▼ India, US develop key dialogue framework [08-21-17]
India and the US are reworking a key dialogue framework in place since 2015.
This is in a bid to shift bilateral ties to a higher strategic plane.
The India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, once described by the US State Department as the "signature mechanism for advancing the United States’ and India’s shared priorities," is to be replaced
Now, there will be a dialogue in which the foreign and defence ministers will participate.
The shared priorities include job creation, improving the business and investment climate and sustaining a rules-based global order.
The two countries will have a separate dialogue on commercial issues, which will not include the foreign ministers.
Till last year, trade and commercial issues were discussed in the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue and the Trade Policy Forum.
The first Strategic and Commercial Dialogue was held in 2015 in Washington and the second in New Delhi last year.
It was seen as an elevation of the US-India Strategic Dialogue in place since 2009 and which focused on regional security, economic cooperation, defence, trade and climate challenges.
The new "two plus two" ministerial dialogue was announced in Aug third week in a White House readout of a telephone call between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This is on the eve of India completing 70 years as an independent country on 15 August.
The leaders resolved to enhance peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region by establishing a new 2-by-2 ministerial dialogue that will elevate their strategic consultations.
The new dialogue format will involve the Indian foreign minister and the US secretary of state as well as the Indian defence minister and the US defence secretary.
The US has strategic consultations in this format with key partners and allies including Australia, Japan and the Philippines.
India has had a dialogue in the two-plus-two format with Japan with secretaries or senior-most bureaucrats from the foreign and defence ministries engaging each other.
- Interestingly, the announcement of the new two-plus-two dialogue to "enhance peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region" comes against the backdrop of a spike in tensions between India and China.
- The Asian giants engaged in a military face-off on the Dokalam plateau in Bhutan.
- It also comes amid reports of American disenchantment with China.
- This is over its inability to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
▼ US designates Hizbul Mujahideen as terror outfit [08-18-17]
The Hizbul Mujahideen was designated as a foreign terrorist organisation (FTO) by the US State Department on 16th Aug 2017.
The development comes nearly a month after the terrorist outfit’s chief Syed Salahuddin was labeled a specially designated global terrorist.
Established in 1989, the Hizbul Mujahideen is one of the oldest and the largest militant groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir.
Among other consequences, all of HM’s property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with the group.
3 Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014, explosives attack in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which injured 17 people.
Through UNSC, New Delhi has been pushing for a ban on Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and its chief Syed Salahuddin, but has been vetoed by China.
▼ Tilak Marapana is Sri Lanka's next Foreign Minister [08-16-17]
Tilak Marapana of the United National Party (UNP) assumed charge as Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister on Aug 15 2016, following his predecessor Ravi Karunanayake’s resignation last week.
Mr. Karunanayake stepped down, after being linked to a controversial businessman who has been accused of a key role in a bond scam at the country’s Central Bank.
Denying any wrongdoing, the ex-Minister said he was resigning to protect the government and the UNP that he was part of.
Mr. Marapana is the third Foreign Minister since the Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe combine formed government two and a half years ago.
In May, Mr. Karunanayake replaced Mangala Samaraweera, currently Finance Minister, in a Cabinet reshuffle.
Talk of Mr. Maranapana’s appointment earlier sparked criticism from sections in Colombo, who pointed to his 2015 resignation - he was Law and Order Minister then - after he reportedly defended a controversial maritime security company linked to a major corruption case.
In May, Mr. Marapana was brought back into the government as Minister of Development
▼ USISPF: US India strategic partnership forum launched [08-7-17]
Aug 1, 2017 marks the official launch of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), a nonprofit corporation focused on stimulating business relations between the U.S. and India, and enhancing the strategic relationship between the two countries.
USISPF is committed to creating the most powerful strategic partnership between the U.S. and India.
Promoting bilateral trade is an important part of USISPF's work.
USISPF's mission reaches far beyond this. It is about business and government coming together in new ways to create meaningful opportunities that have the power to change the lives of citizens.
USISPF's leadership and Board have been carefully selected based on their unique expertise and strong government and business relationships in both the U.S. and India.
Mukesh Aghi will lead USISPF as President and Gaurav Verma will serve as Chief Operating Officer.
USISPF's Board of Directors will include:
- Chairman John Chambers (Executive Chairman, Cisco),
- Vice-Chairs Punit Renjen (Global CEO, Deloitte LLP)
- Edward Monser (President, Emerson Electric),
- Indra Nooyi (Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo),
- Ajay Banga (President & CEO, MasterCard),
- Ambassador Susan Esserman (Partner, Steptoe & Johnson),
- Secretary William Cohen (Chairman & CEO, The Cohen Group),
- Purna Saggurti (Chairman of Global Corporate & Investment Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch),
Ambassador Frank Wisner (International Affairs Advisor, Squire Patton Boggs).
The launch of USISPF represents a new chapter in the US-India relationship, and a US-India partnership to new heights by prioritizing mutual opportunities that will benefit businesses, governments, and citizens in both countries.About the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF):
- USISPF was established in 2017 by a group of industry leaders in both countries who are committed to creating a powerful strategic partnership between the U.S. and India.
- A non-profit organization, USISPF is focused on driving economic growth, job creation, innovation, inclusion, and entrepreneurship in the U.S. and India.
- USISPF has a strong presence in the U.S. and India, including in New York, Washington DC, Silicon Valley, Mumbai and New Delhi.
▼ New sanctions on Russia, Iran, N.Korea approved by Trump [08-3-17]
US President Donald Trump has signed legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia into law on Aug 2, 2017.
The US Congress voted last week by overwhelming margins for sanctions to punish the Russian government over interference in the 2016 presidential election, annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and other perceived violations of international norms.
Mr. Trump, who has made clear he wanted to improve relations with Russia, reluctantly accepted the new congressional sanctions, which also included Iran and North Korea.
The Bill had enough support in Congress to override a presidential veto.
Mr. Trump’s signing of the Bill followed some conflicting signals from the administration in recent days about the sanctions.
Iran: Know More
- Iran is an Islamic republic on the Persian (Arabian) Gulf with historical sites dating to the Persian Empire.
- Extensive marble ruins mark Persepolis, the empire’s capital founded by Darius I in the 6th century B.C.
- The modern capital, Tehran, is home to opulent Golestan Palace, seat of the Qajar Dynasty (1794 - 1925), plus modern landmarks such as the 435m-high Milad Tower.
- Capital: Tehran
- Currency: Iranian rial
- President: Hassan Rouhani
- Supreme leader: Ali Khamenei
- Official language: Persian
▼ US communications director Anthony Scaramucci fired by Trump! [08-1-17]
US President Donald Trump fired his communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, on 31st July 2017 after little over a week in the job because of an obscene tirade.
Mr. Scaramucci’s departure follows one of the rockiest weeks of Mr. Trump’s presidency in which a major Republican effort to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system failed in Congress.
Additionally, both his spokesman and previous chief of staff left their jobs.
Scaramucci had been damaged by comments he made to The New Yorker magazine last week in which he attacked then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, in profanity-laden terms.
Trump removed Scaramucci on the same day he swore in a new White House chief of staff John Kelly, a retired Marine general who is expected to bring more discipline to running what has become a chaotic White House.
Scaramucci was named to the role only 10 days ago.