VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 30th May, 2018
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PAKISTAN
Pakistan, India agree to restore LoC ceasefire: Dawn
May 30, 2018

In a rare positive development, Pakistan and India agreed on Tuesday to restore cease­fire on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary (WB) whose violation has left over 100 dead during the last nearly a year and half on the Pakistani side. The agreement was reached during a hotline conversation between the Directors General of Military Operations of Pakistani and Indian armies. The conversation between Maj Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza and Lt Gen Anil Chauhan was held on a Pakistani initiative. It was unprecedented for both sides to issue almost identical statements on the conversation, which unlike before did not accuse the other of wrongdoing. It could have easily been made a joint statement had it not been for the difference in their terminology like Working Boundary versus International Border and some other minor details that the respective sides decided to put in. Click here to read...

AFGHANISTAN
Saudi Arabia to Host Islamic Conference on Afghan Peace: Tolo News
May 29, 2018

High Peace Council (HPC) officials on Tuesday reported that Saudi Arabia is expected to host a conference of Islamic scholars on peace in Afghanistan. The two day conference will be held in the Saudi cities of Jeddah and Mecca and religious scholars are expected to announce their stance on the war in Afghanistan in a declaration. The conference is expected to be convened in a month’s time. “When the war in Afghanistan is declared as a prohibited act in the view of religion, then the Taliban must show acceptance to the proposed peace package,” said HPC spokesman Sayed Ehsan Tahiri. Meanwhile, US ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass has said that President Ashraf Ghani’s recent peace offer to the Taliban provides an opportunity to the group to respond positively. “President Ghani at the Kabul Process conference offered what we see as an unprecedented historic offer to the Taliban. Its been supported by all of the Afghanistan’s neighbors including Pakistan, by the United States, by Russian, by our NATO allies and we believe its time for the Taliban to respond seriously to that offer and to start a conversation and negotiation with the government,” said Bass. Click here to read...

NEPAL
Swaraj’s ‘Indians in Janakpur’ comment unfortunate: MoFA
May 30, 2018

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said the statement made by India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj about Jankapur during her annual press briefing on Monday in New Delhi, was “unfortunate”. After it drew widespread criticism, she immediately rolled back her statement and apologised on Monday night through the twitter. In a statement released on Tuesday, the ministry said, “The Government of Nepal’s attention was drawn to the statement made by India’s Minister of External Affairs (MEA) during her annual press conference. The reference made about the public participation at the Civic Felicitation programme held in honour of the Prime Minister of India in Janakpur on May 11, 2018 was unfortunate.” “Narendra Modi is the first Prime Minister of the country who has from America’s Madison Square to Nepal’s Janakpur addressed lakhs of Indians and reached out to them...” Swaraj said during MEA’s annual press conference where she highlighted National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s achievement on its fourth anniversary. She also claimed Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to address the Indian community at where they are living. She claimed, none of the Indian Prime Ministers in the past had addressed like Modi to the Indian community in this way. Click here to read...

BANGLADESH
More than 100 dead as Bangladesh drug war escalates: Straits Times
May 29, 2018

More than 100 alleged drug dealers have been killed and thousands detained in Bangladesh in the past fortnight in a Philippines-style narcotics crackdown that has raised concerns about extrajudicial killings. Police said 10 more alleged traffickers were gunned down in the early hours of Tuesday (May 29), some in shootouts with police and others in so-called gang wars between dealers. A total of 102 suspected traffickers have been killed since Bangladesh launched an aggressive war on drugs in mid-May to smash the surging trade in yaba, a cheap pill combining methamphetamine and caffeine. "We are saying that this war will continue until we bring it under complete control," Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told AFP. Around 12,000 accused dealers have been arrested and tried in special courts since the crackdown began on May 15, with many handed jail sentences of seven days to six months, he added. Click here to read...

CHINA
Xi urges expanding relations with UK: China Daily
May 30, 2018

China will continue to boost opening-up and enhance international cooperation in innovation, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday. Xi made the remark while meeting with Prince Andrew of the United Kingdom at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Scientific innovation cooperation will result in mutually beneficial outcomes and inject new impetus into the golden era of China-UK relations, Xi said. Click here to read...

China’s blue helmets help maintain peace: People’s Daily
May 30, 2018

China's decades-long, steadfast commitment to UN Peacekeeping fully displays its status as a leader in maintaining world peace without favor or bias and no hidden agenda, said Chinese observers on Tuesday, which marked the 70th anniversary of UN Peacekeeping missions. "Under the mandate of the UN, China has been deploying its blue berets to the most turbulent spots around the world, shouldering an increasing share of the UN Peacekeeping budget, which shows it is fulfilling its responsibility as a world power," Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Tuesday. Click here to read...

China says U.S. trade move contrary to bilateral consensuses: People’s Daily
May 30, 2018

China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Tuesday that the U.S. statement is contrary to the consensuses the two sides have previously reached in Washington. The ministry said the White House tactical statement is both unexpected and within expectation. "Whatever measures the United States takes, China has the confidence, capability and experience to defend the interests of Chinese people and the core interests of the country," the MOC said on its website. Click here to read...

Donald Trump to hit US$50 billion of Chinese imports with 25 per cent tariffs and restrict investment in US hi-tech industries: South China Morning Post
May 30, 2018

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he would place punitive tariffs on US$50 billion of Chinese imports and restrict investment in the American hi-tech industry, drawing a rebuke from Beijing. Click here to read...

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