VIF Neighbourhood News Digest - 16 Jan 2018
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PAKISTAN

US diplomat Alice Wells visits Pakistan, acknowledges Pakistan's role in countering terrorism: Dawn
15 Jan, 2018

American diplomat Alice Wells on Monday acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in eradicating terrorism and conveyed the US's desire to work with Pakistan in furthering the shared objective of stabilizing Afghanistan. Wells, the acting assistant secretary of state, was in Pakistan along with senior officials from the US National Security Council for a scheduled dialogue on bilateral and regional cooperation. She argued that, as an immediate neighbor and important country of the region, Pakistan’s support was critical to the success of US strategy in Afghanistan. She also underlined the need for strengthening intelligence cooperation between the two sides to improve coordination in counter-terrorism efforts. Click here to read...

US general says 'not giving up' on Pakistan ties: Express Tribune
15 Jan, 2018

The top US military officer, Marine General Joseph Dunford, said on Monday he was committed to the US-Pakistan relationship, which has been strained in recent weeks as Washington piles pressure to crack down on militants. “Do we agree on everything right now? No we don‘t. But are we committed to a more effective relationship with Pakistan? We are. And I‘m not giving up on that,” Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a small group of reporters during a trip to Brussels. Click here to read...

AFGHANISTAN

Rocket lands inside the premises of Indian embassy in Kabul, all employees safe: Times of India
15 Jan, 2018

A rocket landed in the Indian Embassy premises in Kabul, causing minor damage to a structure, but all the mission staff were safe, external affairs ministry said tonight. According to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, the rocket clipped the top of the ITBP barracks located inside the premises of the embassy. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said there was no fire and no casualties were reported in the incident. Click here to read...

NEPAL

No turning back from merger: Dahal: Kathmandu Post
15 Jan, 2018

Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has said there is no turning back from party unification with the CNP-UML. Dahal said that forming a single communist centre in the country was his long-cherished dream while UML Chair KP Sharma Oli also stood firmly in favour of unification. “My wish of bringing prosperity to the country will materialise now. Both of us won’t backtrack on the unification process at any cost”, Dahal said. Click here to read...

BANGLADESH

Bangladesh finds new natural gas reserve: Daily Star
15 Jan, 2018

Bangladesh has found a new natural gas reserve in its southern coastal district of Bhola at a time when the country is concentrating on import of liquefied natural gas (LNG). A total of 600 billion cubic feet of gas (bcf) has been found in Bheduria union, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam told reporters at Bangladesh Secretariat today. It would be the 27th gas reserve in the country. In Bhola, this would contribute to the total 1.5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) gas that it holds, the cabinet secretary said without specifying any further. Click here to read...

MYANMAR TIMES

Over 100,000 students still missing school in Rakhine: Myanmar Times
16 Jan, 2018

Over 105,000 students have failed to resume their educations after 303 schools were re-opened gradually since mid-October in northern Rakhine, according to Rakhine State Education Office data for December 2017. Currently, 105 schools in Maungdaw, 188 schools in Buthidaung and 10 schools in Rathedaung townships have already re-opened, with nearly 53,000 students attending classes. “Schools are opening because security is stable. Four or five schools from Buthedaung have to open this week,” an official told The Myanmar Times on condition of anonymity, Monday. Click here to read...

India increases engagement with Myanmar: Economic Times
15 Jan, 2018

Assam based Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) has exported 20 Metric Tonnes of Wax to Myanmar, a development that underlines India's increasing engagement with its eastern country. Earlier NRL has exported diesel to Myanmar. A consignment of two full truckloads was flagged off from Numaligarh Refinery Marketing Terminal to Myanmar by Managing Director (in charge) S.K.Barua recently. According to NRL, "This development assumes significance since it is yet another effort to bolster Government of India's 'Act East Policy'. NRL has been trying to establish trade links with neighbouring South-East Asian countries through the export of Paraffin Wax and Diesel." Click here to read...

MALDIVES

Male-Hulhumale high voltage cable project halted as graft probe begins: Haveeru
15 Jan, 2018

On the orders of the Anti-Corruption Commission, State Electric Company (STELCO) has halted awarding the project to lay a high voltage power cable between capital Male and reclaimed suburb Hulhumale to Dongfang Electric Corporation (DEC) of China. DEC had proposed a bid of USD 38.6 million (MVR 567.4 million) without interest for the project, while another Chinese firm, China National Electric Engineering Company (CNEEC), had proposed USD 44.4 million (MVR 684.6 million) with bank interest. The initial project leader, Ministry of Environment and Energy, had awarded the project to the latter and informed CNEEC in writing last November 13. However, ACC’s vice president Muawwiz Rasheed told finance minister Ahmed Munawar in a letter last week that the energy ministry had revoked the letter awarding the project to CNEEC 17 days after informing the company. The ministry had then tasked STELCO with awarding the project to a state-run firm. Click here to read...

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