international - 2015 October

October 1

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif proposed 4-point Peace Initiative with India.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, proposed 4-point Peace Initiative with India aimed at defining the relationship between the Asian countries as one of cooperation, not of confrontation.
4-point Peace Initiative:
(1) Pakistan and India should formalize and respect the 2003 understanding for a complete ceasefire on the Line of Control in Kashmir. For this purpose, Pakistan will call for UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) expansion to monitor the observance of the ceasefire.
(2) Pakistan and India shall reaffirm that they will not resort to the use or the threat of use of force under any circumstances. This is a central element of the UN Charter.
(3) Steps need to be taken to demilitarize Kashmir. Both the nations should agree to an unconditional mutual withdrawal from Siachen Glacier, the world's highest battleground.
(4) Tackling global threat of terrorism.
Nawaz Sharif also spoke about the repeated terrorist attacks that Pakistan faces. The global threat of terrorism need to be tackled, and for this its underlying causes that is poverty and ignorance should be dealt with.
Extremist ideologies must be opposed. Moreover, it was also stressed that the narrative of the terrorists has to be countered through the just resolution of the several instances of oppression and injustice against Muslims in various parts of the world.

October 2

Palestinian flag hoisted at UN headquarters for the first time.
Palestinian flag was raised for the first time at United Nations headquarters in New York. The politically sensitive flag raising ceremony took place at the UN's Rose Garden.
The flag hosting raising ceremony was attended by the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.
Background:
Earlier, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) overwhelmingly approved the Resolution on Raising of Flags by Non-Member Observer States.
The resolution said that the flags of non-member observer states like Palestine shall be raised at UN Headquarters and United Nations Offices following the flags of the Member States of the organization.
Palestine was granted the status of a non-member observer State by the UNGA in 2012.

October 3

India and Germany sign 18 MoUs.
India and Germany signed a deal to fast-track business approvals, an arrangement to make it easier for German companies to operate in Asia's third largest economy that was announced as Chancellor Angela Merkel visited New Delhi.
The fast-track approvals process will ensure that German firms will have a single point of contact in the Indian administration, helping them to navigate a web of red tape that often thwarts business initiative.
The agreement is the first of its kind and comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to attract foreign investment in support of his "Make in India" drive to boost industrial investment and create skilled jobs.
India and Germany also agreed to enhance ties in key areas of defence manufacturing, trade, intelligence and clean energy during wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel here after which 18 MoUs were inked.

October 4

India submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions to UNFCC.
India submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. These INDCs are for the period between 2015 and 2030.
With the presentation of its INDCs, India set its tone for the Conference of Parties-21 (COP-21) in Paris that is scheduled to meet in December 2015 to adopt an environmental new protocol for post-2020 (post Kyoto Protocol) scenario.
So far, 119 parties to the UNFCCC, out of 192 member countries, have formally submitted their INDCs.
Some of the salient points of the INDCs are
To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level.
To achieve about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030, with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance, including from Green Climate Fund.
To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030 that will translate into increase of about 680 - 817 million tonne of carbon stock.
To better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, Himalayan region, coastal regions, health and disaster management.
To mobilize domestic and new and additional funds from developed countries to implement the above mitigation and adaptation actions in view of the resource required and the resource gap.
As per preliminary estimates, 2.5 trillion US dollars (at 2014-15 prices) required for meeting India's climate change actions between 2015 and 2030.
To build capacities, create domestic framework and international architecture for quick diffusion of cutting edge climate technology in India and for joint collaborative R&D for such future technologies.
India also pledged to adopt a climate friendly and a cleaner path to development than the one followed hitherto by others at corresponding level of economic development.

October 5

Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone opened to public for 1st time in 12 years.
Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone open to the public for the first time in 12 years.
In a statement, al-Abadi said that the move was part of a reform drive that was promised to people.
The 10 square kilometers area, home to government buildings and foreign embassies, was closed after the US-led invasion in 2003.
This opening of the Green Zone may end complain of several Iraqis who said that the zone has become symbol of disconnect between the country's top officials and ordinary citizens.
Green Zone area of Baghdad
The present day, Green Zone area of Baghdad that lies on the west bank of the Tigris River in the Karkh district of central Baghdad, was known as the International Zone of Baghdad and was a seat of government power under former president Saddam Hussein.
The area became Green Zone after the 2003 US-led invasion and was declared as a no-go area for public.
Ruling Social Democratic Party-led coalition won Portuguese general election.
Ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD)-led coalition won general election to the Portuguese parliament-Assembly of Republic.
Out of the total votes polled, the PSD and the CDS – People's Party coalition secured 37 per cent votes out of which the share of the PSD is just over 32 percent.
With this win, incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho is set to hold the post for next four years.
Still, the faith in the Pedro Passos Coelho-led government is expected to help the country in overcoming the challenges to the economy.

October 6

US, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim countries signed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
The United States (US), Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim countries signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement to lower trade barriers, bolster worker protections and set standards for a raft of other industries.
The 10 other countries of the Pacific Rim which signed the agreement are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. China, the world's second-largest economy, is not part of the agreement.
This TPP agreement encompassing nearly 40 percent of the world economy will now have to be ratified by the lawmakers of each country.
What will TPP do?
It cuts trade tariffs and sets common standards in trade for 12 Pacific-rim countries, including the US and Japan.
The partnership eliminates more than 18000 taxes that various countries put on made-in-America goods; this will level the playing field for farmers, ranchers and manufacturers.
The TPP deal also sets minimum standards on issues ranging from workers’ rights to environmental protection.
California signed Right to Die Bill for terminally ill people into a Law.
California allowed terminally ill patients to legally end their lives under a doctor’s supervision after state governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law.
With this signing of the bill, California became the fifth state in United States to allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives.
The other four states that allow such assisted suicides to terminally ill people are Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana.
Oregon approved the assisted suicide system for the first time in 1994, however, it said that before receiving life-ending drugs, patients need two physicians to say that they have less than six months to live and are mentally fit to make the decision.

October 7

India, Germany signed 125 million Euros Loan Agreement to fund two projects under Green Energy Corridor.
Government of India and Federal Republic of Germany (KFW) signed two loan agreements worth 125 million Euros for financing two projects under the Green Energy Corridor programme. These two projects are in Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
Germany will fund 57 million Euros for projects in Himachal Pradesh and 68 million Euros for Andhra Pradesh.
Green Energy Corridor programme seeks to facilitate the flow of renewable energy into the national grid. In other words, it is aimed at synchronising electricity produced from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, with conventional power stations in the grid.
About Germany
Capital: Berlin
Currency: Euro
Chancellor: Angela Merkel
California signed Right to Die Bill for terminally ill people into a Law.
California finally allowed terminally ill patients to end their lives legally under the supervision of doctors as they now have a right to die.
California has now become the fifth state in United States to allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives.
The other four states are Oregon (1997), Washington (2009), Vermont (2013) and Montana (2009). The right-to-die bill was introduced by the California lawmakers in 2015 for the first time since 2007.
About California:
It is a state located on the West Coast of the United States.
It is the most populous U.S. State.
Capital: Sacramento
Language: English
US, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim countries signed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
The United States (US), Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim countries on signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement to lower trade barriers, bolster worker protections and set standards for a raft of other industries.
The 10 other countries of the Pacific Rim which signed the agreement are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
China, the world's second-largest economy, is not part of the agreement. This TPP agreement encompassing nearly 40 percent of the world economy will now have to be ratified by the lawmakers of each country.
What will TPP do?
It cuts trade tariffs and sets common standards in trade for 12 Pacific-rim countries, including the US and Japan.
The partnership eliminates more than 18000 taxes that various countries put on made-in-America goods; this will level the playing field for farmers, ranchers and manufacturers.

October 8

Myanmar gets first-ever poll app.
Team Pop Stack, a group of young coders, recently launched Myanmar’s first ever election app - MVoter 2015.
Now they are targeting millions of hyper-active Facebook users in Myanmar, where mobile telephones and the Internet have spread rapidly since the end of military rule in 2011, and social media have a critical role in the election.
The country of 51 million people has more than 18 million SIM cards for mobile phones. Team Pop Stack says the app, although meant for everyone, is aimed at Myanmar’s youth
About Myanmar
Capital: Naypyidaw
Currency: Burmese kyat
President: Thein Sein
China to build four submarines in Pakistan as part of defence deal.
China will build four of the eight submarines in the port city of Karachi under a defence deal signed with Pakistan.
The construction of the submarines would simultaneously begin in Pakistan and China. China would also transfer the technology to Pakistan for submarine construction.
The implementation of the agreement would augment the existing submarine related capacity.
It is speculated that the deal was for Yuan-class Type-041 diesel-electric submarines equipped with AIP systems. Pakistan had earlier explored the options of buying submarines from France and Germany, but those deals did not materialise. A training centre would be set up in Karachi for this purpose.
About China:
Capital: Beijing
Currency: Renminbi
President: Xi Jinping

October 9

India, Ecuador ink Protocol to establish Ecuador Joint Economic and Trade Committee.
India and Ecuador has signed a Protocol for the establishment of the India-Ecuador Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) to enhance bilateral trade and investment relations.
It was signed by Mentor Villagomez, Ecuadorian Ambassador to India and Rita Teotia, Commerce Secretary during the meeting between delegations of both countries.
India-Ecuador Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) JETCO aims to further improve, deepen and strengthen the existing trade relationship between India and Ecuador.
About Equador
Capital: Quito
Currency: United States Dollar
President: Rafael Correa

October 10

UNSC adopts resolution to allow EU countries to use force to tackle Refugee Crisis.
United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has adopted a resolution authorizing the European Union (EU) and individual countries to use force to tackle the worst refugee crisis.
The EU-proposed resolution was supported by majority vote of fourteen council members of total 15 including all 5 permanent members. Venezuela remained abstain from voting.
Key Points:
The resolution allows European naval forces to board ships for inspecting, seizing and destroying vessels smuggling migrants and refugees on the high seas. It was adopted under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which authorizes use of force.
The resolution is valid for period of one year. The resolution will help to take military action against human-trafficking gangs and does not authorize action in Libyan territorial waters or on its coast.
The resolution was adopted by UNSC after EU countries had launched second phase of Operation Sophia giving it greater legitimacy (but does not give mandate for this operation).
The naval operation was launched against human smugglers and traffickers in the Mediterranean Sea.
Background:
European countries are witnessing greatest illegal refugee and migrant crisis since World War II and it is considered as one of the worst humanitarian crisis.
The crisis had erupted after an unprecedented number of people from North African (Libya, Eritrea, Sudan etc) and Middle Eastern (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan etc) countries started relocating to European Countries for seeking refuge for better life conditions.
In year 2015 alone, around 3,092 people have died while illegally crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.

October 11

President inaugurates Mahatma Gandhi street in Jordanian capital Amman.
President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated a street in the capital city of Jordan named after Mahatma Gandhi. A part of the Saddzagloul Street has been named the Mahatma Gandhi Street which after two intersections retains its old name which honours the Egyptian movement leader.
Mayor of Amman Aqel bel Tagi, that the street was specially chosen to be named after the Indian leader because “it connects the history of struggle for peace” in India and this part of the world.
The City Council also presented Mukherjee with the golden key of Amman commemorating his historic visit. The President also planted an olive tree in Jordan’s Peace Park.
About Jordan
Capital: Amman
Currency: Jordanian dinar
King: Abdullah II of Jordan
Continent: Asia

October 12

ICC calls for Bashir’s arrest.
The India-Africa summit to be held in Delhi in October 26-29 to be a grand affair, with a record 52 of 54 African countries confirming their acceptance.
International Criminal Court (ICC) has called for India to arrest one of the guests expected to attend, Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the ICC.
President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted by the ICC for war crimes and genocide during the Darfur conflict of 2003 in which 300,000 people were killed.
About Sudan
Capital: Khartoum
Currency: Sudanese pound
President: Omar al-Bashir
China operationalises Zam Hydropower Station on Brahmaputra in Tibet.
China has operationalised the Zam Hydropower Station built on Brahmaputra River which has raised concerns in India over the likelihood of disrupting water supplies of River.
The dam is considered to be the world’s highest-altitude hydropower station and largest of its kind. Annually it will produce produces 2.5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.
The power station is located in the Gyaca County of Tibet and is considered as the largest in this region.
About China:
Capital: Beijing
Currency: Renminbi
President: Xi Jinping

October 13

Australian art gallery to return 2000 year old Buddha idol to India.
Canberra based art gallery in Australia has agreed to return a 2,000-year-old Indian-origin sculpture of Gautama Buddha back to India.
The Sitting Buddha sculpture which was displayed in this gallery has its roots traceable to Mathura in Uttar Pradesh.
The sculpture is made of sandstone is an image and depicts very unique art of the ancient Mathura region.
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) played important role in negotiating the legality of returning this statue.
Earlier, Germany had returned 10th century Durga idol in Mahishasuramardini avatar to India which had gone missing from a temple at Pulwama in Kashmir in 1990s.
About Australia
Capital: Canberra
Currency: Australian Dollar
Prime minister: Malcolm Turnbull
India gives $5 million grant to Palestine.
India has given a grant of five million US Dollars to Palestine as Budgetary assistance. It was given Indian President Pranab Mukherjee to his is Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
Indian President visited Palestine as part of his three Western Asian countries Jordan, Palestine and Israel. India has announced 5 projects worth 17.79 million US dollars in Palestine.
These projects are $12 million Technology Park at Ramallah, and $1 million India-Palestine Centre for Excellence in Gaza, $4.5 million Palestine Institute for Diplomacy.
About Palestine
Capital: Ramallah
President: Mahmoud Abbas
Prime minister: Rami Hamdallah
Currencies: Jordanian dinar, Israeli new shekel

October 14

Bangladesh to set up textile park in Gujarat.
Bangladesh will set up Textile Park in Gujarat. In the beginning, the park will have spinning units with cumulative capacity of 1 lakh spindles. Bangladesh has sought around 100 acres of land from the state government for the project.
Representatives of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Bangladesh Cotton Association and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association visited Gujarat.
Globally, Bangladesh is among the top garment manufacturing and exporting countries.
About Bangladesh
President: Abdul Hamid
Prime minister: Sheikh Hasina
Currency: Bangladeshi taka
India plans big project along Bangladesh border.
The Cabinet Committee on Security cleared a massive infrastructure project for the Bangladesh border.
Project worth Rs. 4,400 crore was cleared by the CCS headed by PM Narendra Modi, but no announcement was made by the government.
Highlights:
The Cabinet Committee on Security cleared a massive infrastructure project for the Bangladesh border.
Projects worth Rs. 4,400 crore were cleared by the CCS headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but no announcement was made by the government.
Cross-border migration has been high on the agenda of the NDA government and it was one of the major poll issues before it came to power. The Border Security Force intercepted 1,731 Bangladeshi nationals trying to cross over to India.
The CCS has cleared around 200 km of fencing along the border. Sanction has also been given to construct a 400 km road in the border areas.
About Bangladesh
Capital: Dhaka
Founded: March 26, 1971
Currency: Bangladeshi taka
President: Abdul Hamid
Prime minister: Sheikh Hasina

October 15

Singapore Airlines to start world's longest direct flight; will fly non-stop to US for 19 hours.
Singapore Airlines has finalized an aircraft deal with Airbus that will enable it to operate the world's longest direct flight between Singapore and New York covering 8700 nautical miles over 19 hours.
The airline announced that it had signed an agreement to be the launch customer for A350-900ULR, a new ultra-long-range variant of the Airbus A350 aircraft, enabling the resumption of non-stop flights between Singapore and the US in 2018.
Under the agreement, seven of the 67 A350-900 on firm order would be upgraded to the ultra long range version.

About Singapore
Capital: Singapore City
Currency: Singapore Dollar
President: Tony Tan
Prime minister: Lee Hsien Loong

Iranian Parliament approves nuclear deal.
Iran’s Parliament passed a bill supporting the government in implementing a nuclear deal with world powers, state news agency IRNA, in a victory for the government over conservative opponents of the deal.
Some lawmakers have opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that President Hassan Rouhani’s government reached with world powers on July 14, and vote removes a major obstacle to putting the agreement into practice.
However, the bill insists that international inspections of military sites under the nuclear pact should be approved by a top Iranian security body, leaving the possibility that disagreements could still arise.
About Iran
Capital: Tehran
Currency: Iranian rial
Supreme leader: Ali Khamenei
President: Hassan Rouhani

India plans big project along Bangladesh border.
The Cabinet Committee on Security cleared a massive infrastructure project for the Bangladesh border. Projects worth Rs. 4,400 crore were cleared by the CCS headed by PM Narendra Modi, but no announcement was made by the government.
Highlights
The Cabinet Committee on Security cleared a massive infrastructure project for the Bangladesh border.
Projects worth Rs. 4,400 crore were cleared by the CCS headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but no announcement was made by the government.
Cross-border migration has been high on the agenda of the NDA government and it was one of the major poll issues before it came to power. The Border Security Force intercepted 1,731 Bangladeshi nationals trying to cross over to India.
The CCS has cleared around 200 km of fencing along the border. Sanction has also been given to construct a 400-km road in the border areas.
About Bangladesh
Capital: Dhaka
Founded: March 26, 1971
Currency: Bangladeshi taka
President: Abdul Hamid
Prime minister: Sheikh Hasina

October 16

Pakistan and Russia signed agreement to build 1,100 kilometre Gas Pipeline.
Pakistan and Russia have signed a major agreement to build a 1,100 kilometre gas pipeline from Lahore to Karachi at an estimated cost of $2 billion.
It is expected that this cooperation will take ties between the two Cold War-era adversaries “to a new level”.
Russia will invest $2 billion in the project, the first phase of which is expected to conclude by December 2017 with the completion in 2018.
The project will be implemented in compliance with BOOT model (Build Own Operate Transfer). The pipeline will be owned and operated by the manufacturer for 25 years. After that the pipeline will be handed over to the Pakistan government.

About Pakistan
Capital: Islamabad
Founded: August 14, 1947
Currency: Pakistani rupee
Prime minister: Nawaz Sharif
President: Mamnoon Hussain
About Russia
Capital: Moscow
Currency: Russian ruble
President: Vladimir Putin
Prime minister: Dmitry Medvedev

October 17

China, Indonesia signed 5.5 billion US dollars deal to build high-speed railway in Indonesia.
China and Indonesia signed a 5.5 billion US dollars deal to build the first high-speed railway in Indonesia following the victory of Beijing in winning the construction project by beating Tokyo.
Japan was long expected to build the railway but China entered the contest in 2015, and Tokyo's bid was rejected in September 2015 after a chaotic bidding process that infuriated the Japanese companies.
Highlights of the Deal
The high-speed railway line will connect the Indonesian capital Jakarta with the mountain-fringed city of Bandung, some 160 kilometres (100 miles) away.
State-owned China Development Bank will provide 75 per cent of the funding, with the rest coming from the Chinese railway company and Indonesian consortium.

About Indonesia
Capital: Jakarta
Currency: Indonesian rupiah
P.M: Joko Widodo

About China
Capital: Beijing
Currency: Renminbi
President: Xi Jinping

US to extend military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2016.
United States has announced to extend its military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2016 as per shift in policy to further cooperate for fighting terrorists.
It was confirmed by US President Barack Obama by announcing that around 5,500 troops will be present in Afghanistan when he leaves office in 2017.
Originally all except a small embassy-based force were due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2016.
Earlier in January 2015, joint US-NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat mission in Afghanistan ended and was replaced by NATO Training and Support mission.
About Afghanistan
Capital: Kabul
Currency: Afghan afghani
President: Mohammad Ashraf Ghani

October 18

Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay elected as non-permanent members of UNSC.
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) elected Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay to serve as non-permanent members on the UN Security Council (UNSC).
These members will serve the UNSC for two-year terms beginning on 1 January 2016 until 31 December 2017.
Egypt and Senegal will replace Chad and Nigeria from Africa Group, Japan will replace Jordan to represent Asia-Pacific Group, Uruguay will replace Chile to represent Latin America and Caribbean States Group and Ukraine will replace Lithuania to represent Eastern European Group.
The Western European and Others Group did not contest for any seats in 2015, as its two seats (currently held by New Zealand and Spain) are up for election every even calendar year.
New Composition of UNSC
Five permanent Council members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States with each wielding veto power.
Non-permanent members until end of 2016: Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela.
Non-permanent members until end of 2017: Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay.

October 19

Malaysia proposed to invest 30 billion US dollars for urban development in India.
The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) of Malaysia proposed to invest 30 billion US dollars in urban development and housing projects in India.
The redevelopment of New Delhi Railway Station adjoining area as a mini-smart city is proposed to be taken up with an investment of about 24 billion US dollars.
CIDB also proposed to take up a Green City Project at Garhmukhteshwar in Uttar Pradesh involving housing and Ganga cleaning projects with an investment of about 4 billion US dollars.
The National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) of the Union Ministry of Urban Development will be associated with these projects.
Australian Government re-approved Carmichael Coal Mine Project to be built by Adani Group.
Australian Government gave its nod to Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project, one of the world’s largest coal projects, backed by Adani Group.
However, the approval granted is subject to 36 of the strictest conditions in Australian history.
Some of the Conditions imposed on Adani:
Protect and improve 31000 hectares of southern black-throated finch habitat.
Implement advice from Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development.
Fund 1 million Australian dollars for a research to improve conservation of threatened species over 10 years.
About Carmichael Coal Mine Project:
The Carmichael coal mine is a thermal coal mine in the north of the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland, Australia.
First proposed in 2010, the entire project will be built by Adani Mining, a wholly owned subsidiary of India's Adani Group, with an investment of approximately 16.5 billion Australian dollars.
The project will excavate and transport about 60 million tonnes of coal a year for export, mostly to India, for 60 years.

October 20

US, Spain ink new accord to cleanup nuclear accident site at Palomares.
United States and Spain have reached an in principle agreement to clean up land at Palomares site (in Spain) contaminated by plutonium radiation from undetonated US nuclear bombs.
The binding clean up deal was finalised in Madrid during US Secretary of State John Kerry official visit to Spain. Under the agreement, US will remove the soil contaminated by nuclear radiation at Palomares.
In January 1966, a US B-52 bomber plane carrying 4 nuclear bombs had crashed off the coast of Spain over the Mediterranean Sea. It was one of the most serious nuclear accidents of the Cold War era.
The plane had crashed after it had collided with a tanker plane during mid-air refuelling. Of these 4 nuclear bombs, 3 fell around Palomares and a 4th was found on the sea bed.
About Spain
Capital: Madrid
Currency: Euro
Prime Minister: Mariano Rajoy

October 21

Russia and United States sign 'memorandum' on air safety over Syria.
The United States and Russia have signed a memorandum of understanding that establishes air safety measures so pilots from the two countries steer clear of each other as they conduct separate bombing campaigns.
The memorandum contains a number of rules and restrictions aimed at preventing incidents between American and Russian plans, Deputy Defense Minister, Anatoly Antonov, according to Ria-Novosti.
The United States is leading a 60-plus member coalition targeting Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria and has been carrying out frequent raids for more than a year.
Russia also claims to be targeting ISIS and other “terrorists” but the Pentagon says it is hitting non-ISIS rebels fighting government forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
About Syria:
Capital: Damascus
President: Bashar al-Assad
Currency: Syrian pound
Prime minister: Wael Nader al-Halqi

India and Russia decide to boost trade ties.
India and Russia has discussed ways to boost their economic ties to achieve the target of $30 billion in bilateral trade in the next 10 years.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, chairing the 21st India-Russia Inter-Governmental Consultations, also looked at ways to enhance the mutual direct investment to $15 billion by 2025.
Bilateral trade during in 2014 amounted to $9.51 billion, with Indian export touching $3.17 billion and imports from Russia $6.34 billion.
About Russia
Capital: Moscow
Currency: Russian ruble
President: Vladimir Putin
Prime minister: Dmitry Medvedev

October 22

Cabinet approved agreement between India and Egypt on Maritime Transport.
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval for signing of an agreement between India and Egypt on Maritime Transport.
Recognizing the significant mutual benefit that can be derived from-cooperation in the area of shipping between the two countries, it has been decided to sign the Agreement with a view to strengthening cooperation and to render sustained mutual assistance and advice on merchant shipping and other related maritime matters.
Signing of the Agreement includes:
The development their maritime relationship and cooperate in the task of enhancing and stimulating steady growth of maritime traffic.
Exchange and training of staff and students from various maritime establishments.
Exchange-of information necessary for accelerating and facilitating the flow of commercial goods at sea and at ports.
Establishment of joint ventures in the fields of maritime transportation.
Shipbuilding and repairs
Maritime training
Information technology including development of simulators
Port facilities and related maritime activities, etc.
About Egypt:
Capital: Cairo
Currency: Egyptian pound
President: Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

October 23

Britain signs landmark nuclear deal with China.
Britain has signed a landmark nuclear deal with China to build the United Kingdom’s first nuclear power plant since the 1980s.
The landmark deal was signed in London during the official visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The agreement is considered as the first major Chinese investment in Western nuclear facility.
Key Points:
The agreement was signed between French state owned EDF Energy and General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) of China.
Under this deal, nuclear power plant will be built at Hinkley Point, Somerset near London with total planned investment of 18 billion pound.
CGN will contribute 6 billion pounds i.e. one-third of the total planned investment. CGN will have two-thirds stake and Areva will have one-fifth stake.
The plant will be become operational by 2025 providing affordable power to Britain. Apart from this landmark deal, both countries also signed deals worth more than 30 billion pounds.
About Britain
Capital: London
Prime minister: David Cameron
Queen: Elizabeth II
Chancellor: Chris Leslie
Currency: Pound sterling

Pakistan PM heads to U.S.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrives in the U.S. for a four-day trip and is likely to face pressure to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, days after Washington said it was delaying its withdrawal from Afghanistan.
U.S. President Barack Obama reversed a pledge to pull troops out as he admitted Afghan forces were not ready to stand alone against the resurgent Islamists. The U.S. sees Pakistan as a source of influence over the Taliban.
Washington’s relationship with Islamabad is a prickly one. Pakistan was once the Taliban’s main sponsor and its chief protector, but nominally switched sides after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
However, U.S. officials suspect the organisation still receives succour from elements in Pakistan, including the nation’s powerful spy agency. That charge is repeated by Kabul, which accuses Islamabad of harbouring and nurturing Taliban insurgents.
About Pakistan
Capital: Islamabad
Founded: August 14, 1947
Currency: Pakistani rupee
Prime minister: Nawaz Sharif
President: Mamnoon Hussain

October 24

Japan offers India soft loan for $15 billion bullet train in edge over China.
First ever Bullet train in India, Japan is going to join a hand with India by providing USD 15 billion at an interest rate of less than 1% to build bullet trains.
Tokyo was picked to assess the feasibility of building the 505-kilometre corridor linking Mumbai with Ahmadabad, the commercial capital of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, and concluded it would be technically and financially viable.
China won the contract to assess the feasibility of a high-speed train between Delhi and Mumbai, a 1,200 km route estimated to cost twice as much. No loan has yet been offered.
Japan’s decision to give virtually free finance is part of its broader push back against China’s involvement in infrastructure development in South Asia over the past several years.
About China
Capital: Beijing
Currency: Renminbi
President: Xi Jinping

October 25

US President appoints Brett McGurk as Special Envoy to US-led coalition for fighting IS.
US President Barack Obama has appointed veteran Iraq expert Brett McGurk as Special Envoy to the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS).
Brett McGurk is a long-time and most trusted White House adviser on Iraq. He will succeed the retiring General John Allen who had led the global coalition’s campaign against IS militants in Iraq since its inception in 2014.
US-led coalition’s task of toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad led government has become more complex since intervention of Russia and Iran.
About Iraq
Capital: Baghdad
Currency: Iraqi dinar
President: Fuad Masum
Prime minister: Haider al-Abadi

October 26

Russia to station military unit in the Arctic by 2018.
Russia announced that it will permanently station a military unit in the Arctic by 2018.
The defence minister of Russia Sergey Shoygu also announced that Russia is building several new bases in the Arctic as well as rebuilding six Soviet-era air bases in the Arctic.
It was also declared that the nation already has practically finished building bases on the Novosibirsk Archipelago and on Kotelny Island. The nation relies on modern military technology to guard borders in the Arctic.

Britain signed Strategic Investment Agreements for building three nuclear plants with China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister David Cameron signed Strategic Investment Agreements at a UK-China Business Summit at Mansion House in London during the official visit of Xi Jinping.
Under the agreement, China will help the UK in building three nuclear plants including Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, which will be the first since 1980s.
Highlights of the deal:
The deal was signed between China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and France’s EDF.
CGN will take 33.5 percent stake and EDF will take 66.5 percent in the planned 18 billion pound Hinkley Point nuclear plant.
CGN will take a two-thirds stake in the Bradwell nuclear plant east of London, where it plans to build a Chinese-designed reactor.
British oil giant BP and China Huadian Corporation also signed a sale and purchase agreement for BP to sell Huadian up to 1 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) per year.

October 27

Polish election: Law and Justice Wins over third of vote in first results.
The right-wing and anti-migrant Law and Justice party has won a majority of seats in Poland's parliament and can govern alone
The party got 235 seats in the 460-seat lower house of Poland's parliament and also won a majority in the Senate
EU President Donald Tusk, who was prime minister of Poland in a Civic Platform government between 2007 and 2014
About Poland:
Capital: warsaw
Currency: Polish zloty
Official language: Polish

October 28

191 UNGA-members voted a resolution condemning US embargo on Cuba.
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) overwhelmingly approved the Resolution condemning an economic embargo imposed by the US on Cuba. It stated that existence of such restrictions undermines multilateralism and credibility of the UN.
191 countries from the 193 member states demonstrated a concerted and international stand with Cuba and voted in favour of the resolution. The United States and Israel were the only two countries that voted against the resolution.
This is the 24th time that the UNGA has adopted the resolution that seeks ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba, despite resumption of relations between the two countries.
India’s Stand on the Resolution
India’s Ambassador Asoke Mukerji continued existence of the embargo not only multilateralism and the credibility of the Organization itself but it also had a negative impact on the Cuban economy which was forced to bear considerable costs in sourcing products, technology and services and by discouraging investment into the country
Mukerji associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement also welcomed the positive steps in bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States.

October 29

China abandons its decades old ’One Child Policy’
China, world most populous country has announced to abandon its three decades-long one-child policy and changed it two-child policy.
The change of policy is intended to Balance population development world’s second largest economy.
Address the challenge of unnatural negative demographics due rising numbers of old age population as well as concerns over declining labour force
Background:
China had introduced its One-Child Policy in 1978 and was implemented in 1980 to rein in population growth in order to alleviate social, economic and environmental problems in China.
It main intention was reduce population growth of the country by limiting most urban couples to only one child. In case of rural couples it was limited to only two children if the first child was a girl.
Under this policy only few ethnic minorities were exempted including Tibetans, Uighurs.

October 30

BRICS nations signed Moscow Declaration for supporting Multilateral Science Projects.
BRICS nations Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa signed Moscow Declaration for partnership in addressing common regional and global socio-economic challenges by utilising science, technology and innovation (STI).
It was signed at the third meeting of the BRICS Ministers for Science, Technology and Innovation held in Moscow, Russia.
Indian delegation to this meeting was led by Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences.
Key facts:
The joint declaration seeks to enhance co-investment of resources to support multilateral Research and Development (R&D) Projects in mutually agreed areas by BRICS nations.
BRICS nations mutually have agreed on the collaboration for
   * Co-operation for large research infrastructures, including mega-science projects along with coordination of the existing large-scale national programme of member countries.
      * Implementation and development of a BRICS Framework Programme for funding joint multilateral research projects, innovation and technology commercialisation.
      * Establishment of BRICS Research and Innovation Networking Platform.

October 31

China made sexual assault on men a crime
In China, sexual assault of men was declared a crime with effective from 31 October 2015. In this regard, an amendment to sexual assault laws was approved by the National People’s Congress, country’s central legislature, in August 2015.
As per the amendment, indecent assault on men or women now carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison.
Earlier, sexual offenders on men were punished under the charges of intentional injury and were given punishment up to 12 months in prison.
The amendment to criminal laws became necessary to curtail growing incidents of sexual assault among partners of gay relationship.
As per a recent survey of state-run Global Times of People’s Daily, gay and lesbian culture is fast spreading in China.

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