VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 26th June, 2018

Pak-Afghan Track-II hails move to end blame game: Dawn
June 26, 2018

A Pak-Afghan Track-II initiative on Monday welcomed the commitment by the two countries to ending blame game and urged both sides to restrain their spokespersons from giving ‘knee-jerk’ reactions. The third episode of ‘Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Committee (PAJC), Beyond Boundaries’, which was held in Kabul on Sunday, welcomed “commitment by both governments to refrain from public blame games as they pursue the new dialogue framework”, said a statement issued here on Monday. Recently, the two governments had agreed on a new framework for bilateral relations called the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS). The commencement of the new arrangement has been promising and seems to have provided the basis on which the two sides could build their rapprochement. Click here to read...

Afghanistan “Produces” 80% Of World’s Opium: Tolo
June 25, 2018

Afghanistan annually produces 80 percent of opium used in the world based on fresh statistics given by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics on Monday. Addressing a gathering on the eve of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Afghan Minister of Counter Narcotics Salamat Azimi said “Afghanistan is world’s largest producer of opium in the world”. “With the production of more than 80 percent of opium in the world, 2.9 million to 3.6 million people are affected in Afghanistan because of drugs. Based on our current statistics, 11.1 percent of population of the country is affected,” Azimi said. At same event, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said an increasing insecurity, corruption and instability are among key factors which have been pushing the people to resort on poppy cultivation. “Insecurity and instability as well as endemic corruption and other social and economic issues have links with poppy cultivation and production,” Abdullah said. Click here to read...

Joint report, term on Kathmandu meet agenda: Kathmandu Post
June 26, 2018

As the two-year mandate of the Eminent Persons Group on Nepal-India relations expires on July 4, Kathmandu is hosting a crucial meeting of the group on Friday and Saturday to discuss two key issues concerning the EPG. A likely decision of the group will be whether this meeting is the last or a brief tenure extension is sought. The meeting is also expected to take a call if there will be a joint report or separate reports prepared by each side. If the EPG comes up with a single report, it will be submitted to the governments of Nepal and India jointly. If there are two reports, due to a lack of consensus on some vital issues, then the groups will submit their report to the respective governments. Click here to read...

How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port: New York Times
June 26, 2018

Over years of construction and renegotiation with China Harbor Engineering Company, one of Beijing’s largest state-owned enterprises, the Hambantota Port Development Project distinguished itself mostly by failing, as predicted. With tens of thousands of ships passing by along one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the port drew only 34 ships in 2012. And then the port became China’s. Mr. Rajapaksa was voted out of office in 2015, but Sri Lanka’s new government struggled to make payments on the debt he had taken on. Under heavy pressure and after months of negotiations with the Chinese, the government handed over the port and 15,000 acres of land around it for 99 years in December. Click here to read...

New growth engine urged for Sino-French teamwork: China Daily
June 26, 2018

China and France should deepen pragmatic cooperation and speed up cultivation of new growth engines, Presi¬dent Xi Jinping said on Monday. Xi made the remark while meeting with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The prime minister’s visit followed French President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to China in January, showing that France considers developing relations with China to be very important, Xi said. Click here to read...

Talks with EU speed up amid headwinds: People’s Daily
June 26, 2018

China and the European Union are accelerating negotiation of investment and trade deals amid agreement to defend the multilateral trading system, Vice-Premier Liu He said on Monday. Both sides agreed to firmly oppose unilateralism and protectionism and prevent such practices from impacting the world economy, which could be dragged into recession, Liu said at a news conference after the Seventh China-EU High-level Economic and Trade Dialogue held in Beijing. Click here to read...

Beijing tries to play down ‘Made in China 2025’ as Donald Trump escalates trade hostilities: South China Morning Post
June 26, 2018

Beijing is attempting to play down “Made in China 2025” by ordering state media to minimise their coverage of the industrial modernisation programme, as US President Donald Trump makes it a focus of his trade battle with China. Click here to read...

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