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Nepal-China begin joint military drill



Nepal and China

Kathmandu, April 16 : The first ever joint military drill between Nepal and China — Sagarmatha Friendship-2017 — kicked off at Nepal Army’s Para Training School in Maharajgunj here on Sunday.

The Chinese Army’s squad is participating in the military exercise that will focus on counter terrorism and disaster response. The 10-day exercise will conclude on April 25.

DGMO of Nepal Army General Binod Kumar Shrestha inaugurated the exercise.

Though Nepal and China were planning a big-scale military exercise, the strong opposition from New Delhi given its special diplomatic and military ties with Kathmandu has forced Kathmandu to limit the size and nature of the drill, sources said.

“We hope that such joint military exercise would help the Nepali and Chinese armies to boost their professional capabilities,” Gen. Shrestha said.

Highlighting the historic ties between Nepali and Chinese armies, Colonel Yang Shumeng, leading the Chinese side, said such exercise would help understanding on counter terrorism and strengthening military ties.

The joint training with China marks the Nepali Army’s extension of military diplomacy.

The army has long been conducting joint military drills with the Indian and US armies.

A small Chinese troop contingent will be participating in the first ever drill with an equal number of Nepal Army personnel whereas it was earlier planned at battalion-level.

The exercise is taking place at the Maharajgunj-based training school where Yuddha Bhairab, Mahabir and Bhairabnath Battalions are located.

Initially it was planned outside Kathmandu.

The country’s army said the military exercise with China was a step towards preparations against the possible threat from terrorism.

The Nepal Army maintained that the drill was part of its regular bilateral and multilateral military exercises aimed at sharing experiences, skills and professional knowledge which it has been doing regularly with the nations that Nepal shares diplomatic ties with.

The national defence forces from the two countries have increased their engagement of late.

On February 19, Major General Zhao Jinsong of the western command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army was in Nepal on a three-day visit.

This was followed by a visit by Defence Minister and State Councillor Chang Wanquan in March. Chang had announced 300 million Yuan (Rs 4.5 billion) in military aid to Nepal.

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North Korea suspends nuclear, ballistic missile testing



North Korean Kim Jong un

Seoul, April 21: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Saturday announced the immediate suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests.

“From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” Efe quoted Kim as saying.

According to the report, North Korea will also close a nuclear test site in the country’s northern side in a bid to guarantee transparency in suspending nuclear tests.

Having established a nuclear deterrent, North Korea can now turn to overhauling its economy, Kim said.

Pyongyang’s decision comes ahead of Kim’s April 27 summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the demilitarized zone that divides the two countries.

The last bilateral talks between the leaders of North and South Korea took place 11 years ago.

US President Donald Trump, who accepted Kim’s proposal for a meeting after months that saw the two men trade insults and threats, praised the announcement from Pyongyang.

“North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World — big progress! Look forward to our Summit,” Trump said in a tweet.


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DJ Avicii dead at 28



Madrid, April 21: World-renowned Swedish DJ and electronic music producer Avicii was found dead in Muscat, Oman, his agent said on Friday. He was 28.

“It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii,” Efe quoted Diana Baron as saying.

“The family is devastated and we ask everyone to please respect their need for privacy in this difficult time,” Baron said. “No further statements will be given.”

Bergling had struggled with health problems, some caused by excessive drinking and was hospitalized for 11 days in 2012 for treatment of acute pancreatitis.

In early 2016, he announced his temporary retirement from touring, citing a desire to “explore other interests.”

“To me it was something I had to do for my health,” Bergling told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, adding that he had taken on board “too much negative energy” from the music scene.

Avicii achieved global fame in 2011 with the release of his smash hit “Levels,” which was followed by other chart sensations, such as “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother”.

He was known for his collaborations with other artists, including Coldplay, David Guetta, Lenny Kravitz, Robbie Williams and Rita Ora.

In 2014, he teamed up with Carlos Santana, Wyclef Jean and Alexandre Pires on the official FIFA World Cup anthem, “We Will Find a Way”.


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IMF expects India’s role to expand in Indo-Pacific region



International Monetary Fund

United Nations, April 21: The International Monetary Fund expects India’s role in the Indo-Pacific region’s development to continue to expand because of its robust growth, but it has to carry out more trade reforms, Ken Kang, the deputy director in IMF’s Asia Pacific Department said on Friday.

“Given our robust growth forecast where we see India’s growth rising from 7.4 per cent in 2017-18 to 7.8 per cent in 2019, we do expect India’s role in the region to continue to expand,” he said at a news conference in Washington.

“That being said, India does have room to expand its export orientation and to reduce further trade and non-trade barriers,” he added.

“The statutory tariff rate in India is relatively high at about 15 per cent, and higher than those in the rest of the region,” he added. “So there is room to do more on trade reform.”


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