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India, Kenya sign MoU in area of agriculture

India and Kenya signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. India also announced $100 million Line of Credit (LoC) to Kenya for agricultural mechanization

The agreement was signed after delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kenyian President Uhuru Kenyatta in New Delhi. It was first official state visit of President from Kenya to India since 1981.

Joint statement released by both leaders
  • Expansion of bilateral trade, greater flow of capital between two countries and stronger developmental partnership is a priority.
  • Both sides will also explore opportunities in blue economy. They also discussed long term arrangements for production and import of pulses.
  • Both countries will focus on quick operationalisation of the defence cooperation along with hydrography, anti-piracy, communication networks, capacity building and defence medical cooperation.
  • They will encourage industry and business in both countries to take lead in exploiting opportunities in healthcare, tourism, IT, agriculture and energy.
  • Joint Working Group (JWG) focusing on cyber security, counter terrorism, combating narcotics trade, human trafficking and money laundering will meet early.
  • They also condemned terrorism in all its forms and reiterated their commitment to work together in this regard. They also committed to strengthen cooperation against terror threats from extremist groups.
  • India invited Kenya to join the framework agreement of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and also offering its expertise in the area of LED smart street lighting and LED bulbs for domestic use.

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Gen. Raheel Sharif to head Islamic Military Alliance

Pakistan’s former Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif (retired) was appointed head of Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT), a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition of 39 nations.

The appointment was confirmed by Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif as both the government and the Army allowed Gen. Sharif take charge of the alliance. Raheel had retired as the Pakistan army chief in November 2016 and was succeeded by General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

What is Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT)?
  • IMAFT is military coalition comprising 39 nations. It was established by Saudi Arabia in December 2015 and its command centre, headquarters is based in Riyadh.
  • The coalition calls for all member states to cooperate to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
  • It is envisaged to serve as a platform for security cooperation, including provision of training, troops and equipment, and involvement of religious scholars for dealing with extremism.
  • It has been established in pursuance with objectives and principles of the charter of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
  • Member countries of this alliance will coordinate and support military operations against terrorism in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Egypt.
  • The coalition includes countries like United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Bahrain, Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia among others.
  • Note: Saudi Arabia’s arch rival (for influence in the Arab world) Iran was not named as member of the IMAFT. Currently both regional powers are engaged proxy sectarian conflicts in Syria to Yemen.
What is Pakistan’s position on IMAFT?

Pakistan initially had taken aback for being part of IMAFT, after Saudi Arabia had announced Pakistan also part of the alliance. However, Pakistan later confirmed its participation in the alliance but has not committed itself to providing troops for any possible military operations.

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India, Tajikistan ink four agreements

India and Tajikistan have signed four agreements in areas including on double taxation avoidance, money laundering and counter-terrorism.

These agreements were signed following delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon in New Delhi. 

Signed agreements are
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Broadcasting in Exchange of Audio Visual Programs
  • MoU for cooperation in the exchange of financial intelligence related to money laundering, related crimes and financing of terrorism.
  • Protocol amending the Agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.
  • Announcement of initiation of Bilateral investment treaty between both countries.
Other highlights of bilateral delegation level talks
  • Terrorism: Both countries agreed to deepen their engagement to deal with the threat of terrorism and radicalism in the neighbourhood especially in Afghanistan. Called to end sponsorship, support and provision of safe havens and sanctuaries to terrorists.
  • CCIT: Both countries affirmed to resolve to work for early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism by the UN General Assembly.
  • Security and Afghanistan: They called for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and national reconciliation for Afghan peace and prosperity.
  • Agreed to intensify defence and counter-terror cooperation to stabilise Afghanistan
  • UNSC: Tajikistan support India’s bid for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.
  • Energy business: Tajikistan invited India to invest in four free economic zones that have come up in the country and thanked it for the modernisation of the Varzob-1 Hydropower Station. It also sought investment in the upcoming small and medium hydroelectricity projects.
  • Connectivity: Need for exploring the possibility of increasing flight operations between the two countries. Appreciated signing of the trilateral Chahbahar port agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan as the project will provide connectivity to Tajikistan.
  • People to people contact: Agreed to explore ways for easier business, medical and tourist and other visas to promote people to people exchanges.

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