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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS - October 2019

Oct 2019

Oct 31, 2019

Syrian Govt & Opposition Delegates Meet To Draft New Constitution

  •  Syrian government and Opposition delegates have begun meeting in Geneva to draft a new constitution as a prelude to U.N.-supervised elections for their war-torn country.
  • A total of 150 delegates representing the government, opposition and civil society met at the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland. After nearly nine years of war, U.N. mediator Geir Pedersen calls the meeting of Syria's arch-enemies a historic moment.
  • Pedersen said reforming the Constitution is the first step towards the beginning for a political process that will lead to UN-supervised elections under UN resolution 2254.
  • Syrian government co-chair of the committee Ahmad Kuzbari said his delegation is prepared to consider possible amendments to Syria's existing constitution.
  • Opposition co-chair Hadi Albahra said Syrians seek a nation that respects all people, without discrimination. 

Three Indian-Origin CEOs in Harvard Business Review's top 10 Best-Performing CEOs

  • Three Indian-origin CEOs, Shantanu Narayen, Ajay Banga and Satya Nadella are among the world's top 10 best-performing chief executives, featured in a list compiled by the Harvard Business Review (HBR).
  • 'The Best-Performing CEOs in the World, 2019' list by the HBR features 100 CEOs and has been topped by American technology company NVIDIA's CEO Jensen Huang.
  • Among the top 10 chief executives on the list, three spots have been occupied by the Indian-origin CEOs.
  • On the 6th spot is Adobe CEO Narayen, followed by MasterCard CEO Banga, ranked 7th and Microsoft chief  Nadella on the 9th spot. The list also features India-born CEO of DBS Bank Piyush Gupta on the 89th spot. Apple CEO Tim Cook is ranked 62nd.
  • The list also includes Nike CEO Mark Parker ranked 20, JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon (23), Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson (37), Disney CEO Robert Iger (55) and SoftBank head Masayoshi Son (96).

US House Likely To Vote On Prez Trump Impeachment Inquiry

  •  The full US House of Representatives is likely to vote on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, addressing the White House argument that the probe has been illegitimate. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a vote, saying in a letter to fellow representatives that she wants to eliminate any doubt about the process.
  • Trump and his Republican supporters have called the impeachment probe illegitimate because it is being held behind closed doors and the full House never voted for it.

Fire Engulfs 500-Year-Old World Heritage Site In Japan

  •  A fire has destroyed the main structures of Shuri Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site on Japan's southern island of Okinawa.
  • Firefighters have been battling the flames. No injuries have been reported so far.
  • The wooden castle, built 500 years ago in the Ryukyu Dynasty, was designated Japan's national treasure in 1933.
  • It was almost completely destroyed in a battle during World War Two. The current structure is a reconstruction.
  • The main building, as well as the north and south structures of the castle have burned to the ground.

Chile Pulls Out Of Hosting APEC and COP 25 Due To Protests

  • Chile has pulled out of hosting two major international summits, including a UN climate change conference, as anti-government protests continue.
  • President Sebastian Pinera said the decision had caused him pain but his government needed to prioritise re-establishing public order.
  • The decision to call off the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) planned for November and U.N. global climate gatherings (COP25) in December 2019 is said have dealt a blow to Chile's image as a regional oasis of stability and economic development.

Oct 30, 2019

US House Advances Bill Imposing Sanctions On Turkey Over Syria

  • The United States House of Representatives approved legislation aimed at imposing sanctions on Turkish military and government officials over Ankara's military operation against Kurdish forces in northeast Syria.
  • The 403-16 vote is the latest rebuke of Trump's decision to withdraw US forces from northeast Syria and leave Kurdish allies without military support as Turkey launched an operation in the area.

'Bangladesh-India Friendship Dialogue' At Cox's Bazar

  •  The ninth edition of Bangladesh-India Friendship Dialogue will be held at Cox Bazar in Bangladesh from November 1, 2019.
  • The two-day dialogue will cover a wide range of issues like trade and investment, connectivity, technology, energy, regional security, extremism and sustainable development among others.
  • The dialogue aims to draw from learning and experiences in these sectors between India and Bangladesh.
  • The event is being organized jointly by the India Foundation and Bangladesh Foundation for Regional Studies. The last session of the Bangladesh-India Friendship Dialogue was held at Guwahati in July, 2017.

Sri Lankan Cabinet Approves MCC Grant Of 480 Million From US

  •  Sri Lankan Cabinet has approved the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant of 480 million US dollars from the US Government.
  • Earlier, President Maithripala Sirisena had said that he will not approve the deal after the main opposition had raised concerns over the agreement. 
  • MCC consists of grant funds for traffic management in Colombo, road construction island-wide and land administration improvements covering the whole country.

Lebanon's Hariri Resigns After Nearly Two Weeks Of Nationwide Protests

  •  Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced he was resigning, succumbing to the demands of protesters who have staged nationwide demonstrations for nearly two weeks.
  • The three-time prime minister has led a national unity government, which included some of his political adversaries, for less than two years.
  • In recent months, the country saw rapid economic deterioration, ballooning debt and rising prices.
  • Lebanon has been under lockdown since the protests began. Banks and schools have been closed for 12 days, while protesters blocked major routes throughout the tiny eastern Mediterranean nation.

India, Saudi Arabia To Establish Strategic Partnership Council To Coordinate On Important Issues

  •  India and Saudi Arabia have agreed to establish a Strategic Partnership Council, resolved to strengthen cooperation in combating terrorist operations and signed 12 MoUs in various areas of mutual interests, taking the bilateral relationship to the next level.
  • The Strategic Partnership Council Agreement was signed by Prime Minister Modi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in Riyad.
  • The Council will be an all encompassing bilateral mechanism which will cover an entire spectrum of relationship between the two countries.

Oct 29, 2019

PM Modi to Hold Bilateral Talks with Saudi King & Top Leaders in Riyadh

  •  India and Saudi Arabia  signed several key pacts including in the field of oil and gas, renewable energy, defence and civil aviation.
  • The agreements were signed after delegation level talks in Saudi capital Riyadh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who reached Riyadh had a bilateral meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and held delegation-level talks with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
  • There were calls on the Prime Minister by Saudi Energy, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and Labour Ministers. 
  • Meanwhile The Prime Minister Narendra met King Abdullah II of Jordan in Riyadh. Both the leaders exchanged views on working closely together to strengthen the ties across sectors especially trade & investment, human resource development and people-to-people ties.

Alberto Fernandez wins Argentine Presidential Election

  •  Peronist candidate Alberto Fernandez won Argentina's presidential election in the first round, bringing to an end the crisis-plagued rule of market-friendly incumbent Mauricio Macri.
  • Fernandez, a 60-year-old law professor, had 47.36 per cent of the votes - crossing the threshold for outright victory - after 75 per cent of the votes had been counted, with centre-right incumbent Mauricio Macri trailing at 41.22 per cent.
  • To win outright, Fernandez required 45 per cent, or 40 per cent with a 10 point margin over his nearest rival.

Rajnath Singh to Represent PM at SCO Meet in Uzbekistan

  •  India and Uzbekistan will carry out a joint military exercise in November 2019. 'Dustlik-2019', the first-ever exercise between the armies of the two nations, will be held from November 4 to 13, 2019 at Chirchiq training area in Uzbekistan.
  • It will focus on counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist operations in mountainous, rural and urban areas.
  • A 45-member Indian Army contingent will participate in the exercise. The troops have been put through a strenuous training schedule, including firing, heliborne operations, combat conditioning, tactical operations and house intervention drills.
  • They will reach the exercise venue on November 3, 2019 for 'operational orientation.

EU Agrees to January 31 Brexit Deadline

  •  The UK will not leave the European Union on October 31, 2019 after the economic bloc agreed to offer Britain a three-month extension to the Brexit deadline, until January 31, 2020.
  • European Council President Donald Tusk confirmed the decision of the 27 other members of the European Union (EU) on Twitter, saying a written confirmation process would follow in the coming days.

Action needed against those who Sponsor Terror: PM Modi to EU MPs

  •  Prime Minister Narendra Modi  told a delegation of European Union MPs that close international cooperation is essential to fight terror and urgent action is needed against those supporting and sponsoring terrorism.
  • The 28 members of parliament of the EU had called on the prime minister a day before they visit Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The prime minister, who asserted that there should be "zero tolerance" for terrorism, said the visit to Jammu and Kashmir should give the MPs a better understanding of the cultural and religious diversity of the regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

British Parliament again Rejects PM Johnson′s Latest Bid for Election

  •  In Britain, Parliament again has rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson's latest bid for a general election on December 12, 2019. The motion failed, with 299 votes in favor and just 70 against. However, it fell shy of the 434 votes which is two-thirds of all MPs, required to pass.
  • The Prime Minister said, this House can no longer keep this country hostage and Parliament had become dysfunctional.
  • Boris Johnson has attacked Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for refusing to back a general election.
  • Meanwhile, the opposition Labour Party abstained in the vote, making it impossible to secure the necessary two-thirds majority.
  • BBC reports that Boris Johnson is to try again for a pre-Christmas election after MPs rejected his plans for the third time.

Jaishankar Meets Nicaragua's FM, Holds Discussions on Strengthening Ties

  •  External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar welcomed Nicaragua's decision to reopen its embassy in India and discussed with his Nicaraguan counterpart measures to further strengthen bilateral cooperation.
  • Denis Moncada Colindres, the foreign minister of the Central American nation, is on a visit to India from October 27 to October 29, 2019.
  • He met Jaishankar and held discussions with him on strengthening cooperation.

Oct 28, 2019

President Filipe Nyusi Re-Elected in Landslide Victory

  •  Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi has been re-elected after a landslide victory, official results announced.
  • The elections took place earlier in October 2019 and the  announcement revealed Nyusi won with 73% of the vote.
  • Renamo has disputed the legitimacy of the results, claiming fraud and intimidation tactics were deployed by Nyusi's ruling party.
  • Frelimo won 184 seats, with Renamo securing 60 seats and the MDM party getting the remaining six in the National Assembly. Voter turnout was at 51%, according to the electoral commission.

Belgium's First Woman Appointed Prime Minister

  •  Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel announced that liberal politician Sophie Wilms was chosen as the country's new prime minister, becoming the country's first woman to hold the post
  • Wilms, 44, is yet to be sworn in by King Philip of Belgium, who is expected to officially announce her candidacy for the post.  Sophie Wilms will replace outgoing Prime Minister Charles Michel in November 2019,   after being named president of the Council of Europe.
  • Sophie Wilms is currently the budget minister in the interim government, headed by Charles Miche.

China, Russia, Pakistan call for early resumption of US-Taliban peace talks

  •  Representatives of Pakistan, China, and Russia called on the US and the Taliban to return to the negotiation table at the earliest and reach an agreement with an aim to end the 18-year long war in Afghanistan.
  • The discussion in this regard was held during the four-party consultations between representatives of US, China, Pakistan and Russia on the Afghan peace process, reported Radio Pakistan.
  • According to a joint statement released at the end of the meeting held in Moscow, the participants committed to working with Afghanistan and the Taliban to reach a comprehensive and sustainable peace agreement between the two so as to end strife in the country.

India, France Explore 3rd Country Projects in Western Indian Ocean Region

  •  India and France have taken concrete steps to firm up their strategic partnership in the western Indian Ocean, as part of their respective Indo-Pacific strategies, within two months of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trip to Paris.
  • Leaders of India, France and Vanilla Islands – consisting of Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles in the western Indian Ocean – are currently meeting for the first time in Reunion Islands (French territory) for exploring economic and development partnership.
  • India is being represented by the minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan at the meet.

Trump: ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is Dead

  •  The killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a US raid in northwestern Syria is a blow against the terrorist organization.
  • While ISIS may have a succession plan in place, it is likely only known to a very small number of the organization's senior leadership.
  • The group has not publicly signalled as to who will take over. This means that whoever succeeds Baghdadi may have very little name recognition amongst jihadis worldwide. This may challenge ISIS' ability to inspire global terror.
  • In announcing the death of Baghdadi, President Donald Trump declared he was the "world's number one terrorist leader." But for ISIS and its tens of thousands of followers globally, he was much more than that.
  • Ever since Baghdadi was publicly presented as "caliph" by the group in the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul in July 2014, his followers have held him to be the supreme political and spiritual leader of all Muslims worldwide.

Oct 27, 2019

Dharmendra Pradhan Addresses GFSEC Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo

  •  Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel, DharmendraPradhan addressed the Ministerial Meeting of Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity in Tokyo.
  • Pursuing more than a billion dreams, India is committed to spend about USD 1.4 trillion on infrastructure development in the next 5 years.#GFSEC2019," Pradhan said in a tweet.
  • The Union Minister said we are also determined to raise the per capita consumption of steel from our current low of 72 kg per capita to 158 kg per capita by 2030 according to "our policy of 2017."

World Bank Group President David Malpass Calls on PM Narendra Modi

  •  The President of the World Bank Group David Malpass called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. Mr Malpass is on a four-day visit to India.
  • He delivered the keynote address on the role of the financial sector in development at the fifth edition of the NITI Aayog Lecture series in New Delhi.
  • Prime Minister Narendra was also present at the event.
  • Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman also held a meeting with a delegation led by Mr Malpass in New Delhi.
  • This is the first trip of Mr Malpass to India after assuming charge in April 2019. He is also scheduled to visit Gujarat.

Chile protests: President Sacks Whole Cabinet after Protests

  •  Chile's President Sebastian Piñera has dismissed his whole cabinet in order to form a new government and introduce social reforms demanded by protesters.
  • "I have put all my ministers on notice in order to restructure my cabinet to confront these new demands," he said.
  • It is not yet clear what form the reshuffle will take.
  • More than a million people joined a peaceful rally in the capital Santiago, calling for social justice.
  • Mr Piñera said he had heard the demands from the streets.
  • "We are in a new reality," he said. "Chile is different from what it was a week ago."
  • The president also announced that a curfew imposed in cities across Chile a week ago had been lifted.
  • The opposition has called for an ongoing state of emergency to end too.

Four Iraqi MPs Resign in Response to Mass Protests

  •  Four Iraqi parliamentarians have resigned in anger at the government's perceived failure to respond to mass protests, piling more pressure on embattled Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi.
  • Rallies demanding an overhaul of the ruling regime have rocked Iraq in October 2019, defying live rounds, tear gas and other violence that have left more than 200 dead.
  • Parliament's only two Communist lawmakers, RaedFahmy and Haifa al-Amin, quit the body "in support of the peaceful, popular movement," they said in a statement.
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