VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 13th June, 2018
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PAKISTAN
Shahbaz for resumption of peace talks with India: Dawn
June 13, 2018

Following in the footsteps of the United States and North Korea, Pakistan and India should resume comprehensive peace talks, PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif suggests. “Singapore Summit between the US and North Korea should set a good precedent for Pakistan and India to follow. Ever since the start of Korean War, the two nations have been at odds with one another -- both threatening to use military force with their nuclear arsenals facing each other,” Shahbaz said in a tweet on Tuesday. He further said: “If the United States and North Korea can return from the brink of a nuclear flashpoint, there is no reason why Pakistan and India cannot do the same, beginning with a dialogue on Kashmir whose heroic people have resisted and rejected Indian occupation.” Asking India to leave behind the past acrimony and move forward, Mr Sharif said: “It’s time for comprehensive peace talks in our region. International community must focus on the peace process in Afghanistan. Dialogue between Pakistan and India over Kashmir should also resume so that the long-festering Kashmir dispute is resolved in accordance with the UN resolutions. Click here to read...

AFGHANISTAN
Taliban Leader Issues Eid Message, Calls For Talks: Tolo News
June 13, 2018

The Taliban’s leader Mullah Hebatullah Akhundzada said in an Eid message that the group’s fight is to end the presence of US military in Afghanistan. Akhundzada said the only way to rescue Afghanistan was for the US forces and, in his words, “other occupying forces” to leave the country, so that an independent, Islamic, intra-Afghan government “can take root”. He said the group has “kept the doors of understanding and negotiations open” and “appointed the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate as the exclusive avenue of activity in this regard”. He again called on the US to hold direct talks with the group and said if US officials believe in a peaceful resolution, then they must resolve the crisis through dialogue. Following the announcement of a temporary ceasefire by the Afghan government with the Taliban, the United States on Thursday said it is ready to participate in talks with the Taliban. Click here to read...

NEPAL
Peace process ‘complete’, govt asks UNDPA for a drawdown: Kathmandu Post
June 13, 2018

A week after the government formally decided to wind up the United Nations’ political office in Nepal, officials on Tuesday asked the UN agency for its drawdown plan. The government has already written to the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) to wrap up its Nepal office within three months. The request was made early Tuesday in a meeting between Joint-secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Bharat Raj Poudyal, head of the ministry’s UN Division, and Cathering Sung, head of the DPA-Kathmandu. A senior MoFA official confirmed the meeting where Poudyal appreciated the task undertaken by the United Nations in Nepal’s peace process and urged Sung to provide DPA’s drawdown plan, as asked by the government of Nepal. In his meeting with Sung, Poudyal also made references to “smooth transition” of two previous UN missions in Nepal--UNMIN and OHCHR--and hoped that the DPA will follow suit. The government’s decision follows its stated position that Nepal’s political transition that started in 2006 has come to an end with the successful conclusion of elections to three tiers of government--local, provincial and federal--as envisaged in the new federal constitution. Click here to read...

BANGLADESH
Bangladesh to create new visa category for foreigners aiding Rohingya refugees: Bdnew24
June 12, 2018

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said her government will create a new category of visa for foreigners coming to Bangladesh in aid of the Rohingya refugees to ease complications. She informed Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar Bob Rae about the decision during a meeting at The Ritz-Carlton in Toronto on Monday morning local time before starting for Dhaka, her Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim told the media. He said Rae called it a ‘big challenge’ for Bangladesh to shelter the huge number of Rohingya refugees. Hasina briefed the Canadian envoy about the government’s efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the Rohingyas in association with different agencies. She also told him about the preparations being made to save the refugees from sufferings in the upcoming monsoon. Click here to read...

Myanmar mindful of Sri Lanka’s debt crisis when mulling Kyaukphyu SEZ: Myanmar Times
June 13, 2018

A senior civil servant has branded the debt concerns raised by Sean Turnell regarding the proposed deep-sea port in Kyaukphyu “baseless”, while the economist insisted that Myanmar should not need to borrow anything for the SEZ project. Sean Turnell, economic adviser to State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, commented during a recent seminar held in Singapore that the US$7.5 billion estimated price tag for the Kyaukphyu deep-sea port “crazy” and “absurd”. “That’s way, way, way beyond what you would need for something like that, and this is something the government has paid attention to.” The precedent set by the $1 billion Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, where the government in Colombo borrowed heavily to construct the port, but couldn’t repay the loans and had to give China a 99-year lease for debt relief, is “the example that stands out, that has been really taken notice of in Myanmar,” according to the adviser. To raise sufficient capital for the Kyaukpyu port, the government “will have to borrow from the Export-Import Bank of China about $2 billion to $3 billion,” he went on. “So in other words what’s on the table here is exactly what was on the table in Sri Lanka. Click here to read...

CHINA
China develops system that can work without electricity to ensure nuclear reactor safety during Fukushima-like crisis: People's Daily
June 13, 2018

China has developed a system that could ensure nuclear-reactor safety during crisis without using electricity. With China's updated version of the third-generation nuclear technology, the CAP1400 nuclear reactors in East China's Shandong Province have recently passed all six major technological tests including the ones involving the passive safety system, the Ministry of Science and Technology reported on June 6. Click here to read...

UN says China plays important, positive role in Korean Peninsula situation: Xinhuanet
June 13, 2018

The United Nations said Tuesday that China has played an important and positive role in the situation on the Korean Peninsula. "China has an important part to play in the situation on the Korean Peninsula and it has played a positive role," Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said at a daily news briefing. Click here to read...

S. China Sea stays stable sans outsider meddling: China Daily
June 13, 2018

The situation in the South China Sea has stabilized and will remain stable as long as countries outside the region refrain from making troubles, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday. China and member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will speed up consultation on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea on the basis of comprehensive and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, Wang said during a meeting with ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi. Click here to read...

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