1. India, Bangladesh sign 5 pacts
NEW DELHI - LEADERS of India and Bangladesh met in New Delhi on Monday with talks focused on strengthening the previously difficult ties between the two south Asian neighbours, an Indian official said. Cross-border relations have improved in recent years and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s delegation signed five cooperation agreements with India in areas ranging from cultural exchanges, security, preventing crime and power supply.
2. India confers Indira Ghandi Peace Prize to Bangladeshi PM
NEW DELHI, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — India Tuesday conferred Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with the prestigious Indira Gandhi Peace Prize in recognition of her contribution to peace and democracy, reported the Indo-Asian News Service. Indian President Pratibha Patil conferred the award at a function in the Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace and praised Hasina for “shaping her country’s onward path of progress and development”, said the report.
3. Malaysian PM to visit Saudi Arabia
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will be making an official visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 13-16 to deepen bilateral ties, the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said here on Tuesday. Najib will later attend the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Jan. 18. Malaysia will be working towards enhancing trade and investment relations with the two countries.
4. Clinton to visit Japan, Pacific region
Since coming to power last year, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has pushed to see negotiations restart on the SOFA agreement, creating tension between the two countries. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has pledged to decide by May how to proceed on the base issue. Apart from talks with Okada, Clinton will deliver a policy speech focused on Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement in Hawaii, and will be consulting with the Pacific Command. She will be traveling to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia from Jan. 14 to Jan. 19, her first visit to the region since becoming the secretary of state. In Canberra, Clinton, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and their Australian counterparts Stephen Smith and John Falkner will participate in the 25th Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations to discuss key global and regional security challenges.
5. ASEAN prepares own “Marshall Plan’
MANILA, Philippines—Asean is preparing its own Marshall Plan, the United States program in post World War II to rebuild and create an economically stronger Western Europe to repel the threat of internal communism, the Asean Secretariat said Tuesday….In a working lunch in Jakarta Monday, Asean Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan described the plan to Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Masayuki Naoshima. He urged the Japanese official and his delegation to look at the plan and the roles of Asean and Eria as a package….Surin, who coined the “Marshall Plan for Asia” tag for the plan, said his office was collaborating with Eria and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the development of the plan. The plan aims “to contribute to coordinating, expediting, upgrading, and expanding sub-regional initiatives and promoting private sector participation.”
6. incoming EU trade chief sees WTO deal by 2011
BRUSSELS—Would-be new European trade chief Karel De Gucht expressed confidence on Tuesday that a deal to free up international commerce is attainable by next year.… The Doha round began in 2001, with a focus on dismantling obstacles to trade for poor nations by striking an accord that will cut agriculture subsidies and tariffs on industrial goods. Deadlines to conclude the talks have been repeatedly missed. Discussions have been dogged by disagreements on issues including how much the US and the EU should reduce aid to their farmers and the extent to which developing countries such as India, China and South Africa should cut tariffs. “We have to do that deal,” De Gucht added, refusing to concede that the terms of the talks had to change to take account of the aftermath of the global economic crisis.
7. China views Ethiopia as major economic trading partner
ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — China views Ethiopia as its major economic and trading partner in Africa, says Minister of Commerce Chen Deming on Monday….Chen put forward a four-point proposal on further development of bilateral trade and economic cooperation: First, further expanding its imports from Ethiopia through the use of tariff-free policies; Second, strengthening cooperation in investment and engineering contracts and continuing to encourage strong Chinese firms to invest in Ethiopia; Third, fully implementing the eight new measures to enhance cooperation with Africa; Fourth, further promoting cooperation in official development assistance to support Ethiopia’s infrastructure, and projects aimed to improve people’s well-being.
8. China, Morocco hold talks on enhancing bilateral ties
RABAT, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who is on a five-nation African tour, held talks Monday with his Moroccan counterpart Taieb Fassi Fihri on ways to upgrade relations between the two countries….Yang is on his first official foreign visit of the year that includes five African nations, namely Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Algeria and Morocco, as well as Saudi Arabia. It has been China’s tradition for 20 years that its foreign minister visits Africa in the beginning of the year.
9. China VP meets Pakistan’s opposition party chief
BEIJING, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping met Tuesday in Beijing with Nawaz Sharif, chief of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), saying party exchanges would help facilitate bilateral relations….Highlighting the friendship between China and Pakistan, Xi said China had treated bilateral ties from a long-term and strategic perspective and would make efforts with Pakistan to lift pragmatic cooperation. Sharif expressed his admiration for the achievements China had made, saying the political parties in Pakistan shared the view of improving friendly cooperation with China.
10. experts discuss NATO’s future at Prague meeting
An international conference has opened in Prague, aiming to help redefine NATO’s mission for the 21st century. The international panel is led by former U.S. State Secretary Madeleine Albright. About hundred other experts are also participating. The group is working to update the alliance’s mission statement, which was written in 1999. Albright is present at Tuesday’s gathering. The draft will be submitted for consideration to the leaders of NATO’s member nations at their spring summit in Lisbon, Portugal. NATO started the process to update its outdated mission statement last year to focus on handling new challenges such as piracy, terrorism and cyber attacks as well a resurgent Russia.
11. new EU foreign chief criticized for lack of specifics
Under its previous holder Javier Solana, the post of top EU diplomat focused on smoothing relations and boosting Europe’s influence in such places as the Middle East, Iran, and the Balkans. But the job has greater powers under the new Lisbon Treaty of reforms, even though the EU’s 27 nations remain well in charge over foreign and defense policy, with Ashton set to be their mouthpiece. Despite the pressure, Ashton appeared relaxed throughout, confidently responding to questions mainly focused on institutional concerns and how the former EU trade commissioner saw the future of EU foreign policy. She gave answers that demonstrated an understanding of the issues, but would not be drawn into diplomatic minefields like her stance on sanctions against Iran and was cautious on Middle East policy. More broadly she urged Europe to play a greater role on the world stage. “I am convinced there is a clear call, inside the EU and around the world, for greater European engagement—to promote peace, protect the vulnerable, fight poverty ,and address the many problems of our time,” she said. “We have to answer this call.”
12. Kazakh minister visits Vienna, Austria
Secretary of State - Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, Kanat Saudabayev began his official visit to Vienna yesterday… According to the press release, the visit on part of OSCE Chairman Saudabayev, to Austria will take place on January 12 - 15. Saudabayev will meet with President of Austria, Heinz Fischer, and the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria, Michael Spindelegger, to discuss the further development of Kazakhstan-Austrian cooperation as part of international organizations. … According to the press release, Astana considers Vienna a key political and economic partner in the EU, and is interested in developing bilateral dialogue in all areas and levels. During the visit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will hold meetings with UN structures administration based in Vienna – including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Universal Prohibition of Nuclear Tests to discuss cooperation with these organizations, according to Kazakhstan Today.
13. Austrian president to visit China next week
BEIJING, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) — Austrian President Heinz Fischer will pay a state visit to China from next Tuesday to Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday. Fischer will make the visit as guest of Chinese President Hu Jintao, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told a regular briefing. This will be Fischer’s first China trip since he took office in 2004.
14. China very very very unhappy with US weapons sales to Taiwan — in diplomatic language this is a full-blown fit
BEIJING, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) — The U.S. Defense Department announced on January 6 the approval of a plan of Lockheed Martin Corp. to sell Patriot III missiles to Taiwan. Although it was a step to implement the huge-scale arms sales package announced by the George W. Bush administration in October 2008, such a move only about one month after U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to China tarnished the China-U.S. ties….the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan fully justified any suspicion about the United States’ sincerity to take concrete actions to “respect each other’s core interests.”
…Undoubtedly, the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan seriously violated the principles established in the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques and the spirit of the Sino-U.S. Joint Statement, breached the U.S. promise to respect the core interests of China and disobeyed the mainstream wish shared by the people across the Straits. This move clearly showed the dual character of the United States in dealing with the major issues related to China’s core interests, especially at the moment that the cross-Straits relations have embarked on a path of peaceful development.
Profound lessons should be drawn from history. All previous U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have caused great damage to the Sino-U.S. relations and blocked their stable and smooth development. This time is no exception, since the arms sales to Taiwan are rootless and absolutely harmful, whether from the perspectives of legal, moral and justice principles, or from the perspectives of joint interests of the two countries and the long-term development of their relations.