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November 22, 2017 [GMT]
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UN experts accuse North Korea of illegally exporting goods to SL
[Sunday 2017-09-10 19:00]

North Korea illegally exported coal, iron and other commodities worth at least £204 million to China and other countries including India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka during a six-month period, in breach of United Nations sanctions, the world body says.

In a report released on Saturday , UN experts said Kim Jong Un's government continued to flout sanctions on commodities, as well as an arms embargo and restrictions on shipping and financial activities, during the perios which ended in early August, International media reported.

North Korea illegally exported coal, iron and other commodities worth at least £204 million to China and other countries including India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka during a six-month period, in breach of United Nations sanctions, the world body says. In a report released on Saturday , UN experts said Kim Jong Un's government continued to flout sanctions on commodities, as well as an arms embargo and restrictions on shipping and financial activities, during the perios which ended in early August, International media reported.

  

They said North Korea was also reportedly continuing banned nuclear activities with weapons-grade fissile material production at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, construction and maintenance at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, and at a uranium mine in Pyongsan. The eight-member panel of experts said it was also investigating the widespread presence of North Koreans in Africa and the Middle East, particularly in Syria, "including their involvement in prohibited activities". The experts said one inquiry is into "reported prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms co-operation" between Syria and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the country's official name.

They said this included activities on Syrian Scud missile programmes and "maintenance and repair of Syrian surface-to-air missiles (SAM) air defence systems". The panel noted that two unnamed countries reported intercepting shipments destined for Syria. It did not identify the contents and said Syria had yet to respond to its inquiries. The 111-page report was written before North Korea's sixth and most powerful nuclear test last Sunday and its latest launch of a powerful new intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan. It was made public two days before the United States has called for a vote on a new sanctions resolution.

The original US draft would impose the toughest-yet sanctions on North Korea including banning all oil and natural gas exports to the country and freezing all foreign financial assets of the government and Kim. The experts said implementation of existing sanctions "lags far behind what is necessary to achieve the core goal of denuclearisation" of the Korean peninsula. They blamed "lax enforcement" of sanctions coupled North Korea's "evolving evasion techniques" for undermining the achievement of this goal which would see the North abandon all weapons of mass destruction. On the export of commodities - a key source of foreign exchange for the DPRK - the experts said that following China's suspension of coal imports from the North in February, the DPRK has been rerouting coal to other countries including Malaysia and Vietnam.

"The panel's investigations reveal that the DPRK is deliberately using indirect channels to export prohibited commodities, evading sanctions," the report said. The panel said imports of DPRK coal, iron and iron ore violate UN sanctions unless the countries have received an exemption. Between December 2016 and May 2017, for example, the DPRK exported more than £60 million of iron ore to China, the report said. And between October 2016 and May 2017, it exported iron and steel products to Egypt, China, France, India, Ireland and Mexico, valued at £231,000. There are no exemptions for importing silver, copper, zinc, nickel and gold from the DPRK. And since December 2016, the experts said China, Sri Lanka, and India imported one or more of these minerals in breach of sanctions.

As for violations of the arms embargo, the panel said it was conducting investigations in Angola, Congo, Eritrea, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Uganda as well as Syria. In Mozambique, for example, the experts said they were looking into the reported supply of shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, air defence systems, other surface-to-air missiles and radar by a North Korean trading company. They are also investigating reports that the same company is repairing and upgrading Tanzania's surface-to-air missile systems. When it comes to financial sanctions, the panel said the DPRK continues to evade and violate them in a number of ways.

Many DPRK financial institutions maintain representatives overseas who conduct transactions that facilitate prohibited programmes; many foreign financial institutions wittingly or unwittingly provide banking services to DPRK front companies and others engaged in prohibited activities; and foreign investments in DPRK banks or joint ventures give those banks access to funding and the international financial system. In addition, the experts said: "DPRK officials and entities have engaged in deceptive financial practices, including opening multiple bank accounts in the same country and in neighbouring countries in their own names, under family members' names, and in the names of front companies." As for shipping, the experts said the number of foreign-flagged DPRK vessels has been "dramatically reduced" in response to UN sanctions. But they said North Korea "continued to hone its evasion tactics" by increasing the number of DPRK-flagged ships by a corresponding number.

  
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‘Tamils committed crimes only for political reasons, not for personal benefit’
[Tuesday 2017-11-21 18:00]

Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan yesterday requested the Justice Minister to schedule a special meeting with all the relevant officials to discuss the issue of those detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The Opposition Leader made this request in Parliament, while speaking at the Committee Stage debate of Budget 2018 when the Finance Heads of the Justice Ministry was taken up.



Next round of ETCA negotiations set for next month
[Tuesday 2017-11-21 18:00]

The next round of talks on the proposed Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India is scheduled to take place next month. Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama told Parliament today that six rounds of talks on ETCA have been completed. He said the key objective of ETCA is to resolve the implementation issues on the existing Free Trade Agreement with India.



Sri Lankan prime minister to meet PM Modi this week
[Tuesday 2017-11-21 18:00]

In the backdrop of India's interest in leasing out an airport in China-dominated Hambantota, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghewill be in New Delhi this week for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wickremasinghe arrives here on Tuesday and will speak at a key cybersecurity conference before meeting the Indian leadership. Sri Lanka has become an important partner for India both in the neighbourhood and in the Indian Ocean region. In addition, India is reportedly using Colombo's influence over Myanmar's Buddhist leadership to help defuse the Rohingya crisis.



Only 10 detained under PTA Govt Suspects held on serious terror charges
[Tuesday 2017-11-21 18:00]

The Government yesterday (20) maintained that there are only 10 individuals currently detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) adding that all of them are suspects in serious cases of terrorism. The cases include the murder of Major General Janaka Perera, the suicide bomb attacks on former Army Commander Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the killing of seven persons in the Wilpattu Forest and the attack on the Anuradhapura Air Force Base, Deputy Minister of Justice Sarathi Dushmantha told Parliament.



US lawmakers raise concerns over China’s role in Hambantota
[Tuesday 2017-11-21 18:00]

US lawmakers have raised concerns over China’s role in the Hambantota port. Hambantota was discussed when the lawmakers expressed concerns over the ambitious ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative of China and sought recommendations for improving development finance efforts.



Rs. 10,000 allowance for former MPs
[Tuesday 2017-11-21 18:00]

A Rs. 10,000 allowance was added to former Parliamentarians’ pensions from October, a Senior Parliament Official told the Daily News yesterday. He said it costs the government an additional Rs. 26.2 million monthly to provide the allowance to 262 former MPs and about 220 widows of deceased MPs.



Vigneswaran takes PC Minister to task
[Monday 2017-11-20 18:00]

Northern Provincial Chief Minister C.V.Vigneswaran said the conduct of his Education Minister who refused to hoist the national flag at a public function as inappropriate. Northern Provincial Education Minister S.Sarveshwaran who recently attended a function held at Perakum Maha Vidyalaya in Irattaperiyakulam, refused to hoist the National Flag as the chief guest.



PM gives his side of the story to treasury bond commission
[Monday 2017-11-20 18:00]

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says he clarified matters related to the treasury bond issue to the Presidential Commission investigating the alleged treasury bond scam. The Prime Minister appeared before the commission today and was questioned for over an hour. Several United National Party members and Ministers also attended the hearing.



BBS Chief in fiery row with scribe Alleged threat to slap Chandraprema
[Monday 2017-11-20 18:00]

Secretary General of the Bodu Bala Sena, Venerable Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera yesterday (19) threatened to assault senior journalist attached to The Island C. A. Chandraprema at Medagoda, Narammala. The Thera had made this threat when Chandraprema had gone to pay his respects to the late mother of Professor Venerable Medagoda Abayatissa Thera, the Parivenadhipathi of the Sunethradevi Pirivena, Pepiliyana. "Are you Chandraprema? I will give you a thundering slap," the Thera said, Chandraprema alleged.



Previous regime took some detrimental decisions on national security- Ruwan
[Monday 2017-11-20 18:00]

Some of the decisions taken by the previous government caused a serious threat to national security, Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said in Parliament on Saturday. He said one such decision to to house the Army,Navy and Air Force head quarters at a location in Battaramulla, taken by former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is not commendable. “The land belonging to the Military Headquarters was sold to Shangril-la Hotel,” Minister Wijewardene said. “We too will have to leave our current location soon.”



Ranil to visit Indian temple tomorrow to offer prayers
[Monday 2017-11-20 18:00]

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will be visiting Sri Mookambika temple at Kollur in Udupi district in India tomorrow (Tuesday), The Hindu newspaper reported. According to sources in the temple, Wickremesinghe would arrive in a helicopter to the Areshiroor helipad near Kollur at 11.15 a.m. on Tuesday. From the helipad, he would arrive at the RNS Guest House at 11.30 a.m. to get ready to offer prayers at the temple.



GCE O/L exam from Dec.12 to 21
[Monday 2017-11-20 18:00]

The GCE Ordinary Level Examination will be held from December 12 to 21, the Examinations Department announced today. It said 88,573 candidates will sit for this year examination which would be held at 5,116 examination centres countrywide.



Jaffna violent incidents: 41 arrested
[Sunday 2017-11-19 18:00]

At least 41 suspects had been arrested during raids carried out in Jaffna following the recent sword attack incidents in the peninsula region, Police Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekera said. He said that special search operations had been conducted in the Kopay, Manipay, Jaffna and the Chunnakam Police areas during the last two days.



Gintota incident: PM says stern action against miscreants
[Sunday 2017-11-19 18:00]

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who visited the Gintota in Galle today after the tense situation said that stern legal action would be taken against those who were responsible for the violence. The Prime Minister said a few people could start an unrest or violence situation. “A major disaster erupted because of people spreading rumours. We can’t station Police and military here forever. So everyone should live peacefully,” he said.



Sri Lanka to bring back asylum seekers detained in Australian offshore detention centers
[Sunday 2017-11-19 18:00]

Sri Lanka Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tilak Marapana says that, arrangements will be made to bring back the Sri Lankans who are not eligible for citizenship in Australia and detained in Australia's offshore detention centers in South Pacific islands of Christmas Island, Papua New Guinea, and Nauru.



Gotabaya Rajapaksa politicized the Army during his term as defence secretary – Fonseka
[Sunday 2017-11-19 18:00]

Regional Development Minister Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka accused former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa of politicized the Army during his tenure in office. Participating in the Committee Stage debate on the Expenditure Head of the Defence Ministry, Minister Fonseka said the Army had been split into two factions due to the political influence the former Defence Secretary exerted on the Army. This was one of the key reasons which paved the way for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to lose his presidency.



PM going to India
[Sunday 2017-11-19 18:00]

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will leave for a two-day official visit to India on November 22.



More inter-monsoonal rains from next week
[Sunday 2017-11-19 18:00]

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‘A prisoner in Indian jail on Eelam soil’
[Saturday 2017-11-18 19:00]

Veteran Journalist, S.M. Gopalaratnam, popularly known as Gopu and known by his initials as SMG, is no more. Gopalaratnam passed away at the age of 87 on Wednesday (15) at his residence in Batticaloa. Beginning his career in journalism in the early fifties in Virakesari he later joined Jaffna's regional daily Eelanadu as its News Editor under the iconic Editorship of late



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[Saturday 2017-11-18 19:00]

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