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Regardless of political changes in Colombo, it is important that we remain vigilant of the LTTE lobby and disinformation campaigns. The recent reference made by Secretary John Kerry to Sri Lanka's "30-year war with the Tamils" is undoubtedly a calculated attempt to distort the narrative and trump up the charges of "genocide." It is a pity that Foreign Minister Samaraweera did not immediately set the record straight. Unless it is corrected, it will eventually morph into "the truth."

A petition to Sec. Kerry urging a retraction of the statement is online at the link HERE

Sri Lanka, China held successful discussions: Minister
The Sri Lankan government on Friday said that President Maithripala Sirisena, who is currently on a state visit to China, had held successful discussions with the Chinese government.

"President Sirisena held successful discussions with the Chinese President (Xi Jinping)and other officials in Beijing and five key agreements between the two nations were signed," Xinhua news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Ajith Perera as telling journalists in the capital Colombo. (daijiworld)

In the hills of Sri Lanka’s tea country
The man in the khaki vest slurped noisily from his cup, descended briefly into scowling meditation, spat the contents into a sink and then unleashed a torrent of approving descriptors, lavishly rolling his r’s along the way: “No foreign taste, very refreshing, robust, strong tannins, a tingly sensation at the end of the tongue — good show!”

I sipped as well and nodded gravely, thinking: right, but it’s still tea. Granted, it was excellent tea, cultivated just outside the Norwood Estate processing factory where we stood, surrounded by whirring machines and immense bags stuffed with tea leaves. (New York Times)

Sri Lanka’s main opposition party heading for a split
Sri Lanka’s main opposition party, the Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP), appears to be heading for a split following three mass rallies staged by party rebels at Nugegoda, Kandy and Ratnapura in the recent past.

The Ratnapura rally, held on Thursday, was the most successful of them all, attracting 27 party MPs, besides over 400 members of local bodies from various parts of the country. (Indian Express)

Sri Lanka blames fitness for Cricket World Cup flop
Sri Lankan cricketing authorities blamed a lack of fitness and the poor form of the side`s top order batsmen for failing to progress beyond the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Chief Selector Sanath Jayasuriya -- a member of Sri Lanka`s 1996 World Cup-winning team -- said officials will draw up new standards to ensure better fitness and take "hard decisions" about players who were below par. (Zee News)

Indian Naval vessels to reach Sri Lanka's east coast for drill today
Four Indian Navy vessels will arrive in Sri Lanka on Friday to hold a three-day training exercise for Lankan Navy personnel in the country's east coast.

Four ships from the Indian Navy's First Training Squadron, namely Indian Naval Ships TIR and KESARI, Indian Coast Guard Ship VARUNA and Sail Training Ship SUDARSHINI, are visiting Trincomalee from March 27-29, the Indian High Commission here said on Thursday. (Zee News)

India must be wary of Tamil extremism in Sri Lanka
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins to build a relationship with Sri Lanka's new leadership, the one thing he needs to be wary of is the extremist Tamil position in the island nation.

Modi made history by becoming the first Indian prime minister to visit Sri Lanka after 1987 when Rajiv Gandhi went to Colombo to sign a pact to end Tamil separatism, which eventually consumed his life in 1991. (Hans India)

Sri Lanka leader reaffirms ties with China despite tensions
Sri Lanka’s new president held talks Thursday with Chinese leader Xi Jinping amid a push to recalibrate his predecessor’s strongly pro-China policies and a review of major Chinese projects in the island nation.

Maithripala Sirisena and Xi reaffirmed longstanding ties between their countries at the start of their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing. The talks kicked off Sirisena’s first visit to the Asian giant since taking office in January and follow his recent trip to neighbor and Chinese rival India. (Japan News)

Do we have an India policy?
By K Godage
I served in Delhi at what was one of the worst times in our history of relations with India, it was when President Premadasa ordered the IPKF out (They had lost over one thousand two hundred men fighting the LTTE) and did a deal with the LTTE.

Sri Lanka was fortunate to have Prof. Stanley Kalpage as High Commissioner (I was his Deputy); He was a much respected person because of his background and the manner in which he related to people (We became friends with Rajiv Gandhi, who was then out of office, and saw him many times). (The Island/Features)

Over 25 SLFP MPs attend Ratnapura rally
About 28 Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) MPs and several ministers including Kumara Welgama, C. B Ratnayake and many others attended the Ratnapura rally organised today urging former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to be nominated as UPFA prime ministerial candidate.

This was the third rally organised by the National Freedom Front (NFF), Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP), Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) and the Democratic Left Front (DLF) calling for Mr. Rajapaksa’s return to active politics. (Daily Mirror)

Sri Lanka to participate in the universal exposition World Expo 2015
Sri Lanka,a globally well-known tourist destination, with the objective of promoting trade and tourism will participate in the "Expo Milano 2015" World Trade Fair this year in Milan, Italy from 1st May to 31 October 2015.

The main purpose of its participation in Expo Milano 2015 is to arouse interest among visitors in the glorious cultural heritage of Sri Lanka, its ancient traditions and flavors, with their medicinal values and properties. (Colombo Page)

Ex-Lankan President to head task force for reconciliation of Tamils
Former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga will head a special presidential task force to identify urgent reconciliation needs of the minority Tamil community, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Thursday.

“We are focused in achieving communal and religious harmony,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said. (The Hindu)

Beijing offers Sri Lanka olive branch, warnings
President Xi Jinping worked to mend relations with Sri Lanka yesterday as Chinese state-run media warned the island nation's new government against shutting off billions in investments from Beijing.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena is on his first state visit to Beijing since taking office in January and is working to renegotiate more than $5.3 billion-worth of Chinese deals signed by his predecessor. (Daily Star)

‘No Indian fishers will be allowed in SL water’
Acting Foreign Minister Ajith P. Perera yesterday denied Indian media reports that Sri Lanka had agreed to allow Indian fishing vessels to enter the Sri Lankan waters 83 days per year for the next three years..

Minister Perera stressed that the government hadn’t changed its position on the contentious issue of poaching. The minister was responding to foreign media reports that Sri Lanka had agreed to share its waters with the Indian fishing fleet. (The Island)

Basil to return soon
Former economic development minister and UPFA MP Basil Rajapaksa has said that he would return to Sri Lanka soon and would assist in the ongoing police investigation into allegations made against him.

A spokesman of Mr. Rajapaksa said today that a court order sent to Mr. Rajapaksa’s residence in Korathota, Gampaha had been accepted. (Daily Mirror)

President’s brother is wounded in ax attack
The brother of President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka was seriously injured on Thursday when an assailant attacked him with an ax, a police spokesman said.

The president’s brother, Priyantha Sirisena, runs a sand-mining business in the rural district where the family lives, and is known as the Sand King. He was airlifted to Colombo, the capital, for treatment. (New York Times)

Sri Lankan shares fall for 4th session on margin calls, political woes
Sri Lankan shares fell for a fourth straight session on Thursday and closed at their lowest in more than seven months as investors sold stakes to settle margin trading ahead of quarter-end, while political uncertainty also weighed on sentiment.

The main stock index ended 0.72 percent, or 50.20 points, weaker at 6,922.83, its lowest close since Aug. 8 and further moving away from the key psychological support level of 7,000. It has lost 5.39 percent in the past 19 sessions. (REUTERS)

Sri Lanka promises port project to resume after problems "sorted" - China
China said on Thursday that Sri Lanka's visiting president had promised work would resume on a controversial Chinese-backed port development in Colombo that his administration had earlier suspended.

Citing a lack of government approvals, Sri Lanka halted the $1.4 billion port city project, straining ties with its biggest investor. China defends the project, saying it is in line with local laws and any cancellation would deter foreign investors. (Washington Post)

50 SLFP MPs want Dinesh as Opp. Leader: Vasu
UPFA MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara today said about 50 Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) MPs had signed a document to be submitted to the Speaker of the House requesting MP Dinesh Gunwardane be appointed as the Opposition Leader.

He said the signatures have been collected since Wednesday. (Daily Mirror)

Sri Lanka Tourism to enter the US$ 40 billion cruise line business
Sri Lanka Tourism is partnering with top blue chip companies to enter into the lucrative US$ 40 billion line business that is estimated to carry 22.3 million passengers as the market is growing at 3.2% in volume.

Carnival Corporation is the market leader with a share of 48.1% followed by Royal Caribbean Ltd at 23.1%, Norwegian Cruise Holdings at 10.4% whilst MSC Cruises at 5.2%. (Colombo Page)

Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Rice, the lifeblood of so many nations' cuisines, is perhaps the most ubiquitous food in the world.

In Asia, where an estimated 90 percent of all rice is consumed, the pillowy grains are part of almost every meal. (Washington Post)

To laugh or cry?
W"I don’t know whether to laugh or cry," was the first reaction I heard last Sunday evening when the news spread that President Sirisena had sworn in 26 ex-UPFA ministers in various ministerial capacities of his yahapalanaya government. The second response was also similar: ‘Is this what we voted Maithripala Sirisena in to power for?"

Disbelief, shock, and disappointment were at the core of these reactions to what many people now consider as an event that marked a clear deviation by the new government from its own paradigm of good governance. (The Island)

MR's security in jeopardy despite Govt. claims: MR’s office
While rejecting Minister Rajitha Senaratne’s claims that 21 vehicles had been assigned to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Mr. Rajapaksa’s office said all the vehicles assigned to his security detail were withdrawn and that has jeopardized his security.

Mr. Rajapaksa’s office said only 6 vehicles had been provided to the former president. (Daily Mirror)

China hopes Sri Lanka will act in its long-term interests
The leaders of Sri Lanka and China will exchange views on the bilateral relations between the two countries as well as international and regional issues of common interest during Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena's visit to China.

Sri Lankan President, who is paying a state visit to China to attend the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2015 from March 25 to 29 at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, arrived in Beijing Wednesday. (Colombo Page)

Rehearsal for a new political culture - Ranil
Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe says that the time has come to introduce a new political culture to the country and do away with the existing “expired” political system and culture.

He stated that putting forward then SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena to contest as the Common Presidential Candidate and all parties joining together to support him was the first step in creating this new political culture. (Ada derana)

Sri Lankan president seeks to mend ties with China after port suspension
Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena headed to Beijing on Wednesday seeking to end a stalemate over China's biggest investment project in the island which his administration has suspended over allegations of wrongdoing.

The review of the $1.4 billion Colombo port city project ordered by Sirisena after he took office in January has become a sore point, with neither side showing signs of backing down. (REUTERS)

Rajitha’s statements keep changing constantly: Tilvin
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) General Secretary Tilvin Silva said today Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne was constantly changing his statements.

He expressed these views as a response to a question posed by a journalist at a news conference held at JVP Head Office in Battaramulla today. (Daily Mirror)

Sri Lanka grants amnesty for military deserters
President Maithripala Sirisena has granted a period of amnesty for the military deserters to receive legal discharge from service between 2 and 16 April, Sri Lankan Army said today.

The military absentees can directly reach their respective regimental headquarters and receive their discharge under four categories during this period, Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe said. (Times of India)

Sri Lanka's tourism earnings grow 6.6 pct helped by Chinese arrivals
Sri Lanka's tourism earnings kicked off the year with moderate 6.6 percent growth posting 248.7 million U.S. dollars in January 2015 from 233.3 million U.S. dollars in the same period last year, official data released by the Central Bank said here on Wednesday.

Mr. Rajapaksa’s office said only 6 vehicles had been provided to the former president. - See more at: (XinhuaNet)

20 Parliament committees after Polls
The Government is hoping to re-introduce the Parliamentary Committee System after the upcoming general election, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said today.

He said this committee system was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Donoughmore Constitution in 1931 and it existed till 1947. (Daily Mirror)

Sri Lanka's finance minister threatens Gotabaya
Sri Lanka's finance minister, Ravi Karunanayake has threatened to send a letter of demand to former defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa for what he calls 'false charges' being leveled against him.

In a media release issued on Tuesday by minister Karunanayake, he says he will send a letter of demand to Rajapaksa demanding two billion rupees for the defamation. (Lanka Business Online)

Parties fail to reach consensus on 19A
Referendum needed – Opposition Leader
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presented the 19th Amendment to the Constitution to Parliament yesterday to curtail powers of the executive presidency.

The Bill, if approved by Parliament, will make the Prime Minister the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers with powers to appoint its members. (The Island)

Indian, Sri Lankan fishermen conclude 3rd round of talks
India and Sri Lankan fishermen associations today concluded third round of talks during which the Indian side presented several proposals dealing with the issues of violation of the maritime boundary and fishing in each other's waters.

"India-Sri Lanka fishermen associations conclude talks. Indian proposals to be considered by Sri Lankan counterparts, who will revert in May," the Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said. (Niti Central)

Refugee from Sri Lanka nabbed
A Sri Lankan refugee from Tirunelveli district, who was enlarged on bail in Sri Lanka recently after being jailed for a while for illegal entry, was nabbed by the police on reaching Rameswaram.

Police sources said K. Kanthan (23) of Kalaignar Colony under Gangaikondan police station limits near here paid money to an agent for going to Australia in a boat illegally. (The Hindu)

Sri Lanka's Central Bank says acting governor arrangement legal
Sri Lanka's Central Bank, rejecting the claims made by former deputy governor W.A. Wijewardena to media over the legality of the acting governor arrangement, today said the former officer's statements are" grossly incorrect" and clarified the relevant legal position.

Wijewardena in an article published in the Daily FT yesterday has stated that the law does not provide for an acting arrangement for the Governor when the Governor is in Sri Lanka and the forced leave of the Governor is not recognized by law and therefore, all decisions made in the bank without him being present are subject to challenge in courts of law. (Colombo Page)

Sri Lankan Prez to review China-funded projects during visit
Sri Lanka's new President Maithripala Sirisena would renegotiate the more than USD 5.3 billion-worth of Chinese deals signed by his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa during a visit to Beijing starting tomorrow.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, who will accompany Sirisena to Beijing on the three-day visit, said the Sri Lankan president would appeal to the Chinese leadership to review the China-financed projects. (Zee News)

Japan grants Sri Lanka US$ 4.2 million to improve education in Mannar district
The Government of Japan has announced that it will provide 550 million Japanese Yen (approximately US$ 4.2 million) in grant assistance to Sri Lanka for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of conflict affected people in Mannar district in the Northern Province.

The financial assistance will be provided through the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) for the "Project for Sustainable Resettlement through Community-driven Improvement of the Learning Environment in the conflict affected Mannar District in Northern Province," the Japanese Embassy in Colombo said in a release. (Colombo Page)

Sri Lanka may not dissolve parliament in April 2015: former SLFP minister
Sri Lanka Freedom Party chief organizer, John Seneviratne told LBO that the country has a higher chance of not going for an election in April 2015.

“The president might not go for an election,” John Seneviratne told LBO. (Lanka Business Online)

Allegations focused on the Bureau not Dilan: Thalatha
Foreign Employment Minister Thalatha Athukorale today said that her allegations were focused on the Foreign Employment Bureau and not on the then Minister Dilan Perera.

Ms. Athukorala revealed that some irregularities had taken place at the Foreign Employment Bureau, while addressing an event organised by the Federation of University Women recently. (Daily Mirror)

Sri Lanka releases 54 Indian fishermen
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday ordered the release of 54 Indian fishermen arrested for fishing in Sri Lankan waters, according to reports reaching here.

The Sri Lankan Navy arrested the 54 on Sunday. (Business Standard )

Sri Lanka to produce indigenous natural gas and stop importing fossil fuel: Official
Sri Lanka’s new government targets 100 percent clean indigenous energy to develop the island as a green country while importing fossil fuel, an official from the Ministry of Power and Energy said.

“We want to develop the country but it has to be more green and environment friendly development,” Suren Batagoda, secretary, Ministry of Power and Energy said at a United Nation forum held in Colombo to discuss UN's Millennium Development Goals. (Lanka Business Online )

Sri Lanka to produce indigenous natural gas and stop importing fossil fuel: Official
Sri Lanka’s new government targets 100 percent clean indigenous energy to develop the island as a green country while importing fossil fuel, an official from the Ministry of Power and Energy said.

“We want to develop the country but it has to be more green and environment friendly development,” Suren Batagoda, secretary, Ministry of Power and Energy said at a United Nation forum held in Colombo to discuss UN's Millennium Development Goals. (Lanka Business Online )

19A a ‘Constitutional Coup’-JHU
The 19th Amendment presented in Parliament by the Government was a result of a ‘Constitutional Coup’ to allow a person who is unable to win at an election to retain power, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) said today.

JHU General Secretary and Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said the objective of the latest reforms was to render the Executive President powerless and to make the Prime Minister powerful. (Daily Mirror )

In Sri Lanka, elephants and humans struggle to live in close quarters
Elephants in Sri Lanka can have the demeanor of cranky wedding guests in a slow buffet line. They munch away at grass and leaves, kicking their heels back in annoyance at the pure white egrets standing behind them. Cross their path in a safari vehicle and you might get a raised trunk and a trumpeted warning: I’m walking here!

But these feisty Asian elephants have a problem: Their turf is dwindling. Just a few years out of its 26-year civil war, the tiny island nation actually has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. (City Lab )

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