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Myanmar crisis: Russia, China block UN statement

China and Russia blocked the UN Security Council from issuing a statement expressing concern at the violence and serious humanitarian situation in Myanmar and the “limited progress” on implementing a regional plan to restore peace to the strife-torn Southeast Asian nation, diplomats said. The council was briefed virtually behind closed doors by Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, the special envoy for Myanmar for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and UN envoy for Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer on efforts to…

Satisfactory progress of talks with IMF in spotlight

COLOMBO: President Gotabaya Rajapaksa assured the Central Bank’s governor and the Monetary Board his fullest and unqualified assurance of freedom to discharge their functions independently and without any extraneous constraints. This was conveyed at a meeting held with Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe and Monetary Board member Sanjeeva Jayawardena, PC earlier today, President’s Media Division said in a statement. At the meeting, the President also sought a briefing on the progress of the IMF program, as…

$72.6m to buy 90,000-ton Russian oil shipment

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka will pay $72.6 million to buy a 90,000-ton shipment of Russian oil docked at Colombo's port for weeks, its energy minister said on Saturday, as the island nation works to restart its only refinery and address a crippling energy crisis, Reuters reported. Sri Lanka has struggled to pay for fuel, food and medicine imports due to a severe shortage of foreign currency. An unprecedented financial crisis has also forced the country to default on some external debt. Like the rest of Asia, Sri Lanka wants to…

Police tear gas protesters opposed to president

Police in Sri Lanka used tear gas and a water cannons to disperse demonstrators trying to approach the president's office to demand he resign over the country's ongoing economic crisis, according to The Associated Press. The demonstrators were rallying to mark the 50th day of protests in which they have camped outside President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's office. Police broke up the rally and briefly detained three people before releasing them. The protesters say the primary responsibility for the economic crisis rests…

Bunker firms cleared to import industrial fuel

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has allowed marine bunker firms to import diesel and furnace oil for industries as the state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation struggles to fund dollars after money printing has created forex shortages. “Approval was given to all the Private Bunker Fuel Operators to Import and provide Diesel and Fuel Oil requirements of Industries to function their Generators and Machinery,” Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said in a twitter.com message. “This will ease the burden on CPC and Fuel Stations…

Rajasthan Royals enter IPL final

Jos Buttler on Friday paid tribute to former Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Warne after the England batsman hit an unbeaten 106 to lead his team into the IPL final. Rajasthan rode on Buttler's record-equalling fourth century of the tournament to hammer Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore by seven wickets and book a title clash with Gujarat Titans. Chasing 158 for victory at the world's biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, Rajasthan reached their target with 11 balls to spare in the second qualifier as Buttler…

Australia grants Tamil family ‘bridging visas’

Australia's new centre-left government relaxed immigration restrictions on an asylum-seeking Tamil family, intervening in a high-profile case that mobilised their adopted hometown in rural Queensland. Treasurer Jim Chalmers, who is also acting home affairs minister, said he had granted the Murugappan family temporary "bridging visas" allowing them to stay lawfully in Australia while seeking refugee status. The move enables the family, previously confined to Perth, to return if they wish to Biloela -- the town where…

Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by 10 wickets to win series

Sri Lanka crushed Bangladesh by 10 wickets in the second cricket test to win the series 1-0 after the host team collapsed from 156-5 to 169 all out in its second innings, according to The Associated Press. Sri Lanka easily reached the target on the fifth and final day to finish 29-0 in three overs with Oshada Fernando hitting 21 off only nine balls. Captain Dimuth Karunaratne was 7 not out. Fast bowler Asitha Fernando did most of the damage for Sri Lanka's bowlers, registering his first 10-wicket haul in a match with…

Fuel price hike weighs on Colombo investor sentiment

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka stock market closed weaker on Thursday for the third consecutive session as some investors shifted their funds to fixed assets while others stayed on the sidelines amid fears of tax hikes in the near future after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed as the new finance minister, dealers said. "We saw selling pressure starting to enter the market while investors stayed on the sidelines as news of the new budget keeps coming,” a top market analyst said. He expects the downward trend to…

Lanka seamers cut through Bangladesh top order

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan seamers cut through the Bangladesh top order in the second innings after centuries from Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal gave the visitors a commanding lead in the second Test in Dhaka, AFP reported. Bangladesh were a dangerous 34-4 at stumps on the fourth day and still need another 107 runs to ward off an innings defeat. The visitors were all out for 506 runs in the day's final session, with Shakib Al Hasan claiming his 19th Test five-for and pacer Ebadot Hossain finishing 4-148. The hosts…

PM stresses urgency for Lanka economic reform plan

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's prime minister said that he will quickly prepare an economic reform program and seek approval from the International Monetary Fund — because global inflation and the financial impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on other countries could limit their ability to help the island nation, according to The Associated Press. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that officials have reached agreement on basic reforms concepts with the IMF and that he plans to have the economic reform program ready within…

IMF: Lanka aid contingent on debt sustainability

The IMF said it is committed to helping Sri Lanka, but any aid program will be contingent on ensuring the nation's unsustainable debt can be managed, AFP reported. Sri Lanka is facing its worst crisis since independence: It has suffered months of dire shortages of food and medicines, as well as intensifying anti-government protests. Sri Lanka has defaulted on its $51-billion foreign debt and on Tuesday appointed international consultants to help restructure its international sovereign bonds and bilateral loans. The…

14 children and one teacher killed in US school

A gunman opened fire at an elementary school in South Texas on Tuesday, killing 14 students and one teacher, Governor Greg Abbott said in a Reuters report. Abbott said the suspect, who he identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was himself killed, apparently by police officers responding to the scene. Official details on the circumstances of the midday shooting remained sketchy in the immediate aftermath of the violence, which unfolded at Robb Elementary School in the town of Uvalde, Texas, about 80 miles west of San…

PM: ‘We have to print another 1 trillion rupees’

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he will present an interim budget within six weeks, slashing infrastructure projects to re-route funds into a two-year relief program for the nation. Wickremesinghe, who took office two weeks ago, warned that inflation would rise as the government gets down to tackling the crisis, and that there could be more protests on the streets. He said he hoped any unrest would not get out of hand, adding that funds would be made available to help the most…

Navy arrests 67 suspects ‘heading to Australia’

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s navy said it had arrested 67 people who it believes were trying to travel by sea to Australia illegally, according to The Associated Press. The navy said in a statement that 12 men were arrested first near the port town of Trincomalee, 260 km northeast of Colombo and, upon questioning them, intercepted 55 more people traveling in a fishing vessel. It said the people were aged between 3 and 53, and that five of them are suspected be part of a human smuggling ring. Navy spokesperson Indika de…

‘No new WB financing for Lanka without policy framework’

WASHINGTON: The World Bank said it is not planning to provide any new financing to cash-strapped Sri Lanka until an adequate economic policy framework has been put in place, according to Reuters. In a statement, the multilateral development bank said it was repurposing resources from previously approved projects to help the Sri Lankan government pay for some essential medicines, temporary cash transfers for poor and vulnerable households, and other support. It said recent media reports had inaccurately stated that the…

ICC to re-introduce neutral umpires soon

The International Cricket Council will soon re-introduce neutral umpires despite the Covid-19 pandemic providing an opportunity to give home umpires more exposure, chairman Greg Barclay said in AFP report. "There were some benefits (of Covid) for cricket," Barclay said in Dhaka. "One of them was the chance to use umpires at home. It has given home umpires some exposure to international cricket. "I think that's good. It spread the base a little bit wider. But, we are at the other side of Covid. So we are…

Lazard, Clifford Chance picked as advisers for Sri Lanka debt restructuring

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has hired heavyweight financial and legal advisers Lazard and Clifford Chance as it prepares for the difficult task of renegotiating its debts, a trio of sources told Reuters. The move is the latest development in Sri Lanka's worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948 and comes after the country was officially declared in default for the first time ever last week after it halted debt payments. All three sources asked not to be named because the talks remain private. Spokespeople…

Virus situation ‘under control,’ says N.Korea

North Korea said it was witnessing a "stable" downward trend in its first confirmed COVID-19 outbreak, reporting less than 200,000 new patients with fever symptoms for a third consecutive day, Reuters reported. The COVID wave, declared on May 12, has fuelled concerns over a lack of vaccines, inadequate medical infrastructure and a potential food crisis in the country of 25 million. At least 134,510 people newly showed fever symptoms as of Monday evening, taking the total number of such cases to 2.95 million since late…

No urgent need for mass monkeypox vaccinations, WHO says

The World Health Organization does not believe the monkeypox outbreak outside of Africa requires mass vaccinations as measures like good hygiene and safe sexual behaviour will help control its spread, a senior official said. Richard Pebody, who leads the high-threat pathogen team at WHO Europe, also told Reuters in an interview that immediate supplies of vaccines and antivirals are relatively limited. His comments came as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was in the process of releasing some…