Current Affairs International

 Kazakhstan has renamed its capital Astana to Nursultan to honor outgoing leader Nursultan Nazarbayev. Mr. Nazarbayev, 78, served nearly 30 years as president of the nation. The change was announced after Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was sworn in as president, promising to seek his predecessor’s opinion on key decisions.
Source: BBC

 New Zealand has imposed an immediate ban on assault weapons following the Christchurch massacre that claimed the lives of 50 mosque-goers. Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern announced assault rifles and military-style semi-automatic weapons would be banned with immediate effect, making a pledge to ensure that nothing like Christchurch massacre ever occurs in the Pacific nation again.
Source- AIR World Service

  External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj left to the Maldives on a two-day visit. She is accompanied by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and other officials. During her visit, Mrs Swaraj will call on the President of Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Parliament Speaker Qasim Ibrahim and meet with her Maldivian counterpart Abdullah Shahid.
Source- The Hindu

  Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi have been hit by a vicious cyclone ‘IDAI’ that has killed nearly 150 people, left hundreds more missing and stranded tens of thousands who are cut off from roads and telephones in mainly poor, rural areas. Cyclone Idai has affected more than 1.5 million people in the three southern African countries, according to the UN and government officials. Hardest hit is Mozambique’s central port city of Beira where the airport is closed, electricity is out and many homes have been destroyed.
Source- BBC News

  The Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu visited the Republic of Paraguay and the Republic of Costa Rica. This was the first high-level visit from India to both these countries. He was accompanied by a high-level delegation including the Minister of State for Tourism (I/C), Alphons Kannanthanam, the Members of Parliament and senior officials from the Government of India.
Visit To Paraguay:    The Vice President met with the President of the Republic of Paraguay, Mr. Mario Abdo Benítez, the Vice President, Mr. Hugo Velázquez, and the President of the National Congress (Senate), Mr. Silvio Ovelar. He also addressed the India-Paraguay business forum and interacted with the Indian Diaspora in Paraguay.
Visit To Costa Rica:    The visit of Vice President to the Republic of Costa Rica was the first ever high-level visit from India to the nation. The Vice President met the President of Costa Rica, Mr. Carlos Alvarado Quesada and held Delegation level talks with him which was followed by a joint press statement. The Vice President was also conferred an Honorary Doctorate by the University for Peace founded by the United Nations.
Source- Press Information Bureau (PIB)

 Al Nagah III is the third in the series of the bilateral joint exercise between India and Oman. It will be held between March 12 to March 25 at Oman.
Al Nagah III
  • Al Nagah III will be held at  Jabel Al Akhdar Mountains in Oman.
  • The 14-day exercise will see both the armies exchanging expertise and experience in tactics, weapon handling and firing.
  • The exercise is aimed to enhance interoperability in counterterrorist operations in semi-urban mountainous terrain.
  • The Indian Army contingent is going to be represented by 10th Battalion of the Garhwal Rifles. Similar strength is also to be fielded by Jabel Regiment of Royal Army of Oman.
Al Nagah I was held at Muscat, Oman in January 2015 and Al Nagah II at Himachal Pradesh, India in March 2017.  The India-Oman bilateral security ties have continued to evolve and the joint military exercise will go a long way in enchaining understanding of capabilities and strengthening camaraderie between both the Armies.

 India and Costa Rica signed two documents during Vice President Venkaiah Naidu’s first visit to the Central American nation. The documents were signed and exchanged following talks between Naidu and Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada.  The 2 agreements were signed on waiving visa requirements for Diplomatic and Official passport holders and the signing of the Letter of Intent to collaborate in the field of Biotechnology.
Source- ANI News

 Malaysia has ratified the Rome Statute making it the 124th State party to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Even though Malaysia had helped to negotiate the Rome Statute, it has been long been reluctant to ratify it. Ratification after 20 years is seen as a welcome move.
Why Malaysia has acceded to the Rome Statute after 20 years?
  • The downing of flight MH17 and the Rohingya crisis have focused Malaysia’s attention on the ICC.
  • After the election of Mahathir Mohamad for his second stint as Prime Minister in May 2018, there has been a significant shift in the relationship between the Malaysian government and monarchy. The earlier reluctance to ratify the Rome Statute has largely stemmed from a concern that the King, as the head of the armed forces could be held responsible for crimes committed by those under his command Mahathir’s relationship with the Sultans and the King is notoriously tense. During his first period as prime minister (1981-2003), Mahathir “stripped the sultans of their power to veto state and federal legislation”, removed their legal immunities, and established a special court to prosecute royal cases.
  • The election of Mahathir and appointment of a new Attorney General, Tommy Thomas, has seen the main legal obstacles to ratification removed.
  • The ratification has also stemmed from ambition to see Malaysia playing a more active role in ASEAN and the United Nations.
International Criminal Court established by Rome Statute is a permanent international court with jurisdiction over those most responsible for committing the most serious human rights crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

 China has increased its defence budget by 7.5 per to $177.61 billion up from last year’s $165 billion. The 2019 Defence Budget of China stood at 1.19 trillion yuan (about $177.61 billion) which is three times the Indian Defence Budget.
China’s Defence Budget
  • China’s Defence Budget growth rate stood at 7.6 per cent in 2016, 7 per cent in 2017 and 8.1 per cent in 2018.
  • China’s defence spending at $177.61 billion makes it the highest spender on defence after the United States.
  • China is equipping its People’s Liberation Army with state-of-the-art hardware, spending heavily on stealth warplanes, aircraft carriers and other weaponry.
  • The Chinese government has stated that the increased spending will “strengthen military training under combat conditions, and firmly protect China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests.”
  • China has also resorted to major reforms of its military, which included giving priority to expanding its navy and air force to enhance its influence abroad.
Increases Budget a Cause of Worry? China is demonstrating a more posture towards Taipei and China is facing competing claims in the South China Sea from Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan together with a territorial dispute with historic rival Japan in the East China Sea. Hence increased Defence Budget of China may be a precursor to a more aggressive stance against its neighbours. China has termed the increase in the defence budget as reasonable and appropriate aimed at meeting the country’s demand in safeguarding national security and military reform with Chinese characteristics. China also argues that China’s defence budget at 1.3 per cent of the GDP is much less than major developing countries which spend two per cent GDP on their defence. China also states that whether a country is a military threat to others or not is not determined by its increase in defence expenditure, but by the foreign and national defence policies it adopts.

  The United States has officially shuttered its consulate in Jerusalem, downgrading the status of its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians by folding it into the U.S. Embassy to Israel. The U.S. State Department stated that the decision was driven to increase the efficiency and effectiveness in diplomatic engagements. For decades, the consulate functioned as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians. Now, that outreach will be handled by a Palestinian affairs unit, under the command of the embassy.
Source: AIR World service



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