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China, Russia to stage military drills in South China Sea

China and Russia were to start war games in the South China Sea.
•    The eight-day joint exercises will include a focus on "seizing and controlling" islands and shoals, Chinese navy spokesman Liang Yang said in a statement.
•    They will involve surface ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, ship-borne helicopters, Marine Corps and amphibious armored equipment from both navies, he said.
•    China claims almost all of the South China Sea and has sought to bolster its case by building a series of artificial islands capable of supporting military facilities.
•    But a UN-backed tribunal ruled in July that any extensive claims to the sea had no legal basis and that China's construction of artificial islands in disputed waters was illegal.
•    This week's drills will be carried out off the coast of Zhanjiang city in the southern province of Guangdong.
•    Their precise location was not announced, but they do not appear to be taking place in disputed parts of the sea.


 

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2016 ASEAN Summit held in Vientiane, Laos

The 28th and the 29th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit concluded on 8 September 2016 at Vientiane, Laos. 
•    The theme for the 2016 summit was Turning Vision into Reality for a Dynamic ASEAN Community.
•    H.E. Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of the Lao PDR, was the Chairperson of the summit that was held from 6 September 2016 to 8 September 2016.
•    ASEAN leaders discussed the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and enhancing cooperation with ASEAN’s external partners.
•    They also signed the ASEAN Declaration on One ASEAN, One Response: ASEAN Responding to Disasters as One in the Region and Outside the Region.
•    Prime Minister Narendra Modi represented India at the ASEAN summit. He addressed the 14th ASEAN-India summit.
•    The Summit is ASEAN's highest policy-making body.
•    The chair of the ASEAN Summit rotates annually in alphabetical order of the English names of Member States.

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India, South-east Asian countries to set up fund for health emergencies in region

India along with 10 other member countries of World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) South-East Asian Regional Committee has decided to set up a dedicated fund aimed at building preparedness for health emergencies in the region. 
•    Decision in this regard was taken at the 69th session of WHO Regional Committee Meeting held at Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka. 
•    The joint funding stream will be established under the South-East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund (SEARHEF). 
•    The new funding stream will allow these countries to invest in infrastructure and human resources that will enhance preparedness. 
•    The Regional Committee is WHO South-East Asia Region’s highest decision-making body. 
•    It comprises 11 countries – Bangladesh, South Korea, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand and Timor-Leste. 
•    It has also been threatened by a range of emerging diseases, including SARS, MERS CoV, pandemic influenza and Zika virus. 
 

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India plans to outreach 68 countries

Taking the Modi government’s commitment to reach out to all countries worldwide, the Ministry of External Affairs has issued letters to various Ministers “assigning” them dozens of specific countries to engage with, The Hindu has learnt.
•    In a letter, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said, “By 2016-end, we will not leave any country where Indian Ministers have not gone.”
•    Ministry had identified 68 countries which had not witnessed Ministerial-level visits from India.
•    Among the first that will see visits by Ministers will be East European countries.
•    Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will be visiting Estonia and Latvia, while Home Minister Rajnath Singh will be going to Hungary and Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu to Bosnia. 
•    In case a Minister has some “personal work” or is interested in visiting certain places in those countries, the same will be included in their schedule.
 

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India, Kazakhstan Joint Exercise PRABAL DOSTYK-16 begins

Troops of Indian and Kazakhstan Army on 7 September 2016 began the joint exercise 'PRABAL DOSTYK – 16'. 
•    The exercise being conducted in Karaganda region of Kazakhstan will conclude on 17 September 2016.
•    Prabal Dostyk meaning Robust Friendship is a significant step towards fostering military as well as diplomatic ties between both countries.
•    The Indian Army is being represented by platoon strength.
•    The Kazakhstan Army contingent comprise of platoon from Special Operating Force’s Unit.
•    The exercise will be conducted in two stages
•    First stage will be to familiarize with each other’s tactics, drills, weapons & equipment
•    In Second stage troops of both the armies will graduate to jointly execute a helicopter borne operation in a simulated environment. 
•    Combat battle drills and physical fitness will be the focal point of the exercise.

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G20 summit concludes : Few Hard Economic Targets set


 
•    The theme of 2016 G20 Summit was Toward an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy.
•    It was the 11th summit since the inception of G20 in 1999.The summit was attended by all the leaders of the G20 including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
•    The chair of the summit was Xi Jinping, President of China.
•    The world leaders endorsed free trade and a crowded agenda that included the Koreas, Syria and refugees.
•    The guest invitees in the summit were: Egypt, Kazakhstan, Laos, Senegal, Spain, Singapore and Thailand.
•    The 2017 G20 Summit will be held in Hamburg, Germany, under the leadership of Angela Merkel.
•    G20 Members: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and European Union.

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PM Narendra Modi Meets UK's New PM Theresa May for the First Time

Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the first time met new British Premier Theresa May on Monday here and held discussions on enhancing bilateral ties in the aftermath of UK's decision to exit the 28-member European Union.
•    Both the leaders held discussions on the sidelines of the G20 summit here on "building opportunities" after the UK voted to leave the EU- the world's single largest market.
•    May was sworn in as Prime Minister on July 13, succeeding David Cameron who resigned after the country voted in favour of exiting the EU.
•    May, 59, is UK's second woman Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher, also known as Iron Lady, with whom May is often compared.
•    Modi had congratulated May on her assumption of new responsibility on July 27 and had affirmed India's commitment to further strengthen the strategic bilateral partnership.
•    Modi earlier today said fighting corruption, blackmoney and tax-evasion were central to effective financial governance.

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G20 Skips Deadline on Paris Climate Change Pact - Advantage India

DESPITE pressure from the US and China, the final G20 communiqué has skipped any mention of the December 2016 deadline for member-countries to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change. 
•    It has also avoided specifying a date for ending fossil fuel subsidies.
•    Both the moves were strongly opposed by India during the three-day meetings of negotiators before the leaders’ summit on September 4-5.
•    In his intervention on the summit’s concluding day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged that climate change was one of the foremost challenges, with the Paris Agreement showing the way forward. 
•    The Prime Minister’s point man at the summit, Arvind Panagariya, said that India was not ready in terms of domestic actions to ratify the agreement before 2016-end, but that it plans to do so at the earliest.
 

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India and Vietnam Ink 12 Agreements in Different Areas of Cooperation

India and Vietnam on 3 September 2016 signed twelve agreements to boost the bilateral relations between the two nations. The agreements were inked after delegation level talks between of Prime Minister of the two nations, Narendra Modi and Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the first Indian premier to visit the country in 15 years, was on a two day visit (2-3 September 2016) to Vietnam. The last Prime Minister to visit Vietnam was Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who visited the nation in 2001.
•    Framework agreement on cooperation in the exploration and uses of outer space for peaceful purposes
•    Protocol for amending the agreement on avoiding double taxation
•    Program of cooperation in UN Peacekeeping Matters
•    Protocol on celebrating 2017 as the "Year of Friendship”
•    MoU on health cooperation
•    MoU on cooperation in information technology
•    MoU on cooperation between the Vietnam academy of social sciences and the Indian council of world affairs
•    MoU on cooperation in cyber security
•    MoU for cooperation in the fields of standardization and conformity assessment
•    MoU on establishment of the centre of excellence in software development and training
•    Technical agreement on sharing of white shipping information
•    Contract for offshore high-speed patrol boats
•    Apart from this, India also extended 500 million dollar Line of Credit (LoC) to Vietnam for facilitating deeper defence cooperation with the South East Asian nation. The LoC was extended as the two nations elevated their ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to respond to emerging regional challenges.
•    Till now, Vietnam had Strategic Partnership only with Russia and China.
 

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India, China Diagnose Insensitivity to Core Interests as Chief Hurdles in Ties


India and  China on Sunday sought to reboot ties, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi advocating in his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping that New Delhi and Beijing must be sensitive to  each other’s “strategic concerns” — a theme which included a reference to terrorism radiating from the controversial China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
•    In response to a question whether the Prime Minister raised concerns regarding terrorism emerging from the area covered by CPEC — the 46-billion dollar connectivity project jointly undertaken by China and Pakistan — Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said: “That issue was also raised.”
•    Analysts say that the Prime Minister’s 35-minute talks with President Xi were “highly significant” as the under-appreciation of each others’ core  “strategic interests”  was identified as the main obstacle, preventing India-China ties to reach the next level.
•    All contentious issues, including China’s reservations in sanctioning Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar and the CPEC, are expected to be discussed “openly and frankly” at the  newly formed dialogue mechanism between the Foreign Secretary and the Vice-Foreign Minister from China.
 

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