment of a Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative with an allocation of 2 million dollars for the next five years till 2025. It also seeks to establish a Gandhi-King global academy, which would be a professional development training initiative on conflict resolution.


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged SAARC countries to take effective steps to defeat the scourge of terrorism and forces that support it. Such efforts will generate greater trust and confidence to build a stronger SAARC. In an oblique reference to Pakistan, Mr Modi said that India's efforts for greater collaboration among the SAARC countries have repeatedly been challenged with threats and acts of terrorism. Such an environment impedes our shared objective of realising the full potential of SAARC. SAARC has made progress, but more needs to be done.

    The last SAARC Summit in 2014 was held in Kathmandu, which was attended by Mr Modi. The 2016 SAARC summit was to be held in Islamabad. But after the Uri terror attack, India expressed its inability to participate in the summit due to prevailing circumstances. The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the Islamabad meet. SAARC Founding Day is commemorated every year on 8th of December to mark the signing of the group's charter.


  • The Incredible India Road Show will be held in Singapore 9 December, 2019, positioning the country as a preferred destination for tourists. India Tourism Office in Singapore said the roadshow by Indian delegation will provide a platform to the stakeholders of India's tourism industry to interact with their Singaporean counterparts.

    Indian delegation comprises 25 tour operators and destination management companies along with representations from the state governments of Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. A total of 1,75,852 tourists from Singapore visited India in 2017, a growth of 7.4 per cent on the year, said the India Tourism Singapore office.


  • India and Australia emphasized the need for enhanced collaboration to counter the threat of terrorism and violent extremism through increased information sharing. They also exchanged views on achieving their shared objective of peace, prosperity and progress in the Indo-Pacific region. The two sides discussed bilateral defence engagements, areas to enhance cooperation in the field of defence industry and defence technology. They also held a discussion on the prevailing regional security concerns. The issues came up for discussion during the third India-Australia Secretary-level 22 Dialogue in New Delhi.

    The Indian delegation was led by Defence Secretary, Dr. Ajay Kumar and Foreign Secretary, Vijay Gokhale. The Australian side was led by Defence Secretary, Greg Moriarty and Foreign Secretary, Frances Adamson. Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar conveyed his satisfaction on the ongoing defence engagements between the two Armed Forces. He also conveyed the commitment of the Ministry of Defence to further enhance the defence cooperation engagements, both in scope and complexity. Before the 22 dialogue, both the Defence Secretaries held a bilateral meeting.


  • India and Japan will hold their annual summit in India between 15-17 December 2019. The summit is usually held alternatively in India and in Japan. The announcement of the summit comes just days after the two countries held their first “2+2" meet i.e., between the Foreign and Defence ministers of India and Japan in New Delhi on 30 November 2019.


  • Maldives government signed a contract with a joint venture of Indian companies for preparation of project report and development of Addu, second biggest city in the island nation. The scope of the project includes land reclamation, construction of roads and storm water drainage system in Addu. This will upgrade the existing infrastructure and mitigate the flood situation in Addu.


  • PM Narendra Modi to hold bilateral talks with Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in New Delhi on 2 December, 2019. The two leaders are likely to discuss bilateral and multilateral issues of mutual interest. The Swedish King and Queen Silvia arrived in New Delhi this morning on a five-day visit to India. The King will also meet President Ram Nath Kovind. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will also call on the Swedish King. Several agreements on furthering bilateral engagement are likely to be signed between the two countries.

    The delegation will hold meetings with Indian industry leaders in Delhi and Mumbai. The ties between India and Sweden have been on an upward trajectory in the last few years. The bilateral trade volume was 3.37 billion US Dollars in 2018. India is Sweden's third largest trade partner in Asia, after China and Japan. Mutual economic interests in areas including manufacturing, cleantech, and healthcare, among others, are driving trade relations between both the countries. Apart from Delhi, the royal couple is scheduled to visit Mumbai and Uttarakhand. This is the King Gustaf's third visit to India.

    The talks between King Gustaf and President Kovind end to a positive note. Both leaders signed three agreements for cooperation in the fields of polar science, innovation & research and maritime. India and Sweden signed the Protocol of Cooperation. It was signed between the Swedish Energy Agency and Science and Technology of India. Another MoU was signed on Cooperation of Polar Science between the Ministry of Education and Research of Sweden and the Ministry of Earth Sciences of India. Third MoU was signed between two countries on Recognition of Seafarer Certificates pursuant to recognition I/10 of the International Convention on Standards of Training. The objective of this MoU is to promote the safety of the maritime environment.


  • India Pavilion inaugurated at International Book Fair in Mexico. Minister of State for Human Resource Development Sanjay Dhotre inaugurated the India Pavilion at International Book Fair in Guadaljara, Mexico. This fair is the biggest book fair in the Spanish-speaking world. India is the ‘Guest of Honour Country’ in this book fair and it becomes the first Asian country to participate as ‘Guest of Honour' in the Fair.

    Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Mr Dhotre highlighted the deep literary connection between India and Mexico and referred to the legendary Mexican poet Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz’s first visit to India in 1952. He also said that both the countries are in opposite directions on the world map, but both have great similarities in terms of their people, bio-diversity, family and cultural values. He invited all the publishers gathered from across the world to the World Book Fair being organized by National Book Trust in New Delhi, during January 2020.


  • Japan to invest Rs. 13,000 crore to North Eastern state project of India. Japan has decided to invest an amount of Rs.13,000 crore in several ongoing and new projects in the North-Eastern states of India. The announcement was made by the DoNER Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh after the discussion with the Japanese delegation which was led by Ambassador Mr. Kenji Hiramatsu.
    India-Japan collaborated Project:
    • Japan is to collaborate on some of the Indian Projects including Northeast Road Network Connectivity Improvement Project spread over Assam and Meghalaya, Sustainable Forest Management Project in Tripura, Guwahati Water Supply Project and Guwahati Sewage Project in Assam, Bio-diversity Conservation and Forest Management Project in Sikkim, Bamboo-related collaboration, Technical Cooperation Project for Sustainable Agriculture & Irrigation in Mizoram, Forest Management Project in Nagaland, etc.
    • Japan has contributed its effort to the development and transformation of the North-Eastern region in the past 3-4 years.


  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to visit Brussels in 2020 for the India-EU Summit 2020. He was invited to participate in the 2020 EU-Summit by the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
    India-EU partnership:
    • India-EU partnership is based on shared values such as multilateralism, democracy, respect for rule of law rules-based trade and international order.
    • The summit is aimed at expanding strategic partnership with Europe.
    • It aims to identify issues, including maritime security, renewable energy, climate change, connectivity, addressing radicalization and terrorism, as the European Commission president's priority areas.


  • Centre is has introduced Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a subject in class IX from the session 2019-20 in the schools affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Centre has also launched a twelve hours Inspire module in which schools can take up with the students of class VIII. The announcement was made by the Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank'.
    Aim:
    • The move aims to enhance the multidisciplinary approach in teaching-learning and to sensitize the new generation.
    AI for students:
    • The study material for teaching AI in classes VIII and IX has already been provided to schools through the CBSE's website http://cbseacademic.nic.in/ai.html .
    • To implement the idea, CBSE has collaborated with several organizations such as IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Private Schools, etc.
    • Centre conducted 41 training programmes in schools affiliated with CBSE in various parts of the country. Around 1690 participants including principals and teachers were trained.
    • Artificial Intelligence has been introduced in classes VIII, IX and X in schools affiliated with CBSE.
    • The decision to introduce Artificial Intelligence in the States and Union Territories will be taken by the respective Boards.


  • The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President of Maldives, Ibrahim Mohammed Saleh jointly inaugurated four important development projects in the Maldives through video conference. PM Modi called it a significant and a landmark year for the bilateral relations of India and Maldives.

    These four projects include – Three Fish Processing plants, Launch of RuPay card in the Maldives, Lighting up of Male with LED lights and Fast Interceptor Craft given to the Maldives. PM Modi said that it is the result of the Indian Government’s 'Neighbourhood First' policy and on the other hand Maldives government’s ‘India First’ policy. PM Modi has given Fast Interceptor Craft ‘Kaamyaab’ to the Maldives as a gift. He said that this fast interceptor craft Coast Guard ship would help to increase the maritime security of the Maldives and promote the blue economy and tourism in the region.The Prime Minister expressed contentment over partnering through 'comprehensive positive impact community development projects' to support the livelihood of the island's community.
    Neighbourhood First Policy :
    • India launched the Neighborhood First Policy to address the need for regional integration in South Asia in the era of globalization. ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ means giving priority to the Neighboring countries.
    • India is looking forward to giving political and diplomatic priority to its neighboring countries and island states of the Indian Ocean through this policy.
    • The purpose of this policy of India is to encourage such a model of regionalism under the leadership of India, which is favorable to the neighboring countries.
    • The focus has been on the development of border areas, better connectivity and cultural development of the region and to encourage mutual interaction of people under this policy.


  • A joint military exercise between India and China began at Umroi Cantonment, Meghalaya. It is an annual military exercise held under a United Nations mandate. It will be conducted between December 7 to December 20, 2019, with a theme against terrorism. About 130 soldiers of the Tibet Military Command (on behalf of China) and an equal number of Indian military personnel will participate. The exercise is planned at the company level, with the respective battalion headquarters.

    The major objective of the joint military exercise is to promote mutual cooperation in the fight against terrorism. The purpose of this exercise is to build and promote strong relations between the armies of India and China. Another objective is to develop joint operational capability, share useful experiences of counter-terrorism operations and foster friendly relations between India and China. The joint military exercise "Hand-in-Hand" was started in the year 2007 in Kunming (China), its second edition was held in Belgaum, Karnataka in India. But it was stopped for the next few years. Later, in 2013, the practice resumed after five years.




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