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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS - November 2019

Nov 2019

Nov 30, 2019

India To Set Up 12 Hi-Tech Parks In Bangladesh

  •  India will set up 12 hi-tech parks in Bangladesh at a cost of $193 million.
  • Speaking at a business meeting in Rangpur organised by the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das said that these hi-tech parks will provide training to 30,000 youth of Bangladesh as skilled IT professionals.
  • Responding to the issue of the trade imbalance between the two countries, Riva Ganguly Das said that diversification of the product basket of Bangladesh will help reduce the gap by increasing exports to India.
  • She also inaugurated Swami Vivekananda Bhawan at Rangpur which houses a Computer Center, Charitable Medical Centre, Coaching centre and student's home.

Swiss Firm Zurich Airport Wins Bid To Develop Jewar Airport

  •  Zurich Airport International AG will develop the Jewar Airport on the outskirts of Delhi, officials said after the Swiss company outbid competitors like Adani and DIAL for what is billed to be the biggest airport in the country.
  • The Switzerland-headquartered company, which runs the Zurich Airport, made the highest per passenger bid, beating Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), Adani Enterprises and Anchorage Infrastructure Investments Holdings Limited.

Modi Announces Over Rs 3,200 Crore Line Of Credit To Lanka

  •   Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a financial assistance of Rs 3,230 crore (approx) to Sri Lanka, including USD 50 million, to fight terrorism after he held "fruitful" talks with the island nation's newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
  • The talks focused on issues like fulfilling aspirations of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka, ways to boost security and trade ties and address concerns of the fishermen.
  •  Modi said he assured Rajapaksa of India's full assistance in taking his country in the path of rapid development.
  • The prime minister announced a line of credit of USD 400 million for development projects in Sri Lanka besides granting a separate fund of USD 50 million to help the country deal with challenges of terrorism.
  • Sri Lankan capital Colombo was hit by a series of bombings in April in which over 250 people were killed.

Def Min Rajnath Singh Meets Mozambique Counterpart

  •  Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held talks to enhance security cooperation with his Mozambique counterpart Atanasio Salvador M'Tumukeis, who is on an official visit to India.
  • M'Tumukeis' visit to India comes months after Singh's trip to the African nation in July, 2019.
  • The Mozambican Minister met with Raksha Mantri in South Block today. During today's meeting, both Ministers reiterated their commitment to strengthen the bilateral defence relationship between the two countries. M'Tumukeis also met Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar.

Nov 29, 2019

Army Chief Bajwa's 3-year Extension Cut to 6 Months

  • In a partial relief to Prime Minister Imran Khan's government, the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) extended Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa's tenure till May 2020. While a relief, the Supreme Court's decision cuts the original three-year extension down to six months.
  • The court announced the verdict stating that the Pakistan government gave assurance of making required amendments in the Constitution Article 243 within six months and specify the appointment, extension and tenure of the Army Chief.
  • The Pakistan government has submitted an undertaking to the Supreme Court, assuring it of bringing a legislative amendment through the parliament within six months.

U.S. to Cut Spending on NATO Budget, Germany to Pay More

  •  The U.S. is to cut its contribution to NATO's operating budget, with Germany increasing payments as the alliance tries to appease President Donald Trump ahead of a summit next week.
  • Mr. Trump has repeatedly criticised European members for freeloading on the U.S., singling out Germany — the continent's economic powerhouse — for lagging behind on an alliance commitment to spend at least 2% of GDP on defence.
  • Washington currently pays 22.1% of the NATO budget — which totalled $2.5 billion (2.37 billion euros) in 2019 — and Germany 14.8%, under a formula based on each country's gross national income.
  • Under the new agreement, the U.S. will cut its contribution to 16.35% of the total, Germany's will rise to the same level and other allies will pay more.

Maldives Ex-president Gets 5 Years Jail

  • Former Maldives President Abdulla Yameen was sentenced to five years of imprisonment in a money laundering case.
  • A five bench panel of a court in Maldives also odered Yameen to pay a USD 5 million fine in the case.
  • The court ruling found the 60-year old guilty of laundering over USD 1 million of state money for personal gain.
  • Abdulla Yameen, who ran the Maldives with an iron hand for five years, has since faced investigations over a number of deals sealed during his tenure.

Sweden Expresses Concern about Kashmir Lockdown

  • Sweden has joined the list of European countries that have expressed concern about the security lockdown and communications blackout in Kashmir, with Foreign Minister Ann Linde saying India should lift the remaining curbs in the region.
  • Linde said t the Swedish Parliament that the country doesn't want any escalation of the situation in Kashmir, and that any long-term political solution "must involve Kashmiri inhabitants". Linde will be part of the delegation accompanying King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden on a state visit to India during December 1-6, 2019.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finland Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said that the situation in Kashmir is "not sustainable". They too called for lifting of restrictions imposed after the Indian government revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

Muttiah Muralitharan to be Governor of Sri Lanka's Northern Province

  •  Sri Lankan cricket legend Muttiah Muralitharan is tipped to be appointed as Governor of Sri Lanka's Northern Province by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
  • He is among three new Governors set to be appointed by the new government of Lankan President.
  • President Rajapaksa had personally invited Muralitharan to accept the post of the Governor of the Northern Province.
  • The former ace spinner would be appointed the Governor of the Northern Province, while Anuradha Yahampath would be appointed the Governor of the Eastern Province and Tissa Vitharana would take charge as Governor of the North Central Province.

Nov 28, 2019

China Has the Most Diplomatic Posts in the World

  •  According to an Australian think tank, China now has more diplomatic posts across the world than the US, a marker of its growing international clout and ambition.
  • China's expansion in worldwide diplomatic presence has come partly at the expense of Taiwan, a self-governing democracy, which Beijing says is a breakaway province.
  • The 2019 Global Diplomacy Index released by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute gives the latest statistics, marking how the world's diplomatic networks are expanding and, in certain cases, shrinking.
  • China overtook the US in 2019 with 276 embassies and consulates worldwide, which is three more than the US. The study said that both countries have an equal number of embassies, but Beijing has three more consulates.
  • The next three spots on the list are occupied by France, Japan, and Russia.
  • India is 12th among the 61 countries ranked by Lowy Institute. As of 2019, New Delhi has 123 embassies and high commissions and 54 consulates globally.

U.S. to Label Mexican Cartels as Terror Groups

  •  Mexico rejected interventionism after U.S. President Donald Trump said that he will designate the Latin American nation's cartels as terrorist organisations, while a former U.S. official warned of unintended outcomes from such a move.
  • Designating groups as foreign terrorist organisations is aimed at disrupting their finances through the imposition of U.S. sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, on them and individuals and entities that support them.
  • However, Mexico warned it could respond in kind to such a move, while immigration lawyers said that calling traffickers terrorists could in some cases make Mexicans eligible for asylum.

Imran Khan Urged to Reopen Khokhrapar Crossing with India

  •  Congratulating Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for showing "admirable magnanimity" in the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor for Sikh pilgrims, a US-based advocacy group has urged him to now reopen the Khokhrapar-Munabao border with India for millions of Hindu and Muslim devotees.
  • The opening of the Khokhrapar border would facilitate millions of followers of Saint Moinuddin Chishti to visit Dargah Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan. It will also allow Hindu pilgrims to visit the Hinglaj Mandir in Balochistan province of Pakistan.
  • The group represents Mohajirs, Urdu-speaking Indian Muslims who settled in Pakistan after the Partition.

Labour Party Says U.K. Govt. Holding Secret Talks to Sell NHS to U.S.

  • The leader of Britain's main opposition party, Jeremy Corbyn, accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of secretly negotiating the basis of a trade deal with the United States ahead of the country's departure from the European Union — including a contentious plan to extend patents for American drug companies.
  • The Labour Party's Corbyn showed 451 pages of documents at a press conference, declaring that they covered six rounds of negotiations beginning in July 2017 — preliminary soundings ahead of formal trade talks.
  • With the future of the National Health Service in focus in the Dec. 12 general election, Corbyn highlighted the drug price issue and argued that extending patents would boost the profits of big pharmaceutical companies at the expense of taxpayers who would be barred from buying cheaper generic versions of the drugs.

Merkel Says It's Essential to Preserve NATO

  • Chancellor Angela Merkel said that NATO is at least as essential today as it was during the Cold War, renewing a pledge to keep raising Germany's defense spending and arguing that it is important to keep Turkey in the alliance.
  • Merkel told the German parliament before a NATO summit in London next week that "Europe cannot defend itself alone at the moment; we rely on this trans-Atlantic alliance."
  • As per Merkel, the preservation of NATO is in our very own interest today, more strongly than during the Cold War — or at least as strongly as during the Cold War. Merkel added that it's "right for us to work for this alliance and take on more responsibility."
  • French President Emmanuel Macron's recent public criticism of NATO — notably a perceived lack of U.S. leadership, concerns about Turkey since it invaded northern Syria without warning its allies, and the need for Europe to take on more security responsibilities — has shaken the alliance.

Nov 27, 2019

Pakistan Opposes India's Candidacy to UNSC Membership

  •  Pakistan opposed India's candidacy to the UN Security Council's permanent and non-permanent membership, citing the Kashmir issue. Addressing the world body, Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN Munir Akram said that "at least one of the G4 does not in our view qualify for membership of the Security Council - permanent or non-permanent." 
  • The G4 nations comprising Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan support each other's bids for permanent seats on the Security Council.
  • Akram, without naming India, said the country was in "blatant violation of resolutions of the Security Council," referring to Kashmir issue. 

Lam Admits to Public Discontent with Her Government

  •  Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam renewed her appeals for peace in the Chinese-ruled city but failed to offer any concessions to anti-government protesters despite a resounding victory for pro-democracy parties in local elections.
  • Lam spoke a day after results showed democratic candidates secured almost 90% of 452 district council seats in Sunday's elections, which were widely seen as a barometer of the opposition to the Beijing-backed politician following months of unrest.
  • China, which has blamed foreign forces for fomenting unrest, has not directly commented on the results, and news outlets in its tightly controlled media largely avoided detailed reporting of how Hong Kongers voted.

Pakistan SC Suspends Decision to Extend Qamar Bajwa's Tenure

  •  In an unprecedented move, Pakistan's Supreme Court suspended the notification granting a three-year term extension to Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The move came just ahead of Bajwa's retirement on November 29, 2019.
  • Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa after suspending the government's notification adjourned the hearing.
  • Prime Minister Imran Khan on August 19 had approved an extension in the tenure of General Bajwa for another three years.
  • Khosa during the hearing said that only the President of Pakistan can extend the tenure of the Army Chief. He also observed that when the matter was discussed in the Cabinet, only 11 out 25 members approved the extension.

Nov 26, 2019

Romania's Pro-EU Prez Set for Re-election

  •  Romanians started voting in the second round of presidential elections that are expected to return Klaus Iohannis to office, confirming the pro-European trajectory of the eastern EU member. 
  • Thirty years after the fall of communism, the centre-right former physics professor is running against Social Democrats (PSD) leader and former Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, whose government fell in October, 2019 in a no-confidence vote.

Democracy Backers Sweep Hong Kong Polls

  • Democracy supporters were emboldened by capturing most of the seats in local elections, but Beijing and its allies are reluctant to compromise.
  • In the run-up to local elections in Hong Kong, Beijing and its allies in the city were portraying the vote as a way to hear the voice of a silent majority after nearly six months of increasingly violent antigovernment protests.
  • The city's Beijing-backed establishment camp suffered a staggering defeat in elections for district councils as democracy advocates swept 87 per cent of the seats, up from less than a third. Beijing and its supporters in Hong Kong, including the city's embattled leader, Carrie Lam, must now reckon with a resounding, very public display of support for the democracy camp and the protest movement.
  • According to Cary Lo, a newly elected district councilor supporting democracy, this election is not just about livelihood issues, but also a direct referendum regarding the justifiability of this regime. It has indicated that Carrie Lam's government has lost its legitimacy.

UK PM Promises Brexit Gift for Christmas

  •  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will promise to bring his Brexit deal back to Parliament before Christmas when he launches his Conservative Party's manifesto, the cornerstone of his pitch to voters to get Brexit done. 
  • With less than three weeks before Britain heads to the polls on December 12, 2019 the governing Conservatives and opposition Labour are trying to tempt voters with different visions but several pledges to spend more on public services. Johnson's manifesto aims at drawing a distinction with Labour, which has promised to raise taxes on the richest and big businesses to fund a big expansion of the state, by vowing not to increase taxes if the Conservatives win the election.

New Leak Reveals How China Runs Xinjiang Camps

  •  Leaked government documents outlining the need to prevent escape, double lock doors and constantly monitor detainees in China's network of internment camps in Xinjiang refute Beijing's defence of vocational education centres.
  • Obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and published by 17 media outlets worldwide, the documents show the strict protocols governing life in the camps in Xinjiang, where an estimated one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are held.
  • In one document, local officials are told to monitor inmates at all times -- including during toilet breaks -- to prevent escape.
  • Staff are also banned from befriending inmates and engaging in personal interactions" to prevent "collusion.

Sri Lanka Won't Do Anything that Will Harm India's Interests

  •  Days ahead of his first State visit abroad to New Delhi, Sri Lanka's newly-elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that his government will not do anything that would threaten India's security.
  • President Gotabaya is scheduled to visit New Delhi on November 29, 2019 following an invitation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar was the first senior foreign official to meet the newly-elected President in Colombo, to hand over the PM's invitation.
  • The newly-elected Sri Lankan President's visit signals a full circle in diplomatic ties between New Delhi and the Rajapaksas in the last decade — with relations shifting from close cooperation to heightening tensions and now, to what appears a thaw.
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