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Cabinet approves MoU between India and Egypt on cooperation in the field of Agriculture & allied sectors, New Delhi, 12 September 2018.

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Egypt for cooperation in the field of agriculture & allied sectors.

The MoU provides for cooperation in areas of agricultural crops (especially wheat and maize), agricultural biotechnology, nanotechnology, irrigation and water management technology including water harvesting and micro-irrigation technology, management of agriculture wastes management for energy production; food security, safety and quality; horticulture; organic agriculture; livestock husbandry, livestock breeding, dairying, fisheries, feed and fodder production; animal products and value addition; sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues concerning trade in plant and animal products; agriculture machinery in small scale; agri-business and marketing; pre and post-harvest procedures; food technology and processing; integrated pest management in agriculture; agricultural extension and rural development; agricultural trade & investment; intellectual property rights issues; technical know-how and human resources in seed sector; infrastructure development and capacity building in agriculture & allied sectors and other related areas of interest that are mutually agreed upon by both Parties.

Cooperation will also be effected through exchange of research scientists and experts; exchange of agricultural information and scientific publications (journals, books, bulletins, statistical data on agriculture and allied sectors); exchange of germplasm & agriculture technology; and conducting joint seminars, workshops, symposiums and other similar activities.

Under the MoU, a Joint Working Group (JWG) will be formed to enhance cooperation on matters of mutual interest including consultations on bilateral issues. The JWG will meet at least annually in the initial two years, alternately in India and Egypt to formulate joint work programs, facilitation and consultation, including making additional supplementary engagements with regard to specific issues.Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB)

RM Concludes Visit to the Arab Republic of Egypt, Cairo, 23 September 2018.

Raksha Mantri Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman concluded a two-day official bilateral visit to Egypt (20-22 September 2018), at the invitation of the Minister of Defence and Military Production & Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Arab Republic of Egypt.

Raksha Mantri and her counterpart, General Mohamed Ahmed Zaki Mohamed, Minister of Defence and Military Production & Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, noted with satisfaction the steadily growing bilateral defence ties between the two nations. They reviewed ongoing bilateral cooperation activities and discussed potential opportunities to further deepen ties and exchanges in the defence sphere.

The Ministers decided to explore deeper cooperation in the fields of defence industry and R&D, including joint production of defence equipment. Both sides reaffirmed their intent to enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism. Naval cooperation, including cooperation in Maritime Domain Awareness, was identified as an area of potential. India and Egypt would also intensify training interactions between their militaries. The two countries are also working towards holding joint exercises. The two Ministers agreed that technical and expert level delegations in relevant fields would be exchanged to follow up on their discussions.

Srimati Sitharaman invited General Mohamed Ahmed Zaki Mohamed to visit India. The invitation was accepted with pleasure.

Raksha Mantri, who was accorded a ceremonial Guard of Honour, also laid wreaths at the memorials of the Unknown Soldier and the tomb of late President Anwar Al Sadat.

Raksha Mantri's visit to Cairo was reflective of the vision to build a New Partnership for a New Era between India and Egypt as articulated by Prime Minister Modi and President Sisi during the Egyptian President's State Visit to India in 2016.Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB)


Joint Statement of the Trilateral Meeting of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of India, Kabul, 11 September 2018.

The first tripartite meeting of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of India was held on September 11, 2018 at the Deputy Foreign Minister level in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The meeting was chaired by H.E Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hekmat Khalil Karzai. The Indian and Iranian delegations were led by H.E Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Deputy Foreign Minister H.E Dr. Abbas Araghchi.

The meeting focused on consolidating economic cooperation, including Chabahar, as well as enhancing cooperation on counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, and continuing support to the peace and reconciliation process that is led and owned by Afghanistan. The three sides agreed to hold the next round of consultation at an appropriate time in India in 2019.Source:Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)

Press release on India’s condemnation to terrorist attack in Ahwaz, Iran, New Delhi, 23 September 2018.

India strongly condemns the dastardly terrorist attack in the city of Ahwaz, Iran on 22 September.

We convey our heartfelt condolences to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and families of the victims and wish speedy recovery to those injured.Source: Embassy of India, Tehran

Press release on visit of National Security Advisor to Iran, Tehran, 26 September 2018

National Security Advisor (NSA), Shri Ajit Doval, visited Iran on 26 September 2018 to participate in a meeting focussing on the issue of threat posed by terrorism, including Daesh/ISIS, to regional and global peace, security and stability. Other participants included NSAs/Secretaries to the National Security Council/ Deputy Minister of Security from Afghanistan, China, Iran and Russia.

The meeting provided an opportunity for exchange of views on the issue of terrorism and ways and means to cooperate for effectively dealing with this menace. NSA articulated India’s abiding commitment to partner in bilateral, regional and global forums for tackling the scourge of terrorism which poses a huge threat to the entire humanity. NSA highlighted the need to not make a distinction between good and bad terrorism; greater cooperation, including through information sharing for disrupting support mechanisms such as training, financing and supply of weapons; need for disrupting cross-border movement of terrorists; and isolating those who support and sponsor terrorism.

The terrorist violence in Afghanistan was rejected unequivocally. Support was expressed to assist the Government and defence forces of Afghanistan to deal with terrorist groups and narcotics smuggling; and to assist in reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan. Importance was attached to promoting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan which was Afghan-led, Afghan owned and Afghan-controlled.

During his visit, NSA had separate bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Iran, Russia and Afghanistan on issues of bilateral mutual interest.Source: Embassy of India, Tehran


Centenary of the Battle of Haifa, Haifa, 06 September 2018.

The Embassy of India in close cooperation with the Municipality of Haifa held a ceremony in Haifa to mark the Centenary of the Battle of Haifa when on 23 Sep 1918, Indian soldiers from the Jodhpur, Mysore and Hyderabad Lancers liberated the city of Haifa.  Ambassador Pavan Kapoor and the Mayor of Haifa Mr. Yona Yahav addressed the gathering, which comprised an Army delegation led by General VD Dogra, officers and soldiers of the 61st Cavalry, Shri Gaj Singh ji of Jodhpur and Brigadier MS Jodha, grandson of Aman Singh Bahadur (who rallied his men in the final charge that led to victory), officers from the IDF, diplomats, IDF veterans, Defence Attachés of other countries in Israel, as well as Israelis of Indian origin. The honour guard was drawn from the Indian contingent in UNDOF. A commemorative stamp for the Battle of Haifa and first day cover released by Israel post in Feb 18 were presented to the Ambassador and Mayor. Ambassador unveiled a plaque overlooking the actual battlefield where the Indian lancers liberated the city of Haifa. Source: Embassy of India, Tel Aviv


India and Morocco agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of defence and security, New Delhi, 25 September 2018.

Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in charge of the National Defence Administration, Government of the Kingdom of Morocco, Mr Abdeltif Loudyi is on a two-day official visit to India. The Moroccan Minister met Raksha Mantri Smt. Nirmala Sitaraman in South Block in New Delhi today. This is the first ever visit of a Moroccan Defence Minister to India.

During the meeting, both Ministers agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of defence and security. The Minister identified fields of Hydrography, Peacekeeping, Telemedicine, Information Technology and Communications as well as Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency as potential areas for bilateral engagement.

Cooperation on defence industry, including collaboration in Ship Building and manufacturing support were also discussed. RM invited the Moroccan Minister to attend Aero India 2019 to be held in Bengaluru in February 2019.

Two bilateral MoUs, (i) ‘Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Outer Space’ between ISRO and the Moroccan Centre of Remote Sensing and (ii) ‘Cooperation in the area of Cyber Security’ between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT –IN), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Moroccan Computer Response Team (ma-CERT) were signed in the presence of Raksha Mantri and the Moroccan Defence Minister.

The Moroccan delegation will also be visiting and interacting with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) facilities at Bengaluru as part of programme for the visit.Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB)


Indian Embassy to organize B2B Meeting related to Healthcare Sector, Muscat, 24 September 2018.

Embassy of India, Muscat, is organizing an India-Oman Business-to-Business (B2B) Meeting related to Healthcare & Medical Tourism Sector on Monday, 24 September 2018. The B2B aims at facilitating interaction and tie-ups between representatives of 48 Indian hospitals visiting Oman to participate in ‘Oman Health Exhibition & Conference 2018’ being held from 24-26 September 2018, and representatives of hospitals and other medical institutions in Oman. India is the partner country for the Oman Health Expo and ‘India Pavilion’ is the largest participation of any country at this prestigious Expo. The Indian delegation for the Oman Health Expo is led by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), India. Exhibitors from India in different spheres – telemedicine, pathology and diagnostics care, research, high-end medical tourism, education, e-health, medical & pharmaceutical equipment etc. are showcasing their technical capabilities and relevant technologies in the healthcare sector and sharing success stories of their R&D with various stakeholders in the Sultanate of Oman.

The above B2B Meeting is part of Embassy’s endeavours to promote Cooperation in Health Sector between India and Oman as there is huge potential for Indian and Omani companies to explore formation of joint ventures and establishing operations in Oman as well as to facilitate Omani nationals to visit India for medical tourism. There are several factors that make India the perfect destination for medical tourism: World class facilities at affordable costs; almost non-existent waiting time for surgeries; world class services and care system; availability of therapies like Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Yoga, which is a fabulous technique for post-retirement recovery; and India also provides several tourism options to make the trip health cum leisure.

Medical Visa for treatment in India has a very simplified process and can be applied with just an appointment letter from any Indian hospital. Indian Embassy has been constantly striving to ensure that Omanis seeking medical visa do not face any difficulty. Medical visa fees have been reduced to OMR 30.900 for visa valid up to six months and OMR 46.300 for visa valid up to one year. There is also the option of 60-day e-Medical Visa valid for three visits to India, for only US$ 80 by submitting an appointment letter from Indian Hospital. In 2017, Embassy issued 24575 medical Visas, while 11450 medical visas have been issued up to Aug 2018. In addition, 2635 e-medical Visas were issued in 2017 and 6579 e-medical visas have been issued up to Aug 2018.Source: Embassy of India, Muscat

Launch of Ayushman Bharat, New Delhi, 24 September 2018.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 23 September 2018 launched the 'Ayushman Bharat -Pradhan Mantri Jan AarogyaYojana (AB-PMJAY)' deemed as the "world’s largest government funded healthcare programme", targeting more than 50 crore (500 million) beneficiaries.

Describing it as a "game changer", Modi said the scheme was a step towards serving the poor people of the country and it would come into effect from 23 September 2018.

"PMJAY-Ayushman Bharat is the biggest government-sponsored healthcare scheme in the world," Modi said. "The total number of beneficiaries from Ayushman Bharat is more than the population of America, Canada and Mexico combined. Organisations across the world will study Ayushman Bharat to study how the government funded this large-scale scheme," said PM Modi.

The PM further urged the people to memorise the helpline number of the scheme. "The helpline number for Ayushman Bharat is 14555. It should be memorised by one and all so that people know who to ask for assistance," said Modi.

Why Ayushman Bharat?

*According to health ministry officials, the 71st round of National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) revealed that 85.9 per cent of rural households and 82 per cent of urban households have no access to healthcare insurance/assurance.

*More than 24 per cent households in rural India and 18 per cent population in the urban area have met their healthcare expenses through some sort of borrowing. The Ayushman Bharat intends to change this status quo.

*According to NitiAayog member V K Paul, who is the chief architect of the scheme, in the current fiscal the burden on the Centre is likely to be around Rs 3,500 crore, which is why it is being termed as the world's largest healthcare scheme. It will be funded with 60 per cent contribution coming from the Centre and remaining from the states.

What is Ayushman Bharat?

*The Ayushman Bharat is a scheme that aims to provide health assurance to 10 crore families or around 50 crore Indians, who will be given up to Rs 5 lakh cover per year.

* The scheme targets the poor, deprived rural families and identifies an occupational category of urban workers' families, 8.03 crore in rural and 2.33 crore in urban areas, as per the latest Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data.

* The health ministry has included 1,354 packages in the scheme under which treatment for coronary bypass, knee replacements and stenting among others would be provided at 15-20 per cent cheaper rates than the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS).

*The scheme will provide cashless and paperless access to services for the beneficiary at the point of service. Eligible people can avail the benefits in government and listed private hospitals.

Who can avail and how?

*The entitlement is being decided on the basis of deprivation criteria in the SECC database. The beneficiaries are identified based on the deprivation categories (D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, and D7). For the urban areas, the 11 occupational criteria will determine entitlement.

*In addition, the RashtriyaSwasthyaBimaYojna (RSBY) beneficiaries in states where it is active are also included.

*There is no cap on family size and age in the scheme.

*Aadhaar card is not mandatory. One would only need to establish one's identity to avail benefits under the scheme which can also be done through election ID card or ration card.

* In case of hospitalisation, members of the beneficiary families do not need to pay anything under the scheme, provided one goes to a government or an empanelled private hospital.

* The National Health Agency (NHA), the apex body implementing the AB-NHPM, has launched a website ( and a helpline number (14555).

* Each empanelled hospital will have an 'AyushmanMitra help desk' where a prospective beneficiary can check documents to verify the eligibility and enrolment to the scheme.

* All the beneficiaries will be given letters having QR codes which will be scanned, and a demographic authentication conducted for identification and to verify his or her eligibility to avail the benefits of the scheme.Source: Embassy of India, Muscat


Statement by EAM at Ministerial Committee of the NAM on Palestine, New York, 19 September 2018.

Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished members of the NAM movement,

Members of the NAM Ministerial Committee on Palestine,

It is a personal honour for me to be here today. India’s support for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause is historical, going back to a period before our own independence.

For independent India, support for the Palestinian cause has been a reference point of its foreign policy.

This NAM Committee, whose meeting we are attending today, will always have a special place for my country. It was during our Chairmanship of the Movement in 1983 that it was first set up.

Mr. Chairman,

India’s commitment to the Palestinian cause and our solidarity with the Palestinian people can never be undermined.

I strongly believe that India’s expanding relations in the region with all nations will only strengthen the Palestinian cause.

During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Israel in July this year to mark 25 years of our diplomatic relations, we reiterated the need for a just and durable peace in the region.

The path to this clearly lies in an early negotiated solution between Israel and Palestine based on mutual recognition and security arrangements.

Mr. Chairman,

It is a matter of great personal satisfaction for me that over the last two years the tempo of our partnership with the Palestinian people has been significantly stepped up. In January 2016 during my visit to the Palestinian territories, I along with H.E. Riyad Maliki took the decision to establish for the first time ever a Ministerial level Joint Commission to better manage our cooperation activities. The first meeting of the Commission was held in November that year. In May 2017, India had the honour of receiving H.E President Mahmoud Abbas on a State Visit.

We have through these high-level engagements continuously tried to expand our bilateral cooperation even further, to help strengthen the economy in the Palestinian territories and improve the lives of the people living there.

During the State Visit of President Abbas agreements for cooperation in the fields of agriculture, information technology, health and in youth affairs & sport were signed. We also took the decision to set up an information technology park in Ramallah that can serve as an information technology training and service providing hub.

Mr. Chairman,

The UNGA mandated UN Relief and Works Agency or UN-R-W-A has been delivering valuable public services to Palestinian refugees around the world. India has been voluntarily contributing to the UNRWA for several years. In 2016, we contributed 1.25 million dollars towards its budget, and we are committed to maintaining this support on a ‘multiple-year basis’.

Mr. Chairman,

Many more of us in this Movement can, based on our capacities, contribute to this valuable organization.

I can think of no better way to manifest in a practical manner, NAM solidarity for the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Source: Embassy of India, Ramallah



OIC Secretary General: The Kashmiri People are Leading a Legitimate Struggle to Realize their Rights and Achieve their Independence, New York, 27 September 2018.

The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Yousef Al-Othaimeen stressed that the Kashmiri people are leading a legitimate struggle to realize their rights and achieve their independence. “It is a struggle that conforms fully with UN resolutions and international law. Therefore, any attempts to suppress or to demean it by equating it with terrorism holds no grounds and is, indeed, a blatant violation of UN resolutions and international law,” said Al Othaimeen at the Meeting of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir held on 26 September 2018 in New York on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly.

The Secretary General, who chaired the meeting, urged for the need to continue efforts in using every possible opportunity and means to call upon and compel India to stop excessive and systematic human rights violations against the Kashmiri people.

The Contact Group, which comprises of Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Niger, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, expressed deep concern over the human rights situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The meeting reaffirmed complete solidarity of the Ummah with the plight of the Kashmiri people, brought into fresh light by the June 14, 2018 report of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. The meeting welcomed the recommendation by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a Commission of Inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Source: Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

As part of the policy, the MEI@ND standardizes spellings and date format to make the text uniformly accessible and stylistically consistent. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views/positions of the MEI@ND. Editor, MEI@ND P R Kumaraswamy