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In Sri Lanka, peace talks ride on a highway

Nov 23 (CSM) When the Sri Lankan government reopened the A-9 highway as part of a 2002 cease-fire agreement with the Tamil Tiger rebels, Sri Lankans dubbed it the "road to peace." For many, the reopening of the A-9, which connects the Tamil-dominated northern Jaffna peninsula with the rest of the island nation, symbolized a revitalized peace dialogue between the Tamil Tiger rebels and the Sri Lankan government. more..

Tamil Tiger rebels, military battle for territory in eastern Sri Lanka

Nov 23 (AP) The Sri Lankan military, backed by tanks and war planes, battled Tamil Tiger rebels for over three hours on Thursday for control of territory in the east, a military spokesman said, while seven others, including three police, died in separate incidents. Air force planes also pounded a camp of the rebels' sea wing in the north, the military said. more..

Senior lawyer suspended from practising

Nov 23 (SAMN) The Supreme Court on Monday issued an interim order on Senior Attorney-at-Law, Elmore Perera (President, Citizens’ Movement of Good Governance), suspending him from practise until the conclusion of an inquiry for purported contempt of Court. The ruling on Elmore Perera was taken up before a bench comprising Chief Justice Sarath N.Silva and Justices N.E.Dissanayake and Andrew M. Somawansa. more..

Terminally ill Tiger peace negotiator laments fate of Tamils

Nov 23 (AFP) Tamil Tiger peace negotiator Anton Balasingham has confirmed he has terminal cancer but that it is "minor" compared to the "immense suffering" of Sri Lanka's minority Tamils, a report said. The London-based Anton Balasingham, 68, who was diagnosed with bile duct cancer last week, also said he was sad that his illness prevented him from contributing to the cause of minority Tamils at home. more..

Fresh fighting erupts in eastern Sri Lanka as Indian envoy arrives

Nov 23 (AFP) Heavy fighting has gripped Sri Lanka as Tamil Tiger rebels and troops blamed each other for the renewed battles and India sent a top envoy to discuss the worsening violence. Sri Lanka's defence ministry said Thursday war planes pounded bases of the rebel LTTE in the northeastern district of Mullaitivu where the rebels have their main military installations. more..

Extradition efforts to proceed for terror suspect

Nov 23 (CP) The extradition case against Suresh Sriskandarajah is proceeding after a request from officials in the United States was accepted by Canadian Justice Minister Vic Toews. Sriskandarajah, 26, of Waterloo, Ont., is to appear in a Toronto court Jan. 23 to set a date for an extradition hearing on terrorism-related charges. more..

Sri Lanka’s “Sunday Essay” Columnist passes away

Nov 24 (TW) Journalist Ajith Samaranayke who wrote the popular “Sunday Essay” column in the Sri Lanka’s Sunday Observer passed away on Wednesday. He was a journalist who had inspired a generation of journalists in Sri Lanka. In paying tribute and honour to the Journalist loved by thousands of readers, TW News Features, reproduces his column in the aftermath of the December 2004 Tsunami, which appeared in the Sunday Observer of January 2, 2005: more..

Government invites private sector to join the supply-chain to Jaffna

Nov 24 (GDI) Government invites the private sector entrepreneurs to cooperate with them in providing essential food items to North via the A9 route. Mr. S.B. Divaratne, the Commissioner General for Essential Services (CGES) requested the privately owned transport organizations, wholesale goods suppliers/agents, manufactures and importers to join with the Department of Essential Services to fulfill this humanitarian service. more..

Premier Wikramanayaka visits Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia

Nov 24 (GDI) Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayaka is currently attending an official visit of 10 days to three main Southeast Asian countries, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Presently PM is paying his visit in Laos to promote the regional understanding and the expansion of the agricultural collaborations of Laos with Sri Lanka. more..

UNP MP appreciates the work of Govt. Info Dept.

Nov 24 (GDI) UNP Parliamentarian Rajitha Senaratne yesterday praised the Government Information Department for its efficiency. The United National Party MP expressed this view yesterday addressing Parliament during the debate on budgetary votes of the Ministry of Mass Media and information. He stated that the Department is now operating with a sense of consequentiality, a facture that it had been lacking for a number of years in the past. more..

Lanka-India to expedite CEPA negotiations

Nov 24 (GDI) Visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon held extensive bilateral talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday. One of the main planks of his visit was reviewing the rapid progress of the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and expediting moves towards the establishment of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries, more..

Government respects good ethical media tradition – Media Minister

Nov 24 (GDI) The Minister of Information and Mass Media, Anura Priyadharshana Yapa says, that action will be taken against media institutions, which are using the media freedom in an immoral manner. The minister stated at Parliament that the Government is fully committed to build a good ethical media tradition. more..

20,000 houses for soldiers

Nov 24 (GDI) Construction of an accelerated housing scheme for soldiers comprising 20,000 housing units, to be completed in four stages is under way. This is the first time that a massive housing project is to be constructed exclusively for soldiers to be allocated on easy terms, states a Presidential Secretariat Press release. more..

Sales boom at Barista coffee houses as high spending urban Sri Lankans socialise

Nov 24 (LBO) Young urban Sri Lankans are steadily patronising India’s Barista Coffee Co.’s, chains in Colombo, for a piece of cheescake and sip cappucino, while they surf the Internet, play board games and browse through magazines, officials said. Business is booming for this three-year old Indian joint venture, despite runway inflation and regular roadblocks in the city for security reasons. more..

Sri Lanka’s garment trade to hold on to its workers with Rs. 30 mn campaign

Nov 24 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s garment trade is to launch a 30 million rupee campaign next year to discourage skilled workers from leaving for high paying jobs in the Middle East and dispel a negative industry image. Apparel is the island’s top revenue earner, directly and indirectly employing about a million people – about 80 percent of them being women, largely from rural areas where most factories are located. more..

Six Sri Lankans jailed in Singapore for credit card fraud

Nov 24 (AFP) Six Sri Lankan men were handed jail terms of up to 11 years in Singapore for stealing money from automated cash machines using cloned credit cards, court officials said Friday. The six were sentenced Thursday in the Subordinate Court after they were arrested in May with more than 350,000 Singapore dollars (225,806 US) of stolen money in their possession. more..

Money laundering and regulatory failure in Sri Lanka queried at Singapore investment show

Nov 24 (LBO) Foreign investors in Singapore who attended a road show by the Colombo Stock Exchange have raised questions about Sri Lanka’s growing infamy as a money laundering hub, and the inability of authorities to counter such activities, participants said. One foreign investor asked the head table what action the authorities planned to take against recent share acquisitions in Sri Lanka by companies with questionable backgrounds. more..

Sri Lanka's tea plantations battle weather, wages and trade union action

Nov 24 (LBO) Sri Lanka’s tea plantations are battling weather, wage hikes and unofficial trade union 'go slows' on estates that have already eaten into October crop production, the lowest since 1995. Tea production in October slumped to a low 21.2 million kilos, an 18 percent drop on last year and a 23 percent drop on the 27.7 million kilos turned out in September. more..

Visiting India’s Foreign Secretary conveyed India’s concern

Nov 24 (AT) Visiting India’s Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon conveyed to Mahinda Rajapakse, President of Sri Lanka, India’s concern on the fast emerging humanitarian catastrophe and emphasized on an urgent and comprehensive political settlement to ethnic issues. India’s top diplomat who is on his first visit to Sri Lanka after assuming duties as Foreign Secretary met the Sri Lanka President yesterday evening at the President’s office in Colombo. more..

LTTE running out of options

Nov 24 (PISL) In Geneva in October, the LTTE first wanted the A9 highway opened because, according to the LTTE Jaffna faced a massive humanitarian disaster. The Government delegation suggested that this "humanitarian disaster" could be averted if the LTTE ceased attacking naval convoys taking supplies to Jaffna via the sea route. more..

Heavy fighting erupts in East

Nov 24 (PISL) Heavy fighting erupted in the eastern province yesterday morning with the LTTE launching two major assaults on civilians and the military in Kadjuwatta and Bakkiella, a military spokesman said. The attacks led the Air Force to bomb Vakarai and Mullaitivu areas. “Tigers first attempted to attack the Defences at Kirimichchi and Kadjuwatte area in the morning. But troops repulsed the attack causing heavy damage to the Tigers,” more..

India for "comprehensive political settlement" of Sri Lankan issue

Nov 24 (Hindu) Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon on Thursday told Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa that India looked forward to an early "comprehensive political settlement" of the ethnic issue. It must take into account the aspirations of all sections, including Tamils, he said. Mr. Menon, here on a two-day visit to share India's concerns at the situation in the island nation, had a packed schedule, more..

Alleged LTTE operatives enforce shop closures for Hero`s day in Canada

Nov 24 (LNP) Despite the ban by the Canadian government and the raid on their front organizations by the RCMP, LTTE continues to threaten and intimidate Tamil residents and businessmen in Canada. Currently LTTE operatives are actively engaged in organizing the Heroes Day events in Toronto and Montreal. The event, held annually to coincide with the birthday of LTTE leader, Pirabakaran, is to be held in Canada on Monday the November 27 th. more..

MDMK workers to take part in day-long fast

Nov 24 (LNP) MDMK workers and party MPs and MLAs will take part in a day-long fast in New Delhi on November 27 to protest Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse`s visit to India. The protestors would express their concern at the `planned killings of Tamils by the Sri Lankan Army`, MDMK general secretary Vaiko told reporters here today. more..

JHU urges action against Kotelawala

Nov 24 (LNP) The JHU yesterday condemned business tycoon Lalith Kotelawala`s statement which referred to the LTTE as freedom fighters. Speaking during the committee stage debate on the votes on 21 institutions, JHU MP Ven. Omalpe Sobhita Thera said this statement had been made in violation of the Constitution. more..

UNP wants President`s powers curtailed

Nov 24 (LNP) The UNP stressed in Parliament yesterday the need to curtail the Presidential powers to dissolve parliament upon completion of one year of its term. Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera speaking during the committee stage debate in the House yesterday said the powers vested in the Executive President to appoint an MP of his or her choice as the Prime Minister disregarding whether the member enjoyed the majority in parliament too should be repealed. more..

President orders food relief to Jaffna along A-9

Nov 24 (PISL) The Commissioner General of Essential Services is, on a Presidential directive, making arrangements to transport essential goods to the Jaffna Peninsula along the A-9 highway. Having reviewed the situation and after considering representations made by the religious leaders and other civil organizations and the probability of inclement weather affecting the seas, more..

FMM reports CBK to UNESCO

Nov 24 (SAMN) The Free Media Movement (FMM) has complained to the Director General of UNESCO Koichiro Matsuura that former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, who is also a senior advisor to UNESCO, is seeking to take measures to ban a publication exposing details of her alleged corruption, misdeeds and human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. more..

Flood havoc, CMC blames city dwellers

Nov 24 (SAMN) Colombo Municipal Council said on Wednesday it could not take the total responsibility for the havoc caused by the recent floods in the city. Coordinator to Colombo Mayor Sham Navaz said city dwellers would also have to share the responsibility as they often dump garbage in drains and canals in the city. more..

UNP won’t join APRC immediately

Nov 24 (SAMN) Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Thursday informed the All Party Representative Committee that the UNP would join only the latter half of the discussion - when the degree and methodology of power devolution would be taken up. Wickremesinghe informed the APRC Chairman Tissa Vitarana that the UNP had right throughout stood for devolution of power hence it would take part in discussions when the degree of the methodology would be debated. more..

CB gives ‘kidney punch’ to banks

Nov 24 (SAMN) The Central Bank has shaken the banking community with what was described as a “kidney punch” by introducing two new requirements announced this week. One is the maintenance of general provisioning amounting to 1% of performing loans and the other is increasing the risk weightage on loans when calculating capital from 100% to 110%. more..

Rs.2.6 b for school uniforms, textbooks next year

Nov 24 (DN) The Government is spending a record Rs.2.6 billion for school uniform material and books for the four million student population next year. The Government has allocated Rs. 1.2 billion for uniform material and Rs.1.4 billion for books. Education Minister Susil Premajayantha said three per cent of the GDP has been allocated for education by Budget 2007 for providing quality education to children. more..

Sri Lankan gang jailed for forged bank card thefts

Nov 24 (DPA) Six Sri Lankans were jailed for using forged cards at bank machines in Singapore to steal from British bank accounts, the second such case in two months, news reports said on Friday. They were nabbed on the fourth day of their crime spree with more than 350,000 Singapore dollars (224,000 US), according to The Straits Times. more..

Ceylinco Chief clarifies his remarks

Nov 24 (DM) Ceylinco Consolidated Chairman Lalith Kotelawala yesterday denied media reports that he condones LTTE violence and its attempt to obtain independence. “I only wished to express my personal view that an alternative to Eelam would be to change the views of the LTTE and for the LTTE to come into the democratic system,” Dr Kotelawala said in a statement. more..

Thrice means out

Nov 24 (DM) President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to remove from the SLFP Central Committee members who do not attend meetings thrice consecutively, party sources said. This decision comes after numerous cases of absenteeism by members have been reported. President Rajapaksa told the Central Committee members on Wednesday at Temple Trees to furnish a report on the attendance of members at previous meetings. more..

Mahinda Chintana off track: UNP

Nov 24 (DM) The UNP yesterday criticized the second Budget of President Mahinda Rajapaksa as a ‘Kolombata Kiri Gamata Kekiri’ budget, stating it was clear that the year-old ‘Mahinda Chinthanaya’ programme was going off the track. UNP Parliamentarian Kabeer Hashim said that though the ‘Mahinda Chinthanaya’ programme was focused on improving the rural economy, the Government had been practising quite the opposite, throughout the past year. more..

Tamil parties furious over Rajapaksa visit

Nov 24 (IANS) President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to India from Saturday has generated a lot of heat in Tamil Nadu, with political parties adamantly opposed to any military alliance between New Delhi and Colombo. Vaiko's MDMK and S Ramadoss' PMK, both members of India's ruling coalition, have threatened street protests against the visit to protest against the killing of innocent Tamils in military offensives in the island. more..

Mosquito-borne fever hits Sri Lanka; fear closes a school

Nov 24 (AP) Sri Lanka's health officials on Friday confirmed an outbreak of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne fever. Blood samples sent to Thai and Indian research institutes and three local laboratories tested positive for chikungunya, the Health Ministry's epidemiologist Nihal Abeysinghe said, adding that at least 50 people have been found to be carrying the illness. more..

Indian diplomat says talks with Sri Lanka over reducing violence fruitful

Nov 24 (AP) India's top diplomat, fresh from a trip to troubled neighbor Sri Lanka, said Friday talks in the island nation aimed at ending ethnic violence there had been productive. "I had fruitful talks with Sri Lankan leaders," said Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon speaking to reporters on his return to India after meeting with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and other leaders. more..

Sri Lanka's undeclared civil war escalates, 26 reported killed in latest battle

Nov 24 (AP) A fierce battle between Sri Lanka's military and Tamil rebels killed at least 26 combatants, the two sides said, as an Indian envoy Friday wrapped up a trip to the island nation in hopes of shoring up peace efforts. The Sri Lankan military sent tanks and warplanes into eastern Batticaloa district on Thursday after the rebels attacked government troops, more..

Envoy returns expressing deep concern over Sri Lanka bloodshed

Nov 24 (AFP) A top Indian envoy left for home after conveying New Delhi's "deep concern" over escalating violence in Sri Lanka, as government troops and Tamil Tigers were locked in long-range attacks. Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon left for New Delhi following meetings with top leaders, including President Mahinda Rajapakse on Thursday. more..

Many fear Sri Lanka on path to war

Nov 24 (AP) The Sri Lankan military said Friday it killed at least 19 insurgents in a fierce battle with Tamil Tiger rebels in the restive east, where many fear escalating violence will lead the country back to full-scale war. The Sri Lankan military sent tanks and warplanes into eastern Batticaloa district on Thursday after the rebels attacked government troops, more..

Sri Lanka violence leaves 30 dead: army

Nov 24 (AFP) Renewed fighting in Sri Lanka's embattled northern and eastern regions has left at least 30 people dead, according to defence ministry figures. Security forces killed 19 Tamil Tiger rebels in two clashes on Thursday in the eastern district of Batticaloa where four policemen also died, the ministry said. more..

Sri Lanka seeks foreign help to supply Jaffna civilians

Nov 24 (AFP) Sri Lanka's president asked foreign relief agencies to help supply food and other essentials to half a million civilians trapped in the embattled northern Jaffna peninsula. President Mahinda Rajapakse said essentials had been shipped to the peninsula, 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of the capital, but distribution had hit serious snags because retailers had closed most of their outlets. more..

Lanka to seek joint patrolling of maritime boundary with India

Nov 24 (PTI) Sri Lanka will seek greater cooperation from New Delhi to patrol their maritime boundary in a bid to prevent cross-border terrorism and discuss the island's peace process during President Mahinda Rajapakse's five-day visit to India beginning tomorrow. Speaking to reporters here on the eve of his departure, Rajapakse said he will take up the question of stepping up joint patrolling along the Palk Straits. more..

Worried India wants hostilities down in Sri Lanka

Nov 25 (HT) The Indian government was so worried at the prospect of the ongoing hostilities escalating into a full-fledged ethnic war in Sri Lanka, it sent Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon to Colombo on Thursday, just ahead of a visit by Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse to India. Rajapakse, who arrives in India on Saturday, to attend a Mayor's Conference in Mussoorie and Dehradun, returns to New Delhi on Tuesday and has a series of official meetings lined up, more..

Govt willing to make controversial A-9 highway priority at next round of talks

Nov 25 (AT) The Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) has announced that the government is willing to make the opening of the A-9 highway as a priority agenda at the next round of peace talks, for which dates are yet to be fixed. SCOPP made this announcement in its official website recently. more..

Rajpakse, Manmohan Singh, Karunanidhi set to begin a tight rope walk

Nov 25 (AT) President Mahinda Rajapakse begins a four day working visit to India on Saturday at a time he and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are under extreme pressure to be pro-active – one against the LTTE and the other to 'protect' the ethnic Tamilians of the Island nation. In the way the Tamil issue is snowballing in Tamil Nadu, it may fast become a potential mine field for policy makers in the South Block. more..

Jayantha Dhanapala Appointed as Chair of UNU Council

Nov 25 (AT) The Council of United Nations University, which met for its annual session earlier this month at UNU Centre in Tokyo, has elected Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka as UNU Council Chair. Ambassador Dhanapala, who currently serves as Senior Adviser to the President of Sri Lanka, has had a distinguished four-decade career as a diplomat, peace-builder and disarmament expert. more..

Buddhist priests in Sri Lanka to get new and improved alms bowls

Nov 25 (LBO) Sri Lanka is drawing up new standards for alms bowls as local Buddhist priests say iron bowls and not aluminium is what cultural practices decree. The new standard for the alms bowls, also called 'paathra' in the local Sinhalese language, follows requests by two Buddhist religious sects in Sri Lanka. more..