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India, Australia sign six agreements

India and Australia have singed six agreements in various fields such as terrorism, sports, health, environment, aviation sector to boost bilateral cooperation.

These agreements were signed in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his visiting Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull after delegation level talks.

Signed MoUs are
  • MoU on Cooperation in Sports.
  • MoU on Cooperation in the field of Health and Medicine.
  • MoU on Cooperation in the field of Environment, Climate and Wildlife.
  • MoU for Promotion and Development of Cooperation in Civil Aviation Security
  • MoU on Cooperation in Combatting International Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime.
  • Implementation arrangement between ISRO and Geoscience Australia on Cooperation in Earth Observation and Satellite Navigation.
Highlights of delegation level talks
  • Both countries sought to provide a boost to trade and security ties including counterterrorism cooperation.
  • Trade deal: Both countries could not conclude negotiations for Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which they have been negotiating.
  • Uranium Supply: Australia held that ready to supply uranium to India as soon as possible. Both countries had signed civil nuclear cooperation in 2013 but actual supply has not yet commenced due to absence of any commercial contract.
  • NSG membership: Australia will spport for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and also for Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement, the two export control regimes.
  • Maritime security: Both countries agreed share common interests in ensuring maritime security and the safety of sea lines of communication.
  • They also recognised importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, resolving maritime disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS.
  • Defence: Both countries agreed to remain strongly committed to the breadth of their defence ties and recalled the Special Forces Bilateral Exercise conducted in October 2016.
  • They agreed that the bilateral maritime exercise first held in the Bay of Bengal in 2015 will be repeated off Western Australia in the first half of 2018. They took decision for first bilateral Army-to-Army exercise to take place in 2018.
  • They also agreed to look forward to the inaugural secretaries’ defence and foreign affairs dialogue in the ‘2+2’ format as a new mechanism to build on the deep strategic partnership.

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India-China first Strategic Dialogue held in Beijing

The first Strategic Dialogue between India and China was held in Beijing, capital of China to shore up bilateral ties.

The meeting was co-chaired by India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and China’s Executive Vice Foreign minister Zhang Yesui.

Key Facts
  • The Strategic Dialogue mechanism between both countries was agreed to during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to India in August 2016.
  • In the first meeting, both countries discussed all issues of mutual interest in bilateral, regional and international domain. They also discussed issues of mutual concern and interest including friction points.
  • The dialogue strived to take a holistic view of the relations between the two countries. It also tried to an extent to accommodate each other’s concerns and interests.
  • On the issue of 1267 Committee’s sanctions on Masood Azhar: India once again explained the rationale for its application to committee and pointed out that the issue was also pursued by other countries too.
  • India held that Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) itself is proscribed as terrorist organisation under 1267. So it is strong proof for declaring Azhar, founder of JeM a global terrorist.
  • On the NSG issue: China underlined that they were open to India’s application for membership. But it has own view of the procedures and processes which are different from most of the group’s members.
Background

In recent times, India-China ties have witnessed strain following China’s rigid stand on issues crucial to India such as membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and designation of JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) chief and Pathankot attack mastermind Masood Azhar as global terrorist by the UN under 1267 Sanctions list. In 2016, China had scuttled India’s membership bid at the meeting of NSG and also opposed banning of Azhar by the UN, apparently at the behest of Pakistan.

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India to host counter-radicalisation conference with ASEAN

India is planning to host a conference on counter-radicalisation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in October 2017.

It will provide common platform to countries for sharing experiences and ideas on prevention of radicalisation amid rise of Islamic State and other extremist ideologies

Key Facts
  • This conference will also help participating countries to learn from each other’s best practices on promoting deradicalisation.
  • It will mainly deal with the growing IS threat and make effort to counter radicalisation and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred and terrorism
  • India will also share its experience and also benefit from that of ASEAN countries, especially Malaysia. Besides, more countries may be also invited as observers depending on the interest.
  • UAE will one of such country as it has expertise in deradicalisation that was one of the key areas of discussions during the recent India-UAE bilateral interactions.

About Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)

  • ASEAN is a group of 10 South Asian nations is a regional organisation comprising that aims to promote intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic integration amongst its members.
  • It came into existence on August 8, 1967 after ASEAN declaration (also known as Bangkok declaration).
  • Motto: “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
  • Headquarters: Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • 10 Members: Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines and Thailand were founder countries. Later 5 more countries Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam were added.
  • Cambodia was the last entrant added in the group in 1999.
  • Principal aims: (i) Accelerating economic growth, social progress, and sociocultural evolution among its members, (ii) Protection of regional stability and the provision of a mechanism for member countries to resolve differences peacefully.

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