Bilateral Current Affairs
October 2011 Bilateral Affairs
Category : Bilateral Current Affairs
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October 2011

 President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, HEU Thein Sein visited India from 12 to 15 October 2011. This was the first State visit of any political head from Myanmar to India following the swearing in of a new government in Myanmar in March 2011. During this visit, India and Myanmar agreed to step up cooperation in oil and natural gas with discussions touching on new gas pipelines. India also offered an additional 500 million US dollars line of credit. India agreed to resolve border issues and step up energy and trade links. In security, India and Myanmar agreed to increase the effectiveness of coordinated operations on either side of the border through better intelligence sharing. India also agreed to increase training slots for Myanmar students and establish more I.T. training centres. India and Myanmar discussed the Moreh-Mae Sot road that would connect India and Thailand via Myanmar. This will open a direct road link between India and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). This direct road link will also accelerate the plans of ASEAN for the Mekong-Ganga corridor. India welcomed Myanmar`s progress towards an open and democratic framework.

India and Vietnam signed six agreements on 12 October 2011 during the visit of Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang to India. The agreements are as follows:
India and Vietnam signed an extradition treaty
Oil exploration agreement in South China Sea
Friendship pact to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relations in 2012
Agreement in the field of agriculture and fisheries
Cooperation in sports and tourism
Agreement on Cultural Exchanges India and Vietnam also decided to launch a biennial Security Dialogue between their home ministries.
The two nations also decided to increase the trade target to 7 billion US dollars by 2015 from the present mark of 2.7 billion US dollars. 

 India and South Africa on 11 October 2011 signed a pact to facilitate exchange of Knowledge and experience in the field of election management and administration in New Delhi. It was signed by the Chief Election Commissioner of India, SY Quraishi and the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of South Africa, Brigalia Bam. The MoU also paves the way for promotion and implementation of educational research and training programmes. The Election Commission of India has so far signed eleven MoUs with Election Management Bodies across the world including Brazil, Russia Indonesia, Bhutan and Nepal.

Kamal Nath Minister of Urban Development, Government of India and Gregory Clark, Minister of State for Decentralization and Cities agreed to work towards a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and UK on 14 October 2011 at London. The MoU would aim at enhancing cooperation and deepen the engagement between India and UK in the areas of capacity building, land economics, heritage management, sustainable master planning, transport planning etc. Another area of cooperation would be the sharing of knowledge in the formulation of Public Private Partnership Models. Kamal Nath was in London on 14 October 2011 to participate in the UK India Business Forum organised by the UKIBC, UK Trade & Investment and Indian Chamber of Commerce.
India and United States agreed to explore new models for educational institutions to take knowledge partnership to a higher level. This will also help in further deepening the bilateral strategic cooperation. In a Joint Statement issued at the end of the India-US Higher Education Summit in Washington, the goals of the partnership were outlined. Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, during discussions in the summit, made it clear that India is keen to strengthen teacher exchange programmes to promote development of human resources. India intends to sponsor initially up to 1500 faculty and junior scholars to leading universities and research institutes in the United States.

 A 14-day long India-Bangladesh joint military exercise started on 9 October 2011 at Jalalabad Cantonment in Sylhet division, some 240 km northeast of capital Dhaka. The military exercise between the two nations was codenamed Op Sampriti. Under the joint military exercise, counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations will be practiced as per the UN mandate. India fielded around 40 troops of its elite 21-Para (Special Forces) battalion for the exercise while the Bangladesh Army deployed one of its Para Commando battalions. Around 40 to 50 troops took part in the exercise. 

Afghan president Hamid Karzai was on a two-day visit in India on 4 October and 5 October 2011. The visit meant for both the countries to consolidate their strategic partnership and discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest. On 4 October 2011 India signed three agreements with Afghanistan for both the countries greater strategic partnership. The agreements were singed between Afghanistan President, Hamid Karzai and India’s Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh. The Three arguments that were signed during the visit were:
1. Agreement on Strategic Partnership between India and Afghanistan 
2. MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Development of Hydrocarbons 
3. MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Mineral Resources Development.
India and Iran on 5 October 2011 agreed to set up a mechanism for payment of crude oil and ensure bilateral trade. Both sides agreed that the mechanism would cover the payment to Indian exporters and some other areas. The two countries have decided to continue their dialogue on the issue. Earlier, Iran had threatened to stop crude oil supplies to India if a mechanism to pay for imports is not found quickly. India has to pay Iran 9 billion dollars, which is now seven months in arrears. The problem over payment to Iran happened after the Reserve Bank of India on 23 December 2010 scrapped the Asian Clearing Union (ACU). As an alternative to Asian Clearing Union, India tried to make payments through countries like the UAE, Turkey and Russia. However, these nations had objections to routing big amount of 13 billion dollars that India pays for Iranian oil annually. They wanted to route small payment up to 6-7 million dollars. Iran is second only to Saudi Arabia as an oil supplier to India, while India is Iran`s second-biggest crude buyer after China, accounting for about 20 per cent of its exports.