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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS - March 2020

Mar 2020

Aug 02, 2021

Pakistan Finalises Law to Award New Status to Gilgit-Baltistan

  • Pakistan authorities have finalised a law to award provisional provincial status to strategically located Gilgit-Baltistan.
  • As per reports, under the proposed law by the Ministry of Law and Justice, the Supreme Appellate Court (SAC) of Gilgit-Baltistan may be abolished and the region's election commission is likely to be merged with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
  • The draft of the bill titled '26th Constitutional Amendment Bill' had been prepared and submitted to PM Imran Khan.

Aug 01, 2021

Duterte Restores Philippines's Key Military Agreement with US

  • President Rodrigo Duterte has restored a pact governing the presence of US troops in the Philippines, the two countries' defence secretaries announced, retracting a decision that had caused increasing concern among policymakers in Washington and Manila.
  • The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) provides rules for the rotation of thousands of US troops in and out of the Philippines for war drills and exercises. It has assumed additional importance as the United States and its allies contend with an increasingly assertive China, particularly in the disputed South China Sea.

Najib Mikati Becomes Lebanon's New Prime Minister

  • Najib Mikati became Lebanon's new Prime Minister with 72 votes in parliament while the former ambassador Nawaf Salam received only one vote.
  • This is the third stint of Mikati as Lebanon's Prime Minister. In April 2005, Mikati had briefly served as caretaker Prime Minister, and in 2011, he headed a full-scale government for three years.
  • Mikati's appointment came 11 days after Saad Hariri resigned as Prime Minister after nine months of political turmoil and disputes with President Aoun and his son-in-law MP Gebran Bassil.
  • Mikati received support from most political parties in Lebanon, including Amal Movement, the Future Movement, Marada Movement, Hezbollah, and Progressive Socialist Party.
  • Two main Christian parties in the country, the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement opposed Mikati's appointment.
  • Najib Mikati is the 31st Prime Minister of Lebanon. Mikati is a Lebanese politician and businessman who has served as caretaker PM of Lebanon in 2005 and headed a full-scale government from 2011 to 2014.

Jul 31, 2021

Biden Nominates Indian-American Rashad Hussain as Ambassador

  • U.S. President Joe Biden has nominated Indian-American attorney Rashad Hussain as the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, the first Muslim to be nominated to the key position.
  • Mr. Hussain is currently Director for Partnerships and Global Engagement at the National Security Council.
  • He previously served as Senior Counsel at the Department of Justice's National Security Division. During the Obama administration, he served as US Special Envoy to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), US Special Envoy for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications and Deputy Associate White House Counsel.

Bill Introduced in US to End Stay of Foreign Students after Studies

  • A group of US lawmakers has reintroduced a legislation in the House of Representatives to eliminate a programme that allows foreign students to stay in the country for work after the completion of their studies under certain conditions, a Bill if passed into law can affect tens and thousands of Indians studying in this country.

Russia Fines Google 3 Million Roubles

  • Russia fined Google 3 million roubles ($41,017) for violating personal data legislation, Google's first fine for that offence.
  • Google confirmed the fine and offered no further comment.
  • The penalty comes amid a wider standoff between Russia and Big Tech, with Moscow routinely fining social media giants for failing to remove banned content and seeking to compel foreign tech firms to open offices in Russia.

Jul 30, 2021

US, Russia Hold Substantive and Professional Arms Talks

  • The US and Russia held substantive and professional talks on arms control and other strategic issues.
  • Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman led a delegation of US officials in a meeting with Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Ryabkov, the first in a series of integrated Strategic Stability Dialogue talks arranged in June at President Joe Biden's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • These strategic talks come as Russia is amassing military might in the Arctic and testing its newest weapons, including an unmanned stealth torpedo powered by a nuclear reactor.
  • Biden administration has stressed that it still seeks to cooperate with Moscow in areas of mutual concern, including climate change. The meeting was the first in a series of planned engagements meant to improve communication and reduce the possibility of diplomatic missteps at a time of strained relations between the two countries.

UN Extends CAR Arms Embargo

  • The UN Security Council extended the arms embargo against the Central African Republic for a year despite an appeal from China to lift it, saying the government hasn't met UN benchmarks including ensuring the protection and control of all weapons.
  • The council adopted the resolution, which also extends targeted sanctions on individuals and companies, by a vote of 14-0 with China abstaining.

China Sends New Ambassador to US

  • China's new ambassador Qin Gang to the United States outlined the challenges the two countries face in what has become an increasingly competitive and contentious relationship, while refraining from any criticism in short remarks after arriving to take up his new post.
  • Qin's arrival comes as relations with the US have plunged to their worst level in decades with no sign of bottoming out. The two sides remain sharply at odds over a host of issues, including trade, technology, cybersecurity, human rights and China's increasingly assertive foreign policy under President Xi Jinping.
  • The US currently has no ambassador in Beijing, although President Joe Biden is expected to nominate Nicholas Burns, a former ambassador to NATO and State Department spokesperson.

Jul 29, 2021

Iran Blames US for Pause in Nuclear Talks

  • Iran's supreme leader on Wednesday declared Tehran would not accept Washington's "stubborn" demands in talks to revive a 2015 nuclear deal and said the United States had failed to guarantee that it would never abandon the pact again.
  • They once violated the nuclear deal at no cost by exiting it. Now, they explicitly say they cannot give guarantees that it would not happen again." Since April 9, Tehran and six world powers have been in talks to revive the nuclear pact ditched three years ago by then US President Donald Trump, who argued it favoured Iran. The sixth round of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington adjourned on June 20.
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