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[Last Updated = Fri, Feb 24, 2017, 10:06 pm SL Time]
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U.S. Congressional delegation applauds achievements of Sri Lanka's unity government

Feb 24 (CP) Colombo- A bipartisan Congressional delegation of the United States today called on Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena at the President's Official Residence and held discussions on the steps to be taken to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries. The eight-member delegation led by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and included four Democrats and four Republicans is the largest ever group of U.S. Congress to visit Sri Lanka.
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LEGAL - SITUATION

Feb 24 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka Customs officials at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake have arrested a Sri Lankan man who was attempting to smuggle out gold worth Rs 2.4 million. A Customs official said the 30-year-old suspect, a resident of Wattala, was arrested when he attempted to smuggle 32 gold biscuits worth Rs. 2.4 million to Bangalore.

Feb 24 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lankan Navy personnel Thursday arrested five individuals transporting over 150 kilograms of Kerala cannabis (Kerala Ganja) by a dinghy in the Northern seas. A Navy patrol craft, apprehended 3 suspects when they were transporting 154.6 kg of Kerala Cannabis by a dinghy in the seas northwest of Kankasanthurai yesterday.

Feb 24 (CP) Colombo- The New York-based international press freedom organization, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Thursday called on Sri Lankan authorities to fully investigate the 2009 murder of the editor-in-chief of the Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunge and bring his killers to justice.

Feb 24 (CT) Information has come to light that a group of unidentified persons had issued a death threats to a member of the three-member panel, appointed by the Prisons Department to probe an incident, where it is alleged that a sum of Rs 2 million has been deposited by a sister of a drug lord in the Prison Superintendent's bank account, sources said.

Feb 24 (Island) A civil society grouping that campaigned for Maithripala Sirisena at the January 2015 presidential poll yesterday alleged that the wartime Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was behind the abduction of Associate Editor of The Nation, Keith Noyahr in May 2008.

Feb 24 (DM) The skipper of the boat which capsized off the coast of Kaluthara a week ago was taken into custody today, Police said. The accident which took place near Katukurunda due to over-crowding of the boat left 16 dead and 20 injured.

Feb 24 (DN) A case filed against former Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena for the unlawful acquisition of assets estimated at Rs.41.1 million was yesterday fixed for trial by Colombo High Court. Accordingly, the case will be taken up for trial on June 5 and 6.

Feb 23 (CP) Colombo- A 42-year-old Sri Lankan Tamil was arrested today at Mandapam refugee camp, on charges of unlawful entry into India, police said. Hailing from Thalaimannar in the island nation, Anthony Doss had clandestinely arrived at Arichalmunai in a boat along with another, named Kutti, on February 9, they said.

Feb 23 (CP) Colombo- The Government of Japan provides grant aid to Sri Lanka under various aid schemes annually to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries. Accordingly, the government of Japan has agreed to provide Rs 327 million (250 million Yen) under non-project grant aid for the 2016/2017 financial year, for the provision of Japanese products in order to improve public safety and to strengthen anti-terrorist activities in Sri Lanka.

Feb 23 (BBC) Sri Lankan asylum seekers living in Hong Kong fear they are being illegally pursued by police after sheltering the US whistleblower Edward Snowden in the city. Criminal investigators from Sri Lanka are believed to have visited Hong Kong looking for them, their lawyer said.

More : LEGAL - SITUATION
* Ex-LTTE cadre and 3 others remanded (23 - CT)
* CA issues notice on those acquitted of murder of Raviraj (23 - Island)
* PCoI allows legal representation to Perpetual Treasuries and CB (23 - DM)
* Death sentence for Gampaha quintuple murder second accused (23 - DN)
More : LEGAL - SITUATION

NEWS - HIGHLIGHTS

Feb 24 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena has called on the countries to cooperate on illegal migrants as they create health, social, economic and political issues for a country. "Similar to the way each country take decisions in national levels on the illegal migrants, they should act internationally with other countries regarding this matter," the President said.

Feb 23 (CP) Colombo- A high ranking official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) today pledged China's full support to Sri Lanka's efforts to make the island nation a hub of the Indian Ocean.

Feb 23 (CP) Colombo- A delegation of Chinese Communist Party visiting Sri Lanka today has assured that China will stand with Sri Lanka as a true friend in the future too. The delegation led by the head of the International Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Song Tao made this remark when they met with President Maithripala Sirisena at the President's official residence, today (23).

Feb 23 (CP) Colombo- Mo' Mojo, an American zydeco band, concluded its five-day tour of Sri Lanka on February 16 with a high-energy, free, public concert for an appreciative crowd in Colombo. The U.S. Embassy-sponsored visit included public performances in Jaffna and Colombo; workshops for music students; and master classes for Sri Lankan musicians.


FINANCE - TRAVEL

Feb 24 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says local investments are not sufficient to ensure development in the country and foreign direct investment and exports are needed. The Prime Minister made this statement at the launch of the 2017/2026 action plan for the rubber industry held at the Temple Trees on Thursday.

Feb 24 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's Colombo Port has been ranked among the world's best 25 ports according to the Alphaliner rankings in 2017, a Ports and Shipping Ministry statement said. In 2016 Alphaliner has ranked Colombo Port at the 23rd place, three notches up from the 2015 rankings.

Feb 24 (CP) Colombo- Singer (Sri Lanka) PLC Group had excellent growth in Revenue and Net Income in the year 2016, the company announced. Group Revenue reached Rs. 46.9 billion, an increase of 21% over prior year.

Feb 24 (Island) Pan Asia Bank, closed its financial year ended December 31, 2016 recording a profit before tax of Rs 1.8 billion, an increase of 17% over the previous year. Meanwhile the Bank increased its Profit after tax by 20% for the same period to Rs.1.25 billion or Rs. 4.24 a share, surpassing its previous earnings record.

Feb 24 (DM) The Coca Cola factory proposed to be established in Sri Lanka would further reduce the water resources which are already diminishing as a result of the drought, Parliamentarian Douglas Devananda charged.

Feb 24 (DN) Most Sri Lankans working in major airlines overseas be a technician, engineer, ground handler, cargo agent or cabin crew has had some affiliation with the SriLankan Aviation College (SLAC) asserted, Primal De Silva, General Manager, SriLankan Aviation College addressing the media in Katunayake on Wednesday.

Feb 24 (LBO) Singer Sri Lanka has decided to subdivide its ordinary shares in the proportion of three shares for every one existing share held as at the end of trading on 31st March 2017. The company said in a stock exchange filing that the number of existing issued ordinary shares will then be increased from 125,209,610 to 375,628,830

Feb 23 (CP) Colombo- The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka under the direction of the Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure has taken steps to facilitate and enable universal connectivity for the purpose of bringing about digitization to every person in the country.

Feb 23 (CP) Colombo- Leading blue chip conglomerate, Aitken Spence PLC has once again reaffirmed its support to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) with yet another lead sponsorship.

Feb 23 (Reuters) The Sri Lankan rupee ended firmer on Thursday as exporters sold the U.S. dollar, but concerns over possible further depreciation in the domestic currency in the absence of central bank guidance weighed on the sentiment, dealers said.

Feb 23 (CP) Sri Lankan shares ended slightly firmer on Thursday, further moving away from a more than one-week closing low hit earlier in the week, as better-than-expected corporate earnings boosted sentiment, although concerns over rising rates capped gains.

More : FINANCE - TRAVEL
* Korea Eximbank provides clean drinking water to Kurunegala North (23 - Island)
* DFCC Group nett profits top Rs 3 bn in 2016 (23 - DN)
* Tax hike on milk imports no solution to boost local dairy industry: Fonterra (23 - DM)
* Sri Lanka milk production can be fast-tracked with commercial farms: expert (23 - EN)
More : FINANCE - TRAVEL

POLITICS - GENERAL

Feb 24 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Rani Wickremesinghe, in a message to celebrate the Hindu festival Maha Siva Rathri today said the occasion is a deeply symbolic of co-existence and harmony among all and is also an ideal time for reflection.

Feb 24 (CP) Colombo- The National Freedom Front (NFF) led by parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa has formally informed the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) of its withdrawal from the alliance. The NFF has sent a letter to UPFA General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera to officially withdraw from the UPFA, local media reported.

Feb 24 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena says the religions provide great relief to the people in today's competitive world and the religious way of life is as an essential ingredient for building a better society. Issuing a message to mark the Hindu holiday Maha Shivaratri Day today, President Sirisena said the prime expectation and the noble vision of all religions is to promote spiritual and moral well-being of humankind.

Feb 24 (CT) Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in a statemet, hit out his predecessor Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga for vilification of the Army, stating that soldiers are sexually harassing war widows in the former in the North.

Feb 24 (Island) Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa openly encouraged elected government representatives to be corrupt, says Ex-President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Whenever Mahinda held meetings, especially with local councillors, he always reminded them to collect their 20 percent Commissions from any project under their purview, as if it was a legal right, she told a meeting with the Foreign Correspondents’ Association in Colombo, last week.

Feb 24 (DM) Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said China, Pakistan, Ukraine, Russia and Israel were the countries that supplied military equipment in the fight against terrorism at that time whereas India helped immensely in the provision of training for the security forces.

Feb 24 (DN) President Maithripala Sirisena is on a firm stance that innocent military personnel should not be punished. He was also of the view that those who had committed offences should be dealt with, said Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera.

Feb 24 (Interpreter) Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's recent visit to Australia gives us an opportunity to learn more about Sri Lanka than its treatment of returned asylum seekers. In particular, Sri Lanka can provide valuable lessons on how small states are responding to the growth of a multipolar Asia.

Feb 23 (CP) Colombo- The Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS), an academic and research Institution based in Switzerland says Food security and livelihoods assistance priority is a priority during Sri Lanka's prevailing drought due to prolonged crop damage and agricultural loss as agriculture is an important source of both food and income.

Feb 23 (CP) Colombo-The Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) today responding to the Army Spokesman Brigadier Roshan Seneviratne categorically denied that former president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga accused the army of sexually exploiting Tamil war widows.

Feb 23 (CP) Colombo- The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) launched its latest novelty project aimed at empowering the country's youth today under the direction of the Director General of SLRCS Neville Nanayakkara.

Feb 23 (CP) Colombo- The President of Indonesia Joko Widodo has invited Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to pay a state visit to his country immediately after latter's scheduled participation at the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Summit meeting to be held in Jakarta.

Feb 23 (CP) Colombo- Sri Lanka's main Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance in Parliament yesterday extended its fullest support to the government in the process of formulating a new constitution while expressing party's dissatisfaction in the government's lack of progress in resolving the Tamil people's issues.

Feb 23 (CP) Colombo- The Ambassador of Japan Kenichi Suganuma and the Municipal Commissioner of Galle Municipal Council Ranil Wickramasekara signed a grant contract worth US$ 103,487 (approx. 15 million Sri Lankan Rupees), on 20th February 2017 at the Embassy of Japan in Colombo, aimed to upgrade solid waste management process of Galle by providing five Japanese waste collection trucks (compacters).

Feb 23 (CP) Colombo- The Sri Lankan government plans to allocate Rs. 2.4 billion to develop the National Hospital in Colombo into a state-of-the-art modern hospital and the Cabinet of Ministers has given its approval to the plan.

TNA leader says he’s ‘extremely unhappy’ with the way Tamils are treated by govt.

Feb 23 (Hindu) After two years of engaging the Sri Lankan government on reconciliation and constitutional reform, the country's Tamil polity seems to be losing patience, if Leader of Opposition R. Sampanthan's address in Parliament is any indication.

More : POLITICS - GENERAL
* Sri Lankan ambassador interested in global role discussion at two sessions (23 - CD)
* Govt. faces fiery questions on women’s rights at UN (23 - DFT)
* Reveal findings of SAITM shooting – JVP (23 - CT)
* NFF declares its independence from UPFA (23 - Island)
* Vehicle registration files removed by a fmr. commissioner: DMT (23 - DM)
* COPE directs UGC to submit report (23 - DN)
More : POLITICS - GENERAL

SPORTS

Feb 24 (ICC) As the ICC Women’s World Cup qualifying competition came to an exciting conclusion in Sri Lanka, with the hosts qualifying along with India, Pakistan and South Africa, I am more convinced than ever that the ICC Women’s World Cup to be held in the United Kingdom this summer will be the best-ever staged. Even in the past 12 months, the game has evolved and there are girls across the world who are now household names, which is exciting in itself.

More : SPORTS

Feb 24 (ESPNCI) Test cricket is facing "some big challenges" if it is to remain relevant and popular in the era of T20, according to England's Jos Buttler. While Buttler, one of eight England players due to appear in this year's IPL, believes Test cricket is still perceived as "the ultimate" challenge for current players, he feels that future generations may well prioritise differently.

Feb 24 (ESPNCI) Australia might have considered playing three spinners in this Test, but it was the pace and bounce of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood that caused trouble for India on the second morning in Pune. Starc was unable to build significantly on his overnight half-century as Australia were bowled out for 260 in the first over of the day, but it did not take him long to have an impact with the ball, snaring Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli in India's 15th over.

Feb 23 (ESPNCI) The ICC board is the main decision-making body, where the ICC chairman and all the heads of the member boards sit. This is where all the decisions - big, small or otherwise - are taken. So how does it work? At the moment, it works on a simple voting system. The current board consists of 14 directors: the chairmen of the 10 Full Member nations, the ICC chairman and three chairmen from the Associate nations.


WORLD

Feb 24 (BBC) President Donald Trump has said he wants the United States to expand its nuclear arsenal, in his first comments on the issue since taking office. Mr Trump said it would be "wonderful" if no nation had nuclear arms, but otherwise the US must be "top of the pack". He told Reuter that the US had "fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity".

More : WORLD

Feb 24 (BBC) Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's leader, was killed by a highly toxic nerve agent, says Malaysia. Mr Kim died last week after two women accosted him briefly in a check-in hall at a Kuala Lumpur airport. Malaysian toxicology reports indicate he was attacked using VX nerve agent, which is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.

Feb 23 (ANI) Pakistan has speeded up its efforts to fight terrorists as it is silently enhancing its military capability by acquiring equipment and weapons required to combat terrorism. This move comes after a recent wave of terror attacks in Pakistan which have claimed more than 100 lives. Three such deals involving helicopters and military vehicles have been reported by the U.S. media.

Feb 23 (BBC) Mexico has condemned new guidelines issued by the United States, under which almost all illegal immigrants can be subject to deportation. The new rules include sending undocumented people to Mexico, even if they are not Mexicans. But Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray says his country cannot "accept unilateral decisions imposed by one government on another."


About Sri Lanka ::-
Introduction to Sri Lanka ::-

Sri Lanka is a beautiful island paradise in the Indian Ocean with white sandy beaches lush greenery, exciting adventures, amazing wildlife, cascading waterfalls and a rich heritage. The island of Sri Lanka is roughly pear-shaped. The total area of Sri Lanka is 65,610 sq km. Sri Lanka’s coastline is about 1,340 km (about 833 mi) around.

The people in Sri Lanka are warm and friendly. Sri Lankans are known for hospitality in all over the world. People in Sri Lanka ethnically fall into four main categories. The population of Sri Lanka is about 20 million. Sri Lanka has a tropical climate. Sri Lanka has a democratic government. Sri Lanka is mainly an agricultural country. Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948. Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Sri Lanka became a plantation economy, famous for its production and export of cinnamon, rubber and Ceylon tea, which remains a trademark national export. By 1996 plantation crops made up only 20% of export, and further declined to 16.8% in 2005 (compared with 93% in 1970), while textiles and garments have reached 63%. The GDP grew at an average annual rate of 5.5% during the early 1990s, until a drought and a deteriorating security situation lowered growth to 3.8% in 1996. The economy rebounded in 1997-2000, with average growth of 5.3%.

Sri Lanka, with an income per head of $1,350, still lags behind some of its neighbors including Maldives and Mauritius but is ahead of its giant neighbor India. Its economy grew by an average of 5% during the 1990s during the 'War for Peace' era. According to the Sri Lankan central bank statistics, the economy was estimated to have grown by 7% last year, although inflation had reached 20%.

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