VIF Neighbourhood News Digest - 1 March 2018
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PAKISTAN
Washington urges Delhi, Islamabad to hold talks: Dawn
1 March, 2018

The United States has urged India and Pakistan to sit down and talk about the issues that increase tensions between South Asia’s two nuclear-armed neighbours.

“We think that both sides would certainly have to sit down and have talks about that,” said US State Department’s Spokesperson Heather Nauert said when reminded at a Tuesday afternoon news briefing that cross-border shelling between India and Pakistan has continued unabated for the past several weeks.

The Indian media reported on Tuesday that Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries may meet in Kabul this week on the sidelines of an international conference on Afghanistan, which began on Wednesday. Click here to read...

US general dispels impression of friction with Pakistan: Dawn
1 March, 2018

A top US general has dispelled the impression that the United States and Pakistan were on a collision course, saying they valued the military-to-military relationship with Pakistan. Gen Joseph Votel — who as head of the Central Command is responsible for all US military operations in the Pakistan-Afghan region — told a congressional panel on Tuesday that the US had preserved the valuable military-to-military relationship with Pakistan and attempted to increase transparency and communication with military leaders. In doing so, the US continues to press its serious concerns about Pakistan’s alleged provision of sanctuary and support to militant and terrorist groups that target US personnel and interests, he added.Click here to read...

AFGHANISTAN
Abdullah Closes Kabul Process, Reiterates Peace Proposal: Tolo News
28 Feb, 2018

In the closing speech at Wednesday’s Kabul Process meeting CEO Abdullah Abdullah reiterated the president’s earlier statement that government is ready to talk to the Taliban and hold peace negotiations without any preconditions.

“We are ready to talk directly, without conditions or threat of violence. “Our messgae is unambiguous. We are committed to talking and engaging the Taliban on the basis of a realistic reconciliation program that addresses issues that divide us or are cause for armed conflict. “We aim to conclude with a credible peace and dignified return of Afghan citizens back to their homeland,” he said.

He pointed out that the theme of Wednesday’s meeting had indeed been as indicated earlier by President Ashraf Ghani – about the Afghan people’s desire to seek security for themselves, their family and community, and their country, as well as government’s national goal to restore a just, credible and durable peace after many years of conflict, displacement and destruction. Click here to read...

NEPAL
‘Government expects a deal with SSF-N today’: Kathmandu Post
1 March, 2018

The government effort to rope in the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal (SSF-N) to join the coalition of CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) has advanced following a three-party talks held at Baluwatar on Wednesday. The meeting among the leaders of the three parties, however, ended before they could enter the main agenda of power sharing and the SSF-N’s demand for amendment to the constitution to address the grievances of the Madhes community, as Prime Minister KP Oli complained of fever, said Maoist Centre leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha. The meeting was “very positive” and the government expects to strike a deal with the SSF-N on Thursday. “The talks so far have been positive and we are expecting to seal the deal with the forum tomorrow,” said Shrestha. PM Oli, Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, SSF-N Chairman Yadav and several senior leaders from the three parties were present at the meeting. Click here to read...

SRI LANKA
India was not interested in building ports or highways in Sri Lanka, says former President Mahinda Rajapaksa: Hindu
1 March, 2018

Former Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that India was not interested in building ports and highway projects in his country when it was first offered. “We offered India first - port/highways. But somehow they were interested in building the port at Hambantota. The government did not want it at that time because it was war time I think,” Mr. Rajapaksa told reporters here on Wednesday on his return from Tirupathi. His response came to a question on increasing interest from China in Sri Lankan projects. “What else to do? We went to China and when we mentioned about this, they immediately accepted that [proposal]. In any case, it was only a commercial transaction,” he said, adding that they knew how to pay it back. “We knew the importance of Hambantota port. When they offered it, what is the main duty of the leader? To look after the country.” Click here to read...

MALDIVES
Japan suspects Maldives of trading with UN-blacklisted North-Korean tanker: Haveeru
1 March, 2018

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan has reported that a Maldivian-flagged tanker was seen lying alongside a North Korean-flagged tanker in the East China Sea, and that the two vessels could have engaged in ship-to-ship transfers. According to a statement on the Japan foreign ministry website, the two vessels were spotted by an aircraft of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force at around midnight on February 24, 2018, some 250km eastern shore of Shanghai. The Maldivian-flagged tanker ‘Xin Yuan 18’ was lying alongside North Korean-flagged tanker ‘Chon Ma San’, which was designated as a vessel of targeted sanction against North Korea by the US government, on February 23, just a day ahead of the reported incident. Click here to read...

MYANMAR
Myanmar, China agree to build Buddhist association centre in Nay Pyi Taw: Myanmar Times
1 March, 2018

Buddhist organisations from Myanmar and China have agreed to establish a Myanmar-China Buddhist Association Centre in Nay Pyi Taw, said Thura U Aung Ko, Union minister for Religious Affairs and Culture. Currently, out of the 1.4 billion people in China, 200 million profess the Buddhist faith. Minister Thura U Aung Ko said Chinese leaders want the country’s new generation to learn Buddha’s teachings. That’s why they want to establish deeper ties with Myanmar. The Buddhist Association of China offers to build the centre on more than 200 acres in the country’s administrative capital. The State’s Sangha Maha Nayaka monks accepted the offer, he said. Click here to read...

CHINA
19th CPC Central Committee 3rd plenum issues communique: People’s Daily
1 March, 2018

The 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee issued a communique at the end of its three-day third plenary session, which concluded Wednesday. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, made an important speech at the session presided over by the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. Click here to read...

How has Xiconomics changed China? Beijing gives a review: South China Morning Post
1 March, 2018

President Xi Jinping’s hallmark economic policy focusing on supply-side structural reforms has achieved “solid progress” as fewer plants were idle and the debt ratio fell in 2017, according to a report from the National Bureau of Statistics. Click here to read...

Long March 11 carrier rockets to be used in country’s first sea launch: People’s Daily
28 Feb, 2018

China’s Long March 11 carrier rockets will be deployed for the country’s first sea launch mission later this year, their developer China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) said on Feb. 27, Science and Technology Daily reported. Click here to read...

China aims for nuclear-powered aircraft carrier by 2025: South China Morning Post
28 Feb, 2018

China might have a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the water by 2025 to bolster its maritime defences, according to the country’s main supplier of warships. China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), which refitted China’s first aircraft carrier and built its second, did not specify which vessel it was referring to, but a statement on its website on Tuesday was the company’s first confirmation that a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was in the works. Click here to read...

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