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Chronology of Major Events 2012

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Chronology of Major Events 2012

United States of America

Strategic Profile

1January:The United States (US) President Barack Obama signed into law a massive $662-billion defence spending bill that also sought to suspend 60 per cent of $1.1 billion military aid to Pakistan. The $662-billion defence authorisation bill for the year 2012, among other things, sought to suspend the huge chunk of military aid to Pakistan — under the category Pakistan Counter-Insurgency Fund — till Secretaries of State and Defense report to the Congress that Islamabad is making progress in the war on terror.

5 January:President Obama unveiled a defence strategy that called for greater US military presence in Asia and envisioned  reducing troops in Europe as the Pentagon sought to reduce spending by nearly half  a trillion dollars after a decade of war.

14 January:The US moved to restore full diplomatic relations with Myanmar, rewarding the sweeping political and economic changes made by the country’s new civilian government, which included a ceasefire with ethnic rebels and release of hundreds of political prisoners.

27 April:The US Congressional panel demanded that European allies foot more of the bill for a multibillion-dollar-shield being built to guard North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) members from missiles that might be able to carry nuclear warheads, notably from Iran. The House of Representatives Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee voted to hold back 25 per cent of funds authorised for certain shield expenses until the NATO allies spell out their contributions.

2 June:In a major reposturing, the US announced to shift the bulk of its naval fleet including as many as six aircraft carriers to the Pacific by 2020 as part of new strategic focus on Asia.

3July:The US moved more warships and fighter aircrafts to the Persian Gulf to keep the strategic Straits of Hormuz open and strike deep within Iran if the stand-off over its nuclear programme escalated.

7 July:As a statement of support for Afghanistan’s long-term stability, the Obama administration declared Afghanistan the United States newest ‘major non- NATO ally’, an action designed to facilitate close defence cooperation after US combat troops withdraw from the country in 2014.

18 July:The US House of Representatives agreed to a $650 million cut in Pakistani military aid with the intention of reducing the country’s funds by half.

31 July:The State Department in its annual report on terrorism re-designated four countries — Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria — as state sponsors of terrorism, imposing a wide range of sanctions, including arms embargo and a ban on financial assistance.

1 August:President Barack Obama announced a decision to impose sanctions on any institution that his administration suspected of engaging in trade with Iran – including Chinese banks. Mr Obama announced that his government would add a further layer of punitive regulation in addition to the National Defence Authorisation Act that is already imposed, targeting those who continued to maintain ties with Iran.

30 August:The US slapped sanctions on Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) top eight commanders, including Mumbai terrorist attack mastermind Sajid Mir. Announcing the sanctions, the US said LeT despite being designated as a foreign terrorist organisation in January 2002, continued to ‘operate in Pakistan’ and throughout the region and engage in terrorist activities worldwide.

7 September:Two days before a Congressional deadline, in a report to the Congress, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton formally designated the militant Haqqani network, responsible for some of the deadliest attacks against American troops in Afghanistan as a terrorist organisation.

21 September:The US defence officials said that the last of the 33,000 US soldiers that President Barack Obama sent to Afghanistan nearly three years ago as part of a military surge have left the country.

3 October:The US said that there was no change in its stated policy that Kashmir was a bilateral issue that needed to be resolved between India and Pakistan. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters when asked about the sharp exchange of words between India and Pakistan during the United Nations General Assembly session in New York that with regard to US policy on Kashmir, ‘it hasn’t changed’.

7 October:Notwithstanding Pakistan’s reluctance to act on its demand to rein in the dreaded Haqqani network, the US waived the necessary legal requirements for the year’s $2 billion security and civilian aid to Islamabad arguing that it was in America’s national interest

30 October:Senior officials from India, US and Japan discussed trilateral cooperation in maritime security and a route through middle or north of Myanmar leading up to Hanoi. The third trilateral was held in New Delhi, exchanged proposals for joint projects in Africa and also for cooperation on the economic side in Afghanistan. Sources said that China was not discussed in great detail during the meeting, except as part of the region.

19 November: US President Barack Obama urged Myanmar to hasten its remarkable reforms, during his historic visit to the country. He also met Aung San Suu Kyi at her home where she was long locked up.

14 December:The US planned to deploy two Patriot missile batteries in Turkey along with 400 troops to help defend its ally against potential threats from neighbouring Syria. The move was part of a wider NATO effort to bolster Turkey’s air defences amid growing tension on the Turkish–Syrian border, with Ankara siding with opposition forces battling President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

21 December:The US House of Representatives has approved the final version of the annual defence policy bill, authorising $633.3 billion in defence spending for 2013, easing limits on satellite exports and providing more Marines for embassy security.

Relations with India

18 January:Weeks after offering to sell its F-35 fifth generation fighter jets, the US said that it was open to work with India on joint development of a ballistic missile shield. The offer was made by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Robert Scher who said that the Indo-US defence ties were valuable and critical not only for the security and stability of the region but also globally.

5 June:US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta during his visit to India discussed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Indo-US bilateral relations, including issues relating to regional security and defence relationship between the two countries.

12 June:US Company Westinghouse and India’s Nuclear Power Corporation signed an agreement giving the civil nuclear deal its first commercial breakthrough. The agreement committed them to work towards preliminary licensing agreements on pricing, design and technology, skirting the contentious liability law, which was holding up actualisation of the deal.

13 June:Focusing on five key areas including, security cooperation and trade, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the third Indo-US Strategic Dialogue held in Washington said, that India and US were moving to forge a new and more mature phase of bilateral ties.

14 June:In a significant indication of alignment of interests, India and US decided to hold trilateral consultations with Afghanistan. This comes after both New Delhi and Washington have signed Strategic Partnership agreements with Kabul.

24 July: The US thanked India for its support to a US-backed resolution on Syria at the United Nations Security Council. The resolution was however, vetoed by Russia and China.

24 September:US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a visit to Kolkata. A press release issue later said that the issues discussed were those of US investments in West Bengal, including those in the retail sector.

10 October:The US Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, and US Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, met leaders from corporate India in a closed-door meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Mumbai to discuss issues such as India’s on-going reform process and the economic climate.

26 November:In the first comprehensive high-level deliberations with the US after the elections, Union Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai put forward the Indian wish list of seeing a better deal for Indian professionals working there and the import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to the visiting Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who was in New Delhi as part of regular bilateral consultations. The two sides also discussed ways to get the Indo-US nuclear deal back on track following the stalemate over the Liability Act and India’s pending membership to export control organisations.

9 December:India rejected the mounting US pressure to tweak its nuclear liability law- including suggestions that it should be interpreted by the International Atomic Energy Agency and revisited by Parliament. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said that the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010 has to be interpreted by Indian courts and that they were not subservient to any international organisation.

19 December:India expressed extreme disappointment on the US’ position that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency be accorded immunity from a civil suit field in a New York court on the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Europe

European Union

23 January:India and the European Union (EU) joined hands for launching joint military operations in the Indian Ocean against piracy. Joao Cravinho, Ambassador and Head of EU Delegation to India, told journalists in New Delhi that EU has deployed four warships and supporting military ships of EU member countries and was engaged with the Indian Navy in developing synergy in the region.

10 February:Talks between India and EU on the much touted free trade agreement remained inconclusive at the end of the 12th India–EU Summit held in New Delhi. The widely expected ‘political framework’ failed to find mention in the joint statement, which fixed no timeline for the conclusion of the talks. However, European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso, expressed optimism about concluding the free trade deal later in 2012.

26 June:India and EU agreed on a road map to seal the bilateral free trade agreement, called the Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) by November 2012. The Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma met EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht at Brussels to take stock of the progress in the negotiations on India–EU trade agreement.

11 April:Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan slammed the EU for its controversial decision to levy carbon tax on international flights on emissions that use EU airports. She also termed the step as ‘a deal breaker’ in the context of on-going climate talks.

15 October: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) engaged in advanced talks with the Ministry of External Affairs to open an India office. The possibility of India joining it was also on the cards, though that could be the long-term outcome of an ongoing dialogue.

Britain

Strategic Profile

7 January:According to reports, Britain’s newest warship the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring was headed to the Gulf for its first mission at a time of tensions over Iran’s threat to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Iran had threatened to take the move if it was hit with fresh sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme.

15 October:Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and Scotland’s first Prime Minister Alex Salmond signed an agreement to hold a referendum in 2014 on Scottish independence that could lead to the United Kingdom breaking up after 300 years.

19 December:Prime Minister David Cameron announced that Britain planned to withdraw nearly half of its troops from Afghanistan, ahead of the final pull-out of all foreign forces in 2014. He told the House of Commons that 3,800 troops deployed in Helmand province would be withdrawn by the end of 2013, leaving behind only 5,200.

Relations with India

1 February:Led by Prime Minister David Cameron, Britain’s Members of Parliament (MPs) and the media accused New Delhi of ‘ingratitude’ for selecting French firm Dassault Rafale for a mega deal to supply fighter jets, ignoring British claims. Arguing that Britain gave millions of pounds in aid to India, Mr Cameron told the House of Commons that he was disappointed by the decision and assured MPs that he would do all he could to persuade India to change its mind insisting that a contract to Dassault had not yet been granted.

5 July:The British government banned the Indian Mujahideen describing it as threat to national security and citing its alleged involvement in several terror attacks, including the Mumbai bombings.  The ban came in as five men and a woman were arrested in London in a counter-terror swoop ahead of the Olympic Games.

30 October:India and the United Kingdom signed a protocol amending the 1993 bilateral convention on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion related to taxes on income and capital gains. The protocol, signed by India’s High Commissioner Jaimini Bhagwati and Exchequer Secretary to the UK Treasury David Gauke, streamlined the provisions related to partnership and taxation of dividends in both the countries.

8 November:India and Britain decided to step up cooperation in cyber security during bilateral foreign minister-level talks. At a joint press conference with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in New Delhi, the British Foreign Secretary William Hague supported India’s bid for membership in four export control regimes. Mr Hague also said that Britain looked forward to the time when India would have a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.

France

31 January:In the country's largest defence deal to date, India selected the French Fighter Rafale over the Eurofighter Typhoon in a multi-billion dollar contract for the supply of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). The decision to open exclusive negotiations with Dassault was acclaimed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who praised the ‘very high-level, fair and transparent competition involving the two European finalists.’ The deal was estimated to be worth $10.2 billion included the plan to acquire 126 aircraft, 18 of them in fly-away condition and the rest to be made in India at the Hindustan Aeronautics facility under transfer of technology.

Germany

21 December:According to the latest figures of the Commerce and Industry Ministry, Germany has emerged as the top trading partner of India within Europe with around $23.8 billion or 18.3 billion euro turnover during 2011–12. The German Ambassador to India, Michael Steiner said the figures clearly showed that the Indo-German trade relations were at an all-time high.

Italy

16 February:India summoned the Italian envoy and lodged strong protest over the killing of two fishermen in a firing incident off the Kerala coast by security guards of an Italian merchant ship Enrika Lexie, who suspected the fishermen to be pirates. The Ministry of External Affairs Secretary (West) Madhusudhan Ganapathi met Italian Ambassador Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforte, and conveyed to him that the Italian navy and the captain of the ship must ‘cooperate’ with the Kerala government.

7 March:Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti called up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and expressed his regret and condoled the incident of the killing of Indian fishermen by two Italian marines. The two leaders agreed that the incident should be resolved in accordance with ‘law and in the spirit of friendship’.

Spain

26 October: India and Spain inked five pacts, the most notable being the amending of the over 19-year-old double taxation avoidance pact to check tax evasion. The other ones were on roads and road transport sector, co-production of films, cooperation and information exchange in the areas of high speed railway, etc. The defence cooperation pact too was signed between the two nations for exchange of defence related experience, information, encouraging visits of personnel, collaboration in defence industry and other similar areas of cooperation.

Ukraine

10 December:A broad defense cooperation agreement was signed following delegation-level talks between the visiting Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi. With Ukraine having consolidated its military enterprises into bodies under governmental control, on the lines of Russia, New Delhi hoped that the path has been smoothened for a more intimate defence relationship.

Russia

Strategic Profile

18 January: Russia warned the West against military intervention in Iran and Syria and rejected unilateral sanctions against the two nations. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaking at an annual press conference in Moscow said that the military action against Iran would have ‘catastrophic consequences’.

5 March:Vladimir Putin won a new six year term in the Russian Presidential elections with 63.75 per cent  votes. However, his election was criticised by the European election observers who alleged that his victory was preordained and unfair because of overwhelming bias in the television media and the use of government money and resources in support of his campaign.  

19 March:Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov came out against the withdrawal of the international military forces from Afghanistan in 2014. In an interview to the Afghan TV Channel TOLO, Mr. Lavrov said that the NATO-led forces should not pull out until they have fulfilled the UN mandate to establish a stable government and credible defence forces in Afghanistan.

13 April: At the Russia, India and China (RIC)  meeting held in Moscow, the leaders of the three countries voiced common concern on a range of international issues, including North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, and terrorism. The foreign ministers of the three countries also attached top priority to building up a security and cooperation architecture in the Asia–Pacific region.

3 May:At a  two-day conference on ‘Missile Defence Factor in forming a New Security’ held in Moscow, Russia’s military brass warned of pre-emptive strikes at US missile defence in Europe, as talks with US over the controversial missile defence shield neared a ‘dead end’. The conference drew more than 200 ranking defence officials and military experts from over 50 countries, including all the 28 NATO members. NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow claimed that the US missile shield was not and would not be ‘directed against Russia’. 

23 May: Russia successfully test fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of piercing defence systems being developed by the US. The Strategic Missile Forces test-launched this new prototype ballistic missile from a mobile launcher at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome Region. It was the second launch of what is believed to be a deeply modernised Yars missile named ‘Avangard’.

11 July: Russia sent a large flotilla of warships to Syria. Russia’s Defence Ministry said that eleven warships drawn from the Northern, Baltic and Black Sea Fleets were on a three-month training mission in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The flotilla includes three destroyers, five landing ships, tankers, and support vessels.  

17 July:Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged full support to Syria peace mediator Kofi Annan and promised to seek a consensus resolution in the UNSC on extending the international monitoring mission in Syria. Putin also offered to try and hammer out a compromise with the Western nations in the Security Council on a resolution extending the UN monitoring mission in Syria which ended on July 21.

31 July: Russia decided to embark on a massive naval re-armament plans to build scores of warships by the end of decade. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced while attending a ceremony for launching the construction of a Borei-class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine in Moscow that a total of 51 surface warships and 24 submarines, including 16 nuclear submarines, will enter into service in the Russian Navy by 2020.

22 August:After 18 years of negotiation, Russia entered the World Trade Organization (WTO). Russia is one of the last major global economies to enter the group which long included other developing nations like China and India.

20 September:Russia consolidated its strategic position in Central Asia by extending the long-term lease on its military facilities in Kyrgyzstan and securing the shutdown of a United States base in the former Soviet republic. In exchange, Russia agreed to write off nearly $500 million in Kyrgyzstan’s debt and pledged to uplift its near bankrupt economy. Under an agreement signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Kyrgyzstan, the lease of the Russian airbase in Kant and a number of other facilities was extended from 2017 for a further 15 years with an option for a further five-year extension.

7 October:Russia extended its lease of key military base in Tajikistan for 30 years in a deal that strengthened Moscow’s strategic position in the region ahead of NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan. An agreement prolonging Russia’s military presence in Tajikistan till 2042 was signed by the Defense Ministers of the two countries in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was on a two-day visit to Dushanbe.

10 October:The leaders of Russia and Iraq agreed to develop large-scale cooperation in defense, energy and investment sectors. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at his country residence that Russia and Iraq have resumed military–technical cooperation. Ahead of the meeting the Russian government said it had recently signed arms deals with Iraq worth over $4.2 billion dollars, which made Iraq, Russia’s second largest defence customer after India.

25 October:Russia successfully test fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile which will be used by the country’s elite forces to get through anti-missile systems. According to Colonel Vadim Koval, spokesman for the Russian strategic missile forces, the prototype of a new missile with a mobile launcher was launched from the Kapustin Yar testing ground in the Astrakhan region, to verify correctness of technological solutions used in it.

Relations with India

29 March: Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev explored the possibility of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) to maximise the trade potential between the two countries. The two leaders met at the Indian Prime Minister’s residence after the BRICS summit in New Delhi. During the meeting, the two countries also reaffirmed their bilateral trade target of achieving $20 billion by 2015.

23 June:INS Sindhurakshak submarine completed a mid-life refit programme in Russia. During a two-year in-depth modernisation, the torpedo-firing INS Sindhurakshak, built in 1997, has been equipped with the tube-launched Club-S cruise missiles effective against surface vessels and submarines at a range of about 200 km. It is also the seventh and the last of the 10 Kilo-class submarines that India bought from Russia (between 1986 and 2000) to have undergone mid-term repairs and modernisation in Russia.

28 June:India and Russia could be one of the first nations in the world to flight test hypersonic missiles which could fly at five to seven times the speed of sound. Chief Executive Officer of the Russian–Indian joint venture, the BrahMos Aerospace, Sivathanu Pillai said that the hypersonic version of the BrahMos cruise missile would be ready for flight testing in 2017.

15 October:Russia expressed its displeasure over the civil nuclear liability law that sought to cover Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant 3 and 4 and also the problems faced by its telecom company Sistema, saying that the rules of the game should not be changed midway. Addressing a joint press conference after co-chairing the Indo-Russian Intergovernmental Commission meeting on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation, External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin however, expressed hope that the desired bilateral trade target of 20 billion would be met by 2015.

23 December:Ahead of the visit of President Vladimir Putin, India and Russia signed a deal for working together to develop the air-launched version of the 290-km-range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, which would be fitted to the Su-30MKI combat aircraft of the Indian Air Force. An agreement towards this end was signed between BrahMos Aerospace, Russian Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi Design Bureau in New Delhi for developing the air-launched version of the missile.

24 December:India and Russia moved to strengthen their economic ties by inking a pact on a Kremlin-backed $2 billion investment fund and agreeing to open talks on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement that will also involve Belarus and Kazakhstan. After talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Vladimir Putin at the 12th annual summit held in New Delhi, the two countries finalised  ten agreements.

24 December:Russia bagged two crucial defense deals —acquisition of 42 more Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft and 71 Mi-17 V5 armed helicopters worth about $4.5 billion. The deals were inked between the two countries during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin for the 12th bilateral annual summit in New Delhi.

Japan

Strategic Profile

12 January:Japan, a major importer of Iranian oil pledged to take concrete action to cut Iranian oil imports after visiting US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner urged Tokyo, to help deprive Iran of vital oil revenues.

5 May: Just over a year after the world's worst nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan switched off its last working nuclear reactor, leaving the country without atomic-generated electricity.

16 June:Japan started to put nuclear reactors back on track, despite public distrust of the technology after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

15 August:The war of nerves between Japan and China over the disputed Diaoyu Islands in East China Sea took a serious turn when Tokyo detained  fourteen Chinese activists who, Tokyo alleged made an ‘illegal entry’ in the islands.

14 September:Japan announced plans to end its reliance on nuclear power within 30 years, in a historic policy shift prompted by the triple meltdown at the Fukushima power plant. The move to close all 50 of the country’s functioning reactors by around 2040 marked a dramatic change of course by a country that had previously championed atomic energy, putting Japan alongside Germany and Switzerland, which also turned away from nuclear power following the disaster.

13 December:Japan scrambled fighter jets after a Chinese surveillance plane entered what Japan considered its airspace above the disputed islands. The Japanese Defence Ministry said the incident was the first known violation of Japanese airspace by a Chinese plane in more than 50 years. Tokyo lodged a formal protest with Beijing, which swiftly retorted.

26 December:Shinzo Abe was elected Japan’s Prime Minister by the Lower House of Parliament after he swept to power on a hawkish platform of getting tough on diplomatic issues while fixing the economy. Mr Abe who was Prime Minister 2006 to 2007, unveiled his new Cabinet within hours of his election, as he rushed to draft an extra budget to spur the flagging economy.

Relations with India

29 January: The Indian and Japanese Coast Guard units conducted a mock drill on the deep seas demonstrating the inherent capabilities of the two forces to jointly counter a range of maritime threats in the Asia–Pacific Region. The Indo-Japan Coast Guard Joint Exercise, which alternated between India and Japan every year was organised off the Bay of Bengal where fleets headed by the newly-commissioned Indian Coast Guard vessel Vishwast and the Japanese ship Settsu simulated a range of search and rescue, pollution control and anti-piracy operations.

30 April:During the sixth foreign minister-level strategic dialogue between India and Japan held in New Delhi, the two sides agreed to prepare a master plan for the industrial development of South India, especially areas around Chennai and  Bengaluru and accelerate the talks on export of rare earths to Japan. Both sides also agreed to resume their dialogue on a civil nuclear agreement. However, Japan asked India to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

30 April:During its first ever ministerial-level economic dialogue with Japan held in New Delhi, India urged Japan to remove non-tariff barriers to enable the benefits under the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which came into force in August 2011.  As a result of CEPA, bilateral trade between the two countries increased by 38 per cent during 2011–12 as compared to 2010–11.

30 April: In order to counter China’s increasing naval presence in the Indian Ocean region, India and Japan have decided to institute a maritime dialogue with focus being on maritime security.  The two sides also decided to hold first ever joint naval exercises later in 2012. The decision to institute this dialogue as well as the other on cyber security was taken during the sixth India–Japan strategic dialogue held in New Delhi.

16 November:Despite the postponement of the India–Japan annual summit, India and Japan signed an agreement which will allow Tokyo to import rare earth minerals important for Japan's high-tech industry from India. Japan is hoping that the deal with India will help reduce its reliance on China for rare earth minerals at a time when it is involved in a conflict with Beijing over the Senkaku Islands.

20 November: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a delegation level meeting in Phnom Penh in Cambodia that Japan will give a fresh loan of about $2.26 billion for the second phase of Dedicated Freight Corridor and an infrastructure project in south India.

25 November:Prime Minister Manmohan Singh revived with Japan negotiations for peaceful use of nuclear energy during a meeting with his counterpart Yoshihiko Noda at the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh. Sources said Dr. Singh expressed hope before Noda that Japan would soon share its nuclear technology and expertise with India.

China

Strategic Profile

4 March:Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the  11th National People’s Congress announced that China would spend a whopping $106.4 billion on defence in 2012, which is an increase of 11.2 per cent over the previous year.

11 March:China has established its highest border police station at 5,373m above sea level on its border with Bhutan in Shannan prefecture. It has also set up an all-female police station in Tibet’s Nyingchi prefecture, which borders Arunachal Pradesh in India.

22 March:People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) conducted a first of its kind live-fire air attack drill on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. Chengdu military region and the PLAAF in Tibet are primarily tasked with defending the disputed border with India.

22 April:China and Russia launched their first joint naval exercises, with war games in the Yellow Sea. The exercise came amid tensions between China and its Asian neighbours over territorial claims in the South China Sea area.

22 June:The Prime Ministers of China and Bhutan have expressed their willingness to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries and discussed measures to resolve the border dispute. Premier Wen Jerboa and his Bhutanese counterpart Jigme Y. Thinly met on the side lines of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development at Rio de Janerio and expressed desire to establish diplomatic relations between the two neighbours.

14 August:China held anti-terrorism exercises in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) amid reports of unrest. The exercises were held at the Lhasa railway station and the Gonggar airport in the TAR capital. Citing intelligence reports officials said that exercises were aimed at ‘hostile forces’ that might plan activities ahead of the crucial 18th Party Congress.

16 August:The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) carried out an integrated ground-air combat military drill on the Tibetan plateau. It was fourth such exercise held by the Chinese military in Tibet since March to test its capabilities in the region’s challenging high-altitude terrain.

28 August:China announced that it has successfully test-fired a new 14,000 km range inter- continental ballistic missile which can carry multiple warheads, providing it with a ‘first strike capability’ to attack targets deep inside the US and round the world.

25 September:In a reflection of China’s increasing maritime ambitions, the country commissioned its first aircraft carrier in an event hailed by top officials as being of ‘far-reaching significance’. The unveiling of the 300 metre-long Liaoning, a refurbished and upgraded version of the Soviet carrier Varyag which China purchased from Ukraine, came after years of sea trials and tests to fit the carrier with weapons and engines.

31 October:China proposed a four-point plan to visiting UN–Arab League Joint Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to end the civil war in Syria. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi made the proposals during his talks with Mr Brahimi, who was on his first visit to China since replacing former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as the international mediator on Syria.

8 November:The US–China Economic and Security Review Commission said in a draft of its 2012 report to the US Congress that China appeared to be within two years of deploying submarine-launched nuclear weapons, adding a new leg to its nuclear arsenal. The report categorised China as ‘the most threatening’ power in cyber space and presented the biggest challenge to US supply chain integrity. The report said that China was alone among the original nuclear weapons states to be expanding its nuclear forces.

Relations with India

6 January: India cancelled visit of a military delegation to China, which was a part of a defence exchange programme, after one of its members hailing from Arunachal Pradesh, was denied visa.

16 January:The 15th meeting of the special representative level talks between India and China was held on 16 January 2012. The India side was led by the National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and the Chinese delegation was led by State Councillor Dai Bingguo.

17January:A working mechanism on consultation and coordination on India-China border affairs was signed in the presence of the two special representatives of India and China in New Delhi.

8 February:During Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna’s visit to Beijing to inaugurate the new Indian Embassy in the Chinese capital, Indian and Chinese leaders laid out a new roadmap for bilateral ties calling for a flexible and imaginative approach in 2012 to minimise the effects of persisting political irritants, such as the border dispute and Tibet.

25 February:China sharply reacted to Defence Minister A. K. Antony’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, alleging that such actions could ‘complicate’ the border dispute. India dismissed it as a ‘routine reaction’ from Beijing.

21 March:China violated Indian airspace along the international border at Kaurik in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, when two Chinese helicopters were spotted in the Indian Territory by ITBP personnel.

29 March:At the end of the fourth BRICS Summit in New Delhi, President Hu Jintao reassured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that China was committed to facilitating Indian exports into Chinese markets in order to address the yawning trade imbalance between the two nations.

29 March:During their bilateral meeting between the Indian Prime Minister and the Chinese President on the side lines of the BRICS Summit at New Delhi, India and China decided to expand their consultations and agreed to launch a regular dialogue on issues concerning West Asia, Central Asia as well as Africa.

12 July:In the wake of tensions between China and Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries over territorial disputes relating to the South China Sea, India said that it supported freedom of navigation and access to resources in the region in accordance with principles of international law. External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna while addressing the ASEAN Regional Forum in Cambodia said that all countries must respect the principles of international law in resolving the matter and hoped that progress would be made with respect to the implementation of Guidelines to the 2002 Declaration of Conduct on the South China Sea

27 August:India and China agreed to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) to look into not only trade-related issues but also investments. The decision to set up the JWG was taken at the meeting of India–China Joint Group on Economic Relations, Trade, Science and Technology held in New Delhi. The working group is expected to come out with a report within 90 days.

4 September:During the first visit by a Chinese Defence Minister to New Delhi in eight years, General Liang Guanglie and his Indian counterpart A. K. Antony discussed a wide range of issues relating to defence and military exchanges and cooperation.

23 November: India has started stamping its map on visas issued in China in response to Chinese passports depicting Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as its territories. Beijing began issuing new electronic passports and, as per the standard practice governing all maps printed in China in recent years, it included Aksai Chin, Arunachal Pradesh and disputed islands in South China Sea in the map outline on the pages.

26 November: The Second India–China Strategic Economic Dialogue between the Planning Commission of India and the National Development and Reform Commission of China successfully deliberated on a host of issues for greater cooperation at the global level, strengthening communication on macroeconomic policies, deepening and expanding trade and investment and promoting bilateral cooperation in the financial and infrastructure sectors.

2 December:National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon arrived in Beijing for talks with the Chinese leadership on the boundary question and strategic issues of common interest. His two-day visit will mark India's first major engagement with the newly-selected fifth generation of the Communist Party of China's (CPC) leadership.

4 December:National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said that India and China had made ‘considerable progresses’ on the border dispute as both countries reviewed the past decade of negotiations on the boundary question over two days of talks in Beijing. Mr Menon and his counterpart Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo, the Special Representative on the talks, prepared a ‘common understanding’ report reviewing the long-running negotiations on a framework for settling the boundary dispute.

Pakistan

Strategic profile

17 February:Meeting on the side lines of a trilateral summit between Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari assured his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Islamabad would not assist the US if it attacked Iran over its nuclear program.

18 February:Pakistan reacted sharply to a resolution introduced in the US House of Representatives by three members asserting Balochistan's right to self-determination. Yusuf Raza Gilani described the resolution as an attack on Pakistan's sovereignty which could impact US–Pakistan relations.

24 February:, Pakistan's military agreed to the resumption of the US' drone strikes against terrorist groups operating on its soil. The agreementwas hammered out by ISI chief Lieutenant-General Shuja Ahmad Pasha and CIA Director David Petraeus at a secret meeting in Doha.

24 February:Pakistan appealed to the Taliban leadership and other Afghan groups including the Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to enter into direct negotiations with the Hamid Karzai-led government of Afghanistan within the framework of an ‘intra-Afghan process for reconciliation and peace’. The appeal was issued by Yusuf Raza Gilani in response to a plea made by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

13 April:Pakistan’s parliament approved new guidelines for the country’s troubled ties with the US that is likely to pave the way for the reopening of supply lines to NATO troops in neighbouring Afghanistan that have been blocked since November 2011. In the new scheme of bilateral relations, Parliament has asked the government to ensure an immediate end to drone attacks within Pakistani territory, stop infiltration on any pretext including hot pursuit, and ban transit of weapons by land or air into Afghanistan.

21 April:Pakistan has rejected long-time US demand to launch a military operation in the tribal North Waziristan Agency to target the Haqqani network, according to official sources.

23 April:Pakistan tested an upgraded version of its Shaheen missile, in an apparent retaliation to India’s Agni-V launch.

31 May:Pakistan conducted flight test of its indigenously developed air launched cruise missile Hatf-VIII, with a range of over 350 km,  that will enable Pakistan to achieve strategic standoff capability on both land and at sea.

1 June:Pakistan hiked its defence budget for fiscal 2012–13 by nearly 10 per cent to INR 495.2 billion.

5 June:Pakistan tested its fifth nuclear capable cruise missile Hatf VII (Babur) with a range of 700 km that can deliver a one-ton nuclear warhead. The missile is a low-flying, terrain-hugging missile, which can be avoided being detected by radars. It can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads and has stealth capabilities.

13 September:Pakistan and China were set to establish a 1,000 megawatts nuclear power plant for Karachi to counter the growing energy needs of the country. Negotiations were also held between Pakistan and China to set up at least six nuclear power plants at various sites in Pakistan to be commissioned by 2023.

16 September:Pakistan said that it had successfully test-fired an indigenously developed multi-tube cruise missile that could carry both nuclear and conventional warheads over a range of 700 km. According to the Inter Services Public Relations, the Babur (Hatf-VII) cruise missile could strike targets on land and at sea with pinpoint accuracy. It was launched from a Multi-Tube Missile Launch Vehicle in the presence of the senior hierarchy of the Strategic Plans Division.

4 October:Russia and Pakistan sought to put their relationship back on track after the hiccups following the cancellation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s much awaited visit to Islamabad to attendthe quadrilateral summit that included Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov flew to Islamabad on a ‘two-day notice’ amid widespread disappointment in Pakistan’s policy circles over Mr. Putin’s last minute cancellation.

14 November:Pakistan agreed to the Afghan government and High Peace Council’s (HPC) pending request for release of a number of Taliban detenus to facilitate the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. According to the joint statement, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the U.S. will also facilitate safe passage to potential negotiators to advance the reconciliation process.

28 November:Pakistan test fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile, theHatf-V Ghauriwith a range of 1,300 km that could hit targets deep inside India. The missile could carry both conventional and nuclear warheads. It was Pakistan’s eighth missile test in 2012 and came two months after its last test of a Hatf-VII with a range of 700 kilometres. 

Relations with India

1 January: India and Pakistan exchanged the list of nuclear installations and facilities under the ‘Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations between India and Pakistan’.

11 February: In order to consolidate people to people exchanges, and to kick start a new phase in trade and economic engagements between India and Pakistan, the Indian Government and the industry joined hands to put up a massive ‘India Show' at Lahore which was unveiled on 11 February. The show was organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in collaboration with the Indian Commerce and Industry Ministry with support from the Pakistan’s Commerce Ministry and Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

13 February: Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma undertook a visit to Pakistan through the Wagah border with the commitment to double bilateral trade in three years and remove trade barriers with a view to facilitate people to people exchanges.

14 February:Pakistan’s Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman was quoted by the media as saying that the PAF’s plans were modified within its existing infrastructure to effectively counter India’s purported ‘Cold Start’ war doctrine. He said this while speaking to the media at the Shahbaz Air Base, Jacobabad in Sindh province.

15 February:In a significant breakthrough, India and Pakistan agreed to completely revise the 1974 Bilateral Visa Agreement and put in place a liberal visa regime for all categories of people, especially businessmen as part of the confidence building mechanism.

29 February:After considerable dithering, Pakistan decided to switch to the negative list approach for trade with India and phase it out completely by the end of December 2012. Giving its approval to the long-pending decision, the Pakistan Cabinet also cleared a 1,209-strong negative list of items in which bilateral trade is barred; thereby opening up business opportunities in an estimated 6,850 commodities against the 1,900-odd items now traded.

9 April:Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, during the former’s visit to the Dargah of Saint Moinuddin Chishti. During the 40-minute one-to-one talks, both sides held discussion on a number of issues ranging from the need to prosecute Hafiz Saeed, terrorism and trade.

13 April:India has decided in principle to allow foreign direct investment from Pakistan, as part of the road map to enhance economic engagement. This was announced by the Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma after meeting his Pakistani counterpart Makhdoom Amin in New Delhi.

14 April:Pakistan formally announced the appointment of former Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir as the country’s new High Commissioner to India.

1 May:Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar speaking at the Lahore University of Management Sciences said that Pakistan ruled out a unilateral withdrawal of its troops from Siachen, the world’s highest battlefield and sought greater trust with India.

24 May:Interior Secretary of Pakistan and the Home Secretary of India held talks in Islamabad, with India expressing its disappointment over the pace of court proceedings against Mumbai attack suspects. Home Secretary R. K. Singh said the judicial proceedings on the attacks were advancing at a very slow rate.

27 May:In a significant move that could pave the way for putting in place a liberalised visa regime, India and Pakistan have agreed to do away with the requirement of visa for Customs and related border officials, to cross the border on both sides within a radius of 400 metres at the Attari–Wagah point in Punjab.

12 June:India and Pakistan failed to make any headway to demilitarise the Siachen glacier, at the end of a two-day Defence Secretary level talks between the two sides.  The only take away in the latest round of talks in Islamabad however, was the resolve to continue dialogue and make result oriented efforts for a resolution.

18 June: India and Pakistan started the latest round of talks on the maritime boundary dispute over Sir Creek in New Delhi.

8 July:External Affairs minister S. M. Krishna met his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar on the side lines of an international conference on Afghanistan in Tokyo and urged Islamabad to take measures that would demonstrate seriousness in addressing Indian concerns over terrorism.

31 July:India decided to take up with Pakistan its concern over 400-metres-long tunnel discovered by the security forces along the international border in Jammu and Kashmir.  The Border Security Force lodged a strong protest with the Pakistani Rangers and handed over to them a protest note with evidence of the tunnel which was constructed 280 metres deep into the Indian territory along the international border in Jammu and Kashmir’s Samba district.

1 August: In a bid to give a big boost to trade and bilateral relations and enhance economic cooperation, Indian government notified a law permitting investments by Pakistan citizens and companies in India in sectors/activities other than defence, space and atomic energy. The notification was issued by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.

Nepal

16 January:During the Home Secretary level talks held in New Delhi which was held after a gap of two years,  India and Nepal discussed strategies for countering cross-border crimes, circulation of fake Indian currency, smuggling of arms, trafficking in narcotics and terrorist activities and also decided to join hands in sharing terror related information on a real-time basis.

16 February:The first-ever meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission on Water Resources between India and Nepal in New Delhi resulted in significant developments on two important issues, i.e., finalising the detailed project report of Sapta–Kosi High Dam Multipurpose Project and Sun Kosi Storage-cum-Diversion Scheme and setting up of Pancheshwar Development Authority by March 2013.

22 June:On the side lines of the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a bilateral meeting with his Nepali counterpart Baburam Bhattarai assured him of India’s continued commitment to support Nepali democracy and the country’s constitutional process.

5 September:Controversy overshadowed the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on the sidelines of the NAM summit in Tehran on 30 August. Anonymous officials were quoted in the Nepali media as saying that Dr. Bhattarai had gone alone to meet the Indian Prime Minister while the Indian side was represented by its entire delegation.

3 December:India and Nepal have decided to demolish suspicious structures that have come up in the ‘no man’s land’ along the border of the two countries. The decision taken by two chiefs of the border guarding forces Sashastra Seema Bal (India) and Armed Police Force (Nepal) was aimed at coordinating action against arms smugglers, narcotics, fake Indian currency, and human trafficking.

26 December:Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav in New Delhi. During talks with Dr. Singh, both leaders went over bilateral issues, with India highlighting its offer of supplying electricity to Nepal during the lean season. The Nepalese President was also conferred with an honorary doctorate by the Banaras Hindu University at a special convocation on 24 December in Banaras during his visit.

Bangladesh

12 January:Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheik Hasina on a two day visit to Tripura said that the connectivity between India and Bangladesh, particularly with the north-eastern states, including Tripura, would generate tremendous economic vibrancy, leading to people’s empowerment and overall development of the region. Ms. Hasina also urged India, Nepal and Bhutan to make the best use of Chittagong and Mangola ports, which Bangladesh has already opened for these neighbouring countries, to access the sea route for their trade and commercial activities.

15 January:Bangladesh has decided to open the Chilahati–Haldibari rail link by December 2012 for easier connectivity with Bhutan and Nepal through India. This is likely to be the fifth route agreed upon as transit points between the two countries.

24 February:Visiting Bangladesh Home Minister Shahara Khatun expressed hope that the much awaited extradition treaty between Dhaka and New Delhi would be signed soon and assured India that Bangladesh did not harbour any anti-India terrorists on its soil.

1 June:Sheikh Hasina voiced her strong resolve to work together with India for mutual development but insisted that India should quickly move forward on certain issues, primarily hinting at the stalled Teesta water sharing treaty. She made these remarks in a meeting with the respective Chief Ministers of Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. The Indian Chamber of Commerce, Northeast chapter, organised this meeting on the side lines of the Indo-Bangladesh trade fair in Dhaka.

24 July:During the foreign secretary level talks held in New Delhi, Bangladesh made known its displeasure over the non-implementation of the land boundary agreement which was signed by the two countries in September 2011.

4 August:Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh as New Delhi’s special envoy to Bangladesh on a two-day tour to Bangladesh where New Delhi offered the proposal to sign an extradition treaty with Bangladesh and also cooperation in the nuclear energy sector.

29 August: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ahead of the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran and assured her that India was firmly committed to the proposed Teesta water sharing deal and the Land Boundary Agreement and that both will happen ‘as soon as feasible’.

28 October:Former Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Begum Khalida Zia met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and also called on Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj.

6 December:  India decided to unilaterally simplify the visa procedures for various categories of Bangladeshi nationals which includes, senior citizens, students, businessmen, medical patients, etc.. The move was aimed to promote economic engagement, people to people contacts, cultural activity and tourism between the two nations.

Sri Lanka

18 January:External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna concluded his four-day visit to Sri Lanka by handing over the completed section of the Galle–Hikkaduwa railway link to Southern Railway project authorities. Winding up his visit during which a host of programmes to increase cooperation were put in place, Mr. Krishna said it was a ‘testimony to the strength of enduring friendship between the two countries’.

25 January:Speaking at a function to mark the Republic Day at the India House in Colombo, the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Ashok K. Kantha said that trade between India and Sri Lanka surged by more than 70 per cent in 2011 touching an all-time high of $5 billion. He said Indian companies had invested more than $100 million in Sri Lanka.

20 March:India told Sri Lanka that it will go by domestic opinion in voting at the UN Human Rights Council on the US-initiated resolution. Citing strong sentiments expressed in Parliament in favour of the resolution, Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna told his Sri Lankan counterpart G. Peiris in a telephonic conversation that India could not ignore the views held by several MPs over the issue.

22 March:Driven by domestic political compulsions, the Indian government voted against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council, supporting an American resolution censuring the island nation for its human rights record during the civil war with the LTTE.

24 March:Sri Lanka warned India of possible repercussions over Kashmir, after India voted for a US-backed resolution in Geneva, accusing Colombo of rights abuses during its war with the Tamil Tigers.

18 April:India handed over a railway project built with Indian assistance to Sri Lanka. The upgraded coastal railway line between Galle and Kauthara, costing $167.4 million, was completed ahead of schedule by an Indian public sector company, IRCON.

20 April:An Indian parliamentary delegation visited Sri Lanka on a six-day tour for a first hand assessment of the post war situation in the country. In a statement, the delegation hoped that the Sri Lankan government would ‘seize the window of opportunity and follow an enlightened approach to reach a genuine political reconciliation, based on a meaningful devolution of powers, which takes into account the legitimate needs of the Tamil people for equality, dignity, justice and self-respect’.

28 June:National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon visited Colombo to discuss issues arising out of Sri Lanka’s reluctance to fulfil its promises, more than three years after the crushing defeat of the LTTE.

3 August:Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma announced the setting up of a manufacturing and exports zone in Sri Lanka, while aiming to double the trade between the two nations to $10 billion by 2015. He made this announcement at the India Show organised by the CII in Colombo.

25 October:In a move indicating that India would continue to strengthen defence ties with Sri Lanka, visiting Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa met top Indian defence functionaries, including, Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, to discuss ways of strengthening military ties between the two countries. The visit came despite opposition from Indian Tamil political parties who opposed both strengthening of defence ties and training of the Sri Lankan armed personnel at Indian defence institutions.  

15 December:India, Sri Lanka and Maldives were soon likely to sign a trilateral agreement on maritime cooperation to pool resources and share data in the region for better control over the territorial waters, and detect suspicious movements.

Maldives

8 February:Amidst the on-going political turmoil in the Maldives which saw the ouster of its first democratically-elected President, Mohamed Nasheed, India reassured the new regime of its support. Given the geo-strategic significance of Maldives in the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote a missive to the New Maldives’ President Mohammed Waheed assuring of India’s help

10 February:The deepening political stand-off in the Maldives prompted an anxious India to dispatch a senior diplomat as the Special Envoy to Maldives. India’s Special Envoy conveyed New Delhi’s willingness to help in the installation of a national unity government in Maldives and also to provide any other assistance that the country may need in the ongoing process.

29 February:Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai  made his second visit (within a fortnight) to Maldives to sort out issues. After two days of consultations with President Waheed Hassan, the former President, Mohamed Nasheed and representatives of smaller parties, Mr. Mathai affirmed that there was a broad agreement among the major actors within Maldives on the need for early elections in the country.

3 March:Emphasising India's interest in ensuring peace and stability in Maldives, External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna told the visiting Maldivian Foreign Minister that while New Delhi was happy to assist in ‘every possible way’, it also expected all parties, including those supporting the government, to contribute towards bringing peace and stability in Maldives.

19 April:Ousted Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed urged India to use its ‘tools’ to force early polls in his country. During his visit to India, he expressed his apprehension that elections in Maldives could be rigged. Nasheed said that his objective to visit India was to drive home the point that if early polls are not held, there is a possibility that Islamic fundamentalists might take over in Maldives.

12 May:After assuming power in a tumultuous political transition in February 2012, President Mohamed Waheed, during his first foreign visit to India, held wide-ranging talks with the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Singh.  During the talks Mohammed Wahid briefed Dr. Singh on the current political situation in his country and also expressed his deep commitment to democracy and conduct of elections.

21 May:On a request of  the Maldivian government, India deputed a former Chief Justice of High Court, Mukul Mudgal to help a Commission of National Inquiry in probing whether the controversial transfer of power from President Mohamed Nasheed to Mohamed Waheed on February 7 was ‘constitutional’ or not.

16 September:Defense Minister A. K. Antony, on a three-day visit to the Maldives, inaugurated ‘Senahiya,’ a Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) hospital, established in Male with Indian assistance.

29 November:Angered by the decision of the Maldives government to terminate the $500 million worth airport deal with the GMR group, India warned that the move could have a debilitating effect on bilateral ties and could affect future investments by Indian companies in Maldives. India also accused the Maldivian government of taking a decision motivated by political reasons rather than commercial ones.

East Asia

5 March:South Korea asked India to allocate a suitable site for setting up of Korean nuclear reactors, as the two countries sought to boost their strategic partnership with significantly scaled up cooperation in defense, space and nuclear programmes and bilateral trade. The two countries agreed to double their current value of bilateral trade to US$40 billion, while India offered the expertise of its space organisation ISRO to launch South Korean satellites.

29 June:India launched a trilateral dialogue with Japan and South Korea in a bid to further its integration into East Asia. Hinting at the competing claims made by countries on the South China Sea region, India said that the common objective of the participating countries was to see that the ‘seas and oceans become regions of cooperation instead of competition’ particularly as energy security and trade depends on them.

4 November:The possibility of revising the double taxation avoidance convention (DTAC) between India and South Korea came up for discussion at the third India–Korea bilateral meeting between Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and his counterpart Jaewan Bahk in Seoul. The two ministers discussed a wide range of issues ranging from macroeconomic trends and outlook, fiscal cooperation, revision of the DTAC, and expanding mutual information sharing between the taxation authorities to cooperation in modernising the customs system of each country. They also deliberated on public procurement cooperation and measures to develop co-financing infrastructure projects.

South East Asia

ASEAN

12 February: India and ASEAN, engaged in a two-day summit in New Delhi. Called as the Delhi Dialogue, this was fourth in the series since 2009. Delhi Dialogue IV was significant as India and ASEAN were commemorating 20 years of dialogue and 10th anniversary of their summit-level partnership.

19 November:While attending the 10th ASEAN-India summit in Cambodia, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh responded to the urging of ASEAN by promising to finalise the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in services and investment. India had signed the FTA in goods in 2009 and since then negotiation has been going on for the extension of the FTA into the services and investment sectors.

20 December:India and ASEAN extended the FTA to include services and investments, thus concluding months of negotiations. Speaking at the plenary session of the India–ASEAN commemorative summit in New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh termed the conclusion of negotiations on the FTA as a ‘valuable milestone’. During the summit, India and ASEAN also decided to elevate their ties to a strategic partnership. India became the fourth country after China, Japan and South Korea to enter into a strategic partnership with ASEAN.

Australia

17 October:New Delhi and Canberra agreed to commence negotiations on a safeguard agreement that will allow uranium sales to India by Australia. . The decision came following the delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard in New Delhi. The negotiations for the proposed nuclear deal however were expected to take as much as two years.

Indonesia

16 October:In a move that will significantly shore up bilateral military ties, India agreed to train and support the Indonesian Air Force in operating its fleet of Russian Sukhoi fighter jets. While India had a similar agreement with Malaysia, the decision to cooperate in training, technical help and spares support with Indonesia was taken during the visit of the Defence Minister A. K. Antony to Jakarta.

Myanmar

24 January: India and Myanmar agreed to strengthen their bilateral ties in various areas, including security. Foreign Minister S. M. Krishna and his visiting Myanmarese counterpart Wunna Maung Lwin reiterated that the two countries can cooperate in this arena. India also said that it has sought the help of Myanmar to check insurgent groups in the northeast, in the run-up to the Assembly polls in Manipur.

28 May:India and Myanmar signed a slew of agreements during Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s three-day visit to Myanmar.  He was the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Myanmar in 20 years. Both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to operationalise a $500 million line of credit announced during President Thein Sein’s visit to India in 2011.

12 August:A 3,200-km trilateral highway linking India, Myanmar and Thailand will become reality by 2016. India has given a US$ 500 million loan to Myanmar, some of which will be used to fund the highway. The trilateral highway which is also funded by the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank will open up India’s north-eastern states to Southeast Asia.

3 September:Reacting to the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, India handed over US$ 200,000 to the state administration for the riot-affected people. The money was handed over to Rakhine Chief Minister U Hla Maung Tin by Indian Ambassador V Seshadri. The donation was meant for refugees from both the communities — the majority Rakhine Buddhists and the minority Rohingya Muslims.

14 November:Myanmar’s Opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi and discussed a variety of issues, including the national reconciliation process under way in her country and the process of democratisation in this context. During the meeting, the leaders agreed on the need to have greater cooperation between the parliaments and judiciaries of the two countries. Later, she also delivered the Nehru Memorial Lecture.

20 November:India notified 22 additional items to the existing list of 40 tradable items in the list of items for border trade with Myanmar. The total tradable items were now 62.

14 December:In a bid to strengthen bilateral ties, India extended to Myanmar a grant of US$ 1 million for building infrastructure, including schools, in the violence hit Rakhine state and signed two key MoUs.  The MoUs were signed during the visit of the External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to Nay Pyi Taw, the Myanmarese capital. During his visit, Mr Khurshid met President Thein Sein and the Myanmar’s External Affairs Minister U. Wunna Maung Lwin.

Singapore

11 July: During the visit of the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, India and Singapore decided to step up their bilateral cooperation and exchanges in the fields of defence and security and signed an MoU to renew the bilateral arrangement between their air forces on joint training and exercises. The two countries also agreed to expedite the conclusion of the second Review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.  

Thailand

25 January:Prime Minister of Thailand Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra during her visit to New Delhi, assured that India and Thailand would work to double the bilateral trade to around $14 billion by 2014. Both countries also decided to forge maritime partnership to develop seaport at Dawei, located on the south-western coast of Myanmar and work for developing port infrastructure in Chennai. During her visit, India and Thailand inked a MoU on defence cooperation and there were also talks of elevating the bilateral relations to a ‘strategic partnership’.

Vietnam

26 September:India and Vietnam held a security dialogue in the backdrop of the increasing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea. A Vietnamese defence delegation met Defence Minister A. K. Antony following which the two sides held talks. India and Vietnam have been stepping up naval cooperation while China is increasingly uncomfortable with any Indian naval presence in the South China Sea. The security dialogue between the two countries took place after the visit of the Chinese Defence Minister to India.

Central Asia–Caspian Sea Region

29 February:India took the lead in kick-starting an ‘international north-south corridor’ from Iran to Russia via Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to ensure a seamless connectivity to Central Asia. New Delhi aimed at operationalising this corridor by 2013.

17 May:The Union Cabinet approved signing of the agreement for buying gas from Turkmenistan through the $7.6 billion TAPI pipeline. The Cabinet approved signing of the Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement also. The TAPI pipeline will run from Turkmenistan’s Yoloten–Osman gas field to Herat and Kandahar province of Afghanistan, before entering Pakistan. In Pakistan, it will reach Multan via Quetta before ending at Fazilka in Punjab in India.  .

23 May:India and its new energy partners Turkenistan and Pakistan signed agreements that will pave the way for laying of the 1,680-km TAPI pipeline. Turkmenistan signed agreements to sell gas to India and Pakistan through the $7.6- billion pipeline at Avaza.

3 September:During the visit of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon to India, India expressed its desire to combine forces with Tajikistan to fight terrorism and to preserve the secular values of both the countries. Tajikistan became the third country in Central Asia to have a strategic partnership with India after Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The two countries also inked six agreements for cooperation in health, education, labour, sports, culture, and textile sectors.

5 December:During the prime ministerial meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), India made it clear to the SCO that it ‘stood ready’ to join the organisation as full member to play a larger, wider and more active role. India currently enjoys an Observer status in the SCO.

West Asia

Egypt

4 March:In an effort to reboot its ties with Egypt after the exit of the Hosni Mubarak regime, External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna visited Cairo. Mr. Krishna said that the two countries had identified information technology as a thrust area for joint forays. India and Egypt also signed documents to work together in agriculture, culture and environmental protection.

Israel

10 January: India and Israel vowed to upgrade their relations in all fields and work out a joint strategy to counter terrorism, while deciding on a roadmap to elevate cooperation in areas like defense, agriculture, trade and high-tech in the next two decades. External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna, the first Indian foreign minister to visit the country in over a decade, called Israel a ‘natural Ally’ in all frontiers of science. During Mr Krishna’s three- day visit, India and Israel signed two treaties — on extradition and transfer of sentenced persons.

2 August:India and Israel signed a MoU for launching a programme that would promote collaborative research across a wide range of disciplines from medical and information technology to social sciences, humanities, and arts. The MoU was signed by Chairman of the Israel Science Foundation Professor Benjamin Geiger and Chairman of University Grants Commission Ved Prakash. The programme was said to run for five years and would provide support up to US$ 1, 00,000 a research project for three years.

Syria

4 February:Russia and China vetoed an Arab League-backed resolution at the UNSC that called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. India, along with the US and 12 other countries supported the resolution.

19 July:Russia and China vetoed a new Security Council resolution that would have slapped new sanctions against President Assad’s regime in Syria.  India, however, was among the 11 other countries that voted in favour of the resolution. Pakistan and South Africa abstained from voting. Explaining New Delhi’s vote for the resolution Hardeep Puri, pointed out that the resolution supported extension of the UN mission in Syria and implementation of the six point plan and the Action Group’s Final Communique.

3 August: The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly denounced Syria’s crackdown of the opposition forces. The General Assembly vote was 133 in support of the resolution and 12 against, with 31 countries, including India, abstaining.

4 August:India criticised the UN General Assembly resolution adopted on Syria by calling it ‘a step too far’. It also criticised the resolution for saying nothing about the UN trying to solve the Syrian problem. Explaining its abstention, India said that it voted after much deliberation and caution and ‘under no circumstances was there an attempt to duck the issue’.

Others

5 January:At the 9th India–Saudi Arabia Joint Commission meeting in New Delhi, Pranab Mukherjee, the then Finance Minister pitched for focussing on the proposed $750-million fund to be set up in cooperation with Saudi Arabia for development of infrastructure, promotion of joint exploration and production of hydrocarbons.  Bilateral trade between India and Saudi Arabia exceeded $25 billion in 2011. 

15 February: During his two-day visit to Riyadh, Defence Minister A. K. Antony suggested that the navies of India and Saudi Arabia ‘could explore practical cooperation in the fight against piracy and an active role by the Royal Saudi Navy in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium construct'.

9 April:At a meeting, with the Emir of Qatar, Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took forward the initiatives on mutual investments agreed upon during their previous detailed interaction in 2008. Four pacts, including one setting in place the framework for more intensive partnership in the hydrocarbon sector, were signed during the visit of the Emir of Qatar to India.

16 April: India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sketched out the outlines of a road map centred on a new partnership rooted in energy security and investments. Official sources said India was looking for larger volumes of crude imports from the UAE to meet its growing needs and that UAE agreed to look at increasing the volumes when the next annual contract is due. During a meeting of the India–UAE Joint Commission at Abu Dhabi, the India–UAE avoidance of double taxation agreement was updated and brought on par with international standards.

11 September:India reiterated its support for Palestine’s membership of the UN during the visit of the Palestinian National Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas to India. During his visit, India also announced a contribution of US$10 million for the Palestinian budget to help meet its financial requirements. Three pacts were also inked following delegation-level talks between President Abbas and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

11 September:India and Saudi Arabia held their first meeting of the India–Saudi Arabia joint committee on defence cooperation in New Delhi, where both sides discussed proposals for exchange of high-level visits, training and functional exchanges in various areas. The 11-member Saudi Arabian delegation was headed by Major General Suleiman Saleh Al-Khalifa, Chief of the Armed Forces Operations and the Indian team was led by the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Defence.

South West Asia

Afghanistan

1 May: At a press conference with Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Zalmai Rassoul, following the first meeting of Indo-Afghan Partnership in New Delhi, External Affairs Minister, S. M. Krishna, affirmed deeper engagement with Afghanistan post-2014 and said Indian assistance to Afghanistan was neither ‘transitory nor in transition’.

13 June:Signalling a long-term commitment and its expanding presence in Afghanistan, India along with US, following the US-India Strategic Dialogue, pledged to hold a regular trilateral dialogue with Afghanistan. The initiative would cover a whole gamut of issues including security matters and building capacity to ensure Afghanistan’s peace and security.

8 July:Addressing the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, Indian External Affairs Minister, S. M. Krishna said that Indian assistance to Afghanistan in attaining its long-cherished goal of self-reliance was not ‘condition-based or transitory’, nor India looked towards ‘transition out of the partnership’.

17 August:India committed $20 million to Afghanistan for people-centric projects, scholarships and to rebuild the Salma Dam.

27 September:India, Afghanistan and US held their first trilateral meeting in New York to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation across an entire range of issues such as combating terrorism and violent extremism, reviewing cultural exchanges and increasing regional trade, investment and economic integration.   

6 November:Addressing members of the Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents in New Delhi, Afghanistan’s ambassador Shaida Mohammad Abdali said that Kabul had secured commitments for training and equipping its security forces from many countries including India.

11 November:Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai visited India. He met members of CII, FICCI and Assocham in Mumbai and urged Indian businessmen to invest in Afghanistan. He also outlined a five-point agenda to strengthen the traditional bonds between the two countries.

13 November:India and Afghanistan signed four pacts in areas such as small development projects, fertilizers, mines, and youth affairs. Both countries also discussed the changes in the security and political situation in and around Afghanistan.

Iran

5 January:National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon held a high-level meeting with officials from the Ministries of Finance, Petroleum and Natural Gas, External Affairs and the Reserve Bank of India to work out a strategy to counter the fallout arising out of fresh US and EU sanctions on Iran.

10 January:As the IAEA confirmed Iran’s enrichment of uranium at an underground location for its nuclear weapons program, India reiterated its position that while Tehran was free to pursue civil nuclear energy, it had to work within the UN watchdog’s basic framework meant to address technical issues.

7 February:Faced with sanctions by the US and the EU, India and Iran arrived at an agreement for 45 per cent of the payment in Indian rupees. Arguing that both countries were determined to resolve the issue of payments for India’s crude imports the Iranian Ambassador to India Seyed Mahdi Nabizadeh said that the two sides agreed on part payment in rupees as gold was ‘not a suitable option’.

8 May:Visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her meeting with External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna in New Delhi asked India to restrict its trade and energy ties with Tehran. Resisting US pressure, Mr Krishna conveyed India’s vital stakes in peace and stability in the Persian Gulf and wider West Asian region, given the six million Indians who lived there and the region’s importance as one of the critical destinations of India’s external trade – over US $100 billion in exports and over 60 per cent of oil imports.

31 May:Taking a strong stance against US pressure to ease oil imports from Iran, External Affairs Minister during a joint press interaction with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister said that Iran remained a key country to meet the country’s energy needs and an important source of oil.

30 August:A day after meeting the top Iranian leadership, on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Tehran, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said both countries would attempt to work around hurdles placed by American and European sanctions to step up economic ties.

2 September:India geared up to overhaul its import strategy and to reduce its imports of crude oil from Iran. The development came close on the heels of the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Iran to attend the NAM summit in Teheran. In a note to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Petroleum Ministry indicated that apart from the difficulties arising from the US and EU sanctions, the delay in operationalising of rupee payment mechanism also contributed to the reduction in imports. In a related development, the Reserve Bank of India also denied permission to Iran’s Parsian Bank to open its branch in India.

16 November:Speaking to select journalists before the tenth round of Foreign Office Consultations with Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai in New Delhi, senior Iranian diplomat Seyyed Abbas Araghchi said there had been ‘tangible’ progress in the development of the Chah-bahar port which would serve as the shortest route for ingress into Afghanistan for India.

Africa and Latin America

Africa

5 March:While inaugurating the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Afro-Asian Rural Development Organization (AARDO) in New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed to Afro-Asian countries to work together for best outcomes at the climate change negotiations and to build a favourable international regime to access funds and green technology for rural growth. The AARDO has 15 African and 14 Asian countries as its members.

30 April:In a bid to forge economic and strategic ties with Seychelles, India extended a $50 million line of credit and a $25 million grant to the country during Indian President Pratibha Patil’s three day visit to Seychelles. India also offered to set up a mono rail project, a solar power cluster and a dam in the country.

2 May: During President Patil’s talks with the South African President Jacob Zuma in Pretoria, India and South Africa decided to expand cooperation in a number of fields like power, information technology, health, tourism, and infrastructure development.

6 July:India and Mauritius decided to fast-track the negotiations for sealing a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA). This decision was taken at a meeting between the Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma, and Mauritius Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Arvin Bolle, during the bilateral talks in New Delhi. Mauritius is the largest source of FDI into India. Bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $1.39 billion in 2011.

Latin America

30 March: India and Brazil agreed to further strengthen their strategic partnership and signed six agreements to enhance cooperation in fields of education, science and technology and culture during the meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. The Brazilian President was in New Delhi for the BRICS Summit. Both countries also agreed to step up their efforts towards the reform of the UNSC as G-4 partners.

 7 August: India set in motion the process of integrating with the mineral and hydrocarbon-rich states of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) by holding the first Foreign Minister-level talks with the organisation’s troika represented by Chile, Venezuela and Cuba. The CELAC countries share common positions with India on UN reforms, the international financial crisis, climate change, and international terrorism. Trade with India is just one-tenth that with China, which means both sides need to improve on their existing trade agreements.

22 November:Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the former President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, was conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

27 November:Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacia Lula Da Silva favoured an expansion of the  UNSC to include India and other Asian, Latin American and African nations as permanent members, saying that the world's political order must not reflect the balance of power post-World War II.

Major Global Developments

15 January:As the issue of expansion of UNSC permanent membership gathered momentum, Germany for the first time openly warned India that its insistence on veto rights for new permanent members will not just delay the reform process but also not help in turning the UNSC into a more decisive body.

27 January:Pakistan opposed a key proposal by India, Japan, Germany and Brazil to expand the UNSC, describing it as ‘zero-sum’. The G4’s draft resolution was the focus of the first day of the eighth round of inter-governmental negotiations on UNSC reforms held at New York. In a joint statement G4 said that their proposal focused on two aspects of Security Council reform – first, expansion in membership of both categories, (permanent and non-permanent) , and second, improvement in the working methods of the 15-member Council.

29 March:The five-nation grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) took the first step towards promoting trade in the local currency, and agreed to work towards creating a new development bank on the lines of the World Bank. The master agreement aims to reduce the demand for fully convertible currencies for transactions among BRICS nations and also reducing transaction costs of intra-BRICS trade.

29 March:The Delhi Declaration issued at the end of the fourth summit of BRICS held in New Delhi broadly endorsed the Kofi Annan approach to resolving the year-long conflict in Syria. Also the declaration was most explicit on Iran and Palestine thereby cautioning against a delayed resolution of the Palestine issue under the pretext of Arab Spring.

30 March:The World Bank expressed its willingness to support the proposal of BRICS to set up a development bank to insulate their economies from the ongoing economic problems, rising oil prices and currency volatility. World Bank President Robert Zoellick told reporters at the end of his five-day visit to India that ‘if BRICS develop an institution, the Bank will want to be partner with it’.

7 June:India backed the six-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to play a greater role in Afghanistan, and expressed its interest to coordinate more closely with the group in tackling terrorism in the region.

19 June:Exhorting Europe’s leaders to do more to pull their continent out of crisis, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh announced at the G-20 summit held at Los Cabos, Mexico that India would contribute $10 billion to boost the International Monetary Fund firewall for the Eurozone.

19 July:India made it clear during the discussions on the UN Conference on the Arms Trade held in Geneva, that it would only support a treaty that was adopted by consensus, not majority, and one which targeted terror groups and organized crime.

26 September:In a meeting on the side lines of the 67th  United Nations General Assembly session, Foreign Ministers of the India, Germany, Brazil, and Japan came out with a joint statement expressing their determination to inject greater political momentum into the reform process which could include a high-level meeting on the UNSC reform. The last major political push came about five years back when a meeting of world leaders agreed that UNSC’s composition must be reformed.

18 October:Australia, Rwanda and South Korea, Argentina and Luxembourg were elected as the new non-permanent members of the UNSC, replacing India, Colombia, Germany, Portugal, and South Africa. The five members will begin their two-year terms on 1 January 2013.

 

 

 

 

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