Bilateral Current Affairs
October 1st Week 2015 Current Affairs
Category : Bilateral Current Affairs
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1) India-Africa Forum Summit begins in New Delhi

  •  Current Affirs The 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit kicked off in New Delhi on 26th October with a meeting among the senior officials of the host nation and 54 countries from the African continent. 
  • The 4 day summit starting 26th of October will end on 29 of October. In a major diplomatic coup Delhi has managed to get all African countries on board for the summit. 
  • Issues like tackling piracy, joint action plan on terrorism, enhancing cooperation on WTO and a major push for reforms at the UNSC are high on the agenda. The two previous India-Africa summits were held in 2008 and 2011, in New Delhi and Addis Ababa but with only representative participation from African countries. 
2) PM holds bilateral talks with Heads of African nations
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 28th October held bilateral talks with heads of several African nations during which UN reforms, combating challenge of terrorism and boosting trade and investment, particularly in oil and gas sector, figured prominently. The African leaders appreciated India`s development projects in the continent and sought deepening of ties in diverse sectors including health care, education and capacity building. 
  • The heads of state and government of African countries are in India to participate in the India Africa Forum Summit tomorrow. There was a detailed discussion between South African President Zuma and Indian Prime Minister on ways to tackle threat of terrorism, with both stressing that there was a need for concrete strategy to fight the menace in a united way. 
  • The South African leader said coming together of African countries with India showed to the world that they no longer are dependent on former colonial powers. The Prime Minister also met President of Zimbabwe, and Chairman of African Union Robert Mugabe. Both the leaders discussed issues of common interest, including UN reforms and the threat of terrorism. 
  • Mr Mugabe is the co-chair for the India Africa Forum Summit, and the two leaders reviewed the preparations for the Summit. The Prime Minister also met President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana during which both sides reviewed the warm bilateral ties. 
  • Growing bilateral trade came up for discussion and both leaders stressed on the need to step up engagement in sectors like agriculture, IT, skill development, cyber security and maritime security
Other important points:
The India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) is set to bring smiles to the families of Indian citizens held as prisoners in African nations of Togo and Nigeria.
A day ahead of the formal summit meeting, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held a record 31 structured bilateral meetings with visiting African leaders separately, discussing issues of extending more line of credit (LoC), boosting trade and investment and also combating challenges of terrorism and working together to push reforms at the United Nations.
During his meeting with the Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, Modi specifically raised the issue of 11 Indian prisoners, arrested last year for sailing into that country`s waters. Their ship had left Ghana for Cameroon and due to technical snag, was forced to anchor in the Port of Brass.
On July 25 last year, the Nigerian navy arrested the workers of the ship and handed them over to the Economic Financial Crime Commission of Nigeria.
Earlier Swaraj raised the issue of five Indian prisoners held in Togo with its foreign minister Robert Dussey. Togo foreign minister told Swaraj that his country would look into chances of presidential pardon as well, to expedite release of Indian prisoners.
A common theme running across all the meetings was African leaders asking India to ensure to setup a monitoring mechanism and regular follow ups so that aid and Line of Credit is disbursed quickly to accentuate completion of projects.
They highlighted that due to complexity of procedures and lack of communication and absence of regular monitoring, commitments are getting derailed, even though they appreciated India`s development projects in the continent and sought deepening of ties in diverse sectors including healthcare, education and capacity building.
There was also an agreement to work together to ensure reforms at the United Nations. Foreign Minister of Mauritius Usha Dwarka Canabady added a new dimension demanding Indian support to the small island developing states for a dedicated seat at the UN Security Council.
In his meeting, South African President Jacob Zuma said it was important that all like minded countries come together to ensure reform of the UN, observing that many conflicts in the world including the Syrian crisis could not be resolved because of veto powers of the UNSC member countries.
The South African leader also said coming together of African countries with India showed to the world that they no longer are dependent on former colonial powers.
The Prime Minister also met Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, and Chairman of African Union. Mugabe is the co-chair for the India Africa Forum Summit, and the two leaders reviewed the preparations for the Summit.


3) India, Africa must work together to strengthen international regime against terrorism

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has said that India and Africa have to work together to strengthen the international regime against terrorism. Speaking at the 3rd India Africa Forum Summit, Mr Mukherjee said, terrorism knows no boundaries and has no ideology except that of wanton destruction. 
  • The President said the Summit is a demonstration of the importance India attaches to its relations with Africa. The active participation of all countries of Africa at this Forum reflects the desire of member countries to build an enduring partnership between both side and there peoples. 
4)Commitment for comprehensive Reforms of UNSC
The 4-day India-Africa Forum Summit came to a close on 29th October, with both sides adopting Delhi Declaration 2015 and India-Africa Framework for Strategic Co-operation. The Delhi Declaration calls for continued collaboration in peace and security, and strengthening the UN counter terrorism mechanism. 
  • The India-Africa Framework for Strategic Cooperation reaffirms strong commitment to work together for comprehensive Reforms of the United Nations system, including its Security Council, to make it more regionally representative, democratic, accountable and effective.
  • Ahead of the crucial climate change summit in Paris, both sides urged developed nations to undertake mitigation measures to reduce carbon emissions. India and Africa also pledged to continue promoting investment and trade through opening of new markets and raising the level of economic partnership. 
5)India promises $10-bn line of credit to Africa
To strengthen ties with African countries and counter the growing influence of China in that region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a concessional credit grant of $10 billion to Africa through the next five years. 
  • India will also offer a grant assistance of $600 million. This will include an India-Africa development fund of $100 million and an India-Africa health fund of $10 million. It will also include 50,000 scholarships in India through the next five years. And, it will support the expansion of the pan-Africa e-network and institutions of skilling, training and learning across Africa.


6) New waterways to link India, Bangladesh on cards

India has kicked off the process to open new waterways with Bangladesh, a move that would facilitate the movement of people, goods and machinery between them and hugely help land-locked northeastern India. 
  • According to union Minister for DoNER (Development of North Eastern Region) Jitendra Singh, India is prioritising multi-modal connectivity in the northeastern region, including water connectivity, and already 16 waterway projects, mostly involving Bangladesh, have been approved for this region. 
  • India is now implementing the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit-Transport Project through Sittwe port in Myanmar to resolve the connectivity problem in the mountainous northeast region. 
7) Nepal`s Dy PM Kamal Thapa calls on PM Modi 
Current Affirs Nepal`s Deputy PM Kamal Thapa discusses bilateral issues with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PM conveys to Thapa that India supports a stable and united Nepal, assures every possible help to Nepal in that endeavour. 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 19th October made it clear to Nepal that India`s only desire is to see the neighbouring country united, inclusive. 
Kamal Thapa had an extensive meeting with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on sunday during which he understood to have urged New Delhi to ensure the supply of essential goods to crisis hit Nepal, where life has come to grinding halt due to ongoing agitation by various groups in wake of promulgation of new Constitution. 
Sushma Swaraj asked Nepal Deputy PM Kamal Thapa about what will be the roadmap of resolving political deadlock in Nepal and said peace and reconciliation with all groups is the way out to resolve political impasse. 
Nepal`s Deputy PM Kamal Thapa sought India`s help in sending more than 300 fuel laden trucks from alternative routes. 
  • The Nepalese leader said to have briefed the external affairs minister about the recent political changes in his country, the Constitution amendment process and the efforts being made for political stability. 
  • This was Thapa`s first visit to India, and also abroad, after the new Government headed by K P Sharma Oli took charge in the Himalayan nation following promulgation of the new Constitution about a month back. 
  • Nepal has been facing a number of issues ever since it promulgated its consitution last month. Madhesi and other groups in the south of the country have been agitating and asking for a say in the constitution. Agitation of the Madhesi people has led to the 2,500 trucks being stranded at various entry points at Indo-Nepal border. 
8) Swaraj holds talks with Turkmen counterpart on TAPI
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on 19th October held talks with her Turkmen counterpart Rashid Meredov on key issues, including TAPI gas pipeline and Ashgabat Agreement on trade and transit. 
Swaraj, who had a stopover in Ashgabat on her way to Moscow where she will co-chair the annual India-Russia Inter- Governmental Commission meeting with her Russian counterpart, met Meredov who said that they will be sending the Ashgabat Agreement copy to India for further discussion. 
The discussions came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Turkmenistan in July expressed gratitude for Turkmenistan`s support to India in joining the Ashgabat Agreement on trade and transit. 
The Ashgabat Agreement is a transit agreement established in year 2011 between the countries of Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Oman. Kazakhstan has also joined the bloc. 
The USD 10 billion TAPI -- Turkmenistan-Afghanistan- Pakistan-India -- project is expected to bring Turkmen natural gas from its giant Dauletabad and Galkynysh gas fields to Pakistan and India. The project is likely to take off in December. 
9) BRICS University Forum meet kicks off in Beijing
The BRICS University President Forum 2015 started its three-day meeting in Beijing on 17th October. Top officials from 12 Indian universities, including Jawaharlal Nehru University and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, are participating in the forum. 
  • The University Forum, jointly organised by Beijing Normal University and Beijing Municipal Commission of Education, aims at building an exchange platform among academia, political sphere and business community, leading to in-depth research on major challenges confronted by the BRICS countries. 
10) India, US and Japan hold naval exercises
Naval warships, aircraft carriers and submarines from the U.S., India and Japan steamed into the Bay of Bengal on 17th October as they took part in joint military exercises off India`s east coast, signalling the growing strategic ties between the three countries. 
  • The sea drills, part of the six-day-long Malabar exercises, will cover the full spectrum of naval manoeuvres, including military-to-military coordination and anti-submarine warfare, according to a joint statement. 
  • After Japan, US has also said that the trilateral Navy Exercise Malabar-2015, also involving India, was not aimed at China or any other country, but was an initiative to ensure freedom of navigation in the region and enhance communication among the three navies.