18TH SAARC Summit Concludes in Nepal
The 18th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has concluded in Kathmandu, Nepal on November 27. The SAARC nations failed to achieve any major breakthrough amid the shadow of regional rivalry between India and Pakistan.
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has decided not to cut oil production, despite sliding oil prices. The move challenges Shale’s costly production in the United States (US). The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries accounts for about 40 per cent of global supplies.
Hong Kong’s High Court has ordered the main protest sites that have completely choked the financial city for more than two months to be cleared by December 11. The protests began after Beijing refused to back out from its insistence that candidates for Hong Kong’s top political post must be screened by a pro-establishment committee.
Tropical Storm Hagupit slammed into the eastern Philippines on December 6, killing at least 25. It brought fierce winds and torrential rain to roughly the same region ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan in November.
The US and NATO closed their combat command in Afghanistan on December 8, more than 13 years after invading the country in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks to target al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.The ceremony saw the NATO flag of the command folded and put away amid the foreign troop withdrawal. From Jan. 1, the coalition will maintain a force of 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, down from its peak strength of 140,000.
Amid China’s push to elevate its role in SAARC from an observer to that of an active member, Pakistan made a “policy statement” for elevating the role of observers in SAARC and Nepal said that “it willtalk to other states in the grouping for Beijing’s membership”. India is not too enthusiastic about China’s entry into SAARC as a full-fledged member state.
India and the United States have settled a dispute that had paralysed the World Trade Organization’s functioning and risked derailing reforms of global customs procedures. The US-India deal is likely to be hailed as a victory for India, which has stressed on the importance of ensuring food security for its 1.25 billion people.
Around 19 candidates including incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa and joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena, filed their nominations for the January 8. Rajapaksa, who is in his second term, called for early elections due to his reportedly waning popularity.
Former Pentagon deputy chief Ashton Carter has been nominated as new defence secretary by United States president Barack Obama. The development comes within two weeks of secretary Chuck Hagel’s resignation, after less than two years on the job.
China and the United States agreed on new limits on carbon emissions starting in 2025. The agreement was announced during President Obama’s meeting with President Xi Jinping in Beijing. However, environmental experts feel that the deal between the world’s two biggest polluters appears to be more politically significant than substantive.
Japan’s economy unexpectedly shrank for the second consecutive quarter, a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ‘Abenomics’, as he campaigns for re-election on his economic credentials.
Dismissing foreign media reports about Iran’s violation of an interim nuclear deal with the P5+1, an Iranian nuclear official has said that the Islamic Republic has not installed any new parts at its Arak heavy water reactor.
Devotees slaughtered an estimated 2,00,000 animals to the Hindu Goddess of power during Gadhimai festival in Nepal. The ritual is held every five years, despite mounting pressure from animal right activists.
In a gruesome incident that took place 60 kilometres southwest of Lahore, Shama Bibi, 24 and Sajjad Maseeh, 27, were killed for alleged blasphemy. The killings were sparked by the mob’s belief that thecouple had desecrated a copy of the Koran. Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan.
Referring North Korea to the International criminal court, a United Nations General Assembly committee voted in favour of a draft for crimes against humanity as well as “targeted sanctions” for rampanthuman rights abuses in North Korea.
Malaysian activists protested at the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur against General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s first official visit, demanding Thailand’s return to the electoral process and release of politicalprisoners.
As aid agencies warn about running out of cash to fund this year’s operations in Syria, the United Nations (UN) says it will need a record $16 billion to fund its humanitarian operations next year, with almost half the total going to help the victims of the Syrian conflict.