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February 2020 Bilateral News

  • US-Taliban Peace Deal 2020 : The US and Taliban signed a ‘historic’ peace deal recently after nearly 17 months of on-going negotiations. The peace deal was signed on February 29, 2020 at Doha and is aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan. 

    The deal was signed between the representatives of the US Government and the Taliban in Qatar’s Doha in the presence of representatives from various countries including India. India's Ambassador to Qatar P Kumaran was among a host of diplomats present at the ceremony where the deal was inked.

    The US-Taliban peace deal will also bring an end to the massive investment of money and lives, as the US has spent over $750 billion and tens of thousand human lives have been lost or permanently scarred and interrupted on all sides in the decades-long war. 

    The four key aspects of the deal are :

    1.) US Troops Withdrawal
    2.) Intra-Afghan Talks
    3.) Taliban to Shun Terrorism 
    4.) Prisoner Swap

  • India and Myanmar have agreed to further strengthen the bilateral relations. Both sides on February 27, 2020 signed 10 agreements in various fields including infrastructure, energy, communication and health. The agreements were exchanged following talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Myanmar President U Win Myint in New Delhi. Both leaders discussed a wide range of bilateral issues. 

    Reaffirming India’s ‘Act East’ and ‘Neighbourhood First’ policies and Myanmar’s non-aligned foreign policy both leaders committed to further strengthen the bilateral relations. 

    Both sides agreed to cooperate in countering terrorist groups and their actions. 

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed full support for Myanmar’s peace process between Government, Military and Ethnic Armed Groups.

    Co-operation in defence and security along with matter of enhanced bilateral trade and economic engagements was also discussed. 

    India reiterated its support for peace , stability and development in Rakhine state

    Coordinated Bus Service between Imphal and Mandalay is expected to begin from April this year. 

    The Indian side reiterated its commitment for construction of the Integrated Check Post in Tamu, Myanmar. 

  • A ten-member delegation of MPs, members of the Committee on the Constitution in Riksdag, the Parliament of Sweden, visited the Election Commission in New Delhi. The delegation met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra on February 26, 2020. 

    The delegation was led by Ms Karin Enstrom, MP and Chair of the Committee on the Constitution in Riksdag. In his remarks, Mr Arora said the Commission is committed to hold free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections. Ms Enstrom gave an overview of the Swedish electoral system in which simultaneous elections are held for municipal, county and national elections.

  • India and the United States on February 25, 2020 finalized defence deals worth 3 billion dollars and signed three agreements, including in health and oil sectors. 

    A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on mental health between the health departments of both the two countries. 

    Another MoU on the safety of medical products was signed between the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization with the US Food and Drug Administration. 

    A Letter of Cooperation was signed between Indian Oil Corporation Limited and Exxon Mobil India LNG Limited and Chart Industries Inc, US. 

    India has said that the Indo-US comprehensive strategic global partnership has been reinforced by the visit of US President Donald Trump.

  • India and Maldives on February 21, 2020 discussed issues of mutual interest in the area of security and law enforcement cooperation. Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with his Maldivian counterpart Sheikh Imran Abdulla who called on him in New Delhi. 

    Welcoming the strengthening of India-Maldives Partnership, both sides welcomed the expansion of bilateral cooperation in diverse fields including policing and law enforcement, counter-terrorism, counter-radicalization, organized crime, drug trafficking and capacity building. The meeting was also attended by Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and other senior officers from both sides.

  • Union Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has urged Indian and Japanese Industries to collaborate in the sectors like Housing, Railways, Roads and Infrastructure as there is a lot of scope for usage of steel in these sectors. Mr Pradhan said, India is providing huge markets in these sectors for foreign companies and Japanese companies should take benefits of it. The Minister said, India has a huge market and Japan has technology and capital and if both collaborate it will be a win-win situation for both.

  • India and Sri Lanka have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for up-gradation of infrastructure in plantation schools for estate workers of Indian origin. The project envisages up gradation of infrastructure of 9 plantation schools as identified by Sri Lanka under an Indian grant assistance of 30 crore rupees. The government of India has been implementing several projects in the field of education, deepening India-Sri Lanka cooperation in the education sector. 

    Construction and renovation of many school buildings in Northern Province is also being undertaken under Indian grant assistance. These projects are in continuation of Government of India’s people-oriented development cooperation with Government of Sri Lanka.

  • External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on February 18, 2020 met top leaders of the European Union and held wide-ranging talks on key issues such as combating terrorism, climate change and enhancing economic cooperation, which would benefit both India and the EU. 

    The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement said that the Minister shared India's foreign policy priorities and regional and global perspective with the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) of the EU. The statement added that both the sides expect to deepen their engagement - particularly on common priorities such as addressing climate change, safeguarding multilateralism, cooperation in defence, security, connectivity, digital economy, trade and investment as also in the field of defence security and addressing the menace of terrorism. 

    This is Dr Jaishankar's first visit to the EU after the assumption of office of the new Commission in last December. The Foreign Minister met EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen and the two leaders discussed experiences in capacity building and development partnerships.

  • The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) of Bangladesh has approved the proposal to enhance the capacity of the Mongla port. India has extended a line of credit for the expansion of the Mongla Port capacity. Out of the total estimated project cost of Tk 6014 crore, India will provide Tk 4459 crore equivalent to $ 530 million as Line of Credit for the project. With the enhancement of the capacity of the Mongla port it would be able to handle 15 million tons of cargo and 4 lakh shipping containers of a standard 20 feet size called TEUs. 

    The project consists building of two container terminals and related infrastructure facilities at the port. On completion the project will significantly boost connectivity in the BBIN (Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal) region. It will also boost trade with India, Bhutan and Nepal. 

    India and Bangladesh had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports in 2015. The MoU envisages transit of goods from Mongla port to north eastern states of India through waterways, roads and railways. Mongla is the second largest sea port in Bangladesh.The project is expected to be completed by June 2024.

  • Bangladesh and Nepal have agreed to sign a Free Trade Agreement to enhance trade between the two countries. Bangladesh has also agreed to allow Nepal to use it Saidpur airport located in its northernmost district of Nilphamari close to Nepal. Bangladesh exports commodities worth $38 million to Nepal and imports goods worth around 18 million dollars.

  • Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari reached Stockholm, Sweden on February 17, 2020 to represent India at the 3rd High Level Global Conference on Road Safety for Achieving Global Goals 2030. The objective of the two-day conference is to bring road safety on the global agenda and renew the world community’s commitment to safer roads. Leaders from participating countries will draw up a road-map for reaching the United Nation’s goal set under the UN Decade of Action of reducing road crashes by 2030. 

    The conference, a follow up of the 2nd High Level Global Conference on Traffic Safety-Time of Results in 2015 in Brazil, is being organised in active collaboration with World Bank, World Health Organisation and other agencies who are assisting it by way of strengthening the capabilities of various institutions, enhancing awareness and improving engineering designs for safer roads.

  • India marks the beginning of super year of Biodiversity 2020 with the hosting of the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), an environmental treaty under the aegis of United Nations Environment Programme, from 17th to 22nd February 2020 at Gandhinagar in Gujarat. 

    Union Minister for Environment Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said, India has initiated Ocean dialogue with Norway to address the problem of Marine Plastic litter. 

    1.) Both countries decided to strengthen the bilateral cooperation in the field of environment and climate change particularly in the field of marine pollution

    2.) Both countries discussed ways to ensure that the coming decade will be of rapid global action on the Environment. India and Norway have formed joint working groups on Blue economy with sustainable development. 

    3.) Both the ministers issued a joint statement after the meeting which envisages joint efforts in dealing with challenges of climate change, sharing of technology and research and development in the field of environment. 

  • The Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the French Province of Center-Val de Loire have decided to make the Tamil and French fusion music to be performed in both the states. A decision to this effect has arrived at a meeting between the Tamil Nadu Minister for Culture Pandiarajan and his counterpart from the French province Olivier Frezot in Chennai on February 12, 2020. Both the states have already signed an MoU to cooperate in culture studies. They reviewed the progress made after the MoU.

  • A new educational institution building constructed with Government of India financial assistance for students from the economically weaker sections was inaugurated in a remote area of Gulmi district in Nepal on February 12, 2020. The new three-storey building with Indian assistance of 2.5 crore rupees is part of the Chandrakot Campus under the Tribhuvan University. The Chandrakot Campus was established in 2008 with an aim of imparting higher education to students who are unable to pursue their higher studies due to poor economic conditions. Over 90 per cent of the students studying in the Campus are girls. 

    India has been providing assistance in the development of several educational institutions in Nepal. Recently, a new school built with Indian grant of 2.4 crore rupees was inaugurated in Nuwakot district of Nepal as part of the Government of India’s post-earthquake rehabilitation programme.

  • India and Portugal signed 14 agreements to boost cooperation in a range of areas including defence, investment, transport, ports, culture and industrial and intellectual property rights and yoga. The economic ties between India and Portugal are on the rise and bilateral trade has crossed a billion dollars. He said, two-way investments between the two countries are also rising. He said, India looks forward to Portugal joining the International Solar Alliance in the near future. 

    1.) MoU for Cooperation for setting up a National Maritime Museum Heritage Complex in Lothal (Gujarat) between Portuguese Ministry of Defence and Indian Ministry of Shipping. 

    2.) MOU between Economic and Food Safety Authority (ASAE) and DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce for co-operation in the field of industrial and intellectual property rights. 

    3.) MoU on Audio-Visual Co-production between India and Portugal 

    4.) MoU between Portuguese Diplomatic Institute and Foreign Service Institute for training 

    5.) Co-operation Agreement on Maritime Transport and Port Development between India and Portugal 

    6.) Joint Declaration on India and Portugal Mobility Partnership 

    7.) MOU between Invest India and Start-Up Portugal 

    8.) MOU between Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) and Institute of Social and Political Sciences of the University of Lisbon for co-operation in strategic and security areas 

    9.) MoU between We-Hub Telangana and PARKURBIS Covilha for Exchange of Women Start-up Entrepreneurs 

    10.) MOU between The National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (CSIR-NIIST), Thiruvananthapuram and Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), Portugal, for collaboration in higher sciences 

    11.) MOU between TERI-DEAKIN Centre, Gurugram and International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) Braga for co-operation in Nano-biotechnology 

    12.) MOU between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and CEiiA in aeronautics. 

    13.) MOU between VEDA Defence and UA Vision for production of drones 

    14.) MOU between VYASA, Bangalore and Portuguese Yoga Confederation for collaboration in a Scientific Validation project on the benefits of Yoga for Portuguese schoolchildren 

  • Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has said that his country's priority is to have joint expertise in various areas of the economy. Addressing the India-Portugal Business Forum in Mumbai, de Mr Sousa said that India is an economic and social global power and the largest democracy in the world. Mr de Sousa said that both Portugal and India are not just the European or Asian countries or cultures but they are universal. The President said the two countries work with the world, for the world be it for the peace, freedom, sustainable development or climate change. 

    The forum, organised by industry bodies, CII, ASSOCHAM and FICCI, was also attended by Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva, Secretary of State of Internationalisation of Portuguese Republic Eurico Brilhante Dias, and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, besides industry leaders from the two countries. Addressing the forum, Mr. Goyal said that both India and Portugal are focused on economic growth, investment, industry and innovation and also discussed on various sectors such as real estate and infrastructure development.

  • Srilankan Prime Minister Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived in New Delhi on February 7, 2020 on a five-day visit to India. 

    Highlights of the Bilateral meetings:

    1.) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 8, 2020 expressed hope that the Sri Lankan government will fulfill expectations of Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and respect in the island nation. 

    2.) After holding talks, Mr. Modi said stability, security and prosperity in Sri Lanka is not only in India's interest but also in the interest of the entire Indian Ocean Region. He said both countries have decided to deepen cooperation to combat terrorism. 

    3.) The two prime ministers deliberated on the entire expanse of bilateral ties and resolved to further deepen anti-terror cooperation and boost trade and investment ties.  

    4.) Prime Minister Modi said, India has been a trusted partner in Sri Lanka's development and will continue to assist the country in its journey for peace and development. He added that new lines of credit announced last year will strengthen development cooperation between the two neighbours.

  • A meeting of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal on the BBIN MVA (Motor Vehicle Act) was held in New Delhi on February 8, 2020. The Indian delegation was led by Vikram Doraiswami, Additional Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs. 

    1.) The meeting was held to discuss the passenger and cargo Protocols that are to give effect to the Motor Vehicles Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger, Personal and Cargo Vehicular Traffic between the four countries signed in 2015. 

    2.) The delegations recalled commitments made for implementation of the BBIN MVA and the importance of trade, economic cooperation and people-to-people contact. 

    3.) Delegations expressed satisfaction over progress made by each country in internal consultations with their stake-holders for the Protocol for movement of Passengers. 

  • In line with India's Neighbourhood First policy, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla met Ambassadors of Nepal, Bangladesh, China and Maldives in New Delhi on February 7, 2020. 

    Highlights of Bilateral Meetings:

    1.) During the meeting with Ambassador of Nepal to India Nilamber Acharya, they expressed satisfaction at the positive trajectory in the Indo-Nepal relations and looked forward to work together to further strengthen the close relationship. 

    2.) The Foreign Secretary in his meeting with Ambassador of Bangladesh to India Muhammad Imran recalled his days as High Commissioner in Dhaka and conveyed that India looks forward to jointly celebrate the Mujib Barsho and 50 years of Bangladesh's liberation. 

    3.) During interaction with Ambassador of China to India Sun Weidong, both discussed issues related to the bilateral relations including events related to the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations. The Foreign Secretary conveyed appreciation to the Chinese Government for facilitating evacuation of Indians from Wuhan. 

    4.) During meeting with High Commissioner of Maldives to India Aishah Didi, Foreign Secretary congratulated her on being appointed as Minister of Gender, Family and Social Services, Mr Shringla thanked her for outstanding work in transforming the India-Maldives relationship under the leadership of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

  • A bilateral meeting between the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of Bangladesh and District Magistrates (DMs) of Tripura(India) was held in Agartala on February 5, 2020. Several important cross border issues like border fencing, human trafficking, drugs smuggling, Agartala- Akhuara rail link project and others between the two nations were discussed in the day-long meeting.

  • Rwanda and Uganda have agreed a deal to swap prisoners to help ease tensions following mutual accusations of spying and political meddling. Rwanda's President Paul Kagame and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni were once close allies but their relations have turned deeply hostile. In the deal signed by Kagame and Museveni in the Angolan capital Luanda, the two sides agreed to the release of the national citizens of each country.

  • India and Maldives on 2nd February 2020 signed five MoUs for establishing the Addu Tourism zone in five islands of Addu atoll at a cost of 2.49 million dollars. The MOUs were signed between the High Commissioner of India Sunjay Sudhir, Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid and Addu City Council. 

    A 6th MoU to set up a bottled water plant in Hoarafushi was also signed. All six projects are grant projects falling under India’s High Impact Community Development Scheme (HICDP). These projects are driven by the needs of communities on the islands.

Last updated on : 29/02/2020



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