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1. Wuhan Summit

Major Outcomes of Wuhan Informal Summit

  • Border dispute- On the bilateral front, they decided to issue strategic guidance to their militaries to strengthen communication and enhance predictability and effectiveness in the management of border affairs.

  • Trade deficit- Both sides addressed measures to better balance the ballooning trade deficit of about $52 billion (of about $84 billion bilateral trade), mostly by encouraging agricultural and pharmaceutical exports to China.

  • Terrorism- Both the countries recognized the common threat posed by terrorism and reiterated their strong condemnation of and resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

  • Afghanistan- Both leaders discussed a joint economic project in Afghanistan. The proposed joint economic project in Afghanistan could be instrumental in mitigating the trust deficit between the two sides.

  • On Global Challenges- They agreed to jointly contribute towards sustainable solutions for global challenges including climate change, sustainable development, food security etc. and underline the importance of reform of multilateral financial and political institutions to make them representative and responsive to the needs of developing countries.

  • Unresolved Issues- Finally, they attempted to reduce the heat over unresolved issues and so-called “irritants” in the relationship, such as China’s block on India’s NSG membership bid or the UN’s terror designation for Pakistan-based groups, and India’s opposition to the Belt and Road Initiative or its use of the Tibet issue. For this, existing mechanisms of dialogue will be strengthened, not allowing broader bilateral movement to be hit.

  • India also offered to host the next informal summit with Mr. Xi in India next year.

1.1 Significance

  • The change in the phrase “all areas of the India-China border region”, instead of the “on the India-China border” means china’s agreement that Doklam is very much part of India’s concerns.

  • The “early settlement” of the border dispute was classified as a “strategic objective” by China in May 2015; the emphasis now was more on managing the border than resolving it.

  • The opposition of terrorism in all forms assumes significance as China had earlier prevented designation of JeM Chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at UN.

  • India and China collaborating on saving globalization, defending the WTO, promoting a multipolar world, emphasizing ‘strategic autonomy’ and Chinese resetting of ties towards Asian neighbors is also due to changing USA’s policies on trade and security.

  • The informal summits may help agreement on reducing trade deficit between two countries, India’s entry to Chinese markets in pharmaceuticals and agricultural products with simultaneous reduction of major non-tariff barriers.

  • Further for the first time India and China agreed to work on a “joint economic project” in Afghanistan which assumes all the more significance considering:

  • Pakistan is already wary of India’s projects in Afghanistan and considers China as an “all weather ally” but China is unwilling to get cramped up by Pakistani reservations for India.

  • India has been advocating a regional approach and the continued international assistance in Afghanistan to prevent taking over by Taliban which may have found resonance in China as well.

2. India-Nepal Relations

2.1. Background of India Nepal Relations

  • India and Nepal share a unique relationship of friendship and cooperation characterized by open borders and deep-rooted people-to-people contacts of kinship and culture. Under the provisions of India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 Nepalese citizens have availed facilities and opportunities at par with Indian citizens. Further our relations have been based on:

  • High Level exchanges: Apart from high level visits the two countries cooperate through forums such as SAARC, BIMSTEC etc. and through bilateral institutional dialogue mechanisms like India-Nepal Joint Commission.

  • Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster relief: India dispatched National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, rescue and relief materials and extended New Line of Credit agreement for US$ 750 mn for post-earthquake reconstruction projects in Nepal.

  • Economic: Since 1996, Nepal’s exports to India have grown more than eleven times and bilateral trade more than seven times. Also, there are about 150 Indian ventures operating in Nepal in manufacturing, services (banking, insurance, dry port, education and telecom), power sector and tourism industries.

  • Water Resources: Around 250 small and large rivers flow from Nepal to India forming a part of the Ganges river basin which can become major sources of irrigation and power. A three–tier bilateral mechanism is working since 2008 relating to cooperation in water resources and hydropower.

  • India’s Development Assistance to Nepal: India is providing substantial financial and technical development assistance to Nepal such as:

  • Assistance to Nepal in development of border infrastructure through upgradation of roads in the Terai areas.

  • Development of cross-border rail links

  • Establishment of four Integrated Check Posts

  • Lines of Credit for undertaking infrastructure development projects.

  • Defence Cooperation: India has assisted Nepalese Army (NA) in its modernization through provision of equipment and training and cooperation in areas of disaster management. Further there is large scale presence of Gorkha soldiers in Indian army and both armies have been awarding honorary ranks of General to Army Chiefs of each other.

  • Power: An Agreement on ‘Electric Power Trade, Cross-border Transmission Interconnection and Grid Connectivity’ was signed in 2014 to facilitate and further strengthening cross border power trade between India and Nepal.

  • Education: GOI provides around 3000 scholarships/seats annually to Nepali nationals.

  • Culture: GOI promotes people-to-people contacts, organize cultural programmes, and conferences and seminars. India and Nepal have also signed three sister-city agreements for twinning of Kathmandu-Varanasi, Lumbini-Bodhgaya and Janakpur-Ayodhya.

2.2. Outcomes and Assessment of Recent Visit of Nepalese PM

  • The visit is termed significant since India Nepal relations have been going through turbulent phase since 2015.

  • A 12-point regular joint statement, three special statements on agriculture, rail linkages up to Kathmandu, and inland waterways, were issued during the visit which included:

  • Agreement to conduct "feasibility studies" regarding construction of a Raxaul-Kathmandu railway line.

  • Agreement to operate Nepalese steamers to transport goods and people from Nepal to other countries which is likely to enable cost-effective and efficient movement of cargo, and greatly impact the growth of business and economy of Nepal.

  • Develop the inland waterways for the movement of cargo, within the framework of trade and transit arrangements, providing additional access to sea for Nepal.

  • Conducting a pilot project on organic farming and soil health monitoring in Nepal

  • Further the joint statement did not mention internal issues of Nepal such as amendments to the new constitution, inclusion of minorities, Madhesi, etc. thus helping remove the mistrust between the two countries.


  • India held that new Nepalese constitution did not address the concerns of the people of the Terai and backed a blockade by Madhesis to cripple supplies to generate pressure on Nepal.

  • Nepal wants to amend 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship which enjoins it to consult India before buying weapons or enter into any security relationship with a third country.

  • There is a trust deficit in Nepal because of the India’s delay in implementation of various projects in Nepal more so vis-a-vis China and its implementation of agreed-upon projects.

  • India holds that it won’t buy power from dams built by China (China’s Three Gorges Corporation was given a second dam project to build in Nepal recently) and Indian companies must be involved for this to happen.

2.3. Potential Areas of Cooperation

  • Although China is increasing economic cooperation with Nepal, India continues to remain Nepal’s largest trading and business partner. Further, India is the only transit country for Nepal’s third country trade despite having signed a transit agreement with China.

  • Nepal needs massive developmental assistance for infrastructure development and also to implement federal provisions of new constitution through the creation of the necessary administrative infrastructure in the provincial capitals.

  • Hydel Cooperation: Nepal’s installed hydel capacity of 700 MW is much lesser than potential of over 80,000 MW. Further considering 60% of the Ganga waters come from Nepal’s rivers and 80% of these flows take place in monsoon months, effective water management for both irrigation and power generation cannot be underemphasised.

  • India also needs effective delivery on the pending projects, the remaining ICPs, the five railway connections, postal road network in the Terai and the petroleum pipeline so that connectivity is enhanced and ‘inclusive development and prosperity’ assumes reality.

2.4 Major MoUs/Agreements Signed

  • Cyber-relationship framework

  • Rejuvenation of Ganga

  • Skill Development, Vocational education and Training.

  • Regulation of safe nuclear energy use for peaceful purposes.

  • Explore potential technology co-operation in various areas.

  • Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries Sectors.

3. India-Uk Bilateral Talks

3.1. Major areas of cooperation

  • Post Brexit Cooperation- Britain has sought to emphasize the potential for growth in trade with non-EU partners once Britain leaves the EU. India also pledged that there would be no dilution in the importance of the UK to India post-Brexit.

  • U.K. also seeks to develop a roughly $700 billion economic zone with such former colonies as India and Australia by 2020, aiming to plug the hole created by its impending divorce from the European Union.

  • The two countries also agreed on prioritising freedom and openness in Indo-Pacific area, boosting defence and security cooperation, combat terrorism, radicalisation and online extremism.

  • Technology- Technology cooperation formed one of the basic themes encompassing:

  • India-UK Tech initiatives such as Technology Summit II, UK – India Tech Alliance (A NASSCOM and techUK partnership), UK-India Tech Hub, UK-India Tech Cluster Partnerships, FinTech Rocketship Awards (first-of-its-kind mentoring programme).

3.2. Trade, Investment and Finance

  • Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF)- An initial investment of £240m from both governments was announced which will invest in renewable energy, clean transportation, water and waste management in India as part of India’s flagship National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).

  • UK-India Dialogue on Investment- to improve our mutual understanding of priorities and review future opportunities for cooperation.

  • UK-India multilateral trade dialogue to support a shared commitment to the global rules-based system and to the WTO’s role in underpinning it.

  • Fast Track Mechanism- to support Indian investments into the UK.

  • Commitment to transition EU-India Third Country Agreements- to ensure continued application to the UK of EU-India Agreements during period following the UK’s departure from the EU,

3.3. Other Major Areas

  • International Solar Alliance- The UK signed the Framework Agreement of the International Solar Alliance and became the 62nd signatory member country.

  • However, an MoU on the return of illegal migrants could not be signed and remains a contentious issue among the countries.

3.4. Commonwealth or the Commonwealth of Nations

  • It is a group of 53 states, all of which (except for two i.e. Rwanda and Mozambique) were formerly part of the British Empire. Further Myanmar and Aden (now part of Yemen) are the only former British colonies who elected not to join the Commonwealth

  • Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of the Commonwealth.

  • It was created in the early 1900s when nations began to secede from British Empire to ease the process of British decolonization.

  • It was seen as a way of maintaining global unity through shared language, history, and culture despite growing independence and self-governance of former British colonies.

4. Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meet

More about the news

  • Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is a biennial meeting of heads of states of Commonwealth countries.

  • The four main goals for the summit were:

  • Prosperity: Boosting intra-Commonwealth trade and investment.

  • Security: Increasing cooperation to deal with Related Information Commonwealth Cyber Declaration

  • It is the world’s largest and most geographically diverse inter-governmental commitment on cybersecurity cooperation.

Commonwealth Innovation Index

  • It was launched as part of a new Commonwealth Innovation Hub on the sidelines of the CHOGM.

  • It has been created in partnership with the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and its annual Global Innovation Index (GII).

  • India was ranked 10th on the new Index, topped by the UK, Singapore and Canada.

Commonwealth Innovation Fund

  • The Global Innovation Fund (GIF) will also host a new Commonwealth Innovation Fund (CIF) with size of 25 million pounds with financial commitments from member-countries.

  • It will deploy grant, equity and debt investments to support innovators across the Commonwealth to accelerate the development, testing and scaling up of evidence-based and market-tested innovations.

  • security challenges including global terrorism, organized crime and cyber-attacks.

  • Fairness: Promoting democracy, fundamental freedoms and good governance across the Commonwealth.

  • Sustainability: Building the resilience of small and vulnerable states to deal with the effects of climate change and other global crisis.

  • It saw the release of Blue Charter on Ocean Governance which emphasized fair ocean governance, more prosperous maritime and marine industries, sustainable ocean use, and secure marine space across the Commonwealth.

  • Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for  Trade and Investment, which could together counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative was announced.

  • Further the Commonwealth Cyber Declaration, Commonwealth Innovation Fund and Commonwealth Innovation Index were also announced

  • It was also announced that Prince Charles would ‘succeed’ Queen Elizabeth as the head of the Commonwealth.

4.1. Issues with the Commonwealth

  • The grouping has no political or economic power, and even former immigration advantages between Commonwealth countries have also ceased to exist.

  • Considering its declining importance former PM Manmohan Singh skipped two CHOGM meets, while Narendra Modi didn’t attend the last one, held in Malta in 2015.

  • Amidst the calls for the position of Commonwealth Head to be more democratically shared or rotated the announcement of Prince Charles as the successor has also put a dent on its democratic credentials.

4.2. Importance of Commonwealth

  • From the Indian perspective, the Commonwealth offers opportunities to reach out to small states, that make up around 60% of Commonwealth members. In some of these states, India has no diplomatic presence, and forging relations with these countries could help India secure crucial votes during UN or multilateral contests it is involved in.

  • It is also a larger network of countries than any other, except for UN, which gives a chance for smaller countries to have their voices heard and make their projects and concerns known.

  • On a geo-political scale, the Commonwealth of Nations continues to be an impressive show of the force of a peaceful alliance. Also, for India it provides an excellent opportunity to give shape to a model of international co-operation and partnership distinct from that of China.

  • It also remains a great platform for development aid, democratic values and educational opportunities, but its relevance is unlikely to increase unless it adopts a more egalitarian and inclusive attitude to its next generation of Commonwealth citizens.

5. India-Nordic Summit

About India - Nordic Summit

  • Nordic countries include Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland.

  • India had proposed the idea of this summit.

  • The only instance when Nordic Countries had held such a summit was with the then President Barack Obama of USA.

  • This exercise by Delhi will be first of its kind in Europe as traditionally India has been engaged in talks with EU (European Union). • Nordic countries support India's NSG membership, its permanent candiadature in UNSC and demands for UNSC reforms.

  • India can gain from strong people-to-people contacts through education, culture, labour mobility and tourism. (Nordic Sustainable Cities Project supports the Smart Cities Program of the Government of India)

  • Nordic solutions in clean technologies, maritime solutions, port modernisation, food processing, health, life-sciences and agriculture; and Nordic approach to innovation systems, characterised by a strong collaboration between public sector, private sector and academia can be useful for New India.

  • The first India-Nordic Summit took place in Stockholm.

6. India-Wiesbaden Conference 2018


  • The conference was held in cooperation with Ministry of External Affairs, Government of Germany and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA).

  • The Conference provides an opportunity to participants to share experiences on their export control systems and to identify legal & technical assistance, action plans & challenges in national implementation of UNSC 1540.

  • Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) is the industry partner for the event.

What is UN Security Council Resolution 1540?

  • It was adopted in 2004 under United Nations Charter and affirms that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery constitutes a threat to international peace and security.

  • It imposes binding obligations on all States to adopt legislation to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery, and establish appropriate domestic controls over related materials to prevent their illicit trafficking.

  • India has established legally backed robust export control system to implement UNSC 1540 as part of its long standing commitment to international non-proliferation through The Weapons of Mass Destruction And Their Delivery System (Prohibition Of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005. However, it has not signed Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) due to their differentiating nature.

  • The mandate of the 1540 Committee is due to expire on 28 April, 2021.

7. Panmunjom Declaration

7.1. Key issues discussed during the Declaration

  • Nuclear weapons- The two Koreas confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearisation, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and “greed to carry out their respective roles and responsibilities in this regard.

  • Peace deal - Both sides pledged to seek a peace treaty replacing the Korean War armistice via multilateral consultations with China and the United States.

  • Both reaffirmed the Non-Aggression Agreement that precludes the use of force in any form against each other and agreed to strictly adhere to this Agreement.

  • Both country will work for a maritime peace zone in order to prevent accidental military clashes and guarantee safe fishing activities.

  • Family visits- The two sides agreed to hold “reunion programmes” (for families divided due to war in the two countries) on 15 August, the day both Koreas celebrate their independence from Japanese colonisation.

  • Demilitarised zone- The declaration said each side would cease propaganda broadcasts, hold regular military meetings, and take other measures to reduce tensions along the border and turn this zone into a “peace zone”.

  • Inter-Korean communication- Both pledged to increase direct inter-Korean exchanges and dialogue, including between lower-level political officials.

7.2. Significance of the meet

  • Since Pyongyang has renewed its commitment to the 1992 Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, it could potentially be used in future nuclear negotiations to prevent Northern delegations from stalling.

  • N.Korea’s commitment for phased disarmament may raise eyebrows because the S. Korean military is numerically inferior to the Korean People’s Army and any force reduction might weaken the South to the North’s advantage.

  • The declaration substantiates N. Korea’s agreement to attend another summit with S. Korea, hence giving South Korea at least another five months of stability. This should boost southern business confidence.

Way Forward

  • The declaration gives a ray of hope for reducing the nuclear threat that looms over the world and bringing peace to one of the most distressed areas.

  • However, the idea of “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula” seems only a vague commitment without specifics on how that key goal would be achieved. There may be other steps that might strengthen this promising situation like-

  • North Korea should allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to assess its nuclear program. This will generate a sense of progress under Panmunjom Declaration for Global Community.

8. African Asian Rural Development Organization (Aardo)

  • AARDO was established in 1962 as an autonomous inter-governmental organization and has 33 member-states from Africa and Asia.

  • The group is devoted to developing understanding among members for better appreciation of each others' problems and to explore, collectively, opportunities for coordination of efforts for promoting welfare and eradication of thirst, hunger, illiteracy, disease and poverty amongst rural people.

8.1. More about the news

  • The workshop was organized by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) to train researchers and officials from 13 member countries of the AARDO.

  • Training was given in areas including marine fisheries development, fish stock estimation, assessment of the impact of climate change on fisheries, training in responsible marine development, and mariculture.

  • Development of fisheries and aquaculture sectors can play a major role in generating more plentiful and nutritious food, as well as better incomes and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people in Africa and Asia.

9. Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use Of Data Act (Cloud Act)

9.1. Condition for CLOUD Act

  • Bilateral Agreement: U.S. requires the foreign states to share a common commitment in the form of bilateral agreement/data sharing agreement to be abided by the rule of law and the protection of privacy and other civil liberties.

  • Procedure and Review Mechanism: The partner country will need to ensure that its authorities collect, retain, use and share data as per an established procedure and electronic data requests to be reviewed by a court or other independent authority.

9.2. About CLOUD Act

  • The CLOUD Act establishes processes and procedures for law enforcement requests for data in other countries. Most significantly:

  • The Act expressly provides that U.S. law-enforcement  orders issued under the Stored Communications Act (SCA) may reach certain data located in other countries.

  • The Act also allows certain foreign governments to enter into new bilateral agreements with the United States. This new agreement will enable foreign nations to make data requests directly to U.S. companies rather than via U.S. government under a mutual legal assistance treaty.

  • The Act formalizes the process for companies to challenge a law enforcement request.

  • The Act imposes certain limits and restrictions on law enforcement requests to address privacy and civil liberty concerns.

  • Before the CLOUD Act, the U.S. could only access data stored overseas through mutual legal-assistance treaties (MLATs).


  • While on one hand there are individual country laws that prohibit service providers from disclosing user data to foreign law enforcement agencies, and on the other any data sharing law, if , exists, it is cumbersome and outdated. This law may be a step forward, especially in today’s world where cross border crimes are increasing.

  • However, there are speculations relating to data sharing around the world. Until a true international set of standards for data security and privacy controls is developed, meaningful protections for data — both domestic and international — will remain an issue of privacy.

10. China Plans A Canal To Reshape Indian Ocean

10.1. Details of the project

  • The new Thai Canal project comprises of two portions-

  • The first portion is seen as a counter to the “Malacca Dilemma.” The canal will link the South China Sea to the Andaman Sea, connecting the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean respectively.

  • The second portion is the establishment of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The new zone includes the addition of cities and artificial islands, which will enhance new industries and infrastructure in the region. This would make Thailand into a “logistic hub” and link Thailand to countries from all over the world.

10.2. Impact

  • Energy Security: The Thai canal will drastically diminish transit time across the busiest maritime shipping route and Chinese companies are extremely interested in speeding up the project as over 80 percent of Chinese oil imports and 30% of world trade pass through the Malacca Strait.

  • Strategic Importance: The canal will slash 1,200 km off the route Chinese warships by bypassing Malacca straights to reach South Asian ports and will dramatically enhance Beijing’s ability to intervene in the region.

  • Security Architecture: As China continues to expand its presence across the maritime domain through BRI, the establishment of infrastructure projects, like the Kra Canal, is further likely to influence the new emerging security architecture in the Indo-Pacific.

  • Some experts also say that the Kra Canal could benefit India and other economies in the region whose ships ply through the region by taking pressure off the overcrowded Malacca Straits.

10.3 Challenges

  • The division of the isthmus will have considerable environmental implications on the flora and fauna of the region, and also on tourism and fishing industry in Thailand as the proposed canal route would run past tourist areas in the Andaman Sea that generate about 40 per cent of the total revenue from the tourism industry.

  • It may also lead to an erosion of the country’s sovereignty as was the experience of Egypt and Panama, where the development of Suez and Panama canals led to decades of foreign control.

11. Asian Premium

11.1. About OPEC

  • Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is an intergovernmental organization of 14 nations, founded in 1960.

  • Headquarters: Vienna, Austria

  • Type: International cartel

  • Members of the Organization:

  • Middle East: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Africa: Libya, Algeria, Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon South America: Venezuela, Ecuador

  • India sources about 86 per cent of crude oil, 75 per cent of natural gas and 95 per cent of LPG from OPEC member nations.

11.2. About Asian Premium

  • Asian Premium is the extra charge being collected by OPEC countries from Asian countries when selling oil.

  • It has its roots in the establishment of market oriented crude pricing in 1986.

  • There are 3 important benchmarks in global market, representing the cost of oil produced in respective geographies.

  • Brent: Light sweet oil representative of European market West Texas Intermediate(WTI): US market Dubai/Oman: Middle East and Asian Market.

  • For Europe and the US, there emerged domestic crude markets and spot prices. These two markets reflected the cost of crude produced in the respective geographies.

  • But for Asia, there was no such indigenous market/ production location for importers except the export-oriented Gulf markets. Hence, the Dubai/Oman market price was taken as the marker. But it has failed to indicate the cost of production.

  • The US and Europe had an advantage because their markets and prices were based on future trading and reflected every trend in the crude market. On the other hand, since Asia represented by Dubai/Oman do not have any derivative trading, doesn’t have that edge.

  • Hence, price charged from Asian countries remained $1-$2 dollar higher than that from Europe and the US. This price differential is termed as ‘Asian Premium’.

  • South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

  • It is a regional organisation which was established in 1985 .

  • The main objective of setting up of SAARC was to promote the welfare of the people of South Asia, improve the quality of life and accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region.

  • Member countries – India, Pakistan. Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Afghanistan and Bhutan.

12. South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (Sascof)

12.1. About SASCOF

  • It was established in 2010 by the South Asian members of the World Meteorological Organization (specialised agency of UN for Meteorology, operational hydrology and related geophysical science).

  • It is a platform where the members of SAARC along with Myanmar could discuss common weather and climate related matters.

  • It is coordinated by Indian Meteorological Department.

  • It also reviews the progress made in understanding and long range prediction of South Asian monsoons both regionally and globally.

  • It aims to initiate capacity building/human resource development activities for the South Asian region, particularly in seasonal prediction.

13. E-Foreigners Regional Registration Office Scheme (E-Frro)

What is e-FRRO Scheme?

  • It is a web-based application introduced by Indian Bureau of Immigration, aimed at providing fast and efficient services to foreigners visiting India.

  • On the new system, the foreigners would get 27 Visa and Immigration related services in India by using e-FRRO service and obtain services through email or post without being physically present barring exceptional cases.

April International Relations

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