Bilateral Current Affairs
Bilateral Current Affairs April 1st Week 2016
Category : Bilateral Current Affairs
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1) In Sri Lanka, foundation stone laid for 4,000 houses under 3rd phase of Indian Housing project

  • In Sri Lanka, foundation stone was laid for building 4 thousand houses under the third phase of the Indian Housing project in the Central province on 24th April. The foundation stone was jointly laid by Indian High Commissioner YK Sinha, and Sri Lanka’s Minister of Hill Country New Villages, P Thigambaram, at Dunsinane Estate in the hill district of Nuwara Eliya. 
  • The houses will be constructed by India for the families of Indian-origin plantation workers of hill districts of Sri Lanka. The houses are part of the 50 thousand houses that India has committed to build in the country under the fully-funded Indian development cooperation project. 
  • According to the Indian High Commission, the houses will be constructed through the Estate Workers Housing Cooperative Societies in consultation with the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries will be selected through a transparent and norm-based process on the basis of clearly defined and objective criteria. 
2) India asks Pakistan for early progress on Pathankot attack probe, 26/11 Mumbai case trial 
  • India on 26th April stressed on the need for early progress on Pathankot terror attack investigation as well as 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case trial in Pakistan. 
  • Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar also brought up the listing of Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar in UN Sanctions Committee in his meeting with Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry in New Delhi 
  • Accordig to the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup the discussions between the two Foreign Secretaries were frank and constructive and both sides raised issues of concern to them. Mr Jaishankar clearly conveyed that Pakistan cannot be in denial on the impact of terrorism on the bilateral relationship. The Foreign Secretary said terrorist groups based in Pakistan targeting India must not be allowed to operate with impunity. 
  • India also pressed for immediate consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, former Naval officer abducted and taken to Pakistan. It was the first such formal meeting between the top diplomats of India and Pakistan after talks was deferred in January following the strike by Pakistani terrorists at Pathankot Airbase. The Pakistan Foreign Secretary is in New Delhi on a day-long visit to attend the Senior Officials Meeting of the Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process. 
  • Earlier, Mr. Jaishankar met Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai and discussed issues of mutual interests. They discussed the situation in Afghanistan in context of deadly terrorist attack in Kabul on 18th of this month and the response of the international community to the continuing violence in Afghanistan. 
  • Developments regarding the Chahbahar and Salma dam were also discussed along with India`s other development assistance and support to Afghanistan. 

3) India, PNG sign MoUs on IT, health

  • India is looking to explore and develop Papua New Guinea’s vast oil and gas resources through joint ventures and investments from both the Indian private and public sectors in ongoing and new projects. 
  • The Pacific island country agreed that oil and gas exploration and development could be a new avenue of cooperation between the two countries, keeping in view India’s desire to achieve energy security, said a joint statement issued by the two countries at the end of a two-day visit by President Pranab Mukherjee. 

Natural gas discovery

  1. Indian companies are looking at projects coming up in Papua New Guinea after natural gas was discovered in the country’ s Southern Highland Province. Gas discoveries elsewhere in the country have evoked interest among Indian companies that believe they could participate in associated projects as well as in some gas blocks. Papua New Guinea is estimated to have 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas as recoverable reserves. 
  2. India agreed to provide a line of credit of $100 million to Papua New Guinea for infrastructure projects and signed a pact to set up a ‘Centre of Excellence’ in information technology. 
  3. The request for the line of credit had been made in August 2015 by Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill during a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of a summit of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation. 
  4. Four memorandums of understanding were signed on the second and final day of President Mukherjee’s visit, the first state visit by an Indian head of state to the island nation. 
  5. Papua New Guinea reiterated its support for India’s claim for permanent membership in the UN Security Council and agreed to expedite a proposed Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) to facilitate investments. It announced visa-on-arrival facility for Indian tourists. 
  6. Apart from MoUs on extending a line of credit and information technology, other agreements related to cooperation on agricultural research and health. 
  7. Mr. Mukherjee announced that India would provide anti-retroviral drugs and equipment to benefit 20,000 HIV positive patients in Papua New Guinea, a figure that would help at least half the number of those suffering from the disease. 
  8. UNAIDS estimates say that between 37,000 and 41,000 people were living with HIV in 2014 in the country, which has a population of about eight million. 
  9. The President said India would assist capacity-building and human resource development, besides offering to share its advanced techniques and technologies in the agriculture sector. 

4) Iran can be a reliable partner for India`s energy needs: Sushma Swaraj

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani assured External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj that his country can be a reliable partner for India`s energy needs. Two countries have decided to significantly expand engagements in their overall ties, particularly in oil and gas sectors. 
  • Mrs Swaraj, who arrived in Tehran on 16th April, called on Rouhani 17th April. Enhancing energy cooperation and development of the Chabahar port were the centerpiece of talks which was mostly dominated by economic issues. India welcomed the Iranian decision to keep the Farzad - B field outside the auction basket. 
  • Earlier, Mrs Swaraj held talks with her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif. During talks two sides agreed that pending agreements such as Preferential Trade Agreement, Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and Bilateral Investment Treaty should be concluded on a priority basis. Besides that she met Supreme Leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei`s Advisor Ali Akbar Velayati and deliberated on a range of issues. 
  • India has been eying deeper energy ties with Iran following lifting of nuclear sanctions. India has already lined up 20 billion dollars as investment in oil and gas as well as in petrochemical and fertiliser sectors in Iran. 
  • External Affairs Minister also visited an Indian Gurudwara and the Kendriya Vidyalaya. She met the members of the small but vibrant Indian community in Tehran and assured them that she would take up issues of concern to them with the Iranian leadership. 
  • From Iran, Mrs Swaraj left for a two-day trip to Moscow to attend the annual Foreign Ministers` meeting of RIC (Russia, India and China).


5) Chabahar Agreement: 2nd meeting of experts from India, Afghanistan and Iran 

  • Current Affirs The second meeting of experts from India, Afghanistan and Iran to finalise text of Chabahar Agreement on Transport and Transit Corridors was held in New Delhi on 11th of this month. The draft Agreement envisions trilateral cooperation for providing alternative access to seas to Afghanistan, inter alia for Afghanistan’s trade with India. It has been decided to sign the Agreement at a high level at an early opportunity after completing necessary internal procedures in the three countries. 
  • When the Agreement comes into force it will significantly enhance utilization of Chabahar Port, contribute to economic growth of Afghanistan, and facilitate better regional connectivity.