Nepal, China agree to activate bilateral mechanism to resolve border dispute
In order to resolve the border dispute and sign a new boundary protocol, Nepal and China have agreed to activate bilateral mechanisms.
During a virtual consultation meeting on border affairs held on Thursday, both sides agreed to activate the boundary mechanism first agreed in 1963 while signing the first boundary protocol, said Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Underscoring the importance of joint inspection of the Nepal-China boundary, the two sides agreed to initiate the process for activating the existing bilateral mechanism through mutual consultation, the ministry said in a statement.
The 1963 Joint Boundary Protocol has the provision of constituting three different mechanisms to deal with boundary issues — Joint Inspection Team, Joint Expert Group, and Joint Inspection Committee.
The mechanisms were enshrined in the Nepal-China Boundary Protocol signed between the two countries on January 20, 1963. Three boundary protocols have been signed between Nepal and China in the past — in 1963, 1979 and 1988. Both sides shelved the plan to sign the fourth protocol after much delay in 2011 due to some dispute.
Though the Nepal government and the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu categorically deny having any boundary dispute, Nepali media has been occasionally reporting border friction between China and Nepal in Humla, Gorkha, Rasuwa other districts.
The major bone of contention is the exact location of Pillar No. 57. After the two sides could not agree on the height of Mt Everest and the exact location of Pillar No. 57, the signing of the fourth protocol has been in limbo since 2011.
The meeting also took stock of the overall state of Nepal-China relations, and held discussions on various matters relating to boundary and border management between the two countries, the ministry said.
After activating the boundary mechanism, both sides shall jointly conduct boundary inspection, resolve the differences and sign the new boundary protocol.
Lok Bahadur Thapa, Head of North East Asia Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Hong Liang, Director General of the Department of Border and Ocean Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, led their respective delegations at the meeting.
The two sides also agreed to resume two-way trade through Rasuwagadhi/Keyrung border port, following Covid-19 health protocols and guidelines. Both sides will establish an epidemic prevention and control mechanism to this end.
China has stopped importing goods and products from Nepali trading points citing the Covid related restrictions, and Nepali traders have been asking the government to put pressure on China for resumption of two-way trading.
At the meeting, both sides also agreed to open new trading points on the western side of Nepal.
With a view to support the livelihoods of people in the northern Himalayan region of Nepal, the two sides decided to open the Hilsa/Purang border port for transportation of goods and construction materials from China by putting in place necessary Covid-19 protocols, the statement added.
Floods in Haiti kill 42, displace thousands
At least 42 people have died and 13,000 others displaced after heavy floods triggered by torrential rain inundated homes across Haiti, according to a statement issued by the countrys Civil Protection Agency.
The statement issued on Monday said that 85 people were injured, while 11 others remain unaccounted for after intense rainfall over the weekend caused several rivers throughout Haiti to overflow, which in turn sparked flash floods, flooding, rockslides and landslides, reports CNN.
The displaced and mission persons were reported from five of Haiti’s 10 departments: West, Nippes, South-East, North-West, and the Center.
“My government, in concert with national and international institutions, is taking urgent measures in order to meet the demands of the hour,” Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry tweeted on Monday.
The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned on Monday that flooding could resume with more rain in coming days.
“In the event of another heavy rainfall, the waterlogged soils will be unable to prevent further flooding, rockslides and landslides, and the provisional death toll could rise even higher,” quoted the Office as saying.
The danger is expected to continue through hurricane season, which began on June 1.
Meanwhile, emergency response teams and aid organisations have been mobilised.
“We’ll start providing hot meals to displaced people in the coming hours & are mobilising ready-to-eat rations & dry food,” the World Food Programme said in a tweet.
Oil prices rise as Saudi Arabia announces output cuts
Oil-producing countries have agreed to continued cuts in production in a bid to shore up flagging prices, the media reported on Monday.
Saudi Arabia said it would make cuts of a million barrels per day (bpd) in July and OPEC+ said targets would drop by a further 1.4 million bpd from 2024, reports.
OPEC+ accounts for around 40 per cent of the world’s crude oil and its decisions can have a major impact on oil prices.
In Asia trade on Monday, Brent crude oil rose by as much as 2.4 per cent before settling at around $77 a barrel.
The seven hour-long meeting on Sunday of the oil-rich nations, led by Russia, came against a backdrop of falling energy prices.
Total production cuts, which OPEC+ has undertaken since October 2022, reached 3.66 million bpd, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, the reported.
OPEC+, a formulation which refers to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, had already agreed to cut production by two million bpd, about 2 per cent of global demand.
“The result of the discussions was the extension of the deal until the end of 2024,” Novak said.
In April, it also agreed a surprise voluntary cut of 1.6 million bpd which took effect in May, a move that briefly saw an increase in prices but failed to bring about a lasting recovery.
On Sunday, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the cut of one million bpd could be extended beyond July if needed, the BBC reported.
“This is a Saudi lollipop,” he said, in what is seen as a bid to stabilise the market.
Bill to allow Sikhs to ride without bike helmets in California
Senators in California voted in favour of a bill that exempts Sikhs from wearing a safety helmet when riding a motorcycle.
The Senate Bill 847, authored by Senator Brian Dahle cleared the state senate this week with a 21-8 vote margin, and will now move to the Assembly.
“Freedom of religion is a core foundation of this country. We, as Americans, have the right to freely express our religion and I believe that right should equally extend to everyone. Any law that limits the ability to express one’s religion, goes against what this country is all about,” Dahle said in a statement after presenting the bill on the senate floor.
“Exempting those who wear turbans or patkas from wearing helmets is a simple way to ensure that everyone’s religious freedoms are protected,” he added.
According to 2021 American Community Survey estimates, 211,000 Sikhs live in California, which is nearly half of all Sikhs living in the US.
The State Senate was told that as of now, no helmet exists in the market that will accommodate a turban or a patka, but according to members of the Sikh community, a turban is a good enough protection.
Currently, 18 states and Washington D.C. have a universal helmet law for all riders. 29 states require helmets for specified riders, generally riders under a certain age (usually 18 or 21).
Only Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire have no motorcycle helmet laws.
“Although other countries and our own military make accommodations for Sikhs’ deep beliefs, out of the US states that require helmets, none has exemptions for Sikhs or any other group based on religious practice,” a statement from Dahle’s office read.
This question of helmets for Sikhs has also been debated and considered in other countries, like Canada and the UK.
In Canada, Sikhs are exempt from motorcycle helmet laws in several provinces including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario.
Among the supporters of the bill were the Legendary Sikh Riders, the Sikh Legends of America and the Sikh Saints Motorcycle Club.
According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 5,500 motorcyclists died in 2020, and more than 180,000 were treated in emergency departments for crash injuries.
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