HEADLINES:
Lockheed Martin, Tata announce F16 India Partnership । Partnership aims to produce F16 Block 70 in India if selected by IAF । GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) orders 100 A320neo aircraft । Paris Air Show 2017 opens at Le Bourget, France June 19 । Chairman COSC and CNS Admiral Sunil Lanba on a visit to Isreal। India, Pakistan become full member of SCO। India’s entry into SCO was backed by Russia, and Pakistan’s membership by China। PM Modi calls on Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of SCO। He also thanked the Chinese President for supporting India’s entry into SCO। Prime Minister Narendra Modi exchange greetings with Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif in the Leader’s Lounge before the SCO concert in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan। It was the first time the two had met in nearly a year, during which period bilateral relations have deteriorated। PM Modi greeted his Pakistani counterpart and asked about PM Sharif’s health and about the health of his mother । Prime Minister Narendra Modi departs for 2-day visit to Astana, Kazakhstan to attend SCO Summit । India to be admitted as full member of SCO during the Summit । India signed Paris climate pact for its commitment towards protecting the environment, says EAM Sushma Swaraj । The EAM said this during MEA’s annual conference in New Delhi June 5 । It did not sign the pact of any greed or fear from any country: EAM । Ms Swaraj was rebutting US President Trump’s allegation saying India signed the deal to receive billions of foreign aid । India successfully launches communication satellite GSAT 19 June 5 । The heaviest ever rocket GSLV Mk III carrying GSAT 19 lifted off from SDSC (SHAR) Sriharikota । Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE cut diplomatic ties to Qatar । The 4 Gulf nations took the step following Qatar’s relations with Iran and support of Islamist groups। They also cut off its land, sea and air routes to the outside world । Libya, Yemen also joined the four Arab nations in snapping ties with Qatar । India, Russia sign pact for two nuclear power units at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu । INS Kalvari, the Indian Navy’s first Scorpene class submarine, will be battle ready from Day One, French collaborator DCNS announced June 1 । Kalvari, meaning shark, will be commissioned in July । Kalvari is the first of the six modern submarines ordered by the Indian Navy । Indian Navy is looking at 200 ships and 400 aircraft, all with hitech systems । Vice Adm Karambir Singh also told a seminar on Future Indian Navy that poor quality systems are not acceptable । Indian shipyards are building 40 ships at present । PM Modi reaches St. Petersburg in the 3rd leg of his 4-nation visit । He is to participate in 18th India Russia Annual Summit and SPIEF 2017 । India, Spain sign 7 agreements including one each on Cyber Security and Civil Aviation । Naval Chief Adm Sunil Lanba calls for cutting edge technologies with a Made in India stamp । Addressing a seminar on Building India’s Future Navy, he said ToT from foreign vendors would be say now with Strategic Partnership model । Adm Lanba said selection process for shipboard fighter is moving at desired pace and they should be inducted in about 5 years । About 80 killed, several injured in a bomb blast near Indian embassy in Kabul । Indian embassy staff were safe: MEA । PM reached Madrid on the second leg of his tour for a day- long visit to Spain May 31 । India, Germany sign 11 MoUs including one on Cyber Security । MoUs signed during Prime Minister Modi’s 2-day Germany visit on May 29-30 । We are made for each-other, says PM Modi on India-Germany ties । The Prime Minister is on 4-nation tour of Germany, Spain, Russia and France from May 29-June 3 । India’s distinguished police officer, Mr KPS Gill passed away at 82 । Hassan Rouhani re-elected Iranian President । Prime Minister Modi congratulated him on his re-election । India, Palestine sign 5 MoUs including one on visa exemption for diplomatic passport holder । Agreements were signed after Prime Minister Modi’s meeting with President Abbas May 16 । Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas is on 4-day State visit to India beginning May 14 । Abbas is visiting India on the invitation of President Pranab Mukherjee । This is the fifth visit and the third State visit of President Abbas to India । Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Colombo May 11 on his two-day visit to Sri Lanka । He was received by his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickramsinghe on his arrival at the Colombo airport । PM Modi is the chief guest at the International Vesak Day celebrations of Sri Lanka । India marks 19th National Technology Day । National Technology Day is marked to commemorate the anniversary of Pokhran nuclear tests of 1998 । On this day, Prime Minister Modi hails the then PM Vajpayee’s courage to conduct the nuclear tests । India launches GSAT-9 satetllite from Sriharikota । India to make Israeli rifles and small arms । Punj Lloyd and Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) collaborating in the venture । Trump to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia this month । This will be his first foreign visit as US President । India, Turkey signed three agreements including one between the Foreign Services Institute of India and the Diplomacy Academy of Turkey । Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls on President Mukherjee, Vice President Ansari, PM Modi and EAM Sushma Swaraj during his State visit to India । The Turkish President, visiting from April 30-May 1, backs India in fight against terrorism । Turkey conveyed its support for India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) । PM Modi expressed his gratitude on Turkey’s support । Indian Army celebrates 79th Armour Day । On 1 May 1938, Scinde Horse cavalry regiment was equipped with Vickers tanks and Chevrolet armoire cars । The Indian Army’s Armourerd Corps has played decisive role against Pakistani intruders in 1947, 1965 and 1971। India, Cyprus sign 4 agreements including one on Air Service Agreement । Agreements signed during Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades’s visit to India April 28 । Cyprus President called on President Mukherjee, Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi । The visiting President and PM Modi agreed on urgent need for all countries to decisively act against the states supporting factories of terrorism । PM Modi also thanked the Cyprus President for his support to India’s claim of Permanent Membership in UNSC । North Korea test fires a ballistic missile which landed in the Sea of Japan । India, Sri Lanka ink pacts on economic cooperation and road infrastructure development । The agreements signed during Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to India । Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on him । Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar accompanied Sushma Swaraj when the latter called on the visiting Sri Lankan PM । India-Russia defence engagement will continue to grow, says Defence Minister Arun Jaitley । He was speaking at the 6th Moscow Conference on International Security in Moscow । India, Russia are celebrating 70 years of Diplomatic Relationship । China launches its first indigenous aircraft carrier । The new carrier will accommodate 36 aircraft and will be commissioned in 2020 after sea trials । It’s a 50000 ton platform with a ski jump deck modeled on Soviet carriers but has many design innovations । India, South Korea Sign Inter-Governmental MoU for Defence Industry Co-Operation in Shipbuilding । The MoU signed by Secretary (Defence Production), India, Ashok Kumar Gupta and Minister of Defence Acquisition and Programme Administration (DAPA), South Korea, Chang Myoung-Jin । The Inter-Governmental MoU was conceived under the overall umbrella of the ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ between both countries । The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) accorded its approval for signing the MoU । The CCS also gave a go ahead for nominating Hindustan Shipyard Ltd, Visakhapatnam for collaboration । Indian Navy successfully test-fires land attack version of Brahmos supersonic cruise missile । Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari calls on President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Home Minister and Defence Minister in New Delhi Apr 18 । Nepalese President is on a State visit to India April 17-21 । This is her first ever visit to India since taking over in 2015 । She was given a ceremonial Guard of Honour on her arrival at Rashtrapati Bhawan । Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Singh Sajjan, called on Defence Minister Arun Jaitley Tuesday । He was presented a Tri-Services Guard of Honour on his arrival at South Block । 12 killed in Saudi military helicopter in Yemen । Unconfined reports say the Blackhawk was accidentally shot down by a Saudi Patriot missile। US NSA Gen HR McMaster meets Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi । Gen McMaster also exchanged views on Indo-US relations with Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar । Happy Easter । US drops its biggest 21,000 pound bomb on ISIS in Afghanistan April 13 । Designated GBU 43, the Mother of All Bombs is designed to hit deep caves and tunnels in hardy mountains । GBU 43 is the biggest non-nuclear bomb, carried by the US Air Force (USAF) and the British Royal Air Force (RAF) । White House Press Secretyary Sean Spricer confirmed the night bombing but there was no immediate word from Taliban । Spicer said the ISIS terroists were targeted as they used the caves and tunnels to hit the US forces । GBU 43 is a concussion bomb carrying an explosive charge of 8,500 kg, equal to 11 tons of TNT । India, Australia sign 6 MoUs including on Combating Terrorism and Civil Aviation Security । Agreements signed during Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull’s Visit to India April 10 । He calls on President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi । This is the first ever visit of Turnbull after taking over as Australian PM in 2015 । The Australian PM along with his Indian counterpart took a Delhi metro ride to visit city-based Akshardham Temple । India, Bangladesh signed 22 agreements April 8 including key pacts on defence cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation । India announced an additional $4.5-billion concessional line of credit for infrastructure projects in Bangladesh, and another $500 million for Dhaka to procure defence equipment from New Delhi । A joint India-Bangladesh event saw both PMs honour the 1,661 Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the 1971 war for Bangladesh’s independence । Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrives in New Delhi for 4-day State visit to India । Prime Minister Modi himself goes to the airport to greet the Bangladesh PM on her arrival । External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj calls on Sheikh Hasina at Rashtrapati Bhawan । She is the special guest of President Pranab Mukherjee during her State visit to India । The Bangladesh PM has a full day of bilateral discussions with her Indian counterpart on Saturday (April 8) । 20 agreements are expected to be signed between India and Bangladesh । India, Malaysia sign 7 agreements । The agreements signed during Malaysian PM Najib Razak’s visit to India from March 30 to April 4 । Malaysian PM calls on President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi । India and Malaysia joint statement, issued after Modi, Razak meeting, calls for a deeper ties between the two nations ।
June 22, 2017
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IORA moves to secure the Indian Ocean: Ansari shares India’s vision

By Nilova Roy Chaudhury March 2017
 

New Delhi. Vice President Hamid Ansari visited Jakarta for the first ever summit meeting on March 7 of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), a 21-nation group of coastal countries flanking the Indian Ocean.

Crucial state assembly elections and domestic politics kept Prime Minister Narendra Modi away from the two-day summit, marked by the attendance of 16 heads of state or government of the 21 countries. Among those who attended were South African President Jacob Zuma, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Malaysian PM Najib Razak and Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull.

The organisation, founded in 1997 as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative in Mauritius, morphed into the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) before becoming the IORA, floundered until quite recently before arriving at a set of goals with which all members can identify.

India has embraced the idea of a stronger, more focused IORA as one which could move the member countries away from China’s proposed ‘Maritime Silk Route’ initiative, senior officials told India Strategic. A ministerial meeting held in New Delhi in 2011 set out some key markers, including security of maritime lanes, joint anti-piracy operations, disaster management, counter-terrorism cooperation and enhanced and unhindered trade flows.

Speaking of the 2011 meeting, Vice-President Ansari said six concrete areas of focused cooperation were decided; maritime safety and security, trade and investment, management of fisheries, disaster management, science and technology and tourism.

The 21 IORA member states are Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, UAE and Yemen.

Explaining what brought the IORA countries together, Vice President Ansari said, “Ours is a region marked by great diversity of cultures and levels of economic development. Yet for centuries the people on the shores of this ocean have been linked by the winds that blow across it. These facilitated exchanges of ideas through trade, religion and culture. As IORA member States, we recognize that the sea does not separate; rather it is a bridge that connects.”

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo co-chaired the summit Tuesday with the prior chair, the Australian Prime Minister, and President Zuma of South Africa, which is set to assume the chair later this year.

The formal structure of the Association so far has been the holding of official and ministerial meetings. This first summit of leaders, held largely at the initiative of President Widodo, was preceded by meetings of senior officials and ministers.

The Indian Ocean has been largely peaceful so far and India is keen to ensure that China, with its rapidly expanding Navy, does not disrupt the tranquillity of the Ocean’s channels of navigation. Adherence to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is a major binding factor among the member states.

Vice President Ansari said maritime safety and security would be the IORA’s main thrust area and the most important thing for RIM countries to be able to cooperate with each other was safety and security. He spoke of the serious problems of piracy and terrorism which had plagued the western part of the Indian Ocean littoral.

Maritime safety and security will be IORA’s main thrust area. Joint action has seen improved security in the region around Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, which was earlier infested with pirates. The western part of the Indian Ocean littoral also faces a severe threat from terrorists. The sea routes are now increasingly being used by terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIS to move out of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and spread their tentacles eastwards.

“We have an imperative need for open trade and open sea lanes that carry it. I call upon the IORA member states to ensure that the freedom of navigation and over-flight in the Indian Ocean is respected by all, as an expression of our commitment to UNCLOS,” Mr Ansari said in his statement at the Summit.

China, one of seven dialogue partners of the IORA, (along with Britain, France, Germany, Japan, the United States and Egypt) has displayed considerable aggression in the South China Sea and refused to accept a tribunal verdict, creating considerable disquiet among IORA and other countries.

The Blue Economy is increasingly a global focus area. The Indian Ocean is at the crossroads of global trade. The Ocean and its littoral are rich in natural resources and home to more than 2.3 billion people. The Ocean is critical to India’s energy security, with over 80 per cent of its energy imports coming via this maritime route, making its security of paramount importance.

Maritime safety and security can be reinforced by institutionalising cooperative mechanisms like White Shipping Agreements and by setting up an Information Fusion Centre to strengthen Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), Vice-President Ansari said. India, he said, is ready to host such a Centre.

The first ever IORA summit saw three critical documents signed; the IORA Concord, which Mr Ansari called “a milestone document that underscores the criticality of maritime safety and security.”

“India believes that our ocean must be protected from traditional and non-traditional threats, particularly piracy. All using these international waters must act with responsibility and restraint,” he said.

IORA ministers adopted a time bound ministerial Plan of Action for the next four years, while leaders signed a Declaration on countering violent extremism.

“Today, terrorism has become the major impediment to development and threatens all pluralist and open societies,” the Indian Vice President said. “No cause justifies the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians. IORA must show zero tolerance for State sponsored terrorism. The perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of terrorism must be isolated and face strong sanctions.”

“IORA members have to help each other by sharing intelligence, securing our cyber space, and minimizing the use of internet and social media for terrorist activities. There is a pressing requirement to work out the modalities for institutionalizing an IORA cooperation mechanism,” he said, while proposing a collaboration of Think tanks to counter security challenges.

Around 500 people, including a group of leading business people from India, under the aegis of FICCI, participated in a Business Forum held on the sidelines of the Summit.

India plans to set up the “IORA Centre of Excellence (ICE)” in one of its coastal cities, to provide academics and researchers access to a collective source of data and resource material.

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