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‘Misunderstandings’ with India resolved: Nepal PM

Kathmandu: Nepal’s embattled Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has said that misunderstandings with India have been resolved, and that the two countries should move forward looking at the future.

In a recent interview, Oli accepted the fact that once, there were misunderstandings between the two neighbors. However, he did not elaborate on those issues.

Oli stated in a recent interview with BBC Hindi Service that the outstanding issues relating to the border issue with India will be resolved through diplomatic channels on the basis of historical accords, maps, and factual documents.

“Yes, there were misunderstandings at one time, but now those misunderstandings are gone. We should not be stuck in past misunderstandings but move forward looking at the future. We have to pursue a positive relationship,” the 69-year-old Nepal Prime Minister, now heading a minority government said.

He further said that, unlike any other country. Neighbors share both love and problems. Don’t people in Nepal has a unique relationship with India Chile or Argentina have a problem? he asked.

Oli had approved Nepal’s new map featuring the Indian territories of Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhura.  As per reports, Nepal’s new map has been drawn on the basis of the Sugauli Treaty of 1816 signed between Nepal and the then British Indian government and other relevant documents.

After this incident, the ties between India and Nepal soured. India reacted sharply, calling it a “unilateral act” and cautioning Kathmandu that such “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it. India said that Nepal’s action violated an understanding reached between the two countries to resolve the boundary issues through talks.

 

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Russian President to visit Pak amid changing priorities

Islamabad: After Pakistan and Russia signed a fresh agreement to lay a gas pipeline, prospects of Russian President Vladimir Putin visiting Islamabad for the very first time were on the cards.

The project, previously named The North-South Gas Pipeline, has now been renamed as Pakistan Steam Gas Pipeline, in which a gas pipeline will be laid from Pakistan’s Karachi city to Kasur.

It is a flagship project between the two countries, which intends to remove the memories of rivalry of the Cold War and bring both countries on the road to bilateral ties.

Both Pakistan and Russia have been working to materialize Putin’s visit.

In April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Islamabad after a gap of at least nine years.

As per official details, Lavrov came with a message that Moscow was willing to extend all possible help to Islamabad and create pathways for bilateral relations.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has already extended a formal invitation to President Putin.

Experts have said that with the signing of the Pakistan Steam Pipeline agreement, the visit of President Putin has become even more significant and important.

Pakistan is anxious to have President Putin inaugurate the groundbreaking of the gas pipeline project, which is expected to be held later this year or in early 2022.

As per sources, Russia is keen on selling arms to Pakistan, something it avoided in the past because of opposition by India.

It is pertinent to mention that both countries have been holding regular joint military exercises since 2016.

Russia and Pakistan are also in close contact in the peace process and ongoing regional security issues including Afghanistan.

The Pakistan Steam Gas Pipeline is a stepping-stone in the normalization of relations between the two countries, which has been strained for years due to Cold War rivalry.

The project was originally signed in 2015. However, it could not be initiated due to possible sanctions by the US on Russian companies.

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Biden-Putin summit: US-Russia to work towards strategic stability

New Delhi: In a path-breaking development, United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and the Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolay Patrushev held consultations on United States-Russia relations in the run-up to the summit between President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on June 16.

The two NSA talked about strategic stability between the two former adversaries with the fall-out of China being brought into the arms control and cyber control regimes. In simple terms it encompasses nuclear weapons, missiles, anti-satellite weapons, and anti-missile defense.

The joint statement issued after the meeting makes it clear that both the countries want to work towards normalizing ties and keeping in touch with each other on critical global issues.

According to the statement, the US-Russia NSA meeting was a logical continuation of the recent discussions held in Reykjavik between Secretary of State Blinken and Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.

“At the meeting, both sides agreed that a normalization of the US-Russian relations would be in the interest of both countries and contribute to global predictability and stability” the statement said.

Biden, making his first international trip as president will go to Geneva immediately after separate summits with his key Western allies in the G7, NATO, and the European Union.

The Geneva summit will come almost three years after Trump famously sided with the Kremlin leader over the US intelligence agencies on the question of whether Moscow interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.

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‘US security assistance to Pakistan remains suspended’

Washington: The status of US security assistance to Pakistan that was suspended by the previous Trump administration hasn’t changed, the Pentagon said.

“At this time, the US security assistance to Pakistan is still suspended. I will not get into speculating one way or another about if or whether that will change going forward,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters at a news conference.

He was responding to a question on if the new Biden administration has reviewed the policy in this regard of the previous Trump administration and if there are any changes in it or was this issue on the table during talks with the Pakistani leadership.

Former US President Donald Trump, in January 2018, had suspended all security assistance to Pakistan, arguing that he was not satisfied with the latter’s cooperation and role in the fight against terrorism.

The statement came as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and US National Security Advisor Jek Sullivan met his Pakistani counterpart in Geneva.

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CPEC will not affect China’s stand on Kashmir issue: Zhao Lijian

Beijing: China again defended its controversial USD 60 billion CPEC project with Pakistan, disregarding India’s protests as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, saying it is an economic initiative and has not affected its principled stand on the Kashmir issue.

Leaders of China and Pakistan have praised the progress of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in recent days as the two close allies celebrated the establishment of 70 years of their diplomatic relations.

India has protested to China over the CPEC, the flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as it traverses through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

The massive infrastructure project connects China’s Xinjiang province with Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

China has been defending the CPEC, saying it is an economic project not aimed at any third country.

Answering questions on the CPEC at a media briefing recently, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that “since its launch, the CPEC, as an important pilot project of the BRI, has made significant and positive progress in such areas as transportation infrastructure, energy, ports and industrial parks”.

Asked how China sees regional prosperity being furthered by the CPEC in view of India’s position that it passes through Indian territory illegally occupied by Pakistan, Zhao said the project has not affected China’s principled position on Kashmir.

“As for whether the CPEC involves the Kashmir issue, China has made it clear on many occasions that the CPEC is an economic cooperation initiative, which is not targeted at any third party has nothing to do with disputes over territorial sovereignty, and will not affect China’s principled position on the Kashmir issue,” he said. (Hindustan Times)

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No talks until India changes its decision on Kashmir: Imran

Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Pakistan would not hold talks with India until New Delhi reverses its decision of scrapping the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

India abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 on August 5, 2019 and bifurcated it into two Union territories.

“Unless India retreats from the steps taken on August 5…, the Pakistani government will not talk to India at all,” Khan said while responding to questions from the public during a live broadcast session.

India has repeatedly said Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and the country is capable of solving its own problems.

New Delhi has told Islamabad that it desires normal neighborly relations with it in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence.

Indo-Pak relations deteriorated after India announced withdrawing special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state into two union territories in August, 2019. India has maintained that issue related to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was entirely an internal matter of the country.

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China warns B’desh on Quad; Dhaka calls it ‘aggressive’

Dhaka: China has warned Bangladesh against joining the US-led Quad alliance, saying that Dhaka’s participation in the anti-Beijing “club” would result in “substantial damage” to bilateral relations.

The provocative remarks by China’s Ambassador in Dhaka Li Jiming were described by Bangladesh’s foreign minister Dr A K Abdul Momen as “very unfortunate” and “aggressive”.

“We are an independent and sovereign State. We decide our foreign policy,” he told reporters here, a day after Li made the remarks.

“Obviously it will not be a good idea for Bangladesh to participate in this small club of four (Quad) because it will substantially damage our bilateral relationship,” Ambassador Li said at a virtual meeting organized by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh.

Momen called the ambassador’s comment “very unfortunate” and “aggressive”, adding that he never heard such comments from any Chinese diplomat before.

“We didn’t expect such behavior from China,” he said.

Momen also called the ambassador’s comment “irrelevant” and an “advanced one”, adding that Bangladesh had been following a “non-aligned” and “balanced” foreign policy and the country would decide what to do in line with that principle.

A senior Bangladesh foreign ministry official, preferring anonymity, said Dhaka has so far has not expressed about the Quad while nobody either approached Bangladesh to join the platform and therefore the Chinese envoy’s comments appeared “irrelevant”.

He said that when Chinese defense minister Gen Wei Fenghe during his visit to Dhaka last month explained Beijing’s attitude towards the Quad when “we (Bangladesh side) listened to them but didn’t make any comment”.

Quad is a “small group of elites” working against China, Ambassador Li said. He described the Quad as a “narrow-purposed” geopolitical clique.

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Pakistan ready to talk if India revisits some decisions: Qureshi

Islamabad: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that the country would be happy to hold talks on all the differences with India and seek their resolution through dialogue if the latter shows its willingness to revisit its unilateral decisions taken on August 5, 2019, which resulted in the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian Constitution that granted special status to the erstwhile state of J&K.

Qureshi said this during an interview with the Turkish news agency Anadolu during his two-day visit to the country.

“If India is willing to revisit some of the decisions that it took on August 5, 2019, Pakistan will be more than happy to engage, sit and talk and resolve all the outstanding issues,” the Pakistan Foreign Minister said.

“India’s unilateral actions of August 5, 2019 were against international law and UN Security Council resolutions,” he added.

Qureshi went on to say that there are many pending issues between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, water and other matters, adding that the only workable and sensible way forward is through dialogue.

Qureshi revealed that it was the Indian leadership that showed interest in engaging through backdoor channels to de-escalate tensions along the borders.

“So, when the Indian leaders expressed an interest in recommitment, we welcomed it. Kashmiris welcomed it. And that has, in my view, lowered tensions and has gone well on both sides. Sensible elements on this side and on that side have welcomed this new development,” he said.

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China’s Xi warns against ‘bossing, meddling’

Beijing: In an apparent swipe at West, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a rejection of hegemonic powers in global governance, saying there should be no “bossing” and “meddling” in another country’s affairs.

His statement came amid rising China-US tensions over wide-ranging issues, including Beijing’s role in Xinjiang, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

“Bossing others around or meddling in others’ internal affairs would not get one any support,” Xi said, addressing the annual Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) over video link. In state-to-state relations, the principles of equality, mutual respect and mutual trust must be put front and centre, Xi said.

Xi criticized efforts by some countries – without naming any – to “build barriers” and “decouple”, which he said would harm others and benefit no one. “Big countries should behave in a manner befitting to their status and with a greater sense of responsibility,” Xi added.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has made it all the more clear to people around the world that we must reject the Cold War and zero-sum mentality and oppose a new Cold War and ideological confrontation in whatever forms,” he said.

Notwithstanding a patch of common ground on the fight against the climate crisis, US President Joe Biden has been working on uniting allies such as the UK, the EU and Japan on countering China.

Last month, Biden held the first summit of the Quad, comprising the US, India, Australia and Japan.

The Chinese president also said that his country has no plans to enter an arms race.

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