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January 2020 - Bilateral News



  • Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Jan 28, 2020 held an extensive meeting with a French delegation led by the Culture Minister of France Franck Riester. Mr Javadekar said, India and France discussed on ways and means on co-production of films and also collaborate in audio visual exchanges. Both the Ministers agreed to have a joint working group towards implementation of the objectives.


  • Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in New Delhi on Jan 28, 2020. The Ministers reviewed the bilateral relations between the two countries and discussed ways to further strengthen ties in the areas of trade and economic cooperation, space, political and strategic relations among others. The Ministers agreed to the further intensification of high level political contacts. Mr Asselborn arrived in Delhi on a three day official visit to India. He is one of the longest serving Foreign Ministers in Europe, has close associations with the Indian leadership and has visited India four times. During the current visit, he visited Rajghat to pay respects to Mahatma Gandhi. As part of the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Luxembourg had issued a special postage stamp.


  • France will be the guest of honour at the New Delhi World Book Fair in January 2022, announced France Ambassador to India, Emmanuel Lenain as part of a reciprocal invitation as New Delhi is the guest of honour this year at Livre Paris (Paris Book Fair). Leading and emerging Indian authors will be invited to Paris to meet readers, while publishing industry professionals will enhance cooperation between France and India in this area during networking events.


  • Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed to take action against terrorism, human trafficking and illegal drugs taking place on the borders between the two countries. Both the countries agreed to share real-time information on terrorist and secessionist activities, illicit drug trade, human trafficking and illegal border crossing. 

    Bangladesh and Myanmar also agreed to cooperate with each other in fighting transnational crimes and to notify if shooting takes place in the border areas. In case of people unknowingly crossing the border into each other’s territory, both the countries agreed to return the citizens as per existing rules and regulations.


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephonic conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both leaders expressed their principled intent to further develop the India-Russia privileged strategic relationship. They also discussed some international matters including the developments in the Persian Gulf region and in Libya. Mr Modi and Mr Putin also confirmed new face to face meetings, including during the Moscow events to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War and during the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization summits in St. Petersburg.


  • Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Myanmar capital Naypyitaw on 17 January, 2020 on a two day visit. It is President Xi's first visit to Myanmar also the first visit by a Chinese president to Myanmar in 19 years. During the visit of President Xi Jinping China speedy implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is on top of the agenda as Myanmar occupies an important strategic location for China at the junction of South and South East Asia. Myanmar formally joined the BRI in September 2018 after signing a 15-point memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China. The 1700 km long China Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), as part of the BRI, will connect Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan Province, to Myanmar’s Mandalay and Yangon which are its major economic hubs, and to the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Under the CMEC, Myanmar has agreed to implement nine projects including the Kyaukphyu SEZ which will provide a direct access to China to the Indian Ocean. 

    During the visit, the two countries are expected to sign a dozen agreements including the Kyaukphyu SEZ, $1.3 billion deep-sea port at Kyaukphyu in central Rakhine state, border cooperation zones, trade, road upgrade projects among others. Xi is scheduled to meet.


  • The first Session of India-Norway Dialogue on Trade & Investment (DTI) was convened in New Delhi on 15-16 January, 2020. The session was based on the Terms of Reference (ToR) signed between India and Norway on 8th January, 2019 in New Delhi, during the visit of Prime Minister of Norway. This was the first meeting after the signing of DTI. The first Session was preceded by an industry interaction on 15th January, 2020 with the representatives from Indian industry, where discussions were held on various areas of mutual interest like blue economy, shipping & maritime, ICT, renewable energy, fisheries and MSME.


  • In continuation of the cultural exchange programme between India and Iran, Sahitya Akademi in collaboration with Embassy of Iran organized an Indo-Iranian Writers' Meet in New Delhi. The objective of the meet is to further deepen cultural ties between the two nations and heighten literary awareness among the readers at both sides. The meet was also aimed at providing a platform for meaningful-dialogue between writers of both countries. Culture Counsellor of Iran Mohammad Ali Rabbani, Secretary Sahitya Akademi K Sreenivasarao and eminent writer and scholar Nasera Sharma were present in the meet. The events also witnessed a panel discussion on Indo-Iranian Cultural Bonds. 


  • External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and Foreign Minister of Iran Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi. Both the leaders recalled positive outcomes of Mr Jaishshankar's recent visit to Tehran for the 19th Joint Commission Meeting especially for strengthening bilateral trade and promoting connectivity initiative through Chabahar port. Both sides have also agreed to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the bilateral Treaty of Friendship this year. The two sides also exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest, including the recent developments in the West Asia region and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Dr Jaishankar reiterated Indian interests in the region and support for efforts to maintain peace, security and stability in the region.


  • Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on January 9, 2020 met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in New Delhi. Mr Gunawardena is on a three-day visit to India. Cooperation in economic projects, investment by Indian companies, issue of fishermen and stability in the Indian Ocean region are among the main issues expected to be discussed between the two countries during the visit.


  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had a telephonic conversation with the Japanese Minister of Defence Taro Kono. The two Defence Ministers had discussions on enhancing the bilateral security cooperation under the framework of the India-Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership. The Ministry of Defence said, both leaders also exchanged views on regional security situation.


  • A high level military delegation led by Lt. General Ranbir Singh, Commander of Indian Army’s Northern Command visited Xinjiang, the politically important north-west province of China bordering Pakistan occupied Kashmir on January 10. 2020. The visit is part of agreed Defence engagements between both sides agreed during Annual Defence dialogues. The visit is aimed at enhancing confidence building measures between armies of both sides, mainly Northern Command in India and Western Theatre Command in China to understand each other’s sensitivities on the ground and avoid misunderstandings along border.


  • Indian Consulate in Dubai will issue passports under the tatkal scheme on the same day with certain conditions. The announcement was made by Consul General Vipul on the occasion of the Pravasi Bhatiya Divas celebrations on January 9, 2020. The Consul General was addressing the Indian expats who had gathered in large number on the occasion. However, he said that the application for the passport had to be made before noon and additional fees will be charged for the service. The passport will be given to the applicant by the evening. Passports under the Tatkal scheme in any case were being given within 24 hours. The announcement came as a boon especially for people who have to travel under emergency condition. The Consulate in Dubai receives about 850 applications for passport applications. In 2019, the consulate issued more than 200,000 passports, over 2500 emergency certificates (one-way travel document), over 2,800 police clearance certificates and provided 72,000 attestation services including registration of births and deaths.


  • India signed an Memorandum of Understanding with Bangladesh for content exchange programme between All India Radio and Bangladesh Betar. An MoU between National Film Development Corporation, India and Film Development Corporation, Bangladesh, was also signed. The MoUs were signed in the presence of Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar and Bangladesh Information Minister Muhammad H Mahmud in New Delhi. 

    During the meeting, two Ministers also discussed about the jointly produced film on the life and works of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. India and Bangladesh is co-producing the biopic expected to be released by March this year. Mr.Javadekar said, India and Bangladesh are organic friends and share great legacy. He said the MoU between All India Radio and Bangladesh Betar will give more dimension to content exchange between the two countries.


  • India-China bilateral trade has continued to make steady growth in 2019. As per Chinese official data released, China-India bilateral trade stood at 639.52 billion yuans in 2019 which is 1.6 per cent increase year on year. However, in US dollar terms, it has dipped by 3 billion US dollars as compared to 2018 as overall global trade was moderated in 2019. Bilateral trade is projected to be about 92.68 billion dollars in 2019 while it was 95.7 billion US dollars in 2018, a record high till now. India’s Trade deficit with China also declined to about 56.77 billion US dollars in 2019 as compared to about 58 billion US dollars in 2018. Trade deficit has become a major concern in India-China bilateral relations. It is India’s biggest single trade deficit running with any country. India’s trade deficit is two-pronged, the sheer size of the deficit and its continuous widening year after year to reach 58.04 billion US dollars in 2018. 


  • The US has signed the first phase of a trade deal with China, concluding more than a year of tough negotiations including several months of suspension of talks between the two largest economies of the world. In his remarks, President Donald Trump called the trade agreement signing a momentous step to a future of fair and reciprocal trade. The first phase of the trade deal includes Intellectual Property (IP) Protection and Enforcement, rebalancing the US-China trade relationship and effective dispute resolution. The deal was signed by President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Washington. 


  • India will host the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Heads of Government meeting later this year. The meeting is held annually at the Prime Minister's level and it discusses the SCO's programme and multilateral economic and trade co-operation. External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Raveesh Kumar said, all eight members and four observer states and other international dialogue partners will be invited for the meeting. SCO member states are Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazhakstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Observer states are Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia and Belarus.


  • Japan Ambassador calls on Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh, discusses about Japanese investment in North-East. A delegation led by Japan Ambassador, Satoshi Suzuki called on Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh in New Delhi on January 22, 2020. During the meeting, various issues related to mutual collaboration and cooperation between the two countries were discussed.
    1.) There is huge Japanese investment in infrastructure projects in the North Eastern region of the country. The upgradation of Aizwal- Tuipang Section of NH 54 with a length of 372 km is being done with Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA assistance at a cost of over Rs.6100 crore. This road would provide seamless connectivity to Sittwe port in Mayanmar as part of Government’s Act East Policy.
    2.) In the area of forest management, there is Japanese collaboration with the states of Tripura, Sikkim and Nagaland and soon there will be collaboration with the state of Meghalaya in this field.
    3.) Among other issues, mutual collaboration in the areas of bamboo, disaster management, road infrastructure and Guwahati Sewerage project, was also discussed.


  • India and Tunisia focus on expanding bilateral economic ties, to work closely in multilateral forums. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met his Tunisian counterpart Sabri Bachtobji on January 22, 2020, during which the two leaders focused on expanding the bilateral economic cooperation and agreed to work closely in multilateral forums. Dr Jaishankar arrived in Tunis on the concluding leg of his three-day two-nation trip to Niger and Tunisia. 

    The tour is his first outreach to the African continent after becoming the Foreign Minister last year. Later, Dr Jaishankar met Tunisian Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi and discussed on expanding exchanges, especially between Parliamentary institutions and civil society, between the two countries. Dr Jaishankar also met President Kais Saied and the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a fair, just and a rule-based global order.


  • India and Bangladesh signed an agreement on January 24, 2020 to upgrade the 50.58-kilometre long road between Ashuganj river port and the Akhaura land port in Bangladesh into a 4-lane highway. The deal to upgrade the 39 km long road between Ashuganj river port to Dharhar area was signed between the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) of Bangladesh and an Indian Company Afcons Infrastructure Limited. The RHD and an India-Bangladesh joint venture firm will take up the work of upgrading the remaining part of the road from Dharhar to Akhaura. 

    The project is part of the dollar 2 billion second line of credit extended by India to Bangladesh in 2016. The project will boost connectivity between Bangladesh and North-eastern part of India which will facilitate sub-regional connectivity among South and South-east Asian countries.


  • A Ceremonial Border Personnel Meeting (BPM) between India and China was conducted on the occasion of Chinese Spring Festival on January 24, 2020 at Chinese BPM Huts at Daulat Beg Oldie -Tien Wien Dien (DBO-TWD) Meeting points, the northern-most meeting point between armies of both countries on the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. The Indian delegation was led by Lt. Col. Amit Kumar Sharma and Chinese Delegation was led by Lt. Col. Lee Ming Ju. Both the delegations interacted in a free, congenial and cordial environment. The meeting reflected the mutual desire to maintain and improve relations at the functional level in the border areas. A cultural programme showcasing Chinese culture and traditions was organized by the Chinese side. The delegations parted amidst a feeling of friendship and commitment towards enhancing the existing cordial relations and trust along the borders.


  • India and Brazil inked 15 agreements to boost cooperation in a wide range of areas like trade and investment, oil and gas, cyber security and information technology on January 25, 2020. The agreements were exchanged after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro. 

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi said an action plan has been finalised to further expand ties between the two strategic partners. He said Mr Bolsonaro's visit to India has opened a new chapter in bilateral ties between the two countries. Calling Brazil a valuable partner in India's economic growth, the Prime Minister also said both the countries are together on various global issues despite geographical distance. The Brazilian President in his statement said the two countries have further consolidated already strong ties by signing 15 agreements providing for cooperation in a range of areas.


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu had a telephonic conversation on January 25, 2020. During the conversation both leaders discussed global and regional matters of mutual interest and agreed to remain in touch for forthcoming initiatives and developments. Mr Netanyahu telephoned Mr Modi to greet him and the people of India for Republic Day. 

    The two leaders underscored the significance of the strategic partnership between the two countries and expressed happiness over the growth of cooperation between India and Israel in all spheres. They also welcomed efforts to facilitate air connectivity between the two countries. Mr Modi stressed on the significance of initiatives in the areas of agriculture, water and start-ups. Mr Modi and Mr Netanyahu also exchanged greetings and good wishes for the year 2020.


  • Israel officially gave its citizens the right to travel to Saudi Arabia for religious and business visits, in the latest sign of warming ties between the two countries on 26th January. The interior ministry's announcement will have limited practical impact, as Israelis had previously been travelling to Saudi Arabia via third countries, especially Jordan. But Israel had never granted official approval for such travel by its citizens. 

    Interior Minister Aryeh Deri signed for the first time an order enabling an exit permit for Israelis to Saudi Arabia. In a statement, the ministry said, the move, coordinated with the security and diplomatic services, approves travel to the Gulf state for religious purposes during the hajj and the Umrah. It said, Israel would also allow its citizens to travel to Saudi Arabia to participate in business meetings or seek investments for trips not exceeding 90 days.



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