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World Powers to Try Again for Syria Ceasefire

Despite repeated setbacks on the path to peace in war-wracked Syria, the United States and Russia will give diplomacy another chance, as Washington convenes international talks in Europe this weekend to try to secure a ceasefire that sticks.
●    The meetings come after Syria was plunged into some of the worst violence it has seen, as government forces backed by Russian airpower push a brutal assault on rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
●    Fresh air strikes in Aleppo on Wednesday left at least seven dead.
●    In the Swiss city, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov should be joined by their counterparts from Turkey and Gulf countries.
●    Lavrov named Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — all backers of Syrian opposition forces — as possible participants. 
●    French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Putin to push for a ceasefire, despite the repeated setbacks.

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Maldives Quits Commonwealth

The Maldives on Thursday pulled out of the Commonwealth calling as “unjust” the grouping’s decision to penalise the island nation over the circumstances that led to then President Mohamed Nasheed’s ouster in 2012 and the lack of subsequent progress in resolving the political unrest.
●    The Maldives Foreign Ministry termed “difficult” but “inevitable” the decision to leave the Commonwealth, a grouping of 53 nations that were mostly territories of the former British Empire.
●    Last month, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), had warned Maldives of suspension from the bloc expressing its “deep disappointment” over the country’s lack of progress in resolving the political crisis.
●    Severely critical of Commonwealth, the Maldives said in the name of promotion of democracy, the grouping used the country to increase the organisation’s own relevance and leverage in international politics.

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India - Indonesia bilateral maritime exercise at Belawan, Indonesia

In a demonstration of India's commitment to its ties with Indonesia and to the maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region, Indian Naval Ship Karmuk, an indigenously built missile corvette, based under the Andaman and Nicobar Command, alongwith a Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft, is participating in the 28th India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol and Second Bilateral Maritime Exercise, scheduled from 10-27 Oct 16 in the Andaman Sea.
●    Defence relations between India and Indonesia have been growing steadily with regular joint activities and interactions between the Armed Forces of the two countries. The two navies have been carrying out Coordinated Patrols (CORPAT) on respective sides of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) twice a year since 2002, with the aim of keeping this vital part of the Indian Ocean Region safe and secure for commercial shipping, International trade and legitimate marine activities. The CORPAT has strengthened understanding and interoperability between the two navies and promoted net maritime security in the region.
●    The bilateral cooperation has increased significantly with the scheduling of the Second Bilateral Maritime Exercise alongwith the 28th edition of the CORPAT. The Opening Ceremony at Belawan, Indonesia from 10-13 Oct 16 is being attended by Commodore Girish Kumar Garg, the Naval Component Commander of the Tri Service Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) based at Port Blair. The Bilateral Maritime Exercise and the CORPAT would see participation by one warship and one Maritime Patrol Aircraft from each Navy.
●    These interactions would also provide opportunities for extensive operational and training engagements, and contribute substantively to the maintenance of good order at sea. The Exercise seeks to strengthen the existing bonds of friendship between India and Indonesia, and underscore India's partnership and solidarity with friendly countries of the region.


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Russia, Turkey Agree to Intensify military, intelligence Contacts

●    They also have agreed on the need for aid to get to the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
●    Decision in this regard was taken after meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin on sidelines of World Energy Congress in Istanbul.
●    The two countries also have signed a deal to construct two Turk Stream gas pipeline pipelines to send Russian gas under the Black Sea to Turkey.
●    Turkey will use one pipeline for its domestic consumption and the other will supply southeastern Europe, bypassing Ukraine.
●    This was the first time Russian President Putin visited Turkey after their relations were strained after Turkey, a NATO member had downed a Russian war plane in November 2015 alongside the Syrian border.
●    Understanding the behaviour of these glaciers and their contribution to the sustainable supply of water for mankind and agriculture is one of the grand challenges of Indian scientific community.

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US Lifts Economic Sanctions on Myanmar

The U.S. on 7 October 2016 lifted sanctions against Myanmar that have been in place for nearly two decades.
●    The move came after President Barack Obama’s announcement that the US was ready to lift sanctions on the Asian country during Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to Washington in September 2016.
●    As a result of Obama’s announcement, the Treasury Department stated that the economic and financial sanctions administered by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control were no longer in effect.
●    Lifting economic and financial sanctions will support trade and economic growth in Myanmar.
●    Treasury will continue to work with Burma to implement a robust anti-money laundering regime that will help to ensure the security of its financial system.
●    The Government of Myanmar was under economic sanctions by the US Treasury Department.


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MoU with EU on Water Cooperation Approved

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for the signing of MoU between India and European Union in the field of water resources.
●    The MoU envisages strengthening the technological, scientific and management capabilities of India and the European Union in the field of water management on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit. It provides technical exchange on water issues, including on integrated water resource management plans within river basins and through study visits.
●    The MoU aims to identify key environmental issues and approaches to sustainable development where exchange of experiences and cooperation could be mutually beneficial to strengthen and further develop cooperation between India and the European Union in the field of water management. It envisions a more sustainable management of water resources in India with an objective of tackling the challenges posed by water management in the context of growing population, competing water demands and a changing climate. A Joint Working Group shall be formed to monitor the activities to be carried out in fulfillment of the MoU.
●    The Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has been envisaging bilateral cooperation with other countries in water resources development and management through sharing of policy and technical expertise, conducting of training courses, workshops, scientific and technical symposia, exchange of experts and study tours. 
●    Keeping in view the success of the European Union in distribution of water resources, water pricing, water use efficiency by encouraging the changes in agricultural practices necessary to protect water resources and quality, such as switching to less water-demanding crops, etc., it has been decided to have an agreement with Israel to benefit from their experience and expertise. The EU States have adopted water pricing policies to provide adequate incentives for users to use water resources efficiently thereby contributing to environmental objectives.


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MoU with AARDO approved

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the African Asian Rural Development Organization (AARDO) for capacity building programmes in the field of rural development.
●    The MoU for the triennium 2015 - 2017 is being signed under which capacity building programmes for AARDO member countries will be organized every year during the triennium at various Institutions of Excellence in India such as National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (NIRD & PR), institutions governed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and others. The duration of each training programme shall be of two to three weeks. The Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Development Management Course at NIRD & PR under this scheme is for one year.
●    The AARDO, which has its headquarters in New Delhi, is an autonomous, inter-Governmental organization established in 1962 with the objective of promoting cooperation among the countries of the African - Asian Region in the direction of eradicating thirst, hunger, illiteracy, disease and poverty in the region. India is one of the Founder Members of the Organization and is the largest contributor in terms of membership contribution of US$ 141,100 apart from contributing by way of providing 70 fully paid training scholarships for Human Resource Development Programme under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) to the Organization. India has also provided a building for housing the AARDO Secretariat in Delhi and considerable financial assistance is given to AARDO for maintenance of the building. AARDO currently has 31 countries of the African - Asian Region under its fold.
●    Since the year 2009, India is continuing to provide an Additional Contribution of US$ 600,000 to AARDO for each triennium 2009-2011 to expand its scale and scope of the Capacity Building Programmes of AARDO for the benefit of Member Countries.


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3 Agreements signed between India and Singapore

India and Singapore on 4 October 2016 signed three Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs) agreements during the visit of Singapore Premier Lee Hsien Loong to India.

●    MoU on collaboration in the field of Technical and Vocational Education and Training. - Between National Skill Development Corporation and ITEES Singapore.
●    MoU on collaboration in the field of Technical and Vocational Education and Training. - Between Government of Assam and ITEES Singapore.
●    MoU in the field of Industrial Property Cooperation. - Between DIPP and Intellectual Property Office Singapore.
●    The close ties between India and Singapore have a history rooted in strong commercial, cultural and people-to-people links.
●    Singapore is not only an important trading partner in ASEAN but also a major source of FDI inflows in India.

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US Warships visit Vietnam port : Changing relations between two former enemies.

Two U.S. warships made port calls at Vietnam's strategic naval base at Cam Ranh Bay, the U.S. navy said on Tuesday, in a brief but symbolic return for U.S. combat vessels to what was a crucial logistics complex during the Vietnam War.
●    Submarine tender USS Frank Cable and guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain made the visit on Sunday to the deep-water naval base, marking an important step in fast-growing defence ties between the two former enemies.
●    The visit came after the full lifting of a U.S. embargo on trade in lethal arms with Vietnam in May as part of President Barack Obama's strategic "rebalance" toward Asia.
●    At the same time, tension has been rising over rival territorial claims in the South China Sea, straining ties between Vietnam and its giant neighbour China.
●    Vietnam has been intensifying efforts to diversify relations in Europe and Asia and engage more with the United States.

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3rd India and Canada Annual Ministerial Meet

A high level delegation led by Commerce and Industry Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman is attending 3rd Annual Ministerial Dialogue scheduled on 29th September, 2016 at Toronto, Canada. 
●    It is recognised that India and Canada have enormous scope for enhanced bilateral trade relations but, the bilateral trade between the two countries has not been up to the potential. 
●    Both sides recognized the immense potential and mutual interest in promoting trade. Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi during his historic bilateral visit to Canada in April 2015, stressed the importance of bilateral business and commercial linkages as key drivers of India-Canada partnership. 
●    During his visit both the nations recognised the need for early finalisation of the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) and expeditiously conclude a progressive, balanced, and mutually beneficial Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), as a basis for expanding two-way trade and investment. 
●    Considering the potential and given the fact that bilateral trade between both the countries has grown at a decent pace, the Trade Ministers of both the countries are likely to discuss the following major issues:- 
●    Exploring ways of expeditious early conclusion of FIFA and CEPA. 
●    Exploring options for Indian interest in addressing the Temporary Foreign Workers Programmes (TWEP) of Canada which is affecting the Indian IT Industry; address equivalance by Canadian Food Inspection Agency for Indian organic product exports; and exploring investment opportunities in different sectors of India. 
●    In addition, both leaders are expected to discuss regarding recent commercial achievments between both countries, bilateral FDI flows, issues relating to intellectual property, etc in addition to other issues relating to trade and investment. 
●    The Commerce and Industry Minister Mrs. Sitharaman is also scheduled to meet some top business leaders of Canada on 30th September to discuss the various reforms undertaken in India and prospects for investment in various sectors. 

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