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International Current Affairs
International Current Affairs September 2nd Week 2017
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Category : International Current Affairs
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International Current Affairs September 2nd Week 2017

1. UN Security Council emergency meeting to discuss response to North Korea`s latest nuclear test.

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss an international response to North Korea`s latest nuclear test, diplomats said Sunday.

The United States, Britain, France, Japan and South Korea requested the urgent meeting, to be held at 10 am (1400 GMT), the US mission said in a statement.

The council will meet in an open session, in contrast to many other meetings on North Korea that have been held behind closed doors.

North Korea on Sunday detonated what it described as a hydrogen bomb designed for a long-range missile, calling the test "a perfect success."

The underground blast was North Korea`s sixth nuclear test, in defiance of UN resolutions that prohibit Pyongyang from pursuing nuclear and missile programs.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier condemned the nuclear test as "profoundly destabilizing" for regional security and again urged Pyongyang to halt such acts.

"This act is yet another serious breach of the DPRK`s international obligations and undermines international non-proliferation and disarmament efforts," Guterres said in a statement, referring to the Democratic People`s Republic of Korea.

"This act is also profoundly destabilizing for regional security. The DPRK is the only country that continues to break the norm against nuclear test explosions."

Guterres called on Pyongyang to "cease such acts and to comply fully with its international obligations."
 
2. Nepal Signs UN Development Assistance Plan.
Nepal Signs UN Development Assistance Plan
Nepal has signed a USD 635 million UN assistance package for 2018-2022 to lay out the country`s development strategy for the next five years, officials said today. 

The package involving 26 individual UN agencies, spans interventions aimed at assisting in four broad areas: inclusive economic growth; social development; resilience, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction; and governance, rule of law and human rights, according to a statement issued by the United Nations. 

The National Planning Commission, apex advisory body of the Government of Nepal, and the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in Nepal signed the the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) yesterday. 
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The UNDAF lays out the development strategy for the UN Country Team for the next five years. 

"We are pleased to be signing this framework with the United Nations in Nepal, it is broadly aligned without national priorities as envisioned by the Government of Nepal. And it is our hope it will contribute to our ambition to achieve the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development," Chairman of the National Planning Commission Swarnim Wagle said. 

"The strong alignment of the UNDAF with the national plans, international conventions, and the Constitution of Nepal provides the foundation to support the Government of Nepal`s efforts in ensuring that `no one is left behind` as laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals," remarked United Nations Resident Coordinator Valerie Julliand.
 
3. Five banks of BRICS nations sign pact for credit lines.
Five banks of BRICS nations sign pact for credit lines
Five banks of the Brics Bank Cooperation Mechanism have agreed to establish credit lines in the national currencies and cooperate on credit ratings.

The agreement was signed ahead of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in China’s Xiamen city on Sunday in which leaders of the five countries, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi are scheduled to take part.

“Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), Vnesheconombank, Export-Import Bank of India, China Development Bank and Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) have signed an agreement to establish credit lines in the national currencies, as well as a memorandum of cooperation on credit ratings,” Russian news agency TASS reported.
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There was no word from Export-Import Bank of India in this regard. The Chinese official said “the decision was taken in order to bolster further cooperation.” The agreement on credit ratings reportedly enables them to share information about internal credit ratings and rating assessment.

Ahead of the Brics summit, the New Development Bank (NDB) of the five nations has approved $1.4 billion loans for sustainable development projects in China, India and Russia. The Board of Directors of the bank have approved four infrastructure and sustainable development projects in the three countries, the NDB had said.

For India, the bank has approved $470 million loan for Madhya Pradesh’s Multi-Village Rural Drinking Water Supply Scheme Project.
 
4. Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold bilateral meet with Chinese Prez Xi to participate in Dialogue of Emerging Market and developing countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold bilateral meet with Chinese Prez Xi to participate in Dialogue of Emerging Market and developing countries
On the third day of Xiamen BRICS Summit, one of the important agendas on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s list is his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two leaders had last met at the informal gathering of BRICS leaders during the G20 Hamburg summit, in July. The talks hold special significance since they come immediately after the two countries resolved the two-and-half-month border standoff at Doklam.

Earlier in the day, Modi also spoke at the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries in Xiamen. The talks were also attended by Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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On Monday, PM Modi and other BRICS leaders adopted the Xiamen Declaration at the ninth edition of BRICS Summit on Monday, which named Pakistan-based terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad while talking about its “concerns” on security situations.

“We, in this regard, express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al-Qaida and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir,” the 48th paragraph in the 43-page declaration said.
 
5. China announced $80 Million Funding Plan for BRICS.
China announced $80 Million Funding Plan for BRICS
China will give 500 million yuan ($76.4 million) for a BRICS economic and technology cooperation plan, and another $4 million for projects at the BRICS countries’ New Development Bank, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday.

The newly announced $80 million funding plan pales in comparison to China’s $124 billion pledge earlier in May in a push for Xi’s own Belt and Road initiative, which aims to expand links between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond as a new way to boost global development.

The announcement came amid questions over the relevance of BRICS and China’s commitment to its New Development Bank (NDB) in light of the Belt and Road initiative and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Xi said BRICS countries should increase cooperation in sectors such as trade and investment, monetary and finance, and sustainable development.
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“We should redouble our efforts to comprehensively deepen BRICS partnerships and open BRICS cooperation,” he said during a plenary session at a BRICS leaders’ summit in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen.

The heads of state from the BRICS group of emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will gather in Xiamen through Tuesday, giving host China its latest chance to position itself as a bulwark of globalization in the face of US President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda.
 
6. India despatches First Diesel Consignment to Myanmar.
India despatches First Diesel Consignment to Myanmar
Symbolising the growing hydrocarbon engagement between India and Myanmar, the first consignment of 30 MT of High Speed Diesel was sent today from India to Myanmar by land route. Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. (NRL), which has been supplying HSD to Bangladesh, despatched the first diesel consignment through NH 37 across the Moreh Custom Check Point on the Indian side and Tamu Custom Check Point on the Myanmar side.

Supply of diesel consignment to Myanmar is another step in realizing the vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to enhance hydrocarbon synergy with neighbouring countries as well as promoting India`s Act East Policy. NRL has entered into an agreement with Parami Energy Group of Companies for the supply of diesel and collaboration in the retail petroleum sector of Myanmar. NRL refinery, situated at 420 km from the India-Myanmar border, is ideally suited to supply diesel to Northern Myanmar where connectivity is a challenge, particularly in the rainy season.
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Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan visited Myanmar in February this year during which he discussed opportunities for collaboration in the oil and gas sector including setting up of LNG terminal, retail marketing, refurbishment of refineries, participation in upstream sector and capacity building. ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL), GAIL India Ltd. and Oil India Ltd. have assets in the upstream sector as well as pipelines. In their effort to strengthen the oil and gas engagement, more Indian companies are planning to set up their offices in Myanmar soon. OVL has an office in Yangon.

NRL has already exported 1700 MT of Paraffin wax to Myanmar. It was a special privilege for India to contribute hand made wax candles to the 2500 year old Shwedagon Pagoda earlier this year.
 
7. 9th BRICS summit held in Xiamen, China.
 
9th BRICS summit held in Xiamen
 
The 9th BRICS summit was held in Xiamen, China. The theme of the summit was “Stronger Partnership for brighter Future”. It was for second time the summit was hosted in China after 2011 summit. At the end of summit, BRICS leaders adopted  Xiamen declaration.

Four documents were signed in presence of BRICS Leaders. They are
  • Strategic Framework of BRICS Customs Cooperation
  • BRICS Action Plan for Innovation Cooperation(2017-2020)
  • BRICS Action Agenda on Economic and Trade Cooperation
  • MoU between  BRICS Business Council and New Development Bank on Strategic Cooperation.
Features of Xiamen declaration

Strive towards broad partnerships: BRICS countries agreed to strive towards broad partnerships with emerging markets and developing countries and pursue equal-footed and flexible practices and initiatives for dialogue and cooperation with non-BRICS countries, including through  BRICS Plus cooperation  (It includes Thailand, Tajikistan, Egypt, Kenya and Mexico ). 

BRICS local currency bond markets:  Member countries resolved to promote development of BRICS local currency bond markets and agreed to jointly establish a BRICS local currency bond fund and facilitate financial market integration. They will also encourage explorations toward the establishment of the BRICS Institute of Future Networks.
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R&D and innovation in ITC:  They agreed to enhance joint research, development and innovation in information and communications technology (ICT), including internet of things (IoT), big data, data analytics, cloud computing, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, 5G and their innovative applications.

Cooperation on energy: They agreed to strengthen BRICS cooperation on energy and work to foster open, flexible and transparent markets for energy commodities and technologies.

Promote effective use of fossil fuels:  They also agreed to work together to promote most effective use of fossil fuels and wider use of gas, hydro and nuclear power to move towards low emission economy, better energy access and sustainable development.

BRICS Agriculture Research Platform:  It is proposed to be established in India which will serve as virtual network facilitating cooperation in priority areas.

Broad counterterrorism coalition: They called upon international community to establish genuinely broad counterterrorism coalition and support UN’s central coordinating role in this regard.

People-to-People exchanges: It should be promoted for development and enhancing mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation among BRICS countries.

BRICS

BRICS is acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies viz, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It was established in 2009. Originally it was known as BRIC before inclusion of South Africa in 2011. The first formal summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia in 2009.

BRICS countries are distinguished by their large, fast-growing economies and significant influence on regional and global affairs. They are home to 42% of the world’s population. Their total share in the global economy has risen from 12% to 23%  in the past decade and collectively contribute they more than half of global growth.
 
8. NHAI awarded its First International Project in Myanmar to Punj Lloyd-Varaha.
The National Highway Authority of India has awarded its first international project in Myanmar to a Joint Venture of Punj Lloyd-Varaha.

This is for the upgradation of Yagyi-Kalewa section in Myanmar to Two Lane with Earten Shoulder on the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction mode.

An official statement said that the 120-km long project was estimated to cost 1,177.02 crore and is to be completed within 36 months.

Punj Lloyd-Varaha’s bid was identified as most competitive among four qualified bidders. It was at ?1,177 crore or 0.0017 per cent lower than the estimated cost.
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In year end review of 2016, the Ministry of Road Transport Highways said that India is funding construction of 120.74 km road between Kalewa and Yargi section of the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway, in Myanmar to improve connectivity with South-East Asia by road.

The Trilateral Highway starts from Moreh (Manipur) in India up to Mae Sot in Thailand through Myanmar. India will also fund the construction of 69 Bridges on the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa Road (149.70 km) section.

Construction of 130 km length stretch of road connecting Moreh (India)/Tamu (Myanmar) to Kalewa in Myanmar has already been completed by Border Roads Organisation of India.
 
9. India, Myanmar sign eleven MoUs in a range of sectors.
  
India and Myanmar today signed 11 agreements in a range of sectors, including one on maritime security cooperation, to further strengthen their multifaceted partnership. The MoUs were signed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

India and Myanmar signed an MoU to strengthen maritime security cooperation. The two sides also signed an agreement for sharing white shipping information to improve data sharing on non-classified merchant navy ships or cargo ships.

The 11 MoUs also include one between the Election Commission and Union Election of Myanmar, the national level electoral commission of Myanmar. An MoU was also signed to organise cultural exchange programme for the period 2017-2020, according to a statement issued by Ministry of External Affairs. The two countries also signed agreements on cooperation between Myanmar Press Council and Press Council of India, extension of agreement on the establishment of India-Myanmar Centre for Enhancement of IT skill.

They also signed agreements to cooperate in ‘Medical Products Regulation’ and in the field of health and medicine. They also signed an MoU on enhancing the cooperation on upgradation of the women’s police training centre at Yamethin in Myanmar.

Modi arrived here on the second leg of his two-nation trip during which he travelled to southeastern Chinese city Xiamen where he attended the annual BRICS summit and held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders.

This is Modi’s first bilateral visit to Myanmar. He had visited the country in 2014 to attend the ASEAN-India Summit. Myanmar is one of India’s strategic neighbours and shares a 1,640-km-long border with a number of northeastern states including militancy-hit Nagaland and Manipur.
 
10. Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured to maintain security & stability along borders of India, Myanmar.
 
India and Myanmar are expected to discuss security and defence issues on Wednesday when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi sit for bilateral talks for taking the mutual ties to the next level.

Both sides have been trying to give the bilateral ties a more strategic approach ever since the National League for Democracy (NLD), under the leadership of Suu Kyi, came to power in Myanmar in March.

Both the leaders had last held a bilateral meeting in September on the sidelines of the ASEAN-India Summit in Laos. Prior to that, in August, Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw was also on an official visit to New Delhi.

India and Myanmar share a 1,640-km border, as a result, the issue of peace and security remains one of the crucial points of the bilateral relationship. India has previously urged Myanmar to not to let its territory be used for terrorism.

During the meeting, it is expected that Myanmar will reiterate its commitment on this issue, sources told BusinessLine.

During the visit of President Kyaw, Myanmar had assured India that peace and stability will be maintained along the India-Myanmar border and vowed to jointly fight terrorism and and insurgent activity in all its forms and manifestations.

India will also raise the issue of maritime security with Myanmar as the country has critical importance in the government’s ‘Act East Policy’ which was incidentally launched by Modi in the Myanmar capital Nay Pyi Daw in November 2014.

Another important aspect is connectivity. Both sides are engaged in a massive connectivity project — Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project — that was launched in 2008.

Both sides have also signed two memorandums of understanding in implementing the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway project.

Besides, promotion and expansion of cooperation in agriculture, banking, power and energy sectors are also expected to feature prominently during the talks.

On Tuesday, Suu Kyi, who is a on a four-day visit here, met President Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

‘Stable relationship’
“Myanmar will always be seeking India’s help when it comes to defence and strategic issues. A well established and stable relationship with India will help Myanmar in creating peace and stability within their own domestic constituencies,” said Prabir De, professor and head of India-ASEAN Centre, Research and Information System for Developing Countries.
 
11. India and Japan to step up Defence Cooperation.
India and Japan to step up Defence Cooperation
India and Japan on Wednesday stepped up their cooperation in defence opening up multiple new windows that range from training the Indian Navy personnel on anti-submarine warfare to joint counter-terrorism exercise between the two armies in 2018.

Japan also proposed to dispatch it P1 maritime patrol aircraft along with a warship for the Malabar series of trilateral exercise involving India, US and Japanese navies in 2018. 

Furthermore, Indian Navy has been invited to the mine counter-measure training by the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force.

These were decided at the two-day India-Japan Annual Defence Ministerial Dialogue in Tokyo attended by the defence minister Arun Jaitley and his Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera. This was the Jaitley`s last assignment as the defence minister as Nirmala Sitharaman is slated to take over as the new defence minister on Thursday.

The proposed sale of US-2 ShinMaywa amphibious aircraft figured in the discussions between the two ministers in Tokyo, according to the joint statement issued at the end of the meeting. 

Japan had offered to sell 12 of these aircraft to India for better monitoring its exclusive economic zone even though the Defence Ministry is yet to issue an Acceptance of Necessity for the aircraft. 

The bolstering of military ties between India and Japan comes days after India managed to resolve a stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops that continued for more than 70 days. 

The meeting between the two defence ministers happened days after North Korea tested a Hydrogen bomb with "unprecedentedly big power" that can be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. This was condemned by both ministers in the strongest terms. 
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“The ministers decided to explore a joint field exercise in the field of counter-terrorism between the Indian Army and the Japan Ground Self Defence Force in 2018. Indian armed forces were invited to participate as observers in the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise conducted by JGSDF,” says the statement.

The cooperation between the two air forces would now extend to aircraft visiting each other bases. Also, several high-level exchanges including a visit from the Japanese minister is likely to take place in 2018.

India and Japan had slowly transformed their defence relations, repositioning themselves as military allies in the last few years as China became assertive in the Indian Ocean region. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the past mooted creation of an “Arc of Democracy” in the Indian Ocean region, to tackle China`s “String of Pearls” strategy.

12. International Literacy Day is observed on September 8th.

International Literacy Day is observed on September 8th
Jamaica will join other countries in celebrating this year’s 51st commemoration of International Literacy Day on Friday, September 8 under the theme ‘Literacy in a Digital World’.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) promotes the day to underline the significance of literacy in the development and advancement of all nations globally.

In keeping with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information’s mantra – ‘Every Child Can Learn, Every Child Must Learn’, schools are encouraged to use the day as a national initiative to promote reading and literacy across Jamaica.

In a bulletin issued by the Ministry, it was noted that all six education regions will be hosting activities to celebrate the day.

Regions one and six will jointly host an event with a national focus. This will be held at the Pembroke Hall Primary School auditorium in St. Andrew and will involve the participation of institutions from both regions.
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The keynote speaker will be Literacy Programme Coordinator in the School of Education, University of the West Indies, Mona, Dr. Clement Lambert. Other activities by the Ministry include exercises for which students are being encouraged to ‘wear-a-word’ and explore their meanings, synonyms, antonyms, and use them in sentences; students sharing stories and poems with each other from a book, tablet or any other technological device; and youngsters designing posters to raise awareness of literacy and its link to sustaining societies, and displaying these around the school or in their community.

Meanwhile, parents, past students and community members are encouraged to visit schools to read to students from their favourite books.

Additionally, teachers are urged to assist students in developing an appreciation for the the role of literacy and reading in personal, national and global development.
 
13. India and Sri Lanka Begin Joint Naval Exercise SLINEX 2017.
India and Sri Lanka Begin Joint Naval Exercise SLINEX 2017
Sri Lanka Navy`s Offshore Patrol Vessels, SLNS Sayura and Sagara arrived at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday to participate in bi-lateral naval exercise between India and Sri Lanka - SLINEX 2017.

The biennial Joint Indo-Lanka Maritime Fleet Exercise that began on Thursday will conclude on 14th September.

A complement of 368 SLN personnel comprising 43 naval officers and 60 mid-shipmen are taking part in the biennial joint naval exercise.

SLINEX 2017 will focus on fleet work, seamanship, communication, replenishment at sea, Visit Board Search and Seize (VBSS) operations as well as helicopter operations.
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The exercise is being conducted in two phases harbor phase and sea phase. It will commence with the harbor phase from September 7 to 10 during which, the participants will engage in professional, cultural and social interactions.

The sea phase from September 11 to 14 in the Bay of Bengal will include complex operations including anti-piracy exercises, gun firings, cross-deck helicopter operations and anti-surface exercises.

According to Sri Lanka Navy, the joint exercise paves the way for operational effectiveness through common understanding of neighboring Navies. Moreover, it concerns on maintaining effective maritime security in the region by integrating forces through cooperation, coordination and collaboration leading to mutual understanding of limitations and capabilities, to enhance service interoperability and system compatibility in countering challenges.

 14. Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991 cannot be revoked.

 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991 cannot be revoked

The organisation that oversees the Nobel Peace Prize said Friday the 1991 prize awarded to Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi cannot be revoked. Olav Njolstad, head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute said in an email to The Associated Press that neither the will of prize founder Alfred Nobel nor the Nobel Foundation’s rules provide for the possibility of withdrawing the honour from laureates.

“It is not possible to strip a Nobel Peace Prize laureate of his or her award once bestowed,” Njolstad wrote. “None of the prize awarding committees in Stockholm and Oslo has ever considered revoking a prize after it has been awarded.” An online petition signed by more than 386,000 people on Change.org is calling for Suu Kyi to be stripped of her Peace Prize over the persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority.

Suu Kyi received the award for “her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights” while standing up against military rulers. She became the country’s de facto leader after Myanmar held its first free election in 2012 and she led her party to a landslide victory.

On Thursday, former South African archbishop Desmond Tutu urged her to intervene to stop the persecution of the Rohingya. In an open letter, he told his fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner that it is “incongruous for a symbol of righteousness” to lead a country where violence against the Rohingya is being carried out.

Rohingya have described large-scale violence perpetrated by Myanmar troops and Buddhist mobs setting fire to their homes, spraying bullets indiscriminately and ordering them to leave or be killed. Suu Kyi has dismissed the Rohingya crisis as a misinformation campaign.

15. Pakistan PM opens China backed 5th nuclear power plant for 340 MW electricity generation.

Pakistan PM opens China backed 5th nuclear power plant for 340 MW electricity generation
Power-starved Pakistan on Friday received a major boost as a China-backed 340 MW nuclear power plant in its Punjab province was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

The fifth nuclear plant C-4 plant is located at Chashma in Mianwali district of the Punjab province. The project has been completed with the support and cooperation of China.

No outages after November

Mr. Abbasi said that the nuclear plants were a source of cheap energy and Pakistan would work on setting up more such plants. He said the government was completing all energy projects on a fast-track basis to tackle the chronic energy shortages. He has already promised that there would be no power shortage after November.

Chashma already has three nuclear power plants known as C-1, C-2 and C-3, which are contributing to the national grid along with a similar plant in Karachi.

Pakistan is also building two more nuclear power plants in Karachi known as K-2 and K-3 aimed to give a major boost to civil nuclear energy after completion.

Pakistan has been grappling with power shortage and the unusually long hours of power outages has been haunting its people for about a decade.

Cooperation in many areas

Mr. Abbasi thanked China for extending cooperation in the nuclear field. Pakistan and China are actively cooperating in many other areas, including construction of roads, motorways, airports and upgradation of Pakistan Railways.

Many projects were initiated under the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

 

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