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Nepal hosts elephant festival, seeks to revive tourism

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Kathmandu, Dec 27: The 13th edition of Nepal’s five-day Chitwan Elephant Festival kicked off here with the participation of over 50 elephants.

The annual festival which brings fun, sports and adventure together was inaugurated on Monday in Sauraha, the gateway to Chitwan National Park, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

The festival would feature unique and spectacular games like polo, football, fast-walk, beauty contest, picnic among others elephant participation.

The annual event has been organised by Regional Hotel Association Chitwan in order to bring humans closer with elephants, to encourage wildlife protection and conservation and to promote tourism in the region.

Inaugurating the fiesta, Nepalese Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Jeevan Bahadur Shahi said that these sorts of festivals play an important role in attracting foreign tourists.

“Chitwan is a pioneer hub for elephant adventures but still lack tourists as compared to other parts of the country.

“We need to attract more tourists from our neighbouring countries to boost the overall tourism industry,” Shahi said.

The tourism industry in Nepal was adversely affected by the devastating earthquake in 2015, he said.

“If we could invite just one per cent of population from the neighbouring countries India and China, it would be a big achievement for Nepal”, Shahi added.

Chitwan is the third popular tourism destination in the Himalayan country after the capital city Kathmandu and lake city Pokhara.

Though the region used to welcome nearly 200,000 tourists in a single year, the number has dropped to less than half after the disaster of 2015.

This year, the festival has introduced elephant polo for the first time in its history, which is expected to draw huge number of foreign and domestic tourists.

Elephant polo is often regarded as the most adventurous and rare activity in the world.

Besides, the festival has also featured cultural and entertainment programs along with boat and cart riding competition.

The five-day event will end on Friday.

IANS

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World

North Korea suspends nuclear, ballistic missile testing

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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.

WeForNews 

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DJ Avicii dead at 28

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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”.

IANS

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

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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.”

IANS

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