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Trade, terror high on PM’s Gulf agenda

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6.Trade, terror high on PM’s Gulf agenda

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make his first visit to the Gulf region and West Asia this weekend, with a trip to the United Arab Emirates, marking the first time an Indian PM will land in the UAE in more than three decades.

Mr. Modi is expected to fly to Abu Dhabi on August 16 to discuss investment and trade opportunities as well as cooperation on terrorism with the UAE leadership, and then to Dubai on August 17, where he will address the Indian community at the Dubai sports city cricket stadium.

In 2014-2015, trade between India and the UAE crossed $59 billion with the balance of trade in favour of India, making the UAE one of India’s biggest trading partners.

Mr. Modi will also push for greater cooperation on terrorism with Dubai, which has in the past assisted India with information on criminals and terrorists who had operations based out of the emirates, especially after the two countries signed two bilateral security agreements in 2011, on the transfer of sentenced persons and on combating terrorism.

In the past few months, the MHA has been particularly keen on working with the UAE and other Gulf countries on the spread of terror finance networks as well as curbing Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN), and those will come up in the discussion between Mr. Modi and Sheikh Nahyan. Finally, Mr. Modi's visit will be seen as part of a “balancing act” in the region, given his proposed plans to visit both Israel and Iran in the upcoming year.

The last time an Indian PM visited UAE was Indira Gandhi in 1981, while President Pratibha Patil made a 5-day state visit in 2010.

7.Nepal inks breakthrough pact on new Constitution

Disaster bridges the differences and helps in making a deal

Nepal’s rival parties have signed an agreement drawing up the country’s internal borders in a breakthrough that paves the way for a new national Constitution, the country’s Prime Minister said Sunday.

Spurred by April’s devastating quake, Nepal’s parties struck a historic deal in June to divide the country into eight provinces but left the crucial task of delineating state borders to a federal commission.

Midnight deal

The new agreement, signed after midnight on Saturday, came after days of negotiation and resolves a major issue that has blocked progress on the charter since 2008. As a result, the commission will no longer be required to set state boundaries.

“A Constitution with federalism and demarcation has been ensured,” Prime Minister Sushil Koirala wrote in a post on Twitter. “I call on everyone to not be stuck on minor disagreements and work to build and develop the country,” Koirala said.

Information Minister Minendra Rijal said that “the agreement was reached last night and it has moved the Constitution writing process a step forward.”

The deal comes after a series of public consultations held across the Himalayan nation last month.

In some cases, the consultations were marred by violence, especially in the southern plains, which are home to the Madhesi community, who expressed anger about a lack of detail on where and how new internal borders will be drawn.

“We have tried to understand the public stance and strike a balance on conflicting feedback responses,” Rijal said.

Opposition parties have long pushed for new provinces to be created along lines that could favour historically marginalised communities like the Madhesis. Other parties have attacked this model, calling it a threat to national unity. As a result of the negotiations, the number of provinces was reduced to six. — AFP

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