India's Proximity Archives

India's Proximity Archives

South Asia
by Shreyas Deshmukh

The President of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe visited India on July 21. During the visit, he held “productive and outcome-oriented” bilateral interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a press statement PM Modi said that both countries have decided to expedite work on ‘connecting the electricity grids, feasibility study for petroleum pipeline, feasibility study to build a land bridge and fintech connectivity to launch UPI in Sri Lanka.’ As an immediate outcome of the visit, India and Sri Lanka signed five MoUs/agreements including cooperation in the field of renewable energy and economic development projects in Trincomalee.

US CENTCOM Chief General Michael Erik Kurilla held a meeting with Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir in Rawalpindi on July 24. In light of the fact that both leaders expressed a desire to further enhance bilateral relations in all fields, the developments in Afghanistan and the security situation in Pakistan could have also been discussed. On July 25, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed Pakistan's economy and Afghanistan-related issues with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a telephonic call. Earlier, US State Department’s spokesperson Matthew Miller said that the US retains the ability to conduct its own operations against terrorism in the Pak-Afghan region and does not depend on the Taliban’s promises to keep terrorists out of Afghanistan.

In an effort to restructure its economy, on July 24, Pakistan gave initial approval for signing a framework agreement with the UAE to hand over two more Karachi port terminals, including the development of a new multipurpose cargo terminal. Pakistan and Azerbaijan signed an agreement on July 24 for the procurement of LNG. Under the agreement, Azerbaijan will offer 12 low-cost LNG cargoes to Pakistan on flexible terms for one year. Meanwhile, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Elizabeth Horst said that there is no quick fix to Pakistan’s economic problems unless it follows the IMF programme, and the US continue to support this arrangement as it provides a breathing space to the country.

Southeast Asia
by Anshita Shukla

On July 24, Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivered his second State of the Nation address. Amidst rising tensions with China in the South China Sea, in the address he stressed on upholding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Philippines. “We will protect our sovereign rights and preserve our territorial integrity, in defence of a rules-based international order”, stated the President.
The US has imposed sanctions on individuals and cut aid to Cambodia after a landslide victory by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s party. This comes after the spokesperson of the US State Department Matthew Miller characterised the results as “neither free nor fair.”  The US alleged a “pattern of threats and harassment against the political opposition” to undermine the electoral process of the country. The United States has taken steps “to impose visa restrictions on individuals who undermined democracy and implemented a pause of certain foreign assistance programs.” However, the State Department has not specified the details of the targeted individuals and programs for the new sanctions.

A midlevel Taliban delegation visited Indonesia this week “to improve relations” with Afghanistan. The Indonesian Foreign Minister stated that the Taliban did not meet the foreign ministry and was in the country for “internal activities with their mission.” It has been reported that the delegation is also scheduled to visit Malaysia in the upcoming weeks.

The Philippines is preparing a contingency plan for a possible Taiwan invasion in the future, as informed by Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro. Given its geographical proximity to Taiwan, Teodoro stated that “we continue to plan on all contingencies not merely any flashpoint between China and Taiwan, but any contingency within the theatre”. While the Defence Secretary did not provide specific details about the contingency measures, he did state that a “multi-agency effort and not only a defence effort” is being planned.

Other Developments
Indonesia’s Jokowi to reaffirm support for Ganjar Pranowo as presidential election nears
Seah Kian Peng to be nominated as Singapore’s new parliament speaker amid political scandals

West Asia
by Sanket Joshi

The Israeli Knesset (Parliament) passed the ‘Reasonableness Bill’ as part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's judicial reforms on July 24, sparking protests across Israel. It would prevent the Israeli Supreme Court from striking down government decisions on the basis that they are “unreasonable”. As the bill was passed with the slimmest possible majority, the US criticised it as “unfortunate.

In order to deter Iranian attacks on commercial ships in the Gulf, the US has deployed more warships and marines to the Middle East. In the meantime, the Iranian Navy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have received deliveries of the ‘Abu Mahdi’ cruise missile with a range of 1000 kilometers. The missile is named after Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was killed in a US drone strike in January 2020 alongside General Qassem Soleimani.

Iraq's Shia religious and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr's supporters stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on July 20, angered by the burning of the Quran in Sweden. A copy of the Quran was also burned outside the Iraqi embassy in Denmark. In light of these developments, Iraq called upon the European Union to “reconsider the so-called freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate”. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has suspended Sweden’s Special Envoy status to the organisation.
Other Developments

Is China’s Greater Bay Area ‘the future of Asia’? Saudi diplomat says investors can bet on it
Iran helping Russia build drone stockpile that is expected to be ‘orders of magnitude larger’ than previous arsenal, US says
Turkiye working against end of Black Sea grain deal and resulting fallout: President
PM Netanyahu to meet President Erdogan in Türkiye, a first visit for Israel PM in 15 years
US says Russian plane hit American drone with flare over Syria

by Angana Guha Roy

On July 25, China removed its foreign minister Qin Gang after less than a year in office, following a month-long absence from public view. He has been replaced by his predecessor Wang Yi, following weeks of speculation that Qin Gang had suddenly fallen out of favour with the CPC. China's National People's Congress (NPC) did not provide any explanation for Qin Gang's removal.

China's top leaders in a meeting of the CPC Politburo on July 22 said the country's economy was facing “new difficulties and challenges. “The meeting pointed out that the current economic operation is facing new difficulties and challenges, mainly due to insufficient domestic demand, operational difficulties for some enterprises, high risks and hidden dangers in key areas, and a complex and severe external environment”.

India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi, and discussed bilateral ties between India and China on the sidelines of the Friends of BRICS meeting on July 22, in South Africa. Talking about the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), NSA Doval said that the strategic trust between the two countries has been “eroded” since 2020. “The situation along the LAC in the Western Sector of the India-China boundary since 2020 has eroded strategic trust and the public and political basis of the relationship,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) quoted NSA Doval as saying.

China has pledged to provide 8 million Yuan grant assistance to Nepal for the agricultural sector. The decision was taken during a meeting between House of Representatives Speaker Devraj Ghimire and Yuan Jiajun, a politburo member of the Communist Party of China (CPC), on July 22. Yuan arrived on a three-day visit to Nepal, leading a 26-member delegation. Visiting Chinese leader Yuan pledged to provide 8 million Yuan (NRs 14.5 million/INR 9.16 crore) assistance to Nepal for the promotion of the agriculture sector in all the seven provinces across the country.

Other Developments
US Dismisses China's Rejection of UN Accusations of Arms Transfers to Myanmar
Bangladesh, Brahmaputra serve as proxy for Sino-Indian conflict

Central Asia
by Jayantika Rao T.V.

The first-ever Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Central Asia Summit took place in Jeddah on July 19. The leaders announced the action plan adopted by the GCC and the Central Asian countries for the period of 2023-2027, which included political and security dialogue, economic cooperation and investment opportunities, and the establishment of effective partnerships between the business sectors.

Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman stated, “the challenges facing our world today require that we exert all efforts to strengthen cooperation among our countries to achieve regional security and stability”, stressing the importance of “sovereignty, independence and values of each country and the principle of non-interference in the international affairs of any”.

President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, noted “Synergy of Central Asia’s potential and the enormous opportunities of the Gulf countries can set a higher level to our multifaceted partnership. While President Tokayev commended the dynamic trade between Central Asia and the GCC, he stated that the trade figures have yet to demonstrate the real potential. Therefore, emphasised on the need to increase the range of goods to boost mutual trade, expressing Kazakhstan’s readiness to step up exports to the Gulf countries in 100 commodities worth USD 400 million in the shortest possible time. Furthermore, he also reiterated his proposal at the recent SCO Summit to host an international energy forum in Kazakhstan, inviting oil and gas exporters of the Gulf member states to participate.

The theme of the Rock 2023 drills, which will be held in the Minsk Region from September 1-6 under the aegis of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), will be a “clean-up operation following an accident at a nuclear facility with the engagement”. Belarusian Emergencies Minister Vadim Sinyavsky said that the drills are to manage “the process, the defence plans, internal and external, which will be worked out in training in the event of such accidents”.