Bilateral Current Affairs
March 4th Week 2015 Current Affairs
Category : Bilateral Current Affairs
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1) Jaishankar arrives in Bhutan on first leg of `SAARC yatra

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on 1st March called on Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay soon after arriving here on the first leg of his `SAARC yatra`. Jaishankar SAARC Yatra begins. His Bhutan trip will be followed by Bangladesh on March 2, Pakistan on March 3 and Afghanistan on March 4.
  • During the visit to the SAARC capitals, Jaishankar will review various initiatives for the region, including SAARC satellites and regional university, as were proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Nepal for SAARC Summit last year. 
  • Jaishankar will travel to Pakistan seven months after India cancelled foreign secretary-level talks because the Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi held consultations with Kashmiri separatists 
  • Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar on 2nd March discussed on border with Bangladesh in part of bilateral relations with SAARC countries. This is his visit to Bangladesh as a part of the SAARC yatra. 
  • Secretary level talks with Pak: As part of his SAARC Yatra, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on 3rd March visited Islamabad. He met his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Chaudhary, the Foreign Secretary said the talks were constructive and positive. Both the sides engaged on each other`s concerns and interests in an open manner and agreed to work together to find common ground and narrow differences. The foreign secretary also met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
  • India would like to work with Pakistan to help the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) achieve its potential.
  • This is the first official meeting between the foreign secretaries of the neighbours since August last year.
  • Talks between the two countries were called off with India expressing anger over a meeting last year between the Pakistani High Commissioner in India and Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of a scheduled interaction of the two foreign secretaries.
  • Jaishankar is in Pakistan as part of a tour of SAARC member countries.
  • The decision to send the foreign secretary on the regional tour was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 14 after he telephonically spoke with the presidents of Sri Lanka and Afghanistan and the prime ministers of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar in Afghanistan for Talks:
  • Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar arrived in Kabul on 4th March to hold talks with the Afghan leadership as part of his `SAARC Yatra` aimed at firming up India`s ties with members of the grouping while reviewing regional and bilateral cooperation.
  • During his meetings, Afghan leaders welcomed India being partner of choice for Afghanistan and briefed Jaishankar about their views on India`s involvement in furthering the cause of stability and security in the country. 
  • According to officials, the main thrust during the meetings was on India`s development projects in Afghanistan, ways to improve connectivity and the security situation in the war-ravaged country. 
  • The Foreign Secretary also called on Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani besides former president Hamid Karzai. Jaishankar also met Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai and held extensive talks.

2) Varanasi-Kathmandu bus service

Current Affirs A direct AC bus service between Varanasi and Kathmandu was flagged off by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Varanasi on 4th March. The Varanasi to Kathmandu service is called the “Bharat-Nepal Maitri Bus Seva” (India-Nepal Friendship Bus Service). Ten buses of the rural bus service dubbed as Lohia Gramin Bus Seva were also flagged off by the Chief Minister.

3) Sushma discussions ahead of PM’s visit

Foreign Minister SushmaSwaraj met Sri Lankan President MaitripalaSirisena and discussed whole gamut of bilateral issues. The meeting was ahead of visit of Prime Minister NarendraModi’s to Sri Lanka.
  • India and Sri Lanka have revived the traditionally close relations since the election of President Maithripala in January. It is understood that the two leaders agreed that economic relations between the two countries should be enhanced and serious efforts should be made to address issues relating to imbalance in bilateral trade. Indian developmental assistance to Sri Lanka was also reviewed at the meeting. 
  • Humanitarian solution sought: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who met Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe on 7th March, underscored the need to recognize the humanitarian dimension to the fishermen issue which, she said, was essentially a question of livelihoods.
  • The Sri Lankan Prime Minister had said in the interview that it was legitimate to “shoot fishermen” if they trespassed into the Sri Lankan waters.
  • Mr. Wickramasinghe’s tough stance appears to have struck a sour note with New Delhi, coming just a week ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka on March 13 and 14.
  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj discussed with her Sri Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera the possibility of resuming ferry services between the two countries.
  • In addition to discussing agreements to be inked during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit, the leaders discussed the possible resumption of ferry services in detail.
  • The service between Colombo and Tuticorin was operational in 2011 but had to be suspended as it was not found to be commercially viable.
  • The ferry service between Rameswaram and Thalaimannar came to a halt in the 1980s, during the war.