India's Proximity Archives

India's Proximity Archives

South Asia
by Shreyas Deshmukh

The Taliban celebrated the second anniversary of their return to power on August 15. During the week, multiple international organisations published reports on Afghanistan’s present state. A UN report released on August 22 reveals that over 200 extrajudicial killings of former Afghan government officials and security forces have occurred since the Taliban’s takeover. Additionally, UNICEF report noted that 1.6 million Afghan citizens have relocated to neighbouring countries since August 2021. A WHO report from August 18 indicates that 28.8 million people in Afghanistan require immediate assistance. Meanwhile, the International Federation of Red Cross reported that 15.5 million people in the country face severe food insecurity, and 2.7 million are facing famine.

Meanwhile, the Taliban, on August 16, banned all political parties in Afghanistan, stating that such activities are against Islamic law.

Pakistan Election Commission released a directive on August 17 regarding the Schedule for carrying out the Delimitation of Constituencies under the Population Census-2023. According to the Schedule, the process will end on December 14, delaying the general elections beyond the constitutionally-mandated deadline.

A violent mob in Blasphemy riots vandalised 19 churches and 80 Christian homes on August 16 in Faisalabad district, Pakistan. Police arrested at least 140 alleged miscreants following the incident.

President of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe visited Singapore on August 21-22. He held a meeting with Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong, in which they discussed trade and food security issues and signed an MOU on carbon credits collaboration. Singapore’s Minister for Defense, Dr. Ng Eng Hen, also called on President Wickremesinghe. The meeting focused on amplifying security and defence collaboration between the two nations as they underscored the importance of strengthening security partnerships in the South Asian region.

Southeast Asia
by Anshita Shukla

The 20th ASEAN-India Economic Ministers’ Meeting was convened in Semarang, Indonesia, on August 21, 2023. The meeting was co-chaired by Rajesh Agrawal, Additional Secretary, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Dr Zulkifli Hasan, Minister of Trade, Indonesia. The two sides identified the following as priority areas of cooperation - resilient supply chains, food security, energy security, health, and financial stability. The Ministers endorsed the roadmap for reviewing the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA), finalising the Term of Reference and the Work Plan of the Review Negotiations.

The 55th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (AEM) was held in Semarang, Indonesia, ‘to promote regional economic integration’ on August 19 – 20, 2023. The AEM concluded negotiations on the ASEAN Services Facilitation Framework (ASFF), on upgrading the ASEAN, Australia, and New Zealand Framework (AANZFTA), endorsed the Final Report of the Study on the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA), and initiated preparations to establish an RCEP Support Unit within the ASEAN Secretariat.

Amidst rising tensions in the South China Sea, the Philippines and Australia conducted an air assault exercise in Rizal town in Palawan province on August 21. The “first major” military drills in 2023 involved 175 troops from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and two platoons from the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The chief of public affairs at the Philippine military stated that “the exercise involved coordinated air, land and sea actions to simulate realistic combat scenarios, enhancing the forces’ preparedness and operational readiness”.

Other Developments
Cambodia parliament endorses strongman's son Hun Manet as new PM
Indonesia’s $27 billion climate deal with Biden hits delay
China-Philippines relations: outspoken Teodoro Locsin, who swore at China, appointed ‘special envoy’ to Beijing

West Asia
by Sanket Joshi

Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, arrived in South Africa for the 15th BRICS Summit, which is being held in Johannesburg from August 22-24. The BRICS Leaders will discuss several issues, including the “expansion of groups membership”. Several countries from West Asia-North Africa are interested in joining BRICS, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran, and Egypt. Meanwhile, on August 19, Prime Minister Modi spoke by telephone with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, reiterating the need to realize the full potential of Chabahar Port as a connectivity hub.

During his visit to Saudi Arabia on August 17, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan. The two countries reiterated their intent to enhance bilateral ties under a deal brokered by China as part of its Global Security Initiative (GSI). Chinese officials are looking to Middle East countries to shore up Belt and Road (BRI) deals as trade relations with the US-led West deteriorate.

US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, informed that a prisoner swap agreement between Washington and Tehran is "on track" as Iran transferred five detained US citizens from prison to house arrest. According to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, the prisoner exchange process is expected to take up to two months. Meanwhile, Iran has unveiled a drone called 'Mohajer-10', which reportedly resembles the US's MQ-9 Reaper drone. 'Mohajer-10' can travel 2000 km and carry 300 kg of payload. Iran also continues to deepen its military cooperation with Russia.   

Other Developments  
Saudi Arabia, India Sign Cooperation Agreement on Digital Economy
China-brokered Saudi-Iran deal driving ‘wave of reconciliation’, says Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi  
Japan plans a meeting with GCC Foreign Ministers in September
How Americans view Israel, Netanyahu and U.S.-Israel relations in 5 charts

by Angana Guha Roy

Major General-level military talks are currently underway between India and China at Daulat Beg Oldie and Chushul along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. These talks aim to address the friction points after the 19th round of military talks at the Corps Commanders’ level and find solutions to help reduce tensions.

A report in the Wall Street Journal quoted economists who believe China is entering an era of much slower growth, made worse by unfavourable demographics and a widening divide with the US and its allies, which is jeopardising foreign investment and trade. Rather than just a period of economic weakness, it commented that this could be the dimming of a long era.

Despite reports that Chinese hackers have hacked her Department’s emails, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is scheduled to visit China in the coming week for meetings with senior Chinese government officials and US business leaders. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Raimondo convey a message that the US is not seeking to decouple from China but will protect its national security.

In his second visit to South Africa for the BRICS Summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on South Africa to join him in boosting the countries’ combined influence on international affairs in the Global South. During a joint press conference with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, he said, “We support substantive progress in the G20 and support South Africa employing a greater role”.

Other Developments
Chinese research ship Shi Yan 6 requests Sri Lanka port call, raising possible security concerns in India

Central Asia
by Jayantika Rao T.V.

President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, arrived in Vietnam for an official visit on August 21. President Tokayev met the President of Vietnam, Vo Van Thuong and held talks wherein they discussed the prospects for developing cooperation in trade, economic, investment, energy, transport and logistics, agro-industrial, cultural and humanitarian spheres. Both presidents signed 12 agreements to bolster bilateral relations.

The UN Security Council convened an emergency meeting to discuss the Azerbaijani blockade in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed Armenian enclave in the territory of Azerbaijan. Earlier in the month, a former International Criminal Court prosecutor said the blockade might amount to a ‘genocide’ of the local Armenian population – an assertion that Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said at the emergency meeting. Recently residents of Nagorno-Karabakh substantiated this claim by stating that owing to the blockade, access to food, medicines and other essential supplies as the blockade drags into its ninth month. During the debate, many argued that the Lachin Corridor – connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to the rest of the world must be reopened for humanitarian aid. At the same time, the speakers urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to normalise their relations.

According to Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, as Hungary and Turkmenistan signed a political agreement on the supply of Turkmen gas to Hungary on August 20, commercial negotiations between the two countries’ companies are expected to follow. He further said, “Turkmenistan’s intention is quite clear for Hungary to become one of the directions of potential supplies of Turkmen gas to Europe and one of the transit countries”.

Other Developments
Kazakhstan increases import of light vehicles from China 7.5 times since January 2023
Azerbaijan's Armed Forces Shell Armenian Positions - Serviceman Killed on August 21
From Armenia To Greece: India’s Geopolitics Unsettles Turkey, Azerbaijan, And Pakistan Triad