BRICS nations’ foreign ministers ratify UN Security Council

The foreign ministers of the BRICS nations endorsed UN Security Council reforms with a view to make it more representative and efficient, whereas putting both China and Russia aside. The meeting was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov of Russia, Wang Yi of China and Mauro Vieira and the deputy foreign minister of South Africa on 29th of September. The joint statement released after the meeting clearly indicated that reforms of the International Monetary Fund are to be addressed soon. In order to enable full functioning of the New Development Bank and its African Regional Centre, leaders promoted timely implementation of the Strategy for Brics Economic Partnership.

Landmark Decisions in Bangladesh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi sealed several deals during his last visit to Bangladesh. In a two-day visit, India & Bangladesh signed 22 pacts to deepen cooperation besides endorsing the historic Land Boundary Agreement or LBA. The Indian Parliament ratified the agreement after 41 years. This was Modi’s one of the biggest achievement, as the agreement was signed in 1974 and Bangladesh had endorsed it the same year, but India ratified in 2015. However, once it happened, the visit to Bangladesh was immediately planned by Modi. Some of the most important pacts included an agreement on coastal shipping, a MoU on setting up of Indian Economic Zones and allowing Life Insurance Corporation to operate in the country. With a view to boosting connectivity and enhance people-to-people contact, two bus services Kolkata- Dhaka-Agartala and Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati were flagged jointly by PM Modi and Bangladesh PM Hasina. The tour ended with an important event where Atal Bihari Vajpayee was to be given the Award of Bangladesh Liberation War Honour, which was received by Narendra Modi, on his behalf.

Aung San Suu Kyi Visits Beijing

Myanmar’s Leader of Opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi, visited Beijing on a five-day tour with an aim to building ties with her country’s powerful neighbour, and also met the Chinese President, Xi Jinping. The meeting is being seen as a Chinese ploy to improve its declining influence in Myanmar in the aftermath of some democratic reforms through which the Southeast Asian country moved away from Chinese influence and toward Western Asian nations such as Japan and other potential investors who are ready to bring money into its economy. However, as a matter of fact, China is still the largest foreign investor in Myanmar, the erstwhile Burma.

The democratic reforms have made citizens of Myanmar freer to protest, and consequently some Chinese projects including a dam have been stalled by people over environmental concerns. China, on the other hand, doesn’t want to weaken its hold on its poor southern neighbour as it is strategically important as a gateway to the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal, which China uses to secure oil and gas pipelines in Myanmar.

The root of the problem between the two countries is a skirmish between Myanmar’s military and rebels along the border, which resulted in the killing of five Chinese farmers and an influx of refugees into China. To ease the ensuing tension, China has extended its hand to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to create an image of love and peace and in contrast of China’s authoritarian hold in Myanmar.

Suu Kyi, a democracy icon, was held for years under house arrest by Myanmar’s junta, the military group of Myanmar that rules the country. Suu Kyi believes that Myanmar should maintain friendly relations with China, and her recent visit to Beijing is in line with her newly created pragmatic politician and diplomatic image that she wants to project to contest Myanmar’s Presidential post.

The meeting is being projected as a party-to-party meet between China’s Communist Party and Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, before the elections in Myanmar later in 2015. Suu Kyi also needs diplomatic credentials and support from her neighbours and other governments and leaders in general, as she is constitutionally barred from the Presidential election through a provision that citizens of Myanmar married to foreigners are not allowed to contest the highest post in the country. Suu Kyi has been campaigning for an amendment in the Constitution to allow her candidacy for the post.

Suu Kyi is visiting Beijing, Myanmar’s largest and most influential neighbour, for the first time on invitation from the ruling Communist Party and is going to visit Shanghai and Yunnan province at the China–Myanmar conflict-ridden northern border. Because she is expected to visit the Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang and China’s foreign-policy-focused State Councillor Yang Jiechi, it is being assumed that the meetings are politically important as such important people of China usually meet major national leaders, not opposition party heads. Her exclusion from elections is also seen as politically motivated, as her party, NLD, is expected to win comfortably in the November elections. The elections are one of many quasi-democratic transitions in Myanmar under international pressure; otherwise its military leaders still hold the real power, some after shedding their army uniforms.

General Aziz Ahmed designated New Army Chief of Bangladesh

Lieutenant General Aziz Ahmed has been recently appointed as the new Bangladesh Army Chief for tenure of three years. His term will officially start on 26th June 2018. Lieutenant General Ahmed is currently serving as the Quartermaster General of the Bangladesh Army.

The son of Wadud Ahmed, a former Bangladesh Air Force official raised in Chandpur, Ahmed passed his SSC exams from Mohammadpur Government High School and went to Notre Dame College to receive a Diploma in Textile Technology in 1980. He is a graduate of Defense Services Command and Staff College, Mirpur. Ahmed possesses extreme diligence and poise and has had an exceptional career that rightfully led him to his current designation.

In his career as a military man, he’s served in Chittagong Hill Tracts GSO-3 (Operations) and as a Brigade major for the infantry brigade, a Grade-2 official of the Army Training Directorate and a Grade-1 staff officer of the Army Directorate of Pay and Allowance. Ahmed has also had diverse experiences as a commander in the army and has commanded one Artillery Regiment, one BDR (Bangladesh Rifles) Battalion, two Artillery Brigades including an Independent Air Defense Artillery Brigade.

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Indonesia

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Indonesia as a part of his Three-Nation tour to East Asia.
His visit is a realization of his “Act East” Policy to create stronger bonds with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. Its main objective was bilateral cooperation between the 2 nations in maritime, trade and investment. The two leaders signed 15 agreements on areas including cooperation in

defense, exploration, use of outer space, science and technology, capacity building of public officials, dialogue and interaction between governments, think tanks as well as in health and railways.

Aviation strategies were also discussed to improve and strengthen the air route. Direct flights by Garuda Indonesia between Bali and Mumbai are being welcomed as well as flights by Batik Air and Air Asia Indonesia serving Indian and Indonesian cities.