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The EU Ban on the LTTE

The European Union finally decided to add the LTTE to its list of terrorist organisations on May 29. The Tigers would have seen the ban coming, when on May 17 the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution on the situation in Sri Lanka, in which it strongly condemned the LTTE attacks on a Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) vessel a week earlier. The decision was in fact expected for some time, given that the EU had decided to deny official receptions to LTTE delegations earlier on September 26, 2005.

June 06, 2006

The Bhutto-Sharif Charter of Democracy

Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif signed the Charter of Democracy in London on May 15. This is a politically significant step as it signals the coming together of two important parties that together gained 36.5 per cent of the popular vote and hold 72 seats in the current 342 member National Assembly of Pakistan. All political parties including the MMA have welcomed the Charter. The military government, however, has been critical of the alliance and said in a statement that this is a political gimmick of parties that have failed the people and democracy in Pakistan.

May 29, 2006

Aceh: The Road Ahead

The Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM) formally launched its political party on May 23, 2006 at Banda Aceh. It has also appointed two independent candidates for the gubernatorial elections in Aceh, the date for which is likely to be announced after the passage of the Aceh Governing Bill in the Indonesian parliament. The Indonesian government claims that the bill would be passed by the end of May or early June, which would decide the standing of the political party instituted by GAM.

May 29, 2006

Darfur Peace: A Distant Dream

After weeks of intense negotiations and international pressure, the Sudanese government and a faction of the main rebel group (SLA) signed a peace deal on May 5, which aims to settle the devastating crisis in Darfur. Although there is a modest hope that it could bring more protection to millions of refugees and result in a significant decline in bloodshed, it is unlikely to end the three-year conflict or bring durable peace to Darfur. Instead, its utility is likely to be limited to paving the way for the UN to replace the African Union peacekeeping force in place now.

May 25, 2006

Time to Samba

Samba is a traditional Brazilian dance. No one form actually defines the samba; it is a set of different rhythmical dance forms. To me what India and Brazil are attempting to do is metaphorical of trying to samba. Both countries are regional powers; and though very different they are yet attempting to achieve much the same in terms of national aspirations. India and Brazil have begun to understand the inevitability and worth of collaboration in all international and bilateral fora. The Indian business community has also begun to end its benign neglect of the South American continent.

May 25, 2006

Bangladesh and the TATA Investment: Playing Politics with Economics

The TATA investment of US$3 billion in Bangladesh, by far the largest foreign investment in the country, has run into rough weather over the pricing of gas. Dhaka rejected Tata's initial 2004 offer of $1.10 per unit of gas to be supplied over a twenty-year period, seemingly favouring the price to be at par with international prices. As per the new proposal submitted in April 2006, the price that Tata has offered is $3.10 for thousand cubic feet (MCF) of gas for its fertiliser plant and $2.60 per MCF for its proposed steel plant.

May 11, 2006

Hu's Foreign Visits: Emerging "Beijing Consensus"

Hu Jintao's recent foreign visits are integral to China's foreign policy strategy of building partnerships around the world. As part of this strategy the Chinese President visited the United States, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya last month. The official Chinese position hailed these visits as an important part of the PRC's diplomatic policies.

May 11, 2006

Indonesia's Papuan Problem

Indonesia and Australia have been at diplomatic loggerheads on the issue of granting political asylum to 42 Papuan refugees who sailed into Australia's Cape York Peninsula in January 2006. While Australia has granted them temporary visas, Indonesia has been asking for their repatriation. Papua has been projected as the next East Timor by Australia and this has become an issue for the Indonesian authorities as Papua has rich mineral resources and Indonesia would not like to have Papua go the East Timor way.

May 09, 2006

Hu Jintao's Visit to the United States: Uneasy Partnership

During his four-day visit to the United States from April 18 to 21, 2006, President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) Hu Jintao attended a dinner hosted by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, visited the Boeing plant at Seattle, met President George W. Bush at the White House, attended a dinner hosted by US business firms like Wal-Mart, General Motors, Citigroup and Walt Disney and addressed the Yale University in New Haven.

May 09, 2006

Illegal Migration in Assam: A Concern for India's National Security

Assam, a strategic border state of India, witnessed the influx of migrants since the British period from then East Bengal, now Bangladesh. The influx was largely engineered by the British, given the economic rationale of cheap labour that the migrants provided for the sprawling tea estates in Assam. However, this issue of migration assumed political and communal overtones after independence, and continues to be an issue of concern.

May 04, 2006

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