India to deepen bilateral relations with Sri Lanka, support post COVID-19 economic recovery
Colombo Page | 27th May
 
India is committed to “stand shoulder to shoulder” with Sri Lanka in addressing the challenges posed by COVID-19 and in post-COVID economic recovery, the India’s new envoy reiterated the meeting with Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The newly appointed High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay paid his first call on Prime Minister Rajapaksa at Temple Trees in Colombo.
The meeting coincided with the 50th anniversary of the election of Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Sri Lankan Parliament.

Govt. frees 900 of Taliban prisoners as part of peace efforts
Afghanistan Times | 28th May
 
The Afghan government has released another 900 of Taliban prisoners—a largest prisoners release since peace agreement between US and the Taliban that hammered out on late February in Qatar.
Based on the agreement, Kabul administration should have release 5,000 Taliban prisoners and in return Taliban will release 1,000 inmates.
Two days ago, the Afghan government also released 100 Taliban prisoners as a gesture of goodwill to advance peace efforts, including an extended ceasefire and immediate start of direct talks.

India open to engaging with Nepal on the basis of mutual sensitivity, respect: MEA India
The Himalayan Times | 28th May
 
The External Affairs Ministry of India has expressed that it is willing to hold talks with Nepal in regard to the existing boundary issue between the two countries.
Speaking at a presser today, the Indian MEA’s official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said India is monitoring the situation in Nepal and the careful consideration it is receiving. 
“India is open to engaging with all its neighbours on the basis of mutual sensitivity and mutual respect, in an environment of trust and confidence,” said the spokesperson.

AFGHANISTAN

No security vacuum after US drawdown, assures security official
Afghanistan Times | 28th May
Officials in the ministry of defense assure that there would be no security vacuum after the United States pulls its troops out of Afghanistan, saying that defense and security forces had already had enough capabilities and capacities to defend the territory.
The Pentagon is reportedly planning to brief President Trump of the complete US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan before the US presidential poll in November.
Fawad Aman, spokesman of the ministry of defense said Wednesday that Afghan security and defense forces were ready to defend their country without any foreign helps.
 
Afghanistan rejects US report of coronavirus spread among security forces
Afghanistan Times | 28th May
The government has denied a report issued by the US defense department that half of the Afghan army and police personnel have been infected with the Corona virus.
The ministry of defense rejected the report as “inaccurate”.
“Based on our assessments, the report that says 50 per cent of security and defense forces have been infected with the Corona virus is inaccurate,” it said in a statement. The statement said that all prevention measures were taken before the virus spread and the security leadership issued health instructions in all army and police units.
 
BANGLADESH

Bangladesh in worst week of Covid-19 outbreak
Dhaka Tribune | 29th May
Bangladesh has a day in hand - till May 30 - to complete 12 weeks since the first detection of Covid-19 in the country on March 8.
Today it has already broken some previous weekly records, giving a grim picture of the worsening Covid-19 crisis in the country. 
The highest single-day count of new coronavirus cases and deaths were both recorded in the current week. 
 
Bangladesh capable of meeting global needs: FM
Bangladesh Post | 28th May
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said Bangladesh has demonstrated its ability to meet global needs amid coronavirus pandemic by exporting personal protective equipment (PPE) to USA, reports UNB.
“Our businesspeople are very smart. They exported the first PPE consignment so quickly,” he said, reminding that some had mocked the prospect when he first spoke about such opportunities two months ago.
 
EU announces 1.1m euro to minimize Bangladesh’s Amphan damages
Prothom Alo | 27th May
European Union (EU) has decided to provide 1.1 million euro to Bangladesh for helping recover damages triggered by cyclone Amphan last week, reports BSS.
“The EU is determined to start helping people in need with no further delay and provides an initial funding of Euro 500.000 for India and Euro 1.100.000 to support the immediate response in Bangladesh,” said EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic in a statement.
 
BHUTAN

May sees a huge spike in Covid-19 cases
Kuensel | 29th May
After recording the biggest jump of five new cases within 24 hours on May 14 and three cases each on May 22, 24 and yesterday, Bhutan today has 31 Covid-19 positive cases, one of the lowest in the world.
While the number of positive cases has increased sharply this month, the rate at which people are recovering has also been encouraging. With six recovered and zero deaths so far, Bhutan’s recovery rate remains 100 percent.
     
MALDIVES

Economic growth may reduce to -26 percent: Minister Ali Waheed
The Edition | 28th May
Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed estimated that the economic growth of Maldives may recede to a negative 26 percent in the worst-case scenario.
Speaking at the Commonwealth's Virtual Seminar on the Impact of Tourism, Debt and Disaster Risk Management, the minister stated that as one-third of the Maldivian government's revenue is generated from tourism, the country is heavily dependent on the industry.
 
Government extends public health emergency till June 29
Maldives Times | 28th May
Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen declared that the state of Public Health Emergency declared in the Maldives due to the global pandemic COVID-19 has been extended until June 29.
Maldives declared its first-ever state of a public health emergency, under Section 33 of the 7/2012 Public Health Act on over the COVID-19 pandemic from March 12 onwards for a period of 30 days. It was then extended twice, first on April 10 for 30 days, and then again till the end of May.

COVID-19: Maldives' cases exceed 1,400 as 43 more test positive

The Edition | 27th May
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) confirmed that 43 more individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in Maldives.
According to the agency, the newly confirmed cases (MAV01396 - MAV01438) consist of nine locals, 31 Bangladeshi citizens and three Indian nationals.

MYANMAR

Myanmar parliament cuts Defence Ministry budget by K10.6 billion
Myanmar Times | 28th May
Parliament has reduced the supplementary budget for the Ministry of Defence by K10.6 billion (US$7.55 million), half of the cut proposed by a legislator of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD).
The supplementary budget was reduced by K5 billion for transportation, by K3 billion for logistics, by K5 billion for building maintenance, and by K3 billion for consultancy charges.
On May 22, NLD legislator Daw May Win Myint sought a K22.7 billion reduction of the additional budget requested by the Defence Ministry for fiscal 2019-2020.
 
Europe’s Rich Continue to Buy Myanmar’s Illegal Teak: EIA
The Irrawaddy | 28th May
Illegal teak from Myanmar is not allowed to be traded in the European Union under the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) since 2013. However, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)’s latest report said traders are paying to ship illicit teak into Europe, avoiding import rules to get their hands on valuable timber for high-paying clients for use in luxury products, like yacht decking.
 
Myanmar Govt Borrows US$925 M from Central Bank to Cover Deficit
The Irrawaddy | 28th May
Myanmar’s Union Parliament approved a motion on Wednesday to borrow over 1.3 trillion kyats (US$925 million) from the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) to cover budget deficits as the country’s spending on economic and social recovery and health care is expected to increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deputy Minister of Planning, Finance and Industry U Maung Maung Win said the current deficit for the 2019-2020 fiscal year is 6.6 trillion kyats and that borrowing from the CBM will fund 20 percent of the total deficit.
 
Myanmar parliament approves amendments to election law
Myanmar Times | 28th May
Parliament has approved amendments to the country’s election law that would remove polling booths from inside Tatmadaw (military) bases and reduce the residency requirement for migrants to register to vote.
U Kyaw Soe Lin, secretary of the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) Bill Committee, said the purpose of removing polling stations from Tatmadaw camps was to ensure free and fair votes by military personnel and their families.
 
NEPAL

Despite massive blow to economy from Covid-19, government aims for 7 percent growth
The Kathmandu Post | 29th May
When most global economies are trimming their growth projections due to the economic depression caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Nepal has bucked the trend, with Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada setting a highly ambitious target of 7 percent growth.
“The economy will grow by almost 7 percent, the rate that we have achieved in the past three years, once the lockdown restrictions are lifted,” Khatiwada told a joint session of the federal parliament while presenting the budget for the upcoming fiscal year 2020-21.
 
Government eyes massive 700,000 jobs within the country
The Kathmandu Post | 29th May
The government has prioritised job creation as unemployment is expected to see a surge as an immediate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Presenting the budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 on Thursday, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada announced an ambitious plan of creating more than 700,000 jobs through various programmes.

PAKISTAN

Nuclear deterrence restored balance of power in region: Pak Army
The Nation | 29th May
Pakistan armed forces are appreciative of all those who helped the country in establishing minimum nuclear deterrence some 22 years ago.
Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate, Major General Babar Iftikhar in a tweet on Thursday said that the country, 22 years ago, successfully established credible minimum nuclear deterrence and restored balance of power in the region.
 
No immediate plan to go for stricter lockdown: govt
Dawn | 29th May
As the country registered thousands of new Covid-19 patients and witnessed many deaths from the virus, the government expressed “satisfaction” over the situation in hospitals, saying it has no immediate plan to go for a stricter lockdown.
Talking to Dawn after attending a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan to review the situation in the country in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and locust attack, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said that though there were reports from some big metropolitan cities about load on certain hospitals due to an increase in the number of Covid-19 patients, the situation and conditions in hospitals overall were “satisfactory”.
 
Covid-19 cannot be defeated without global approach: PM
The Express Tribune | 28th May
Prime Minister Imran Khan has thanked the G20 countries for providing debt relief to the developing countries dealing with crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I really welcome the debt relief initiative by G20 countries but we cannot come out of this crisis unless we look at this issue from global perspective,” said the premier on Thursday while addressing a virtual United Nations High-Level event on Financing for Development (FFD) in Era of Covid-19 and Beyond.
 
SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka President underscores need for unconditional budget support from international lenders to revive economy
Colombo Page | 29th May
Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appealed to bilateral and multilateral lenders to assist developing and middle income countries such as Sri Lanka unconditionally focusing on human development to emerge from the COVID_19 fallout.
Addressing the virtual ‘High – Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID – 19 and beyond’ organized by the Prime Ministers of Canada, Jamaica and the UN Secretary General on May 28th, 2020, the President said in Sri Lanka loss of employment and livelihood is large and main channels of income have impacted the real economy.
 
Fresh approach for joint ventures between India and Sri Lanka
Daily Mirror | 28th May
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa received a telephone call from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 23. Prime Minister Modi tweeted afterwards that his government was ready to extend cooperation to Sri Lanka in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery in the post crisis context.
The Indian Prime Minister’s call came ten days after Chinese President Xi Jinping contacted President Rajapaksa over the phone and discussed the need to resume practical cooperation between the two countries. The leaders of India and China—the two powers pursuing strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region where Sri Lanka is uniquely positioned—laid emphasis on the advancement of the economic cooperation in their telephone conversations with the Sri Lankan President.

 

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