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Pakistan seeks better relations with neighbours including India

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Pakistan seeks better relations with neighbours including India

Islamabad, July 10 (IANS) Pakistan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar has reiterated the ruling government’s willingness to mend ties with its neighbours, including India.

Highlighting it as one of the priorities of his government’s foreign policy, Dar mentioned about the consistent stance on improving ties with its neighbours during a briefing to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.

“Pakistan cannot change its neighbours. Therefore, it would be better to improve relations with the existing ones,” said the Foreign Minister.

Talking about relations with Afghanistan, Dar said that while Pakistan wishes to have better bilateral relations, it cannot ignore the fact that the recent attack on Chinese citizens in Pakistan was planned from across the border.

“Pakistan seeks positive relations with Afghanistan. The attack on the Chinese was not just a terrorist attack.. It was an attempt to damage Pakistan-China relations. Two incidents have damaged Pakistan and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was involved in both incidents. We demand that Afghanistan expel the TTP,” he mentioned.

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While Dar refrained from mentioning India, he has been calling for improvement of relations with the neighbouring country. His indirect hint towards willingness to de-escalate and normalise relations with India during the latest briefing is not the first time such an intent has been shared publicly.

After becoming the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Dar had called on India to reopen business and trade relations through confidence-building measures and table talks.

Dar’s statements on better relations with India were reiterated on various occasions, highlighting the ruling government’s optimism towards paving the way to restart channels of engagement with India.

He again highlighted the importance of better relations with the neighbours, including India and Afghanistan, during the briefing of the new committee, citing it as a part of Pakistan’s prioritised aspects of foreign policy which will lay emphasis on high-level engagements with strategic, traditional and regional partners and neighbours.

Experts say that Dar’s stance on relations with India and Afghanistan indicates a softer position of the democratic coalition government of Shehbaz Sharif towards the neighbouring countries. However, the government’s foreign policy stance may not get approval from the powerful military establishment.

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“Pakistan’s relations with India are nowhere because of two reasons. First, India has clearly refused to revoke and reverse the Article 370 decision on Kashmir. And, secondly, Narendra Modi, during his recent election campaign, had made it clear that he has shut down the chapter on relations with Pakistan. In this scenario, I do not see much happening in the near future,” said senior political analyst Javed Siddique.

He stated that Pakistan’s current political setup is duty-bound to take the country’s military establishment into confidence before taking any step forward. Siddique added that the military is on the offensive against TTP and is threatening to even take out terrorists in Afghanistan.

“On the other hand, it (military) has no intent to engage with India if the Kashmir dispute is not settled. Therefore, the current government’s wish to engage with India and Afghanistan may not get a positive signal from the military establishment,” said Siddique.

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–IANS

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Vietnam's seaport capacity to reach 1.4 billion tonnes by 2030

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Vietnam's seaport capacity to reach 1.4 billion tonnes by 2030

Vietnam's seaport capacity to reach 1.4 billion tonnes by 2030

Hanoi, July 22 (IANS) Vietnam’s cargo output through seaports is expected to reach 1.2-1.4 billion tons by 2030, according to the country’s detailed planning of seaports, harbours and water areas towards 2050 submitted by the Ministry of Transport.

It is forecast that the number of domestic and international passengers passing through the seaports by 2030 will be 17 to 19 million, Vietnam News Agency reported Monday.

The investment capital need for the seaport system by 2030 will be about 351.5 billion Vietnamese dong (13.8 million US dollars), including 72.8 billion dong (2.8 million dollars) for public maritime infrastructure and 278.7 billion dong (11 million dollars) for ports, Xinhua news agency reported.

The country’s cargo output through seaports in the first five months of this year was estimated at over 346 million tonnes, increasing by 17 per cent year on year, said Vietnam Maritime Administration.

–IANS

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Heavy security in Uganda ahead of planned protest in Kampala

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Heavy security in Uganda ahead of planned protest in Kampala

Heavy security in Uganda ahead of planned protest in Kampala

Kampala, July 22 (IANS) Ugandan security agencies have had heavy deployment ahead of an anti-corruption protest in the capital city of Kampala, a police spokesperson said here Monday.

Luke Owoyesigire, deputy spokesperson of Kampala Metropolitan Police, told Xinhua by telephone that various security agencies had already deployed their personnel as a precautionary move.

“They (security officers) are already around. They will be around today, tomorrow, and throughout the week,” Owoyesigire said.

The spokesperson said different groups had engaged in continuous mobilization on social media calling upon people to join in the Tuesday march, which the police decided to stop, saying it would attract criminal activities.

“People have other intentions of destabilizing public peace,” Owoyesigire said, before confirming that a message had been sent out to various sector commanders to deploy in their areas, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the police, mass occupation of streets would likely result in “significant traffic congestion, disruption of trade, and disturbances to public order.”

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The commanders were ordered to “utilise intelligence, be firm and professional.” They were also ordered to be vigilant, not to allow destruction of property or abuse to human lives.

The President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni, in a live televised address Saturday to the nation, accused the opposition of working with foreign elements to cause chaos in the country through riots, illegal demonstrations and inconsiderate processions.

“These people are unfair and inconsiderate, and they should check themselves, or we will have no alternative but to check them,” Museveni said.

–IANS

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Indonesia stresses commitment to local community involvement in developing SEZ

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Indonesia stresses commitment to local community involvement in developing SEZ

Indonesia stresses commitment to local community involvement in developing SEZ

Jakarta, July 22 (IANS) Indonesia’s state-owned company Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) on Monday emphasised its commitment to encouraging local community participation in developing the Mandalika special economic zone (SEZ) in Central Lombok Regency, West Nusa Tenggara province.

“Our main focus currently is to provide training and certification for local workers to enhance international competitiveness. Through this training, we believe the capabilities of the local community will improve, ultimately enabling them to enhance their welfare independently,” said ITDC President Director Ari Respati.

According to ITDC, its initiatives include a variety of training and community empowerment programs, such as foreign language training, mechanics training, developing an integrated farming system in buffer villages, mushroom cultivation, handicrafts, and marshals training, among others.

“It is hoped that in the development and management of the Mandalika special economic zone, we can prepare the community to welcome various international events, thereby improving the overall welfare of the surrounding community,” Respati added, Xinhua news agency reported.

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The Pertamina Mandalika International Circuit race will be held in the Mandalika area from September 27 to 29.

–IANS

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Sri Lanka's minority Tamils decide to field candidate for Presidential election

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Sri Lanka's minority Tamils decide to field candidate for Presidential election

Sri Lanka's minority Tamils decide to field candidate for Presidential election

Colombo, July 22 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s Tamil political parties have decided to field a common candidate to represent minority Tamils at the upcoming Presidential election slated to be held in September.

It will be after more than four decades that a Tamil could feature as a candidate in Presidential polls.

Late Kumar Ponnambalam, a leader of All Ceylon Tamil Congress, was the last Tamil Presidential candidate who contested in the 1982 Presidential race. He was assassinated in Colombo in 2020.

The group of Tamil political parties, including Tamil People’s Alliance led by former Northern chief Minister C. V. Vigneswaran, Selvam Adaikkalanathan’s Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO), D. Siddharthan’s People’s Liberation Organisation Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), Srikantha’s Tamil National Party and Suresh Premachandran’s Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), together with the leaders of a civil society groups including Tamil People’s Congress Association (TPCA) have now come to a consensus to nominate a common candidate to represent the minority Tamils in the island nation.

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However, Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) – the main Tamil political party in the country with the largest number of MPs under the umbrella group of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) – has not joined the pact signed on Monday.

The date for the decisive presidential poll is to be announced in the coming week while unconfirmed reports indicate that the election might take place on September 21 with nominations to be accepted by mid-August.

Incumbent President Ranil Wickremesinghe, together with his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa who fled the country amidst public protest, is completing his five-year term with the Election Commission now empowered to announce the nominations date for the next election.

The main Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa of Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), who broke away from Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP), and Marxist party Jathika Jana Balawegaya (National People’s Power) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake have announced candidacy.

Meanwhile, Wickremesinghe and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s party Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) are yet to announce whether they will be contesting the elections together or separately.

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–IANS

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Four die in armed attack in Nigeria

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Four die in armed attack in Nigeria

Four die in armed attack in Nigeria

Abuja, July 22 (IANS) At least four people, including a police inspector, were killed in an attack by unknown gunmen in Nigeria’s southeastern state of Abia on Sunday, the police said Monday.

The attack claimed the lives of three civilians as the gunmen targeted a group of security personnel on patrol in the commercial city of Aba, said Maureen Chinaka, the spokeswoman for the Abia police.

Two assailants were killed and several others escaped with bullet wounds after security forces responded to the attack, Chinaka said, Xinhua news agency reported.

An investigation has been launched into the attack, the spokeswoman said.

–IANS

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