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Indian Petroleum giant eyeing oil exploration in Lanka

Feb 21 (LNP) Marking one of the major breakthroughs of President Mahinda Rajapakse`s recent visit to India the largest and one of the fastest growing private sector companies in India yesterday announced its plans to invest in Sri Lanka`s petroleum sector. more..

Over 40,000 teachers to benefit

Feb 21 (LNP) The Government has taken a decision to offer the full pension, instead of the contributory pension, to teachers recruited from the National Colleges of Education and graduate teachers, after the Lanka Guru Seva Sangamaya made representations last week. more..

200,000 new vehicles registered last year

Feb 21 (DN) Over 200,000 new vehicles have taken to the roads last year, the Motor Traffic Department said. According to the latest statistics released by the Department, 229,669 new vehicles have been registered in 2005. This is the highest number of vehicles registered within a year since 2000. more..

Expanding eye care assistance to tsunami survivors

Feb 21 (RW) IOM has signed an agreement with the Sri Lankan government to provide eye care services to people in seven tsunami-affected districts of the country. Over 100,000 people from tsunami-affected communities and low-income families will benefit from the IOM project funded by the Australian Red Cross. more..

Sri Lanka govt, opposition in wrangle over local councils

Feb 21 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka's government and the main opposition party are wrangling over the issue of local authorities in the country. The main opposition United National Party (UNP) said that they would block a government attempts to dissolve the local councils before the local election date of March 30. more..

Govt, CEB unions reach agreement on wage dispute

Feb 21 (DJ) Employees of the state-owned Ceylon Electricity Board and government representatives Tuesday reached an agreement over a wage dispute, quelling fears of possible strike action. "The main issue was the payment of some arrears and the authorities have agreed to make those payments by March 15. There is no need for us now to resort to any trade union action," more..

Stocks firm, hopes up on eve of peace talks

Feb 21 (Reuters) Sri Lankan stocks closed firmer on Tuesday as small investors hoped for a positive outcome at talks between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels due to start in Switzerland on Wednesday, traders said. The Colombo All-share index closed a provisional 0.33 percent firmer at 2,181.79 points. more..

UNHCR: Drop in displacement signals Sri Lankan hopes for peace

Feb 21 (RW) A recent decline in displacement prior to the scheduled start of Sri Lankan peace talks in Geneva on Wednesday reflects the desire of the Sri Lankan people for an end to conflict and continued progress toward stability in their island nation, High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said today. more..

LTTE may say CFA doesn’t ban child recruitment

Feb 21 (HT) At the talks with the Sri Lankan government at Geneva beginning on Wednesday, the LTTE may argue that child recruitment cannot be taken as a violation of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) because child recruitment is not even mentioned in the CFA! more..

Sri Lanka bans maize imports from India

Feb 21 (PTI) Sri Lanka has temporarily halted maize imports from India after bird flu was reported in Maharashtra, leaving the island nation with just two weeks of stocks to feed local chicken, officials said on Tuesday. India currently supplies around 90 per cent of Sri Lanka's total annual 200,000 metric tonne maize requirements, more..

Armed to the teeth, Tamil Tigers ready to talk

Feb 21 (AFP) The United States considers them "reprehensible terrorists", the European Union will not receive them but the Sri Lankan government has little choice but to sit down for talks with the Tamil Tigers. "We are talking to them only because of their military power," said a member of the Sri Lankan delegation due to hold talks on Wednesday with the rebels in Geneva. more..

Yahoo Photos

Feb 21 (AFP) Nationalists backing Sri Lanka's warring parties have arrived in Geneva to pressure peace delegates ahead of crucial talks on saving the island's faltering truce. more..

Government, Tamil leaders prepare for two-day peace talks near Geneva

Feb 21 (AP) Sri Lankan government officials and leaders of the Tamil Tiger rebels have arrived at a secluded chateau outside Geneva and are preparing for their first direct talks in nearly three years, officials said Tuesday. The government and rebels will try to patch up their unraveling cease-fire and stop the ethnically troubled tropical island from slipping back to war when they begin their talks on Wednesday. more..

Sri Lanka hotheads raise temperature at Swiss talks

Feb 21 (AFP) Nationalists backing Sri Lanka's warring parties have arrived in Geneva to pressure peace delegates ahead of crucial talks on saving the island's faltering truce. The Nationalist Society for Peace, Unity and Rights (SUPR) said they were in Geneva to lobby Colombo government delegates to resist any arm-twisting by the rebel LTTE. more..

Govt plans new coins to commemorate religious anniversary

Feb 22 (LBO) Central Bank is preparing to issue two new coins commemorating the 2550th 'Bhuddha Jayanthi', a top official of the Religious Affairs Ministry said Tuesday. The ministry of religious affairs says one coin would be high value commemorative coin while the other would be released into circulation. more..

Public sector unions call off strike, gives govt 10 days to sort out wage anomalies

Feb 22 (LBO) About 50 public sector trade unions called off a planned strike, giving the government a ten day ultimatum to sort out salary anomalies. Unions want the government to give low and middle level public sector workers higher wage increases, instead of the 25 percent or less approved by a government circular in January. more..

Sri Lankan chickens may go hungry, as government halts maize imports from India

Feb 22 (LBO) Sri Lankan chickens may die of hunger and not avian flu as the government temporarily halts Indian maize imports, leaving farmers with just two-weeks stocks, industry sources said. Sri Lanka imports about 90 percent of its annual 200,000 metric tonnes of maize to feed its chicken, from neighbouring India. more..

A special Police Electoral Control Room is established

Feb 22 (SLBC) A Special Police Electoral Control Room is established to maintain law and order during the local government elections. The unit which will be in operation 24 hours a day will be headed by an Assistant Superintendent of Police. DIG Gamini Navaratne told the complaints can be forwarded to the relevant unit through telephone number 233 33 89 or fax number 244 04 33. more..

Cabinet has approved the official language policy in the public service

Feb 22 (SLBC) The cabinet has approved the policy of bilingualism in the public service. Secretary to the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs and National Integration Malkanthi Wickremasinghe says it is compulsory for all government servants to acquire competency on the 2nd state language in addition to his or her mother tongue. more..

Norway appoints Swede as new head of peace monitoring mission

Feb 22 (AP) A retired Swedish general, Ulf Henricsson, has been named the new head of the Nordic peace monitoring mission for Sri Lanka, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday. In assuming the post on April 1, the 64-year-old Henricsson will become the first non-Norwegian to lead the mission set up to monitor a Norwegian-brokered 2002 cease-fire more..

Muslims want independent delegation at talks with Tigers

Feb 22 (Xinhua) Sri Lanka's minority Muslim community on Tuesday called for a "separate and independent Muslimdelegation at all future talks" with the Tamil Tigers. A statement issued here by the Peace Secretariat for Muslims (PSM) said that the Norwegian facilitators had already been informed on the need to have a separate delegation. more..

Interfaith prayers for peace talks begin in North, Buddhists to join later

Feb 22 (AP) Hindus, Muslims and Christians in Sri Lanka's troubled northern Jaffna peninsula prayed together for peace Tuesday, the eve of negotiations between the Buddhist-dominated government and mostly Hindu separatist rebels. Monks from Jaffna's only Buddhist temple said they were unable to attend because of a previously arranged prayer service, but promised to pray for the peace talks later in the day, more..

I Want Lasting Peace -President

Feb 22 (SO) Mahinda Rajapaksa, 60, became president of Sri Lanka in November. In an interview with SPIEGEL, the leader of the south Asian island nation anlyzes peace talks with the Tamil Tigers rebel organization, which are scheduled to resume this week in Geneva after a three year hiatus. more..

Vietnam, Sri Lanka push for greater cooperation

Feb 22 (Xinhua) Vietnam's National Assembly ChairmanNguyen Van An and his visiting Sri Lankan counterpart W.J.M. Lokubandara agreed on the need to share more experiences in law-making as well as bolster bilateral cooperation in other fields. "Our two legislatures have made exchanges at inter-parliamentary conferences but not yet at a bilateral level," more..

Sri Lanka's only hope for peace

Feb 22 (BBC) The Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels start their first direct talks for three years on Wednesday. The BBC assesses why they are so important. Whether the Sri Lankan government likes it or not - and they do not - the Tamil Tigers have established a de facto state in the north-east of the country. more..

Expatriates hopeful of crucial talks

Feb 22 (BBC) The expatriate Sri Lankans living in Geneva expressed hope that the talks between the government and the LTTE would lay a strong foundation to bring lasting peace to the war ravaged nation. The community urged the Tamil Tigers to be “flexible” in the negotiation table on Wednesday and Thursday. more..

LTTE for focus on ceasefire pact

Feb 22 (Hindu) The LTTE has ruled out the possibility of discussing an expansion in the mandate of the SLMM at the Geneva talks, a media report said. "While the LTTE is willing to consider the need to discuss a larger role for the SLMM, it is not prepared to discuss it at the Geneva talks," to be held on Wednesday and Thursday, more..

Sri Lanka Geneva talks aim to build trust, avoid war

Feb 22 (Reuters) As Sri Lankan government ministers and senior Tamil Tiger rebels sit around a table in a Swiss chateau on Wednesday, diplomats hope to build confidence between the two sides but say if they fail there may be war. The island's minority Tamil-dominated north and east has been calm since the two sides agreed to meet, more..

It is wrong to bring local bodies under emergency regulations-Karu

Feb 22 (LeN) If the government attempts to place the administration of the local government bodies under the divisional secretaries using emergency regulations, the United national Party will strongly oppose such a move as it would not only be an anti-democratic act but would also hinder the conduct of a free and fair election, UNP deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya has pointed out. more..

More cases against released SB

Feb 22 (LeN) The Bribery and Corruption Commission today filed a special petition in the Supreme Court urging it to issue an order on the High Court to hear the case against former Minister S.B.Dissanayake filed by the Commission for failing to disclose as to he amassed 29 million rupees. more..

While Basil discusses Chandrika files case

Feb 22 (LeN) As President's private secretary Basil Rajapaksa is engaged in talks with the JVP to reach an agreement to gain power in the eight local government bodies where the Freedom Alliance nominations were rejected, legal action is to be constituted on the instructions of the SLFP leader Chandrika Kumaratunga over the rejection of nomination papers. more..

President looks into Ministers who went to Geneva with families

Feb 22 (LeN) It is reported President Mahinda Rajapaksa has instructed his Secretary Lalith Weeratunga to probe as to how two members of the government negotiating team who went to Geneva for talks with the LTTE, accompanied their wives when he had issued specific orders not to do so. more..

LTTE to object to Sripathi's participation in talks

Feb 22 (LeN) It is reported that the LTTE is to raise objections regarding the participation of Minister Sripahi Suriyaarachchi in the government delegation as a resource person and consultant in peace talks between the government and the LTTE scheduled to get underway in the historic 'Chateau De Bose' palace in Geneva, Switzerland at 1.00 pm Sri Lankan time. more..

Karuna Speaks: His political aims and objectives explained

Feb 22 (ISL) In an interview V.Muralitharan alias Colonel Karuna speaks of his political aims and objectives. He has emphasised "We are people’s movement. We reflect the aspirations of our people. We do not have to act as proxy to any vested interests. It is the LTTE which is being funded by criminal means to attack the questioning voices." more..

Dispute about inaugural speech

Feb 22 (LT) The firm stand taken by tiger organization that they should have the opportunity to make the inaugural speech at the commencement of talks between GoSL and tiger organization on the 22nd has become a major controversy says our correspondent for Geneva talks. The talks were to commence with two separate speeches made by the two parties. more..

Switzerland to ensure good atmosphere for Sri Lanka peace talks

Feb 22 (Xinhua) Switzerland said on Tuesday that it will do its best to ensure a constructive atmosphere for peace talks between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger rebels. "Switzerland will do its utmost to ensure that the talks took place in an environment that was conducive to reaching a mutually acceptable solution," more..

Sri Lanka welcomes new head of ceasefire monitors

Feb 22 (AFP) Sri Lankan authorities on Tuesday welcomed Norway's announcement that a senior Swedish military officer would head the mission monitoring a troubled truce with the country's Tamil Tiger rebels. Rohitha Bogollagama, a member of the government delegation in Switzerland for talks with the rebels, said Colombo was pleased with the appointment of Brigadier Ulf Henricsson. more..

Geneva, local elections and the political balance of power

Feb 22 (TW) Geneva and the local government elections have the potential to change the political balance of power in the country. The question is as to whether they will. The potential of Geneva in this respect is the possibility that the Mahinda Rajapakse administration and the LTTE will be able to establish a working relationship which more..

On a pilgrimage of peace, the Tigers pursue funds for war

Feb 22 (ISL) Typical of the kind of reports established international media file from time to time on events of great concern, AFP has stated that a number of hotheads are gathering in Geneva to bring about pressure on the contending parties in the Sri Lankan Ceasefire Agreement Geneva Talks. more..

Javier Solana calls for strong commitment to peace

Feb 22 (AT) Javier Solana European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) has called upon the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to show their strong commitment to peace and set the stage for a final political settlement of the conflict. more..

Geneva Talks – A false start

Feb 22 (AT) Delegations of the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE are meeting today and tomorrow in the Chateau de Bossey, a secluded castle just outside the Swiss capital Geneva. Both the delegations are said to be in Geneva to explore possibilities of laying the foundation for peace in Sri Lanka. more..

Indo-US naval exercise off Sri Lanka coast

Feb 22 (IE) What was planned as a simple passage exercise between aircraft carrier INS Viraat and the American USS Ronald Reagan supercarrier three days ago off Sri Lanka spontaneously became a full-fledged, joint-maritime war game. A detailed operational report on this “surprising level of Indo-US inter-operability between the two Navies at short notice” will shortly be given to the Defence Ministry. more..

Swiss talks head for heated debate over Sri Lanka truce

Feb 22 (AFP) Sri Lanka's warring parties move here to an 18th century chateau overlooking the Alps to try to cool fears of returning to war at home, but diplomats say the talks could be heated. The rebel LTTE and the Sri Lankan government are to meet face-to-face for the first time in three years Wednesday at the Chateau de Bossey, more..

US urges govt, Tigers to build climate of goodwill

Feb 22 (ANN) The United States of America has urged the Sri Lankan government and LTTE to build a climate of goodwill in their efforts to establish permanent peace. The US ambassador to Sri Lanka Jeffrey Lunstead who met Industries Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, prior to the latters departure to Geneva said it was important for both the government and LTTE to build a climate of goodwill. more..

Bitter foes buy time as Sri Lanka peace talks put them at a crossroads

Feb 22 (FT) Sri Lanka and the Tamil separatists will today hold their first round of peace talks in almost three years, amid an alarming rise in violence and fears about the consequences of failing to revive the ceasefire. In Geneva this week, four Sri Lankan cabinet ministers will sit down with the LTTE, more..

Sri Lanka to participate in Bangkok Gem and Jewelry Fair

Feb 22 (Xinhua) The Sri Lankan National Gem and Jewelry Authority has made arrangements to organize the "Sri LankaPavilion" for the second consecutive year at the Bangkok Gem and Jewelry Fair. Eight Sri Lankan leading gem and jewelry exporting companies have been selected to participate in the event, more..

No peace, no truce: All LTTE wants is Karuna

Feb 22 (HT) The main aim of the Tamil Tigers at the Geneva talks is to force the Sri Lankan Government to hand over Karuna, the renegade Tiger commander, and not search for peace, says a leading expert on South Asian Affairs. "The aim of the LTTE is to force the Sri Lankan government to hand over Karuna. This is their priority, not P-Toms or the ISGA. more..

Sri Lankan housemaid tells of systematic abuse in Saudi Arabia

Feb 22 (wsws) Tens of thousands of Sri Lankans are driven by financial need and poverty to become contract workers in the Middle East. Their conditions are appalling. Many are treated as slave labour and abused, mentally and physically. A number have died in unexplained circumstances. more..

Switzerland assures impartial support to resolve SL conflict

Feb 22 (TN) Pointing out that the decision to hold talks itself has "substantially decreased" violence in Sri Lanka, Urs Ziswiler, Political Affairs Director, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, said in his opening remarks that "Switzerland aims at providing impartial support for conflict transformation in Sri Lanka," more..

Ceasefire Agreement is foundation of peace and must be implemented - Balasingham

Feb 22 (TN) Describing the February 2002 ceasefire agreement (CFA) as the “most constructive achievement” of the Norwegian peace process and “the foundation upon which the process has to be built,” the Liberation Tigers’ Chief Negotiator and Political Strategist, Anton Balasingham said Wednesday more..