International Current Affairs - 2020

Latest International Current Affairs 2019 with news summaries and current events in International developments, geopolitical, organizations, groupings and fora related updates for India and world with all important national news updates and events for the year 2019.

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India-Swiss Air Service Pact to be amended, Cabinet approves signing protocol

Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the signing of Protocol to amend the Agreement between Swiss Federal Council, the highest executive authority of Swiss Confederation and Government of India related to air services, as well as to exchange diplomatic notes with Switzerland for bringing amendments in air services agreement into force. The protocol will allow more number of airlines to start flight operations between two countries.

The Air Services Agreement decides the number of airlines that can fly between both countries. It also notifies number of destinations in each country to which flight operations can be conducted by other country’s airline.

Key Highlights of Amendments

Under the amendments, multiple airlines would be allowed to conduct operations between India and Switzerland. As of now, only two airlines are permitted.

As per the amendments, the ‘designated airlines’ of each country would be free to decide reasonable tariff without resorting to anti-competitive and predatory behaviour. Also, the designated airline(s) may use aircraft leased from other company or airline(s), but lessor not to exercise the rights it doesn’t have.

However, before a country’s airline can operate international flights, a bilateral air services agreement has to be negotiated for deciding how many total flights/ seats can be allowed from one nation to another, each week.

Significance

Amendments in Air Services Agreement between India and Switzerland will bring it in tune with developments in civil aviation sector and will also provide enabling environment for enhanced as well as seamless connectivity. It will also provide commercial opportunities to carriers of both sides ensuring greater safety and security.

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External Affairs Minister visits Iran

External Affairs Minister was on a two-day visit to Iran between December 22-23, 2019. During his visit he chaired the 19th Joint Commission Meeting with his Iranian Counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Highlights

The leaders at the Joint Commission Meeting agreed to Strengthen and accelerate Chabahar project. The visit comes after US has provided narrow exemption to India from sanctions. US had earlier imposed sanctions on Iran for its accumulation of nuclear weapons. India has been exempted as the project intends towards development of Afghanistan.

The Minister also met Iranian President. The President expressed satisfaction in operationalization of Shahid Beheshti port as well.

Shahid Beheshti port

Chabahar is the only port of Iran. It consists of two separate ports namely Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti. India and Iran agreed to develop Shahid Kalantari port in 2003. However, it was dropped following sanctions on Iran. The project was again taken up in 2016. Under the agreement, India will construct 600-meter-long container handling facility at the port. India has already begun its operation at the port in 2016.

Other Discussions

India and Iran also agreed to celebrate their 70th anniversary of bilateral treaty of friendship in 2020. The countries will promote people-to-people contact, organize cultural festivals, youth exchanges and also exchanges between Parliamentarians

Background

India and Iran signed the “Chabahar Project” in 2017. It is an 85 million USD project that aims to develop Chabahar port in south-eastern Iran. The Chabahar port is an alternate route for trade between India and Afghanistan. The land route through Pakistan from India to Afghanistan is not accessible.

The project is also seen as a counter to Chinese Gwadar port in Pakistan.

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