1. Canada and Caribbean nations to deepen ties
Following the first Canada-Caribbean Community Foreign Ministers Group meeting, ties between Canada and the Caribbean nations will be deepened. This new series of meetings wills serve as a platform on which the Caribbean and Canada can coordinate action on key regional issues. Alongside the tabling of plans to broaden the countries’ joint response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Canada announced that it will pledge $81 million towards the Caribbean Development Bank’s Special Development Fund as well contributing $9 million to combatting food insecurity in the Caribbean. Marc Garneau, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs noted in a statement, “Canada’s deep partnership with our Caribbean friends is critical as we seek to build back better, stronger and greener from the COVID-19 global pandemic and the economic hardships it caused”.
2. UK and Australia to launch “Space Bridge” programme of cooperation
The UK and Australia have penned a new “Space Bridge” agreement which will seek to share expertise and coordinate investment in the countries’ respective space sectors. It is hoped that the programme will allow for improved access to trade, funding and academic research opportunities as well as ground-breaking bilateral innovation initiatives. The agreement will see deepened cooperation between the UK Space Agency, UK Department for International Trade, Australian Trade & Investment Commission, and the Australian Space Agency. Enrico Palermo, chief of the Australian Space Agency, noted: “The Space Bridge Framework Arrangement will help propel the Australian civil space industry into its next phase of growth, opening doors to build local capability, as well as significantly boost our collaboration with the UK Space Agency.”
3. Gunmen in Nigeria kill 36 in pair of attacks
36 people have been killed in two attacks in in Northern Nigeria. The series of attacks were perpetrated by gunmen in villages located in Katsina and Kaduna states. There were reports that rocket propelled grenades had been fired and many houses were also burned down, displacing residents. In recent months, criminal gangs have been increasingly mounting attacks on civilian populations in Nigeria, seemingly acting separately from the country’s Islamist insurgent groups.
4. India and Pakistan agree to stop firing along disputed Kashmir border
The governments of India and Pakistan have released a joint statement saying that both sides have agreed to a cease-fire along their contested Kashmir border. Military chiefs from both sides held a series of talks concerning the situation on the Line of Control, which Indian officials described as “free, frank and cordial” before coming to the agreement. The joint statement noted “In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two (militaries) agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns.”
5. India posed to ban import of large weapons systems to boost indigenous defence production.
India are set to release a new 'negative defence import' list which commentators believe will include large weapons systems such as tanks and aircraft. This comes as part of an ongoing drive to boost indigenous defence production; a similar list was released last year that prohibited the import of 101 different arms systems, platforms and equipment. Top Indian defence sources are quoted as saying they are "preparing it [the list] in consultation with industry stakeholders and discussing the inclusion of bigger weapon systems such as tanks and aircraft." Industry leaders are discussing the timeframes in which India's indigenous arms production will be able to make up the short fall such an import ban would produce. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has noted that over the next seven years around $60 billion worth of orders for the Indian Armed Forces will go to indigenous producers when previously they would have gone to overseas companies.