Rohingya repatriation: Japan announces $3 mn
Japanese’s foreign minister Friday urged Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to guarantee the safe and voluntary return of Rohingya Muslims who have fled violence in troubled Rakhine state. While Foreign Minister Taro Kono is visiting Myanmar, the Japanese government announced a grant of $3 million to Myanmar’s government to help facilitate the repatriation of the Rohingya. Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement on the repatriation of Rohingya refugees November 23, and Myanmar said it would start the process by Jan 23. The exact numbers and extent of the repatriation is still unclear. “We have decided to provide the aid in response to the agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh to represent an international message of support so that the repatriation can be carried out promptly,” said Foreign Ministry official Shinobu Yamaguchi in a statement.

India gives $45.27 mn aid for KKS harbour
India has extended a fresh financial assistance of $45.27 million for upgrading Kankesanthurai (KKS) Harbour in northern Sri Lanka into a commercial port and strengthening the country’s efforts to become a regional maritime hub. Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance and Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) signed an agreement in this regard January 10, the Indian High Commission said. “An agreement for Indian financial assistance for $45.27 million (LKR 6.9 billion) for upgrading Kankesanthurai (KKS) Harbour was signed on January 10 in New Delhi by David Rasquinha, Managing Director, Export-Import Bank of India and RHS Samaratunga, Secretary to Treasury of Sri Lanka,” the statement said. The upgradation project would make KKS Harbour a full-fledged commercial port, further strengthening Sri Lanka’s efforts to become a regional maritime hub, the statement said.

N Korea steps up tunnelling at nuclear test site
North Korea has stepped up tunnelling at its main nuclear test site, a US think tank has said. Satellite images showed increased activity at the Punggye-ri site, with mining carts and personnel frequently visible, and excavation waste piles growing, the respected 38North website said Thursday. “These activities underscore North Korea’s continued efforts to maintain the Punggye-ri site’s potential for future nuclear testing,” it said. The last five of Pyongyang’s six nuclear tests have been carried out under Mount Mantap at Punggye-ri in the country’s north-west, all of them at the North Tunnel. After a series of small earthquakes in the area, North said last October that the site may be suffering from the geological condition “Tired Mountain Syndrome”. The syndrome refers to the effect of below-ground nuclear blasts on the surrounding rock, which is extensively fractured and becomes increasingly permeable.

Minnie Mouse to get star on Walk of Fame
Los Angeles:
Minnie Mouse will be honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on her 90th anniversary. The polka-dot bow wearing mouse will be joining creator Walt Disney, long-time paramour Mickey Mouse and other beloved Disney icons such as Donald Duck, Tinker Bell, Winnie the Pooh, Snow White, and Kermit the Frog, ‘Variety’ reported. Minnie will receive the star on January 22 at 6834 Hollywood Boulevard in front of Disney’s El Capitan Theatre, dedicated in the category of Motion Pictures. Disney CEO Bob Iger and pop star Katy Perry will be present for the unveiling. “Minnie Mouse is a woman of the ages and her iconic status makes her a great addition to our Walk of Fame. Generations of fans of all ages have been looking forward to her seeing her bright new star,” said Ana Martinez, Producer of the Walk of Fame ceremonies.

NCLT nod to merger of Idea-Vodafone
New Delhi:
The National Company Law Tribunal has approved the proposed merger between Idea Cellular and Vodafone — a move that brings both the companies closer to culminating the deal. “National Company Law Tribunal, bench at Ahmedabad, vide its order dated January 11, 2018 has sanctioned the composite scheme of amalgamation and arrangement among Vodafone Mobile Services Limited and Vodafone India Limited and Idea Cellular Limited…,” Idea Cellular said in a regulatory note Friday. Both groups can go ahead for the final approval for merger from the Department of Telecom after Vodafone’s appeal for the scheme also gets NCLT nod.

UK court grants Mallya bail till April 2
The UK judge presiding over the extradition trial of Vijay Mallya has granted bail to the embattled liquor baron till April 2 as she heard arguments from the defence against the admissibility of evidence presented by the Indian government. The extradition trial, which opened at the London court December 4, is aimed at laying out a prima facie case of fraud against the tycoon, who has been based in the UK since he left India in March 2016. Mallya was arrested by Scotland Yard on an extradition warrant in April 2017 and has been out on bail on a bond worth 650,000 pounds. Mallya’s hearing Thursday was expected to be one of the final hearings in the case but it remained inconclusive as the defence is yet to complete its arguments, which seek to demolish the Indian government’s case. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is expected to respond at the next hearing itself after the defence concludes its arguments. That hearing date is yet to be determined but expected within the next three weeks.

US national molested by NRI Delhi hotel
New Delhi:
A 52-year-old US national was allegedly molested by an NRI at a five-star hotel in Lutyens’ Delhi, following which he was arrested, police said Friday. According to Additional Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) BK Singh, the woman had checked into the hotel January 6 where she befriended Anmol Singh Kharbanda (25). January 8, the two had drinks. She alleged that he offered her laced drinks and tried to grope her, the police said. After the incident, the woman checked out of the hotel and shifted to one in Gurgaon. January 10, she approached the police with a complaint, following which a case was registered and the accused arrested, the police said.

Retail inflation rises, dashes rate cut hopes
New Delhi:
Retail inflation crossed the RBI’s comfort level and rose to 5.21 per cent in December on rise in prices of food items, egg and vegetables, dashing hopes of interest rate cut in the near future. The retail inflation, based on Consumer Price Index (CPI), was 4.88 per cent in November. In December 2016, it was 3.41 per cent. The Reserve Bank has been asked by the government to keep inflation at 4 per cent, plus or minus 2 per cent, and its rise beyond the comfort zone will put pressure on the central bank not to cut interest rate (repo rate). As per the data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), inflation for the food basket increased to 4.96 per cent in December from 4.42 per cent in the preceding month. The data revealed that eggs, vegetables and fruits became costlier, while inflation moderated in case of cereals and pulses.


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