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Will review India-China relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective : PM Modi

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi before his all-important meeting with the Chinese President on Thursday said that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping will review Sino-Indian relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective when they meet at Wuhan on April 27-28.

In a statement made in New Delhi, he said: “President Xi and I will exchange views on a range of issues of bilateral and global importance.”

“We will discuss our respective visions and priorities for national development, particularly in the context of current and future international situation,” he said.

“We will also review the developments in the India-China relations from a strategic and long-term perspective.”

After a 73-day military stand-off between the two countries on the Doklam plateau in the India-Bhutan-China trijunction last year, the upcoming meeting is said to have its own importance in resolving the relationship between both the countries.

Two ministers from the Modi Cabinet, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had visited China for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) ministerial meetings earlier this week.

PM Modi’s visit is being compared to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s 1988 visit, who met then China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and reset the bilateral ties strained since the 1962 war.

 

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India, US have goal of denying Iran money it needs to destabilise Middle East: Official

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Washington: The US and India have a goal of denying Iran the money it needs to destabilise the Middle East, a top American official said after his visit to New Delhi for talks over slashing India’s oil imports from Tehran ahead of the November 4 deadline.

President Donald Trump in May pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear accord, saying it had “failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb” and did not deal with Tehran’s “malign activities, including its ballistic missile programme and its support for terrorism”.

In an attempt to compel Iran to agree to a new accord, Trump reinstated sanctions that targeted the Iranian government’s purchase of US dollars, Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals, and its automotive sector. Describing the meetings with the Indian officials on the Iranian oil purchase issue as good, the special US envoy on Iran, Brian Hook, however, refrained from giving details of his discussions. “On the India meetings, I also met with the Indian delegation to the UN during, I mean in New York during the UN General Assembly. I continued those discussions in Delhi, very good meetings. And I can’t get into specifics in terms of the nature of that discussion,” Hook told reporters in Brussels. “But what I can say is we are, we do have a goal of denying Iran the money that it needs, and we find that there’s a lot, I mean, to kind of destabilise the Middle East,” he said in response to a question.

On November 4, the second batch of potentially more crippling sanctions will be re-imposed on Iran’s oil and shipping sectors as well as its central bank. The US has asked buyers of Iranian oil to cut imports to zero starting in November. India last week said it would continue to import oil from Iran after the November 4 deadline. “We continue to find that many countries including India share our concerns, especially the non-proliferation concerns. And the sunset clauses for the United States are of paramount concern, and it’s something that needs to be addressed,” Hook said.

In public policy, a sunset provision or clause is a measure within a statute, regulation or other law that provides that the law shall cease to have effect after a specific date, unless further legislative action is taken to extend the law. The top American envoy opposed the creation of a special purpose vehicle by the Europeans for the oil purchase so as to avoid US sanctions. “With respect to the Special Purpose Vehicle, Secretary of State Pompeo said that that vehicle sends the wrong message at the wrong time. We believe that the US and the EU should be working together to find enduring solutions that truly support the Iranian people, he said.  The Trump Administration is working with countries on a case by case basis to ensure that their purchase of oil from Iran comes down to zero as soon as possible, he said. “Our sanctions will go into effect on November 5, and this round of sanctions includes sanctions on Iran’s energy sector and foreign financial transactions with the Central Bank of Iran,” Hook said.

Ahead of the November 4 deadline, teams from Treasury and State departments have visited more than two dozen countries educating companies about the dangers of doing business with Iran, the reputational risk they incur by doing business with Iran, he said. These countries and entities, he said, are deciding that the risk is simply not worth the investment.

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Young Rohingya girls largest group of trafficking victims: UN agency

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United Nations: The number of Rohingya refugees has reached nearly one million, with young girls sold into forced labour in Bangladesh accounting for the largest group of trafficking victims, according to a UN agency.

The UN Migration Agency (IOM) said on Tuesday that families desperate to earn money were frequently sending their daughters to work in dangerous environments. The IOM said that women and girls lured into forced-labour accounted for two-thirds of those receiving the agency’s support in Cox’s Bazar and another 10 per cent were victims of sexual exploitation. It said men and boys also were not exempt and account for about a third of refugees forced into labour.

Despite the often false promises of work and a better life, some victims are unaware of the risks or so desperate to escape the situation, that no measure is too drastic, it said. “Sacrificing one family member for the sake of the rest of the family” is the rationale, Dina Parmer, IOM’s head of protection services in Cox’s Bazar, said in a statement. The agency said that the number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh has reached nearly one million.

The IOM’s counter-trafficking and protection staff have helped nearly 100 people who have escaped trafficking situations and returned to Cox’s Bazar since the crisis began in August 2017. An estimated 7,00,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine State since the military crackdown, resulting in a major crisis in neighbouring Bangladesh. The agency has provided physical and mental health assistance, legal counselling, shelters and emergency cash assistance to support survivors, but due to the nature of human trafficking, many victims are reluctant to come forward and are unaccounted for.

According to Parmer, the Rohingya refugee community is extremely vulnerable to human trafficking due to their brutal life experiences and lack of education wrought by long-term discrimination back home in Myanmar, where they have been an oppressed minority for decades. The IOM and NGO partners are developing creative ways to communicate the dangers of trafficking in the camps, including comic illustrations, street drama and music illustrating real-life stories to spread the message One Rohingya woman, working gruelling hours for little pay in the fish-processing industry, told the agency that there were a very limited number of jobs in the refugee camps and for women almost nothing.

The UN and the US have said the violence against Rohingyas amounted to ethnic cleansing. Myanmar authorities have said that military crackdown against the rebels was aimed at rooting out Rohingya militants who attacked police posts on the August 25. According to the Red Cross estimates, only about 300,000 Rohingya remain in the entire state. Myanmar and Bangladesh have reached a deal on the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas that sidelined the UN refugee agency. According to the agreement, which was finalised in Myanmar’s capital Nay Pyi Daw early last year, a two-year deadline has been set for the repatriation of the Rohingyas.

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Pompeo arrives in Ankara for Khashoggi talks: AFP

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Ankara: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday arrived in Ankara for talks with the Turkish leadership over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

Pompeo, arriving fresh from talks in Saudi Arabia, touched down at Ankara’s Esenboga Airport, where he was due to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an AFP correspondent said.

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