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Ovais Sarmad Appointed to Key Post in UNFCCC

Ovais Sarmad who is an Indian national has been appointed by the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to the post of Deputy Executive Secretary, which is a key post in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As per the U.N. Information Centre in Delhi, the appointment has been made after making wide consultations with the Conference of Parties. The appointment assumes significance as UNFCCC aims to slow down climate change.

Ovais Sarmad who was born in 1960 is a seasoned bureaucrat having nearly 27 years of experience working with International Organization for Migration (IOM) at various capacities. He has worked in several policy and management areas to strengthen the organizations operational effectiveness in close consultation with IOM member States.  He is currently the  Chief of Staff to the Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Ovais Sarmad was instrumental in bringing IOM into the United Nations system as well as in the establishment of IOM’s Ethics and Conduct Office. He holds a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Osmania University in Hyderabad.

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India and Palestine Inks 5 Agreements

India and Palestine has signed five agreements during the 4 day visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to India. This is Abbas’s fifth visit to India and the third state visit after his earlier visits in 2008 and 2012.

These 5 MoUs signed were on visa exemption for diplomatic passport holder, agriculture cooperation, cooperation in field of IT & Electronics, health sector and cooperation in the field of youth affairs and sports.  

Salient Highlights

India has called for early resumption of talks between Palestine and Israel and hoped to see a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestine, co-existing peacefully with Israel. Palestine for its part has thanked India for supporting it in various international forums. Palestine also hopes that India can play a vital role in Middle East Peace process. The Palestinian President also condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and called for regional and international efforts to fight the menace.

India is assisting developmental projects in Palestine. It has been contributing to material & technical assistance and is building a techno Park in Ramallah at the cost of $12 million.

Both the countries also called for enhancing cultural exchanges between the two sides. India has sought Palestine’s participation in the International Yoga Day to be observed next month.

Background

India and Palestine enjoy a long standing friendship. In 1947, India registered its vote against he partition of Palestine at the United Nations General Assembly. In 1974, India became the first Non-Arab State to recognize PLO as sole and legitimate representative of the people of Palestine. In 2012, India co-sponsored a resolution that resulted in up-gradation of the status of Palestine to a “non-member state‟. In 2014, India voted in favor of Palestine at the UN Human Rights Council. In 2015, India supported installation of Palestinian flag at the UN Premises similar to the flags of the member states.

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Outcomes of OBOR Summit

Belt and Road Forum (BRF) is a gathering of world leaders from across the globe, organized by China to showcase its plans to build a network of trade routes under the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. As of now, 68 countries and international organisations have signed belt and road agreements with China. China has stated that the Belt and Road initiative is an open and inclusive platform to explore and co-develop the China-led blueprint of reviving the Silk Road.
India, however, has boycotted the summit owing to sovereignty concerns related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Unlike India, none of the other countries have sovereignty related issues with OBOR initiative.

Outcomes

The two-day Belt and Road Forum identified and agreed on 270 deliverable goals of Belt and Road Initiative.The Forum resulted in signing of a joint communique by 30 heads of state that promised to implement plans for cooperation in trade and infrastructure programs across Asia, Europe and Africa. However, the forum ended with only promises of joint action by participating countries and did not result in establishment of an institutional framework for implementing the planned construction program.
The Signatories to the joint communique also pledged their support for promoting a rules-based, open and multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organisation at its core.
China has assured the participating countries that it would not attempt to push a country’s political ideologies and systems onto another country during the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative.

China has taken the first step to institutionalise the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) by announcing that the next edition of the BRF would be held in Beijing in 2019 indicating that China will continue to control the Belt and Road Initiative.

Infrastructure Deals

Although India skipped the initiative, 6 of its neighbours namely Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Afghanistan attended the summit and signed 20 infrastructure deals with China at the Belt and Road Forum (BRF). They have also sought China’s financial help for advancing infrastructure, power, banking and finance sectors.

OBOR

OBOR is an ambitious China’s ambitious development strategy and framework that aims to boost its connectivity and trade that will that will connect Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. It was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. It comprises two components viz. the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. OBOR initiative is part of China’s revived 21st century Silk Road diplomacy that seeks to push it to take a bigger role in global affairs as a major global power. It is basically investment and trade promotion scheme aiming to deepen economic connections between China and rest of the world.

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