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China, Taiwan : hold first direct talks

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China and Taiwan have held their first high-level talks since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. Wang Yu-chi and Zhang Zhijun, the top cross-strait officials from each side, attended the four-day talks in Nanjing. The talks were seen as an attempt at building cross-Strait relations and paving the way for wider exchanges. The choice of Nanjing as the venue has special resonance because it was the capital of Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government during the war against Mao Zedong’s Communists before the Nationalists were forced 65 years ago to flee the mainland for Taiwan.

India and Fiji : DTAA

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India and Fiji have entered a double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) that provides for among, other things, exchange of banking information for tax administration purpose.

India and Netherlands: MoU on Sports

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India and The Netherlands have entered a MoU for exchange of knowledge and experience in the fields of sports management, competition infrastructure set-up, coaching, training systems and training of referees for various sporting disciplines. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by the Sports Minister Jitendra Singh and Health, Welfare and Sports Minister of Kingdom of the Netherlands, Edith I Schippers. The MoU provides for cooperation and exchange programmes in the field of innovative sports infrastructure development and management including financial development, spatial area development, planning of sports infrastructure and facilities, designing of sports infrastructure and facilities, exploitation of resources, management training and safety and security. The MoU also provides for exchange of knowledge and experience in the fields of sports management, competition infrastructure set-up, coaching, training systems, training of referees for various sports disciplines and top-sport development through youth academies.

India and Kyrgyzstan: Visit of Abdyldaev

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India and Kyrgyzstan have pledged to facilitate mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and have also agreed to simplify visa regime for diplomatic and official passport holders. The agreements in this regard were signed during the latest visit of Abdyldaev Erlan Bekeshovich, Foreign Minister of Kyrgyz to India.

Abortion Bill: becomes law in Ireland

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Abortion Bill: becomes law in Ireland

Irish President Michael Higgins has finally signed the country’s first abortion bill into law, legalizing the practice in exceptional cases where doctors deem a woman’s life at risk. The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill allows women to pursue an abortion to alleviate life-threatening conditions, including a women’s own threat to commit suicide if refused a termination. The bill is Ireland’s first legislation on abortion since 1867, which outlawed the practice with a maxi- mum penalty of life imprisonment. The current maximum sentence for an abortion is 14 years. While the bill does grant women the right to an abortion in life-threatening conditions, amendments that would have allowed for an abortion in cases of rape or incest were withdrawn during the debate over the bill. Similar amendments permitting the procedure for cases of fatal foetal defects were also abandoned during debate. It should here be noted that the law comes in the wake of the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, in October 2012 because of blood poisoning as a result of a miscarriage. An inquest into her death earlier this year heard how she was repeatedly denied a potentially life-saving abortion. The new legislation, which replaces 146 years old British era law, also permits abortions to alleviate life-threatening conditions, including a woman’s own threat to commit suicide if refused a termination. Till recently, Ireland’s only legislation on abortion was a handed-down British law from 1867, outlawing the practice with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The new maximum sentence is 14 years.

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