United States and India agree to intensify defense cooperation
Daily NEWS Summary | 20-03-2021; India decided on Saturday to intensify defense cooperation with the US central command in Florida and with the US commands in the Indo-Pacific region and in Africa. The announcement was made by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, who spoke with US Secretary General of Defense (retired) Lloyd James Austin III, who described the partnership as a “central pillar of US policy for the Indo-Pacific.” .
- Earlier today, the visiting Secretary of Defense paid tribute to the National War Memorial and laid a wreath.
- He arrived here on Friday and met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- Austin, who pays a three-day visit on his first trip after taking office on January 22 as part of the Biden-Harris administration.
- Austin’s visit is crucial, as it comes amid expectations that the United States is likely to deliver a message about India’s plans to acquire the Russian S-400 missile defense system in the coming months.
- This decision could lead to US sanctions under a law called CAATSA (Fight America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act).
- Referring clearly to Beijing’s growing military activities in the South China Sea region, Austin said India-US, the defense association will “grow” in the coming years.
US Secretary of Defense Raises Human Rights Concerns
Daily NEWS Summary | 20-03-2021; The US defense secretary also addressed the issue of human rights in India during his meetings with cabinet ministers.
- An informed source said the issue was also raised during his conversation with Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar, who also covered a wide range of topics such as the situation in Afghanistan and tensions in West Asia.
- The defense secretary said that as the two largest democracies in the world, human rights and values are important to us and we will lead with those values.
- Earlier, speaking with a select group of American and Indian media, Austin said that he raised the violation of the human rights of Muslims in Assam with the Indian side.
China says it agreed to work with the US on climate change and other issues
Daily NEWS Summary | 20-03-2021; China had agreed with the United States to address climate change and a handful of other issues, indicating possible minimal progress in recently concluded negotiations, which were otherwise marked by harsh public exchanges on the issues that divide with the United States.
- The state news agency Xinhua said in a report from Anchorage, Alaska, where the two-day meeting ended on Friday, that China and the United States have decided to create a task force on climate change and hold talks “to facilitate the activities of diplomatic and consular missions ”and on issues related to each other’s journalists.
- The two countries fought over visas and consulates for journalists under the Trump administration, and climate change is seen as an area where they can cooperate.
- Senior officials in the Biden administration held their first face-to-face meeting with their Chinese counterparts in Alaska since taking office earlier this year.
- The Xinhua report did not provide any details on the working group on climate change, except to say that the two countries are committed to improving communication and cooperation on the ground.
Assam elections | Modi offers a “toolbox”
Daily NEWS Summary | 20-03-2021; Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday accused Congress of openly supporting forces that want to complete Assam’s tea identity and destroy the tea industry.
- Addressing a campaign rally in this Upper Assam city, the day after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi interacted with the tea garden workers here, Modi claimed that the party was playing with “pride and glory” of the oldest industry in the state.
- He said that recently a toolkit sought to smear Assam’s tea and yoga, the legacy of our ancient, world-famous saints, as part of a “conspiracy.”
- The PM was apparently referring to Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg’s controversial toolkit, which he tweeted and then deleted, outlining ways in which people can participate in the farmers’ protest.
Covid Updates: India reported 40,953 new coronavirus infections in the 24 hours ending at 8 a.m. On March 20, the largest one-day increase in 111 days, bringing the country’s cumulative COVID-19 count to 1,15,55,284.
- The country also reported 188 deaths during this period, bringing the total death toll to 1,59,558, with 2,88,394 currently active, the health ministry said on March 20.
- According to data released by the ministry, currently Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh continue to report an increase in new cases.
Imran Khan tests positive for coronavirus
Daily NEWS Summary | 20-03-2021; Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday and is isolating himself at home, his senior health adviser, Dr Faisal Sultan, said two days after receiving the first vaccine.
- Khan, 67, was vaccinated Thursday as part of the national coronavirus vaccination campaign which is underway in its first phase.
- Foreign spectators will not be able to participate in the Tokyo Olympics when they open in four months, the IOC and local organizers said on Saturday.
- The decision was announced after an online meeting of the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government, the Tokyo government, the International Paralympic Committee and local organizers.