VIF Neighbourhood News Digest - 9 March 2018
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PAKISTAN

US moves to reassure Pakistan as bilateral talks resume: Dawn
March 09, 2018

The United States announced head money on the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders and two other suspected Pakistani militants on Thursday as Islamabad urged Washington to resume a structural dialogue between the two countries. The US Department of Justice has placed a head money of $5 million on Mullah Fazlullah and of $3m each on Mangal Bagh and Abdul Wali, official sources told Dawn. The media reported earlier on Thursday that US drone strikes had killed 21 TTP activists in Afghanistan, including Mullah Fazlullah’s son. “In some areas, they do bring pressure on us, we have made clear that we will do whatever we think is in our national interests,” said Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, while explaining the outlines of recent US-Pakistan talks. “The important message that we have to give is, we will do what’s in our national interests.” Click here to read...

Islamabad HC allows EC to register Hafiz Saeed's Milli Muslim League party: MSN
March 08, 2018

The Islamabad High Court on Thursday issued an order to the election commission here to allow the registration of the Milli Muslim League (MML), the political party created by 26/11 mastermind and one of the world's most wanted terrorist Hafiz Saeed. According to reports, the Pakistan Election Commission had been refusing to allow the MML to get itself registered as a political party to contest the 2018 general elections. Media reports claim that the MML is a sub-branch of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) and the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), both founded and nurtured by Hafiz saeed. Both of these outfits have long been accused of spearheading terror attacks in India, the most notable of which was the December 13, 2001 terror strike on the Indian Parliament and the November 26-29, 2008 terror strikes in several locations across Mumbai. Click here to read...

AFGHANISTAN

Peace Talks ‘Will Not Be Held Behind Closed Doors’: Tolo News
March 09, 2018

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah says the achievements made in the past 15 years in ensuring women’s rights will not be compromised in any peace process and that talks will not be held behind closed doors. Addressing an event on International Women’s Day, Abdullah vowed to support women’s development in politics, military, culture and economy. “Afghan government has raised the voice of peace… People will surely be informed during the peace process. No deal will be done behind closed doors. Nothing will be done in the absence of the people,” he said. Toby Lanzer, United Nations Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, at this event, called on the Afghan government to start peace talks with the Taliban. Click here to read...

NEPAL

Maoists likely to pick Mahara for speaker: My Republica
March 09, 2018

CPN (Maoist Center) is likely to select former deputy prime minister and multiple times minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara as its candidate for the new speaker of the House of Representatives. Though the party is yet to take an official decision, many senior party leaders believe Mahara is on the priority list for the post. The largest party CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) have agreed to share the two key posts of president and speaker between them. As UML has the post of head of state, the Maoists will get speaker. Given the alliance of the two major parties, their candidates are almost certain to be elected to the posts. Click here to read...

SRI LANKA
Situation under control, riots have dealt a huge blow to economy: PM

March 08, 2018

Barring a few minor incidents such as people throwing stones at establishments at a few places outside Kandy, things are under control, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe assured today. Minor incidents had been reported from the areas of Giriulla, Kuruwita and Weligama. Mr. Wickremesinghe, making a special statement, said that the situation in Kandy has been brought under control. “The curfew was re-imposed in Kandy from 6.00pm today to 6 a.m tomorrow (9) just to ensure that law enforcement officers would be able to maintain peace in the area. "President Maithripala Sirisena appointed Ranjith Maduma Bandara as the Law and Order Minister after consulting me and he will look into the situation in Kandy as part of his duties. I had a discussion with him, Defense Ministry Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne and the Law and Order Ministry Secretary with regard to our future course of action," the PM said. Click here to read...

CHINA
China’s steel, metals sector calls for retaliation over Trump tariffs: South China Morning Post

March 09, 2018

China’s steel and metals sector demanded on Friday that the government retaliate against the United States for imposing heavy tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. Click here to read...

‘No back-room deals, everything is transparent’: China defends belt and road investments: South China Morning Post
March 09, 2018

Beijing on Thursday defended China’s growing role along the new Silk Road and massive investment in Africa, rejecting concerns that its projects lacked transparency and exacerbated some of its partners’ debt problems. Click here to read...

Xi urges energizing rural areas: China Daily
March 09, 2018

President Xi Jinping highlighted the importance of revitalizing the country's rural areas during the top legislature's ongoing annual session in Beijing on Thursday. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, attended a panel discussion with deputies to the National People's Congress from Shandong province at the Great Hall of the People. Click here to read...

Constitutional changes meet needs of new era: China Daily
March 09, 2018
The draft amendment to the Constitution, which is being deliberated and discussed at the ongoing national legislative and political advisory sessions, complies with the new era and contributes to China's further development, deputies and advisers said. As a major agenda item for the first session of the 13th National People's Congress, the draft amendment was welcomed by deputies, as well as members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, after it was submitted to the NPC on Monday. Click here to read...

Nation will never engage in arms race, PLA official asserts: China Daily
March 09, 2018

China will never launch or involve itself in an arms race with any other country, especially the United States, said a senior strategist from the People's Liberation Army on Thursday. Lieutenant General He Lei, vice-president of the PLA Academy of Military Science and a national legislator, told reporters that China's diplomatic and defense policies are peaceful and defensive in nature. Therefore no matter how the nation increases its military budget, it will never threaten other countries or engage in an arms race with others. Click here to read...

China, India should build ties, resolve differences through mutual trust, Beijing says: South China Morning Post March 08, 2018

No mountain is high enough to stop China and India having a strong relationship, as long as both sides strive to build trust instead of fighting one another, China’s foreign minister said on Thursday. Click here to read...

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