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Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe seeks reconciliation with US at Pearl Harbour

In a landmark moment, the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and President of the United States Barack Obama visited Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to offer condolences to the victims of the surprise Japanese bombing on US naval base 75 years ago.
●    The meeting of the two leaders at the memorial site was another move towards reconciliation.
●    Both the leaders used the ceremony to encourage their citizens to reconcile and move forward.  
●    Though Abe did not apologise for the attack, he did offer his most sincere and everlasting condolences to the victims and stated that Japan had taken a solemn vow to never wage a war ever again. 
●    Abe also visited the USS Arizona Memorial, which was built in 1962 in the memory of the American sailors and Marines who lay buried in the wreckage of the battleship, sunk by the Japanese during the attack. 
●    Both Abe and Obama sought to guide their citizens to embrace reconciliation and remembrance.
●    Though Abe is not the first Japanese Prime Minister to visit the historic site, he is the first to do so with a US President and the first one to visit Arizona Memorial.


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CPWD to help Bhutan in green and sustainable construction 

Central Public Works Department (CPWD), the construction major under the Ministry of Urban Development will assist Bhutan in green and sustainable construction of infrastructure. 
●    A Memorandum of Understanding in this regard was signed between CPWD and Department of Engineering Services,  Ministry of Works and Human Settlements, Royal Government of Bhutan in Thimpu.
●    Shri Abhay Sinha, Director General of CPWD signed the Memorandum of Understanding.
●    Under the MoU for bilateral technical cooperation in infrastructure engineering, CPWD will assist in promoting sustainability in the built environment, capacity building through training of Bhutanese manpower, benchmarking in building and road sectors besides deputing engineering experts to Bhutan.
●    The signing of MoU took place in the presence of Ms.ZhabtogLyonpoDorjiChoden, Minister of Works and Human Settlements of Bhutan.

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Hong Kong withdraws visa-free facility for Indians

Hong Kong, the special administrative region of China has withdrawn its previous visa-free facility for Indians. The announcement was made by the Hong Kong Immigration Department on its official website.
●    According to the Immigration department’s statement, all Indian tourists will have to complete a pre-arrival registration in order to gain permission to enter the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).
●    The pre- arrival registration for Indian Nationals will be implemented from 23 January 2017. Its online service has already been opened. 
●    Hong Kong will be affected by about 5 million Indians who come to the island on business and leisure.
●    Hong Kong for the first time has strictly enforced rules.
●    In this city of more than 10 thousand refugees are pending. Over 80 percent of these people are Indians .


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India, Kyrgyzstan signed 6 agreements to boost bilateral cooperation

India and Kyrgyzstan on 20 December 2016 signed 6 agreements/Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to boost bilateral cooperation.
●    The agreements were signed in New Delhi during the State visit of Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambaye.
●    MoU on cooperation in the field of Tourism: It was signed between the Ministry of Tourism of India and the Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism of the Government of Kyrgyz Republic. Its objective is to mutually develop tourism as a major engine for economic growth and employment.
●    Agreement on cooperation in the field of Agriculture and Food Industry: Its objective is to facilitate cooperation in this field. The agreement also boosts trade opportunities for India in agriculture commodities.
●    MoU on cooperation in the field of Youth development: The agreement was signed between the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and the state agency of Youth Affairs, Physical Education and Sports of Kyrgyzstan.
●    The MoU facilitates deepening of mutual understanding between the representatives of the younger generation of both countries and developing programmes for young entrepreneurs.
●    MoU on cooperation between Foreign Service Institute, MEA, New Delhi and Diplomatic Academy of MOFA of Kyrgyzstan: The agreement will promote contacts and exchange of students, faculty members and experts in the field of diplomacy.
●    MoU in the field of cooperation in youth exchange between NCC of India and Military Lyceum of Kyrgyzstan: It seeks to have a country to a country exchange of cadets/youths to participate in youth activities.


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China, Norway agree to normalise bilateral ties

China and Norway have reached a consensus on normalisation of ties that deteriorated since the Oslo-based Nobel Committee conferred the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, who was convicted of engaging in activities designed to overthrow the Chinese government.
●    After a meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende in Beijing on Monday, Li said the two countries' foreign ministers had candid and in-depth talks, and reached an agreement on the normalisation of bilateral ties, reports Xinhua.
●    He said that China hopes to work together with Norway to open a new chapter in bilateral ties, and push forward a sustained, healthy and stable relationship.
●    Li said China appreciates the new Norwegian government's adherence to the one-China policy and its wish to improve and develop ties with China.
●    The two economies are highly compatible, Li said, adding China is ready to negotiate with Norway on an FTA, to send out a clear signal of trade and investment liberalisation.

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India, Russia bilateral naval exercise Indra Navy 2016 begins  

The ninth edition of exercise INDRA NAVY, an annual bilateral maritime exercise between Indian Navy and Russian Navy began in the Bay of Bengal. 
●    The primary aim of exercise INDRA NAVY-16 is to increase inter-operability amongst the two navies and develop common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations. 
●    The scope of the exercise includes wide-ranging professional interactions in harbor phase and a diverse canvas of operational activities across a spectrum of maritime operations at sea. 
●    The exercise will be held in two phases viz. Harbour Phase (14 to 18 December 2016) at Visakhapatnam and tSea Phase (19 to 21 December 2016) off Visakhapatnam. 
●    The Harbour Phase will encompass table-top exercises, planning conferences, and professional interactions prior progressing to sea. 
●    Indian Navy will be represented by INS Ranvir a guided missile destroyer, INS Satpura an indigenous frigate and INS Kamorta an indigenous Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) corvette.

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Tajikistan, India step up security ties

Tajikistan and India signed an agreement on Saturday against terror financing and money laundering.
●    At the end of the bilateral talks held in Hyderabad House, the Financial Intelligence Unit of India and the Central Asian country signed an agreement to prevent financing of terrorism and money laundering. 
●    Both sides also signed agreements on bilateral investment and avoidance of double taxation.
●    Tajikistan invited India to invest in four free economic zones that have come up in the country and thanked it for the modernisation of the Varzob-1 Hydropower Station.
●    Mr. Rahmon, who also sought investment in the upcoming small and medium hydroelectricity projects, appreciated the signing of the trilateral Chahbahar port agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan as the project will provide connectivity to Tajikistan.
●    The two sides indicated that relationship was expected to deepen in 2017, which would mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations.

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India signals peace on Indus Water issue

Signalling a step back from tensions in the past month over the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan, India said there was “no reason” the two countries could not sort out their differences as they have in the past.
●    India had objected to the World Bank’s earlier decision as it said the acceptance of Pakistan’s appeal for an arbitration process under article IX was “illegal”, accusing the World Bank of “favouring Pakistan”. 
●    The strong language of the statement appeared to have weighed with the World Bank, and on December 12, the day its President Jim Yong Kim was due to announce the names chosen for the arbitration panel and as mediator.
●    The World Bank plans to send an expert, Ian Solomon to New Delhi and Islamabad in the next few weeks to discuss the issues for both governments and help restart talks between them.
●    Pakistan did not comment on the World Bank decision against its proposal to bypass the bilateral process.

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Ministers and senior officials of 68 countries from Asia Pacific Region to discuss housing and urban development challenges 

In the context of growing urbanization in different forms, Ministers and senior officials of 68 countries from the Asia Pacific Region will deliberate on challenges of urban planning and management in New Delhi for three days from tomorrow i.e December 14, 2016. The regional interactions under the aegis of ‘Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing & Urban Development’ (APMCHUD) will be inaugurated by the Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu.
●    With the Asia Pacific Region accounting for 60% of the world population and 55% of global urban population, the ‘Delhi Declaration’ to be adopted at the end of the three day meet on the theme of ‘Emerging Urban Forms – Policy Responses and Government Structures in the Context of the New Urban Agenda’ assumes importance in furthering the new urban agenda adopted at the recent conference of UN Habitat-III.
●    Delhi Conference seeks to address issues related to urbanization in the region in the form of new urban forms ranging from crowded city centres to peripheral expansion, metropolitan based urban population growth, megacities, mega urban regions with multiple cities of different sizes, urban corridors etc., impacting growth and urbanization.
●    Five Working Groups will deliberate on different Sub-Themes viz., Integrated Planning, Management and Governance Structures (led by India), Ensuring Access to Housing and Housing Finance in the Urban – Rural Continuum (led by South Korea), Unorganised Growth in Peripheral Areas and Slum Upgradation Aspects (led by Iran), Ensuring Sustainable and Natural Disaster Resilient Urban Development including Climate Change (led by Indonesia) and Ensuring Basic Services including Mobility for Integrated Development (led by Sri Lanka and Maldives).
●    Delhi is hosting the APMCHUD after 10 years having hosted the first APMCHUD in 2006 and takes over leadership of this important regional group for the next two years.


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Seventh Indo- Maldives joint military exercise to commence from 15 dec 

Seventh edition of Exercise EKUVERIN will be held from 15 to 28 Dec 2016 at Kadhdhoo, Laamu Atoll, Maldives. 
●    The Exercise is a 14 day platoon level joint military exercise between the Indian Army & the Maldives National Defence Force conducted on a yearly basis.
●    The aim of the exercise is to conduct military training with emphasis on amphibious & counter insurgency/ counter terrorism operations with a view to enhance interoperability between the two armies.
●    The contingents comprises of platoon strength from BIHAR Regiment and a similar strength of the Maldivian National Defence Force.
●    The previous edition of the exercise was held in India at Trivandrum, Kerala.
●    The Maldives is a tropical nation in the Indian Ocean composed of 26 ring-shaped atolls. 
●    It’s known for its beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs. 
●    The capital, Malé, has a busy fish market, restaurants and shops on the main road, Majeedhee Magu, and 17th-century Hukuru Miskiy made of carved white coral.


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