VIF Neighborhood News Digest: December 13, 2019
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PAKISTAN
PM’s visit to Saudi Arabia aims to assuage Riyadh’s reservations: Dawn
December 13, 2019

Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Saudi Arabia on Saturday to reassure the kingdom’s leadership that ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia remain firm despite Islamabad’s engagement with other Muslim countries. The visit, an Arab source disclosed, has been recently planned after signals from Riyadh that it was not happy with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to attend Kuala Lumpur summit being held in Malaysia from Dec 18-20. Click here to read...

AFGHANISTAN
Bagram Attack Casts Shadow over Qatar Peace Talks: Sources: Tolo
December 13, 2019

Taliban’s Wednesday attack at Bagram airbase has negatively affected the peace talks, sources said on Thursday, but peace talks are continuing “despite the tension.” “Before the Taliban’s (Bagram airbase) attack, Americans launched airstrikes in Sangin (district of Helmand) and I wished neither had happened so the talks would continue normally” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander, “but it didn’t have a big enough effect to stop them.” The Afghan government once again urged the Taliban to agree to a ceasefire and reduction of violence in the country. Click here to read...

BANGLADESH
BNP announces countrywide demonstration for Sunday: Dhaka Tribune
December 13, 2019

Expressing its grievances over the Appellate Division order rejecting BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's bail in Zia Charitable Trust graft case, the party has announced a countrywide demonstration program for Sunday demanding her release. BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir declared the program at a press conference after a meeting of the party Standing Committee members at its chairperson's Gulshan office in Dhaka on Thursday, reports UNB. Click here to read...

MYANMAR
State Counsellor asks court to dismiss genocide case against Myanmar: Myanmar Times
December 13, 2019

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday to drop the genocide case filed against Myanmar by the Gambia and sought the dismissal of the urgent plea for provisional measures intended to prevent more sufferings for people in northern Rakhine. In Myanmar’s final submission at the conclusion of the three-day hearing in The Hague, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi warned that issuing provisional measures could “undermine the ongoing reconciliation” efforts in the strife torn area. Click here to read...

SRI LANKA
Govt. to abolish Z-score system for University entrance: Dulles: Daily Mirror
December 13, 2019

In a range of drastic reforms in national education, the government would abolish the Z score system for university entrance and increase the number of national schools to 1,000 from the current 374 - giving at least one national school to each Divisional Secretariat where not a single national school exists right now, Education Minister Dulles Alahapperuma said. The new university entrance standard based on school level instead of district level will be applied to university admissions in 2021 for students sitting the GCE A/L examination in 2020, he added. Click here to read...

NEPAL
A month since Kalapani, no progress on holding talks with India: The Kathmandu Post
December 13, 2019

A foreign secretary-level meeting between Nepal and India to discuss the Kalapani issue is still not certain, a month since Kathmandu first sought a date. Responding to the Post’s query on the status of Nepal’s request, Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson for India's Ministry of External Affairs, said on Thursday that he “cannot react at this forum”. Nepal has objected to India’s new political map that places Kalapani within Indian borders. The map was released last month after Delhi formally split up the disputed Jammu and Kashmir state into two federal territories, in line with an August move by the Narendra Modi government to rescind Kashmir’s autonomy. Click here to read...

BHUTAN
Member countries assure to strengthen SAARC: Kuenselonline
December 13, 2019

As the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) turned 35, leaders from the member states renewed their commitments to further enhance integration. The leaders have sent messages of hope and optimism to take SAARC to newer heights on the 35th SAARC Charter day on December 8. However, after the 19th SAARC summit, which was scheduled to be held in Pakistan was called off by four countries (India, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan), observers in the region are already declaring the regional association as ‘dead.’ Click here to read...

CHINA
China holds key economic meeting to plan for 2020: Xinhuanet
December 13, 2019

The annual Central Economic Work Conference was held in Beijing from Tuesday to Thursday, as Chinese leaders charted course for the economy in 2020. In a speech at the conference, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, reviewed the country's economic work in 2019, analyzed the current situation and outlined key tasks for 2020. Click here to read...

How China is tackling its water stress: People’s Daily
December 13, 2019

When the water started to gush north through the middle route of China's mega water diversion project in 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed it as an important strategic infrastructure to optimize water resources, boost sustainable economic and social development, and improve people's livelihoods. Click here to read...

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