VIF News Digest: International Developments (1-7 May, 2018)

USA, Europe

UK to build International Coalition against Russia

Britain will use a series of gatherings of world leaders this year – the G7, G20, NATO and EU summits – to try to build a global coalition opposing Russia after chemical attacks in Syria and the UK. A Whitehall official told the paper: “The Foreign Secretary regards Russia’s response to [the chemical attack in the Syrian town of] Douma and Salisbury as a turning point and thinks there is international support to do more…“The areas the UK are most likely to pursue are countering Russian disinformation and finding a mechanism to enforce accountability for the use of chemical weapons.” Click here to read...

US Allies Caught in New Russia Sanctions Fight between Congress and Trump Team

The Trump administration and Congress are on yet another collision course over U.S. sanctions targeting Russia, but this time American allies are caught in the middle. Defense Secretary James Mattis is warning that India and other major defense partners could face tough U.S. sanctions for their impending purchases of new military equipment from sanctioned Russian companies, and has asked Congress for the authority to waive those sanctions. But top lawmakers have signaled that they aren’t willing to give the administration broad power to weaken a tough U.S. sanctions regime enacted last year. Click here to read...

Indo-Pacific Region in focus of India-US Maritime Talks

On May 2, India and the US on held their third maritime security dialogue focussing on cooperation and developments in the Indo-Pacific region, a statement from the Indian foreign ministry said.

The Indian delegation was led by Pankaj Sharma, joint secretary (disarmament) and Munu Mahawar, joint secretary (Americas division) in the foreign ministry besides Richa Misra, Joint Secretary (Navy), Ministry of Defence. From the US side, David Helvey, principal deputy assistant secretary of defence for Asian and Pacific security affairs and Daniel Rosenblum, deputy assistant secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs headed the delegation to the talks. Click here to read...

India Re-examining US Pacts that could give access to top-notch Weapons like Armed Drones

The NDA government is now once again re-examining the two other “foundational agreements” being pushed by the US for over 15 years now, after inking the bilateral military logistics pact in 2016, in a sharp departure from the previous UPA regime that had virtually rejected them.

India and the US will hold fresh discussions on the two pacts — Communications Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) — at a meeting here on Thursday and Friday. Click here to read...

Looking Forward to rescheduling Two-Plus-Two Dialogue with India: US

The US is looking to reschedule the first two-plus-two dialogue with India following the confirmation of Mike Pompeo as President Donald Trump's new Secretary of State, the Pentagon said. Pompeo, 54, a former CIA director was sworn-in as the 70th US Secretary of State yesterday replacing Rex Tillerson who was fired by Trump in March. Click here to read...

Mueller 'threatened Trump with subpoena' amid Russia Probe

Special Counsel Robert Mueller warned he could order Donald Trump to testify as part of a probe into alleged Russian election meddling, US media report. It is believed to be the first time the special counsel has raised the possibility of issuing a subpoena. Mr Trump has repeatedly denied collusion, and Russia has also denied the allegations. Meanwhile, the lawyer who has been Mr Trump's main legal representative in the probe is to step down. The White House said on Wednesday that Ty Cobb had been considering retirement for some time and had decided to go at the end of this month. Click here to read...

Pompeo's Early Days and New Hires at State Show Promise

Newly confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had an impressive first two days on the job. Immediately after being sworn into office, he set off on a high-level diplomatic trip. While Pompeo's confirmation was moving through the full Senate, several important senior-level positions at State were being filled by well-qualified appointees and rumors of additional appointments were swirling. In 36 hours, Pompeo did more to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the State Department than his predecessor did in the previous 15 months. Click here to read...

Trump Administration Agrees to Supply Predator Drones to India

The Trump administration has agreed to supply long endurance high-altitude surveillance armed unmanned aerial vehicles, which are capable of hunting and destroying targets across seas and over land borders. Although the Pentagon had cleared the sale of 22 Guardian naval surveillance drones to India, New Delhi was insistent that given the costs involved, it was in favour of acquiring an armed drone which operates over both land and sea. Click here to read...

Russia

Lavrov Meets Cavusoglu on Cusp of 'New Partnership' Between Russia and Turkey
Recent talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu are a sign of improving relations between Moscow and Ankara, which are set to change significantly as a result of the Syrian conflict and the Turkish Stream project, Eurasian affairs analyst Hasan Selim Ozertem told Sputnik Turkiye. Click here to read...

Thousands Rally in Moscow to send Telegram Support

Thousands rallied Monday in Moscow in support of internet freedom after Russian authorities tried to block access to the popular messaging app Telegram in the latest onslaught against dissent under Vladimir Putin. In an usually strong turnout, at least 8,000 people including top opposition leader Alexei Navalny turned up in the centre of the Russian capital, many holding placards and shooting paper airplanes, the Telegram symbol, an AFP journalist said. A volunteer movement that counts attendees at opposition rallies said more than 10,000 people turned up. Police said 7,500 attended. Click here to read...

Russia Cuts Military Spending for first time over past 19 Years — Report

Russia reduced its military spending last year for the first time since 1998, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in its report. "Russia’s military spending fell by 20 per cent to $66.3 billion, making it the fourth largest spender," the document said. "The Russian economy has suffered a number of setbacks since 2014, including a significant drop in oil export revenues, and government spending has been falling since then. However, military spending kept increasing until 2017, when it fell for the first time since 1998." Click here to read...

Israel Lauds Ties with Russia and Moscow to Punish ‘Sanctions’ Collaborators

Israel reveres its relationship with Russia, which has flourished into efficient and transparent cooperation over the past couple of decades, even against the background of tough pressure from its closest partners, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in an interview with Kommersant. "For example, as far as the anti-Russia sanctions go, we flatly refused to join them. Many states expelled Russian diplomats not long ago, all due to the standoff regarding the use or non-use of nerve gas and so on. Israel did not join this action. We have a normal relationship with Russia and we comprehend its interests," he said, adding that Tel Aviv also expects Moscow to "take into consideration our interests in the Middle East." Click here to read...

Crises in Syria, Ukraine cannot be resolved without Russia, says French envoy

The West needs Russia to maintain stability and security, France’s Ambassador to Russia Sylvie Bermann told Kommersant ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron’s upcoming visit to Russia scheduled for late May. Together with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, he is expected to take part in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and launch the Trianon Dialogue Civil Society Forum. "Russia is our strategic partner on many strategic issues, such as security, the war on terror, the environment and climate change. Moscow is a permanent UN Security Council member, and it is impossible to resolve the crises in Syria or Ukraine without Russia," the ambassador stressed. Click here to read...

Africa

How Trump stirred controversy in Nigeria: BBC News (1 May 2018)

Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari became the first president from sub-Saharan Africa to visit Donald Trump's White House on Monday. But even after they neatly avoided Mr Trump's alleged comments about "shithole" African countries, the US president managed to stir controversy in Nigeria, writes the BBC's Stephanie Hegarty from Lagos. Click here to read...

Al-Shabaab Ranked as Africa's Deadliest Militant Group: Daily Nation (1 May, 2018)

Al-Shabaab is responsible for more than half the reported attacks carried out in Africa by militant Islamist groups during the past 12 months, a think tank associated with the US Defence Department said on Tuesday. Click here to read...

Somalia floods displace thousands: Ethiopia, Djibouti troops help in evacuation: Africa News (1 MAY, 2018)

Central Somalia has experienced heavy rains which have flooded parts of the country. The resultant effect has been the displacement of thousands. The United Nations estimates that almost half a million people are affected. Click here to read...

Nigeria: Over 60 Killed in Twin Blasts at Adamawa Mosque, Market: All Africa (2 May, 2018)

No fewer than 60 persons were feared dead, yesterday, as a twin bomb blasts hit a mosque and nearby market in Mubi, Adamawa State. Click here to read...

European Union to Support Security Reforms in Somalia: Africa News (2 May, 2018)

The European Union has welcomed Somalia’s decision to take the lead in providing security of its people and to implement reforms in line with the National Security Architecture agreed in April 2017. Click here to read...

Libya violence: Twelve Killed in Tripoli Election HQ Attack: BBC News (2 May, 2018)

At least 12 people have been killed and several injured in an attack on Libya's electoral commission headquarters by the Islamic State group (IS). Click here to read...

Sudan reconsidering role in Saudi-led Yemen campaign: News 24 Africa (3 May, 2018)

Sudan says it is reconsidering its participation in a Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen for more than three years. Click here to read...

17 killed by ISIS-linked Extremists in Mali's Northeast: News 24 Africa (4 May, 2018)

A Tuareg leader says extremists linked to the Islamic State group in Mali have killed at least 17 people in two communities in the West African nation's Menaka region. Click here to read...

Nigeria: CBN Signs $2.5bn Currency Swap Deal With China: All Africa News (4 May, 2018)

After two years of sustained and rigorous negotiations, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has finally entered into a currency swap agreement with the Peoples Bank of China (PBoC). Click here to read...

Kenya's William Ruto launches first Microsoft software testing centre in Africa: Africa News (5 May, 2018)

Technology giant, Microsoft has launched its first software testing center in Kenya, a development that enhances the East African nation’s status as a regional hub for emerging technologies. Click here to read...

7 Kenyan Soldiers Killed in Somalia IED Blast: Voice of Africa (6 May, 2018)

At least seven Kenyan soldiers were killed and two others seriously injured after a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) targeted a military vehicle near the Somali town of Dhobley near the border with Kenya, witnesses and officials say. Click here to read...

Ethiopian PM visits Kenya: Bilateral, Regional Issues top of Agenda – Africa News (6 May, 2018)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is in Kenya for an official visit. His third overseas trip since assuming the office of premier on April 2, 2018. He has visited Djibouti (his first trip) followed by Sudan. Click here to read...

At least 45 Dead in Attack on Nigerian Village, Police say: Reuters (7 May, 2018)

At least 45 people died in an attack on a village in northern Nigeria, a police official told Reuters on Sunday, the latest in a string of incidents underscoring insecurity in parts of the country. Click here to read...

CAR News

International Conference on Counter-Terrorism Held at Dushanbe (4 May, 2018)

A two-day High-level International Conference on "Countering Terrorism and Preventing Violent Extremism" was held in Dushanbe on May 3-4, 2018, by the Government of Tajikistan in cooperation with the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union (EU). The conference participants included heads and senior representatives of foreign ministries and other relevant bodies from 46 countries and senior representatives of international organizations.

The conference aimed at addressing the security challenges facing the countries of the world and to unite efforts to counter terrorism, radicalism and violent extremism as the main feeder of instability in many parts of the world. Click here to read...

Uzbekistan and Turkey Enhance Cooperation (1 May 01, 2018)

Uzbekistan and Turkey signed numerous agreements on investment projects during the official meeting between Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Tashkent on April 30, during Erdogan's visit to Uzbekistan. The leaders of the two countries signed a joint agreement on raising the level of the Uzbek-Turkish strategic partnership to the new level.The two sides signed a total of 23 agreements on cooperation in economy, trade, transport and logistics, industry, energy, science, education, tourism and other spheres. Click here to read...

International Sea Port Opened in Turkmenbashi (1 May 01, 2018)

The opening ceremony of the international seaport in the Pre-Caspian city of Turkmenbashi was held in Turkmenistan. The ceremony was attended by President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.The cost of the project, implemented since 2014 by the Turkish Gap inşaat company, exceeds $1.5 billion. With the commissioning of the new port, great opportunities open up for sending goods coming to Turkmenbashi through the route of the Silk Road from Asia and the Pacific, further – to Europe through the ports of Russia and Azerbaijan. Click here to read...